Chapter 98 – Equanimous—A Heart Like Water

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3263 characters
Translator: Aoi English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 2430 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

The Genji, that is, the Minamoto clan was an illustrious aristocratic samurai clan in the eyes of the samurai families, noble families and the commoners and was often placed on a higher pedestal.

Their illustriousness didn’t result from extrinsic qualities like luxury and wealth but instead resulted from their fame and legacy as a samurai clan that was built upon their magnificent and glorious history.

However, this topmost samurai family of the Heian Empire was home to repression, darkness and cruelty known to none.

“Shimizu. You’re already 6-years-old now. Although you are a girl, as a woman of the Genji, you’ve reached the age where you ought to take up a wooden sword. When the men of Genji go into battle, the women of Genji pick up the naginata to guard the castle, and when the men are under siege, the women fight alongside them! And when the men commit hara-kiri for glory, the women of the clan chop the heads of their beloved personally and perish through self-immolation along with all their possessions. Such are the women of Genji!”

“What? Shimizu, you’re already 6 -years-old yet you can’t even outrun a 10-years-old boy from an average samurai family. What prospects do you even have in the future? You might as well get married then!”

“Shimizu, you’re already 8-years-old yet you weren’t even able to take first place in the local under-14 wooden sword competition. You’re a disgrace of the Genji!”

“Cough-Cough-Cough. Your swordplay fails to match up to that of your elder brothers and sisters and you have a sickly body on top of that. No feudal lord would want to accept a girl like you as the bride even if you were to be married off to them.”

“Your parents were both samurai of the Genji, but they perished in battle. You have no land to your name and you’re so weak, so how will you live from now on?”

“Shimizu, why are you so slow in learning things? The other children of the Genji just needed 2 hours to learn this swordplay while you still haven’t managed to grasp the key elements after 3 days. Are you really a direct descendant of the Genji bloodline?”

The young 10-year-old Shimizu wasn’t just weaker than those of the same age in the Genji, she was also weaker than the direct descendants of the Taira clan, and even her height was below average compared to the other children of the Genji.

The children of the Genji, no matter whether they were male or female, were all tall and healthy with a vigorous and lively personality as a result of their exceptional inherent bloodline.

Meanwhile, although the young Shimizu had glossy dark blue hair, she had a dull expression and a pale complexion.

It was New Year’s Eve tonight and the children of the Genji were enjoying the celebration within the imperial palace along with their parents, greeting their relatives. The young Shimizu, however, stood alone since no one wished to associate with her. It wasn’t because she was an orphan but rather because she was a weak and sickly introvert.

The young Shimizu was barefoot on this snowy night because the other older children had hidden her footwear, yet no one worried for her. The warm lights and merry laughter from the rooms of the imperial palace reflected in her eyes while she only had the snow to accompany her.

She wasn’t qualified to become a core member of the Genji Dojo because she was talentless and finding a marriage partner for her in the future was also a difficult task because of her sickliness.

She had no land to her name and the only property she owned was a house with a courtyard that was under the management of her uncle, yet Shimizu didn’t know why her uncle didn’t allow her to live in the house her parents had left for her and made her live in a tiny wooden house that was located in a desolate courtyard in a corner of the imperial palace.

Shimizu hated the New Year celebration because everyone participated in the reunion on this day, but this only made her lonelier.

Shimizu hated practicing the sword because it only made the adults feel she was utterly hopeless. She was too weak and too slow in learning and wasn’t able to keep up with the pace of the other children. Her body was too frail and the other children of the Genji were also afraid of hurting her. As such, they never practiced or played with her.

In fact, Shimizu was quite pretty, but her sickliness shadowed her beauty and diminished her radiance.

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Oh, how very much she envied her tall and healthy elder sisters. Oh, how very much she wondered why they were so popular and liked by everyone. They were excused even when they made blunders, yet she was only met with harsh criticism even when she tried her best and was reproached often.

Thus, Shimizu hated New Year’s Eve.

She wandered within the snow in thin clothes while dragging the patchwork ragdoll that her mother had left behind for her. The ragdoll looked pretty ugly and was somewhat filthy and morbid in appearance, so it didn’t look that appealing to others, just like her.

She had unknowingly wandered further from the boisterous noises of the inner region of the imperial palace and walked out through a hole in the wall of her dilapidated courtyard into the endless mountain woods that laid on the outskirts of Kamakura.

The chilly winds caused Shimizu to start coughing after she had taken a few steps, but when she turned around, the imperial palace was no longer visible to her, only the snowy wind and the quiet woods remained in her vision.

She wondered whether she would freeze to death out here in the woods. The young Shimizu had no plans of meeting such an end yet. Talentless as she may be, she was still a direct descendant of the Genji, so she possessed some amount of spirit power that enabled her to resist the coldness. However, how long could a weak light provide illumination and warmth for?

Shimizu wandered within the woods on this night and forayed deeper and deeper, until she finally saw her parents, a tall and elegant couple. They smiled towards her gently with love and pulled her hands while treading on the snow, freeing her from the loneliness.

She had seen a hallucination and if she were to proceed further like this, she may have never been able to turn back.

However, an ancient well appeared in front of her within the woods at this moment and the ray of light beaming from the well brought Shimizu back to her senses. Her mother and father disappeared, and she realized that she was alone within the dark night with only this luminous well to accompany her.

She was instinctively attracted by the seemingly warm ray of light beaming from the well, so she approached it and saw a wooden frame above the well that had a bucket tied to a hemp rope.

The well was quite deep and had a captivating ray of light beaming out from it uninterruptedly.

However, this light seemed to originate from the bottom of the well, so Shimizu had no means to pull up the object. She wanted to leave yet she was unable to resist the allure of that light.

As such, the young Shimizu made a move that a normal child would’ve never done.

She crawled into the bucket and lowered herself into the well little by little, finally reaching the bottom of the well.

There, she found an octagonal mirror that was half-buried into the dirt. The mirror didn’t have any light, but it still reflected the snowy night and the inverted reflection of the moon as if it were being reflected in water even though the well had no water and the sky had no moon.

Shimizu dug out the mirror from the dirt and wiped it clean with her sleeves. For reasons unknown even to her, she placed the mirror inside her clothes after that and since she possessed spirit power, she was able to pull herself up to the ground after crawling back into the bucket.

And the moment she placed down her feet on the ground, the snowfall stopped.

The moon revealed its visage from within the dark clouds then, and the moonlight illuminated the mirror inside Shimizu’s clothes, activating an ancient and abstruse consciousness that transmitted a legacy into Shimizu’s mind.

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Thenceforth, Shimizu became even more reclusive. She refrained from participating in the dojo’s training and also stopped trying to swap pointers with her fellow disciples. Half-a-year later, the barely 11-year-old Shimizu entered the dojo within the imperial palace while dressed in filthy training robes with a tiny wooden sword in hand.

Although she was ridiculed, loathed and excluded after her appearance and was almost driven away by the dojo master, she defeated all the disciples within the dojo on this day.

Thereafter, Shimizu never lost in the competitions of the same age group held within the Genji. At the age of 13, She defeated the strongest direct descendant of the Genji under the age of eighteen in the Land of East, a 17-year-old boy with a valiant appearance. After the duel, the boy performed a courteous bow and stated his name—Minamoto no Kenki.

On the next day, Shimizu met the legendary Lord Kamakura, and from then onwards, she became a rare talent who received the attention from all of the Genji.

At the age of 16, Shimizu defeated the late-stage sword saint swordsmanship instructor of the Genji with a single move. Thenceforth, as an enigma who lived in seclusion often, she was extolled as one of the Six Swords of the East along with the other rising talents who had emerged in this dark age.

Shimizu rarely appeared in the public, but it was rumored that she had dueled privately with Ashikaga Kiyoshi and Itagaki Nobuyoshi. As for the outcome of their duels, Shimizu refrained from answering, but the other two claimed Shimizu’s strength was much higher than theirs. As such, she obtained the first place among the ranking of the Six Swords as a talented girl of the topmost samurai family, the Minamoto clan.

No one in the outside world knew that she was a pitiful, sickly and talentless dumb orphan of the Genji a few years prior to this. To protect their reputation, the Genji naturally blocked any such news from leaking outside of the clan as none of the adults wished to admit they had looked away from the mistreatment she had been subjected to back then.1


The sunset glow dyed the northern skies of Mt. Inda in a beautiful yet dark orange color. However, the sun that should’ve originally depicted a mesmerizing sight had been overcast by an unfathomable shadow.

What else but the chaotic heavens could cast a shadow on the magnificent sun? The girls, too, were fighting with their lives on the line to survive this ordeal, all for their passions!

“The mirror is my everything. If it weren’t for this mirror, my life would’ve ended on that snowy night when I was 10. No, I would have no life at all without the mirror!”

Shimizu touched her kimono’s sash subconsciously while the poignant sunset glow reflected on Tranquil Bamboo’s blade. She had a resolute look in her eyes as she faced the siege of the demon soldiers, snake women and the spiders as well as the threat of the demon kunoichi, Yuki Mayumi.

“Hahahaha!” Yuki Mayumi chuckled wickedly, “Minamoto no Shimizu, you can’t even defeat me, so how will you face the siege of so many monsters? Just hand over the mirror and your life shall be spared. Your treatment is much better than Lily’s already since she’s bound to die for sure no matter what happens. So, what are you still hesitating for?”

“Hahahahahaha!” Shimizu began laughing out loud suddenly.

Yuki Mayumi raised her brows in response, “You’re at the end of the road now, so why are you laughing?”

“You demons and monsters from the Land of Hundred Demons have hunted mirror girls for hundreds of years, yet you haven’t made even the least bit of progress!”
“Hoh? Why do you say that?”
“Don’t you understand why the mirror girls are called mirror girls? Asking a mirror girl to hand over the mirror to live is no different from asking them to gouge their hearts out to survive.”
“Hmph! It seems like there’s no saving you! Minamoto no Shimizu, since you’ve chosen to remain stubborn, I shall kill the woman who Lady Haihime holds in high regard without any qualms!”

“Shut up! Having that Queen of Hundred Demons hold me in high regard only makes me feel disgusted and nauseous!” Shimizu pointed her blade at Yuki Mayumi, “I was defeated by Uesugi Rei once, so laugh at that if you want to, but that’s the last time I would ever lose right until my death.”

Shimizu’s dark blue hair fluttered in the evening skies as she charged towards the monsters!

“GRRRAAHHHH—!” On the other side, the towering demons had surrounded the struggling red-kimono girl and were trying to grab her while she rolled left and right to dodge their hands.

“Mirror… girl… kill… the… mirror… girl…”
“Kill…”

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Lily felt her breathing turn more and more rushed and all she saw were the legs and feet of the demons that were akin to walls. The skies above her were hidden by humongous hands and the narrow and stifling space made her breathless.

“Mirror girl… Am I supposed to die just because I’m the mirror girl?”

A strong grudge manifested inside Lily and ignited a karmic hellfire-like hate within her for the demons, monsters and the agent of the hidden manipulator who tried to take her life for no reason!

Lily rolled sideways to dodge the hand of a blue demon and got up to face the humongous red hand that attempted to capture her. She leaped up suddenly and spun with swift momentum, releasing an explosive crimson sword beam from Crescent Moon!

“Spurt—!” The red demon’s thick arm was cleaved off from its body, following which Lily stepped on the bisected arm and leaped onto the red demon’s shoulders!2

“I can’t die here.”

Lily spun the sharp edge of her blade around and performed a backslash.

And the head of the humongous red demon rolled off after falling to the ground.



References

  1. Robinxen: Shimizu’s exposition on her sob story background is making her future look bleaker….
  2. Robinxen: Do you think everyone is bored of making footnotes or just don’t really make them on action sequences? It was so lonely here today.
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