Minamoto no Takuo couldn’t wait to rush up and defeat that Lynne himself so he could regain face and merits for the Kawachi Genji Clan.
However, he held himself back. Although he believed that he had the strength to defeat her, he was currently eighth place in the rankings and was almost certain to advance. At this time, it was unwise to risk a challenge for a moment of satisfaction.
Still, he was not reconciled!
They should have stopped when Masatsu had lost and Lynne displayed the Genji Swordstyle at a level which far exceeded almost all current Genji samurai. With such abilities, how could this woman be an ordinary person?
It was because of the shame, unwillingness, and desire to attain victory why they had lost their composure, which resulted in successive defeats. Almost all the Genji contestants within the 16th to 30th places were wiped out. What a heavy loss!
"Why?! This woman who came out of nowhere was able to master the Genji Swordstyle to such a degree! And…why hasn’t she used up all her spiritual energy yet?!"
As long as one stood in the ring, it was forbidden to use arcane arts and arcane treasures. Takuo had been watching attentively and Lynne did not use any spiritual energy restoration treasures.
"Sigh!" Minamoto no Takuo let out a helpless sigh and forcibly suppressed the urge to fight Lily for the final victory.
"Nice one Lynne… I’ll settle the score with you during the finals! At that time, meeting me will be the best result. If you meet the real geniuses of my Genji Clan who directly entered the final round, you won’t stand a single chance with your level of strength. Even if your Genji Swordstyle is unbelievably superb, what does it count in the face of absolute strength?"
"Let’s go!" Takuo grimaced and waved his hand unwillingly, leading the group of Genji and those injured brothers away.
Today, for Lily, it was a good period of practice.
At this point, she didn’t care how many plates she got. After this battle, even if Lily didn’t get off the stage, no one would dare to challenge her again. She soon left the ring and returned to the chief advisor’s manor.
As for the Genji Clan members, they returned to the Genji main dojo with ugly and sullen faces.
Today’s battles were utter crap!
They didn’t obtain any benefits and four promising brothers were sacrificed in vain. If they knew this would happen, they wouldn’t have challenged this Lynne.
It so happened that Minamoto no Hiromasa and many other Genji warriors were present and saw the group of Kawachi Genji return. Hiromasa went up to them and asked, "Today…"
He had a bad feeling in his heart when he saw the expressions of the Genji members and the others who were brought back.
"Sigh!" Takuo sighed helplessly when he saw Hiromasa!
A few people went into the building, and soon, the Middle Counselor, Minamoto no Hirohikari, and the Right Imperial Guards’ Commander, Minamoto no Yoshitada, also came. Takuo and the others told the several Genji leaders about the day’s events.
"A bunch of fools!" Minamoto no Hirohikari stood up angrily and kicked over the sword display stand he recently bought, "In all my years of participating in the memorial competition, the Genji Clan has never seen such people as stupid as you!"
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"Lord Hirohikari, Lord Yoshitada, I’m sorry to everyone! I have failed Lord Yoshitada’s expectations!" Takuo prostrated himself on the ground, not daring to raise his head at all.
"Please calm your anger, My Lords. Brother Takuo, since it’s a competition, there will naturally be winners and losers. Don’t blame yourself too much." Minamoto no Hiromasa, who was sitting by the side, said in an effort to placate the situation.
"What b̲u̲l̲l̲s̲h̲i̲t̲ winners and losers! It’s okay to lose one match, but going up to lose one after another? Are your brains broken?!" Hirohikari was furious.
Takuo was speechless. He could only apologize and admit his mistakes.
Minamoto no Yoshitada said, "I can’t blame you for this matter. Our upper echelon doesn’t know enough about our opponents in the preliminary round. As always, we had focused our attention on those big powers that directly entered the semi-finals. After all, that’s where the real experts and geniuses are. But as you said, this Lynne is not only strong, but her behavior is also quite different. We need to step up our investigation on her to be safe. Lift your head up, Takuo."
Takuo replied, "Yes, My Lord. That Lynne not only has outstanding strength, but even her attainments in the Genji Swordstyle is incredibly high. To tell you the truth, I have never seen any Genji practice the Genji Swordstyle to such a profound and exquisite level like her. Even those Genji martial arts masters can’t!"
"What?" Minamoto no Yoshitada, Minamoto no Hirohikari, Hiromasa, and the others looked at each other, "How could such a thing happen?"
"Lynne…" Hiromasa pondered and always felt that the name was somewhat familiar, "Takuo, tell me, what does this woman named Lynne look like?"
"This woman, to be honest, it would be hard to find others with beauty comparable to hers in Heian-kyō. She is tall and slender, has long black hair, and wears a red kimono with big sleeves. She also hangs a long sword on her waist and carries a red parasol1."
"…" Minamoto no Hiromasa’s eyes and mouth were wide open.
A few days after that, Lily knew that she had secured herself a spot in the finals. She had reached a critical point in her body training and seductive intent, so she did not go to the ring again. However, she was unaware that Genji spies were rummaging through the eight competition grounds, inside and outside, searching for her.
On the last day, Lily completed her daily practice. Her body had improved and she made qualitative progress. Her seductive intent had reached the peak and she was only a step away from achieving true seductive intent.
However, this step was not so simple to cross. Lily couldn’t figure out what she was lacking at the moment.
But even so, Lily had achieved her goals of comprehending moon intent and seductive intent in the Spirit Jade stage. Now, she was just waiting to break through to the Permanence Stage.
However, in order to reach the peak of the Spirit Jade stage and break through to the Permanence Stage, she needed to solve her shortage of magatama. Lily estimated that the current output of Cherry Blossom Valley, which was sustained by the master craftsman-level shikigami, could produce more than 800 magatama a month. She lacked around a thousand pieces, and since the master craftsman-level shikigami have been mining for a month, the amount she required shouldn’t be far away.
Lily finished her training and took a bath, feeling refreshed. Seeing that it was already the early morning of the next day, she planned to go see the final rankings.
"Ah!" She suddenly remembered something— she had forgotten to exchange her plates!
Although this wouldn’t affect her advancement, it would obviously have a greater impact on the rankings.
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Lily went to the signboard on Suzaku Avenue early in the morning.
She saw that the rankings had been changed to the latest and final results of the preliminary round!
"…second?" Lily’s expression was a little indifferent.
The rankings were as follows:
—1st place: Miss Nanashi
100 gold and 2 silver
—2nd place: Lynne
63 gold, 43 silver, and 527 copper
—3rd place: Yokota Daizo
55 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze
—4th place: Honda Yahatarou
49 gold and 1 silver
—5th place: Minamoto no Hiromasa
35 gold, 2 silver, and 2 copper
"It’s amazing that this Miss Nanashi actually got 100 gold! I haven’t seen her yet, but… I’ll be able to see her true face in the semi-finals2." Lily nodded in satisfaction. As long as she could advance, the ranking was more like an honor.
For Lily, such things like fame were vanity, and she didn’t care about it. She came to participate in this competition because of the hidden travel scroll of Izumo Mountain!
At this time, in the residence of the Fujiwara Clan, the old man called for the Fujiwara Clan to hold an evaluation meeting, but Ayaka had some court matters to attend to and left the capital for a few days, so she didn’t participate.
"Alas! This Lord Chief Advisor is concerned about the imperial court all day long and she didn’t even come to the evaluation meeting held by the Lord Shikken. Does she not put the Lord Shikken in her eyes?!" A Fujiwara minister complained.
"You can’t say that. As the chief advisor, Ayaka should prioritize the affairs of the court and the world." The Shikken said.
"Without my Fujiwara Clan’s financial resources and powerful support, how could we have a court?! This Lord Chief Advisor always doesn’t consider the interests of our clan. Although she has to have the world in her heart, everyone knows that this is just an expression. She can still cherish the world while seeking the greater long-term interests of the clan! It’s not like she is required to be completely selfless!"
"The Lord Chief Advisor cares too little for our Fujiwara Clan!"
The ministers of the Fujiwara Clan took advantage of Ayaka’s absence to complain. Just then, an attendant came to report.
"Shikken… Lord Shikken, Chancellor, all the esteemed Lords…the final rankings of the Yoshitsune Memorial Competition are finally out!" The attendant said.
"Oh?" The Chancellor, Fujiwara no Renbo, immediately asked, "Did someone from my Fujiwara Clan enter the semi-finals?"
"No…no, but for some reason, the Genji Clan seems to have fewer spots entering this time than in previous years."
For no one from the Fujiwara Clan to enter the semi-finals through the preliminary round, everyone showed disappointed expressions. Although it was expected, they originally still had a bit of hope.
"Hmph, it is as expected."
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Unsurprisingly, everyone had a look of helplessness.
"I thought Lord Chief Advisor recommended someone called Kagami Lily. What about her, has she entered the top sixteen?" The Chancellor asked.
The attendant thought back for a moment and replied, "No, no3."
"I told you! She’s just a little lover of the chief advisor. What talented female samurai? It’s obviously a lie. Lord Chief Advisor favors women and there is already a lot of criticism among the court. That’s fine, but how can she play around with the interests of our Fujiwara Clan’s future?" Fujiwara no Arima complained.
"Sigh! It’s a good thing we didn’t give a semi-final spot to that woman." The Fujiwara Clan’s Secretary of Finance, Mitsugu Saionji, said. He looked like he had a head full of fat.
"Lord Shikken," While waiting for everyone to calm down, the Chancellor said to the old man with a protruding forehead, "If this continues, I am afraid that the interests of my Fujiwara Clan will be weakened and marginalized… Do you think that Fujiwara no Ayaka is really suitable to be the chief advisor anymore?"
As soon as these words came out, the eyes of the old shikken became gloomy, and everyone quieted down. They had long complained about Ayaka, and it was naturally because of the support of the Fujiwara Clan that she could become the chief advisor. Everyone wanted to raise this topic, but no one dared to say it.
On the outskirts of Heian-kyō, in the depths of a barren mountain that no one knew about, there was a dilapidated ancient temple.
It was originally the place where the gods and Buddhas stood, and there was a large and tall creature in dull golden armor there. Although this creature looked weak, it exuded an incomparably terrifying aura.
"Teacher!" A girl with a delicate figure, who was dressed in black and wearing a mask, appeared in the ruined temple. The cold moonlight shone through the broken walls, reflecting the miserable pair of master and disciple4.