|Author: Carrot Sauce
|Original Source: SFACG
|Word Count: 3148 characters
|English Source: Re:Library
|Word Count: 1966 words
The Heian Empire’s samurai were all dauntless regardless of their strength and were not afraid of dying on the battlefield. The Genji elites, in particular, were unwilling to admit defeat. However, everyone knew that continuing this war with their current forces would only lead to utter defeat.
It was just that nobody wanted to say it out aloud.
The honest Hiromasa stood up in the end and said, “We’ve already lost half our troops, and also run out of supplies, everyone. I don’t believe we will be able to advance any further than this, so I think it’s best that we return to Port Ayabe immediately and wait for the court’s reinforcements.”
“That’s equivalent to admitting we’ve lost this war, Hiromasa! It would mean we lost 20,000 troops in Kameyama Castle for nothing!” Minamoto no Hirohikari, who had not participated in this battle, chided Hiromasa via a voice transmission orb that had been placed on a wooden platform.
The orb was surrounded by ropes that had charms attached to it to boost the transmission strength. It was impossible to move around on land with such a delicate formation since it would have to be rebuilt after each relocation, so it was normal to build it on a warship instead.
Minamoto no Yoshitada also stood up and said with a solemn expression, “We were only able to advance so deep into Tanba because we had the support of Tamamo-no-Mae’s army. However, Uesugi Rei, the traitorous general, has defeated Tamamo-no-Mae, and we too have suffered a crushing defeat. Extinction is the only thing that awaits us if we don’t withdraw troops right now, leaving us with no chance at fighting back in the future.”
“It’s all because of that traitor Uesugi Rei!” Minamoto Jujiro Takamune stomped furiously. “I’ll humiliate her and behead her in public if I capture her!”
“What did you say?!” Lily stood up. “Sister Uesugi definitely isn’t a traitor!”
“What is she if not a traitor, then? Did you not see her attack Tamamo-no-Mae’s allied forces along with the monsters?” Takamune insulted Rei. “She’s just a s̲l̲u̲t̲, in my opinion, and must’ve defected to Shuten Doji’s side long ago. I bet she has already become his woman and is hell-bent on serving him dutifully!”
Lily kicked Takamune hard in spite of the fact that they were in the middle of a strategy meeting, making him crash through the hold of the ship and land in wooden hubris.
“What do you think you are doing, Kagami Lily?!” Ida Nobutada also got up in fury. “How dare you kick the young lord?!”
Minamoto no Yoshitada’s and Taira no Iemori’s gazes also turned severe.
Yoshitada said angrily, “How audacious!”
Takamune stood up from the wooden hubris with a bruised face and said in a rage, “H-How dare you hit me, Kagami Lily?! You…!”
Lily stepped forward and unsheathed her blade, pressing it against Takamune’s throat.
“I’ll kill you if you insult Sister Uesugi again.” Lily looked at Takamune with an icy gaze, a terrifying aura specific to powerhouses oozing out of her as she warned him in a calm, nonchalant tone.
Even someone as arrogant as Takamune zipped his mouth at this moment because he could tell that Lily was being serious and would really do what she just said.
“Have you gone mad, Kagami Lily?! Lord Takamune’s the commander-in-chief’s son!” Hirohikari yelled at her from the other side of the voice transmission bead, making it tremble from the intensity of his voice. However, it was not as if he could teleport over via the bead, so there was not much he could really do to her.
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Yoshitada and Iemori also gathered their spirit power as a warning to her.
“Stop it, Lily!” Ashikaga Makoto yelled at her.
Lily’s strength was already on the level of a late-stage Throned Sovereign, so none present in the ship’s hold could prevent her from killing Takamune if she really wanted to do it, and neither could they prevent her from leaving.
“Lay down your blade at once, Lily!” Makoto thundered at her.
Lily withdrew her blade slowly.
“Take her away, men!”
Two samurai arrived in front of Lily.
“Forgive us, Ms. Kagami…”
Lily did not resist them and allowed the pair to take her away, putting her under detention among the female camp, the same place where Hatano had been imprisoned once.
No one tried to bind her, though, as she was their hero. Takamune was an arrogant fellow who harassed and insulted women often, so many of the samurai women actually rejoiced that she had beaten him today internally.
As for Makoto, she just wanted to have Lily detained and had no intention of punishing her. She just told the samurai to take Takamune away for treatment since he could not stand up properly after getting kicked by Lily.
Lily spent the entire night alone in the female camp without minding how Makoto had treated her in front of the other generals because she knew that Makoto had actually put her under detainment to protect her from punishment.
The detainment was no different from staying in another camp since no other punishment was involved.
A samurai woman lifted the tent’s entrance at this moment, and Shiina Airi bent down to enter it.
“The commander told me to inform you about the strategy meeting’s results.”
“Tell me the results.” Lily looked at the Airi, who was wearing tattered armor.
“What else? The army is going to retreat.”
Airi arrived in front of Lily and continued, “The remaining army is going to withdraw from the water route as that’s the only safe route left. However, the Taira warships can’t carry everyone at once, so it’ll take six to seven days to carry back the wounded, weakened soldiers first, and then return back with some supplies and allied warships from the court’s reinforcements to carry back the remaining troops.”
“Although the entire process will take two to three weeks, the supply ship from Port Ayabe will arrive seven days later. The supplies on the ships here should be enough for the army to fill their stomach until then since we’ve lost half our troops already…”
Lily nodded and said, “I suppose we don’t have any other choice. However, I won’t be retreating with the army.”
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Lily looked at Airi and asked, “Do you really believe Sister Rei is a traitor, Airi?”
Airi just lowered her head in silence.
“You know something, don’t you?” Lily got up and grabbed Airi’s shoulder, “Tell me the truth, Airi. You worry about her the most among all my acquaintances, so why didn’t you speak up for her before? Tell me what you’re hiding, Airi!”
“Let me go…” Airi pushed Lily’s hand away and said in a small voice, “You should worry for yourself first.”
“You and I were tasked with defending Honganji Temple.” Airi’s short hair hid her eyes as she relayed the order.
The first thing Lily recalled after hearing the name was the Lord of Honganji Temple, who she had slain.
“There’s a temple called Honganji on a hill ten kilometers away from this riverbank. The troops under Lord Iemori discovered that this temple is located right in between an important mountain pass connecting Tange River and Kameyama Castle, so he doesn’t wish to leave it unguarded lest we suffer another ambush.” Airi said.
Lily nodded. “Honganji Temple is probably the hideout of Lord Honganji. He had left with nearly all his monks to protect Kameyama Castle back then, so it makes sense that it’s empty now.”
“Honganji Temple is built on a steep hill, so it’s easy to defend and hard to attack from. If it weren’t empty right now, even Lord Iemori would’ve had difficulty capturing it because of the cliffs surrounding it, which are a huge hurdle for the demon army as well. However, Honganji Temple is the sole junction connecting the mountain pass between Kameyama Castle and Tange River’s riverbank. The army will be left defenseless if it’s breached after the warships leave, so someone must defend it while the army retreats.”
“So… they decided to let me defend it?” Lily asked calmly.
Airi nodded. “Although the commander opposed it strongly, she could not withstand the pressure put on her by the generals of the Genji and other clans. Besides, Lord Yoshitada will be keeping watch over the main camp, while Lord Iemori will be commanding the navy. Although Honganji Temple is a strategic location that’s easy to defend, it’ll be hard for us to defend it since we’re lacking an expert who’s strong enough to withstand the attack of an enemy expert. You’re the only relatively suitable candidate left.”
Lily chuckled internally, coming to the conclusion that Minamoto no Hirohikari and Minamoto Jujiro Takamune must have plotted against her.
Ordering her to defend Honganji Temple after the army had suffered a disastrous loss of 20,000 troops was equivalent to telling her to throw her life away.
Although it was true that someone needed to defend it for the sake of the army’s safety, she knew very well what it meant by the fact that this decision had taken place in the absence of her presence.
“Why did you also get tasked with defending it with me then, Ms. Airi?” Lily could not understand Makoto’s aide, Airi, had gotten caught up in this plot as well.
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“That’s what the generals wanted. Although the commander found it intolerable, I’m after all her aide, while you are her adopted daughter. She would be suspected of showing favoritism if she opposed it blindly. As for the reason they chose me, I believe it’s because I’m a general from the traitorous Uesugi clan and want to hold me responsible for Ms. Uesugi’s actions.” Although Airi’s voice sounded melancholic, her eyes were filled with determination.
Airi knew very well how ridiculous this mission to cover the army’s retreat was, and that it could even lead to her death.
“All right.” Lily did not blame Makoto. Although this mission was deadly for most people, Lily had many methods to preserve her life, so she was not afraid at all, and was willing to cover the army’s retreat as long as they did not lay a trap for her.
Makoto’s trust among the troops had taken a dive after the defeat in Kameyama Castle, so Lily feared that the strategic decisions were no longer under her adoptive mother’s control anymore. She had even kicked Minamoto no Yoritomo’s son in front of the generals, so she had no choice but to take this lying down as the Genji and the other clans would cook up other ways to harm her if she resisted them, and even bring harm to Makoto.
Lily did not mind covering the army’s retreat as long as Makoto remained safe.
As for Airi, Lily felt like Fate was playing tricks on her. As Uesugi Rei was under the suspicion of defecting to Shuten Doji’s side, it was natural that the Uesugi troop had gotten alienated. Airi had just ended up getting punished for her liege’s crimes.
“Can I leave then? There’s no need to detain me here any longer, is there?” Lily asked with sarcasm.
“Of course you can. Lord Hirohikari wants us to set out immediately to prevent the monsters from occupying the strategic location.”
”Hirohikari?” Lily guessed that the command of the army had fallen into Minamoto no Hirohikari’s hands now. “Hmph. Fine.”
Lily and Airi left the female camp after that.
“Please wait here, Ms. Kagami. I’ll convene the cavalrywomen of the Uesugi clan.” Airi said, and was just about to leave, but the stubble-bearded, messy-haired Ashikaga Kiyoshi ran over at this moment.
He even grabbed Lily’s hand rudely and said, “Don’t go, Ms. Kagami!”