Book 3: Chapter 61: A Startling Discovery
Lily employed a spirit probe in the secluded valley and scanned all 10 kilometers1 of it, yet she failed to find any monsters except for some wild animals.
This was pretty strange as this place was located near the Endless Demon Mountains and should’ve been the prowling grounds of a few monsters, but there were none present here.
This place was akin to a utopia that monsters couldn’t enter because the real underground tunnel was the only pa.s.sage leading to it!
From the feedback received from the spirit probe, Lily was able to ascertain that a vast section of the valley consisted of woods, meadows, rocks and streams as well as some astonis.h.i.+ngly humid lowland areas and lakes. There were also a lot of ponds, a few of which were hot springs, but Lily wasn’t able to distinguish them precisely from the spirit probe’s feedback. They were obviously covered by snow at present, but the terrestrial heat of the land was relatively higher due to the presence of hot springs, which was the reason the stream water hadn’t frozen.
“Hmm?” Lily sensed exceptionally dense energy from the hillside at the western corner of the valley at this moment, but it wasn’t from a powerhouse or a monster and was rather the spirit power present in nature.
“Let’s check out the western side,” Lily stated while going towards the west through the woods and her sisters followed behind.
“You can all relax, there are no monsters here,” Lily added while walking.
The group pa.s.sed through the dense patch of red fir wood trees in the west and arrived at the base of the mountains enclosing the valley.
The slope of the mountain was pretty steep and consisted mostly of protruding rocks.
“The spirit power is pretty dense here,” Lily stated. “Yes. I sensed the same as well,” Yukiko continued. “Over there, Master,” s.h.i.+u pointed at the spot on the nearby slope.
Lily looked in that direction and discovered a series of translucent, turquoise-colored crystals jutting out from the fissures between the rocks on the ashen slope.
Lily scanned them and drew in a cold breath instantly.
“These crystals seem to be the source of the dense spirit power. I can sense an abundant amount of it from within them!” Lily exclaimed.
A crimson light flashed, and the Sakura Parasol manifested in the outside world accompanied by falling sakura after obtaining Lily’s permission to exit the mirror s.p.a.ce and floated up in order to examine the slope.
“This is…! You’ve earned a windfall, Master!” Kagura stated excitedly.
“These light blue-green crystals are magatama ores!” Lily had never seen such an excited Kagura as she looked down on everything usually.
“What?!” Lily was also shocked. She knew what magatama meant, but if ‘ore’ were appended next to it, the combined term had a pretty terrifying effect.
Lily scanned the slope and found about a dozen or so spots from where these crystals jutted out, some a few meters short while some dozens long!
“The reserves of this magatama ore are pretty abnormal just from their surface look, Master! Goodness! This is something that even the deities of Takamagahara fight over!” Kagura flew over to the slope and stated in an excited tone while observing the crystals.
Yukiko, Yumi and s.h.i.+u, on the other hand, wore puzzling looks on their faces as they had never heard of it until now.
Yuki-Onna also expressed her deadpan astonishment, “I heard from Yos.h.i.+tsune that the Minamoto clan originates from the former capital of Nara and the reason they were able to ascend to the top amongst the numerous clans under the imperial family was a small-sized magatama ore! However, even though I’ve heard of the term, I don’t know what exactly it is.”
Yuki-Onna didn’t know it, but Kagura knew it very well. Although she had lost much of her power, she had traveled alongside Suzuhiko-hime in the past, so her experiences far exceeded that of mortals like Lily and the rest.
Lily remained dazed for a while, “K-Kagura, are you saying the crystals in this mountain are all m-magatama…”
Even someone as virtuous as Lily felt her legs weaken.
“A magatama ore doesn’t contain magatama, Master. I’ll skip the explanation of the whole process as it’s pretty complicated, but those translucent crystals in the magatama ore are actually magatama source crystals from which magatama can be formed via a special method! About 50 kilograms of source crystals are required to form a magatama that weighs about 500 grams. However, these source crystals are pretty hard and can’t be extracted normally using pure force as that causes them to lose their spirit essence and turns them into ordinary crystals. A smith proficient in the olden esoteric magatama extraction process is needed to extract them bit by bit!2”
“The magatama source crystals to magatama trans.m.u.tation process also has a high chance of failure and results in the disintegration of the magatama if it fails, causing it to lose 90% of its spirit essence, the product being the magatama fragments you used normally before, Master. Usually, even if the best equipment is used by the smith to trans.m.u.te source crystals into magatama, there’s still a 70% chance of failure.”
“Anyhow, you’ve really earned a windfall, Master! Even though I’ve yet to scan a few places and the deepest parts of the mountain, based on my estimates, there are about a few ten thousand cubic meters of reserves in total with source crystals of varying purity and each cubic meter weighing approximately 4000 kilograms! Its value is… indeterminable!”
Even the ever indifferent Kagura’s voice quivered while saying this.
“So, this is the real treasure left behind for the mirror girl…” Lily was unable to determine how much this magatama ore was worth, but she was certain that it was enough to sustain a clan’s prosperity for ages!
“A few ten thousand cubic meters?” Yukiko was also dumbfounded, “I-Is that a lot?”
“The annual wage given to me by the Hundred Demons is 500 grams of magatama fragments… a few ten thousand cubic meters is just…” Even Yumi felt her mind crash.
“Although this magatama ore possesses a fearsome worth, Master, ore extraction is a time and money-consuming process and it’s quite normal for it to take centuries in order to extract a single ore, unless you sell off the whole ore,” Kagura stated.
“Sell it? No way!” Lily recovered her senses immediately, “No one in all of Kanto possesses the wealth to purchase this incredible ore and if someone else were to learn of it… I fear it’ll place us in huge danger instead! The secret of this ore must be kept hidden at any cost! We also cannot sell it as it’s too risky. The only choice left is to protect this place and extract it slowly until we have enough strength to defend ourselves.”
The girls felt a s.h.i.+ver go through their spines after hearing Lily’s words.
“Thankfully, you’re quite rational, Master. I fear the Minamoto clan, Taira clan, Fujiwara clan and even the Emperor might come to plunder this wealth which is enough to s.h.i.+ft the power structure of the Heian Empire if they hear of it and we’ll have nothing left then!” Yukiko sighed.
Yuki-Onna added, “You’re right about that. At best, you would receive 500 kan and a plaque as an extra reward while the imperial family will subsume the whole ore, and, at worst, they will dispatch a transcendent to eliminate all of you secretly so that they can obtain this ore safely.”
“Heavens… Who could’ve imagined that such a great windfall would be accompanied with greater danger,” Yukiko sighed weakly.
“Yukiko, Yumi, we’ve discussed enough for now. We must return to the entrance immediately and ensure that no human or monster has followed us inside before securing the entrance. We can discuss what to do later!” Lily stated promptly, “It’s possible that there are other treasures or special locations in this valley, but we can investigate that later slowly. Anyhow, although this place is pretty huge, it doesn’t seem like any monsters are present here, which means no human or monster has entered here from outside within the past few centuries. Thus, the entrance below the mountain temple should be the only entrance to this valley!3”
“Master is right. Let’s secure the entrance first and leave the talk for later!” Yukiko nodded.
The group rushed towards the entrance after that. The ore was located about 2,000 meters from the entrance, so Lily and the others backtracked to the location they climbed up to and jumped down before returning to the mountain temple via the underground tunnel.
Lily scanned the surroundings and sighed in relief after determining that no intelligent lifeform had discovered the entrance until now.
“Let’s protect this mountain temple for now. This land was given to me by Lord Takeda, so no one unaware of the hidden treasure will attempt to occupy it if I use my power to protect my land!” Lily stated.
“Indeed. We shall also protect this place together with you then, Master,” Yukiko added.
“No. I’ll have to trouble you two to return to Izu immediately, s.h.i.+u, Yukiko, and seek Kotoka. Tell her to set the matter there aside for now and rush over here swiftly along with Nanako and the twenty cavalrywomen Sister Uesugi left behind for me! There’s no time to waste, make haste now,” Lily stated decisively and revealed an exceptionally rational and firm demeanor instead of showing complacence.
“Nanako needs to be brought here at once, and if any eminence really attempts to plunder the ore… Hmph! I’ll just allow Kagura to act,” Lily mused, “A Blood-Spirit Magatama is nothing in comparison to this ore. I fear even existences like Sugawara no Michizane and Shuten Doji might invade with their demon parades in an attempt to plunder it!”
Lily reminded s.h.i.+u and Yukiko once again before they left, “Make sure you travel cautiously and discreetly, got it?”
“Yes! Don’t worry, Master,” s.h.i.+u replied.
Kotoka wouldn’t believe the information unless Lily sent s.h.i.+u, but she was too weak, and this was the reason Lily had ordered Yukiko, who possessed strength equal to Yumi, along with her as she would be much safer with her.
As for Yumi, Lily wanted to keep her close as she still couldn’t trust this woman completely even now.
Thus, no one else except Lily could protect this place.
Yukiko and s.h.i.+u left swiftly after that. As kunoichi of the Midō clan, stealth and speed were their specialties, and even though Yukiko had lived as a married woman for a long time, she still possessed her strength.
“Phew!” Lily heaved a sigh of relief once again. Her job right now was to protect the entrance inside the mountain temple and prevent any human or monster from entering inside until Yukiko and s.h.i.+u returned with Kotoka, Nanako and the cavalrywomen.
“Lord Takeda… You probably never expected that this nameless valley that you gifted me contains a treasure that might embroil all of the East in catastrophe!”
“However… even if Lord Takeda hadn’t gifted it to me, I would’ve still done whatever it took to occupy this valley4! No matter how big or small something is, I won’t hold back at all as long as it involves the hope of waking senior sister and the ability to protect my sisters!”
- Robinxen: Jesus wept!
- Robinxen: Don’t worry, Lily has protagonist power! I bet some convenient potentially already introduced character will casually drop that they’re the only person in the world who has been taught the technique.
- Robinxen: Personally I’d just move in and live here.
- Robinxen: Obviously, it contains s.h.i.+ny things.
- Robinxen: This is the final footnote of the chapter.