|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3095 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2080 words|
The first snow of Kai Province was remarkably intense, so the landscape outside the cave had already been dyed in a fluffy silver-white by early morning.
“Master, will we really be able to obtain the treasure in such an intense snowstorm?” Shiu asked worriedly while standing at the cave entrance.
“The treasure won’t go anywhere, so even if it might be a bit tricky, one advantage is that it’ll make it difficult for Tokugawa and Takeda to discover our trails. I believe Tokugawa must have already dispatched a large number of men to hunt us down by now,” Lily answered.
Yukiko had gotten up as well and even though the climate was pretty cold, her former melancholic eyes were now brimming with vitality. Her skin looked flushed and she seemed pretty content with the world for an inexplicable reason.
“You are right, Lady Lily. The heavier it snows, the earlier we must set off. The treasure is to the northwest of Kai Province and we’ll need to pass by the northern mountains of Tsutsujigasaki Castle to reach it, so we must proceed with utmost caution,” Yukiko smiled contentedly.
She then glanced at Lily and continued speaking, “But you must make sure you stay warm in such a cold climate, Lady Lily, as the body will weaken because of the coldness. You must ensure this doesn’t happen, as you are our master and our pillar of support.”
Saying so, Yukiko crouched down and endeavored to straighten out the side seam of Lily’s skirt somewhat abashedly.
“Your master?” Lily could understand why Shiu called her master, but she was perplexed about why Yukiko did the same as well as she didn’t remember accepting this gorgeous married woman as her maid.
However, Lily didn’t mind these minor details much as she had more important matters to deal with right now.
Yumi had also gotten up by now and by the looks of it, her complexion seemed good as well, the same as Yukiko. They were, after all, sisters in the end. However, her expression didn’t look that good and the gaze she directed at Lily still contained some fear and grievances as if Lily had taken advantage of her greatly.
“Let’s set off quickly then,” Yumi stated sullenly.
“Wait for a moment,” Lily waved her hand and manifested thin yet exquisite white-, light purple- and light pink-colored silk cloths, each 7 by 7 foot in size.
“Huh?” the trio marveled at this scene.
“Although these silk cloths are thin, they are made of very rare materials. Thus, even though they don’t possess any mystical properties, as their base material isn’t normal silk, they possess a natural resistance to coldness. Use these as scarfs, okay?” Lily smiled.
“Oh, it does look quite pretty, and I’ve never seen silk of such exquisite quality even in the Tokugawa clan,” Yukiko commented while caressing the white silk cloth, which numbered two.
The girls measured Lily from head to toe in wonder and Yumi followed up with a question to quench her curiosity, “W-Where did you take these silk cloths out from?”
Lily smiled enigmatically at her and said, “I’ll naturally tell you that in due time.”
Lily had taken out the silk cloths from the mirror space. She had also experienced some shock after discovering this was possible in the past, that the female garments were all real objects, and realized that the garments that her soul body could wear within the mirror space could all be taken out.
However, Lily knew she didn’t have the ability to move the humongous stone steles within the mirror space and that even though these garments were pretty risqué and sensual, they possessed no mystical properties, which was really unfortunate. It seemed that these garments were designed purely for the purpose of flirting and to please a certain someone’s eyes. They were also made from unbelievably high-quality materials that Lily had never seen until now, so she was certain that they weren’t silk and cotton products.
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The skies were covered in a faint mist and the land in a patch of white.
The girls donned the pretty and cold-resistive silk cloths as scarfs and began their journey towards the treasure.
Lily’s mapping and directional skills were a lot better than an average girl’s, so she was able to lead their group forward even within the snowstorm according to the map route within her memories while checking the real map in parallel.
Although the route was hardly traversable because of the heavy snow, the situation was much better than they had predicted, and the snow they passed through only reached the level of their ankles by afternoon. As a result, they didn’t run into any normal monsters along the way and the journey went relatively smooth. Even though they encountered a few demon wolves and wandering undead demon samurai who had fallen in the conflict with Shinano Province, the group dealt with them pretty easily.
As luck would have it, they also had yet to encounter any samurai from the Takeda and Tokugawa clans as well.
By night, Lily and her group managed to safely detour around Tsutsujigasaki Castle via the back of the mountain, and they continued to advance through the snow-capped land that was slowly tinted in the blue shade of the night.
“Hmm?” Lily sensed something following behind them at this instant and saw the faint phantom image of a girl behind a large tree a hundred meters away when she turned around suddenly, but a strong gust of wind blew by when she blinked to take a better look and the phantom was there no longer.
And this phenomenon had already occurred a few times by now.
“What’s going in? Am I so exhausted that I’ve begun to see hallucinations in the snow?” Lily felt slightly perplexed and employed a spirit probe but failed to find anything.
Thus, she chalked it to being just a snow spirit or a hallucination of hers.
In any case, Lily wasn’t that bothered by this phenomenon.
Just like that, they aimed for the mountain range to the northwest that bordered Kai and Shinano Provinces and walked for three whole days under the intermittent snowfall. However, the snowfall turned intense all of a sudden when they approached the valley marked on the treasure map.
The faint phantom image of the mysterious girl appeared several times over their entire course of the journey, but it disappeared almost immediately and remained eternally elusive.
However, Lily still didn’t mind it that much as the treasure took much precedence to her at this moment. Uncountable deities existed in this trichiliocosm, so she wasn’t that surprised by the fact that something might be observing her silently.
After wading through the tumultuous snowstorm, the group finally arrived at a snow-covered valley on the fourth afternoon which had two tall mountains at its mouth, the overarching void between them forming a rocky crevice that was only a few meters tall while the top of the mountains almost melded with each other, forming a very steep slope. The inside of the valley looked brimmed with mist from the outside and nothing could be seen within it. Lily’s sharp senses also picked up a faint trace of unusual eldritch energy emanating from deep within the mist as well.
“This valley… is the entrance to the treasure land marked on that treasure map,” Lily stated.
“We must be very prudent after entering inside. I can feel intense eldritch energy trapped within this valley,” Yukiko stated worriedly.
Yumi stepped forward and gazed at the misty valley, “Since it’s called a treasure, it must have something protecting it, right?”
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Lily became a little anxious at the possibility of facing a Great Demon at this point in time and worried that they might fail in obtaining the treasure and become the Great Demon’s meal after making such a long journey.
However, it was impossible for them to turn back at this point after coming so far, and Lily had already done something that might infuriate her Senior Sister in order to obtain the treasure, so she couldn’t give up now!
“Let’s enter inside and remember to maintain some caution! Shiu, walk in the center,” Lily stated.
Thus, Lily stood at the front, followed by Yukiko, then Shiu at the center and Yumi at the back as the group approached that narrow valley in a line.
The snowfall lessened by a lot once they entered the valley, but it was still pretty windy because of the constant flow of wind from within the valley to the outside, making it practically impossible for normal humans and beasts to enter inside, with the only exceptions being samurai of considerable strength.
Lily lifted her head and saw the converging rock walls at the top of the valley’s summit that only had a single ray of light passing through them and marveled at the scene momentarily.
“Uhm…” Yumi voiced out.
“What is it?” Yukiko questioned.
“I… need to relieve myself,” Yumi stated a bit squeamishly though she was dressed in relatively mature kunoichi attire.
“You’re so troublesome! Get it done quickly!” Yukiko commanded.
“Don’t go too far,” Lily stated softly.
As the valley was pretty narrow, Yumi could only go a few meters away and withdraw into a depression in the rock walls to squat down, bringing the scene of her burying her head in between her knees into view from afar…
“Let me guard you,” Lily appeared in front of Yumi suddenly and this made Yumi clench her legs subconsciously out of fear.
Lily naturally didn’t stare at Yumi intentionally and turned around to stand in front of her before offering a hand to her.
Yumi hesitated for a moment but grabbed Lily’s hand with a flushing face in the end.
“Lady… Lily,” Yumi voiced out Lily’s name a bit reluctantly, “What are we sisters supposed to do in the future?”
“Although you deceived me previously and even schemed against me, Yumi, I’ve punished you for those sins already. Thus, I shall still abide by my promise and shelter you two sisters in my territory later on according to our agreement. You’ll remain safe as long as I’m able to resist the enemies,” Lily stated firmly.
Yumi pulled Lily’s hand closer while squatting there and turned her head aside shyly, “I see… then, you mean to say that you will take responsibility, right?”
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“Huh?” Lily turned around in surprise.
“Kyah! Don’t look!”
“Tch… even my sister is calling you master now. Are you going to make me call you master as well…?”
“I’ve never said that you need to do something like that. You are older than me by two years, so you must be feeling quite demeaned to call me master, right? You can just call me by my name in that case. Also, once we’re in my territory, you should call me Lyn-hime during formal situations.”
“Uhm… even though I still feel a bit miffed about what you did to me on that day, I still wish to offer my gratitude for saving my sister and enabling her to regain her original demeanor as the clan’s overseer. Thank you.”
Even Lily felt a bit embarrassed after hearing this, “It was all meant to be, I did nothing at all. I also need to thank you two sisters for your… hard work.”
Lily’s face heated up unbearably from the embarrassment when she recalled parts of their ‘hard work.’
The group continued traversing deeper into the valley once Yumi was done.
The deeper they went, the denser the eldritch energy became, which inevitably raised Lily’s caution and prompted the group to slow down their speed and tread forward step-by-step with prudence.
At the same time, while Lily and her group concentrated their efforts on going deeper into the valley cautiously as they could run into a monster at any moment, a dark mass of troops marched towards Lily’s group precisely from about 40 kilometers away.
The troops of this dense group wading through the snowstorm revealed their appearances gradually, and from the looks of it, they seemed like an army division who flew the banners of the Tokugawa clan as well as the four-diamond crested banners of the Takeda clan.
The division of troops stretched far into the horizon, where they blended into the mist imperceptibly and consisted of hundreds of fully-armored troops, each shrouded in the valiant aura of the Takeda and Tokugawa clan’s elite samurai.1
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