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Chapter 118 – Path to Takamagahara

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3276 characters
Translator: Aoi English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 2089 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

Kagura’s gaze filled with reverence and yearning as well, “Takamagahara is an island that floats above the clouds that wander across the Heian Empire that spans tens of thousands of kilometers and the boundless ocean, and is the dwelling place of the amatsukami, the Heavenly Gods!”

“Gods…” Lily’s heart palpitated. Yes. It’s possible to enter the mirror via the soul and it also has such an unfathomable space within it that allows the holder to comprehend skills hundred times faster than the outside world. Now that I think about it properly, the Furinkazan are nothing in front of such methods. This has clearly reached the dominion of gods!

This ancient mirror might have been left behind by a god!

Kagura continued, “However, deities aren’t really that rare an existence in the Heian Empire as it’s said that about 8 million deities exist in Heian. In a certain sense, even shikigami fall under the category of deities, and in some special locations, the flora is able to give birth to a forest spirit, who also is actually a deity as well.”

“Huh? Flora can become a deity? And there’s 8 million deities?” Lily believed gods were exceptionally noble existences whose words were the law, but if gods existed everywhere, it made her wonder if they were weak.

“The concept of 8 million deities is just a theory. In fact, no one knows how many deities exist in all of Heian, Takamagahara and Yomi1. Naturally, they should number far less than the number of monsters and humans.”

Kagura stated solemnly, “However, the heavenly gods of Takamagahara are different. The difference in strength between deities is quite huge, much more than the gap between an ordinary human and a sword saint!”

“As for the one you asked about, Tsukuyomi… who is also known as Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, is an existence who even I was unqualified to meet. However, in a certain sense, all living beings in this world see her every day.”

“Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto is a major deity who holds authority over the night and the moon, and at the same time, she is Takamagahara’s Prime Battle Goddess!”

Kagura appeared reverent when talking about her master, but for some reason, she spoke of Tsukuyomi in a plain tone, just like how the commoners discuss about the feudal lords and Lord Kamakura in reverence yet discuss about eternal existences that far exceed their level of understanding, like the sun and the sea, quite nonchalantly.

Kagura continued, “Amaterasu-Ōmikami is the ruler of Takamagahara and the incarnation of the sun’s power. It’s just that while Amaterasu-Ōmikami is in charge of illuminating the whole world, Tsukuyomi is in charge of judgment and war. Thus, Tsukuyomi is equivalent to the sword used by Amaterasu-Ōmikami to govern the world! Since times immemorial, innumerable numbers of great demons and evil gods have perished from the heavens and the world under Tsukuyomi’s hand! She’s the strongest combatant of Takamagahara and the reason Amaterasu-Ōmikami is able to sit back and relax at the summit of Takamagahara, Heian and Yomi, is because of Tsukuyomi’s battle power!2

“Tsukuyomi… Takamagahara’s strongest combatant…” Lily felt overwhelmed by the revelation. Although he couldn’t even touch the skies that laid above him, he felt utmost reverence towards Tsukuyomi. The heroic appearance of a pure, noble and peerlessly beautiful woman appeared within Lily’s mind, one with supreme strength who passes judgment on the three worlds under the canopy of the moon, the stars and the night.

“Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto … I will have no regrets in life if I can at least reach a level that enables me to kneel before such an existence!”

“Who said that women are inferior to men? Isn’t the strongest deity who passes judgment over the three worlds a pure and noble goddess as well?!”

Although Lily was originally a boy and had obtained a gifted and healthy woman’s body after arriving in this patriarchal world of Heian, he still felt inferior at times and wondered what was the limit for women on the path of advancement, doubting whether they really couldn’t hold up to men and monsters in the end.

However, this wasn’t true! Goddess Tsukuyomi was none other than the goal for women who traversed the path of advancement!

“Kagura, since your master, Suzuhiko-hime was a celestial maiden under the banner of Goddess Tsukuyomi, she must’ve been an amazing deity, right?” Lily inquired.

Kagura’s eyes filled with reverence again, “Naturally! My master was the most beautiful woman that I ever saw back in my era. Of course, according to legend, Amaterasu-Ōmikami and Tsukuyomi are the most beautiful women in this world, but I’ve never seen them, so it could just be a legend.”

“Moreover, my master, Suzuhiko-hime was a Celestial!” Kagura hadn’t noticed that her chest was heaving up and down heavily right now.

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“Celestial?” Lily asked, “What realm is that and how does their strength fare in comparison to sword saints?”

“Tsk,” Kagura shook her head in disdain, “The so-called samurai, sword master and sword saint classification are something that the samurai of the Heian Empire created conceitedly to classify the strength of humanity. In the eyes of the inhabitants of Takamagahara, samurai that cannot utilize spirit power are simply unqualified and unworthy of classification.”

“Huh?”

“Any samurai or monster that possesses spirit power is called an Awakened, and a sword saint is just a late-stage Awakened, that’s all. These Awakened adepts can enhance their bodies to a certain extent through the accumulation of spirit power and can condense their spirit power into a spirit sea within their body. In the case of a female adept, this space is known as a spirit palace, and the essence of spirit power gathers in this location constantly. The density of the spirit power keeps increasing along with the accumulation of spirit power until the day it condenses into a material existence at the center to form a crystalline spirit core called the spirit jade that takes the shape of a magatama. The manifestation of this spirit jade is the most crucial step required to traverse the path to Takamagahara and only those who have formed a spirit jade, that is, a true adept, are qualified to be distinguished from a mortal!”

“Spirit jade, huh…” Lily muttered.

“A spirit jade adept is an existence that has transcended mortality and embarked on the path towards immortality, and the realm they are in is known as the Spirit Jade Stage. They are what the mortals of the Heian Empire refer to as a transcendent! The members of the Furinkazan are all experts in the Spirit Jade Stage, and barely make it into the ranks of this world’s powerhouses! As for the other Awakened samurai, they are still situated in the Apprentice Stage! It is, in fact, a really arduous task to form a spirit jade within the body, and as proof, only a few have managed to break the shackles of the life among the hundreds of late-stage sword saint powerhouses present in the Land of East and gain the qualifications to traverse the path to Takamagahara. The majority of the samurai are unable to form a spirit jade during the course of their entire life and aren’t even aware of its existence. The possibility of forming a spirit jade is unrelated to talent and depends greatly upon luck…”

Lily’s eyes opened wide as he nodded, “So, the Spirit Jade Stage is what lies past the sword saint level!”

“Indeed, but that’s not the end. You can call anyone who’s surpassed the sword saint level a transcendent, but in fact, the Spirit Jade Stage is the real starting line on the path of enlightenment! Forming a spirit jade is only the first step to becoming a powerhouse!”

“Awakening is the foundation for the path of advancement. It begins with the Spirit Jade Stage and is further classified into the Permanence Stage, Throne Stage, and the Big Dipper Stage!”

“And past the Big Dipper Stage lies the Celestial Stage!”

“Only adepts who have transcended the Big Dipper Stage can pass through the Heavenly Gate in Ise and then ascend to Takamagahara and become a Heavenly God!”

“And my former master, Suzuhiko-hime, was in that Celestial Stage! Moreover, she was different from the other celestial maidens as she was a mortal woman who had traversed the arduous path of advancement and experienced countless roadblocks and trials before finally passing through the Heavenly Gate to become one of the deities of Takamagahara, assuming the position of a celestial battle maiden under the banner of Tsukuyomi!”

“She… experienced countless chance encounters during the course of development and placed her life on the line several times in battles, and out of millions, she alone had managed to ascend to Takamagahara and join the ranks of the deities!”

The originally high-spirited Kagura turned melancholier after saying this, “However, even then, my master still fell in the end…”

Lily’s gaze also turned misty, “Was it because of the great battle that occurred several centuries ago?”

Kagura’s gaze filled with worry and though she felt unreconciled, there wasn’t much she could do, “It was an epic battle that engulfed all of Takamagahara and even almost destroyed the Heian Empire!”

“Goddess Tsukuyomi led all the celestial battle maidens and took part in that battle with the strongest combat force of the Heavenly Gods! But the outcome of that was…”

“How did it end?” Lily asked anxiously.

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Kagura shook her head with a hollow gaze, “I don’t know. The situation of the battlefield was too chaotic back then and several powerhouses amongst the celestial battle maidens as well as those dreadful enemies fell during it. The Heavens turned dark and the spirit power of the deceased converged to form a ghastly river that seeped into the earth… I only remember that the celestial battle maidens seemed to have been betrayed by a certain faction when they had finally obtained the upper hand and then fallen into an extremely disadvantageous position. Due to the chaos, even my master and I weren’t clear regarding the entire situation of the battlefield and from what we heard, even Goddess Tsukuyomi had been surrounded by countless enemy powerhouses… and then… we fell one after the other. As for who won the battle, I’m still unsure about it. Although I have recovered my memories, this reincarnated body of Nanako is too weak, so it’s simply impossible for me to inquire about that battle.”

“Why wasn’t such a tragic battle recorded in the history of the Heian Empire? Not even a word was mentioned about it,” Lily had read a lot of historical records about the Heian period, yet he had never seen anything mentioned about this battle.

Kagura shook her head blankly, “I am also unaware of the reason for this…”

Lily recalled the information about the Heian period within his mind and combed through it. From what he had read, Lord Yoshitsune had perished a few decades ago, while the battle of the deities occurred several centuries ago. The history books had some accounts about the fall of Lord Yoshitsune, but they were too vague and there wasn’t anything concrete written about it in the records.

As for the world-shaking epic battle that Kagura had mentioned, not even a single word was mentioned about it.

Could such a history still be called history?
In history, wasn’t the era a few decades ago known as a truly peaceful era, the Heian period?
Just how much of what’s written in history during such a dark age the truth?
And why is senior sister’s soul dormant within the ancient mirror where Suzuhiko-hime had sealed Kagura’s consciousness? As for this ancient mirror, why had it appeared within this world so unfathomably and that too in my hands?

There were still too many mysteries that remained unsolved even now. Lily lifted his head suddenly and inquired Kagura about one of them, “Why did I have this ancient mirror then?”

Kagura shook her head, “I don’t know, too. My memories after my fall resume as the partial consciousness within the Sakura Parasol on the Night Parade of the One Hundred Demons in the middle of July in Kamakura, and the first thing I saw was you facing the Night Parade alone while dressed in a kimono. As for the matters before that which pertain to where you came from, what you did, as well as how you obtained the mirror should be something that you ought to ask yourself, Master, not me.”

“…” However, Lily had no answers to these questions.3



References

  1. Some info dump if you’re interested:

    In Japanese mythology, Takamagahara (高天原, “Plain of High Heaven” or “High Plain of Heaven”, also read as Takaamanohara, Takamanohara, Takaamagahara, or Takaamahara), is the abode of the heavenly gods (amatsukami). Often depicted as located up in the sky, it is believed to be connected to the Earth by the bridge Ama-no-ukihashi (the “Floating Bridge of Heaven”).

    Yomi or Yomi-no-kuni (黄泉, 黄泉の国, or 黄泉ノ国) is the Japanese word for the land of the dead (World of Darkness). According to Shinto mythology as related in Kojiki, this is where the dead go in the afterlife. Once one has eaten at the hearth of Yomi it is (mostly) impossible to return to the land of the living. Yomi in Japanese mythology is comparable to Hades or Sheol and is most commonly known for Izanami’s retreat to that place after her death. Izanagi followed her there and upon his return he washed himself, creating Amaterasu, Susanoo, and Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto in the process.

  2. More info dump, how fun~

    Amaterasu, also known as Amaterasu-Ōmikami (天照大御神, 天照大神) or Ōhirume-no-Muchi-no-Kami (大日孁貴神) among other names, is the goddess of the sun in Japanese mythology. One of the major deities (kami) of Shinto, she is also portrayed in Japan’s earliest literary texts, the Kojiki (ca. 712 CE) and the Nihon Shoki (720 CE), as the ruler (or one of the rulers) of the heavenly realm Takamagahara and the mythical ancestress of the Japanese imperial house via her grandson Ninigi. Along with her siblings, the moon deity Tsukuyomi and the impetuous storm god Susanoo, she is considered to be one of the “Three Precious Children” (三貴子 mihashira no uzu no miko / sankishi), the three most important offspring of the creator god Izanagi.

  3. Silva: Wheeze, wheeze… there is such a thing as too much info… but then, the main question still remains unanswered.
    Robinxen: I tuned out, can you repeat this chapter?

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