Cage in Lunatic Runagate/Sixth Chapter

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第六話 愚者の封書 Chapter 6: The Fool’s Sealed Letter

月の都の空は昼間でも暗い。永遠に夜が明けないのではないかと思う。いや明かりを点けなくても見えるのだから、暗いというのは正確ではないかも知れない。空が黒いと言うべきだろう。

The sky of the Lunar Capital is dark even during the day. It makes me wonder if dawn will never come. Since it’s possible to see without any lights, “dark” may not be appropriate. It would be better to say the sky is just "black."

そもそも、宇宙とは暗いものなのだ。その宇宙空間に浮かんだ天体の空も、本来ならば暗くて当然である。

Space is dark in the first place. So it's only natural for the skies of the planets that float within space to be dark, too.

太陽の光を受けている全ての星で、昼間の空が青く明るい訳ではない。太陽の光は青くないし、勿論地上を覆う大気も青くはない。

Just because a planet is bathed in sunlight doesn't mean that it's daytime skies are blue, either. The sun’s light is not blue and neither are the atmospheres surrounding those planets.

では何故地上の空はあそこまで青いのだろうか?

Then why is Earth's sky so blue?

それは大気が屈折しやすい波長の短い可視光線、つまり紫から青色の光を拡散させ、空を青く見せるのである。大気が丁度、空を青く見せる程度の厚みを持っていたからそう見えるだけなのだ。もう少し大気が厚ければ青色の光は拡散しきってしまい空は赤くなる。地上でも空が赤くなる事もあるが、人間は空が見られる時間帯から、夕焼け、朝焼けと呼んでいる。

That's because the atmosphere bends the rays of light most prone to refraction (violet and blue in the visible light spectrum) and diffuses them, making the sky look blue. Earth's atmosphere has just the right thickness to make the sky look blue. If the atmosphere was a bit thicker, the blue light would’ve completely dispersed and a red sky would result. There is a point in time where the sky on Earth turns red. Depending on the time this occurs, people call it "sunrise" or "sunset."

さらに大気が分厚くなると赤い光も拡散し、ついには地上に光の届かない夜の星となるだろう。反対に大気が薄ければ光は真っ直ぐ届き、光源以外の空は黒いままとなるのだ。

If the atmosphere was to become even thicker, then even the red light would completely disperse and Earth would become a planet of constant night, since no light would reach its surface. Conversely, if the atmosphere was to be much thinner, the light would come in without bending and the sky would be dark except in the spot where the light shines.

月の空は後者であった。その黒い昼間の空が今日は色鮮やかな星空を見せていた。

The moon was the latter. The dark daytime sky was now covered in colourful stars.

「——『スターダストレヴァリエ』」

“-'Stardust Reverie!'”

目の前の黒い人間は宙に飛び上がり何かを叫んだ。

The human in black flew into the air and shouted something.

何で出来ているのか判らない星形の物体は、依姫様の動きとは関係無く無造作に宙を舞った。

Through some incomprehensible process, star-shaped objects rained down indiscriminately in Princess Yorihime's direction.

相手を見ないでばらまく攻撃など怖くはない筈だ。言うなれば子供が腕を振り回しながら相手に突進している様なものである。

There shouldn't be anything to fear from such a scattered, blind attack. It was almost like a child swinging its arms in circles while running towards its opponent.

「ねぇ、あの星って当たっても痛く無さそうだけど……」

“Hey, it doesn't look like those stars will hurt if one hits...”

「痛くなくても当たればミスみたい。だから華麗にかわすのよ」

"Even if it doesn't hurt, you can't get hit by them. That's why you need to gracefully evade them."

「へぇ。なら弾数が多い方が有利なんじゃない?」

“Hmm, then wouldn’t the one who can shoot more projectiles be at an advantage?”

「多分、同時に出せる弾数に限界があるのよ。エネルギー保存の法則だか、エントロピー増大だかなんだか知らないけど……」

“There may be limits to how many it is possible to fire at once. I don’t know if it’s because of the law of conservation of energy, or depending on entropy limits though...”

月の兎達が他愛のない会話を繰り広げている。段数に限りがあるのはエコロジー対策の為なんじゃないかと思う。それにしては一発でも当たれば良いというには十分すぎるほど大量にばらまいているが……。

The moon rabbits chattered as if it had nothing to do with them. I think the reason was to minimize the effect on the ecosystem. Anyway, I thought shooting far too many when a single hit was enough was a little...

依姫様はカラフルな銀河を何の問題もなくかわしていた。まるで雨の中を泳ぐ天女のように身軽に、地上を駆ける兎のように機敏に身をこなしていた。

Princess Yorihime dodged the colorful galaxy without any problem. She was agile like a celestial swimming through the rain and nimble as a rabbit that ran on earth.

月の兎達は見事な依姫様の戦いぶりに勝利を確信し、興奮して騒いでいた。誰しも自分が表に出て自分が目立ちたいと思っている様だった。さっきまでは吸血鬼に怯えて逃げていた月の兎達も、圧倒的な強さを見せる依姫様の神気に当てられて、自分でも勝てるに違いないと思い込んでいるのだろう。

The moon rabbits became excited, positive of their victory watching Princess Yorihime’s fight. Everyone seemed to want to stand on the front lines and show off when it was only a while before that they were all fleeing in fright of the vampire. They all seemed to thinking that they were able to win as well, witnessing Princess Yorhime’s strength and feeling her godly presence.

しかし私にあの攻撃をかわす事が出来るだろうか?

But would I have been able to dodge that attack?

地上の人間は脆く弱いと聞いていたが、はてさて目の前の人間は自分には手に負えない程、強そうに見える。依姫様は余裕を見せているが、万が一何かあった時は私が矢面に立つ事になるのだろうか? そんな事があれば月の都は侵略されてしまうのだろうか?

I had heard that the humans of Earth were frail and weak, but the human in front of us looked way too strong for me to handle. Princess Yorihime looked confident but if by some small chance something were to happen, would I be able to take the full force of their attack? And if not, would they invade the Lunar Capital?

「流れ弾に気を付けな!」

“Watch out for stray bullets!”

人間が何かを叫んだと思った次の瞬間、大きな星形の物体が耳を掠めていった。髪がそよぐ。

The moment that I thought I heard the human shout something, a huge star-shaped object grazed my ear and ruffled my hair.

遠くで見ていた時は光か熱の塊かと思っていた星だが、想像と違い質量を感じた。背筋に冷たい汗が流れた。

Watching from far away, I thought the stars were made of clusters of light or heat. Differing from my perception, the star felt solid. A cold sweat ran down my back.

そもそも、何故私がこんな殺伐とした戦いの前線にいるのだろう。

What was I doing in the front lines of this raging battle in the first place?

私は元々歌を歌い、餅を搗いて毎日暮らしていた。退屈だが平和な毎日だった。昼間は餅を搗き続け、夜はお酒を呑みながら将棋をしたりしていた。あの頃が懐かしい。

I originally sang songs and lived every day pounding rice cakes. Every day was boring, yet peaceful. During the day we’d continuously pound rice cakes and at the night we’d play shogi while drinking sake. Those days now feel like so long ago.

ちなみに餅搗きというが実際に臼の中で捏ねられている物は、餅ではなく薬である。蓬莱の薬と呼ばれる不老不死の薬を作ろうとしているのだ。

Although we call them “rice cakes” what was actually in the mortar was not rice but medicine. We were trying to make a medicine called the “Hourai Elixir” that would provide eternal youth and everlasting life.

その真意はよく判らない。私達月の兎にはただ薬を搗き続ける事しか教えられていない。

We do not know the intentions behind this since we rabbits were taught only to pound the medicine.

その餅搗きは捕らえられている嫦娥(じょうが)様の贖罪の為だと教えられている。つまり、我々月の兎は自分に何の利点もない餅搗きを毎日やらされていたのだ。しかもいつ終わるとも判らないのである。既に何千年か続いている餅搗きだが、何も進展した感じはしない。もう周りの仲間にとっても餅搗きはただの意味のないルーチンワークと化していた。

We were taught that the pounding of the rice cakes was for the atonement of Lady Jouga[1]. You could say that all of the work that we moon rabbits do does not benefit us in any way, yet we are made to do it every single day and we have no idea when it may end. Despite pounding away for thousands of years, it feels as if no progress has been made. To others of my kind, this rice cake pounding has become a mere routine that has no meaning behind it.

私は他人の罪の為に永遠と搗き続けるのが嫌だった。何の達成感もなく、頭を使う事も許されずただ体を動かすだけの仕事。生活に困る事は無いが建設的ではないし、頭を使う事も無い。そんなのは最下層の仕事だと思っていた。

I didn't want to pound rice cakes for eternity to atone for the sins of someone else. This job did not permit using my head and offered no feelings of accomplishment, only manual labor. I never had to worry about surviving, but it wasn't productive and required no thought. I thought it was a job only suitable for the lowest class.

だから、私は逃げ出した。

And that is why I ran away.

兎にだってもっと自由があってしかるべきだと。自分達はもっと高い能力を持っている筈だと、そう考えていた。今から思えば、自分は高い能力を持っているが環境がそうさせないと思っている者は、大抵何も出来ない奴である。私は典型的な愚か者だったのだろう。

I thought that rabbits should have more freedom, that we were more capable than menial labor. Now that I think of it, ones who are skilled but think they can't use their skills in that environment will never amount to anything. I was your garden-variety fool.

愚かな私は建設的な仕事じゃなければ、逃げ出す事の方が善だと言い聞かせていた。自分を上手く使えない社会の方が間違っているんだと考えていた。勿論、逃げ出している間、心の平穏を保つ為の言い訳である。

Being a fool, I told myself that if my job was not constructive, running away from it was justifiable and society was at fault for being unable to utilize me to the best of my ability. Of course, that was an excuse I told myself to maintain my cool while I was running away.

しかし、逃げ出してもそのまま狭い月の都に居てはすぐに捕まってしまうだろう。

However, the Lunar Capital was too small and even if I ran, I would be caught right away.

私は逃げ出すのは仕事だけではなく、月の都からも逃げなければならなかった。私は迷わず穢れた地上へ逃げる事にした。前に地上に逃げ出した同胞が居たので、その後を追おうと思ったのだ。

So I fled not only from my job, but also from the capital. I decided without hesitation on escaping to the impure Earth. I heard that one of us moon rabbits had once escaped to Earth so I planned on pursuing her.

——大きな歓声が上がった。

-There was a huge roar.

どうやら、人間が大技を使ったが依姫様が余裕で返し、依姫様の勝利が確定したらしい。依姫様は大きな神の鏡を掲げ、文字通り神々しく光を反射していた。

It seemed that the human used a grand technique but was easily overpowered by Princess Yorihime so she was declared the victor. Princess Yorihime held out a large divine mirror which as its name implies reflected light in a godly manner.

「あーあ。依姫様ももう少し手加減してくれればいいのにねぇ」

“Aww, it would’ve been better if Princess Yorihime had held back a bit.”

隣の兎が話しかけてきた。私が状況を理解できずに慌てていると「このままじゃ私達の出番が無いもんねぇ」と付け加えた。

The rabbit to my side tried to talk to me. I was still in a panic, not understanding the situation completely, when she added “At this rate, we won’t get a turn at all.”

私は溜め息を吐いた。さっきは地上の吸血鬼に怖じ気づいて逃げたくせによく言ったもんだ、と呆れながら「ほんとだわ。私も折角訓練した意味が無いわ」と返しておいた。でも多分負ける。

I sighed as I thought of how just moments ago everybody was running scared of the vampire. “I know, at this rate all the training I did will be for nothing,” I replied, although I'd probably lose.

恐らく私以外の兎も口では強気だが、同じ様に考えているのだと思う。そう、やれば出来るがやるチャンスが無いと思っている輩は、チャンスが来ても出来ない。チャンスを呼び寄せる力も無いのだろう。

The other rabbits were also talking tough, but they were probably thinking the same thing I was. They all thought they could do it if given the chance, but when the time came, they wouldn't be able to do a thing. They likely don't have the power to make their own chances.

「貴方達、流れ弾に当たらなかった?」

“Did any of you get hit by stray bullets?”

依姫様が涼しい顔をして戻ってきた。

Princess Yorihime came back with a cool expression.

「お見事でした、まだまだ余裕そうですね」

“That was wonderful. It seemed like you handled her easily.”

「油断はしてはなりませんが、余裕が無いと戦いは危険です。貴方達は余裕が無いのに油断しているように見えますがね」

“It’s dangerous to be overconfident, but one must retain their composure. You all seem overconfident despite having none.”

「またまたぁ、あの位の人間だったら一瞬でけちょんけちょんですよぉ」

“Oh, come on, if it's a human of that level, we can beat her up in a flash.”

「全く、それが油断なのです」

“Precisely, you are overconfident.”

依姫様は呆れた顔をした。

A disgusted look appeared on the princess's face.

「さて、次はあの吸血鬼みたいね。ま、一番簡単に勝てそうですが……ところで貴方」

“Well, it seems that vampire is up next. Well, she will probably be the easiest to beat... but by the way, you there.”

依姫様が私の方を向いた。私は緊張した。もしかして、次の吸血鬼戦は私にやれと言うつもりなのだろうか?

Princess Yorihime looked towards me. I tensed up with the thought that she might tell me to fight the vampire.

「いやいや、私にはとてもとても」

“M-Me? No, no... I don’t think that I can...”

「何の話? まあ良いわ。貴方にはやって欲しい事があります」

“What are you talking about? I want you to run an errand for me.”

そういって、私に耳打ちした。

She whispered it into my ear.

「え? そのような重要な役を私にですか?」

“Huh? You're entrusting me with such an important task?”

「血の気の少ない貴方にぴったりでしょう? さあ、お行きなさい、時間も余りないかも知れません。本当は私がやろうと思ったのですが、思ったより地上の者達が強かったので間に合いそうにないので……」

“I think it’s the perfect task for you since you look so reserved. I really meant to do this myself but the ones from Earth are stronger than I expected. Now go, there might not be too much time left.”

三、四ヶ月ほど前になるだろうか、私が餅搗きが嫌になり月の都を飛び出し地上へ逃げたのは。

I think it was about 3 or 4 months ago that I grew tired of pounding rice cakes, ran from the Lunar Capital and fled to Earth.

地上には我々の仲間が居る筈であった。それと指名手配された罪人も……。

There was supposed to be one of us down on Earth as well as some wanted fugitives...

月の都に住んでいる時は余り用のない月の羽衣。それは空を自由に飛べる様になる不思議な羽衣なのだが、付けると同時に心を失わせる力を持っている。つまり、自由が利かなくなってしまうのだ。

The lunar veil [2] was a mysterious robe that allowed one to fly through the skies. At the same time it made one lose their spirit when they wore it, so the wearer would have no control over themselves. I had little use for it while I lived on the moon.

私はそれを取り出し、地上に向けて飛び出した。地上に辿り着くまでの数日間、記憶が曖昧である。

I took the veil and flew towards the earth. My memories of the journey to Earth are vague.

この羽衣は、地上から月人を呼び戻す時、未練が残らぬように着せる物だという。その昔、地上に幽閉されたかぐやという姫がいた。その姫を月に呼び戻そうとした時にその月の羽衣が使用される……筈だった。

This veil was made so when a Lunarian on Earth was called back to the moon, they would have no lingering attachments to Earth. In the past there was a certain princess by the name of Kaguya that was imprisoned on Earth. This robe was for when she was to return... supposedly.

詳細は判らないが何故かかぐや姫は月に戻る事を拒絶し、それと同時に月の賢者が一人地上に取り残される事となった。姫と賢者の消息は千年以上も不明だが現在もなお指名手配されている……という事になっている。

Although I do not know the details, Princess Kaguya refused to return to the moon and at the same time a sage of the moon decided to remain with her. Although the whereabouts of the sage and the princess have been unknown for more than 1000 years, they are still wanted criminals.

というのも、捜索隊のリーダーである豊姫様と依姫様に捕まえる気が無いからである。その事は月の都の者達もうすうす感づいていた。しかし、特に月の都に害を為すという訳ではなかったので暫くすると皆から忘れ去られる様になった。

The reason for that is because the leaders of the search party, Princesses Toyohime and Yorihime, have no intention of capturing them. The people of the Lunar Capital vaguely know about this but since it was nothing that could possibly harm them in the short term, everybody forgot about it.

しかし私が逃げ出す少し前から、何やら不穏な噂が流れる様になった。それは、月の都で謀反を企んでいる者が居るのではないか、という噂である。その容疑者として地上にいる罪人、八意様の名が上がってきたのだ。

It was just before I made my escape that a strange rumor began to spread. It was said there was someone planning a coup in the Lunar Capital, the suspect being Lady Yagokoro, who was a criminal on Earth.

何故、その様な噂が流れ出したのであろう。後から依姫様に聞いたところ、何処かに月に住む神々を正式な手順を踏まず呼び出す者がいるからだという。

I later asked Princess Yorihime why such a rumor was spreading and apparently there was someone who had been summoning the gods of the moon without taking proper measures to do so.

実は一番疑われていたのは神様を自由に呼び出せる依姫様本人であり、それと同時に指名手配されているのに何故か捕まえられない八意様も疑われたという訳である。

Apparently Princess Yorihime, who had the power to call upon the gods at will, was top on the list of suspects and Lady Yagokoro, who had been a wanted yet uncaptured for so long, was also suspicious.

その疑いは漸く晴れそうである。地上から攻めてきた吸血鬼一味の中に居た一人の巫女。その巫女が神様を呼び出していた犯人である事が判ったからだ。

Thankfully, it appeared that the suspicion had cleared up. This was because a shrine maiden that the vampire brought with her was found to be the one who had been summoning the gods.

地上と月を結ぶ箱船に住吉三神を呼び出す。どうやらそれが月の都で流れた不穏な噂の元だったのだろう。

She called the Sumiyoshi Sanjin[3] to carry a flying box from Earth to the moon. Apparently that was the cause of the rumor that had spread in the Lunar Capital.

実は、その巫女と私は初対面ではない。噂が流れ始めた頃に一度だけ、地上で会った事があるのである。

Actually, this wasn't the first time I had met the shrine maiden. We had met once on Earth around the same time the rumor had started.

初めて辿り着いた地上は噂で聞くほど荒廃した場所でもなく、美しい木々に囲まれた優しい場所であった。

When I first came to Earth, it was not the ruinous wasteland I had heard about. It was a peaceful place with many beautiful trees.

長旅の疲れか、それとも途中でスペースデブリに一撃を喰らったからか判らないが、私は辿り着くなり気を失ってしまった。その時介抱してくれたのがその巫女である。

I don’t know if I was tired from the long journey or if I had hit some space debris, but I fainted as soon as I landed on Earth. That shrine maiden was the one who took care of me after that.

その時は月侵略を企む張本人だなんて事は思いもよらなかった。

I had no idea that she was one of the ones who planned on invading the moon.

神社で寝ていると、どこからともなく私を呼ぶ声がした。地上では使わない筈の言葉を使い、私を呼ぶ声。私は同胞であると確信し、神社を出た。

When I was asleep in the shrine, I heard a voice calling me. A voice calling for me using words that no Earthling should be able to pronounce. I was positive that this was the comrade that I'd heard of and left the shrine.

同胞、つまり私と同じく月から逃げた月の兎である。しかし、その声の主は予想と違った。指名手配されている賢者、八意様であった。

This comrade was the fellow rabbit that had fled from the moon. However, the voice was actually that of the wanted sage, Lady Yagokoro.

その瞬間から私の旅の行く末は予想もしていなかった方へ動き始めたのだ。

From that very moment, my journey had started in a direction that I had never imagined.

私は再び月の都へ戻ることを余儀なくされた。しかし再び餅搗きの職に戻る事はなかった。自分の我が儘で逃げ出したのだから仕方が無い。餅搗きの代わりに私に課せられた仕事は、月の防衛隊員であった。

I was to return to the Lunar Capital once again but I could not return to the task of pounding rice cakes. It was something that I did out of my own selfishness so I could not protest. In exchange, the task that was placed on me was to be a member of the lunar defense squad.

月の使者と呼ばれ、月を守り、地上を見張る防衛隊。綿月姉妹はそのリーダーであった。私は依姫様の元で戦闘の仕方から、作法、常識など様々な事柄を学んだ。

The defense squad, called the lunar emissaries, was to guard the moon and keep watch over the Earth. The Watatsuki Sisters were the leaders of the defense squad and I learned from Princess Yorihime the ways of battles, etiquette, common knowledge and many other things.

妹の依姫様は私の他の兎にも稽古をつけている。と言っても、兎の人数は十にも満たない位の少人数である。みんな実戦の経験が浅く、強さを見ても私と大差ないと思う。

The younger sister of the two, Princess Yorihime was also in command of training the other rabbits. The squad was quite small with fewer than ten members. All of them were inexperienced and probably not that different from me in terms of strength.

実際に戦う事は殆ど無いのだが、依姫様の稽古は厳しく、怠けていたりするときついお仕置きが待っている。依姫様は常に危機感を持ち、八意様の意思を継いで月の都で役に立とうと考えているようである。

None of us had actually experienced warfare, yet Princess Yorihime’s training was harsh and if one were to slack off they would receive a severe punishment. This was probably because she thought to continue Lady Yagokoro's will and devote herself to the Lunar Capital, yet she always had a sense of some impending threat.

対照的に姉の豊姫様は普段は本を読んだり散歩をしたり、一人で自由に生活しているようだ。稽古の休みの日だけ、私達兎の前に現れて『一緒に稽古しましょう』と言って、今日の稽古は休みだと言うと残念そうに去っていくのである。恐らく稽古する気は無いのだろう。

In sharp contrast to her younger sister, Princess Toyohime usually read books and took strolls, living her days to do as she alone felt. She will come to us on our days off from training and says, “Let’s train together.” When we tell her that it's our day off, she walks off looking disappointed. Since she only does this on rest days, she probably has no intention to actually train.

そんな豊姫様だが、兎達の中では人気が高い。特に厳しい事を言う訳でも無いし、頭の回転が速く、学があるから話が面白い。なにより、稽古中に内緒で桃やお菓子など差し入れしてくれるのだ。

Princess Toyohime was quite popular amongst us rabbits. Nothing stern ever came from her mouth, and since she was a quick thinker who was very knowledgeable, she was very interesting to talk to. What made her even more popular was the fact that she’d sneak some treats like peaches to us during our training.

結局、吸血鬼部隊と戦いに出たのも依姫様と兎達だけだった。今頃、豊姫様は何をしているのだろうか。こんな一大事でも本を読んだり歌を歌ったりしていそうなお方である。戦闘は依姫様に任せれば大丈夫という事なのだろう。

As one would guess, the ones who came to fend off the vampire’s group was Princess Yorihime and us rabbits. I wonder what Princess Toyohime is doing now? Knowing her, she’s probably reading books and singing songs at such an important time. I guess she thought it all right to leave the fighting to Princess Yorihime.

「——ただいま帰りました!」

“I have returned, Princess!”

依姫様に重要な仕事を授かった私は、地上からの侵略者との戦線を離脱し、月の都の綿月の屋敷に戻った。

Given the important task from Princess Yorihime, I immediately left the battle ground and returned to the residence of the Watatsuki Sisters in the Lunar Capital.

当然、屋敷はガランとしており、いつもは訓練している兎達の姿も無かった。当然、全員依姫様と共に出陣しているのである。

As expected, the mansion was empty and not even the rabbits that were always training were there. Obviously, everyone had left to battle along with Princess Yorihime.

館を一通り探してみたが豊姫様の姿も見当たらない。何処に行っているのだろう? 最初はてっきり、依姫様と一緒に行動するもんだと思っていたのだが、依姫様は豊姫様に声を掛ける事もなく出陣した。

I went through a brief search through the mansion, but Princess Toyohime was nowhere to be seen. Where could she be? At first, I thought that she would’ve gone with Princess Yorihime, but Princess Yorihime departed for battle without giving any notice to Princess Toyohime.

兎達の戦闘や、勉学、作法の稽古はいつも依姫様がつけてくれる。侵略者が現れた今回みたいな一大事だというのに、一体何をしているのだろう。依姫様もみんなも何も言わない所を見ると、それがいつもの事なのだろうか。

Princess Yorihime was the one who always taught us about warfare, general studies and manners, but I wonder what she was thinking not giving her sister any word at a time of such crisis? Judging from the fact that nobody mentioned anything to Princess Yorihime about it, I guess it must be how it always is.

依姫様の部屋の前に着いた。

Upon arriving in front of Princess Yorihime’s room,

「し、失礼します」

I stuttered “P-Pardon me,”

誰も居ないと判っていたが、一応声を掛けて戸を開けた。いつもは緊張して入りにくい依姫様の部屋である。個別に呼ばれる事があるとしたら、大抵は辛い話だからだ。

and opened the door when I knew that there would be nobody there. I was tense probably because it was Princess Yorihime’s room, and the only times anyone was called there personally, it was almost nothing but bad news.

依姫様の部屋に辿り着くとすぐさま紙と筆を取り出した。

After entering the room I quickly pulled out a pen and paper and began to write.

「えっと……『お久しぶりです。元気してます?』いや、そんな軽いノリで良いのかなぁ」

“Um… 'Long time, no see. How are you doing?' ...or is this too casual?”

依姫様から頼まれた仕事とは、八意様に向けての手紙の代筆であった。

The task that Princess Yorihime had requested of me was to write a letter to Lady Yagokoro.

「流石に依姫様の代わりに私が書くのは無理があるわ。字だって上手くないし……しょうがない、依姫様がお忙しいので代わりに私が書いたと最初から書いておこうっと」

“I knew that me writing in place of Princess Yorihime would be impossible when I’m not even good at handwriting... I guess I should explain first that she was too busy so I’m writing for her.”

私は、自分の言葉で八意様にお礼と経過と現状を報告する事にした。

I decided to inform Lady Yagokoro of how things had gone and to thank her in my own words.

地上でお会いした時に思った事、八意様の手紙は無時に綿月様の元へ届ける事が出来た事、そのお陰で月の都から逃げ出した事を問われる事もなく、綿月家に住み込みで働いている事……。

What I thought when I first met her on Earth, how I was able to deliver the letter safely to my masters, my return to the Lunar Capital without being questioned about why I had fled, and how I ended up living in the house of the Watatsukis...

「『それから、地上から侵略者が現れました。吸血鬼一匹と人間三人、妖精三匹のおとぼけチームです。八意様はその侵略者を予期していたようですが、そのチームについて何か知っていたのでしょうか?』……っと、あと何を書いておこうかしら? うーん」

“'Also, there was a group of invaders from Earth. It’s a silly team consisting of one vampire, three humans and three fairies. You seemed to have expected some form of invasion, but did you know something about this little team?'... Hmm, what else should I write?”

私は、私を介抱してくれた巫女の事を思い出した。結局、さっきの戦いの場では巫女は私に気づく事は無かった。それはそうだろう。地上に降りた時は地上の兎に見えるように変装していたのだから。

I remembered about the shrine maiden that had nursed me back to health on Earth, although she didn’t notice me during the battle earlier. Well, I guess it was only natural because when I was down on Earth, I was disguised to look like an Earth rabbit.

巫女は不正な手順で神様を呼び出していたという、月での騒動の発端となった人物である。私はちょっと複雑な気持ちであったが『地上にいる巫女に有難うと伝えてください』と書き加えておいた。

The shrine maiden was the central person who had caused the clamor on the moon by calling the gods without permission. Although I had mixed feelings about it, I wrote in the letter, “Please give my thanks to the shrine maiden on Earth.”

墨が乾くまで何度も読み返した。我ながら大人っぽい文章を書けたと思う。これなら依姫様が書いた物としても良かったのかも知れない。

I read over it many times until the ink dried. I thought it looked very mature for something I'd written. Maybe I could have passed this off as something that Princess Yorihime wrote.

十分墨が乾いたのを確認し、丸めて紐で縛った。

After making sure that the ink was dry, I rolled the paper up and tied it with a cord.

それを持って再び屋敷を飛び出した。

I quickly ran out of the mansion again with the letter.

今度は依姫さまの元ではなく、正反対の方向へ向かった。

But this time it was not back to Princess Yorihime's side in battle, but in the completely opposite direction.

目的地まで大して時間は掛からないだろう。その間、地上に逃げた時の事を思い出していた。

I knew it wouldn’t take long for me to reach my destination. As I ran, I recalled what happened when I fled from the moon.

地上は、月とは違い欺瞞に満ちた穢い世界だと聞かされていた。常に嘘を警戒し、他人を信用せず、自分だけを信じなければ生きる事すら難しい。そんな世界だと思っていた。依姫様から本当の穢れとは何なのかを教えて貰うまでは。

I had been told that Earth, unlike the moon, was a world full of impurity and deceit. So I had thought that it would be would be difficult to even survive unless I constantly kept my guard up, doubted everyone and only trusted myself. That was until Princess Yorihime told me the true meaning of “impurity.”

月の都が嫌った穢れとは、生きる事と死ぬ事。特に生きる事が死を招く世界が穢れた世界なのだと。生きる為に競争しなければならない地上を穢れた土地、穢土と呼び、月の都を穢れの浄化された土地、浄土と呼ぶ者もいる。

The "impurity" that the Lunar Capital detested was life and death. They believed Earth was a world where simply living inviting death. There were even those who called Earth a land of impurity, where every being had to compete to live, and the Moon a "pure land"[4] where that filth had been purified.

生も死も無い世界が限りなく美しい。だが何も無い世界が理想というのとも違う。生きる為に他人から搾取したりせず、自分達が生み出した物だけで全ての者の生活が賄える世界が理想なのだと言う。

A world without life or death is the most beautiful thing, but it's still different from a world which had nothing in it. A world where one did not need to take from others to live and could live by what they had made themselves. That was said to be an ideal world.

地上は生きる事が最善であるが故に、死の匂いが強くなるのだと言う。その死の匂いが生き物に寿命をもたらす。だから地上の生き物には全て寿命があるのだと言う。

On Earth, life was the greatest thing possible so the fragrance of death became stronger. It was said to be that fragrance of death that brought such a thing as a lifespan. Therefore all that live on the Earth have a lifespan.

最初に介抱してくれた巫女は、私の事を妖怪兎だと呼んでいた。妖怪とは人間を捕食する怪異の産物だと聞いている。それなのに地上の人間は妖怪でも介抱してくれるものなのかと感心した。穢れの多い地上の生き物なのだから、自分の命を脅かす妖怪が弱った姿で現れたら、その場で始末するものだと思っていた。その後、月の羽衣を奪われそうになったが……。

The shrine maiden that had nursed me called me a youkai rabbit. I'd heard that a youkai was a supernatural being which was a predator to humans. I was impressed that a human on Earth would even nurse a youkai. I would’ve thought that on the impure Earth, one would kill something that might harm them, especially if it was already injured... Although my veil was confiscated after that...

それどころかその巫女は別の妖怪と行動を共にし、月に攻め込んできた。

As much as I found that surprising, that shrine maiden went with the youkai to invade the moon.

もしかしたら、月の都に伝わる地上と現状の地上では、何か大きな差異があるのではないか。地上では妖怪と人間は共存しているのではないか、そんな気がした。

Maybe the stories told about Earth and how Earth actually is are quite different. The impression that I got was that humans and youkai probably coexist on Earth.

しかも、月に攻めてきた吸血鬼部隊。一見リーダーは吸血鬼なのだが、見た感じあの部隊を操っているのは巫女である。つまり人間が神を呼び出し、妖怪を支配していると考えられる。月の都が考えている地上のパワーバランスの地図を書き換える必要があるのかも知れない。

Moreover, the vampire seemed to be the leader of the group that attacked the moon, but the one who had control over the group seemed to be the shrine maiden. So, I believe that humans can call forth gods and control youkai. Maybe the Lunar Capital had better redraw its power balance chart of Earth.

だとすると私が再び地上を訪れる時は、あの巫女を頼りにしても良いのかも知れない。月の都の者で固まって地上の人間や妖怪と敵対するよりは、巫女の味方になれば簡単に地上に遊びに行ける、そう考えた。

That was the reason that I thought it would be wise to trust the shrine maiden if I ever I go back to Earth. I thought that rather than everyone from the Lunar Capital stubbornly acting antagonistic towards the humans and youkai of Earth, it may be better to be an ally of the shrine maiden. Then I would be able to easily play on Earth.

「——あら、もしかしてレイセン? また逃げ出してきたの?」

“-Oh, is that you, Rei'sen? Are you running away again?”

何か聞き覚えのある声がした。豊姫様の声だ。

I heard a familiar voice. Princess Toyohime’s voice.

「え? 豊姫様? 何処にいらっしゃいますか? いや、逃げ出したのではなくて依姫様に仕事を任されまして。って、あれ?」

“Huh? Princess Toyohime? Where are you? And no, I'm not trying to escape again; I’ve been given an errand by Princess Yorihime... but, what just happened?”

真っ直ぐ伸びた木。辺りは暗くてよく見えないが何やら不気味な動物の鳴き声が聞こえてくる。周りの景色に見覚えがない。一体ここは何処だろう?

I was staring at a tall tree. I couldn’t see anything since it was so dark. Eerie voices of animals sounded. I could not recognize any of my surroundings. Just where was I?

「あのー、ここは何処ですか?」

“Um, where are we?”

「しっ! もうすぐ面白い事が起こるのよ」

“Shh! Something really interesting is about to happen.”

何者かに襟元を掴まれ木の陰に引っ張り込まれた。

Someone grabbed my collar and I was pulled in the tree’s shadow.

そこにいたのは豊姫様だった。他には誰の姿も無い。豊姫様は木陰に隠れ何者かの来訪を待っている様である。しかし、目の前の森に何の動きも見られなかった。

It was Princess Toyohime. Nobody else was with her. It looked as if she was hiding behind the tree in wait for someone to arrive. There was only stillness in the forests that surrounded us.

「ふぁ~あ、遅いわねぇ、私は退屈してきたわ。何かお酒でも持ってくれば良かったわ、うちで漬けてある千年物のお酒が……」

“Ahh, it’s taking so long I’m beginning to become bored. I should’ve brought some sake with me. That sake that’s been maturing for a thousand years now...”

「は、はあ。豊姫様は一体何を待っているのでしょう?」

“Er... Princess Toyohime, what exactly are you waiting for?"

「大したもんじゃないわ。でも、依姫は楽しくやってるんでしょうねぇ」

“Nothing special. Yorihime’s having her fun now, right?”

「今、吸血鬼と人間の小部隊と決闘しています」

“Right now, she’s having duels with the vampire’s group.”

「決闘?」

“Duels?”

「ええ、ルール付きの一対一の決闘だそうです。人間の方から持ちかけてきた話ですが、依姫様も無駄な血を流さなくて済むのならそれで、と」

“Yes, a one on one match with a special rule. It was something that was suggested by the humans and Princess Yorihime agreed that it was a way to avoid meaningless bloodshed.”

「ふーん。良いわねぇ楽しそうで。でも、ルール付きの決闘って何?」

“Hmm, that sounds fun. But what rule would that be?”

「美しく相手を制した方が勝ちだそうですよ」

“Apparently, the one who defeats the opponent gracefully is the winner.”

「へ? 美しく?」

“Huh? Gracefully?”

豊姫様は何を想像したのか吹き出した。

I don’t know what Princess Toyohime imagined but she burst out in laughter.

「どうかなされました?」

“Whatever is the matter?”

「美しくって誰が判定するの? というか人間が思う美しさって何? 美人コンテンストでもやってるのかしら、面白そうだわ」

“Who's deciding what's "graceful" or not? And what do the humans think is "grace" is, for that matter? Are they having a beauty contest or something? It sounds like so much fun.”

「い、いや、言い方悪かったですかね。美しさというか穢い手を使わないで戦うというか」

“Er, I think my explanation was a little poor. Gracefully, as in not using dirty tricks and such...”

「ふふふ、判るわ。人間も月の民みたいな事を言うようになったのね……それも誰かの入れ知恵なのかな」

“Hmhmhm... No, I understand what you want to say. Hmm, those humans are talking like Lunarians now... Or perhaps this too is a teaching of a certain someone.”

「それも……ですか?」

“This... too?”

豊姫様は、今回の騒動の発端に疑問を感じていたという。

Princess Toyohime had said that she had her doubts about what had been happening.

月の都に不穏な噂が流れたのは、依姫とは別の者が勝手に神々を呼び出していたからである。しかし、正式な手順を踏まずに勝手に呼び出す事が出来るなんて誰にでも出来る事ではない。

The reason why there was a stir in the Lunar Capital was that someone other than Princess Yorihime had been calling forth the gods without following the proper procedure, but this is not something that anybody can do.

「あ、そうそう。神様を呼んでいたのは地上の巫女でした。どうやらロケットを飛ばす為に住吉三神を呼んでいたらしいです」

“Oh, that's right. It looks like a shrine maiden of Earth was the one calling the gods. It seems that she was calling Sumiyoshi Sanjin to fly the rocket.”

「へぇ、巫女ねぇ……」

“Oh, so it was a shrine maiden...”

「何か引っかかる事でもありました? 豊姫様」

“Is there something on your mind, Princess Toyohime?”

「神をその身に降ろす事を生業としている巫女であろうと、正式な儀式を行わずに神を呼ぶ手段は持っていないはず……。誰かに間違った方法を教えられたか、それとも悪意を持って……、ふむ、やっぱり私の役より依姫の役の方が面白そうね、ってそう言えば貴方は何故ここに? 逃げてきたの?」

“Even if it was a shrine maiden that could acquire the power of the gods for a living, they shouldn't be able to call them while skipping the proper rituals... Perhaps somebody taught her the wrong way, or maybe that was on purpose... Hmm, it looks like Yorihime got the better part after all. Oh, and why are you here? To run away?”

「さっきも言いましたが、依姫様に仕事を任されまして」

“I think I told you a while ago, but I am here on an errand given by Princess Yorihime.”

「仕事?」

“An errand?”

私は慌てて手紙を取り出した。

I quickly pulled out the letter.

「八意様に封書を託された私に、今度は私が八意様に手紙を書いて渡せと。その後、賢者の海に行けと言われて来たのですが……まさか賢者の海に豊姫様がいらっしゃるとは思ってもいませんでしたが」

“I, who had been given the letter to Princess Yagokoro, was to write a reply to Lady Yagokoro. After that I was told to go to the Sea of Ingenuity... but to think that I would see you in the Sea of Ingenuity..."

「え? 八意様に手紙ですって?」

“Oh? A letter to Lady Yagokoro?”

豊姫様は私の手から手紙を奪うと、さっと目を通した。笑顔を見せたり苦い顔をしたりしながら読んでいた。私は作文を添削される気持ちで何やら恥ずかしかった。

Princess Toyohime snatched the letter from my hand and skimmed through it. While she was reading through her expressions ranged all the way from laughter to anguish. I felt like she was mentally correcting it and I felt embarrassed.

「ふう、何という稚拙な文章でしょう。まあ兎は学が無いから仕方が無いですが」

“Hmm, what a childish composition. Well, I won’t blame you since rabbits have no knowledge.”

私は顔が熱くなった。

My face flushed red.

「この様な恥ずかしい手紙では、私がお師匠様に渡す訳には行きません。恥ずかしいからね。レイセン、貴方の手で直接お渡ししなさい。」

“I can't give such an embarrassing letter to the master. It would be too embarrassing. Rei'sen, you are to give the letter to her directly.”

「あ、はい。でもどうやって……、というかここは一体」

“Oh, yes, ma'am, but how would I? ...I mean, I don’t even know where we are.”

簡単に月と地上を行き来出来る者は殆どいない。月の羽衣があれば誰でも行き来出来るが、多少時間と危険を伴う。だが豊姫様は特別だった。

There are very few that can easily travel between Earth and the moon. Anybody would be able to go to and fro using the Lunar Veil, but it comes with a considerable amount of time and danger. However, Princess Toyohime is special.

豊姫様は海と山を同一視できる能力を持つ。その能力は月の海と地上の山を結び、同じ場所とする事も出来るのだ。つまり大部隊を連れて一瞬にして地上に行く事が出来る数少ない月の民である。月の使者のリーダーとして相応しい人物であった。性格はともかく。

Princess Toyohime had the ability to see the sea and the mountain as the same. That ability would tie the seas of the Moon and the mountains of Earth together and make them one and the same place. In other words, that ability made her able to take a great army with her to Earth in a single second, and she was one of the very few Lunarians who had that sort of ability. That sort of ability made her a suitable leader of the lunar emissaries... despite her personality.

「この私と一緒に、これから起こる事を見ていれば良いのですよ。さ、ワクワクして」

“Now that you're with me, all you need to do is watch what is about to happen! Come now, be a little more excited!”

「何が起こるのか非常にドキドキしますが」

“I’m more nervous than excited, though...”

辺りは驚くほど暗く、視界は悪い。何やら不気味な遠吠えのような声も聞こえてくる。それに何故か酷く冷える。

The landscape around me was astonishingly dark and visibility was low. I heard eerie howling, too. I also noticed that it was very chilly.

美しさと派手さを競っている、依姫様と吸血鬼一行とは正反対のおどろおどろしさに、私は酷く緊張した。依姫様が戦っていた場所は、一見華やかで騒がしい雰囲気であったが、今考えると相当静かであったのかも知れない。そう思うほど、今いる場所は木々がざわついている。音量だけで比べれば今の方が断然静かだと思うのだが……。

It was the exact opposite of the graceful and showy battles fought by the vampire’s team and Princess Yorihime, and for that reason I felt very tense. Where Princess Yorihime was fighting may have been very noisy and gaudy at first glance, but now that I compare it to the place I was in, it may have been very quiet. It was a strange feeling since the whisper of the trees felt very loud, although the volume may have been quiet.

これから一体何が起こるというのだろう。

Just what was about to happen?

豊姫様に訊いてもはぐらかされてしまうだろう。それに今はとても訊ける雰囲気ではない。

I couldn’t ask Princess Toyohime since she would cleverly avoid the question, and in the first place it wasn’t the right time to ask such a question.

ただ餅を搗いて歌を歌って暮らしていた数ヶ月前のあの頃が懐かしい。

I suddenly missed my old life from a few months ago, merely pounding rice cakes and singing every day.

あの頃はこんな吐き気がする様な緊張をする事も、自分の身を守らなければならない恐怖を覚える事も無かったのに。今頃は餅を搗き終わって、仲間とお酒を呑みながら、くだらない愚痴を言ったりしてぐっすりと暖かい布団で寝られただろう。

Back then, I never had to deal with this nauseous tension. Nor did I feel any fear where I needed to protect myself. I probably would have finished my pounding for the day and gone to drink sake with my friends, complaining about silly things and then going to sleep in a warm futon.

愚痴を言い合う事はただの不満を吐き出す事ではなく、本当は幸せな事だったのだろう。

Complaining was just something to get rid of my stress. I was actually happy with that life.

やはり自分の仕事から逃げ出した事が全ての元凶だったのか。逃げ出した事で私の運命は大きく変わった。刺激を求めない私としては、この変化は有り難くなかった。

Running away from it all may have been the turning point of my life. I'm not one to seek out change, so this turn of events was not quite welcome.

しかし、もし地上で八意様に出会って月に送り返されなかったとしたら、私は何をするつもりだったのだろう。何が出来たのだろう。

But I think of what would I be doing, and what I would have done, had I not met Lady Yagokoro on Earth and been sent back to the moon.

レイセン。今は私の名前だが、これは元々綿月家に使えていた兎の名前だという。

Rei'sen is my current name, but I hear that this was originally the name of the rabbit that had served the Watatsuki family.

そのレイセンは地上へ逃げ出し、そして消息が不明になったと言われている。

I was told that Reisen had fled to Earth and her whereabouts were unknown after that.

しかし、我々月の兎には特殊な能力がある。月の兎同士、どんなに離れていても簡単な意思疎通なら出来るのだ。大きな耳は別の兎の念を受信する為にあるのである。勿論、正確な会話が出来る訳ではなく、どちらかと言うとみんなが普段考えている事が風の噂で耳に入ってくる、というレベルであるが。

But we rabbits have a little ability that lets us communicate with each other no matter how far we are. Our large ears are to catch what other rabbits are thinking. Of course, this not a true means of communication, and it's mostly used to gauge what the others are normally thinking about and to catch rumors floating on the wind.

その風の噂では、レイセンは八意様に捕らえられて自由を失っているという事らしい。

Through these rumors, it seemed Reisen was captured by Lady Yagokoro and had lost her freedom.

しかし、私は確信している。

But I know the truth.

あの八意様は逃げてきた月の兎を捕らえたのではなく、手厚く保護しているのだと。

Lady Yagokoro did not capture the rabbit that escaped from the moon. She is taking care of it very kindly.

浅慮な私ですら無事に月の都に戻り、こうやって仕事を頂けたのは全て八意様のお陰である。

Even me for all my thoughtlessness was able to return to the Lunar Capital and take this job thanks to Lady Yagokoro.

そう考えた時、もう一度手紙を書き直したくなった。レイセンの事をよろしくお願い致します、と。

Thinking of that I felt like rewriting the letter that I had written, and adding a line. "Please take care of Reisen, thank you."

風が止み、冷えた空気が凍り付いた。

The wind stopped and the cold air froze.

「来たわ」

“Here it comes,”

豊姫様の小さいが、嬉しそうな声が聞こえた。

Princess Toyohime said in a small but elated voice.

豊姫様の目の先を見た。

As I looked in the direction Princess Toyohime was looking in,

そこには月では見慣れぬ一匹の獣の姿があった。

I saw a beast that I had never seen on the moon before...

Notes

  • Translation and references by Sabino, proofreading/formatting by Furienify and N-Forza.
  1. Jouga (嫦娥), also read as Couga, is known as Chang’e / Ch’ang-O, the Chinese goddess of the moon. Some similarities that can be seen in the original Chinese legend of Chang’e are: the existence of a medicine to provide immortality without aging, and the rabbits of the moon create an elixir of sorts. Rabbits on the moon is something that also appears very frequently in Japanese mythology, but in their case, they make rice cakes.
  2. 月の羽衣 (Tsuki no hagoromo): In the original Taketori Monogatari, Princess Kaguya sent a robe of the heavens and the medicine of eternal life without aging (elixir of immortality) to the emperor. (Although he refused a life without her and ordered for the gifts to be burnt on top of Mt. Fuji). Also, about the return of Princess Kaguya, there are two versions. One that more people are accustomed to is the version where the moon's emissaries come to get the princess (This is the version that Touhou is based off of). Another is the version where Kaguya wears the robe and flies off to the moon. Also, in the original story, there is a scene where it hints that the one that wears it “shall lose the soul of a human”. For that reason, it is also thought to be an item that changes one to a higher being than humanity. The archetype of this is said to be the various stories where a celestial maiden descends to Earth and has her robe stolen. Later on in the story, the celestial recovers her robe and, even after bearing a child on Earth, says that she shall go back to the heavens. The better known equivalent of this is probably the Swan Maiden (Although the ending is much different.). Also, in the Touhou world, it is told that Eirin made it and she weaved it out of moonlight (thus it has no mass). The property of making the wearer lose their spirit might have been for the benefit of Kaguya.
  3. Sumiyoshi Sanjin (住吉三神) is the name that refers to the trio of Shinto gods: Sokotsutsuno-no-mikoto, Nakatsutsu-no-mikoto and Uwatsutsuno-no-mikoto. These three gods were originally three stars in the Orion constellation and were made to be gods for the significance that they had to those sailing the night sea.
  4. The word used is "浄土", as in the word "極楽浄土", and can be interpreted as either “pure land”/”land of purity” or “paradise”.


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