The bright moon was hanging in the dark night sky.
The old and gloomy street, located at the eastern part of the peaceful Kamakura City, was covered in dense fog. There were already no shadows to be seen on the street.
However, there was a young girl who seemed to have come from a different era. She wore a purple-colored kimono patterned with blue flowers with a pair of wooden sandals adorning her feet and a paper parasol in her hands. She was walking alone on this shabby rock-paved road.
Lily, that was the name of this female body.
Why did we refer to it like that?
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That’s because, the soul of this young lady, was a boy who could still be considered somewhat handsome.
Regardless of the boy’s soul, or the delicate body of the beautiful young lady, they were both not of this world.
Lily had a well-defined face, and one look at her pinkish skin, you could tell she was a sheltered young lady. Her big, glittering eyes carried a hint of panic and puzzlement as she looked at this old, gloomy world.
Her small and delicate nose was flushed due to the cold of the night wind. The air exhaled from her healthy-looking lips was faintly visible. The street was so eerily quiet that it seemed she could even hear her breathing sound.
Lily had no idea how she got here, nor could she even begin to imagine how she changed into a girl who wore clothing of this era. Moreover, although it was a little cold and she was holding a parasol, it was most definitely not raining.
Lily was very clear that she was once a boy living in the modern age, an average senior high school student in S City. However, she just couldn’t remember her original name, so she could only refer to herself as Lily.
The moment she woke up in this world —fifteen minutes ago— she knew that her name was Lily, though she couldn’t explain how she knew.
Other than her name, Lily recalled living her past as a boy. It was obviously something that just happened yesterday according to her memory, yet it felt so long ago. It felt as if her sense of time was distorted.
Perhaps it was these old buildings that gave Lily this sense of discomfort.
“This looks like some kind of ancient age. Don’t tell me I am really in ancient Japan? Is this the Heian period or the Warring States? Those are the only two eras I know of about Japanese history. There’s also the possibility that this is a different world that resembles ancient Japan.”
As Lily thought about such a thing, if not because of her authentic kimono and genuine female body, she might have thought that she somehow ended up in some kind of filming site after sleepwalking. While Lily might have been average in every aspect when she was still a boy, her sense of art was particularly sharp. She was even an expert in national painting, so she could tell that these buildings were authentic at a glance. Their craftsmanship and realism were not something a filming site could replicate! Moreover, the fresh atmosphere around here made her even more convinced that she had never been here before.
Having her keen sense of aesthetics as a boy was seen as being too delicate and sensitive, so it naturally wasn’t something she was too proud of growing up.
Although Lily wasn’t too masculine as a boy, it wasn’t as if she didn’t have her own opinions. At present, although she was amazed and found this hard to believe, she was thinking really hard.
“Regardless of whether I have returned to Japan from a thousand years ago or I have come to a different world, it doesn’t change my current situation. That is, I am in deep trouble!”
A beautiful girl all dressed up and alone in a desolate street in the middle of the night could only spell trouble. Even if she were in S City with its good public order, Lily would still feel a bit of danger, let alone this world and its unknown civilization.
Although movies made everything in the ancient era out to look very romantic and beautiful, Lily knew well that the true olden times were very cruel! Since that was the case, maybe it might’ve been better if this was a different world. After all, there might be a different culture that Lily had yet to understand.
Lily naturally couldn’t see her own appearance. She didn’t have a cell phone to take a selfie with and assuming this really was some ancient time, there may not have even been a proper mirror. However, from her own slender arm to her pinkish skin, and her small feet, as well as her body that could make a boy around her age to get a nosebleed, she was able to judge that she shouldn’t be ugly.
Yet, she felt that her line of sight was somehow a little higher compared to when she was still a boy? This made Lily a little frustrated.
And such a sexy and defenseless girl as her was walking alone in this uncivilized, dark, and mysterious world with naught but a parasol on her person. She was in deep trouble indeed!
Lily began to inspect her own clothing, hoping to find some sort of clues or maybe a hidden weapon. However, the only thing she found inside the sash of her kimono was an old copper mirror.
A copper mirror?
Lily took out this plate-sized copper mirror to look at her own appearance.
Only that… this copper mirror was very rusty and old. On top of that, the moonlight was very dim. She could only see a vague outline of her beautiful face.
People from ancient times were so pitiful. They couldn’t even see their own appearance clearly.
The copper mirror might have been worth something, so Lily put it back at her waist.
“Ancient times huh, this should be a poor era where ordinary people can’t even get rice to eat. I have this set of clothes and that copper mirror, so I guess I’m the daughter of some rich family with considerable social status? It’s unfortunate I don’t have any sort identification, I don’t know how to get home.”
“Whether this is ancient Japan or a different world, at least it’s better than the underworld. It is indeed dangerous to run into strangers on the road, but there should be a government office right? If I can find that kind of place and pretend that I have lost my memory, by looking at how I dressed, they should at least be able to secure my safety! As for what’s come after that, let’s put it off until that time.”
As Lily thought of that, she made her way towards the main road.
“Huh? What’s with this place? The pathway earlier was paved with rock, so how come this avenue is not paved?”
Lily arrived at what seemed to be a much wider street. There were white walls surrounding the courtyards found on both sides of the street. Lanterns were hanging at the gates of those courtyards. By looking into the courtyards, she could vaguely make out some trees and pavilions while the rest was shrouded in complete darkness.
Ancient times weren’t like the movies. Lily figured that the candles and oil lamps must have cost an extravagant amount. Who would light up those lamps at a time like this?
The wind blew over and caused Lily to tremble slightly.
“Should I go and knock their door? This seemed like the household of a wealthy family. It should be safer with rich people right?”
Lily shook her head to disperse this kind of silly thoughts. Rich people didn’t mean they were civilized people. There’s a saying that ancient people revere military skills and everything was spoken by strength. Seeing such a beautiful young lady delivering herself to their door, it was easy to imagine they would oppress her by force!
She shouldn’t take her chances!
She was in a completely unknown world, a little mistake could spell great danger!
Only that… she couldn’t continue to hide in the dark corner either. With this weather, without anything to eat or drink, maybe she would already starve to death or freeze to death on the street by tomorrow morning. That would be too miserable!
A government office or somewhere similar should be her best bet!
Lily looked at this long street shrouded in dense fog. Even under the illumination of the moonlight, she couldn’t see anything beyond a hundred meters. She had no idea where the road leads to.
Lily was regretting the fact she didn’t take a good look grandpa’s survival film. The boy now found himself in an unfamiliar world without any survival skill. She couldn’t even tell which direction she was facing at the moment.
All of a sudden, a bone-chilling wind blew straight into her face.
“Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!”
Those lanterns at the side of the street suddenly lit up by themselves. Those dark orange tint in the dense fog were as if they were a pair of eyes gazing at the lone girl on the dark expansive street.
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Lily stiffened and felt cold sweat seeping out at her back.
Gradually, drumming sound seemed to be transmitted from ahead.
“Boom! Boom! Dongdong! Boom…”
The drumbeat gradually gets closer. It carried an ancient, simple yet uncommon rhythm. One swaying lantern after the other appeared from within the dense fog.
The sound of the flute transmitted over, sometimes melodious, sometimes sorrowful. Accompanied by the beat of the drum and lively sound of the zither, they formed a strange yet harmonious sound as they approached Lily.
“W-what is this music? Why, in a cold night like this, would there be this kind of music performance? And who’s the performer?”
While in doubt, Lily instinctively felt danger. However, for some reason, her slender legs seemed to be nailed to the floor, unable to budge an inch.
A few figures appeared from within the light-smudged fog. Some of these figures looked humanoid, males and females alike. Some of these figures were so tall they didn’t seem like proper life form at all. And although some figures couldn’t be seen clearly, they were just as bizarre. These figures ignored common sense and were floating in midair.
Dangerous, extremely dangerous!
The tune sounded so mournful that it gave rise to a feeling of pity, but even so, Lily instinctively felt fear.
Run! She must run away from here!
But Lily’s small feet didn’t listen to her order. From childhood until now, she had never faced a genuine life or death crisis. The most painful experience she ever had was that she was secretly in love with a senior female schoolmate but never get to confess. Though her family financial situation was average, it was not to the point of not having food and clothing provided. When a boy like that was thrown into a completely unimaginable situation like this, only panic ensues!
In a moment, the sound was getting louder and louder. The beating drum and sad tune of the flute seemed to pound directly in her heart, pulling at her soul, which caused her hair to stand on end. She was almost entirely drenched in cold sweat from head to foot.
Run! I must run! Regardless of where is this, regardless of what those things are, I must get away from here! I must not let those things discover me!
Lily pinched her own thigh hard, but even her fingers felt powerless. She didn’t even feel any pain pinching her thigh through her clothing!
In spite of everything, her body was still unable to move. This was more frightening than a defenseless man facing a fierce tiger in the mountain woods! There’s no way a modern era denizen would be able to stand this kind of distress!
At this moment, Lily realized that she might possibly die here. Although this was an incomprehensible world, this feeling alone was genuine!
“Don’t tell me… I am really going to get killed by those things?”
Just at this time, a pleasant and tender voice of a girl transmitted from who knows here, “Don’t move. If you want to live, just stand right where you are. Don’t run at all cost!”
Who was speaking to her? Lily couldn’t see anyone at either side.
The girl’s voice continued, as though it was directly transmitted to Lily’s consciousness, “Open your parasol and let yourself hide under it. Just open it slowly… and they won’t be able to find you.”
Even if she wanted to run, Lily’s own feet didn’t listen to her order. At this time, she chose to believe the girl’s pleasant voice instead of those strange figures that were approaching from the front.
Opening up the parasol, it was such a natural action. And yet, at this very moment, it felt like such a tall order!
“No! I must survive! I don’t even know what kind of world is this, nor had I fully understood what happened to myself, I’m not willing to just die like this!”
All of a sudden, Lily seemed to have regained control of her own body. She was no longer trembling as she slowly lifted up her head. She took a deep breath as the night wind lightly brushed her elegant long hair.
Lily lifted the dark purple paper parasol that was painted with the falling petals of sakura.
The parasol was unfurled.
As it turns out, the inside of the parasol was spotlessly white. Only at the edge was there a shade of pink, and right in the middle was the drawing of sakura blossom. They were so vivid and lifelike that it felt as if they were really drifting in the sky. For a moment, it seemed as if Lily was enveloped by the light of the falling blossom.
“Just like this, remain here and don’t let any parts of your body leave the shade of the parasol by all means. Don’t move, just stay as still as a log.” That voice reminded Lily again.
From within the waning lights of the fog, a fox that was several times bigger than in reality walked out. This fox was silvery white and three tails were sticking up behind its body. Its golden eyes were seemingly staring at Lily.
Lily’s entire body shuddered.
“Don’t move! The Three-Tailed Demon Fox merely caught the scent of someone in front, but she is unable to find you. Once you move, it will be able to see you.”
Lily resisted the urge to drop the parasol and turn around to run quickly with great difficulty. The heavy breasts that she had yet to get accustomed to, rose up and down along with her gasp for breath. A bead of sweat was flowing down from her forehead.
That rhythmic tune was getting louder, yet erratic. It’s like being in a dangerous and unpredictable journey.
Behind the demon fox, a woman with a beautiful, yet a little old-fashioned kimono walked out from the fog. Her complexion was pale, only her lips were red. She didn’t have an eyebrow, and there were two black dots on her forehead. The woman held an ancient lute as she walked towards Lily with unsteady yet graceful steps.
Behind the woman was a three-meter tall bull demon with red fur and deathly pale tusks.
One after another, demons and ghosts that Lily had never seen before nor had she ever dared to dream about, emerged from the dense fog just like this. They walked towards Lily with fierce and absent-minded gait.
Lily didn’t even dare to breathe. She just stood there while holding her breath.
That demon fox and woman walked past Lily. Those enormous tail even stretched under the parasol and brushed Lily’s face. Fortunately, the fox didn’t feel anything.
However, that green-colored evil spirit with big build was walking straight towards Lily. If she doesn’t move, they will collide!
At this time, Lily felt as if her heart would jump out from her mouth.
“Remain calm and collected, lightly move to the side. You must not arouse their attention. Do not make any noise! And your body must remain under the shade of the parasol. Now—! Move!”
Lily didn’t have the time to practice moving silently. She could only rely on her intuition to carefully move to the side. The wooden sandal was almost sticking to the ground as she shifted one step to the side.
She successfully dodged the green devil.
It was fortunate that her leg was long, this one step was just enough. Moreover, Lily shouldn’t have adapted to this body yet, but her body moved unexpectedly well. This subtle sense of balance and physical understanding was not something she originally possessed, as she was just a boy who didn’t do much exercise to begin with.
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The green devil suddenly stopped right beside Lily. Her ears could pick up its heavy breathing, and she was assaulted by the stink of the devil. It seemed to have found something and looked at Lily’s direction for a moment. After that, it just continued to move forward.
Before Lily could heave a sigh of relief, a cat-sized green lizard with a conical bamboo hat trotted past her leg while letting out clicking sound!
This time, Lily was completely terrified! She covered her mouth with lightning quick movement and swallowed the shriek that was about to escape from her mouth.
And over there was a lantern with one leg. It had an exaggeratedly big eye. There were even a few thick eyelashes sticking up above the eye. A red tongue was sticking out from its big mouth as it jumped left and right towards Lily’s direction. Lily thought that if her thigh was licked by that tongue, she would definitely feel sick to the point of fainting. Behind that lantern demon, there was a bear-sized raccoon dog with a bamboo hat hanging on its back. There was also a woman with unkempt hair slithering over with her lower half snake body.
As far as the eyes could see, there were no less than a hundred different kinds of demons and ghosts accompanying this drawn-out musical performance as they moved forward.
Night parade of a hundred ghosts!
On her first night here, the girl of another world encountered Kamakura City’s monster parade that only happened once a year!
This day was precisely the 15th July of the Heian Empire’s lunar calendar. ⌈1⌋
It was clearly the midsummer season, but the wind of the underworld realm shrouded Kamakura City with the cold of late autumn.
Lily was unable to move, yet she couldn’t stay in the same spot. As contradictory as it was, she had no time for doubts. Relying on her senses, she moved one step at a time and avoided a collision with the hundred demons. She moved to the side, and finally arrived at the entrance of an alley.
“You are lucky to have left the pathway before Michizane arrives.” That voice continued, “With your body that’s completely lacking in training, if you come face to face with Michizane, you will be found even with this sakura parasol.”
Lily didn’t fully comprehend the meaning of her words, but even if she was in a relatively safe place now, she didn’t dare to move carelessly. She just continued to steal a glance from the corner of the alley.
She only saw a bearded man with Tang Dynasty official hat ⌈2⌋ among the hundred demons. He was at least a hundred feet tall, and though he was a little chubby, his blackish face had a pair of tyrannical eyes. Those eyes were so piercing, just looking at them caused her own eyes to prick endlessly. Lily hurriedly lowered her head and dare not look straight at him again.
“That’s the Demon King Michizane! The night parade of a hundred ghosts this time was led by him. They came all the way from the northeast demon gate. Every household will lock themselves in their house tonight and never come out. Even the warrior on night patrol didn’t dare to come out. If they dared to steal a glance at Michizane, even if they don’t die, they will be met with great misfortune!” That voice continued to explain.
After hearing these, Lily felt angry in her heart. You should’ve said that first!
That voice said teasingly, “Little sister, although you lack training and looked like a pampered girl, from your calmness and decisiveness just now, as well as the control over your body, it was a feat not many men can reach. Perhaps, it might not be your misfortune to come to this world…”
Just when Lily lowered her head in vexation, she didn’t notice that when Michizane walked past the alley, he stopped to look at Lily’s direction. And from that quick look, something unbelievable happened; a sorrowful expression appeared on his wild and ruthless face.
Behind Michizane, there was an excessively big ox chariot. It was unknown whether that ox was a beast or a monster. That chariot, on the other hand, was extremely gorgeous.
“The woman in the chariot is the saintess ⌈3⌋, the mother of Prince Kohei. Ever since…”
Lily didn’t hear clearly the latter part of the girl’s narrative. She was already unable to take in more new information due to the stimulation and crisis she just experienced.
Finally, the demons and monsters gradually got further away along with the waning lights and bone-chilling tone of the flute.
Even the surrounding temperature gradually returned to its original state.
Lily looked at the distant light with lingering fear. The light of the lanterns along the street also silently extinguished and returned to as they were before. If was as if nothing had ever happened in this Kamakura City.
“I’m not sure… how should I express my gratitude to you…” Lily finally dared to voice out her thoughts, “I still have no idea which deity are you. Is it possible to show yourself to let me pay homage to your esteemed self? And, the training you were referring to…”
That voice didn’t appear again. No matter how many times Lily called out in a low voice, she didn’t respond.
The only thing remaining on the empty street was the shivering girl under the moonlight.
Just what kind of dangerous and fateful encounter still awaiting her in this dark and mysterious other world?