|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3209 characters|
|Translator: LazyButAmbitious||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2017 words|
Momiji arrived at Port Ayabe.
Just a few days ago, this place was an important frontier city for the imperial court to attack Tanba, but now it was deserted. The imperial army had all withdrawn, but there was still an iron-clad warship moored by the river bank.
Momiji, who was draped in woven black feathers and a bamboo hat, came to the shore facing the iron-clad warship, followed by several fierce demons. A line of black-armored warriors came down from the warship.
The leader was a middle-aged samurai wearing a black oni mask. Although he wasn’t tall, his wide body that was almost equal to his height gave him an extremely strong appearance.
The black-armored warriors behind him were also wearing oni masks.
The stout middle-aged samurai leading the black-armored group took off his mask when he saw Momiji. It was actually Tokugawa Shigemori!
“Madam Momiji, I have heard of your reputation for a long time.” Facing the backbone of the enemy archdemons, Tokugawa surprisingly bowed and saluted in a very pious manner.
“Isn’t this one of the Furinkazans of Eastern land, Mr. Tokugawa? If I hadn’t stayed in Mino, I’m afraid I would have mistaken you for the imperial court’s crusaders. That scene wouldn’t be so pretty.” Momiji said with a twinkle in her eyes.
“I understand Madam Momiji’s meaning.” Tokugawa waved his hand.
Many black-armored warriors carried down large iron boxes from the ship.
When they opened the boxes, they were filled with magatama, precious medicinal herbs, Tamahagane of grade eight or higher, and other rare materials.
Tokugawa said, “This battle is of immeasurable loss to both His Highness Shuten Doji and the court. On behalf of the Shogun, I offer these modest gifts to express my deepest apologies to His Highness Shuten Doji.”
“Apologies?” Momiji walked past the boxes and picked up some magatama with her slender fingers before putting them down again, “These gifts are quite a lot, but your imperial army marched into our Tanba Province and killed tens of thousands of our troops. Can a word of apology and a few big boxes of gifts wipe away our past grudges?”
“Hehe, of course not,” Tokugawa chuckled in a gruff voice, “Alas…in the end, this battle was a huge misunderstanding between both sides. It was Fujiwara no Ayaka’s faction who compelled the young emperor to launch this useless war which resulted in the imperial court suffering heavy losses! It also caused irreparable harm to our close friends and neighbors.”
“You have come so far, yet you pushed everything onto Fujiwara no Ayaka and think you can settle this matter? Oh, wait, did you say close friends and neighbors?”
“Hehehe, Madam Momiji is worthy of being a person who understands the greater cause. What Lord Shogun means is that, as long as we all put down our struggles and work together in this chaotic world, a truly great gift will be given to His Highness Shuten Doji, which far exceeds this humble gift at the moment.”
“Oh? Let’s hear it.”
“As long as His Highness Shuten Doji can forget our past grudges and get along with us, and uh, also preferably recognize the rule of the imperial power… Only in name, of course. His Highness Shuten Doji doesn’t have to appear himself. It is enough to send an envoy to be appointed. Then, the imperial court will recognize Lord Shuten Doji’s rule over Tanba Province and crown him as the King of the West. Not only Tanba Province. As long as His Highness Shuten Doji can ensure the smooth flow of the imperial trade route between Heian-kyō and the West, the vast surrounding land that the court and even an archdemon like Shuten Doji is incapable of governing will be up for discussion.”
“King of the West? Hahaha, this concession sounds sincere, but I can’t decide on such a big matter. I have to report back to His Highness Shuten Doji.”
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“That is only natural. If His Highness agrees to the imperial court’s conditions, we will be awaiting the arrival of his envoy at Heian-kyō.”
“Hmph, Mr. Tokugawa looks like a rough man, but he knows how to behave. Unlike all those seemingly elegant people in the capital who are unable to understand the current situation.” Momiji smiled bewitchingly.
“Hehehe, by the way.” Tokugawa took out a pair of jade bracelets emitting an incredible aura, which he stuffed directly into Momiji’s hands. He leaned in close to her and said, “This is my personal due respect to Madam Momiji. Assuming that His Highness Shuten Doji and Lord Shogun become good friends, Madam Momiji will probably be a key figure. Don’t forget to take care of me and my Tokugawa family when the time comes. I will be very grateful.”
“Oh? Hehehehe.” Momiji took a look at the pair of bracelets and realized that they were real treasures. Although they were ninth-grade, their high quality and rarity made them comparable to spiritual treasures. She laughed cheerfully, “Lord Tokugawa, why are you being so polite? Hehehe, if all the officials of the imperial court were like you, why would our two sides reach this point? But…in this battle, our Mount Ooe has lost too much. I’m afraid that His Highness Shuten Doji won’t be willing to stand down so easily.”
Tokugawa sucked in a breath of cold air, “I understand Madam Momiji’s words, but please think about it. Although the imperial court has tens of thousands of troops, just how many of them are really under our army? Most of your casualties, including two of Ten Demon Enforcers who died, were killed by that woman, Kagami Lily! This person is Ayaka’s beloved. She is not only ruthless and cunning, but also has no regard for the Shogun and the Cloistered Emperor. She has repeatedly injured our Genji’s direct descendants and even the Shogun’s son! This woman is really the biggest obstacle in the relationship between our two sides! However, the last time we negotiated peace, didn’t we follow your request to leave this woman in your demon army? She should’ve fallen into His Highness Shuten Doji’s hands by now, so why is His Highness still not relieved?”
“Sigh…it’s a long story. Not only did this woman escape the hands of His Highness, her strength somehow improved by leaps and bounds, and she killed tens of thousands of ghosts. Taking advantage of His Highness’ carelessness, she even killed a succession of Ten Demon Enforcers and a Fiendish King. It can be said that half of our Mount Ooe’s strength was ruined by that Kagami Lily’s hands!”
“Is that Kagami Lily so hateful? Then why didn’t His Highness Shuten Doji take action himself?”
“Alas, His Highness had easily captured Kagami Lily, but Tamamo-no-Mae suddenly came out of nowhere and rescued her. What could we do?”
Tokugawa took a deep breath and said, “So that’s how it is. I have long heard that Ayaka, Tamamo-no-Mae, and Kagami Lily, those enchanting women, colluded with each other in Heian-kyō. To tell you the truth, the Shogun originally advocated attacking Tamamo-no-Mae, but those two women desperately defended her in the court and bewitched the young emperor, which led to the current disaster! These women are really a serious problem for our Heian Dynasty! Especially Ayaka and Tamamo-no-Mae, who are colluding with each other. Their existence is enough to threaten the foundation of the imperial court! They are also a huge threat to his Highness Shuten Doji!”
Momiji nodded, “Exactly! If this matter is not resolved, His Highness may not be able to trust the imperial court.”
“Madam Momiji can report back to His Highness Shuten Doji that, once Kagami Lily returns to the capital, the imperial court will definitely capture her immediately and escort her to His Highness to be dealt with as he sees fit! As for Tamamo-no-Mae and Ayaka…both of them are extremely strong and the implications surrounding them are significant. I think it’s better for Madam to inform His Highness Shuten Doji of our position and discuss it in the long run. I also need to report the news that the nine-tailed demon fox had made a move to Lord Shogun.”
Momiji nodded, “Okay, I understand. Today, we will each go back. I think we will find some time in the future to properly meet up. At that time, let’s have a good talk…”
After saying that, Momiji used her enchanting fingers to brush Tokugawa’s thick chin and beard.
Momiji’s behavior seemed frivolous and rude, but instead of getting angry, Tokugawa laughed quite happily.
From Tokugawa’s point of view, if Minamoto no Yoritomo allied with Shuten Doji in the future, the person he needed to curry favor with the most was Madam Momiji, who was a key figure in Mount Ooe. Although Shuten Doji was powerful, he was temperamental and dangerous, unlike Madam Momiji, who was understanding and comprehensive.
As long as he maintained a good relationship with Momiji, his Tokugawa family would be able to obtain significant benefits in this transaction. In addition, as far as Tokugawa was concerned, who wouldn’t be eager to have ‘good relations’ with such a stunning beauty?
In the chief advisor’s manor, Ayaka stayed alone in the study. She had just set up a spell formation in the garden to increase the power of the voice transmission orb, but she still couldn’t get in contact with Lily.
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“Lily, the imperial army has already withdrawn and Ashikaga Makoto is still in prison because of poor command. Where are you? I can feel that you are still alive and full of vitality, but I can’t get a word from you…”
Ayaka was dressed in white and looked tall and beautiful as always, but she seemed a bit lonely.
She stood up and lightly caressed the flowering branches that poked through the window with her fingers, “I have to try to meet Madam Ashikaga and learn the truth. Why did she go to prison? Did Minamoto no Yoritomo abandon her? Although the Ashikaga Clan and its supporters in Kansai have almost lost their strength in this battle, Minamoto no Yoritomo wouldn’t be so straightforward, right? What made Minamoto no Yoritomo act so suddenly without caring about revealing his true colors?”
“Hm?” Ayaka suddenly frowned slightly, and a hint of alarm flashed through her eyes.
After a while, Hoshi Murasaki anxiously appeared in front of the study and reported, “Lord Chief Advisor! Tonight, it seems that there are several large armies moving within the capital, and for some reason, these armies are all heading towards the chief advisor’s manor without any prior notice!”
Ayaka was not too surprised. She continued to caress the cherry blossom branches elegantly and smiled coldly, “Finally, it’s happening.”
“Eh? Lord Chief Advisor, what do you mean by those words? It’s really disrespectful for these large numbers of troops to pass by the chief advisor’s manor without prior notice. Who dares to mobilize troops like this? Is this not a provocation to you?” Hoshi Murasaki said agitatedly.
“Hehehe, provocation? Murasaki, you are too naive. The destination of these troops is precisely the chief advisor’s manor.” Ayaka said calmly.
“What?!!” Murasaki was shocked, “What, why? Are they planning to rebel?”
Heian-kyō, on a dark, cold street.
Suddenly, the sound of dull, heavy horse hooves and footsteps rang out.
Troops from the Right Imperial Guards’ Palace, the Rokuhara, the Heian Palace, the Shogun’s Imperial Palace, and many other military departments, rushed out from all avenues and crowded the roads, surrounding the chief advisor’s manor in the darkness.
Among them, there was a woman in black, revealing demonic armor. The armor had black metal arms of various forms, which were used as decorations, but they looked very bizarre.
She rode a black, one-horned demon horse whose eyes shone with devilish light, and led an army wearing black iron armor and oni masks, which gave them an ancient, fierce aura. They gradually approached the main gate of the chief advisor’s manor.
“Lady Rokuhara!” A masked, black-armored warrior knelt in front of the demon horse, “The encirclement of the chief advisor’s manor has been completed!”