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Chapter 51 – Slaying Baku

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3047 characters
Translator: Keissen English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1648 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

Now standing at just over ten meters tall, Baku resembled a small hillock rather than the towering mountain he once was. He careened wildly, crashing into mountain walls, reducing them to debris that he tumbled amidst. Since their initial encounter, his aura had waned noticeably.

Lily exclaimed, “What? Down to a Double-soul Big Dipper?” The very notion that a Big Dipper could regress was baffling. It was evident Baku hadn’t ignited his Stellar Soul.

Putting her resolve into words, she declared, “No more hesitations!” She sprang onto him, positioning her weapon against what she presumed was his neck.

“Wait…” Baku’s voice had lost its once robust and authoritative tone. It now sounded feeble and worn out. He was well aware of the inevitable end awaiting him. Even with the few relics he possessed, he stood no chance against Lily. He might have doubted the tales of Lily vanquishing Shuten Doji, but he was certain of her formidable strength, equivalent to that of a quintuple-soul Big Dipper. Coupled with Shimizu’s energy absorption and Ayaka’s fearless retaliation, his defeat was undeniable.

The once-mighty ancient beast now lay amidst debris, taking labored breaths. Blood seeped through patches on his black, furry hide. The eyes that once petrified many were now hollow and desolate.

“Do you expect mercy after all you’ve done? You’ve sown seeds of terror, tormenting countless souls, including forcing Sister Ayaka to endure nightmares for years on end. Do you really wish to continue this existence?” Lily’s gaze was steely and cold.

“This is the way of the Heavenly Path… the eternal cycle… It’s not my doing,” Baku retorted, blood dribbling from a broken fang as he spoke.

“Heavenly Path? Is that your defense?” As Lily’s words left her mouth, her blade punctured his skin, releasing a torrent of blood.

“Kagami Lily, think twice before sealing my fate. I am the ancient divine beast of Fortune. The escalating dark and Eldritch Energy over the years has plagued humanity with nightmares. This darkness has seeped into me, and after enduring its torment, I’ve been transformed into this wretched form,” his voice trembled, the weight of his desperation evident.

It was almost an admission of his own inadequacy.

Lily responded tersely, “What concern is that of mine? Even Shuten Doji started as a benign monkey and turned malevolent out of sheer jealousy. Your tales and reasons don’t absolve you of the heinous deeds you’ve committed, especially the anguish inflicted upon Sister Ayaka.”

“Baku!” Ayaka’s voice quivered with rage. “Do you truly believe I’d ever pardon you?”

She leapt onto the beast’s head, positioning her Naginata threateningly against it.

All the while, Shimizu carried on draining Baku’s dark energy, sapping his strength even further.

“Fujiwara no Ayaka… I recognize the gravity of my sins, and they may be beyond redemption. Yet, if there’s ever a chance to restore the Heavenly Path, I can usher in prosperity to this world. It may not mean much now, but it serves a purpose. Slaying me could jeopardize the Heavenly Path and all of mankind,” Baku’s voice was filled with desperation.

“Prosperity? The Heavenly Path as I see it is a cesspool of corruption. It only promises an eternity of nightmares. I fear if you persist, your malevolence will only grow,” Ayaka retorted icily.

“Young human prodigy, my perception of time greatly differs from yours,” he began. “I have no prowess in real-world combat. My dominion lies in dreams. The power I wield has been accumulating for over a millennium. Humanity’s greed, desires, tragedies, and inherent darkness, their corrupted dreams—they fortified me. I didn’t thrust nightmares upon them. Rather, human nightmares gave birth to me.”

“You cannot lay the blame at my feet,” Lily retorted impassively.

“However, you can’t place all responsibility upon me either. If you were to end my life, the dream realms of all those under my influence would crumble. The repercussions would vary based on the individual’s mental fortitude and strength1. The more resilient might survive, but they’d surely be scarred,” he countered. “I share this not out of a desperate plea for life. With my recent defeat, I’m bereft of hope and much of my dark energy has dissipated. My nature isn’t as malevolent as it once was. Whether you choose to believe me or not is beyond my control.”

(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)

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“And how do you propose we save those ensnared in your dream realms without causing them harm?” Lily pressed.

“I am the only one who can ensure their safety, granted you let me live,” Baku’s eyes held a trace of their earlier cunning, yet they were undeniably dim.

“Deceiver…” Lily hesitated, struggling to discern the truth. Still, she was reluctant to endanger Ayaka’s mental well-being.

If a millennia later, Baku regained his might and resumed his reign of terror, that future wouldn’t be her concern. If she couldn’t ascend to the Celestial Stage, her lifespan wouldn’t even span that long. Compared to an Archdemon of equivalent power, a human’s life was fleeting. An archetypal human Big Dipper lived just over a thousand years.

Though Lily’s strength mirrored that of a quintuple-soul Big Dipper, she hadn’t truly reached that level. Her eventual ascent was probable but not guaranteed.

“Lady Lily, whether or not you trust my words, understand this: should I perish, as long as dreams persist, another Baku will arise. If those dreams skew towards nightmares, another malevolent entity will undoubtedly emerge,” Baku asserted.

No one could validate his claims. However, Lily intuitively felt there was merit to them. Baku’s existence was intricately tied to dreams.

“As long as dreams persist, so will a Baku.”

“First, erase Sister Ayaka’s nightmares. Then divulge the full truth behind the trap that harmed her,” Lily commanded, moving her blade away from him.

“I’d rather suffer mental wounds than show you any clemency!” Ayaka seethed, her body quaking. However, she eventually sighed, sheathing her Naginata and distancing herself from the beast.

A dim glow emanated from Baku’s eyes, followed by a peculiar dark pulse that vacated Ayaka’s being.

“Ngh… Ah…” Feeling momentarily disoriented, Ayaka swayed, but Lily caught her in time. “How are you, Sister Ayaka?”

“Lily… I’m uncertain. It feels as though the consuming darkness in my soul has been lifted, but I can’t be sure,” Ayaka replied. The trauma ran so deep that her fears were hard to shake.

“Is it truly gone?” Lily probed.
“Yes,” confirmed Baku.
“If you’ve deceived us, know that I won’t hesitate to end you.”

“At this juncture, my only aim is survival. I can’t fulfill my mission. If I continued to torment Lady Ayaka, wouldn’t I be signing my own death warrant?”

“What mission are you referring to? Who wants to harm me? Who’s orchestrating this against me?” Ayaka demanded.

“If you could kindly ask your sister over there to cease absorbing my dark energy…” Baku began.

“Silence! Don’t you claim to be the divine beast of fortune?” Lily snapped. “We’ve granted you life. Why cling to that dark energy?”

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“How pragmatic of you. But, aren’t you worried that my dark energy might corrupt her mind?” Baku retorted with a smirk.

“If Lily asks me to vanquish all beings, I’ll obey as long as I breathe. If she wishes me to be benevolent, I’d help all, even at my own expense. Why should it matter how my mind is tainted2?”

Suddenly, Baku convulsed. Severely wounded, he coughed up more blood. Closing his eyes, he opted out of conversing with Shimizu.

“Enough games. Speak!” Lily pressed.

With difficulty, he responded, “Born a divine beast, I possess certain tendencies. But the overwhelming dark energy I’ve consumed has overtaken me. Embedded within it is a formidable consciousness, one I, despite my prowess, could not defy. It compelled me into these actions. However, orchestrating the trap in Izumo Mountain was beyond my capabilities. That’s sacred territory for the human empire. Someone collaborated with me: the reigning Cloistered Emperor of your Heian Dynasty3.”

“The Cloistered Emperor? Daitengu?” A wave of realization hit Lily. Although she knew the Cloistered Emperor played a role in Ayaka’s misfortunes, she hadn’t anticipated his involvement so soon.

“Why does the Cloistered Emperor pursue Ayaka? Why did he ally with you?”

“You’d best pose those questions to him. I’m in the dark myself,” Baku replied, evasively.

The revelation left Ayaka breathless. The realization that Daitengu had her in his sights since her youth, that he’d been privy to her every move, was staggering.

“Why press me to unveil the destiny of the Mirror Girl?”

“That directive came from the aforementioned consciousness. Physically, I’ve always been anchored to Iyo Island, but my reach extends globally through dreams.”

“Quite a handy talent,” Lily mused, interrupting.

“Yet, not all dreams are within my grasp,” Baku explained. “Ayaka, you’ve been exceptional since youth. For powerhouses like you, my approach is gradual, slowly enticing and manipulating until I can dominate their dreams. But your pure heart evades me. Teaming up with Daitengu, we set a trap during your expedition to Izumo Mountain. However, it was your choice to venture there. Given your might, remaining in Heian-kyo would’ve rendered us powerless.”

Ayaka was momentarily lost for words.

“Were you successful in extracting any secrets from Ayaka?”

“No… Destroying her resolve was gratifying, but she utilized a method that kept me in the dark. Even with total dominion over her dreams, I couldn’t glean any significant information.”

Ayaka had safeguarded her memories with an amnesia spell, ensuring Baku remained uninformed.

“I’ve disclosed all I know.”

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“That commanding dark consciousness — who or what is it?” Lily inquired.

Panic flooded Baku’s previously vacant gaze. “I’m unaware… Truly. If I had any knowledge, I fear I’d perish before revealing it.” He began to convulse again, repeating his ignorance in genuine terror.

“Sister Shimizu, how much longer until you’ve drained all his dark energy?”

At the question, Baku jolted violently. “What? No!” He let out a pained squeal.



 

Footnotes:

  1. Robinxen: Actually this sounds good to me.
  2. Robinxen: Can you imagine being so broken as a person that being told to be good will make you behave just because that person told you to?
  3. Robinxen: The schemes deepen, now time to bulldoze through!
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