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

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