第三話 浄土の竜宮城

Chapter 3: the Dragon King’s Palace in the Pure Land


A wind bearing no foreign objects sweeps soundlessly over the ocean's surface. Nothing else disturbs the still waters. After all, nothing lives in the moon's oceans.


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 large to overwhelm others, creatures who used oxygen to move especially nimbly, creatures who moved to the earth seeking a new realm, creatures that left the earth for the skies ... A number of new victors began to appear. As the source of all life, the oceans were also the greatest battlefield. As the victors of such a bloody history, these were naturally creatures of great impurity.


However, there are basically no impure beings in the lunar capital. So, the ocean that stretched out before my eyes is devoid of life. Not a single of the ocean's creatures had taken up residence on the moon. Yes, this ocean bears not a single impurity, save one thing, the place where it reflected 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 looking at it a lot lately ... "


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


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


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


"Don't worry. 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, I wonder?"


"Well, maybe that too, but ... Most of all sister, don't you think your actions lately look suspicious to other people?"


"I'm only coming to watch the ocean, right?"


"But people think that's suspicious. If you're going to act that freely ... well, don't come to me when the rabbits start wondering how heavy the kettle really is*." [* - an expression denoting doubt about a person's qualifications for the position they hold]


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


Even as I said that, I realized the faintest trace of impurity was borne in the wind. It was a portent of calamity that only I, the lunar princess with the power to connect sea and mountain, could sense.


Was the faint trace of impurity just my imagination, or had someone secretly come bearing it 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 left the Sea of Tranquility behind us.



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 would even be expected to do battle with the Earth if it came to that.


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 the Earth. To the Lunarians, the Earth was a great prison, and we, the Watatsuki sisters, watched over those who were sent to the Earth.



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


"The rumors that have started lately are trouble."


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 popular lately 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 had to do with the state of civil order in the lunar capital. They were all silly, baseless things, like "Someone is going to attack from the 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 the 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 two whose distance from the Earth was the least. On top of that, we were the only two still alive who had been raised by the special criminal who'd been semipermanently banished to the Earth, Eirin Yagokoro. Since we hadn't really spent much effort looking for her, it's only natural that people would suspect us.


"They say that if you start enough rumors, they'll all be fated to disappear, but ... none of them have actually done so, even after all this time has passed, so it would be best if people thought of us as innocent - "


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


Obviously, an unfounded rumor can disrupt the public. 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. An out-of-hand denial can invite mistrust and disorder.


"Maybe, but ... "


"I don't care 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 need to be careful how we act. 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 teaching tactics to the rabbits' battle personnel (and they'd just gotten a new member), I, who am in charge of watching over the path to the Earth and leading the rabbits we use as messengers, usually don't have much to do. Usually I'll join them in their battle training.


However, since all battle-essential rabbit personnel 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.



The lifeless ocean quietly kicked up waves. As I watched the ocean, memories of the distant path sprang unbidden to my mind.


The life that arose in the oceans 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 became able to give birth even as they were 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 lost their ability to adapt and simply died out. 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. It typically continues centered around the victors. The Earth is a land 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, the 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 watching the full moon hanging in the sky over the ocean, this sage became determined to free themselves from the impure Earth.


As if moving between homes from the sea to the earth, 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 those 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 may be a Pure Land without impurity, that is to say, the same as the world after death.


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 live out our lives and 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 - 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 interested in it now, 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 thought somebody might come from the Earth as I was watching the sea, 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 ... "


"I can remember what's happened over 1500 years ago. Come on, don't you remember when that human from the Earth came riding in 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 the 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 thus:


"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 probability above zero, 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 the 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 the earth and the moon, who have the power to go back and forth between them freely.


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? Ahh ... "


"Well, it was quite a while ago. Even long before when Mizue no Urashimako came to the moon, and our master went down to the Earth ... "



Over 1500 years ago, a human by the name Mizue no Urashimako 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 a world they can understand. 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 the earth, and began to say he wanted to stay here a little longer. Maybe he was a little stupid. 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 Urashimako's story. He was a fisherman, and one day as he was setting out as usual he saw a strange, great turtle surface, its back dazzling with 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 dived 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 - it 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. That the five colored turtle was a lost pet of mine, and that when I'd gone looking for it I'd found it, and found 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 during the day along with the sun 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 Urashimako? Ah, yes, I remember such a human. He loved finishing, 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.


"That's right. That human. He's the Tsutsugawa deity now; not a bad place for a simple common fisherman to end up, eh?"


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 told Lady Yagokoro about everything, 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 half-heartedly 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 that seemed like going too far."


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 very kind," and suggested a different, truly excellent plan.


The alternative was to place him in an era where nobody remembered who Mizue no Urashimako was. In other words, to create a time difference between the Dragon King's Palace and the 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 puzzled, 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.


To send him back to a world three hundred years after the time he left, we would have to put him into cold sleep. We decided to place him into suspended animation, which was a leading-edge technology at the time, and return him to the Earth after he'd slept for a 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 again from the Earth."


Thus, Mizue no Urashimako 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're not as kind as we were fifteen hundred years ago ... ?"


The story doesn't end there.


It's said that before Lady Yagokoro went into hiding on the Earth, she sent Urashimako a tamakushige (a splendid jeweled box) 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 was in that jeweled box. 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 the Earth, Urashimako opened the box. It was probably too depressing to continue living in a world where nobody remembered him. Crying aloud, he opened the box. However, his misfortune did not end there. In an instant, all his youth escaped his body, and he quickly aged to the point where he could no longer even walk. Something had been shut away in that box that hastened his aging.



But, this sudden aging was hard on Urashimako. 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 since he couldn't even read the script of the time but could still converse with others, the old man was made into a living legend. If Urashimako had appeared to be young, his story would probably have remained in the world of idle gossip.


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 immediately took 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 Urashimako, 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 fear the austere majesty of the land of Hourai.


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



"Now, it seems that crossing through hundreds of years of time 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? Soon, someone might come from the Earth ... "


Yorihime had enjoyed sharing our common reminiscence, but she suddenly made a grim face.


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


Yorihime looked out across the sea and continued speaking.


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


I placed a hand on Yorihime's tensed shoulder.


"In that case, when the invaders from the Earth come, we'll have to do our best to turn them back 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 no difference at all."


"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 finished their training?" Yorihime sighed and responded.


"Oh, well. 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 something of a talent ... I wonder where she is now?"


The rabbits assigned to be lunar emissaries have relatively strict controls placed on them, and the work can be fairly strenuous. 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 others' minds. However, she was also somewhat cowardly and self-centered. Obviously, these were probably fatal traits for a soldier, but we couldn't correct them. As a result, she was fairly uncooperative, and before the time for battle came, she abandoned her duties and fled to Earth.


It was our job to search the moon to find Reisen and bring her back, 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.


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 hadn't really intended to bother you by contacting you like this, but I had to do everything I could 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 Jeweled Rabbit who I happened to meet", she'd written.


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 us the service of bringing Lady Yagokoro's letter, and I felt sorry for her, so we gave her the name Reisen and let her stay with us.


"Plus, our current Reisen has a history of trying to run away to Earth. 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 wonder if it will really be alright?" 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."


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


"It's alright. After all, you have many gods on your side."



Our conversation was interrupted and left unfinished.


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 demon - apparently in the form of a crow.


"A crow ... ?"


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


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


If that crow was an embodiment 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, let's follow it!"


The crow simply 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 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.


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.


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. At this rate, 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 ocean between it and the capital.


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


"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 the mountains and sea. 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.


"Alright, I get it, I get it. I'll get right to that, then."


We smiled faintly. 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

pg.64 *注 豪華な化粧箱、玉手箱





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