|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3117 characters|
|Translator: LazyButAmbitious||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1947 words|
The ancient trees chased the moon as a lone beauty walked quietly at night.
Kagami Lily, dressed in her scarlet kimono, took small but steady steps as she traveled the winding road. Her long hair trailed like a river of stars and her long sleeves fluttered like the strings of a zither.
However, this tall and graceful girl with a katana on her waist had enough power to protect herself.
Lily kept walking along the ancient road. The path was paved with old and broken green stone slabs that clacked when her wooden sandals stepped on them. In the silent night, her orderly steps echoed throughout the forest.
The night breeze carried the scent of early spring, blowing on Lily’s fair and beautiful face. She looked at the periphery of the road ahead, which was studded with towering trees and strange stones. In the distance, she could faintly see a splendid, warm brilliance that seemed to reflect the starry sky.
That place must be Heian-kyō!
Lily regarded this ancient and distant city with endless curiosity.
She felt impatient and wanted to speed up her steps, but her elegant kimono wrapped tightly around her body. Although her legs were long, she couldn’t make any exaggerated movements.
Behind Lily, a woman’s voice suddenly called her name.
It sounded as if it was coming from the depths of the forest.
“Who is shouting my name? Is there someone in this place who knows me?” Just as Lily was about to turn her head, she remembered what the fox said.
‘If a human practitioner walks on this road during the night and encounters a woman calling their name, they must not turn to face the voice’.
Lily was a little scared. After all, who wasn’t afraid of the unknown? If some random demons jumped out to fight her, she wouldn’t be afraid. However, she knew better than to disregard the warning of the native fox. She was strong, but this was Heian-kyō. Everything she encountered needed to be handled with utmost caution.
Lily didn’t turn her head, nor did she answer. She walked forwards silently as if she hadn’t heard anything.
The woman’s voice approached closer, becoming more urgent and unrelenting. It tempted her to listen and take a glimpse.
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However, Lily’s determination and mentality couldn’t be compared to that of ordinary people. She wasn’t careless enough to sneak a glance. Instead, she maintained full vigilance and continued forward with rhythmic steps.
It wasn’t until she walked out of the ancient forest and into a bright open space that the voice stopped following her. It yowled in resentment before wandering back into the dark forest.
“Ah…” After exiting the forest, Lily saw that the stone-paved ground led up to a canal not far away. On the opposite side of the canal, dazzling lights stretched from east to west, scattering into the skies above the vast capital city.
Heian-kyō was completely different from Kamakura, Kiyosu, Gifu, and the other cities she visited before. It was truly a huge city.
Since coming to this foreign Heian world, this was the first time Lily had seen something that could be described as a spectacle built by mankind.
This was the core of the entire Heian Dynasty, where the emperor’s palace was located and where the world’s greatest magnates and experts gathered!
Behind the distant city walls were neatly lined palaces, high towers, and ancient temples stood tall like mountains, exuding mesmerizing lights in the night that beckoned towards the surrounding forest and beyond.
For the first time, Lily was shocked by the artificial scenery of the palace city.
The experience rivaled the first time she arrived in this foreign world; it was as if Heian-kyō was a different world in itself.
The simple stone lanterns beside the canal flickered with red-orange flames and the nearby pine trees swayed like dark shadows.
Paired with the magnificent city in the background, the scene formed a long scroll like a dream.
Lily stood for a while as if she was admiring a realistic painting, the fresh breeze gently blowing her hair. She couldn’t help getting captivated by the sight.
There was a red wooden arch bridge on the stone-paved path that led over the canal, reflecting the ripples from the water. Lily walked over the bridge and deduced that it was wide enough to fit seven carriages side by side. The bridge was also several hundred meters long and stretched like a rainbow over the canal. On the other end of the bridge, there was a brown torii with gold and copper decorations4.
A few dozen meters past the torii was the gate of Heian-kyō.
Lily sauntered across the arch bridge and came in front of the city gate.
The gate of Heian-kyō wasn’t as tall as the city walls, showing the extraordinary size and tolerance of the city.
It was late at night so the gate was already closed when Lily arrived, causing her to feel a bit of loss. Although she could easily surmount the wall which was only five or six meters tall, such an action would be too disrespectful to Heian-kyō.
Just when Lily was worried about spending the night outside the city, a strong demonic aura crept up behind her.
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Fortunately, she was holding the parasol and lightly stepped over to the gate pillar.
Silver mist flooded the long arch bridge and the wind billowed with a demonic aura. A huge bullock carriage without any oxen appeared in the middle of the bridge and rattled from the mist.
On the bullock carriage, there was a grey, dark-skinned demon warrior with two short horns and a beard. His muscular body was vested in large armor and he drove the cart forward with a whip, but it was clear that there were no oxen in front of the cart.
The huge bullock carriage was twelve meters high and as wide as four or five horse stables put together. The carriage soon reached in front of the city gate but it didn’t stop.
Lily discerned the powerful demonic aura emitted by the armored demon which was several times stronger than the Permanence Stage. Lily was definitely not his opponent but the aura that frightened her more came from inside the bullock carriage. A thick resentment spilled forth, brewing a chilly feeling in her heart. She couldn’t fathom who this archdemon was and what kind of deep hatred he had with this world.
At this time, the heavy gate barring the path of the bullock carriage silently opened, allowing it to pass through without any hindrance.
Lily followed over to look and found that there weren’t any people or demons inside or outside the gate. The gate seemed to open by itself, filling her with doubts. Did the ancient city of Heian-kyō have its own will?
When the bullock carriage entered, the gate began to close. Lily quietly followed behind with her parasol held tight and slipped through the gate before it closed.
Though covered by the sakura parasol, Lily didn’t dare to keep following the bullock carriage for long. In fact, she found herself unable to keep up when walking at her normal speed. The huge wheels of the bullock carriage rolled slowly, but every few meters it traveled seemed to expand unnaturally. A spatial disorder occurred, and when Lily looked over, the carriage was already a hundred meters away.
“How incredible,” Lily mumbled to herself. She simply stopped and allowed the bullock carriage to disappear into the night of Heian-kyō.
The road where Lily currently stood was as wide as a big river and stretched for hundreds of meters into the distance. Behind her, the sturdy southern gate of Heian-kyō remained closed.
Up ahead, about fifteen kilometers away, a towering ancient palace with dim lights was vaguely visible.
Lily saw that there were two intricate stone lanterns on the side of the road. She went over to one of the lanterns and noticed a stone stele with the words ‘Suzaku Avenue’ boldly written on it.
“It turns out that this is the legendary Suzaku Avenue,” Lily said in a daze.
She felt like a little girl who had just arrived in the Heian world, waiting to reach Heian-kyō, but now that she was here, standing alone in this vast and empty night city, she didn’t know where to go.
Lily briefly looked around. There were various houses on both sides of the wide road and the lights were sparsely lit. From time to time, she would hear some indistinct noises coming from within the houses.
She had traveled so far in order to meet Fujiwara no Ayaka5 and discover the true mission of the mirror girls.
Lily walked along the wide road of Suzaku Avenue which hardly felt like a road. She felt a little strange. Although it was late at night, why wasn’t there a single person on the streets in such a huge and prosperous city? Even the gate was closed and the entrance wasn’t guarded by any soldiers.
It seemed that it would prove more difficult to find out where Lady Ayaka lived. Should she find an inn to stay?
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However, when Lily checked both sides of the road, she found that the door of every building was closed. Some houses were low and plain while some pavilions were tall and impressive, occasionally flickering with lights of various colors. The exquisite stone lanterns on the streets were still burning brightly and lit lanterns were also hung on the doors of each house and pavilion. Looking from afar, they resembled stars floating in the night city. Such a gorgeous avenue, yet there was no one up and about.
As chief advisor, Fujiwara no Ayaka must be living in the heart of Heian-kyō. I might as well continue walking along Suzaku Avenue. It’s good if I can find an inn, but even if I don’t, it’s no problem to spend the night on the street and inquire about it tomorrow morning.
Lily walked for several kilometers and didn’t feel that anything was particularly wrong. Still, she couldn’t understand why she hadn’t encountered any passers-by along the way.
Finally, Lily heard some noises behind her.
When she turned her head, she discovered a few samurai who were slowly escorting a bullock carriage. This carriage looked very beautiful and expensive, and two people dressed up as public officials followed beside it. Based on these signs, the occupant of the bullock carriage must have an unusual identity.
“Then he must know where Fujiwara no Ayaka lives.” Lily’s sakura parasol didn’t prevent humans from seeing her so she directly turned around, wanting to ask for directions.
But at that moment, behind Lily, a burst of strange brilliance came from the direction of the palace and irradiated her graceful back.
Ding Dong—Ding Dong—
Dang! Dang! DONG!
Sorrowful chimes rang out.
These chimes sounded familiar. Lily had a bad premonition in her heart. Looking back, she saw that in the shallow mist of Suzaku Avenue, there seemed to be a number of hideous ghostly figures coming her way.
“Is it the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons6?” Lily was startled.
On the other hand, the group of people escorting the bullock carriage seemed unaware.
The old and senile public official who was walking beside the carriage said to the window, “Prince Narinaga, we are almost there.”
“Okay, I see.” The noble and immature voice of a young boy came from inside the carriage.
- Robinxen: Pffffff.
- Robinxen: Author is like “You WILL fail NNN”.
- Robinxen: Interesting, it used the fake name…Surely a supernatural being would know the real name?
- Robinxen: So it’s Inazuma but taller.
- Robinxen: Yeah bold of you to assume this will happen any time soon.
- Robinxen: Is this woman a magnet for this?!
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