Book 5: Chapter 5: Demon Drinking Party
Lily stood outside the simple and elegant door. When viewed from the outside, there was nothing particularly special about the manor apart from its size. As for the inside, Lily couldn’t sense anything at all; she felt just like an ordinary girl standing outside an old secluded house. Only the smell of the gra.s.s and trees tickled her nose, ushered by the brushes of gentle wind.
However, Lily knew better than to take this place lightly.
Even the mountains and forests hundreds of kilometers outside Heian-kyō were special. The darkness and beauty in the capital were even more breathtaking. This was the manor of the Heian Dynasty’s chief advisor and the world’s number one onmyoji master, Fujiwara no Ayaka— how could it be simple?
Yet, there was nothing evidently strange about this place. Instead, it had become a charming spectacle in the Heian capital that could be viewed freely.
The old man who opened the door shattered this misconception. Although she couldn’t feel his aura, Lily believed that he could take her down within three moves if he wanted. She also recalled the demon hound that fled Lady Ayaka’s residence with serious injuries and resided in Kanto, becoming a feared demon in the region.
Fujiwara no Ayaka, in the end, what kind of person are you…?
Lily replied to the old man at the door very courteously, “Old sir, I am a female samurai from Kamakura. There is an important matter I need to see…Lord Chief Advisor about.”
“What?” The old man frowned, “Do you know what place this is? Lord Chief Advisor’s residence! Do you think you can enter whenever you want to? Not to mention that it’s late at night, even in the daytime, a mere warrior is not qualified to enter the chief advisor’s residence! It’s too late at night so I won’t bother pursuing the crime of your disturbance. Leave now before I change my mind!”
“Eh?” Lily didn’t expect this result and grew a little anxious, “Old sir, I, I have traveled to Heian-kyō all the way from Kanto and experienced numerous hards.h.i.+ps just to see Lady Ayaka. If it’s too late now, I can wait until tomorrow morning.”
“How bold!” The old man suddenly waved his black sleeves, conjuring a strong wind that blasted Lily out and onto the road beyond the gate.
“A woman from the East who doesn’t know her place. You have a beautiful appearance and your words are quite ladylike, but you dare to call Lord Chief Advisor by her name? That alone is enough to throw you in jail! Get out of here! Who cares where you’re from or what important matters you have? Of Lord Chief Advisor’s many daily meetings, which one is not of great importance? There are millions of people in the world who want to see Lord Chief Advisor every day so it’s impossible to accommodate all of them. Since you are a samurai, go to the head of the Genji or Taira Clan and submit your request for an audience to the chief office of Taisei Palace and wait for the review! If everyone knocked on the door of Lord Chief Advisor’s manor in the middle of the night like this, wouldn’t Heian-kyō be a mess?!”
The angry old man rebuked Lily incessantly, but his strength was really unfathomable. Just the wind generated by a single wave of his sleeves left her helpless and unable to resist.
With an aggrieved look on her face, Lily got up and lightly patted her skirt to remove the dust. She risked her life and made many preparations to come to Heian-kyō, but who would’ve guessed this result1?
Lily hesitated for a while but decided against revealing Prince Narinaga’s letter. The prince especially instructed her to deliver the letter directly to Lady Ayaka herself. The old man’s loyalty and character were unknown, and he was extremely powerful. If she judged wrongly, it was likely that she would draw disaster to herself.
Seeing Lily’s despondent mood, the old man’s heart softened a bit. After all, disregarding the matter of ident.i.ty, there were no other beauties comparable to Lily in Heian-kyō apart from the chief advisor herself. He gave her a complicated look and said, “Girl, considering that you are a rare beauty, I will tell you a way. Tomorrow during the day, come in through the backdoor and say that you want to serve Lord Chief Advisor and be her maid. The fat butler behind the door will probably let you in since you have enough capital with your looks.”
The old man looked at Lily as if he was looking at an ordinary woman. From his point of view, beautiful women could only flaunt and sell their looks to achieve their goals.
Such an abject evaluation made Lily, who had struggled through life and death to come here, feel a surge of anger. Even if she could meet Lady Ayaka through such a method, she was not willing!
Currently, Lily possessed her own territory and mineral veins. She killed the archdemon of Lake Biwa, defeated Sakanoue no Tamurakonoe and his uncle, and created many legends along her journey. Naturally, she developed the arrogance of a queen over time. How could she lower herself to such a humble position in order to meet Lady Ayaka? It was a shame she couldn’t bear!
“Hmph, then there is no need. I will find other ways to seek an audience with Lord Chief Advisor. Excuse me!” Lily’s face was cold, and with a flick of her sleeves, she turned and left.
“Hmph, born with such a beautiful and vulgar body, but still quite arrogant,” The old man looked at Lily’s distant figure and muttered, “If she really came forward to serve as Lord Chief Advisor’s personal maid, perhaps she would’ve really been chosen.”
After saying this, the old man closed the door.
Lily walked alone on Nijo Boulevard in the middle of the night, feeling lost, “I should’ve known the conditions I would face before I came here to see Lady Ayaka! How depressing.”
“Sigh, if only I was still in Kanto. With my standing in Kamakura, people would be clamoring to see me instead, not to mention that As.h.i.+kaga Makoto is my adoptive mother. Sadly, I’m afraid there are not many people in Heian-kyō who know her…”
“Prince Narinaga may be able to help, but where do I go to find him now? I guess it won’t be easy to see him again.”
What to do? Do I really have to submit an application and wait for a review? I can be considered a member of the Genji Clan, but even if I go to the Genji forces in Heian-kyō, I have no direct connections with them. I have some money, but I’ll have to wait until dawn to do anything anyway.
Lily intended to first find an inn to stay in, take a bath, and settle down.
On Nijo Boulevard, the chief advisor’s manor was to the north while the south was occupied by gardens and shrines; there were no commercial blocks. She returned to Suzaku Avenue and walked for a bit, pa.s.sing by a small ca.n.a.l. There was a row of garden plants on the east side of the ca.n.a.l, and in the nearby neighborhood, the faint sounds of singing and music could be heard.
Lily strolled along the small ca.n.a.l, but most of the houses were closed with no visible lights inside. When she approached an alley beside a crooked willow tree, the sounds of singing and music grew clearer.
“Since there is singing and music, it is probably a tavern that is still in business.” Lily walked towards the alley that was between two old, quiet buildings. The s.p.a.ce was very narrow, only enough for two people to walk side by side.
In the depths of the alley, there were dim flashes of red and orange lights.
Clink-clank, ding-dong… The music sounded a little cheerful, but there was a touch of melancholy mixed within as if avoiding or venting something.
Looking ahead, there was actually a small lodging open late at night and two strings of lanterns were hung outside the entrance.
The short wooden door was left ajar and Lily needed to lower her head to get in. She gently pushed open the wooden door and inside was a quaint, dimly lit small tavern. When she entered, a yellow, black and white cat who stood half the height of a human and wore a simple yukata, greeted her.
Before Lily could say anything, the cat meowed and jumped slightly, looking very cheerful. He wagged his tail and said, “This is the demon sister, right? The reception has already begun, please go in quickly.”
“Eh?” Lily felt that she had stepped through the wrong door and entered a demon party by mistake.
But looking at the cat’s white legs and round chubby paws, she blushed and couldn’t help leaning down to pet the cat’s head.
The cat didn’t reject the gesture, in fact, it twisted its head in comfort, “Purrr~ demon sister, please come in.”
When the cat said that, he pushed Lily’s thighs and enthusiastically brought her towards a small door in the tavern.
Lily harbored some curiosity as she was ushered to the door.
As soon as the door was opened, the smell of fine wine and the sounds of jolly laughter and music a.s.saulted her senses. Once inside, she found to her surprise that this seemingly small tavern was actually very s.p.a.cious, supported by several rows of pillars. Multi-colored lights constantly flashed and weird demons of various shapes were drinking and singing inside the large room.
There were a few one-eyed dumpling monsters who were circling in the air as if performing a juggling act, and by the side, a few parasols danced in front of a screen painted with landscapes.
An obese, green-faced monk with black hair and tattered clothes held a large bowl of wine and staggered around the room, yelling toasts everywhere.
In the corner, a few white-faced kabuki with snake-like necks were singing traditional j.a.panese songs. Accompanying them was a four-legged snake with a hat that seemed obsessed with the kabuki with the longest neck, constantly dancing next to her and twisting his green tail. Unfortunately, the other party didn’t spare him any attention.
“This four-legged snake, I seemed to have seen it somewhere,” Lily muttered to herself.
Looking around, there were countless small and large demons, and even the plates, saucers, and wine gourds were dancing happily on the tables.
“What a demon drinking party!”
A gray-skinned, st.u.r.dy samurai hugged a demon girl and initiated a kiss, causing Lily to blush. It wasn’t one of those bad drinking parties, was it?
However, when the samurai turned his face, she realized that he had no facial features!
Heh, I don’t know what kind of kiss he’s giving, Lily mocked.
“Demon sister, what kind of monster are you?” A buck-toothed, brown-skinned child with a few stray hairs on his head and tattered clothes suddenly came up to Lily and toasted her.
“Oh, and what kind of demon are you?” Lily looked at the other party as if he was just a little naughty kid.
The child suddenly cracked a seam in his broad forehead and opened his third eye. All three eyes leered at Lily’s chest and waist, making her feel very uncomfortable.
“I’m a blade maiden, want to see my sword?” Lily rested her hand on the hilt of her sword and exuded a crimson resentment, scaring the child away.
In the end, this is a party for monsters. Although it looks quite cheerful, a bad premonition lingers in my heart. Since I’ve already seen everything, it’s better to leave quickly, Lily thought and wanted to leave.
But at that moment, on the other side of the large room, two wide wooden doors opened at the same time, and a tyrannical demonic aura seething with a thousand years of resentment permeated the surroundings!
“Lord Taira no Masakado has arrived—!” A gray-black beaver who appeared to be a wine waiter and had a fierce gaze sprang out of nowhere, shouting loudly.
The atmosphere among the room of demons grew even more crazed after the announcement!
- Robinxen: Uh everyone? I mean literally… I could sail on a raft to France if I want but that doesn’t mean I have the right to talk to their Minister of Finances or whatever. Like why did you think this would be so trivial?