|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3079 characters|
|Translator: Yuki||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1688 words|
In the depths of the mountains hundreds of miles away. Within the eldritch cave of Mount Ooe. In a huge dark underground cave with a radius of a thousand meter and a height of a hundred meters, a huge statue of ancient eldritch gods stood within.
On the eldritch statue’s hands or shoulders stood a terrifying figure.
These figures varied in height and size, but there were seven. Each radiating an aura superior to a throned general and some even surpassed that of a peak throned sovereign. Also, amongst the statues, there were three statues where no one stood.
Whoosh! On a statue with a demonic face resembling a wrecked Prajna face and an alien-like body, a blue ghost flame appeared, it gradually turned into a purple long haired man wearing a long robe. On this man’s back was a large ghost hand.
“Your highness, Ibaraki Doji!” The other figures were surprised by his appearance.
A snake woman figure standing on the hand of an eldritch snake goddess statue sensed his aura and couldn’t help but ask, “Your highness Ibaraki, you……have you united your soul and body?”
Ibaraki’s eyes flashed with eldritch flames as he nodded, “The imperial army is about to attack, I can no longer divide my soul to practice.”
In the past, when Ibaraki departed to Heian-kyo to capture beautiful woman for Shuten, he didn’t want to delay his practice so he used a secret method to divide his soul, that half of his soul remained in Tanba to absorb the dense aura of Yomi at the depths of Mount Ooe while his main body entered Heian-kyo.
“Your highness Ibaraki, ahahahaha, how is your hand after reuniting? It looks like it can no longer be healed?” A fat meatball-like figure said while jiggling on the hand of an eldritch god.
Ibaraki looked at his missing arm, “That’s right, I was also surprised that this arm could not be attached after restoring my soul. What kind of resentment does that woman’s sword have? It is as if it was born to restrain me and my clan.”
The snake woman asked, “It’s that s̲l̲u̲t̲ his highness Shuten has recently been attracted to? She’s called Kagami Lily?”
“Ehehehehe, Akahime, are you jealous? This poor monk has seen that woman, she’s not a s̲l̲u̲t̲ but a pure celestial fairy. If it weren’t for Lord Shuten, this poor monk would want to capture her myself!” In the hand of an eagle headed eldritch god statue stood a gray skinned demon monk. It was the lord of Mount Heiei who Lily had met on the way to Mount Izumo. He had naturally returned after failing to capture her.
“Me? Jealous of her? What a joke, we are his highness Shuten’s hands and feet, his blades. Women are nothing but his highness’s toys, so what if she’s beautiful, once his highness plays with her, she can only die, what is there to be jealous of a pile of bones?”
“That woman will sooner or later land in his highness’ hands. Right now, we have to discuss how to deal with the imperial army.” Ibaraki put a halt to the argument, “According to the information gathered, after the imperial army entered Tanba, they continued along the Tanba river.”
“Tanba river?” A tall figure with flame like hair and a gigantic blade on his back asked “Didn’t Touko Chakura and Aokiba Takamizu go there to capture that sword miko? Are they trying to rescue her?”
“For a mere sword miko? You jest. Either way, the reports have said that sword miko has fled towards Mount Ooe1 with Touko and Aokiba in pursuit, they have long left the Tanba river.” Ibaraki scoffed, “The imperial army’s target is port Ayabe.”
“A wretched port occupied by a bunch of lowly wild bandits. Just let them kill each other, why bother with them?” Snake woman Akahime scoffed.
“Fool!” Ibaraki scolded, “That port is the gateway to Tanba. To travel the Tanba mountain roads and maintain supplies transportation, they would have to pay a tremendous price, but once they take over the Ayabe port, that would no longer be the case. If they set up a formation there, they can push straight up the river, in that case we will lose control over at least a third of Tanba. With all the soldiers and experts the imperial court controls, we will be at a disadvantage if this drags out too long2. His highness Shuten Doji is greatly concerned over Ayabe port!”
“May his highness Lord Shuten Doji not be worried, I will personally pay a visit to that port.” The figure with flame-like hair spoke up.
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Poof—! A ball of ghost flames lit up as the figure melted into the palm of the ferocious looking eldritch god statue.
The dark cavern became silent as one after another, the figures disappeared into the darkness.
Currently, at the borders of Tanba, the great army was packing up and preparing to depart.
Lily had wanted to request permission to explore for Mount Ooe’s location but was refused. In truth, she knew just how dangerous this was but still wanted to help her foster-mother. Either way, from her point of view, she had already formed a grudge with Shuten Doji, but since she wasn’t a match against him, there was no need to fight alone.
Stepping out of the formation, she saw Ashikaga Kiyoshi approaching from the side.
“Lord Kiyoshi.” Lily looked at him and felt that he was so different from the fair and handsome lively young lord he was half a year ago.
Right now, he felt like a declining wandering samurai with eyes full of melancholy and sadness.
She noticed his one remaining arm, “Lord Kiyoshi, what…”
A wry smile appeared on his face, “This? Just the results of not being careful during training.”
She noticed the deep sadness in his eyes, was it really like that?
“I’m sorry, miss Kagami. I rashly probed you, but to think you’re so powerful that I cannot sense your realm. It was really unnecessary, it’s not as if I do not know of the rumors after you left Kanto.”
He shook his head, “It’s a pity I am not talented. After using so many of the treasures in the Ashikaga family and a half year training trip, I am still only a mid-staged spirit jade realm. I’m afraid that the distance between me and Miss Kagami will only lengthen in the future.”
“Lord Kiyoshi, maybe your opportunity just hasn’t arrived, besides why would you care about the strength difference between you and I?”
“This…” Ashikaga was not a simple minded man like Honda and didn’t want to respond.
But, even if he didn’t say anything, Lily understood.
“Miss Kagami, I had planned on a long training trip after resigning from my government and military posts, but since the shogun has deployed my mother here as the great general, I cannot leave this alone. However, with my current body and powers, what can I do?”
“Lord Kiyoshi, a heart of loyalty is far more valuable than those with power who ignore their friends and family for personal interest. You are an amazing man no matter your power or realm.”
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“That is the best compliment I’ve heard. Miss Kagami…” He looked at Lily with burning eyes, but once he thought of that stump, his incompetence, he signed while shaking his head.
“Nothing, this crusade against Shuten Doji is extremely dangerous, Miss Kagami, you must…take care!”
“You as well Lord Kiyoshi…”
Lily said farewell as she departed. Because she processed a storage jade and her mirror space, she didn’t have to carry any heavy baggage and wasn’t as busy as other officers and soldiers.
Once all baggage was stored, Lily obeyed the order and advanced within the army.
Although the rain had stopped, the mountain roads were still slippery.
Many soldiers, especially those driving the horse carriages, had a hard time.
Sighing, she could only think that it wasn’t easy being an ordinary soldier.
Life was just so mysterious. Some existences charged against the skies, came and departed like wind, but most living beings could only rush about their daily lives, and even after their whole life, wouldn’t know much about the world.
Ever since she had joined the army, she had gotten a close look at the life of a normal soldier, she observed the hardships they went through and felt that her understanding of the world had grown a bit.
“Miss Kagami?” A warm intellectual voice came from behind.
Turning around, Lily saw Shiina Airi approaching. Shiina was wearing a low cut breastplate and a small panty like armor tied with a thin rope. Lily couldn’t see the back, but she could imagine just what that small panty armor would look from behind.
Seeing Shiina come over, Lily accompanied her without a word, she too had questions.
With such a steep and muddy mountain path, Shiina didn’t ride her horse and had handed the reins over to her subordinate.
“Shiina, did you receive any news of sister Uesugi?”
“None at all…I haven’t received any news these past few months. The last news was a letter from master, saying she had already departed from Heian-kyo towards Tanba, after that, nothing…”
Lily couldn’t understand, “Why did sister Uesugi insist on entering Tanba? Doesn’t she know that Shuten Doji isn’t something she can face?”
“I don’t know.”
Lily couldn’t understand, but somehow, Shiina’s words were strange.
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The tone of “I don’t know” didn’t sound like the usual cold intellectual Shiina.
Lily calmly looked at Shiina, she felt this cold calm woman was hiding something from her.
Uesugi Rei was arrogant, but not foolish. As the war goddess of the Land of Snow, she was well versed with war strategy. How could she not know she wasn’t capable of countering Shuten Doji? Why would she enter Tanba then?
Lily felt that Shiina might know, but she might also be thinking too much.
The army marched the entire day, from day to night and when night came, it was an extended night for several days.