Chapter 85 – Heian Palace

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3179 characters
Translator: LazyButAmbitious English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 2090 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

Ayaka took out three light azure-colored magatamas that hung on a short coil of string.

“Lily, this is a nayu1, a token of mine. When necessary, you can show this thing to represent my authority. You can use it to make decisions in times of crisis and obtain the assistance of the Fujiwara Clan, as well as some of the forces loyal to the chief advisor.”

Lily took the nayu which seemed to exude an extraordinary aura.

Ayaka continued, “You must have felt the miraculous power of this nayu. In addition to representing my will, this nayu can also store items. Although I know you already have a storage treasure, I think it shouldn’t have much space. Each of these three azure magatamas contains a storage space about the size of this study, which is much larger than the ox cart-sized storage pouches sold on the market. Items can also be directly moved between the three magatamas as long as they are tied together. You may need to collect evidence on this mission so bring more defensive weapons and items to use.”

Lily knew the danger of her mission and naturally didn’t reject it.

She accepted the nayu with both hands, “Thank you, Lady Ayaka.”

After showing her gratitude, Lily tied the nayu on her wrist.

Looking at Lily’s fair and slender wrist, Ayaka suddenly remembered something and said, “By the way, before the incident, I had taken your chrysanths ice crystal to that master jade craftsman and asked him to start making that jade bracelet for you. You don’t have to worry. It will be completed in about a month and I will bring it to you then.”

Such great kindness could only be appreciated in one’s heart. At this time, Lily shouldered a heavy responsibility and bowed deeply.

“Lily,” Ayaka’s eyes rippled with a bit of sadness and determination, “I’ll leave the matter of Yoruko to you!”

Lily nodded earnestly without saying a word. She had already made up her mind that, even if she had to turn the world upside down, she would avenge Madam Yoruko!


The extended night continued and the rain didn’t stop.

Ayaka entered her big sedan chair and went to the imperial palace to attend the court meeting.

The imperial palace of Heian-kyō was towering, dark, ancient and majestic. It was elegant and beautiful, but also exuded a boundless aura like a deep mountain forest.

A curved red arch bridge led to the palace gate, below which, the long river that surrounded the city flowed. Countless lotus lanterns drifted around the palace in the river. They were like lost souls, emitting a sense of beautiful and mournful resentment from time to time.

In the dark night, Ayaka’s big sedan chair came before the palace gate. Apart from her and the three emperors, there were not many people in this world who could enter the main entrance in their sedan chairs.

Passing through the palace gate, there were palaces arranged in distinct and asymmetrical patterns. The sections of overhead terraces and sunken gardens harmonized with each other to form a unique and majestic artistic conception.

The elevated corridors passed through the undulating gardens, giving the feeling of strolling on treetops to those who walk on them. There were also a few quiet water systems that flowed along some stone canals. They streamed into the courtyard through the strange stone sculptures and glittered under the reflection of the lanterns.

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There were huge ancient statues in the garden which stood much taller than the surrounding trees. They looked fierce, tall, and slightly stout, with powerful arms and legs. They also held various weapons and seemed to be guarding the side palace in this courtyard.

Those lofty palace towers were connected to each other by winding corridor bridges, and there were many floating copper lanterns of various shapes that flickered with embers of light from time to time, adding an intimidating atmosphere to this elegant dark palace.

When Ayaka arrived here, she alighted from the sedan chair and stepped onto a platform with red railings. She brought the ministers of the Fujiwara Clan who had been waiting there and walked together to the end of the wooden corridor which led to a magnificent palace with a broad dark purple roof.

This was the main hall of the Heian Palace— the Purple Serenity Hall.

According to the legend of the Heian Dynasty, it was created in the dark and ghostly era where many disasters occurred and what people most admired was a spirit of sacrifice and a kind of empathy and care.

Therefore, the center of the world’s imperial power was given the rather poignant name of ‘Purple Serenity Hall’.

It didn’t sound particularly domineering, but it carried a kind of fearlessness that was unique to the people of this world throughout the ages, which was the advocacy of not being afraid of death.

However, today’s Heian Dynasty had long since changed after so many years of peace. Although danger was once again re-emerging, the current imperial family and ministers had most likely forgotten the fearlessness and heroism of Emperor Jinmu when he founded the country.

Every time Ayaka walked across the long bridge leading to the Purple Serenity Hall, she always felt a little uncomfortable in her heart, as if the palace was enveloped by an indistinct feeling.

The Purple Serenity Hall was nearly 100 meters in height and hundreds of meters in width. It was arguably the largest palace in the Heian Dynasty.

Outside the palace, there was a large open platform above the courtyard and the mountain rocks.

Here, there were guards, onmyojis, and a large number of public officials below the fifth rank, all of whom were kneeling. There were only a few samurai, and unless they were summoned, most of the samurai class weren’t even qualified to kneel outside.

Ayaka and her ministers didn’t even look at these people and went straight to the protruding platform of the purple palace. The only people who could walk up the platform and enter the palace from the front were the Shogun, The Chief Advisor, and of course, their accompanying officials.

The atmosphere inside the palace hall was heavy and the various dark gold decorations between the beams and pillars added a bit of solemnity.

Maybe it was because of how the lights were set up, but it felt that the overall interior of the hall was darker than the night sky outside.

In front of the main hall, behind several rolled up curtains, a boy in purple imperial clothes was sitting on the high platform of an altar. The boy wore a crown hat that was the symbol of the emperor, and he had soft and delicate short hair. His appearance resembled that of a beautiful young girl which looked quite similar to Prince Narinaga, but the boy’s eyes were more heroic and stern.

One of the boy’s eyes was emerald green and the other was purple, containing hints of a magical beauty.

The young man was naturally the nominal supreme ruler of the entire Heian Dynasty, Emperor Go-Toba.

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Ayaka went to the left of the two lower platforms extended below the emperor’s high platform, stepped up, and solemnly turned around to sit.

The platform on the right, however, was empty.

Ayaka, who had one of the highest positions as the regent chief advisor, was able to, but didn’t need to bow down to the emperor. Back when Prince Narinaga arrived at the investigation hall, Ayaka only knelt to give way and express her gratitude.

To put it bluntly, according to court etiquette law, bowing or not bowing entirely depended on Ayaka’s own will.

Most of the ministers from the Fujiwara Clan were sitting by Ayaka’s side.

These were the real top ministers of the Heian Dynasty.

The courtiers sat in the leading position of the Chancellor, followed by the Minister of the Left, The Minister of the Right, The Internal Minister, the Dainagon, and the other most powerful court ministers.

On the other side, there were ministers of the Genji and Taira Clan and a few military officials with positions higher than the fifth rank. Among them, there were some familiar faces like the middle counselor, Minamoto no Yoshitada, and others.

Ayaka’s spot was actually between the emperor and the courtiers, while the spot on the other side was vacant.

When all the ministers arrived, everyone, including Ayaka, knelt in reverence to the emperor, which showed his authority.

The emperor sat there, looking at the important ministers with heroic and slightly melancholic eyes. After a while, he signaled for everyone to rise, but he didn’t speak.

As usual in the court, the chief advisor was the one who spoke first.

Ayaka said, “The extended night continues and I have received a heavenly vision. Today, we are all here to discuss countermeasures. I wonder if anyone has any opinions?”

All the ministers looked at each other in dismay. The counselor was beaten this morning, and although elixirs were used to heal his injuries, he still hated it. He wanted to talk about this, but he couldn’t bring it up right away. The current discussion was focusing on the heavenly way, after all.

All the ministers looked at Ayaka, still waiting for the chief advisor to speak first.

So Ayaka continued, “Since no one has anything to say, then I will first say a few words. The heavenly vision forewarned of turmoil in the world that would affect the entire dynasty, including me, the emperor, and even the people. It can be said to have a significant and far-reaching impact. If we sit and watch the extended night, it will certainly endanger the stability of our dynasty. To put it bluntly, if the sun doesn’t rise for a month, how will we proceed with the spring plowing? Just how many of this year’s crops will die, and how many harvests are left? People sustain their livelihoods during the daytime, and without food, how can they survive? This year, I am afraid that millions of people will die of hunger again.”

The Dainagon, Nagato Konza, was a minister under Ayaka. The thin and elegant old man held up a jade plaque and saluted, “Lord Chief Advisor’s words are very true. If the extended night really continues, not only the people, but the food of the soldiers will become a problem. However, the extended night is the time when the demons run amok so how can we protect the court and the people?”

At this time, the Chancellor, Fujiwara no Renbo, who was a tall, fat, white-faced, and beardless old man with black eyebrows, said, “Dainagon, your words are correct, but how can we intervene in the heavenly way? Since ancient times, we can only pray to the gods for blessings during natural disasters. In my opinion, this year, we need to build more shrines and recruit more young and beautiful mikos to make offerings to the gods in order to seek peace and prosperity.”

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“Grand Chancellor, you don’t know how expensive it is to be a shaman. Where is the extra money in the treasury to build shrines, recruit mikos, and increase offerings?” The Secretary of Finance, Mitsugu Saionji, said. The Bureau of Finance was naturally responsible for all the court’s finances

The people who just spoke were actually from the Fujiwara Clan.

At this time, Taira no Katsu, a middle-aged man with a bushy beard from the Taira Clan who represented the samurai class, spoke up, “Praying to the gods with empty offerings may not be effective and it sounds like the court can’t gather enough money right now. If we don’t make our own efforts to change the heavenly way, we will only bIame the heavens and others. I have heard recent rumors that a heavenly oracle had descended at the time of the heavenly vision. If we know the content of that oracle, perhaps it can guide us?”

Speaking of this, Ayaka spoke up, “Taira no Katsu, in fact, before I came to the court, I had already learned the content of the heavenly oracle through some reliable sources.”

“Oh?” Emperor Go-Toba, who had always been placed in the court like a beautiful young vase, finally spoke up. The boy seemed to be particularly interested in this mysterious rumor. He looked at Ayaka and spoke with his slightly feminine voice that carried a juvenile tone of heroism, “Dear minister2, please tell me quickly. What did the heavenly oracle speak of that day?”



References

  1. TLN: 纳玉 is a type of ornamental jade but not sure what to translate it as in japanese
  2. TLN: 爱卿 According to research, this is an affectionate nickname used by monarchs to call their subjects.

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