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5

Sitting on the bow of the vast sailing ship, Noritsune gazed at the ocean spreading out in front of him. The gentle spring breeze brushed his cheek, along with the smell of salt water. Noritsune closed his eyes as if he were savoring it.

“How nice the ocean is. It brings the winds from all directions. The breeze today is quite refreshing… Is it not, Yoshitsune?”

Noritsune spoke with his eyes closed. Behind him, Yoshitsune stood.

“Those words don’t suit you. All you smell of now is blood…”

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-The curtain has opened on the long awaited "LAST VISUALIVE -Saigo no Tsuki- LAST MOON". Firstly, I'd like to ask about the story this time, is it a continuation of "MOON SAGA -Secrets of Yoshitsune-" Part I and II?
G: No, it isn't. There is a "MOON SAGA -Secrets of Yoshitsune- Part III", but this "LAST VISUALIVE -Saigo no Tsuki- LAST MOON" isn't simply, "Well, here are bits and pieces of "MOON SAGA -Secrets of Yoshitsune- Part III". It's a bigger world than that.
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3

March 1185, the second year of the Genryaku era.

In addition to the previous decree from the cloistered emperor to hunt down the Heike, Yoshitsune had also received orders from Yoritomo and could no longer remain in the capital, so he lead his army and set up camp at Bizen.

He still did not know the reason that Tsugunobu had been killed, and so had some hesitation in proceeding with the peace negotiations, but Dennai said that Tomomori’s intentions had not changed, and that he was ready to persuade Munemori and the retainers.

And on that day, Dennai visited Yoshitsune’s camp once again.

“Dennai, I get what you’re trying to say, but if you keep coming every day it’s gonna cause trouble for us. We’re not the only Genji army. Even if we don’t make a move, the other generals are aiming for Yashima. Yoshitsune was intending to deliver the plan for peace to Lord Yoritomo in Kamakura before that happened. But that chance was ruined… because of you guys, right?” Benkei said with a troubled expression.

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Part Three

The Remains of the Dream

1

The hut that stood alone in the forest fell silent, and only Tadanobu’s sobbing could be heard. At the sight of Tadanobu clinging to Tsugunobu, laid out on the straw mats, Yoshitsune desperately tried to hold back the sorrow and rage that boiled up in him. Saburō and Benkei were both lost for words, just staring at Tsugunobu. Hiyori was in such shock that she could not even approach the others, and she stood in a corner of the hut with tears running down her face. Though she had no voice, she was soundlessly calling Tsugunobu’s name over and over, and the sight was heartbreaking.

“Brother… don’t leave me...”

Even his younger brother’s cries of grief could no longer reach Tsugunobu. The more Tadanobu called his brother’s name, the more heavily that reality weighed on him.

The first to discover Tsugunobu’s body had been Dennai.

He had waited for Tsugunobu to arrive at Kino Harbor, but even as the dawn broke and the sun rose high into the sky there was no sign of his arrival. Dennai had felt that this was unusual, and wondering if something had happened, he traced the path that Tsugunobu might have followed. Somewhere along the mountain path, he came across a strange place surrounded by burning trees.

“What on earth happened…?”

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5

February, the Heike encampment on Yashima Island.

The night was so quiet that the crackling of the firewood in the bonfires around the camp could be heard.

When they had first passed over to Yashima, the ships had been their living quarters, but now over a year had passed, and a manor had been prepared as a temporary location for the emperor, and for Noritsune and the others to live in. Despite officially being at war, thanks to the secret agreement between Tomomori and Yoshitsune, there was actually a ceasefire. Even the soldiers, who had at first been frightened even by birds taking flight, thinking it was a surprise attack by the Genji, had regained their composure.

But for Noritsune, whose sleep was agony, there was no such thing as a peaceful night.

Once again, he was wandering lost inside a nightmare.

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3

Around three weeks had passed since the letter from Dennai had arrived.

On the shores of the lake where they had encountered Yoshitsune while slipping into Kyoto, Tomomori and the others were waiting for Yoshitsune to appear.

At this time of year, the fresh green of the new leaves was beautiful during the day, but now the sun had set and darkness spread throughout the forest. There were no signs that anyone else would pass by here, and only the cries of insects sounded all around.

Tomomori sat with his back to the lake, and Noritsune and Dennai stood on either side of him. Tomomori and Noritsune were dressed in kariginu, the formal costume of nobles.

Even for Tomomori, this secret meeting was a gamble. The letter had been safely handed over to Yoshitsune, and Dennai had confirmed that, as directed, a paper ribbon had been tied to the pine tree as a sign of agreement. However, it would not be surprising if Yoshitsune was thinking that this would be the perfect opportunity to capture the Heike generals. All they could do was trust in Yoshitsune’s character.

Noritsune had quickly become irritated, and made no attempt to conceal it.

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Part Two

A Moonlit Sake Cup

1

Naumaku sanmanda bodanan Enmaya sowaka… Naumaku sanmanda bodanan Enmaya sowaka...1

It was a pitch dark night, with no trace of the moon.

From deep inside the tatami-floored room came an ominous chanting. The owner of that voice was Masako.

The flame from a tall oil lamp illuminated her body, and a long shadow flickered behind her.

Her shadow looks just like a Mononoke… Kagetoki secretly thought. His head was spinning from the choking sweet scent of the incense Masako was using for the ritual.

“...Lady Masako, if you continue with this, you will be noticed by Lord Yoritomo!”

“Silence! You will break my focus!”

Masako continued chanting. Kagetoki shrank away to the entrance of the room, and kept watch on the outside. If they were spotted here and Yoritomo heard of it, he would be subject to all sorts of accusations and his life would be in danger.

Rin-pyō-tō-sha-kai-jin-retsu-zai-zen…HAAAH!”2

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5

The Genji, excluding Yoshitsune, continued their advance after the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, but after repeated battles further and further from Kamakura, the soldiers began to show signs of fatigue. The Heike were luring them into further sea battles, however, the Genji were unable to procure their desired amount of ships, and so there was a lull in the war.

On a ship moored on a beach of Yashima Island, the chief retainers of the Heike, led by their commander, Taira no Munemori, were having a military conference.

Munemori was the third son of Kiyomori, but as Kiyomori’s first son, Shigemori, and second son, Motomori, had both already died, after Kiyomori’s passing, Munemori had become the new leader of the Heike. But unfortunately for Munemori, he was not gifted with the skill necessary to lead the clan, and his opinions on military strategy went ignored.

Instead of Munemori, the one who held true command was one who had gained the strong trust of not just the chief retainers, but Kiyomori himself, the fourth son, Tomomori. It was not an overstatement to say that it was thanks to Tomomori that the Heike had somehow managed to remain intact even after the loss of Kiyomori’s overwhelming presence and being forced out of Kyoto.

Under extreme pressure, and with fatigue showing on his face, Munemori ended the conference with, “Well then, let’s leave it there. I’ve entrusted the rest to Tomomori. I’m counting on you.”

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3

To the south of Kyoto, in a forest even deeper into the mountains than Uji, Yoshitsune sat.

In front of him was a lake that exactly filled his field of vision, and the surface of the water was illuminated by sunlight shining through the gaps in the trees.

Yoshitsune had been sitting on the shore of the lake, staring out over its surface like that for hours. Perhaps because it was fed by spring water welling up from somewhere, the lake was blue and clear, and water grass with long, thin leaves swayed elegantly in the breeze. It was a lovely sight. But Yoshitsune’s heart was not soothed by the scenery. Rather, the beautiful colors even seemed repulsive to him.

He spent his days merely staring at the lake with a cold gaze, and waiting for the sun to set. When he slept, he was tormented by nightmares of Yoshinaka and Tomoe, and when he was awake he couldn’t stop thinking about them. After the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, his heart had completely broken.

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...

Part One

A Hostile Encounter

1

Since long ago, the Mononoke have existed in this world.

Some of them took forms that were indistinguishable from humans, while others took the form of beasts, and some even took forms that were not visible to human eyes.

The Mononoke, who had supernatural powers that humanity lacked, were feared as a cause of calamities and disasters, held in awe, and eventually came to be worshiped as the incarnations of gods.

In this way, Mononoke and humans coexisted for a long time, and eventually a new existence, neither Mononoke nor human, was born into the world.

Ones who mixed with the Mononoke, and inherited their blood and supernatural powers.

They became known as “Mononofu”, meaning “Those who are not human”.

The Mononofu’s supernatural powers were as numerous as the Mononofu themselves.

There were those with the strength to shatter boulders, and those with the power to heal wounds with a touch.

There were those who could see the future, and those who could read minds.

There were those who could manipulate fire or water as they pleased, and those who could float in midair.

The Mononofu increased in number, and began to rule over humans with their unique powers.

In time, they expanded their influence over the entirety of Japan, and a certain clan flourished as a house of warriors serving the emperor, while others became powerful clans who spread their roots over a vast area.

Time flows on, and it is now the late Heian era.

Two Mononofu clans carry the blood of the royal family- the Heike and the Genji.

They boasted vast power as warrior clans, and their influence eventually extended to even the imperial court.

The inflated power of each house turned to an ambition, “We will be the ones to rule the world,” and developed into conflict between the Mononofu themselves.


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