|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3038 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1884 words|
An aphrodisiac mist lingered in the luminescent demon abode and the girls who served at Shuten Doji’s feet seemed to have lost their minds ages ago. They had just chosen absolute obedience as a means of survival when faced with the despair known as Shuten Doji and continued serving him even though others girls got ravaged and murdered around them each day.
Shuten Doji felt bored when he saw these girls as it had been too easy to break down their wills and they died too fast. He found it much more fun to kill them when they were moments away from breaking down in despair.
“Fujiwara no Ayaka is an abominable woman indeed, Ibaraki, but she’s also one of the top three apex powerhouses of the human court. It would be hard to kill her unless she’s reckless enough to invade this abode alone.”
Ibaraki Doji’s eyes flashed with a purple demonic glint as he answered Shuten Doji, “I’ve brought someone for that purpose, Lord Shuten.”
A crackling sound came from the mouth of the eldritch statue that spewed crimson flames from the mouth on its stomach, which was then followed by sparks.
A tall, lean and charming woman, who was dressed in a beautiful and fitting black kimono, sashayed forward from behind Ibaraki a few moments later.
The woman was 1.7m tall and wore a conical bamboo hat and a black veil that covered her head and face, which made it difficult to see her appearance. However, the translucent veil still allowed others to vaguely see her gentle and beautiful visage, and this alone was enough for them to categorize as one of the prettiest women of the world.
Shuten Doji surveyed the black-veiled woman silently. As a demon who had ravaged several innocent women, he concluded that the floral designs on the extraordinarily beautiful women’s kimono were pretty exquisite and similar to the ones that were worn by the pampered daughters of the influential clans in the Heian Empire.
He was certain that a stunning woman had visited him this time!
A single glance at her kimono was enough for him to figure this out as he had seen thousands of women’s garments over the last several hundred years.
“Take off your veil and show me your face, woman.” Shuten Doji spoke bluntly. His voice had an unusual eldritch power to it which encaptivated the hearts and minds of most women the moment they heard it, but it seemed to not work on the black-veiled woman on this occasion.
“I’m afraid I’ll have to refuse, Lord Shuten,” The woman replied in an arrogant tone that came deep from her soul. Her voice seemed to reject all men in the world and was so seductive that it made all men lose their minds the moment they heard it.
“I’m surprised you have the courage to defy me in my demon abode, woman. Tell me why you dared to come here alone and even defied me when you know who I am,” Shuten Doji asked her.
“I’ve come here from far away for the sake of your dominion, Lord Shuten. I hope you won’t make things difficult for me now.”
Shuten Doji acted suddenly and sent a gust of eldritch wind towards the woman, which caused the flames to flicker and illuminate the walls of the cave chaotically.
A faint, crimson light barrier shielded the woman’s body from the devastating gust of wind though and prevented it from messing up her veil and kimono.
“Huh?” Shuten Doji showed an astonished expression when he saw this and tried to scan the woman’s strength with a spirit probe, but it got blocked instead.
“Does she practice a secret art that allows her to hide her power level? She also seems unaffected by the aphrodisiac mist in the cave despite being exposed to it for so long. Although I’m not sure whether she’s as strong as me, she’s strong enough, I guess. Just who is she? When did the Heian Empire gain another beautiful powerhouse like her?” Shuten Doji ruminates internally.
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“Lord Shuten,” Ibaraki Doji explained, “Ms. Shinsenen is here to provide us with information that’s vital to eliminating our most troublesome opponent.”
“Is that true?” Although Shuten Doji was a lecherous demon, he was not a foolish demon whose mind was driven by sex. He had already sounded out the woman’s strength and had some degree of confidence at subduing her, but he also felt that he would have to pay a huge price to achieve this and might even get injured in the process.
He was not foolish enough to commit such an error when faced with the imminent attack of the imperial court’s army.
“I wonder what information you’ve brought me, Ms. Shinsenen.”
“It’s information related to dealing with Fujiwara no Ayaka,” Shinsenen answered.
“Hahaha. Why didn’t you just mention this earlier and leave me in suspense when you’ve already made ample preparations, Ibaraki?” Shuten Doji downed another mouthful of wine, which was equivalent to several barrels of wine, from his wine gourd and said with a clear voice, “Ayaka has a lot of influence in the human court as the chief advisor and is also one of the very few female powerhouses among humanity. Yoritomo once said three things about her—she’s wise, stubborn and has unique preferences. Even I can’t do much about her since she’s just interested in women. I heard that she went all out and fought Tamamo-no-Mae on equal footing to win the affection of a rising star called Kagami Lily recently. I wonder what information you have that will allow us to deal with her.”
“Heh. I know her weakness, Lord Shuten.”
“Hoh?” Shuten Doji’s eyes lit up. “Tell me what it is, then.”
The woman remained silent, though.
Shuten Doji drank another huge mouthful of wine from his wine gourd and laughed heartily. “Wine tastes the best when drunk on the knees of a beautiful woman.”
He looked at the women with a wicked gaze that could charm an ordinary woman with ease and make her subservient to him, but Shinsenen remained unaffected.
“All right. Tell me what you want, Shinsenen.” Shuten Doji knew that Shinsenen must have taken a huge risk to bring this information to him and was willing to pay an adequate price for it.
“I… am just a lone woman who has lost her husband and child, so I have use for money and valuables. I heard that you have a Blood Spirit Magatama—”
“Heh!” Shuten Doji slammed the throne’s arm and crushed the head of the beast carved on it. “You’re quite audacious, woman! How dare you demand a Blood Spirit Magatama from me!”
“Haha. Although a Blood Spirit Magatama is quite precious, it’s still nothing compared to the collapse of the Heian Empire, Lord Shuten. I’m sure you aren’t afraid of the incoming human army, but it would be too much of a loss for you if you come across some unexpected event. A single Blood Spirit Magatama is worth it to avoid such a situation from occurring. Giving me one shouldn’t affect you much since you have lots of them, Lord Shuten.”
Blood Spirit Magatamas were precious treasures to Shuten Doji. Although he had plenty of them, he felt overcome by fury when he recalled how he had dropped one of them in his fight with Michizane before.
He pondered on the matter for a while and gritted his teeth as he answered Shinsenen, “All right. I’ll give you one of them as long as you tell me what Ayaka’s weakness is.”
“Izumo Shrine,” Shinsenen just said two words in response to his question1.
Shuten Doji and Ibaraki Doji’s eyes lit up when they heard her answer, and Shuten Doji then tossed a red magatama that oozed a blood-red aura towards Shinsenen.
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It continued to rain heavily in Heian-kyo on this day.
Lily and Ayaka walked through the garden in Ayaka’s mansion while holding a parasol over their heads.
The rain had forced them to use the parasol on their way back from the Heian Palace. Ayaka had opened her parasol to prevent Lily from getting wet in the rain, so she was left with no choice but to link arms with Ayaka.
“When do you plan to set off, Lily?” Ayaka asked in a longing tone that was just like the rain shower.
“Well…” Lily felt a sting of pain in her heart when she heard Ayaka’s question, which made her wonder whether she felt reluctant to leave Ayaka’s side.
Do I feel reluctant to part with her scent, her secure embrace and her strength? No way. That’s just not possible. I’m sure I just feel reluctant to part with a friend.
Lily persuaded herself that she and Ayaka were just friends, and that they just had a teacher-student relationship and a master-subject relationship between them.
However, it was also true that she felt reluctant to part with her. The impulse to just snuggle up against Ayaka’s embrace perplexed Lily a lot.
“No. I’m just confused right now. I would never have such impulses.”
Why do I feel such anguish about parting with her, though?
“Although Mt. Izumo is the sacred land that all human ascenders aim for, such sacred lands are often the most dangerous lands, Lily. Don’t let Mt. Izumo’s outer appearance deceive you. It’s much more dangerous than the Endless Demon Mountains that you traversed before. You must be careful since I can’t go with you on this journey,” Ayaka said worriedly.
“All right. I’ll make sure to watch my back as I aim for the Mt. Izumo’s summit.”
“Even I haven’t gone until Mt. Izumo’s summit, Lily. In fact, no one among the current powerhouses of the Heian Empire have reached its summit. Just why are you so obsessed with reaching the summit? Traversing the main peak alone is enough to come across a fortuitous encounter, so there’s no need for you to aim for the summit. An ancestor of my Fujiwara clan obtained Izumomaru, a low-ranked spirit artifact that’s handed down in the clan, in one of the ancient shrines on Mt. Izumo without even climbing till the summit.”
“Thank you for the reminder… Ms. Ayaka. However, I must reach the summit at all costs! It doesn’t matter if no one has reached the summit before. That still won’t stop me from trying to reach it!”
“Sheesh… You’re really stubborn sometimes when you’re so timid usually. Just make sure you watch your back.”
“Mhm.” Lily nodded.
Ayaka stroked Lily’s arm and said, “Your jade bracelet, Unmelted Snow, can be called a spirit artifact, albeit a common low-ranked one, since I had a master artisan make it for you. You must watch out for those who covet it because of its rareness though, since it’s a Yin artifact. Its ability to strengthen the power of your domain is pretty impressive, to be honest.”
“All right, Ms. Ayaka. What are spirit artifacts and Yin artifacts, though?”
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“The legendary treasures that exceeded the ninth grade are called spirit artifacts. It’s quite hard to obtain such treasures as most spirit artifacts other than the top-quality ninth grade treasures have a perfect form. It’s said that the deities of Takamagahara left them behind in our world.”