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Chapter 15 – Another Kind Of Failure

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3158 characters
Translator: Keissen English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1656 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

Once the commotion subsided, the Blade Maiden remarked, “Oh, ah… Hehe, at last, I’ve eliminated a rival.”

“Eliminated?” A flushed Lily had a sudden epiphany and instinctively turned back. Had the Blade Maiden indeed slain the female adept?

Yet, she found the woman lying on the ground, her attire in tatters. The woman averted her gaze, her face flushed, hair disheveled, eyes empty, struggling for breath.

“Not deceased?” Mature beyond her years, Lily quickly grasped the situation. Despite her own preferences, witnessing such extremity was a first for her.

The extent of cruelty the Blade Maiden had inflicted upon the woman was unknown to Lily, but the woman was unmistakably alive.

“Having defeated me, just end my life. Why… would you resort to this…” The female adept gasped for air. “This is far more excruciating and degrading than death itself.”

“Oh, Miss Hyozuhi, in Carefree City, you and your clan held the advantage over me. During our skirmishes for treasure, you and your kin never ceased to torment me. Could you have ever envisioned this day? Despite your superior skills and artifacts, within these confines, we’re reduced to mere physical prowess. You are truly… a delicate creature!”

With those words, the Blade Maiden harshly squeezed a sensitive part of Hyozuhi’s body.

“Oh, ah…” Hyozuhi cried out, her face turning red. “Masako, you vile creature… Just… end my life!”

“Indeed, I am despicable. And your point? To merely kill you would be too lenient. In the realm of Yomi, for a Blade Maiden, defeat and the loss of purity bear greater shame and pain than death itself! I bet you hadn’t foreseen, back when you pilfered my treasure, that we’d both be ensnared, leading to your defeat at my hands—a fate worse than death, wouldn’t you say? Hmph!”

Lily, from a short distance, tried to stifle her breathing, finding it hard to stay silent. Knowing all too well the cruelties of defeat, she believed death to be a kinder fate than the torment and violation inflicted upon a vanquished female warrior.

Such a fate was undeniably the most degrading and shameful end a female warrior could endure.

In a defeated tone, Hyozuhi conceded, “Take the treasure if that’s what you desire.”

With a snort, Masako declared, “No need for your permission. I will conduct a thorough search and claim all your possessions!”

Lily was torn. While she would unhesitatingly rescue a maiden under attack by a beast, the current conflict was between two maidens. Was intervention warranted? The rules sanctioned such conflicts, even to the death. Lily herself might face such a situation in the future. What justification could she possibly have for intervening now?

Masako, the older woman, appeared to be a Blade Maiden as well? Nevertheless, affiliation alone did not align her with Lily.

After pilfering all of Hyozuhi’s treasures, Masako departed, leaving Hyozuhi bereft and bare on the ground.

Abandoned, Hyozuhi faced the peril of beasts or malicious entities, could fall prey to monsters or encounter malevolent individuals like the sumo wrestler who was duped into becoming a ‘sparring partner’ by the Rakshasa Dojo. After some thought, Lily realized she couldn’t simply turn a blind eye and silently walk away.

Compelled, Lily approached.

With flushed cheeks and a hollow stare, Hyozuhi, upon noticing Lily, attempted to shield her exposed body with the remnants of her clothing.

“End my life if you must. Your efforts are futile,” Hyozuhi murmured, turning away in despair upon noticing Lily.

Keen to keep her mirror dimension a secret, Lily retrieved a scarf from her attire and gently laid it over Hyozuhi.

“Huh?” Hyozuhi, taken aback, puzzled over Lily’s unexpected act of kindness.

The solitary scarf was insufficient to conceal Hyozuhi’s fully exposed form due to her utterly shredded attire. Lily gazed upon her with a sense of awkwardness, commenting, “You’re utterly defenseless now. Eliminating you would reduce my competition by one. How could that possibly be considered futile?”

“You’re Kagami Lily, aren’t you?”

“Huh? You’re familiar with me?”

“Indeed, I am. You might not have seen me before. Rumor has it, a remarkably beautiful girl resides in the western quarters, claimed by its most formidable, Lady Tamai. Yet, in the eastern quarters, many eagerly yearn for you. You may find amusement in my current plight, yet beware, for you could find yourself in circumstances far worse.”

Even in her current dire predicament, Hyozuhi managed to cast a mocking stare at Lily.

Upon hearing those words, Lily’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment, and she involuntarily clenched her thighs. Adjusting her skirt, she sharply responded, “Who… Who informed you of that? Just respond to my inquiry!”

“Miss Lily, I’ve gathered that your arrival in Yomi was quite recent. It’s hardly shocking then.”
“Shocking in what way?”
“That you’re unacquainted with Yomi’s regulations.”

“Regulations?” Lily’s expression conveyed her puzzlement.

“In Yomi, a female expert or Blade Maiden overpowered by an adversary and stripped of her purity might as well be considered dead. The dignity to traverse Yomi as a respected figure is lost. I’ve been bested, and Masako claimed everything I had. Even surviving this ordeal and returning above won’t embolden me to train among the maidens again. Once this ordeal concludes, I’ll publicly concede, withdraw from the selection, and let Rakshasa Dojo dictate my destiny, likely relegating me to hard labor,” Hyozuhi lamented, devoid of hope.

“What? Such a rule exists?”

“Indeed. This rule has been in place since Yomi’s inception, established by its secretive sovereign. Any defeated individual who dares to persist in their pursuit of strength and treasure, despite their disgrace, will find themselves ostracized throughout Yomi. They’d be reduced to the nadir of status, possibly even cursed by Yomi’s very essence, destined for a fate most grim,” Hyozuhi articulated, her voice devoid of emotion, as if all hope had been extinguished.

For female warriors of Yomi, defeat and violation in combat equated to a metaphorical death. Their privilege to seek strength was revoked. Such was the unyielding law of Yomi.

Yet, Hyozuhi revealed to Lily a grim recourse: to wed the victor and become their spouse, concubine, or even serf. Only by submitting to the conqueror’s will could they persist in their training. Should their defeat become known, they would face scorn and isolation from Yomi’s other female elites, and potentially, incur Yomi’s own malediction.

“To think such a rule truly exists…” Lily’s legs buckled under her without warning. She staggered, lost in a daze, before leaning against a nearby stone pillar. Her head bowed, her hair disheveled and falling across her face.

“But such outcomes only follow defeat. In mutual love, even if fleeting, there’s no sense of loss for either party,” Hyozuhi expressed.

Lily regarded Hyozuhi with empathy. “Then Miss Hyozuhi, what are your plans now?”

“I wish I could just die here, unseen. The thought of how others will view a defeated woman is unbearable. Yet, I’d choose being sold to a Yomi brothel or enduring a century of hard labor over becoming that woman’s wife!” Hyozuhi declared firmly.

“But wouldn’t harboring such hatred make the humiliation even worse?”

“Yes, just… let it all end,” Hyozuhi wept. “Leave me for the monsters. If you’re reluctant to end my life yourself, why linger?”

“Miss Hyozuhi, our acquaintance is new, so my feelings aren’t pity. It’s just… the fate of women in Yomi seems so cruel.”

“Hahahahaha…” Hyozuhi’s laughter took on a hysterical edge. “In Yomi, tragedy is the norm. Happiness? That’s for Takamagahara. Here, we’re all damned from the moment we fall in.”

Hyozuhi’s gaze turned upward, her eyes alight with the enduring desire to ascend to the heavens.

“Take this; it’ll help,” Lily offered, despite the lack of food in her mirror space, she had an abundance of spiritual medicine, which she handed to Hyozuhi.

Gradually, Hyozuhi’s strength returned, or perhaps it was her shattered psyche finding solace. Lily assisted her to her feet, and together, they found respite beneath a stone pillar.

“Miss Lily, tales of your stunning beauty and the longing it incites are widespread in private discussions. Yet, it’s hard to believe you’re also endowed with such kindness. Despite everything, you’re here assisting a woman who’s been stripped of her privilege to train in Yomi. No, I’ve lost even the right to be considered a woman. At best, I’m nothing more than a shattered relic,” Hyozuhi said, cradling her bruised knees, her voice laden with despair.

“We’re all in this together. There’s no need for formalities, Miss Hyozuhi. And please, don’t devalue yourself so.”

“I’m not demeaning myself; I’m facing the harsh reality…”

“Miss Hyozuhi, may I ask how you ended up in Yomi, or were you born here?”

Hyozuhi replied with a shake of her head, “Originally, I was a shrine maiden in Nara. By sixteen, I had achieved the Big Dipper Stage, enabling me to retain my youth for centuries. By twenty-six, I had become one of Nara’s ten most formidable powerhouses, unmatched within the dynasty. The other renowned powerhouses were far older, prompting me to aim higher—towards Takamagahara.”

“Regrettably, I didn’t succeed at the Heavenly Gate, leading to my fall into Yomi. Crossing the Heavenly Gate, particularly the final threshold, is a formidable challenge. Success means ascending to Takamagahara and achieving the Celestial Stage. Failure, however, results in either death or descent into Yomi. Many fallen experts reside here, having failed their ascension. Despite this setback, I leveraged my remarkable strength and talent to further my training and even allied with a clan, holding onto the hope of someday ascending to Takamagahara or returning to the mortal world. Today’s defeat was unimaginable, signaling the end of everything… Sigh.”

Hyozuhi let out a heavy sigh, tears beginning to stream down her face.

“I can’t fathom why Yomi enforces such a cruel rule!” Lily exclaimed in frustration.

“Yomi is inherently a realm of suffering, designed to entertain demons. Maybe that’s the reason for imposing such harsh penalties on female experts,” Hyozuhi speculated.


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