|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3120 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2196 words|
Lily traversed through the towering bamboo woods of Mino alone. She had never seen such tall bamboo in her whole life, the thinnest bamboo tree possessing a width broader than her waist and the broadest one needed her to hug it with both hands to measure its dimension.
The dark masses of broad bamboo shoots were also taller than the average human.
The bamboos were bluish-green in color and were present as far as the eyes went, a faint blue mist lingering in the air momentarily. The edges of the mountain’s path were covered in bamboo leaves with the occasional stone lantern lying along it, which made it clear that this was once a route leading to Kansai.
Although it was said that the Endless Wastelands lied in between Kansai and Kanto, not all land consisted of barren and withered wastelands. Just like how most of Owari had retained its natural form, the so-called wastelands actually referred to the lands deserted by humans, the lands that had broken away from the imperial court and Kamakura’s control plus protection, turning into breeding grounds for the monsters.
Although the scenery of these woods was quite pleasant, the air contained a deep scent of bamboo in it, and Lily didn’t dare to lower her guard for even a single second.
A pale-yellow light manifested to the front at this moment and pulsated through the quiet and secluded bamboo woods.
A one-eyed, one-legged kasa-obake, that is, an umbrella ghost, skipped left and right as it made its way towards Lily.
Lily had once seen an umbrella ghost in a demon parade, which she found weird as it wasn’t a strong demon. However, in Mino, where the population had diminished greatly along with the simultaneous rise in eldritch energy, the umbrella ghost was actually able to attain 3rd-stage Awakened level strength after absorbing the dense eldritch energy present here.
Such a monster was quite threatening for an ordinary samurai.
For Lily, however, it was just child’s play to handle it.
An umbrella ghost possessed a tame nature and rarely took the initiative to kill humans. The worst it did was skip out of the woods to scare people out of their wits and relish in their fear.
Lily pulled out Crescent Moon after seeing the umbrella ghost approach and slashed sideways, emitting a white beam of sword light that generated a gust of wind and blew the umbrella ghost away before cutting off a huge boulder into the distance.
The umbrella ghost also sensed that the woman in front of it was much stronger than the leader of the monsters on this mountain, so it plunged into the woods in fear and vanished into its depths.
Lily also found no reason to slaughter a minor demon that just scared people.
Lily continued traversing through the deep bamboo woods and furrowed her brows slightly after catching the scent of rot from ahead, but she still moved forward fearlessly.
The corpses of three women dressed in tattered clothes who had been dead for several days were hung at the wayside, forming quite a disharmonious picture with the natural surroundings.
Although Lily felt discomforted, there was nothing that she could about people who had been dead for several days as she wasn’t the Goddess of Resurrection. She was about to move away from the corpses, but she paused when she saw a wooden board planted beside them.
It had the following statement written on it1 in red—It was reported that a bunch of mirror girls had infiltrated Mino from Kansai. These three women are surviving members of the mirror girl bloodline and they were killed on the spot after getting discovered by the protector of Mino and hung publicly for everyone to see. Whoever reports the whereabouts of surviving mirror girls shall be rewarded with two kan, while executing the mirror girl clansmen, both young and old, will be rewarded with 5 kan for each head. The reward for the corpse of mirror girls between the age of thirteen and fifty is 50 kan for each corpse. Information about the village of the mirror girls hiding in Mino shall be rewarded with 10 gold coins. —Ouchi Koreyoshi, liege lord of 500 families and the protector of Mino.
Lily felt anger well up inside her after seeing such a clear and detailed notice and bounty2.
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As the possessor of the real mirror, Lily was the true destined mirror girl. Although she still didn’t know what her mission entailed, seeing the mirror girls suffer such inhuman treatment by other humans filled her with anger. The fact that the notice depicted the act in such a blunt and guiltless manner, as if mirror girls were born to be killed and deserved death as long as they belonged to the mirror girl bloodline, just made things worse!
Especially the bounty for the young and aged women of the mirror girl bloodline, it was ten times higher! This was equivalent to treating human lives the same as monsters by measuring their comparative value against the threat they possess!
Just what sin had the mirror girls committed that they needed to get hunted like monsters? Lily really wanted to know the answer to this.
Lily really wanted to turn about and go up north to charge into Mino’s Gifu Castle and ask the protector of Mino how much his head was worth with her blade at his neck.
But she then recalled that Kansai, where she was headed towards, was nearly filled with influential powers that persecuted mirror girls and wondered how exactly she would deal with them as her current strength was still far from allowing her to contend against the imperial court in the open.
Feeling helpless and distressed, she ruptured the ground and opened a hole in it with a slash of her blade and severed the ropes hanging the mirror girls’ corpses immediately before burying them inside the hole with fallen bamboo leaves and chopped bamboo trees, one of which crushed the wooden message board underneath it. This was all that she could do for the girls.
The monsters came all the way to the mirror girl to interfere in her journey to the west.
However, even though she was the mirror girl, Lily was still clueless about the mission of the mirror girls and the reason they suffered such genocide by the whole world.
Lily came across a bunch of slovenly-dressed vagrant samurai as she walked along the path, each with messy hair and unkempt faces, their eyes oozing with hostility.
Lily intended to pass by them as quickly as possible as she didn’t wish to see people like them much.
But the vagrant samurai didn’t let Lily pass and blocked her path.
“Hoh! How come there’s such a pretty lady in these wildlands?” said one of the tall and lean samurai.
“How about you come have fun with us?” said a dark-skinned baldhead.
Lily really didn’t like killing humans, whether there be good or evil in nature. Mino had a diminishing population and though vagrants were just scum among them, their sins didn’t deserve death. However, Lily failed to understand why they liked courting death so much.
Lily thus grabbed the hilt of her katana.
It was simply impossible for them to even catch the movements of her blade if she really wanted to kill them, so she just wanted to warn them once.
“I’m a samurai from the East. Scram if you don’t want to die.”
“Hah?! It seems like this tall and buxom lady is quite formidable, too! I like it! Cold girls like you are my favorite!” The lean samurai stated arrogantly, totally disregarding Lily’s warning.
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The big-bearded and dark-skinned samurai who had remained silent until now held the lean samurai’s shoulder and placated him, “Just forget it, brother. Let’s go make the report and get the bounty first instead of causing trouble here!”
“Don’t say that now. We were lucky enough to find the hideout of those whatnot mirror girls and even came across such a goddess-like woman on our way back. It would be a sin not to have a taste when blessed with such good luck!” The lean man declared.
“What?! Are you referring to the village of the mirror girls hiding in Mino?” Lily was taken aback.
She thus lifted her head and called out to them, “Since you want to have some fun, how about you let me have fun with you?”
The baldhead and the lean samurai rejoiced after hearing this, “Who knew you were so receptive, lady!”
The lean samurai reached out to touch Lily’s cheeks in the next moment.
“Clang!” Followed by a bright flash of light, the two samurai’s vision got blinded by white light, both unaware of what had transpired.
The attack was so fast that the two early-stage samurai weren’t even able to see how they had lost their lives. Lily didn’t plan to kill nobodies like them even though they had harassed her verbally and intended to knock them out at most, but she was forced to end their lives because they knew a secret relating to the mirror girls.
As for what exactly the secret was, she intended to interrogate the last remaining man about it.
The big-bearded man realized that he had run into an expert and regret filled his heart immediately for allowing his l̲i̲b̲i̲d̲o̲ to muddle his mind. Just the fact that such a stunning woman was traversing the deserted mountains of Mino alone was enough to prove that she possessed extraordinary strength.
The vagrant samurai fell to his knees and backed away immediately, “Please don’t kill me, o’ Goddess! I have a wife and child to support at home and their lives will be ruined if I die!”
Lily pointed her katana’s blade at the big-bearded samurai’s throat and questioned him, “The reason I haven’t killed you is because you still had some conscience within you. Speak. What exactly were you planning to report? You’ll meet your brothers in Hell if you tell me even a single lie, got it?”
“Y-Yes! I’ll tell you all I know! My brothers and I found the mirror girls’ village in the depths of the woods, for which the protector of Mino had offered a bounty! We didn’t dare to enter the village as it was guarded by powerful mirror girls and planned to return to Gifu City and report it to obtain the bounty,” the bearded samurai narrated.
“Where’s the village? Take me to it!” Lily stated icily.
“A-Alright!” The man was at Lily’s beck and call as long as she spared his life.
The bearded man walked to the front with no thoughts of fleeing. He was actually the strongest of the trio, a middle-stage samurai, and had managed to catch sight of Lily’s blade movements. Although he failed to see through them completely, he knew it was impossible for him to escape if Lily wished to kill him.
“Wait!” Lily pressed the katana’s blade against his neck.
“W-What is it, o’ Goddess?! I didn’t lie to you!”
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“You are so weak, so how come you were brave enough to wade through these bamboo woods without the fear of monsters?” The strength of umbrella ghosts in these woods was in the Awakened level.
“I don’t dare to lie to you, o’ Goddess. All the locals of Mino have this demon charm issued by the officials with us,” the bearded samurai fished out a filthy pouch painted with the face of an ogre, “The monsters don’t attack us usually if we have this demon charm on us. However, that’s just in general. A beauty traveling alone might still get taken by them while ugly men like us don’t even get to see their shadows.”
“We didn’t believe it in the beginning and only dared to try it later on. The charm really worked when we came across monsters and everyone began believing in it from then on. There are few people these days, so we intended to procure some medicinal herbs from the mountain or snatch them from travelers, but we weren’t expecting to actually discover the mirror girls’ village,” the bearded man rushed to explain.
“Hmph! To think the officials have issued a demon charm for the locals to avoid monsters. Where does this demon charm come from? Is the protector of Mino colluding with monsters?” Lily questioned.
“Sigh! This public knowledge in Mino, o’ Goddess. It’s said that the protector of Mino has even taken in a stunning witch as his concubine! I’m telling you the truth. We don’t care who colluded with whom as long as the monsters don’t attack us. The samurai clans engaged in invasion and slaughter, screwing taxes out of us commoners before the monsters occupied these lands, so it’s better to collude with the monsters in these times!”
Lily was taken aback by this answer and found her views challenged, “It seems like the protector of Mino is really a viper. He even uses the monsters to his advantage.”
“Yes, indeed! That’s precisely why the protector of Mino is known as the Monochrome Viper3!” The bearded samurai nodded repeatedly.
- Robinxen: Aren’t most people illiterate?
- Robinxen: The hell are mirror girls to end up in this level of screwed?! Also if they’re so destined and fated why do they even exist?!
- Robinxen: Woaaaaaah…
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