|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3282 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2175 words|
The luminescent moonlight cascaded down the starry night skies like usual.
Donned in a snug pale purple long-sleeved loose kimono patterned with embroidery of blue and white koi fish flitting through aquatic grass, Haihime overlooked the scenery of Mt. Fuji from a window.
This age-old demonic mountain that was akin to a slumbering prehistoric behemoth billowed out thick smoke from its volcanic crater under the curtain of the night and flickered with flames intermittently, painting the vast dark skies in its crimson red each time.
Haihime’s garments were pretty lavish and expensive, but she never wore them properly and didn’t even bother tying it up at the waist with a sash. She just draped the long-sleeved kimono on her naked body to cover the important bits of her body nonchalantly.
Ordinarily, married women weren’t permitted to wear long-sleeved kimonos, but Haihime still wore all kinds of lavish long-sleeved kimonos.
She held a pipe in her mouth and there seemed to be no moment where her mouth was free from smoking on something, which was a pretty uncomfortable feeling.
Haihime blew out the smoke and revealed a gleeful smile as she stared at the distant Mt. Fuji.
“No matter which side I look at it from, this Mt. Fuji is so beautiful. It’s so majestic and brimming with wild and tyrannical power. It glowers at the whole world while standing at the summit of the Heian Empire and just a teeny gasp from it is enough to quake the world…” Haihime’s voice seemed to contain a longing for something at all times, but it wasn’t the flirtatious kind and rather the charming, mature and intellectual kind. Her slightly quivering voice was a bit husky for a woman, and each of her subconscious movements seemed to make all the solid objects around her append and succumb to her, but it was unknown whether she was doing this intentionally or unintentionally.
A cat-masked Itsura clan kunoichi appeared behind Haihime at this moment.
“Lady Haihime!” The kunoichi reported, “According to the latest information from Kai Province, an unexpected event occurred during Tokugawa’s meeting with Takeda. Takeda seems to have regained his senses for some reason and Tokugawa has fled back to Mikawa after getting hurt grievously.”
Haihime bit the pipe inside her mouth, “What happened?”
“Although unbelievable, according to the information, that Kagami Lily actually arrived in Kai Province and even fought with Takeda and Tokugawa and managed to defeat Takeda, Tokugawa and Honda, these three Spirit Jade powerhouses with her sole power and also neutralized the revenant spell on Takeda,” The kunoichi reported.
“Oh?” A trace of astonishment flashed through Haihime’s face and she revealed a rather meaningful smile with her luscious purple-red rouged lips, “This mirror girl has really exceeded my expectations.”
“She was just a helpless little girl who didn’t even have the power to fight back against Hojo a few months ago, yet she has not only slain Hojo and Genja, but also defeated a member of the Furinkazan in such a short amount of time? Unbelievable, this is really too unbelievable.”
Haihime arrived in front of the Itsura kunoichi and lifted the bottom of her mask with her finger while looking down on her, a rich and mellow feminine scent oozing out from underneath her unbound long-sleeved kimono which made the kunoichi’s breasts heave up and down visibly.
“Go. Continue paying close attention to information about Kagami Lily. I had personally bewitched Takeda with the path of a revenant, and never expected that woman would actually neutralize it. Although Takeda and Tokugawa cannot aid us temporarily anymore, Lord Kamakura has, in fact, already lost control over three of the Furinkazan members. The only one still faithful to him is Ashikaga, so we can say that we’ve long fulfilled our purpose. There’s no need to mind them for now, so it’s best to direct our attention to this mirror girl a lot more.”
“Yes, Lady Haihime.”
“Mirror girls. They’ve borne the fate of getting hunted and ravaged throughout the ages, yet why is this mirror girl alone so formidable?”
“Could she possess the real mirror?” The kunoichi inquired.
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“The mirror is real for sure, but the real mirror has appeared too many times over the course of history. Yet almost all of those mirror girls have suffered miserable ends once discovered by the world… I really wonder just what special abilities this real mirror of hers possesses that it has enabled her to become so formidable. It actually makes me want to get that mirror, no, that woman, even more, so that I can interrogate her.”
“I shall dispatch monsters to investigate from all sides.”
“Mhm. Oh, yes. Has there been any information about Yumi recently?”
“…No. She arrived in Tsutsujigasaki Castle along with Tokugawa for the meeting with Takeda, but she seemed to have vanished after that. There’s also yet another strange thing. Although Tokugawa’s party fled back to Mikawa, his wife didn’t return with him and is also missing.”
“That seems to be her name.”
“Hmph! That woman was the overseer of the Midō clan originally and faded from the sight of the world after eloping with a man. I thought she was a profane woman who succumbed to lust and got entrapped in its poison but going missing at this time really raises some doubts. Could it be that she had bet a decade of her life’s youth all to trick the world?”
Haihime waved the kunoichi away and continued smoking leisurely, “Interesting. It seems like things are getting more and more interesting.”
At this moment, the house meant for the girls to live in, and the mining facilities had just begun constructing in Cherry Valley.
Lily went to oversee the construction and saw the burly miners and woodworkers working happily.
“Lady Lyn-hime,” The workers kneeled down consequently after seeing Lily arrive with Kotoka.
“You’ve all worked hard. This mine is extremely important to me, so I hope that you can put in extra work time to finish the work as soon as possible. Naturally, you must ensure that there’s no drop in quality. As for the wages… I will double it for everyone,” Lily gave an absolute yet gentle smile.
“Worry not, Lady Lyn-hime! The wages you give us are many times the amount other liege lords give us, and you’ve even given us more than enough rice to feed our stomachs that we don’t need to limit our food. We’ll definitely work as hard as we can!”
“Mhm. Thank you for the trouble, everyone,” Lily smiled.
“Lady Lyn-hime shall dance for you all and reward you with a feast once you’ve finished the work,” Kotoka stated.
“Really?!” The workers’ fighting spirit seemed to have rekindled and each one of them seemed ready to give their work their all.
“Stop messing around, Madam Kotoka!” Lily pressed her.
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“Things are progressing according to our estimates, Lily. I reckon that we’ll be able to begin extraction next week and will need at least four months to produce the magatamas you require,” Kotoka stated.
“Mhm. I know that. You’ve worked hard, Madam Kotoka. I have an urgent need for those magatamas, so we can divide the produce later once I have them,” Lily replied.
“Lily, magatamas are strategic-grade items, so you mustn’t give them out casually and need to draw up a strict wage system instead.”
“Eh? Well, let me ponder about this further then,” Lily stated.
It seems like nothing will come out of waiting here for the next few days, so I might as well set off towards the Endless Demon Mountains.
Lily arrived inside the temple which now had curtains drawn up on both sides that acted as Kotoka’s workspace and the temporary living quarters for Shiu and the Midō sisters.
Lily pulled open the curtain leading to Yumi’s living quarters as she planned to talk about some matters with her.
However, she found Yukiko within as well.
Yumi, on the other hand, lied on the cotton-padded mattress and breathed quickly with a flushed face. Although her cheeks had a healthy flush, her condition didn’t seem that well.
“Are you all right, Yumi?” Lily rushed in anxiously and knelt beside Yumi.
However, Yumi had her eyes closed and moaned in pain underneath the thin blanket on top of her.
Yukiko stated in deep worry, “Yumi’s been like this since yesterday. I don’t know what illness she has caught. It’s really worrying me.”
“Illness?” Lily also became worried. A 7th-stage Awakened practitioner possessed excellent bodily functions and rarely caught ordinary illnesses. They also had a longer lifespan than mortals and were completely fine even in this cold snow-capped region, so it wasn’t that easy for someone like that to catch an illness.
“I’ll go call Madam Kotoka so that she can take a look,” Lily stated.
“T-There’s… no… need… for… that…” Yumi stated slowly all of a sudden, but her breathing still sounded quite unstable, “It’s not my first time having this experience. It occurs every few months and no medicine is effective. It’ll get better within eight to ten days… so there’s no need to make a big deal out of it. However, my body feels fatigued because of the high fever and this disables me from walking, so I fear it’ll end up delaying master’s important trip to the Land of Hundred Demons.”
“Stop worrying about such things. How can I take you along to such a perilous region when you’re so sick? You need to take ample rest even if you recover within a few days. I’ll go call Kotoka.”
Lily got up and went to get Kotoka.
A large part of the Saionji family’s business dealt with trading of medicinal ingredients, so Kotoka was actually somewhat versed in medicine.
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Kotoka inspected Yumi but shook her head helplessly as she failed to find the cause of the illness, “Her pulse seems too unstable, but there doesn’t seem to be any burden on her body. Her forehead doesn’t have a hot temperature, but some parts of her body are extremely hot. I’m unable to diagnose the cause.”
Yumi also shook her head and stated in a much softer voice than usual, “I know my body better than anyone else. I’ll get better in a few days, so there’s no need to worry about me. Ordinary medicine is ineffective even if I take it. I’ve had this illness for several years now.”
“Lily, I’m not a professional physician and since Miss Yumi is a practitioner, this illness might not be a common one that afflicts mortals. I fear we’ll have to invite a high-ranked onmyōji to discover the cause of the illness.”
“But where do we find a high-ranked onmyōji?” Lily asked impatiently.
“Besides Kamakura, there’s nowhere in the East where we can find a high-ranked onmyōji. However, Kamakura’s high-ranked onmyōji is stationed in the Bureau of Onmyō, so we can’t summon them at will.”
“You needn’t go through such trouble, Master. You’ll have to go back and forth around the East and probably have to request the high official of the Genji clan in order to make the high-ranked onmyōji act. However, I would’ve almost recovered by the time they arrive. Also, you absolutely cannot let the people in Kamakura find this place. I’m really fine and will get better in a few days,” Yumi’s voice didn’t seem that weakened, but it did sound somewhat softer.
“If you say so, but you must rest well,” Lily stated gently.
Yumi fished out a sheepskin scroll from her bosom and said, “This is the map leading to Mt. Fuji within the Endless Demon Mountains, Master. The locations marked on it are either monster lairs or temples occupied by demons in the Land of Hundred Demons. You’ll be able to reach the volcanic crater of Mt. Fuji in a relatively safe manner as long as you avoid these spots.”
“Yumi… I can’t leave when I’m worried about you like this.”
“I’m fine, Master. You’ll delay the matter too long if you wait for me to get better. You’ve always acted decisively with regards to important matters, haven’t you, Master? It’s best to forge the evil slaying sword as soon as possible since it’ll strengthen you by a lot and enable you to protect this Cherry Blossom Valley better. I’m really fine, Master, and if you worry this much, it’ll actually make me feel guilty and worsen my condition,” Yumi was determined to have Lily depart without her.
“Ugh… since you insist that much… fine…”
“Master,” Yukiko added, “I’ll take care of Yumi, so don’t worry about her. On the other hand, since you are going to infiltrate into the Endless Demon Mountains, you must proceed with the utmost caution, Master.”
“Ugh… I got it. I’ll strive to return as quickly as possible. Make sure you rest well, Yumi. I hope to see you in a better state when I return,” Lily received the map from Yumi’s hand and held her hand for a moment, still feeling somewhat reluctant to leave.
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