Archive for July, 2012

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (Part 5/7)

Only two parts left! (I say this when the next part is by far the longest).

「茨姫」”Episode 04: La Belle au bois dormant” from Volume 2 of ダンタリアンの書架/Dantalian no Shoka/Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian/The Mystical Archives of Dantalian.

Parts: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (4)

Just as Talia and the workman had said, the shape of the land around the mansion was terribly confusing. The road was often cut off by landslides, and would either end at a sudden drop, or run into the bottom of a steep cliff. After taking several hours longer than they had expected, Huey and Dalian finally made it to the entrance to the mansion. Then, standing in front of they gate, they frowned.

The iron gate was hedged by a high wall, and countless thorned vines had wrapped themselves around it barring anyone from entering. Furthermore, caught in the thick vines was something, greyly glimmering.

It was a dead body.

Real human bones raised up, with faded clothing still about them, a dried corpse was left to bleach in the sun, still wrapped in the vines of the gate – and there was more than one.

“If these are meant to be a decoration, the owner really has some incredible tastes,” Dalian said coldly.

“These corpses are fairly new… All the flesh has fallen from the bones, but the clothing is still fairly intact… It can only be a year at most since they died… From their clothing, they were probably servants of this mansion…” Huey calmly analyzed the scene.

From what they had in front of them, it was impossible to tell whether the growth of the vines had lifted the bodies up, or someone had tied them up in the vines while they were still alive. If one thing was clear, it was that anyone who abandoned corpses at the gate where they lived couldn’t be in a right state of mind.

“So what do we do Dalian? If we don’t do something about these vines we’ll never make it into the mansion.”

“Isn’t it obvious? We’ll just break through them. There just so happens to be a useful tool lying around.”

Without changing her expression, Dalian pointed to the ground under one of the corpses where there was an axe. It probably belonged to someone who was trying to save their friends caught in the vines. The fact that the axe was left here probably meant that its original owner met the same fate of the one he was trying to save. It didn’t seem like it carried a very good omen.

“We’ll break through…? Don’t you mean me?” Huey muttered as he reluctantly picked up the axe.

So, with a surprisingly skilled hand, Huey began to hack away the vines locked around the gate. There was rust on the blade of the axe, but it hadn’t dulled very much. The vines fell away and the way in front of them opened up.

Just like the workman had said, there weren’t any lights on in the mansion. Huey and Dalian made their way past the skeletons at the gate and headed toward the entrance. The door wasn’t locked. Huey pulled on it and it easily creaked open.

The inside of the mansion was dark. Huey took his military oil lighter out of his pocket and used it in place of a torch.

“No sign of anyone huh… Still, it’s cleaner than you would expect,” Huey said, looking around the hall.

There was a thin layer of dust on the carpet, but there were no signs of a struggle of any sort. All of the furniture was neatly in its place. If someone had told him that the owner had only been absent a few months, he would have easily belived him. Well, if it weren’t for all the vines and corpses at the front gate.

Dragging the axe along in one hand and carrying his lighter in the other, Huey climbed the stairs to the clock tower. In the observation room above the clock tower the master of this mansion, the princess of this castle of thorns, Florence Carabosse should be there. Huey had seen her with his own eyes just hours before.

However, when Huey reached the observation room, he froze in his tracks.

Certainly, there was a woman there. It was a long haired woman wearing an expensive looking dress. She was standing at the window, which was covered in vines, as if she were looking down at the village. She was probably the same age as Talia. Surely she would have been a beautiful woman – had she been alive.

“This is…” Huey looked around the room and groaned.

You could say the woman was “standing” at the window, but nothing below her torso was there. The lower half of her body had been hewn off by someone, and was lying on the sofa. Her head and arms had been ripped from her body as well, probably while she was still wearing that dress. Vines draping from the ceiling had wrapped around those severed parts and held them aloft. The reason it looked like she was alive was because of those vines. Her torso, head, and arms had been hung from the ceiling, as if she were a marionette.

“I guess this is… Ms. Florence?” Huey walked over to the corpse at the window and sighed.

There was no need to confirm she was dead for some time. Her body had dried out, but her clothes weren’t very faded, so the corpse wasn’t very old. She had probably been dead maybe a few months to half a year at most, about the same time as the corpses at the front gate.

“Well it doesn’t look like a suicide.” Huey looked at the splattered blood stains on the carpet.

Dalian placidly agreed. “Yes. If her legs didn’t walk themselves over there, then she was killed by someone.”

“I wonder if it was the same person who set fire to Carabosse’s main mansion…? Wait.”

As Huey questioned himself, he noticed a fundamental contradiction.

“Then who was the person our witness saw at the foot of the mountain if it wasn’t Ms. Florence?”

From examining at Florence Carabosse’s corpse, it must have been almost half a year since she died, but Florence had been sighted at the foot of the mountain not more than a month ago. The witness was a merchant that had a long relationship with the Carabosse family, so the credibility of his information was high. It was hard to think that he simply mistook her for someone else.

“Does that mean that someone that should have died is out living and walking around? Don’t tell me that that’s the power of “The Book of Deep Green”… Dalian?”

“No.” The black clothed girl determinedly shook her head.

“The dead don’t read books. If “The Book of Deep Green” really does exist, its owner is not her but someone else.”

“…Does that mean someone killed her and stole the phantom book?” Huey asked with a severe expression on his face.

Dalian quietly continued. “Either that or the phantom book’s owner wasn’t her to begin with.”

“Then it wasn’t Ms. Florence? Then who…?” Huey asked, perplexed.

“There is only one other possibility. You haven’t even figured that out yet? Idiot.”

“Huh?” Huey was dumbfounded.

Dalian looked back at Huey with a mix of disdain. “It’s just as that peasant said. Other than the people at the mansion, there’s only one other person who can read books.”

“Talia… but… why would she…?”

“I don’t know either, but I think it’s safe to say that there’s a phantom book in this village,” Dalian muttered as she looked to the window. Her cheeks on her emotionless face were white, as if the blood had drained from her face. Before the small patch of night sky cut out by the window, something was rustling, undulating.

It was the rose vines. Under the reddish moonlight, thick green vines were squirming, very much alive, and trying to surround the mansion Huey and Dalian were in.

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (Part 4/7)

^(I’m already starting to run out of appropriately themed images)

「茨姫」”Episode 04: La Belle au bois dormant” from Volume 2 of ダンタリアンの書架/Dantalian no Shoka/Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian/The Mystical Archives of Dantalian.

Parts: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (3)

After leaving their luggage with Talia, Dalian and Huey took a walk around the village.

The evening sun had already sunk along the western ridgelines and filled the sky with a reddish glow. A peasant who had finished his work in the fields was walking along one of the paths in semidarkness. He was very tan, and had a fearless look about him.

“Good evening,” Huey said to the young workman carrying a hoe on his shoulders.

Even though Huey and Dalian must have been a strange sight, the man didn’t show any sign of suspicion and laughed in reply.

“Hey. Haven’t seen you folks around here before. Must be the scholars Talia brought in to town eh?”

“Scholars?” Huey replied, caught off guard.

On the way to Talia’s house, Huey had seen Talia talking with some of the villagers, but he had no idea that this sort of rumor had spread already.

“No? Aren’t you two looking for a book?” said the man, a little surprised.

“Ah, yes we are… Do you know anything about it?”

“Nope. The only ones around here that can read books are the people in the master’s mansion, and then Talia. I’ve got the feeling I learned a bit when I was a kid, but I’ve forgotten my letters long ago. After all, no one comes this far to sell the newspapers eh?”

Then the man laughed, “But you two really do have too much time on your hands. It’s not like a book’ll fill your stomach, no matter how rare it is!”

“Well, that’s true… They don’t taste very good do they, at least if you’re not a goat.”

The man burst out laughing at Huey’s less than clever joke before continuing.

“Haha, you really are something, you two. I like ya – Oh, by the way, where are you going this late in the day?”

“Well we were thinking of going to the northern forest…”

Huey didn’t have any reason to lie, so he told the truth. After all, in such a small village, outsiders stick out like a sore thumb. He didn’t think he could hide where he was going even if he wanted to.

“The master’s mansion huh… Well that makes sense. You’re looking for a book after all.”

The man nodded, and it didn’t seem like he had a problem with them going, but he continued.

“Still, if I were you I’d wait until tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“There are rarely any lights on in the mansion, and well, night out here in the country is dark. I hear the young lady sleeps early as well. They say the reason she’s way out here is for her health after all.”

“I see…”

“Another thing. If you’re not careful on the way over there, don’t blame me if you never make it back. That place’s a castle of thorns.”

“Talia said the same thing.” Huey smiled a faintly bitter smile.

The man looked like he understood how Huey felt.

“Probably so. Are you spending the night at Talia’s? If not, would you like to stay with me? I don’t have any books, but I do have spirits!”

“Spirits? Do you make it yourself?” asked Huey, a little surprised. There wasn’t any store in the village that looked like it would sell liquor.

The man folded his arms as if he were tracing back through his memories.

“No, someone gave it to me… Hmm… who was it again? Well I guess it doesn’t matter. My house is on the top of that hill over there. If you feel like it, come over whenever you’d like.”

“Thank you.”

Huey gave his thanks to the workman and they parted ways, Dalian and Huey continuing just as they were along the darkening path by the fields.

“But… this really is a strange village.” Huey muttered after making sure the workman was gone.

“There’s hardly enough of a population here to support itself, and yet I don’t see any signs of interation with the outside. It doesn’t even look like they’ve noticed that that village at the foot of the mountain is empty… But it doesn’t feel like this place is desolate or anything… I wouldn’t go as far to call it ‘abnormal’, but… I’m not really sure.”

“That’s not the only thing,” said Dalian in a harsh tone.

“Haven’t you noticed? In this village there isn’t a single child, or anyone you could call old.”

Startled, Huey turned around in the direction the workman had left. As far as he could tell from the state of the buildings this village wasn’t a new settlement. It was an old village, with a history. If that were the case, then it was strange that there were no elderly. All of the peasants, Talia included were young and in their prime.

“So that was what felt so out of place in this village…”

“According to the policeman we met in the first town, the village at the foot of the mountain was full of old people with weak bodies, so then why is it that only the people of this village, further up in the mountains, are all so young?” Dalian asked, as if talking to herself.

“However, it didn’t seem like any of the villagers were hiding anything… though I suppose that outsiders are rare here,” said Huey, unable to come up with an answer.

Dalian looked emotionlessly at the top of the hill. “They probably don’t know anything. If anyone knows anything…”

“I’m guessing it would be the princess of that castle of thorns.” said Huey quietly, looking up at the clock tower raised against the dusk sky.

The mansion covered in rosevines seemed to be part of the forest behind it, and in the silence it felt even more unsettling.

=====

Shanghai Alice in 1884

I started this post over three years ago (2009/06/28). Procrastination at its finest. If I finished it then, it would have been the 23rd song (11th Touhou song) I’d ever translated on the site. Now it’s going to be the 701st.

Notes:
“Autumnal Cherry Blossoms” refers to “eshikizakura” which are cherry trees that blossom on the death anniversary of the Monk Nichiren (October 13th)
“Flowerless Fruit” refers to a fig (tree).
“brushed away” maybe a reference to the Kusanagi sword, one of the three imperial regalia of Japan.

Shanghai Alice in 1884
明治十七年の上海アリス
Vocal: nomico
Arrangement: Masayoshi Minoshima
Lyric: ayaka*
Circle: Alstroemeria Records
Album: Blue Note / EXSERENS
Event: C70 / Reitaisai 5

虹色に乱れ舞う風に揺れる 風鈴よ遥かに
紅の美しき鈴の音よ それこそ雛菊
夕顔の花閉じる音も耳も 澄ませば静かに
薄闇に指止める髪の先の 露さえ草薙

nijiiro ni midaremau kaze ni yureru fuurin’ yo haruka ni
kurenai no utsukushiki suzu no oto yo sore koso hinagiku
yuugao no hana tojiru oto mo mimi mo sumaseba shizuka ni
usuyami ni yubi tomeru kami no saki no tsuyu sae kusanagi

Swaying in the wind filled with dancing rainbow colors, O chime! how far
Does your beautiful scarlet sound resound! But not less that of the daisy,
Nor the sounds of the moonflowers closing! For if you listen in the silence
Even the dew on the tips of hair where fingertips lay sounds, brushed away

極彩に染まりゆく 雨の色よ五月雨ひそかに
灯火で辿り着く 夜の道の先には我が守護
真夜中の上弦の 月の淡い光とかすかに
揺らめく柳一葉 招かざれる到来 無花果

kyokusai ni somariyuku ame no iro yo samidare hisoka ni
tomoshibi de tadoritsuku yoru no michi no saki ni wa wa ga shugo
mayonaka no jougen’ no tsuki no awai hikari to kasuka ni
yurameku yanagi hitoha manukazareru tourai ichijiku

How rich the color of the rain, changing in the light it takes! Surreptitiously
With lamp in hand I make my way through this light shower where at the end
Of this night road waits whom I protect; faintly in the light of a waxing moon at
Midnight, a single willow leaf swaying, this unbeckoned arrival, flowerless fruit!

風よ 蝶々よ 夢よ 會式桜よ
春の 巫女さえ 気付く儚い思い
どうか私に其れを護らせて

kaze yo chouchou yo yume yo eshikizakura yo
haru no miko sae kidzuku hakanai omoi
douka watashi ni sore wo mamorasete

O wind! O butterflies! O dreams! O autumnal cherry blossoms!
What a fleeting feeling, even a spring shrine maiden could appreciate!
Please, let me protect this!

虹色に乱れ舞う風に揺れる 風鈴よ遥かに
紅の美しき鈴の音よ それこそ雛菊
夕顔の花閉じる音も耳も 澄ませば静かに
薄闇に指止める髪の先の 露さえ草薙

nijiiro ni midaremau kaze ni yureru fuurin’ yo haruka ni
kurenai no utsukushiki suzu no oto yo sore koso hinagiku
yuugao no hana tojiru oto mo mimi mo sumaseba shizuka ni
usuyami ni yubi tomeru kami no saki no tsuyu sae kusanagi

Swaying in the wind filled with dancing rainbow colors, O chime! how far
Does your beautiful scarlet sound resound! But not less that of the daisy,
Nor the sounds of the moonflowers closing! For if you listen in the silence
Even the dew on the tips of hair where fingertips lay sounds, brushed away

極彩に染まりゆく 雨の色よ五月雨ひそかに
灯火で辿り着く 夜の道の先には我が守護
真夜中の上弦の 月の淡い光とかすかに
揺らめく柳一葉 招かざれる到来 無花果

kyokusai ni somariyuku ame no iro yo samidare hisoka ni
tomoshibi de tadoritsuku yoru no michi no saki ni wa wa ga shugo
mayonaka no jougen’ no tsuki no awai hikari to kasuka ni
yurameku yanagi hitoha manukazareru tourai ichijiku

How rich the color of the rain, changing in the light it takes! Surreptitiously
With lamp in hand I make my way through this light shower where at the end
Of this night road waits whom I protect; faintly in the light of a waxing moon at
Midnight, a single willow leaf swaying, this unbeckoned arrival, flowerless fruit!

永遠に護り抜く 瞳閉じる時まで優雅に
完全な麗しき光る刃 貴女を唯一

eien’ ni mamorinuku hitomi tojiru toki made yuuga ni
kan’zen’ na uruwashiki hikaru yaiba anata wo yuiitsu

Eternally protecting, elegantly until the time my eyes close
This perfect and beautifully shining blade is for you alone

リアルワールド // Real World (人類は衰退しました / Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita OP)

This show is wonderful by the way. I keep on debating amongst myself(/ves) whether this show is insanely clever, just plain clever, or clever by accident – but it sure is fun.

“By this world’s rules, something dramatic must happen in each panel before we’re allowed to move on.”

Pastel Colors forever!!!

リアルワールド
 Real World
人類は衰退しました OP
 Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita Opening Theme
 ”Humanity has Declined” Opening Theme
歌:nano.RIPE
作曲:佐々木淳
編曲:nano.RIPE
歌詞:きみコ
サークル:nano.RIPE
アルバム:リアルワールド
発売日:2012年07月25日

目が覚めたならきみが笑ってそんな世界が続くと思ってた
当たり前には少し足りない歪んだ視界から見てた青い夜

me ga sameta nara kimi ga waratte son’na sekai ga tsudzuku to omotteta
atarimae ni wa sukoshi tarinai yugan’da shikai kara miteta aoi yoru

I had always thought this world, where whenever
 I woke up you’d be there smiling, would never change
I looked out at the blue night from a distorted perspective
 almost, but not quite what you’d expect.

何度目の朝で打ち明けた恋のように
少し酸っぱいままで出掛けたら

nan’dome no asa de uchiaketa koi no you ni
sukoshi suppai mama de dekaketara

Like the love I had confessed morning after morning,
I left with a somewhat tart feeling in my heart

近付いてくぼくらデリケート 淡い夢を見せてあげよう
たまにはいいことあるかも
ご褒美にはチョコレート 甘い夢を見れたら
それがすべてだなんて笑ってみよう

chikadzuiteku bokura delicate awai yume wo miseteageyou
tama ni wa ii koto aru ka mo
gohoubi ni wa chocolate amai yume wo miretara
sore ga subete danan’te warattemiyou

As we come closer together, delicate – Let me show you a faint dream
Every now and then, good things really do happen…
In return, there’s chocolate! – If we can have sweet dreams like these,
Then let’s laugh, as if there’s nothing else to it

曖昧だって大体だって続く気がして夜空を仰いだ
なんとなくから見えた景色が新しい世界へほらね導くよ

aimai datte daitai datte tsudzuku ki ga shite yozora wo aoida
nan’to naku kara mieta keshiki ga atarashii sekai e hora ne michibiku yo

I looked up at the night sky, thinking whether it be
 uncertain or expected, everything would go on.
Don’t you see? Just glancing at what’s around us will
 lead us into a brand new world!

回り続けるこの星はだれのもの?
難しいハナシなら食後にして

mawaritsudzukeru kono hoshi wa dare no mono?
muzukashii hanashi nara shokugo ni shite

Just who does this revolving planet belong to?
Let’s leave the difficult questions for after we eat

近付いてくぼくらデリケート 淡い夢を見せてあげよう
たまにはいいことあるかも
ご褒美にはチョコレート 甘い夢を見れたら
それがすべてだなんて笑ってみよう

chikadzuiteku bokura delicate awai yume wo miseteageyou
tama ni wa ii koto aru ka mo
gohoubi ni wa chocolate amai yume wo miretara
sore ga subete danan’te warattemiyou

As we come closer together, delicate – Let me show you a faint dream
Every now and then, good things really do happen…
In return, there’s chocolate! – If we can have sweet dreams like these,
Then let’s laugh, as if there’s nothing else to it

あの丘まで進めストレート 見えない音に耳傾け
聴こえた?手招きする声
いくつかのバリケード壊せ 知れば知るほど
わからなくもなるくらい不思議な世界

ano oka made susume straight mienai oto ni mimi katamuke
kikoeta? temaneki suru koe
ikutsuka no barricade kowase shireba shiru hodo
wakaranaku mo naru kurai fushigi na sekai

As we continue on straight towards that hill – I listen to sounds out of sight
There’s a voice calling, “Did you hear me?”
Breaking through all the many barricades – What a strange world!
The more we know the less we understand!


Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (Part 3/7)

I will be continuing these installments, but not on a daily basis like I originally planned ^^;

「茨姫」”Episode 04: La Belle au bois dormant” from Volume 2 of ダンタリアンの書架/Dantalian no Shoka/Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian/The Mystical Archives of Dantalian.

Parts: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (2)

Walking further up the mountain path, without warning, the forest opened into a much broader landscape. There was nothing separating the village from the rest of the mountain, so immediately after leaving the forest you could see rows of houses. It was a small village, and it merged easily into its surroundings. The land itself was more than what normally would be expected, but there were only fifteen houses at most in the entire village.

Houses were here and there surrounded by crop fields, and there were grazing fields on the slope of the mountain dotted with livestock. There was very little level land within the village, with most of the land at a gentle slope, with a few sharp drop offs here and there. It might not have been the easiest place to live in, but it was beautiful. The evening sun was shining brilliantly on the thick green slopes, and countless wildflowers were blossoming from either side of the road.

“What a beautiful village,” said Huey, honestly reflecting.

“Still, there really isn’t anything here…” said the young woman in the cape, smiling shyly.

Seeing how tired Dalian was unused to walking on mountain roads, the woman had invited Huey and Dalian to rest at her house. She said her name was “Talia” and that she lived by herself in the village.

Talia led Huey and Dalian to a stone-built house in the village center which was where she lived. It wasn’t a very large building but it was clearly older than any of the other houses in the village, and there were strange symbols on the gate and its pillars – the same symbols on her her cape.

“Talia, you aren’t by chance the leader of the village are you?” Huey asked with a slightly suspicious expression.

Talia smiled and shook her head.

“No, I’m just a shaman.”

“Shaman?”

“Yes – Well, I also have priest-like duties… After all in a village like this, there are few that can read the holy scriptures.”

“Ah, I see.” Huey nodded.

A shaman was someone that gathered the roots, leaves, and bark of various plants to make medicines that they would then sell or prescribe to sick people. In a small mountain village such as this, the shamans, who have passed their medicinal knowledge and healing methods down from generation to generation, still serve a valuable role to the people in place of doctors. Along with their medicinal knowledge, it was common for shamans to pass down the people’s faith and folklore as well. The stange symbols on Talia’s clothing were probably remnants of ancient spells and charms.

In fact, the inside of Talia’s home looked just as one would expect from a shaman. Countless jars of medicines lined the shelves, dried herbs and tree roots were hanging from the walls, and several books of medicine were scattered here and there, covered in dust.

Dalian looked around the room, filled with curiosity, and was just about to reach for one of the books when she suddenly stopped. She had fixated on the contents of a clay bowl – Talia’s leftovers, in other words, fried bread sprinkled with sugar.

Dalian froze, glaring at the bread. Her mouth opened halfway, her shameless expression like a dog told that it “couldn’t have any”.

“Um… if you’d like… you can have some…” said Talia, noticing Dalian’s expression.

Dalian’s eyes suddenly lit up, but then she acted as if it didn’t mean much to her, correcting herself with a small cough, before slowly reaching out to the bread. She nodded a short bow to Talia and then ferociously bit into it.

Talia smiled as she looked on from behind at Dalian who was clearly overjoyed.

Huey, meanwhile, looked out the window, pretending not to notice anything.

“Are you looking for the village leader’s house?” asked Talia anxiously, mistaking Huey’s actions.

“No, it’s nothing like that.” Huey shook his head, a little flustered.

“It’s just… I’d like to make sure. The one who rules over this village is Mister John Carabosse, right? I heard that he owns the entire mountain.”

Talia nodded in response to Huey’s question. “Yes, that is certain. Even in this village the master has a summer house.”

“Then, this village must know about the incident that happened at the Carabosse mansion, right?”

“Something happened at the master’s mansion…?”

“Mister Carabosse died about half a year ago, in a fire at his mansion.”

“The master died…!? My god…”

Talia, who had started to boil water for tea for Dalian almost dropped the kettle.

“It was a large fire, the entire mansion went up in flames. His family and servants included, close to twenty lost their lives. The cause of the fire is not known, but some think it may have been arson.”

“Arson?” Talia gasped.

Huey raised his eyebrows. “You really didn’t know? No one sent any word?”

“I haven’t heard anything… I was beginning to think that I hadn’t seen the master in some time, but our young lady hasn’t said anything either…”

“Young lady?” Huey replied in suspicion, caught on Talia’s words.

“Miss Florence is the master’s daughter. She has always stayed in the summer house here.”

“Mister Carabosse’s daughter? Is she in the village now?”

“Yes. We don’t often have the chance to talk to her, but we sometimes see her from the windows. She is very beautiful.”

“…”

Huey paused for a moment and thought, then he let out a long sigh.

“So the rumors are true….”

“Rumors?”

“An acquaintence of an acquaintance of mine is a merchant that often traveled to the Carabosse mansion. He says that he saw Mister Carabosse’s daughter at the foot of this mountain. That was a month ago however…”

“…Huh…”

Talia’s expression was blank in response to Huey’s explanation.

From this village to the one at the foot of the mountain, the road is fairly harsh, but it’s a distance to where on horseback one could come and go in a matter of hours. It wouldn’t be unusual for Carabosse’s daughter to go that far just to stave off boredom. That must have been what Talia was thinking.

Huey lowered his voice, serious. “Some people suspect that she may have been the one to set fire to the mansion and kill Mister Carabosse.”

“Our lady…?” Talia looked shocked, but after a moment laughed and shook her head.

“That’s impossible. After all our lady hasn’t left this village for many years. Her body is weak and she has never been in much health, that’s why she is here, to recuperate.”

“But it’s not like she couldn’t have gone back to her family mansion, right?” Huey replied with little tone to his voice.

Talia glared back at Huey suspiciously. “Are you with the police? Have you come to take her away?”

“No, it’s nothing like that.”

Huey smiled bitterly and shrugged his shoulders.

“I said so in the beginning, we’re looking for a book.”

“A book?” Talia replied, looking as if she thought Huey was dodging the question.

Huey slowly nodded. “Its common name is “The Book of Deep Green”. It is a precious book Mister Carabosse is said to have brought back from the East. It is thought that it burned in the fire of his mansion, but the merchent I mentioned before claimed he saw it. He said that when he saw Mister Carabosse’s daughter, she was carrying a book that fit its description.”

“And to investigate that book, you came this far into the mountains?” Talia looked even more suspicious.

“Well, there were various circumstances…” Huey said, with a little self spite.

“…So where is this summer house you were talking about?” Dalian, who had been silently eating up until now, suddenly spoke.

“That’s… in the northern forest…” replied Talia, caught off guard.

The young shaman glanced toward a window that faced the slope leading up to the north. Just as she said, a single building stood on a hill before an expanse of dense forest. It was a tall mansion, complete with a clock tower.

The reason Huey and Dalian hadn’t noticed it before was because the mansion was covered in the same green as the forest around it. The brick walls of the building itself, and even the tall fence that surrounded it were thick with vines. Everything blended in so much that it was hard to make out where the forest ended and the mansion began.

It seemed that the vines were thorned rose vines. It wasn’t uncommon for nobles to plant roses in their summer houses, but the amount in this case was abnormal.

“That is the summer house?” Huey asked as he stared at the strange mansion in the distance.

“Yes… but it would be better if you didn’t go that way.” Talia warned, looking troubled.

“Why? Is the lady difficult to deal with?”

“No, that’s not why, it’s just that the terrain is very difficult to deal with and easy to get lost in, even for us that live here. There are very many people who have gone that way and never come back.”

Huey was shocked, and shook his head. “Why would Mister Carabosse put his summer house in such a place…?”

“I don’t know… It’s not like it’s impossible to come and go, but our lady rarely leaves… Perhaps it was set there to keep out intruders?

As he listened to Talia’s explanation, Huey approached the window and looked at the mansion. The grey bricks had caught the light of the setting sun and glowed a brilliant red. The rose vines had wrapped even around the top of the clocktower and it was certainly altogether beautiful.

A window in the clocktower was open. It was dark within the clocktower and hard to see, but in the reflecting sunlight he could see the faint shape of a woman, a young woman in an elegant velvet dress.

“Unfortuntely, not quite the sleeping beauty… Dalian, do you think she has the phantom book?” Huey asked Dalian in a bit of a joking tone, but she did not answer.

Talia looked curiously at Huey and Dalian and whispered, “Phantom book…?”

=====