Chapter 46 – Towards Imahama

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3304 characters
Translator: Aoi English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1995 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

In the early morning of the next day, Lily narrowed her eyes slightly as the fresh wind from the lake brushed past her, bringing along a dewy mist with it.

Goro and Lily’s group stood opposite each other on Lake Biwa’s bank.

“We part ways here, then, Brother.”

“Take care, Sister. I hope we can meet again in Heian-kyo,” Goro said downheartedly, feeling a tad bit reluctant to part ways.

Lily nodded, “You, too, Brother. Take care.”

“Hahaha! Worry not, Sister! It’s not like I’ve just begun traveling our Empire!”

Mizue stood far from the two as she still felt embarrassed from yesterday’s events. As for Goro, upright as he was, he didn’t even give her a single look and had almost forgotten about the whole incident.

Goro waved his hand and strutted off with his broadsword on his shoulder, a wine pot hanging from its handguard.

Lily watched him leave, just as a sister would.

“Let’s go,” Shimuzu said.

“Yeah,” Lily nodded, and then asked, “What are you going to do now, Miss Mizue?”

“I-I… have no idea,” Mizue answered despondently, “I wish to travel the world carefreely like you, but my family is still waiting for my return. I also need to do something about the city’s finances…”

Lily pulled out a pouch of magatama fragments and tossed it to Mizue, “There are 500 grams of magatama fragments inside it. It’s fate that we met, so exchange them for money when you return. You stayed with us over the course of the treasure hunt and regardless of whether you were of help, you deserve this remuneration for partnering with us this time.”

“T-Thanks a lot, Miss Lily. I plan to go back to Ise via Imahama’s southern land route, which I had taken to come here. How about we go to Imahama together? We can part ways when we reach there…” Mizue suggested with misty eyes, feeling sorrow well up inside her.

Although they were strangers that fate had brought together, Lily still felt a bit sad when it was time to part ways even though she didn’t approve of Mizue’s personality or conduct much. Unlike her brother, Goro, Mizue was just an average samurai woman, so the chances of them meeting again were close to nil.

“Although you might find me unqualified to give such advice because of my age, I believe that our destinies aren’t fixed at birth. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to seek the life you wish to live and aim for higher heights of strength or act out the good woman and wife to fulfill the duties you have to your family. The two choices are equally respectable in my opinion and will lead you to a splendid life as long as you come to terms with the choice you take.”

“Thanks for the advice, Miss Lily,” Mizue’s eyes glistened. Although her wavering mind had yet to come to a decision, she felt like she had finally seen a ray of light in the darkness that the future held, “I’ll ponder on what I wish to do with my life seriously. Even if I’ve been married for years, I-I’ll try to discover my true self.”

“Good. Let’s head to Imahama, then,” Lily nodded.

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The rain shower seemed to hint at spring’s arrival as Lily’s group traversed the muddy trail alongside the lake.

However, a group of cloaked men who wore bamboo hats eyed the group from nearby on the same path.

“Lord Tamurakonoe ordered us to attack them once we’re 10km away from the village.”

“Why not now, though?”

“You fool. The mirror girl and Tenba Goro have just parted ways, so he’s probably still close. If he were to turn back after noticing the commotion, it would ruin our plan.”

Lily opened her parasol, which caused Mizue to look at her sheepishly, “I don’t have a parasol. Can we share the…”

“Here, take mine,” Shimizu handed her parasol to Mizue and linked arms with Lily before the latter could answer, “Let’s go, Lil’ Sis.”

In fact, Mizue felt a lot perplexed. She had faintly sensed that the relationship between Lily and Shimizu had long surpassed that of simple sisterhood, especially because of how jumpy and protective the latter was about the former. A relationship like this was punished pretty severely in her homeland, Ise, but she had also heard that romance between women was common in Heian-kyo.

However, Mizue was still unsure whether she belonged to this kind of crowd and just idolized powerful heroes. Her paralyzed husband’s incompetence had forced her to participate in the treasure hunt while risking her chastity and life to maintain her city’s finances, but she was actually a weak and indecisive person. The counterpart’s gender didn’t matter to her as long as she could depend on them and feel safe.

Lily knew there were pursuers following them, but these pursuers were pretty clever and maintained enough distance from them. Although this prevented her from figuring out their identity, Lily supposed that they were either the trio from Kansai or the trio’s subordinates.

What’s coming will come, and I’ll meet it when it does.

Lily knew that her journey to power and unraveling the enigma behind her senior sister’s dormant soul would be a long one rife with encounters with the bizarre. It wasn’t like she could always rely on her sworn brother as a hero like him had his own journey. Tsukuyomi’s Six Paths and the Dance of the Bell Maiden, which Lily had obtained from the mirror space, had made it clear where her future lied.

Lily looked at the dusky skies. The two power arts were transcendental in nature, which meant that even her sworn brother was just a passerby in her arduous journey.

However, no matter how long or lonely the journey was, Lily was resolved to see it through.

Lily admitted that, as a woman, there may be times when she might cry, lose sight of her objective because of love, or show her weak side, but she didn’t intend to give up her quest to awaken her senior sister even then.

“Just come at me, assassins and demons. I’ll kill you all the same no matter how many of you are out there!” Lily steeled her resolve to fight.

The pursuers closed the distance with Lily’s group as the latter stepped into the forest’s depths, so much that even Shimizu had sensed them now.

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Uncanny rustling sounds arrived from the trees above Lily’s group amidst the drizzling rain, and a bunch of chained hooks launched at the group suddenly.

Lily turned back swiftly and warded off the chained hooks by spinning the Sakura Parasol in her hand.

“Argh!” Mizue screamed in pain as one of the hooks scratched her shoulder, leaving behind a wound on it.

Lily switched the Sakura Parasol with Crescent Moon and unleashed three crescent sword beams towards the treetops, which opened up gaps in the trees that were hiding the sky.

A cloaked samurai fell into the mud in the next moment, following which three other cloaked samurai jumped down towards Lily’s group with an uchigatana each in one hand.

“Protect Mizue, Sister Shimizu!” Lily yelled as she jumped up from the muddy ground. She was so fast that she reached one of the enemies almost instantly and executed a horizontal slash, leaving him with no time to react and fall down in a bisected state.

Although they were 6th-stage Awakened, they were just a bit stronger than the average eastern samurai at the same level.

The remaining two samurai attacked Lily with the chained hooks again after landing down, but she dodged aside and allowed the chains to wind around Crescent Moon’s blade. Lily then caught the two samurai off guard by pulling hard and sent them crashing into a boulder, causing it to crumble into pieces.

Shimizu then approached the duo swiftly and dealt the final blow to them before they could stand.

Meanwhile, the stupefied Mizue watched the two samurai women take their enemies’ lives decisively while leaning back against a tree’s trunk.

Lily neared the samurai’s bodies and pushed their cloak aside with her blade, only to see the character for the word, Maro, written in black on the back of their coats.

“Maro? What does this mean?” Lily wondered.

Shimizu also shook her head in puzzlement.

“The character gives me an eerie feeling,” Lily commented.

The four cloaked samurai who tried to assassinate Lily’s group all had the character for the word, Maro, on their backs.

“It might be some faction,” Lily inferred.

“Is that… the Annihilation Dojo’s symbol?” Mizue stepped forward to ask.

“The Annihilation Dojo?” Lily was taken aback.

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“Back when I was in Ise, my sword instructor, a swordsman from Yamashiro, told me that it’s a Kansai dojo that trains disciples with real blades and tempers them through deadly battles! Unlike the orthodox dojos of the Genji and the Taira that use wooden swords for training, the Annihilation Dojo uses cruel means to train their disciples into fierce samurai.”

“The Maro Dojo is an infamous branch of the Annihilation Dojo and it’s said that its founder was a master swordsman named Maro, and that the characters of his name were used to form this symbol.”

Mizue’s explanation matched what Lily had overheard from the men’s bath while bathing in the women’s bath, so she was now certain that it was one of the powers from Kansai that intended to kill her while she journeyed to Heian-kyo.

“Hahahahahaha…”

A girl’s melodious and lively laughter echoed through the woods and caused both Lily and Shimizu to check their surroundings vigilantly.

A silver ray shot through the dusky rainforest swiftly all of a sudden at this moment.

“Watch out!” Lily and Shimizu dive rolled to dodge it.

“Boom!” The silver ray struck the land where they were standing previously and blew open a crater.

Lily checked the surroundings after landing on her feet yet still failed to find the silver ray’s source.

The silver ray shot out again at this moment.

Lily noticed that the silver ray traveled through the gaps of the trees weirdly and changed directions to strike her from behind, so she spun sideways to dodge it and drew her blade out to cut the silver ray. However, Lily didn’t feel any resistance and saw her blade pass through the silver thread without harming it.

“This is…” Lily’s eyes narrowed, “This is a thread formed from fusing spirit power and water! It’s impossible to cut it!”

“We must find its master!” Shimizu looked up tensely.

However, the leaves of the rainforest’s trees swayed in the wind like usual as that silver thread shuttled past the trees with straight and curved movements. There was no sign of the silver thread’s master anywhere.

Lily checked her surroundings with a spirit probe, but the silver thread flying everywhere interfered with it, which made her attempt to locate the enemy’s position by sensing their killing intent.

However, Mizue, who was hiding beside the tree trunk and had a different perspective from Lily and Shimizu, was able to see the lithe shadow circling past the trees behind Lily thanks to her location.

“She’s over there, Miss Lily!” Mizue’s eyes shone as she pointed towards the trees behind Lily.

“Huh?!” Lily looked in that direction the moment Mizue yelled out the enemy’s location to her, and also sensed an intense killing intent from that direction at the same time.

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The silver thread shot out again at this moment, but Lily didn’t dodge it this time since she swiftly judged that it would miss her by a little.

The silver thread flitted past Lily’s eyes, and the puzzled Lily turned back after coming to a realization.

The silver thread had shot into Mizue’s chest.

“Eh?” Mizue’s pupils contracted, and she stood there dazedly as a huge bloodstain formed on her kimono’s top.

1

References

  1. Silva: RIP Mizue, I knew she would die in this encounter, though I was half expecting Lily to protect her and become a burden.

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