|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3160 characters|
|Translator: Yuki||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2021 words|
June had arrived to welcome the imperial army in Tanba. The temperature had increased over time. The morale of the army had grown even worse. The entire army was filled with confusion without any direction.
It had been 30 days since they departed from Port Ayabe, but no one had seen a hint of Kameyama castle.
If it weren’t for the dozens of fast messengers and ninjas going back and forth between the main army and the forward units everyday, the two armies probably would have lost track of each other.
However, now that the forward units had fallen into confusion, the two armies had connected.
There was no need to worry about the two armies being separated anymore, the problem was that the entire army seemed to be spinning around the forests and mountains.
It was true that the sun could allow them to identify the direction, but with all the rainy days and extended nights, they had already completely lost track of their location, even knowing the directions was of no use.
Yoshitada looked down at a couple of blade marks on a large stone in shock. “This…the blade marks on this stone…” He had personally left those marks on the stone ten days ago.
“This is already the third time coming here.” He muttered heavily.
“My lord, what are we supposed to do now? What direction should we go in?” A samurai asked.
“What direction shall we go? Nowhere! We rest here! Going in any direction is a waste of energy!” Yoshitada growled furiously.
This night, on this meadow surrounded by thousand year old trees, the army curled up into a formation.
Since the army was no longer separate, the generals had gathered to discuss the situation.
At the moment Ashikaga Makoto was wearing that set of silver armored top, short skirt and black stockings. She sat in the middle while the other generals sat on her two sides.
“Bring her up!” Yoshitada growled.
Two female samurai brought a bound Hatano in and forced her to kneel within the tent.
“Lord Yoshitada, what’s with this?” Makoto asked.
At this time, Shiina Airi responded, “It is because of this person that our army has been stuck in the forests and mountains for an entire month. At this point, it is almost impossible to determine our precise location.”
“This issue cannot be completely blamed on Miss Hatano. I am responsible as well, it was I who trusted Miss Hatano and allowed her to lead the army.” Ashikaga Makoto said, but did not order Hatano to be released. She gently asked, “Miss Hatano, please tell me, what is going on? Why is it that our army is lost within the mountains and forests when you claim to be familiar with the road to Kameyama?”
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“I……I……I may have been too confident. Though I know the roads and passed through them while I was a child, it has been many years. The roads have been overgrown and it is very different from the past…I, I’m afraid I cannot remember clearly…” Hatano confessed with her head lowered.
“……” Ashikaga Makoto was stunned at those words.
“Cannot remember clearly?
Just because of a cannot remember clearly, the entire army of tens of thousands of troops had been trapped within the mountains of the enemy territory for a month!
Right now the food and fodder were close to depleted. Though Spirit jade experts and above did not need much food, there was still an impact, also most of the soldiers were regular soldiers, the threat of starvation was very real!
Who to blame?
For a second, Ashikaga Makoto really wanted to chop up Hatano, she looked around and asked, “Where’s Lily?”
Ijuin, who was sitting in the back replied, “Lily is currently practicing on the cliffside.”
Makoto took a deep breath, she had no reason to blame Lily for practicing. Lily was originally a solitary warrior maiden and could act freely. What she was frustrated about was that if Lily was here and she sentenced Hatano to heavy punishment, then Lily would definitely intercede, that way she would have a way to persuade the other generals1…but Lily was not here, and Hatano had given such a ridiculous explanation. Could a simple ‘Cannot remember clearly’ evade the responsibility of letting tens of thousands of troops get lost?
‘Fine, then you can only blame your bad luck, this is also something you brought upon yourself!’ Ashikaga Makoto whispered within her heart.
She pointed her horse whip at Hatano, “How did you guarantee it to me? Did you not say you remember the path very clearly? Why change your words now?”
“I……in the past I used to travel this road in a group, I thought I was very familiar with the path but only when I led the group did I discover that it isn’t that easy…”
“You……” Makoto threw the whip in frustration, “What do you take this army for! Guards! Take her to the women’s formation, fifty heavy paddles and tie her up overnight! She will no longer be a member of this army, bind her with iron chains and imprison her! In the future she shall be taken back to Heian-kyo and be sentenced!”
No one pled for leniency.
Because of this woman’s lies, the entire army was trapped in this place. Even if she was sentenced to immediate ritual suicide, no one would protest. In fact, everyone felt the current punishment was too lenient. It was a good thing Hatano was a pretty woman, otherwise the generals would request for immediate execution2.
Two female samurais entered and proceeded to drag Hatano away. At the moment, Hatano just felt powerless and dazed, but this was all for rescuing sister Uesugi, she did not regret it.
Not long after, Hatano had been dragged to women’s formation, stripped of her armor and tied up with hemp rope and hung from a branch to be punished.
Even in the other formation, the crack of the wooden board and Hatano’s screams could be heard.
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Miles away, on a cliff ahead of the army formation, Lily knelt there looking up at the moon, perfecting her lunar true intent3.
Lunar true intent was both superior and ethereal, even in the throne realm, the lunar intent was a majestic existence. Where was the limit of this true intent? Was there a level higher than true intent? Lily didn’t know.
Her Tsukuyomi swordstyle had reached a bottleneck so she could only transfer her focus to the other aspects of her practice.
Lily had never stopped refining her physique with seductive intent, but for some reason, she felt that this practice had also reached a bottleneck. From time to time, a sense of incongruity would interfere with her physique training, and the biggest problem was that she didn’t know where it was coming from.
However, her lunar true intent seemed to have no bottlenecks. Her improvements on this path continued smoothly.
Her understanding of the lunar true intent and seductive intent far exceeded the level of her training. What she needed to do now, was kill more arch-demons and gather a great amount of anima and then consume them and raise her level of power.
Only, beneath these skies, there were very few people who practiced like Lily did. First, other permanence or throne realmed experts did not consume as many magatamas as Lily did. Second, only a few people like blade maidens could capture anima and train with them.
Lily felt that absorbing anima of demons with a higher realm than herself was very advantageous, but if she absorbed the anima of a much weaker demon, then the larger the difference in realms, the worse the effect. This effect seemed to relate only to the base realm and had little to do with actual strength.
For example, Lily was a mid-staged permanence realm expert, if she absorbed the anima of a same realmed demon, then the effect would be in the middle.
The effect when absorbing the anima of a late-stage or higher permanence expert was much better, but if she absorbed the anima of a throne realmed arch-demon, the effect would be multiplied!
However, if she absorbed the anima of a spirit jade demon, then the effect would be greatly reduced, the anima of a mid-staged spirit jade almost had no effect, she could only use those to refill her spirit energy, they had almost no benefit to her practice. This was also the reason why Lily disdained monsters below the permanence realm.
This was not a practice method the ordinary person could walk on. To hunt monsters stronger than yourself to obtain their anima to train? What a joke, this was beyond dangerous to most people, this was dangerous to even blade maidens. If one mistake was made it would no longer be hunting anima, but committing suicide, how could one practice then?
Only someone like Lily, who obtained something like the purple lunar force, and had strength far surpassing their actual realm could have such a perverted practice method.
Although she was currently lost and confused, her heart wasn’t lost or confused.
Her search for sister Uesugi didn’t have a direction in the first place, nor could she abandon the army to go look. It was better to take advantage of the army’s presence and practice.
Although her seizure of the large number of anima during the battle caused some dissatisfaction, so what? If they complained to Yoshitada, he wouldn’t care. If they complained to Makoto, she would remain silent, tactically allowing it.
Makoto simply said, she had never asked anyone in the army to give Lily anima, but she would not restrict anyone from capturing anima in the battle nor did she require anyone to hand over anima.
Her meaning was clear, if you aren’t satisfied, then compete against Lily for the anima, if you can’t compete then shut up.
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But how could those samurai compete against Lily?
Of course, Lily killed plenty of enemies, she alone had the lethality of a formation formed by a thousand elite soldiers. As someone who contributed much, though there were those dissatisfied, they were a tiny portion.
Also, as the morale fell, spirit energy exhaustion, and injury or death, the might of a formation decreased, but Lily? Her might and lethality increased.
“Sister Uesugi…where are you now? Are you safe?” Lily was beyond worried, but she understood that it was easier to search for a single person with an entire army, add in the fact that Tanba was dangerous even for her, Lily had chosen to remain with the army. Her goal right now was to take advantage of this once in a century battle to seize as many anima as she could to speed up her practice. She needed to be much stronger if she was to have a chance against Shuten Doji.
Beneath the cliff, a commotion appeared while the glimmer of light within the forest flickered. Lily’s eyes gleamed with the reflection of torchlight as she got up and quickly ran towards the commotion.
With her speed, it was just a short time before she arrived.
Here she saw samurais battling the demon night raiders.
Around ten days ago, the demons also changed their strategy. They no longer met the humans head on and instead chose to raid at night. For demons, nighttime was the time where they could exert the most power, and the humans could be easily divided and killed before they could get into formations.
But the night also belonged to blade maidens!
Lily’s eyes shone crimson as she rushed into the combat. As she slashed out, multiple demons were beheaded.
“Tsk, they’re nothing but small demons below the permanence stage!” Lily was disappointed.
Looking forward, she saw a mid-stage permanence realmed green skinned demon ghost. That demon ghost held a chilling machete in its hand, it had just broken a formation and was about to chop down on several fallen samurai. Pushing down on the ground, Lily quickly jumped over.
A bright blade light pierced through the demon ghost’s chest.