Book 3: Chapter 72: Dark and Hopeless World
Lily ran through the woods with towering old trees alone in the darkness of the night.
The vegetation around her flew backwards swiftly as she was running with all her strength right now, at a speed much faster than the average speed of a horse!
However, a few samurai were chasing her from behind on horseback at this moment!
Naturally, they weren’t human samurai and actually undead hors.e.m.e.n.
Lily didn’t plan to continue fighting zealously in the beginning, but these tall hors.e.m.e.n who rode undead horses chased her persistently and made her worry that she might run into some demon faction if she continued running forward like this!
Thus, Lily resolved herself to fight them!
The hoofs of the horses resounded from behind the moment Lily slowed down and two heavily armored samurai with glowing eyes who were 5th-stage Awakened hors.e.m.e.n lifted their tachi up silently while chasing after her.
Lily came to a sudden sliding stop and turned around to face the warhorse charging towards her. Lily side-stepped gently in response to imminent arrival of the horse and allowed the horse to finish executing its stamp before brandis.h.i.+ng her Crescent Moon with precision.
The horseman on the other side slashed his katana at Lily as well, but Lily counterattacked with her katana at the same moment.
The two warhorses continued to charge forward, but the two samurai riding the horses fell down from the horses in succession.
“Master! These are a group of famous monsters, the Fifty Undead Hors.e.m.e.n. Each one of the hors.e.m.e.n harbors a powerful and intense grudge and they got their name from the fact that fifty of these hors.e.m.e.n operate together at all times. Proceed with caution, Master,” Kagura reminded Lily from within the mirror.
“Well, they’re the Forty-Eight Undead Hors.e.m.e.n now,” Lily stated calmly.
Still, Lily didn’t let her guard down and listened to the hoofs of the horses approaching her gradually from afar.
Lily rushed forward and cut a huge tree in front of her when she saw three more hors.e.m.e.n charge towards her, resulting in one of the hors.e.m.e.n prompting its horse to jump across the cras.h.i.+ng tree trunk while the other two hors.e.m.e.n were blown off their horses from the momentum when their horses stopped suddenly.
The horseman who prompted his horse to jump across the tree trunk possessed a fearsome appearance and was donned in a dark, black-horned regal helmet stabbed his spear towards Lily.
Lily dodged the stab with swift, elegant and phantasmal movements and attacked back with her katana from the bottom-up.
However, the horseman actually s.h.i.+fted his body sideways and dodged Lily’s attack.
“What?!” Lily was astonished that the opponent, who was a mere 7th-stage Awakened1, had actually managed to dodge her attack.
The horse charged forward while carrying the horseman.
In the meantime, the two hors.e.m.e.n who had fallen from their horses had gotten up and charged towards Lily with the intent to kill.
Lily also charged towards them and slashed to the left and right while dodging their attacks, slaying the two 4th-stage Awakened hors.e.m.e.n!
Although Lily had killed her opponents in a single move each, she began harboring doubts internally. She seemed to encounter 5th-stage Awakened or higher leveled monsters who possess strength equal to sword saints frequently after entering the Land of Hundred Demons, and even ran into a few monsters whose strength was comparable to Yumi and Hojo over the past few days. Even that Aobōzu possessed a strength that only half-a-notch lower than the members of the Furinkazan.
This made her wonder why the monsters didn’t invade the Land of East if there were so many powerful monsters in the Land of Hundred Demons.
In Lily’s opinion, any random monster from the Endless Demon Mountains was capable enough to bring upon a huge calamity, so she couldn’t understand why they refrained from leaving these mountains.
To her, it didn’t look like anyone except Lord Kamakura and the Furinkazan could fight back against them.
The 7th-stage Awakened horseman in the front urged his horse to turn around and charged at Lily with the intent to kill at this moment.
The horseman possessed swift and fierce spear arts, so even though Lily blocked his spear with her katana, her attacks failed to hit him all the same because of his excellent distance control.
Thus, Lily spun around and sent a crimson beam of sword light flying at him the moment he crossed beside her and it caused him to fall down from his horse because of the impact.
“To think there’s someone with such excellent spear arts among the undead hors.e.m.e.n. I wasn’t able to defeat him with just sword arts and normal battle tactics.”
“Why did undead hors.e.m.e.n of such strength hold back from invading the Land of East?” Lily muttered to herself confoundedly.
“Lily, monsters consist mostly of apparitions or manifestations of grudge into the world. They possess an intense notion of regions and just how I was in the past, some of them can’t leave the region where they demonized willingly. As for the others, they never think of leaving or are unwilling to leave,” Yuki-Onna answered Lily’s doubts from the mirror s.p.a.ce after hearing her question.
As Lily’s s.h.i.+kigami, as long as Lily didn’t prevent her from doing so, she could perceive the circ.u.mstances outside the mirror via abilities like spirit sight and spirit sense, just like how Kagura could see Lily’s opponent from within the mirror via her spirit sight.
Kagura added further, “Master, the relations.h.i.+p, in this case, is very delicate. Humans think that monsters consume humans and do evil in human territories, but that’s just the result of the livelihood of humans and monsters overlapping in certain regions. In a certain sense, you can say that it’s not the samurai who protect human territories, but rather that no Great Demon or powerful monster has manifested in these territories, which is why humans are able to propagate safely!”
“This peace and prosperity reduce the grudge present in the world, which further reduces the regions where monsters can live, increasing the bar for the manifestation of a Great Demon. The world, however, is in chaos at present, so the regions where powerful monsters can move about are actually increasing gradually!” Kagura continued.
“Naturally, besides the demon parade, there are also powerful monster lords who lead an army of monsters to conquer human territories and cities, but these monsters number very few in reality. Most of the monsters only operate in their original regions, but it’s just that the territories of powerful monsters who don’t possess the desire to invade human territories are also expanding gradually and becoming as huge as human territories! Since ancient times, samurai like Lord Kamakura and the Furinkazan have actually only dealt with the small number of monsters who attempted to invade human territories, if not, the Furinkazan would just be throwing away the lives of their troops if they led their armies into the Endless Demon Mountains in an attempt to seize land back from the monsters here!”
“So it was like that… Most of these monsters are just moving in their territories?”
“Obviously. If all the monsters were to come out in full strength, all the human territories other than those protected by the very few powerhouses would’ve been long decimated! There, however, is an unseen balance influenced by all kinds of complicated environmental factors. The shrines built by humans, for example, may not intimidate small demons much, but they are able to instill some Great Demons with fear because they know the real fearsomeness of deities and heroes and don’t dare to come closer. The things monsters and humans are afraid of are essentially different. Humans might feel like acting freely and annexing territories as long as their opponent is weaker than them, but oftentimes, monsters who derive their power from the world actually fear things like spells and charms that don’t actually have any real power,” Kagura continued with the explanation.
The things might’ve been common knowledge for experienced samurai and powerhouses like Lord Kamakura, the Furinkazan members, s.h.i.+mizu, and Rei, a subtle balance maintained by certain laws of the world, but, even though Lily was quite strong as well, she had come from another world, so she didn’t have access to such basic knowledge of mysticism until now.
“So, the monster invasion of human territories in this dark and hopeless Heian world is actually because of the overlap between territories where humans and monsters live…”
Lily had a feeling that this dark Heian world still contained a huge secret, but she had no clue about it at present.
More hors.e.m.e.n emerged from the back and the hillside and charged towards Lily with killing intent at this moment.
Lily could’ve decimated all of them if she used her domain, but she didn’t want to get found by stronger monsters by making a huge commotion and also wanted to hone her sword arts while laying low.
Lily had to reconsider the danger level of the Endless Demon Mountains after hearing Kagura’s explanation. She initially thought that these mountains might have powerhouses like the Furinkazan members, and that there would be a low number of them even though the number surpa.s.sed that of the human side… but it looked like there was a chance for her to get discovered by a Great Demon stronger than the Furinkazan members if she let her guard down, so she needed to proceed with utmost caution from now onwards.
Lily tried to slay the approaching undead hors.e.m.e.n instantly as much as possible and use only the necessary amount of spirit power, wasting no amount of it to deliver swift yet fatal attacks with her katana.
Lily began to gradually feel the effectiveness of this tactic of controlling her spirit power and strength and also felt her comprehension of sword arts experience some growth!
The Tsukuyomi Swordstyle wasn’t just a technique to exert power and was actually a way to increase the perception with regards to the sword and a process to gain realization and comprehension of sword intent.
Lily’s sword arts had become more refined at this moment.
An opponent similar to the horseman with excellent spear skills was no longer a match to the current Lily.
Lily charged forward towards the horseman sprinting towards her and the moonlight reflected in her eyes as she dodged her opponent’s blade agilely and sliced off his neck with a crimson flash of her dancing blade.
She then turned around and caused her long-sleeves to flutter up as she dodged the spear of another horseman and spun on the ground to strike him at the back, causing him to fall down from his horse from the slash.
However, Lily already knew that pursuing ingeniousness and agility wasn’t the perfect form of sword arts, so she didn’t allow her sword arts to suffer such restraints and used strength in her heavy strikes when needed!
“Splatter!” Although it looked as if Lily was standing still, she had actually executed a heavy all-out slash while leaning over suddenly and sliced through the horseman and the horse!
She then rolled past underneath the horse’s stomach and slashed across the ground to cut off the legs of another horseman’s horse, causing him to fall down.
Lily leaped up at times to flip over an undead horseman and deliver a medium-strength horizontal strike from the back to cut through the opponent’s armor and slash deeply!
Lily became more skilled in using different levels of strength and attack tempo to deal with different opponents.
She took her time to kill to her heart’s content!
Lily saw a very huge warhorse underneath the moonlight on the hillside whose rider was a regal samurai with a crescent-horned helmet that wielded an outrageous tachi in his hand.
This horseman exuded powerful eldritch energy on the level of middle Spirit Jade Stage.
“The Fifty Undead Hors.e.m.e.n. It seems like this final horseman is the leader of the hors.e.m.e.n!” Lily stood at the foot of the hillside with Crescent Moon in hand and gazed at her opponent coldly.
- Silva: “mere”… My, how far you’ve come Lily… to call a 7th-stage Awakened as “mere”