|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3199 characters|
|Translator: Keissen||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1840 words|
After a night of festivities, the following morning saw Lily, Ayaka, and Shimizu embarking on their journey. Before setting off, they traveled back to Suno with Kimiko and Nariaki.
Next, the trio mounted their ox-drawn carriage and commenced their journey southward. They traversed several provinces as they aimed for the southern coast.
Simultaneously, hundreds of Tsunaga Sisters and cavalrywomen flooded into Cherry Blossom Valley. The growing number of inhabitants necessitated more housing, spurring construction plans in both valleys. Regular dwellings would populate Blossom Valley, while Cherry Valley would witness the construction of numerous mansions fitting into the natural landscape.
Starting early in the morning, Kotoka and Sakiko surveyed the land and initiated their work. “We can build a bamboo abode for Ms. Shimizu within the bamboo forest. As for Ms. Uesugi, she favors high places. Perhaps a pavilion built of ancient wood on the cliff would be appropriate,” Kotoka suggested.
Sakiko responded, “Fujiwara no Ayaka was the former Chief Advisor. It is crucial we give attention to her living conditions; she can’t be housed in unrefined huts like us1.”
“True, Sakiko,” Kotoka agreed, “Regardless of whether Ayaka herself minds, we must show due consideration.”
“About Mizue, considering the volume of work we have in the valley, perhaps we could engage her help in managing the valley’s resources, beyond just the Magatama?” suggested Kotoka.
Sakiko agreed, “Yes, while money might not be our primary concern, food certainly is. Ordinary folks depend on it. We’re almost out of food in the Valley and it isn’t feasible for us to venture out to purchase supplies. Now that we’re connected to Suno, we could bring back food from their abundant farms. It seems I must revisit Suno and discuss this arrangement with Lady Kimiko. The costs of using large storage pouches should be bearable for our population of a few thousand.”
Kotoka nodded, “Even though Lily has ample Magatama at present, supplying thousands of people is still a costly affair. We must remain economical on her behalf.”
Turning her gaze towards the horizon, Sakiko added, “Ms. Ijuin and Ms. Shizuru, currently leading the Tsunaga Sisters, also need proper accommodations. We don’t have to be too particular since they won’t be permanent residents. Ijuin plans to return to her territory, and Shizuru is a member of the Taira Clan.”
“Ah!” Suddenly, Kotoka exclaimed, “We’ve discussed so many arrangements, but we still haven’t decided on Lily’s residence!”
Caught in their dilemma, they were interrupted by the arrival of Ijuin. “Ladies, I couldn’t help but overhear your discussion. Are you planning on housing construction? I might have a suggestion.”
“Ms. Ijuin? Do share your ideas,” they responded.
Ijuin proposed, “Let’s use Yamagami Temple as the focal point and construct residential quarters around its outer perimeter.”
“Indeed. Our numbers are growing, and Lily’s reputation soars with each passing day. In popular folklore, she is heralded as the only warrior brave enough to stand against Minamoto no Yoritomo, even slaying the feared Archdemon, Shuten Doji. She’s become a living legend and a beacon of hope. She is the only one who can rally the forces against the corrupted dynasty and Minamoto no Yoritomo. The secluded Cherry Valley, populated by young girls, is ill-suited for this public role. However, a grand warrior residence in Blossom Valley, nestled amidst the mountains, could act as a hub to gather world forces against Minamoto no Yoritomo. That’s the way forward!” Ijuin declared with conviction.
Taking in her words, Kotoka and Sakiko exchanged glances. “Has Lily been informed of this?”
“Whether she’s aware or not, she is the only one capable of carrying out this mission. She has been chosen by fate, and we must prepare for it,” Ijuin stated.
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“I understand your sentiment, Ms. Ijuin,” Kotoka acknowledged, “This is an important matter. We can prepare preliminary plans, but we’ll need to consult Lily upon her return to finalize the decision2.”
The early morning found the green bamboo forest shrouded in a veil of fog. Dressed in white attire and a short skirt that revealed her black stockings, Ayaka stood in an open field at the foot of the mountain, with the gates of Suno mountain not too far off.
Soon after, Shimizu emerged from the mountain cave, donned in a black dress adorned with golden butterflies and bamboo embroidery. The Cursed Blade Yakumo, her new weapon, hung at her waist. Spotting Ayaka waiting, she made her way over to her.
“My apologies for keeping you waiting, Sister Ayaka,” Shimizu offered her greeting.
“Indeed… You’re merely two minutes late as per our agreed time. It’s not a lengthy delay. However, in a clash between titans, two minutes could alter the course of the world. It appears you took your sweet time, Ms. Shimizu, didn’t you?” Ayaka cast a brief glance at Shimizu before shifting her gaze to the distant mountains.
“I beg your pardon. However, we’re still missing someone, aren’t we? Pointing fingers at each other seems pointless when our key person is absent.”
“Ms. Shimizu, that’s hardly fair, is it? Lily is a girl3; she naturally requires more time. Having spent so much time with her, shouldn’t you extend a bit more patience?” Ayaka retorted.
“Oh, intriguing… So, by that logic, are we not girls? Or perhaps, Sister Ayaka… have you transitioned to womanhood already? That would explain your exceptional… tolerance~” Shimizu responded, her eyes taking in Ayaka’s enticingly mature waist and broad hips.
“What insolence! Is such vulgarity typical of women from Kanto? How dare you imply such things! I… I am still…” Ayaka’s retort trailed off, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment. She turned her gaze back towards the distant mountains, opting to remain silent.
“Ah, you’re already here? I apologize for the delay…” Lily panted as she approached, dressed in a red long-sleeved dress with a short skirt, black stockings, and her newly acquired Celestial Maiden wooden sandals. Her neckline was slightly exposed, and her hair looked a bit disheveled.
“I’m sorry I’m late…”
“Lily, your tardiness calls for a penalty,” Shimizu stated, a playful smile on her lips.
“Huh?” A winded Lily managed to respond.
“Lily, we’re running late. Let’s proceed,” Ayaka interjected, keen on changing the topic.
“Ah, yes…” Lily summoned their ox carriage.
While Lily and Shimizu hung their weapons at their waists, Ayaka wasn’t accustomed to carrying her weapon in such a manner, primarily because she wielded a variety of weapons and it wasn’t practical to always carry her naginata.
The three of them boarded the carriage, which was just spacious enough to accommodate them all. The seating arrangement presented a slight problem; while the carriage could seat all three, it would be cramped. However, seating Lily next to either Ayaka or Shimizu would likely upset the one left out. Thus, the natural arrangement was for Lily to sit on one side while Ayaka and Shimizu shared the other.
At Lily’s command, the carriage set off, soaring into the sky and gliding beneath the clouds of Suno.
“Lily, you were more than five minutes late today. Shouldn’t you be penalized for that?” Shimizu suggested, a smirk on her face.
Before Lily could respond, Ayaka interjected, “Lily has been tirelessly working day in and day out. Not to mention the ordeal with Ms. Uesugi yesterday. It’s understandable if she’s a bit tardy. Can’t you show a little understanding, Ms. Shimizu? Moreover, we must establish a proper set of rules for this supposed punishment system. We never agreed that lateness would warrant a penalty. Such a punishment would be inappropriate.”
“Well, well, the former Chief Advisor is as infallible as ever. I simply don’t stand a chance at winning any argument against you, now do I?” Shimizu replied with sacarsm.
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“Ms. Shimizu, we should focus on our present roles as Lily’s sisters and leave the past where it belongs,” Ayaka suggested, her tone revealing a hint of reluctance at the mention of her former title.
“Hmm… Since we’ve got a considerable amount of time left on this journey, perhaps we should find a way to… pass the time?” Lily proposed, her smile tinged with bitterness.
“Something like a punishment game?” Shimizu suggested, chuckling lightly.
“Ms. Shimizu, why this preoccupation with punishments? Are you just itching to penalize someone? Or perhaps, you’re longing to be penalized yourself?” Ayaka retorted4.
Shimizu’s gaze drifted to Ayaka’s form. “Why don’t you venture a guess on that? Though, if you’re wrong, there might be consequences.”
“Consequences? From someone a few years younger than me?”
“That remains to be seen…”
“Sisters, before we continue on the subject of punishment, perhaps we should focus on training,” Lily suggested, interrupting the back-and-forth with a bitter smile.
“Lily, why don’t we resume our Pair Training? We’ve already established a good synergy. However, having Ms. Shimizu as a spectator could prove a tad uncomfortable,” Ayaka proposed.
“Truth be told, I’m lagging behind considerably compared to Sister Ayaka. Given the perils that lie in wait at Iyo Island, I need to speed up my progress. Perhaps it would be better if I trained with Lily,” Shimizu argued. “Besides, I was your first partner for Pair Training. I took Lily’s first time, so to speak.”
“There’s no need to put it that way,” Ayaka replied, a slight frown on her face.
“But, Sister Ayaka, if Pair Training can help enhance Sister Shimizu’s abilities, isn’t it worth considering?” Lily reasoned.
Ayaka fixed Lily with a stern look, remaining silent for a moment. “Well, how about we take turns? Ms. Shimizu and I could alternate training with you. But given the limited space in the carriage, it might be a little inconvenient. Let’s discuss the specifics of the Pair Training and come up with a plan. We can implement it once we reach Iyo Island.”
Lily and Shimizu nodded in agreement.
“Lily, do you already have a method for Pair Training?”
“I do,” Lily responded. She and Ayaka had previously used a Pair Training technique to enhance their synergy, which eventually served as the foundation for the Tsukuyomi Swordstyle.
This nine-position Pair Training technique could be utilized repeatedly to boost each participant’s abilities.
Shimizu responded with a mild smile. “Excellent. Sister Lily, you can teach me that later. I also have a couple of ancient Pair Training techniques to share with you both – ‘Moon And Star’ and ‘Jade Hell Mantra.’ Apart from Pair Training, there are also techniques designed for three individuals.”
“Huh?” Lily responded, caught off guard.
“Ugh…” Ayaka’s brows furrowed at Shimizu’s proposition5.
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After a day of journeying, the ox carriage arrived at the southern coast. Lily stored the carriage and, accompanied by Ayaka and Shimizu, took in the sunset.
The sun, rarely visible in the current times, cast a dim, almost surreal light. But the sea, ever vast and boundless, remained as it always was. Its true extent was a mystery to them all.
A boulder, slightly askew, marked the edge of the beach, bearing the engraving: Aosa Cliff.
“According to Lady Kimiko, we should wait here for someone to come get us,” Lily stated.
- Robinxen: Is… is architecture really a concern when in a survival situation at war?
- Robinxen: At least they accept that they can’t make decisions all on their own.
- Silva: Are you saying you and Shimizu are not girls then?
- Robinxen: I would be totally exhausted by the end of this trip dealing with this duo.
- Robinxen: We all see where this is going.