Chapter 20 – The Imperial Court’s strategy

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3255 characters
Translator: LazyButAmbitious English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1864 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

Without Lily, the Chief Advisor’s mansion seemed to have become colder and desolate.

On this day, the mansion had a visitor.

Heian-kyo’s most talented onmyoji of the young generation, Abe no Seimei.

Fujiwara no Ayaka held audience at the head of the room with a plum blossom bird screen behind her.

Abe no Seimei knelt within the audience hall.

“Seimei, what business has brought you here?”
“I have received an imperial edict. I am ordered to travel the waterways to Tanba and support the Imperial Army.”
“If so, why have you visited me instead of departing?”
“There is an issue I am confused about, I beg the Lord Chief Advisor for advice.”
“Hm? What issue?”
“What is the point of this war?”
“Seimei, from which side do you want me to answer this question? Tell me your thoughts first.”

“Lord Chief Advisor, this is exactly where my confusion stems from. If the goal is to exterminate Shuten Doji and his army, then the imperial army must be raised and the participation of the Lord Chief Advisor or Shogun is necessary. The current war may look imposing, but the ones sent were not the elites of Heian-kyo, but the young and impulsive sword mikos and jade maidens as well as a gathering of troops from various martial families led by Madam Ashikaga. With such a lineup, it is impossible to defeat Shuten Doji.” Though Seimei said he did not understand, in truth, he had already considered the important points.

“Seimei, do you think Shuten Doji is that easily vanquished? If I or the Shogun personally led the elites of Heian-kyo, we might be able to deal a severe blow, but vanquishing, that isn’t guaranteed. The main purpose of this war is to retaliate against Shuten’s occupation of the Settsu Road.”

“But is this war worth it? The Imperial Court is already weakened and this war may not force Shuten to surrender the road.”
“Gains and losses, can you not see through it?”

A confused smile appeared on his face, “I beg the Lord Chief Advisor to clarify…”

“Ahaha,” Ayaka took a sip of green tea while chuckling, “A crusade, whether against Shuten Doji or Tamamo no Mae would probably have the same result, but when compared, a crusade against Shuten Doji is safer. As for the Imperial Court, aside from the apparent benefits, there are still three reasons.”

“Hm? Please enlighten me.”

Ayaka looked west east at the dark skies and the ringing wind chimes dangling from the eaves. When the chimes stopped swaying in the wind, she finally spoke.

“First, gather up all those who have lost faith in the court, the treasury is empty and the tax burden will inevitably increase, but this will give the people the motivation to continue to work.”

“Second, in recent years, the power of the samurais have gotten too powerful, they have become a threat to imperial rule. It is better to send those threats to war, but we cannot empty Heian-kyo of all combat power so only the troops of the aristocratic families were deployed. No matter the result, the goal of weakening Shuten Doji and the samurai will be achieved, the difference is only the degree of weakening.

“Third…Ashikaga Makoto being elected as commander, ah, in truth this is not the Cloistered Emperor’s intention or his idea.”

Seimie’s eyes flashed, “Madam Ashikaga’s deployment was the Shogun’s intent?”

“That’s right.” Ayaka’s eyes narrowed as she faced Seimei, the two of them were talking about speculation now.

“To the Cloistered Emperor, as long as the Minamotos deploy troops, it is the same no matter who leads. The demons will fight and the weakening of the strongest of the martial families, the Genji, will be accomplished. If the previous situation continued, once the Genji family became dominant, who would care about the Imperial Court’s orders? However, Minamoto no Yoritomo…I do not think I can completely understand his thoughts.”

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“The Ashikagas are the Genji’s second greatest power, but you can say that their clan views the world from a different angle than Minamoto no Yoritomo. If I have to put it into words, then you can say that the Ashikaga views the world similarly to Yoshitsune of the past, back when they were more warm and gentle, but this is not what Minamoto no Yoritomo wants to see, so he made Ashikaga Makoto the commander and sent her deep into dangerous territory. That way, not only will she be in danger, but the entire Kansai branch that supports her will also join the crusade, therefore weakening the entire Ashikaga branch1.”

As Ayaka finished, the room was filled with silence.

Seimei pulled out a fan, fanning himself, his eyes filled with slyness before speaking up, “If you think about it, this is really frightening…the heavens are collapsing, the arch-demons are conquering the world, yet these people still only think about competing for power and influence. They actually used this crusade to weaken dissidents, if they win then the Imperial Courts will naturally benefit, if they lose then those dissidents will be eliminated…after Cloister Emperor Shirakawa, those who rule Heian-kyo are truly scheming, only, Lord Chief Advisor, you are not like those royals and nobles, with your prestige, why did you allow this to happen?”

Ayaka sighed, “Do you think I am capable of stopping all of them? This is already the limit of what I was able to fight for, the best result for the world. Furthermore, if the samurai class was allowed to develop further, then the Imperial Court truly would become an empty shell. It would be unfavorable for the common person and the goal of unifying against the monsters to save the heavens, therefore, sometimes it is for the best to sit aside and watch as the situation develops. If I force my ideas and get involved in this fight, then things would get more chaotic.”

Hearing her answer, Seimei pondered over it.

“So it is like that, I have benefited from your wisdom.”
“Then, Seimei, do you plan on going to support the war?”

“Ehehehe, I have already departed. This ship set sail several hours ago.” Seimei mysteriously replied, calmly fanning himself.

“Oh? Looks like you already understood and are not optimistic about the war prospects and sent a shikigami stand in?”
“Huhuhu, Seimei cannot bear that accusation, perhaps the one asking for advice is the stand in and the one heading to the frontlines, the main?”
“Huhuhuhu, Seimei, do you think I cannot see through?”
“Of course not, Lord Chief Advisor can naturally see through anything, but that doesn’t mean other people can.”
“Seimei, you really are…”
“Then may the Lord Chief Advisor take care, I shall withdraw.”
“Mm, go then.”

As Seimei left, the only one left within that dark room was Ayaka.

She looked around the room thinking, “Seimei asked me to take care of myself? Does he know about those plotting against me in the Fujiwara clan? This man is really elusive…”

She continued to sit there within the quiet room, she felt that when Lily left, she had been left all abandoned.

In her eyes, there was nothing but darkness.

“Lily, my secret…should I tell you…with your current strength, you would only be in greater danger if I told you, you are that type of girl, right?…Sometimes, lies are to protect.”

……
……

Tanba River, Upstream River Bank

Standing on a stone of the upper riverbanks, Lily pulled out a map. Looking at the surrounding terrain and landmarks, she judged her position. “The canyon where the river bends is very unique. I should be here, and the temple is…around sixty or seventy miles away, but that’s in a straight line, if I take the mountain roads, it’ll be over a hundred miles.”

Lily was still wearing the armor Shiina Airi had given her because of a feeling. Though Shiina had said it was an eighth grade armor, she felt it had a more ancient and lofty aura. The feeling wasn’t too strong but this delicate feeling coexisting with the relatively unremarkable craftsmanship confused her. She decided to continue to wear it for the time being, after all armor is still armor, it had better defense then her kimono.

Of course, she was still wearing her Celestial Maiden Garments.

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It’s just that this armor exposed her shoulders and was very low, completely exposing the lace straps of her undergarments, and when she was in movement, the armor would expose the upper parts of her undergarment. It was indecent, but for the sake of exploring the secret of this armor and the practicality of double defense, she would ignore it for the time being.

Furthermore, what she was going into was a life and death battle, no matter what she encountered, either the enemy would die or she would, in the end it had nothing to do with shame.

Of course, she still had the blue purple silken scarf wrapped around her hips.

She had changed the color to match her undergarments’ lace straps, although it had nothing to do with combat, it had become instinct to color match her attire.

Lily sped through the forests towards the Jokoji temple. Despite staying stealthy, her speed was very fast, within half a day she discovered powerful eldritch energy in front of her.

Jumping onto a tree branch, she carefully threaded past the trees.

After a few more miles, she discovered the gathering of the demons in the forests and mountains ahead.

That was a group of fierce-looking evil ghosts, they were roasting meat in a forest clearing.

“Horses?” She noticed that they were eating horse meat and that some were like humans, cooking the meat then eating. Looking around, she discovered a beautiful broken saddle, that horse was probably ridden by a female samurai.

“These ghosts are probably part of the forces that pursued and besieged the sword miko squad.” Lily observed and decided that she was headed in the right direction.

Her conclusion came from her sense of direction that surpassed most, her sensitive observation and feminine intuition.

Not daring to use a spirit probe or domain, she retreated a hundred meters before coming to an overgrown cliff, jumping over, she found a cliff cave. Taking refuge within, she pulled out the Record of One Hundred Demons and summoned a gigantic demon bird.

Lily could synchronize her senses with the demons summoned by the Record of One Hundred Demons. She sent the bird flying high and towards the temple to scout.

As for herself, she remained sitting within the cave, her consciousness entering her mirror space.

Lily planned on taking advantage of the time to start her practice of the Tsukuyomi swordstyle, second path. Her perception and abilities in all categories had greatly improved, but she had not practiced the swordstyle itself in a long time.

In the past, she had tried many times to learn the style, but she had never been able to, but now that she had grown to a mid-staged permanence expert, grasped the true meaning of the moon, the true meaning of seduction, and processed the violet lunar energy…she should have enough foundation for the style, right?



References

  1. Robinxen: I think this part of the plan will fall through due to Lily.

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