|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3889 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2430 words|
The councilors looked at Lily simultaneously.
“It’s Ms. Kagami, who has been awarded the lower-grade junior fifth rank of an imperial inspector as a reward for winning the Yoshitsune Memorial Tournament.” Taira no Iemori, the Left Imperial Guards’ Commander, revealed her identity. He had few military officials sitting beside him on the Taira faction’s side at the moment because the Taira clan had lost its influence in the court. He was also one of the very few councilors who had a clear position on the military actions of the empire.
“Hahaha!” A high-ranked official from the Kujou clan with pointed brows chuckled when he heard Iemori’s words. “How dare a mere lower-grade fifth rank official like her speak such nonsense in the court!”
The Chancellor of the Realm also chided her, “Do you believe a mere imperial inspector like you has the right to speak on the first day of court? I request you to dismiss this foolish woman from the court right away, Your Majesty!”
Ayaka countered, “Ms. Kagami is my direct subordinate, Chancellor. Do you think you can just dismiss her for no reason?”
“Well…” The Chancellor of the Realm withdrew his neck in fear when he heard Ayaka’s words and said, “She’s just a lower-grade fifth rank court official, Ms. Ayaka, and doesn’t have the right to comment on military matters of the empire. She’s also pretty vicious tongued. We must make an example out of her or else it will cause disorder in the court.”
“No. There’s no need for that.” The Cloistered Emperor spoke up at this moment, “Since all the officials are present here in court today, we might as well let her say her piece, Chancellor. I’m curious about what opinions she has. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to hear her out now.”
The councilors turned silent after the Cloistered Emperor expressed his opinion, and all of them directed their attention towards Lily simultaneously.
Lily remained bold despite gathering so much attention and said with clarity, “Greed has caused the councilors to lose sight of the correct solution to a simple issue like this in my opinion. It’s not as if Settsu’s situation will get resolved if we dispatch troops to subjugate Tamamo-no-Mae. Am I right?”
“Well…” The councilors looked at each other in dismay.
“That’s quite a condescending statement now, Kagami Lily. Do you believe we’re foolish enough to not realize that? It’s not like we really want to dispatch troops to subjugate Tamamo-no-Mae in such a crucial time, but we’ll be left at her mercy if she takes advantage of our weak defense and attacks the court after we’ve dispatched troops to the Tanba province.” Minamoto no Hirohikari denounced her.
“I wonder why you believe that she will take advantage of our weak defense and attack us. Shuten Doji has cut off the Settsu trade route and isolated us from the other side of the empire now. How long do you believe we will last if we just gather our military forces in Heian-kyo and barricade ourselves here? How do you plan to sustain the army with supplies? If I were Tamamo-no-Mae and really wanted to take over Heian-kyo, I would just bide my time and wait for the army to disband after the court runs out of money and food to keep sustaining it. This would make it much easier for me to take over the empire’s capital.”
The councilors failed to find any words to refute Lily’s claims.
Lily continued, “If we make a move against Tamamo-no-Mae now, we will have to battle against both her and Shuten Doji at the same time with inadequate military forces and supplies.”
“That’s…” The councilors looked at each other apprehensively as this beautiful official’s words sounded reasonable.
Lily continued further, “Tamamo-no-Mae has been in Heian-kyo for years now, but she never made a move until now even though there were chances for her to do so at times when the capital was left unguarded. How high are the chances that she would do so now? I don’t dare say that she wouldn’t make a move, but I’m sure that Heian-kyo would fall into a huge crisis if we just barricade ourselves here or dispatch troops against her. Nothing is certain in war, and each decision carries its own advantages and disadvantages, but it’s just nonsensical to place ourselves in an unfavorable position just because of some groundless possibility. This is what you councilors have been trying to suggest all this while. Although I’m not well-versed in military and political matters, it still wasn’t that hard for an ordinary girl like me to realize this truth. I just don’t get why all of you councilors have failed to realize it.”
“How dare you mock the court councilors so brazenly!” Fujiwara no Arima thundered at Lily.
“Hahahaha!” The Cloistered Emperor’s high-pitched laughter interrupted Arima’s words though. “Although Ms. Kagami’s words are quite simple, I find them reasonable enough!”
“Tamamo-no-Mae is a pretty cunning thousand-year-old fox demon, Your Majesty. We must not drop our guard against her!” The Chancellor of the Realm advised in a rush.
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However, the Cloistered Emperor just brushed his suggestion away with a wave of his hand. “Your intentions are clear to me, my dear councilors. However, I’m wondering why the Shogun, who is in charge of mobilizing troops to subjugate archdemons, has remained so silent until now. I’d like to hear your opinion as well, Yoritomo.”
Yoritomo pondered for a while when he heard the Cloistered Emperor’s words and narrowed his eyes before he answered him in a steady voice, “It’s not the right time to subjugate Tamamo-no-Mae. Based on what I know about her, I don’t believe she will attack Heian-kyo after we dispatch troops to the Tanba province. Shuten Doji, on the other hand, will surely attack us if we try to subjugate Tamamo-no-Mae. This will place us in an unfavorable situation where we will be forced to fight on two ends, just as Ms. Kagami claimed.”
“Hahahahaha!” The Cloistered Emperor laughed heartily. “That’s just what I wanted to hear, Shogun Yoritomo! As expected of you, I suppose!”
The other councilors had nothing much to say now that the chief advisor and the shogun had expressed the same views. They bowed their heads in succession and turned silent at once.
The Cloistered Emperor said boldly after taking a look around at the councilors, “I shall make a formal declaration in that case—Subjugate Shuten Doji!”
“Understood, Your Majesty!” The Chancellor of the Realm was the first councilor to bow in approval and the other councilors followed after him.
The Cloistered Emperor looked at Yoritomo after that and asked, “I wonder what plans you have for dispatching the troops, Shogun.”
Yoritomo nodded respectfully before he answered him, “I’m in favor of dispatching troops to subjugate Shuten Doji as the samurai of the empire will lose their chivalric will if we let him roam unchecked. However, he’s no ordinary demon and has a considerable force under him. It will take us at least three months to muster the troops that need to be sent to the Tanba province.”
The Cloistered Emperor nodded when he heard Yoritomo’s words. “That sounds reasonable. This is the biggest battle that will have ever taken place after I became the Cloistered Emperor, so we must prepare well for it. I’ll leave the specifics of the army mobilization to you, Shogun. The other officials and generals must prepare well to embark on this battle within the next three months and come back victorious!”
“Understood, Your Majesty!” The councilors accepted the Cloistered Emperor’s order in unison.
“Mhm…” The Cloistered Emperor ruminated for a while before he continued, “I never expected you to have such great insight on military matters on top of having a noble character and being a master swordswoman. The court is really blessed to have you as one of its councilors. You must also prepare to embark on this battle within the next three months and follow the army to subjugate Shuten Doji!”
“Hah?” Lily had not expected the Cloistered Emperor to order a minor official like her to join the battle when she had just spoken her thoughts out. However, it was difficult for her to refuse the order when he had called her out in person as it would incur the ridicule of the public if they were to learn that she shirked back after suggesting that the court should subjugate Shuten Doji.
Lily looked at Ayaka and saw her nod faintly in approval, which made it clear that she also wanted her to join the battle against Shuten Doji.
Lily was not afraid of the dangers involved in this battle and was willing to join it because she had received a lot of favors from the court. Rei was also in Tanba province, so she believed that she would get to look for her if she joined the Shuten Doji subjugation army.
However… Lily also needed to visit Mt. Izumo!
Lily guessed that three months were more than enough for her to arrive at Mt. Izumo’s peak, but she had no clue about what came after that.
What do I do if the deities require me to carry out certain tasks to awaken Senior Rinne? Should I follow the path that the deities show me and abandon the empire, Ayaka and Sister Uesugi so that I can awaken senior Rinne for sure? Or should I take part in the subjugation and find Sister Uesugi first before I follow what fate has in line for me? I don’t know what’s the right choice here.
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Lily did not have much time to ponder about this matter since she was the center of attention within the court right now.
“It doesn’t matter! I’ll just set out towards Mt. Izumo and do my best to reach its peak within the next three months and make the choice when the deities show me the path ahead!”
Lily had no clue what kind of guidance the deities would provide her and was not even certain whether they would even give her any kind of guidance at all, so it was pretty hard for her to make a decision right now.
“Kagami Lily! Why haven’t you acknowledged His Majesty’s imperial order yet?” The Chief Councilor thundered at her.
Lily’s thoughts got interrupted because of this.
“As you wish, Your Majesty.” Lily bowed solemnly as she acknowledged the order as she knew that she would not even be able to seek the deities’ guidance or even be able to leave the palace’s doors if she refused the order regardless of what the future held for her.
The Heian Empire had thus made an unprecedented decision on Lily’s first court day, which was to subjugate Shuten Doji!
This was still a military secret though, as the empire could not afford to let Shuten Doji know about it. The declaration thus remained within the confines of the court. There was, in fact, no need to make a public declaration about this as Shuten Doji had occupied the territory of the empire.
Lily left the court along with Ayaka under the praise of several high-ranked court officials, but there were also several officials who directed hostile, lustful and conspiring gazes towards her.
This was the court.
At a long distance away from Heian-kyo, Mt. Ooe.
The terrain here was steep and filled with lush forests, and the mountains were shrouded in black miasma all year round.
An old and dark cave rested deep within these towering dark mountains, and a terrifying eldritch aura could be seen oozing out of it from the distance.
A series of huge stone pillars supported the ceiling of this deep and dark cave, and it had an old flame-spewing demon statute within it that illuminated the interior of this fearsome demon abode.
The demon abode had all kinds of demons within it and was shrouded in dark purple mist that pervaded all its corners. One could also hear the despair-filled screams of girls and the guttural roars of demons coming from deep within it.
A 7 meter tall, slender, well-built and bare-chested red-haired demonic man who had donned an old armor sat on the huge throne at the summit of this cave and drank delicious wine from the huge wine gourd in his hand.
The man had a few pretty girls who were practically naked serving him at his feet right now.
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Shuten Doji had received the news of the Heian Empire’s secret war declaration on the evening of the very day they had made it.
However, he remained calm in front of the upcoming crisis and continued to drink wine as always. He indulged in the pleasures of the flesh with young women and simply did not care about the Heian court’s decision.
A tall, handsome, one-armed and purple-haired man arrived underneath the throne at this moment. “The human court is about to dispatch an army to attack Tanba, Lord Shuten Doji. Shouldn’t we prepare to face them?”
“Hahaha. Tell me what you have in mind, Ibaraki.” Shuten Doji’s voice had an irresistible charm that most young women were helpless against.
“Although the human court is powerful, they are not united at all. I believe that it would be easy for us to defend against their attack if we use our strategic terrain to our advantage. However, I believe it’s possible to destroy the human forces from the inside with the least amount of effort by instigating conflict between their factions.” Ibaraki Doji’s demonic purple eyes flashed with an ominous light.
Shuten Doji nodded and stretched one of his hands down to caress the head of one of the girls who was serving him with his sharp claws, which made the woman shudder and moan ecstatically.
He then said, “As expected of my wise advisor. It’s a waste of your talents to have you go out and catch women. Tell me about your plan.”
Ibaraki Doji continued, “The human court is full of greedy b̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲s̲ and few among them truly care about the world. The others don’t matter much, but there’s one human that we must eliminate at all costs as she’ll definitely become our nemesis!”
“Who is it?” Shuten Doji revealed an insidious gaze.
“It’s Fujiwara no Ayaka, the Chief Advisor of the Heian Empire1.”
Shuten Doji’s claws pierced into the girl’s body at the moment and caused her blood and organs to spill out as she died at his feet miserably. A vicious look appeared on Shuten Doji’s demonic face the next moment.