Chapter 52 – Ayaka

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3118 characters
Translator: LazyButAmbitious English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1960 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

The smell of early spring permeated the morning air of Heian-kyō.

Lily got down from the bullock carriage and saw a lot of cherry blossoms blooming from the walls on both sides of the street leading to the chief advisor’s manor. Although they weren’t as eternal as thousand-year-old cherry blossoms, they had a kind of wilting beauty.

If an adept could enter the gates of heaven and attain eternal youth, how could he appreciate the fleeting beauty of mortal maidens?

Lily hugged the biwa to her chest, and as she walked, her beautiful red kimono trailed along the ground. She took light steps towards the door of the chief advisor’s manor, but the door opened before she could even knock. It was the same old man, but he looked gentler and kind compared to the harsh reception he showed in the past.

“It’s Miss Kagami, I presume? Lord Chief Advisor is waiting for you in the back garden; do come inside.” The old man said.
“Eh?” This time, Lily was smoothly let inside before she could explain the reason for her visit. Did Lady Ayaka know that she was coming?

Lily felt a little apprehensive in her heart. She didn’t like the feeling of dancing in the palm of someone’s hand. However, Lily continued to behave respectfully and maintained a light bow as she followed the old man into the chief advisor’s manor.

The chief advisor’s manor was the private property of the Fujiwara Clan. Although it has not always been related to the position of chief advisor, almost all the past regents were from the Fujiwara Clan. As members of the highest-ranking clan in the dynasty, most Lords of the Fujiwara Clan resided in the area.

Upon entering the courtyard, a quaint and historical feeling overcame Lily. This was the legacy formed by countless generations of the top clan’s history. The place was lush and decorated with natural flowers and vines that showed signs of surviving several seasons. The stone sculptures and stone lanterns also exuded an extraordinary aura and were covered in moss, proving the old age of this garden.

Some weeds were also growing among the flowers, but it was uncertain if this was caused by neglect or intended by the garden owner. In addition to the rustic and elegant beauty, the garden exuded a sense of sorrow that seemingly reflected the owner’s temperament.

There were some stone beasts with round eyes beside the path. Their upper section was completely covered by moss and a heavy green mist drifted behind them. The mist gave off an odd feeling— like formless eyes silently overseeing the surroundings.

The chief advisor’s garden wasn’t bustling at all. The entire garden appeared to be in a half man-made; half primitive state. Except for the old man who led the way, Lily didn’t see anyone.

Lily was uncertain how long she had been strolling around the garden, but she was still fascinated by the scenery. The old man disappeared at some point and left Lily alone in the quiet garden, but she seemed to sense a kind of power that was guiding her in the right direction.

The smell of moss and ponds filled the air, baptizing Lily in a refreshing feeling.

Not far ahead, a small and inconspicuous red gate with a stone fence separated the garden from the backyard. The small gate wasn’t locked so Lily gave a gentle push and entered the backyard.

As Lily walked along the stone path between the trees, the wind blew the flowers and caused petals to fall from the sky like snow— just like her domain. In front of the cherry blossom forest, there were a number of mirror-like lakes. The garden reflected on the surface of the water looked even more vivid and clear.

There was a red wooden corridor along the lake. Lily entered the corridor and kept walking forward. The corridor was winding, but there was breathtaking scenery every few steps. Unlike the mostly quaint and natural outer garden, this place showcased unique craftsmanship and elegant beauty.

Lily remained captivated by the scenery as she walked along the winding corridor. She didn’t know how far she had gone or where she should go. It seemed that she was just going with the flow of nature.

At the end of the corridor, there was a pavilion protruding from the lake. In that pavilion stood a tall woman with long black hair and white clothes, her back turned to Lily. She was looking at the cherry blossom branches that stuck out of the pavilion, seemingly in admiration.

The woman had an air of being above and beyond the world. Lily wanted to approach but fell into a trembling hesitation just as she was about to step into the pavilion.

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The woman didn’t look at Lily but continued to admire the wilting cherry blossoms. She raised her big sleeves and her long, slender fingers seemed to want to touch the delicate flowers a little bit.

“Kagami Lily, right?” The woman’s voice sounded familiar to Lily. It was high and carried the gentleness of a mature woman, but it seemed to be mixed with the heroic spirit of a capable minister.

“Lily greets Lord Chief Advisor1.” Lily took a small step forward, her long dress dragging behind her. She came to the pavilion and kneeled down to salute the chief advisor.

The woman turned around.

Her long, jet-black hair that was cut evenly at the back fluttered as she turned around, and cherry blossoms scattered behind her. At this moment, Lily saw the woman’s face. Fujiwara no Ayaka also saw Lily.

For a moment, both of them seemed to be in a trance.

Ayaka wore an elegant white court dress with a red collar inside. Her long hair was tied with a white headband above her forehead and she wore exquisite silver earrings in both ears.

Ayaka was surprisingly tall— around 1.9 meters2. Even if Lily stood up, she could only reach her shoulders.

However, this did not conceal the woman’s feminine beauty. She possessed the stunning beauty of a mature woman while maintaining an icy and clear demeanor. Her eyes twinkled with intelligence and virtue like the starry night sky, but there was also a kind of unimaginable charm within them.

“This…this…” Lily’s chest undulated violently3. It wasn’t only because she was surprised by Fujiwara no Ayaka’s graceful beauty. Lily remembered this woman the moment she saw her face.

Wasn’t this the same woman she had unintentionally encountered time and time again in her dark dreams? That noble and solemn woman in revealing clothes who danced before a group of demons while drenched in sweat! The woman who was tightly entangled by darkness and forced to reveal the whereabouts of the mirror girls’ mission, but stubbornly resisted!

It turned out to be Lady Ayaka? The key to the mission of mirror girls was the current chief advisor, the world’s number one onmyoji master!

Lily knew that it was just a dark dream and it wasn’t real. Fujiwara no Ayaka was certainly still pure and untainted by demons, but it was still unbelievable to her that such a white, elegant, powerful, and cold woman was the same person who was dancing in revealing clothes.

Ayaka looked at Lily and a strange glow seemed to flash through her eyes for an instant, but her face soon relaxed into a smile.

She walked over, seemingly carrying the morning breeze between her steps, and gently leaned down. Lily thought she was going to help herself up, but the first thing she did was to help straighten her neckline.

“Look at you; why are you in such a rush? You shouldn’t show your chest at another girl’s house.” Ayaka admonished like a caring big sister. The gentle touch of her long, slender fingers made Lily’s heart flutter.

Lily didn’t expect that the first thing the chief advisor of the dignified Heian Dynasty would mention was her clothes.

Immediately afterward, Ayaka gently helped Lily up. Her hands were so warm that Lily felt more unsteady than if she was to receive no assistance. She couldn’t help but fall forward as if caught in a dizzy spell.

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In a flash, she fell into Ayaka’s arms that were as soft and deep as the sea. In reality, she only fell on her shoulder…

After all, Lily was taller than most men in the Heian Dynasty. This was the first time that she nestled on the shoulder of an elder sister-like figure as if she was a small woman.

Weakness— Lily felt a sense of powerlessness that she had never felt before. Although she knew that it was rude to do so and that she should immediately stand up and apologize, her legs and feet did not obey her wishes. They seemed to have lost strength all of a sudden…

“Mirror Girl, you had a fierce battle with the Rashomon spirit last night. You should be tired, right?” As Ayaka spoke, her warm breath gently brushed against Lily’s forehead. Lily had never experienced such a posture caused by the difference in height.

The faint fragrance of an elegant woman wafted in the air and it seemed that Lily was about to get drunk on this smell.

No, not like this! How could she end up in such a shameful state even if it was a physiological reaction? Even if she was physiologically weak, wouldn’t she be considered a loose woman if she couldn’t control herself? She had to particularly maintain her dignity and restraint in front of such an elder sister!

With a renewed surge of strength and courage, Lily pushed slightly against Ayaka to make herself stand upright. Ayaka’s fingers brushed across her shoulders as she took half a step back and stood by her own strength. However, Ayaka held her arm.

Lily needed to look up to meet her eyes at such a distance. Just looking up made Lily feel ashamed and gave her body a strange feeling…

Oh my god, what’s wrong with me? Am I really just tired after last night’s big battle or am I going crazy…? In any case, I can’t let her know; I need to maintain as much of my bearings as possible. I have to act ladylike and speak in a formal tone when facing court officials.

Lily kept encouraging herself in her heart.

Lily didn’t dare to be rude, but she somehow mustered a bit of strength to shake off Ayaka’s arm. She then took a few steps back and held the ancient biwa in her hand.

Lily kneeled on the ground, raised the biwa above her head, and said, “Lady Ayaka, Lily came here specifically to offer this Arcane Biwa to the Lord. Lily obtained this from the Rashomon spirit by chance during yesterday’s battle. This biwa is a treasured relic of the imperial court and I dare not handle it lightly. Therefore, I came to present it to Lady Ayaka.”

Ayaka looked at the biwa without a change in her expression, but her gaze towards Lily was soft, “Do you want me to take care of it, Mirror Girl?”

“Eh? Yes…” Lily always felt that Ayaka’s words were a bit simple and strange, but there was no other meaning to them.
Ayaka took the biwa and seemed to play with it somewhat absent-mindedly, “Looking at it, you are the first girl who dares to call me by my name directly4.”

“Ah!” Lily’s face instantly flushed and her heart jumped! Not good! I’m so used to calling her Lady Ayaka in my mind that I blurted it out the first time I met her! It’s over, it’s all over now! I’m afraid I’m going to face the anger of Lady Ayaka!



References

  1. Robinxen: She remembered the title.
  2. Robinxen: Jesus christ author why is everyone a giant in this world? This woman would be slightly taller than me!
  3. Robinxen: I almost spat out my drink.
  4. Robinxen: Why did this come to mind now?

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