Curiosities of Lotus Asia/Chapter 06

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< Chapter 05   Curiosities of Lotus Asia   Chapter 07 >

Curiosities of lotus asia 06 01.jpg
Curiosities of lotus asia 06 02.jpg
It was during an incessant drizzly day in Gensokyo. Marisa came calling to Kourindou as genuine customer, strangely enough. Her request was for Rinnosuke to repair her handy Mini-Hakkero. She said that she was very attached to it, so she didn't want it to rust again. And on top of that, she made a very surprising request... The first part of the fourth chapter about a rare metal in an original story based on the Touhou series!
霧雨の火炉 前編 Drizzly Furnace First Half [1]
 薄暗い道なき道。服がいつもの何倍も重く感じるのは、流石 (さすが) にこの霧雨のせいか。 I travel down a gloomy, unmarked path. My clothes feel twice as heavy as usual. A natural result of this drizzle, of course.
 陽の光も、降り注ぐ雨も、この森の葉はすべてを散らしてしまう。この森では晴れだろうが雨だろうが余り変わらない。それどころか昼だろうが夜だろうが……、私はこの境界の無さが居心地が良くて大好きなのだ。 Be it sunlight or pouring rain, this forest's leaves will dissipate it completely. Whether it's sunny or rainy doesn't make much of a difference here. You can't even tell if it's night or day... I really like this unbounded feeling a lot.
 それにしても、スカートが重くて歩き (づら) い。スカートの中に手を入れ、ザラザラした硬い物を触りながら上を見た。そういえばこんな雨とも霧ともつかない日じゃなかっただろうか。これを (もら) って帰った日も。 But it sure is hard to walk when your skirt is so heavy. I feel the rough object I'm carrying within in it, and look up. Come to think of it, wasn't it drizzly on the day I got this, too?
 私が物心ついた時には、あいつは既に今の場所に店を開いていた。あまり昔の事を考えたくはないが、あの、物が多く心地良い暗さの店内は思い出せる。そう、あそこも昼も夜も無く人も妖怪も無い、そういう場所だ。居心地が良い筈だが、どうも一つだけ気に喰わない事が有る。 He had been running a shop here for as long as I can remember. I don't really like to think about the past often but, well, I remember lots of stuff and the pleasant dimness inside the shop. Yes, there was no such thing as day or night, human or youkai there. It's that kind of place. It's definitely comfortable there, but there's just one thing I can't stand.
 おそらく私の実家に対してだと思うが、あいつは私に遠慮するのだ。それもその筈、あいつは私が生まれる前は霧雨家で修行していたのである。結局、うちの取り扱う品と人間の客相手では、自分の「能力」が () かせないと言って独立したらしい。あいつの能力なんて……、生かすも殺すもない中途半端な能力だがな。この前も「これはストーブだよ」、とか言っておいて使い方は変だったし……。それはともかく、あいつは昔から私に遠慮している。実家に戻る事はもう無いと言っているのに。 It probably has to do with my family, but he's so stiff towards me. Well, of course, since before I was born he was an apprentice to the Kirisame family. In the end, it seems he said that by dealing with our everyday merchandise and human customers he couldn't make the most of his “ability”, and struck out on his own. This ability of his, though... it's just a so-so ability that can neither kill nor revive. Just a while ago he was saying stuff like “This is a heater.”, and how he uses it in a really weird way. In any case, since long ago he's been reserved when it comes to me, even though I already said I'm not going back to live with my family.
 その時、妖精が腰掛けている大きな (きのこ) が目に入った。この茸は人を陽気にさせるから、疲労回復には持ってこいだ。あいつはいつでも愛想もなく気だるそうにしているし、これでもお土産に持って行ってやるか。 Just then, I saw a fairy sitting on some huge mushrooms. This type of mushroom can cheer up people, so I'll take some to recover fatigue. He's always being anti-social and listless, so maybe I'll give some to him as a gift.
 森の茸はあっという間に育つし、生える場所もいつも違う。まさに神出鬼没だ。森は生きている、常に変化している。だが、森より変化が速いものがある、それは人間だ。本当は人間こそ真の神出鬼没なのだ。 The forest's mushrooms grow in a blink, and they always grow in different places. They practically pop out of nowhere and vanish just as fast. The forest itself is alive, and it's always changing. But there are things that change even faster than the forest. Like humans. It's really humans that are the elusive ones.
 だというのに、あいつは昔から姿も中身も何一つ変わっていない。私が物心ついた時には、既に店はかなり年季が入っていたので、修行といってもいつの時代の話なのか判らない。あいつはいったい、どのくらい生きているのだろう。 But him, that guy hasn't changed in any way at all since long ago, neither on the outside nor on the inside. For as long as I remember, he was already running this shop, so I don't really know when this apprenticeship story of his happened. How long is he going to live anyway?
 重力に縛られない人間は居る。時間を止める人間も居る。だが、姿も中身も変化が無い人間なんて……、人間には決して真似出来ない事の一つなのだろうか。うらやましいぜ。 There are humans who defy gravity. And there are humans who can stop time, too. But not changing on the outside nor the inside? That may be the one thing no human can imitate. Man, am I jealous.
 ふと気が付くと、 (きのこ) を取り過ぎて妖精が不機嫌そうだった。茸はもう持てそうにないが、もったいないから無理やり帽子の中に突っ込むことにした。ヌルっとしてちょっと気持ち悪い。……ああ、私には物を捨てるという事が出来ないのだろうか。自分の事ながら呆れてしまう。 That's when I realized I had grabbed too many mushrooms so the fairy looked unhappy. It didn't look like I could carry that many, but it seemed a waste to leave them behind, so I just stuffed them inside my hat. They were wet, so they felt a little gross. Wow, I just can't seem to be able to throw stuff away. I amaze myself sometimes.
 まだ実家に居た頃にこんな事があった。あいつが珍しく家に来ていて、鉄くずを抱えて何やら親と口論していた。幼い私は必死に盗み聞きしていたが、「ひひいろかね」とか「稀少な金属」とか何とか聴き取るのが精一杯だった。それからというもの、その事が気になって、鉄器から古びた鉄の棒、原形を止めていない鉄くずまで金属なら何でも集めた。結局、何にも意味は無かったが、実家を飛び出した今もその時集めた鉄くず――まぁゴミだが、それが私の今の家に有る。実家は捨てられたのに、鉄くずは捨てられないんだな。呆れるぜ。 It was just like when I was living with my parents. During one of his rare visits to my house, he was carrying some scrap of metal, and got in an argument with my father for some reason. I was very young, and even though I desperately tried to listen in, stuff like “hihiirokane”[2] (crimson ore) and “rare metal” was all I could hear. And after that I got curious and started to gather everything from iron tools to old iron rods and even iron scraps, anything that was metal. In the end, it was pointless, but even now that I've left my parents' home, all the iron scraps I gathered at that time – well, trash, really – I still have them at my new house. I could throw away my home, but I wouldn't throw away those metal scraps. I sure amaze myself.
 余計な事を思い出しているうちに目的地が見えてきた。魔法の〝森〟の〝近〟く、霧雨と森を合わせて〝霖〟、こんな単純な名前を名乗る主人が居る店だ。〝 (こう) 〟は (こう) 、つまり神社の事だと言ってたな。ったく、そういうの大好きな奴だぜ。〝香霖堂〟よ。こんな古びた小さな店が霧雨――人間、森――妖魔 (ようま) 、それと神社――境界の中心、つまり幻想郷の中心のつもりなのか? While I was remembering these unnecessary things, I saw my destination. The “rin” comes from the being close to the forest and the frequent drizzles. Yes, this is a shop with an owner that would make such an obvious name. The “kou” of incense relates to gods, basically meaning shrine. Geez, this guy really likes this stuff. “Kourindou”. This old and small shop is the shrine that sits on the border between human and youkai, drizzle and forest. So in other words, is this place supposed to be the heart of Gensokyo?
 ――今日は細かい雨が降っているな、雨の日は (あか) りを () けて本を読むのに限る。 There’s a drizzle falling today, and on these rainy days, the only thing to do is light a lamp and read a book.
――カラン、カラン、バン! Knock, knock, bam!
「おい幻想郷の中心、早速だが何か () くもの貸してくれ」 “Hey, Heart of Gensokyo! I know it's kinda sudden, but give me something to dry myself.”
 黒くて () れた塊が見えた。楽しい読書の時間を破るのは、案の定いつもの困った奴だ。 I saw a black and wet lump. Sure enough, the one destroying my enjoyable reading time was the same troublesome person as always.
「中心って、いったい何の事かな魔理沙? ……って、かなり濡れているじゃないか。このタオルを貸すからよく拭くと良い」 “What do you mean by ‘heart’, Marisa? Oh... You are pretty wet, aren't you? Take this towel and dry yourself.”
「おっと悪いな。それにしても、香霖、何で本を読んでるんだ? 今日は雨の日だぜ? いつもは『晴れの日は本を読むに限る』って言ってるじゃないか」 “Oh, thanks a bunch. And by the way, why are ya readin' a book, Kourin? It's rainin' today, in case ya didn't notice. Don't you always say that ‘The only days for reading books are sunny days.’?”
「晴れの日は『灯りを消して』本を読むのに限ると言ったんだよ」 “I said that sunny days are the only ones in which you can read a book with the lights out.”
「あ、そうそうこれやるよ。適当に喰って明るくなりな」 “Oh yeah, I brought ya these. Eat a few and cheer up some.”
 魔理沙は体を拭きながら帽子を差し出した。中は茸でいっぱいである。 Marisa handed out her hat to me, while wiping her body. It was full of mushrooms inside.
「こんな怪しい物を食べろと言うのか? まぁ、魔理沙の事だから大丈夫だと思うけど……」 “Are you telling me to eat these suspicious things? Well, knowing you, they're probably fine...”
「茸汁にしろって事だ。あいよ、タオル返すぜ」 “Make some mushroom soup with 'em. Here's the towel back.”
「って、おい、もっとちゃんと拭けよ。そんな服で売り物に腰掛けられたら困る」 “Hey, you aren't dry all the way yet! It'll be bad for my merchandise if you sit on them in those wet clothes.”
「そこは、私が風邪をひかないか心配するもんだぜ。ともかく、今日は仕事の依頼を持って来た。珍しいだろ?」 “This is the part where ya should be worryin' about me gettin' a cold. Anyway, I got a job for ya today. Betcha weren't expectin' that, huh?”
 自分で客である事を珍しいって言ってる様じゃ、もう皮肉の言い様も無いのだが、魔理沙は「これの修復を依頼しに来たんだよ」と言って、スカートの中から八角形の香炉の様な物を取り出した。かなり使い込まれているが、 (さび) が目立つ。 When you admit yourself that you being a customer is unusual, I have nothing cynical left to say. Marisa said “I came to ask ya to fix this.”, and pulled something resembling an octagon-shaped incense burner from her skirt. Though it was worn out all over, the rust stood out the most.
「ああ、懐かしいじゃないか、この『ミニ八卦炉 (はっけろ) 』、まだ使っていたのか」 “Ahh, this sure is nostalgic. Are you still using this Mini-Hakkero?”
「毎日酷使 (こくし) している、フル活用だ。……ただ、 () びちゃってな」 “I abuse it all the time for just about everythin'. It's just gotten rusty.”
 この『ミニ八卦炉』、魔理沙が家を飛び出した時に僕が作成してやったマジックアイテムだ。小さいが異常な (ほど) の火力を持つ。山一つくらいならこれ一つで焼き払える。暖房にも実験にも戦闘にも何にでも使えるだろう。 This Mini-Hakkero is a magical item I made when Marisa left her parents' home. Even though it's small, it has extraordinary firepower. It can reduce a single mountain to ashes. I guess it can also be used for heating, experiments, combat, and more.
「もう、これが無い生活は考えられないぜ」 “Gee, I can’t even think of livin' without it.”
「そうか、そう言ってもらえれば道具屋冥利 (みょうり) に尽きる」 “I see. Hearing such things is one of the benefits of being an item-smith.”
「だから、もう絶対 () びないように修復してほしい。そうだな、炉全体を『ひひいろかね』にしてくれ」 “That's why I wancha to modify it so it never rusts again. Yeah, make the whole reactor part out of hihiirokane."
 突然の異質な単語が、相手が魔理沙じゃなくなったという錯覚を起こし、条件反射で営業口調になってしまった。 Hearing such a strange word made be briefly imagine that I wasn't talking to Marisa anymore, so I took a more business-like tone out of reflex.
「あいにく、そのような物は取り扱っていないのですが」 “Unfortunately, I don't deal in such material.”
「香霖に足りないものは嘘をつく能力だな。他にも足りないものばかりだが」 “Whatcha lack, Kourin, is the ability to lie. You lack a lotta other things, too.”
「ふん、面倒だから嘘をつくなんて事は止めたんだ。君が『緋々色金 (ひひいろかね) 』を知っているなんて思わなかったし」 “Hmpf, it's too much of a bother to lie so I'll drop it. But I didn't think you would know about hihiirokane."
「知ってるぜ、いいもんだろ」 “You bet I do. It's good stuff, right?”
「ふーん、緋々色金はものすごく稀少な金属だ。だが、少しなら持ち合わせがある。これを使ってやっても良いんだが」 “Hmm, hihiirokane is an incredibly rare metal. However, I do have a little that I guess I could use.”
「お願いするぜ」 “I'd 'ppreciate it.”
 緋々色金は、確かに錆びる事の無い金属である。どんな環境下でも材質が変化する事が (ほとん) ど無いから、これを使えば最高のマジックアイテムが出来るだろう。とはいえ、これに使えばこの貴重な金属は無くなってしまう……どうしたものか。 Hihiirokane is indeed a rust-proof metal. Since its properties practically won't change under any environment, you could likely make the strongest magical items with it. But that said, modifing her Mini-Hakkero would exhaust my supply of this precious metal... What should I do?
 逡巡 (しゅんじゅん) しながら僕は、魔理沙が言っている事におかしな点が有るのに気付いた。これは、久々に商売のチャンスである。 While I hesitated, I noticed that there was a strange point to what Marisa had said. This would be my first chance to do business in a while.
「そうだな。このアイテムは僕の自信作でもあるし、やってあげても良いよ」 “Alright. Since this item is a proud work of mine, I might as well do it.”
「ほんとか? それは助かるぜ」 “Really? That would help me out a lot!”
「ただし、交換条件がある」 “However, I do have something to ask in return.”
 と言ってから、仕事を受けるのに交換条件が有るのは当たり前だと思ったが、魔理沙にとって、お金や (きのこ) を出すより楽だと思われる条件を僕は提示した。 As I said, when you accept a job, it's only natural to ask for something in return. But for Marisa, the terms I proposed to her could be considered easier than paying in money or mushrooms.


^  The title "Drizzly Furnace" (霧雨の火炉) was altered for the book. It was originally published as "Rain Furnace" (霖雨の火炉), which includes one of the characters in Rinnosuke's name (霖之助).
^ Hihiirokane (ヒヒイロカネ or 緋々色金, meaning "crimson ore") is a metal depicted in some ancient Japanese legends that allegedly possessed strange physical properties, and could be used to forge some extraordinary metal alloys. It is very similar in concept to Orichalcum.

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