|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 2482 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1709 words|
On the same night under the same moon.
Except for the night watchmen, the inhabitants of Kamakura city were all fast asleep already. After all, candles were a valuable commodity in the Land of East during these trying times.
However, the flames of the candles were still brightly lit inside the room Saionji Kotoka had rented temporarily.
She was in the middle of auditing the deeds and accounts she had received on behalf of Lily that were a mess riddled with errors and omissions, and thus required a prudent assessment.
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Kotoka sorted out the documents and sipped onto the tea that had already turned cold, feeling a bit tired from the work.
She got up and stood at the street-facing window of the room that was on the 2nd floor of the lodge and gazed at the dark alleys of the ancient city.
The street was quiet, and the houses desolate; the moonlight which illuminated the empty footpath made it seem as if it were covered in snow. Kotoka’s thoughts wandered aimlessly as she gazed upon this scenery.
“For some reason, I feel like this street resembles that street a bit…”
It was a chilly snowing night from fifteen years ago.
Kotoka, who was still just a dainty girl, walked alone on the old street covered in snow while dressed in a woolen cloak, her face accompanied by tear stains that were already frozen over.
The young Kotoka parted her pink lips and exhaled an aggrieved breath of air.
“We’re obviously a matriarchal family, so why are you forcing me to get married?! Even if it’s with a man who’s marrying into our family, I don’t want to do it! I… like girls1, that lady…”
Kotoka’s face flushed up yet her expression turned desponded again immediately. Her slender body swayed gently within the snowing winds and she was forced to support her body by placing her hand on the ice-cold wall before her.
“That lady shoulders a heavy responsibility on her shoulders. Although she’s unmarried at the age of twenty, I haven’t heard anything about her having such a preference. My love for her might be one-sided and unattainable, but even so, I absolutely cannot accept a man and even more so cannot accept a loveless marriage just for the sake of producing offspring!”
“W-What am I supposed to do now…. Hic…”
The young Kotoka was currently still in Ise2, a place that contributed greatly to the prosperity of the Kansai region of Japan. Its streets were as numerous as Kamakura’s and they came in all sizes, however, it was bereft of a palace.
The Kotoka then wasn’t as experienced and smart as the Kotoka now, so she was quite impulsive and lacked the insight to see the big picture.
“Just let me freeze to death in this snow, that would be much better than getting married to a man… How could a descendant of a matriarchal family bear such humiliation?! I don’t want to do it… Oh, Goddess of the Moon, please enlighten Kotoka. What am I supposed to do?”
At this moment of weakness, Kotoka heard the faint wails of an infant from the distant snowing winds. Those wails were so weak and laden with grief that Kotoka found it hard to break free from their reverie and this prompted the dazed Kotoka to look for the source of wails.
They led her to a house that had a beautiful baby bundled in cloth placed before its moonlit doors.
“Who could be so cruel to abandon such a cute baby in this snowing winds?!”
Although Kotoka was unwilling to get married, she liked children, so it was impossible for her to just stand still and watch such a cute baby freeze to death in the snow.
She picked up the child into her embrace and saw that it was a beautiful girl.
Perhaps because she had felt the warmth of the embrace, the baby’s cries softened to a still before eliciting a smile towards Kotoka, and this smile alone was enough for Kotoka to know that she would never let go of this child unless her birth parents were to appear.
A thought flashed across her perceptive and business-oriented mind at this moment, “Since you want a daughter for the continuation of the family and I’m unwilling to marry, I might as well…”
Afterwards, Kotoka employed some methods and managed to successfully persuade her family that she had given birth to this child with her boyfriend who she had eloped with. In fact, Kotoka had just hired that fake boyfriend with money.
Although the family blamed Kotoka, she was the sole heiress of the family, so they could only accept this fact. Thus, Kotoka raised the child like her own daughter and a few years later, she brought the child along with her to Kanto and took over the business of the Saionji family here.
As for the lady who Kotoka truly liked, she was unable to see her again because of the increasing danger of the world. However, if one were to visit the room where Kotoka stored her collections, they would still be able to chance upon that woman’s portrait…
The Kotoka now felt a bit sad after recalling these things. Although she harbored deep emotions of love during her youth, they had already turned into apathy now.
However, the time that was lost never returned. Although she was called mother and lady, she was in fact still a 35-year-old virgin3 and such was her woe.
“Forgive me… Nanako. I just want to let you experience the same happiness as other girls, so I cannot tell you some things yet. The day you find your true love is perhaps the day I will tell you everything…”
In the depths of the cave in Mt. Inda right now.
The pattering sounds of water echoed within the dark and moist passage of the cave just like the chimes of a bell. Nanako walked beside Lily with a gentle look in her eyes. Even though the path ahead of them was filled with worries, there was no need to fear anything as long as one had someone to accompany them on this path and thus have no regrets in life!
Nanako summoned her courage and attempted to hold Lily’s hand while trembling all over.
Lily, on the other hand, treated this action as a little sister’s spoiled behavior and accepted it with a gentle smile on her face.
This acceptance that lacked even the slightest hesitation instead made Nanako feel disappointed even though she had succeeded in holding hands with Lily. However, she just produced a glum yet satisfied smile and continued walking.
“L-Lady Kagami… Can we rest for a moment? We really can’t walk any longer,” A male disciple pleaded while supporting his apprentice sister.
Lily turned around and examined the group which had seven to eight injured members.
If wasn’t that much of a difficult task for samurai to walk continuously for several days, but it was different for the wounded.
Lily was also a bit worried and as she hadn’t found anyone chasing them from the occasional spirit probes she had sent out, she said the following words, “Fine, then. We’ll take a short break before continuing.”
The wounded men and women finally sat down in relief.
Although Lily wasn’t a hypocritical woman, she also wasn’t an apathetic person and thus didn’t do something like abandoning the wounded members. However, this also meant that she had placed the entire group in a much greater danger.
Shimizu caught up from the back and was just about to inquire about the reason they had stopped, but she refrained from doing so after seeing the weak and wounded members.
Shota also arrived before Lily and although his height was a head shorter than Lily’s, he suggested in a firm tone, “Lady Kagami, why don’t you take some rest as well? Leave the task of standing guard to me. For some reason, I feel that my senses have become even sharper in this cave.”
“Very well. I shall trouble you then, Senior Shota,” Lily didn’t avoid him just because of his height and appearance and actually thought that he was a good person.
“S-Senior… Hehehe!” Shota felt ecstatic after hearing Lily refer to him as ‘Senior’ and jumped about excitedly in high spirits as he left. He reached the back of the ranks swiftly and climbed up on a stalagmite to act as a sentinel.
Lily wasn’t feeling that fatigued but the burden on her heart made her feel a bit tired. As such, she also sat down beside Nanako to get some rest.
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Shimizu also sat down to the side and meditated with closed eyes.
Only the crackling sounds of the burning torches remained within the dark and damp cave. Everyone had solemn expressions on their faces as they didn’t know where the path ahead of them would lead them to or whether they would be able to return alive. They recalled the words Lily had told them in the middle of the journey, that the objective of this excursion was to survive, yet this simple task seemed so difficult right now. At least, half of the disciples had already failed in accomplishing it.
Shota remained crouched on the stalagmite like an agile rat and observed the surroundings vigilantly, looking for each and every subtle movement within the cave. However, a bashful expression cropped up on his face when he recalled his queen’s cold yet sensual beauty and the way she had inadvertently called him ‘Senior’ in a gentle fashion. Naturally, this bashful expression wasn’t really that pleasing to the eyes.
Shota knew himself too well and knew it was impossible for him to get together with Miss Kagami. However, just remaining beside her and getting the treatment of a rat was enough to make him fully satisfied as long as he could act as her sentinel and hear her call him ‘Senior’.
Shota revealed quite a wretched and blissful smile on his face.
A cold light flashed by and Shota’s petite body was cut into two silently by the chained sickle.
He didn’t even have the time to alert his beloved Miss Kagami before embracing death.4
- Silva: Yuri!!
- Silva: *Gasp
Robinxen: Now a lot of things make sense, especially wanting to attach herself and Nanako to Lily, it’s sort of like a certification of legitimacy.
- Silva: Well, at least consider it a mercy he died instantly with blissful(?) thoughts.
Robinxen: Your sacrifice will be remembered for like a week or so.