|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3248 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2168 words|
“What?!” Lily noticed that the middle-aged stall owner was looking at her with a benign expression, so she returned his gaze with a smile while holding up the ramen bowl.
At the same time, she communicated with Kagura via voice transmission, “What’s going on, Kagura?”
“There’s a highly toxic, colorless and tasteless poison mixed in the noodle broth, Master! Even though I’ve lost most of my strength, I was able to detect the danger coming from the toxicity within the noodle broth because of my former realm and experiences!”
So that was the case!
Lily placed the ramen bowl in her hands down while still maintaining a smile.
The red-lit stall owner called out to her when he saw this, “What’s up, young lady? Why aren’t you drinking it? This ramen is one of Kiyosu’s famous specialties.”
“Is that so? However, I don’t feel like having it suddenly for some reason, owner,” Lily fetched a few copper coins and left them on the counter. She had obtained these by exchanging money with the inn’s lady owner today morning since it was too high-profile to use gold each time.
“Is the ramen not to your tastes, young lady? How about I make a new bowl for you?”
“No, you needn’t. I have something to deal with, so I’ll be leaving first.”
Lily chuckled and got up in an attempt to move away from the counter a little.
However, the red-lit middle-aged stall owner drew out a sharp poisoned dagger suddenly and lunged towards Lily regardless of the ramen stall’s scorching ramen broth scalding his body.
Lily leaned backward immediately, causing the dagger to lunge past her from above, and kicked the incoming stall owner’s chin with her slender foot, sending him back crashing into the alley.
Lily pushed her palms against the ground and got up while spinning her split legs, kicking the ramen stall stand and drawing out her katana towards the stall owner at the same time. However, she discovered that she had snapped the stall owner’s neck by using excessive power in her kick just prior.
The ramen stall owner, a swordmaster in disguise, threw up blood from his mouth, being unable to breathe properly.
“Why did you try to poison me? Who sent you?!” Lily questioned mercilessly.
“Urgh… You think I’ll tell you that when I’m moments away from dying? Even though I’m going to die, it’s still too early for you to rejoice. You’ll never be able to reach Heian-kyo alive, never! Hahahahaha—urgh!”
The middle-aged man twitched a few times while coughing out blood continuously and died with his eyes turning white.
“The person who tried to poison you is too vicious, Master. He used a pretty rare poison, just a drop of which would cost a whole magatama. Even someone with your level of strength would’ve been severely injured if they were given small amounts of this poison and would’ve died for sure if they were given a considerable amount of it,” Kagura explained.
The fear struck Lily after the event as even she was powerless against the bizarre and vicious poisons of this alternate Heian world no matter how strong she was.
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“However, you needn’t worry about the poisons of the Heian Empire as long as you have me with you, Master. Nothing can hide from my eyes as long as it’s a life-threatening element! You can just have anything you wish to without worries since I’ll warn you when there’s an abnormality.”
“However, my recognition of poisons is limited to only the harmful kind of poisons that harm the body, spirit power and the spirit jade since they emit a distinct fluctuation regardless of whether they are colorless or tasteless. However, I can’t promise that I’ll be able to detect some of the poisons that target women specifically, such as aphrodisiacs and the like that aim to confuse the body or the mind as I didn’t research them much in the past. You need to be particularly wary of such poisons, Master,” Kagura warned.
“Alright,” Lily checked the surroundings and decided to inspect the stall owner’s belongings since he was dead already and couldn’t explain anything. She found the bottle containing the poison under Kagura’s guidance, but it was just a normal mini-sized grade 3 porcelain bottle without any special marks or signs that told the poisoner’s identity. After all, a murderer wouldn’t necessarily store poison in a bottle that has a marker pointing to the murderer’s faction.
However, a patrol squad of soldiers just happened to pass by the lane’s entrance at this time and dispersed immediately to surround Lily after seeing the scene.
“Don’t move!” The soldiers thundered at Lily while pointing their spears at her and one of the soldiers stepped forward to inspect the stall owner’s body, “He’s dead, Lord Oda.”
The samurai who led this squad of soldiers was known as Oda Nobutora and was an early-stage sword saint level expert. He had his hair combed into a high bun with a hairpin and seemed to be in his twenties with a thin pencil-mustache and a tachi at his waist. The red- and black-dressed Nobutora, who was over 170 cm tall and almost the same height as Lily, a fairly tall height for a man in these times, stepped forward and sized her up.
“Was it you that killed him?”
Lily inspected the group with a spirit probe and discovered that they were all just ordinary samurai or soldiers, and not monsters. Therefore, even though she could escape quite easily, she didn’t want to take the blame for the murder of an innocent and explained the situation, “The ramen stall owner died after crashing against the wall from my kick when he tried to harass me.”
“He died from just a kick, huh? You’re pretty tall and tough for a woman,” Oda Nobutora looked quite wise, and Lily also felt an all-cherishing aura from within him, but it was clear that he was just a small-time samurai official.
“I am a samurai,” Lily explained.
Oda Nobutora’s gaze fell on Lily’s katana, “Can you let me see your katana?”
Lily paused for a moment, but she decided to take off her katana and hand it over to Oda even though he seemed vigilant of her since she didn’t sense killing intent from him.
Lily could kill an early-stage sword saint with just a single thought using her domain, so she didn’t really care much about handing Crescent Moon to him.
Oda Nobutora didn’t draw the blade out after receiving the katana and drew in a cold breath after seeing the dark gold stars on the blade’s hilt, “Crescent Moon Munechika?!”
“Hmm? You know this blade, mister?”
“Hah! My Owari is also a part of the East, so I’ve braved through the Owari wasteland and gone to Mikawa once as a samurai of the East. I heard a lot of tales when I was there and one of them mentioned a mysterious woman who killed the transcendent Hojo Dijon after his fall into a demon with the 120 cm long blade she wields. This incident is quite well-known in the East the form of the blade has been described by a few people as well and also that it was created by the master bladesmith Uehara Munechika Ehiro from Suruga and is called Crescent Moon Munechika!”
Oda looked at Lily with astonishment, “C-Could it be that you’re that Kagami Lily?! The legendary samurai woman who went deep into the Endless Demon Mountains alone and killed Hojo Dijon?”
Although it was quite dangerous to cross the Endless Wastelands without transcendent strength, it was still possible to cross the path from Kiyosu Castle to Mikawa alone if one weren’t too unlucky. Hence, even Lily wasn’t expecting to get recognized by a samurai who knew of her rumors in this city.
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“Yes, I am that Kagami Lily,” Lily affirmed.
Oda Nobutora’s eyes lit up and he returned Crescent Moon to Lily hurriedly, “So it was you, Lady Lyn-hime! Please allow this humble one to greet you!”
Saying so, Oda kowtowed to Lily immediately, which left her quite embarrassed.
“Lord Oda, about the ramen stall owner’s death…”
“He deserves it!” Oda fumed out, “How dare he harass Lady Lyn-hime, the best samurai woman of the East! I would’ve killed him personally if you hadn’t, Lady Lyn-hime! He’s the disgrace of our Owari province! He’s just dug his own grave!”
Oda Nobutora seemed to revere Lily a lot, which originated from heartfelt veneration instead of deliberate ingratiation, “May I ask why you’ve come to Kiyosu Castle alone in such a covert manner, Lady Lyn-hime? The guardian of Owari, Lord Shiba Yoshishige, would definitely hold a banquet in honor of you if I were to report it to him.”
“U-Uh…” Lily hesitated, “I’m just passing by this city for a private matter, there’s no need to disturb Lord Shiba for it.”
Oda seemed quite clever, so his eyes lit up as he whispered beside Lily, “Could it be that you’re in the middle of a secret mission?”
“Hehe… you could say that’s the case,” Lily smiled wryly.
“Lady Lyn-hime!” Oda kneeled down again.
“Why are you kneeling again, Lord Oda?”
“Although it would be a little too shameless of me to request this, I believe it’s the will of the Heavens for us to have met in such a location. I am aware that you possess transcendent strength and hope to borrow your help for a certain matter, Lady Lyn-hime!”
“I ask this not for myself, but for the thousands of surviving commoners of Kiyosu Castle, Lady Lyn-hime! I hope you can help me for the sake of the commoners’ lives! I shall keep kowtowing like this until you decide to do so!” Oda began to kowtow continuously after saying this even though the floor was made of stone slabs.
“You needn’t do this, Lord Oda!” Lily was thus forced to help Oda stand up, “I’m willing to help you once no matter what it is as long as it’s under my capabilities. Please tell me what it is first.”
“Lady Lyn-hime!” Oda’s eyes filled with tears as he held Lily’s hands firmly, feeling extremely moved.
Lily felt helpless regarding this as she would’ve just killed the other party if they were a monster, but even she had no means to deal with an honest and righteous man who’s devoted to the betterment of the commoners.
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Oda guided Lily to the west side of Kiyosu Castle with the soldiers following behind them. This side also had a wooden wall constructed to defend the city and had a gate and tower guarded by soldiers as well.
“I really cannot continue guarding this west gate dutifully like usual, Lady Lyn-hime!” Oda kneeled down yet again.
“Just what happened, Lord Oda? Calm down and tell me the details.”
“Sigh!” Oda slammed his head down in frustration helplessly, “A powerful monster arrived at this west gate recently and he comes to attack us every night. He killed about a dozen of our brothers, but we weren’t able to stop him as he was too strong. He even said that he’ll attack the city and kill all the commoners in it unless we provide him with a young woman each day!”
“What? Why didn’t you request reinforcements from Lord Shiba then?”
“The monster was too strong. Lord Shiba sent two powerful generals to deal with him, but it resulted in one of them dying and the other getting wounded. Lord Shiba dismissed the matter after that told me to handle it by myself, but how exactly am I supposed to handle it? The dozen of us Oda brothers are no match for that monster, so we would be just throwing our lives away in vain even if we went all out against him. We were thus forced to accept the monster’s proposition and send a woman to him each day. However, I felt my heart bleed whenever I saw the scared sight of the innocent women being sent to him each night! I really can’t take it anymore! I would’ve gone all out at the risk of my life against that monster if I weren’t afraid of him killing too many people because of it!”
It was evident that the merits and demerits between the monster causing carnage within the city and sacrificing a woman each night really weighed on Oda quite heavily, forcing him to make a helpless choice. However, this seemingly rational choice ended up tormenting his conscience like a nightmare every day.
Lily was able to feel how heavy the weight of the burden shouldered by this man called Oda was.
“Lord Oda, is the woman meant to be sent out tonight ready?”
“Where would I find one when it brings me great suffering to find such a woman every day?! Sigh!” Oda’s lips twitched in agony.
“Lord Oda, how about you send me to him when that monster comes tonight?” Lily stated calmly.
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