Curiosities of Lotus Asia/Chapter 29

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ひときわ暑い夏が始まる――。 An Exceptionally Hot Summer Begins
第二話 オカルトを知り尽くす者 Chapter 2: An Expert on the Occult
「あー、この店は暑いわねぇ、エアコンとか無いの?」 "Ugh, it's so hot in this store. Don't you have an air conditioner or something?"
客は団扇を大袈裟にバタバタ振った。 The customer flapped a fan in a dramatic fashion.
「んー、そんなに暑いかい」 "Umm, is it really that hot?"
「暑いねぇ。屋外は () () () より涼しく感じるんだけど、屋内だとエアコンが無いからどうしても暑く感じるわねぇ。あ、エアコンって言っても判っているけど」 "Yes, it is. The outside feels cooler here than it is over there, but the inside is much hotter since there's no air conditioner. Well, assuming you know what that even is."
そう言って、店でくつろいでいるお客は外の人間だ。眠って夢を見ると何故か幻想郷に居るのだという。幻想郷では主に神社か僕の店に入り浸っているのだ。 So said the customer relaxing in my store, a human from the outside world. Apparently, she is somehow able to come to Gensokyo in her dreams, and usually hangs around the shrine or my store.
「じゃあ、そのエアコンなるものを持ってきてくれないか。君の住む外の世界から、さ」 "Then why don't you bring me this air conditioner that is so common in your world?"
「いやー、エアコンを抱いて寝ろって、そりゃ無理よ。室内機と室外機の二つあるし」 "Uh-uh, it's not like I can just go to sleep while hugging an air conditioner. Not to mention they come in two parts, one that goes outside and the other inside."
実はエアコンというものは、昔から店に転がっているので知っている。冷たい風だけでなく暖かい風も出る機械だと、僕の目で () () () () 。だがいつものように使い方が判らない。宇佐見君に聞いてみたところ、業者じゃないし設置できる訳がない、室外機もないしそもそも電気が無いじゃん、と突っぱねられてしまった。 In truth, I knew what air conditioners were because they had come through my store in the past. I had seen with my ability that they were machines that could blow not only cold air but also hot air, but as always I had no idea how you were supposed to use them. When I asked Ms. Usami about it, she turned me down, saying that she wasn't familiar with their workings and the installation procedure, and that they wouldn't work without an outdoor unit, or electricity, anyway.
「ところで今日は神社のところに行ったのかい?」 "By the way, have you been to the shrine today? "
「いやー、行ってない」 "No, I haven't."
「そうか、霊夢にもよく言われているんだ。君が来たら念のため神社に寄るように言ってって」 "I see. Reimu has told me often that you should go over to the shrine whenever you visit, just in case."
「はーい。まあ今日は幻想郷探索とは別の用事で来てるんで、そっちの用事を済ませてからね」 "All right. Well, since today I came for other reasons than just exploring Gensokyo, I'll go after I finish that up."
「……また、待ち合わせかい」 "...Another meeting?"
僕の名前は森近霖之助。古道具屋「香霖堂」の店主だ。 My name is Rinnosuke Morichika. I'm the shopkeeper of the curio store, "Kourindou".
古道具と言っても、主に通常使う道具や骨董品だけではなく、外の世界の道具を取り扱っている。 Though I say curio store, it doesn't just have ordinary tools and antiques, but also deals in items from the outside world.
今いるお客は宇佐見菫子[1]。店に外の世界の道具と知識を与えてくれる良い顧客だ。しかし、最近は古道具屋として利用している節は無かった。 The customer that was currently here was Sumireko Usami. She was an excellent client that would bring tools and knowledge from the outside world to my store. However, she hasn't been using this location as a store lately.
彼女は様々な連中から注視されている。彼女の身に何か有って外の世界に幻想郷の事が知れてしまうと一大事だし、また逆に彼女が幻想郷に悪い物を持ち込む可能性があるからだろう。もちろん霊夢は彼女を監視下に置きたいと考えているようだ。しかし、彼女は束縛を嫌い、あちこちに顔を出している。だからうちに来る時は大体、霊夢に隠れて誰かと会うときだ。 She was being observed by various people. If something happened to her and the outside world found out about Gensokyo, it would be a serious matter, and conversely there was also the possibility of her bringing something detrimental into Gensokyo. Of course, Reimu was already considering putting her under strict supervision. However, as Sumireko hates being restrained, she's been appearing in several locations. That was why her arrival at the store would mean she was most likely meeting up with someone, unbeknownst to Reimu.
「逢うのはまた、山の仙人かな」 "Would you be meeting the mountain hermit again?"
「そうよ。それ以外だったら神社で逢うから」 "That's right. If it were anyone else I could just meet them at the shrine."
「あの仙人、君に色々仕事を依頼しているようだね」 "It seems that hermit is requesting a lot of things from you."
「そうね……」 "Yeah..."
余り深く訊かれたくないのか、スマートフォンを弄っているので、僕はそれ以上詮索するのは止めた。 She started playing with her smartphone as if she didn't want to be questioned any further, so I decided to stop my inquiry.
山の仙人とは、茨華仙と呼ばれている仙人である。定期的に神社に降りてきては、霊夢に教育をしているそうだ。その仙人が何故霊夢に隠れて外の人間と会っているのかまでは判らない。 The mountain hermit was the one known as Ibarakasen. It seemed she would descend upon the shrine on occasion to educate Reimu, so I did not know why she was keeping her meetings with a person from the outside world secret from her.
聞いたところに寄ると、春には外の世界から桜鯛を調達してきたり、弱っていた霊夢に元気を与えるなどの仕事を依頼されていたようだ。 According to what I have heard, she would make requests such as procuring cherry anthias from the outside or cheering up Reimu when she's feeling down.[2]
彼女は驚くほどに人外の連中と馴染んでいる。普通の外来人(外の世界から幻想郷に来た人間)なら平常心なんか保てないのだが、彼女は肝が据わっているのか少しねじが外れているのか、まるで慣れ親しんだ街にいるかのような感じだ。 Sumireko was growing surprisingly close to those that were not human. Normal outsiders (humans that came to Gensokyo from the outside world) would most likely have lost their minds by now, but because she either had a lot of nerve or a few screws loose already, it seemed like she had lived here all of her life.
――チリンチリン。 *Ring-a-ling*
「来たよ。仙人だ」 "She's here. It's the hermit."
茨華仙。片腕は包帯にグルグル巻かれ、もう片方の腕には鎖に繋がれている、明らかにカタギの者では無いというオーラを放っているが、物腰は柔らかい。人間だろうと妖怪だろうと、優しく接する。 Ibarakasen. With one arm tightly wrapped in bandages and the other connected to a chain, she emanated an aura of iniquity, but her demeanor was gentle. Whether humans or youkai, she would treat all with kindness.
「暑い場所で待たせたわね」 "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting in such a hot place."
「大して待ってないけど、暑いわー」 "The wait wasn't that long, but it really is hot."
「売れ残りが多いから風通しが悪いのよ。このお店」 "It's because there are so many unsold items that this store has poor ventilation."
そんなに暑いかな、と思ったが、最近風通しが悪いのは確かである。こいつらが少しでも商品を買っていってくれれば、風通しも良くなるんだが。 Though I wondered if it was truly that hot, it was undeniable that recently the ventilation had been poor. If these freeloaders would simply buy a few goods, then the ventilation would improve.
二人は店主である僕をそっちのけに会話をし始めた。僕は話を聞かないように、少し離れて本を読むことにした。 The two began their conversation, taking no notice of me, the proprietor. So as to not eavesdrop on their conversation, I moved further away and opened up a book.
――暫く経って。 —Some time later...
「終わったわよ。いつもありがとうね。待ち合わせ場所のお兄さん」 "We're done. Thanks again, Keeper of the Meeting Place."
「誰が、待ち合わせ場所のお兄さんだ。……って宇佐見君は?」 "Who are you calling "Keeper of the Meeting Place"? ...And where's Ms. Usami?"
「もう帰っていったわよ」 "She's already left."
「相変わらず早いな。挨拶もなしか」 "Quick as always, isn't she? Doesn't even say goodbye."
「いつも消えるのは突然よ。まあ、目が覚めたらお帰りだからね。それに大体、一回につき四、五十分位しか幻想郷 (こっち) に居られないようね」 "She always disappears suddenly because she leaves when she wakes up, after all. She can only spend about forty, fifty minutes here at a time."
「眠りについてすぐに夢の世界に入ったとするなら、随分と短期睡眠だな」 "If she's entering the dream world as soon as she goes to sleep, then that's quite a short sleeping period."
「まあ、今は昼間ですからねぇ……」 "Well, it is midday, after all..."
茨華仙は少し呆れたように笑った。そりゃそうだ。昼間にちょくちょく寝ている方が不思議だった。 Ibarakasen laughed as if she was a little amazed. It was only natural, since it was rather strange for someone to be sleeping so often in the middle of the day.
「ところで今回は何を依頼したんだい?」 "By the way, what did you request from her this time?"
「あら、長生きしたければ詮索しない方が良いって言ったでしょ」 "My, didn't I tell you that you're better off not asking if you want to live long?"
「まあ、長生きはしたくないからね。それに待ち合わせ場所の利用料としてその位教えてくれても良いだろう?」 "Well, I'm not too interested in living long. And wouldn't that be a fair payment for making use of this meeting place?"
「……うーん。まあ、今回はちょっとそういう訳にはいかないのよねぇ」 "...Hmm, I don't think I can do so in this case."
「まあいいや。宇佐見君に聞くよ」 "That's fine. I'll just ask Ms. Usami."
「そうしてくれれば問題ない」 "If you would do that, then be my guest."
「? ところで前々から気になっていたのだが――」 "...? Anyway, there's something that I've been curious about since a while ago..."
僕が気になっていたこと、それは何故、宇佐見君はこの仙人の言いなりになっているのかということだ。 What I had been curious about was how Ms. Usami had come to be this hermit's errand girl.
「うーん。言いなり、ねぇ。そういう風に見えるの?」 "Hmm, errand girl, you say? Is that what it looks like?"
「何か君が、彼女の弱みでも握っているのかなとしか思えないんだ。外の世界の物を調達させたりと、彼女にとってメリットが無い依頼も多いじゃ無いか」 "I can't help but think that you've figured out her weakness or something. Haven't you made a lot of requests that don't seem to hold any merit for her, like procuring objects from the outside world?"
茨華仙は少し考えている。 Ibarakasen thought for a bit.
「……確かに、弱みを握っているのかもね。今日の依頼の内容は話せないけど、待ち合わせ場所の利用料として彼女の周りで去年起きた事を教えてあげるわ」 "...Indeed, you could say that I know her weakness. I can't tell you anything about today's request, but as payment for using this meeting place I'll tell you about the incident she caused around her last year.
茨華仙は話し始めた。それは戦闘を好まない僕には知らない事実ばかりだった。 Ibarakasen began to tell her story. To me, who had little interest in battles, it was a story full of yet unknown truths.
――彼女が幻想郷に現れるようになったのは、去年の今頃からである。 —The incident that had caused Sumireko to start appearing in Gensokyo occurred around this time last year.
彼女は外の世界で幻想郷の事を知り、自らの力で幻想郷に入ってきたそうだ。しかし、強力な結界により外からの作用だけでは完全に入り込むことは難しかった。その為、不完全ながら幻想郷の中に入った時に罠を仕掛け、誰かに結界を解かせようと試みたそうだ。その策は半分成功し、今の夢の中だけ幻想郷に入るという不完全な形でのみ、実現したという。 She had learned about Gensokyo in the outside world and entered it using her own power. However, it was difficult to fully penetrate the powerful barrier from outside. To counteract this, she entered partially and laid a trap that would cause someone to weaken the barrier from the inside. Her plan was only half successful, and now she can only be in Gensokyo in her dreams by materializing in an incomplete form.
「なる程、その罠というのは、去年うちの前でもやってたオカルトボール騒ぎという事か」 "Now I understand. So it was due to her trap that the commotion about Occult Balls that I saw even outside my store occurred, right?"
「そう、オカルトボールは外の世界の非常識の結晶で、常識の境界という大結界を揺るがす不安定 (イレギュラー) な代物だったのよ」 "Right. The Occult Balls were a crystallization of the lack of common sense in the outside world, so they were irregular objects that could disrupt the boundary of common sense that formed the Great Barrier."
非常識は内側、常識は外側、となる様に大結界は作られている。そこに非常識かつ、外の世界に実在するという、結界的には矛盾した物が入り込めば、結界その物の存在が危うくなるという事か。 The Great Barrier had been created such that common sense was kept outside, while the lack of it was kept inside. If some contradictory object that was not supported by common sense but yet existed in the outside world tried to penetrate the barrier, then it would threaten its very existence.
「そうかー。そのオカルトボール。見たかったな。」 "I see. I would've liked to see one of those Occult Balls."
「貴方が手に入れていたらもしかしたら安全だったかも知れないわね。結果論から言うと」 "If you had managed to obtain one of them, then maybe it would have been less trouble, thinking in hindsight."
「それは僕が外の世界の代物を扱う古道具屋だから、何か特別で優秀な存在って事かい?」 "Does being the owner of a curio store that deals with goods from the outside world make me some sort of special, superior being?"
「見ただけで名前と使い方が判るんでしょ? だったら罠も見抜けるかも知れないじゃない」 "You can tell the name and usage of something just by looking at it, can't you? Then perhaps you would have been able to see through the trap as well."
「確かにそうかもね。ああそうか、それでか」 "That certainly could have been the case. ...Ah, I know what it is now."
「何?」 "What?"
「そのオカルトボール騒ぎで、宇佐見君は君に強く出られないって事か」 "It's because of disturbance over the Occult Balls that Ms. Usami can't stand up to you. Am I right?
「あー、んー、まあ、そんなでもないんだけど……」 "Ah, um, well, that's not exactly it..."
暫くして茨華仙は帰った。お店はいつものような孤高の空間に戻った。 Soon after, Ibarakasen left, and the shop returned to its usual state of lone emptiness.
あの非力そうな宇佐見君が幻想郷の結界を破壊させようとしていて、しかも半分成功していたなんて思ってもみなかった。しかしそれを知ると、霊夢や茨華仙が過干渉する理由も判る。危険な幻想郷で妖怪から守っているのではなく、事故が起こらないようにでもなく、何か悪意を持って行動する要注意人物として監視しているんだろう。 I would never have guessed that the powerless-looking Ms. Usami had tried to destroy Gensokyo's barrier, and half succeeded at that. However, I now understood the reason for Reimu's and Ibarakasen's excessive meddling. They were not protecting her from the dangerous youkai in Gensokyo, or preventing an incident from occurring, but that they were observing someone who could potentially act with ill intentions.
幻想郷に対して順応性が高すぎると思ったが、はなから来ようと思って来ているのなら当然なのかもしれない。 I thought that she had adapted to Gensokyo with extreme ease, but I suppose it was obvious for someone who always wanted to come here.
――チリンチリン。 —"Ring-a-ling"
「あれー? もう帰ったの? カセンちゃん」 "Huh? Has Kasenny already left?"
「ちゃ、ちゃん!? ま、まあもう帰ったけど、また来たのかい」 "'Kasenny'? W-well, yes, but why are you back so soon?"
一時間もしないうちに、再び宇佐見君が店に来た。 In less than an hour, Ms. Usami had come to the store again.
「まあちょっと雑談したかったんだけどなぁ。さっきは昼食時間になって起こされたけど、午後の授業になったんでまたこっちに来たの」 "Hmm, I just wanted to discuss something with her for a bit. I was woken up earlier since it was time for lunch, but now my afternoon classes have started, I came back."
「昼間にちょくちょく寝ている君が心配だよ。ところでさっきの依頼、茨華仙から君からなら聞いてもいいって言ってたんだけど、良かったら教えてくれないか」 "I'm a little worried about you sleeping so frequently during the day. By the way, Ibarakasen told me that I could ask you about her earlier request, so if you don't mind..."
「さっきの話? うーん、どうしようかなぁ……。あ、でもカセンちゃんは話しなかったんだ」 "You mean what we just talked about? Hmm, I dunno... Ah, but if Kasenny didn't tell you..."
何故か嬉しそうに見えた。 For some reason, she seemed happy.
「実は、さっきの話は私からカセンちゃんに依頼するターンだったのよ」 "The truth is, it was actually my turn to request something from Kasenny this time."
「へ?」 "Huh?"
「ほら、私がいつも仕事の依頼を受けている様に見えてたかも知れないけど、あれって一方的じゃ無くて、交互に仕事をお願いできるという交換条件付きの依頼だったのよ。だから今回は私が依頼したの」 "You see, it might have seemed like I was the one that was always taking jobs for her, but it wasn't that one-sided. We actually agreed to trade off on who makes requests, and it was my turn to ask this time.
仙人と言えば、幻想郷ではある程度敬われるものである。ましてや人間と仙人の間には大きな隔たりがあるものだが、この外来人はどうやら僕が考えているよりずっと大物なのかもしれない。仙人と対等な条件で仕事を依頼しあっているのだ。しかも、ちゃん付けで呼んでいるなんて……。話に聞いてはいたが、女子高生という種族は恐ろしい。死をも怖れないというのは本当だろう。 In Gensokyo, hermits were beings that were respected to an extent. Considering that there was supposed to be a huge gap between the humans and the hermits, it was possible that this outsider was more important than I had assumed. She had been trading requests under equal conditions with a hermit. Moreover, to think she was calling her by a personal nickname... I had heard rumors, but these "female high-school students" are terrifying. I wonder if it was true that they didn't even fear death.
「な、なる程ね、それで茨華仙が依頼内容を聞くのに君の許可が必要だと言う訳だ」 "I-I see. That's why Ibarakasen needed your permission when I asked her about the request."
「依頼の内容はね、まあ他愛も無いものよ。幻想郷のオカルトスポットを案内して欲しいって言ったの。そうしたら来週まで待ってくれれば準備してくれるって」 "As for the request itself... well, it's a little silly. I just asked her to guide me around Gensokyo's occult spots. And she told me that she would have everything ready if I waited until next week."
「なる程ね、確かに他愛も無いが……。幻想郷のオカルトスポットって何処なんだろう」 "I see. It is a little silly, but... I wonder where Gensokyo's occult spots are supposed to be."
「本当は、暑いからこの待合い場所にエアコンを付けて、ってお願いしたんだけど、その仕事は私の手に余る、って断られちゃった」 "I actually asked her first to install an air conditioner at this meeting place because of how hot it was, but she turned it down, saying that was beyond her powers."
「ほうほう付けてくれたら有り難かった……て、ここは待合い場所じゃ無いぞ」 "Oho, I would be quite grateful for an air conditioner in my ...Wait, this isn't a meeting place!"
去年から妙な都市伝説が具現化し、あちこちに古のオカルト達が現れている事は知っていた。オカルトボールが現れたのも、彼女の置かれた現状も、そのオカルト騒ぎの所為だと思っていた。だが、オカルトボールに関しては、幻想郷のオカルト騒ぎとは別の話であるとさっき仙人に聞いた。 I learned that last year, strange urban legends had manifested and ancient occult happenings were widespread. I also learned that the Occult Balls had appeared and that Ms. Usami was in her current condition because of the resulting calamity. However, I had heard from the hermit earlier that the Occult Balls were separate from the occult happenings.
それの証拠に、オカルトボールが消えても、オカルト騒ぎは収まるどころか、どんどんと広がっている。さらに自由に制御出来る物も現れているようである。 As proof, even if the Occult Balls had disappeared, the occult happenings were continuing to spread instead of settling down. And a person had appeared that could control the occult freely.
彼女は幻想郷のオカルト騒ぎを見て、何か恐ろしい策を思いついているのかも知れない。僕はそれとなく聞いてみた。 It was possible that, seeing the occult run rampant in Gensokyo, Ms. Usami could concoct some terrifying scheme. I tried asking about this indirectly.
「幻想郷のオカルトスポットを見てどうするのかい?」 "What do you plan on doing by visiting Gensokyo's occult spots?"
「私はねー、秘封倶楽部、まあいわゆるオカルト部みたいなのの部長なの。単純にオカルトに興味があるのよ」 "Well, you see, I'm the president of the Sealing Club, which is basically like an Occult Club. That's what I'm interested in."
「幻想郷ってだけで、外の世界からみたらオカルトなんじゃ無いのかい」 "Couldn't Gensokyo itself be considered occult from an outside world point of view?"
「……そうね。確かにそうなんだけど」 "...I guess that's true."
言葉を濁した、何か有るはずだ。 With her mumbled words, I was certain of some ulterior motive.
「オカルトに執着するのは、君が今置かれている状況に関係するのかい」 "Does your attachment to the occult have something to do with the situation you're in right now?"
「状況、まあ確かにそれね。今の夢を見ている時だけ幻想郷に来る状況を何とかしたいと思っているのは確かよ。オカルトが幻想郷の世界を変えているのも判ったので、オカルトが何故具現化するのかを追い求めれば、私の状況も変化するかも知れないと。それに、完全な形で幻想郷に入る事だって出来るかも知れないわ」 "I definitely can't argue with that, and I do want to do something about how I can only visit Gensokyo in my dreams. I know that the occult is changing the world of Gensokyo, so I thought that if I could figure out why the occult was manifesting, I could change my situation, too. And maybe I'd even be able to enter Gensokyo in a complete form."
彼女は聡明だ。オカルトの仕組みについては、幻想郷の誰よりも詳しいのかも知れない。外の世界で行われた、人工的に広められたオカルトや、最新の技術に必ず忍び込むオカルト、キャラ化してまで忍び込むオカルト、そういった話をした。 Sumireko was very intelligent. It was possible that she knew more about the structure of the occult than anyone else in Gensokyo. She talked about occult matters from the outside world too -- phenomena that spread artificially, others which were sure to be lurking in the latest technology, and even those that developed their own characters.
そこでオカルトを信じず、一切オカルトの影響を受けない一番の方法は、オカルトを知り尽くすことだ。だか研究しているのよと語った。それは幻想郷の者には無い発想だった。 That was because instead of believing in the occult, she thought that a thorough understanding of it was the best way to avoid its effects, hence her research, as she said. It was a notion absent from all of Gensokyo's residents.
彼女のオカルト論は幻想郷のオカルト騒ぎにも関わっていて、どうやら第三の勢力でオカルト異変が起きていること、そして近い未来オカルトパワーを使った大きくて破滅的なうねりが来るとまで予言した。 Her occult theories even covered Gensokyo's occult crisis, and she even made the prediction that it was being caused by some third party, and in the near future there would be a destructive wave coming using the power of the occult.
彼女には妙な説得力があった。うかうかしているとこの外来人がキーとなって、幻想郷の結界は破られてしまい、幻想郷は外の世界のオカルトの一部になってしまうのでは無いかとさえ感じた。 She was strangely persuasive, to the point that I felt if we were too careless, she would be the key that would tear through the barrier of Gensokyo, making it a part of the occult of the outside world.
一週間後の夜、約束通り彼女と仙人の二人は幻想郷のオカルトスポットを巡ったようである。それは寺の墓場だとか神社だとか、変わったところだと湖の洋館だとか妖怪の山だとか、そういうところを巡ったそうだ。どうやら全てのスポットに茨華仙に頼まれて威かすオカルト役がいて、安全が保障されたVIP対応の肝試しだったらしい。 After a week had passed, she and the hermit went on a tour of Gensokyo's occult spots one night as promised. It seemed they visited places such as the temple's graveyard and the shrine, and some more unusual places such as the mansion on the lake and Youkai Mountain. Apparently, Ibarakasen had asked others to play roles representing occult phenomena at each spot to frighten her, making it a test of courage with the VIP treatment of guaranteed safety.
その話を聞いて僕は、こんな茶番を見たいんじゃ無かっただろうなと思い、がっくり肩を落とす彼女を想像して笑ってしまった。 Hearing this, I laughed to imagine Sumireko's disappointed expression as she thought about how she did not want such a farce.
次号へ続く To be continued...

Notes[edit]

  1. The text on the magazine is 宇佐見蓮子 (Renko Usami). After its release, the official website annouced that it was the typo.
  2. A reference to the events of Wild and Horned Hermit chapters 33 and 34.