Lily walked on a street by the riverside for quite a while before reaching the main gate.
The main gate was not as majestic as expected, it was just a courtyard entrance after all. The arched brown roof was supported by two pillars covered in simple copper decorations.
No signboard could be seen displayed in front of the door. There was only the emblem of a Gentiana1 carved on the copper decorations.
Lily had seen once seen this in a book at Matsuda Clan, this was the family emblem of the Genji Clan.
‘The leading samurai clan in the Heian Empire, the strongest power in the country, yet they are so low-profile.’ Lily had a favorable impression of Genji.
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Around this time, the moon was hiding behind the black clouds, so their doors were naturally closed.
The examination period starts from tomorrow for five consecutive days. As long as one had the recommendation letter, they could take the examination in any of those days. Therefore, she was not worried about missing the test.
The only reason Lily came over was to take a look at the place. The wind of this summer night was chilly, so it was better if she went to look for a dwelling place first.
Lily turned around and noticed a wide wooden bridge directly opposite of the dojo’s main gate.
On the other side of the wooden bridge was a shrine surrounded by a thicket.
Lily was attracted by some kind of power emitted from the shrine. She walked past the wooden bridge and headed straight for the shrine.
The shrine was built from natural logs, it was a simple yet soothing building. Inside the shrine, the bronze statue of an average build samurai was enshrined behind a wooden fence.
“Ah…” When Lily looked at the statue, an imposing aura was emitted from the black eyes of the masked samurai statue.
Lily couldn’t help but feel like she was about to collapse.
‘Such a powerful pressure! So powerful that it’s scary!’
This was merely a statue, but the pressure it emitted was more powerful than any of the experts Lily had encountered by chance. Even that Demon King Michizane didn’t make Lily feel so terrified when their eyes met.
‘J-Just who is this…’
In front of the shrine, there was a plate with impressive handwriting, “Genji the Ninth, Ieyoshi.”
Lily had learned of this person when she was studying the history of this parallel world. This person was the bravest samurai in the history of the Genji. He was also the founder of the Genji’s strongest sword arts known as 《Genji Swordstyle》.
Lily no longer spoke a word, she straightened her posture and respectfully knelt on the straw mattress in front of the shrine. Then she offered a bow to this legendary leader of the Genji.
Since she was planning to train and learn the path of the samurais at the Genji Dojo, this person might become her future master, so she naturally had to kneel and worship him properly.
Even so, this samurai was not at all gigantic in stature. Although Lily was sitting, she estimated by visual that his height was no more than 1.5 meters. However, just the pressure emitted by this statue was enough to make Lily’s back broke out in cold sweat.
When Lily was bowing in all sincerity, a slender young woman in a red kimono was also kneeling beside Lily as she prayed towards this Ieyoshi statue from who knew when.
After that young woman finished with her prayer, she got up and said with her mature voice, “Nowadays, it is so rare to see a youngster like you coming to pray so earnestly during such a cold summer night.”
“Eh?” Lily raised her head. It was only at that time she noticed the young woman standing next to her. She didn’t detect her presence at all until now.
This young woman had black hair, a beautiful face, a slender neck, and long eyelashes. There was a mole beside her red lips, slightly visible threads of black hair were randomly scattered across her cheeks, and there was a not so obvious bulge on her chest. What was even more prominent than this young woman’s appearance was the slightly imposing aura she carried with her.
Although this young woman approached without making a sound, Lily felt that she had a gentle nature under her imposing guise. She didn’t feel any danger from her, so she got up slowly and took a small step backward before making a gesture to greet the young woman.
When the young woman looked at Lily, a kindle was lit in her heart by Lily’s fairy-like complexion and nearly perfect female body. Moreover, she was so graceful and courteous. The young woman’s impression of Lily was also considerably good. She said with a charming mature smile, “Genji Ieyoshi is the martial god of the Genji Clan, what brings a delicate as flower young lady like you here tonight?”
Lily didn’t try to fool her, not only was this young woman mature, she felt at ease in her presence. Thereupon, she replied, “I came here to take part in the samurai’s examination test. I just arrived today and while I was passing by, I incidentally found the shrine of Lord Genji Ieyoshi, so I came to pay my respects.”
“Hehe, what a good young lady. I believe you will make a good samurai too,” said the young woman with a smile.
“Thank you, madam.” Although Lily had no idea who she was, it was lacking in manners to randomly ask for the name of such a respectable woman.
“It is already late, although Takeshita is said to be one of the safest towns in the surrounding areas, young lady still needs to find a place to stay.”
“That’s right…… I am still not that familiar with the surroundings around here.”
“Just walk along the river bank, once you walked past the dojo, you will find a lodging house called “Chrysanthemum” there. That place is clean, has good security, and cheap. Feel free to go take a look.”
“Thank you for the direction, madam.”
After making another gesture, Lily turned around to take her leave.
“Chrysanthemum”, just the name alone gives the impression of a clean and elegant place. Let’s just go and take a look. I will stay if I can afford it.2
After walking past the wide territory of Genji Dojo, there was indeed a secluded lodging house around a corner of the river. Under the lantern was black writing with the words: “Chrysanthemum Inn”.
‘This is the place,’ Lily thought to herself as she stepped forward and placed her hand on top of the wooden board in front of the door.
The door opened and an old lady with white hair came to receive her, “Young lady, looking for accommodation?”
“Erm… I’m not sure, is it expensive?”
“Hehe, the madam has instructed me to charge only 10 mon per day if a refined young lady like you comes to pay a visit, meals included,” replied the old lady with a benevolent smile.
If it was 10 mon, she should be able to afford it. Therefore, Lily bowed and said, “Then please take care of me.”
The old lady escorted Lily into the lodging house. After passing through a really long corridor, they arrived at a secluded room located at the far back. Once the sliding door on the other side of the room was pulled open, an open-air hot spring could be seen.
“You will be staying in this room, young lady.”
The environment around here was stylish and refined. Even the courtyard was built with good taste, comparing it to the backyard of Matsuda Clan that’s overgrown with weeds would be an insult.
It went without saying that the housing condition of Matsuda Clan very good, so she didn’t expect to live in such a nice place with only 10 mon, it was truly way beyond Lily’s expectation.
“Young lady, that hot spring is open all year round, so feel free to go in and take a bath at any time. Our Chrysanthemum Inn only accepts female guests, so please set your mind at rest. I will retire for now to prepare something for the young lady to eat,” the old lady bowed before leaving through the door.
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Lily put the parasol and sack at one corner of the room. And finally, the pink goldfish on the railing of the window sill after she gave it some thought. When she looked through the window and saw the hot spring, Lily couldn’t help but feel delighted.
“Honestly, this is such a beautiful place.”
An hour later, the sliding door was pushed open, “Young lady, I will be placing your dinner here, please enjoy your meal.”
“Mmm… just put it there, thank you… Eh?” At the moment, Lily was leaning on the wooden railing as she enjoyed the beautiful scenery. However, she felt something was amiss from the voice of the one who delivered the meal. When she turned around, she found that the one sitting in seiza at the doorway3 and delivered her meal on a small wooden desk was the beautiful young woman she met at the shrine earlier.
“W-why are you here…”
“Hehehe, I forgot to explain to the young lady just now, I am actually the owner of this lodging house,” said the young woman while covering her smile with the back of her hand.
- Why do I get the impression she’ll run into that Nanako girl in the inn.
- If you’re wondering why she’s in seiza, just remember that traditional Japanese people are always in that position when opening or closing sliding doors