|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3095 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2038 words|
“Ahem. U-Understood. I’ll be arriving there soon,” Lily replied in a flustered tone, her breath still rough from the deep kiss.
She then fixed her dress so that no visible creases could be seen and calmed her breath before assuming a solemn and respectful appearance. Lily walked down the platform gracefully even though her heart raced at the moment and walked towards the platform where the three emperors were present.
Ayaka smiled at Lily contentedly from above the platform and flew back to her chief advisor’s seat by stepping on the air.
Lily sat in seiza while looking down after reaching the central platform and waited for the award’s bestowal.
“Step forward to receive the award, Kagami Lily,” the chief councilor1 announced.
It was the greatest honor for a samurai woman to stand on the central platform, as the number of women who had ever gained the right to stand before the emperor in the past could be counted with one’s fingers, let alone three emperors.
Lily wasn’t bold enough to probe the three emperors’ power levels and just sat in seiza before them as no one was allowed to raise their head and look at the emperors without permission. Such were the rules followed by the samurai of the Heian Empire. Lily could sense a powerful aura coming off the Cloistered Emperor while the Reigning Emperor and Emperor Emeritus on his sides literally had no presence, making her assume that they didn’t possess much of a power base.
This baffled Lily as the Cloistered Emperor and Emperor Emeritus were father and son, while the Reigning Emperor—Minamoto no Masayoshi—was the nephew of the Emperor Emeritus.
Lily knew that Taira no Kiyomori was the strongest powerhouse of the Taira clan and had several sons and a nephew among the clan’s top experts. He had at least three descendants who were stronger than him.
The Genji also had Minamoto no Yoritomo and Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s father, Minamoto no Yoshitomo, who was acclaimed as the bravest samurai back then, among their ancestors.
Lily couldn’t understand why only the Cloistered Emperor possessed strength among the current imperials while the Emperor Emeritus and Reigning Emperor were so weak.
She wasn’t that well-versed in the matters of politics and concluded that strength wasn’t much use to the imperials. If the emperor had to fight the enemy on the frontline someday, it would mean that the empire was done for.
The Cloistered Emperor took the initiative to speak first on this occasion too and it made Lily wonder whether the other two emperors were just wallflowers. She didn’t dare to voice out these thoughts as she knew that it would earn her a spanking from Ms. Ayaka were she to learn that she had such rude thoughts.
The Cloistered Emperor’s aged yet baritone voice, which was filled with a terrible power, resounded throughout the platform.
“You’re Lily, huh? Raise your head.”
Lily raised her head modestly.
“Oh? Now that I’ve taken a closer look, it seems that the rumors weren’t that off now. I’ve never seen a young lady as beautiful and powerful as you until now. I confer you the lower-grade, junior fifth rank and assign you to the position of Imperial Investigator, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Council. You shall have command of 500 soldiers at most and report directly to the Council’s Chief Advisor.”
The chancellor was the highest position within the Council, but the Chief Advisor was in fact the de facto head of the court councilors, which was pretty irregular. As such, Ayaka did her official work within the Council’s premises whenever she entered the emperor’s palace and was also considered the head of the Council.
An Imperial Investigator was a direct subordinate to the Minister of Investigation, who was tasked with overseeing the court councilors and preventing corruption among them. The Minister of Investigation was in fact the one in charge of investigating court officials while the Imperial Investigator’s role was to guard the former while they investigated and captured corrupt officials. The position of Minister of Investigation was practically non-existent right now as the power to supervise the ministers rested in Ayaka’s hands. The position of Imperial Inspector had been set up exclusively for Lily so that she had a rank within the court as one of Ayaka’s close retainers.
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Lily naturally didn’t believe that the Cloistered Emperor had graced her with this position out of goodwill and thought that it had happened as a result of a tacit understanding between the major forces in the court. It was public knowledge that Lily was Ayaka’s subordinate, so even the Cloistered Emperor didn’t dare to stir up a hornet’s nest by assigning her to someone else.
“Why haven’t you thanked His Imperial Majesty yet, Lily?” Ayaka admonished.
“You have my utmost gratitude, Your Majesty.” Lily bowed towards the Cloistered Emperor courteously. She then bowed towards the Emperor Emeritus and the Reigning Emperor in turn.
The Emperor Emeritus was almost in his fifties now and also ill, so he didn’t show much of a reaction because of the fatigue that had piled up. The Reigning Emperor felt touched, on the other hand, as there were few samurai in the court who thought highly of him, and Lily’s actions showed how thoughtful she was.
Even though the fact that he and Prince Narinaga were brothers might’ve had a hand in his taste in women, he liked Lily a lot because she was Ayaka’s subordinate and harbored a yearning for a pretty and powerful samurai woman like her.
“You’re quite courteous despite your young age. It’s quite rare to find a samurai as good as you these days.”
“Bring the prizes for winning the Yoshitsune Memorial Tournament and award it to her, officials.”
A few court officials brought the prizes laid on wooden trays.
“Imperial Inspector Kagami Lily is awarded with the following…”
The total value of magatama, money, silk and other items she received as a reward were insignificant to the current Lily.
“…and is bestowed with a viewing medal for the cyan Izumo Divine Statue, which can be used to view the statue for 20 rotations in total.”
Lily learned the difference between a day and a rotation later on. A rotation meant the duration between sunrise and sundown, and used to mean the same as a day, but it was possible for a rotation to exceed a day now because of the extended nights2.
The prizes were then bestowed to Lily. She naturally didn’t receive them by hand as they were taken down the platform and sent to her residence within the Chief Advisor’s mansion.
Lily felt that there was still one important item missing from the prizes after receiving them.
The Cloistered Emperor opened his mouth and even though he kept praising Lily until now, he sounded a little reluctant at this moment.
He took out a black box behind the curtain before saying, “Mt. Izumo’s Invitation Scroll is within this black box, Lily. There aren’t many of these left in the mortal world and each one of them is considered a precious treasure. Mt. Izumo is also rife with danger, so how much you benefit from visiting it will depend on your skills. Take it now.”
The Cloistered Emperor handed the black box to the Chief Councilor, who then passed it to Lily.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Lily expressed her gratitude after receiving it.
Lily had worked so hard and persevered through multiple battles just so that she could obtain this item.
It was very hard to obtain an invitation to Mt. Izumo as the climb and the mountain itself was dangerous enough to reach lethal levels, but Lily had no choice in the matter as she needed to climb it in order to seek a way to wake Rinne’s soul. Lily had already paid a huge price for this, so there was no turning back now.
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“Although you are a councilor under Ayaka’s command, you must still follow the assignment orders issued by the Shogun as you’re a military official. Is that understood?” The Cloistered Emperor stated.
Lily bowed towards Yoritomo and stated, “You’ve helped me out a lot when I was in Kamakura, so I’m looking forward to further guidance from you, Shogun.”
Lily acted respectfully, but she held a lot of suspicions towards Yoritomo that made her feel uneasy. She thus used clever language by implying that she was willing to follow guidance from him and not orders.
Lily also wondered why he looked normal in size now when he looked like a giant back in Kamakura.
Yoritomo nodded towards Lily with a smile on his face.
“You’re also a samurai who hails from Kamakura, Ms. Kagami. I’m proud that one of the East’s samurai has made such achievements and am willing to always show you support,” Yoritomo stated sincerely.
The Yoshitsune Memorial Grand Ceremony ended officially with this.
All that remained now was to party wildly.
A bunch of kabuki performers, courtesan entertainers and singers performed in the arena one by one.
Lily honestly didn’t like such festive moods much, so she and Ayaka watched the performers sing and dance for a while before leaving early. They rode their respective palanquins back to the Chief Advisor’s mansion and got down before walking into the serene garden.
Lily felt that the mood between them differed from the past now. She was nervous as she was alone with a woman who kissed her so passionately just moments ago.
Ayaka tried to hold Lily’s hand when they reached a scenic spot, but Lily brushed it off reservedly and took a step back, bringing her face to face with Ayaka on an intersection beside a brook.
“What’s the matter? Didn’t you just accept my kiss moments ago? Why are you refusing to even hold hands now?”
Ayaka accused Lily icily like a wronged lover instead of using a commanding tone as her superior in the court.
“I allowed you to kiss me before because it was the prize for the duel. I couldn’t just back out of the matter in front of the public and the imperials after it was announced. Ms. Ayaka also fought fiercely with Lady Kimiko for me and emerged as the victor after an arduous and perilous battle. I felt that you deserved the prize for all the difficulties you went through to win… which is what led me to accepting the kiss from you. This doesn’t mean I’m willing to let you kiss me again as I believe that’s a privilege of lovers.”
“Why do you say that?” Ayaka felt perplexed. “You were engrossed in the kiss as well just before, weren’t you? You must’ve also felt that we’re the perfect match for each other. It’s quite unlikely that you’d find another woman who understands you as much as me. Did you feel nothing at all from the kiss?”
“Please forgive me, Ms. Ayaka, as I’m unable to answer this question,” Lily stated with blushing cheeks as she couldn’t bear to deceive Ayaka by saying she felt nothing at all from the kiss.
“Why, then? Why won’t you let me kiss you again, Lily?” It was just the two of them in the back garden, so Ayaka questioned Lily straightforwardly. Lily remained silent and just bowed her head.
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“Show me your hand.”
“Please don’t do this, Ms. Ayaka… I beg you not to make things hard on me,” Lily stated embarrassedly.
“Show it!” Ayaka grabbed Lily’s slim hand by force.
“I know I lack in terms of status and power when compared to you, Ms. Ayaka, but that doesn’t mean you can just force me like this.” Lily became anxious.
“Force you? What’re you going on about, silly lass? You think I’d do that?” Ayaka stated gently, and Lily felt a soothing and cool sensation from her arm the next moment.
An icy and crystalline jade bracelet which oozed an unfathomable aura adorned Lily’s wrist now. Lily felt a current pass through her spine after having Ayaka put on such a pretty ornament on her hand.
“It’s for you, the Chrysanthemum3 Ice Jade Bracelet—Unmelted Snow. It took a while, but it’s finally ready!” Ayaka stated while caressing Lily’s hand fondly.
- Robinxen: MURICAN. Damn this spelling annoys me.
- Robinxen: The actual hell what kind of broken *** rng system is this?!
- Robinxen: This word still makes me cringe.