|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3125 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1791 words|
Lily had followed the clues and arrived in Heian-kyo, pursuing the mission of the mirror girl. The key to it all seemed to lie with Ayaka. However, she knew that Ayaka had no knowledge of the mirror girl’s mission, and the trail had ended there.
Subsequently, Lily became entangled in a series of wicked schemes, leaving her with little time to delve deeper into the matter. Yet, Yoshitsune had urged her to continue on the path of the mirror girl.
Lily pondered the significance of this path and the meaning behind Yoshitsune’s cryptic words about the end and beginning. She couldn’t comprehend why Yoshitsune refused to give her direct advice. However, in moments of doubt, he had reminded her of her identity as a mirror girl.
“Thank you for the advice, Lord Yoshitsune. I will persist in walking the path of the mirror girl and seek the truth. I will uncover why the mirror girls have been persecuted by the court and hunted by demons. I believe that this pursuit will help unravel the mystery behind the existence of the mirror girls.”
Yoshitsune nodded approvingly and replied, “I may have burdened you with too much responsibility when I mentioned entrusting the world to you, Ms. Kagami. I merely wished to suggest that you must forge your own path in the future and walk it alone. Even if you decide to abandon the heavens and the world, I won’t blame you. I have faith that you will make a better choice than I did.”
“Remember, the right decision may not always be the easiest one. Follow your heart, Lily.”
Ayaka’s heart swelled with complex emotions upon hearing these words from the sidelines.
“Lord Yoshitsune,” Lily inquired, “Could you be the final guardian of the Heavenly Gate?”
“No, I am not. I do not know the reason, but the guardian of this Heavenly Gate was already missing when I arrived. Through my senses, I discovered that a powerful guardian exists on the upper level, but I could not locate them. I chose to wait for you here because only you possess the strength to ascend the gate. Our meeting was, in a sense, destined. Another reason is that some unknown force prevents me from leaving the gate. Otherwise, I would have gladly aided you. I am aware of the reason you are here.”
Yoshitsune continued, “Unfortunately, I cannot assist you in rescuing your sisters. However, I believe you can fulfill your purpose here, as the Heavenly Gate is the ideal training ground. To be honest, you could consider it the most worldly location in the entire world.”
Yoshitsune pointed towards the tall mountain next to the colossal Heavenly Gate.
“That mountain is a geomantic location suitable for comprehending intent. You can train there. Although I can’t assist you with other matters, you can train peacefully as long as I’m here. I will guard you during your training,” said Yoshitsune.
Lily trembled with joy upon hearing this and turned her gaze towards the nearby mountain, which emanated an unusual aura. Ayaka joined her in observing it.
“Flight is prohibited here, Lord Yoshitsune. If we were to fall into the sea, it would be impossible for us to return. How can we reach the mountain?” Ayaka asked.
Yoshitsune looked at Ayaka and said, “You are… that prodigious girl from the Fujiwara clan, correct? I remember you. I never imagined you would grow up to become such a beautiful onmyoji.”
“You jest, Lord Yoshitsune.”
“I was indeed joking. Even experts at the Big Dipper level are unable to use flying treasures in this unfathomable land. If they attempt to use flight spells, they will be pulled down into the sea by an incomprehensible force. You can only use ropes or similar means to cross over,” Yoshitsune answered.
“Huh? Is it that simple?” Lily exclaimed.
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“You may have heard the phrase, ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown.’ Although powerhouses at the Big Dipper level are prohibited from flying in this enigmatic land, a little bird can still soar over it. Heaven always leaves a door open,” Yoshitsune explained.
Lily nodded, even though she did not fully understand Yoshitsune’s words.
“Oh, right. We encountered a terrifying, gigantic black monk on our way here, Lord Yoshitsune. If it hadn’t been for our luck, he would have actually killed us. I wonder if you know of another way out of here, as it would be difficult for us to return if we encounter him again on our way back,” Lily asked.
“A gigantic black monk?” Yoshitsune’s eyes flickered, revealing a melancholic expression. “That would be Musashibo Benkei.”
Yoshitsune spoke in a sorrowful tone, “He was my faithful bodyguard and once fought alone against a thousand troops to protect me. However, he fell in battle due to exhaustion, and his soul harbored strong resentment towards the world after death. He left Hell and came here to guard me once he learned of my presence. However, as you know, a vengeful spirit cannot ascend this path. Therefore, he could only linger around this path and began to attack anyone who passed through indiscriminately.”
“Benkei’s soul…” Ayaka’s chest rose and fell as a reverent expression crossed her face.
“When you depart, Lily, cover your head with a beautiful scarf. He won’t attack you then,” Yoshitsune advised.
“Huh? Why is that?”
“This goes back to my initial encounter with Benkei,” Yoshitsune continued. “It was before my coming-of-age ceremony, when I was still known as Shanaou. As an exile, I would conceal my face with a girl’s scarf to hide my identity. I crossed paths with Benkei on a bridge at night while in disguise and was attacked by him. However, my skills earned his respect, and we became acquainted, with him serving as my loyal companion until the very end.”
Yoshitsune’s expression darkened as he added, “When Benkei sees someone passing by with their face covered by a scarf, he will undoubtedly recall that moment and refrain from attacking.”
“I understand. Thank you for the advice, Lord Yoshitsune.”
“Oh, right.” Lily remembered another matter and asked, “I want to inquire about something else, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate.”
“It’s fine. Ask whatever you want,” Yoshitsune reassured her.
“I encountered Lady Shizuka in Suno.”
“Shizuka?” Yoshitsune’s eyelashes trembled. “So you finally met her.”
“Not only did she guide me, but she also healed Ms. Kimiko and helped me escape from Yoritomo’s clutches, despite the danger involved. Although you once warned me about her, I believe she is a good woman. I wonder if I can tell her that I saw you here the next time we meet. I’m sure she would be pleased.”
“You’re too kind, Lily. Even if you were to tell her, she wouldn’t come here,” Yoshitsune replied.
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“Huh? Why not?”
Yoshitsune didn’t answer her directly and instead said, “I advise you not to become too entangled with her, Lily. While I acknowledge that she is a good woman, her kindness and love have become her greatest burden. Whether or not you choose to inform her about our meeting here today is up to you. I just wanted to warn you.”
It became evident that Shizuka couldn’t visit Yoshitsune here, and he couldn’t leave this place either. Lily wondered why fate played such tricks on this golden couple.
“Shizuka, Shizuka… Is she the only one on your mind, Kurou? Have you forgotten about me?”
A powerful, icy aura manifested, and Yuki-Onna appeared. Lily had no control over her manifestation as long as she didn’t explicitly prevent it.
Yuki-Onna wore a mournful expression and was dressed in a delicate gown as she floated amidst a snowstorm.
“Aah…” Yoshitsune displayed a startled expression upon seeing her. “Y-Yuki-Onna?”
Yuki-Onna pushed Lily aside and flew towards Yoshitsune.
“It has been a while since we last met, Kurou. I never imagined you had already become a heroic spirit. That woman and you are separated by life and death. Don’t you think we are a more suitable couple?” Yuki-Onna spoke with deep emotion.
“What’s with that response, Kurou?”
Yoshitsune seemed to lose his previous composed demeanor upon Yuki-Onna’s approach, and Lily and Ayaka discreetly averted their gazes.
Lily pulled Ayaka aside and whispered, “Let’s move over there, sis.”
The two of them retreated to a nearby spot, allowing the former lovers some privacy.
It didn’t take long before Yuki-Onna erupted in rage, causing a storm to form and turning Yoshitsune into a snowman. She then rushed over to Lily, sobbing uncontrollably.
“What happened, Yuki-Onna?” Lily asked, embracing her in an attempt to console her.
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“He denied our love! Back then, I was head over heels for him, and he looked at me with such clear affection in the snowy fields. What else could it have been if not love? But today, he refused to acknowledge it. Sob… Sob…” Yuki-Onna sobbed.
“Don’t cry, Yuki-Onna…” Lily felt speechless, wondering if Yuki-Onna’s love for Yoshitsune had been unrequited all along. She couldn’t help but consider that Yoshitsune, being the respectful and clear-eyed person he was, may have treated everyone similarly.
“Men can be so unreliable, you know?” Yuki-Onna clung to Lily’s neck and leaned in for a kiss, but Lily felt an icy chill at that moment.
“You and your familiar should behave more appropriately in front of the Heavenly Gate, Lily,” Ayaka reprimanded in a disapproving tone.
“He’s truly heartless! Sob… Sob… Sob! He tried to dispose of me with just a Glacial Heart!” Yuki-Onna conjured a floating snowball in her hand, surrounded by small snowflakes resembling stars.
“A Glacial Heart?” Ayaka exclaimed. “It’s a legendary treasure that greatly benefits any familiar training in the path of snow and ice. And yet, you’re still putting on such a dramatic act?”
A familiar was different from humans and could significantly enhance their strength with the right treasure. This meant that even a weak familiar could gain tremendous power within a short time if they obtained a heavenly treasure.
However, finding such miraculous treasures was not easy. They couldn’t be sought out but could only be discovered through luck. Most of the stories surrounding them were mere legends.
The Glacial Heart was one such legend.
Unable to comment on Yuki-Onna’s love life, Lily simply patted her shoulder to offer solace.
Yuki-Onna held back her tears and said, “Regardless, you have fulfilled the promise you made to me, Lily. Besides, I have been abandoned by that traitor Yoshitsune, so I will follow you from now on!”
She buried her face in Lily’s bosom, causing her tears to turn into hail as they rolled into Lily’s cleavage, sending a shiver down her spine. However, Lily’s bosom radiated a warm and comforting sensation that quickly melted away the hailstones.