|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3220 characters|
|Translator: Immortal Dreamer||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2085 words|
The Ashikaga mother and child conversed with Lily and Shimizu in the main house of the Ashikaga Hall’s front courtyard. But this conversation slowly steered towards Ashikaga Makoto’s ceaseless praise for Lily.1
It was a wonder what was wrong with Ashikaga Makoto, which had made her so fond of Lily.2
Of the other two people, Ashikaga Kiyoshi just felt embarrassed while Shimizu’s complexion had turned pale.
She didn’t care about how much Ashikaga Makoto admired Lily’s figure and womanliness, but she minded Lily’s words from before.
“She could make out a pure, ancient, and transcendent sword intent from my swordplay? She just received a single, sudden blow from me that had blown her away. She could glean that much from just that?”
“Or did she make all that up just to mediate between us? No, Lily isn’t such a scheming woman. Maybe she hadn’t just spoken blindly and really noticed all that? How did she realize my swordplay is pure, ancient, and transcendent?”
“Indeed… my swordplay did come from that ancient, mysterious mirror. That absolutely isn’t swordplay of the human world, and only I know this secret. But how had Lily unintentionally made that out? Indifferent to fame and fortune, pure and transcendent, huh… Am I stuck in the sixth stage because I am obsessed with success and gains? This little girl had unintentionally figured this bit out?”
Shimizu’s expression had turned unsightly from doubt as she pondered over things. At the same time, Lily couldn’t get used to how Ashikaga Makoto stared at her so much, checking her out repeatedly.
“Lil’ Lyn. Your clothes look pretty. These colors are an excellent choice. Where did you get them? Also, Lil’ Lyn, your dressing style is too bold, but I like that!”3
“That… Lady Ashikaga, can we talk about the mission now?” Lily felt embarrassed because of her words.
“Oh, yes. Mother, to think you requested the main dojo to dispatch Lady Shimizu, the first-ranked disciple. Just what has happened? Let’s get down to business already,” Kiyoshi also urged her.
“Mhm,” Ashikaga Makoto also decided to just cut to the chase, “Right. Let’s get to it then. We should talk about proper matters then… now… what was it again?”
“Eh!?” Lily and Kiyoshi were both stupefied by this girlish woman.
Is she truly one of the Furinkazan?4
“Phew!” Ashikaga Makoto’s eyes lit up, “I remember now!”
Ashikaga Makoto finally acted a little solemnly, “My Ashikaga family is in charge of law and order of that district outside Kamakura City. But recently, the Demon Nation and the surrounding wild monsters have been harassing our Mikawa and Totomi provinces pretty badly. My Ashikaga clan doesn’t have any surplus samurai to investigate this matter, so we can only request help from the dojo’s disciples.”
Ashikaga Makoto continued, “In Kabukicho district, which is an area under our jurisdiction, missing girl cases have popped up in succession. I don’t have anyone beside me with the skill to investigate this incident. The chances of solving it are higher if a woman were to go investigate, so I requested the dojo to send someone. I wonder if you two can help me investigate it. I will give you an ample reward as long as you can find even a single clue.”5
“Understood. We will investigate it then since it’s a mission from the dojo. As a disciple, we have to complete three missions of the same rank each year. Since we get an official remuneration from the dojo, we are obliged to do so,” Shimizu didn’t look that pleased. However, she still replied in a business-like tone.
It seemed like Ashikaga Makoto hadn’t noticed the dissatisfaction in her words; she smiled back, “Really? That’s great. Kabukicho is an important source of revenue for my Ashikaga family. If it isn’t peaceful there, it would bring losses to my Ashikaga family and also affect the peace of Kamakura City. I heard that the people in the commoners’ district are anxious already. I’ll leave this matter to you then, ladies!”
Ashikaga Makoto gave Shimizu and Lily a sincere bow.
She was a woman who possessed strength and influence yet acted so humble and sincere; Lily liked this nature of hers.
Shimizu and Lily accepted this mission for now and returned to the dojo.
Lily went to Shimizu’s house. The two of them took seats and had tea while discussing their plan.
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A simple map of Kamakura city rested before them.
Shimizu pointed towards a district on the northeast corner of the map and stated, “This is Kabukicho. The samurai and merchants visit these streets regularly to have fun. This place has gorgeous, high-level geisha houses, music troupe halls, and also has those garish brothels and casinos that run under the influence of the gangs. In short, you can find people from all trades there. It’s the most chaotic place in Kamakura and also dubbed as an ownerless land. Hence, the Ashikaga clan is intentionally lax with its supervision, as it can generate huge profits. It’s just that even though Kabukicho is the center of crime and chaos, it also has its bottom line. Because if it becomes too dangerous, no one will do business there.”
“Mhm… Sister Shimizu, where do we investigate from then?” Lily asked.
Shimizu pondered on it, then said, “The Ashikaga clan would not have entrusted this mission to us if our identities alone would have led to a discovery. I believe that by disguising ourselves and infiltrating Kabukicho, then making inquiries from the lower strata of that dark and chaotic place might provide us some revelations instead.”
“Disguising and infiltrating?” Lily asked with doubt.
“Right. I already thought of a plan on the way. I will cross-dress as a man and play the role of a youthful samurai that is in Kabukicho to have fun,” Shimizu stated.
“Cross-dress as a man?” Lily felt stunned, “What about me?”
“You? You’ll naturally play the role of my lover, a geisha.”6
“Eh!?” Lily hadn’t expected this, “Sister Shimizu, isn’t this too unfair? Why must I play the role of a geisha and act as your lover? While you can just cross-dress as a man? Can’t I cross-dress as a man too?”
Shimizu revealed a smile and checked out Lily, her gaze falling on her bosom, “Lily, can you even cross-dress? Just look at your big breasts and buttocks. How would you even cross-dress?”
“Sister Shimizu!” Although Lily felt embarrassed, it was hard for her to refute Shimizu’s words.7
Shimizu and Lily were both hotheads, so they set out on that very night after finishing preparations.
Since Lily played the role of a geisha, she didn’t even need to change her clothes as they were already gaudy enough. She just adorned the top of her head with flowers and wore a small rabbit mask with narrow eye slits. She had the sakura parasol with her and had applied bright red rouge on her lips to make herself look like a geisha.
Because Lily had fair skin, she didn’t need to powder her face.
As for Shimizu, she had two weapons at her waist, one was hers, and the other was Lily’s, Crescent Moon. This didn’t appear that strange.
She wore white upper garments paired with black hakama and had her hair combed into a manly hairstyle with a pigtail. She looked remarkably handsome after handling the bangs. Overall, she gave off the air of a somewhat valiant yet prince-like, delicate samurai boy.
Lily and Shimizu passed through Kamakura City and headed towards Kabukicho in the northeast corner.
While passing through the main street on the way there, Lily suddenly began reminiscing. The blue moon was all the same in the inky skies. She had arrived into this world just a few moons ago, helpless and alone. If she had known how fearsome and savage that monster which she had run into was, she would have fainted instantly. She had already become a samurai of Kamakura City now and was handling a critical case.
Such was the fickleness of fate.
As the duo passed through an alley, the surrounding buildings gradually changed from magnificent and expansive residences to a combination of abandoned courtyard houses and shabby wooden houses. They had arrived at the commoners’ district. There were even terribly filthy beggars that slept outdoors on a stack of hay laid on the street side. Some odd, soulless eyes glanced at them occasionally too.
After walking deeper into the alley, they neared a place filled with dazzling lights that had a mix of lively, entranced, and sorrowful voices.
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As Lily and Shimizu walked over towards that place illuminated by dim red lights, the voices became more audible, and the air turned cloudier.
After making a turn at the alley, the two of them found themselves in a street that was still dimly lit this late into the night. This place was full of two-storied buildings that hung red lanterns in a row, and this lighting made people feel euphoric after looking at it.
There were all kinds of people walking through the street continuously. This included samurai, merchants, and even disguised high-ranking officials. Although their age and appearance had nothing in common with each other, they all wore the same expression on their faces. They had come here to seek things, which were naturally not of the honorable kind.
“Come. Grab my arm, don’t forget we are lovers,” the cross-dressed Shimizu whispered.
“All right,” Lily wasn’t that willing to grab onto Shimizu’s arm. Although she knew Shimizu was a girl, Lily still felt a little ashamed to play the role of a lover as a woman.
To make it seem natural, Lily casually squeezed her soft bosom against Shimizu’s arm. She then felt Shimizu’s breathing become rushed.8
No way. Does Sister Shimizu also feel it when touched by a girl’s breasts? The ladies of this Heian era are too weird… Lily thought.9
Because of her absent-mindedness, her wooden sandals had nearly slipped off after stepping past a depression on the ground. Shimizu rebuked her in a soft voice, “Walk carefully. Did you forget how to walk after acting the role of my lover?”
“Of course not…”
Lily noticed that the buildings on either side differed from the other regions of Kamakura city. They had red pillars, and a faint yellow light appeared through the shoji, the paper windows. Although she didn’t know what people were doing inside these brightly lit buildings so late into the night, she could hear many cheerful voices from everywhere.
“Huh?” Lily blushed suddenly. Among the women standing at the street side to solicit customers, one had her upper body bared, with her somewhat drooping breasts out in full glory. She sought customers brazenly with no sense of shame. A samurai who still possessed some decency was also a little embarrassed when she pulled his sleeve.
“Sister Shimizu. Look at that woman. She’s exposing her breasts so brazenly. It’s too shameless,” Lily whispered.
“Lily, you cannot say things like that. The work of prostitutes is to sell their bodies. What’s the difference between revealing them to a stranger they didn’t love within the room and baring them out on the street? Do you even know whether these women have crippled husbands, starving children, or perhaps sick elders back at their homes? Thus, they willingly do such things. Why else would a woman wish to become a prostitute?”10
Shimizu’s words had left Lily speechless. Yes, a woman wouldn’t willingly sell her body unless she had some hidden troubles or life had forced her to take such a path. Such was the truth of this Heian era, and Lily couldn’t change it. But she could at the very least spare them the ridicule.11
Lily also noticed that amidst these customers, solicitors, and merchants, a group of samurai carrying swords, donned in the same attire, and possessing formidable looks along with a height of 1.65 meters, a relatively tall height in the Heian era, appeared from time to time. They had the crest of the Ashikaga family at the front of their clothes and on their cuffs.
It seemed like the Ashikaga family had also placed a lot of muscle to maintain the law and order of this place. It was relatively safe here, at least on the surface.
It was just that since the group assumed such a battle array, the actual culprit would avoid them like the plague after seeing them. Hence, Sakiko required them to take the mission and investigate the incident.
- Robinxen: Lily is terrifying.
- Robinxen: Eh this makes sense…sort of…mostly.
- Silva: I wasn’t expecting Ashikaga mama to be so casual like this, the first impression I had of her when her name was mentioned in the past was that she’s a proud and lofty character.
- Robinxen: Leaders are always eccentrics.
- Robinxen: Ah yes…send a girl to investigate missing girls.
- Robinxen: Yup. It’s a date.
- Robinxen: Well body aside he has experience as an actual man.
- Silva: What’re you, an old man?
- Robinxen: No Lily… that’s just you.
- Silva: Oooo, ane-sama, so dignified.
- Robinxen: Well there are people who just enjoy it too, but Shimizu is worthy of praise here.
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