Chapter 25 – Night Journey to Port Ayabe

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Author: Carrot Sauce Original Source: SFACG Word Count: 3157 characters
Translator: Aoi English Source: Re:Library Word Count: 1933 words
Editor(s): Robinxen

About ten months ago.

Yoshitsune Shrine, Takeshita Town.

The surroundings of the blue-lit shrine were ruled by silence, with the gentle summer wind blowing in a faint mist.

Uesugi Rei prayed silently while kneeling in front of Yoshitsune’s statue within the shrine, oblivious to the fact that the red-dressed woman who she had just gotten acquainted with was looking at her from within the bushes of the shrine.

As a samurai woman of the Genji, she too viewed Yoshitsune as her protector deity and saw him as a symbol of chivalry.

Even someone as absurd and arrogant as her had times when she wished to pray to the gods.

She said internally, “I hope you will resonate your heroic spirit with the world and guide me from the Heavens so that I can find the truth behind that matter!”

A tear fell from Rei’s eyes.


Rei was seated on the fork of a massive tree within the woods right now.

She had scattered her silver hair loose, had her back against one of the tree’s limbs, and held an old, tattered paper in her hand.

Her thoughts had just returned to reality after reminiscing about the past. Her current situation was far from optimistic as she had lost her way in the woods of Tanba and did not know which direction to flee in. Other monsters were bound to discover her and expose her location even if she were to somehow throw off the many monsters pursuing her at the moment.

She had already realized that she seemed to be coming across more and more monsters the further she fled.

Rei placed the paper on the chest and lowered her head, allowing her silver hair to drop down and conceal its contents.

She had taken out this yellowed, bloodstained paper out only because she was all alone right now. She had never revealed its existence to others, even her comrades, no matter how much she trusted them.

Looking at this paper filled her with the drive to keep on going even in these distraught circumstances.

The nearby monsters’ movements reached her ears.

“A mountain demon came to report that he saw that sword miko over here just now. She might be just ahead of us. Look for her!” A gruff voice resounded through the woods.

Rei folded the paper and concealed it before she stood up. She then leaped onto Nioh’s back and urged it to flee deeper into the mountains1.

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Although it was a pretty cloudy day yesterday, today was an extended night.

Lily finally broke through the encirclement of the monsters along with the Tsunaga sisters after a tough battle, but they were still two hundred kilometers away from Port Ayabe.

Even though taking the water route was much faster, she did not possess the means to take so many people with her on that route and also lacked a ship. The Tsunaga sisters were strong, but their group was composed of noblewomen and their female entourages, except for Prince Narinaga, and none of them could swim. There were also many monsters living underwater, so taking the faster water route was much more dangerous than taking the slower land route.

The group had shaken off their pursuers temporarily thanks to Lily’s efforts. The girls were all lying on the ground weakly to take some rest right now and some of them had even fallen asleep in spite of being out in the wild.

Lily returned to the file, reckoning that the monsters were a dozen kilometers away from the group now. She believed that this would buy the group some time since the monsters did not know where they were headed.

The girls were too tired and needed some time to rest.

Lily was not that tired, though, as all the monsters except the Throne level spider were not her opponent.

Ijuin Reira had her back against a tree trunk and was almost on the verge of falling asleep while standing, but she roused up immediately and looked around vigilantly while holding her blade’s hilt.

“What don’t you take a break, Ms. Ijuin?” Lily asked.

“No. I can’t fall asleep.” Although the pale looking Ijuin looked quite tired, her eyes were filled with determination. “I’m the one who brought them here, so I have a duty to protect them! I must bring them back home! I… Waah…”

Ijuin looked at her sisters who were resting within the woods. Many of them were injured and nearly thirty of them had either gotten slain or captured by the monsters, while some had gone missing.

Her heart filled with grief when she recalled how 600 of them had set out into battle together. However, less than 250 of them were left now.

“Their sacrifice won’t be in vain since the imperial court’s army has finally arrived. I’m pretty sure they must’ve become spirits that protect the world by sacrificing their lives to save the Heavens. Isn’t that right, Lily?” Ijuin sobbed while wiping her tears away.

Lily looked at Ijuin and did not voice her doubts about this battle even though she found it meaningless. It was highly likely that taking a jab at their faith would lower their chances of survival.

“Mhm…” Lily’s eyes twinkled as she nodded gently. “The kind Tsunaga sisters sacrificed their lives to save the Heavens. They are all amazing girls2.”

It was hard to tell what was right or wrong in this world.

Although Lily felt that the actions of the Tsunaga sisters were meaningless because they had overestimated their capabilities, even Lily was not sure whether her actions were right.

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These young girls had given up on everything to save the Heavens. No one could tell which path was the right one unless they took it.

Lily walked to the region where the Tsunaga sisters were resting and stopped beside the mountain stream flowing through it, falling into deep contemplation.

“Sister Kagami?”

Prince Narinaga, who was dressed in a green top and skirt right now, walked to Lily’s side. He was much shorter than her and was not even 160 cm tall. Even though he had no breasts, he looked just like a girl with his feminine figure.

Although Lily shot the prince a glance, she did not turn aside to face him and just said silently, “I hope you’ll forgive me for acting rude to you during the escape, Prince Narinaga.”

Prince Narinaga blushed when he heard this. “N-No. I’m the one at fault. It’s because I’m a useless wastrel… I should be thanking you for chiding me, Sis.”

Lily sighed faintly. “A boy must not say that they are useless over and over again, Prince Narinaga.”

“Are you furious at me, Sis?”

“Hmm? Why do you ask that, Prince Narinaga?”

“I cross-dressed as a girl to infiltrate the Tsunaga sisters and even caused the samurai women I employed and many of the sisters to die in order to protect me. I’m really useless… Ah! Sorry. I won’t say it again. You chided me just now, yet I still ended up making a mistake. C-Can you punish me for that, Sis…?” Prince Narinaga said with a flushed face.

Lily said feebly, “I’m sorry, Prince Narinaga, but I have no interest in punishing a boy. I just acted like that to save you and everyone else, so I hope you won’t misunderstand me.”

Lily’s voice sounded really cold and detached, and nothing could be considered crueler to the prince.

“Sister Lily…” Prince Narinaga said despondently. He summoned his courage after a moment of silence, “I-I joined the Tsunaga sisters for you, Sister Kagami.”

“Hah?”

The prince shuddered, his girlish skin glistening under the moonlight as he looked at Lily emotionally. “A powerful samurai woman like you must like a powerful and heroic man, right? I wanted to temper myself and become stronger. That’s the reason I joined the Tsunaga sisters, who are hailed as the most heroic vanguards by the people. I wanted to hone my courage in battles! That’s why I…”

Lily turned aside and looked at the prince. “Why did you not lead troops personally and go into battle along with the army if you have such noble aspirations, Prince Narinaga? Why do you insist on cross-dressing? Do you like becoming a woman that much?”

“No! It’s not that, Sis! Please hear me out first… Although I don’t hate cross-dressing, you don’t know how complicated the matters of the court are, Sis. They would never let me go into battle and would even restrict my freedom if I insisted on going into battle. I had to resort to cross-dressing because they would recognize me in men’s clothes, but I never expected that I would end up causing so much trouble to the Tsunaga sisters, the court and even you, Sis. I’m sorry!” Prince Narinaga bowed towards Lily deeply, his long, curly hair cascading forward a bit.

Although he had acted with a kind motive, he had ended up injuring himself and those around him. He still deserved praise for his courage, though, and was the simplest and kindest person among those in the upper echelon of the Heian Empire.

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“The Tsunaga sisters did not sacrifice their lives for you today, so you don’t need to blame yourself for their deaths, Prince Narinaga. If you really want other people to treat you better, continue battling. Although you aren’t strong enough to face the monsters of Tanba, you must still bring out all the courage and strength within you. That will undoubtedly raise your chances of survival. You can return to Heian-kyo and win the respect of the people as long as you return alive from here. Do you understand that?” Lily said.

“I do, Sister Kagami… I do!” Prince Narinaga’s fighting spirit got reignited thanks to Lily’s encouragement.

“Also… Can you stop cross-dressing in the future, Prince Narinaga?”

“Hah? Do you like me better in men’s clothes, Sis?”

“…No, that’s not what I meant, Prince Narinaga. This matter is unrelated to my preferences3.” Lily replied, feeling speechless.

“Just look at me, Sis… Do you think I will look manly if I wear men’s clothes? A little boy like me can only earn the admiration of people when wearing women’s clothes, right?” There was an indescribable confidence within the prince’s wavering eyes as he said this.

Lily felt faint pity as she looked at him.

“Perhaps you’re right.” Lily nodded gently. “How about you catch some rest, Prince Narinaga? We can only rest here for two hours and need to resume marching with all our strength after that.”

“Are you not going to rest, Sis?”

“I’m fine. Go rest now.” Although Lily showed a soft expression on her face, the concern she felt for him was the same that a sister felt for her little brother.

“Mhm…” Although it looked like the prince wanted to spend more time with Lily, he felt embarrassed and left a bit reluctantly. He arrived in between the Tsunaga sisters and sat down with his back against a boulder. He still kept taking glances at Lily’s back, though, as he could not fall asleep.

Lily just ignored him and sat down beside the mountain stream. She closed her eyes and maintained her domain at all times to watch out for enemies while her mind entered the mirror space to practice the Tsukuyomi Swordstyle again. However, the pretty, young man dressed in the revealing celestial maiden’s raiment showed a look of disappointment after practicing for a while.

Lily had still made no progress with the Tsukuyomi Swordstyle’s Second Path.



References

  1. Robinxen: She’s still free!
  2. Robinxen: Well most of them are idiots but… yeah let’s be nice.
  3. Robinxen: I think Lily just feels awkward looking at a reflection of herself.

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