It was the fourth day until the conclusion of the preliminary round of the memorial competition.
"Damn it! Our men are monitoring every dojo, but that Taira no Hachiro still hasn’t appeared."
In a small Genji Dojo on a side street near Suzaku Avenue, several Genji warriors between the ranks of 30 and 16 were gathered. All of them sat cross-legged while meditating, and once they got the news of their ‘target’ appearing in a certain ring, they would go and challenge it. However, as the morning passed, they couldn’t remain composed.
"What if Taira no Hachiro doesn’t show up?"
At this time, the situation was more delicate. Except for the few powerhouses at the top of the rankings who had nothing to worry about, the top sixteen did not make any big movements. Many of them hired people to monitor the situation in each ring to make sure no one threatened their ranking. If someone in the top sixteen appeared, they would gather information and weigh the pros and cons before challenging them to keep the ranking. After all, the winner must win three consecutive rounds before they could leave the ring or hold on until the end of the competition that night.
"This Taira no Hachiro has mediocre strength, but his tactics are very cunning! Even with his calculative ability, it is contemptible that he can rank in the top sixteen with his level of strength!" A Genji samurai cursed.
"What about that Lynne?" A young and slim Genji samurai asked.
"Her? Every day, she goes to challenge at 9 o’clock in the morning and returns at 5 in the evening. She wins every battle as if going to the ring to work and receiving bronze plates as wages!" A Genji with thick eyebrows said.
"As expected of the Bronze Plate Witch!" A handsome and masculine Genji samurai with curly hair said.
Most members of the Genji Clan had an outstanding and manly appearance. At the very least, they were well-mannered and exuded an air of heroism and masculinity, and there were very few crooked people among them. After all, they were of noble lineage.
"How arrogant! If she is not a fool, she should know how eye-catching she is!"
"I think this woman is stupid. If she didn’t exchange the gold plates at the beginning, it would be understandable to hide her ranking. Now, however, which participant doesn’t know about Lynne, the Bronze Plate Witch? She would have been 100% guaranteed to advance after changing to gold plates. What the hell is she doing?"
A particularly tall, small-eyed Genji with a long square face shook his head and gruffly said, "How can we understand the mind of a woman? Maybe she is just irrational!"
"In that case…" The big eyes of the Genji with thick eyebrows revealed a fierce light, "Let’s go and ambush her! If we beat her, we can ensure our place in the top three!"
"Good! I heard that Lynne’s strength is not bad, otherwise it would be impossible for her to get so many plates. She is not to be underestimated." The curly-haired masculine samurai said.
"Tetsuhito, you are too timid. How could we, the elite of the Genji Clan, be afraid of a woman?"
"If she is truly strong, why doesn’t she dare to exchange for gold plates?"
"I think so too… Then how about we ambush her right now?"
At this time, at the dojo on Suzaku Avenue.
Lily stepped forward to challenge a samurai with two silver plates and eight bronze plates. Because samurai with such records stood no chance of entering the top sixteen, they were not in a hurry to exchange their plates. At the last moment, they could exchange a gold plate for money.
"Look, that woman came here today…"
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"The Bronze Plate Witch is here again today to collect taxes…" Many frequent spectators knew Lily because she came every time to take away a lot of bronze plates. Her appearance also became more regular, just like a tax collector.
That samurai also knew Lily and his forehead couldn’t help but sweat, knowing that had fought for almost a month for nothing. But simply surrendering was not befitting of a samurai’s character and he planned to fight Lily with the mentality of exchanging pointers.
"Miss Lynne, I know that I am not your opponent, so please give me your guidance!" The samurai pointed his sword at Lily.
So far, Lily had never drawn her sword, and naturally, she wouldn’t easily endanger anyone’s life.
"Okay." Lily swung the sakura parasol in her hand.
As the judge announced the start of the match—
"Ha!" The samurai howled and charged towards Lily, raising the katana in his hand and slashing at her with great speed! The slash from a samurai of the early Spirit Jade stage was not to be underestimated.
Lily spun her sakura parasol and its rapidly rotating canopy was impenetrable!
Clang! Sparks flew everywhere as the samurai’s sword got deflected and Lily took this opportunity to step forward.
Bang! The tip of the parasol hit the samurai’s stomach with great force and sent him flying out of the ring.
Lily’s bronze plates increased by eight.
At this point in the competition, most people knew Lily’s strength, so no one came up to challenge her in the past few days. The true top-ranked experts were already guaranteed to advance and there was no need for them to challenge a particularly strong opponent in the preliminary round, as that would only exhaust their energy.
Those with weak strength who dared to come up would only be delivering their plates.
Lily felt that it was meaningless to occupy the ring here so she intended to go back for today and resume her training. However, a group of high-ranking samurai in imposing armor pushed their way through the crowd and came under the ring.
"That’s Lynne, the Bronze Plate Witch!" The Genji with big eyes and thick eyebrows said.
"Her martial arts are somewhat outstanding and her strength is indeed not weak, but… she is still far inferior to us."
The few people exchanged glances with each other and it seemed that they had already discussed who would go up. Soon, the tall square-faced Genji with big eyes stepped into the ring. However, they most likely didn’t know that, so far, Lily had won all her matches without using spiritual energy or profound comprehensions. She had purely been using her physical body to fight, but these people thought that this was Lily’s full strength… So they all showed confidence, as if all of her plates already belonged to them.
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"I, Minamoto no Masatsu from Kawachi Province, come to challenge!"
The samurai was 1.9 meters tall with big arms and a round waist, but he wasn’t fat. He looked down at Lily with a mighty and domineering face, "Bronze Plate Witch, you have worked hard to collect bronze plates for our Genji Clan for a month! Seeing that you are a beautiful woman, I don’t want to hurt your face. If you take the initiative to admit defeat, rest assured that our Genji Clan will give you dozens of kan as compensation for your month’s work."
The spectators whispered, "So what about the Genji? The Bronze Plate Witch has more than 50 kan’s worth of bronze plates. This guy actually dares to say that?!"
Lily laughed helplessly, "Genji, the moment you stepped into this ring, your plates no longer belonged to you, understand?"
"Hahaha! Do you know who you are talking to? The Kawachi Genji Clan is the strongest among the Genji Clans. Girl, I really feel sorry for you!" Minamoto no Masatsu said.
Lily said no more. Seeing that the two were ready, the judge announced the start of the competition.
"Hm? Why don’t you draw your sword?"
"You are not worthy of my sword." Lily said as she held the sakura parasol in her hand.
"How presumptuous! I’ve never seen such an arrogant and ignorant woman. The only reason you’ve survived this long is because the other contestants are too weak! Today, I, Minamoto no Masatsu, will teach you a lesson!"
A burst of spiritual energy suddenly erupted from Minamoto no Masatsu’s body— the early Permanence Stage! He was tall and fast like a hurricane, rushing in front of Lily in an instant and slashing at her with his heavy sword.
Although he said he was going to hold back because Lily was a woman, this couldn’t be further from the truth! The sword emitted some unusual fluctuations that increased its slashing power several times stronger than normal!
The Genji Swordstyle! Lily thought to herself. She had traveled through the Heian Dynasty on numerous adventures, but this was her first time fighting someone who was proficient in the Genji Swordstyle.
Three times the power of the Genji Swordstyle! You’re not as stupid as you look. Lily said coldly in her heart.
Although the slash looked majestic and powerful, in Lily’s eyes, it seemed to be moving in slow motion. However, facing an expert in the early Permanence Stage who was proficient in the Genji Swordstyle was like facing an actual middle Permanence Stage expert, so Lily wouldn’t just rely on her body.
Boom! For the first time, Lily’s spiritual energy blossomed in the ring, causing crimson petals to swirl and undulate like flowers on the shore. It formed a powerful spiritual pressure that washed over the spectators.
"What??!!!" Several Genji among the spectators had wide opened eyes.
Minamoto no Masatsu, who was on the stage, was also shocked, causing his blade to hesitate halfway through his strike. Lily’s speed was extremely fast and she dodged to the side before swinging her sakura parasol upward with a ‘bang’! A heavy blow struck Minamoto no Masatsu in the chin which knocked him back.
For this blow, Lily did not use the Tsukuyomi Swordstyle or the power of the moon, but only used the strength of her body and blade maiden spiritual power.
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Puff! Minamoto no Masatsu fell to the ground before staggering to his feet, his eyes still full of shock. He didn’t expect that Lily’s strength was far greater than his own! Her reaction speed and swiftness was also far superior, but the most frightening thing was that, if Lily was using her sword just now, he would already be dead.
"This woman! She has been hiding her strength! We were tricked by her!" The Genji with thick eyebrows and big eyes shouted from the crowd. These samurai originally wanted to abuse Lily, but didn’t expect to fall into her trap.
"You… you, what is your strength? Could it be the middle Permanence Stage?!"
"Why does my strength matter? For you, the result will be the same," Lily smiled lighty and said with a slightly playful tone, "How about you admit defeat now and hand over your plates to this elder sister? I will convert it at a reasonable price for you at the imperial court, okay?"
"You…a mere woman, you dare to underestimate me! I’m a Kawachi Genji!" Minamoto no Masatsu was enraged by Lily, and despite the fact that his chin was deformed, he erupted his spiritual energy, "Lord Yoshitsune, please bless your descendants. This battle will definitely be won!!!"
As if he had received the power of Yoshitsune, Minamoto no Masatsu’s energy was greatly boosted and came towards Lily to attack her again.
Lily looked around leisurely, but instead of looking at the furious Minamoto no Masatsu who was rushing over to kill her, she seemed to be staring at every Genji, "Genji descendants? In that case, take a good look and witness the real Genji Swordstyle— it is used like this!"
Whoosh! Lily suddenly took a few quick steps and her figure resembled a phantom. Facing Minamoto no Masatsu who was rushing towards her with his sword raised high, she accelerated even faster, and at the same time, the sakura parasol in her hand vibrated while exuding a golden light. It drew a crimson moonlight which contained a few golden lines!
"What??!" The eyes of the few Genji who were watching protruded as they were really shocked this time.
"This, this is the Genji Swordstyle…and its level is far above ours!"