|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3139 characters|
|Translator: Keissen||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1770 words|
Heian-kyo had been shrouded by darkness for a long time. The city was dark and quiet. Occasionally, screams from humans or demons could be heard far away.
Minamoto no Shimizu walked out of a dilapidated temple. She looked at this deserted courtyard that was completely enclosed and became confused. “This place is…”
Before this, Shimizu had been training hard in the ancient rainforests. Ever since she acquired the tattered ancient Magatama, she had been improving drastically. The ancient Magatama was simply too helpful!
However, she had never found a way to return and had been training all the way until now. She had reached the late Permanence Stage, and was one foot away from the pinnacle Permanence Stage.
Moreover, due to her own talents and the incomplete but still potent mystical ability inside the ancient Magatama, she could even hold her own against a weak Throned Stage expert now. Despite being unable to win against enemies like Aokiba Takamizu from the Ten Demon Enforcers, she could still defend herself.
Just tonight, that teleportation formation that had been inactive for a long time suddenly activated. Shimizu had acquired several other ancient Magatamas, but none were comparable to the tattered one she had. Still, she kept them. With that, she walked out of the teleportation formation but ended up here, to her surprise.
There were several Jade Maidens behind her, including Shimadzu Inari.
“This is Heian-kyo! Kandama Temple!” A Jade Maiden behind Shimizu said, “we’re finally back!”
Several of these Jade Maidens hailed from Heian-kyo. Hence, they naturally recognized the place.
Seeing that the teleportation formation had reopened, they donned their stored yukata and robes, which replaced those shameful tropical wear. Shimizu did the same. At this moment, Shimizu was wearing robes with golden butterfly stitchings, which was what she wore when parted ways with Lily.
“This is Heian-kyo?” Shimizu asked the girls behind her.
“That’s right! This is where we came from! Of course I remember. But, this place seems a lot more deserted now. Back then, Jade Maidens would stand guard here. When they see someone return, they will instantly approach and ask to buy ancient Magatama.”
“That’s right, where are those ladies who resell Ancient Magatamas? They always buy Ancient Magatama from uninformed warriors and then sell them to those rich ladies, earning crazy profits.”
Several girls said.
“Why is the Heian-kyo filled with such thick Eldritch Energy…” Shimizu looked around and pondered.
“What are you going to do next?”
“What to do? We’ll go home! I’ve had enough. If I knew it was this difficult, I wouldn’t come no matter how much Ancient Magatamas are worth!”
“You all live in Heian-kyo and are all rich ladies. But we have nowhere to go.”
“What rich ladies? I come from a normal samurai household!”
“What about you, sister Shimizu?” Several girls looked at Shimizu and the others, who came to Heian-kyo for the first time.
“I… I’ll go find my sister…” Despite saying that, Shimizu had no idea if Lily was currently in Heian-kyo. But she was sure that Lily had definitely come to this place after parting ways last time.
Hence, the girls are divided into two groups. The few of them who lived in Heian-kyo left first.
Those that didn’t live here weren’t familiar with the place and were still pondering, including Shimizu. She had no idea where exactly in Heian-kyo this place was, and how she would find Lily.
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“How about it, Shimizu? Let us meet your sister!” Inari spoke in anticipation. She was the only one wearing a sailor outfit, with a massive blade on her back. Her brown-red clothes somewhat covered her thighs. Yet, she only wears a loincloth underneath her upperwear. She was tall, healthy, with tanned skin, and her red hair was still messy as always.
“Is it not appropriate?” It seemed like Shimizu was reluctant to bring Shimadzu along.
“Why? Are you afraid that your sister will be jealous if she meets me?”
“No, not at all.”
“Hey hey, don’t deny it so quickly!”
As always, Shimadzu still joked around with Shimizu. However, she had decided to mooch off Shimizu already since she had no one else to rely on in Heian-kyo.
At this moment, the girls’ screams were heard outside!
“What’s going on?”
Shocked, Shimizu rushed out along with Shimadzu and the rest.
Only to see several of the newly returned warriors laying in puddles of blood, on the glistening cobblestone path. Several black-armored samurai that emanated terrifying auras stood before them with bloodstained weapons.
“What?” Shimizu was shocked. These samurai’s equipment make them seem like soldiers. Could it be that the soldiers in Heian-kyo could commit indiscriminate murder? They were all wearing masks. Yet, why were they emanating a demon-like aura?
“Who are you people? Why did you kill our sisters?” Shimadzu pulled out the massive serrated sword behind her back and screamed.
The samurai leader had an aura of a Middle Permanence Stage. He spoke with a guttural, slow, and non-human-like voice, “You are under curfew. Violators are sentenced to death!”
“What?” Shimizu had a hunch that something unusual had happened to Heian-kyo. No soldiers in an imperial city would murder anyone who violated the night curfew.
The samurai leader pointed his blade at Shimizu and the rest. “You people also violated the curfew. Kill them!”
Several black-armored soldiers raised their swords and spears. With a deep growl, they charged them!
“How could this be…” Shimizu’s eyes became wide as she gripped her sword tightly.
Leaning forward, she instantly turned into a shadow.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!
The sword in her hand suddenly unsheathed and created white flashes within the dark night! Several black-armored samurai were struck and fell down.
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The leader also charged at Shimizu!
Suddenly, two powerful gusts of spiritual energy exploded and the dark alleys were instantly filled with smoke.
After a violent confrontation with weapons, the smoke slowly dissipated. The black-armored samurai leader had a punctured chest and laid on the ground. Ominous green souls started floating out of the samurais’ corpses.
“Ghosts?” Shimizu was startled. She took off the leader’s mask using her blade, only to see a shocking corpse demon’s face behind that mask.
Despite being ghosts, they were still a variant of Anima that could be absorbed by a Cursed Blade. Hence, Shimizu took those souls. However, she became deeply concerned by this event. “Why would these demon samurais appear in Heian-kyo?”
Shimizu had naturally dealt with demon samurai in the Eastern land. In comparison, these soldiers here shared some similarities to them, but were generally much stronger.
“Shimizu…” Shimadzu and the other woman approached Shimizu. Those who could survive in the dense forests and acquire Ancient Magatama were all seasoned veterans. However, the moment they returned to Heian-kyo, they instantly faced danger that was much more deadly than the one present in those dense demonic forests. They were all frightened.
“I heard that Heian-kyo is infested with demons. Perhaps we stumbled upon some of them.” Shimizu said.
“But they just said curfew though? It doesn’t sound like a demon would say that. They seem more like imperial soldiers…” A short-haired female warrior questioned.
Shimizu shook her head, “I don’t understand either. Anyway, let’s just be careful. It’s best to go to a crowded place.”
Shimizu led everyone else to a place that was brightly lit.
The next dawn, in Suno.
The land itself was finally graced with daylight. However, the skies were still gloomy.
In face of the imminent attack of half a million soldiers, the entire mountain village had a heavy atmosphere. Lily wore white bathrobes and was currently meditating in the house. The imminent battle, the grand conspiracy shadowing the entire Heian Dynasty, and Fujiwara no Ayaka who was currently besieged and couldn’t last for long made Lily unable to sleep at night.
At this moment, frantic footsteps came from the hallway. Nariaki ran over in a hurry!
“Sister Lily! Sister Lily!” Nariaki was panting and seemed very anxious.
“What is it?”
“Kimiko… Lady Kimiko is gone1!”
“Huh?” Lily was shocked.
They came to the living room. Rei and Ikeda Rin also rushed over.
Rin shook her head. “I searched throughout the residence. I couldn’t find Lady Kimiko.”
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Tamamo-no-Mae, the Supreme Archdemon was all around the place. It was normal for her to be unreachable in usual circumstances. But now, she had suffered such critical injuries, why would she suddenly disappear? This was very abnormal.
Lily said, “Sister Uesugi and I will search around the mountains. Perhaps Lady Kimiko is tending to her wounds up there. Nariaki, search around the village since you’re familiar with it. Miss Ikeda, please wait at home. Perhaps Lady Kimiko would return shortly after.”
“Yes.” The girls nodded.
Lily and Rei climbed the mountain, expanding their Domain and spiritual sense. However, this was Suno, where Tamamo had planted a barrier. Hence, all detection methods were weakened.
Lily and Rei searched around for a long time but failed to find Tamamo. By the time they went back to the residence, Nariaki also returned.
“Not there…” Nariaki shook her head. “She is not in the village.”
“Not in the mountains either.” Lily said.
“How could this be… Lady Kimiko is seriously injured. She even had trouble walking yesterday. Where would she go now?” Nariaki was anxious.
“The Imperial Army is about to come. Someone like her would never abandon the village and leave on her own. Where did she actually go?” Rei asked.
“Could it be that she got captured by demons, because she lost her strength due to injury?” Rin said.
“Absolutely not! Even if Lady Kimiko is seriously injured, she is still capable of self-preservation. Moreover, we’re right beside her. If something happens, how wouldn’t we know? Even if Kimiko walked out by herself, we should know as well…” Lily staggered as she spoke.
She looked at Rei. “She herself is the only one who could leave this place without our knowledge!”
The two said almost unanimously.
“Lady Kimiko left on her own? Where is she going? Why didn’t she tell us? She’s so badly injured!” Nariaki spoke in a fluster.
Lily became quiet. She stared at the distant mountains outside under the gloomy sky.
“Could it be that…”
“What is it? Lily, have you figured out anything?” Rei asked.
Lily held Rei’s hand. “Sister Uesugi, if you’re Lady Kimiko right now, what would you do in this situation?”
Rei’s eyes flashed. “Could it be that Lady Kimiko…”
“Nariaki, tell the demons and residents of Suno village to guard this place properly. Don’t go anywhere!” Lily turned around and grabbed Nariaki while speaking.