|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3302 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2110 words|
Ayaka1 watched the little girl’s slim figure and revealed some pity in her eyes as she nodded, “Judge Sasaki’s request is reasonable and there’s a precedent too… I allow the suspension of the match.”
“Hmph! How troublesome. There’s no need to change. Why don’t you just concede instead?” Shenzu stated icily.
Shizuru withdrew to the arena’s edge, where a bunch of maids had come over in haste lest Shizuru was disqualified for getting down the arena. The Taira clan didn’t dare to take that risk. The maids pulled a cloth open and hid Shizuru behind it in all directions so that she could change into a new pair of clothes.
“How embarrassing!” Sadamori parroted. He felt discontent with Shizuru for a long time now and had to keep his mouth shut because of her talents. The Taira clan had failed to produce any younger generation who was comparable to her, and this made them place high hopes on her. However, he hardly cared about any of that right now and reprimanded her right in front of everyone.
Shizuru changed into a beige formal kimono dotted with dark flowers. Her breaths were still rushed, and her face lit up with humiliation and denial as she knew she couldn’t afford to lose this match.
If she lost, all the pains she had gone through would become a matter of ridicule through gossip.
Judge Sasaki requested the maids to go down the arena once Shizuru had finished dressing and raised the flag once again, “Continue the match!”
Shizuru flashed towards Shenzu valiantly. Shenzu’s domain worked in strange ways, so her only chance at victory was to approach her. However, Shenzu withdrew her domain.
“Have you had enough, or do you want more, little girl?!” Shenzu welcomed Shizuru’s advance with a slash!
Shizuru side-stepped swiftly and stabbed back simultaneously, to which Shenzu countered with a horizontal slash! Shenzu’s blades were long and adequately fast, so Shizuru was forced to jump back diagonally and move out of the blade’s range.
“Did you think you could defeat me in a match with real blades? It’s my turn to attack you now!”
Bzzt! An enigmatic, runic circle manifested over Shenzu’s head, and a spirit arm appeared from within, a gold-hilted blade with numerous luminescent spirit runes converging around its hilt secured in its grip.
Sasaki observed the blade meticulously, noticing that the arm had been constructed from Shenzu’s spirit power through arcane means. The mystic sword masters from the ancient times also used such techniques, and they were classified under mystic sword arts, so it wasn’t against the rules to use it.
Shenzu’s speed boosted up greatly as she charged towards Shizuru with a powerful, phantasmic blue aura oozing out of her.
She drew both her nodachis ambidextrously, delivering continuous strikes to Shizuru who didn’t dare to receive them fully and warded the strikes off by brushing them away with exquisite control.
“I must admit that Shizuru’s sword skills are truly remarkable. She’s a real genius!” Lily exclaimed in admiration multiple times down the arena.
However, the spirit arm holding the third blade made a sudden move in the next moment, striking down at her from the sky!
Clang! A powerful surge of energy flooded through Shizuru, knocking her down to the floor and smashing it as she bounced back up.
“What?!” Lily was astounded by the spirit arm’s strength as she was expecting it to only have strength equivalent to that of an average slender-handed man’s arm and not an amount that was much greater than Shenzu’s strikes!
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Shenzu acted without mercy and kicked Shizuru as she tried to stand up.
Bam! Shizuru flew like a kite and spun in the air, throwing up blood as she employed her domain to create a barrier and crashed into it, landing right at the edge of the arena and barely managing to evade defeat.
“So you’re only this strong, huh? If you have any ultimate move left, it’s time to use it now, genius,” Shenzu smirked icily.
Shizuru got up feebly, “You want to see my ultimate? Hmph! I just didn’t want to kill you. Everyone who’s seen it before you have all died, so you better not force me to use it.”
“Oooohhhh, I’m so scared,” Shenzu mocked coolly.
“How dare you insult me!” A starlight-like aura oozed out from Shizuru as she threw away her wakizashis willingly.
“Huh?” Shenzu was taken aback by this.
In the next moment, two shining machetes with starlight flowing within them manifested in Shizuru’s hands. The blades of these machetes possessed a broad and warped form, completely different from any kind of katanas. However, the desolate aura within the blades affected all the spectators.
“What?! T-That’s…” Sadamori almost pulled out his beard in a fit of fury!
It was no mortal weapon!
“It’s Raccoon Star Splitter!” Sadamori shot up in fury and cursed at her with no regards to his reputation, “B̲i̲t̲c̲h̲! How dare you steal the treasured sword enshrined in the Taira clan’s Raccoon Mita Temple!”
According to the legends, the Taira forces had encountered an unkillable monster during their expedition back when the monsters in the Taira clan’s lands were sowing chaos. Taira no Kiyomori killed the monster eventually by obtaining this blade from his visit to the Mita Temple.
The treasured sword was usually enshrined in the temple as it was the Taira clan’s legacy treasure. He had never imagined that Shizuru had actually stolen it.
Ayaka sighed from her seat, “This Raccoon Star Splitter really isn’t an item of the mortal world. Now that I think about it, Shizuru probably learned her arts from Raccoon Mita—the sole living sacred relic in this world! It’s no wonder that she became the best talent of the Taira clan despite being unloved.”
The Left Imperial Guards’ Commander, Taira no Mori, who was the strongest samurai of the clan outside of the court, pulled Sadamori back to his seat, “Please calm down, sir. I agree that Shizuru deserves severe punishment for stealing the treasure, but this is an internal matter of our clan. She’s dueling with an outsider as the clan’s representative right now, so let’s allow her to focus on the duel for now. It’s not too late to discuss this after we return.”
Shenzu remained unfazed even after seeing Shizuru’s blades, “You’re really a little kid. How could you steal? Look how you’ve tarnished the Taira clan’s reputation.”
“Shut it! I must win this tournament! I can’t afford to lose now that I’ve come so far, and I’ll do whatever’s required to achieve my goals!” Shizuru shot towards Shenzu with the treasured blades in hand.
Bzzt! The instant Shenzu’s blade clashed with Shizuru’s Raccoon Star Splitter, a terrifying power invaded Shenzu’s body!
The rain of light was akin to infinitesimal exploding stars as it shredded most of Shenzu’s dress apart! However, Shizuru also got blown away by the hellish energy from Shenzu’s blade and crashed down.
Shenzu’s black undergarments below her bountiful bosom and skirt were partly exposed now.
“Heh! You’re no different than me!” Shizuru’s dress had become tattered once again, so she felt a vengeful pleasure when she saw the same happening to Shenzu this time because of her attack. She charged towards Shenzu with renewed momentum!
Blood seeped out from Shenzu’s lips as she retreated swiftly, looking at the blades in Shizuru’s hands with astoundment. Her strength far exceeded Shizuru’s, yet the blades’ strength was much more powerful than hers, even exceeding the grade 9 blade that Rokuhara had entrusted to her!
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“Just what kind of weapon is this Raccoon Star Splitter?!”
Shenzu put up a fierce resistance towards Shizuru’s relentless charge.
Boom! The energy fluctuations from the clashing blades sent the duo repelling back. The floor on which Shenzu stood had a long fissure on it as she slid a few meters back.
As for Shizuru, she got blown away and fell down to the floor once again.
Lily was amazed by this and remarked internally, “In terms of strength, Shizuru’s much weaker than Shenzu, but these blades are so powerful that they’ve elevated her level to contending against Shenzu. No wonder she considers them her ultimate move.”
However, Shizuru had still suffered Shenzu’s attack in the process. Although they had wounded each other, it was natural that her injuries were graver than Shenzu’s because of her lack of strength.
“I… I can’t lose! I… want to be free!” Shizuru had never been satisfied with the bountiful life she had received as the young miss of the Taira clan and had pursued ascension with all her heart. However, the conservative Taira clan had shown her no support at all. As such, she had firmly rejected the marriage proposal and also offended the current emperor, incurring the hate of the Taira clan’s upper echelon in the process.
She had experienced countless perils and committed taboos under the direction of Raccoon Mita and had finally reached a stage where her future would be in her hands. If she were to lose now, her feelings of yearning for freedom and chivalry would all turn into nothing.
She would become the laughingstock of the Taira clan and gain the moniker of a useless woman! That’s how the Taira clan had always operated—they never cared about women!
“I can’t lose!” Shizuru mustered all of her remaining spirit power and infused them into her blades, making them shine like the stars. In the next moment, she shot towards Shenzu like a comet pursuing its dreams!
“I don’t care even if I die along with you! I just can’t lose this time!” Shizuru’s dual blades directed all of their terrifying power towards Shenzu!
The dual blades struck the spirit arm and the massive energy fluctuations involved turned the spirit arm unstable, giving rise to a tiny crack on the grade 9 blade. However, Shizuru also spouted blood from the damage caused to her by Shenzu’s hellish energies and felt her vision turn into fragmentary blurs.
As for Shenzu, she had long taken to the sky and landed beside Shizuru before smashing her head and back repeatedly with her blades’ golden hilts.
Bam! Shizuru got pounded into the floor ruthlessly and a crater cropped up on it following an explosion.
Shizuru’s body had numbed so much that she couldn’t feel anything by now and her vision was still spinning. She reached out with her shuddering hand when she saw the hilt of her blades on the rubble ahead of her, “I-I’ve come so far… I can’t lose now…”
Shenzu’s foot stepped on Shizuru’s hand as she pressed her blades against the latter’s neck.
“Give up the match, or else I’ll have to kill you,” Shenzu stated icily.
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Shizuru was still conscious, so the judge couldn’t end the match unless she conceded.
“I-I can’t lose… I’ve already committed so many wrongs. If I don’t win, I’ll…”
As the ice-cold dual blades pressed into her neck, Shizuru felt a shiver pass through her back and broke into tears at the last moment, “Please don’t kill me… I don’t want to die… sob… sob…”
Shizuru conceded when faced with the reality of death and exposed her weakness.
“T-Taira no Shizuru forfeits the match. The winner is—Nanashi!” The judge raised the flag solemnly.
Shenzu sheathed her blades, “The reason I let you live isn’t because I’m kind. It’s because there’s one person I really want to kill!”
Shenzu directed a grudgeful glance at Lily who was beneath the arena and walked away.
Forfeit… It was quite possible that this humiliating word would bring an end to the legend of this little girl from the Taira clan.
Shizuru had already used extreme means in her pursuit of victory. She lowered her head to cover her face with her hair and lay down on the arena, sobbing continuously. She couldn’t muster the courage to stand back up and confront the public’s gaze.
Two attendants approached her and pulled her away, dragging her down the arena.
Bam! Shizuru kicked out at the stone pillar on the arena’s edge in an act of desperation in the final moment, seemingly unwilling to let them carry her away like a loser.
However, it was a meaningless act.
When an ordinary person meets a genius, most of them become stepping stones for the genius’ legend. But when two geniuses meet, one of them loses their momentum in the end.
The public finds it natural when an ordinary person loses to a genius. But when a genius loses, they become the laughingstock of the whole world, and their glorious feats of the past become topics of ridicule. This was the fate of a genius.