After returning to her room in the Chrysanthemum Inn, Lily was indulging in the aftertaste of buying a new sword and clothes.
She stroked the sword from time to time, exploring it in full details. And then she would occasionally caress the soft fabric of the clothes. A rustling sound was produced when her smooth fingers brushed the kimono sleeves.
Suddenly, a certain expectation was rising in her heart. The expectation of another person who could appreciate her beauty. However, they didn’t have to be a special someone or anything, just another woman she could act spoiled around.
In Lily’s vague impression, it had to be someone cool and elegant, strong and graceful, a woman with breasts even bigger than her. That was because deep in Lily’s heart, her target of admiration should be someone who was better than her in every aspect. It would be out of the question if just a single aspect was weaker than her, otherwise, she would feel like they couldn’t truly appreciate her beauty.
Naturally, that person had to be a woman, only this feeling was very subtle due to Lily’s soul being originally that of a boy.
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Once this kind of expectation arose, it would gradually spread throughout the body and mind. This feeling would only get stronger with time and became harder to erase…1
Lily realized for the first time that, even though she could endure the loneliness by herself when she was a boy, she couldn’t do it as a girl. It seemed like after she turned into a girl, she needed to rely on other girls to help fight off the loneliness. A girl, no matter how powerful and talented, it would seem that they also had their own weakness?
“No, there’s no way…”
Lily shook her head in a flurry.
‘Just what was I thinking?! I already have senior sister, how can I even think about such a shameful thing?!’
Lily’s long hair drooped from her shoulders as she looked at herself in the mirror with a dazed expression…
While she was absent-minded, Lily extended her fingers and put it into her red lips.
“Wha…!” The sudden call caused Lily to almost bite her own fingers. Her body bent forward from the shock and she was barely able to support herself from falling by slamming both hands towards the ground. Her hair was sticking up and appeared a little messy…2
“Master, what are you doing? You are so big already, why are you eating your own fingers? You are like a little child, so cute~ Hehehe.”
“N-no way… I only put it in my mouth accidentally…” Even Lily didn’t know what she was saying herself.
Lily was beating herself in her mind yet again.
“Please don’t worry, senior sister… Lily will definitely not do anything that will let you down!”
The rain continued to pour for the next few days. Lily didn’t go out and waited for the contents of the combat examination to be announced in the Chrysanthemum Inn. All the while practicing with her sword near the pond or doing workouts in her room.
This was the first time she was using a real sword after all, she needed time to adjust.
She needed to be very patient as she practiced the foundations all over again.
As for the sensation of doing push-ups while wearing scanty black fabric, it was something only Lily herself would know. This kind of self-neglecting training was oh so soothing and liberating. Perhaps it could temporarily make her forget the sense of loneliness that pervaded her body.
“Master,” The Sakura Parasol was put near the window, alongside the pink-colored goldfish, “It’s so boring, why don’t you take me out for a stroll?”
“Oh Sakura… the contents of the combat examination will be announced tomorrow. When that time comes, we might need to go for a long journey,” said Lily as caressed the katana’s black scabbard with her fingers.
The sky was just as cloudy during the early morning of the next day, light rain fell from time to time.
Those who passed the test were surrounding the billboard near the dojo’s gate. There were also examinees who just came to take the test today, as well as those who came to watch.
With the Sakura Parasol in hand, Lily arrived in front of the billboard with her new kimono.3
In a certain sense, she was more eye-catching than the billboard, but the Seiwa Tamashi on her waist made many people realize that she was precisely the female samurai that scored astounding results on the first day and was recruited by the Genji Dojo in advance. This news spread out really fast and nobody dared to rashly provoke her. The surrounding people only stayed at a distance to feast their eyes on her.
Before long, two men came out from Genji Dojo and pasted a long list of scroll on the billboard.
“Take a look quickly! The contents of the combat examination have been announced!”
The crowd became restless. Lily had no intention of squeezing into that crowd of boorish samurai, so she stepped back.
However, soon after, that female disciple who assisted in the examination procedure before came out and read the bulletin contents aloud.
“The final test of our Genji Dojo’s annual samurai qualification test, the trial of the combat examination is— Monster Extermination.”
Everyone had more or less already expected this.
The female disciple continued, “The target of extermination is a monster that can be found in the deep mountains of Takeshita— the Mountain Imp.”4
“What? Mountain Imp?”
The crowd became agitated.
“How can it be… why is the final test of the combat examination so hard this time?”
Noticing the exaggerated reaction of everyone else, Lily asked a hunter next to her.
“Uncle, what kind of monster is this Mountain Imp? Is it really strong? Why does everyone look so anxious?”
The hunter was more than willing to boast about his experience in front of Lily as he explained carefully, “Mountain Imp, they are not really that strong individually. However, they often move in a group and is proficient in climbing trees like the monkeys. They are in fact a very dangerous and troublesome monster. The population of the Mountain Imp has been rising around these parts lately. The most detestable part about the Mountain Imp is that they feast on people! They naturally didn’t dare to enter Takeshita, but most of the roads that lead to other regions are connected to the deep mountains and that’s where the Mountain Imp will set up an ambush.”5
Lily nodded in silence as she heard the hunter’s explanation. Monster extermination was easier said than done. They wouldn’t just stand in one spot and let you hit them like the Dharma Egg.
You wanted to kill the other side, the other side also wanted to eat you. This was totally the battle of wits and guts. In a life or death battle, the winner was just no matter the methods employed.
The female disciple didn’t explain and had an expression that said they could give up if they were afraid of danger. After everyone had finally calmed down, she continued to announce, “As everyone knows, most monsters are not creatures of this world. The most valuable part of any monster is their anima. The requirement of the combat examination this time is to kill three or more Mountain Imps, collect the anima, and put them in the Anima Container. The container must be delivered to the dojo within the time limit of fifteen days. If you can collect three animas within fifteen days, you will have passed the final test and your certificate will be issued by the dojo at a fixed date. For those who failed, you will need to re-take the practical examination next year.”
“Collect anima? With the Anima Container?” Lily was confused.
The female disciple noticed the concern of a portion of people, so she said, “If you do not have an Anima Container, you can use your Pass Certificate from the practical exam as collateral to rent one from the dojo. The rent is 100 mon per day.”
“The ****! You are charging us for this?”
“They are not any better than the Taira Dojo!”
“Sigh… this is the ways of the world. The monsters are rampaging all over the place, yet instead of helping future samurais like us, the dojos are even trying to make money from us!”
All the examinees were complaining.
The female disciple was indifferent in regards to these, she only said, “Those who want to rent the Anima Container, please follow me.”
Lily needed to rent an Anima Container, so she separated from the crowd and followed the female disciple along with seven to eight other participants.
Even if they complained, they still needed to rent one if they didn’t have an Anima Container. Since they already made it this far, they couldn’t have just given up due to a few hundred mon right?
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And Lily didn’t even know what the Anima Container looked like.
On the way towards the Magic Tools warehouse, the female disciple told everyone, “Although these animas are collected for the purpose of the examination, the dojo will not just take them from you. For every Mountain Imp Anima you collected, the dojo will pay 500 mon for each. Moreover, if you guys killed other monsters and collected their anima, the dojo will buy them from you at market price.”
“That… senior…” Lily asked, “What are the animas used for?”
Lily was now a disciple in-name who had signed a contract with the dojo, so it was only natural to call the other party as a senior.
The female disciple looked at Lily and said with a friendly smile, “Kagami Lily, I am profoundly impressed by your test results. If you have time, come over to my place to have a chat. These animas are useless to common civilians and low-ranking samurais, but they played a major role in the dojo.”
“As for why we are purchasing the anima. One reason is to encourage everyone to fight the monsters in order to protect the dojo and the humans in the surrounding. The other reason is that some of the truly powerful samurai and even those mysterious onmyoji are buying the animas at a high price. The animas can be used to nurture the shikigami, refine magic tools, research supernatural arts, etc… Anyway, they are very useful for powerful individuals. Lower class samurais like us don’t need to think so much. Since the big figures are paying money for it, we just need to collect the animas and sell it to them. That way, we can also earn money from our hunt, isn’t it?”
“Oh… t-then… how much can you earn from selling animas?”
“Hehe, for most of the new samurais, rather than earning money, if their martial skills are lacking or if they have bad luck, it is very common for them to end up as monster food. However, for the more experienced samurai, namely the low class and middle class. By avoiding dangerous zones or forming a party, they can earn 30 up to 50 kwan in a year,” the female disciple continued, “It sounds like a huge amount isn’t it? It is equivalent to the income of a small peasant village, however, that money is earned in exchange of their life. This is truly what you call seeking riches and honor in the face of danger.”
Lily nodded vacantly as she felt endlessly remorseful in her heart. It was not that easy to earn money even as a samurai! It was something to be proud of just by becoming a samurai, but their lives could be in danger at any time. As for herself, she just went and spent what would take a middle-class samurai half a year to earn without thinking……
After arriving at the Magic Tools warehouse, everyone followed the instruction of the female disciple to register their name and hand over the Pass Certificate as collateral. Thus, they were now waiting for the Anima Container to be passed out.
The female disciple fetched a coffee-colored wooden box about the size of a lunchbox. That box was giving out an unusual luster.
It looked like an ordinary wooden box, but it gave off a strange aura.
The female disciple passed out the wooden box to the examinees, all except for Lily.
Just when Lily was feeling doubtful, the female disciple took out a circular cosmetic box with unique designs from her pocket.
“To Miss Kagami, this is for you.”
Lily accepted the beautiful cosmetic box. The drawing of a setting sun behind the mountains and clouds was stitched on top of the black wooden box with golden threads. It seemed much more functional than those wooden box received by the other examinees. The fluctuation of the strange aura was also a lot lighter.
“Why is hers different from the one given to us?” asked a ronin with a bandana.
The female disciple said without any concern, “Of course it is different, she is one of us. Her Anima Container is a Grade Two Magic Tool. The ones given to you all are all ungraded Magic Tools. Moreover, Miss Kagami don’t need to pay the rent.”
“The ****, isn’t that too unfair?”6
The female disciple asked in reply, “If you feel that it is unfair, you guys can also apply to join the dojo. But of course, only if you have the strength to back it up.”
Everyone became docile for the time being.
Lily felt a little embarrassed.
The female disciple continued, “The master told me to personally deliver this Anima Container to Miss Kagami. Besides, this cosmetic box-shaped Magic Tool is originally intended to be used by girls, or what, does everyone also want a cosmetic box?”
“Er… i-it’s not like that…” The boorish samurais also had nothing left to say.
“Senior, please help me send my gratitude to Mistress Sakiko. Many thanks to you too, and the senior is known as?” Lily felt grateful towards Sakiko and the dojo disciple who took care of her. In this lonely parallel world, the Genji Dojo allowed her to feel the warmth of a family, even if just a bit.
“My name is not worth mentioning. Miss Kagami, the master asked me to pass this message to you; Although Miss Kagami possessed outstanding strength, you shouldn’t underestimate the Mountain Imp by all means. Come back as soon as you collected enough animas. You must not go too deep into the mountains and be extremely cautious,” warned the female disciple.
“Yes, Lily understands.”
- The rest of the sentence just feels redundant so I’m cutting them off. Translating them also feels like a chore.
- This sentence was a little confusing and I had to make my own interpretation. but I believe this is probably right. Imagine someone in an orz pose with hair sticking up here and there due to shock.
- I think I’m gonna change my approach in translation from now on. I’ll just cut off any parts that I don’t feel is necessary, such as the parts that emphasized Lily’s breasts or butts excessively.
- Welp… called it~
- What… the more I read, the more these Mountain Imps sound like Goblin… are they not Goblins after all?
- I concur, you should let Lily take the test like everyone else. Though I can understand why they gave her a Grade Two Anima Container. With her power, she could probably subjugate much stronger monsters, so a higher grade container would serve her better.