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Chapter 42 – Asuka Protects the Blade

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3135 characters
Translator: Yuki English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1912 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

As Princess Asuka gazed across the flooded expanse of Akitsu Shima, she struggled to reconcile the sight before her with the lush and fertile land of her clan’s lore. “Lily should be in Heian-kyo,” she mused, consulting her map before setting off toward the famed city.

Clutching the meticulously wrapped blade, its soul pattern sealed awaiting Lily’s touch, Princess Asuka descended the mountain into the waterlogged terrain. While the peerless blade she carried was not for her use, it was a crucial part of her mission.

In the waterlogged landscape of Akitsu, Princess Asuka planned her cautious approach. Ancient trees, half-submerged in water, offered a path through the branches, a method less conspicuous than flying. Unsure of the local situation, she preferred to keep a low profile.

As she leaped into the air, an unexpected ambush occurred. A corrupt evil spirit, covered in blue-gray mud, surged from the water. Its grotesque face, with a greedy and ferocious expression, targeted Princess Asuka’s legs. A blue tongue shot out, wrapping around her calf, pulling her towards the murky depths.

In that perilous moment, Princess Asuka’s mind raced with dark thoughts, “The moment I arrive on Akitsu, I encounter such a despicable monster!” Simultaneously, she conjured a golden battle blade in her free hand. With a quick, decisive motion, she sliced through the spirit’s tongue, its severed part falling into the water with a splash.

Princess Asuka’s feet glowed with orange flame patterns as she stabilized herself in midair. Suddenly, with a menacing approach, two more blue-tongued evil spirits emerged. Similar to the one that had just attacked her, these spirits also held the rank of throned sovereigns. One of them, brandishing a shining long spear, lunged at Princess Asuka, the spear’s tip unleashing a powerful shockwave of Yomi energy.

Unfazed, Princess Asuka deftly wielded her battle blade, slicing the spear in half with a fluid motion. She then transformed the blade into a small fire bird, which darted through the core of one evil spirit’s spirit sea and decapitated the other. For Princess Asuka, defeating mere throned sovereigns was a trivial task.

Pondering the encounter, she mused, “I heard that wild demons in Akitsu were weak, but encountering three throned sovereigns is unexpected.”

Princess Asuka, contemplating the nature of the demons she encountered, recalled a message from Lily: “They were radiating the aura of Yomi. Didn’t Lily mention that there were significant changes, with powerful monsters from Yomi emerging, and a substantial amount of Yomi’s aura spreading across the land, enhancing the original demons here? I’ll need to be much more cautious.”

After her reflection, Princess Asuka skillfully tied Lily’s blade to her back with a treasured rope. Given the blade’s considerable length, this arrangement facilitated easier movement for her.

“Hm?” Princess Asuka sensed a potent aura of death emanating from ahead. Her gaze settled on a scene of stark devastation. The high ground was littered with the corpses of hundreds of samurai, a grim aftermath of a fierce confrontation. She noticed a flag bearing the crest of an unfamiliar martial family.

“These samurai weren’t particularly formidable. It appears they met their end at the hands of the demons lurking nearby,” Princess Asuka mused to herself.

She was unaware that the fallen warriors were part of an ambitious expeditionary army from Heian-kyo. The Ono family had led this army, only to unwittingly venture into a perilous region infested with monsters emerging from Yomi. Tragically, these several hundred samurai had been ruthlessly obliterated by an onslaught of throne-realm arch-demons, turning their martial venture into a fatal misadventure.

Princess Asuka, grappling with the torrential downpour and rising floodwaters, found herself muttering in frustration, “And what’s with this unending rain and the floods?” Despite these challenges, she pressed on, undeterred.

After several hours of navigating through the inundated landscape, she decided to consult her map once more. The once-familiar terrain had transformed drastically. While the flooding had obscured much of the land, the high grounds and mountain peaks remained identifiable, providing her with some guidance amidst the chaos.

Upon reaching the base of a mountain, she observed the remnants of a village. Many houses had been swept away, leaving only the rooftops of a few visible. She landed on a higher ground, settling beneath a tree. Lighting a fire, she used her spiritual energy to maintain it, resting under the tree’s shelter.

“Lily, what sort of calamity is happening here…” Princess Asuka mused, troubled by the devastation.

Meanwhile, Lily and the night parade had advanced into the vast mountain forests. The procession, consisting entirely of experts, moved swiftly and was expected to reach Izumo in three days. Lily, holding her sakura parasol, stood on the terrace of the sedan chair. The twelve Nioh statues relentlessly propelled the sedan through the waterlogged terrain. The land they had traversed was largely submerged.

Most civilians had fled to higher ground or the mountains. Their survival was tenuous; homes were lost, and the threat of the eight-colored rain loomed, potentially leading to widespread human annihilation.

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“Miss Lily,” Madam Tokiwa called out from behind Lily, who followed her into the room for a private conversation.

Tokiwa, with a touch of melancholy in her voice, shared her feelings with Lily, “Since Yoshitsune’s passing, I’ve been detached from the world.” The sorrow of her loss was still evident, years after the event.

Lily, trying to offer some solace, suggested, “Madam Tokiwa, you can still see Yoshitsune at the Ise Heavenly Gate.” She hoped this possibility might bring some comfort to Tokiwa.

However, Tokiwa revealed her predicament, “Lily, you’re talented enough to pass through the first two Heavenly Gates, but I am not. Although I have reached the quintuple-soul big dipper realm, my talent is not that outstanding. I cannot break through the corresponding quintuple-soul big dipper opponent the formation creates for me.” Her tone was one of resignation, accepting her limits.

She continued, expressing her only hope, “Unless I reach the celestial realm and surpass the upper limit of the formation, I won’t be able to pass.” It was a goal that seemed far out of reach, a testament to the challenges she faced in her pursuit to reconnect with Yoshitsune.

Lily realized why she found the formation less challenging; her combat strength exceeded her throne realm adept status. Yoshitsune’s caution about informing Shizuka Gozen of his situation now made sense, as he feared she might endanger herself trying to breach the formations.

Tokiwa, her voice tinged with a blend of hope and melancholy, asked, “Yoshitsune, how is he doing now…”

Lily paused, weighing her response. Yoshitsune had passed on, transformed into a heroic spirit. His state of being was beyond the ordinary realms of life and death. Sensing Tokiwa’s need for solace, Lily chose her words carefully, “Mm, he’s doing fine.”

Tokiwa’s response was tinged with a bittersweet relief, “That’s comforting to hear.”

“Madam Tokiwa, have you considered reaching out more to Madam Gozen? Maybe a conversation could bridge the gap?” Lily suggested, hoping to alleviate some of the underlying tension.

With a light, somewhat melancholic chuckle, Tokiwa responded, “Our conversations are few and far between, Lily. It’s a delicate balance.”

Lily laughed awkwardly, not fully grasping the nuanced relationship dynamics.

Tokiwa’s expression turned serious as she shared her concerns, “Lily, Shizuka Gozen carries a tremendous burden – the destiny of the mirror girl, the key to our salvation. But she’s also Yoshitsune’s kin. Her safety is paramount, yet her current path is worrisome.”

Lily’s interest piqued, “Could you elaborate, Madam Tokiwa?”

“She’s fixated on Yoshitsune, beyond the normal bounds of grief. I fear she’s seeking ways to resurrect him,” Tokiwa confided, her voice laden with unease.

Lily was visibly shocked, “Resurrect him? Is that even possible?”

“Resurrection defies the natural order. Even as heroic spirits, the dead cannot return to life as we know it. It’s a fundamental law of the heavens. Why can’t she accept this finality?” Tokiwa’s words underscored the immutable laws of their realm.

Lily remained silent, deep in thought. The joy of Yoshitsune’s potential return was overshadowed by the peril such a pursuit posed. The destiny of the mirror girls and the balance of the heavenly way hinged on their actions.

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Lily realized the gravity of Yoshitsune’s message – she was the linchpin. It was her role to protect Shizuka Gozen from her own dangerous ambitions, born out of profound loss and love.

Reflecting on Tokiwa’s profound concerns, Lily understood the importance of her role in this intricate tapestry of fate and responsibility1. Yoshitsune’s legacy was not only about his own spirit but also about safeguarding those he cherished.

The army’s two-day march through violet storms culminated in their arrival at Izumo. The landscape was dominated by towering mountains, where ominous black clouds swirled, punctuated by flashes of lightning. A palpable, otherworldly aura hung heavily in the air.

Observing the scene from atop the sedan, Lily noted the oppressive energy. “What powerful eldritch energy…” she remarked, while her sisters echoed her concern, sensing that something dire was unfolding.

As they ventured deeper into Izumo, the party was confronted by the challenging terrain. Mountains loomed high, and intermittent thunder and lightning added to the peril. Lily, mindful of her sisters’ safety, kept the sedan at a low altitude to avoid the lightning, especially for those below the big dipper realm.

Leading the vanguard, Taira no Masakado and his cadre of vengeful spirits moved with determination. Amidst the downpour, Masakado, a fire adept, grumbled at the relentless rain. “This rain is really getting on my nerves!” he bellowed, his voice echoing over the thunderous rainfall.

The terrain was treacherous, with sudden flash floods creating perilous conditions. The group could barely make out the tallest ancient trees, the only landmarks visible through the deluge. Abruptly, amidst billows of green smoke and eerie screams, two colossal demons emerged. Their grotesque appearances, with disproportionately large heads and gourd-like green faces, were intimidating. Brandishing a naginata and a spear, these towering monstrosities, each over twenty meters in height, lunged towards Masakado’s procession.

Seizing the opportunity for action, Masakado leaped forward, longbow in hand. “Finally, some action! This rain’s dampening my spirits,” he exclaimed, releasing a flaming arrow that cut through the darkness, striking one of the demons and setting it ablaze.

The fallen monster, engulfed in flames, elicited a smug remark from Masakado. “Thought size mattered, did you?” he scoffed, watching as the vengeful spirits samurai descended upon the other demon, swiftly dispatching it.

Their victory was short-lived as an ambush ensued. Skeleton archers, clad in battered armor, launched a surprise attack from the mountain slopes, raining down glowing purple arrows.

Masakado’s laughter rang out amidst the chaos. “So, Yoritomo’s black-armored demon soldiers are hiding here instead of Heian-kyo? Let’s show them no mercy!” With a battle cry, he led a fierce charge up the mountain, his flaming sword leading the way.

Meanwhile, the heart of the night parade faced its own onslaught. Black-armored demon soldiers, alongside a host of other demonic beings, engaged them in a fierce melee. The long-standing bonds between the parade members were the only thing preventing confusion in the frantic combat.

From her elevated position atop the sedan, Lily surveyed the tumult below. Her keen eyes quickly distinguished friend from foe. “Those wearing Yoritomo’s black armor and radiating Yomi’s aura are the enemy. Michizane and his allies are marked by their resentment, but they do not carry the taint of Yomi,” she called out, guiding her sisters in the chaotic battle.



 

Footnotes:

  1. Robinxen: Sometimes you can feel the sentences where chatgpt was involved, this is one of those. I’ve left it as is just to highlight my point, it’s interesting how you get a feel for the type of stuff AI writes though. It really likes these sort of empty but profound seeming sentences, especially when stating things. It loves to do this at the end of its texts especially.
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