This is Part 1 from Chapter 1 of Thus Spoke Amaterasu.
I would love to hear your feedback in the comments section!
Also, if you like the translation and feel like supporting future translations:
This chapter was sponsored by Chris P. Thank you so much!
There was an island in the early centuries known as Japan, the land of the gods. It was a small, isolated island, situated to the east of the expansive Eurasian continent. To the rest of the earth, it was known as the edge of the world.
——In this yet uncivilized land, disputes among the many kingdoms led to the spread of war and destruction.
But there was one that stood out from the rest.
By following the gods that came from across the sea, this lone kingdom grew in strength, protected by the blessings of those gods. They quickly assimilated the lands to the west, spreading their influence far and wide.
It was the birth of not just another noble family, but of the Junichi Dynasty.
——The name of the kingdom, passed down through the ages, was Yamato.
The kingdom didn’t stop after consuming the lands to the west. Instead, they turned their focus to the east, that they might rule over the entire island.
In the process, the Mikoto and Mononoke that watched over the people and villages——were collectively labeled kegai, meaning outsider, and were, without exception, scattered, crushed or burned to ash…
This was a time before time, in the age of myths.
Man feared the gods, and the dark…it was a time when he was akin to a lost child, shivering in fear and ignorance.
It was before the flame of civilization spread through the land; before the strange mysteries and fantastical visions were viewed as nothing more than childish fancy.
He appeared like a comet striking the earth, and through him spread the Code. Later, his name would be praised as Takemikazuchi, the god of swords and lightning, the first <<Samurai>>——and to him would be given the titles “Killer of Magatsukami, God of Disaster“, and “Child to the Moving Sun“, though today he is also known as Litraductor, impossible made possible. At this time, He was a wanderer with no homeland, a vagabond who found his way into the great flow of history.
The first and last of our emperors.
However, our story unfolds before he was called “hero”.
——He was in a desperate situation, or should have been. After all, six thick-chested men had him surrounded.
What’s more, these were not your ordinary peasants. All of them wore matching iron helms and a Tankō cuirass, and held either an iron sword or hoko spear——in this age and country, the iron armor they wore was highly valuable. No matter how you looked at it, they were nothing like ruffians or barbarians, but more like well-paid soldiers.
——Now, as for the one they had surrounded…
He was a young man with an indescribable air of strangeness about him. His long, dark hair was pulled up and bound tightly behind him, tied with a brightly colored decorative ribbon. His frame was small and lean, which matched his comely features. One might even mistake him for a young girl.
His clothing was dyed a deep azure, the two folds of which met in the front and were held there with a sash. His appearance was refined and elegant; a stark contrast to the muddied leather moccasins and leg guards he wore.
But the most noticeable thing——he was unarmed. Well, he carried a small knife barely passable for whittling wood; it wasn’t something you could call a weapon.
——Even so. It was the soldiers surrounding him who were tense. In contrast, the youth stood with a relaxed ease. He sighed heavily, wordlessly expressing how much of a pain this was for him.
“So, could I ask you all to leave me be? ——I guess it’s too late though, huh.”
The spring sun was dipping below the horizon, and the surroundings were cast in twilight.
The boy’s voice resounded through the silence that came from the absence of anything living, be it man or beast.
“I’m just a traveler, and can’t recall doing something worth getting assaulted over? I think it’d be best if we just forget about each other.”
At that, one of the soldiers cried out, enraged.
“What are you blathering on about, with no respect for your betters…!”
“Well, you did attack first.”
The boy furrowed his brow in response, before nodding towards his feet.
“I took care of this guy without killing him——you should be grateful.”
——There was a man collapsed on the ground. He was armed in iron, the same as the others, a soldier. The way he lay seemed to indicate the youth was responsible.
Along with the angry shout, each soldier took up a fighting stance. Their naked blades glinted ominously in the light of the setting sun.
The boy narrowed his gaze.
“If you’re planning on taking this any further——then you won’t be leaving here alive.” He said, in warning. He spoke calmly, as though he wasn’t concerned in the least. But the soldiers only increased their caution, refusing to stop. Slowly——the encircling net their bodies formed began to close. Of course it would. No matter how perplexing their opponent might be, six men against one unarmed boy——they wouldn’t be able to live it down if they let him escape now.
It wasn’t that hard to understand. After all, the gods were always watching, even if people weren’t. The boy sighed heavily.
“Okay then. ——But remember this; you all made your own choice, and this is the result.”
In the next moment, the six soldiers rushed towards the youth. There was no indecision or mercy; it was an attack full of nothing but the intent to kill the one before them.
The strange shout came from their own ranks. A spear thrusting towards him, the youth had twisted away, dodging. ——At the same time, the soldier who had made the thrust fell unconscious, clutching his throat, and no longer moved.
This was followed by another soldier swinging his blade from behind. But, as though the youth had eyes in the back of his head, he avoided the attack with the smallest of movements. The next instant, the soldier slammed head-first into the ground.
Crack! There was the sound of bones breaking.
Surprised, the remaining soldiers paused.
To their eyes, they had only seen the boy step aside, and raise his hand.
But somehow, one of their number had his windpipe crushed, another was thrown aside——and both were no longer breathing.
“No, it’s definitely a Mononoke!”
“You idiot, don’t say something so creepy!”
In a bad mood, the boy muttered softly in response,
“I’m human you know. Just a normal, average person.”
“Shut-up! Pretending to be human——!” Shouted one of the soldiers, his voice raised to a feverish pitch.
——To them, strength was a simple thing. It was the size of one’s body and arms, how heavy and sharp the weapons were, and how grand the armor worn was.
That they, who were blessed with all of these, would be powerless against an unarmed boy——there was absolutely no way! They could never acknowledge it.
The soldier gripping an iron sword charged in, blade swinging, towards the youth.
“——I’ll take that.”
By the time the soldier turned around, his sword was already held in the boy’s hand. He’d lost his sword——the moment after realizing this, a single slash sent his head soaring.
His body, spurting blood, slumped heavily to the ground.
At the sight, the remaining three soldiers sucked in their breath simultaneously.
The youth stood silent opposite their companion’s corpse, which had fallen as though prostrating itself, blood pooling all around.
It was inevitable he would appear to them to be some terrifying beast.
They shivered involuntarily upon realizing how terrible their mistake had been…but it was already too late. The boy took a step forward.
Two of the remaining soldiers raised their voices in unison, as though to strengthen their resolve, before charging. ——Two flashes, and they were both cut down.
Only one remained now. The soldier started to shake, after witnessing how quickly all five of his companions had been killed. Dropping his spear, he hurriedly called out to the approaching youth.
“W, wait! Please don’t, stop!”
“I already told you, didn’t I?”
In response to the soldier’s pleading, the youth’s voice was unemotional.
“That you won’t be leaving here alive?”
There was a flash of silver, and the surroundings were dyed red.
All that remained was the grass, leaves and dirt, stained crimson by the seven dead bodies. Finishing off the one soldier who had already been rendered unconscious, the youth let out a deep sigh.
“Seriously, making things difficult for me.”
Complaining, he pulled off the sword belt and scabbard from the corpse whose sword he held, and after wiping the blood from the blade, he sheathed it and fastened it around his hip. It was thieving, but there would be no punishment.
Afterwards, the youth searched through the dead soldier’s belongings. Even without doing so——he had an idea as to the identity of the group.
“Soldiers from Yamato…if I’m not mistaken.”
Identical helms, swords and spears. What’s more, they were all made of iron, so there was no mistaking it. Only the soldiers from Yamato were this well armored, and it would also help explain why they had tried to attack him without provocation.
——This was the land of kegai, far away from their capital to the west. For Yamato, working to subjugate the lands to the east, travelers in this area would be seen as nothing more than enemies.
“What a nuisance that group——huh?”
As he was muttering to himself, his hands lifted something out from the supplies. It was a carefully folded piece of smooth, silken cloth. Unfolding the cloth, he saw mountains, lakes and rivers etched with ink, reminiscent of his current surroundings.
——It was a map.
Continuing to sift through the supplies, he learned that these soldiers had also carried a brush, as well as several bamboo ink pots.
Mumbling softly, the youth began to think.
He had only come upon these soldiers by chance. Still traveling, and with the sun beginning to set, he had wanted to find a place to make camp. That’s when he ran into the soldiers.
——Now then, just what had they been doing?
This was the land of kegai, far away from their capital. They were fully armored in iron and wielded iron weapons. Apart from the map and writing implements, they didn’t have much else of interest.
——In that case.
“A scouting party, or perhaps the vanguard for a larger force? Something like that, I’d guess.”
In either case, it would mean that Yamato’s main force shouldn’t be too far off. Since he didn’t notice any signs of a large force on the move, there probably weren’t any more groups lying in wait nearby, but still…
Looking at the map, he couldn’t see any marks that might represent the main encampment. However, considering how the map was drawn, he deduced that these soldiers had made their way here from the north-west. If so, then everywhere east of here should be blank——
Except, it wasn’t. Instead, a single word was written.
“Can’t be helped then. I’d better hurry.”
If he took too long here, there was a high chance he’d be facing more soldiers from Yamato soon enough. It’s not that he was afraid of that…but if he could avoid troublesome things, all the better.
His mind made up, the youth folded the map, committing the details to memory. This in itself was a big find. He also decided to take the useful looking brush and ink pots. If he fastened them to his waist, then he could carry both, and write whenever the mood struck. He had no idea what craftsman had made them, but they were very nice things to have.
——The youth was pleased he had been able to obtain something so wonderful. It was far more valuable than the iron sword. Starting to hum a tune, he picked up and shouldered his own pack, and began walking.
Compared to the west, consumed by Yamato, the east was home to all manner of demonic beasts. While there were obviously wild dogs and bears, terrifying mononoke also made their homes throughout the land.
Though the sun was about to set, he proceeded down a barely-passable road that cut through the demon infested lands, and proceeded to climb a precarious mountain. There was no uncertainty in his footing, no indecision. No bending or turning, or falling back.
——He proceeded on with stubborn determination.
This youth, whose name nobody knew——where he was headed and what he was after…they were things as yet unknown. Only the ancient name of the land over the mountain he was trying to cross was known.
The land inhabited by Demons——Hakoné.