|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3180 characters|
|Translator: LazyButAmbitious||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2036 words|
The rippling lake reflected the gray sky as it splashed against the muddy shore.
A small freshwater crab scurried by, flipping over a rock that resembled a small hill from its perspective. Behind the rock, a white and slender arm lay unmoving on the wet soil.
The ends of Shimizu’s hair were stained with mud and the corners of her skirt were occasionally washed by the lake’s rising and falling tides.
Large lakes such as Lake Biwa also exhibited tidal phenomena.
A throbbing headache stimulated Shimizu’s eyelids to twitch, causing her to wake up soon after. She opened her eyes in a daze, only to see a small crab with beady eyes staring back at her.
“Um…” Her hand sunk into the brown mud as she supported her upper body from the ground. When she sat up, the little crab quickly sped away into the distance.
Shimizu felt sore all over, and her weak body was cold and burdened by her wet clothes.
“Sword…where’s my sword?”
Shimizu wasn’t like Lily who possessed a treasure to store items. Her sword seemed to have sunk into the depths of the lake. After the carp spirit’s catastrophic attack, her weapon could’ve been swept anywhere by the resulting monstrous waves.
Fortunately, I still have the grade 5 tanto that I acquired later. It’s too bad that this kind of short sword isn’t capable of sustaining fights at my level of strength. A strong Spirit Jade expert can break it with a single blow and it isn’t as resilient as my cursed katana, but it’s better than nothing.
“You’re awake.” A deep voice sounded from the side.
“Who?!” Shimizu suddenly turned her head in the direction of the voice. The tall and handsome Tamurakonoe sat cross-legged atop a huge boulder, his iconic long tachi still strapped to his back.
Shimizu cautiously grasped the hilt of her short sword.
“I advise you to lower your sword,” Tamurakonoe warned, “I already said that I won’t kill a direct descendant of the Genji’s, but even if I killed you on this deserted island, no one would know.”
Tamurakonoe didn’t spare a glance at Shimizu, choosing to focus his gaze on the boundless misty lake instead.
“Then why don’t you kill me?”
“There’s no point since you’re no threat to me. As long as you don’t cause any trouble, why should I kill you? We may be the only creatures on this deserted island that can communicate.”
Shimizu extended her spiritual awareness but found that the island was veiled in an incredible fog. Even with her strength of Spirit Jade backed by her Blade Maiden powers, she could only detect a radius of fewer than five meters. In addition, she couldn’t penetrate through the rocks and landforms on the island.
Despite this peculiarity, natural visibility stretched up to two or three hundred meters in the fog.
“This place is strange. I can only detect up to a range of 20 meters, but my normal vision remains mostly unaffected. It doesn’t make any sense.” Tamurakonoe said.
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Shimizu staggered to her feet while clutching her waist. Her current situation was very unpleasant. She lost her anima container during the momentous impact, and her other belongings, such as her black umbrella and change of clothes, sunk along with the ship— all gone.
“Where in Lake Biwa are we, and how far is it from the sunken ship?” Shimizu scanned her surroundings. The fog was vast and the lake was boundless. In the backdrop, the towering island obscured by coiling mist exuded an indescribable breath.
Tamurakonoe didn’t answer. He also had no clues regarding their current situation.
“Ah, Sister Lily!” Worry bore fruit in Shimizu’s heart. What happened to her sister? Without spiritual awareness, Shimizu wouldn’t be able to find her. Of course, even if she retained her peak abilities, a detection range of a mere kilometer was unable to scour the spanning waters of Lake Biwa.
Shimizu slowly made her way into the water, intending to start her search.
“I advise you not to do that,” Tamurakonoe gave her a sidelong glance.
“Why?” Shimizu asked warily, “Do you want to hold me hostage?”
“I don’t even know how to leave this place myself; what’s the point of holding you hostage?” Tamurakonoe stared out into the vast expanse, his eyes grim, “With my strength, I don’t need to care about stamina. I could swim for thousands of kilometers in search of land with relative ease. However, there’s a belt of extremely icy waters about five hundred meters out. Once you swim out and enter this frigid zone, your spiritual energy will quickly deplete. If I didn’t hurriedly turn back, I might’ve perished in this lake…”
“What? Is there really such an area?” Shimizu furrowed her brows, “Don’t lie to me. If that were the case, why didn’t we die when we washed up here?”
“I’ve already tested it. As long as our spiritual energy isn’t activated, it won’t get drained. A sudden outburst of waves safely carried our unconscious bodies here, but we have nothing like that to rely on to take us out. The only option would be to depend on our physical perseverance alone. However, it’s impossible to swim through such freezing waters without using spiritual energy, and even if we could, how would we resist if a demon appears? I tried several times and was almost attacked by a water demon. They don’t seem to be affected by the draw on spiritual energy.”
Shimizu pondered silently for a while. If Tamurakonoe wanted to harm her, it would be a simple task for him. He had no need to fabricate lies or endure the troubles of trapping himself on the deserted island with her. What would be the point?
“So according to you, we are trapped on this deserted island? Have you tried exploring inland?” Shimuzu questioned.
“I haven’t yet.”
“Then why are you already jumping to conclusions?”
“The strange water that sucks spiritual energy gathers at the cliffs situated on the north and south sides of the island. You cannot swim across and there seems to be no other way around to the opposite shore covered in mist. Also, with my current strength, I can’t guarantee that I can jump over. As for the high mountains on this island, I feel a kind of aura that I dare not approach carelessly. I haven’t made up my mind yet on whether to enter the mountains or not.”
“Huh, the fastest sword in Kansai can also feel fear?”
“There is no absolute strongest in this world. No matter how strong and talented you are, you can’t really get to the top. The path of the strong is a long and winding road. At some point throughout the journey, you will eventually fall.” Tamurakonoe said meaningfully.
“I don’t want to listen to your preaching. You may cherish your life, but I only care about my sister!” Shimizu came out of the lake. She didn’t doubt Tamurakonoe’s words at the moment, but since he was unwilling to explore the mountains, she could only do it by herself. At least there existed a chance to find other opportunities within the island. As she walked past Tamurakonoe, she asked, “If you had known this would happen, would you still have hunted after Lily?”
“Whether it’s training or a mission, every task assigned to me by my father is fraught with dangers. My father ordered me to kill the mirror girl, so I would do it regardless. If there’s anything to regret, it would be my decision to chase instead of intercepting and killing her earlier.”
“Maybe that’s something you really shouldn’t regret.” Shimizu coldly replied, turning and walking into the depths of the island.
“Wait a minute,” Tamurakonoe said without turning his head.
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“What do you want?” Shimizu became alert.
“You and I may be the only two people on this island, and who knows if we’ll be able to leave?”
“So, I won’t allow you to leave alone.”
“What do you mean by that?” Shimizu gripped the hilt of her sword again.
Tamurakonoe got up and slid down the rock face before approaching Shimizu.
“What do you want? Don’t come any closer!” Shimizu’s eyes hardened and she unsheathed the short sword.
“Relax, I don’t have much interest in women, and I don’t want to offend the Genji. But that’s only if I can leave the island. If I can’t, and we end up stuck together on this deserted island, I think that staying alone would be too dull and boring. I won’t do anything to you, but I’ll restrict your actions and won’t allow you to wander too far from me.”
“You…rascal!” Shimuzu grew anxious. She knew first-hand that she wasn’t Tamurakonoe’s match, not to mention now where she didn’t even have a proper weapon.
“You misunderstand. I already said that I have little interest in women. I won’t touch you, only talk with you. You can scold me and call me a villain if you want. In any case, I don’t think that I’m unfair to women…”
“You put it so nicely, but you’re simply a pervert! You want to restrict my freedom for such a lousy reason?”
“Yes, I advise you not to escape, or I’ll have no choice but to tie you up. If you’re uncomfortable, just stay within 20 meters of me so we can converse. When I find a method to leave, I’ll naturally let you go. I’m not interested in you, I just see you as the only other person on this island.” Tamurakonoe’s eyes were unfeeling and without desire, but surprisingly devilish.
“You can curse me all you want, I don’t care. We’re the only two people who can communicate on this island.” After he spoke, Tamurakonoe returned to the boulder and sat cross-legged, his back towards Shimizu.
Shimizu glowered at his tall back while breathing heavily. With a sudden turn, she mustered all her strength to rush into the cloak of mist.
Tamurakonoe only huffed. Without moving from his cross-legged posture, he took out a stone bead from his storage pouch and flicked it fiercely at the escaping Shimizu.
“Ahhhh!” A delicate scream echoed from within the mist, followed by the sounds of tumbling.
“It hurts…” A stinging pain spread throughout her leg, crippling her ability to stand for a while.
Tamurakonoe walked over and stretched a hand toward Shimizu like a gentleman, “Miss, are you hurt? Let me help you back up.”
Shimizu trembled while ignoring the pain in her bruised leg. She shot Tamurakonoe an intense glare, “You pervert; devil!”
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Tamurakonoe forcefully grabbed Shimizu’s hand and dragged her to the edge of the boulder.
After leaning her against the rock, he perched atop its flat surface once again, “You’d better stop trying to escape. The more I end up hurting you, the less likely I’ll allow you to survive. I don’t want you telling the leader of Genji about me. Minamoto no Shimizu, you’re a smart woman; you should understand what I’m saying, right?”
Shimizu’s nose felt stuffy, but she held back her tears. She had to live, and if she couldn’t escape, she would find another chance. She was too hasty just now.
How could she remain trapped on this island while her sister’s whereabouts were unknown? She needed to quickly escape this pervert’s control and go find her Sister Lily!
“Here you go, bandage it. Put some medicine on it too. I made sure to control my strength so your bones aren’t broken. It will heal soon.” Tamurakonoe retrieved a pack of bandages and ointment from his storage pouch before throwing them to Shimizu.
At this moment, Shimizu really wanted a demon or evil spirit to jump from the bushes and beat this guy up. He was obviously the one to hit her but offered her medicine and bandages as if he was some saint— what a terrible man!
Sis Lily, where are you…? It doesn’t matter how much your sister suffers or how much your sister is bullied by this pervert. Your sister will definitely escape and find you. Without your sister, you’ll be lonely, right?
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