Book 1: Chapter 88: Night Walk under the Autumn Rain
Cold autumn rain swiftly fell from darker than night sky, battering the ground and heralding the chilly wind, which boldly entered the room with a gelid gust. Overcome by anxiety, Lily raised her head to look at the raindrops glimmering with candlelight as she exclaimed, “Nanako didn’t bring an umbrella!”
After a moment’s pause, she turned around, lightly placing her hands upon s.h.i.+u’s shoulders, “s.h.i.+u, stay here and wait for me; I’m going to find Nanako.”
“Master, s.h.i.+u will go with you,” she responded, her eyes innocent and sincere – despite their fighting, she still worried about the little girl.
With a gentle voice and shake of her head, Lily refused, “no, s.h.i.+u, you stay here in case Nanako comes back, you must tell her I went out to find her.”
After a short pause, s.h.i.+u agreed: “Yes, s.h.i.+u understands. I will stay here and wait for Master and Nanako to return. I will not leave for even a moment.”
Lily nodded, then as if she just remembered said, “oh right…”
“If I don’t return by tomorrow, you should report this to Lady Sakiko,” Lily said, uncertain of why she had a bad premonition; however, she didn’t know what it was – was Nanako in a dangerous situation?
“Understood, Master,” she said, worry apparent in eyes..
The battering rain quickly grew to a violent a.s.sault that marred the earth. Suddenly, s.h.i.+u’s shout broke the storm, “master!” she cried.
“Please let me change your clothes, they’re dirt now…” s.h.i.+u implored to the restlessly anxious Lily, who conceded to s.h.i.+u’s twinkling sincere eyes as she turned to face her.
As s.h.i.+u dressed Lily in a new set of clothes, the fragrance from the nubile bath beat her senses once more. A beautiful blue sash, backed by the newly enjoyed kimono, a white fabric embroidered with pink and blue flowers concentrated around the hemline and the sash, scattering as if blossoms in the wind to reveal the snow.
Having been dressed, Lily was handed Seiwa Tamas.h.i.+ and Sakura that had been resting in the corner. Placing the sword at her waist and holding the parasol, Lily thanked s.h.i.+u, before turning around. She, though reluctant despite being more concerned with Nanako’s whereabouts, stepped down and entered the storm.
s.h.i.+u kneeled within the room, eyes focused upon Lily’s back which was vanis.h.i.+ng into the dark midnight, obscured by the battle between the heavens and earth. She whispered, “master…”
As clouds that arose from the river and born of the scattered bodies of heavy dew that had thrown itself upon the puddle-marred ground wandered lost like a child, Lily exited the dojo from the western gate, moving in the same direction Nanako went. With her vision obscured, she observed the empty street with Sakura in hand, thinking, “where did Nanako go?”
Having learned the basic layout of the surroundings from Sakiko, she pondered over where the girl had wandered off to, “she doesn’t have any place to stay.
“Since she headed West, she must be planning on returning to the Saionji house – but that’ several hundred miles away in Suruga, too far for a casual nighttime stroll. Looks like I have to head in the direction as well, but if it’s the wrong direction…
“No. There’s no other way, with such a rainy night she has no choice but to return to Suruga.”
With a firm faith in her intuition, she headed West. Pa.s.sing through the newly rebuilt areas of Takes.h.i.+ta, she quickly left town. When the pa.s.sed the Chrysanthemum Inn, she stopped, and knocked on the door.
The grannie, lantern in hand and wearing a coat, opened the door for Lily, asking “Miss Kagami?”
“Yes, I saw a girl matching your description pa.s.sing by – she ran to the mountain path, leading to Suruga or Mt. Ise,” she explained to Lily who had told her about the situation.
“Sure enough!” Lily was certain the girl wouldn’t go to Mount Ise. Nanako would surely return to Suruga Province.
Lily decided to go after the girl through the path to Suruga Province. If she somehow ended up in Suruga Province and found that Nanako, even if the girl didn’t want to come back, it would be all right as long as she was fine.
With Lily’s speed, she could have caught up with Nanako. However, due to the heavy rain, she couldn’t see the road or the people clearly. It also interfered with Lily’s spirit perception.
Lily had left in a hurry, in the absence of a map she could only follow the roadsigns that pointed to Suruga Province. Shortly, she reached the foot of a lofty mountain, which seemed to be looming with sleeping beasts.
There was only one vaguely visible path that led into the mountain.
“This mountain trail is the way to Suruga Province.” Lily, a lone girl, with her parasol, determinedly walked on the path that led to the mountain.
Between Kanagawa Prefecture and Suruga Province was a deep mountain range called Mount Tama.
Normally, to get through this place, one should bring along several samurais and more than ten fully armed foot soldiers like Nanako did when she first came here. That was how they ensured their safety.
The monsters here were much stronger than the ones in Mount Ise. Especially in the deep recesses of Mount Tama. Even an army of dozens or even hundreds wouldn’t dare to lightly tread this place.
And now that Mount Tama was shrouded in the curtain of night and heavy rainfall, the heavy fog was making the place appear more dreadful!
However, Nanako couldn’t care that much at the moment. Unlike Lily, she knew the way back to Suruga Province. She had run all the way and shortly found herself in a relatively deep area inside Mount Tama.
Nanako was completely drenched. Her white knee-length socks now showed her skin color. Her naturally permed red twin tail wasn’t curly anymore as they dangled on two sides of her small face, and it looked like water was streaming down her bangs.
“Seriously, women with big b.r.e.a.s.t.s are really brainless! Their only worth is to let me ride on them like a horse! And she wants me to become her va.s.sals? Hah… how stupid can she be!”
Nanako helplessly walked further into the wild mountain. She felt really sad. Eventually, she placed one of her hands on a big tree to support her body. Stooping her head, she panted and let the water drop from locks of her hair.
“Doesn’t Lily know that the Saionji family has been court officials for generations? How could I become the va.s.sal of some common samurai! Does she really think she’s some kind of G.o.ddess? Even if she’s beautiful and charming, there’s no way we can defy the social cla.s.ses of the Heian Empire!”
Nanako was a samurai. If she defeated Lily, she would make Lily her slave. If she lost, she would become Lily’s slave. That was the way of the samurais. No matter what, the East Nation was the samurais’ domain. There was nothing wrong in following the way of the samurai. However, that dumb woman had released her!
Nanako was taught to understand and embrace benevolence and righteousness. How could she ignore such things!
“Kagami Lily, I, Nanako, have to succeed the Saionji House. Although I’m just a girl, you’ve looked down on my samurai’s heart! Do you really think that you could conquer me with your kindness, your charm, and your strength? Do you think you could mesmerize me and make me follow you? You’re too haughty! Your smell and whatnot… a- as if I care!! Who likes them anyway!”2
All of a sudden, Nanako s.h.i.+vered in the chilly rain.
A thought she never had before uncontrollably stormed into her mind.
“Do I really like that woman?”
The beautiful face of the young girl blushed in the cold autumn night.
Nanako could even hear her heart beating, which was somewhat louder than the sounds of the rain!
“No! No! Impossible! How could I like someone with all the features I hate the most! Wait a minute… that’s not the problem here. She’s a woman. That’s h.o.m.os.e.xual!”3
Nanako’s eyes turned gloomy once again, “A same-s.e.x relations.h.i.+p isn’t something very rare in this time period. There are even rumors of something ambiguous going on between the handsome onmyojis in Heian Capital!4 Anyway, it’s still a taboo in this era. If I’m like that, the Saionji House will become a laughing stock among the high officials!”
“Hmph, it’s just a moment of confusion. That woman must have enchanted me with some kind of magic. Mhm, of course, that must be it. It’s impossible for me to like women, especially not the tall and big-breasted ones!”
“I, Saionji Nanako, swear that I was only serving that big-breasted woman to honor my code of chivalry! I will never have any affection for her! If I go against my pledge, I…”
Nanako surveyed the dark forest veiled by the rain. She gathered her courage and muttered, “If I go against my pledge, I would rather fall into the hands of monsters or bandits right here right now!”5
- Robinxen: Dex said I could be lazy with this symbol, and I was going to take his offer. Then I had to dig through the internet just to find how to center align text on wordpress.
- Robinxen: And here we have a chronic case of Tsundere.
- Silva: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Robinxen: It’s literally in Lily’s name.
- Silva: There’s a fujos.h.i.+ in Heian Capital spreading weird rumors ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
- Silva: Your wish shall come true, I know it will.
Robinxen: Words said seconds before disaster.