|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3108 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2082 words|
Touko’s wide open eyes glowed in a golden color as he rushed through the heavy rain and raised his shining red straight sword to slash at Rei.
As a monster who was almost at the middle-stage Throned General level, Touko was slightly stronger than Aokiba. He was also born with the ability to use volcanic force, so the way he powered up was different from humans. His volcanic force grew stronger with his growth and was a special power that was formed from the fusion of earth true intent and fire true intent.
A lot of monsters like Touko were born with such powers, but there was a vast gap between their strengths. Rain women, for example, could wield water true intent and rainwater freely, while fox demons possessed innate charm power. These powers grew naturally along with age, battle experiences, food consumption, and needed neither arduous training nor arcane practice for their growth.
Even Rei could not withstand this eldritch vermillion power and was forced to leap sideways to dodge the slash. However, the fluctuating effects of the elixir messed her flow and made her lose balance. This resulted in her getting struck to the ground because of the flames that the demon behind her had breathed at her.
Aokiba reacted swiftly and rushed forward to slash at Rei when he saw this, but she somehow dodged his attack by a hairsbreadth.
This forced Aokiba to kick Rei with a bang. The shockwave created from his kick sent her crashing across a bunch of thick, old trees.
Bishamonten’s avatar manifested around Rei again to block Touko’s incoming attack, but his blow was so overpowering that the avatar got shattered into pieces and vanished into nothingness.
Rei got up and slashed at Touko’s sturdy leg with her katana, but it just left a faint cut on it. She was not really hoping to wound him, though, as he was a Throne level monster who possessed a powerful body and was much stronger than a human of the same level. Only Human Thrones who trained in ancient or arcane body tempering arts could reduce the gap in strength and injure someone like Touko.
Rei charged forward after slashing at him.
Aokiba thought that Rei would dodge his attack, so he did not use his full strength in his strike infused with water true intent. However, she actually faced his blade with a heavy strike infused with the fusion of glacial and charm intents.
“Gah!” Aokiba spewed blood from receiving the unexpected attack and was sent flying from the clash.
The glacial and charm intents infused strike Rei had launched on Aokiba was much stronger than a full power attack from her before taking the elixir, so she used this chance to flee from the area.
“Oh, no! She’s definitely going to take revenge on me!” Minamoto no Kenki retreated in fear when he saw this.
Rei changed directions and fled into the woods suddenly, though.
“Capture her!” Aokiba got up and pursued her together with Touko right away.
Although Rei launched powerful strikes infused with the fusion of two intents occasionally, the elixir’s fluctuating effects interfered with her every now and then. It affected her movements, prevented her from using powerful attacks, and even made her tumble while running and dodging.
Rei felt her vision blur when a Permanence level blue demon smashed her head with its spiked mace.
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“There’s nowhere you can escape to, Uesugi Rei!” Aokiba was about to catch up with her.
Although the elixir’s effects still allowed Rei to boost her strength significantly, losing the ability to maintain a clear mind still prevented her from breaking out of the encirclement.
Her pursuers were almost about to surround her completely now.
A loud neigh echoed through the woods the next moment, and a tall, sturdy, black horse rushed out of them with a thunderous momentum. Although the horse was badly injured and bled from his mouth because of suffering from ambushes, he still strode with quite the speed and power.
“Nioh!” Rei rejoiced after seeing her steed.
Rei had lost track of Nioh during the battle with monsters right after entering Tanba a few months ago. She never imagined that he had traversed these woods in search of his master despite all the risks and fatigue.
It was quite a miraculous feat for him to reach her at the moment she needed him the most.
Rei’s eyes flashed with hesitation, but she made a quick decision and spun around to unleash a powerful sword beam infused with charm and glacial intents immediately.
The sword beam was as powerful as a blow from a middle-stage Throned General and packed terrifying power. It killed several monsters along its way as it made its way towards Touko and Aokiba. The duo did not underestimate the sword beam, though, and assumed defensive stances right away.
The clash of powers resulted in a deafening explosion.
Although the sword beam failed to inflict an injury on the two Throne level archdemons, Rei seized this chance to stride Nioh. Mounting Nioh boosted Rei’s strength, allowing her to massacre countless demons and monsters around her with her blade.
Rei killed her way out of the encirclement and fled towards the woods immediately afterward. However, even though she had broken out of the encirclement luckily, as bad as she was with directions, she ended up heading deep into Tanba1.
“Chase after her!”
Aokiba and Touka led a group of demons to chase after her. A few demons even rushed out of the surrounding woods to block her way, but all of them either fell under Rei’s blade or Nioh’s hoofs.
Rei’s strength actually surpassed the two archdemons when she was on Nioh, her mount. This was because she was better than Lily at mounted combat.
Nioh was so fast that he left the demons behind in the dust immediately. Aokiba was the only one slightly faster than Nioh among the two archdemons, so he had almost shaken off Touko as well.
Although Nioh was just at the early-stage Spirit Jade level, he was a truly precious steed blessed by the heavens and possessed the bloodline of a spirit beast. He was much stronger than an ordinary, grade nine, late-stage Spirit Jade level warhorse.
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Nioh’s best strength was not just his power, though. His best advantage was actually his speed. Horses of the same realm were usually much faster and resilient than their human counterparts.
Although a multitude of demons, as well as two Throne level archdemons, chased Rei, Aokiba was the only one who barely kept up with their speed.
Aokiba leaped forward the moment he caught up with Rei and slashed up at her, but she blocked his strike with her blade. Nioh’s support allowed Rei to deliver a higher counterforce when her blade clashed with Aokiba’s, forcing him back.
“F̲u̲c̲k̲!” Aokiba cursed out in anger when he failed to land a blow on Rei after catching up to her and was forced to chase after her again with the demons behind him, bringing the situation into a deadlock2.
The army on the northwestern outskirts of Heian-kyo had not made much progress and had just entered the woods.
Although the woods here were filled with dense mist and eldritch energies, the 60,000 strong army continued to march in miles-long files. There was no lack of powerful samurai and skilled onmyōji among the army, so the weaker monsters within the woods near Heian-kyo did not even dare to approach them. They either fled far away from the army or spied upon them from the depths of the woods.
Minamoto Jujiro Takamune had around 600 troops under him, most of which were mounted and armed with spears. However, none of them owned firearms.
He also possessed a dozen supply wagons that followed the army at the back along with the other supply wagons.
The marching speed of this massive army slowed down each time it came across rain and muddy roads, so they progressed much slower than on leveled land. Their speed was highly dependent on the whims of the heavens as they could not control the weather.
Lily rode a white horse behind Takamune’s Dewa troops and discovered that the troops of each clan had pretty low morale when she looked around.
The woods of Tanba were filled with tall trees and high mountains, so it was just like a maze. It was no surprise that battling within Tanba’s woods was not going to be a pleasant experience regardless of the battle’s outcome.
Many of the samurai, as well as the soldiers, were not optimistic about the objective of this battle. None of them believed that the army could defeat Shuten Doji and wondered about the purpose of this battle.
There would be no land to confer if the army failed in overthrowing Tanba. The samurai clans that were taking part in the battle were bound to lose their men in vain if that happened. However, no one possessed the courage to occupy the fallen cities and villages of Tanba as long as Shuten Doji was alive because death was all that awaited them when the army left.
The continuous rain also affected the army’s morale.
Lily did not have such worries, though, as she had come to battle alone and had nothing burdening her. She had not even brought a supply wagon with her and had actually stored war supplies that the chief advisor’s residence had prepared for her within the storage jade, which allowed her to move freely.
The Dewa troops were not aware of this, though, and believed that she had a supply wagon following the army at the back.
Takamune was the only one who had a storage treasure on him among the Dewa troops, but it was just a low- to middle-tier storage bag that had the capacity to store the contents of two to three supply wagons.
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Although he was Minamoto no Yoritomo’s son, Lord Kamakura had a lot of children, and could not just give a top-notch treasure to all his scions. Besides, even he played favorites. It was pretty clear that he did not really value his son Takamune much.
Although the march was effortless for Lily, she still felt a little bored. She thought of letting Kagura and Yuki-Onna out to give her company, but she abandoned the idea in the end and decided to act low-profile since it was her first time joining the army3.
The rain poured down harder in the afternoon and the sky almost turned dark by the time it was four.
A landslide had also occurred in the mountain, making it difficult for the army to march forward.
The commander ordered the army to stop marching for today, and everyone busied themselves with setting up camp for rest.
The army was in the middle of the rugged mountain right now, so the troops had to look for relatively flatter land to set up camp.
Lily also dismounted from her steed after receiving the commander’s order. Although she did not want to spend the night with Takamune’s boorish samurai in the camp, she could not go too far from them either as she did not wish to violate military orders.
This forced her to go to a nearby upland which had an old tree growing on it. Although Lily had a tent in her storage jade, she did not take it out because she found it too bothersome and fixed the Sakura Parasol in a crevice between the stones instead. She then willed it to become bigger in size, which was also one of the new skills of the renewed Sakura Parasol.
Lily fetched a blanket blessed with special runic powers and spread it under the parasol before sitting down on it. She then took out the Aubergine Teacup as well as a grade nine tea set and prepared tea.
Her Aubergine Teacup was no ordinary item. It allowed Lily to connect with the rain dew in the mountains after pouring powdered tea leaves into the cup and turn the mix into hot tea or herbal tea according to her will.
The mountain was pretty cold because of the continuous rain, so Lily prepared hot tea and had it gracefully underneath the parasol. She gazed down upon the troops busying themselves with setting up camp along the stretching mountain road under the gentle breeze and expressed contentment on her face4.