Book 3: Chapter 69: Land of Hundred Demons (2)
It hadn’t snowed yet in the woods southeast of Kai Province.
There were only a few snowflakes hailing down sporadically in this location and they were absorbed by the land that had dried by the late autumn. Withered leaves rustled across the land and the trees of the woods towered against the greyish dark skies under the incoming coldness of the winter shrouding them.
Dressed in a red kimono touched with patterns of cedarwood trees and plum blossoms, Lily traversed through the woods towering with tall trees alone.
Although it looked as if she were traveling alone right now, she was actually engaged in a conversation with a voice via the mirror.
“Master, the Endless Demon Mountains are infested with demons and monsters and there’s also an abnormal amount of powerful demons inside them. If you run into a mid-ranked monster, you can allow me to act via Nanako based on the circ.u.mstances. Although Nanako’s current body is a long way from developing to its full potential right now, she’ll be able to adapt gradually with time,” Kagura stated.
Kagura was manipulating Nanako’s body to train within the mirror s.p.a.ce right now. Her consciousness would reside in the Sakura Parasol and supervise Nanako’s training sometimes, but she would carry out training in the sword arts and stratagems personally in other times for the sake of adaptation. If a battle were to really break out, Kagura’s consciousness would be in charge as Nanako’s current body was still at the early sword master stage. However, her body was able to contend against an early sword saint under Kagura’s control. This was because Kagura’s advancement stage and comprehension were far too high and her battle skills and will were also incomparable to the profane world’s samurai. Thus, she needed to train so that she could adapt and muster enough strength.
Yuki-Onna was also within the mirror and was currently inside the stone room as well, “Lily, there might be age-old great demons that are difficult even for me to handle in the Endless Demon Mountains, so you must be very careful.”
“Mhm, I know,” Although she had set out alone, Lily had actually come with Kagura and Yuki-Onna, these two s.h.i.+kigamis in tow, and their strength which was comparable to the topmost powerhouse of a province was what gave her the courage to enter the Endless Demon Mountains.
Also, Lily’s purpose wasn’t to vanquish the great demons residing in the mountains, but rather to obtain the flames of Mt. Fuji.
“Fortunately, I have the map that Yumi gave me. I can avoid the most dangerous regions that are occupied by Spirit Jade Stage great demons as long as I follow the route on it,” Lily stated.
“I don’t know whether I should say this or not, Lily,” Yuki-Onna interjected.
“Feel free to say it. There’s no need to hold back since we are companions.”
“It’s best if you don’t trust this map,” Yuki-Onna’s words made Lily feel stifled and turned her mood worse.
“I trust each and every one of my sisters. I’ll naturally also tread with caution along the journey,” Lily stated.
“But this sister of yours was your enemy not that long ago.”
“Midō Yumi risked her life willingly to protect me in the battle at Blossom Valley. The past doesn’t matter, she has my absolute trust right now. However, I will still thank you for the reminder, Yuki-Onna. Anything can happen in the Endless Demon Mountains and I’m not naïve enough to think that the journey will be really safe just because I have this map. Great demons are living creatures as well, so they obviously won’t stay put on the locations marked on the map. Thus, I’ll put the spirit probe spell to full use while journeying forward.”
Lily then added, “You, on the other hand, Yuki-Onna. Are you willing to help me when I really need you to?”
“Just look at how you are treating me like a stranger. Although you cannot order me, aren’t we companions in the end? Why would I hold back from helping you when you need me,” Yuki-Onna stated.
Lily felt relieved after hearing this as she still felt a bit uneasy about traversing into the Endless Demon Mountains alone.
Lily conversed with Kagura and Yuki-Onna mentally while walking forward, but she spotted a tall martial monk walking in her direction from the front.
Naturally, it didn’t make sense for a human monk to travel alone in the depths of these mountains.
This martial monk was about 2.5m tall and had a very muscular figure. Only his dark silhouette was visible under the dim skylight, so it was practically impossible to see his appearance, but Lily could sense the intense eldritch energy emitting off the other party.
It was a monster!
The martial monk also noticed Lily in the end and although his gait looked random, he was actually moving in Lily’s direction with no change in posture or speed, holding a heavy golden staff in his ma.s.sive hand.
He possessed the strength of a 6th-stage Awakened!
Lily had barely entered the Endless Demon Mountains and even detoured around the danger zones marked on the map deliberately, yet she still ended up running into such a powerful monster. Although she didn’t really care much about this 6th-stage Awakened monster, running into it made her feel a bit worried about entering the Endless Demon Mountains as it was unknown just how many powerful monsters resided in this location.
As the other side remained silent, Lily also followed suit continued walking forward. The two neared each other gradually and the moment they were about to pa.s.s by each other with only two to three steps left in between them, the martial monk heaved his golden staff suddenly and struck it towards Lily!
Lily naturally had long prepared to battle and stepped back suddenly to dodge the staff, which resulted in the earth splitting apart when the monk’s staff struck it, leaving a huge hole behind. Lily transferred strength to her feet and leaped forward momentarily, drawing Crescent Moon out in the process and struck the monk’s shoulder with its sharp s.h.i.+mmering edge.
Crescent Moon’s blade sliced into the monk’s thick shoulder and carved through the bone, making him drop the golden staff in his hands. Lily then raised her katana up and rotated it to hold the handle with both her hands before striking down!
The monk’s head was cleaved apart in the next moment!
And the monk’s muscular body fell to the ground with a thud, causing the dead leaves to rise up.
Lily stepped on the monk’s back while stabbing his heart simultaneously and absorbed the monk’s anima.
“This fellow possessed considerable strength. Just a random monk wandering the Endless Demon Mountains is so formidable, I really can’t be careless.”
Saying so, Lily walked forward a hundred steps, but she saw martial monks of all heights approach her from the front, sides and the woods behind her all at the same time.
There were roughly about a dozen of them.
“There’s so many of them?” Lily was alarmed. These martial monks possessed strength ranging from a 4th-stage Awakened to a 6th-stage Awakened and were by no means weak. If an average sword saint powerhouse were to enter the Endless Demon Mountains, she reckoned that they would barely come out alive even from just the outer regions of the mountains.
Lily also didn’t know just how many monks were present on this mountain.
Whether intentional or otherwise, these monks approached Lily all the same, but the ones a hundred steps away from her continued to wander the woods as if they hadn’t discovered her.
“It seems like I’ve run into this group of wandering undead monk apparitions accidentally!”
Lily didn’t intend to battle zealously and continued walking forward, but a lot of the monks approached closer to her with the intent of encircling her.
However, Lily didn’t fear them.
From the front, two monks faced her head-on while a monk entered within a dozen steps of Lily from the side and suddenly accelerated his speed to approach her from the back and struck the spiked cudgel in hand towards her back. The two monks in front of Lily also readied their tachi and golden staff and attacked her at the same time.
Lily didn’t even look at them and just side-stepped slightly to dodge their attacks.
“Wham!” The spiked cudgel missed Lily by a hair’s breadth and smashed on the ground beside Lily’s foot. She then retreated backwards and arrived beside the monk behind her and struck the blade of Crescent Moon downwards to slice open a good half of the monk’s leg, forcing him to kneel on the ground and beheaded him with a swing of her katana.
The monk in front of her followed up with yet another attack after missing the first time, but Lily pointed at the 4th-stage Awakened monk suddenly and yelled the following, “Show thy skills, Kagura!”
A cl.u.s.ter of sakura petals and a pink luminescent mist manifested in the direction Lily pointed at and two red and gold koi could be vaguely seen frolicking together in this luminescent mist.
Dressed in snug, informal pink n.o.ble clothes with a short skirt and white socks, Kagura appeared from within the luminescent mist with Brocade-Patterned Koi in hand and the Sakura Parasol on her back. Although Kagura was manipulating Nanako’s body that was only at the early sword master stage, the fierce aura emanating off her made even Lily’s pulse quicken.
“Whoos.h.!.+” Kagura whizzed through the sky and turned into a sakura-colored afterimage, slicing under the ribs of the 4th-stage Awakened monk, but the monk still had his golden cudgel raised up with the intention of attacking Lily and failed to react in time to the s.h.i.+kigami Kagura who had appeared suddenly.
“Splas.h.!.+” Followed by a flash of crimson sword light, a terrifying wound opened up under the ribs of the monk and his filthy rotten blood splashed out along with black smoke.
Kagura turned around immediately after executing the first attack and struck at the nape of the monk accurately from behind. Although she didn’t strike heavily, Kagura’s speed was too fast and she attacked the monk from all directions like a sakura-colored phantom, giving the monk no time to respond and making it look as if several Kagura were attacking him simultaneously.
“Splas.h.!.+ Splas.h.!.+ Splas.h.!.+” Several wounds opened on the monk’s body and Lily could make out that each one of them were fatal wounds, but Kagura’s strikes lacked power. Be that as it may, her Brocade-Patterned Koi was quite fast and sharp, so the monk fell to his death within a few slashes.
The 6th-stage Awakened monk struck his tachi towards Kagura from the side at this moment with a speed that far exceeded the response limit of Nanako’s current body.
“Withdraw!” Lily used the Art of No-Thought and Kagura transformed into a cloud of luminescent mist before disappearing into the mirror.
The monk’s attack just hit empty air as a result and the look on his greyish face looked as expressionless as ever since he was unable to comprehend what exactly happened because of losing his wisdom and experienced a brief moment of sluggishness.
Lily stepped forth to kill him with a swing of her katana.
“Haha. That was amazing, Kagura!”
“There’s nothing amazing about killing a mere 4th-stage Awakened weakling. Miss Nanako’s body really lacks training!” Kagura complained.
“Anyhow, even I feel an impenetrable gap from your fierce sword intent and firm strikes,” Lily stated.
“Tsk. Of course, you do. I’m an ancient s.h.i.+kigami who battled alongside Suzuhiko-hime and even though I’ve lost most of my strength, I’ve retained some of my battle intent and realm. I would become the laughingstock if you managed to see through it.”
“Hmph,” Lily grinned and continued advancing forward quickly without saying anything.
The monks nearby also sped her in their pursuit once Lily accelerated her speed.
She killed several undead monks and devoured their animas along the way.
The skies had also begun to darken gradually now and the woods ahead of her were covered in dense fog with azure light flas.h.i.+ng through it intermittently.
A very powerful eldritch aura loomed over Lily from the front and several undead monks charged towards her from all directions.
A four-meter or so tall barefooted giant monk with an exceptionally huge baldhead quarter the size of his height and a single eye too ugly to describe appeared from the dense fog at the front. He wore a tattered navy-blue kasaya and held a heavy string of black prayer beads in his root-like coa.r.s.e and grotesquely huge arm. His forehead was a bit too long and had a humongous azure glowing eye that protruded outwards and stared right at Lily while emitting an eerie glow.
“Be careful, Master. It’s an Aobōzu1!” Kagura stated via voice transmission.