|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3083 characters|
|Translator: LazyButAmbitious||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1823 words|
The lake roiled with billowing waves under the golden sunset, accompanied by a magnificent eldritch wind that disturbed the originally calm waters.
A huge blue-black carp that measured tens of meters long surfed atop the winds and waves like a sturdy ship!
“Ah, what is that?”
“Carp?! I’ve never seen such a huge carp!”
“What a terrifying demonic aura!”
When everyone saw the carp’s mighty figure barrelling towards the island, they couldn’t help but stir. Even the spectators who harassed the bearded samurai fled further inland in terror.
The bearded samurai was momentarily dumbfounded, “W-what kind of demon is that?”
“It’s the carp spirit! It’s the underwater king of Lake Biwa, the carp spirit!”
“Not good, the carp spirit is a Permanence Stage archdemon! Why did it suddenly come here?!” The warriors and spectators panicked.
Tamurakonoe couldn’t sit still anymore. He opened his eyes and turned to look at the carp spirit, inwardly wondering why such a formidable demon would appear at this time.
However, his sharp eyesight vaguely spotted a lone person standing on the carp’s hill-like back among the splashing waves.
“What?!” Tamurakonoe couldn’t retain his shock.
Over time, some other keen samurai also saw the strange person.
“Look, brother, there seems to be a person standing on the back of the giant carp.” A Southern samurai pointed out.
“Yes, it’s a person.”
“Is that really a person? How can anyone ride the back of that fearsome carp spirit?!”
“Then, who is that divine being?”
Kagami Lily was dressed in a red kimono embroidered with floral patterns, and her hands were behind her back. Her long hair flew as she perched atop the back of the carp, her gaze squarely fixed on Ryu Island.
Lily didn’t deliberately squander magatama to arrive at Ryu Island in a grand fashion. Her reasons lay in the fact that her small canoe would be further delayed by the stormy weather she encountered on the lake. Lily didn’t mind being late too much, especially since she had a valid excuse. However, she wanted to keep her word and at least arrive before dark.
In addition, Lily recently acquired more magatama so she could afford to be a bit frugal. After some consideration, she eventually summoned the carp spirit and made herself comfortable on its back. As expected, its speed was extraordinary. Without partaking in any combat, a single magatama was enough for it to cruise for several hours.
From the perspective of the watching crowd, the closer the giant carp got, the faster its speed became.
In the blink of an eye, the carp beached itself onto the shore like a huge whale. A sonorous ‘boom’ echoed and water splashed into the sky along with clods of sand.
Many spectators who didn’t dodge in time were splattered by the mix of mud and water. Angry and surprised shouts quickly suffused the crowd.
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The carp spirit’s head was bigger than the structure of a pavilion, and its pair of dull eyes reflected the onlooking people. From time to time, its fat mouth would open and close. Two small fins flapped on either side of the carp’s large frame, and its massive tail was partially submerged in the swaying water.
Everyone stared at the carp spirit with rousing vigilance, thinking that it would wreak havoc in the crowd at any moment. Some samurai instantly retreated into the forest in fright while others drew out their swords to protect their masters.
To their utter relief, the carp spirit didn’t make any threatening moves after rushing onshore. Everyone’s attention was gradually drawn to the beast’s giant head.
On top of the carp spirit, there was a slim, red-clothed girl with long hair that cascaded like a starry river. Her stature was akin to a goddess descending to earth, and the long sword hung on her waist complimented her valorous aura.
“A woman?!” Everyone was surprised.
“Just who is this woman to be able to ride here on this demon carp? Is she the princess at the bottom of Lake Biwa?” A well-informed onmyoji said to himself.
Lily stood for a while and waved her hand, summoning a big white dog out of nowhere. With a light hop, she mounted the lowered back of the demon hound. The demon hound slid off the carp spirit’s head and landed on the ground. After striding for a few steps, it kneeled sideways on the shore and allowed Lily’s small feet in wooden sandals to settle on the ground.
“Ah, the woman came down onto the island!” Currently, the crowd of warriors was paying attention to Lily’s every move. After all, someone who descended from the back of an intimidating carp demon was too eye-catching.
A middle-aged warrior clad in a conical hat and bamboo armor spoke to the people around him, “I say, this big white dog…I seem to have seen it somewhere in Heian-kyō.”
“I also have some impression of it,” Another older man in armor voiced, “Ah, this old man remembers now! That, that is…the dog in Lord Chief Advisor’s house! Many years ago, this old man visited Lady Ayaka who was the minor counselor at the time. When she entertained me at her courtyard for a while, I saw that big dog there!”
“What?! Fujiwara no Ayaka’s dog?” This news swiftly spread among the people.
“Uhm, Young Master,” The dark-skinned man looked at the feminine youth beside him, surprise written on his face, “To be able to use the underwater king of Lake Biwa and the dog of Lord Chief Advisor as mounts…what are the origins of this woman?”
The boy bloomed a knowing smile, “Tenkaiji, you don’t have to say so much. Just wait for a good show.”
Everyone started to theorize about Lily’s background, but she simply ignored them. Seeing that Tamurakonoe was sitting on one side of the longshore, she walked over to the opposite side. The bearded Eastern samurai had long since taken advantage of the chaos to hide in a corner, lest he got pestered again for no reason.
Lily turned around to face Tamurakonoe who was a hundred steps away, her long hair drifting in the wind.
Everyone was a little confused.
“Why is this woman standing there and facing Lord Tamurakonoe?”
“Yeah, that’s the place for the duel.” Another samurai muttered.
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Tamurakonoe, on the other hand, stood up and said, “Kagami Lily, you are finally here.”
“Sorry, there was some bad weather along the way. I made you wait for a long time.” Lily apologized in a ladylike manner.
The conversation and atmosphere puzzled the spectators. Only the girl-like youth showed a smug smile.
“Young Master, what are you smiling at? Ah, could it be…” The tall man seemed to realize something and opened his mouth wide.
Further away, the tent of the Maro Dojo was opened wide, allowing passage for Sakanoue no Tamuramura, Kuichidera Tesshin, Ui, and a large number of dojo samurai. Among them, there was a tall and thin person dressed in black clothes and a high hat. He looked quite noble, with a white face, trim beard, and dotted ink eyebrows characteristic to public ministers.
“Look, the second head of the Maro Dojo, Sakanoue no Tamuramura, and that person is…Lord Fujiwara no Kazuo!”
“Such a distinguished and important person in the imperial court has come here to witness the duel?”
All the samurai gave way to these prominent individuals so they could occupy the elevated viewing position near the shore. As the group settled, Tamurakonoe exchanged a look with his uncle and the two nodded.
Sakanoue no Tamuramura respectfully said something to Fujiwara no Kazuo next to him and the minister nodded. He stepped forward and cleared his throat, speaking with the arrogance inherent of a minister, “Gentlemen, please be quiet. Both parties of today’s duel have arrived. One one side is Sakanoue no Tamurakonoe from the Sinless Domain’s Maro Dojo in the Land of Yamato, Kansai!”
The public minister swung his hand to Tamurakonoe and gave a simple introduction. Loud cheers erupted from the crowd, underscored by a lot of female screams.
“Ahem, and his opponent,” When the minister turned to point at Lily, he briefly twiddled his thin beard and his small eyes swept Lily’s slender figure. Maybe due to his physical desire, his voice unconsciously rose as he shouted, “It’s Lady Kagami from Kamakura, Kanto!”
The samurai, onmyoji, and spectators who gathered from various regions all exclaimed.
“This woman who rode the huge carp is that Kanto genius samurai?”
“Who, who said that the genius was a rude bearded man?”
The crowd of observers was already curious about Lily’s origins, but right now, the unexpected revelation surprised them beyond measure.
“She, is she really from Eastern land?”
“So beautiful, so noble…without losing elegance.”
“I never would’ve guessed that such a stunning woman was the genius samurai of Eastern land. Is she truly the opponent of Lord Tamurakonoe?”
“Lord Tamurakonoe’s fast ship is already a magnificent means of transportation, but unexpectedly, this Eastern female samurai rode atop a Permanence Stage carp demon! How did she do it?!”
Numerous girls who came to cheer on Tamurakonoe were struck dumb for a while. After hearing the comments and praises of so many Southern male samurai, their faces couldn’t help but sour at the sudden reversal.
“Hmph, this Eastern land demoness is really grandstanding!”
“Isn’t she just a tall b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲ with a beautiful face? What is there to be proud of?”
“That’s right, doesn’t she reserve any shame as a woman? She showed her face to fight with a man, but no matter how beautiful she is, what’s the use?”
“Sister Koko, look… I didn’t expect that the opponent of the fastest sword of Sinless Domain’s younger generation would be a woman. And…this sister is so tall. It’s rare to see a girl so tall.” The miko, Yanagi Kyori was also amazed, a look of longing sparkling in her eyes.
There was a time when Lily stood in the dark streets of Kamakura and looked at Uesugi with a similar gaze.
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But now, Lily herself, who arrived on a secluded island at the very edge of Western land, had become the target of attention of all the warriors and people of Western land!
Tamurakonoe stood a hundred steps away opposite Lily. At this moment, he stared at Lily without any fluctuating emotions, but in his heart, he was very concerned, “This mirror girl just came, yet she’s already stirring a lot of noise. Obviously, she was only riding a piece of wood before. How did she manage to control the carp spirit? So hateful! I deliberately laid out the game. Why do I feel like I set up the stage for this woman to show off?”
“Hmph, no matter what, I will let you fall under my sword right away!” A sinister light glinted in Tamurakonoe’s eyes.