Cage in Lunatic Runagate/Third Chapter

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第三話 浄土の竜宮城 Chapter 3: The Dragon King’s Palace in the Pure Land


A wind bearing no impurities sweeps soundlessly causes ripples on the surface the sea. Nothing else disturbs it. After all, nothing lives in the moon's seas.


It's said that life on Earth came from the seas. At a time so far into the past that the mind boggles to consider it, a desperate war for survival was unfolding.


Creatures who became larger to overwhelm others, creatures who used oxygen to move nimbly, creatures who moved to dry earth seeking a new realm, creatures that left that earth for the skies, many new victors began to appear. As the source of all life, the seas were also the greatest battlefield. As the victors of such a embattled history, there were none that were supposed to have remained impure.


However, there are nearly no impure beings in the lunar capital. So, the sea that stretched out before my eyes is devoid of life. Not a single of the creatures from this sea were able to take up residence on the moon's surface. Yes, this sea bears not a single impurity, save one thing, the place where it reflects that blue planet.

「お姉様? 静かの海に何か見えましたか? 最近、よくこの海を見に来ているようですが……」

"Sister? Did you see something in the Sea of Tranquility? You've come here to check on it quite often lately..."


"No, nothing's happened today, either."

私がそう答えると妹の綿月依姫 (わたつきのよりひめ) は心配顔をした。

When I said that, my younger sister, Watatsuki no Yorihime, looked concerned.


"There have been a lot of rumors causing unrest among the rabbits lately... We should be careful about our movements."


"It will be fine. There's no need for concern."


"No, I mean, people suspect us of aiding those from the Earth. And that's because..."


"Because of my power, perhaps?"


"Well, it may be because of that, but... don't you think your behavior as of late looks suspicious to other people, Sister?"


"But I'm only coming here to watch the sea."

「海を見てるだけって、それが怪しい行動だと思われるのです。そんな自由に行動されると……何れ兎達に (かなえ) の軽重を問われても(*注)知りませんよ?」

"But people think that's suspicious. If you're going to act with such liberty... I believe the rabbits may start wondering if you are truly pulling your own weight." (*1)


"Well, I never was that heavy to begin with, anyway. Don't worry, the future that Lady Yagokoro left for us is still there."

そう言った私ではあったが、風に僅かではあるが穢れが含まれている事に気付いていた。私——海と山を繋ぐ事が出来る月の姫、綿月豊姫 (わたつきのとよひめ) にだけ見える異変を感じ取っていたのだ。

Even as I said that, I realized the faintest trace of impurity borne in the wind. It was a portent of calamity that only I, Watatsuki no Toyohime, the lunar princess with the power to connect mountain and sea, could sense.


Was it just my imagination, or had someone secretly come brought the impurity from the Earth? Was somebody planning some foul deed in the capital...?


I didn't want to worry Yorihime unnecessarily, so I kept the matter to myself, and together we departed from the Sea of Tranquility.


Someone once said the surface of the moon was a bleak and desolate world. There is no trace of the seasons which bring occasional discomfort to the living; it's a climate that combines the mildness of spring, the liveliness of summer, the plenty of autumn and the loneliness of winter year-round. The beautiful peach trees glimmering beneath the blue stars. And, of course, the lunar capital, full of the smiles of rabbits.


The rabbits greeted us like they always did as we walked through the streets of the capital. They lined the roads whiling away the time with activities such as shogi, sipping tea and napping. Even as we cheerfully returned their greetings, we couldn't help but wonder if they were really doing their work.


The rabbits of the moon are assigned various tasks. Most of them work in agricultural affairs, but many other jobs are left to them as well, such as medicine making, cleaning and the defense of the lunar capital.


Since we, the Watatsuki family, are in charge of watching over the Earth, the rabbits we keep at our house serve as lunar emissaries, and are trained to do battle, presumably, with the Earth if the occasion arises.


The lunar capital was a perfect advanced metropolis. Its physical and technological wealth had been established far into the past, which made enhancing its spiritual wealth all the more important. Of course, this is according to the people of the city, but it's important for the rabbits to work towards these ends.


However, this perfection would have been unattainable in the presence of any impure living thing. If by some off chance a Lunarian were to become impure, they would be banished to Earth. To the Lunarians, Earth was a great prison, and we, the Watatsuki sisters, watched over those who were sent to Earth.


We returned to the mansion, sipped tea flavored with peach leaves and set about planning our defense.


"These recent rumors are troubling."


When I said that, Yorihime adopted an expression that seemed to question whether I know what I was saying and remarked, "Isn't that because you've been acting too freely of late, my sister?"


It was a rumor that was spreading among the rabbits. It seems to have started from the news that the flag that had been planted on the light side of the moon, which we called the Apollo flag, had disappeared.


The rumors concerned the security of the lunar capital. They were all silly, baseless things, like "Someone is going to invade from Earth", or "There's a traitor in the capital", but the rabbits were naive and loved rumors, so they believed them.


Whether an enemy attacked from Earth or a rebellion began on the Moon, we'd be the first to fall under suspicion. This was because, our duties and abilities aside, we were the most closely-related to matters regarding Earth. On top of that, we were the only two still alive who had been raised by the high-level criminal who had been semipermanently banished to the Earth, Lady Eirin Yagokoro. Since we had not spent too much effort in looking for her, it's only natural that people would suspect us.


"They say rumors are fated to disappear within seventy-five days, but... none of them have actually done so, even after all this time has passed, so I believe it is now necessary to prove to everyone we are innocent."


"You worry too much, Yorihime. It's just because the rabbits love rumors so much."


Obviously, an unfounded rumor can still cause panic among society. So, we couldn't really afford to ignore the rumors, but on the other hand, we could also use them to our advantage to keep the public under control. I personally think it's better to take advantage of a rumor than to deny it. A forceful denial can invite mistrust and disorder.


"Maybe, but..."


"It does not matter if the rumors are true or not. Of course, I don't think they are... but it's obvious that rumors are spreading around the capital now. All that means is we must choose our actions with prudence. We can use the rumors to our advantage."


"But, you know, if we're under suspicion I can't just do as I please like you, my sister... I can't live a carefree life like that."


"What? Can't you say it a bit nicer than that?"


Tea time came to an end, and it came time to apply ourselves to our duties... yet, compared to my sister, who is in charge of drilling the members of the Rabbit Guard (and they had just inducted a new member), I, who am in charge of watching over the path to Earth and leading the rabbits we use as emissaries, usually don't have much to do. Usually, I will join them in their training.


However, since the Rabbit Guard are in a state of emergency preparation now, I decided not to disturb them and stole away to watch the Sea of Tranquility once more. The Sea of Tranquility is the lunar mare that spreads out across the moon on the opposite side of the moon from the lunar capital.


Waves rippled in silence across the lifeless ocean. As I watched the ocean, memories of the distant past sprang to my mind.


The life that arose from the seas in the very beginning staked its continued existence in a long battle, and its conclusion, the ocean was defiled, and only the winners set out onto the land, which then knew no impurity.


On land, the epic battle for survival unfolded once more. Some creatures became strong and fed on the weak. Some increased their numbers and were able to leave successors after being eaten. There were even those who cast aside the earth and sought a pure world in the sky. There were even those few who had no competition but lost their ability to adapt and went died off. Some even gave up on the earth and returned to the sea. There were very few victors, and most were destroyed in the battle, becoming extinct.


The history of life is a history of conflict. And winners dictate how history is recorded. The Earth is a world of impurity because it is this sort of blood-stained world. Living things tend to live on forever, but the impurity stole away their longevity. It was a world of the short-lived.


Today, Earth has become a place where almost nothing can live for more than a hundred years.


However, there was a sage who realized that the impurity was stealing life from all living things. It is said that while watching the full moon hanging in the sky over the ocean, this sage became determined to free themselves from the impure Earth.

海から地上へ、地上から空へ移り住むかの様に、賢者は地上から月に移り住んだのだ。その方が月の都の開祖であり、夜と月の都の王、月夜見 (つくよみ) 様である。

As if moving from living in the sea to the earth, or from the earth to the sky, this sage left the Earth and took up residence on the moon. This sage is the founder of the lunar capital, the lord of the night and of the lunar capital, Tsukuyomi.


Lord Tsukuyomi took only relatives he had the utmost trust in and moved to the moon. The moon was completely without impurity. As a result, those who had moved to the moon forsook any lifespan. That they had no lifespan meant they were neither alive nor dead. In that sense, the moon is be a Pure Land, without impurity. It may even be the same as the world in the afterlife.


Of course, since the lunar citizens and the moon rabbits aren't immortal, they can die in, for example, accidents or battles. Still, even the citizens of the lunar capital bear just the faintest trace of impurity. Even we may be fated to die some day.


Our master has lived even longer than Lord Tsukuyomi. When he moved to the moon and built the capital, the one he relied on the most was our master, Lady Eirin Yagokoro.

「……お姉様。また海を見ていたのですか? そんなに海が気になるって事は、やっぱり何かあったんじゃないですか?」

"...My sister. Have you come to watch the sea again? If you're so concerned to come here so often, does that mean something has happened, after all?"


Yorihime's voice called out to me. Once I stopped to think about it, it seemed quite some time had passed.


"No, if we're to believe the contents of Lady Yagokoro's letter, then no change should have already occurred."


"I hope that's the case..."


"I was watching the sea while wondering if someone would attack from Earth, and it reminded me of long ago."


"Long ago... Do you mean when Lady Yagokoro betrayed the moon and hid herself on the Earth?"


"No, much longer ago. Do you remember, Yorihime?"

「もっと昔って、千年以上前の話? 流石に簡単には思い出せないですが……」

"Even longer ago? Over a thousand years ago? I can't quite recall off-hand, of course..."


"This happened over 1500 years ago, and I can remember from before even then. Come now, don't you remember when that human from Earth came riding on a turtle from the Sea of Tranquility?"


We were standing before the Sea of Tranquility, but the moon's seas are its closest points to the Earth. As a result, living things from the Earth would occasionally find their way there.


This phenomenon is called spiriting away on Earth. However, this doesn't just refer to things finding their way to the moon. It also refers to things getting lost in the past, the future, Heaven, Hell, and various other places. Long ago, Lady Yagokoro explained to us why this happens.


"From a quantum point of view, possible events will absolutely always happen. This is because in the quantum world, everything is decided by probability, but it's impossible to capture that probability with exact precision. As long as an unrealized event has a non-zero probability, no matter how low it is, it will occur at some point. Since the universe is built on quantum phenomena, it's not all that unusual that living things from Earth should find their way to the moon. After all, that's how even we came to live on the moon."


Right away I understood Lady Yagokoro's lesson, and now I am one of the very few who have ever had the ability to bind together Earth and the moon, who have the power to go back and forth between them at will.


The Lunarians had long ago realized that our world is built on probabilities, that absolutely anything can happen. That was what enabled them to move from the Earth to the moon in the first place. Digressing somewhat, the human scientific community on Earth awakened to the fact that the microscopic world is built on potential some decades ago. This development shocked Lord Tsukuyomi. This is because the one thing the Lunarians fear the most is that the humans from Earth will find a way to get to the lunar capital. For now, all that's happened is the launch of a primitive rocket to the side of the moon closest to them, but we can't afford to be careless.

「千五百年以上前? 地上の人間が現われた事? 亀に乗ってって、えーと……」

"Over 1500 years ago? A human from Earth suddenly appeared? And riding a turtle..."

「大分昔の話だからね。水江浦嶋子 (みずえのうらのしまこ) がうちに来たのも、お師匠様が地上に降りるよりずっと昔……」

"Well, it was quite a while ago. The time when Mizue no Uranoshimako came to the moon, much further back than when our master went to Earth..."


Over 1500 years ago, a human by the name Mizue no Uranoshimako appeared from the blue planet reflected in the ocean.


Most human victims of spiritings-away go straight into a state of panic, and seem to want to return to the world they knew. So, as soon as I find them, I typically use my power to send them back.


However, he was different. As soon as he regained his senses and saw the lunar capital he forgot about returning to Earth, and began to say he wanted to stay here a little longer. Maybe he was a little slow. But, since I was interested in the people of Earth as well, I let him stay in our mansion for a while, keeping it a secret from Lady Yagokoro.


This was the story of Urashimako. He was a fisherman, and one day as he was setting out as usual he saw a strange turtle with a shell dazzling in five colors. Since it was so unusual and beautiful, he decided to make it his by any means and set his boat in pursuit of it.


He followed it out to sea so far that he couldn't even see the shore, and eventually dove into the sea and caught it, but his boat, which should have been nearby, had suddenly disappeared, so he simply clung to the back of the turtle and let it lead him in its wanderings, with no destination in mind. And so, without realizing he had slipped out of his own world and into a totally different world, he finally arrived at the lunar capital, mistaking it for the country across the ocean. The land across the ocean was, of course, the lunar capital, but he believed it was the land of Hourai.


I told him this wasn't the case, and fed him the lie that he wasn't in the land of Hourai, but at the Dragon King's Palace at the bottom of the sea. I said the five colored turtle was a lost pet of mine, and that when I'd gone looking for it, I'd found it with him clutching to its back.


I lied to him because of the interest Earth humans had in the lunar capital, and because I was afraid that someone powerful might find it. In retrospect, I believe that my judgment was wrong, and this mistake was corrected through the actions of Lady Yagokoro.


When Urashimako saw the amazing sight of the lunar rabbits singing and dancing, he was incredibly moved. He was amazed that the bottom of the ocean was such an enjoyable place.


The stars are visible along with the sun during the day from the lunar capital, so he became doubtful when he first looked at the sky. "Why are there so many stars in the sky on the bottom of the ocean?", he asked, so I told him they weren't stars, but the shimmering forms of fish dancing in the ocean. He was impressed that we were so far beneath the sea that even the fish looked like little dots.


And so, Urashimako spent three years in the lunar capital under these false impressions. It was truly unusual for someone from Earth to spend so much time in the capital. That's why I remembered it so clearly, but it seems Yorihime doesn't have as strong an impression of that time.

「水江浦嶋子? ああ、確かにそんな人間も居たわね。確か、釣り好きな彼もめでたく神になったんでしたっけ?」

"Mizue no Uranoshimako? Ah, yes, I remember such a human. He loved fishing, and eventually became quite a splendid god, didn't he?"


After three years had passed, he began to speak of a yearning for home. Most humans would be a little homesick after a few hours, but it took quite a bit of time for him to feel that way.

「そうよ。その人間よ。今では彼は筒川 (つつかわ) 大明神だわ、一介の平凡な漁師が出世したものね」

"That's right. That human. He's the Tsutsugawa deity now. Not a bad place for a simple fisherman to end up."


As soon as he began to say he wanted to go home, nothing here could move him anymore. All he ever did was complain about how much he wanted to go home.


I had no reason to keep a human here who wanted to go back to Earth. Since I'd kept an impure human here for so long in secret, it was better to send him back before I was found out.


However, there was one thing I worried about: if someone asked him where he'd been for the past three years, he'd surely speak of everything he'd seen here. That might make people interested in the Dragon King's Palace, in the lunar capital. This would be a problem for the capital.


I confessed everything to Lady Yagokoro, and consulted with her on what the best course of action would be. To my surprise, Lady Yagokoro wasn't at all angry that I'd kept a human here for so long.


Lady Yagokoro's advice was: "It's best to make someone like that a dead man. People on Earth would treat someone who went out to sea three years ago and hasn't been seen since as dead. Well, this is generally what you'd expect to happen if you halfheartedly hide some living thing that's come here from Earth for so long..."


"Yes, yes, the great Tsutsugawa deity. Though, it seems laughable to us that such a greedy fisherman could be revered as a god."


"Lady Yagokoro advised us to kill him right away, but we felt too sorry for him to carry it out."


Of course, the fact that I'd looked after him so long made it difficult to kill him. My sister was the same, so she didn't want to kill him, either.


That being the case, we asked if there were any other way to deal with this situation. Lady Yagokoro smiled and said, "Of course, you're both too kind for that," and suggested a different, truly excellent plan.


The alternative was to send him to an era where nobody remembered who Mizue no Uranoshimako was. In other words, to create a time difference between the Dragon King's Palace and Earth of a factor of almost a hundred, and return him to a time three hundred years after he left.


At the time, we didn't understand why that solution was best. If we sent a human back to a world where he didn't know anybody, he'd just be confused, and he'd still tell everyone about the Dragon King's Palace. However, Lady Yagokoro was never wrong. We placed our absolute trust in her. So, we took her advice.

三百年後の地上に送り返す為には、まず彼を人工冬眠 (コールドスリープ) させる必要があった。私達は千五百年以上前の当時の最先端の医療技術であった人工冬眠を施し、そのまま三百年ほど眠らせた後に地上に帰す事にした。まさか三百年後になる前に、八意様との突然の別れがあるとは思っていなかったのだが……。

To send him back to a world three hundred years after the time he left, we decided to place him into cryogenic storage, which was cutting-edge technology at the time, and return him to the Earth after he'd slept for nearly three hundred years. Of course, we hadn't suspected that our sudden parting with Lady Yagokoro awaited us less than three hundred years away...


"But why are you bringing that up now?"


"I was wondering what we should do if someone comes like that from Earth again."


Thus, Mizue no Uranoshimako was brought to the lunar capital on the back of a five-colored turtle, and spent three wonderful years there before being returned to an Earth where three hundred years had passed.


Something felt wrong as soon as he reached the sandy beach. The white sand, the pine trees, the blue sky; even though nothing at all should have changed since the day he set out fishing, he felt unease on the sea air. The anxious Urashimako returned to his house, but where his house should have been there was an empty expanse of grass. Even when he went to his friends' houses, the people living there had no recollection of him, and not a single person in the village knew who he was. He fell into deep despair.


"Now... I think we should send them back right away or kill them. We're not as foolish now as we were then."


"Or we are not as kind as we were fifteen hundred years ago...?"


The story doesn't end there.

八意様は地上にお隠れになる前に、浦嶋子に手土産として玉匣 (たまくしげ) (*注)を渡せと言っていたのだ。さらに彼には〝この玉匣は地上での生活に困ったら開けなさい、しかし再び竜宮城に来たいのであれば決して開けてはいけません〟と伝えろと言われていた。

It's said that before Lady Yagokoro went into hiding on the Earth, she sent Urashimako a tamakushige (*2) as a gift. It's also said that she sent a message along with it. "If you ever become troubled by your new life on Earth, open this box. However, if you ever want to return to the Dragon King's Palace, you must absolutely never open it."


I wonder what exactly was in that. Now that Lady Yagokoro is no longer here, there's no way to find out or to reproduce it.


In any case, it seems that almost as soon as he returned to Earth, Urashimako opened it. It was probably too depressing to continue living in a world where nobody remembered him. With a loud cry, he opened it. However, his misfortune did not end there. In an instant, all his body lost all of its youth, and he quickly aged to the point where he could no longer even walk. Something had been sealed inside that hastened his aging.


But this sudden aging was a blessing in disguise. This old man who knew about things that happened three hundred years ago was treated as a living god. His strange tale was believed to be a tale from the world of the gods, and became a legend in the village. Few people in that age lived to be as old as he was, and he couldn't read the script of the time but could still converse with others. If Urashimako had appeared to be young, his story would probably have remained idle gossip.

さらに浦嶋子の伝説は時の天皇、淳和 (じゅんな) 天皇の耳まで届いたのだ。淳和天皇は浦嶋子の竜宮城の話を聞き、それこそが常世の国——蓬莱国であると予想し、非常に関心を持った。蓬莱国は不老不死の国であり、当時の権力者は誰しもが競うように探していた。ただ、伝説は既に陳腐化し始め蓬莱国の存在は疑われ始めていたから、浦嶋子の伝説は天皇を大いに喜ばせたのだ。

At length, Urashimako's story reached the ears of the then-current emperor, Jun'na. Emperor Jun'na listened to Urashimako's tale of the Dragon King's Palace, and he believed that he had found the fabled land of eternity across the sea, the land of Hourai, so he took great interest in the man. The land of Hourai was the land of eternal youth, so all of the authority figures of the age were searching desperately for it. By then, the legend had become somewhat cliched, and people began to doubt the existence of the land of Hourai, so hearing the legend of Urashimako pleased the emperor greatly.


Emperor Jun'na set about his plans immediately, but it was already too late. Urashimako was so old he couldn't take a single step, and by the time the Emperor's men found him, he had already breathed his last.


The emperor recognized Mizue Urashimako as one of the few men to have ever gone to the land of Hourai and returned, erecting a temple in his honor and bestowing upon him the Tsutsugawa divinity.


Mizue no Uranoshimako, a man who had been spirited away by chance. He was entered into the ranks of the gods, and by doing so strengthened people's faith in the land of Hourai, in the lunar capital, and made all of the era's authority figures aware of the majesty of its people.


I wonder if our master knew that this would happen. No, that's a foolish question, of course she knew. If she hadn't, then having him put into cryogenic storage for three hundred years and preparing the tamakushige that would age him was just idle play. Our master may have seemed the harshest one of us at first, but she was in fact the kindest.


"Now, it seems that traveling hundreds of years into the future is called the Urashima Effect."

「神様となり、その上に未だに名前が残っているのであれば彼も幸せでしょう。ねぇ依姫、私達にそこまで先の未来を見通す事が出来るかしら? もうすぐ地上から何者かが現われるかも知れないと言うのに……」

"He's become a god, and his name is left to history. I'm sure it's made him happy. Hey, Yorihime, I wonder if we can predict what will happen so far in advance? It would be nice, since it seems like someone may come from the Earth..."


We enjoyed reminiscing, but suddenly Yorihime made a grim face.


"We've learned quite a few things since Lady Yagokoro left us."


Yorihime looked out across the sea and continued.


"We've learned that it's impossible for us to have such a deep comprehension of the future. That careless kindness can be problematic, both for humans and Lunarians..."


I placed a hand on Yorihime's tense shoulder.


"In that case, when the invaders from the Earth come, we'll have to do our best to repel them right away."


"My sister... that sounds like something Lady Yagokoro would say."


"That's because I'm the older one."


"...But we've lived so long that a difference like that is insignificant."


"No. No matter how many thousands of years pass, that's something that will never change."


"Hm, that means that you'll retire first, doesn't it? Just like Lady Yagokoro."


Yorihime smiled a bit. Seeing that, I lifted my hand from her shoulder and asked, "By the way, have the rabbits perfected their drills?" Yorihime sighed and responded.


"Ah, I suppose so. They're all doing their best, but I'm afraid we're a bit understaffed... I think I've been spending most of my time training our new recruit, Reisen, but she just isn't very strong."


Yorihime sighed, and smiled a bit. I let go of her shoulder when I noticed this. "I bet. A lot of the rabbits assigned to pounding mochi are a pretty dull lot that just love singing. They're probably not worth much on the battlefield."


"The old Reisen had some talent... I wonder where she is now?"


The rabbits assigned to be lunar emissaries have relatively strict regulations, and it involves no small amount of physical training. So, it's not that unusual for rabbits to run away. Reisen was a rabbit who'd done just that before the start of the last war.


Reisen was exceptionally talented. She could hide easily and disturb the minds of others. However, she was also somewhat cowardly and self-centered. Obviously, these were potentially fatal traits for a soldier, but we couldn't correct them. As a result, she was uncooperative, and before the time for battle came, she abandoned her duties and fled to Earth.


It was our job to search for Reisen and bring her back to the moon, but over forty years had passed since then, and there was no point in pursuing the matter further. We decided she'd probably been made into some human's stew, or had been tainted by the Earth's impurity and could no longer be admitted back into the lunar capital.


"I'm worried about the new Reisen. She doesn't seem to have much sense, and seems a bit dull."


It was about three months earlier that this rabbit had come to us in a wounded condition.


She said she had tired of pounding mochi and fled to Earth, but Lady Yagokoro entrusted a letter to her there, so she came back to the moon. It had been several hundred years since we'd ceased the investigation into her whereabouts, so we hadn't thought that she would reach out to contact us.


The contents of her letter told how to protect the lunar capital. "I can't return to the lunar capital anymore, and I don't intend to cause trouble by contacting you in this manner, but I had to do something to tell you that somebody on Earth is plotting something untoward against the moon. Since I thought it would be too dangerous to contact you directly, I hope you'll forgive me for using this moon rabbit I happened to meet."


We let the rabbit who'd come with the letter stay in our mansion. The crime of escaping to the Earth to avoid pounding mochi was not a small one. However, she'd done the service of bringing Lady Yagokoro's letter to us, and I felt sorry for her, so we gave her the name Reisen and let her stay with us.


"Plus, our current Reisen has already fled to Earth once. We can't say for sure that she won't try to run away again."


"If everything happens as Lady Yagokoro has written, the invaders from Earth should be coming soon, but I'm still unsure about the situation." Yorihime said, turning to face me.


"It's best not to rely too much on the rabbits this time. Yorihime, when the time comes to fight, you should fight personally."


"V-very well. Of course, it depends on how many come..."


"It'll be fine. After all, you have many gods on your side."


An unexpected emergency interrupted our conversation.


Something had flown from the other side of the Sea of Tranquility.


The Sea of Tranquility was on the other side of the moon from the lunar capital, so the citizens of the capital and the moon rabbits seldom visited it.


With great caution I observed the being that was flying towards us. It was a small black mass - apparently in the form of a crow.


"A crow...?"


"My sister, a crow is the avatar of the sun. It may be a familiar of Lord Tsukuyomi's sister."


"...No, it's not. I can feel the avarice in its blood, the greed in its eyes, the impurity in its wings."


If that crow was an avatar of the sun, it would have three feet and red eyes!


"That is... a crow from Earth."


The crow didn't seem to be able to see us, but it flew doggedly on. In fact, it seemed to be driven not by any sort of homing instinct, but simply flew straight ahead, never wavering in its path. Eventually it flew right over our heads.


"An Earth crow... Perhaps this is another spiriting away?"


"It may be related somehow to the invaders that will come from Earth, so let's follow it!"


The crow flew straight on, occasionally making minor course corrections.


"Something is odd... Birds from Earth hardly ever appear here, and its flight seems too... mechanical."


The crow crossed over the Sea of Serenity and the Sea of Rains and flew on towards the Ocean of Storms.


"I knew it, that crow flew from Earth to reach the far side of the moon, looking for something!"


That is, it was likely that the crow hadn't come here by accident, but someone had sent it here.

月の都は裏側の月に存在し、さらに結界を張りその姿は隠されている。人間が攻めてこようと、その結界を破れない限り月の都には入れないのだ。その結界の内側に飛び込む為には決められたルートで都を目指す必要があるのだが、何故か鴉は見えない筈の海の道を辿っていた。まるで式神 (コンピュータ) の様な正確さであった。

The lunar capital is on the far side of the moon, protected by a barrier that hides its existence. As long as that barrier is in place, a human could never reach it. To make its way into that barrier, the crow would have to fly along a predetermined route, but somehow it was following the sea road that should have been invisible to it. With almost computer-like accuracy, like a shikigami.


The crow crossed over the Oceanus Procellarum without dropping its speed. At this rate, it looked like it would cross through the barrier surrounding the capital.


"My sister. If it continues any further, I believe it will reach the capital!"


"That crow has a great deal of impurity. We can't allow it to do that."


Leaving the crow's pursuit to my sister, I went on ahead to manipulate what was at the crow's destination to lay a trap over the final sea between it and the capital.


After pausing to hover over the sea in a completely unnatural fashion, the crow flew directly over my head.

穢土 (えど) に生まれ、悪心に操られし穢身 (えしん) 、お前の浄土はここではない!」

"Born in the land of impurity, you impure being controlled in malice, your pure land is not here!"


As I spread my hands, the sea beneath my feet immediately began to drain its water, and the parched earth beneath it began to show through.


A barren mountain devoid of grass or trees, the remnants of machines from the humans' lunar expeditions, a black sky. And, a world without any air.


The desolate near side of the moon. This is the lunar world that the humans discovered. It is an exceedingly cruel, lonely world.


Having suddenly lost its atmosphere and gravity, the crow spiraled slowly towards the ground, foaming at the mouth. Before long, it expired. Unable to breathe, it asphyxiated.


I have the power to connect mountains and seas. I am also the only person with the power to connect the near and far sides of the moon.


Once I'd confirmed that the crow was no longer moving, the sea was filled again with water, and our plentiful land came into view once more.

「お姉様! 鴉はどうなりましたか?」

"My sister! What happened to the crow?"


"It's dead. This crow was sent to the moon by someone; it was definitely heading toward the lunar capital, and knowing that now, clearly it was best to kill it."


" ...Yes. That was certainly for the best."


"I believe we'll need to study this crow's corpse a bit. Yorihime, would you look into that for me?"


"I'm already quite busy attending to the rabbits' training. Don't you have quite a bit of free time yourself, my sister?




And I do love my free time so.


"You have no sense of urgency, my dear sister. You're always eating peaches and going to the ocean, and if you ever do show up to training sessions you're only engaging the rabbits in idle chatter..."


But investigating isn't my specialty. Well, I usually leave war, battle instruction and investigation to my sister, so I told myself I really ought to contribute something once in a while.


"All right, I understand. I'll handle the examination."


We smiled to lighten to mood, but there was tension in our smiles.

pg.53 *注 しかるべき地位に付いている人物についてその資格が疑われる事

  • 1 - The literal phrase is "Doubting the weight of the kettle."

pg.64 *注 豪華な化粧箱、玉手箱

  • 2 - A splendid treasure box
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