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幻想郷に霧雨が降りしきる日のこと。「香霖堂」を訪れたのは、珍しく、純粋な客としてやって来た魔理沙だった。彼女の依頼は、霖之助の手になる便利な道具「ミニ八卦炉」の修理。愛着の深いその道具が二度と錆びぬように、という魔理沙だが、その上さらに意外な注文をつけるが――。「東方」シリーズ原作によるオリジナル連載、ある稀少な金属をめぐる第四話前編! It was during a day of incessant drizzly rain in Gensokyo. Marisa came calling to Kourindou as real customer, strangely enough. Her request was for Rinnosuke to repair her most useful tool – the Mini-Hakkero. She said that she was very attached to this object, and didn’t want it to go rusty 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!

Chapter 6 (Colorful PUREGIRL Chapter 4 First Half): 霖雨の火炉 前編 ~ Rain Furnace First Half

 薄暗い道なき道。服がいつもの何倍も重く感じるのは、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あまり変わらない。それどころか昼だろうが夜だろうが……、私はこの境界のな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 in this forest. Not knowing if it’s day or night... I really like this feeling of borderlessness 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 even so, it’s hard to walk when your skirt is so heavy. I put my hands inside my skirt's pocket, feel the rough object I was carrying, and I look up. Thinking of which, wasn’t that a day with this same rain and mist? The day I got this.

 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。あまり昔のこと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、あそこも昼も夜もなく人も妖怪もない、そういう場所だ。居心地が良いはずだが、どうも一つだけ気に喰わないことがある。 He had run a shop in this place for as long as I can remember. I don’t really 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 certainly feels nice 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。それもそのはず、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」が活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。実家に戻ることはもうな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 went independent. This ability of his, though... just a half-baked 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茸が目に入った。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いってやるか。 At that time, I saw a fairy sitting on some huge mushrooms. This type of mushroom makes people feel more cheerful, so I'll take some to recover fatigue. He’s always being anti-social and listless, so maybe I should 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 is growing, and it’s always changing. But there are things that change even faster than the forest. Like humans. It’s really humans that pop out of nowhere and vanish just as fast.
 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、すで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わからない。あいつはいったい、どのくらい生きているのだろう。 But even if I say that, 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 planning 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、姿も中身も変化がない人間なんて……、人間には決して真似できないこと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 humans who don’t change both on the outside and the inside... That may be the one thing no human can imitate. I’m so jealous.
 ふと気が付くと、茸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。ヌルッ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ことができないのだろうか。自分のこと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. Man, I just can’t seem to be able to throw stuff away. I’m amazed at this myself.
 まだ実家に居た頃にこんなことがあった。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、そのことが気になって、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、何にも意味はなかったが、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ある。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 eavesdrop, stuff like “Hihi’irokane” 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 iron scraps, anything that was metal. In the end, it was pointless, but even now that I've left my parent's 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.
 余計なこと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。“香”は神(こう)、つまり神社のことだと言ってたな。ったく、そういうのが大好きな奴だぜ。“香霖堂”よ。こんな古びた小さな店が霧雨――人間、森――妖魔、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. Close [chika] by the Forest [mori] of Magic, and the rainy spell [rin] joining the drizzly rain [kirisame] and the forest. Yes, this is a shop with an owner that would make such an obvious name. The incense [kou] relates to gods, basically meaning shrine. Geez, this guy really likes this stuff. “Kourindou”. This old and small shop... The Kirisame, humans... this forest of youkai... and then the shrine at the center of their borders. In other words, is this place supposed to be the heart of Gensokyo? (note)

 ――今日は細かい雨が降っているな、雨の日は灯りを点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、早速だが何か拭くもの貸してくれ。」 “Hey, Heart of Gensokyo! I know it’s kinda sudden, but give me something to dry myself.”
 黒くて濡れた塊が見えた。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 was 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、いったい何のことかな魔理沙? ……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いい。」 “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、なん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 for that. And by the way, why are you readin' a book, Kourin? It's rainin' today, huh? Didn’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。」 “Ah, that's right, I brought you this; eat as much as you like 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、魔理沙のことだから大丈夫だと思うけど……」 “Are you telling me to eat these suspicious things? Well, if they are yours then I think it’s fine…”
「茸汁にしろってことだ。あいよ、タオル返すぜ。」 “Just make mushroom soup with them. 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, dry yourself properly! It’ll be bad for my merchandise if you sit around it 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きた。珍しいだろ?」 “This is the part where you should be worrying about me gettin' a cold. Anyway, today I have a job for ya. Betcha weren't expecting that, huh?”
 自分で客であることを珍しいって言ってるようじゃ、もう皮肉の言いようもないのだが、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ような物を取り出した。かなり使い込まれているが、錆が目立つ。 When you yourself say 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 inside her skirt pocket. Though it was generally worn-out, the rust stood out the most.
「ああ、懐かしいじゃないか、この『ミニ八卦炉』、まだ使っていたのか。」 “Ahh, this sure is nostalgic. Are you still using this Mini-Hakkero?”
「毎日酷使している、フル活用だ。……ただ、錆びちゃってな。」 “I abuse it everyday. Full-on use. It’s just that… it got 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。小さいが異常な程の火力を持つ。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 heating power. It can reduce a single mountain to ashes. I guess it can also be used for heating, experiments, combat, and more.
「もう、これがない生活は考えられないぜ。」 “Gee, I can’t even think of makin' a livin' without it.”
「そうか、そう言ってもらえれば道具屋冥利に尽きる。」 “I see. Hearing such things is one of the benefits of being an item-maker.”
「だから、もう絶対錆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 want you to repair it so it never rusts again. Yep, I want you to make the whole reactor out of hihi’irokane.”

 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。 Even though it was a strange word to come up all of a sudden, as if an illusion that my interlocutor wasn’t Marisa anymore, my conditioned response was to use a business tone.
「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。」 “What you 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ことは止めたんだ。君が『緋々色金』を知っているなんて思わなかったし。」 “Hmpf, since it’s such a bother, I have quit lying. But I wouldn’t think you would know about hihi’irokane."
「知ってるぜ、良いもんだろ。」 “I sure 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, hihi’irokane is an incredibly rare metal. However, I do have a little of it. I guess I could use it.”
「お願いするぜ。」 “If ya please.”
 緋々色金は、確かに錆びることのない金属である。どんな環境下でも材質が変化することがほとんどないから、これを使えば最高のマジックアイテムができるだろう。とはいえ、これに使えばこの貴重な金属はなくなってしまう……、どうしたものか。 Hihi’irokane is indeed a rust-proof metal. Since its properties basically won’t change under any environment, I guess you could make the strongest magical items with it. But even if I say that, if I do so I would run out of this precious metal... What should I do?
 逡巡しながら僕は、魔理沙が言っていることにおかしな点があるのに気付いた。これは、久々に商売のチャンスである。 While I was hesitating, 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あるのは当たり前だと思ったが、魔理沙にとって、お金や茸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.

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