Book 5: Chapter 151: Nanas.h.i.+’s Strength
The right side of the 3-sided viewing platform surrounding the dueling arena were mostly occupied by court officials of the Genji and famous samurai. However, a few youthful-looking young men dressed in formal kimonos that set them apart from those around them were also seated on this side.
Minamoto no Juzaburo was among them as well.
“I can’t believe Father nominated that barbarous lunatic! I don’t get what Father’s thinking! My elder brothers and I can only keep watching from here!” Envy filled Juzaburo’s mind as he watched the crowd call for s.h.i.+zuru to kill Nanas.h.i.+.
“Let’s forget about the other seniors of the Genji, I’m fine with their nomination. But why did Father nominate Tsukawa as a seed compet.i.tor?! Are you telling me he’s the best talent of the Genji? As for me, I have to go up the preliminaries like the masterless samurai if I wish to compete!”
“How disgraceful! I am the son of the Shogun; I would become the laughingstock if I were to partic.i.p.ate in the preliminaries! Heh! I hope the Taira clan wins the tournament, that’d teach Father a lesson for not nominating me!”
“As for the other match, the Tsukawa’s opponent is that woman! I should be the one teaching that b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲ a lesson in front of everyone, but… I hope she wins now! Hahaha! It’s the hick’s fault for grabbing my nomination! He better not have any hopes of showing off during the match! Well, even if he wins, I’ll just consider that as him teaching Lily a lesson for me! No, wait! That won’t do! Wouldn’t that mean Tsukawa will become the winner if he defeats s.h.i.+zuru?”
“Genji’s best talent? F̲u̲c̲k̲ you! Even if I don’t become the Shogun’s successor, the role will fall to one of my brothers! You’re just dreaming if you think you can make it big!”
Juzaburo1’s thoughts were occupied with Tsukawa’s match although he was watching s.h.i.+zuru’s. He really wished to have his vengeance on Lily, but his hate for Tsukawa far exceeded that of hers right now. Tsukawa was the most brilliant youth of the Genji. Although he was called the best talent, he acted with sheer arrogance all the time. He had humiliated Juzaburo in the past, so the latter didn’t wish to see the former continue showing-off.
On the arena, s.h.i.+zuru left behind beige afterimages as she charged in front of Shenzu with a pair of sharp, glistening wakizas.h.i.+s in her hands and launched an onslaught of rapid and relentless attacks.
Fortunately, Shenzu also wielded a pair of blades, nodachis with 1.6m long blades, that were much longer than s.h.i.+zuru’s wakizas.h.i.+s. s.h.i.+zuru was thus forced to rely on the ambus.h.i.+ng nature of wakizas.h.i.+ attacks and close in to attack her!
Shenzu’s Grade 9 blades came from Rokuhara and had been refined with mystic sword runes at the time of their creation, which blessed them with the ability to shrink and elongate. Otherwise, it would’ve been impossible for Shenzu to wield them in case they were still as long as when wielded by Rokuhara.
“Taira no s.h.i.+zuru… She deserves to be called one of the talents of our generation. I never imagined she had mastered dual blades to such expertise. Her movements are pretty swift as well, just like that of a comet! If I were to consider just her speed of acceleration and deceleration when she stops and changes directions, I’m afraid she’s a bit faster than me.”
Even though s.h.i.+zuru was facing Lily’s enemy, Shenzu, her skills were exceptional enough to mesmerize Lily as well.
“Although she’s talented and was born in the Taira clan, it seems that she’d been neglected for long. If not, she wouldn’t have lost to me in terms of funds at the Fuyutsuki auction,” Lily speculated.
In fact, s.h.i.+zuru was faster than Tamurakonoe in terms of blade-drawing speed. However, that was when she used wakizas.h.i.+s instead of her current nodachis.
Clang! Shenzu was forced to bring all she had to the match to catch up with s.h.i.+zuru’s speed and resist with her dual blades. Although all Shenzu could do was defend in front of s.h.i.+zuru’s rapid attacks, the latter was also unable to break through the former’s guard!
Lily’s gaze turned solemn, “That Shenzu is still hiding some strength!”
s.h.i.+zuru needed to keep up the attacks and keep close to her opponent because of her wakizas.h.i.+’s short reach while Shenzu just needed to make the slightest movements to block.
Shenzu swung her blade with force when she blocked s.h.i.+zuru’s attack suddenly.
Clang! The swing pushed s.h.i.+zuru back and messed up her footwork as Shenzu’s strength far exceeded s.h.i.+zuru’s, and she seized this chance to kick the latter’s waist.
However, s.h.i.+zuru dodged the kick by showing exceptional dexterity, bending her unstable body down to a crouching position, before she followed up with an attack to Shenzu’s lower body.
Clang! Shenzu stabbed one of her blades into the floor to block s.h.i.+zuru’s blades and slashed at the latter’s back with her other blade! s.h.i.+zuru rolled sideways to dodge but Shenzu had long released a phantasmic azure energy wave via her foot. The energy wave shuttled towards s.h.i.+zuru and forced her to glide across the floor on her back while resisting it with her dual blades.
Bam! The energy wave flooded s.h.i.+zuru and sent her flying, tearing her dress into tatters in multiple spots. s.h.i.+zuru stabbed the floor to slow down her momentum and barely managed to remain within the arena.
s.h.i.+zuru got up swiftly, but she was out of breath from her relentless attacks as well as her defense from Shenzu’s kick, both of which had fatigued her a lot.
“It seems like the best talent of Taira has nothing to her name except for speed. You’re as weak as a baby, lady.”
“What did you say?!” s.h.i.+zuru had also gauged her opponent’s strength and donned a starlight-like aura that boosted her speed a notch higher!
“Hahahaha! Do you think you can win this tournament with just speed and footwork?” Shenzu leaped back and donned an aura of poignant azure demonflames. A gigantic moonflower’s image manifested in the sky behind Shenzu, and the moment it blossomed, it issued a ******* and otherworldly screech.
This was Shenzu’s domain. Dusken Mist—Moonflower!
The domain wasn’t a product of the arcane arts and was a manifestation of intent instead. It was a zone that could be accessed by the pract.i.tioners of samurai code of chivalry.
s.h.i.+zuru’s speed slowed down visibly as the ethereal light enshrouded the arena.
However, s.h.i.+zuru didn’t resist the domain at all, “Do you think only you have a domain?”
Bzzt! s.h.i.+zuru illuminated with traveling star-like specks that seemed to imitate the most basic and tiniest of heavenly changes.
Although they were just tiny changes, these changes were still related to the heavens! s.h.i.+zuru’s fragile star domain began to resist Shenzu’s Moonflower domain.
“A domain!” Sasaki yelped with excitement, “As expected of the semifinals to decide Heian Empire’s best talent! No one could’ve imagined that both of these women would use domains today, a skill that’s the dream of all samurai!”
“Shenzu’s domain has leveled up again from my previous fight with her!” Lily remarked internally.
Although the domains were clas.h.i.+ng against each other, it was clear that Shenzu held the advantage as s.h.i.+zuru’s speed had still received some influence. If the match were to continue silently like this, she’d undoubtedly run out of spirit reserves!
Shenzu was a former Throne, so her spirit reserves were much higher than that of s.h.i.+zuru’s.
“She still hasn’t shown all her strength,” Lily felt a s.h.i.+ver pa.s.s through her back. The current Shenzu seemed much stronger compared to before when Lily had stripped her of her powers. However, Shenzu’s aura was only at the peak-stage Permanence level right now, which puzzled Lily to no end.
Lily recalled that Thrones weren’t allowed to take part in this tournament, but it didn’t make sense for her to cripple her Throne powers again to join it as doing that wasn’t as simple as it sounded.
Lily had actually used Yoruko’s Rebirth to destroy Shenzu’s Throne Palace, yet the current Shenzu’s peak-stage Permanence level strength felt much stronger than when she was a Throned General.
Shenzu didn’t allow s.h.i.+zuru to approach her and floated up the sky by stepping on the moonflower’s petals, and barraged s.h.i.+zuru with sharp and phantasmic azure sword beams
The sword beams streaked past the floor, leaving behind marks on it that brimmed with lunar and solar energies.
“These marks don’t just contain Shenzu’s aura! There’s someone else’s aura within them. A much primordial and aggressive aura… It’s Rokuhara!” Lily paled in fear as Shenzu’s sword beam didn’t just resemble Rokuhara’s sword beam, it really contained a portion of his aura.
Lily felt puzzled for a moment. It was difficult for even someone like her to predict that Rokuhara had long died and that he had given all of his remaining powers to Shenzu!
The gigantic moonflower in the sky bloomed towards s.h.i.+zuru and shot its th.o.r.n.y stamens at her, las.h.i.+ng out with unceasing momentum. Although they didn’t pose much of a threat to s.h.i.+zuru since they disappeared after entering her domain, they still sealed s.h.i.+zuru’s movements and forced her to confront the sword beam Shenzu released towards her.
Bam! The sword beam bombarded at s.h.i.+zuru’s dual blades.
Pfft! s.h.i.+zuru threw up blood as the explosion rampaged her organs and the stamen seized this chance to bind her feet, hoisting her up for a charged attack from Shenzu, which s.h.i.+zuru barely managed to block with her dual blades.
Clang! A h.e.l.lish aura thundered through s.h.i.+zuru, tearing her garments into pieces, leaving her with just tattered stockings and a piece of cloth for a skirt. The stamen flung s.h.i.+zuru up like a ball before slamming her down to the floor at Shenzu’s command!
Boom! A crater emerged on the arena and the spectators drew in a cold breath of air when they witnessed this.
“What?!” Internal Affairs Minister Taira no Sadamori, a high official from the Taira clan, as well as the Imperial Guards’ Commander, Taira no Mori, were shocked by this development. They only saw Minamoto no Tsukawa as a considerable opponent and were even planning to help s.h.i.+zuru defeat him tomorrow after watching today’s match. Yet, the best talent of the Taira clan had been forced to such dire straits already!
“s.h.i.+zuru! Is this what you wanted to show the world by ruining the engagement and insisting on following the path of a samurai?!” Sadamori screamed at her from the Taira clan’s platform, “If you lose today and still refuse to marry the emperor, even if His Majesty doesn’t blame you, the Taira clan will ensure you pay a heavy price for the crime!”
The little girl covered her b.r.e.a.s.t.s within the dust and stood up feebly, her tender body scarred and bruised all over. All that remained on her were her tattered stockings and a patch of her skirt, underneath which flashed her white garters and panties. Her torso, however, was void of any garments, and she was forced to battle while covering her b.r.e.a.s.t.s with one hand to protect her reputation as the young miss of the Taira clan.
“I-I haven’t lost yet! Come at me!” She pointed her blade at Shenzu.
Everyone showed different kinds of looks and reactions to the exposure of s.h.i.+zuru’s sorry figure.
“Hold it! The match’s suspended temporarily!” The judge sprinted to the center of the arena with his flag and looked at the spectators before stopping his gaze on Ayaka, who was the highest authority on the scene.
“Lady Taira no s.h.i.+zuru’s dress has suffered severe damage. To ensure a fair tournament and to also protect the reputation of the Taira clan2, I request a suspension of the match under my authority as the judge in consideration of a similar precedent set decades ago. I hope you’ll permit it, Chief Advisor.”
- Silva: Oh, I almost forgot who this guy was was a moment, so he didnt even make it into the main tournament, so much for the big talk…
- Robinxen: So they have rules for this, good on them.