Posts Tagged ‘ Dantalian no Shoka ’

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.


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.


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.


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.”


“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.”


“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….”


“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…”


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…?”