|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3131 characters|
|Translator: Keissen||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1826 words|
After Ayaka turned away, Rei immediately knelt down on one knee, supporting herself with her weapon. She couldn’t resist caressing the hilt of her sword with both hands and pressing her lips against it.
“No, I can’t do this… Lily… It would be absurd for me to become your burden! Even without an antidote, I will rely on my own strength to overcome all of this!”
Ayaka returned to the front hall where Natsu Nariaki awaited her report.
“Lady Ayaka, hundreds of female warriors have gathered outside of Suno. They claim to be the Tsunaga Sisters and cavalrywomen of the Uesugi Family. Should we permit them entry?” Natsu asked.
“Miss Natsu, Suno belongs to Lady Kimiko. I am merely a guest here. Why are you asking me?” Ayaka replied.
“Lady Ayaka, I’m afraid Lady Kimiko is currently unable to communicate with us… As you are the Empire’s Chief Advisor, please take charge of Suno from now on,” Natsu explained.
“Very well. These sisters risked their lives to rescue me at the ritual site. Allow them to enter. They are now wanted criminals of the Empire, and if not here, they have nowhere else to go. As for their living arrangements, you may handle the details,” Ayaka nodded.
“Yes, Lady Ayaka.”
At this point, Ayaka herself, the Tsunaga Sisters, Lily, and Kimiko were all enemies of the Empire. It made sense for Ayaka to assume leadership.
Ayaka didn’t dwell on it. She sat in the house, closed her eyes, and silently assessed her own condition. In reality, she had been suppressing her own needs and had halted her necessary medical treatment in order to train with Lily.
That night, the Tsunaga Sisters found their respective places in the village, the caves, or the temple on the mountain. Taira no Shizuru, Ijuin Reira, Shiina Airi, and the others stayed at Kimiko’s manor.
“What? Miss Uesugi…?” Upon hearing about Rei’s situation, Airi hurriedly rushed to see her, deeply concerned for her well-being.
Meanwhile, Ijuin, Shizuru, and Ayaka held a meeting in the house.
“This is absurd! Absolutely absurd!” Ijuin exclaimed. “The Chief Advisor, who has dedicated herself to the world and the Empire, is facing such injustice. The Mirror Girl is being terrorized once again. Can a world like this truly have a future? What does Minamoto no Yoritomo and the Cloistered Emperor truly desire?”
Ijuin stood up, visibly agitated. “In my opinion, the only way to save the world is by overthrowing Minamoto no Yoritomo and this incompetent Empire!”
“Miss Ijuin, please calm down. As we sisters are all struggling to protect ourselves, let us not concern ourselves with the fate of the world,” Shizuru interjected.
Ayaka also added, “Our top priority now is to discuss how we can protect Suno.”
“This place?” Ijuin was taken aback. “Would Minamoto no Yoritomo dare to come here?”
“Tamamo-no-Mae is gravely injured and unable to take action. I won’t be able to regain my strength anytime soon either. I believe Minamoto no Yoritomo will eventually learn about these developments. If you were in his position, would you wait for us to recover and seek revenge, or seize the opportunity and strike now?” Ayaka challenged her.
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“Uh… As expected of the Chief Advisor, you’re quite shrewd. So, what should we do? Currently, my family is dissatisfied with the Empire, but there are internal conflicts. It’s not the right time for them to openly oppose the Empire…” Ijuin glanced at Shizuru. “If the Taira Clan were to step up, everything would change!”
Shizuru shook her head. “The Taira Clan provided us with protection and sent us away on their boats. They have already done everything they can. It would be impossible for them to openly oppose the Empire. The current Taira Clan is not as strong as it once was.”
Ayaka spoke up, “Both of you, along with Natsu, gather all the strength in Suno. Put aside the conflicts between humans and demons and prepare to defend our land, to defend Suno. Ideally, Minamoto no Yoritomo would not come. However, if he does, we must be well-prepared and not allow him an easy victory, understood?”
“The Chief Advisor is absolutely right!”
The two young girls appeared lively despite their long journey and lack of rest. They immediately stood up and began discussing plans with Natsu, preparing to defend Suno.
Ayaka nodded, feeling slightly reassured.
Later that night, Ayaka donned magnificent robes that trailed along the ground and entered Shimizu’s room.
“Miss Shimizu…” Ayaka stood at the entrance, illuminated by candlelight.
“Oh, isn’t it the Chief Advisor? It’s quite late at night. If you needed something, why didn’t you just summon me? Why have you come all the way here in person?” Shimizu asked with a sly tone.
Ayaka remained composed. “Miss Shimizu, let’s not make light of the situation. I am now a wanted criminal of the Empire.”
“Hehe, but in the morning, didn’t you say that the imperial decree is meaningless and that you’re still the Chief Advisor? I wouldn’t dare to make light of you. Am I not showing respect to you, Chief Advisor?”
“Even if the imperial decree was coerced, it still holds power in the Empire. My injuries have not yet healed, and the truth is, I cannot face Minamoto no Yoritomo in battle.”
“Chief Advisor, I wonder why you have come to see me so late at night? By the way, Chief Advisor, you don’t seem to be interested in women like me, do you?”
“Let’s not engage in such banter anymore, Miss Shimizu. I have come to request a favor from you.”
“Let’s discuss business then. I am naturally willing to serve the Chief Advisor. Please have a seat and give me your instructions.”
Ayaka took a seat in front of Shimizu and began explaining her situation. “Back then, I didn’t inform Lily about my injuries in order to help her with her training. Time was limited, and I didn’t want anything to distract her, especially considering Miss Uesugi’s predicament. While we may have differing opinions on certain matters, we both agree that we wouldn’t want any harm to come to Lily, even if her training proved unsuccessful and she went to Mount Ooe. That’s why I need your assistance, Miss Shimizu.”
Shimizu responded, “We are all Lily’s sisters. If there’s something you need, just tell me, sister.”
Ayaka nodded and hesitated before continuing, “Well… Miss Shimizu, I… I need your help with my treatment.”
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“Treatment?” Shimizu questioned.
“Yes. I have devised a treatment plan that would gradually restore my Spirit Palace. However, I require someone at the Permanence Stage or above to administer the medicine. Given Uesugi’s current situation, I can’t rely on her. And after contemplating, I realized that in Lily’s absence, you are the one I can turn to. Will you be willing to assist me?”
“You want me to administer the medicine to you?” Shimizu clarified.
“Miss Shimizu, I understand that this may be an imposition. While we may not be personally close, we share a common goal in protecting Suno, which is currently in grave danger. We don’t know when Minamoto no Yoritomo might return. Restoring my strength quickly is essential to fulfilling my promise to Lily and safeguarding this place. Please, I implore you to help me, Miss Shimizu.”
As Ayaka spoke, she even bowed towards Shimizu, a rare display of vulnerability from the Chief Advisor.
Observing Ayaka’s bow, Shimizu remained indifferent. She had never been swayed by imperial authority or people in power. However, she recognized that this woman, who had played with Lily’s emotions, had a vulnerable side. This realization brought a grim smirk to Shimizu’s face.
“You want me to administer medicine to you, and I presume it requires injecting spirit power as well?” Shimizu clarified.
“And I would need to closely inspect the treatment area and possess the necessary skill. You can’t do it yourself, can you?”
“Chief Advisor, let’s put Suno’s safety aside for a moment. You are Lily’s closest sister, and your problems are her problems. How could I not help? Please provide me with the specific details of the treatment method.”
Ayaka finally let out a sigh of relief. She needed to regain her strength quickly to fulfill Lily’s promise and protect Suno. Standing up, she began explaining the treatment plan to Shimizu in detail.
Shimizu nodded in response. “Chief Advisor, I now understand your plan. When do you intend to begin?”
“When is convenient for you, Miss Shimizu?”
“Hehe, besides training, I have nothing else to occupy my nights. After all, Lily is no longer here, is she? I am available anytime.”
“Then let’s start now. Time is of the essence, and I must recover as soon as possible.”
“Very well. However, as you mentioned, the process will take several months, correct?”
“Yes, at least three to five months, and potentially longer if progress is slower. It would be preferable if Lily returns, as I won’t need to impose on you any longer, Miss Shimizu.”
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“I agree to help. However, you must promise me that you won’t let Lily intervene. Let me take care of it until you have fully recovered.”
“Alright.” At this point, Ayaka had no right to negotiate.
“Alright,” Ayaka reluctantly agreed, realizing she had no grounds to negotiate. Personally, she didn’t want Shimizu to be the one administering the treatment. Exposing her vulnerable and embarrassing parts to Shimizu was something she couldn’t bear. But given the urgency of restoring her strength, there was no room for bargaining. The realization left Ayaka feeling heated and humiliated. As the Chief Advisor, she had never imagined experiencing such a situation.
“Then we can start today. However, Chief Advisor, I believe there is room for improvement in your methods,” Shimizu suddenly said, her face covered with a smile.
“Improvement?” Ayaka questioned.
“Yes. It concerns your attire. Your modest clothing may hinder the activation of the medicine after administration. I suggest wearing more revealing clothing to enhance ventilation.”
“Well…” Ayaka hesitated. It would be one thing if it were Lily, but exposing herself in front of her love rival was out of the question.
Indeed, Shimizu was her love rival. Ayaka wasn’t oblivious to the dynamics between Shimizu and Lily. In the past, she wouldn’t have paid Shimizu any attention. But circumstances had changed, and now she had to ask a favor from her.
This was truly humiliating.
However, for the sake of everyone’s safety, herself, and Lily, Ayaka had no choice but to comply. “Then I will return after changing my clothes. I will also bring the required medicine,” she stated.
“Hmm, I’ll be waiting for you… By the way, Chief Advisor, the outfit you wore when you returned from Ise seems quite suitable for the treatment,” Shimizu remarked, her smile gentle.
“Huh?” Ayaka recalled that she was wearing a white short skirt and high-waisted black stockings at that time. Blushing, she couldn’t help but frown. “I… I understand.”1