Cage in Lunatic Runagate/Seventh Chapter

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第七話 半身半義 Chapter 7: Half-body Half-loyalty


A mysterious force created oscillations in the seawater. Waves.


Although water appears as if it surges towards the shore, in reality the flow of the water is unaffected by the direction of the wave.


Sound is also a wave that is transmitted through air. Of course, sound can be carried against the wind as well. It can propagate regardless of the direction of airflow.


Then, what are waves? What are they conveying without displacing matter?


The more that I pondered about it, the more confused I became. It did not help the headache I had from dealing with people of many different wavelengths for the past half a year.


Here above the moon's sea, the water surface silently wavers.


Almost no sound, natural or artificial, can be heard. It is as peaceful and gentle as Higan was.


There are many worlds that come after death, but the first one to be visited after crossing the Sanzu river is Higan. Higan is the place one will wait until their sins are judged by the Enma. In Higan, there is neither night nor day, winter nor summer. Higan was just a quiet place where flowers bloom beautifully in the lifeless winds.


For some reason, the moon's sea closely resembled it.


There was no scent of life. This sea didn't have any trace of karma nor its effects that all life had. What that meant was either nothing lives in these waters, or only whose who never died live here.


I didn't really understand why I was here. I was only carried here by people of different wavelengths. I never understood what was happening around me since summer.


--Summer in the Netherworld.


It was where spirits dwell as they await reincarnation. Since they were spirits that were allowed to reincarnate, most of them were good-natured, but they weren't assured to reincarnate into humans again. However, even birds or beasts would be preferable, since there was the possibility of reincarnating as a caterpillar or other lowly insect.


As spirits never seemed to worry about their next life, they just relaxed and took in the sights of the Netherworld as usual, being carefree by nature.


I was usually in charge of Hakugyokurou's garden and security, but right now I'm handling the reception of a guest. Listening to conversations while remaining seated attentive and upright is still one of my weak points.


"Were you listening to me?"


"Er, yes. Ummm..."


While I was baffled by the abrupt question, my mistress, Lady Yuyuko Saigyouji, seated right beside me, answered in my place.


"Of course, we weren't. Neither I nor Youmu."


"Is that so...? Well, I sort of assumed that. I'm guessing that means you don't care about the fine details, correct?"


I really wasn't paying any attention at all, but I wondered why our guest accepted that answer so easily. Perhaps Lady Yuyuko truly wasn't listening in the first place.


"To get to the point, I would like for you to keep the vampire and her underlings under surveillance."




All that we are supposed to survey is the Netherworld, and what the youkai do in the world of the living is none of our concern. It was the first time we'd received such a request.


The one to bring up such a strange request to us was the fox, Ran Yakumo.

「……監視って何故ですか? 月に行きたいのなら勝手に行かせればいいじゃないですか。前から行きたがっていたみたいですし」

"...Why do you want us keep them under surveillance? If they want to go to the moon that badly, why not just let them do as they please?"


"We cannot allow that to happen. This is Lady Yukari's request, and...."


Ran sipped her tea. She seemed to be choosing her words.


"...As you know, she has attacked the Lunar Capital once, but it ended in defeat. Ever since then, she has been awaiting her chance of revenge."


'Lady Yukari' was Ran's owner, Lady Yukari Yakumo. She is Lady Yuyuko's old acquaintance, and is just as incomprehensible in her doings as she was.
They were on completely different wavelengths to me.


Lady Yukari once tried to invade the moon a long time ago. As it was several centuries ago, I had naturally not been born at the time. When Ran said "as you know," she was referring to when Lady Yuyuko witnessed this event herself. From that line, I knew that this conversation was not directed at me.


"We had sought out the vampire's strength to solidify our own, but as we suspected, they were planning to go to the moon under their own power. Lady Yukari spoke of not wanting to go without any sort of cooperation, however, under the current conditions..."


That was odd. I normally do not understand Lady Yukari, but something seemed unusual about her asking for the vampire's cooperation. And before requesting help from Lady Yuyuko, at that.


"Lacking any sort of strategy, the vampire's house has no hope of success. That is the extent of the Lunarians' strength. And once they attack the Lunar Capital, the Lunarians will be all the more vigilant against further intrusions. That is most inconvenient for Lady Yukari."


Now that I think of it, it was around the time when that fox came calling when the circumstances starting to bewilder me.


Whenever I cannot understand something, I tend to ask for an explanation as soon as I can. I was taught to live by the adage "Asking makes one appear foolish, but not asking makes one foolish indeed."


However, I was beginning to feel it was inhibiting my comprehensive ability. If I am merely taught everything, I may eventually lose the ability to think for myself altogether.


Once, I asked Lady Yuyuko as I usually do, and she replied...

『妖夢は口を開けば、それは何ですか? どういう意味ですか?って。その辺の喋らない幽霊の方が含蓄ある話をするわ』

"Whenever you open your mouth, it's to ask "What is that?" or "What does that mean?". Conversations with you are less meaningful than those with the mute spirits around here."


"My apologies. However, what about the saying, 'Asking makes one appear foolish, but not asking makes one foolish indeed.'?"


"Hmhmhm. Youmu, do you ever feel foolish when you ask a question?"




"Foolish questions are only to those you should already know the answer, and normally about very important matters where pretending to know can bring great loss."




"However, there is no shame in asking about something you simply want to know. Shameless questions may not have a definite answer either. If you want to know something, think about it for yourself. If you ask a question every time you want to know something, the things you want to know will gradually lessen. A life without anything to learn can only bring unhappiness. Especially to those who have long lifespans."


Needless to say, Lady Yuyuko died a very long time ago. She remains in the Netherworld as a ghost. However, she uses the expression "life" quite a bit.


I did not have any self-confidence in how much I could comprehend what Lady Yuyuko told me. If she knew yet did not tell me, I thought it was nothing more than her teasing me.


But lately there the number of people who would not answer my questions increased. Perhaps they thought answering questions was a bother. In that case, I am sorry to have caused them trouble.


"I see. So Lady Yukari said that since Lady Yuyuko saw that lunar invastion, she should be able to understand the situation immediately, am I right?"


Ran muttered, "This is not how Lady Yukari said it would be," as she left.


While I was thinking, it appeared that Lady Yuyuko had already declined her request.


I could not understand the reason why Lady Yukari wanted us to keep the vampire under surveillance, nor the reason why Lady Yuyuko turned it down. I could not understand any of it.


"Why did Lady Yukari bring a request like that to you?"


I instantly regretted asking that question, nonchalant as it was. Had I not been told to think for myself?

「聞いての通りじゃないの? 紫は困っているのよ」

"Is it not as you heard? It seems to be troubling her."


"Y-Yes, I suppose."


I, Youmu Kompaku, gardener of Hakugyokurou, have decided to act independently. I would survey the doings of the vampire and her servants while investigating the underlying scheme they were plotting. Of course, I would not be asking anyone for help nor answers, and understand things on my own. As much as I could, at least...


"...With this, the rocket is even closer to completion. Splendid work, Sakuya. That will be enough for now."


"Yes, ma'am."


The maid passed the bookshelf behind which I had hidden myself.


I sneaked into the underground library at the Scarlet Devil Mansion. A rocket built for moon travel had been in production here.


I was able to familiarize myself with the incomplete rocket without drawing attention to myself.


The outer wall was made of wood, and there were issues with its strength.


Its shape was like that of three buckets stacked on top of each other, but their exact connection to each other was unclear.


The windows fitted into the outer walls were normal windows. I could see the interior through them, pointlessly gaudy furnishings such as lace curtains and a table shaped like a crescent moon.


What I was most concerned about was as the rocket looked more like a small, odd house, I could not determine its means of flight.


...Maybe this was nothing more than a summer house or the like.


This business of building a rocket to go to the moon independently was nothing more than a bluff. Maybe they were actually just building a special house for moon-viewing parties.


"...While it appears they are building a rocket, I do not believe it is in any condition to leave for the moon anytime soon. I should make a memo of this."


"I wonder how long our little spy will continue to believe she has not been spotted."




"So then, how long will it be until the rocket is complete?"


"Hmph, why should I tell an intruder like you anything?"


"Oh, that's right. I wasn't going to ask questions for now. I was going to think about things myself."




I was seated at a table shaped like a crescent moon in the center of the library. There I was being confronted by the owner, Patchouli Knowledge. It seems I had approached the rocket a little too closely and had been discovered.


"I knew you were here from the moment you entered. I decided to ignore you since making you leave would have been too much trouble, but you kept muttering something about memos..."

「あれ? 声に出してました?」

"Huh? I was muttering?"


"Well, I do not particularly mind, so long as you are not intent on stealing or breaking anything."


As she spoke, she rang a bell placed on the table.

「⁉ 捕まえる気?」

"?! Are you going to imprison me?"


"Hmph, if I was going to do anything of the sort, I would have done it a while ago."


"So why did you ring that..."


"I called Sakuya to bring some tea. Only for me though. Now, what is it?"


"Excuse me?"


"What brought you here? Was it something about the rocket?"


It seemed as if she had no intention of imprisoning me. When I thought about it, the vampire had made the fact that she was making a rocket to go to the moon public quite a while ago, and they had no idea that Lady Yukari had asked us to keep them under surveillance. In fact, it seemed as if they wanted everyone else to know they were in the middle of a huge undertaking.


I should take this opportunity to ask them as much as I wanted, but then I reconsidered as I thought it was best for me to think about everything for myself.


"Earlier, when I was looking at the rocket... there is something I could not quite figure out."


"What is it?"

「このロケットの動力って、一体何なんですか? あ、これは独り言で」

"Just how is this rocket supposed to fly? Oh, that was just me speaking to myself."


"Speaking to yourself?"


"Right, meaning it was not a question, so you do not have to answer if you prefer."

「あー? 何を言っているのかよく判らないが、ロケットの動力は——」

"Huh? I am not sure what you are talking about, but this rocket moves though..."


Just then, Sakuya the maid entered the library holding a cup of tea. She must have been called by the bell.


"Here is your tea, ma'am... Oh my, who have we here?"


I thought it best to greet her for now. "Sorry to intrude."

「まだ帰っていなかったのね? でも良かったわ」

"You had yet to leave? But I am so relieved."


"How are you relieved?"


"To see you seated with Miss Patchouli. If not, I was wondering what you were doing by hiding in plain sight like that..."


"Hmph, she came here to see me in the first place so there was nothing to worry about."


I could no longer claim that I was genuinely attempting to hide.


"I decided to bring tea for two. I did not believe you had left yet."


"Th-Thank you very much."


I bowed as the maid placed two cups of tea of the table. Judging from its scent, I felt the quality of the tea here cannot begin to compare to the tea at Hakugyokurou. The scent of our green tea was so delicate yet long-lasting. It was in sharp contrast to the overpowering scent of the black tea that sat before me.


Patchouli opened her mouth.


"So, where was I?"


"About how the rocket moves."


"Ah, the propulsion. At the moment, I do not understand it works yet."

判らない……? なーんだ、紫様が心配する程の事でも無いじゃない。

She doesn't understand? Well, it looks like they're nothing for Lady Yukari to worry about after all.


"It seems we need some form of energy source that comes in a three-stage tube. I had Sakuya search for more information just now, but if you know anything about it, I want you to tell me."

「……何故、私にそんな話を? 私が協力するかどうか判らないでしょ?」

"...Why would you ask me? And how do you know if I would cooperate with you?"

「あら、貴方だって月を見てみたいと思っているでしょう? 月の民達に一泡吹かせたいと思っているでしょう?」

"Oh, but did you not want to see the moon? Do you not want to help with the surprise attack on the Lunarians?"


The Lunarians... About two or three years ago some others who called themselves that took up residence in the bamboo forest.


I could only think of them as not entirely suited to Gensokyo.


I had thought to survey the vampire doings, but that was so I could understand Lady Yukari's motives. I would never want to be branded as an ally to the Lunarians, but if I did interfere with the rocket's completion, that just might happen as a result.


For the time being, I merely told her I would let her know if I came across anything, and left the mansion.


-The road that leads to Hakurei Shrine.


The night had only deepened, humans, whose eyes were poorly suited for seeing in the dark, were scarce to be seen here.


As no humans lived in this area and the trees that grew here created ominous shadow, it was a popular spot for tests of courage.


While I am used to ghosts (being half-ghost myself), I do not handle dark places very well.


So for those who are wondering why I am walking this dark path, there is a reason.


It is part of my surveillance of the rocket being constructed at the Scarlet Devil Mansion. The maid Sakuya has left on an errand concerning it.


I am following after her.


In other words, tailing. It seems to be among the basics of investigation.


I don't mean to boast, but I am skilled in tailing. As I am half-human and half-ghost, the presences of both are less noticeable than a full one.


Patchouli said that she had Sakuya search for more information on the rocket's propulsion system, so if I follow her, I might be able to learn something myself.


Why did Lady Yukari request the surveillance of the vampire's house?


"I wonder how long our little stalker will continue to believe she has not been spotted."




If I've been spotted, I have no choice but to stop tailing. I will have to change my methods of investigation from tailing to interrogation. Interrogation also seems to be among the basics of investigation.

「へぇ、なんで貴方がロケットの事を知っているの? ……もしかして」

"Oh, so how do you know about our rocket? Perhaps..."


"Surveillan... oh, wait. I mean..."


"Did that fox come to you with a story of invading the moon as well?"


"Excuse me?"


"Because she came to us, too. She suggested we invade the moon together."


"W-Well, that is..."


Now I remembered. The fox mentioned wanting to form an alliance with the vampire and her servants.


There seemed something strange about that.


Why would she ask the vampire?


Why wouldn't she ask Lady Yuyuko first?


"Regrettable as you may see it, we have already formed our own plans for invading the moon. We are even making an original rocket. If you say you wish to go as well, please refrain from going before we complete it, as Milady has already laid claim to the Lunar Capital."


"No, we weren't planning on going to the moon, but when will your rocket be finished?"


"Hmmm... There is something important that we have been unable to find. But why should I have to tell you?"


"Something important you have not been able to find..."


"Why are you making a memo of it? What are you going to do with it?"


"Ah, um, nothing really."


Sakuya disappeared toward the direction of the shrine. I was scared of travelling at night so I followed quickly to avoid being left too far behind.




An antique store separated from the human village.


While it is an antique store, it sells more than antiques. It deals in anything its owner has been able to scavenge.


The scavenged articles lay in front of the building, making one think it might be more a place that buys stolen goods.

「え? 咲夜さんが買っていった物が何か知りたいだって?」

"Huh? You want to know what Miss Sakuya bought from here?"


"Yes. I know she has been frequenting this store as of late. I want as many details as possible."


"I'm sorry to say this, but a store like this must respect the privacy of our customers."


"...Hmm. I guess I will have to search for myself."


I looked around the inside of the store.


Cold, iron boxes, glass rings and thin, green plates.


This store was filled with such things that could not be thought as desirable for purchase.


"...What could be related to rockets in this store...?"

「おや、君もロケットについて調べているのかい? それならアポロ計画の本が一番良いんだけど」

"Oh, so you're looking for research about rockets, too? In that case, a book about the Apollo program would be just what you need."


"The Apollo program...?"


"It was a project that aimed to fly a rocket to the moon."


"P-Please show me that book!"


"Well, sorry to say, but we're sold out right now. They've all been bought up."


Whoever it was that bought these books was clearer than glass.


"I-I see..."


The vampire's rocket must be based on what is written in those books. I was certain of it.


I felt I was beginning to understand reason for the sudden progress on the rocket. The vampire and her cohorts had obtained those books about this project from the outside world and used them for their own rocket.


This means that Lady Yukari is probably worried if there were rockets in the outside world, too.


If they've completed a rocket that can go to the moon in the outside world, that might cause trouble for her.


Hmm, it was truly a shame I was unable to find any of these books for myself.


Just a little more effort and I might have even been to figure out what was about to happen.


"Well, even though all the books about the Apollo program are gone, I have some books that have almost the same contents. I don't think there's much of a difference at all."

「え? そ、それください」

"Huh? Th-Then let me have one of those, please."




"And what would that book you are reading happen to be about, Youmu?"


"Ah, Lady Yuyuko. S-Since it was raining today, I thought I would study a little."


I hid the book while I told her. While she did not tell me I should not investigate the doings of the vampire, I still did it in secret. If she noticed what book I was reading, it would be unnatural.

「勉学! 呆れたわ。つまんないの。そんな事より、今日は中秋の名月だからお団子捏ねておいてね」

"Studying? I'm shocked! Do not bother with such dull things, and instead busy yourself with preparing the dumplings for tonight's viewing of the harvest moon.


I nodded and she left the room.


Then my eyes returned to the book.


"The Soyuz spacecraft. After the end of the Apollo program, any further plans to reach the moon also became nothing more than fantasy. However, rockets used for the Soyuz spacecraft was said to have been even more technologically advanced than the rockets used in the Apollo program. If it had reached the moon before the Apollo program, it might have had a significant effect on history."


The book I bought from Kourindo was about the Apollo program as well as another kind of rocket.


It appeared that there were no major differences in shape between the Soyuz and Apollo rockets.


It was a three-stage tube that became thinner as it reached the tip. This confirmed my belief that the vampire had used the rockets from the outside world as a reference for hers.


This meant that the construction must be more or less the same.


I was worried that the abundance of technical terms would make it difficult to understand, but I was able to find the section about which I was most curious, the propulsion system.


It seemed to be furnished with disposable fuel that flew when ignited. Much like fireworks.


Going to the moon seemed to be something that would be difficult to do with magic, but the answer was surprisingly simple.


"If it's like that, then wouldn't filling it with gunpowder get them there soon enough? It might be rather uncomfortable though."


While I pictured a house placed on fireworks flying through the air, my thoughts were interrupted by a voice calling for me.


"Youmuuuu! Are the dumplings ready yeeeeet?"


"Yes, ma'am. I am coming."


Tonight was the night of the harvest moon. According to the calendar, at least.


However, it likely wouldn't be possible to enjoy its glow if this poor weather continued. It had been drizzling for quite some time and had yet to stop falling. Even if the rain stopped, it was unsure if the clouds would also break up.


But regardless, I enjoy rolling the dumplings.


Feeling the slippery smoothness after they had been steamed felt good. Just touching them made me happy.


"Hey, is tonight's offering ready yet?"

「あ、幽々子様。いらしたのですか? あともう少しだけ掛かりそうです」

"Oh, Lady Yuyuko. How long have you been there? It will only take a little while longer."


She rushed over to me.

「早くしないと始まっちゃうわよ? 今日は中秋の名月なんだから」

"Don't we have to start soon? It's the night of the harvest moon, after all."


I had the feeling she was not as anxious to see the moon as she was hungry.


"Yes, according to the calendar, but seeing how the weather has been lately, I believe it will be raining tonight, too."


I pointed to the window. As the rain had continued for the past two or three days, I felt having a moon-viewing ceremony tonight was hopeless.


"Yes, I realize that. It is normal for the weather to be poor around the time of the harvest moon, and has been for many, many years. In fact, it has been said that for nine years out of ten, the moon would be hidden by the clouds. The way it would rarely show itself has made it all the more worthy of being special..."


Lady Yuyuko had become unusually talkative, likely because of her hunger. "So, why am I rolling these dumplings?"


She told me matter-of-factly, "For what else are dumplings other than being eaten?"


-As night came and the rain continued, the moon remained concealed behind the clouds, as I expected.


We placed the dumplings to be offered on the porch facing the stone garden courtyard.


Lady Yuyuko sat beside the dumplings, immediately took one and placed it in her mouth.


"This is what is known as 'ugetsu', or 'rainy moon', particularly when the harvest moon has been obscured due to the rain. But even in times like this, we can enjoy imagining what the moon looks like above the clouds."


"That seems rather desperate to me."


Not being able to see the moon during moon-viewing ceremonies leaves me disappointed. Isn't it normal?


"Not at all. It is more refined that way. Since long ago, it has been much more cultured to look at round objects to inspire the imagination and envision the harvest moon rather than see it directly. People would imagine the harvest moon to be many times bigger and beautiful than any they had ever witnessed before. All it takes is a single dumpling, so the simplest method is best, am I right?"


Tsukimi udon, udon noodles with an egg to resemble the moon also comes to mind. Satoimo shironi, also resembling the moon, is a common side dish.


I enjoy udon with egg, so maybe preparing that instead of having a moon-viewing ceremony might be more refined.


"And then, being able to imagine the most breathtakingly beautiful harvest moon, the one that should be just beyond the clouds, came to be called 'ugetsu'."


Lady Yuyuko took a dumpling between her fingers and held it over her head, placing it where the full moon should have been visible.


Being satisfied with the ugetsu I couldn't see behind the clouds, we returned inside.


Lady Yuyuko said she wanted to drink the moon-viewing ceremonial sake, so I went to prepare it.


As I walked, I thought about the best way to report to her the information I had gathered about the progress the vampire had made with her rocket.


I felt I was very close to understanding Lady Yukari's intention on having us monitor the vampire, but I was unable to put my thoughts in order just on my own.


After pouring the sake, I once again brought up subject of the fox's visit from two months ago.


"Yukari's just being overly worried. She thinks there could be some untold number of spies on Earth or something."


"It was quite an incomprehensible request, was it not? I do not see why she could not have monitored the vampire herself..."


Lady Yuyuko laughed. I had tried to determine what she was thinking through indirect questions, but it seemed I was being too indirect to elicit any substantial response.


It was the same as usual. Lady Yuyuko always seems like she knows something, but in actuality, she is merely acting on whatever strikes her fancy. I wondered if anything serious would happen if we left things as they were.


So I resolved my will and confessed about what I had been doing.


I spoke of my investigation of the rocket and the surveillance of the vampire's house for the past two months.


I spoke of how the rocket was incomplete as they were missing a method of propulsion.


And I spoke of once they completed a cylindrical, three-stage rocket, they would be able to launch at any time.


Lady Yuyuko listened to me with her eyes wide open. I continued my report, prepared for her wrath.


I don't mind if she is upset. As long as I am able to bring everything down to my level of comprehension, that will be acceptable.


But the words that came from her mouth were far beyond my wildest expectations.


"...The vampire will not finish her rocket. If you give that message to the shrine maiden, everything will progress on its own."


I despaired of ever understanding what was happening.


And then, I abandoned the notion of thinking on my own.


What Lady Yuyuko desired was for the vampire to complete her rocket and leave for the moon before Lady Yukari did.


Would that be wise?


-I surrendered to the flow. Now, I am on the moon.


The surface of the moon is covered in water. I could see waves coming from all directions, interfering with each other and making complex patterns on the surface.


Is this the sea? It is so wide. It even seems wider than the Sanzu River, likely because the visibility is better.


But most of all, the moon was more beautiful than I had imagined it to be.


I remember what Lady Yuyuko said about the ugetsu.


"People would imagine the harvest moon to be many times bigger and beautiful than any they had ever witnessed before."


"Lady Yuyuko...?"

「ううん? 月の都への行き方が判らないのね?」

"Hmm? Do you not know the way to the Lunar Capital?"


"Not really, but what I wanted to ask was why did..."


"It will not be easy to enter the Lunar Capital. We need to take a special route."


"Did you plan on coming to the moon from the beginning?"


"Yukari had asked me to come. But the real problem lies just ahead."


We had sneaked into the moon from its reflection in the lake near the Scarlet Devil Mansion. It appeared to be an entrance Lady Yukari had prepared through some method."


There was still much that was unclear about Lady Yuyuko's actions and I did not place too much confidence in them, but coming this far, I had no choice but to remain by her side."


However, I was a little happy to have been able to come here.


As I conducted my independent surveillance on the vampire, I must have started to feel jealous for some reason.


It was like a small voice in my head saying, "I want to see the moon, too."


In fact, if the vampire and her entourage were the only ones to go to the moon, I might have felt frustrated.


In times like this, I was grateful for my mistress's whimsy.


However, that gratitude turned into regret as my experience here began to erode my enthusiasm.


I had been thoroughly tossed about by others on different wavelengths from myself, and the interference felt stronger than ever.


  • The Title "Hanshin Hangi" is spellt as 半身半義 (Half-body, Half-honor), which is a pun to the Japanese idiom 半信半疑 (Half trusting, Half doubting).
  • It probably relates to the Half Body's (or Youmu's) hesitance to remain honorable to her mistress and trust in her.

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