|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3314 characters|
|Translator: LazyButAmbitious||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2113 words|
“In my eyes, there is no difference between the noble and the lowly, only the strong and the weak, the living and the dead,” Lily said to Prince Narinaga inside the bullock carriage as she stood amidst the pile of demon corpses.
“Ah? This…” The meek boy shuddered all over, unconsciously lowering his hand to look at Lily, “Although the words of Sister Samurai seem simple and rather crude, perhaps they truly reflect the way of this world…”
Lily remembered the matter regarding Lady Ayaka so she bowed and politely asked, “Your Highness the Prince, Lily is new to Heian-kyō and would like to inquire about the location of Fujiwara no Ayaka’s residence.”
The noble prince was shocked upon hearing Lady Ayaka’s name. Hints of admiration couldn’t help but sparkle in his eyes, and even…fascination?
He replied, “Sister Samurai, you may have saved me, but I still have to remind you not to be rude. To call Lord Chief Advisor’s name directly, even I wouldn’t dare to cross that line. Although I am a noble prince, Lord Chief Advisor is the true pillar supporting the entire Heian-kyō. Without her, perhaps this capital would have fallen into ruin and desolation a few years ago.”
The prince’s reply surprised Lily. Unexpectedly, even the prince greatly adored this woman, causing Lily to foster further interest in her.
She twisted her long hair with her fingers and said, “Lily also respects Lady Ayaka very much, but Lily traveled here all the way from Kamakura in Eastern land just to see her. I beseech His Highness to tell me.”
It was uncertain why the prince stared at Lily with some hesitation and lingering attachment. Although the boy in front of her resembled a girl, he was still a male so Lily felt uncomfortable being looked at in such a way, “Your Highness, why are you looking at me like that?”
“No, it’s nothing.” Prince Narinaga hid a faint blush as he said, “Sister Samurai, are you going to see Lord Chief Advisor?”
“Yes, Lily has something important to discuss with her.” Lily’s seemingly simple tone carried a charm that struck a chord with Prince Narinaga.
Perhaps it would be for the best to entrust it to her. If it is this samurai sister, maybe she stands a better chance than myself, Prince Narinaga muttered in his heart.
After taking a deep breath and steeling his mind, he retrieved a black satin envelope from his sleeves, a rare determination gleaming in his eyes, “Uhm…Sister Samurai, if you go to see Lady Ayaka, could you help me deliver this letter to her?”
“Eh? You are a prince, why don’t you send someone to her or directly give it to her yourself?” Lily asked, a little confused.
Prince Narinaga hesitated for a while. His mind wavered and he looked as if he wanted to take back the envelope, but after some contemplation, he eventually handed it to Lily with both hands pressed against his head, “Anyway, I think it’s the best decision to ask Sister Samurai to do this. Please make sure to deliver it to Lord Chief Advisor yourself. Otherwise, it will bring unimaginable dangers to you, just like what happened to me today…”
The prince raised his trembling hands which held the letter1.
Just what kind of letter would prompt someone to murder a prince in the capital?
If it was for someone else, Lily might have rejected such a heavy burden, but since it was meant for Lady Ayaka, she felt obliged to carry out this task.
This letter which correlated to the rise and fall of the Heian Dynasty was as heavy as a mountain, but Lily pinched it between her two slender fingers and took it with one hand.
Such an insolent action that would spark anger in most caused Prince Narinaga’s soft shoulders to quiver as a faint blush suffused his face.
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Lily tucked the letter into her waistband and said casually, “Don’t worry, this sister will safely deliver it to her.”
Prince Narinaga’s blush grew deeper. He glanced at Lily before lowering his head, saying in a helpless and apologetic tone, “Sister Samurai, you saved my life and accepted such a crucial letter for me. I, I don’t know how to thank you. Although I am a prince and the younger brother of the current emperor, I, in fact, don’t have any money, nor do I have any treasures… I also have little power or influence in the court. Unless Sister Samurai kidnaps me, I’m afraid it’s hard to get any benefits.”
“I didn’t save you for compensation, nor because you are a prince, but because I wanted to, so I did.”
“Sister Samurai…” The prince’s face became even redder and he stammered in an attempt to ease his embarrassment, “Then, as for Lord Chief Advisor’s residence, it’s actually easy to find. Travel along Suzaku Avenue and when you get close to the Heian Palace, turn right onto the second widest street in Heian-kyō, ‘Nijo Boulevard’. Lord Chief Advisor’s residence is on that street.”
“Understood, thank you,” Lily replied.
At this moment, the sound of horse hooves echoed in the distant night.
A group of warriors, some in heavy armor and others in civilian clothing, hurried over on horseback.
At the head of the group was a warrior in his thirties who wore turquoise, white-rimmed armor.
“Your Highness!” The men shouted while rushing over on their horses.
After they arrived, they surrounded Lily and the bullock carriage, slowly riding around in circles.
A few heavily-armored warriors pointed their golden spears at Lily and yelled fiercely, “Who are you?! Get back quickly!”
When Prince Narinaga saw how they cautiously treated Lily, he covered his face and hurried to speak, “Wait, this samurai sister is…”
Before the prince could finish his words, Lily had already darted behind the group of cavalry, still maintaining an elegant posture as if she teleported.
“Whew…!” The men sniffed a waft of flowery fragrance.
“What?!” The lead warrior in green-blue armor was surprised and turned his head.
“Please wait a moment! Are you a samurai from the Konoe House? Ah, please don’t misunderstand. That samurai sister is the one who saved me.” Prince Narinaga anxiously said while covering his face.
“Huh, is that so?” The green-armored warrior was taken aback. He surveyed the demon corpses strewn everywhere as well as the huge centipede that was cut in half not far away. Seeing no apparent danger, he dismounted from his horse and knelt down to salute, “Your Highness Prince Narinaga, I am Hiramatahachi of the Konoe House Martial Arts School. I am late in saving you; please forgive me. I wonder what happened here?”
“I returned to Heian-kyō from Kiyomizu Temple in the suburbs but I didn’t expect to encounter the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons. My teacher and attendants were killed by the hundred demons but this samurai sister defeated them all and saved me. I’m very thankful to her so don’t be rude.” Prince Narinaga said.
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“What? She defeated the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons by herself?” Hiratamahachi stood up and grunted. A wave of displeasure welled up in his heart as he said, “I’m afraid that they are all low-level small demons.”
He conveniently turned a blind eye to the huge centipede lying close by.
After saluting the prince again, he declared, “Prince, don’t be alarmed. We will escort Your Highness back to the palace immediately!”
“That samurai sister, she saved me…”
Hiratamahachi nodded, walked over to Lily, and took out two silver coins, “Take it, go, and never mention this to anyone in the future, otherwise…”
“Keep your silver for a midnight snack.” Lily didn’t even deign to look at it. She walked a few steps forward and suddenly unsheathed Yasutsuna. The flash of scarlet light spooked the warriors into drawing their swords and clenching their weapons.
“What are you doing?!” Haritamahachi bellowed.
Lily’s sword snaked with strange patterns and the anima of the surrounding demons and evil spirits floated up, flying over the group of samurai. The anima condensed into a scarlet cyclone that got sucked into Yasutsuna’s blade as it pulsed with red light.
Only then did Lily put away her sword and turn to leave.
“Hey, you impertinent woman…” A young warrior in a kimono shouted angrily.
“Forget it,” Haritamahachi said, “Our priority is to escort the prince back to the palace. Don’t tangle with this unknown woman.”
That being said, Haritamahachi couldn’t help but ogle Lily’s back, her plump buttocks, and her swaying hips for a while.
“Blade Maiden…? Hmph, what an irritating woman, acting all arrogant because she’s born with some talent. She thinks she’s a genius, huh? She doesn’t know that, in Heian-kyō, a piece of tile can fall and hit a genius at any time.”
A warrior carried the prince onto his horse. After all, the prince didn’t learn how to ride a horse yet. The group of warriors on horseback overtook Lily and rode along Suzaku Avenue towards the Heian Palace, leaving one person behind to deal with the bullock carriage.
Lily walked at her normal pace while admiring the night scenery of Heian-kyō, the largest city in the world.
Along the way, she saw countless pavilions, gardens, markets, palaces, and temples. Although there wasn’t a single person on the streets, she could imagine the vastness of the city and its prosperity in the daytime.
However, from time to time, Lily would spot all kinds of small demons in the shadows of the roadside and under the willow trees by the canal. It seemed that this night in Heian-kyō belonged to the demons.
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As for the fluctuating demonic auras peeking at Suzaku Avenue in the dark, there were countless. Among them, there were several extremely powerful auras that far surpassed the current Lily!
Fortunately, she was holding her parasol so she wasn’t discovered by those powerful entities.
No wonder nobody dares to come out at night. Even if it’s me, it is hard to say whether I would be able to walk safely through Suzaku Avenue at night without the sakura parasol, Lily thought in her mind.
Suzaku Avenue was extremely wide and even longer. Lily walked for half a night before she reached the end of the Avenue, nearing the Heian Palace.
From a distance, one could see a huge hazy moon behind the Heian Palace and the entire lower section of the building was shrouded in a misty, purple atmosphere. The palace had red pillars, golden decorations, and black roof tiles that layered on top of each other, looking incomparably magnificent. The distant palace, like undulating hills, became a silhouette with many levels under the moon as if the palace had been extended and connected with the moon palace.
“This shining purple mist must have made the recently rising moon look so huge and hazy. The heavens are unpredictable, and the sun often disappears. Even the moon is rising so late at night— what a weird and harrowing era…” Lily muttered to herself as she lingered in front of the Heian Palace for a while. She soon departed and headed for another road about one-fifth the width of Suzaku Avenue.
It was a fairly spacious road called ‘Nijo Boulevard’.
The residence of Fujiwara no Ayaka was really not hard to find because there was only one manor near the Heian Palace. It was surprisingly large, occupying almost half of Nijo Boulevard and there were no courtyard walls to be seen.
For some reason, the demonic aura here was extremely thin. It took a while for Lily to walk to the door of the manor. Compared to the grand Heian Palace, this place was simple and elegant, and lanterns were lanterns hung on the gate. These lanterns were painted with the glorious history of the Fujiwara Clan, but not even a single word was written on them.
“It should be here, right?” Lily stepped forward and knocked on the door.
After knocking for a while, someone finally came out to open the door. It was an old man with a pointed face and gray hair wearing a black kimono.
“Who is it? How dare you disturb the residence of Lord Chief Advisor at this late hour.” The old man opened the door and scolded in a direct and unflattering manner.
Lily sought out Lady Ayaka as she had a lot of important matters to discuss with her. She didn’t travel all the way here just to get upset and scolded. Unexpectedly, this sharp-faced old man didn’t exude any spiritual energy, but he definitely wasn’t ordinary.
“This old doorkeeper is unfathomable!2” Lily’s breathing grew turbulent.