|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3269 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2132 words|
The elders and their clansmen living in this village had crossed Lake Biwa after getting hunted down in Kansai and escaped all the way to Omi, but the monsters of Lake Biwa pursued them even in Omi and they were thus forced to hide deep in the woods of Mino. The elders narrated their pitiful journey to Lily in full detail.
“We had over one thousand members in our clan, but only a hundred or so of us remained by the time we reached Mino. Our whereabouts got leaked recently and we were hunted by the protector of Mino from then on. We also didn’t dare to move into the wastelands of Owari as there’s nowhere to hide in it. We’re hopeless if this continues… Sigh!” The Grand Elder’s cheeks were marred by tears as she said this.
Lily felt aggrieved as well after hearing this, “It’s a sad matter to hear, indeed. But just words alone aren’t enough to prove that you are really mirror girls.”
The two elders hesitated momentarily and then nodded at each other.
“We aren’t supposed to do this, but our fate lies within your hands now, young lady, so we can only let you see it with your own eyes if you don’t believe us.”
The two old women fetched two boxes from the hut, which diffused dense blood aura when opened, and though years had passed, the aura was still as grieving as ever.
“The boxes contain the legacy records of the mirror girl clan that our ancestors fought to protect with their lives on the line. However, you probably won’t understand them even if we show them to you, young lady.”
“No, I do,” Lily felt sorrow well up within her.
There was no doubt that these were really legacies of the mirror girl bloodline. Lily opened the boxes with trembling hands and went over the records, which contained foundational martial arts of the same kind that Haihime’s clan elder had shown her. However, these records detailed martial arts related to the naginata instead.
“Hmm?” Lily’s heart palpitated when she found an old and tattered map mixed inside the records.
Lily’s breasts heaved up and down deeply as she took deep, tense breaths, albeit possessing a high power realm, and sweated all over with her heart beating crazily, almost letting go of this old and tattered yellow piece of paper.
Lily then picked up the other records casually and placed this old and tattered map at the bottom of the pile before storing it inside the mirror while putting up an act of reading the records.
It was impossible for an ordinary human or even a Great Demon to understand it, but Lily could1!
The scribbling-like map was actually hidden within a mural that seemed to be from the Jōmon period and a section of it was permeated in faint, sorrowful intent. It was as if tears of sorrow had formed this map, but it was difficult to make that out as they had dried. Lily, however, was able to sense clearly that this sorrow had taken shape into this map thanks to her attainment of Tsukuyomi Swordstyle’s First Path. One section detailed in this map was an exact match to the layout of the Heian Empire’s Kanto regions and the little octagonal symbol drawn in this Kanto section was where the Sakura Blossom Valley’s Divine Moon Formation existed2! Lily was able to make this out immediately since she was quite sensitive to maps.
The other section of the map had another octagonal symbol drawn on it and the whole map just had these two symbols on it, so it was quite likely that it represented the position of the corresponding Divine Sun Formation.
However, even if this wasn’t the case, the map also had 3 pedestaled monoliths drawn on its extremities along with two empty pedestals, which indicated that those two monoliths had been retrieved.
The monoliths that were still pedestaled all had the rough form of a sword-dancing celestial maiden drawn on them, which resembled the features of the celestial maiden drawn on the Tsukuyomi Swordstyle’s monolith inside Lily’s mirror space!
“Could it be that this map records the locations of Tsukuyomi Swordstyle’s remaining four monoliths?”
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Yet, the map just recorded the locations of 3 monoliths, and each was on the map’s corners with the final monolith’s location unmapped.
This alone, however, was monumental information for Lily, so even though it didn’t sit down well with her principles, she showed no hesitation in taking it away silently.
It was crucial information related to the recovery and safety of her senior sister and also concerned the safety of her sisters as well, so she had no reason to ponder over the morality over it. Lily was willing to do all it took for such important matters.
She masked her emotions and glanced at the others casually. There was no need for her to verify whether they were really mirror girls since it was impossible to forge a secret related to the Tsukuyomi Swordstyle’s monoliths and the teleportation formation.
Lily returned the remaining records to the elders and just as she had imagined, the two failed to discover anything amiss and just stored them back in the boxes.
Even if they had found it, Lily didn’t plan to return such a valuable map after gaining possession of it.
Lily sat in seiza in front of the two elders and bowed to them deeply now, “Please accept my bow, grannies!”
“What are you doing, young lady?”
Lily found no reason to hide the truth from them, “I’m Kagami Lily, a mirror girl from the East, elders.”
“What?! Y-You’re Kagami Lily, you say?”
“Hoh? You know me even though you’re hiding deep within the mountains?”
“Our matriarch, Lady Aki, goes out to gather information often and mentioned you, the best samurai woman of the East to us once, and said that she hoped to act like you one day instead of spending her final years in this deserted mountain,” the Second Elder answered.
“Where’s this lady now, then?”
“Sigh!” the two elders sighed in tandem.
They then bowed to Lily suddenly, “Since you are one of the real mirror girls, please save Lady Aki, Miss Kagami! She… infiltrated Mino’s Gifu Castle to investigate and there’s been no contact from her for a month now.”
“We fear that the odds are against her!”
“The cunning and venomous protector of Mino is known as a viper and we fear that Lady Aki might’ve fallen into his clutches with him as her opponent! It’s likely that he’s taken her ancient mirror as well!”
“You’re known as the best samurai woman of the East, Miss Kagami. You can save her, right? Our clan will lose our purpose to exist if something were to happen to her!”
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The two elders pleaded.
Although Lily was in a rush to leave for Kansai, it was impossible for Lily to abandon a sister from the mirror girl clan when she was at death’s door. Besides, Lily had taken the other party’s map, too. There were many reasons she had taken it secretly instead of demanding it openly, and she couldn’t allow mishap to happen with regards to such an important matter. Although the map was useless to them, it was very important to Lily!
Lily thus wanted to do something for them as well and nodded solemnly, “Tell me about this Lady Aki and the reason she went out this time.”
Lily, who was headed for Omi via the bamboo woods originally, headed north instead, and arrived at Gifu City after journeying for 3 days.
Gifu Castle was constructed on the hilltop of a mountain range and was well-defended. The city below it also had also been built alongside the twisting mountain trail.
Lily knew that Ouchi Koreyoshi, Gifu’s castle lord, was also looking for her, which was why she had bought a veiled bamboo hat made for women in the last village she passed by and entered Gifu City with her face covered under the veil.
It was daytime on this day, which was quite rare, and Lily also found the guards quite sloppy since they allowed her to get inside the city along with the other vagrant samurai traveling to the city. Although they eyed her sashaying rounded butt from behind, they didn’t stop her and just ran off their foul mouths.
Lily snuck into Gifu City just like that and walked up the road which had commoners’ houses and shops on both sides.
Lily actually evaluated Viper quite highly for his feat of establishing peace in such a location surrounded by the Hundred Demons on all sides where the commoners were able to farm safely in their fields outside. Although there was still the risk of getting attacked by monsters, it was actually much safer than wartimes.
However, the locals needed to own the demon charm for this.
“Just what kind of deal did Viper make with the monsters?” Lily puzzled over this.
Lily kept climbing the twisting mountain trail and finally saw the gates of Gifu Castle in the distance, which were naturally heavily guarded. However, a notice board set up alongside the route leading to the gates had garnered a huge crowd at this moment.
Lily thus lowered her head and approached it silently.
“Daddy, this sister looks so pretty,” a boy riding his father’s shoulders within the crowd pointed at the notice board.
“Shush, Taro! That’s a bad woman set for execution. You mustn’t make such irresponsible remarks!” the father scolded.
Lily was quite tall, so it allowed her to see the whole notice board once she squeezed into the second row of the crowd and saw that there were several notices stuck on it, one of which included the drawing of a pretty woman and appeared to be an arrest warrant. However, the arrest warrant had the word—Captured!—sealed in red at its bottom.
The woman depicted in the warrant possessed an exquisite beauty and her features resembled that of Matriarch Aki described by the elders.
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“As I thought, she got caught, huh…” Lily withdrew from the crowd before the guards noticed her and descended the mountain.
It was hard to move during daytime, so Lily went inside a diner and ordered some drinks and onigiri.
Lily left the diner once night fell and returned to the city again.
She traversed through the winding path and arrived close to the gates of Gifu Castle, which were clearly guarded by soldiers. Lily jumped onto the branch of a towering tree on the hillside and jumped across to the castle tower’s wall directly.
Lily darted past the castle wall under the cover of night and skittered to the castle tower’s back before jumping onto its eaves.
Lily then strode across the eaves with lithe and soft footsteps and stopped beside a dimly lit window before looking inside, finding a samurai of considerable status inside the room.
A middle-aged samurai with a short, brown beard dressed in black kimono sat in seiza within the room with a black-sheathed katana at his side.
A young samurai entered the room at this moment and kneeled down, “Are you going to interrogate the mirror girl tonight, Lord Inaba?”
The short-bearded man inside the room, Inaba Shigekado, was a member of the Mino Triumvirate that served under Mino’s Ouchi Koreyoshi.
“No. Madam Momiji said that she’ll interrogate her personally. Although that woman is a mirror girl, she is still a woman in the prime of her youth, so it’s quite inconvenient for a man like me to interrogate or torture her. The castle lord placed me in a tough position by giving this mission to me, but Madam Momiji’s willingness to undertake the task personally really brought relief to this embarrassing situation I’m in! We just need to wait for news from the madam now,” said Inaba.
“You’re really one of the most upstanding men I’ve seen in my life, milord!”
“Enough with the fuss. It’s quite an obvious matter. You may retire now.”
“Understood!” the young samurai retreated.
Lily pondered while leaning back against the castle tower’s wall on the eaves, It looks like they are planning to interrogate the caught mirror girl somewhere in this castle tower tonight.
“Who is it?!” As a middle-stage Spirit Jade powerhouse, Inaba Shigekado was one of the 3 strongest samurai in Mino. He sensed the abnormality outside and stood up to look outside the window, but there was nothing strange outside now.
It was because Lily had dangled off the beam underneath the eaves by hooking her legs around it, allowing her kimono’s bottom to overturn completely and expose her fair thighs3, but there was no one to witness it in this location4.
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