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Sorry guys. I’ve been translating koku wrong. The one the author is using is 30 minutes long. Been getting them mixed up with the Chinese shichen. I blame Vanadis.
I’ll go over the old chapters to check for other such mistakes. In my defence though, koku has changed a lot in Japan, throughout the ages.
The stench of alcohol filled the room.
Izumi glanced at the bag behind her. Long ears, stained with red liquid, were peeping out of the bag.
It was unmistakably the source of the smell.
Not only that, the more she got used to the smell, the more bloody it seemed to smell.
Just how on earth would one describe this unique stench?
Perhaps if you dove into a dumpster with your heavy drinking friend.
Oh? Speaking of which, they still haven’t paid me back for last week at the bar…
Thought Izumi, as she tried to escape reality. Unfortunately, the small hand gripping her arm wouldn’t let her.
When she turned around, she found Roten’s sharp glare.
His anger was completely justified. Izumi knelt to his eye-level, and then lowered her head.
“I’m sorry! It’s always gone pretty well, so I thought it would this time too, but…”
She started with an energetic apology, but her voice grew smaller as time went on.
Thinking about it, perhaps she had gotten carried away.
She had been completely convinced that the window would connect her to where she wanted, and that she would definitely be of use to them.
Now that she was calm, she realised that it had also connected to people she didn’t want to meet.
As she reflected, Izumi looked at Roten.
Even if their appearances were different, he reminded her of the boy trapped in the tower.
Prince Hinoki who wanted to quickly become an adult.
Izumi had felt anger at Queen Akka ever since.
And when she considered that Roten was being tormented by that same queen, the rage caused the blood to rush to her head.
Perhaps she shouldn’t have carelessly promised.
All she could do was hope that the window would connect to the right person.
In that case, there was only one thing to do.
She took Roten’s hand as he trembled in anger. He tried to shake her off, but she squeezed tightly.
“I really am sorry. Before the ritual begins, there’s two koku left, right?”
Izumi looked at the control panel in the way. The illuminated top half showed the numbers of a clock. It would start an hour from now.
Calm down. It’s okay, there’s still time.
Telling herself this, she stared into Roten’s eyes.
“Before the ritual begins, I’ll get the window to connect somehow.”
Even if she shouldn’t have made promises she couldn’t be certain she could keep, what would happen if she told him the truth?
The boy desperately holding his tears would become anxious.
“I’ll make it connect, so just believe me and wait. Please.”
Blood oozed from his lips as he bit them.
Roten glared at Izumi with anger in his eyes.
“One koku. If in one koku you haven’t managed to do it, I’ll jump out myself!”
Izumi wanted to shriek.
It caused her to imagine something from a gore film, and the blood left her face.
Izumi nodded like a bobblehead.
“I-I got it. I got it, so don’t be hasty.”
Roten didn’t reply. In exchange, he stared at her with bloodshot, and teary eyes.
His eyes seemed to tell her to hurry, yet at the same time, told her that he believed in her.
Under his gaze, she stood in front of the window.
She took a deep breath, and then slowly exhaled.
――Please connect to Roten’s sister! Yua… Yua… What was it again?
Izumi turned fearfully back to Roten.
“Umm, what was, your sister’s name again…?”
His temples twitched.
“Yua! I remember the Yua! It’s a name that we don’t have in the Heavens, so it was a little hard to remember, hahaha…”
Had she ever been so terrified of a primary schooler before?
Roten stared at her with a look that could kill, before silently sitting down on the rim of the bathtub and crossing his arms. His hands gripped his arms, as though he was struggling not to strangle her.
“It’s Yuataree,” he whispered.
Izumi went over the name again and again in her head.
Even if she forgot her own phone number, she would definitely remember this name.
Time to start again.
Izumi placed her hand against the window, and then took a deep breath.
“Connect me to Yuataree! If you don’t, I’ll turn you into fixed window!” she shouted in anger, before opening the window with a bang.
The scenery changed.
Hot, dry air, wafted into the bathroom.
A vast desert expanse lay before her eyes.
She wondered, but when she looked to her left and right, she found boulders strewn about.
No, not just there. There were boulders far into the distance, as well as right beneath her window.
A large desert clearing was surrounded by boulders.
Far into the distance, just across from where Izumi was, stood a large tent atop a giant boulder.
Beneath the tent, and immediately around it, Izumi could see people standing about. It was too far, and she couldn’t see the faces, but all of them wore the same blue clothes.
“Which one is Sister? Where is Sister!?”
She didn’t know when he approached, but Roten screamed with a trembling voice as he scanned the surroundings.
Before Izumi could call out to him, they heard a confused voice.
“That voice… it can’t be, Roten?”
The voice came from close by. Shockingly close by. Izumi almost fell over in surprise.
When Izumi leant out of the window just a little, she immediately came face to face with a woman who looked right back at her.
She looked a lot like Roten. It was definitely Yuataree. She had been right next to the window.
She was kneeling on top of a carpet, itself on top of a boulder.
“I did it…”
It felt like Izumi would collapse from the relief.
Yuataree’s eyes visibly widened in shock.
“Why did you come!”
Roten’s voice was relieved, but Yuataree’s rebuke cut him off.
“…The insects are stirring.”
Izumi tilted her head.
She couldn’t see insects anywhere. It was just sand and boulders, as far as the eye could see. Not only that, she couldn’t hear the cacophony that the insects made, like rough metal on metal.
But Roten looked at the sandy clearing with a serious expression.
When she happened to look at Yuataree, she found her watching the sand with a sad expression.”
“You can hear it, can’t you, Roten. I can’t anymore…”
Yuataree seemed to scan the sand, as though looking for what she had lost.
But eventually she gave a small shake of her head.
Yuataree gently placed her palm on the hand Roten held against the windowframe.
“It’s fine. I already know that these insects haven’t been calm these last few days.”
“…Last few days? Why haven’t I heard of this!”
“I received a report from the nest guards that they’ve been repeatedly whispering something too quietly to hear.”
“Please, Sister, you must leave this to me!”
No sooner had he said this, did Roten try to leave the bathroom.
“I will not!” she roared.
She stood there firmly with her back straightened, and looked down at Roten.
Izumi and Roten looked up at her and shuddered.
Her caring expression was nowhere to be seen, and her gaze was now sagacious and dignified.
It caused one to lose their breath.
――Even though she wasn’t too different from Izumi in age, where was this force coming from?
It surely came from the difference in pressure they had, growing up.
Had Izumi been acting incredibly presumptuously?
As these thoughts rose up in her, Izumi quietly dropped her gaze.
“But, Sister, you can no longer…”
But next to her, Roten had not yet given up.
Izumi looked at him in shock. Even if it was his sister, he really had guts to talk back, the way Yuataree was now. Izumi could only silently cheer for him.
“I can no longer what?”
Yuataree’s tone was cold.
“Do you wish to say that I am unqualified for Chief because I can no longer hear their voices?”
“Listen well, Roten. I will be the next Chief. Just because I can’t hear their voices, you think that over twenty years of training for the position could possibly lose to a child who can’t play the leaf whistle at nine?”
Roten’s face quickly turned dumbfounded.
Izumi watched over them in suspense.
Yuataree was being firm. Roten wordlessly looked up at her. He looked like he would cry at any moment.
Suddenly, Yuataree laughed. It was mocking.
“Roten, do you not believe in your sister?”
He tightened his grip on the window frame, but didn’t reply.
If he admitted it, it would harm her pride, but if he refused, he would be sending her to her death.
“Don’t be so arrogant just because your ears are a little good.”
How painful was it for her to mock her brother like this?
Because Izumi knew, she could only hold her tongue.
But soon after, she heard a piercing, metallic noise. It came from the tent. Looking its way, she found a large gong.
“It can’t be! There should still be time!”
Roten’s words told Izumi that it was the signal to begin the ceremony.
“It seems like the new king is not only greedy, but capricious. This is an unforgivable slight. …But we can only obey. We have the power to control the insects, but not enough to make them our enemy.”
Yuataree gave one glance at the tent, before turning her gaze to Izumi. She bowed without a word.
She didn’t speak, but Izumi knew what she was saying.
“Please take care of my brother.”
Wait. Izumi swallowed her words.
Even if she told her to wait, was there anything Izumi could do?
Even Izumi tried to negotiate, apparently the people from I’Jibro were in that faraway tent, and to begin with, Izumi had no cards to play against this capricious queen. It was something obvious after just a little thought, but Izumi hadn’t realised it until now. She really had overestimated herself. She had thoughtlessly assumed that as long as the window connected, she could do anything.
Looking not at Roten, nor the depressed Izumi, Yuataree descended from the boulder.
There were hollows that you couldn’t even call primitive steps, but Yuataree swiftly descended them, and reached the bottom boulder.
There wasn’t even thirty centimetres distance to the sand. An arrijighock could just jump and capture her in an instant.
Yuataree placed the green leaf to her mouth.
A long, comfortable sound.
The moment she played this, three black lumps appeared from inside the sand.
Each one showed only the top part of its body, and ran circles in front of Yuataree.
To Izumi, they seemed like the dorsal fins of hunting sharks in the ocean.
“Hey, what do you need to do for the ceremony?”
With her eyes still on Yuataree, Izumi questioned the stock-still Roten.”
Izumi hadn’t expected a reply, but it came surprisingly readily.
“The ceremony is called the I’Nabano Shiloh’la, and involves controlling the insects with the whistle, and getting on its back. While on its back, the candidate needs to walk on their backs, all the way to the other shore to be acknowledged as chief.”
“That’s so reckless!”
Izumi could only call it an act of suicide to use such a ferocious insects as a bridge.
The sound of the whistle was loud.
But the insects continued to circle in the sand, and showed no signs of letting her on.
“Hey, do you think it’s possible like this?”
“How could it be! Sister’s playing is perfect, but they aren’t listening at all.”
“I don’t know!” he screamed.
Izumi looked at him again.
He was trembling.
His face was pale blue, and he looked like he was about to collapse.
Like this, his heart would break if he saw his sister attacked by the insects.
Izumi wrapped her arms around his trembling shoulders.
“It might be unfair to say this to you, but get it together. You heard the insects earlier, didn’t you? Then listen again. Listen to what the insects are saying!”
Roten shook his head.
“I can’t. The sound of the sand is getting in the way, and I can barely hear a thing. And if I help her, Sister will lose confidence in her abilities as Chief. She wouldn’t forgive me!”
Her earlier rejection seemed to have quite an effect. He had lost all his willpower.
When Izumi saw his hollow eyes, she grew irritated and shook his shoulders.
“Stop making excuses! You can believe in her if you want! But I can’t! I only just met her. How could I believe her. Listen. I’m the angel that gave you Conyork the Second’s hair. You’ll trouble me too if she dies here and wastes all my work! Children don’t need to overthink things. Don’t think, and just listen to the voices of the insects!”
“The voices… of the insects?”
“That’s right! Your sister believes in your ears too, doesn’t she?”
The will to do things, returned to his eyes. Seeing this, Izumi slowly told him what to do.
“Now then, Roten. Listen carefully.”
Guided by her voice, Roten closed his eyes.
The sound of Yuataree’s whistle.
The sound of blowing wind, and arrijighock, pushing through the sand.
That was all Izumi could heard.
But Roten furrowed his brows, and began moving his lips.
“We can not stay… here… it is not… here.”
“What? What isn’t?”
“Shut up, I can’t hear them.”
His rude and conceited tone came back to him. Izumi sighed in relief. It was weird when he wasn’t like this.
“Not here… Not here… It isn’t here… Let’s chase it.”
Like I asked, what isn’t here!?
The more she had to stay silent, the more she screamed in her mind.
-pyuuuuuuuuuuuuuui pyuuuuuuuuuuuuuui pyuuuuuuuuuuuuuui-
The sound of the flutes continued incessantly. Even Izumi who couldn’t understand it, could hear the anxiety and impatience.
Just as Izumi prayed, Roten’s eyes shot open.
“I’ve got it!”
“The sunarabi! The arrijighock are looking for sunarabi!”
She looked over to the shower to find the bag from the earlier woman. By now, far from just the ears, the whole bag was soaked red.
“Are the insects here hungry? But there are three of them. We only have enough for one.”
I wonder if it tastes like rabbit.
While thinking about stupid things, Izumi came up with an idea.
Even if one sunarabi wasn’t enough to satisfy them, perhaps one sunarabi was enough to fool them.
“As long as she reaches the other side, she’ll be Chief, right?”
Izumi reached for the bag. She was hesistant to touch something so bloody, but she steeled hersef, and grabbed it with vigour.
Ignoring the disgusting, sticky sensation, Izumi held it up.
After feeling its weight, Izumi nodded. With her strength, it would be more than enough to throw this down to Yuataree.
“I’m going to throw this down to her.”
“Eh?” shouted Roten.
“Yuataree! The insects are hungry! I’m going to throw you the sunarabi, so hold it up to them, and tell them this!
‘If you carry me to the other shore, I’ll give you as many sunarabi as you want’
After you get there, don’t say anything unecessary, and just climb a rock!”
Yuataree looked up at her in surprise, but she immediately nodded and blew.
Izumi waited for her to stop blowing the whistle, and then throw the bag.
When Yuataree caught the bag, she pulled out the sunarabi from inside, and holding it by the ears, she held it up to show the arrijighock.
And what happened when she did? The arrijighock lined up before her.
“It worked! It really worked!” cheered Izumi, when she saw Yuataree step on their backs.
After Yuataree blew her whistle again, the arrijighock began to quickly move, each one circling around to the front of the queue each time she finished walking on one.
Without stumbling once, Yuataree walked all the way to the other shore.
After rushing up a boulder, she threw the sunarabi at the three insects.
Izumi had no idea what she was saying. But they jumped around the sunarabi for a but, before happily disappearing into the sand again.
When they disappeared from the clearing, the sound of a gong resounded.
The ritual was a success.
“Thank goodness. Sister…”
Just as Roten muttered that, some uproar occurred.
Izumi could see the people moving about beneath the tent. Somebody handed a long pole-like thing to the person in the middle of the tent.
The formalities to complete the ceremony?
Just as she thought in wonder, an arm stretched out before her.
After it grabbed the window frame, the owner of the arm brought his small body above the window. It was Roten.
With his feet still on the windowframe, he glared towards the tent, before turning to Izumi.
“I’m going. Angel… Umm, you’ve really helped me,” he said bashfully, and was met with Izumi’s smile.
“Stay healthy,” she said. “Tell the new Chief hello. And also, your sister… is a terribly wonderful sister.”
His discouraged face spread into a smile.
It was the first time she had seen him do so.
“Of course she is.”
With those words, Roten leapt out the window, and ran at full speed to Yuataree.
Izumi watched him leave with warm feelings, but she suddenly felt a disturbance in the force, and looked forward.
Beneath the tent, a person entered her sight.
She couldn’t see their face. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were looking at her.
That person rose the stick that they had received earlier.
What are they going to do?
Just as she strained her eyes, something roared through the wind.
A gale flashed past her face.
A hard sound rang out behind her, like stone being destroyed, and after that was the sound of a light object bouncing on the floor.
“Idiot! Close the plank!”
While Izumi was stunned and confused, Roten who had returned without her knowing appeared right before her, and slammed the window with enough power to rattle it.
Calm returned to the bathroom.
The steam that had collected on the ceiling cooled, and then dripped into her bathtub.
The sound of the bouncing finally stopped, and when Izumi turned around, she shrieked.
“Eh-? Eh-? EEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!?”
There was a small hole in the wall now.
Not only that, right next to the blood puddle, lay a single arrow.
Could it be that I almost died?
Or so she thought, her face turning white as a sheet, but she immediately realised that she was wrong.
There was a folded piece of paper tied to it.
Izumi fearfully picked it up, and then unfasted the paper. After unfolded the rough, thick paper, its contents gave Izumi a shock.
“I can’t read it…”
Izumi’s mutter resounded sadly through the bathroom.
“I wonder if it tastes like rabbit.”
Japanese have counters. It’s like how you say ‘three ears of corn’. Here, ‘three’ is the counter. In Japanese, there’s a counter called ‘wa’. It’s for birds. So three birds is called, ‘three wa of birds’.
Oh, but also rabbits. Birds and rabbits. Why are rabbits treated as birds? According to urban myth, the buddhist priests of ancient Japan were not allowed to eat many types of meats, but birds were except.
But rabbits were just so delicious that they claimed that the ears were actually wings, and thus rabbits were birds, and okay to eat.
Well, that’s just how the legend goes. There’s probably some much more boring historical reason for this.
At any rate, sunarabi probably comes from ‘suna(sand)’ and ‘rabbit(English word)’. So presumably it looks a lot like a rabbit, despite the few descriptions in the novel.
When Izumi thinks, “I wonder if it tastes like rabbit”, in the original text, she’s wondering, “I wonder if I count this with ‘wa’.”