Chapter 52 – A Special Day and Conspiracy

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3299 characters
Translator: Silva English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 2304 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

It suddenly became very bustling in Kato’s castle that very night. There were even some who went out of their way to find fishers to catch fish.

As the elderly servant arranged for the banquet, he stealthily sneaked to one corner of the castle wall. It was there he met up with a ninja garbed in all black.

The servant passed a roll of paper to the ninja and said, “You must personally see this delivered to Lord Sakanoue.”

Hot tea was first served to everyone in the castle hall.

“So this is the legendary Fuji-san?” Kato was also a connoisseur of tea ceremonies, he couldn’t help but praise incessantly upon eyeing Lily’s teacup, “I didn’t expect that not only is Lady Lyn-hime an exceptional swordswoman, but she is also a collector of such fine article.”

“Not at all, it’s just a humble article.”

Kato also showed off his tea sets to Lily. As one of the few personages capable of maintaining water routes to Kansai, the article he revealed was obviously just as valuable.

“If Lady Lyn-hime isn’t in such a rush to leave, I’d have love if you and Miss Shimizu could stay in Imahama for a few more days. After all, you two came from such a faraway land on such short notice, I wasn’t able to receive you properly.” Kato stated regretfully1.

“Thank you, Lord Kato, I still have important matters to see to so I cannot stay overlong. I will definitely find a chance to visit and offer my thanks.”

“Don’t mention it, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you so it has been a real honor to finally get a chance to meet you at last. How can I trouble Lady Lyn-hime to come to this desolate place again? The ship has already been prepared, and since Lady Lyn-hime is in a rush, we can set sail early in the morrow!” Kato said in a clear and bright voice.

“We really appreciate your generosity.”

Kato then faced Shimizu, “Miss Shimizu, how’s Lord Kamakura doing?”

Shimizu was a bit stumped and didn’t know how to answer. After all, she hadn’t been back to Kamakura for a long time herself. As she thought about it for a while, she decided to give a subtle answer, “Lord Kamakura oversees all of Kanto just as in the past. It’s just that, it hasn’t been too peaceful in Kanto these days, so Lord Kamakura is also deeply concerned.”

Hearing that, Kato shook his head helplessly, “That is the ways of the world… Even this Port Imahama, I can barely keep it operating by maintaining the water trade route with Kansai. Other than fishing, all our foodstuffs are imported from other regions. Although I can protect this port, I am incapable of securing my lands… If we walk out of this wall, there’ll be monsters everywhere, who would dare to farm in this condition.”

Lily recalled the mother and child who she rescued on the way and asked, “Then does Lord Kato has any plan to improve this situation?”

Kato shook his head in denial, “All I can do is to keep struggling to keep this water route that connects Kansai and the central region safe and wait for the imperials to send their army to suppress the monsters to secure safe passage between Kansai and Kanto. Only with that will Port Imahama have a way out.”

“Does Lord Kato think the imperial will do that?” Shimizu asked.

Kato shook his head again and replied, “How can I know what the imperials are thinking? However, if it’s Lady Lyn-hime, you might be able to meet up with one of the high-ranking imperials when you reach Heian-kyo. If you happen to run into one, may I request you to convey my hope to them.”

Lily nodded, “I definitely will if a chance arise.”

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Kato felt that even though Lily was of the opposite sex, she was a woman who’d keep her words, and that made him even more impressed by the latter. Then as though it just occurred to him, he asked, “That’s right, Lady Lyn-hime, how did you get to know Tenba Goro?”

……
……

It was already midnight when they part ways with Kato, so Lily and Shimizu accepted his offer to stay in the castle for the night.

On the corridor back to their room Lily started feeling a little dizzy and she didn’t know what’s happening to her.

“Lil’ Lily, are you okay? You didn’t drink any alcohol today, so why is it that you’ve been wobbling since just a while ago?” Shimizu supported Lily from the side and asked.

“I don’t know, but I’ll be fine.”
“Do you feel uncomfortably anywhere?”
“No, my body feels quite well, I’m only a little light-headed.” Lily’s face was as red as an apple by this time.
“Could it be menstruation?” Shimizu softly whispered in Lily’s ear.
Lily shivered uncontrollably as Shimizu’s breath brushed past her ear, “That’s not it, my menstruation passed two weeks ago…”

If it was like usual, Lily wouldn’t have revealed her menstruation cycle to anyone, not even to Shimizu. She didn’t like having her secret grasped by someone else, but today was different, for she easily revealed one of her most tightly kept secrets when Shimizu whispered near her ear.

“Sister Shimizu, I should be fine. Perhaps I’m just too tired.” Lily answered.

“That’s right, lil’ sis has been fighting and risking her all throughout the journey, even if it’s you, you will still get fatigued. We still have to get up early tomorrow morning to board the ship, why not go rest for now? Or should I massage you for a bit?”

“N-no need…” Lily felt that if she was to get touched by Shimizu at this time, something bad will happen.

Since Kato had prepared two juxtaposed guest rooms for them, Lily and Shimizu went into their own room to rest.

At this time, 5 km to the Northeast of Port Imahama, a pitch-black ship was anchored on the lakeside.

A ninja surfaced from the lake and was subsequently discovered by the Maro Dojo’s swordsman. After exchanging a short signal, the swordsman dropped a rope ladder from the ship and guided the ninja to the cabin.

Sakanoue no Tamurakonoe and the rest were sitting in the cabin, Tesshin received the message from the ninja and read it, “Using the water route? It seems that Kagami Lily had a meeting with a high-ranking official. A ship to Yamashiro Province has already been prepared to depart tomorrow morning.”

Tesshin scowled as he pondered for a bit, “The water route huh… Hahaha, where else can she run if an accident is to happen en route? The only problem is that Kato has the fastest ship on Lake Biwa, how can we hope to catch up to them, Master Tamurakonoe?”

“No need to worry, we will naturally plant a spy among them,” Tamurakonoe smiled coldly and wrote a note to pass to the ninja, “Deliver this to your master.”

“Yes!” The ninja received the order and was about to leave.

“Wait.” Tamurakonoe took out a piece of magatama, “Give this to your master too.”

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After that, he took out another piece of gold coin, “And this is for you, consider it a labor fee.”

“T-Thank you, my lord!” The ninja shouted excitedly.

Even if they were ninjas, they still required money to buy ninjutsu scrolls, weapons, hidden tools, and the likes. Not to mention daily day-to-day pleasures, they also needed money even if they were to single-mindedly devote themselves to their missions. Money could increase their odds of survivability, so the ninja was naturally extremely grateful to Tamurakonoe’s extravagant gift.

After the ninja left, Tamurakonoe spoke to Tesshin, “Kagami Lily really made an unwise decision to use the water route. This time, we really have to eliminate her in one go. If she really made it to the other side of the shore and reach Yamashiro Province, things will get complicated.”

“Are you saying there are organizations protecting the mirror girl in Heina-kyo?”

“That’s right, and this organization’s influence is not to be trifled with2. To say nothing of us, even Lord Kibo will be hard-pressed to pose a challenge to them. We must ensure that this Lake Biwa will be Kagami Lily’s burial ground!” A fierce glint flashed in Tamurakonoe’s pretty eyes.

“My lord, regarding the two women traveling with Kagami Lily, one of their whereabouts is unknown, the other is still with her.”

“The one who left is insignificant, we can simply ignore her. The other one is Minamoto no Shimizu, a female samurai from the East’s Genji Dojo. Lord Kibo didn’t mention anything about her, but she’s still the direct line of the Minamoto clan anyway, if we can avoid killing her, it’s best to leave her alive. However, we shouldn’t hold back if there’s really no other choice and let her die along with Kagami Lily at the bottom of Lake Biwa.”

Tamurakonoe got up from his seat and arrived at the deck to gaze at the distance misty lake surface, “Just in case, have our swordsmen paddle with all their might, I do not believe we won’t be able to catch up to the ship with our swordsman’s full might. And besides… Ui.”

“Here~” Ui was currently sitting at the upper deck, playing her kendama.

“You think of a way to sneak into their ship to guarantee our success. However, you are forbidden to make your move before our operation starts.”

“I understand, Brother Tamurakonoe.”

Ui gracefully jumped down from the upper deck onto the roof of the cabin, then she flipped over to the ship’s railing before stepping onto the plank that led to the shore. She spread out her arms and let her sleeves flutter in the wind as she ran to the shore and disappear into the reed.

That night, everything looked calm on the lake surface, but the conspiracy was abounding everywhere, whether it be at the deserted lakeshore, within the Port of Imahama, or at the bottom of Lake Biwa3.

In the depths of Lake Biwa, several hundred kilometers from Imahama, aquatic plants were densely grown on an ancient boulder and swayed along with the water flow. Even at the unlit depths of the lake, there were unbroken chains of peaks and deep ravines, and the occasional flash of indistinct green lights was as though it came from the breathing of a hibernating ancient beast.

In one of the ravines of about thirty meters wide and three hundred meters deep, a warm yellow light be vaguely seen from there.

At the bottom of that ravine was a stone platform. What’s stranger than that were the lanterns that were hanged all around the platform. Even though it was in the water, all the lanterns were lit up with a mysterious force.

A really stout and big figure could be seen sitting in the middle of the platform. It was wearing a dark orange yukata tens of times bigger than an ordinary man’s and its head was in the shape of a carp of around 3.3 meters wide.

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That was a carp monster with limbs similar to a human, but its skin was made up of dark blue scales and glossy webs were connecting its thick fingers. It even had a long and thick fishtail growing from its backside.

What’s even more outrageous was that this seven to eight meters tall mountain of meat was served by several beautiful mermaids4 who covered their private parts with only shells and ribbons5.

Those mermaids carried all kinds of fruits over, in which the huge carp monster occasionally used its huge hand to grab some to eat. Sometimes, it even touched the mermaid, causing them to let out a sensual voice.

A huge kappa swam into the ravine and upon seeing the lantern light from afar, it shouted, “Brother!!”

Kyubozu swam towards the stone platform and sat cross-legged in front of the huge carp monster. When comparing their size side-by-side like this, even Kyubozu seemed a little small compared to the carp monster. Kyubozu was gasping for breath, generating lots of water bubbles in the process. He was clearly wounded as one could still see green blood leaking out from some parts of his body.

The carp monster’s long whiskers jumped up in surprise as it stared at Kyubozu with one of its round, vacuous eyes. It flapped its fleshy fish mouth and let out a deep, resonating voice in the water, “B-Brother Kyubozu… You, what happened to you? H-How did you become like this?”

Even Kyubozu became furious when he heard that, “It’s all because of that Kagami Lily!”

“W-What Kagami Lily?” That carp monster, who was watching Kyubozu attentively with its head turned sideways, was a slow speaker who occasionally stuttered too.

“It’s that mirror girl from Kamakura! She’s making her way west towards Heian-kyo.”

“H-However, brother Kyubozu, w-we the underwater monster has n-n-never messed with t-those… what is it now? Ah, mirror girls, we’ve n-never messed with them before, why now?”

“It is not I who provoked the mirror girl, it is she who came to Lake Biwa and snatched our treasure, the treasure in Biwa Palace. I’ve been waiting for this moment since the day I was born, and now, when I was so close to obtaining the treasure, I was attacked by the mirror girl from behind and sustained a heavy injury, losing the treasure in the process! It’s so infuriating!” Big bubbles constantly formed from Kyubozu’s mouth as he kept ranting on.

“W…What? I-Is that true? W-Which mirror girl dares to be s-so brazen?” The black pupil of the carp monster’s tub-sized eyes constricted.

“Brother, I’ve told you just now, it’s the East’s mirror girl called Kagami Lily!”



References

  1. Robinxen: Yes please stay where people are making assassination attempts.
  2. Robinxen: Oh the plot thickens.
  3. Silva: Bottom of Lake Biwa? So are the Kappas are plotting something too?
  4. Robinxen: Huh. My novel has a mermaid heroine too, actually technically she’s a siren but I worked really hard to reconcile the differences between mermaids and sirens in different mythologies to explain their depictions.
  5. Silva: Mermaidsssss!!!

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