Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (Part 7/7)
Later, I’ll compile all of this into a single post or page once I’ve more carefully edited everything. (It’ll probably take a while.)
「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.
Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (6)
The next morning Huey got up at dawn and made a grave for Talia. It was nothing more than a fresh mound of earth dug and laid on some high ground near the summer house. There was no gravestone. Huey wasn’t sure whether it would be better to mark the grave with “Talia” or “Florence” so he left it unmarked.
No matter how they searched, Huey and Dalian couldn’t find the remains of the real Talia, nor any of the villagers. It may have been that they were still lost inside the illusion that the phantom book had made.
“This village had long been abandoned hadn’t it – right after the fire at the Carabosse family mansion,” said Huey, looking down at the small village still in the early morning.
As soon as the phantom book had stopped exerting its power, the illusions in the village had vanished. All that was left were the desolate remains of the village. The fields that were worked, and the roadside flowers that were carefully maintained had all been overgrown, and all of the villagers’ houses were in ruin. This beautiful village was simply a fleeting illusion brought to life by a single book.
“Mr. Carabosse visited this village every month. Everyone believed that he was visiting his sickly daughter, and praised him for his caring love of her,” Huey looked sadly at the summer cottage.
“However, it looks like his visits to his daughter were just an excuse, and his real intention was meet with his young lover far from the eyes of his wife. When his daughter realized this, overcome with anger, she must have killed her father along with his lover, and stole his phantom book. Then, she took the place of her father’s lover in a make-believe world, in order to hold on to her belief that her father loved her more than anyone else.
The daughter that killed her father, half a year later was living the life the shaman that was her father’s lover. She covered up an unbearable reality with the power of the phantom book.
“I think I understand her feelings… just a little bit,” said Dalian, who had been quiet until then, softly, as if to herself.
Huey silently looked at Dalian. Locked with the library sealed within Dalian’s body, was the soul of a young girl that had her face, even now still waiting alone for the day when she might be freed.
“…What is that?” said Huey, noticing that Dalian had dropped a small seed on to the earth of the grave.
“It’s a wild rose seed. Even after the illusions had all vanished, this remained,” said Dalian emotionlessly, as she knelt down and patted some dirt over the seed.
Huey looked on silently. Given the climate, after a number of years the rose vines might over the entire hill, blossoming beautifully in the summer. It was probably fitting that the girl’s grave be marked this way.
“Is there really no other way to get down this mountain?” whined Dalian as she stared at Huey making preparations to go back down the mountain road.
Huey shrugged with a bitter smile. Even though the illusions in the village had vanished there was no change in the road leading up to it. The thin and winding road continued on and on before it reached the foot of the mountain.
“This time we’re going downhill, so it shouldn’t be quite as bad.”
Dalian stared at Huey, shocked.
“Going downhill always puts a greater strain on your legs! You don’t even know that?! You know how much trouble I have to go through when you always have to play the idiot?”
“Who exactly again?” returned Huey irritably.
“But that’s besides the point. What’s with your luggage? It looks like there’s more now than before…”
“We’re bringing back all of the books on old medicine that were in Talia’s house. They’re priceless.”
“Wait, you expect me to carry -all- of these books down the mountain?” Huey groaned, lifting a bag that was bursting full of heavy books.
Dalian nodded. “Don’t worry, I’ll be carrying those myself. Now kneel down. I’m going to be kind enough to let you carry me.”
“You really think I’m an idiot don’t you,” said Huey incredulously as he started walking.
“How did you know?! – and… Wait, Huey!! Don’t leave without me!” said Dalian as she dashed after Huey who wasn’t turning back.
Then, only the wind quietly brushed along the grassy plains left in the sunrise.