|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3222 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2231 words|
The night still reigned the skies and the moonlight beaming through the windows illuminated the fair-skinned Lily’s violently heaving chest.
“Why was I in such a weird dream and who was that big sister? She looked so pretty and mature yet also contradictory. Although it might’ve been just a dream of hers and not her personal experience, why did she have such a dream?”
“There’s no woman who would prefer such a dream, so it must’ve been a dark nightmare for sure. But who exactly is she? She looked a bit familiar, but I can’t recall who she is. I’ve seen only a few mature women of noble status after arriving in the Heian Empire, but she wasn’t among them. Yet why do I feel that I’ve seen her somewhere…”
Lily stopped overthinking and concluded that it might’ve been just a normal dream. At least, she believed that the dream wasn’t connected to the strange occurrences in the Takeda clan’s territory in any way. The woman in her dream possessed an ethereal elegance and definitely wasn’t someone from this rustic mountainous city.
Lily felt a response from the alarm spell that she had set up in her surroundings suddenly.
“Should I feel grateful for having the dream? I don’t know why I entered such a deep sleep, but it wasn’t for that big sister’s dream waking me up abruptly, I might’ve failed to notice these fellows even if they had broken through my spell.”
Lily nudged Shiu gently, and when she woke up, Lily hinted to her to remain silent and gestured to her to lay in wait for the opportune moment in the attic of the ceiling. As for Lily, she decided to hide in the corner of the room quietly, right behind the door.
The footsteps from the corridor were pretty soft and would’ve been definitely inaudible to those sleeping.
A moment later, the door slid open, and two samurai dressed in casual clothes entered the room vigilantly while holding their katanas. However, when they saw the room was empty, they just happened to move their gazes towards Lily’s direction in doubt and met Lily’s gaze.
“Aaaahhhh!” The samurai were frightened out of their wits, but, as a brave and warlike samurai of Kai, he got rid of his hesitation immediately and struck at Lily with his blades.
“Clang!” Lily, however, blocked his attacks with ease using Crescent Moon.
“Why did you attack me?! You’re both human samurai, so why did you try to kill me?” Lily questioned while locking blades with the samurai who attacked her.
The samurai possessed considerable strength that was on the level of an early-stage sword saint and although his strength paled in comparison to Lily, he could have succeeded in killing her if she were asleep in a defenseless state without the protection of spirit power.
“His Lordship commanded your death, so there’s no need for any explanation! Die!” The samurai withdrew his katana and stabbed forward again, but Lily dodged it with ease and severed the samurai’s leg with a sword strike. The other samurai rushed in with a scream at this moment and struck at Lily.
Lily swiveled around and cleaved his katana into two halves using Crescent Moon, slicing past his eyes and turning him blind in the process.
Lily then kicked that samurai and sent him crashing through the wall into the adjacent room.
“Your lord ordered my death? Do you know who I am?”
The samurai with the severed leg kneeled on the ground and directed an indignant gaze at Lily after realizing he would die from the blood loss, “Mirror Girl Lily. You killed Hojo Dijon and defeated Taira no Hachiro. Who in the East doesn’t know you?”
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Lily pressed her katana against the man’s neck, “Stop with the crap! You’ve never seen me before, so why do you know I’m here?”
“His Lordship ordered me to kill you, but I wasn’t expecting you to see through me. I have nothing to say, just kill me and be done with it!”
Lily felt furious, “I have no enmity with Takeda Tsunenobu. Why is he trying to kill me?”
“There’s no need for us vassals to know the reason for His Lordship’s command! We just need to kill you!”
“How does your lord know that I’m here? Answer me and I will spare your life!”
“Hmph! As a defeated samurai, even if you spare my life, I will commit suicide, so you might as well let me go to the afterlife in delight!” The samurai was quite resolute and determined to die, so Lily knew she wouldn’t obtain any answers from him.
“You acted because of your superior’s orders. Although I don’t admire your strength, your courage is worthy of admiration. I shall let you go delightfully then,” Lily moved her wrist calmly, and a mortal incision opened up on the samurai’s neck, leading to a swift death.
The other samurai who had lost sight and was lying on the ground had also committed suicide with a dagger.
However, the battle wasn’t over yet. There were still about a dozen enemies lying in wait outside and they rushed inside the house one after the other.
A bloody battle ensued thereafter with clashes of blades and screams resounding within the house, blood splattering around indiscriminately.
After a short while, Lily left the house with blood dripping down her sharp katana.
The attackers couldn’t even land a single injury on Lily and were massacred clean by her.
The aim of these attackers was to ambush and kill Lily instead of having a frontal confrontation. However, the samurai of Kai knew no cowardice and since they had initiated an attack, they decided to fight to the end even though they already knew the outcome.
Lily couldn’t bear to kill them, but they were all stubborn people who wouldn’t renounce attacking Lily just because she was benevolent.
The weakest one among the enemies was a late-stage swordmaster while the strongest one was a middle-stage sword saint. Shiu was of no help against opponents of such a level, so she remained hidden over the entire course of events.
Lily was about to summon Shiu after exiting the house, but she discovered someone standing underneath a tree within the cover of the night. This man was unlike the samurai who attacked her and possessed an aura stronger than Taira no Hachiro.
“Your subordinates are all dead, so why haven’t you taken action yet?” Lily inquired.
The man hid his identity by remaining within the shadows as he replied, “You’ve misunderstood things, Miss Kagami.”
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His voice felt familiar to Lily and she arrived at an inference immediately after matching it with his strength, “You are…”
“It’s fine if you realized it, Miss Kagami, but there’s no need to lay it out bare. I just came here to advise you to return immediately and abandon the investigation of Tsutsujigasaki Castle because I admire Lady Uesugi!” said the man.
Itagaki Nobuyoshi. Lily remembered his voice as there was a link between them from the battle against the Hojo.
However, it seemed like he was unwilling to reveal his identity and wasn’t really a member of the assassination squad that attacked Lily.
“You aren’t someone who would conspire to murder me, so why were you along with them?” Lily asked vigilantly. If the other party couldn’t convince her, she didn’t mind striking off yet another name from the Six Swords of the East.
“Even if you hadn’t woken up, I would have tried to alert and wake you up, so there’s no need to doubt me. I know I cannot defeat you as I am right now, and I would’ve already left if I had no plans of revealing myself.”
“Fine, then. Tell me what you know.”
“I can’t remain here for too long as that would bring suspicion onto me. I just wanted to warn you that all your movements after your arrival in Tsutsujigasaki Castle haven’t escaped that person’s eyes. I also wouldn’t have dared to meet you directly if I hadn’t thrown off the nearby informants.”
“Who’s that person?”
“It’s someone who knew you were coming to Tsutsujigasaki Castle and prepared all kinds of methods to kill you.”
“You’re saying Takeda Tsunenobu knew I was coming?”
“Please don’t get me wrong. I never said it’s His Lordship Takeda!”
‘Hmph,” Lily smiled coldly and stopped pressing Itagaki as she knew he was a loyal man and he had already given more information than the samurai who had attacked her, “Fine, then. No matter who that person is, why do they want me dead? I have no enmity with anyone from Tsutsujigasaki Castle, though, I can understand if it’s the Tokugawa who want me dead.”
“You mustn’t forget that you have been verified as the Mirror Girl personally by Lord Kamakura, Miss Kagami. There’s a lot of humans, monsters and demons who want you dead in this world.”
“…Do you know who leaked the information about me to that person, then?”
“I am unaware of that.”
“You are also a human powerhouse. From the looks of it, demons are haunting the nights of your lord’s castle and a lot of the residents have left the city as a result. A few of the remaining residents are even collaborating with the demons. Why have Lord Takeda and you let this happen? Don’t tell me that you don’t know the reason,” Lily questioned him.
“Lord Takeda, he… this matter is unrelated to you, Miss Kagami, and it isn’t something you can do anything about. I just came here to warn you so that you won’t die an obscure death in this place and cause grief to Lady Uesugi. I’ve already said enough, so it’s best if you leave before that person sends the second wave of attacks!”
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“Since you know I’m here, let me tell you that I was dispatched by Lord Kamakura to investigate this matter secretly. Thus, you have to tell me the cause of the strange occurrences within the castle! Sister Uesugi told me that you are a loyal and righteous man!” Lily goaded him.
“Lady Uesugi, huh… I never thought she would mention me. I really have no regrets in life anymore… Miss Kagami, I wield my loyalty for the Takeda clan and my righteousness for my friends. Lord Kamakura isn’t my lord, and also isn’t someone that a person of my rank can befriend. Even if he is a grand existence, my loyalty and righteousness have nothing to do with him. I’m done saying what I came to say. It’s best if you leave as quickly as possible! Farewell!”
Saying so, Itagaki Nobuyoshi disappeared into the alleys without even glancing back.
Lily also didn’t pursue after him as she didn’t want to press this loyal and righteous man too much. She looked towards the castle tower and snorted, “Hmph! It seems like the cause of everything lies with that person!”
“Shiu,” Lily called out softly.
“Yes,” Shiu was now donned in kunoichi attire and kneeled on one knee behind Lily. Of course, the speed at which she changed into kunoichi attire wasn’t something that needed to be questioned.
“It seems like we need to make a trip to the castle tower,” Lily stated.
The cause of the strange occurrences definitely originates from the core echelon of the Takeda clan. Otherwise, there’s no reason for Lord Kamakura to intervene as Takeda Tsunenobu, a member of the Furinkazan, is more than enough to deal with these monsters.
But why hasn’t he dealt with them then? And why did he send samurai to assassinate me after learning about my arrival?
Lily had a bad feeling.
Since she had been discovered already, Lily didn’t hold back and employed spirit probes freely as that would enable her to avoid the informants hidden within the city.
It was impossible for those with spirit power weaker than Lily to discover her spirit probe, the only exception being Lord Takeda. However, she employed small-scale spirit probes, and it was also highly likely that Lord Takeda was within the castle tower.
In this way, Lily and Shiu proceeded cautiously via roundabout routes and avoided the samurai monsters coming their way. The course of probing, however, really left Lily stunned, as she had actually discovered dozens of monsters hiding among the residents of the city in just the areas she had probed. This city really resembled the ghost city that was rumored to exist at the center of the desolate wastelands.
Although the duo proceeded cautiously by avoiding the informants, it was really impossible to avoid all of them. As such, Lily either killed or incapacitated the enemies, and finally arrived in front of the castle tower after toiling hard all night.
Just as Lily was pondering about how to infiltrate the castle tower, she saw a troop approach the castle tower majestically. It seemed like these troops simply had no regard for the so-called night curfew and Lily and Shiu were able to see the leader of the troops riding a steed larger than the Nioh from the cover of the bushes nearby, a gallant, black-armored samurai with an antler-horned helmet who held an impossibly long trident in his hand.
Just looking at the gallant and formidable samurai from the distance made Lily shudder and comment inwardly, “That samurai is pretty strong!”1
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