|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 2164 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1413 words|
Beyond the wooden wall of Imahama, they could see the dilapidated roofs of the building, which were wet from the rain, reflecting dim light from the port.
The gate was guarded by foot soldiers donning a conical bamboo hat and black bamboo armor.
Few of the guards stepped forward upon seeing Lily and the rest approach them.
“Halt, who are you and where are you from?” The guards were vigilant but their doubts were justified. If anyone saw pretty girls walking over from the wilderness in the middle of the night, anyone would get suspicious.
Lily was secretly relieved she didn’t allow the demon hound to follow them until the gate.
Shimizu came forward to explain, “We came from Lake Biwa’s fisher village in hope of boarding a ship at the port.”
“From the fisher village?” Although the guard was not as tall as Shimizu and didn’t seem that strong, he was very committed to his duty, “Who would believe you?! Judging from your appearance, you don’t seem to be from the fisher village!”
Lily stepped up to placate the situation, “We were just passing through the fisher village. We actually came from Kamakura to meet Lord Kato. One of Lord Kato’s close friends recommended us to come.”
“Lord Kato?” That guard turned his gaze to Port Imahama behind him.
One of the guards in casual clothes and tawny bamboo hat asked, “That friend of Lord Kato you claimed to be, what is his name?”
“Tenba Goro? Never heard of it, that name is also very weird in itself, are you making fun of us?!” The guard shouted.
Lily shook her head helplessly, “Can you please just inform Lord Kato? It shouldn’t be possible for you to know all of the lord’s acquaintances right?”
“Do you know how busy Lord Kato is? There are innumerable people trying to board the ship to escape from this place by any means possible, if we are to report them all to Lord Kato, how are we supposed to operate at this rate? You say that friend recommended you to come, do you have any proof?” That guard was unfaltering. Even though his face was wet from the light drizzle, he still showed a rough and experienced face under the dim light.
Lily shrugged her shoulders in exasperation. The exposed parts of her breasts were also wet due to the rain and Lily fished out a small bag she kept in her inner breast pocket to let the guard inspect, “Here, brother samurai, this is the proof, please examine it properly.”
The guard was momentarily distracted by the weight in his hand, even though the bag was very small, it was heavier than expected. He opened the bag to peek inside and was surprised by what he saw. He carefully picked out one piece from within the bag and discovered that it was a shiny silver plate.
The guard’s honest and steadfast face quickly eased up in the face of such a huge sum.
“Ah… Heh heh heh, please enter, come on in, we can tell at first sight that you three are rich young ladies from affluent families and friends of Lord Kato. We were just doing our job and questioned you as a mere formality, you may enter as you please.”
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That guard’s attitude immediately took a one-eighty change.
Shimizu was dumbfounded at his change, and Mizue simply covered her mouth as she suppressed her giggles.
As they entered Imahama, there weren’t that many people on the streets anymore. The mud streets were extremely wet and there were many puddles, it was better at the outside since the roads were at least covered in dead leaves. The buildings at the sides of the street were relatively new, some of them had blood-orange lanterns hanged outside and they could see all kinds of signboards influenced by various cultures. This area ought to be very bustling come the morning. These buildings seemed to be built rather recently, it was a very rare sight in the current age. Perhaps that was the advantage of Lord Kato for possessing a means to safely travel between Kansai and Chubu.
Lily and the others walked past the desolate street in silence for a while.
“Um… Miss Lily, Miss Shimizu.” That is until Mizue suddenly called out to them.
“What is it?” Lily and Shimizu turned around to look at her.
Mizue had a beautiful, yet somewhat hesitant smile on her face, “I guess… I’ll be parting with you two here.”
“Huh?” For some reason, Lily felt reluctant to let her leave. After all, they had gone through a life and death experience along the way and she personally witnessed how Mizue had struggled to live.
“What? You’re leaving now?” Shimizu, on the other hand, was still relatively cool-headed.
“Mhm,” Mizue gazed at Lily with longing, but she wasn’t too reluctant to part, “I am still concerned about my husband, son, and subjects back in Ise. I have to bring these treasures back, it’s exactly what the town needed right. Besides, being with you two, I’d be more of a burden than a help. The road ahead is bound to get more dangerous, I must fully acknowledge that I am useless in this journey.”
“But Miss Mizue…” Lily was a bit distressed but she remained staunch. It was impossible for Lily to understand the thoughts of a married woman with a son, so, although she was reluctant, she didn’t insist strongly, “I promised that I will risk my all to protect you, but since you’ve made your choice to go back to your husband and son, I have no reason to keep you. Besides, you’ll only be in more danger if you stay with us. After all, the target of those powerful Kansai samurai is me.”
Mizue unexpectedly stepped forward to grab Lily’s hands, “No, it’s not like that, Miss Lily! I’m not leaving you because of the dangers, I… I…”
As two seemingly samurai were approaching, Mizue pulled Lily to the side and moved around them along with Shimizu.
The three of them walked for a while until they reached a stone bridge. From there, they could see the brook connecting to vast Lake Biwa in the distance. The lake appeared just like a huge mirror in the cover of the rain, but under the orange glow of the lantern, one could make out some waves on the said mirror.
Mizue stopped at the other end of the bridge and turned around. Her beautiful curly hair and the elegant kimono that wrapped around her lithe body made a rustling sound as a breeze was blowing from the lakeside.
Mizue had a bright and beautiful smile on her face despite the gloomy weather, “Miss Lily, I plan to divorce with my husband after I make this trip back.”
“What?!?!” Not only Lily, even Shimizu who were mostly indifferent to other’s affairs was also just as surprised.
“D-D-Divorce?” The two unmarried girls were confused at the unexpected remarks and didn’t know what else to say.
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“That’s right, I want to divorce,” Mizue narrowed her eyes and strongly nodded. At this time, her eyes seemed to glow with the ray of hope as never before.
She continued, “I’ll give half of these magatama fragments to my husband and town, then use the other half to advance my power level and start my own journey. I know it will be an extremely dangerous path with no way back, but in the few days I spent with you, I’ve come to realize something. Even when I was close to death’s door, rather than regret, I’ve become more resolute than ever. My son is only five years old and my husband is bedridden, but so what? I’ve already made up my mind, I can’t suppress this yearning in my heart no more.”
“I will make sure to settle down everything at home, these magatama fragments should be enough for that little town to develop. After I gain enough strength, I will continue to send money and treasure to them, but I will never set foot in that place again. Miss Lily, Miss Shimizu, someday, I will come to find you two. It doesn’t matter where, whether it be Heian-Kyo or Kamakura, when that time comes, can you please take me along on your journey?”
The smile displayed by Mizue was so splendid as though it could brighten up the night scene around the bridge.