A Lodoss gaiden/prequel, starring the royal family of the kingdom of Skard, part of the Moss alliance, or rather, specifically not part of the Moss alliance, despite being located in the Moss region. This is the royal family that, between the three of them, manages to piss off a princess, summon a demon, and doom the rest of Lodoss to the fate we all know and love. (^_^)
Mysterious Password 1098 (working title) by Yumiko Shirogane
A young girl trying to log on to her MMORPG in the middle of a lightning storm accidentally logs on to an online store for demons and monsters instead. Without meaning to, she buys herself a real life familiar and ends up with a green man on her doorstep and a saucy mountain cat talking back to her stuffy babysitter.
*squeeeeeee* this is the novel that started it all, at least for me. A Lodoss gaiden (side story) about the one and only Lord Ashram! Fifteen years after i first picked up the book that convinced me to learn Japanese, we shall all soon know the tragic past and even less pleasant future of this dark anti-hero, and his beloved dark elf Pirotess. This story is told in five chapters, detailing Ashram’s first meeting with Beld, his first meeting with Pirotess, and other joys, as well as the story of Ashram’s attempts to lead the people of Marmo to a new land where they can prosper and be happy. Yeah, good luck with that. (^_^)
translation: oh my god done! WHAAAA!
My sister found this image on Pintrest somewhere, and asked me to translate it, so I thought I would put it up for everyone to enjoy.
translation: 100% COMPLETE!
transcription: not needed, see image via link above.
Lodoss RPG Companion
A manual for the table-top (or, as Group SNE calls it, table-talk) RPG invented by Mizuno-sensei and his fellow Lodoss crew. It features lengthly articles on the mythology and history of Lodoss Island, instructions for creating and using your characters, and even a few scenarios to play through with friends. My brother has vowed that he and I will be playing through one of these as soon as I am finished with this book. We’ll see about that. (^_^)’
In a world where it hasn’t stopped snowing in more than a decade, the people are looking for someone to blame. The Church has marked the so-called Odd Eyes, that is, people with eyes of two different colors and, occassionally, super powers, as the cause of the calamity, and has urged their elimination from the earth. Two teenaged Odd Eyes, twin brother and sister, flee their village, and strike out on their own. — This is another book I got out of my local library before I could stop myself. It has some beautiful artwork, and is apparently written by a lady who won a publishing contest. I’ve been going on and off with it. I feel like I shouldn’t be keeping a book out of the library for 6 months at a time, so I just pick it back up for a month or two every time I see it on the shelf again.
translation: 20% (on temporary hiatus)
transcription: not yet begun.
It happened at the table
aka Table dekigoto. it’s a collection of short stories comissioned by a restaurant consortium and produced as part of a marketing ploy to… i don’t exactly know. convince people to go out to eat more often by telling them fictionalized accounts of nice/sweet/sappy/funny things that happened at restaurants? at any rate, the writing’s not terrible, and the stories are kind of cute, so i thought it’d give this one a shot. i did write the publisher to see if they’d give me permission to enter my translation of one of the stories in a translation contest, or who even had the rights to the thing, but they never got back to me, so…
transcription: not yet begun.
adult science magazine vol 28
no, this is not some science-of-sex serial (although i’m not above reading/translating that, too) it turns out to be a magazine that releases themed maker kits every couple of months. their site is otonanokagaku.net, although of course it’s all in japanese, but you can still see all the cool stuff they put out. my sister bought me the wa-tokei kit, which is a traditional japanese clock. it comes w/ a whole, full-sized magazine, with articles about the history of clock-making in japan, interviews with master clock-makers, etc. it is very cool, and i’ve been working on it in between projects, and eventually i will finish it. when i do, i’ll put it up here, complete with illustrations and instructions, for those of you interested in buying and making one yourselves.
i don’t know how many of you use this app, but i know i used this app long before i would have been able to read a notice like this, so i thought i would translate it for those of you in that same boat. it’s super short, and doesn’t really require a seperate page, but i didn’t want to clutter things up, so click on the link above to see both a screencap of the notice and my translation of it.
hey hey, they’ve updated their app, and now there’s just one big happy bookshelf. while the rest of the app is translated/localised, for some reason, the instructions are not, so here you go. you’re welcome. (^_^)
projects on hold:
Feast of the Painted Demons – Preperations for the Feast (working title) by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
a collection of “short” detective/ghost stories (kyogoku-sama is notorious for books with an afterlife as bricks; this one has 616 double-columned pages). each one is named after a mythical Japanese demon, and the characters are somewhat interrelated, or at least that’s the impression i’m getting. i’m on page 23 (of 110) of story 1 (of 6), so who knows what it’ll actually turn out to be. on the other hand, a book that starts off with a fantasmal sequence in which a man looks at someone standing under a tree and wonders what he is starting at only to find he’s literally looking at himself, can’t be bad. (^_^)
translation: almost 4%. wow.
transcription: not yet started.
on hold because? too hard. (T_T) i’ll try again after i get my skills up…
Love & Ranking by Mitsuru Hanagata
a cute middle-grade book about a 6th grader who think she has people figured out, until she meets a cocky guy and a ditzy girl who seem to be the perfect couple – something she never predicted!
translation: not even calculated.
transcription: yeah, hardly.
on hold because? OMGs little girl, stop using so much slang! *is weak at casual speech* (X_X)
N/R no return by Makoto Kawashima
another book i got from my local library. about a (i think) teenage boy who loses both his parents and his memory in a car accident. told in a series of very short chapters (i think the longest one is something like 8 or 10 pages) from the amnesiac’s point of view, so it’s quite interesting seeing what he remembers and what he doesn’t and how/when/what he regains, but of course i don’t know what i was thinking checking it out from the library while i had kokui no kishi still on my plate. i’ll come back to this one.
on hold because? let’s try one project at a time, please? apparently, having half a dozen projects in various states of not-yet-done is my super power.
also, i’ve done a couple of BL novels, which are my chief interest at the moment, although i certainly will continue w/ the mainstream things, too, but at any rate, i know not all of you are into boyxboy, so i thought i’d put that up on a different blog. i haven’t gotten anything typed up yet, but once i do, i’ll put it here. in case you’re curious, i’ve finished yoake ni wa yasashii kisu wo by nagira yuu (which is amazing, sugoi, yabai), and i’m working on koi shite, enjou by narimiya yuri (which is super hot. like, hot. like, wow.)
ah, the ebookjapan app has finally updated, as it promised it would, and there is now no more trunk room, no more local bookshelf, it’s just all one big beautiful app. (^_^) so for those of you who are mostly there for the pretty pictures, i thought i’d translate the little instruction/update screens.
The bookshelf display is new
The local bookshelf and the trunk bookshelf have been merged, and book management has become easier.
[To users of former versions of the reader]
Volumes are located in the Former Trunk Bookshelf folder.
Online reading volumes and the like were moved to the Library folder.
When you select volumes with a cloud icon, the volume download begins and can then be read.
Volumes that do not have the cloud icon have already been downloaded. Please read them as before, even offline.
It is now possible to delete volumes directly from the management screen, without being moved to a trash bin folder.
With a tap on the top left of the screen, a drawer menu is displayed where you can see the folder filters at a glace. The menu with display, re-ordering, and other options are can be displayed with the menu button on the end.
Display only downloaded volumes
Refresh: Refreshes the bookshelf display. You can also refresh the display by swiping down on the main bookshelf.
Manage: You can upload, download, move between folders, and delete books from here.
Display only downloaded volumes: They main bookshelf displays both volumes that have finished downloading and volumes that are stored on the cloud. If this option is checked, only volumes that have finished downloading will be displayed.
A Warning About Starting The App For The First Time
When you start the app for the first time, your bookshelf with perform a syncing operation.
If your volumes are not displayed, please wait a little bit, or switch screens (by entering Reading Mode or the Settings screen, for instance, and then returning to the Bookshelf screen).
and there you have it, ladies, gentlemen, and others. (^_^) personally, i like this new look. i like having everything on one screen, and i really like the new management system. i had a lot of samples downloaded, and it was hard to find them to delete them after i downloaded the whole book, but having everything on one screen made that so much easier.
the rest of the app is nicely translated, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding the right buttons to click, but if you’ve got a question, let me know in the comments, i’ve opened them up for this post.
a) it’s been one hot minute.
b) new look!
c) new Plans.
so, various things have happened. (^_^)
basically, my life has much improved since last we spoke, and one of the things that has improved is that i feel like i can take my translation game on the road, or rather, on the blog. to that end, i will be cleaning up the translations that are already on this blog, i will be pushing out some of the old updates on stories that i’ve finished but haven’t even typed up yet, and i will be finalizing my plan to produce new stuff to put out. probably the “facts” portion of this blog will become less and less important, but let’s face it, i never updated that frequently anyway. now that i have something to update with, perhaps i can stick to it. #hmmm
so what is this mysterious new Plan? well, Part A was to revamp the look of the site, and as you can see, i’ve already gotten there. since this site will be focused on reading things, i’ve gone with a site that focuses on text, and doesn’t have a lot of crap cluttering the place up, making things hard to read. also, it looks great on mobile. since i’ve just purchased a shiny new galaxy note 4, and i find myself doing 90% of everything on my phone, and i know a lot of you guys are in the same boat, i figure that’s to everyone’s benefit.
Part 2. Part B. will be to fix up the stories i’ve already put out. it’s basically just Prince of the Moon at this point, but Lodoss is important to me, so i’m going to work on getting that translation finalized and prettified, and so you should see some edits on that stuff fairly soon. i’m actually working on an entry for a translation contest at the moment, so of course, that and its hard deadline have to come first, but the blog comes next.
Part C, or 3, will be new stories. yay~ #confetti. i’ve found a site called syosetu.com, which is one of the most popular japanese text novel sites, and full of actually well-written, interesting stories, which are fairly short and not terribly difficult, and i’ve got a couple of stories already finished that i’m hoping to queue up. i’ll be focusing on fantasy and sci-fi stuff in the short story arena, and of course my personal favorite BL in the novel arena, and my goal is to release one translated short story or chapter of a novel each month. this may not (is not likely to) happen straight away, but that will be what i’m working up to.
in the meantime, i’ve got this contest entry, i’ve got about three or four dozen light novels that have been patiently waiting for me to get to them, and of course there’s the entirety of syosetu.
thoughts, i have them. in this particular instance, i have them on creativity, and the Myth of Art. perhaps more specifically, the Myth of Creating Art. several comments on the twitters recently have regurgitated this idea that if you want to become an Artist, be it a graphic artist, a comic book artist, a writer, a whatever, you should simply do that thing. you want to become a writer? great, Write! voila! you want to become a sketch artist? awesome, Sketch! perfect, doesn’t it feel great to be an Artist!?
but as some/all/most/none of us know, it’s not that simple. writing is an important part of being a writer, it is the very definition of the word. sketching is vital to becoming a sketch artist. no one, least of all you, should be calling you a comic artist if you have not produced any comics. in short, you cannot become The Person w/out doing The Thing. BUT it is not the only part of becoming The Person, and i am here today to suggest that, when asked how you become The Person, perhaps the best advice is not, “hey, do The Thing.”
for one, it makes you sound flippant and egotistical. “Hey, I did The Thing, so why don’t you stop bugging me with your questions and just get to it.” great, i’d love to, but i’m already having enough of a problem simply “get to it”-ing that i’ve worked up the courage to bug some randomly famous internet person that i no doubt admire and value the opinion of for advice, so how about we take into account that this answer is so simple that i may indeed have thought of it already.
secondly, it’s insincere. no artist simply woke up one day and said, “I think I’ll ART today,” and then went off and ARTed in some beatific form and won a great prize and lots of dollars for doing so. every artist spends days and nights and sometimes longer on the “god i suck” spectrum, and indeed many/most artists i know of, everyone who’s ever given an interview on the subject and many who haven’t, has revealed that they spend a lot of their lives on this spectrum. even the great Neil Gaiman revealed in a NaNoWriMo pep talk of yore (perhaps the second-greatest pep talk of all time (that’s right, Lemony Snicket is my hero)) that he regularly calls up his agent to reveal to them that he is a fraud and can no longer ART and should just go off to become a greengrocer. it is never as simple as sitting down at the desk/typewriter/pen/brush/insert-medium-of-your-choice-here and ARTing, and to suggest otherwise is to willfully ignore all of the hard work that goes into actually forcing oneself to sit down and do The Thing.
yes, it’s true. in order to become The Person, you do need to sit down and do The Thing. but doing The Thing is not always easy. there is a well known adage in the writing world that you will write at least a million words of crap before producing even a single word that is worth reading. some people say it’s your height in 8.5 x 11 inch single spaced crap, some have other measuring devices, but the point is, you will suck, and quite hard, before you become good, and even then, it’s anybody’s guess whether you’re actually good or not. the real kicker is that during this time, you will gradually become aware of how much you suck, and it will eventually dawn on you that you may well suck for the rest of your born days. at that point, you may wish to stop ARTing, and many people do. but the trick to writing, to ARTing, if there is a trick, is to accept this suckage as fact and then ignore the hell out of it. just because you suck is no reason to stop. after all, Neil Gaiman was convinced at some point in every novel he’s ever written that he sucked, and that doesn’t seem to have stopped him from producing some pretty good novels.
now, there are other problems with ARTing: time constraints, financial constraints, one (or more) of the several billion constraints that Real Life seems to delight in vomiting upon the path we are trying to tread here, thank you very much, and i will say for the record that “Do The Thing” is terrible advice in these situations, too. if you want to paint, but you don’t have money to buy paints, telling you to paint is not only unhelpful, it is also discouraging. the implication here being that if only you loved ARTing enough, you would find the money, or the time, or the whatever, and the fact that you apparently can’t means that you don’t love ARTing enough. sucks to be you, but stop bothering me with your questions.
unfortunately, the real answer here is to get more money, or time, or whatever, and this is a) not something people want to hear, b) not something people want to say, and c) not always possible. you may have to accept that becoming The Person is not within your reach right now.
but that doesn’t mean you should give up. i want to become a translator, and i’m learning Japanese, as i have been for apparently half my life now GOD I AM OLD and there have been times when i put the textbooks down, perhaps for good. lord yes, there have been. there was once a nine month stretch when i didn’t so much as look at a Japanese character because i was so frustrated with it. but i went back, because i’m helplessly in love with this damn language, and in the years since then, i’ve progressed further than i could have ever imagined during those nine months of frustration. but did i know that during those nine months? definitely not. i felt like a complete failure. i had been stuying for several years at that point, and for what? to simply frazzle out and give up? well, yeah, that’s what i thought at the time. looking back, it’s easy to see i had simply hit that plateau where you’re better than “beginner” but not quite as good as “intermediate,” which turns out to be a Recognized Milestone of Language Learning, but that was not a visible fact when i was standing inside the milestone.
so maybe you can’t paint right now, maybe you can’t afford it. maybe you find writing so frustrating that you can’t even imagine picking up a pencil or opening your laptop, but maybe that’s not the disaster you think it is. perhaps you, too, are on the post-beginner/pre-intermediate plateau. or perhaps you are one of the millions of people who will keep their ARTing as a personal hobby. that’s fine. i once ran an online bookbindery, and had (still have) grand plans to open a real, bricks and morter shop, where i can sell real blank journals to real people, but it seems to have become a hobby now, practiced only occassionally, for the benefits of friends and family, rather than the Entire Internet. and if you think about the odds, for every one person who becomes a Super Famous Artist, there must be thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, who don’t make it to that point, and we don’t go around thinking that all those people are completely worthless “could have beens.” no, we think they’re our co-workers, and our friends, and our family, and we see that they have other valuable traits. but maybe, just maybe, you will be that one in a million person who can make it, who can stride/walk/crawl/wriggle/whatever-it-bloody-takes-to-get-there across that plateau and become The Person.
but if you give up now, you’ll never know.
although, you should know that there’s another plateau after that, and probably one after that, too. the good news is, they look a lot like the first one, so they’re easier to spot.
Lodoss, the accursed island. In Moss, a region in southwestern Lodoss, a sealed evil is released–
Brook, king of Skard, dreams of his son Nashere becoming king of all Lodoss. And so, when he learns that his own days are numbered, he makes a bet, determined to leave a disgraced name to history. And then, Nashere’s sister Reena, for the sake of the deep love she feels for her brother, also leaves her own fate in her father’s hands… In this new volume, the truth of the Demon’s liberation is revealed!
A Record of Lodoss War original story.
(a note from your translator: this is a collection of two short stories, detailing the backstory to and actual release of the demon king who was later defeated by Beld and the Six Heroes.)
Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon
first published in The Sneaker, release date 12/5/1995
hi there~ a note from your translator about my experience translating Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon!
Lodoss is the series that got me into the Japanese language, so I was very excited when I found this tiny volume. for the record, I do plan on doing the other 7(00) Lodoss volumes. i own most of them, i just have to win the lottery or something so i can stop working and have enough time to do them. (^_^)
the thing that struck me the most when i was translating this volume is that Mizuno-sensei likes that olde timey practice of giving people epithets. For instance, whenever he refers to Brook, the king of Skard, especially when it’s Reena doing the referring, Brook is called 父ブルーク (Father Brook), or 王ブルーク (King Brook). In English, that sounds a bit weird, so I left a lot of them off, but I tried to make up for it in other ways, mostly in syntax, that is, word order, and register, that is, i made people talk more high-falutin’ than they otherwise would have. When Brook speaks with the Demon in Low Ancient at the end of Bonds of Blood, though, Mizuno-sensei does use some old Japanese personal pronouns, so the “thees” and “thous” there were direct translations.
Mizuno-sensei also likes paragraph breaks and non-tagged dialogue. all those carriage returns? yeah, not my idea. i think Mizuno-sensei thinks they make things dramatic, and maybe they did in 1996, but now they look kind of silly. i left them in wherever they didn’t hinder reading comprehension, because as far as i’m concerened Lodoss = camp. also, i didn’t insert any dialogue tags. if Mizuno-sensei wanted his Japanese readers to be confused, we English readers are going to have to be confused, too. sorry…
also, the first story, the self-titled one, maybe it’s just my imagination, but i don’t think it was as well written as Bonds of Blood. i mean, let’s face it, i’m not the world’s most widely-read person in Japanese, indeed most Japanese fouth graders are better read than i am in that language, but Bonds of Blood flowed much better, and sentence structure and word choice were much more cohesive.
having said all that, they were both super fun to read, and super uber fun to translate. if you’ve got any questions, i’m opening comments on this post, so ask away~
also, *spoilers* “But Brook knew nothing of that, because in the next instant, his torso was seperated from his neck…” how can that not be the best line of all time? torso? say goodbye to neck. *laughs inappropriately*
thanks for reading,
-wields the Soul Crusher.
I’ve been right in the middle of the publishing scene for a long time, and I believe that changing times become a flash point for the limitless possibilities of publishing, while at the same time, publishing’s new form becomes the power that cuts open the next era. I have also come to believe that in a journey to the treasury of letters, it doesn’t matter what kind of entrance you stand at or what kind of form you choose.
We wanted something that would be called the jewel of our collections, and so the Mini Library was born. In addition to doing its own part in the popularization of publishing, this Library may become the publishing form predicted for the 21st century.
We gathered up such dreams and expectations, and sent this series into the world.
People of this modern world, please take this great vision in this small package, and hold it in your warm palms.
– 1996, October.
Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co, Ltd Company President Kadokawa Tsuguhiko
A magnificent carriage pulled by four white horses passed through the castle gates and advanced into the courtyard of Grain Hold, the royal castle of the Kingdom of Skard.
The carriage was protected by eight knights, four each at front and back. They were clad in ceremonial armor, all the same size and shape, and they’d taken on matching swords and shields. A coat of arms had been painted on their pale green breast plates, divided into two sections and emblazoned with flames and a dragon.
Every person in the Duchy of Moss knew the coat of arms as that of The Dragon’s Blaze, the Kingdom of Harkenne. The dragon on the coat of arms signified their adherence to The Dragon’s Pledge, and the flames were the coat of arms of Harkenne’s royal family.
Normally, they would have been wearing armor bearing only Harkenne’s coat of arms. The use of the two part coat of arms revealed that the party in this carriage was a formal envoy associated with The Dragon’s Pledge.
Two days previously, a courier had arrived from The Dragon’s Scale, Vennon, Skard’s protector kingdom to the north. The courier told them that a delegation from the Kingdom of Harkenne was on its way to the Kingdom of Skard.
By rights, the reception of an envoy with such a message from Harkenne should have prompted the dispatch of another envoy, to confirm the visiting country’s intentions. But this messenger had been a knight of Vennon. Dispatching the delegation from Harkenne without waiting for Skard’s reply was an event completely without precedent.
Skard’s knights buzzed with the news, everyone wondering if some emergency had occurred. Skard was a small country, and not even a member of The Dragon’s Pledge. A messenger should never have been sent to them, not in times like these.
Harkenne designated Skard and regions like it only as “The Autonomous Vennon Regions.”
Although they didn’t understand the reason for the visit, they had no reason to behave impolitely towards an envoy from the great nation of Harkenne. The Skard court had been thoroughly busy for those two days, making preparations for the reception.
The carriage advanced to the center of the courtyard and stopped.
The guards dismounted from their horses, and bowed reverently to the three people who stood at the entrance to the royal castle.
Each of these three wore a crown on their head.
They were Skard’s King Brook, Prince Nashere, and also the Princess Reena.
Brook counted his age at forty years. There was not one bit of useless flesh on his tall frame. He wore the air of a wise man, and there probably wasn’t a single person in Moss who could surpass him as a soldier.
Prince Nashere, although there still remained traces of youth on his face, had already surpassed his father in height. His reddish-golden hair stretched long, and was wrapped in a metallic band to keep it off his face. Perhaps because of that, he left a somewhat feminine impression.
Princess Reena differed from her older brother, having black hair and black eyes. That hair and those eyes stood out conspicuously against her white skin, and gave her an extreme prettiness, like a doll. Her eyes were open wide, staring at the company in the carriage with deep interest.
The knights of Harkenne opened the door to the carriage, and bowed their heads even more deeply than they had for Skard’s royal family.
Accompanied by a single lady’s maid, a woman who obviously held a high position descended from the carriage. She was wrapped in a pale red dress, and on her forehead was a small simplified crown.
“Princess Elanta,” the father said to his son who waited at his left side.
“The third princess… …isn’t she?” his son answered.
“Why would a princess of Harkenne come to this country?” Reena pulled at her brother’s sleeve, asking this simple question.
“I don’t know.” Nashere’s answer was curt.
“You’re mean.” Reena puffed up her cheeks, and looked up at her brother reproachfully.
Skard was not a country that had a great harvest of visits from princess of superpowers. Even politically ignorant Reena understood that.
The country was known for its excellent ale, which it traded with the Dwarf tribes, and for the weapons, armor and other handiwork brought in from those earth sprites.
They had a monopoly on trade with the Dwarves, so even though Skard was a small country, their economy flourished. They were occasionally asked by Vennon for a delivery of money and goods under one pretext or another, but they still had plenty of rich treasure saved up in their national treasury.
So then, what was the purpose of this visit?
Escorted by her knights, Princess Elanta stepped up to them.
“We were told a delegation was visiting, but a princess’s visit…” The king crossed over to her and offered to take her hand.
“For goodwill with Skard.” Elanta answered with a smiling face, but she didn’t take the king’s hand.
Her gaze turned to Nashere, standing next to Reena. “This is the famous…”
“The prince Nashere,” the king proudly introduced Nashere. He winking lightly at his son.
Seeming to understand, Nashere stepped up to stand before Princess Elanta. Taking the princess’s right hand, he lightly kissed it.
Elanta’s cheeks glowed like a rose in full bloom.
“You must be tired. Please, take your rest until the feast. Your room is this way.” Taking the princess’s hand, Nashere made as if to escort her into the castle.
But the princess grasped Nashere’s hand and started off in the entirely opposite direction. “I’m not tired at all. Actually, this is a rare opportunity. I’d love if you’d give me a tour of the castle until the feast.”
Nashere gave a look of consternation, like he thought she was being a little assertive.
Seeing her brother’s embarrassment, Reena raised her voice without thinking. “If it’s a tour you want, I’ll do it!”
At that statement, Princess Elanta slowly looked back at Reena. “I appreciate your kindness, but I think I’d like to take my tour with Prince Nashere.”
The phrase was polite, but the gaze was cold. Her expression was one she might use on a blundering lady’s maid.
I’ve been looked down on, Reena thought. Her face went bright red in intense embarrassment.
Elanta’s laugh made a light noise. The princess started walking towards the herb garden in the backyard, pulling Nashere along with her.
The Harkenne knights tried to follow them, but Elanta waved her hand vigorously, and they sank back. “Prince Nashere is said to be the best swordsman in the duchy. What use are knights going to be!”
The knights looked at each other. What was that about? they asked each other with their eyes.
Eventually, the knights silently withdrew, but their drawn expressions showed their true feelings. For men who made their living by the sword, the princess’s words could not have been more insulting.
Nashere and Elanta twisted their arms together and headed off. All Reena could do was watch their backs as they left.
A sensibility even Reena herself didn’t notice sparked in her eyes and became a fire.
The island named Lodoss is a remote island that lies to the south of the continent of Alecrast.
It is known among the inhabitants of the continent as the Accursed Island. As a violent war raged around it, the island was created as a place to house demons, to keep them apart from human beings.
The southwest region of Lodoss is a mountainous land with steep ranges. But even here, people make their lives and a country flourishes.
The name of this kingdom is Moss.
But no king exists here. After the fall of the ancient kingdom of magic, Castule, countless small countries rose up in this region. Because it was a difficult land both to defend and to easily attack, a unified kingdom was never born.
But in other regions unity prevailed, and mighty kingdoms came into being. Soon, their military power turned on even these mountainous lands, and for defense, the small countries of this region bound together in an alliance.
The agreement thus signed was The Dragon’s Pledge.
According to tradition, in this mountainous region lived a number of dragons, demon animals, the strongest of mythical beasts. By likening various countries in the regions to those creatures, a bond was formed as the single country of Moss.
The name of dragon was added to the various countries who had signed the pledge, and they swore an oath to battle against aggression from neighboring countries and to maintain the union.
This oath was acted upon, and Moss pushed aside the foreign invasion.
On the other hand, civil wars weren’t extinguished in the region. Each country spent its time fighting insatiably to expand their own power. When one kingdom’s power grew too large, the other countries would bind together to effect a regional self-purification.
Thus, the theory of small countries standing together didn’t change the situation very much in practice.
Soon, the people who controlled these various countries came to call themselves king, and the name The Kingdom of Moss became inappropriate for the unification of countries in that region. Therefore, it became known as the Duchy of Moss instead.
Essentially, a duchy, as compared to a kingdom, is a name for a smaller country. In going against this and using it with the opposite meaning, they highlighted the weakness of the united family of Moss, and the strength of the independent countries.
But, when there was aggression from an outside country, The Dragon’s Pledge would be invoked without fail. Countries that had been crossing swords only the day before would line their shields up next to each other at word of the pledge being invoked.
Seen from the outside, this bond could only be called peculiar. But this was the way of things in the region called Moss.
On the southern edge of this Duchy of Moss was the small country called Skard.
The population was a mere ten thousand. The number of knights charged with protecting the kingdom wasn’t even a full hundred. Having no affiliation with The Dragon’s Pledge, they looked for help to the large regional leader to the north, The Dragon’s Scale, Vennon, and were under their protection.
The name of the current king is Brook.
Two children had been born to Brook. A son, Prince Nashere, by his primary queen, and a daughter, Reena, born to his second queen.
The golden-haired brother and black-haired sister didn’t look anything like each other, but the beauty of those siblings was the pride of the people of Skard.
The people of Skard had given them the title “Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon.” This praise was known even in court, and the knights of the kingdom came to use it.
Prince of the Sun Nashere was fifteen, Princess of the Moon Reena, thirteen.
They were at an age where they had to sever their connections to an innocent childhood.
* * *
The banquet to welcome the envoy from The Dragon’s Flame, Harkenne started that evening.
Foods of every extravagance were lined up, and barrels of first-class ale, a drink normally forbidden domestically so that they could export it to the Dwarf tribe, had been carted in.
The music started, and jesters presented miming and magic.
The knights and ladies amused themselves with dining, chatted, and dancing. Men and women began to softly sneak away from the banquet to talk of love.
The atmosphere became brilliant and filled the banquet hall.
But to Reena, the atmosphere in the banquet hall was choking. She leaned back against the stone wall, a glass of wine in one hand. The cold of the wall cut through her pure white dress and spread out from there.
Her gaze stayed fixed on one couple. Her older brother Nashere and the guest of honor, Princess Elanta, danced in the center of the hall.
Elanta looked like she was having the time of her life. Nashere responded politely to the Princess’s demands, the smile never leaving his face.
Elanta seemed to be using her brother as a personal valet, and it made Reena vehemently angry. But there was no point in putting that on display. Treating the Princess rudely would be an insult to the Kingdom of Harkenne, and in a worst-case scenario, might be used as an excuse for war. At that point, the Kingdom of Vennon would have to take up the challenge, but if the fault was Skard’s, they would make demands for a huge war chest.
It was a pain, but she could only be patient.
She figured her brother felt the same. But, judging by Nashere’s expression, that kind of feeling hadn’t occurred to him. Rather, he looked like he was enjoying serving the daughter of such a large country.
Princess Elanta was fourteen, one year younger than Nashere. She had a beautiful look, full of the grace of a princess of a great nation. Despite her age, she had ample chest and hips. There were probably plenty of men in Harkenne who hankered after her. Perhaps her brother’s attitude wasn’t a lie, maybe he really wanted to steal the Princess’s heart.
The song had changed three times, but Nashere and Elanta continued dancing. You couldn’t say that the Princess was entirely without dancing ability, but with Nashere’s skillful guidance, she looked brilliant.
“It’s weird, but when she dances with my brother…”
Reena sighed dully.
“Princess Reena, if it would please you to have me as a partner for a dance…”
A knight of Harkenne had come over on his own, and he was inviting Reena to dance.
Reena stared motionless at the knight’s face.
His age was somewhere around twenty, and because he had been selected to guard the princess at such a young age, he was probably of noble birth, even for a knight.
He had a slim build and his manner was soft. He had a thin mustache, and flashed a smile full of confidence. He seemed to be accustomed indeed to handling women. With that sincere-looking expression, one could easily imagine what he was thinking.
Silas, knight-commander of Skard, was like that. The knight-commander hadn’t shown up for the start of the banquet, and had already left the hall. One of the countesses had disappeared too, probably chasing after him.
“I’ll pass, thank you.” Reena turned away.
At this unexpected reaction, the knight’s smile, so full of confidence, froze.
The knights of Skard who had come close sniggered.
Shaken by the humiliation, the knight of Harkenne backed away.
“Our Princess has danced with Prince Nashere since she was born. If she can’t dance with a prince, other guys don’t stand a chance.” One of the Skard knights said, walking up to the Harkenne knight with a mug poured to the brim with ale and handing it to him.
“His Highness has himself one tough little sister,” the Harkenne knight answered in a rueful tone.
“You’re telling me. If you ask Princess Reena, the fact that Lord Nashere is her older brother is life’s greatest tragedy. The man who outrivals the Prince just doesn’t exist. Even your princess must be in his trance by now.”
The Harkenne night sniffed as though he wasn’t interested. “He was born prince of this tiny country. Even if he does have tons of charm, he’d still get buried.”
“That much is true,” the Skard knight answered. Because the other man’s words were the truth, they weren’t very insulting. “But Skard is a peaceful kingdom. The Prince supports this peace. And the Prince lives an easy life in this peace. I’d be delighted if we were immune from bloody battles, if only for the Prince’s sake. Knights from large countries, such as yourself, certainly understand the value in that, don’t you?”
With an eerie expression on his face, the knight of Harkenne headed off in the direction of the tables, where dinner was lined up.
Just then, the music stopped. Couples who were exhausted from dancing removed themselves from the center of the hall for a drink, changing places with those hoping to join the line of dancers anew.
Princess Elanta and Prince Nashere, too, walked in Reena’s direction.
Princess Elanta was in a cold sweat all over her body, and breathing fiercely. Nashere, on the other hand, was just as usual. Her brother tempered his body with swimming and horsemanship, and was beginning swordplay. He could remain composed throughout any dance.
Finally, she could dance with her brother. Picking up the skirt of her dress, Reena hurried over to her brother.
“Will you dance with me, brother?” she said with enthusiasm.
Nashere’s right hand was on Elanta’s back. Reena tried to assertively take his free left hand. But when she did, Elanta rebuked her.
“Nashere must be exhausted. If you need a partner, you’d better look for someone else.”
(My brother is not tired!) Reena shouted a protest in her heart, but of course, she wasn’t allowed to raise her voice. She looked at Nashere, appealing to him.
“As My Lady says,” Nashere said in a quite voice. And then he winked, as if that explained everything.
Failing to understand his meaning, Reena stood blinking, unable to move.
“Father’s angry with you,” Nashere said, drawing his mouth close to Reena’s ear.
Hastily, Reena looked back in the king’s direction. Brook was looking right back at Reena. His expression was severe.
(That expression again…) Reena thought with deep sadness.
It was an expression he used on people who’d drunk the forbidden ale. It was the expression he used whenever he scolded Reena. She’d never seen him direct it at Nashere.
“If you need a dance partner, you could be served by one of our knights.” Elanta’s triumphant smile overcame Reena. It was a smile that said there was nothing she could do about Elanta’s monopolization of her brother.
(Prince Nashere is mine!) Reena thought, like she’d spoken it aloud.
The color of her face went red and the paled from anger and shame.
“My Lady Reena…” One of the Skard knights, seeing the change in color, came near in concern.
“I’m not feeling well. I’m going to get some air.” She thought if she stayed in that banquet hall any longer, she’d suffocate.
She hurried through the hall entrance as if she were running away. When she looked back, Nashere was chatting again with Princess Elanta, having already forgotten all about Reena. And her father had an expression of frank relief, and was saying something to a knight of Harkenne.
(Nobody needs me.) She despaired.
She half-ran down the hallway, and exited into the courtyard.
Bathed in moonlight, the outdoors was brighter than she’d thought.
Reena headed for the stables.
If no one needed her, she didn’t have to be in this castle.
Such thoughts ruled Reena’s heart.
Once she arrived at the stables, she stood before one of a pack of horses. It was a chestnut horse, her brother’s most favorite. She put a saddle on it and straddled its back.
Just like that, she exited the stables. From the courtyard of the royal castle, she aimed for the back gate, grasping the horse’s neck. She kicked the horse’s stomach, set in like a whip.
Like a gale, the horse started running.
From somewhere in the distance came a wolf’s howl.
* * *
Several moments later, the guard who served as gatekeeper at the castle gate rushed into the banquet hall. He hurriedly ran over to King Brook and whispered something to him.
Upon hearing it, Brook’s eyebrows drew up in surprise, and he moved his mouth, saying something.
“Shall we, sir?” The guardsman asked.
Brook looked around the situation in the banquet hall, and shook his head as if depressed.
“Let them loose,” Brook said over his shoulder, turning his body away from the guard. “Her mother was a selfish woman, too.”
The forest at night was filled with a quiet stillness.
The light of the full moon shining in the sky filtered through the treetops, and hardly any of it reached the ground. She couldn’t take the horse too deeply into the forest, for fear of it stumbling on tree roots.
Her heart was filled with vacant, lonely feelings, cold after such high-strung emotions.
What foolish thing to do, she thought.
But she had been unable to keep control of herself in the face of Princess Elanta’s disdainful attitude. She thought she could steal her brother, monopolize him. And her brother only smiled and played right up to that Princess.
Just then, a night breeze blew over her. Her black hair flowed out in the wind and softly touched her cheek.
Slipping one hand off the reins, Reena took the hair in her hand.
“Why am I so different from my brother? His hair shines just like yellow gold. But my hair is like the raven’s wing. My brother’s eyes are the color of clear water, but mine are the color of stagnant well water.”
Reena hated the mother who had born her.
Her mother had been of lowly birth, as opposed to the first queen who had been Nashere’s mother, and she had always burned with envy. But the first queen was generous to Reena’s mother, and had loved Reena as if she were her own child.
When the queen died, rumors spread that Reena’s mother had poisoned her.
If the herbalist Tatus hadn’t denied those rumors, she might have been punished. But maybe that would have been better.
Her mother’s behavior afterwards was unbearable, even in the eyes of her own daughter.
She bought expensive goods, and decorated her body as if it would conceal her lowly birth. She persecuted the late queen’s ladies-in-waiting, even driving one of them to jump from a castle window to her death.
When her mother died from hysteria, Reena was far from sad. Rather, she sighed in relief.
She hated her mother that much. And this hair and these eyes she’d inherited from her mother, she hated them, too.
Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon. Reena knew what the knights called them.
Her father Brooke seemed fond of the nicknames, but the knights compared her to her brother and looked down on her. An unworthy daughter born of a lowly mother, that’s what they thought.
But the moon only shines at night. In the light of the sun, the light of the moon is swallowed up, and seems not to exist.
If I could somehow have a different father too, that would be better, she thought. Then she could be together with her brother.
Her father was hoping for a marriage between her and the prince of Vennon, the Dragon Scale, to deepen the connection with Skard’s protector country.
Her brother had been by her side constantly until now. But, she realized, those days would never come again.
Eventually, some noble daughter of some large country would be married off to her brother. Maybe that daughter would be Princess Elanta.
Her tears spilled over.
She felt like the most important things in her heart were flowing out alongside those tears.
That’s when it happened.
The howl of a wolf echoed through the forest. It wasn’t that far away, either.
The horse that Reena was on struggled violently, surprised at the beast’s howl.
Reena grabbed the reins and tried to somehow quiet the horse. But she couldn’t.
In the time it took the horse to raise his front legs, Reena was thrown from the it’s back. She rolled onto the ground, and hit her back heavily on a tree trunk.
She heard the cloth of her dress split.
The pain seemed to choke off her breath, and she gasped.
Braying, the horse ran off in the direction of the high road.
The pain gradually subsided, but her will to move had completely disappeared.
There was no one by her side now. She might die like this. She was able to imagine it.
“Even if I do disappear, there won’t be anyone who’ll be sad about it……”
Reena looked up at the night sky, crushed with sadness.
Shaded by a thick cloud, the moon disappeared in the blink of an eye.
The night went on, the banquet continued. King Brook had already left, and many of the more senior knights had returned to their quarters. Those who remained in the banquet hall were comparatively young knights and ladies. Perhaps they were searching for a lover, just for the night.
Nashere and Princess Elanta, too, were still there. They had gone out onto the veranda, and were keeping themselves cool, their bodies glowing from the warmth of drink and dance.
Nashere had suggested a rest so many times, but the Princess wouldn’t hear any of it.
(What a selfish person.) Nashere was tired of her. But she was an important state guest, and he couldn’t be even a little bit rude to her. At least, this was the sense he’d gotten from his father.
Nashere got the feeling that the goal of Princess Elanta’s visit had something to do with him.
The Princess hadn’t been carrying any special letters, she wasn’t here to negotiate with his father. Probably, the Princess was on an envoy from Vennon, and she had decided to call on Skard while coming south from the town of Muskett, on her way back to Harkenne.
And all to meet him. She must have heard some rumor and become interested in him.
That must have been a boundlessly annoying order for her knights. Although, from their perspective, being able to drink Skard’s famous ale must have been a tempting invitation.
In any event, they’d gone a long way just to drop in like this. Probably they’d stay two or three days and then return to Harkenne.
Until then, he’d be doing nothing but serving this Princess. Nashere hoped with all his heart it would all pass as quickly as a single day.
Just then, a night breeze blew over them.
“It’s getting cold, let’s go inside.”
“Yes, shall we?” the Princess answered, with an enraptured expression on her face. “It’s been a wonderful day. The rumors about you appear to be true, Prince Nashere. Rather, you go beyond the rumors. If I could be permitted, I hope to marry into your lovely country……”
“How very kind of you.”
Hearing Nashere’s answer, the Princess drew herself up fully and leaned in so her mouth was close to Nashere’s ear.
“Would you like to come up to my room?” Elanta said, her voice shy.
Nashere stared at her, not knowing what to say. What kind of education was the King of Harkenne giving this princess?
His younger sister was selfish, too, but not like this girl, and she was the daughter of a prominent country.
As to how he should reply, Nashere was lost. He had mastered court etiquette, but he hadn’t been taught how to reply in the face of a proposal like this one.
Nashere opened his mouth to politely refuse.
From the castle’s back gate, he caught sight of a single horse galloping in. It was a horse without a rider.
The gatekeeper stood in its way, trying to capture the reins of the violently spirited animal.
“What is that?” Pushing Elanta aside, Nashere leaned out from the veranda. He paid no attention to the Princess’s voice raised in protest.
(My horse……) Nashere was surprised.
Reena had disappeared from the banquet hall, he remembered. He’d thought she’d probably gone back to her room, but what if……
“Princess Elanta, you’ll have to excuse me!”
Nashere ran down the veranda stairs. He had an evil feeling. He hoped from the bottom of his heart that the feeling was wrong.
* * *
Two green lights wavered and drew near.
With her back still up against the tree trunk, Reena stared at those lights as if she were possessed.
From the darkness, a shadow approached.
A howling voice could be heard.
Just then, the moon that had disappeared behind the clouds showed itself, and cast a silvery light into the forest.
Shining in the moonlight, the wolf’s body was sharply defined.
He was probably a lone wolf, driven out from his pack. He looked like he was starving, and saliva ran down from his mouth like a thread.
The wolf gave a low growl. With careful steps, it closed the distance to Reena.
Her voice wouldn’t work, it was like her throat had closed up. Her whole body was shaking and she had broken out in a cold sweat. It hadn’t even occurred to her to run away, it was as though her brain had burned out with fear.
I’m going to be killed, she thought. It’ll tear out my stomach with those sharp claws and chew through my innards. I’m still going to be alive when it bites into me, what’s that going to feel like?
Reena opened her mouth, to ask for help. But she couldn’t use her voice.
Maybe that was for the best. If she did raise a shout, it might be taken as a sign to pounce.
The wolf got as close as five steps away, but it didn’t make any moves to get closer than that. It paced back and forth, waiting for the right moment.
The wolf was a wise animal. It knew a human was a tough opponent. Humans carry sharp pieces of iron, and the wolf knew it could be injured with those. It had to remember, humans are unsuitable as prey.
Reena stretched the bluff to it’s limit, and glared at the wolf.
The wolf dipped back a half step and began pacing again.
This was crazy. At any rate, she couldn’t hold out forever, a yelp was bound to leak out of her.
The wolf showed absolutely no indication that it was even thinking about leaving.
Was it that hungry? She could see its eyes were bloodshot.
(It’s no use……) All the spirit went out of her glare. Her consciousness wasn’t far behind. How easy it would be to faint just like that. She wondered if it wouldn’t be better if she was unconscious while she was killed.
She thought it, but she couldn’t do it.
Unconsciously, Reena let out a scream. Once she’d used her voice, she couldn’t stop.
The wolf let out a long howl, as if to match Reena’s scream.
It lowered it’s stance.
And then, it jumped.
Its claws closed in.
Just then, it happened.
A white shape appeared before Reena’s eyes, and closed the distance to the wolf.
“Run!” A scolding voice jumped out at her.
“Nashere!” That voice was unmistakably Nashere’s. He’d come to her rescue.
She was wrapped in a deep relief.
And with that, she reached her limit.
Everything in front of her became pitch black, and she lost consciousness like a thread had been cut.
* * *
From out of the darkness, she could hear a voice calling her name. Someone was shaking her.
Reena came to, and opened her eyes gloomily. In front of her was the handsome face of her brother Nashere.
His hair was disheveled, and blood dripped from his forehead. The drops had made a stain on Reena’s dress.
“Brother……” Reena stretched her hand out to her brother’s wound.
If she looked closely, her brother had suffered injuries over his entire body. Just standing up must have been hard.
“You’re not hurt?” her brother asked, a cold light in his eyes.
Reena’s hand stopped it’s movement. Her brother’s eyes looked like her father to her whenever he looked at her like that. It was a gaze of contempt mixed with deep anger.
(Why did you come to rescue me then?) The question shot off like an arrow, and Reena barely swallowed the words. Wouldn’t it be better if he was off being sociable with Princess Elanta? People like she herself were unnecessary, so it was better to just ignore them. If he had, the wolf would have solved the problem for him.
But the wolf had become a cold corpse, behind Nashere.
My brother doesn’t even wear a dagger.
So he had defeated the wolf unarmed. He had been taking lessons.
But she hadn’t thought he was that good. An ordinary human shouldn’t win against a wolf, unarmed.
She realized that she and her brother were separate people. No matter how close they were, there was an infinite distance between the two of them. The days when her brother was hers alone would never return.
“You’re not hurt?” Her brother repeated the same question.
“I sprained my ankle, I can’t move……” Reena answered.
Her own words surprised her. They were words she hadn’t thought.
She had felt like she wanted to make him worry, and they had just come out of her mouth. She had thought, if she said it, her brother would turn around. Rather, if she didn’t he would never turn around.
Nashere nodded silently, turned around, and bent over. Reena wrapped her arms around her brothers neck and climbed up on his back. With her now on his back, he back stood up.
The smell of her brother’s blood reached her nose. She felt a wetness on her hands, too. His injuries were worse than she’d thought.
But Nashere started off for the road back to the castle with firm steps, as if he wasn’t in any pain.
“Brother?” Reena said, from the midst of her wandering thoughts.
Apologize, she thought. And tell him you can walk on your own.
But her brother didn’t answer.
(He must be pretty mad.) A despairing sadness broke Reena’s heart into pieces. (He’ll never forgive me now. He’ll never show me that gentle smiling face again.)
That much at least was certain.
It was all her fault. Her brother was injured, and Princess Elanta had probably been seriously insulted. But what could she do to make up for it? Reena said to herself.
Nashere had come to save here without thinking about the danger. She could only offer her own life in response. Reena vowed in her heart, that if she had to sacrifice her life for her brother, she would happily do so.
Maybe her brother would forgive her then. Maybe he would remember her his entire life, and she could continue to live in her brother’s heart.
Then her brother would be hers once more.
* * *
Six months from that very day, Reena carried out her vow, and the Demon King was set loose on Lodoss.