|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3115 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1826 words|
“I told you there’s no need for such propriety, Mr. Shigeyuki…” Lily said sullenly.
“Please, Ms. Kagami. We can’t just treat a valued guest like the Miko administrator with impropriety!”
Shigeyuki lacked the virtuousness that a shrine master was supposed to have and did his best to flatter Lily, which made her feel quite uncomfortable. The priestess placed the elegant-looking appetizers on the black, high-grade, lacquered wooden tables in front of them, and finally had the feast ready.
The Fujiwaras were the most affluent family in Heian, so it was normal for them to use such exquisite and luxurious bowls and utensils.
“Please enjoy the feast, Ms. Kagami.”
The middle-aged priests and priestess accompanied Lily during the banquet while the young priestesses sang and danced to liven up the mood.
Lily did not really want to exchange greetings with these bunch of old persons. However, as Ayaka had trained in this shrine, which was an important location for the Fujiwaras, Lily knew she could not just ignore them, and had to deal with them politely.
Shigeyuki clapped his hands, and a few attendants came over with boxes filled with precious herbs and gems, as well as a tray filled with around 30 magatama, which was a huge amount in Heian.
“Please accept these small gifts for coming so far, Ms. Kagami. I hope you won’t reject our goodwill.”
Lily frowned when she saw this as the items before her had a total value of 60 magatama, which was quite a huge amount. The number of magatama collected via the annual tax in the empire’s treasury amounted to just over a thousand magatama, which showed how wealthy the Fujiwaras were.
“What do you mean by this, Mr. Shigeyuki?”
“Hahaha. Please don’t treat me like a stranger, Ms. Kagami. We just want to express our goodwill for coming so far to supervise the succession ceremony and have no ill-intentions behind sending you these gifts, and hope that you will make an impartial decision,” Shigeyuki answered.
“An impartial decision?” Lily felt puzzled as she knew that her duties just entailed supervision and did not include any decision-making.
A gray-haired priestess beside Shigeyuki added at this moment, “As the Miko administrator, you are responsible for witnessing the succession ceremony, and supervising the new shrine master. You have the power to strip them of their position if you find them unsuitable because of their conduct! The court has dispatched you to check and ensure that the right person assumes the role. It’s a heavy responsibility, Ms. Kagami.”
Lily finally understood that she had such authority and recalled that a Fujiwara official had said something similar to her before she departed. She had not cared much about it since she thought it was all just a formality.
“Since you represent the court, Mr. Kagami,” a middle-aged priest added, “I must say this for the sake of the court and the Fujiwaras. I believe that the future shrine master of Izumo Shrine is unsuitable for the position!”
The priest’s words startled Lily and made her look at Shigeyuki subconsciously.
Shigeyuki showed an embarrassed look and said, “It’s true, Ms. Kagami. Although the future shrine master is a decent teacher within the shrine, I’m afraid she’s unsuitable for the position. It’ll be hard to convince the others about this decision… It makes me worry about the shrine’s future, to be honest.”
“Yeah!” The crowd said in unison, “We have the same opinion! Kiyoko is unsuitable for the position!”
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Shigeyuki added, “The court is located far away and made such a decision because they aren’t aware of the situation here. I hope that you will make a careful decision for the sake of the shrine’s future, Ms. Kagami!”
Lily looked at the gifts before her and understood what was the deal.
“So, these gifts are…”
“Haha. It’s just to express our goodwill, Ms. Kagami. I hope someone as wise as you will make a sound decision.” Shigeyuki revealed a true smile.
Lily nodded and said, “All right. I know what to do. Could you tell me when the ceremony is going to happen, then?”
“It’ll happen in two days.”
“All right.” Lily got up suddenly, “Since Ms. Ayaka sent me here with such authority, I’ll make a sound decision once I finish investigating Kiyoko and won’t hesitate to strip her of the position if I find her unsuitable for it. However, I won’t distort the truth if she really has the aptitude to act as a proper shrine master! Take these things away now. I don’t need them.”
Lily waved her sleeve once she said this with a solemn face and left the hall, which left the others embarrassed.
“W-What does she mean?” An old man with a crooked-face said, “How could she act so untactful when you’ve shown her so much respect, shrine master? Does she really think she has any actual decision-making power?”
Slam! Shigeyuki slammed the cup on the table and said, “Although the chief advisor sent her, this shrine belongs to the Fujiwaras. Only the administrator and the chancellor of the realm have the final say in this matter! We shall serve her politely as long as she acts with tact. If not, well… Hmph. Let’s see, then.”
The cup in Shigeyuki’s hands shattered into pieces because of the spirit power that overflowed from his hand.
Outside the shrine, Lily thought that she just needed to go through the motions in supervising the succession ceremony, but things did not seem as simple as that. Although she was not afraid of making a just decision, she knew that she could not just act however she pleased here as she had to take Ayaka’s position into consideration.
Lily looked at the sunny hillside and thought, “I wonder what kind of person this Kiyoko is.”
I might as well ask someone about her first.
The elegant sunlight illuminated the training platform halfway up the mountain, where young priestesses practiced the sword in white and red garments.
Although it was important for a priestess to learn the sword, it was a profession that needed a comprehensive understanding of magic, sword, guardian deity, prayer and so on. A priestess’ power, other than the one gained through training spirit power, originated from faith in the deities and the guardian deity enshrined in the shrine.
The priestesses who trained here were mostly battle priestesses and included some dancers and ritual priestesses who could not fight.
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“All of you must swing three hundred times to become one with the sword. Although it’s spring now, you must make sure that your mind is as calm as still water and drive away all distracting thoughts.”
A tall and slender woman dressed in a fitting black kimono with an open cleavage and a fishnet undergarment that came all the way up to her neck guided the priestesses as she walked amidst them.
The long-haired and considerably pretty woman’s face was covered with a thin layer of sweat at the moment.
“I’m not as good as the others at this… Ms. Kiyoko…” A petite priestess said as she swung the sword awkwardly.
Otome Kiyoko sashayed towards the petite priestess briskly with her chest held out and said, “Don’t be so disheartened, Eiko. Everyone has their own rate of progression. I’m sure you will get better at it if you just focus and train the movements while recalling them in your mind.”
Kiyoko advised Eiko in a kind, soft and persevering voice.
However, Eiko’s movements remained awkward even though she practiced them multiple times. She lowered her head and said, “I might just not have the talent for it like the others say, Ms. Kiyoko… They learned the movements at once, while there’s no signs of me getting better. I might as well become a ritual priestess since that’s the case…”
“You just lack the confidence, Eiko. Come here. I’ll show you how to swing again.”
“The onmyōji students at the foot of the mountain have some questions regarding mid-level wind magic, Ms. Kiyoko, and required your advice,” A short-haired onmyōji student ran up the mountain and said this with panted breaths since men were prohibited in the priestesses’ training area.
“All right. I’ll guide Eiko for a few more moments. Tell them I’ll be right there!” Kiyoko answered the short-haired girl as she wiped the sweat on her forehead. Her hair had stuck to her cheeks because of the movements, but she still brimmed with vigor.
Lily descended the mountain after asking a priestess for directions at this moment, though.
“This Eiko clearly has no martial talent. Her unsymmetric body and her personality aren’t suited for training martial arts, too. The instructor should be aware of this as well. I wonder why she hasn’t told her the truth?” Lily pondered. “Eiko will just lose her life if she battles with such skills. Lying to her will only do her harm.”
Lily descended the stone steps and arrived at the training area and could not help but walk over to scan Eiko’s body with spirit power when she saw her swing the sword awkwardly under Kiyoko’s instruction.
“It would be better for you to give up on training the sword, little girl,” Lily advised.
“Huh?” Eiko paused her training with a dumbfounded look on her face.
Kiyoko and the other priestesses looked at Lily when she made her comment, and her beautiful looks caused the young ones to blush in tandem. A woman as pretty as her was most welcome among priestesses that were secluded from the world.
All of them revealed puzzled looks as they did not know who Lily was.
The 173 cm tall Kiyoko, who was slightly shorter than Lily, bowed to her politely even though she did know who she was.
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Lily walked in front of Eiko and caressed her head as she continued, “Oh? Although your body isn’t flexible enough for training the sword, your soul has a distinct spirit power affinity. I recommend that you focus on learning magic and manipulating familiars instead. You might see better results, then.”
“R-Really? I-I used to see strange things in the woods right from childhood and also used to hear the whispers of flower fairies…” Eiko said.
Lily smiled at Eiko faintly.
Kiyoko was also stunned when she heard this as she had never heard Eiko mention this over the past year of training1. She looked at Lily reverently and asked, “I wonder where you come from, immortal? I’m the shrine’s battle instructor, Otome Kiyoko. I hope you will give me some advice as well.”
Kiyoko referred to Lily as an immortal since not just anyone could detect the potential hidden within someone else with a mere touch.
Lily’s proficiency in Lunar Blossom and her enlightenment of Lunar True Intent and Charm Intent placed her in the same level as Throned Sovereigns now! Her perception of life and the natural laws was much higher than that of normal adepts.