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“I’ve decided to head into the mountains and do a little exploring.”
As dusk fell, Tamurakonoe stood up from the boulder with a poised expression. Although his face was as beautiful as sculpted jade, his back flexed with a hint of majestic manliness.
His voice was also deep and magnetic, enough to soften the bones of many young girls who might hear it.
However, this stirred no ripples in Shimizu’s heart, especially knowing his dastardly nature.
Shimizu groaned and staggered to her feet, trying to offset the pressure from her bandaged leg.
Tamurakonoe casually threw over a short bamboo sword to Shimizu, “Use it as a walking stick. Stay in front of me while we walk— about ten meters. You are also not allowed to suddenly speed up without my permission. I won’t tolerate any attempts at escaping.”
“So, you want to use me as bait?” Shimizu asked coldly.
“Oh, are you that unconfident? You are the genius female samurai of the Eastern land, Minamoto no Shimizu, who showed no fear when challenging me. Now that we’re about to enter this unknown mountain range, are you scared to go ahead?”
“You’re right. Even if it’s dangerous to walk in front, it’s still better than having to see your face!”
“Hahahahaha, just how many western women have willingly thrown themselves into my embrace upon seeing me? They can barely control their excitement.” Tamurakonoe smiled rather charmingly.
Shimizu couldn’t help but feel nauseous, “Can we go now?”
She couldn’t defy Tamurakonoe’s order, but at the same time, she herself was eager to explore the island. By doing so, she could leave as soon as possible to find Lily.
“Let’s go, then.” Tamurakonoe didn’t utterly dislike women, just disinclined to harbor any interest. Shimizu also didn’t match his type of woman. With his noble and powerful appearance, there was no lack of women around him anyway.
Shimizu endured the pain in her leg and used the short bamboo sword as a cane. She tried her best not to limp, but there was no way around it. Tamurakonoe’s strike was simply too vicious.
She could only move forward ever so slightly, heading toward the mountain that exuded an indescribable aura.
Just as Shimizu approached the inexplicable mountain, an ancient, long-lasting wave tickled her senses.
What kind of fluctuation is this? It seems to be coming from the depths of the mountain.
Shimizu hid her alert and turned to glance at Tamurakonoe. He was as poised as ever, tailing her by a distance of about ten meters. When their eyes met, Shimizu couldn’t discern any abnormalities from his expression.
He doesn’t seem to feel this fluctuation, Shimizu immediately judged.
Tamurakonoe’s strength was far above her own, so why could she feel this strange fluctuation while he could not?
Could something within the mountain be calling out to her?
“What’s wrong?” Tamurakonoe inquired.
“Where should I go next?” Shimizu deliberately asked, choosing to mask her discovery.
“Pick whatever path you want to head up the mountain, unless I give you instructions,” Tamurakonoe replied.
“So if anything happens, it has nothing to do with you, right?” Shimizu probed.
Tamurakonoe didn’t answer.
Shimizu continued onward, seemingly exploring at random. In fact, she was taking a roundabout path towards the source of the strange fluctuation.
Moving squarely in one direction would look too suspicious. The meticulous Tamurakonoe may raise his guard if he found something unusual.
Darkness gradually stained the sky, followed by cold wind and the arrival of rain.
“Ugh! I hate rain the most. Are you a woman with an affinity for water? It rained heavily yesterday, and now it’s raining again!” Dissatisfaction plastered Ui’s face as she looked up at the sky.
“There may be a cave further up the mountain to take shelter from the rain.” Lily pondered and said. She wanted to convince Ui to go up the mountain because she herself wanted to explore the deserted island.
“I don’t like high mountains, but…I hate rain even more,” Ui untied the rope hanging Lily from the tree branch.
“Hold your sword properly!” After shoving the sword handle into Lily’s mouth, Ui pulled the rope around her neck and walked towards the towering mountain.
The mountain range was dotted with ancient trees that swayed slightly in the drifting purple fog. Each tree looked extremely tall and strong, evidently existing for thousands of years. The fog emitted a fuzzy luster that cloaked the entangling branches of the ancient trees, shadowing the girls in the silhouettes of huge tree demons.
Ui couldn’t help but feel creeped out, “I really don’t like the atmosphere of this mountain.”
As the rain intensified, droplets of water occasionally fell from the broad canopies above and pattered against the shrubs, making ‘cracking’ sounds.
“Spiritual awareness isn’t effective here.” Ui complained.
“At the big tree ahead, go right for fifty meters. There should be a cave under the valley.” Lily suggested.
“Uh? How do you know that?” Ui asked without looking back.
Lily didn’t say much.
At this moment, Ui came to a sudden realization. She hurriedly turned around, “Why can you talk?”
She received the answer to her question through her eyes; not ears. Yasutsuna shook up and down in rhythm to Lily’s breathing as it steadily balanced on her towering chest.
Ui’s eyes turned a little gloomy.
She pulled Lily and proceeded cautiously in the specified direction, “Mirror Girl, you better not lie to me, otherwise, see how I’ll deal with you.”
Fortunately, there really was a cave at the location.
Although spiritual probes and other forms of spiritual detection were restricted by the strange fog, Lily leveraged the advantages of her Sakura Blizzard domain.
Among the numerous ancient trees, many of them were actually sakura trees. These sakura trees served as ‘beacons’ for Lily to observe the forest. The effect wasn’t as good as usual, but with the help of the sakura trees, Lily could span up to a range of hundreds of meters.
The two entered the cave, finally able to shelter themselves from the rain.
Because Lily was tied up, Ui had to collect the wood and start the fire. After that was settled, she started undressing, intending to use her kendama’s threads as a makeshift clothesline to hang her clothes over the fire.
Lily originally didn’t want to look, but she caught a glimpse of something on Ui’s back. They were scars— numerous scars. Although they seemed to have healed long ago, their cruel traces remained; some even resembling marks of severe burns. Such a tender-looking girl hosted grievous scars…Lily couldn’t help but gasp in shock.
Ui stalled, allowing her kimono to slip down her shoulders and back. As the dress continued to lower, more scars were soon illuminated by the flickering firelight.
“Huh, you mean these scars?”
“You are in the Spirit Jade Stage. Even if your spiritual energy doesn’t specialize in healing wounds, your skin should’ve recovered near flawlessly by now. Why do you keep those scars on your back?” Lily asked.
“Hmph, Kagami Lily, I want to punish, humiliate, and kill you in the end. Why do you sound so concerned about me?”
When Ui turned around, a few scratches also striped the areas around her small breasts.
She draped her clothes over the silk threads and sat down with her hands covering her chest. Her bent legs exposed her inner thigh which surprisingly hosted deliberate scars, seemingly carved using a sharp blade.
The scars fleshed out characters that looked inverted from Lily’s perspective, but she could still spell them out: “Fool.”
The handwriting was somewhat delicate but reeked of cruelty.
A young girl’s delicate white thigh was actually engraved with such a word…
“Did you see it?” Ui asked with a dark expression, “Why do you look so sympathetic and pained? You seem to care about me more than myself. Is your tenderness and compassion equal to the capacity of your chest?”
Lily ignored the indecent sarcasm and said, “I can understand the dangers and hardships that every practitioner experiences along the way, but why don’t you get rid of those scars? The Spirit Jade stage is perfectly capable of doing that, right?”
The flame of hatred in Ui’s eyes burned just as intensely as the bonfire, but her face was indifferent and gloomy, “I view the female body differently from you Eastern women. Do you think that all women should be as smooth and flawless as jade? You just want to maintain your perfect body so you can charm and seduce others. I’m not full of obscene thoughts like you, always trying to achieve a sexier and more seductive figure. Kagami Lily, why are you so shameless? Do you live solely to seduce others?”
“Ah? This…what are you talking about? Women love beauty and naturally strive to be beautiful. Of course, I don’t deny that I hope to be appreciated by some people, but that doesn’t mean I harbor indecent thoughts or actively seduce others. This is the way of heaven— the way of heaven makes women beautiful. Female practitioners must not only pursue higher realms of strength, but comparatively greater beauty as well. This is the way for women to practice; not as you described. So according to your logic, are beautiful things considered filthy and indecent?” Lily was genuinely sympathetic for Ui even if she was an enemy, as this was human nature. But she was really ashamed and angry about Ui’s view on female beauty.
“All right! I’m not going to argue with you about what’s right for a woman,” Ui stood up, “Hmph, I kind of get it, okay?”
She took out Lily’s celestial chest undergarment and put it on. Although it fitted perfectly on Lily’s body, it looked empty when worn by Ui.
“Hmph, it seems that the original owner of this treasure was also a b̲i̲t̲c̲h̲ of Takamagahara!”
“You, how can you blaspheme the gods?!” Lily asked anxiously. Because of the unknown celestial battle maiden, she was able to obtain this treasure which protected her from injuries many times. Lily was grateful and would naturally stand up for the celestial maiden.
“Okay, I’ll tell you! I barely get any defensive effects when I wear the undergarment because it doesn’t fit well. The secret method in the corset does that accept me! Are you satisfied now, big-breasted woman?!”
Ui threw the undergarment on Lily’s face then raised her little foot to step on Lily’s shoulder. She used the whip in her hand to gently brush Lily’s face, wandering around her pink lips, “Well, even if you’re right about the pursuit of beauty; that sexiness and tenderness is the natural way of women, then, do you know that the natural role of women is to be conquered? A sexy and beautiful woman like you is born to be conquered while I’m not, got it?”
Ui’s words made Lily speechless for a while.
Although Lily liked the feeling of being beautiful and appreciated by others, she still retained some boyish consciousness in her nature. She could not accept Ui’s words.
“That’s not the case! To conquer or not to conquer is the relationship between enemies. Any similar habits displayed to someone you like is called selfless dedication! As long as there’s love, if you want to be conquered, then submit; if the other party wants to be conquered, then take control! For the sake of your beloved, you can do anything. Why care about hypocritical positions and ridiculous fame? In the face of true love, there is nothing you can’t give and nothing that can’t be given!”
Lily gave Ui a solemn but helpless look, “I…why am I arguing with you about this? You won’t be able to understand, just like how I can’t understand you, Ui.”
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