Lily swiftly got up by rolling over and used one knee to support herself. She grabbed the scabbard with one hand and the other hand was holding the sword handle. She had a pensive yet vigilant look as she fixed her gaze on the giant monk that was synonymous to a black wall. She was ready to draw her sword at any moment. After one full day of battle, she already came to the realization that she could exert the most power from a quick draw.
"Who are you?" Lily asked the giant monk who looked like a demon and saint incarnate.
Lily could feel strong Spiritual Power oozing from all over the giant monk. However, this Spirit Power was murky and overflowing with repulsive miasma. It gave Lily a sense of conflict and danger.
Demon Fury1! Without the need to go through any documentation, Lily instinctively knew that this was the Demon Fury. However, this Demon Fury was a lot stronger than her Spirit Power!
This was the strongest opponent Lily had encountered to date!
It's just that… the miasma was very unstable. Lily noticed how there were many deep cuts and bloodstain on the giant monk's body. And there were a few weird-looking talismans sticking on the back of the giant monk. The talismans seemed to be releasing different kinds of spells to suppress the monk.
Lily could tell at once, 'This giant monk seems wounded? And the wounds are quite serious at that."
All Lily could see on the giant monk's green squarish face was the cloudy eyes that seemed to be gazing at her. The body of the giant monk tumbled forward nearly fell to the ground. Lily drew back in a hurry. That giant monk barely prevented its body from falling by pressing one hand against the ground. Its other hand was tightly grasping the machete.
It seemed like the monk was really gravely wounded. However, the other party was still much stronger than herself. A girl like Lily naturally understood the saying of 'nothing is more dangerous than a cornered beast'. Attacking a cornered beast to obtain a powerful anima, Lily wouldn't even think of doing something like that.
Since the other party was gravely injured, she might as well take the chance to escape.
But then, the giant monk lifted its head and Lily could see a hint of agony and hesitation on its fiendish face. Its two eyes were looking fixedly at Lily.
This gaze gave Lily a strange feeling. It didn't seem to contain any malice nor lust, and yet there was an extremely strong sense of attachment.
That giant monk opened its trembling lips that were dripping with blood. Its voice was hoarse, very hoarse at that, but it seemed to contain an intense passion, "Aomi… you, are Aomi… you are Aomi right?"2
Aomi? Lily was confused, it seemed like this demonized monk had recognized her as someone else? But from the look of it, this giant monk didn't seem to have any malice towards the owner of this name.
Lily moved back to a safe enough distance and asked back with a cold and unfathomable gaze, "And who are you? Are you a human or a demon?"
Lily slyly refrained from making her own identity clear because she felt that it wasn't likely for the giant monk to hurt that so-called Aomi girl.3
"Aomi… oh Aomi… how you've grown! This kimono looks good on you! It's a perfect match. Now that you've grown up… daddy can be at ease," The giant monk actually shed pus-like teardrop from its despotic eyes.
So, as it turned out, this Aomi girl was actually the daughter of that giant monk. Even though she didn't know if the giant monk was dead or alive, Lily was pretty sure that she was not his daughter. But why would he misrecognize Lily as his daughter? Could it be that she bore a resemblance to this Aomi girl?
For some reason, Lily's enmity towards this giant monk had already subsided for the most part despite her certainty that the giant monk was clearly not a living person.
He was still so concerned about his daughter even after death? At the very least, he shouldn't be a bad person while living. A sense of sorrow involuntarily welled up in Lily's heart.
It was unfortunate that she wasn't really his daughter. It would be an inhuman act to deceive a departed spirit, so after retreating to a safe distance, Lily decided to tell him the truth even if that would put her in danger.
But just at this time, the dim light of torches could be seen from nearby along with the sound of footsteps getting closer.
The blurry shadow of a few brawny-looking humans could be seen rushing over from within the fog.
"Noboru—! Accept your divine punishment!" Daidouji Akira rushed out from the forest with his dark blue armor and golden spike club. Following after him was a group of five Middle-Class Martial Monks with torches, lanterns, and weapons in pursuit of Noboru. In the rear was the aged onmyoji. And last but not least was Takano, whose speed was far more inferior than the Middle-Class Martial Monk.
All of them who just arrived could only look on blankly at the scene before them. Noboru was kneeling on the ground with wounds from head to foot, and in front of him was a red-clothed girl in her prime of youth.
"Kagami Lily!" shouted Takano in surprise as he immediately recognized Lily and pointed at her with his fat finger.
"What?!" Akira and the other Martial Monks also shifted their attention to Lily.
In the blink of an eye, those Martial Monks formed a circular formation to surround Lily and that giant monk Noboru.
Akira closed in on Lily while swinging his heavy spike club. His stout-looking face appeared especially fierce with half of his face covered in shadow.
"Is that so! I didn't expect there to be so many coincidences today!" Akira pressed on as he said with a deep and low voice, "Kagami Lily… heh-heh, I didn't expect to run into the woman who wounded my nephew and also the one who ruined my son's qualification test here! This is indeed what you call traveling far and wide to look for something but only to find it so easily! Very well! Today, I will capture you both in one go!"
When she saw those group of people rushing over here from the darkness, Lily initially thought that they were after the giant monk and it was some internal strife. But how did she suddenly get involved in this mess?!
However, after hearing Akira's monologue and seeing Takano among the group, she more or less figured out what happened.
Takano stepped forward with large strides, then he pointed at Lily and cursed, "You ⓕⓤⓒⓚⓘⓝⓖ ⓢⓛⓤⓣ, I thought you were merely flaunting your breasts to make me lose focus during the test, but I didn't expect you actually went and injured my cousin! Hmph, today, my father —Daidouji Akira— is here. He is the renowned chief of the Daidouji Clan, why don't you be a good girl and kneel to beg for forgiveness!"
Lily's whole body tensed up. All of these happenings were so sudden that she wasn't mentally prepared for it. Running into Noboru was already dangerous enough as it was, but now the whole gang of Daidouji was out seeking for her to exact vengeance!4
Lily spread out her Spirit Power to inspect them. Although these five Martial Monks didn't possess Spirit Power, their power was not inferior to her own. Moreover, that Akira was much stronger than her!
What made her even more concerned was that elderly man with a traditional top hat and ash-blue hunter clothes. The old man didn't have a sword, only a wooden pole with two slips of paper hanging down. He was looking at Lily with a menacing glance.
Lily suddenly recalled how she saw it once in a book she read at the Matsuda Clan. The pole in the old man's hand was a gohei5. It was a magic tool commonly used by onmyoji and miko.
That old man was actually an onmyoji!
Lily didn't have a deep understanding of onmyoji. These kinds of mysterious yet powerful magic users were more active in the Kansai region. They were rarely seen in the Kanagawa prefecture where the samurai thrived.
What she did know was that they possessed unfathomable artes6, magicks, and many other tricks Lily had never heard of. They were the samurai's greatest adversary. It was said that the onmyojis completely overpowered samurais of the same class!
"This is bad!" Was there actually such a big enmity between Lily and the Daidouji Clan? But even if there was not, in this desolate area outside of town, it was unlikely for these lascivious monks to let such a fine woman like her go.
There were too many of them, and with numbers comes strength. Their individual power was also higher than her and who knew what weird spell would that onmyoji pull off. Lily suddenly realized that she was in great peril!
Just one small mistake and this could be her final resting ground.
"Lord Akira, that was a fair fight between me and your nephew Taro! It is inevitable to sustain injuries. I did not harm him on purpose, and yet you are here to coerce me, are you not afraid of losing your pride as a samurai?" shouted Lily. She didn't plan to fight with these Martial Monks to begin with, the odds of success were too low! She could only bide her time and escape when an opportunity arose.References I took this quantifier from , just think of it as the Mana Points (MP) for Demons.Hm… that Aomi again… what relation does this Noboru has with the proprietress?Lily, remember that time you pretended to be from Kagami clan?I cannot foresee anything good would come out from this encounter. If they were to learn that Lily was Noboru's daughter(?), their enmity towards Lily will only grow stronger.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gohei