Chapter 26 – The dark shadow in the shrine

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3217 characters
Translator: Yuki English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1667 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

The attendant shouted, “Guards get five kan a day, if you’re a real master then you can get an interview!”

An upheaval occurred in the crowd at those words, A group of brawny men ignored the beauty and tossed her out of the crowd in their rush to sign up. Lily had a momentary sense of loss.

“Che… these people, they went crazy!” Lily complained. Though those samurai weren’t powerful, as a woman she really couldn’t go squeeze in with them, that would be too shameful.

“Five kan a day! And you only need to guard the shrine, who’s afraid of that thief!” a bearded man boasted.

“That’s right! Everything in Heian-kyo is expensive, at this rate my travel expenses won’t last until the Yoshitsune Memorial! Though my goal is to win the memorial championship, these small tasks, I’ll do it!” A big sumo-like guy said. He was dressed as a sumo wrestler, but carried a sword, it seems that he was a samurai.

“We’ll sign up!”

“Everyone don’t rush! There are many available slots and rotating shifts! Line up to apply, ah, don’t push me, let me write down your names1!” The attendant was overwhelmed by the group of samurai.

Several onmyoji also got pushed out as well, they waved their fans and jeered at the warriors, “These barbarians, just for five kan they’ve gone crazy!”

At that moment, the attendant hollered, “Onmyoji, ten kan a day!”

“What? 10 kan!??” The three onmyoji rushed toward the sign-up followed by other onmyoji all competing to sign up, they were just as rowdy as the samurai.

In Heian-kyo, there was a greater concentration of samurai and onmyoji, their strengths didn’t differ by much. In the night market, most of the samurai and onmyoji were still low-ranked, generally at the swordmaster stage for the samurai or the early-stage for the onmyoji, these people generally earned a hundred kan a year. Of course, they would want the task, five to ten kan a day, and for three weeks at that.

Lily felt a bit helpless, thinking, “Is this really an uncatchable thief? If this is the defense then that thief isn’t going to get caught.”

“This…” After everyone had signed up, Lily stepped forward with a soft voice.

The samurai who signed up all looked at Lily, a mustached man looked at Lily and scoffed, “Woman, they’re recruiting samurai, not dancers.”

“Ahahahahahahahaha!” Everyone laughed.

Lily wasn’t carrying a blade and was dressed with long red sleeves, and her collar was open, being misunderstood wasn’t too strange.

“Sorry, I’m here to apply as a samurai,” Lily replied.

The bearded man walked up, “Ahh, look at you, that small body, those small hands, have you ever touched a blade?”

The attendant came up, “I’m very sorry, the samurai positions have all been filled. Anyways, looking at you, you’re too delicate. Catching this thief is a very important task, we’ll be using real blades and spears, we aren’t playing around.”

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“Woman, if you’re interested in kendo, go to a dojo. This is a real battle, not a place for the likes of you!” The sumo-like samurai laughed.

“Ahahahahaha!” Everyone laughed aloud again.

“The positions are all filled? Then never mind, but I can still watch the excitement tomorrow right?” Lily replied.

“Of course, the tea set will be enshrined. Anyone can come and admire it.”

“You’re joining without pay? Say… who among us captivated you?” Bearded samurai taunted.

The samurai all laughed lewdly.

“Ok, I’ll come back tomorrow then.” Lily turned and left.

The next day, during the hour of the extended night.

Lily arrived at the night market dressed in a blue-white orchid yukata. She felt that yukatas suited the night markets more, only this time she brought her tachi, Tranquil Soul with her. Though she was still dressed as a lady and her hair moist from a bath, with a sword strapped to her waist she gave off a different feeling.

Knowing where the shrine was, Lily walked through a secluded alley beside the night market up to a large pavilion with a small square patch of forest within, in this forest the shrine resided. Walking into the forest on a stone road, she could see a small shrine far away. Throughout the forest, many hired samurai guarded.

Besides the shrine, Lily saw a short-haired middle-aged man with a remarkable bearing. He was dressed in a white-black monk’s attire, perhaps this was the tea master Chihisa Nobutoshi. Though Lily really wanted to discuss the art of tea ceremonies with him, they weren’t really acquainted. Masakado had told Lily that tea ceremonies would improve her soul resilience. As such she had increased her interest in the topic.

“Hold!” A squad of samurai stopped Lily, at the head of the squad was the sumo samurai.

“Isn’t this yesterday’s woman? Where did you find a fake blade? The thief might appear today, unrelated people cannot enter. Go play elsewhere.” The sumo samurai waved his hand to dismiss LIly.

“Unrelated? Ahaha, I might just be that thief though.”

“What!?” The sumo samurai squinted at Lily, “You… What a joke2! Hurry and leave, don’t interfere with our guarding.”

“Che.” Lily ran a hand through her hair, turned but didn’t walk far. She stood at the edge of the forest.

“That woman, what does she want?” The sumo samurai looked at Lily in frustration.

In Heian-kyo, there was still a bunch of sexist samurai, discriminating against women and only had an interest in the martial path. This sumo samurai should be one of them.

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At the moment at the shrine, Nobutoshi was discussing with several famous monks the enshrining of the tea set. Though far away, when Nobutoshi pulled out a tea set box and opened it, even Lily could see the beam of auspicious light.

“What a good treasure.” Standing so far away, Lily couldn’t see the actual tea set, however, the auspicious glow was enough for her to make a judgment.

The tea set box was handed over to the monk who placed it in the shrine, then the group of monks sat down and started chanting. Around the shrine was a large number of samurai and onmyoji. The security was treated with the utmost seriousness.

The bearded samurai yawned, “I say, with us in a battle formation, that phantom thief won’t appear.”

“But I’ve heard, in the past when the thief released a notice, the thief always appeared and always succeeded.” Another bald and skinny samurai worried.

“Ahahaha! Then they weren’t taking security seriously! Even if they were prepared, how could they be like us, four sides guarded to where not even a fly can get in. How can this thief appear?”

“Brother makes sense, ahahaha!”

“Wrong!” the sumo samurai stepped forward boasting, “That thief dares not appear because I am here!”

“Wahaha, as expected of the famous Lord Arashige who cultivates both sword and sumo!”
“That’s right, we’ll depend on Lord Arashige, if that thief shows up you can just send him flying with a slap, a sword isn’t even necessary!”
“Ahahaha!”
“Ahahahahahahaha!”

The samurais laughed as a group.

Nobutoshi requested in annoyance, “Please be silent, the elders are reciting the scriptures.”

“Ah?” The group of samurais fell into an awkward silence.

At that moment, a black mist blew in.

“Nn? Eldritch energy!?” Lily narrowed her eyes.

For a while, she could only hear the wind blowing through the trees while the forest filled with black mist.

“What eldritch energy? Where?” The samurais looked around. “Why can’t I sense it?”

“That woman must be talking nonsense!”
“Agh!”

A samurai screamed in the forest.

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“What happened!??” The large group drew their swords and rushed towards the scream. All they saw was a samurai holding his bald head, “My hair, my hair!”

The samurai was left with a bald circle on the top of his head.

“You… what happened?”

That samurai shuddered and looked around, “I, I don’t know. A black wind blew over and my scalp chilled, then my hair was chopped off by something!”

“What!?” Several samurai looked at that guy holding back their laughter, why did the situation become so weird?

Before they could laugh, a dark shadow flashed above the tree branches.

“What is that?” Looking up at the branches, the group saw nothing.

A gust of black mist brushed past the group of samurai.

‘Snip!’ Several samurai’s topknots flew away. Samurais valued honor greatly, and could only clutch their bald heads.

“What’s happening!?”
“Who!?”

The group of samurai devolved into a mass of shouting.

Afterward, the black shadow flashed throughout the forest and shrine. Wherever the shadow flashed through samurai screams echoed. There were no wounds, but new bald heads appeared everywhere.

Seeing this, Nobutoshi and the few monks all unconsciously held their heads but discovered to their joy, that they didn’t really have to worry about hair.

“B̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲! Identify yourself! Come out and fight like a man!” The big sumo samurai rushed out with a gust of wind and settled himself in front of the shrine.

In the forest, a flitting shadow dashed toward the sumo samurai.

“Good! Come! I Arashige will take you down and avenge my brother’s shame!”

He raised his sword into the jōdan stance as his brown-yellowish aura flared around him forming a circle of earth energy around him, it increased his strength and made his stance more solid. Arashige slashed towards the flying black shadow.

‘Clang!’ Three scarlet claw marks flashed by, leaving lasting afterimages in the air.

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‘Slash!’ Arashige’s clothes were shredded and he became a real loincloth-wearing sumo wrestler. His tachi slipped out of his hands and collapsed.

“Eh?” Lily, who remained far out in the forest was astonished, her eyes flashed in understanding, “So it’s like that……3” Her lips curled into a smile

“The tea set! The tea set has been stolen!”
“The phantom thief stole my tea set——! My tea set!!!”

In the shrine Nobutoshi and his attendant’s ruckus attracted everyone’s attention, however, the tea set had already been stolen.



References

  1. Robinxen: They’re not even identity checking these people? What… It’d be so easy to slip in!
  2. Robinxen: Wow. They’re so incompetent.
  3. Robinxen: LIKE WHAT?!

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