Archive for the ‘ Text Passages ’ Category

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.

=====

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

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

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

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

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (4)

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

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

It was a dead body.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Huey questioned himself, he noticed a fundamental contradiction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Huh?” Huey was dumbfounded.

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

“Talia… but… why would she…?”

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

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

=====

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

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

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

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

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (3)

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

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

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

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

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

“Scholars?” Huey replied, caught off guard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?”

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

“I see…”

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

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

The man looked like he understood how Huey felt.

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=====

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

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

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

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

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talia smiled and shook her head.

“No, I’m just a shaman.”

“Shaman?”

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

“Ah, I see.” Huey nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The master died…!? My god…”

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

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

“Arson?” Talia gasped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…”

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

“So the rumors are true….”

“Rumors?”

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

“…Huh…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, it’s nothing like that.”

Huey smiled bitterly and shrugged his shoulders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (Part 1/7)

I’m doing this mainly as a quick test of my own abilities, so if I get ordered to take this down, it’ll come down – enough said… Sorry, blame the uninviting industry.

_(・ω・」 ∠)_)))))))

I’ll be doing one part a day for the whole week.

The translations will not be edited, as I’m focusing mostly on “accuracy and readability in a timely fashion” (this may result in awkward-to-English-readers-formatting). Due to my obsessive work on lyrics and poetry I’ve known myself to spend hours on a single line or stanza, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to develop a separate and quicker mindset for longer format works. One day I hope to work on fiction translations professionally, so basically this is practice.

I thought I’d start with one of my favorite shorts from a series I thoroughly enjoy, so here we go. I hear they’re making an OVA from this too.

「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.

The Japanese title for “Sleeping Beauty” is “Rose-Thorn-Princess”.

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

=====

Sleeping Beauty, A Princess of Thorns (Prologue)

The mansion was engulfed in flames.

The beautiful white walls, towers, elegant furniture and dressings were all burning.

The fleeing servants’ screams could be heard mixed with the crackling of the wood aflame.

The conflagration dyed the very night sky red.

The halls were filled with a black smoke which threw everything into darkness, only broken by the shafts of light thrown by the scorching flames.

Using that faint light, the master of the mansion tried to find his way out. Dragging along his injured leg, he fled for his life, his face struck with fear.

Then, a faint trace of relief crossed his expression. Finally the smoke began to clear and he could see his way to the front hall. The fire hadn’t yet reached this far, if he could just make it through this room he would be able to escape. He was saved.

The man rushed forward crying out with excitement, but suddenly stopped. He had seen a silhouette coming towards him, cast by the flames.

The shadow was of a young woman, a girl wearing nothing but her nightclothes.

“Y..You’re alright! You made it out too, Florence?!” He said, walking towards her.

“Yes, Father.”

The girl nodded, and a flash of flame showed a smile on her face. In her right arm was a book, an old book with oriental designs. In her right hand, it looked as if she was pulling something heavy.

“What are you doing Florence?! We’ve got to r…”

He tried to hurry his daughter, but his words suddenly trailed off. As he moved towards her she had raised her left arm high above her head.

In her hand was a small axe used for chopping wood.

As the man froze, opening his eyes wide in surprise, the axe came crashing down.

“Wh…” Moaning in the sharp pain screaming from his right shoulder. He looked at the axe, unable to believe what he was seeing.

As his daughter violently ripped the axe out of him, he collapsed, blood spraying from the wound. Fire on the carpet had reached the fresh blood and began to smoke and smell.

“Florence… Why?” The man looked up at his daughter, his eyes tearing up in fear and pain.

She did not answer. Instead, with a smile still on her face she swung down the axe a second time. This time it split the man’s skull. He didn’t move again.

Seeing this, the girl’s expression didn’t change one bit. Only a high pitched laughter escaped her lips.

She threw the axe aside and picked up a bottle that had rolled onto the floor. She poured its contents over the man and for a second the sharp smell of gasoline stung her nose, but it was soon replaced by another foul smell as the man’s body caught fire.

The girl walked out of the entranceway and left the mansion, never looking back as she disappeared into darkness, that book still held in her right arm, as her laughing echoed through the night.

=====