Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chapter 3: A Sound Fading in the Interlude of One Act

Translated by narumo/narumonster on Vocaloid Otaku.

Everything was still there: the feeling of a definite connection between two ends, their voices overlapping, the sound of someone calling him, but...
“...I feel it’s getting weaker.”
Len muttered with a sigh as he stared absent-mindedly at the firewood bursting with a dry sound.
From the deep darkness created by the trees of the forest, an owl’s cry could be heard; above, stars spread across the heavens. The air was full of the coldness of the night; his fingertips grew colder as their temperature was snatched away. Len opened and closed his hands, moving them several times as he breathed on them.
Barely escaping from a slumber, his consciousness was hazy and began to slip again naturally towards sleep.
But Len shaked his head.
“Can’t sleep?”
Though that was more like an attempt to repel drowsiness, the voice then said.
“...No, I’m just not that sleepy.”
Len, laughing weakly as he answered, turned his gaze to the man greeting him.
The young man, probably keeping watch, was making notes on a small book on his hand, and turned to look at him from across the fire.
“Is something bothering you?”
The imperial scholar had an air of calmness due to his extensive knowledge. Even though he was hard to approach, you could also feel at ease with him.
“Just....a bit.”
Len had learned many things from him since their meeting. About the world, about the Diva, about the internal state of the Empire; in summary, everything he was told about was unknown to Len, and surprised him.
Len opened his mouth, internally grateful for the concern shown by the scholar, who never pried into other people’s business.
The sound growing weaker: a premonition of loss, as if the thread that connected one end to the other since birth was going to break.
His twin had been taken just after birth as the dragon’s Diva; and he could feel the bonds that kept a definite connection between, despite the distance, growing weaker little by little.
He remembered crying, when he first learned the name of the girl, his twin, through their shared consciousness, a link between the edges of their hearts.
“Rin’s voice, her sound, I feel it growing weaker.”
Len looked down at his hand as he made a fist, and nodded at Kamui’s questioning voice.
“I’ve come searching for Rin to this day but, little by little, I feel her voice growing weaker...”
The sound he could feel in their linked consciousness, the voice he could hear, was losing strength little by little.
Not only that gentle voice, like the love of sunshine, but also the tender will he sensed in it seemed to be gradually going away. It was a difficult feeling to convey in words; he was closing the distance between them for sure, yet it seemed she would slip through his fingers if he stretched his hand.
It is a rare for the consciousness of people that are independent and separated from the start, to be shared potentially.
Rin, the older sister taken away as Diva, and Len, the younger brother brought up normally.
To know each other’s name and voice; to call each other from places far apart; perhaps it was a miracle, born of the mysterious bond as twins.
“...This is one of my theories, but...”
“When Meiko-dono heard you sing, she said Light.”
“Len and the current Diva, if you are linked together by the edge of your consciousness as twins, perhaps your abilities may also be split halfway.”
Like your souls, your powers are also linked.

“What do you mean?”
“Originally, the songs of the Diva hold together Light and Darkness. Light and Darkness, that represents all things in nature.”
“Light represents the sun, the day, protection and judgment. Darkness represents the moon, the night, fear and peace.”
“If there is Light, there is Darkness, and because there is Darkness, we can recognize Light. With these two that represent everything in the world in her possession, the Diva binds down the being called dragon.”
“The Diva must be one person, but there may be more than person with the abilities of a Diva. If Meiko-dono said she could feel Light in your song, that is probably true.
“If we say I am Light,...If the power is split halfway, is Rin Darkness?
“There is such possibility.”
After nodding and closing his book, Kamui looked up to the skies.
Again the sound of the firewood bursting tickled their ears, and silence fell.
“Light and Darkness, if having both is the power of the Diva..., if Rin only has Darkness, wouldn’t she be unable to become the Diva?”
“I don’t know many details about the abilities of the Diva, but that doesn’t seem to be it.”
I don’t get it, thought Len. If she is to chain down the dragon by reflecting all the elements of nature using Light and Darkness, wouldn’t it be necessary for the abilities of Diva to hold them both?
“The songs of the Diva convey her will to the dragon, and have to power to make it obey...since ancient times.”
“To make him obey?”
“It seems so. Though despite saying that, I am considering that maybe it is closer to a prayer.”
“...In other words, now there is another reasonable thing that is necessary to the original qualities of the Diva?”
“It must be like that.”
With mutual understanding as premise, one more thing for the Diva; in order to seal the dragon, she seeks Light and Darkness, which represent all the nature of the world.
He felt he somehow knew that it wasn’t just one person that could rise as candidate for Diva.
Meiko, who was traveling with them, was also a female that had the characteristics of a Diva. They had heard from her how she was considered a candidate when the Diva before Rin had been chosen.
“So, not all the people who have the characteristics of a Diva have Light and Darkness...?”
“No, probably they do have them, generally. It’s just that there seem to be differences in their abilities.”
And that’s why the duration of the terms of the Divas who kept the balance of the world was so variable.
If she was a brief Diva, it would be two to three years. If she was a lengthy one, it would be a decade to several decades.
More than one decade had passed since Rin’s birth, and she continued stabilizing the world. Even though as she taken away as Diva when she was only a baby, it was due to how powerful Rin’s abilities as Diva were.
“Kamui, this is too difficult. I don’t get it.”
“Aah. I’m still speaking in hypothetical terms...Let’s take this in parts.”

“The Diva has some characteristics that allow her to reach a mutual understanding with the dragon, using songs as a medium.
The songs that bind the dragon are associated to the powers of Light and Darkness. Therefore, in the songs of the Diva, there must be Light and Darkness.
A younger brother and an elder sister, who are twins; two people whose souls are connected.
The younger brother also has the power of the Diva, which originally only females should have. In the songs of the younger brother dwells the power of Light.
There is the possibility that only Darkness dwells in the elder sister. But her abilities as Diva are strong. Hence, she was chosen as Diva...”

Len nodded his head as Kamui smoothly repeated just the main points of his theory. He understood so far. But from there, what was the connection with the feeling Len had of Rin’s existence growing weaker? He couldn’t see how that was connected to Kamui’s hypothesis.
Shaking lightly his head, Len suddenly voiced the question in his mind.
“Kamui..., If Rin doesn’t have Light, even though both Light and Darkness are necessary for the songs that seal the dragon, how has she managed so far...?”
Hasn’t the dragon remained contained this last decade?
“Light also represents Life.”
At the same time the slightly lowered voiced made his eardrums vibrate, and the sounds were interpreted in this mind, Len clenched his fists without realizing it.
So in other words...
If Rin only has the power of Darkness, yet has continued to stabilize the world...
“Life is Light?”
If she is using something that amounts to Light as a replacement for Light itself, for the songs that require Light and Darkness...
“...Is Rin shortening her life?”
By singing. Because she keeps singing the songs for the stabilization of the world.
She shortens her own life, with her gentle voice gently wishing for peace. If she sings for the salvation of this world, even to that price.
The word born in his throat was not voiced. Len was on the verge of tears.
How could Rin keep singing the songs for the salvation of the world, to the point of shortening for own life, of using her own existence?
“There’s a possibility this may go on to the end.”
Slowly shaking his head, Kamui said this to Len, who was covering his face with his hands.
He knew his own words couldn’t bring him peace of mind. Due to the link between the Diva and Len, there wasn’t anyone else but Len who could sense the Diva’s condition, being well attuned to her despite being far apart.
“...I’m fine.”
His voice as he answered was low, yet clear. For that reason, Kamui added nothing more, surrendering to silence.
Then, no other sounds reached their ears beyond the voices of the birds hidden in the night.
Len softly closed his eyes, yielding his consciousness.
He could hear a song. A warm and gentle song. A song sung of salvation. This was unmistakably the song of Rin’s life.

...Rin is singing salvation, but I...

Despair overwhelmed him. Even though the world was cruel, unfair, not at all kind, the song Rin sung for the world was kind.
“I’m sorry.”
There was no doubt he was unable to sing a song to save the world; Len whispered those words with his arms around his knees.
The stillness of the night received Len’s words leaving nothing behind.
And seemingly unable to be heard by anyone, the sound fading in the interlude was hidden by the night.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chapter 2: A Dream Flower Bloomed in the Roadside

Translated by narumo/narumonster on Vocaloid Otaku.

A dream flower bloomed in the roadside

Fate. A word I hate.

A gaudy ornament for a heart that understands truth. A permission to stop thought. A justification for the weak to give in to irrationality. A notion that brings a sweet and ugly escape in order to accept a reality you cannot change.
So please, when you tell my story, don’t soil me with that word.
This is a fragment of my memories of a resolute choice.
A song of truth, entrusted to you.

“Could you please stop rushing me so much? I don’t intend to offer any resistance.”
I slightly raised my voice in protest, atempting to coerce them with a small frown while adopting a nonchalatant air.
Naturally, that sort of protest was just ignored. Several men escolting a helpless girl must have been a sight to unsettle as soon as you looked, but there was neither a critical voice nor a sympathetic look in my surroundings.
Mainly it was due to being early in the morning, when few people were around. But even if it was, for example, the middle of the day, on a main street packed with people, I probably wouldn’t have got the reaction I wanted from the crowd surrounding me.
The simplified equipment used by the men was formal to the point of exageration, and completely confined them. The outfit told eloquently to everyone that saw them that they were soldiers of a prosperous empire.
In contrast, I didn’t feel like playing the role of a pitiful lamb forced to march. My back was straight; I stared to the front, and went forward in an intentionally slow pace giving sidelong glances to the soldiers that were urging me to hurry.
“Pay due respect to the Diva! And here I thought that was the first and foremost thing written in the scriptures of the draconic faith.”
Even when confronted with such sarcasm, the soldiers at my sides showed no signs of being perturbed. Those men resembled one another closely in physique and age, wore the same issue uniform, and even reacted in the same manner. I’ve come to suspect that there must be stated in the requeriments for military personnel that the recruits should be devoid of personality.
Nevertheless...I couldn’t yet shake off the undefinable strange feeling I had towards a part of what I had just said.
(I am the Diva. I know that in my head, but it just doesn’t ring true.)
The title of “Diva” holds an absurdely important significance in this world. At times, the singers that captivate large audiences in the opera houses, or the female poets that show off their singing voices in bars and crossroads are praised using the term as a colloquialism. But that never goes beyond a whisper behind closed doors, because if that reaches the ears of the zealous believers or the priests of the draconic faith, there’s the chance that the person may be captured and severely punished for “recklessly scorning the saint”; moreover, such zealous people are found everywhere.
A “Diva” is a special being to that extent. She is a holy being that bears the role of offering songs of prayer and serving the enshrined deity of the draconic faith, the “dragon” that brings eternal abundance to this world. You can never see more than one standing together; there is only one “unreturning holy woman” chosen at a time.
With believers that can easily reach a hundred million, the draconic faith places this person in a central role. Due to offering herself and her singing voice to the enormous “dragon”, the living god that supports this land.
That is the “Diva”; no matter what I do, I can’t equate such a being to myself. Because that was a being that belongs in those stories repeteated more times than I care to count in children’s books and the scriptures of the faith.
But, no matter how much I don’t want to believe it, I was chosen. I don’t understand the details, but it seems I carry the special ability of the “Diva” that manifests only in the females of a special lineage.
But naturally, I can’t give easily guarantees on that subject. My father died young in an accident, and mother, who kept working as a laborer to support my younger siblings and myself, perished some years later as well, due to an illness.
As blessed as this country is by abundance, if you live in it but have no workers, there is no choice but to starve. We lived in such poverty.
“As a matter of fact, you are a person that carries the lineage of the “Diva”; you have such ability. If you consent to become the “Diva” of the next era, I promise you in the name of the Emperor that from now on, you will never live in want again.”
I would have to be a big idiot to meekly believe someone watlzing in with such a story. However, the messenger that conveyed that to me was dressed only with the fineries high ranking government officials use, and furthermore carried a letter signed by the Emperor and the patriarch of the draconic faith; if I were able to harbor suspicions after those two names were brought into the picture, it would be like calling them foolish.
I was unable to believe such a forceful story, yet I had in front of my eyes a big decision.
Two simple alternatives: To become the “Diva”, or not.
If I agreed, my family would be saved from poverty and lack of prospects, and would from now be guaranteed financial stability. However, as the other name of “unreturning holy woman” reflected, I would never be able to return from the “dragon”’s side.
If I refused, my family would remain unchanged in distress, and would continue on struggling with hardship. However, I would be able to be there and share in those hardships with my family.
A wise person might loudly say I had no choice. But, I doubted.
I would soon reach the age to legally earn my living. If I argued only from the perspective of my family’s happiness, it’s not like there was no chance of fulfilling it with my own hands if we waited just a bit more.
A happiness granted by others, and a happiness grasped by myself. When I compared the two, my preferences were clearly slanted towards the latter.
But the fact that the “Diva” of the next era was regarded as indispensable, that was no easy matter.

-If I don’t become the Diva, the world might be destroyed-

Yes, certainly this problem carried that implication. And, when I thought about that point, I couldn’t avoid feeling slightly perturbed.
Why, why, without demonstrating any semblance of hurry, the highest political authorities on the world were even giving me room to deliberate?
Forcing me would be easy. If there was a reason not to do it, then that must mean the authorities themselves had alternatives.
Then, was there other choice? If I assumed their calmness was real and not faked, then...
“If I refuse, can someone else be chosen for Diva?”
There is another “candidate”. Moreover, perhaps is someone more appropriate for becoming Diva than me.
For someone else, that was not a desirable thing, but if someone could shoulder that burden for me, nothing could be better, I thought.
“I see. Your intelligence surpasses my expectations. I like you, child.”
My question, when revealed, was met with a pleasant nod from the head of the Emperor. Instantly, I began to see red, suddenly filled with rage, but I chewed on my lower lip and squashed that feeling.
Losing my head there was likely to turn into the third and worst alternative. My future and the future of my family, was bound to be destroyed and scattered away, leaving no trace.
No one would save me from that. So blowing up was the last thing I should do.
“Just for reference, may I enquire the name of the other candidate? It might actually be someone I know.”
I swear it; I had no second intentions saying that. I was trying to calm down, cracking a lame joke; it was said half-consciously.
I don’t know the exact numbers but, to begin with, just the imperial capital is said to have one million inhabitants. Contrary to what I had said, the possibility that the name would belong to someone I knew was bound to be almost equal to zero.
But, in the end, the answer to my words would become a huge reason for my final choice.
“I wasn’t in the mood for needless talk, but I’ll make an exception for your wits and tell you. The other candidate is...”
Because, he told me, with a pure smile that made me think of an infant tormenting a bug, that the name was...

Suddenly someone called my name, and I instantly came back from my reminiscing.
It seemed like I indulged myself in a reverie. The scenery surrounding me had completely changed from the residential district, with its jumble of roofs big and small, into the dreary governmental administration district, closer to the center of the imperial capital.
Since many officials were moving over to live in the government office buildings themselves, this section of town wasn’t all that popular, even in the middle of the day. It was an area that commoners pretty much had reason to approach; I also wasn’t at all familiar with it.
It was likely a consensus among the inhabitants of the imperial capital that this district was a place mainly frequented by aristocrats and their sons and daughters. Yes, a fitting place for people, such as the young lady that had just called me.
“You’ve come, Meiko.”
In a sense, she was the person I wanted to see the most. In other sense, the one I wanted the least to see.
When she appeared, I smiled wryly at her without thinking, but I struggled desperately to hold back the joy and confusion boiling in my heart.
I had planned to go without saying goodbye to the younger girl with the fluttering chestnut hair.
Excluding my family, no, perhaps including them, I could declare her the most important person for me, my closest friend.
Even though she was the granddaughter of the current Chancellor of the Empire, and was born into one of the most prestigious families, for some curious reason, gentle Meiko had become my best friend.
---And the one to decide my choice, “the other candidate for Diva”.
“What is going on?, the Diva! No one told about that.”
In front of Meiko, with her big eyes full of tears and her shoulders shaking as she bitterly complained, I completely lost track of what to reply.
As an aristocrat, she had received an advanced education; also, she was considerably smarter than me. If I gave a half- baked reply, she was sure to see through it and grasp my real intentions. So while I kept silent, I searched desperately for the words I should tell her.
After the group of soldiers conferred amongst themselves with hushed voices, they gave us some room and turned a watchful eye to our surroundings. Thankfully, they seemed inclined to just keep a careful watch for a while. Considering I overheard such words as “chancellor” and “honorable daughter”, it seemed that they knew who Meiko was, somehow.
More than accommodating me, it was probably due to self-protection. But I could rely on such easy to understand behavioral principles.
In all honesty, there was also the circumstance that her character as an “unmanageable woman”, according to a famous story in some circles, with tendencies towards hobbies unsuited for a noblewoman, such as fencing and horse-riding, and often showing herself in places like parade grounds of the military, made her a small celebrity among the soldiers. An incident caused by that personality was the reason she and I first met, but that is a different story.
“....this is my fault, then?”
How did she interpret my silence? After some moments of silence, she let those words out with a sigh.
“Because I am a noble.”
She startled me unintentionally, because I realized what train of thought she was following, and that Meiko was attempting to place her fingers on the truth, without having any information at all.
She was considerably smarter than me. Even though I was supposed to be aware of it, at that moment that fact scared me.
My lips formed her name to stop her from pursuing that train of thought. However, her young but keen intellect was trying to reach a conclusion without minding such wishes.
“Because I... I refused to become the Diva, you... They are now going after you?”
“Meiko, that’s not it.”
I realized I was being a big idiot. It was as if I had forgotten any other words, I just seemed capable of repeating the name of the young girl who had become my closest friend.
“Because I introduced you to my father...because I hoped to save you from poverty... Yes, the presence of the abilities of Diva wouldn’t be so readily investigated in just anybody.”
She was right. But that had been clear to me. And even though she was right, her conclusion was mistaken for sure.
Because of that gentleness. Because of that stubbornness. Because she thought dearly of me. That’s why...
“I...chose you as sacrifice without knowing it...”
Finally I shouted. My voice was so loud I startled even myself, and the soldiers scattered around us stared at me with dumbfounded expressions.
Meiko, to whom I had directed the force of my shout, seemed ready to howl, her small frame frozen with shock.
Geez, I was the one that felt like crying. In any case, even though I had made up my mind, I was almost wavering when she gave me that look.
I was almost unable to completely throw away my wish to weave a future together with you.
But, for that same reason, I had to tell you.
I shrugged in an exaggerated way and plastered a silly expression on my face, so that it would look to you like it was not a big deal.
“You are really stupid.”
Was I able to say it, with the same attitude, and the same voice as always?
The last image of me to remain in her memories had to be same as the Teto she knew, the one Meiko called her friend.
As Meiko stared at me, dumbfounded and sputtering with trembling lips, I pressed on, armed with the words I had finally found.
“Are you done? If I become the Diva, the livelihood of my family will be guaranteed by the Empire and the Church. My younger brothers will finally be able to eat as much food as they want. As for my bedridden mother, it seems they are going to have the physicians of the Imperial Court properly examine her. Not just doctors, but prestigious physicians famous throughout the Empire, you know?
All those things I wanted are being waved in front of my eyes. Shouldn’t I reach out for them?
That friend like no other, that person like no other in this world, was someone I would never be able to share my life with. Yes, at least in this world that needed a “dragon” and a “Diva.”
Ah, what a sorrowful and ironic fate! ...Give me a break! Don’t use those words when telling our story.
Choosing something means throwing something away. And I had chosen. But, it wasn’t just that.
“But...if you go there, you won’t be able to come back! You know the reason the Diva is called the “unreturning holy woman.”
“Yes, I know that. I know that much.”
Suddenly, I smiled at Meiko, who drew closer once more while bracing herself, and consciously lowered my voice, whispering in a quiet but strong tone.
“Someone has to.”
As she keenly considered the reason of the change in my attitude, she tilted her head a little as if bewildered.
Her face had an ambiguous expression, seemingly unwilling to hear more, yet at the same time she listened closely to avoid missing anything.
“Even so, someone has to strengthen her determination not to return, or the balance of this world won’t be preserved.”
As I said those words, I unconsciously lifted my eyes to the sky. The heavens above, filled with the clear air of the early morning, were free of clouds, and wrapped around us with a freshness that was almost odious.
“I will go for the sake of the happiness of those I wish to protect. Could you at least remember that?”
At last, warm tears spilled down from her big eyes, filled to the brim with them. I quickly turned my eyes away from her, and addressing the soldiers scattered in our surroundings, I gave them a small nod.
“Goodbye, crybaby Meiko.”
Just once, I ruffled her soft hair in a purposely rough way, and passing by the side of her still figure, I once more started walking. Immediately, the soldiers fell into a defensive formation at my flanks, their air of severity reinstated.
Meiko did not pursue me any further. From my attitude, she must’ve understood the strength of my resolve, didn’t she?
But, the small whisper that reached me when I passed by her side, wouldn’t leave my ears.

“But, you won’t be a part of that happiness...”

My sight was distorted. I didn’t know how to stop my tears from falling. Still, I desperately stifled my voice to avoid letting out even a sob, and walked with my eyes fixed to the front.
Suddenly, a small speck of color jumped out in a corner of my vision. At once, I rubbed my eyes with a cuff of my sleeves, and when I turned my eyes once more towards it, I saw in a corner of the stone-paved main road, a single flower out of my memories, fluttering in the breeze.
“This flower looks like you.”
That reddish violet flower had the same color as my hair. And it was a memory, one flower among the many growing there in the riverside that was given to me during an excursion with my young friend.
At that time, I turned it down with a strangely awkward and rude attitude, but in reality, I felt really happy, and later I searched for the name of the flower.
In fact, it wasn’t supposed to bloom in the middle of the city like this, but it was certainly that flower. That was the one flower I could never be mistaken about.
Primrose (
primula japonica), the flower of our memories, in the language of flowers, I’m pretty sure it means...happiness.
“That’s no longer a dream we can fulfill...isn’t it?”
Still looking downwards, I shook my head twice while laughing bitterly, and after taking a deep breath, I once again raised my eyes. The scenery I could see wasn’t distorted any longer.
In front of my eyes, the fortress and palace of the emperor towered over the city. My journey without return was barely beginning.

--Oh, “dragon”, as a pillar, I call to you, great bearer.
Consume this singing voice, these feelings, this body, and bring wealth to the world.
To the future she will live. To this world I loved...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chapter 1: The Collapse Creeps Upon Us, Bringing Silence

Translated by narumonster on Vocaloid Otaku.

How should the world be?
What was the shape of the world?
What is the reason for the current state of world?
In a world containing such distortion, is eternal prosperity....?

As he carried and placed back several luxuriously binded books, the scholar breathed a sigh as he brushed his hair off his grim face.
The bookshelf in front of his eyes couldn’t possibly hold any more books, being so tightly packed already. Some spines of the books sorted out according to fixed rules were faded and burnt by the sun due to their constant use, while others were swept over and taken out and read only halfway. He inhaled the characteristic air mixed with some mustiness and without hesitating placed his hand on volume placed on the shelf.
In there, only documents that contained what the empire validated as “the correct way” for how the world ought to be were stored. On the flipside, the libraries containing the underside of history were deeply hidden, only few people being able to gaze upon them.
The prosperity and good harvests of this world were brought along by a miracle that came to rest on this land. That was the being called “dragon”, for which the people living in this chosen land elevated songs in order to offer their prayers and gratitude for his existence. That was the accepted view of society on how the Divas originated. As a story that one would be told repeatedly since childhood it became effectively imprinted and no one questioned the state of the world.
Which was a technique well suited to instill a sense of being the chosen people.
They were granted the sense of being “the chosen” by the god called “dragon” and with the pre-established notion of the Divas as revered beings that existed for his sake, and with anyone who raised an objection rejected as a heretic.
And such, the condition of the ideology had become completely warped. The world he lived in and the people around him were quick to bare their fangs when one objected the answer given from the start, that doing things like questioning the state of the world was pointless.
“...Truly, everything is warped.”
In the room dominated by silence, those words uttered with a sigh were loud.
The scholar knew. In this warped earth, if one uttered something other than the instilled structure of the world, the closer that statement was to reality, the quicker that risk factor was going to be rejected. Buried in the darkness along that hard to reach theory.
Calmly, the scholar brushed his long fingers along the side of the tome he was holding under his arm. Only that volume had its binding ruined on the edges.
The writings of the scholar’s grandfather filled completely the pages turned yellow and faded with the sun.
Those words, which couldn’t avoid eliciting a bitter smile when he thought of them as skilled writings despite being scribbles, were the proof his grandfather had lived, and close to a final opposition to the world that had erased him.
Among the many things that had being disposed of, only this had escaped. It also represented the will entrusted as the last cleverness of his grandfather.
How is the world?
The cognizance of the world trough the doctrine, the danger of causing irritation, and the blind faith of the dragon; those allowed the distortion of the world and its inhabitants, even leading to the recognition of that as the usual state of things. In this world gradually losing its balance, the people didn’t doubt that the temporary public peace would continue.
The scholar calmly raised his eyes. He probably wouldn’t doubt as well, if his circumstances were different.
If he didn’t even have the words of his mother, who laughed despite feeling disgraced. If he didn’t have the will his grandfather left behind.

“...good? Even though saying this is useless. In the world there are no absolutes. There is no such thing as a promised wealth.”

Grief permeated the words muttered while he gazed at the illustrations of a book of the draconic faith written for children.

Why had his mother said such things? It was doubtful, from her expression as he looked up to her, that she would say “why”; afterwards, the scholar has read several documents, searching for the meaning of those words revealed just one time. Knowledge swiftly entered his mind, and soon he began to doubt the overly perfect doctrine, at which point he finally reached the book left behind by his grandfather on his mother’s side of the family.
That wasn’t just a volume of handwriting; not a book, but a registry.
A ripple that sounded an alarm bell in the state of the world.

Even though it was easy to dismiss it as worthless, for the ones who knew the truth it was nothing less than a miracle.

“Why are you spacing out in a place like this?”
A clear voice reached the ears of the scholar, who was lost in thought.
A slender woman, dressed in priestly robes in soothing colours, gazed at him. In contrast to her sweet smile, in her eyes was a cold exp
The scholar also narrowed his eyes at her.
“Ah, Luka-dono.”
He hailed her. As way of reply, the priestess called Luka gave a small nod and calmly approached him.
“Something on your mind?”
“No..., if I have to put into words, I was thinking about things that tear down the conventional wisdom.”
The scholar’s words intensified the coldness in Luka’s eyes.
Even though she faced those words seemingly intended to irritate her with a facade of coldness, Luka’s inner thoughts were not calm at all.
Even among her fellow priests, the woman called Luka was particularly devoted to the draconic faith. He could call it blind faith, but even though the scholar repeatedly disagreed with her way of thinking, he admired in half amazement the strength of that faith.
How was able to believe to that extent?
No, that wasn’t it. Unlike the ignorant masses, as a priest, as one of those defining their world, Luka was someone who knew about quietly burying those who would menace that worldview.
Even if the world followed a path traced by common opinion, it was a fact that some would question the state of the world and follow heretic beliefs as outsiders. Theirs was a hidden existence.
“That’s dangerous talk.”
“Yes... I think it is talk better left unsaid in a place like this.”
Her head swayed softly as she chided him.
“Then, in what sort of place would you speak of this?”
His reply was an earnest question. With the scholar’s words, her head again tilted to one side.
“You mean...?”
“To say it clearly, “where” in this world is the kind of place where it would be possible to speak of this?
The next words to slip from the scholar’s lips clearly conveyed his intent to criticize her. Naturally, Luka held her breath, frowning.
It felt like every sound had been cut off in an instant. In that silence, which made it seem like only the two of them existed, the scholar laughed inwardly.
“To investigate truth. If that is your will as a scholar, it’s a wonderful thing.”
The clear voice hadn’t faltered, yet as an answer to the scholar’s question, the words were only vaguely connected.
“And if, for example, you as a scholar formulated a hypothesis and we interfered with that?”
”Which means?”
“Just as I said. Because it seems like you harbor some prejudice against us.”
The scholar softly shaked his head looking at Luka, who shrugged as if stumped.
The thought crossed his head that she was the hopelessly prejudiced one, more than him.
Or maybe, he realized, they were both prejudiced against each other, as her words suggested.
As he hesitated, having just said her name, Luka surveyed their surroundings, as if something had called her attention.
The sound of footsteps was approaching. This was a library where anyone could enter once certified as a person of certain status. For the both of them, being overheard by an unrelated third person was not good at all.
“This is it, then.”
At that voice mixed with a sigh, the scholar came to his senses and grabbed the arm of the priestess, who was about to leave. As she momentarily lost balance and stumbled, Luka’s heels made a conspicuously loud sound.
“What are you doing?”
“Would you stay for a little while?”
His very calm voice* overlapped her tone of mixed surprise and some displeasure. But when she felt the grip on her arm tighten somewhat, Luka nodded.

“There’s something I’d like to ask you, since you are a high ranking priestess.”
“What is it?”
“Is an abundance promised to us for eternity the real basis of the world? And are we really the chosen ones?”
The words of the scholar, spoken in an earnest tone, were met by silence. Perhaps at a loss of words, Luka inclined her head, her beautiful eyebrows in a small frown.
“I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter.”
For some reason, those words he added carried a sense of franticness. Luka smiled, finding that equivocal. As she faced down, her smile went unseen by the scholar.
“My thoughts?”
“ a member of the clergy, I...would say ‘yes’ to you questions.”
We rest on an abundance promised to us for eternity.
We have been chosen by the god called dragon, and receive the blessing of that wealth.
The Empire and the priests that serve it, teach that doctrine to the people. This one doctrine is given as the way of things.
“Then, as an individual?”
“My thoughts as an individual?”
Luka raised her face and met the scholar’s gaze. The words the priestess said with a sweet smile on her lips were to her perfectly natural, but for the scholar were hard to comprehend.
“I have no thoughts as an individual.”
Unable to grasp her meaning, his voice reflected his bewilderment.
“I am a priestess. Before being myself, I am a priestess who administers the cult of the dragon. I retain no thoughts as, in your words, an individual.”
“It’s difficult for me to understand what you are trying to say. I don’t know why you are so set upon changing the ideas regarding the world.”
“You are just trapped by your own views, and unable to accept the world.”
The scholar shaked his head slowly at that assertion. As if to deny Luka’s words; as if to make sure of where he was.
A long strand of his neatly arranged hair fell from his shoulder.
Still with a smile on her lips, Luka observed the handsome face of the scholar who stood taller than her; her eyes then turned to the books he carried under his arm.
Between the tomes, there was something that wasn’t a book.
When she unconsciously extended a hand towards it, the scholar stepped away before she could touch it.
“The world has lost its ability to purify itself. After the purification, abundance is promised. How can it be the correct state of things to take a world where a cycle that linked together destruction and prosperity existed, and forcibly break apart purification and destruction, trying to hold on solely to abundance?”
In those words was the truth he had struggled to reach, examinating various documents, starting with the book inherited from his grandfather.
Originally, the world was capable of purifying itself, and abundance and prosperity were granted as companions to destruction. After destruction, there was regeneration; after prosperity, there was decline. Like the relationship between light and darkness, like a cycle, the world had an interconnected existence.
In the past, when people flourished and then exhausted their splendor, the world declined. After the decline, ruin arrived, and before long, the land regained its abundance.
A “dragon”, the great power that administered ruin and destruction, was bound to exist. The people and national powers that repeatedly fought and became impoverished, and the air and land polluted in the midst of those struggles, were bound to be equally restored after their ruin.
When everything, regardless of things like social status, returned to nothing, the survivors would go on living in a newly purified land; that was the original form of things.
“If you thought about what you are saying**...You have become obsessed with those delusions.”
“Forcibly distorting the ways in which the world purified itself, focusing solely on drawing out abundance in a mistaken form, and misrepresenting everything for the sake of temporary public peace; isn’t that a mistake?
“We have only taken from the original way of the world the forces that were convenient for us, and even though abundance was supposed to be intertwined with the destruction of the great being called dragon, we forcibly separated them, distorting reality. Then, we taught ourselves to think that we are the chosen, and for that reason, peace is going to last forever.”
”What are you trying to say?”
“The eternity that you priests and the Empire speak of is currently resting on precarious and fragile foundations. The world built upon this distortion will someday break.”
“You say such foolish things.”
Luka’s smile was gone and she replied with clear displeasure.
“I’d like to ask you once more.”
The scholar took another step distancing himself from Luka and threw his question at her.
“The eternity you priests speak of. That eternal prosperity isn’t that a corruption that pretends to be eternity, distorting and avoiding the world?”
The words were indirect but also precise.
Only the small sound of Luka’s breathing reached the scholar, her face was tilted downwards and couldn’t be seen. The silence as he waited for an answer was painful to his ears.
“Corruption...? Your ideas really are hard to understand. If that were the case, if I say that, then everything is equally as you say.”
Luka’s face was exp
ressionless as she slowly looked up.
“I don’t understand how you managed to reach the truth. Nevertheless, you have been reading the documents regarding the dragon that sleeps in the depths of our country, haven’t you?”
The source of the current prosperity of the Empire.
Those documents where unknown writers recorded the period when the great being called dragon was chained to the land, and a system was put on place to draw out the force of abundance.
Indeed, the scholar had seen those records that were tightly guarded to keep them out of the public gaze.
“Then, you should understand. We are all receiving a blessing. In this world you call distorted.”
“The one receiving that blessing and living in this world can’t raise an objection.”

---Because you and me both are living sharing the blessing born out of that distortion.

The following words made the scholar frown.
“No one has raised an objection.”
Those words declared with indifference faded away in the silence. The thought of questioning this came to the scholar’s mind, and then vanished; a strange feeling took over him, as if he was vainly struggling in midair.*
The answer the priestess had admitted regarding the current state of the world had been the positive proof he wanted. The existence of the “dragon” as described by the doctrine was not at all its real form. It hadn’t been directly put into words, but her earlier reply was the same as an affirmation.
Even though the answer he had been looking for was clearly within his grasp, the scholar felt like he was being dragged into a dark place.
“And in the case of the Divas?”
“If we pretend there is someone that can raise an objection, would that be the Diva that is risking her life maintaining the equilibrium of this distorted world on her own?”
The Divas are the beings that bear the exalted role of offering songs to the “dragon”. They are the pillars of the plan crafted in antiquity, binding the “dragon” with songs. Since the creation of the Empire to the present, there was existed one, supporting the distorted world, despite knowing she had no chance of going back.
If one was chosen as Diva no return was possible. As beings turned into sacrifices for a blessing they don’t share, wouldn’t they be able to raise an objection?
“The Divas haven’t ever complained.”
“Because they became willingly the beings offering songs and prayers to the dragon.”
She paused.
“There are no complains, obviously.”
“However, I feel sad. It is because you have faith that your wish to see the documents regarding the original form of the world was bound to be granted. Despite that, in this way, you are thinking only about defying the current conventional wisdom of the world. This must make your father sad.”
The scholar couldn’t help but laugh at those words.
For better or for worse. Just as Luka said, despite seeking how the world should be, until that day, he had managed to avoid being condemned as a heretic. If he didn’t submit to the ones in power, he was likely to follow the same road of the other scholars, such as his grandfather, who had been swiftly condemned as heretics up until then.
“Maybe it’s inevitable.”
When his quietly uttered words were met with a suspicious glance, the scholar laughed.
The blessing born of the separation from the shape that was originally meant to be, had already started to collapse. He was confident that cracks were silently appearing in this distorted system. There was no positive proof, but if one accepted that this was inevitable, he could consider the fact that he was still denouncing the current state of the world without being eliminated as the first example that proved it. The world was slowly headed for a severe collapse from the start.
“You intend to go through with that to the end, while still staying close to the ones in power.”
Perhaps guessing the real meaning of the scholar’s laugh, Luka shook her head and spoke with a resigned tone.
“Do you want to die?”
The words reflected no malice, they were just a question.
“Who wants to die? I’m the same as the ones who have been questioning the world until now.”
“...Kamui-sama, someday you’ll regret this.”
Luka cast down her eyes, and her voice shook a little as she said those words; her exp
ression was too complex for the scholar to decipher.
“Then, I shall live pretending this choice wasn’t a mistake.”
“Do as you please.”
The collapse draws near silently. Even if he was unimportant in the scheme of things, if he turned into that first example, it could be a sign of an approaching collapse or change in the world.
Is the current state of the world right or wrong? The answer was brought forth as a clear and natural result, in a not so distant place.
As the distortion grew bigger, two people were feeling in the edge of their hearts how the creaking world was starting to break its silence.

TL Notes:

*they use "my pace" as an adjective for voice here, but I really don't understand how that applies to a voice. I suppose it relates to being unaffected by external forces and keeping a unhurried tone...maybe nonchalatant?
**Like the typical japanese phrase, there is no subject spelled out, so I'm guessing who does the "thinking" and "saying" here.
***scratching/kicking vainly in the air...makes me think about Willie Coyote, actually :D


Translated by narumo/narumonster on Vocaloid Otaku.

Your absence was for me an unbearable pain

Why do I have this feeling of emptiness?
Why do I feel like I’ve lost something?
Why do I search the world for an unknown face, and feel despair when I don’t find it?
Why do I feel a voice I shouldn’t know, and call a name I shouldn’t know?

You have an older sister, his mother said sounding slightly sad.
In that instant, Len knew that the mysterious feeling he had harbored ever since he was aware wasn’t completely unfounded.
So he asked:
“That girl, is she my twin?”
His parents were shocked into silence. In the end, he wasn’t told in detail how that precious fragment of his soul was separated from him.
He was sure the edges of their souls were connected. But if he tried to put into words that strange feeling, undoubtedly Len would be considered mad.
Since Len was one the smartest children of his town, he made no further attempts of asking his parents for that fragment of himself.
After all, he wasn’t the only one sad about it. If he tried to continue talking, the sight of his mother breaking down in tears left him with no other option but to give it up.
The voice, the afterimage, the traces didn’t vanish from his mind.
Len thought that, since they were twins, she was bound to look a lot like him.
She had to have eyes blue like the southern seas, showing through hair of gold. But, since she was a girl, she must be pretty.
Len loosened his tightly fastened ponytail and laughed.
Even if he looked in a mirror, that image was only himself, not that fragment so distant from him. Yet it felt like the afterimage could chase after him.
(...How do you laugh?)
If he slid his finger over the surface of the mirror, the reflection moved as well, as if in pursuit. The eyes peeking out from between his bangs seemed to be longing for something; to the point he wondered if they were really his own.
He wanted to confirm the existence he felt in the edge of his heart.
All this time, all along, he had been aware of it... 

The girl awakened by the sound of a drop of water falling in a humid and dark place. In the darkness, her soft golden threads slipped from her shoulders.
It seemed she had fell sleep for a while.
She rubbed her eyes, not completely free yet from drowsiness, and looked around in the dim light.
From a distant crevice in the rock face, the sunlight from the outside poured in, illuminating a single point in the rocks.
It was a small pool of sunshine.
The girl timidly approached the meager sunshine, and extended a hand, as if to ascertain its warmth.
The skin of the girl, barely touched by the sun, was white.
The hair of the girl warmed by the sunlight had the captivating hue of honey, and the eyes that moved as if quietly studying it were a soft blue.
It seemed to blend in with the rocky area, but something different was there in front of the girl’s eyes. With a skin hard a rock, the being was surely sleeping at the moment. Inside its unopened eyelids, slitted pupils of gold existed, that shone even in the darkness.
The being with the form of a dragon was called god of destruction and held as guardian deity; it lived in this land and supported it, and at times brought forth calamities.
Yet this was unmistakably a dragon that once lived in the heavenly realms and was left behind. If it grew restless, it would surely be uncontrollable and engulf this land in a sea of fire.
For the dragon, humans were nothing but weaklings. An existence was not even worth taking.
Everything amassed until that moment would be turned into ashes very easily. Yet the people had one unique method that served as opposition: a voice.
A voice making a yarn of sounds.
It wasn’t just anybody that could appease the dragon; the owner of such a singing voice went to live in a dark and generally uninhabited rocky place, appointed to a shrine that was kept there just for form’s sake, and spent her days coming and going between the shrine and the underground caverns where the dragon dwelled.
Now, the girl was that person.
Making a soft sound, the delicate ornaments on her hair swayed.
The door in the small shrine that led the outside couldn’t be opened from the inside; periodically, food and objects required for her daily needs were sent in.
To put it in other words, she was preserving this land, sacrificing her life in solitude. Apparently, the land where the dragon dwelled was promised abundance.
If one considered the risks that were burdened at that same time, perhaps it was something to be expected.
The girl didn’t know. What was the outside like? The hem of the one-piece dress of soft cloth that was given to her waved as she giggled under the meager sunlight.
At that moment, the big rock suddenly moved. The dragon that should’ve been sleeping had woken up.
The slitted golden pupils stared at the girl, as if inquiring what was amusing. If she was unprepared, it was likely to tear the slender body of the girl into pieces in an instant.
But the girl gave no signs of cowardice.
“Today is sunny. I will sing for you a sunny song.”
Without her notice, a song had come to her mind. There were songs that seemed as if she had heard in various places, and songs that came to her mind while dreaming.
The song her soft lips were spinning was one of those songs.
In her dream, the girl became a boy. She was called a name by different people; Len, she thought it was.
The boy who greatly resembled her had answered back with a smile, and went running full of energy into the sunlight.
That led her to wonder what kind of person was the one who sang before her in this place.
Her role wouldn’t end unless someone with a voice that appeased the dragon was born, or she was killed experiencing the wrath of the dragon.
That she had been put into the shrine just after her birth, without being given the time to reach adulthood, reflected one fact.
The person before her was dead for sure. She had felt the dragon’s wrath, or it had grown tired of her.