|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3084 characters|
|Translator: LazyButAmbitious||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2050 words|
The Shrine Master Succession Ceremony was about to begin. It was a beautiful day, and the spring breeze blew the soft green leaves, casting green and purple mottles on the ground.
Lily changed into the miko outfit that was tailored for her. It was a very pure, traditional red and white miko outfit. There were no extra decorations, and the neckline was very standard and tight, showing no cleavage or anything1.
Of course, Lily didn’t mind the low exposure, she was just afraid of the heat…
But come to think of it, such a conservative and plain miko outfit must have been prepared for her by Lady Ayaka. It wasn’t surprising that Sister Ayaka did not want any of Lily’s skin to be seen by others.
But, in that case, her desire to control was too strong, right?
As Lily walked through the mountain road and felt the warm spring breeze, she couldn’t help but think of Sister Uesugi and Sister Shimizu. How were they doing now?
Especially Sister Uesugi. She was in the depths of Tanba Province and there was no news. Now that the demons under Shuten Doji were so rampant, how could she not be worried?
Lily came to the ceremonial ground in front of the shrine at the top of the mountain. At this time, the mikos and priests were already standing on both sides.
“Administrator Kagami has arrived!” The chief priest who stood on the wooden platform at the entrance of the mountain shouted in a high-pitched voice. All the mikos and priests turned around and bowed in greeting towards Lily.
Although the other mikos were wearing the same red and white outfit as Lily, the appearance of this tall and saintly miko, whose top was as white as snow and her hakama as red as red banana leaves, seemed to carry the brilliance of a divine being, as if the gods had sent down a bright halo of light to protect her.
Even without revealing anything, Lily still exuded a dazzling femininity. It was extremely pure and also kind of flamboyant. She instantly stole the hearts of most of the young mikos on the scene. Even though some mikos originally liked boys, they seemed to have awakened at this moment.
“Is this the Miko Administrator? The Miko Administrator from Heian-kyō is indeed like a fairy.”
“That dazzling female figure, even such a plain white dress can’t conceal it, right? Sure enough, it’s completely different from me.”
“I really want to be conquered by such a big sister2…”
After all, it was almost March and the mikos were affected by the spring atmosphere, causing their minds to wander. Of course, the male priests present were also completely fascinated by Lily.
Lily’s expression was holy and calm. She felt that she had become the focus of this ceremony, but she was just supposed to be a bystander, right? It couldn’t be helped.
Lily walked to the platform under the shrine, where Shigeyuki and the others were already waiting. After a set of greetings, the succession ceremony was about to begin.
However, Lily always felt that there were some odd gazes in the surroundings. In addition to appreciation and desire, there was also a kind of hidden killing intent.
Lily had traveled around Heian-kyō killing demons and countless enemies, so she had a keen perception. She believed that her feelings were not wrong, but killing intent may just come from a heart of hate, and the other party may not necessarily do anything.
Lily acted as if nothing had happened and quietly stood on one side of the platform.
“I’m just acting as a flower vase today, right? Then let’s be a vase once in a while.” Lily clasped her hands together so they were covered under her big sleeves and waited for the ceremony to begin.
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A grand chief priest waved an imperial coin and danced in the middle of the platform before shouting, “Izumo Shrine, The Great Hall of Succession, begin—”
Toot—hoot— Some solemn and doleful musical instruments began to play.
One by one, dancers and mikos wearing thick female masks waved their long sleeves and twirled their red skirts as they danced in the middle of the memorial hall.
Lily looked calm, but she was quietly observing everyone present.
On the platform, Shigeyuki and the other upper echelons of the shrine all had sullen expressions, and their eyes gleamed with a sinister look from time to time. Among the group of priests below, there were also many people with suspicious looks in their eyes, which obviously hid a murderous glint.
Lily continued to act as a vase on the platform.
After the full-length performance and the prelude of various ritual ceremonies, the grand chief priest shouted, “The Shrine Master Successor, Kiyoko, has arrived.”
Amidst countless gazes, Kiyoko, who was dressed in a white kimono and had a single ponytail, held an imperial coin and walked past the crowd before coming to the altar erected in front of the platform.
Kiyoko first knelt and worshiped at the shrine, then she got up and waited. Her eyes met with Lily’s. Today, Kiyoko looked very beautiful. Lily’s eyes flashed with a glimmer of light and she nodded. Kiyoko also nodded slightly at Lily, and there seemed to be a little more confidence in her eyes.
“The Shrine Master passes on the title—”
Shigeyuki took slow, solemn steps towards Kiyoko and walked up to the altar. Kiyoko knelt down, and after Shigeyuki expressed his piety to the heavens, he swept the imperial coin over Kiyoko’s head and over both shoulders.
A miko then brought a very elegant and ancient-looking sword that symbolized the authority of the Shrine Master. Shigeyuki took the sword with both hands and handed it to Kiyoko.
Kiyoko, in turn, lowered her head and stretched out her hands to receive it.
All this would end when Kiyoko took the sword. She would become the new master of this shrine and Lily’s mission would also end. However, just when Kiyoko was about to take the sword—
Among the priests, a tall, dark-faced man pushed his way through the crowd and walked to the front row. He pointed at Kiyoko and said, “Otome Kiyoko, this woman, is going to inherit the position of Shrine Master? I have an objection!”
The whole crowd was in an uproar. Things had already come to this stage, yet someone still had an objection? On the platform, a few upper echelons of the shrine looked at Lily.
Shigeyuki also seemed to have prepared for a long time, and he very happily took back the sword. He held the sword of the Shrine Master tightly and turned to Lily, “Administrator Kagami, someone has objections to this succession ceremony. What are your thoughts?”
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At this time, an old woman next to Lily reminded, “Administrator Kagami, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the imperial court and the shrine, if someone raises and objection during the succession ceremony, the miko administrator needs to ask the reason for the objection and judge whether to approve the objection and suspend the succession ceremony, or to reject the objection and continue.”
Lily puffed out her towering chest. She had an expression on her face as if she knew this would happen and said, “Very well, then.”
She took two steps forward and stood in the center of the platform before looking at the man, “Who are you and what are your objections?”
The man strode forward and gave Kiyoko a disdainful look. He arrived in front of Lily, and upon a closer look, he was tall and had a dark face with devious eyes, which made him look repulsive at first glance.
“I am Otomo Michikawa, a colleague of Otome Kiyoko who teaches the onmyoji and clergy students together with her. I want to expose her to everyone! This Otome Kiyoko doesn’t have a good character and has insulted the pure and holy name of the shrine. She is not qualified to be the new Shrine Master!”
The crowd was astonished at these words, and there was an uproar as looks were exchanged.
“Silence!” Shigeyuki shouted. He was still the Shrine Master right now.
Lily couldn’t help but look at this man coldy and asked, “You say that Miss Kiyoko has a bad character, but according to what I have seen and heard these days, she is a very enthusiastic, responsible, and good teacher. She is very devout and works hard in her training. In what way exactly is she of bad character?”
Before the man could reply, someone from the upper echelon of the shrine next to Lily said, “Administrator Kagami, your words sound obviously biased in favor of Kiyoko. This is not good, right?”
“Tojo, don’t be rude! If you have any doubts about Administrator Kagami, you should say it nicely and politely!” Shigeyuki scolded.
“Yes! Shrine Master.”
After hearing this, Lily mostly understood. It was uncertain whether these people would really obey her authority. She hadn’t made a blind judgment yet. Was this a trick for her to fall into?
Lily said, “I have seen and heard with my own eyes; there is no bias. You shouldn’t come up and put the label of being biased on me.”
“I dare not—”
Lily looked at the dissenter, “Go on. What exactly makes Miss Kiyoko have a bad character?”
The man suddenly pointed at Kiyoko viciously with a look of contempt and said while sputtering saliva, “Otome Kiyoko, as the heir of the Shrine Master, had improper and shameless relationships with other women when she was training as a miko in the shrine!”
“What—??!” The whole crowd was shocked upon hearing this.
Although, with Kiyoko’s current age and status, she could get married and have children whether she was a clergy or a shrine master, such acts were absolutely not allowed at the stage of a miko!
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A miko had to dedicate her entire being to the gods and offer the purest and most immaculate body. She must be a virgin, and not only that, but must also refrain from having lewd relationships and behaviors. Otherwise, she would be disqualified!
And a miko who had been disqualified was naturally not suitable to serve as a shrine master.
Lily’s face was also solemn. She looked at Kiyoko, who was kneeling quietly with her head lowered. It seemed that she was very ashamed after suddenly being accused of this.
“Otome Kiyoko, what’s wrong? You don’t even want to argue? Do you feel guilty after being exposed?” A middle-aged priest pointed at Kiyoko and scolded.
The crowd began to boo, especially those priests and some onmyoji students standing behind.
“No way! Teacher Kiyoko! You taught us that mikos are not allowed to fall in love and that even thinking about sex is a sin, but when you were a miko yourself, you did lowly and lewd things? This, is this true? You are really…disgusting!” A miko pointed at Kiyoko and cursed.
“Teacher Kiyoko, it turns out that you are such a woman. It’s a shame that you are still pretending to be a spinster in front of us, acting as if you’re pure!” A livid onmyoji student shouted from the back.
Everyone booed, and Kiyoko didn’t speak for a while, as if all fingers were pointing at her.
Lily silently looked at Kiyoko who was lowering her head and not saying anything. She knew why Kiyoko didn’t speak.
“Shut up, all of you! Be quiet!” Lily shouted loudly. Her voice carried a condescending, queen-like pressure that affected the souls of everyone present.
With a cold and stern gaze, Lily looked at the dissenter, Otomo Michikawa, and said, “Do you know what a serious crime it is to slander the future Shrine Master?!”
Otomo Michikawa knelt down directly, but he still acted like a scoundrel, “I know it’s a mortal sin! But what I said is absolutely true!”
“What evidence do you have?”
“I am a few years older than Kiyoko and used to be one of her arcane arts teachers when she was a miko trainee. There was a woman who was also a miko at that time, and the two of them violated the taboo of the shrine and did nasty and dirty things3!” Otomo Michikawa said.