|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 2247 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1565 words|
The chilly wind blew across the lands. It was around 4-5 pm in the afternoon right now, yet the skies outside Mt. Inda were as dark as the night.
The disciples walked through desolate fields that led to a towering, dark mountain that looked like the back of a giant creature, which was none other than Mt. Inda.
Skeletons of humans and creatures came into view on this path that existed between these barren fields from time to time and the ruins of a small village that had been abandoned long ago could be seen nearby.
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“Mt. Inda is infested with monsters and it’s already been over a decade since they decimated this deserted village at the foot of the mountain,” Instructor Tanaka revealed a concerned expression and said, “Although it’s called an excursion, I hope you will realize the weight on your shoulders after seeing this scene. We absolutely aren’t here for a scenic tour.”
‘Although it’s dangerous, the masters still made arrangements for these disciples to enter Mt. Inda for training. If not, they will find it hard to mature and become a powerful samurai who can subdue demons and truly protect the lands,’ Lily sighed emotionally in the depths of her heart after seeing this deserted village.
Although Lily wasn’t someone from this Heian world, she had also begun to have a sense of belonging after spending so much time here. Thus, if required, Lily wouldn’t shirk back from protecting the lands of humans.
Although she had undergone various perils, the world had also shown its favor upon her and blessed her with spirit power, secret arts, treasures and fortuitous encounters. Furthermore, to say the least, it was already impossible for Lily to ignore the plight of the people of this Heian world just because she was an interloper from a different world.
“Instructor Tanaka,” A female disciple inquired sweetly, “The skies are dark already, so wouldn’t it be better for us to rest at the foot of the mountain and venture into this Mt. Inda at daybreak tomorrow? The mountain looks pretty gloomy right now, I’m feeling a bit scared after by just looking at it.”
Some girls always tried to please their instructors no matter where they went and even Lily couldn’t find much fault with such behavior.
“That won’t do!” However, Tanaka rejected that suggestion decisively and said, “This place is surrounded by wilderness, so we might as well become the prey of all the monsters in the mountain if we spend the night here. It would be better for us to rest on the mountain under the cover of the woods.”
Tanaka gave a strange impression to Lily as he would act firm and decisive at times yet act perplexed and cave in at other times. Thus, Lily hadn’t succeeded in figuring him out even now.
As such, the group strode forward towards the towering mountain with their horses and although the mountain seemed like it was right before them, it took them about 2 hours to climb up the hill.
However, a pair of tiny monstrous eyes were spying on the group as they ventured into the mountain from within the deserted village.
The biggest trouble of entering Mt. Inda was the mist that covered it. The fifty members of the group also found it difficult to see things on the long and narrow dirt trail that, at most, allowed two people to walk side-by-side.
This increased the difficulty of protecting this group for Lily and Shimizu greatly.
However, entering the mountains to train was essentially a trial of life and death, so it was better to skip participating in it if safety took precedence.
“Nanako, stay close to me. I’m feeling more and more restless after reaching this place. It’s possible that we might run into danger,” Lily stated.
She probed the surroundings with her spirit power yet discovered that the mist was hindering her spirit power. As such, although her visibility had increased from ten meters to twenty meters through probing with spirit power, it was far from enough to cover the entire group.
From the information she had received, the strongest monster present on Mt. Inda was only an inferior high-ranked monster1, and it was the lord of the mountain that rarely made an appearance. As such, it didn’t possess that much of a threat to Lily and Shimizu. However, it was hard to say whether the same could be said for the other disciples.
Still, Lily felt quite restless for some reason.
“Senior Sister, don’t wander too far from us, okay?” Lily advised the ponytailed disciple.
“All right. I’ll be right in front of you.”
“This mountain is really steeped in a strong evil aura,” Even Shimizu passed such a comment while walking alongside Lily.
“Yes. Perhaps that girl’s suggestion from before was the right one,” Lily added, “We shouldn’t have entered the mountain woods so late in the evening. At least, we would have adapted better if we had entered during daytime and…”
A female disciple’s scream echoed through the woods while Lily was in the middle of speaking.
“Did something happen?!” Lily was alarmed as they had only walked a few kilometers on the trail after entering the mountain.
Furthermore, although Lily had heard the scream, she couldn’t locate the person because of the dense mist.
Shimizu also grabbed the hilt of her sword and looked all around vigilantly, “This mist is disrupting the spirit probes too much. Even I’m unable to probe out what happened ahead!”
“I’ll go take a look first! I’ll leave the rear to you, Sis! Senior Sister and Nanako, stay beside Sister Shimizu and don’t move away from her until I return!”
Although Lily had a feeling they would run into danger, she wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon.
Nanako, Shimizu and the ponytailed disciple stood on guard while facing a direction each while Lily leaped forward and dashed through the perplexed disciples with an astonishing speed.
After advancing a few meters ahead, she had finally reached the scene of the incident.
The disciples at the forefront were all huddled together in fear and watched the man hanging from the crown of the tree.
It was a short and stout triangular-faced man.
“Instructor Tanaka…” Lily glared at the nearby scared disciples and berated them, “Why haven’t you saved him?!”
She jumped up suddenly to a height of three meters then unsheathed Crescent Moon to cut off the rope above Tanaka’s head, following which he fell to the ground. However, when Lily approached him, she discovered an inch-long blade jutting out of Tanaka’s neck. His neck had already become a mangled mess and blood seeped out heavily from the wound. Lily then placed her finger before his nose and discovered he had already stopped breathing.
“He’s dead,” Lily stated gloomily.
Although Instructor Tanaka has a petty and eccentric personality, he placed the safety of the disciples as his highest priority wholeheartedly and was a righteous man who was loyal to the dojos of the East. He had indeed fulfilled his promise and prevented harm from befalling any disciple before taking his last breath.
The Itamoto brothers and Shota also rushed over and were taken aback after seeing this scene, their faces turning unsightly.
“Tanaka’s dead? Just like that?” Itamoto Yashiro asked astonishedly.
Lily observed the noose and from the looks of it, it seemed to resemble the wares of a ninja, but she wasn’t certain of it. If Shiu were present, she could’ve come to a definitive conclusion, but she still felt puzzled about why an existence that could kill a middle-stage sword master had appeared on Mt. Inda so suddenly. Furthermore, this pattern of attack didn’t match with the records of the monsters that resided on this mountain.
“W-What do we do?” The disciples were all dumbstruck by this development. The instructor leading the group had perished soon after entering the mountain, so they were perplexed about how to proceed with the excursion.
“What are you all panicking for?” Itamoto Yashiro scolded them, “Instructor Tanaka designated us brothers as the protectors of the group when he was alive, so everyone must follow my commands henceforth! Shota, go and call over the people at the back and ask them to gather at this leveled spot. Kujou, bring the instructor’s body to the side of the trail.”
Yashiro was determined to show off his manliness during this moment of crisis and stepped forth to become the leader.
The nearby disciples had lost their bearings because of the fear, so they complied with his instructions.
“Hold on now. Why are you ordering me?” Shota, on the other hand, refused to do so.
“You still want to argue about such things at such a time? Get around to it now!” Yashiro reproached him in fury.
“What do you mean by that? You and I are both disciples and protectors, so why are you directing me?” Shota refused to back down.
“Enough. Brother Shota, could you please call over those at the back?” Lily requested softly.
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Hearing Lily say the words ‘Brother Shota’ pleased Shota a lot, so he felt eager to fulfill the stunning beauty’s request and thus complied, “All right! I shall do it at once for the sake of you, Miss Kagami!”
“Hmph!” Shota glared at the tall Itamoto Yashiro and ran back into the mist.
- a bit of a change to the monster ranking definition, since the translator didn’t want to use the plus (+) sign, we’ll now be referring to monster rank as inferior, normal and superior instead of high-rank, high-rank+, superior high-rank.