Cage in Lunatic Runagate/Fourth Chapter

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第四話 不尽の火 Chapter 4: The Eternal Flame

妖怪の山は静かに煙を上げていた。山の噴火は荒々しさは無いが、常に上空を (くゆ) らしている。

Smoke silently drifted from within Youkai Mountain. The mountain's eruptions were never severe, but they served to fill the sky above it with fumes.


In the village it's said that the mountain's smoke isn't real smoke, but rather fumes that spew from factories run by the tengu and the kappa.


This is mostly because the mountain's activity was once mere legend, and the rising smoke only started in the past hundred years or so. This was about the same time that the advanced technology the mountain youkai possessed became known in the human village.


Whether the mountain is active or not is beside the point, as it is, in fact, a volcano. This is obvious on inspection of the Genbu Ravine close to the Forest of Magic. The Genbu Ravine is a mysterious place made up of a six-sided rock formation covered in cracks so it looks like a tortoise shell with the surrounding cliffs forming a hexagonal prism[1].


This bizarre rock formation, seemingly artifically formed, was made when a lava flow cooled and hardened. Flowing lava from Youkai Mountain created the Genbu Ravine. In days of old, Youkai Mountain was a raging volcano.


There are even youkai who have seen the mountain erupt before, but since it's been a long time since it was active, most of them probably think that it won't erupt again.

しかし、竹林に住む人間——藤原妹紅 (ふじわらのもこう) は知っていた。今の妖怪の山が燻らしている煙は、河童達の工場の煙なんかではなく実は本物の火山の煙である事を。

However, the human that lived in the bamboo forest, Fujiwara no Mokou, knew. She knew that the smoke that came from Youkai Mountain wasn't from the kappa's factories, but from the dormant volcano.


"Go on, you shouldn't get lost anymore now. Just go straight down this path and you'll reach the village."


The villager I'd escorted thanked me time and time again as a look of relief swept over his face, then jogged off into the distance.


Just as its name suggests, many people lose their way in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost. That's because there's not much to serve as landmarks, so the fairies that live here love playing pranks. And still, the humans find reasons enough to set foot here all the time. That's probably because food like bamboo sprouts, mushrooms and rabbits are plentiful here.


Since I know the fairies around here pretty well, I don't get lost. So, whenever I find a lost human in the forest, I guide them back to the village. After all, lots of youkai hang around here, too, and I don't want to stumble across the remains of any lost villager.


Before I knew it, the lost man had walked out of sight. I lingered for a while at the entrance to the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.


It's not as if I was waiting until that person was out of sight to make sure they made it back safely. I was watching the smoke rising from Youkai Mountain. I couldn't help but remember events long past whenever I gazed at it.


It was something that had happened a few years ago. For some reason I wanted to know more about the smoke coming from that mountain, so I went to talk to someone who lives in the human village.

幻想郷の歴史に詳しく、数少ない私の理解者である獣人——上白沢慧音 (かみしらさわけいね) にである。

She was someone who knew a lot about the history of Gensokyo, and one of the few people who really understands me: the were-beast Keine Kamishirasawa.


"You want to know the truth about the smoke coming from Youkai Mountain?"

「そうだ、里の人間は河童の工場だとか天狗の狼煙 (のろし) だとか言ってるけど、どうも腑に落ちない。私はあの煙に見覚えがあるのだけど……」

"Yeah, the villagers say it's the tengu's signal fires or the kappa's factories or something, but that doesn't sit right with me. I think I've seen smoke coming from that mountain before..."


"...I see. If that's the case, I suppose I should teach you about that mountain's history."


"That'd be a great help."


"That smoke... of course, it's not factory smoke or signals of any sort. It's the eternal smoke of a volcano."

慧音は私に山の歴史について説明してくれた。彼女によると山にはある神様が宿っていたのだと言う。その神様とは石長姫 (いわながひめ) と呼ばれる神様らしい。

Keine told me about the mountain's history. According to her, the mountain had been home to a certain god. It seems this god was called Iwanagahime.


"The smoke from the Youkai Mountain is produced by this god. If you can remember that smoke, perhaps you know something of that god?"




I'd never heard that name before.


"I've never heard of anyone like that before, so why should I know her?"


"I see. Well, it's not as if Iwanagahime is unrelated to you. You see, Iwanagahime is the spirit of eternal life... meaning, immortality."


"So she's the goddess of immortality...?"


Immortality, huh...? In that case, that's a pretty big relation. After all, I'd attained immortality after a certain incident.

「そしてその石長姫は浅間 (せんげん) 様の姉に当たるのです。浅間という言葉は元々はあさまと読み、その言葉は火山を意味します。浅間様は木花咲耶姫 (このはなさくやひめ) の事を指している為、今では火山の神様は咲耶姫の事とされていますが、本当の咲耶姫は火山を鎮める水の神で——」

"In addition, this Iwanagahime was the older sister of Lady Sengen. The name Sengen was originally read Asama, which means "volcano." Since Lady Sengen is another name for Konohana-sakuyahime, Sakuyahime is considered the goddess of volcanoes now, but Sakuyahime is actually a water deity who calms volcanoes-"


"Hold on a second. Did you just say Sakuyahime?"


"Yes, she's Iwanagahime's younger sister, and a very beautiful goddess. Her personality is said to be a bit difficult, but like a blooming flower-"


Since Keine's explanations tend to get extremely long once she gets started, sometimes it's best to just cut her off before things get out of hand.


"Well, I know about Sakuyahime. No, that's not exactly right. Back then-"


I remembered the mountain that was the cause of my present condition.


"If only she hadn't been there then...!"


I returned to a small house hidden in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost.


On the way back, I recalled the conversation I'd had with Keine several years ago. There's a secret behind the smoke coming from Youkai Mountain that only I know.


Lately, it had been getting dark early, so by the time I got back, the inside of the house was already dim. It was a season of light snowfall, and it had gotten quite cold, but I didn't bother with anything to provide warmth.


It was so cold inside the room you wouldn't think that anything lived there. I was used to that, though. After all, no matter how cold it got, I wouldn't die. If I can just bear the cold for a little while, the warmer seasons would return.


It must have been more than 1300 years since I'd become immortal.


For the first three hundred years, other people hated me, and I lived a sad life who only caused trouble to myself and those around me if I didn't stay in hiding.


The next three hundred years I spent harboring a grudge against this world, and was able to preserve the faintest sense of identity by immediately dispatching anything that crossed my path, youkai or otherwise.


For the next three hundred years the youkai in the area couldn't hold my interest anymore, and I lost all motivation towards anything, surrendering to tedium.


But during the next three hundred years, I was finally reunited with my immortal archrival, and we discovered the joys of killing each other, over and over.


And now, humans know about my existence again and I've readjusted to their society somewhat. I use the knowledge I've gained from centuries of existence and the strength I've gained from countless battles to escort the humans from the village. I spend my time protecting humans that wander into the bamboo forest from the youkai there, including some people who wander in from the outside world.


There was a time when I never would have imagined being thanked by another human being, but now it is what I live for. Finding Gensokyo, where the average person wasn't afraid of an immortal being, was like stumbling into paradise.


I sat on the floor, my back against the wall, one leg folded upright. I wonder how long it's been since I started sleeping in positions like this that made it easy to wake up. It made it impossible to fall into a deep sleep, and easy to spend lots of time thinking.


"Back then, if only she hadn't been there!"


Long sealed-away memories surfaced again in the back of my mind at the mention of Sakuyahime's name. She was the cause of my immortality, and was at the heart of the most sensational event in my life.


"If Sakuyahime hadn't showed up then, I wouldn't have killed that man, and I wouldn't have drank that elixir..."


I had a very old enemy. Her name was Kaguya Houraisan. She was an immortal human who disrupted my family's lives, and selfishly used her wiles to bewitch countless other people. Of course, she's still my greatest nemesis. Now, we're both immortal, and every once in a while we engage in epic mutual murders.


Of course, when I was young, I wouldn't have thought about mutual killings. Finding a way to harrass Kaguya would have been enough to bring me some satisfaction. Looking back on it, I think spending that much time nursing my bitterness against others probably bent me. However, it's true that nothing brings a sense of motivation the way a lust for revenge does.


It was painful spending all of my days in search of a way to spite her, but that just made the revenge I sought all the more valuable. Since I think the pain that I taste today was that pain bestowed upon me by Kaguya, it's made it easier for me to keep going. In other words, I believe that Kaguya is completely to blame for the fact that I desire revenge.


The day I became immortal, I was following a certain person to seek my revenge against Kaguya. He was a man with a name something like Iwakasa, I think. He was leading a group of soldiers up a mountain carrying a jar. The jar was said to contain something Kaguya had left behind for someone important. I was planning to steal the jar. If I could gain even some slight amount of satisfaction from stealing the jar, then that would be fine.


The mountain that the soldiers were ascending in single-file was said to be the highest mountain in this nation, a spiritual mountain that only a few ascetics ever climbed, which is now called Mount Fuji.


Once you reach a certain ways up the mountain, the trees become shorter, and gradually the vegetation disappears altogether, leaving nothing but rocks. That meant that it became much harder for me to stay hidden as I tried to tail them up the mountain.


There was one other thing that threatened to deal a fatal blow to my plans. Namely, that I was reaching the limit of my physical endurance. Even reaching the foot of the mountain had taken several days and sapped me of much of my strength. To make matters worse, this was not an easy mountain to try to climb alone.


With no idea how I'd steal the jar the soldiers were carrying on their backs, I ran out of energy about four-fifths of the way up the mountain and lied down.


"He'd realized I'd been following him long before that. He turned to watch when I lied down, then came back to where I'd collapsed from exhaustion to bring me some water. In the end, we all reached the summit together, cheering each other on... but..."


"Why ever did you kill that man and take the jar?"


That's right, I had no grudge against Iwakasa. As a matter of fact, he'd probably saved my life. At that point, I don't think I even cared much about the jar anymore. Even my revenge against Kaguya was probably just a childish whim.


"...When you're almost to the top of the mountain, it makes you realize just how slowly you're travelling. The last leg of the climb is very difficult due to your exhaustion and the drain on your motivation."


When we reached the top of the mountain, I asked him why he'd climbed all the way to the summit.


"It was odd, because no matter how you look at it, I was the one who had the most suspicious reasons for climbing the mountain. Still, he answered my question and told me that men have to obey orders."


I told them the preposterous tale that I was following them because I was a bandit. I didn't think it was that far from the truth, since after all, I was trying to steal the jar. The soldiers laughed when they heard that. I'm sure that being by myself, I didn't seem like much of a threat to even a single one of them.


On Iwakasa's order, the soldiers placed the jar they'd been carrying on the ground. Just as I started to wonder what they'd do next, they started tying a string around the jar.


"They said the string would make it easier for them to fling it far away, and that they were going to throw the jar into the volcano's crater to burn it. I had no idea why they would do that."


I thought maybe the Emperor that had given Iwakasa his orders was trying to spite Kaguya, too. After all, he was going to the trouble to have someone take the gift Kaguya had left him up onto a volcano and throw it in.


"I'd climbed to the top of the mountain to try to steal that jar and soothe the anger deep in my heart, but all I could do then was watch and see what would happen to it. However, as soon as the soldiers approached the crater, a strange woman suddenly appeared, and everything changed."


"Was that woman, perhaps...?"


"Yes, that woman called herself Sakuyahime, and said that it was her power that kept the mountain from erupting. Sakuyahime said that the soldiers shouldn't throw the jar into the crater."


Sakuyahime was possessed of an otherworldly beauty and a peculiar transience that made it seem like she'd been burned up in a caldera somewhere before. The soldiers were shaken by her sudden appearance. Some even prostrated themselves before her godly figure out of reflex.


What came next shocked the soldiers even further. Iwakasa turned to Sakuyahime and told her, "I must burn the contents of this jar in the sacred fires of this mountain. This is an order from the Emperor." When he said that, Sakuyahime turned a contemptuous gaze upon him and said:


"If you burn that jar in this mountain, the volcano will begin to resume its activity, and my power will be unable to prevent it. That jar holds a power even greater than that of a god such as I. Do you understand just what is contained within that jar?"


The soldiers were dumbstruck. Probably, none of them had any idea about its contents. Of course, even I only knew that it was something Kaguya had left behind.


As Sakuyahime began to say, "Inside that jar is...", Iwakasa cut her off, saying, "You can't tell them that!"


However, Sakuyahime said, "No, these men have a right to know after making it all the way up this mountain," and said that the jar contained the elixir of immortality.


"Of course, they were blown off their feet. To think that by simply following Iwakasa's orders they'd done something to anger a god. Not only that, but inside the jar they'd carried up the mountain themselves was the elixir of immortality..."


"And you must have been quite surprised, too."


"Of course, I was surprised. That such a thing existed, that Kaguya had left it behind, that she'd had a reason for doing it..."


Keine stood before me and listened as I spoke of my foolish past, even though foolish people hate to hear about others' foolish exploits.


"...And that it was right before my very eyes."


The cold woke me up. The room was completely dark. It seems I'd fallen asleep for a bit.


The moonlight crept into the darkened house, but it brought no warmth with it. It only served to bring a chill to my already cold body.


My immortal body is very convenient, despite how I neglected taking care of it. I could neglect it as much as I wanted.


I hadn't made anything for dinner yet. I may be immortal, but I get hungry and my joints hurt in the cold. Still, it better suited my personality to bear a bit of discomfort than to find a way to keep warm or eat a bit of nutritious food.


Yes, because no matter what happened, I wouldn't die.


It wouldn't have any effect on my body at all, whether I slept until I was tired of sleeping, or whether I remained awake until I finally succumbed to drowsiness.


The youkai of Gensokyo also lived long lives. There were quite a few who had lived longer than I had. However, they were fundamentally different from me. No matter how strong they are, they would still waste away in the end.


All life crumbles away. Each and every living thing must die. This was the law of the world. If that's the case, then maybe I haven't been living since I drank the elixir. Maybe there was no point in acting to preserve my life anymore. What should I be trying to accomplish?


A slender moon hung outside my window. I could see a ray of some sort of light tracing towards the moon.


Watching the light, I had an unpleasant premonition.


The other day, the vampire had been going on about having finished her moon rocket, and I remembered having the same feeling then.


I sprang from my house without bothering to bring any light.


Far above my head floated the slender moon and the long, thin ray of light.


I headed towards Eientei, deep within the bamboo forest.


"Unrest seized the party as soon as they heard that sitting before them was the elixir of immortality. Because they found themselves unable to move, they couldn't throw the jar into the crater. Even so, Iwakasa tried to light the jar on fire, but... For some reason, it wouldn't catch fire. Seeing no other choice, they decided to spend the night on the summit, trying to figure out what to do next."


"Sakuyahime was originally a water goddess with the power to ward against flame. That's probably why they couldn't light the jar on fire."


I spent the evening wheedling the fine details of his orders from the emperor out of Iwakasa. I wanted to know why he had come all the way up here to dispose of the elixir of immortality.


According to Iwakasa, the jar was a Hourai jar, and its contents were called the Hourai Elixir. The Hourai Elixir was thought to surely be an elixir of immortality.


It was probably left by Kaguya Houraisan when she returned to the moon, as a token of thanks to the old woodcutter who'd raised her and the Emperor whose heart she'd stolen. The old man had said he didn't need to live forever and passed away, and the Emperor said there was no point in living forever in a world without Kaguya, so he ordered it to be taken to the point closest to the moon and burned. It seems that Iwakasa had been chosen to fulfill that duty.


The elixir of immortality, and the old man and the Emperor who, when it was presented before them, wouldn't lift a finger. It was difficult for me to understand. Iwakasa had anticipated this sort of doubt. He was afraid his men would be unable to carry out his orders if they knew about the elixir of immortality, so he kept it a secret.


I wonder what would have happened if his men had known about the elixir all along. They probably wouldn't have tried something so foolish as to steal it and drink it themselves. It's unthinkable that they'd want to live a life as hard and poor as mine forever.

不老不死を欲しがる者は裕福で生活に不自由しない者である。しかし心の貧乏人にとって不老不死の薬は、それをネタに莫大な富と地位を得る事が出来る金の () る薬なのだ。

The people who want immortality are usually wealthy people who live life without inconvenience. The poor of spirit saw the elixir of immortality as a medicine that could bring them inestimable wealth and status.


Maybe they'd catch each other trying to steal it and kill each other in a horrible bloodbath. Maybe someone would secretly replace the real elixir with a fake. Iwakasa was worried about things like this, so he didn't tell anyone too much about his mission.


"The night was cloaked in an uncanny atmosphere. We all formed a circle and placed the jar in the middle. The soldiers naturally fell into a pattern of watching over the jar in pairs. It seemed nobody trusted anyone else alone with it."


At first I was too nervous to sleep, but eventually the weariness of climbing the mountain set in and I fell into a deep slumber.




Somebody's voice calling to me woke me up. The voice belonged to Sakuyahime.


"While you and that man have been asleep, these foolish humans have decided to take the contents of the jar as their own and have begun killing each other."


Once I woke up, I was speechless at the sea of blood that surrounded me.


"At the time, I couldn't think too clearly about what had just happened. Sakuyahime said the men had started killing each other, but now that I think of it the scene of the incident didn't lend itself to such a simple explanation. Some of the bodies laying before me were burned to a crisp. It was as if some great battle must have occurred, or some mysterious creature had suddenly attacked. There's no way that Iwakasa and I could have slept through all of that."


"So, you think that Sakuyahime killed those men?"


"Yes. I think she killed them all and left me and Iwakasa alive. Maybe it was because she couldn't let someone cast the elixir of immortality into her mountain, or she wanted to make sure nobody would drink the elixir... I'm sure she left Iwakasa and me alive because there was something she wanted the two of us to do afterwards."


Sakuyahime awoke Iwakasa in the same manner. The shock left him speechless, and realizing that he could no longer fulfill his mission, he finally swallowed her explanation.


Sakuyahime began to speak to Iwakasa and I where we sat enveloped in darkness.


"The elixir is a tool meant to deceive foolish humans. See? Even though nobody said anything about it, everyone around it has fallen into misfortune. I certainly approve of you setting out to dispose of such a thing... but it is too much even for me to bear. So, please forget about throwing it into this mountain."


Iwakasa was lost in thought for a moment, but then he started telling Sakuyahime about about his mission.


"I was told to take this elixir to the point closest to the moon and burn it there. Is there any point higher than this? Is there any mountain higher than this mountain?"


"I see. Then, I know of a suitable place. To the northwest of this mountain there is an incredible peak called Yatsugatake. My elder sister lives there. She is the deity with power over the immortal and unchanging, so that would be the most fitting place to dispose of this elixir."


"But, Yatsugatake isn't high enough, is it? It's quite low compared to this mountain."


"No. In fact, it was once much taller than my mountain is."

「ええ? そんな話は初耳だが……」

"Really? This is the first I've heard of that..."


"Long ago, there was a quarrel between us... well, that's not important, in any case, I believe the distance to the moon may be somewhat shorter atop that mountain."


"I see... In that case, I plan to descend immediately and head to Yatsugatake. I'm sorry my men caused you so much trouble."


Iwakasa said this in a trembling voice, and it seemed to mollify Sakuyahime, as she disappeared into the mountain's crater.


"Our descent from the mountain was incredibly gloomy. Iwakasa just carried the heavy jar and walked straight ahead, never looking in my direction. We didn't speak a word the whole way down."


The heavy silence persisted. The unchanging scenery and the pointlessness of our ascent weighed on me as well. I kept switching my gaze between Iwakasa, the burden he shouldered and the rocky expanse beneath my feet. I laid eyes on nothing else.


"They say little people are easily possessed. Suddenly, I remembered my original objective: that in the beginning, I'd meant to steal this jar. And then, it appeared right before my eyes. Now, I could..."


That's what I was thinking, but I bore no ill will towards Iwakasa. I was even grateful to him for helping me. Could I really steal the jar from him and run away...?


Still, I couldn't get something that Sakuyahime had said out of my head.


Those words would turn my reality on its head.


I felt strange, like the area around my ears were covered with cotton, or like I was peeking through a hole in a cloth covering my head.


That magic word that made it seem like no matter how little care you gave for the consequences, everything would somehow turn out over the course of eternity.




"Before I realized what I was doing, I kicked Iwakasa as hard as I could down a sudden decline in the path. Then I took the jar and ran."


In the dead of night, the bamboo forest had an eerie feeling about it, as if something were perpetually about to appear from the mist.


But I wasn't afraid of a man-eating wolf or a cursed spirit appearing.


I was no longer afraid of death.


I no longer had to worry about starving.


I ran as if possessed towards Eientei.

そうだ、不老不死の私が退屈しないで生きていられるのは、宿敵 (あいつ) がいるからじゃないか!

That's right, the reason I was no longer afraid of the boredom of immortal life was because she was here!


The terror of immortality is eternal solitude. An endless reality tormented by the consciousness of one's sins.

それを共感出来るのは、同じ境遇 (不死) である宿敵だけだ。

The only one who could sympathize with that was my old immortal enemy.


I was afraid that she would no longer be at Eientei.


I remembered when I heard she had first returned to the moon 1300 years ago. That's why I felt uneasy when I heard about the vampire trying to get to the moon.


And now, today. Their rocket has finally taken off.


It was one more way for people from Earth to go to the moon or rather, for Lunarians to return to the moon.


In the distance I saw the lights of Eientei. Seeing them made me feel a bit more at ease.


"...Three hundred years after becoming immortal I was so burdened with regrets I could die. Well, except I couldn't die. I wondered why I did something like that."


"It seems I've made you recall something quite unpleasant by bringing up Sakuyahime."


"No, don't worry about it. It happened long, long ago. Why am I talking about this anyway...?"


"We started talking about Youkai Mountain, which led us to Sakuyahime."

「妖怪の山の話……? ああそうだったね。確か……えぇっとー」

"Youkai Mountain ... ? Oh, right. That's it... Umm..."


"Youkai Mountain is Iwanagahime's mountain. Iwanagahime is Sakuyahime's elder sister, so..."

「咲耶姫の姉……? 何処かで聞いたようなって、そうかなるほど」

"Sakuyahime's older sister...? I think I've heard that before... Oh, yes, now I see."


So the elixir I'd stolen had originally been destined to be put to rest by Iwakasa at Youkai Mountain.


"So, that means Youkai Mountain is Yatsugatake, right?"

「単純に八ヶ岳、という訳でも無いのです。八ヶ岳は大昔、富士山と同じくらい高い山でした。あるとき、八ヶ岳と富士山はどちらが高いのか喧嘩になったのです。そして (とい) を二つの山頂に掛け、水を流して高さを測ろうという話になりました。水は低い方に流れるので、どちらが高いか一目瞭然という訳です。長い樋を掛けて実際に水を流してみました。そうしたら富士山の方に向かって水が流れ始めたのです。つまり富士山より八ヶ岳の方が高かったという事です」

"Well, not exactly. Yatsugatake was a mountain that was about as high as Mount Fuji, long ago. One day, an argument arose over which mountain was higher, Mount Fuji or Yatsugatake. So, someone decided to settle the question by setting up a water trough connecting the two summits. Water would flow downwards towards the shorter one, so it would be obvious which one was shorter. After a long time spent in preparation, they finally released the water. When that happened, water began flowing down towards Mount Fuji. In other words, Yatsugatake was taller than Mount Fuji."


"Huh, it was really that tall..."


"Sakuyahime, who lived at Mount Fuji, wouldn't stand for a mountain taller than hers, so she broke apart Yatsugatake until it was quite a small mountain."




"However, her older sister, Iwanagahime, was tired of her sister's attitude, and moved to Yatsugatake. Since she had control over the unchanging, Mount Fuji lost its inextinguishable flame. This is why Mount Fuji is no longer an active volcano. And so, the Gensokyo's spiritual mountain, Youkai Mountain, is thought of as the original form of Yatsugatake, before it was destroyed by Sakuyahime."


"I see... So I remembered seeing that smoke because it was originally the smoke that rose from Mount Fuji. I guess it's part of my karma to spend so long living close to that mountain..."


Keine said "That is the extent of my knowledge of the history behind Youkai Mountain," and our conversation ended.


...I finally reached Eientei.


Of course, I couldn't just enter through the front like anyone else, so I thought I'd look inside a window to see what was going on.


Youkai from Gensokyo were trying to reach the lunar capital.


Would they really be able to get there safely in a rocket like that?


Wouldn't they just get there in such a horrible state they'd have to come right back?


That's what I was thinking at the rocket completion party a few days ago.


But, I'd forgotten something terribly important.


My one and only rival, Kaguya, had said that she was a Lunarian. And, of course, I'd even become immortal because she had left the elixir here after returning to the moon.


In other words, what I should have been worried about was whether the fact that someone had come up with a way to get to the moon meant that Kaguya was going to go back.


The windows of Eientei were rounder than most buildings' windows in Gensokyo. Maybe it symbolizes the full moon. I wonder if all buildings in the lunar capital have windows like these.


Voices drifted out through the window. It seemed everyone was gathered together.


In the sky, a trail of light of what seemed to be the vampire's rocket could be seen.


While carefully paying attention in a way I wouldn't be found, I raised and strained my ear as much as I could.


"...So the lunar invader was the vampire..."


I could hear a voice from inside the room. It seemed like whoever was inside was looking out the window. Quickly, I crouched down and hid under the window.


"...Will they really be alright trying to fly to the moon in that shoddy rocket?"


I could hear Kaguya's voice. She was talking about the vampire's rocket. Of course, she's a Lunarian, so she'd be interested in a rocket like that. If somebody built a safer rocket, would she think about going back to the moon?


Judging from their conversation, it seems the rocket idea hadn't come from Eientei, but the vampire had gotten it from someone else.


So, they were the lunar invaders, or would-be invaders. It seemed that the vampire and her friends were probably being manipulated by someone.


"...They'll probably regret it if they do make it to the moon."


"...Well, no matter what sort of plans they have in mind, the difference in power between Yorihime and that vampire with her three stooges is absolute, I think."

三馬鹿トリオ? あの巫女と魔法使いとメイドの顔を思い出して吹き出しそうになった。確かに脳天気そうだ。

Three stooges? Images of the shrine maiden, the magician and the maid floated into my head, and I had to hold back laughter. They did seem pretty air-headed.


"...Well, we can't see that big bottle rocket anymore, so let's stop talking about the moon."


"...That's right. We're already eternal Earthlings now."


Youkai Mountain, said to give off the eternal smoke of Iwanagahime.


Just what would have happened if I'd gone to dispose of the elixir of immortality in that mountain, just like Sakuyahime said?


I probably would have concluded my short life without having spent so much time consumed by my own sins.


I probably would've ended my miserable life consumed by my grudge for Kaguya.


But, I definitely wouldn't have lived to see these days, over thirteen hundred years later.


And that means that another immortal human would have been lonely.


I stopped worrying about whether Kaguya would return to the moon. Even if she wanted to go back, she had no obligation to tell me, and it seemed like she didn't want to go back anymore, anyway.


Besides, I remembered that I had other undying friends here in Gensokyo.


...Like Youkai Mountain.


I think I'll climb that mountain some day. The youkai of the mountain, like the tengu and the kappa, have made it their base now, so it probably isn't easy to climb anymore, but a goddess of immortality lives atop it.


I think I'll climb up there and tell her all about how I became immortal, and apologize for what happened to Iwakasa, thirteen hundred years after we should have reached the top of that mountain.


Feeling somewhat refreshed, I left Eientei.

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  1. Genbu (玄武) is the name of a legendary tortoise, hence the name of the ravine.