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Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (56/291)

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Translation Notes:
I have absolutely no knowledge of French, so I base my translations of those sections on both existing translations (when it’s (in)famous text) and the Japanese translations of the French text given in the book. (I’m not using automated tools or anything.)

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

[5]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Night of Unpleasant Rain – 7
Chapter 2: March of the Saints – 95
Chapter 3: An Unbearable Existence in Suffering – 191
Chapter 4: An Emptiness Devoid of Color Contrast – 257

[15/291]
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[36]

Maribel Hearn had a boyfriend. He was a year older and they took a seminar together.

Merry ran her fingers along his naked chest as he slept, listening to him breathe as she lay beside him in bed.

It had been months since the last time they had sex, Merry thought absentmindedly. It wasn’t as if they loved each other any less… at least that was how Merry reasoned with herself about it. There was no way for her to see inside her boyfriend’s thoughts and she knew that, but all the same. Their relationship felt like a loosely tied thread slowly coming apart under its own weight. Merry couldn’t really put her finger on the circumstances, but inside of her the meaning and value of having sex felt as if it was slowly being filed away. Looking back now, Merry thought, even the last time they had sex she had felt some sort of distance between them… though she wasn’t sure.

Merry continued to think about this as she traced her boyfriend’s chest, which was by no means muscular, but not twelve minutes went by before she was tired of both.

What happened that day at noon. The thing with the human library. Renko.

Merry tried to remember. She tried to tie everything together, but her efforts were fruitless.

[37]

Merry closed her eyes and looked on at the darkness that remained, watched as it rolled around behind her eyelids. She waited, but the curtain of slumber would not fall for her, not one bit. She couldn’t sleep. Instead she felt her pupils constrict, and her eyes attempt to focus.

Lately this was getting to be more an more of a problem.

Merry shut her eyes more tightly and readjusted herself, wrapping her arms around one of her boyfriend’s. His arm was thin. His biceps probably weren’t any bigger than hers.

Moments later, without really thinking about it, Merry had reached for her portable terminal device. Rolling over to one side, she started it up, and bluish white light from its diodes faintly filled the room.

Merry opened up her address book and flicked through its contents. There were the names of her classmates, of her parents, the names of people from high school she still kept in touch with… and the name of her one and only friend.

“I’m connected with all of these people, so why is it that she is the only one I can call my friend?”

I used to have more, she thought. There were more, in the past, when I was in elementary school, middle school, high school… Out of all of the people Merry had contact with, there was only a small percentage that actually had the contact information of. Out of that smaller number, there was an even smaller percentage of those that she saw on a daily basis, and…

Merry closed her eyes.

[38]

Merry brought her terminal to her chest and rolled onto her back. Behind her eyelids, she watched the burned afterimage in her eyes swirl about. She watched as outlines were drawn, and she watched as they frayed apart. She watched them connect, swell and disperse like a surging tide, come apart and together again. As her eyes moved, the movements slowly became more disjointed. There was no rule or sense to it that Merry could find. Normally she wouldn’t give any thought to it, but on these sleepless nights it bothered her. She opened and closed her eyes, as if she were blinking in slow motion, but she could not call sleep to her as time wasted away.

Merry turned her terminal screen back on. Not three minutes had gone by.

Merry slipped out of bed and put on a shirt and some track pants before walking to the window. The apartment had an eleven tatami mat layout, about 18 square meters, and its outward facing wall was entirely made of panelled glass.

Merry pulled back the curtain and stepped barefoot out unto a small veranda. While the night that lay across the sky was a night somewhere between spring and summer, it was enough for her to feel a chill across the soles of her feet as she walked onto the veranda’s rough concrete surface. A 2 am breeze brushed lightly against her cheek.

About fifty years ago, regulations were put into place to protect the night sky. After 8 pm, artificial lighting was limited by lux, and so the city streets Merry looked down upon revealed themselves as small variations of the color of a thick coffee brew. Merry watched as the streets of West Kyoto slept, and she thought they resembled the library. She was reminded of the words that human library, that self-proclaimed witch had spoke to her.

[39]

“Books are caskets…
“In a way, you could say that a library is a city…

The rectangularly structured city streets, with their low rectangular buildings, in each of them were people. In each of them are people, separately. But under the curtain of night, everyone was the same, everyone in their boxes.

However they laughed, however they cried today, all of that existance was now buried, and to Merry that made her feel terribly alone.

Merry rested her arms on the veranda railing and looked down at the terminal in her hands. There was a single droplet on the liquid crystal display, and it twisted and warped the light coming off of the screen. It took Merry a while to realize that she was crying. Once she realized she was crying, her tears turned to sobs, which turned to wails gushing out from her uncontrollably. She couldn’t understand why she was crying, but she knew that she was sad. It felt as if there was a mass of leaden wool in her chest, stopping up her heart, and this feeling ran rampant through her. The night filled her with sadness.

Merry balled up and continued to cry, softly.

[40]

By the time Merry came to, wiping her tears on her sleeve, she had completely lost track of time. After wiping her tear stained terminal screen, she turned it back on, went straight to her address book and selected the name of her friend.

Would she answer? Merry sniffled and brought the terminal to her ear. After a few rings…

“Merry?”

“Good evening, Renko.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little late for ‘good evening’?”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I couldn’t sleep either.”

“What makes you think I couldn’t sleep?”

“Isn’t it normal to think that when you get a call at this time of night?”

“Well isn’t that something? You, talking about what’s normal.”

“Well statistically speaking, the median status of someone who calls at this time of night with the voice of someone who has clearly been crying is that of insomnia, as several studies on this subject confirm.”

[41]

“Where do you find this kind of information?” Merry replied, a slight smile forming on her lips. Above all else Merry felt comfort in these words, which showed her friend understood the state she was in.

“What, you don’t know? There was a paper published about it at the 2034, uh, Human Engineering something something Conference.”

“You’re making that up, aren’t you?”

“No, no. It’s just that it’s late and so I need a buffer to trace back over my memories properly… probably.”

“You need to qualify that with ‘probably’, even though you’re talking about yourself?”

“What we know least about is ourselves. Talking about the animals we call ‘humans’ as a whole I mean.”

“I agree.”

“Well isn’t that unusual, coming from you?”

“…”

“So, what’s the matter then?”

“Well… I’m just a little emotionally unstable right now, I think.”

“I see. Well, I guess that’s often the case with sleepless nights.”

“I guess so…”

[42]

“Are you having trouble with your boyfriend?”

“…We’re not having sex.”

“Come again?”

“I mean, it’s been months now since the last time we did it.”

“So does this mean you’re ‘sexless’?”

“I… think so. Probably…”

“You don’t like it?”

“I don’t think it’s that, it’s just…”

“Just?”

“It’s just that I feel like my body and soul are separated when we do it.”

“There you go again, being all abstract…”

Merry could hear what sounded like a snicker on the other side of the line.

“Ever since I’ve been able to see these strange things, I feel like my sense of reality has bottomed out.”

“Some kind of change is to be expected. After all, for humans, sight influences us more than any of our other senses.

“You think it’s as simple as that?”

“Absolutely. It is also true that I haven’t ever heard of a case where that has had a direct effect on one’s physical sense of touch though.”

[43]

“You and me both.”

“So that’s the reason you chose to rely on your friend in the middle of the night?”

“I’m not ‘relying’ on you, it’s just…”

“Just?”

“I just wanted to believe that there was someone out there watching me.”

“……What kind of nonsense is this now?”

The tone of Renko’s voice had changed slightly from before. Was there a trace of… anger?

“Renko?”

“Yeah?”

“Nevermind, it’s nothing. But I wonder, what should I do?”

“About what?”

“My boyfriend.”

“Well I think your boyfriend is partly to blame. He’s got this beauty lying next to him every night and doesn’t lay a finger on her? He must be out of his mind.”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Just trying to make you feel better.”

“Well, thanks.”

[44]

“…So you don’t like doing it?”

“That’s not… I don’t think that’s it. Like I said before, I just don’t feel like I’m myself. When we do it, it’s… I feel like something’s off, something’s not right.”

“You think it’s a problem with your sexual sensitivity?”

“Maybe? But I don’t think that’s quite right either.”

“So you feel pleasure, but it isn’t leading to any emotional satisfaction?”

“That might be the reason. When we do it, it’s like my spirit is

“It’s like… my soul is separated from my body, like a ghost. It’s not as if I can see anything, but… No, that’s not right. I can see. I can see my boyfriend. I can see the room. I can see everything properly, but it’s as if I’m observing everything from the outside.”

“Sounds serious.”

“You aren’t taking me seriously, are you?”

“Of course I am.”

“Well… if you say so.”

Silence found its way into their dialogue. Unlike before, Merry felt as if she was being left behind. It wasn’t as if she could say so though. She was afraid that if she did, something between them might end.

“Why don’t you try something new for a change?” said Renko, breaking the silence.

[45]

“Something new? I’m not trying any of that weird fetishistic stuff.”

“That’s not what I mean. Like, what if you try sleeping with someone else?”

“You’re saying that’s not fetishistic? No, I don’t want to do anything like that.”

“Are you sure? The basic idea is that by breaking down the status quo, you might be able to find something new.”

“But still, I don’t want to have sex with another man.”

“Who said anything about another man?”

“Huh?”

“I mean, you could do it with a woman.”

Merry gasped slightly before answering.

“Renko, you… always come up with the craziest ideas, don’t you?”

“Is it really that crazy though? To be honest, in this day and age… the idea that sex is an act only to be shared between those of opposite sexes, I think, is the one that’s more behind the times.”

Merry knew same sex marriage had been legalized nationally a number of years ago, and she understood why Renko would bring up, “this day and age” to argue her point. The nation had already come to a conclusion on its solution for declining birthrates. Instead of continuing to pressure the population to have more children, which had not yielded results, the government had changed direction. If there was not going to be enough children, all they had to do was make sure their nation could survive indefinitely without them.

[46]

The nation was aging. Everyone agreed. After reaching a certain level of development, it was impossible to continue an endless series of economic booms. Just like people, just like other animals, a nation will age.

All that was left was to wait for a slow descent unto death. With that in mind, everyone had accepted death, and focusing only on how to die in the least painful way possible. Every nation on earth had come to the same conclusion. Rather than material sufficiency, emotional and psychological satisfaction was more important.

There was no need or pressure to get married to someone of the opposite sex, to have children. To do that, “for the sake of our future” was laughable. There was no need to engage in romance. If you could die together with someone you truly loved and cared for, that was enough. Renko’s words truly were a product of the present age. However…

“I… guess you’re right. But still, I wouldn’t want to have sex with some random stranger.”

“So you’d be fine with someone you knew?”

“Better than someone I didn’t.”

“How about having sex with me?”

[47]

Merry gulped, completely taken off guard.

“R-Ren… ko?”

“……I was kidding.”

“T-That wasn’t funny, okay? You almost gave me a heart attack.”

“Why?”

“The thought of having… of having sex with you is just… I’ve never thought of anything like that before.”

“That makes sense I guess… Well, I mean, it just sort of came out. I wasn’t really thinking.”

“That’s not something you say without thinking.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Please do… But, come to think of it, I feel a little better now. Maybe because of your bad joke?”

“Behold the wonders of Ms. Usami’s Shock Treatment! Pretty effective, don’t you think?”

“I’m afraid of the side-effects.”

“What kind?”

“I’m not telling you.”

“As the founder of this treatment I’d like to pin down its various effects and virtues.”

“Enough already! Good night,” said Merry, hanging up before Renko could respond.

[48]

Immediately afterward, Merry looked up, sensing someone there. It was her boyfriend.

“Did something happen?” He asked.

“No, nothing. I just couldn’t sleep.”

“I see.”

The lights were already on in the room. Had she really been that concentrated on her call with Renko to notice? Because of the yellow tinted back light, Merry couldn’t see her boyfriend’s face. It was indiscernible in the shadows. Neither could she really make out what emotions might lie behind the vague tone of his voice.

“You’ll catch a cold like that.”

“…Right.”

Feeling that she was being pressured to, Merry went back inside.

On the glass table next to their bed, there were two steaming mugs. They must have just been poured. Merry sat down on the floor by the table and took one of the mugs in her hand. It was filled with a yellowish white liquid. When she brought it to her lips, she could smell the sweet scents of honey and milk. She took a sip and felt the hot milk flow down into her stomach, the heat from it spreading throughout her body.

[49]

“Hey, Mary.”

“Mary”, of course, referred to Merry. That was the way her boyfriend called her name. Not only her boyfriend, but everyone in her classes referred to her the same way. It was the more common, normal, shortening of her name.

“What is it?”

“Do you mind if I turn on the TV?”

“Go right ahead. …You don’t normally ask though. Is there a reason why?”

“Not really, I mean. I dunno.”

“I just thought you might be bothered by the noise,” her boyfriend muttered as he reached for the remote.

As electricity flowed through the television screen, it lit up with a color bar code. According to the clock hanging on the wall, it was three o’clock in the morning. It hadn’t felt as if Merry had spent a long time talking, but it seems that she had been out on the veranda for quite some time.

Flicking through a couple of channels with scheduled programming, Merry’s boyfriend left the television on a news program.

“News at this hour?” Merry thought, but she realized that she never really watched TV this late, and it might not be strange at all.

[50]

There were channels upon channels available nowadays, a far cry from the past, when only a dozen or so channels was the norm. So it wasn’t all that unusual to have dedicated news stations which ran the news all day long, even at this hour. Due to the nature of the programs, the station sets did not have be changed more than a handful of times, and the station itself didn’t require a lot of funds to keep running. Cost effective, Merry thought, as she stared at the female newscaster with her perfect makeup reading off news items in a detached and disinterested manner.

“At 5 o’clock, yesterday evening, an explosion occurred in a district of West Kyoto. Immediately before the incident, a suggestive video message was uploaded to a public video site by the suspected culprit, with the handle name ‘ICQ’. Police are investigating a possible connection between this incident and a series of similar explosions. This most recent explosion occurred on the grounds of *** Park, where…”

This wasn’t Merry’s first time hearing the news. On her way back from classes in the afternoon, just as Merry was thinking that the grounds were a lot busier than usual, she heard people talking about an explosion that had happened near campus. When this series of explosions first started happening, everyone was making a big deal out of the incidents, but now they were so common that they didn’t feel quite as real anymore. Of course, everyone was still cautious, a little bit on edge. There was no telling when you might be caught up in one of the incidents yourself.

However, given that Merry didn’t know anyone, or knew anyone who knew anyone caught up in any of the explosions, she had to admit she felt a strange sense of safety. Even if another explosion occurred, she was sure that she herself would be alright.

Merry stared absentmindedly at the screen, as she continued to drink her hot milk.

ICQ.

[51]

Merry didn’t know what it meant. No one knew who was behind the incidents, or what their motive was. It was always an empty flower shop, an empty cafeteria, an empty merry-go-round in an empty theme park, an empty something. The culprit always picked a place where there were no people present, and the explosions were all on a small scale. Otherwise, no one knew what linked the places together. They seemed almost random. However, before every single incident, there was always a message from the culprit uploaded to a video site. The police still had not pinpointed the source of the uploads. Merry thought it strange that the police hadn’t been able to do that, but she wasn’t really familiar with the methods behind such a search.

“Hey,” Merry said hardly above a whisper.

“Hmm?”

“I wonder what this person is trying to accomplish.”

“Well… have you seen any of the videos the culprit has uploaded before, Mary?”

“I haven’t. By the time the news outlets report on the incident the videos have always been deleted.”

“If that’s the case, I’ve got one of them saved on my terminal. Would you like to watch it?”

“…When did you get your hands on that?”

“I ran across it by chance. If you can call it that. I’m not the one who downloaded it.”

[52]

“By which you mean…?”

“I got it from one of my friends. It’s the video that was uploaded before the third explosion, if I remember correctly,” Merry’s boyfriend said as he stood up to get his tablet from where he had left it on the table.

After turning it on and scrolling his fingers across the surface a few times he stopped.

“Here it is,” he said, holding the screen out in front of Merry.

The video playback program had already been started and Merry found herself looking at a pitch black screen, as a melody she had never heard before began to play.

“What is this music?”

“It’s ‘Parade’.”

“Parade?”

“It’s the name of an old ballet, this is the music used in that ballet. The composer… was it Satie? Yes, it was Erik Satie.”

[53]

A strange and lively sort of music sounded from the tablet’s speakers. Then, shown on the screen was a single picture. A picture of the Mona Lisa with a white frame. On the white part of the frame was written, “L.H.O.Q.Q”, and that was it. That picture, and the music continued for a few minutes. Then, the visual changed. A circular plane was rotating. It was something Merry felt she had seen before. Something burned in the back of her brain. That. In the restricted section of the library it seemed as if… but wait, no. It wasn’t that. Merry felt a burning sensation deep within her brain. In her throat she felt as if there were masses of cotton with thorns stuck in her throat. Merry tried to wash the feeling away she drank the rest of her hot milk in three large gulps. That spinning circular plane. On it was a spiral. A spiral dancing, spinning in such a way that it disrupted her depth perception. As it spun, words appeared on the screen. A place and time, and the letters ICQ, and the words, “Si je te donne un sou, me donneras-tu une paire de ciseaux?”.

“If I give you a penny will you give me a pair of scissors?” Merry’s boyfriend muttered.

[54]

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Who knows… I can’t help but think they wrote it without any particular meaning in mind.”

“Huh.”

The video ended after four minutes and thirty three seconds, leaving the words, “Se il vous plait arreter de Vexations (We have a duty to stop the vexations)” at the very end.

“I wonder what it all means,” Merry wondered aloud.

“Who knows? It doesn’t seem like they’re doing it for kicks, nor with any political motivation. The police don’t seem to have any idea either.”

“I bet…”

“But…”

“Hmm?”

“But you know, I kind of get the feeling I understand.”

“Understand what?”

“What the culprit is thinking.”

“What do you mean?”

Merry’s boyfriend took a sip of hot milk and let out a sigh.

“I can’t say for sure, but I’d bet they’ve just grown tired of the world.”

[55]

“Where did that come from?”

“I mean, doesn’t everyone feel that way at some point or another?”

In response to that question, Merry thought to herself, “No, not everyone.”

“I bet they just want to run away.”

“From what?”

“You see that, I don’t know… Everyone, I think everyone wants to run away from some thing or another. I think that’s what they’re trying to say. After all, they’re calling themselves ‘I seek you’…”

“I seek you?”

“I-C-Q. It’s a play on ‘I seek you’.”

Merry hadn’t realized the meaning until then.

“I hear that there used to be a communication application with the same name a long time ago.”

“So that’s what it meant.”

“Of course, I still have no idea why they’re calling themselves that.”

“Well if you did, that would be scary, wouldn’t it?”

“Why is that?”

[56]

“After all, the only one who knows that is the culprit, right?”

“Hmm… I suppose you have a point.”

“Now don’t tell me that you’re the one behind all of these explosions.”

“Of course not. I’d never go to all that trouble. It seems like a huge hassle.”

“A… hassle?”

“Yeah.”

As Merry looked at the slight grin on her boyfriend’s face, she thought, for the very first time… that she probably, really did not love him anymore.

***

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Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (35/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

Progress:
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This an experiment.

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Translation Notes:
[29] An exchange attributed to Natsume Souseki involves him claiming the best way to translate “I love you” into Japanese is to say “The moon is beautiful.”

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Night of Unpleasant Rain – 7
Chapter 2: March of the Saints – 95
Chapter 3: An Unbearable Existence in Suffering – 191
Chapter 4: An Emptiness Devoid of Color Contrast – 257

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[0-15/291]
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[16]

There were several bookshelves arranged in an orderly fashion, and nothing else. In fact it was so orderly it seemed unnatural. It was as if those shelves had been born there, and died without anything about them changing. That was the impression Merry felt.

Merry’s boots clicked on the wooden tiles as she walked across the floor. She had thought the red carpeting on the floor had no sense or purpose to its arrangement, but she was wrong. It seemed to be forming a shape, but standing where she was, she was too close to make out the shape in its entirety.

The bookshelves were filled with paper books, and all of them were exquisitely bound. There were leather bound books, clothed hard covers, books with gold and silver lettering and so on.

One of those books caught Merry’s eye. It was a book with a cloudy yellowish white color that had blackened in places. Merry reached out and ran her fingers along the spine. It had a rough feel to it and she thought that it was as if someone had bound this book with human skin.

The title read, “Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella”.

Merry used her finger from the top of the spine to pull the book out. It was heavy in her arms. When she brought it close and opened the cover, the mouldy smell which wafted from the pages tickled her nose.

[17]

From the pages which had already began to yellow, she read.

ーSeventeen is a perfect and complete number.

That is how it began.

ーSeventeen is a perfect and complete number. As for the reason why…

“It symbolizes death, and death is a sphere. Spheres, within their limited number of fragments repeat over eternity. No one was able to provide proof for what separates the inside and outside of a circle. The only thing they could think of was to fiddle repetitively with the arrangement of a hundred thirty thousand letters, like the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”

Someone was reciting the words written in the book.

When Merry reflexively looked up, in the gap made when she removed the book, there was a single lip – half of a pair of lips. From the half mouth’s single lip opening were fingertips. Not fingers with fingertips attached, but only the fingertips, twisted and bent like withered birch, bent and packed into a ball.

Merry gasped and slowly started to take a step back when she finally realized.

[18]

The red velvet carpeting was laid out in the shape of of a person. It was a young girl’s silhouette lying on the floor.

Between the folded legs of the silhouette was a single tea set. The porcelain tea cups’ edges were painted gold, and they were filled with a dark red liquid. Floating on the surface was a single flower. It took a few moments for Merry to realize that it was a colombine flower.

“Eighteen is a perfect and complete number. It is a number formed from the multiplication of the numbers three and six. When eighteen is divided by seventeen, one can say that it is the same as a single fragment of sky passing through the gas pipes.”

Merry felt as if her brain had lurched into a spin.

Dizziness… Vertigo…

It felt as if the entire restricted section of the library was spinning, with Merry at its center.

The bookshelf furthest from the entrance had its books pulled randomly from the shelves, and in those void spaces Merry saw a face… a face whose presence suggested it was the face of the entire room.

[19]

As that thought crossed Merry’s mind, from the bookshelf right beside her, the shelf closest to the floor, an arm reached out. The hand attached to the pale arm had only its thumb and pointer finger, with the others missing. That hand picked up a teacup, as another similar arm reached out to the teapot and poured a dark red tea. Merry could smell the faint fragrance of the tea, and it was bold and sickeningly sweet.

“I wonder, is it more appropriate to say, ‘Welcome’, or ‘How dare you!’ in this situation? At least the present me can’t say for certain. Be that as it may, ‘Welcome’ to this mansion with no master to receive you, Miss Ghost.”

The voice was laughing. The human library buried within the bookshelves was laughing.

“Gh-Ghost?”

“You’ve been here before, haven’t you? Here and… somewhere,” The voice cackled.

“Baths in course tea for beauty marks without too much Bengay. (In the end, is there any meaning in translating these words? Bains de gros thé pour grains de beauté sans trop de bengue.) Well then, Miss Ghost. I see you’ve taken the trouble to come all the way down here, after all. How can I help you?”

“U-Um…”

Words crawled their way through the air, without serving any purpose.

[20]

“When you think about it, books are nothing but caskets, the same as I am. Humans are not reproduced in a shower of raucous laughter. Humans are not reproduced. I am searching for a singularity. For that signifies nothing less than a cultivation of the void.”

Merry did not understand the words that were being spoken to her. What she was saying was…

Is ‘she’ the right word?

Merry looked around. There were countless gaps among the countless bookshelves. In those gaps were mixed the parts of a young woman. From the dead middle of one bookshelf, she could see a thin leg sprawled out. But from where the ankle would be, was not a foot but an ear, such that it looked as if a flower was growing there. The ankle and foot instead were suspended from the ceiling, flickering inside a light bulb. One eye opened from the sole of the foot. A rounded, feminine belly was exposed. In another place was a slit, probably her vagina… but from it gazed a single eye. Merry could see her hips and breasts peeking out from gaps in the top shelf. Then there was a white, frilly cloth. It floated out of several gaps in the bookshelf, and probably was what she was wearing. From the book that Merry held open in her hands, was the paired lip of the other she saw before. It was trembling slightly, as if it were breathing.

“Who… Who are you?” That was all that Merry was able to say.

[21]

The human library raised a melancholic smile.

“I have seen it. I have seen how all of this time every single human being has huddled their shoulders and run off doing countless idiotic things, lowering the intelligence of their peers, spreading the rot of their souls by all means possible. You know what they all claimed as the motivation for their actions? Honor.”

“U-Um…”

“Good afternoon, Miss Ghost. I am a witch. A library witch bestowed with the name of ‘Knowledge’. Yes, a library is nothing but a communal graveyard.”

Merry recognized those words. After all, that is just what she had been thinking about.

“Books are caskets. Why? For they consist of others’ souls buried solely for others to observe them. They are no different than the Jane Does laid in their caskets and placed within rose decorated rooms. The collection books and their storage behind locked doors constitutes nothing but the formation of a communal grave. In a way, you could say that a library is a city. We are but a single casket eternally locked within a city.”

Tea spilled from the overflowing teacup and spread out on the floor.

“The only thing that makes me distinct is the name ‘Patchouli Knowledge’.”

The red liquid, still flowing, had spread all the way to Merry’s feet. As it filled in the area outside of the outline of Merry’s boots, the liquid continued to flood the velvet carpet and wooden tiled floor.

[22]

A sea three centimeters deep now filled the restricted section of the library.

“In the mirror I stared at my mouth, my mouth I had injured of my own free will. I hadn’t thought things through. How was I supposed to know whether this was a normal human smile, when the blood gushing from the two gashes on either side of my face made it so hard to see? But after looking intently in the mirror for a while I could finally see. I could finally see that my smile was no human smile. In fact, I was not smiling at all… Well then, Miss Ghost. From where should I begin?”

Silently a finger, a pointer finger and nothing more, reached from the bookshelf and slowly traced Merry’s lips. It continued to move, from her lips to along her jaw, along the path of her tears.

“But the void was not cultivated,” Patchouli continued. “I cannot help but be silent in the face of the fact that it is yet impossible, in the same way that you cannot help but be silent about things which you cannot speak.”

“Is that Wittgenstein?” Merry interjected reflexively. She had read Wittgenstein as a requirement for one of her lectures.

“Yes, his ‘now’ was hundreds of years ago, and his theory is still incomplete.”

“Incomplete?”

“Everything was incomplete, be it the definition of existence, existential meaning… Everything was left incomplete, while everyone died insane. Logic fills the world, and the limits of logic are the limits of the world. In other words, it is impossible to have others accept what which you yourself cannot understand. This is despite the fact that everything exists on an outer shell. For whenever you look into a mirror, you are being looked at by yourself residing within it.”

[23]

Merry heard the sound of something crawling about. When she looked behind herself, she saw a chair. In that chair a young woman’s body was seated. The body was armless and legless, only a torso. The stomach was separated by a grating, a grating that traced along the body’s entrails. Buried in the very center between the heart and stomach behind the grating was a microphone.

A static noise echoed in Merry’s ears. Where the body’s head should be, from its neck upwards, was a birdcage. In the birdcage, tightly fit, was a picture of a blue sky.

[24]

It was an empty sky. But the sky was twisted into an unnatural shape. It shape was almost like that of a human eye. In the very center was a pitch black sphere. That is all there was. (A false mirror, or perhaps a mechanical boy.)

From the microphone howled a noise ridden voice. It produced a resonance in Merry’s ears, and she felt as if they would burst. She felt thousands of rusty needles piercing her brain.

Vertigo… Dull pain… Nausea… Dizziness…

The flickering restricted section and the young woman’s body which would not collapse… Her face in the gaps between bookshelves and her violet bellflower hair… The scarlet velvet carpeting… The geometric layerings of the wooden tiles… The shelves, the ceiling, the spiral stairwell…

All moved with uniform velocity repetitively in different ways. (Many critics discuss the ways in which M.C. Escher’s images define spaces which do not exist, but why will no one talk about the fact that what is necessary is not a pure formulation, but something completely removed from it, and nothing but that?)

The library itself began to move about and become entangled in itself. It was like a fetus in the womb. Yes a fetus kicking in the womb.

[25]

A scarlet puddle spread from Merry’s feet. (Menstrual blood is a crimson pollutant.)

Within was reflected faintly a spinning circular surface.

The tea, which like frozen blood had clung to the surface, cracked and flaked off as it spun, creating a series of patterns, a series of letters by Merry’s feet.

What was it that rose from the surface? That word… Merry no longer remembers.

***

“What you’re telling me sounds far too vague and indeterminate to be a dream… in my opinion anyway.”

Merry sat across from her friend, Usami Renko, on an open café terrace located within the West Kyoto University grounds. Renko looked somewhat annoyed as she responded to Merry’s story, in between sips of her synthetic coffee.

[26]

“Well I’m not disagreeing with you…”

In her hands, Merry felt the temperature of her light brown milk tea in its plastic cup slowly drop as it was exposed to the surrounding air. It was just past noon. Morning lectures were over and afternoon lectures had yet to begin. While the crowds around them were loud and bustling enough to be a nuisance, they all kept passing by, giving Merry the impression that just Renko and her were being left behind somehow.

Merry took a sip of her milk tea and felt only its sweet fragrance pass down her throat. Whether the tea itself was synthetic or not was minor compared to the overwhelming additive flavors of saccharine and synthetic milk, clearly there to mask the cheap flavor of the tea, and Merry felt them stinging on her throbbing tongue.

However, Merry thought as she wiped the bit of milk tea left on her lips with her ring finger, there was no way for her to really know what true milk tea really tasted like. Her impression of the milk tea in her hands was limited to the fact that, “This is a drink that is called ‘milk tea’,” as she could not compare it to the original. True milk tea had long been left only to the realm of high class connoisseurs, and even the price of food plotter cartridges with non-synthetic ingredients far exceeded the budget of a university student.

By Renko and Merry’s generation, all food products were synthesized with 3D plotters. Synthesized end-product food items could be printed by loading cartridges in specialized machines, where the cartridges were filled with a putty composed of various ingredients the product required. The cost of each cartridge depended on the composition of the putty, where the more pure and less complex its composition was, the cheaper it cost. However, if the aim was to accurately reflect a product’s natural flavor, it was necessary to include impure ingredients and randomized variable components in the putty to an appropriate degree, resulting in added costs of production unnecessary for cartridges with only purified ingredients.

[27]

It was in this way that “true flavor” had become a luxury product for the wealthy. But while the luxury of “true flavor” was still available, handmade food items made from natural ingredients simply did not exist anymore. Not only was the manufacturing of such products incredibly inefficient, human rights groups had claimed the working conditions and labor involved were intolerably restrictive of the human rights and freedoms of both men and women, and this had long ago led to a trend of self-regulation and decline of such products within the food industry.

Therefore, for Merry and Renko it was impractical to try to experience the so called “flavors of old”. For them, only the costs registered on the scales. After all, “true flavor” relied heavily on impurities, and these impurities only served to muddy the flavors they were more familiar with.

“Well let’s see then, Miss Merry… You think this is a case of your eyes being too sensitive?”

Renko took another sip of her similarly cheap flavored coffee. (Renko herself had trouble viewing the kind of coffee that she was drinking as a cheap knockoff however. Her reasoning was linked to the arguments above. To Renko, “coffee” was simply a black liquid that was both bitter and acidic, which she only valued as a means to ingest caffeine.)

“Well, it is true that this time I couldn’t tell where the boundary between the dream world and the present was, but…”

Ever since Merry was discharged from the sanatorium in Shinshuu, there had been times where Merry not only could see beyond the boundary between this world and the dream world, but where doing so resulted in a time-displacement which removed her from the present time axis.

[28]

That phenomenon had occurred before when Merry and Renko had shared their senses. However, from the look on Merry’s face, it didn’t seem that she was as sure of what happened as when she had brought back an Izanagi plate fragment.

“…all that I saw… none of it made any sense,” Merry muttered.

“Well if that’s the case, I wonder what you really did see?”

“I have no idea. It was like I was inside a Dali painting.”

“Dali?”

“Oh? Miss Usami the know-it-all doesn’t know who Dali is?”

“Unfortunately I don’t. Care to fill me in on who this dreamer is?”

“He’s not a ‘dreamer’, just an artist.”

“An artist, huh.” Renko rolled her head back and up towards the sky, before putting her over both eyes with a look of disgust written all over her face.

“Stop it. You know I can never understand any of that poetic stuff,” Renko moaned.

“Are you sure? His paintings are as if you took facets of human psychology and fed them directly through a 2D plotter. They’re definitely worth a look.”

[29]

“But you can’t take any of that and boil it down into a set theory. It’s the same as the fact that no matter how you phrase a statement about the moon’s beauty, you can’t convey love.”

“You really don’t have any passion, do you?”

“Well, it’s not like you can make babies with passion.”

“Isn’t passion a necessary part of the process?”

“The way I see it, the kind of relationship you need to make babies is nothing but a form of mutual dependency. Why else do you think god would have necessitated a game-like process for our reproduction?”

“So you won’t recognize passion, but you’ll admit it’s like a game?”

“Well, of course.”

“Either way…” Merry smiled weakly. “I have the feeling our conversation not only lacks passion, but also is starting to get a bit vulgar.”

“Agreed. However…”

Renko paused and took her coffee cup between her thumb and pointer finger of one hand, swinging it back and forth like a pendulum as she rested her head on the palm of her other hand and stared straight at her friend.

“Whether what you saw was a dream or a product of your eyes being too sensitive… I wonder what it was supposed to show or mean,” finished Renko.

[30]

“Was she was saying to me was so abstract, I’m not even sure I’ve conveyed it accurately to you.”

“Well that’s to be expected. You know what they say, the only ones who can memorize Heine poetry are tape recorders. It’s impossible for normal people.”

“Is this you trying to console me?”

“I’m only stating the obvious.”

“If you say so.”

“Anyway, can you still see that human library?”

“No, unless you count me visualizing her when I trace back over my memories. I might be able to meet her again if I go back to the library, but to be honest, I’m not at all thrilled at the thought.”

“Good point. If I were you, I’d want to pass on a second encounter.”

“Right?”

“But I’ll admit, I’d still welcome a first encounter.”

“It was bad enough for me the first time…”

With a clack, Renko set her coffee-filled cup to the side and leaned in towards Merry.

“I wonder if I’d be able to see her, like that time before,” Renko said.

“Like that time before…? Oh, you mean the time with the Izanagi plate?”

[31]

“Yeah. If what you saw was really something beyond the boundary, then I might be able to sense a fragment of it. Then I might be able to help you understand it, don’t you think?”

“Hmm… Well, I’m not sure what you’ll see… but you might be able to see something… Shall we give it a try?”

Renko silently closed her eyes in response. Merry reached out her hand, so that her pointer finger and middle finger hid Renko’s eyes from her view.

Merry heard a squishy clicking sound as if a gear had started moving deep inside her brain, and noise started to fill her consciousness.

Merry felt her pupils convulse and her eyeballs tremble as her and Renko’s consciousnesses connected.

Quietly, she could feel the fibers ripped from both of their egos touch and tangle.

Renko’s consciousness came to Merry as a minor feedback to the signal of her own consciousness, and she felt a rough texture like sand on her tongue. She felt her feeling of balance slowly crumble under a rotating motion.

[32]

To make an analogy, it was as if there was a screen in front of Merry’s eyes that was split in two. The two separate halves were on the same timeline, experienced the same surrounding noise, projected the same crowds around them, but something was off. There was a sort of phase shift between the two sides, as if there was a small frame delay, a delay of less than point-five seconds. While this disparity continued, something different began to be displayed on the right side of the screen. It was as if someone had fed two layers of different film into the same projector. (For the sake of a half-crushed right eye.)

The two layers of screen began to bleed into each other. The fuse was lit. Filaments. Bamboo filaments. Filaments that carried the heat and burned scarlet. They did not glow. Instead only the distinctness of the shadows melted away.

A screen split in two halves. The bustle of students behind the screen. The shadows of people moving past. Mixing projections. Violet bellflower. The human library.

[33]

Scarlet velvet. A clock. A witches clock. It was a machine. A stage of human shaped clocks. Humans.

The gears turned, the human library’s cage’s bird.

There was the image of a human twisted into a rectangle. Beans spilt over the floor. The soft innards of a boiled bean, perhaps a portent of rebellion, an insurrection from the inside.

Images blurred in multiple layers.

A leg of the human library kicked down a man. No, wait. Those two images were from separate layers. That was only the product of the collage. The two images weren’t on the same axis of space, nor on the same axis of time.

Students kept walking by. One of their heads was a cash register.

Merry had only seen cash registers in reference books, in pictures from when people still frequented convenience stores. It was used in monetary exchanges. A machine made specifically to handle physical currency. A machine long dead.

[34]

Now the human library was kicking the back of the student with the cash register head.

There was a hat at the feet of a young man. There were several hats on the ground.

Again, this meant nothing in terms of space. This meant nothing in terms of time.

Upon the countless hats were eyes. A pattern of opened slits in the shape of eyes.

A single slit. It was placed on the ground. Regularity. What could be seen in it was a single spiral.

It was rotating. The hats were following the path of its rotation.

Everything was rotating. A rotating quiescent point.

“The child who suckles is a hot-flesh blower and doesn’t like hot-house cauliflower.” (L’enfant qui tête est un souffleur de chair chaude et n’aime pas le chou-fleur de serre-chaude.) Those letters alone kept spinning.

Merry’s split vision with the two halves split yet again. Now there were four quarters. The upper left and upper right were the same as before, showing the students. In the bottom right were endless diaries. In the bottom left was…

It was… an eye. An non-rotating pupil. Countless boundaries. Proclaiming. Ghost. What was there was. What it was was… a butterfly specimen.

[35]

“Stop!”

Merry’s hand was slapped away.

Merry could see Renko in front of her, her face as white as porcelain, her lips trembling.

“I’m sorry I just… Please…” Renko’s fingers were shaking.

“I-I should be the one apologizing,” said Merry.

“I’m… I’m going to go now, okay?” said Renko, hurriedly gathering her things before leaving without another word.

The bustle of the crowd began to fade away.

After all, it’s almost time for afternoon classes to start, thought Merry, standing up from her chair.

***

[56/291]

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (15/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

Progress:
[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]

This an experiment.

If you would like to see more, please donate. [PayPal]

Translation Notes:
[5] Also written throughout the book in the margins as “A Dream of Unpleasant Rain”
[14] “John’s Staircase” – The real world equivalent is “St. Joseph’s Staircase”.

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

[5]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Night of Unpleasant Rain – 7
Chapter 2: March of the Saints – 95
Chapter 3: An Unbearable Existence in Suffering – 191
Chapter 4: An Emptiness Devoid of Color Contrast – 257

[7]

Chapter 1: A Dream of Unpleasant Rain

[9]

―May a theatric death befall us all.

A white cylindrical building stood in a corner of West Kyoto University’s campus.

In front of that building stood Maribel Hearn.

“Why is it that paper books still exist as a medium, so many years since the start of the scientific age?” Merry wondered to herself absentmindedly.

According to her friend Usami Renko, it had something to do with the discrimination in the value of different types of information. Merry walked through the entrance of the building as its curved glass doors slid into the walls on either side, and stepped onto the light green carpeting inside the building.

To prevent the degradation that information on paper faces over the years, that information can be digitized and thus made nearly permanent, easily passed on for generations to come. The value of information considered for digitization is weighed against the costs involved in the process and if the information is not deemed valuable enough then it is left to degrade in its current form, knowing that information will someday be lost. At least that’s what Merry’s friend asserted.

“If that’s the case…”

Merry walked across the communal space in the center of the building and over to a reception desk alongside the far wall.

[10]

Beside the reception desk was a small gate, like the automatic gates you pass through at a train station on your way to the platform. Beyond it was a cramped spiral stairwell which led to the restricted library section in the basement.

There were not any bookshelves in the communal space, but ten or twenty terminals. From those terminals, using the number on a student ID as well as vein identification (When people turn twelve years old, a microchip is embedded in their wrist with their biological information. Paper based identification, along with signatures were largely abandoned due to problems they presented in the past. With the digitization of such information, information for personal identification could be accessed from a database, which in turn could be accessed from any terminal device using their microchip. It is in this way that an individuals were identified, their souls ruled by numbers.), any digitized information could be readily accessed and downloaded into your personal terminal. Like in fairy tales, there was no borrowing limit, and the information did not have to be returned.

Because of this, the communal space was mostly empty. The only people there were people who wanted a desk to work on, and those who wanted a quiet place to sleep in between classes. There was no one else.

If you exclude the first floor communal area and the restricted section in the basement, this building was nothing but a box for servers which held all of the digitized data. That’s why the building was in the shape of a cylinder. It was the most effective way, at least so Merry had heard at some point or another, despite not really understanding why it was supposed to be an effective shape.

At the reception desk a single librarian idled about, clearly bored.

[11]

“Excuse me. I would like permission to enter the restricted section.”

Without answering, it wasn’t clear whether the librarian had actually listened to what Merry said, but he put a square box about twenty centimeters on each side in front of her. Merry put her wrist over the box, and a soft electric hum could be heard. The gate to the side quietly opened.

With a slight nod, Merry walked through the gate on her way to the restricted section.

The near and far side of the gate. A single thin barrier. It did not even reach to the ceiling and yet Merry felt as if the air about her had changed. Of course, it wasn’t as if there really was a difference in the condition of the air from one side to the other. It was nothing more than a sensory illusion, but Merry liked this sort of feeling. The feeling of a boundary.

It was nothing but a small gate, which separated the present and relics of the past already thrown away. Merry thought about the words of her friend.

This was information whose value was not seen as worth saving for future generations. Still, these were the words of people who were already dead, that they had left behind.

“Surely, what I’m walking into is a coffin,” Merry thought vaguely to herself.

Words wanted by no one.

[12]

The people that wrote them might have spent their whole lives doing so. Invisible words not heard by anyone. Everything which was denied passage to the next generation. Among them might be poetry, senseless theories, works on subjects of study already lost. Even so, Merry could not help but feel uncomfortable cutting all of that away as unnecessary.

Uncomfortable. She couldn’t really put what she felt into words. Discomfort? No, that wasn’t it either.

It was probably the same feeling that someone gets when they look at abandoned ruins, buildings that have lost their use, buildings that were built for someone, buildings not loved by anyone, everything. Perhaps it was due to monetary reasons, structural reasons, but it wasn’t the reason behind it that mattered, only the reality that they were no longer loved by anyone. That was…

Sad.

Surely Merry was being consumed by her heart, by the sadness she felt.

[13]

The stairwell was just large enough for a single person to walk down. With each step Merry watched out of the corner of her eye herself descend into the boundary between floors. From below she could smell the rust-like smell of paper. The sort of materials necessary for a student’s thesis were all digitized and could be downloaded from a terminal. Archeology and paleontology, hunting down the kind of folklore left only in the minds of the elderly, fossils on the brink of collapse were all unnecessary. All of that information was digitized, it was placed inside the living box.

“So why am I descending into the restricted section?” Merry wondered. “It must be because I feel sad.”

The conclusion she had just made felt as if it were caught in her throat. Her brain whispered that trying to reason about it anymore was unnecessary.

“A communal graveyard filled with the words of several people now dead,” she thought, as her leather boot clicked on the iron steps as she walked, filling the silence.

No one had any interest in what lie under the library. Never did Merry feel the presence of another down here, and that hadn’t changed today. Still, something felt different, but she could not put her finger on it.

Despite the fact that nothing should have changed, Merry felt some disparity between her memories and the present, sticking to the steps. She put her hands on the railing, and the cheap ring on her left hand glinted faintly, but beyond that ring…

[14]

Merry then realized the center pillar that was always there before was gone.

Due to the structure of a spiral staircase, if there is no center pillar, the staircase will be unable to support itself and collapse. In her memories, the pillar was there, but not now, not on this staircase. A phrase slowly came to mind.

“John’s Staircase”

It was a spiral staircase built in a church somewhere. After the church had been built, someone realized that there was no set of stairs connecting the first and second floors. They were no remaining funds to build a proper extension to the building, but while everyone wondered what to do, a man arrived at the church. With only a ruler, a saw, and a small toolbox, it is said that he built a staircase in a single night, the staircase now known as John’s Staircase. The staircase had no supporting pillar, and it was said that a hymnal choir could stand on its steps and it would not collapse.

Merry gripped the railing a little more tightly than she normally would. When was it that they changed the stairs? No, no that wasn’t it. That’s not it.

Merry felt her vision lurch along with her brain. The left side of her face was convulsing. The area of her cheek under her eye twitched like an electrocuted frog’s leg, and she felt something in her throat. Her pulse had quickened.

The stairs.

[15]

Like cracks in window glass the space below her had cracked. She could see the boundary lines. Beneath her, the words she liked, the words that had been laughed off and scorned as worthless, it was if they were screaming.

Merry took one step down. Subconsciously she felt herself trying to descend. Somewhere inside her her sense of reason was wailing. But still her body would not listen. It must be that somewhere inside her was the desire to witness it. She wanted to know the screams that echoed forth from the books proclaimed worthless.

It was like exposing the boundaries… but no. No, it wasn’t right to compare the two, and so she…

To the left of the stairs, along the railing which was not attached to any pillar, there was a single thin pipe which stuck out, and fused to it was a plate.

“1 1/17th Floor”

The stairs continued down into the basement, but Merry could not venture any further.

Over wooden tiles lay a red velvet carpeting, placed in an irregular fashion, and it was upon this floor that Merry stepped. Nothing had changed. The violent array of cracks in space did not fill this floor, but still somehow she knew. This floor itself was a crack in space. The boundary lay right in front of her eyes.

[16]

旧約酒場 ~ Dateless Bar “Old Adam” // Kyuuyaku Sakaba // Old Testament Bar

I needed to complete this a year ago, but better late than never, right?

Enjoy.

Notes:
燕石 “Enseki” (literally “Sparrow Stones) is a really rare word, but is a perfect fit for this CD. The word refers to the false jewels that can be found at 燕山 “Mt. Sparrow”. They look like precious stones but they are worthless, sort of like fool’s gold. So the word refers both to the fakes, and also the act of treasuring something as if it were rare, when it is really commonplace and worthless. In addition to this there was a series of rare books/journals written in the Edo period named 燕石十種 or “Ten Types of Enseki”, filled with strange tales and curiosities and customs. There were six series with ten parts each. I would say there’s a direct connection.

博物誌 “Hakubutsushi” is literally translated as “Document(/Magazine) of Broad Knowledge” (what it means is clearer if you understand that 博物館 Hakubutsukan is “museum”, and not limited to a museum that deals with history) but it is also the Japanese translated title of Pliny the Elder’s “Naturalis Historiæ” (Natural History), which was the first sort of encyclopedia ever compiled. A good modern corollary is a scientific journal, and I have translated it as such, but this is why the subtitle is called “Our Supernatural History”. Incidentally this “Natural History” included descriptions of things that were pretty much Western Youkai.

Maribel Hearn (マエリベリー・ハーン) is an approximation, where Merry’s first name has been posited as being closer in pronunciation to “my reverie” or a corruption of “mulberry”. Either way, it’s a play on words off of Yukari Yakumo. (紫八雲)

Chuunibyou (中二病) translates literally to “8th Grade Sickness”, and refers to delusions a kid of that age has about themselves and the world around them, and about how special they are. It is described better by ZUN in the afterward.

旧約酒場 ~ Dateless Bar “Old Adam”
 Kyuuyaku Sakaba
 Old Testament Bar

――幻視する者達が集う場所があるという。
そこは、旧型酒特有の眠くなるような甘い匂いのする酒場だった。
上海アリス幻樂団が奏でる、奇妙で癖の強い音楽集第九弾

-They say there is a place where those who can see the other side gather.
A bar from which wafts that sleep inducing, particular smell of old-style liquor.
The Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra brings you its ninth album, full of music with strong and peculiar tones.

01.
バー・オールドアダム
“Bar “Old Adam””

 「――いらっしゃいませ」

“-Welcome,”

 バーの愛想の無いマスターがこちらも見ずに言う。

said the bartender, without any feeling and without looking towards the door.

 「貴方がDr.レイテンシーですね。
  お待ちしておりました」

“You must be Dr. Latency. We’ve been waiting for you.”

 そう聞かれた髭を蓄えた初老の男性が、無言で手を上げる。
 否定とも肯定とも取れる仕草だが、こういう曖昧な態度を取る人間は肯定だと思われたいだけの人間である

A man with a beard in his forties or fifties raised his hand in response, without saying a word.
It was a response that could be taken either as an affirmation or negation, but the only kind of people who make those kind of vague gestures are ones who want others to take it as an affirmation.

 男はカウンターに座ると聞いた事も無い名前のお酒を頼んだ。

The man sat at the bar and ordered a drink I had never heard of.

 「あれ、誰?」
 「さあねぇ、いわゆる匿名希望って奴でしょう」
 と宇佐見蓮子は答えた。

“Huh, who is that?”
“Who knows? Bet he’s one of those people that wants to stay anonymous,” Usami Renko answered.

 マエリベリー・ハーン(メリー)の疑問は当然だ。
 Dr.レイテンシーとはメリーのペンネームなのだから。

Maribel Hearn (Merry)’s confusion was certainly justified.
After all, “Dr. Latency” is Merry’s pen name.

02.
燕石博物誌が連れてきた闇
“Dark Side of Japan”
 Enseki Hakubutsushi ga Tsuretekita Yami
 The Darkness Brought on by “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report”

 「こんな不気味なお店に連れてきてまで、
  蓮子は見せたかったのはあのお爺さん?」
 「それは偶然ね。
  でも、秘封倶楽部の課外活動としては最高だわ」

“Renko, did you really bring me all the way to this creepy place just to show me that old man? You said you wanted to show me something, right?”

“Oh, his coming is just a coincidence. But really, this place is perfect for our Sealing Club’s extracurricular activities.”

 蓮子の話によるとこのお店では、夜な夜な 特殊・・な人間達が集まっては独自の経験談を語ったり、意見交換をしたりしているのだという。

According to Renko, some rather… strange people gather here every night to talk about their personal experiences and exchange opinions.

 蓮子は二人が作った同人誌、「燕石博物誌」を売っている時にその情報を仕入れたらしいが・・・。

Renko apparently heard about this place when she was selling the doujinshi they made, “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report”…

 あくまでもこのお店の客に限っての話だが、燕石博物誌は有名で、殆どの客が読んでいて、内容も信じているのだという。
 それもそのはず、このお店に来ている客は皆、燕石博物誌に書かれているような体験と、同じような体験をした事があると言っているらしい。

She said that among the patrons of the bar, their report was famous. Most everyone here had read it, and believed its contents were true. Which made sense, given the fact that everyone who came to this bar claimed they too had experienced the same sort of happenings described in the report.

03.
リバースイデオロギー
Reverse Ideology

 今の時代、お酒を出すお店は大きく二つに分かれている。
 ”新型酒”を出す普通の店と、”旧型酒”を出す店だ。

In this day and age, the kind of establishments that serve alcoholic beverages are split into two types: the normal sort of places which serve “modern” liqour, and those which serve “traditional” liqour.

 新型酒は、一般的に広く呑まれているお酒で、酔いつぶれないような工夫がされている。依存も低く、比較的身体に害は無い。
 旧型酒は古くから呑まれてきたお酒であり、自然の酵母が作り上げたお酒である。多分にアルコールを含んでいるが、アルコールの分解を促進する酵素などは一切含まれていない。呑めば酔う。

Modern liquor refers to the kind which is most popularly consumed, and it is manufactured in such a way as to prevent drunkenness and hangovers. It is not particularly addictive, and it has relatively few side effects. Traditional liqour refers the kind that has been consumed historically, and is made using natural yeast. Despite containing a significant alcoholic content, it has no enzymes in it to help process the alcohol. If you drink it you will get drunk.

 このバー・オールドアダムは、旧型酒を専門に取り扱っているお店だ。

This place, “Bar Old Adam”, specializes exclusively in traditional liquor.

 新酒を取り扱うお店は、酔っ払いすぎる人がいないので、常に綺麗である。衛生的で健康的だ。
 一方、一般的に旧型酒を取り扱う店の方が、その古典的居酒屋の習わしからか建物も古く、汚いお店が多い。それに客も何だか質が悪いようだ。

As the establishments which serve modern liquor don’t have any patrons who get drunk, they tend to be clean and hygenic. On the other hand, the establishments which serve primarily traditional liquor tend to be in old buildings, like classical bars, and there are more dirty ones than clean ones. The kind of patrons that frequent those places don’t seem to be the best sort either.

 しかし、旧型酒の方が高く、貴重品なのだ。
 ここで価値観の逆転が起こっている。つまり、お金に余裕が有る者が、選んで汚いお店で酔いつぶれるという事態が起こっているのだ

Yet at the same time, traditional liquor is more prized and more expensive than modern liquor.
In other words, in this instance, the values system has been turned on its head. Those that have money to spare are going out of their way to get drunk in dirty bars.

04.
アウトサイダーカクテル
Outsider Cocktail

 「結構高いのね」
 「旧型酒だからねぇ。
  でも、いつもの安酒より本格的に酔えるわよ」
 「お酒に酔っても健康的にいられるのかしら」
 「健康的? よーく考えてみてよ。
  お酒、油、塩分、糖質、カフェイン、グルテン……、食の健康に
  関しては過度に注意するくせに、医療が進化すぎてなかなか人が
  死なないもんだから、計画的に寿命を決めようとしているでしょ?
  社会は人を生かしたいんだか、殺したいんだか判んないよね。
  高い金を払って旧型酒を呑んでいる人達はリアリストだわ」

“This is pretty expensive.”
“Well it’s traditional liquor after all. But with this we can get a lot more drunk than with the cheap stuff we always drink.”
“I wonder if you can get drunk and still be healthy.”
“Healthy? Think about it for a minute. Be it alcohol content, fat, sodium, sugar, caffeine, gluten… Despite the fact that we take so much care to balance these things in our food for our health, the advancements in our medicine have gone so far people don’t really die anymore. It’s gotten to the point where people plan out how long they want to live, right? I can’t tell anymore whether our society is trying to keep people alive or kill them. The people who pay lots of money to drink traditional liquor are far more realistic, I say.”

 お酒は人を饒舌にさせる。
 お酒を呑むと人は必ず自己肯定をする。これがアルコールの一つの効能だ。お酒はこの効能で、人間社会を裏から動かしてきたのである。

Alcohol makes people talkative.
When people drink alcohol they always end up affirming themselves. This is one of alcohol’s side effects. It is because of this effect that alcohol has always pushed human society along behind the scenes.

 マスターが二人のテーブルに黄色いカクテルを置いた。
 これは?と聞くと、「フォービドゥンサイダー」と答えた。他の客にも同じお酒を配っている。

The bartender brought two yellow cocktails to the pair’s table.
When they asked what it was, he replied that the drink was called “The Forbidden Cider”. He served the same drink to several other customers.

 「サイダー? ジュースなの?」
 「サイダーは林檎のお酒よ。
  このお酒が配られたと言う事は、どうやら始まりそうね」

“Cider? Is this some kind of juice?”
“Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from apples. Given that this is being passed around, it looks like it’s about to begin.”

05.
大神神話伝
“Story of Mythomiwa”
 Oomiwa Shinwaden
 The Myth of Oomiwa

 ――あれは数年前。奈良に行った時の話です。
 パワースポットで大変有名な三輪山に入山したんですね。
 ほら、私もオカルト好きの身として有名なところは大抵足を運んでいたんですが、そういえば三輪山には登ったことが無かったな、と思いまして。

-It happened a few years ago, when I went to Nara.
I was climbing Mt. Miwa, which is famous for being a spiritual power spot.
You see, as a lover of the occult, I had been to most of the famous spots before, when I realized one day that I hadn’t yet gone to Mt. Miwa.

 ええ、最近は県が入山を制限している事は知っています。その理由が公表されないので、逆に興味を惹いていますよね。

Yes, I know that in recent years the prefecture has put restrictions on who can climb the mountain and when, but when they never make clear the reasons why, it only grabs your interest more, doesn’t it?

 規制中なのに、どうやって入ったのかって?
 丁度その時、仕事も家庭も上手くいってなくて……。神頼みというか自暴自棄になっていまして。それで真夜中にこっそりと忍び込みまして……。

How did I get into the area when it was restricted?
Well you see, at the time I was having trouble at my job and with my family… I was kind of at the end of the rope so to speak and was willing to do anything, so I snuck in in the middle of the night.

 そうしたら嫌と言うほど判りましたよ。入山規制の理由が。

When I did it was painfully clear why they were keeping people away from the mountain.

 蛇ですよ。蛇。それはもう大量の蛇がウヨウヨしてまして……。
 三輪山では蛇は神様だから手が出せないんでしょうな。
 あれだけ蛇が増えて餌は何を食べているんでしょうねぇ……。
 奈良県の寿命統制がピカイチ進んでいるのは関係無いですよねぇ……。

There were snakes, tons and tons of snakes, slithering all about….
They probably couldn’t do anything about it, because at Mt. Miwa snakes are treated as dieties.
With that many snakes I wonder what they’re all eating….
It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Nara is leading the country in life span control, now would it?

06.
パンデモニックプラネット
“Pandemoniac Planet”

 ――人口が減って、人村自然分離の原則が支配している現在、山村の多くが廃村になった事は当然知っていると思う。

-As the population declines and the remaining population centers in cities, I’m sure you know that many rural villages in the mountains have been abandoned.

 しかし、僅かながら今も山奥に村を維持している地域がある事を知っているかい?
 俺はこういう村を探して訪ねるのが日課となっているんだが、つい

However, did you know that while few in number, there are still some areas deep in the mountains that still have been able to maintain their villages? I make it my daily routine to go out and search for those villages.

 数ヶ月前の事だ。山の多いあの県、奇妙な村を見つけてな。

This happened a few months ago, in that prefecture full of mountains. I found this really peculiar village.

 どうも村民も昔から住んでいたのでは無く、廃村を見つけてアウトロー達が住み着いたようだったんだが、とにかく変なんだよ。
 見た事も無い宗教が広まっていて、一日中空いでいる時間があれば必ず祠に向かって祈っていたんだ。

Now the people that lived there hadn’t been living there for generations, you see. Apparently a group of outlaws had found this abandoned village and made it their home, but it really was very strange. They had this religion unlike any I had ever seen before. Throughout the day, whenever anyone had any free time, they would always turn towards one of many little shrines and pray.

 それの何処がおかしいのかって?
 それがさ、祈っている対象が神か仏じゃなくて、あちこちの祠に納められていたのは、何やら黒い物体だったんだ……。

What’s so strange about that, you ask?
Well you see, they weren’t praying to any sort of god or the Buddha, but this black thing that was housed in all of the little shrines…

 それは誰かの髪の毛だったんだよ。
 髪の毛を拝んでいたんだよ、髪の毛教だよ。気持ち悪いだろ?
 恐らく、開祖は髪が薄かったんだろうな(笑)

It was hair. It was someone’s hair.
They were praying to hair. It was a hair cult. Gross, don’t you think?
I bet the founder of the religion had a balding problem, haha.

07.
旧世界の冒険酒場
“Fantasy Guild”
 Kyuusekai no Bouken’ Sakaba
 Old World Adventurer’s Bar

 「うーん。
  これって怪談大会?」
 「どうやら、それに近いわねぇ。
  真偽はわからないけど、一応本人の不思議な体験談って形をとっているね」
 「こういっちゃあ何だけど、秘密倶楽部みたいなバーで、いい大人達が……」
 「あら、後でメリーも体験を語るのよ」
 「うえー、やっぱり、そうなるよねー」

“Hmm… So is this some sort of scary story tournament?”
“I guess you could call it that. I don’t know whether these stories are made up or not, but it seems like they all follow a format of them being ‘strange personal experiences’.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t be talking, but for all these adults to be coming to this bar like it’s there version of our Sealing Club is a little…”
“Hm? Your turn to talk about your experiences is going to come around too you know?”
“Come on, really? I guess I should have known…”

 メリーは自らの不思議な体験は、紛れもない真実だと判っている。
 しかし、他人の不思議体験は何故か信じられなかった。人を誑かそうとしているとしか思えなかった。

Merry knew that her own strange experiences were all real. However, she wasn’t able to believe any of the strange experiences described by the other people in the bar. She couldn’t imagine any of those stories were anything but lies made to deceive others.

 ふと、何故蓮子は私の体験談を信じるのだろう、と思った。
 やっぱり、私の話が上手いからかな、とメリーは照れた。

At that point, Merry paused and wondered why Renko ever believed any of her stories.
“Maybe it’s because I’m just really good at telling stories,” she thought, blushing.

 「――蛇と同じで髪の毛の信仰は原始からあるね。
  再生性が何か人間の信仰プロセスに関わっているんだわ」

“-Well belief systems centered around both hair and snakes have been around since the beginning of time. Their resurgence must be connected to humans’ belief processes.”

 蓮子は殆どみんなの話を信じているようだった。

It seemed that Renko believed almost everyones’ stories.

08.
魔界地方都市エソテリア
“E.S.O.T.E.R.I.A.”
 Makai Chihou Toshi Esoteria
 Rural Makai City Esoteria

 「では、本日は初めて参加するお嬢さん。
  何か不思議で、他に類を見ない体験談はあるかな?」

“Well then, let us have the newcomer share. Miss, do you have a strange experience to share, one like no one has ever heard before?”

 「あ、はい。
  マエリベリーと申します。
  今からお話する内容は、全て私が体験した
  不思議で特異な体験談です」

“Um, yes. My name is Maribel. The story I am about to tell is something I have personally experienced, a unique and strange tale.”

 辺りが少しざわついた。
 メリーの放つ異世界のオーラなのか、
 それとも若い女の子が話すので驚いただけなのか。

The other people in the bar murmured to themselves. Was it because of the otherworldly aura that Merry gave off, or was it simply because they were surprised to see that the next person to tell their story was a young girl?

 メリーは色んな体験談を話した。

Merry talked about a number of her experiences.

 墓場から異世界を覗き見た事。
 異世界の竹林を彷徨った事。
 緑に侵食された衛星から宇宙を見た事。

She talked about how she peeked at another world from a graveyard.
She talked about how she got lost in the bamboo forest of another world.
She talked about how she saw space from a satellite overrun with plants

 異世界ではいつも異形の怪物に襲われた事。
 そして、誰かに助けられた瞬間、目が覚めて元の世界に戻る事。

She talked about how she had been attacked by monsters in other worlds.
She talked about how the moment she was saved by someone she always woke up back in this world.

 この場にふさわしい、異世界の冒険談だ。
 しかし何故か微妙に場の空気が重かった。

These tales, these adventures in other worlds were truly fitting for the occasion.
However, for some reason they did not seem to go over very well.

 その理由はDr.レイテンシーと名乗った男のひと言で判った。

That reason was made clear by the man who had passed himself off as Dr. Latency.

 「それはすべて、燕石博物誌に書いてある話だな。
  ここでは、自身の体験を語って貰う約束だ。」

“All of those stories are ones already published in ‘Dr. Latency’s Freak Report’. The rule here among us is that you only tell stories from your own experiences.”

09.
亡失のエモーション
“Lost Emotion”
 Boushitsu no Emotion

 メリーは蓮子の顔を見る。
 蓮子は軽く頷いた。

Merry looked at Renko.
Renko nodded.

 「申し訳ないです。彼女は皆さんの知識を試しただけです。
  これから起こる出来事を体験するには、あの本の内容を知っている事が前提ですので。
  実は、本に書かれていた異世界の一部を体験できるマジックアイテムを入手したのです」

“My apologies. She was just testing your knowledge. In order to participate in what is about to happen, we needed to make sure that you all knew the contents of that book. You see, we have come into the posesssion of a magic item that allows one to experience a part of that other world described in ‘Dr. Latency’s Freak Report’.”

 蓮子は手鏡を取り出してメリーに渡し、順番に見せてまわった。
 その鏡はメリーの能力により、異世界の風景を写し出していた。

Renko took out a hand mirror and passed it to Merry, who then showed it to everyone in the bar. Because of Merry’s power, that mirror reflected scenes from the other world.

 狂おしい緑。
 煙を上げる山。
 永らく侘びた神社。

There was maddening overgrowth.
There was a smoking mountain.
There was a long dilapidated shrine.

 誰もが燕石博物誌で読んだ情景に思いを馳せた。
 お酒が感情を増幅させるのか、涙を流す者もいた。

Everyone thought back to the scenes described in the “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report”.
Perhaps because the alcohol had magnified their emotions, tears ran down some of their faces.

10.
二日酔いの同床異夢
“The horse thinks one thing, and he that saddles him another.”
 Futsukayoi no Doushouimu
 Strange Hungover Bedfellows

 バーでの体験を終え、次の日。
 お酒のあった時はあんなに盛り上がっていたのに、何だか疲れて元気が無い。これが二日酔いという奴だろうか。

It was the day after that experience at the bar.
Despite being so worked up while I was drinking, for some reason I feel tired and a bit sick now. Is this what you call a hangover?

 結局、メリーが見せた異世界の姿が一番盛り上がりを見せた。

In the end, the climax of the evening was when Merry went around showing scenes from the other world.

 しかし、メリーはただ能力を使って自慢したわけでは無い。
 あんな物は殆どの人は手品か、そういう機能のある手鏡か何かだと思っただろう。

However, it wasn’t as if Merry had gone around bragging about her abilities.
Most of the people at the bar thought the whole thing was some sort of trick, or that it was some kind of special mirror.

 メリーのした事、それは、他人の体験談を自分達の物にする事だった。

To everyone, what Merry was doing was taking other people’s experiences and using them as her own.

 「どうだった?」
 「うーん、半分くらいはつくり話だったわね」
 「でも、上手くいったわね。
  メリーが鏡で結界の向こう側を見せると同時に、
  相手に触れて本当に異世界を見たのか探る作戦」

“So how did it go?”
“Well… about half of the stories were made up.”
“But still, I’m glad it went so well, that plan to touch everyone while you were showing them the mirror to see if they had really seen the other world before.”

 メリーは、よくとっさにそんなこと思いつくなぁ、と感心した。
 そう、蓮子はとても聡明で頭の回転が速いのだ。

Merry was impressed that Renko thought all of that up on the spot.
Renko really was very intelligent and could think on her toes.

 「ちなみに蛇の話と髪の毛教は本物だったわ」
 「やっぱり?
  あの二つの話は何か嘘にしては話が整っていなかったからねぇ。
  じゃあ、決まりね!」
 「何が?」
 「何が、ってそりゃあ、これから行くのよ三輪山に!」

“That story about the snakes and the one about the hair religion were real by the way.”
“Really? I did think those two stories were a bit too disorganized to be lies. It’s settled then!”
“What’s settled?”
“Isn’t it obvious? We’re going to go to Mt. Miwa! Get ready to go!”

 旧型酒の二日酔いが残るメリーは、キッパリと断った。

Merry, who was still hungover from all of the traditional liquor the previous night, flatly refused.

あとがき
Afterword

 どうも、ZUNです。連続してCDを作ってみました。

Hello, it’s ZUN. I decided to continue the previous CD with another.

 ストーリー的には燕石博物誌から繋がっています。
 前作、燕石博物誌を表にすると、今作は裏です。
 裏と言う事で、音楽的にも楽しむのが難しい曲を多めにしましたが、如何でしょうか。

Storywise it continues where I left off in Dr. Latency’s Freak Report.
If you consider “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report” the outer surface, this one describes what lies beneath.
With that in mind, I decided to fill this CD with music that is hard to enjoy. What did you think?

 今作のテーマは大人の中二病です。
 中二病とは使いやすい言葉ですが、そのモチーフを知るのは容易ではありません。恐らくは、純粋な自分から大人になる過程で、子供時代を恥ずかしく思う事が源流にあると思います。

The theme for this CD is “chuunibyou”.
“Chuunibyou” is a really convenient word to use, but it is not easy to really pin it down as a motif. I would say that in the process of transitioning from your pure self into an adult, you start to feel embarrassed of how you acted as a child, and this feeling is closely related to the drive behind “chuunibyou”.

 大人になることで、過去の自分とは異なり、その流れで周りの人間とも異なる、結果、理由も無く自分は特別な人間だと思うという流れです。
 だとすると、別に「封印された右手が~」とか「脳内に囁く~」とかそんなのは中二病の本質では無いという事になります。

When you start to mature, you differ from your past self, and in that process you also become different from others around you. The result is that for no real reason you start to think of yourself as special. If you consider that to be the case, then phrases such as “My sealed right hand~!” or “It whispers in my brain~!” don’t really have much to do with the true essense of “chuunibyou”.

 中二病の本体は生きる熱量である。
 想像力の爆発である。
 純粋さと創作性を合わせもつ、冷めた社会への対抗手段である。

“Chuunibyou”, at its core is the heat of life. It’s an explosion of imagination. It is a form of resistance by purity and creativity against the cold society we live in.

 最近思うんですよね。如何にして死ぬまで中二病を保てるのかと。
 それが出来れば、一生お酒を楽しめる筈です。

I’ve been wondering to myself lately, about how I’ll be able to hold on to my “chuunibyou” until I die. If I can manage that, then I’ll be able to enjoy alcohol for the rest of my life.

 上海アリス幻樂団 ZUN (ポケモンGOが_____)

Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra ZUN (Pokémon GO is…)


伊弉諾物質~Neo-Traditionalism of Japan. // Izanagi Busshitsu / Izanagi Object

I was beside myself when I heard ZUN was going to continue Renko and Merry’s story at Comic 1☆6, and here we are, not four months later with yet another ZUN CD!

This translation goes through varying levels of strictness and has not undergone a final edit. I might run through it again in the next few days, but if there are any typos or really confusing parts mention them in the comments please so I can fix them (^o^;)

If anything, I’m sorry I couldn’t get this out sooner. Enjoy!

Notes:
 (I will attempt to cut as many of these down as possible with edits)

I ignored the line breaks in the dialogue in my translation. The cost is a slight loss of dramatic effect, but it’s easier to manage.

You would normally read 伊弉諾物質 as Izanagi Busshitsu, however throughout the text it has “イザナギオブジェクト” as its reading, i.e. “Izanagi Object”.

“Cell phone coverage” – is more generalized as “electromagnetic waves”. Radio/Television/Satellite/Cellphone etc.

I translate 療養 as “treatment”, but it specifically refers to a sort of “going out into the country until you feel better” kind of treatment for those of a weak or sickly constitution. Given that it takes you away from the polluted air of the cities, it’s not a completely mindless sort of way to get better.

“Zen’kou-ji Temple” is redundant as the “ji” means temple, but I figured it would be less confusing this way.

“…in front of a statue of Yama” – Yama is the Sanskrit and Pali name for “En’ma” I have leaned towards Sanskrit and Pali terms over Japanese equivalents throughout the rest of the translation as well.

“the god that created the Japanese archipelago” – literally it is written as “birth”, but Izanagi is male, and created the islands with Izanami (female), so I used “created” instead of “birthed” to avoid confusion. Although I’ve read the myth before, I forget the details (it’s quite complicated and graphic).

I will not translate youkai. If you don’t know what they are yet, head on over to wikipedia.

“Ame-no-Sakahoko” literally means “Inverted Spear of the Heavens”. (Inverted just to sound cooler – more like “upside down”)

I chose to keep “Izanagi Object” capitalized as a single unit, rather than “Izanagi object”, mainly to keep it emphasized.

Now without further ado, I give you the 6th narrative addition to the Hifuu Club, Izanagi Object, Neo-Traditionalism of Japan!!

伊弉諾物質~Neo-Traditionalism of Japan.
 Izanagi Busshitsu
 Izanagi Object

01. 緑のサナトリウム (Green Sanatorium)
   [Midori no Sanatorium]
   Sanatorium in Mountain

 「退屈しなかった?」
 「退屈しない訳が無いわ。こんな電波すら入らない山奥に隔離だなんて」
 「隔離って……、療養よ、療養。一応」

 ”Was it boring?”

 ”Of course it was boring! I can’t believe they thought they had to quarantine me, and all the way out here in the mountains! You can’t even get cell phone coverage out here!”

 ”Quarantine…? I’m sure it wasn’t anything like… It was treatment, for your health you know…? Supposedly.”

 行き過ぎた環境保護主義は都会を見かけだけの森林に飾り立てた。天然の植物
の無い、まさに絵に描いたジャングルだ。
 人間は自然を創造し、全てを管理したつもりでいた。管理外の物の存在を否定
するようになるのも時間の問題だった。病気も大抵治療法が確率していた。絶対
に直せない先天性の物等は病気では無く個性として認められ、社会が適合できる
ように変化していった。
 直せない病気は、事実上“存在しない“のだ。

 The cityscape was lined with a forest put up just for show, a result of environmentalism gone too far. There was no natural plantlife, just a jungle that looked like it came right out of a picture book.
 These days humans would create “nature”, and imagined they had complete control over it. It was only a matter of time before anything outside of this control would be denied outright. Now, there was a highly probable way to cure almost any illness. Things such as some hereditary disorders that just could not be cured were now considered not diseases but rather “traits”, and society had adjusted to this view.
 And thus, there was no sickness that could not be cured.

 マエリベリー・ハーン(メリー)は鳥船遺跡で怪我を負ってから、原因不明の
病に冒されていた。どうやら地球上には存在しないウイルス性に依る譫妄だと診
断された。
 管理外の物を恐れる社会の性質により、メリーは信州のサナトリウムで療養と
いう名の隔離治療をさせられていた。この度、完全に治癒したとの連絡があって、
宇佐美蓮子が迎えに来ていたのだ。

 Ever since Maribel Hearn (Merry) was wounded at the Torifune Ruins, she was affected by an unknown illness. At any rate it was determined that she was suffering delusions due to the effects of an extraterrestrial virus.
 Given that society tends to fear things it has no control over, Merry was quarantined in the name of “treatment” at the Shin’shuu Sanatorium. Now Usami Renko, having been notified that Merry had completely recovered, had come to pick her up.

 「誰とも会わせて貰えないし、そもそも日本に身寄りがいないし」
 「まあまあ、ところでどんな病気だったの?」
 「何か、熱に浮かされて寝ながら歩いたり別世界の幻覚を見たりしたわ」
 「ん? それってメリーにとってはいつもの事じゃあ……」

 ”They wouldn’t let anyone see me, and I don’t have any relatives in Japan to begin with.”
 ”At least it’s over now… But, what kind of sickness did you have anyway?”
 ”Well… I would get feverish and sleepwalk and have visions of other worlds and such.”
 ”Huh? But isn’t that just what’s normal for you?”

02. 牛に引かれて善光寺参り (Visit to the Zenkou Shrine, Led by Cattle)
   [Ushi ni Hikarete Zenkouji Mairi]
   Goslings Lead the Geese to Water.

 「ほら、本堂の柱が土台から随分とずれているでしょ?」
 「これが地震柱?」

 ”See how that pillar at the main temple is way out of alignment from the rest of the foundation?”
 ”So this is that ‘Earthquake Pillar’?”

 退院ついでに信州観光を行う事にした二人は、まず日本最古の仏像を祀るとい
う善光寺に立ち寄った。
 観光客がごった返す仲見世通りには目新しさは無い。お土産屋は伝統に縛られ
たまま、百年以上は時が止まっているようだ。

 After Merry was discharged and while they were in the area, Renko and Merry decided to go sightseeing through Shin’shuu. Their first stop was at the Zen’kou-ji temple, where they planned on visiting Japan’s oldest image of the Buddha.
 There was nothing new about the main shopping street that ran through the shrine, packed as it was with visitors. As the world of souvenirs was bound by tradition, it was like time had been stopped there for over a hundred years.

 「これが善光寺地震の爪痕と言う事になっているわ」

 ”It’s supposedly one of the remaining after effects of the Zen’kou-ji Earthquake.”

 ーー善光寺地震。弘化四年、信州北部を襲った地震である。
 善光寺は七年に一度だけ秘仏を公開する事で有名で、その時は全国から人が集
まり非常に混雑する。善光寺地震は、その御開帳の真っ最中に起きたため、死者
数千人とも言われる甚大な被害をもたらした。

 –The Zen’kou-ji Earthquake struck the northern districts of Shin’shuu in the fourth year of Kouka’s reign (1847).
 The Zen’kou-ji temple was famous for showing it’s hidden image of the Buddha only once every seven years, and during that time the temple would be flooded with people from all over the country. Since the Zen’kou-ji earthquake struck right in the middle of the ceremonial unveiling, the damages dealt by that powerful earthquake were catastrophic, and it is said that the dead numbered in the thousands.

 「地震で柱だけがずれたって言うの? そんな事あるのかしら」
 「本当はね、これは柱が時間が経って乾燥して捻れた物だって判ったの。
  でも、それより地震柱と呼んだ方が地震の恐ろしさを後生に伝えられるって
  みんな判断して、正式名称になったのよ」

 ”Are they trying to say that just this one pillar shifted in the earthquake? Is that even possible?”
 ”Well, the truth is that the pillar dried out and twisted that way over time. However, everyone decided that in order to convey the frightening power of earthquakes to later generations, they should call it the ‘Earthquake Pillar’, and now that has become its proper name.”

 メリーには見えていた。柱が歪むような恐ろしい地震の光景が。

 But Merry had seen it, the landscape wrought by a frightening earthquake that would easily have twisted that pillar.

03. ハートフェルトファンシー
   Heartfelt Fancy

 「どうしたの? 何か顔色が良くないみたいだけど、
  まだ病み上がりで調子が悪いの?」
 「あ、ああ、そんな事ないわ。むしろ絶好調みたいで……」
 「?」

 ”Is anything wrong? You look a little pale.. are you still not feeling that well?”
 ”Ah? Oh.. No, it’s nothing like that at all. Actually, I feel spectacular…”
 ”Hm?”

 メリーは最近、結界の切れ目だけで無く、異世界の風景を見ているようだ。
さらに夢の中だけで無く、実際に移動したりする事があるようで気になっている。

 Lately, Merry was not just seeing gaps in the boundaries of worlds, but seeing beyond them into the worlds themselves. And it wasn’t just in dreams anymore, there were cases where she actually went to the places she saw, and that was making her a little worried.

 先日の鳥船遺跡の時もそうだ。蓮子にとってはただの夢かも知れないが、彼女
にとっては現実と変わらない。だから、彼女だけが怪我をしたのだ。
 サナトリウムに行った理由も、精神異常と判断された、と言うのが正しいのだ
ろう。無論そんな事はないが、社会は不思議な者を受け入れないのだ。
 だから、彼女の能力はオカルトな物として秘密にしなければならない。

 Then there was that time at the Torifune Ruins, just a few days before. It might have been just a dream to Renko, but it was real for Merry. After all, she was the only one who was wounded.
 The real reason she was put in the sanatorium was probably because it was determined she had some kind of psychological anamoly. Of course that wasn’t the case, but society just isn’t receptive to strange persons.
 Therefore, Merry must keep her ability secret, as some element of the occult.

 「私は、メリーが不思議な力を持っているのは判っているわ。
  でも、その力っていつも神社仏閣が関係しているのよね」
 「そうだっけ?」
 「ええ、だからここに来てみたんだけど、まだ体調が優れないのかしら?」
 「だから、平気だって。
  ただ、少し調子が良すぎてねぇ、なんか余計な物まで見えて」
 「余計な物?」
 「地獄とかね」

 ”Merry, I know that you have some kind of mysterious power, but I also know that that power is somehow related to shrines and temples.”
 ”Really?”
 ”Yeah, that’s one of the reasons we came here, but are you sure you’re feeling alright?”
 ”I already told you, I’m fine. It’s just… maybe I feel -too- fine. Like I’m able to see more than I should.”
 ”More than you should? Like what?”
 ”Like Hell.”

04. 六十年目の東方裁判 (Judgement of the East on the Sixtieth Year)
   [Rokujuunenme no Touhou Saiban]
   Fate of Sixty Years

 「うわー、これはちょっと」
 「随分とファンニーな顔をしているわね」

 ”Uwah… This really is just a little…”
 ”It’s got a really ‘funny’ face doesn’t it?”

 二人は善光寺の閻魔像の前にいた。閻魔像は顔を真っ赤にして怒りを
表しているようだが、二人にはただの酔っ払いオヤジにしか見えていない。

 Renko and Merry were standing in front of a statue of Yama. Its face was depicted bright red and in anger, but to them the statue just looked like a random old drunk.

 「ねえ、メリー。さっきの話だけど、地獄って本当にあるの?」
 「うーんと地獄はね、
  地下4万由旬に存在すると言われているの」

 ”Hey Merry. Back to what we were talking about before. Does Hell really exist?”
 ”Well… It’s said that Hell exists forty thousand ‘yojana’ underground.”

 「由旬って長さの単位?」
 「そう、古代インドの長さの単位で1由旬はおよそ7キロ。
  つまり、4万由旬はおよそ28万キロくらいね。
  地球の直径が1万2千キロちょっとだから、地球も通り過ぎちゃうわ」

 ”And ‘yojana’ is a measure of distance?”
 ”Yes, It’s a unit of length used in ancient India where one yojana is about seven kilometers. So forty thousand yojana would be about two hundred eighty thousand kilometers. The diameter of the earth is just a little over twelve thousand kilometers so the distance goes through the earth.”

 「28万キロじゃ、地球を通り越して月の方が近いくらいね。
  つまりは存在しないのかな」
 「んー、そうとも言えないんだけど」

 ”At two hundred eighty thousand kilometers, that puts the moon closer than Hell, even if you start by going through the earth. In other words, I guess that means it doens’t exist.”
 ”Well… I wouldn’t be quite so sure about that…”

 地下4万由旬に存在するのは地獄の底である。
 実際には地獄はそこから3万9千由旬の高さがある。つまり地獄の
天井はずっと近く、地上からそこまでの距離は1千由旬しかない。キロに換算
すると地下7千キロ。これは地球の中心近くに地獄がある事を意味している。

 What lies forty thousand yojana underground is the bottom of Hell. Actually, Hell is about thirty nine thousand yojana high. That means that Hell’s ceiling is far closer, just a thousand yojana from the surface. Converting to metric puts that at about seven thousand kilometers underground. In other words, close to the center of the earth.

 メリーには地球内部の事まではよく判らない。もし自分が地獄が存在すると
信じたら、いつか必ず行く事になるのでは無いか、そんな不安が頭をよぎる。
彼女は今、そう感じさせる物を持っているのだ。
不安を誤魔化すべく話を続ける。

 Merry didn’t know that much about the inside of the earth, but if she were to believe that Hell really exists, the anxiety that surely one day she would find herself there crossed her mind. After all, Merry was carrying with her something that made her feel that way. Merry continued the conversation, trying to conceal her anxiety.

 「それでも極楽よりはずっと近いのよ?」
 「え? 極楽は雲の上にあるんじゃなくて?」

 ”Still, that puts it a lot closer than paradise.”
 ”Huh? Wasn’t paradise supposed to be somewhere above the clouds?”

 「極楽にすむ阿弥陀如来の身長は6×10^125由旬もあるのよ?
  雲の上どころかーー」
 「ーーえーと、阿弥陀如来の身長だけでビッグバン宇宙より遥かに大きいわね。
  何そのインフレ」

 ”Amitabha, who lives in paradise,’s height is 6×10^125 yojana you know? Saying just above the clouds isn’t even…”
 ”Umm… If that’s the case, Amitabha’s height is far greater than the scope of the universe, at least according to the Big Bang Theory. That’s some ridiculous inflation.”

05. アガルタの風
   [Agharta no Kaze]
   Agharta Wind

 「地獄に比べて極楽は遥かに大きくて遠いのね」
 「同時に、地獄は極楽に比べるともの凄く身近で、現実的という事なのよ」

 ”So I guess compared to Hell, paradise is a lot larger, and a lot farther away.”
 ”At the same time, Hell is a lot closer, and a lot more realistic.”

 遥か昔から、人間がいる限り地上にも地獄は存在した。その地獄よりも遥かに
大きい極楽を想像して恐怖を和らげていたのかも知れない。
 しかし、地底にある本物の地獄は未だに沈黙を続けている。

 ”Since ancient times, as long as there have been humans, there have existed ‘hells on earth’. It may be that people imagined paradise to be far greater than their hells as a way to quell their fears.
 Yet, the real hell lurking under the earth still remains in silence.

 蓮子には黙っていたが、メリーはサナトリウムで療養中。地底奥深くの不思議
な世界を体験していた。
 恐ろしい死の匂いが充満した洞窟の入り口。何処か古事記に出てくる黄泉比良
坂を彷彿させた。彼女はそこで手に入れた不思議な石片を現在も持っている。何
故かこの石片を持っていると、いくつかの風景が頭に浮かんでは消えるのだ。
 メリーは予感した。地底には何か秘密がある。それもこの国の創世に関わる、
何かとてつもない秘密だ。

 Merry didn’t tell Renko, but when she was undergoing “treatment” in the sanatorium, she experienced a strange world that lay far beneath the surface, in the depths of the earth.
 There was that entrance to a cave, filled with the frightening stench of death. It reminded her of Yomotsu-Hirasaka as it was described in the Kojiki. Merry was still carrying the strange rock fragment that she found while she was there. For some reason when she held it, several landscapes crossed her mind, appearing and then vanishing just as quickly.
 Merry intuition told her that some secret lay beneath the earth, and that it was somehow connected with with origins of this country – some incredible secret.

 「メリー、どうしたの?
  また考え込んじゃって」
 「ねえ蓮子。私がサナトリウムにいたとき、何か起きてなかった?」

 ”Merry, what’s wrong? You’re drifting off again.”
 ”Hey Renko, did anything happen while I was in the sanatorium?”

06. イザナギオブジェクト
   Izanagi Object

 「え? 何か、ねぇ」
 「特に、地底に関わる事で」
 「う、うーん。そういえば、完全に情報は遮断されてたのね。
  OK,OK。一ヶ月くらいのニュースなら大抵覚えているわ。
  地底に関わる事なら……、そうねえ眉唾のニュースで良ければ」
 「お願い」
 「日本海のメタンハイドレートの採掘場から、何やら不可思議な成分の鉱物
  が出たって……。
  2500万年前に完全に消えたイザナギプレートの名残だって、一時大騒
  ぎになったんだけど、どうもその情報が眉唾物でね。見つかった石片が、
  どう見ても人の手が加わった形をしていたのよ。
  それで学者もみんな冷めちゃってさ」

 ”Huh? Anything? Uh…”
 ”In particular, anything that has to do with the depths of the earth.”
 ”Um… Oh yeah, now that I think of it you were completely cut off from all outside information weren’t you? Ok, Ok. Iremember pretty much everything that went on in the news in the last month. Something that has to do with the depths of the earth… Well there was that. If you’re alright with some false news…”
 ”Let’s hear it.”
 ”At one of the methane hydrate drilling sites in the Sea of Japan, some ore of a strange composition was found… Those involved said that it was a relic of the Izanagi Plate that was thought to have completely disappeared some twenty five million years ago, and there was an uproar about it for a while, but it seems that some of the information was fabricated. The rock fragment they found had to be man-made, no matter how you looked at it. Once that appeared to be the case, the entire scientific community lost interest.”

 イザナギプレートとは、太平洋側からユーラシアプレートにぶつかり日本列
島を生んだ太古のプレートである。2500万年前に大陸の下に潜り込んで、
完全に消えた。その名前は日本列島を生んだ神にちなんだ物である。

 The Izanagi Plate was the ancient tectonic plate which gave rise to the Japanese archipelago when it ran into the Pacific side of the Eurasian Plate. Twenty five million years ago it was completely submerged under the Eurasian continent and disappeared. Its name comes from the god that was said to have created the Japanese archipelago.

 「遥か地底から人工物? それって本当?」
 「いやー、どうだかねぇ。過去にはこれは70万年前の石器だ、って捏造し
  た学者もいたみたいだけど、2500万年以前、じゃあねぇ」
 「つまり逆説的に、捏造では無いと」

 ”Something man-made, deep under the earth’s surface? Is that true?”
 ”Well… I’m not so sure about that. There was that one case of that scientist who claimed that some manufactured stone “artifact” was a relic from seven hundred thousand years ago, but twenty five million years ago? That seems like a tough argument to make.”
 ”In other words, it’s actually almost certain that it’s -not- a fake.”

 メリーが何か確信を持ったような表情を見せた。

 Merry looked as if she had made up her mind.

07. 妖怪裏参道 (The Youkai’s Backroad to the Shrine)
   [Youkai Urasandou]
   Enigma Street

 「良いニュースだわ。
  その人工物は、本物よ!」
 「へ?
  今日のメリー、何か変よ? 急に不安がったり、急に自信持ったり」
 「実はね、私、そのイザナギプレートの名残という石を持っているのよ」
 「へ?
  な、何言ってるの? やっぱりおかしくなちゃった?」

 ”That’s great news! That man-made object is real!!”
 ”Huh? Merry, aren’t you a little off today? Before, you suddenly you look worried, and then now suddenly you’re full of confidence…”
 ”The truth is, I’ve got one of those fragments of the Izanagi Plate!”
 ”Huh? W-What are you talking about? Are you sure you’re alright? There isn’t something wrong?”

 蓮子は何やら興奮しているメリーを観察した。
 何か、伊弉諾が実在……等、ぶつぶつと呟いてる。何かちょっと遠くに
行ってしまったようで寂しく思った。

 Renko looked on as Merry was getting all excited about something.
 She kept on muttering things like “Izanagi was real…” on and on. It was as if Merry was going off somewhere all by herself and Renko started to feel lonely.

 そう言えば最近、メリーの能力が高まっている様に感じていた。最初の頃は
ただ不思議な世界が見られると言う事で遊んでいただけなのに、今ではその世
界から物を持ってくる事も自在という。

 Come to think of it, recently it felt as if Merry’s abilities were getting stronger. At first, they had enough fun just with the chance at a glimpse of strange new worlds, but now they were bringing things back from those worlds, as if it were nothing.

 不思議な世界では妖怪のような者に出くわす事もある。蓮子にとってはそれ
はただの幻像であるが、メリーには現実なのだ。

 In those strange worlds they had sometimes encountered beings like youkai. To Renko those were just figments of her imagination, but to Merry, they were real.

 蓮子にはメリーがその妖怪と同じレベルにいると思えてならなかった。

 Renko couldn’t help thinking that Merry was on the same level as those youkai.

08. アンノウンX
   [Unknown X]
   Unfound Adventure

 「ねえねえ、メリーが持っているっていう石って……」
 「はいこれ」

 ”Hey Merry, that rock you said you had with you…”
 ”Here you go.”

 メリーは小さな石を差し出した。その形、は釣り針とも鍵とも言いがたい
形容しがたい形をしていた。明らかに人工物である。

 Merry held out a small rock. Its shape was something like a fishing hook and something like a key. It was hard to describe, but it was clearly man-made.

 「これがイザナギプレートから見つかった人工物、伊弉諾物質よ」
 「んー、なんでそう言い切れるの?」

 ”This is what I found at the Izanagi Plate. It’s an Izanagi Object.”
 ”Hmm… How can you say for sure?”

 「私には見えるもん。
  2500万年前に伊弉諾が創った日本の姿が」
 「今日のメリーは、いつもにも増して電波ね」
 「何とでも言って、今は新しい映像が次々と入ってきて絶好調なんだから」

 ”I can see it. The shape of Japan as it was made by Izanagi, twenty five million years ago.”
 ”You really are acting a lot weirder than usual today, Merry.”
 ”Say what ever you want, right now I feel amazing. I keep on seeing these new images, again and again.”

 サナトリウムから戻ってきて、メリーは一段と感覚が鋭くなった様に見える。
 蓮子は羨ましく思うと同時に、何とかして自分もその映像を見なければと思った。

 Since Merry came back from the sanitorium, it looked as if her senses had sharpened to a whole new level.
 While Renko felt a bit jealous, she hoped that somehow she too could see what Merry saw.

 「ねえ、私にも見せてよー。その映像」

 ”Come on, show them to me too!”

09. 日本中の不思議を集めて (Collect All the Curiosities of Japan)
   [Nihonjuu no Fushigi wo Atsumete]
   Mysterious Island

 人はいつから不思議を受け入れなくなったのだろう。

 When was it that people stopped accepting mysterious things?

 暗闇に火の玉が浮かんでいれば、昔は死者の無念の魂とか、狐が人を騙す時
の火だとか言ったものだった。

 When will o’ wisps appeared, people once thought they were the regretful spirits of the dead, or fires which foxes used to deceive humans.

 そこには深い想像力があった。

 In those thoughts was a deep sense of imagination.

 科学が進んでも、想像力が重要なのは変わらなかった。科学の大半は想像力で
出来ているからだ。火の玉は燐の自然発火だとか、プラズマだとか、脳の仕組み
で起こる錯覚だとか想像した。

 Even as science advances, the power of imagination does not grow any less important. The better half of science is still based on imagination. In order to explain those will o’ wisps, we imagined that perhaps those they were natural combustions of phosphorus gas, perhaps they were plasma, perhaps they were some sort of hallucination caused by the inner workings of the brain.

 しかし、情報化社会が進むと想像力は死滅した。
 情報が誰にでも平等に与えられる物になった時代に想像の余地は無かったのだ。
 火の玉の正体は与えられた情報の海の中に必ず答えがある。無ければ、何かの
間違いで片付ければ良い、と。

 However, as this society built on information advances, the power of imagination has been all but extinguished.
 In this age where information is equally available to anyone, there is no room left for imagination.
 ”On the true nature of will o’ wisps, in the vast sea of information given to us, there surely will be an answer. If there isn’t, then the whole thing must be some kind of mistake we should disregard.”

 人は答えのある不思議を娯楽として楽しみ、答えの無い不思議を否定した。
 それが、この国から神様が消えた理由である。
 今はもう、日本中が神様の墓場なのだ。

 People have taken great pleasure in finding the answers to great mysteries, and have denied the mysteries that have no answer.
 That is why they all have vanished from this country.
 Now, all of Japan is but a graveyard for the gods.

 「メリー! この場所、見た事があるよ!」

 ”Merry! I’ve seen this place before!!”

10. 素敵な墓場で暮らしましょ
   [Suteki na Hakaba de Kurashimasho]
   Neo-Traditionalism of Japan

 「この逆さに刺さった鉾は、高千穂の天逆鉾ね。
  伊弉諾命と伊弉冉命が大地をかき回したという鉾よ」

 ”That spear that’s stuck in the ground, that’s the Ame-no-Sakahoko of Takachiho! That’s the spear that Izanagi-no-Mikoto and Izanami-no-Mikoto were said to have wrought the ground with!”

 メリーは蓮子の目に手を当てていた。こうする事で、不安定だかメリーの
ビジョンを共有する事が出来るのだ。

 Merry had put her hand over Renko’s eyes. By doing so, although it was a bit unstable, Merry was able to share her vision with Renko.

 「え? この世界に実在するの?」
 「高千穂峰の山頂に刺さっているのよ。もの凄く不思議なのに、誰もまともに
  研究しようとしないの」

 ”Huh? That exists in our world?”
 ”It’s sticking of out the peak of a mountain in Takachiho. Even though it’s really strange, no one’s properly researched it.”

 メリーからもう不安は消えていた。自分が見た地底の光景は地獄なんかじゃ無い。
 これは現実にある、神々の世界の映像なんだ、と。

 All of Merry’s anxiety was gone. The land under the earth that she had seen wasn’t Hell. What she had seen were images of the world of the gods, a place that actually existed.

 「じゃあ、きっとその天逆鉾も本物ね。
  この伊弉諾物質と同じ石で出来て居ると思うわ。確かめなくちゃ」
 「良いわね。今度、メリーの快気祝いに行こう。
  天逆鉾が本物だとすると……、もしかしたらここの近くにも伊弉諾物質が
  あるかも知れないわ!」

 ”Then that must mean that Ame-no-Sakahoko is real too. I think it’ll made out of the same rock as this Izanagi Object. We’ll have to check it out!”
 ”That sounds wonderful. Let’s go in celebration of your fantastic recovery. If the Ame-no-Sakahoko is real, then… there might be another Izanagi Object close by!”

 二人の想像力はとどまるところを知らない。

 Their imagination knew no bounds.

 「休憩したら次は戸隠に行ってみようよ。
  あそこには天手力男命がぶん投げたという天の岩戸があるんだって」

 ”After we rest a bit we should go to Togakure. Supposedly that’s where Tedjikaraono-Mikoto burst through the gate of the celestial cave, Ama-no-Iwato!”

 「天の岩戸といえば高千穂の……」

 ”Isn’t Ama-no-Iwato part of Takachiho’s…”

 「そう、きっと天の岩戸も伊弉諾物質だわ!
  そうと決まれば行こう、戸隠へ」

 ”Exactly! I’m sure that Ama-no-Iwato’s an Izanagi Object! Now that that’s that, let’s go to Togakure!”

 「ワクワクするね。
  きっと誰も気にかけないだけで日本中に伊弉諾物質が眠ってるんだわ。
  それに気が付いた者だけが、神の時代の風景が見られるの。
  素敵だわ、私達で見つけ出しましょう!」

 ”This is really exciting isn’t it! I think that Izanagi Objects are sleeping all throughout Japan, it’s just that no one’s paid them any attention. Only people that have realized them for what they are can see the landscape as it appeared in the time of the gods. This is wonderful! Let’s go out and find them all!”

 神様の墓場が史実として動き始めていた。
 それは秘封倶楽部、不思議を受け入れた者だけが見える、別の日本の姿だった。

 So they started off, taking in the graveyard of the gods as factual history.
 It was what the members of the Sealing Club, those who accepted inexplicable mysteries, could see… a different Japan.

あとがき
 Afterword

 どうもZUNです。久しぶりではありませんね。
 私は信州の出ですので、長野の善光寺には何度か行った事があります。

 How do you do, it’s ZUN. It hasn’t been that long has it?
 I’m actually from Shin’shuu, and have been to the Zen’kou-ji temple in Nagano several times.

 あそこには戒壇巡りという、真っ暗な通路を手探りで歩く施設があります。

 There is a pitch black passageway inside of the temple where it’s so dark you must find your way through hand and foot, and it is used in a certain set of monks’ trials.

「真っ暗、って言っても、観光客が多いんだから安全性を考慮して非常口の
 灯りくらいはあるんでしょ?」

 ”Pitch black? But if there are many people that come as tourists aren’t there emergency exit lights there for safety reasons?”

 いえいえ、本当に真っ暗です。あの中で事件が起きたら目撃者ゼロです。
 その真っ暗な通路の中で、極楽の錠前を握る事が出来ればミッションクリアです。

 No, no. It really is pitch black in there. If an incident happened in that passageway there would be absolutely no eyewitnesses.
 The whole point is that if in the middle of the dark passage you can grip the lock of paradise, it’s “mission clear”.

 そんな戒壇巡りですが、一度だけ中にライトが入っている時がありました。
 確か七年に一度の御開帳の時だったと思います。大変な混雑だったので恐らく
安全性を考慮しての事でしょう。子供心にはガッカリした物です。

 That’s the way it usually is, but there was one time when there were lights on inside of it.
 I think it was during one of those once in seven years ceremonial unveilings. It was terribly crowded, so they must have done it out of safety concerns. It was really disappointing to me at the time, like I’d lost some of my innocence.

 でも今になってみれば貴重な経験。
 普段見る事の出来ない極楽の錠前の形をしっかりと覚えています。

 But looking back now it really was a valuable experience to me.
 After all, I still remember clearly what the lock to paradise looks like, and that’s not something you see everyday.

 あ、音楽CDとは関係無いですね。
 秘封倶楽部の二人は、普段こういう活動をしていますという話でした。

 Ah, that really has nothing to do with the music CD does it?
 This story was just one of those adventures the two members of the Sealing Club often have.

              上海アリス幻樂団 ZUN(戸隠そばを食べたい)
     Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra ZUN (Wants to Eat Togakure Soba)

^I was tempted to make this first image, but I figured I’d continue with tradition – it’d be weird to have a non Merry and Renko image at the top.

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

^I’ve noticed that most of the pictures I’ve been using for these posts have been tagged with “ib” – I should check this out…

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.

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

=====

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.

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (Part 6/7)

I will take this moment to remind everyone that this is unedited. I’ll probably go through it later.

「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 (5)

Thorned rose vines completely covered the window of the observation room and broke the glass. Through the broken window and brick, countless vines reached into the room.

“Is this the phantom book’s power…!?” said Huey, breaking into a sweat.

Dalian just stood there as she was and answered, “So this means the phantom book’s power is to manipulate plants…? Very interesting, but still that wouldn’t expl…”

“This isn’t the time to be impressed! We’ve got to get out of here!”

Huey yelled, swinging at the approaching vines with the axe he brought along, and rushing a reluctant Dalian, they made their way down the dark stairs.

“Ugh…!”

Right when Huey and Dalian had reached the entry hall, Huey let out a moan, and vines with striking speed wrapped around his right leg like a whip. As Huey fell to the ground, he was barely able to dodge other vines that leapt towards him. Hacking away the vine that caught his leg, Huey was able to get back on his feet, just as several more vines wrangled over the spot he fell not a moment before. If he hadn’t reacted that instant he probably already would be caught and unable to move. There was no room left for doubt. The vines around the mansion were clearly targeting Huey and Dalian.

“So I guess this is how the servants at the gate were killed… huh…” said Dalian, impressed.

“Like I said, now isn’t the time for that!”

Huey picked up Dalian and headed toward one of the windows in the hall. The path to the front gate had already been cut off. He found a spot that didn’t have many vines and broke through the window. Still carrying Dalian, he leapt through the window and into the front garden.

Though a little reluctant to part with it, Huey threw his axe at the vines that were flooding through the window behind him. The vines quickly snapped the handle into pieces. A human body caught by those things wouldn’t last a second. With Dalian in his arms, Huey ran searching for an exit.

Luckily, there was a part of the brick wall that had crumbled and it was easy to cross over. Breaking free of the summer house, Huey breathed his first sigh of relief.

By now the vines had completely covered the summer house and the whole building squirmed as if it were some giant monster. However, it seemed that as long as they were far enough away, the vines wouldn’t come chasing after them. The vines were probably a trap set for intruders, and weren’t given any power to attack out of their territory.

Catching his breath, Huey set Dalian down. Perhaps unhappy that she was being carried around like a piece of luggage, Dalian frowned, but she didn’t say anything. Instead, she looked down the pasture that sloped down before them. At the end of her gaze was a young woman in strange clothes. She had a turban around her head and a folkish cape around her shoulders.

“Talia!” Huey called after he noticed she was there.

And there the shaman stood, lit by moonlight, standing in the middle of windswept grass. She smiled, as if she were amused by Huey and Dalian’s frantic efforts to escape the summer house.

“I see you met our lady.” She looked back at Huey, waiting for him to regain his composure.

“Talia, you knew from the very beginning that Ms. Florence was dead, didn’t you…” said Huey, disgusted.

But Talia only smiled. “Yes, well no… Florence Carabosse is alive, though she’s no longer around anymore.”

Huey looked confused. Talia wasn’t making any sense.

“Did you… kill her?” Huey asked again.

Then Talia cackled with delight. “Me? Kill ‘Ms. Florence’? Of course not! Ahahahaha!!”

Then finally Huey realized that Talia was holding a book under her arm that was before hidden under her cape. It was an old book with a dark green cover. It had an eastern styled of threaded binding with a picture drawn in ink on the cover. It was a book fitting of the name “The Book of Deep Green”.

“The book…!” Dalian said in a sharp voice.

“So that’s the phantom book!?” Anxiety flashed across Huey’s face.

Talia wordlessly opened the book and casually flipped through its pages. Then, as if she found a particular part she liked, she stopped on one page.

“What do you plan on doing with us?” Huey asked, glaring at Talia.

But the shaman girl merely looked back with a kind smile and said, “Didn’t I warn you that it’s easy to get lost around here? That it was likely you’d never return?”

Even before she had finished, Talia’s outline had started to blur white in a mist – and it wasn’t just her. The grassy plain at her feet, and the landscape behind her was whiting out. Feeling the rush of damp air Huey froze.

Fog. A thick fog had appeared out of nowhere, cutting off their vision.

“This fog, is it also part of the phantom book’s power?” Asked Huey aloud, unable to hide his bewilderment.

“Things have gotten complicated. Having our sight stolen away in a place like this is a problem,” Dalian whispered.

Dalian looked as if she was completely fine, but she had reached out and tightly held on to Huey’s coat. She was afraid of getting separated in the fog.

“At any rate, it looks like we should find a way out of here.” Huey muttered bitterly.

Talia had completely disappeared inside the fog, leaving only her laughter, a high pitched laughter that felt tinged with insanity.

“But where are we going to go?” Dalian looked calmly up at Huey, and then slowly looked behind them.

Huey, led by her gaze, looked back as well and gasped in surprise. Behind them was a forest – a dense, thick, dark forest. It was as if a giant forest had crept up behind them and now they were surrounded.

“Just what is going on?! Rose vines and mist are one thing, but the power to move an entire forest…!” Huey spoke under his breath with panic in his voice.

“Our escape route has been completely cut off.” Dalian said plainly.

First the darkness of night, then this unnatural fog, and now the windings of a deep and dark forest. It was almost hopeless to try and escape from the village. To top it all off, the shape of the land around them was complex and was riddled with sharp cliffs. Simply running around driven by fear was enough to put your life in danger. The land itself was Talia’s weapon.

Furthermore, it wasn’t yet clear what the power of Talia’s phantom book really was. Huey and Dalian weren’t even sure what her objective was.

“Dalian, could you lend me a book?” Huey said, removing the glove on his right hand. Set into the back of his exposed hand was a blood red jewel.

“It’s not like I won’t let you, but what do you plan on taking out?” Dalian asked.

“Didn’t you have a grimoire that called upon the four great elementals of Paracelsus? Can’t that summon a salamander?”

“You’re thinking of setting fire to the forest in this kind of situation?” asked Dalian, shocked as she looked around at the forest that had already completely surrounded them.

“I guess that would be a bad idea, wouldn’t it…”

“If you want to burn to death so badly, fine, but I’d rather you do it somewhere else, and not get me involved.”

“It’s not like that’s my intention…” Huey shook his head.

They could still hear Talia’s high pitched laughter. Huey and Dalian started walking, trying to move away from her, but unable to really see anything, it only whittled down their nerves and they couldn’t get very far.

“I guess as long as we don’t know what “The Book of Deep Green”‘s power really is, we can’t really find another phantom book to fight against it… I guess we could try to wait it out until morning, but… wh!?”

Huey, who had been grumbling, suddenly leapt back, his face grave. Right in front of him was a sharply pointed iron pitchfork. It had flown out of the fog and stuck in the ground right where Huey just was.

Huey leapt to cover Dalian and looked in the direction the pitchfork came from. The sound of metal clanging together and sparks scattered in the darkness. Dalian had deflected another pitch fork with her gauntlets.

Countless shadows of people emerged from the mist. This time it wasn’t Talia, but the workmen from the village. The men carried farming tools in their hands to use as weapons and were closing in on Huey and Dalian, and in their faces was fear, despair – and anger.

“Things really are starting to look bad aren’t they…?” said Huey, glancing at the forest behind them.

The forest and fog had already cut off Huey and Dalian’s means of escape; if they were attacked by the villagers now it’d be all over.

“It doesn’t look like they’re being controlled,” said Dalian, looking at the villagers’ faces.

“What happened everyone? Even if you’ve had too much to drink, this really is taking things too far,” said Huey ironically with a friendly smile.

Huey reached inside his coat pocket and gripped his folding military revolver. It was a powerful .455 caliber but he only had six shots. There were far too many to target.

Among the approaching armed villagers was the workman that Huey had talked with earlier that day. Even his face, which before had been cheerful and smiling, was now drawn with fear. Perhaps for that reason the impression the man gave off was completely different, his once young looking face was thin and filled with wrinkles. He looked decades older than he did before.

“It’s your fault…” he said with a rasping voice, “Since you escaped from the master’s summer house, we’ve…”

From the villagers came groans of anguish. It was as if frozen time had started to flow again, and all the villagers were rapidly aging. Specks appeared on their skin, their hair fell out, and their weapons fell from their emaciated arms. With clouded eyes they glared at Huey and Dalian, teeth falling out as they cursed them.

“What is happening to them!?” exclaimed Huey, taken aback.

“They’re probably the people that lived at the foot of the mountain,” said Dalian, emotionlessly.

“The villagers that had gone missing? So, the inhabitants of this village were the elderly people of that other village rejuvenated?” said Huey, as if things were starting to make sense.

The elderly people from the village at the foot of the mountain that suddenly vanished were brought to this village, and lived as Talia’s neighbors. They forgot the past and believed that they had regained their youth…

“So that’s why there were only young people in the village… but then, just what is this place?” Huey asked himself as he looked down at the aged villagers which had fallen to the ground and stopped moving.

Still, there was no time to just stand around and think. The fog was getting thicker. At this rate it would soon be impossible to move around at all. There was no guarantee that Talia wouldn’t make another attack. Before that happened, they needed to move to a place where there was a little more visibility. Huey took Dalian’s hand and walked on into the dark forest.

The time they spent walking through the white darkness of the fog lead only by the light of the moon felt like an eternity, but the end of that darkness came suddenly.

The fog cleared and even the forest’s trees suddenly disappeared. Instead what spead out before them was a grassy pasture plain, and…

“How…” Looking up at the tall building in the middle of the plain Huey froze, dumbfounded.

It was the Carabosse summer house, covered in vines, clock tower and all.

Confused by the fog and darkness, though they had gone at great lengths to get out of the forest, they had only circled around and ended up in the same place.

“Talia…”

A high pitched laughter reached an exhausted Huey’s ears. The shaman girl was standing in front of that mansion of thorns. She had unwoven her turban and gave off a different impression. Her beautiful golden curled hair danced in the wind and shone in the moonlight. Her elegant posture was less like the shaman of a mountain village and more like the daughter of a wealthy family showing herself among high society. Curling her well shaped lips into a grin, she continued to laugh with wide open eyes.

“Ahahaha! Hahahahaha!! It’s useless, you can never escape! You people who came to steal Father’s precious book can wander this place for all eternity!”

“…Father’s book?” Huey paused at Talia’s words.

The original owner of “The Book of Deep Green” was John Carabosse. If she called him “Father” that would mean…

“I see…” Huey muttered, glaring at the girl as she kept laughing.

“Last month, that was you who was seen at the village at the foot of the mountain, Tal… that would make you the real Florence Carabosse!”

“Ahahaha! That’s right, I am my father’s most beloved daughter!” She hugged the phantom book in her arms and smiled blissfully.

“That makes Father’s most precious book mine. I’ll never give it to you!”

Huey frowned. “So then, the one that was killed at the mansion was the real shaman Talia…”

“Of course. And now I’m Talia. That weak and pitiful ‘daughter of the master’ is gone forever!”

Talia’s empassioned voice rose higher and higher, and in her eyes the light of insanity reflected in her eyes. Raising her twisted laugh even higher, she continued.

“Father always comes to see me… I’m the only one he loves! That filthy, boorish shaman is not Father’s lover! Father doesn’t come to see his lover, he comes to see me!!!!”

Talia opened the phantom book and immediately the world around Huey and Dalian changed.

“What!?”

The plains that separated Huey and Dalian from Talia turned dark. A giant fissure had opened up in the earth.

The area surrounding Huey and Dalian had turned into a dizzying series of sharp cliffs. There was nowhere to run in any direction. Before they knew it Huey and Dalian were left on a narrow patch of land surrounded by a canyon. On the cliff faces were countless thorned rose vines reaching up towards the peak. With nowhere to go, this time they would be caught for sure.

Now completely cornered, Huey let out a sigh, Dalian staring wordlessly at Talia’s book.

“Huey, I give you permission to open the gate.” Finally, Dalian’s clear voice rang out.

She reached for the collar of her dress and exposed a large portion the upper part of her chest. The lines of her thin collarbone showed upon her white skin, and below that was a large lock. It was a roughly fashioned lock held with chains bound to a leather collar around her neck, but the lock itself was embedded in the center of her slender chest.

Huey wordlessly raised his right hand. In his hand he grasped a single key, a golden key set with a red jewel. Old letters were engraved on the blade of the key, words that Huey read aloud, as if he were a knight vowing loyalty to a princess, or perhaps a sorceror chanting a spell…

“I ask of thee… Art thou mankind?”

To that question, Dalian answered, with a rasping voice that seemed as if it came from out of some ancient container.

“Nay, I am the world, the world inside the gourd.”

Huey slid the golden key into Dalian, who let her voice escape in pain. The lock in the middle of her chest split like the gates of a castle. What was hidden behind it was an empty void. In other words, a large hole had opened up in Dalian’s chest. The hole was surrounded by a dazzling swirl of light, and the void contained within continued endlessly inside of her slender figure.

“What in the world…?” Talia said, awestuck. This time her voice wasn’t tinged with insanity, but fear.

“I’ve heard of this from Father before… ‘The World in the Gourd’, the otherworldly library sealed within a container, the mystic archives of Dantalian!”

“With nine hundred thousand, six hundred sixty six phantom books sealed within these archives, the gates unto wisdom are now opened,” Dalian muttered emotionlessly.

Huey thrust his arm into the void inside Dalian’s chest, and when he withdrew it there was a single book in his hand – an old book with a faded cover.

“When you changed the entire landscape right before our eyes, you had gone a step too far. Thanks to that we now know the true nature of ‘The Book of Deep Green’.”

Dalian looked at the ravine that had opened by her feet.

“The true name of that phantom book is ‘Shanhe Sheji-tu’ a sacred text used to give birth to illusory landscapes in order to confuse and control those who enter them. It is a phantom book from the pure land that was received in the legendary era from an Eastern goddess.”

Huey sighed. “A phantom book that brings about illusory landscapes huh… So the fog and the forest and even the rose vines were all an illusion?”

Dalian nodded. “But even if they’re all illusions, to those whose souls are caught in the phantom book’s magic, there is no difference from reality. They will be wounded if they touch the rose vines’ thorns, and if they fall off a cliff, they will die.

“Ahahaha… hahahaha! Isn’t it wonderful? As long as I have this book, no one can hurt me. After all this is the book Father left for me!”

Every time Talia turned the pages of the phantom book, the outline of the landscape surrounding Huey and Dalian twisted. The phantom book allowed its holder to create a world of illusion, just as they wished it. That was the true nature of “The Book of Deep Green”.

The villagers at the foot of the mountain were drawn into an illusion created by the phantom book, and became part of the illusion themselves. If Huey and Dalian hadn’t come to the village, they might have lived forever in that illusion.

“Once I am able to read this book a little better, I’ll even be able to bring Father back to life! I won’t create him a dirty lover, he’ll be my true Father, only for me!!” Talia said in an intoxicated voice as if she was dreaming.

Looking back at her Dalian quietly said, “You would never have the right nor ability to.”

Huey opened the book he had taken from inside of Dalian. It was a book written in an Eastern language. On its cover was a symbol in the shape of a human eye. It was the same symbol drawn on the stupas of Tibetan Buddhism a symbol called “The Eye of Truth”.

Huey stumbled through a single verse written in the book, and in that instant the landscape around them shattered like glass and started to twist. The world invaded by illusion undulated like a kaleidoscope, returning to the way it should be.

“The ‘Bhuta Tathata’ scripture that has been passed down in western regions of Asia – it removes all kinds of evil, breaks illusions, and is one of the lost apocrypha of primeval Buddhism.”

Dalian looked at Talia with pitying eyes. Talia froze, watching her illusory landscape crumble.

“That phantom book never chose you, and thus your illusions are easily shattered.”

Hearing Dalian’s cold words, Talia tottered backwards and the phantom book fell her hands as she lost her former drive.

“This can’t be true…”

The deep chasm separating Talia from Huey and Dalian had disappeared. All that was left was the original gently sloping plain. Huey approached Talia and quietly picked up “The Book of Deep Green”. All of the illusions throughout the village, all of the effects from the phantom book were completely gone.

“You’re lying… Father gave it to me… my…”

Talia turned around, the summer house was there standing tall against the night sky. Perhaps it standing there, without any of the vines that were there before, reminded her of when her father was alive. Talia started running towards it.

But wasn’t paying any attention as she ran, and this time a real cliff opened up before her feet.

“Talia!” Huey yelled.

Talia’s cape waved in the wind. There was a moment that seemed to stretch out for an eternity – and then immediately afterwards, she fell.

Shortly after, a sickening sound like a ripe fruit being crushed was heard. Then, the village fell into silence.

=====