JP title: 相州戦神館學園 八命陣
No, I’m not doing KKK after this so don’t even ask. :p My brain still needs to cool off after the Masada overload.
I believe the title says it all, but this is my attempt (emphasis on attempt) at translating the entire prologue to Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin (or just Senshinkan for short), the latest visual novel from Light, written by Takashi Masada of Dies Irae / Kajiri Kamui Kagura / Paradise Lost fame. And me, coming from the medieval (read: 2007) conditions of the default 800×600 resolution found in Dies, shed tears of joy upon seeing Senshinkan come in full glorious widescreen, complete with a fancy interface and such. As it should be in 2014. I’ll also include notes of which particular BGM plays during a given scene, so if you have the soundtrack at hand, feel free to listen along for a better experience. This is something I strongly recommend because the music in this is insanely badass.
1) The bits that were left blank (____) appeared like that in the Japanese script as well, as blanked out kanji compounds. White squares, basically.
2) The asterisk* next to a word means that a kanji had furigana above it to achieve a dual meaning. Like so:
3) The names of the special attacks/spell types/dreams they unleash are of course up for debate, but since this isn’t a full translation of the entire novel, I ask you to kindly cut me some slack. :p The original uses terms like 咒法, 楯法 etc, so I went with Latin versions to try and recreate that same “alien / ancient” quality of the spells. I mean, I don’t think stuff like 楯法 and such sound natural to a Japanese native speaker, though I could be wrong. I also wanted to make sure that a normal reader (much like a Japanese person reading the original) could still piece together the meaning even if it’s in (fake) Latin, so I tried to choose Latin words that resemble English and therefore help association, like Arma being close to armaments/weapons or Libertas sounding like liberty for the dispel/debuff spell. I also very briefly made use of the game’s Japanese Wikipedia page to help me out with what these spells do and stand for. I’ll list them here in advance just in case — there’s five big categories (see below), and two sub-spells for each, making a total of ten, if I understood everything correctly:
- 戟法 (げきほう) (attack) — Magia Arma.
- 楯法 (じゅんほう) (defense) — Magia Aegis.
- 咒法 (じゅほう) (magic) — Magia Hex.
- 解法 (かいほう) (cancel) — Magia Libertas.
- 創法 (そうほう) (create) — Magia Creatio.
Also, special thanks to Curry for briefly explaining what the hell Kantan is in his review so that I wouldn’t have to look it up.
Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin
My ideal type of man would be… someone strong. Dependable.
I wonder — just how many of us genuinely feel that way?
If I were allowed to express solely my own subjective view on this matter, I would say… 70%. Eighty, even. Actually, if it surpassed 90%, couldn’t we merely claim that all women feel this way? That is what I think, at least.
Doubtless, this logic would elicit plenty of objections. Women who claim they care little for strength; who instead value a man’s sense of humor or his kindness above all else. Someone whose company makes them feel secure, at ease. Countless women in this world would readily hold such qualities in higher regard than sheer strength alone.
I see nothing wrong with that, nor can I deny it. Kindness; a sense of humor; security… in fact, even mere looks all play an important role in the process we call “falling in love”.
However… allow me now to look at this from a slightly different angle.
Think not of the type of person you *could* love… but rather the type you never could.
Even here, differing views would be dime a dozen, but still… allow me to ask just one thing first.
Just answer me this, everyone. Could you honestly… accept weakness?
If life is indeed a neverending struggle, could you truly fall in love with a man who, compared to yourself, clearly lacks the power to face and endure its hardships?
The answer is no. No matter how how far society advances, how diverse values become… this one fact will never change. It will remain an undeniable truth carried by all women.
“We live in times where women can be strong.”
“You are a strong woman.”
If someone were to tell me that, I doubt I would take it the wrong way or even find myself being upset. And yet… never would it make me feel like I’d want to switch places with a man.
I am a woman. Women should be women. I want someone masculine, someone I can rely on… someone who would protect me or my children. A true man. A desire stemming from feminine instinct, dictated by the laws of nature itself. And so…
…why couldn’t I find the time to reflect on this more deeply? On my femininity, on his masculinity. On something so evident, so palpable.
“I prefer men to be strong”, I utter the words curtly, selfishly — as a woman, viewed from a woman’s perspective. Words that represent that feminine logic, that ironclad rule.
As such, I never once understood how much he craved that strength; how fiercely he longed for that ideal.
A man’s longing for such strength borders on madness. He desires it from the bottom of his heart, his soul; with every fiber of his being, in a way a woman like me could never comprehend. He loathes his own weakness to the point of willingly choosing death over having to carry its shame.
This is masculine nature itself, and the very reason I regret my careless remark to this day.
Why did I say that…? That I prefer men to be strong?
There I was, telling a man who desired power above all else to become strong… nonchalantly, mindless of the consequences. Does my folly know no bounds?
To a man like him, my words practically implied that he was weak. Truth be told, I won’t claim to have never thought that to be the case.
I love men that display strength — unless you live up to that ideal, you can hardly be called one.
A malicious word, like a curse chanted.
There’s no doubt about it. I’m confident my words did end up cursing him that day.
He will change… and become stronger. But in exchange, all the other qualities that made him a wonderful person will also vanish, never to return.
His smile, his wit, his warm, gentle contour as we casually laugh and exchange words in the afternoon dusk…
By sacrificing anything and everything he once held, he sets his sights on his life’s grandest desire. And how was I to respond?
Should I have rejoiced, greeting him with a smile? Never. I couldn’t. For my heart was in agony, strangled mercilessly by remnants of guilt and sorrow.
Should I have tried desperately to stop him, tears trickling down my cheek? Never. I couldn’t.
After all, it was I that made him so. Even I am very much aware of how bitter of a betrayal it is — to tell him to become stronger, then lament the outcome I myself urged him to chase. It’s hypocritical, and defies common sense. To him, it would no doubt feel like a stab in the back. And therein lies our fundamental discrepancy. I’m sure of it.
I am a woman; and he, a man. We both are human, and yet our genders differ; our very natures contrast. No matter what I do, I will never be able to even imagine the sheer ferocity of that maddening ambition that ignites his soul.
I should never have wished for a strong man.
I should never have allowed that phrase to leave my lips.
I regret it to this day. Agonizingly so. I would readily throw my life away… if it meant I could correct that.
And so, that single, maddening thought rages in me still, with an intensity that no man could ever hope to fathom…
And a moment later, this young woman, tormented by regret deeper and blacker than the midnight sky, finally awoke from her dream. Or maybe, this had all been merely a dream in the first place.
The very first sensation to invade my senses upon waking was bewilderment, primarily over simple facts like where I was, and what had happened to me. An inability to determine my present condition, simply put.
It is as if her insides were screaming in agony as the sharp sensation danced through her nerves with inexplicable intensity. The scorching pain itself came in several kinds, running all over the girl’s body. Pain from bruises and bleeding, stab wounds and severe burns. Several of her bones were broken, and the metallic taste of blood gushing forth from her throat stood testament to her evidently crushed internal organs. In a word, she was in complete ruin. The pain was unbearable — she longed to scream at the top of her lungs or writhe on the floor in agony; and yet, her body still refused to move an inch.
However, the torturous struggle itself reinvigorated the girl’s senses, allowing her to take in the reality of her own situation.
And the answer becomes clear as day — she had suffered defeat.
By whose hands, she will not say, for there is hardly a need to. She paid no mind to herself; instead, she was concerned about something else.
“E-Every… one… W-Where… are you…?”
She had been defeated, that much she could comprehend. “But what of the others?”, she poses the question to the barren sky.
She had no strength to walk with, no voice to cry out with; turning her head around to inspect her surroundings was similarly out of the question. And so she did the only thing she was capable of and lifted her gaze up to the heavens, her voice tattered and powerless.
In most cases, the cruel, empty skies would neither answer, nor confirm her pleas. Regrettably, this was no such case.
The grace of God falls on but a few handful. The Devil, on the other hand, revels in expanding his prided trade to many and all, as a generous merchant would.
Even as her eyes fail the girl, her hearing does not. Her sense of smell is also very much intact. These two sense provide her with ample amount of information to come to that terrible conclusion: that this was a scorched wasteland of a battlefield.
Something’s burning… but what? ‘Tis all too obvious.
Scattered all around her… but what? Once again, it hardly needs be said.
Realizing that she alone was still breathing — buried deep in a swamp of blood and corpses — , the girl let out a silent scream.
A juggernaut of steel, rising pillars of smoke littering its body — the battleship that marked the site of their final struggle, now turned into an enormous coffin to carry the defeated.
It wasn’t the warship alone that fell victim to the flames — the landscape she saw far beyond the horizon was embraced by crimson hellfire just the same. The sea, now resembling the visage of a cackling daemon, grew ever more sinister, strangling the hearts and crushing the bravery of all that dared gaze into its sneer; its waves wailing with an ominous rumble.
Not the smallest corner remained in this hell where hope would be allowed to blossom.
And how fares the resolve of the young woman, condemned to look upon such carnage, slowly counting down to her inevitable demise in this fleeting calm before the storm?
Although she may be one of the prominent commanders of the defeated, the girl nonetheless lacks the tempered will to be able to carry that responsibility in its entirety. For she is but a maiden pure of pastry and flowers; a pretty little thing who greets the songbird’s chirp with a feeble smile as one season melts into the next. A young girl one could meet practically anywhere.
And now, someone of that nature comes face to face with a battlefield — nay, the realm of Hades itself, as the single reason she still holds onto life on the brink of annihilation being the sheer power of emotions still raging in her chest. She had friends to call her own, tasted love, and stood firm to protect those very things she held dear; feelings that once, like a stout wall erected, held the jaws of despair at bay against all odds.
All that is gone now, its light faded. And so she fails to stand.
The friends she swore to fight for are not here to protect her now, and so she falls, frail and powerless.
She wishes to believe with all her soul.
That her current situation is not ____. She will never accept that.
And so, meeting her end here is no blessing. She cannot think that way.
She understands — now, when justice is broken and trampled upon by the heels of villainy…
…that the grace of God falls on but a few handful. That the Devil, on the other hand, revels in expanding his prided trade to many and all, as a generous merchant would.
Sancta Virgo virginum ora pro nobis
Mater Christi ora pro nobis
Mater Divinae Gratiae ora pro nobis
One drop after another, she feels something trickling down from the barren skies above — dark and thick as mud; liquid that is no water, yet pours like rain. The soft downpour drenching the helpless young girl is not cold; it feels hot on her cheeks. Like marring acid, adding insult to injury; the salt in the wound, burning her slowly dying body. A void drilled into the canvas of the sky, now vomiting forth the poisonous liquid, the deep earth’s baneful blessing; an unholy sonata of joy composed of blood and guts and semen and liquified waste, mingling with vile hatred, agony and deep-rooted resentment. It was the incessant drool of an aberrant monstrosity unable to constrain his agitation as he beheld the carnage so wonderfully enacted before his very eyes.
Mater purissima ora pro nobis
Mater castissima ora pro nobis
Shivering and barely able to breathe, she felt its malevolence on her skin.
“S-Stop… I… beg of you…!”
She looked beyond the skyward void and — casting pride aside–, made her plea.
Her voice barely squeezed through her throat, fervent like a madwoman’s zeal.
Please, stay away. Don’t come any closer. Let me die in peace.
You are the victor, I admit it. I yield. Haven’t you had enough?
It sends a shiver down her spine imagining what more he could do to her.
Drenched by the pouring dark, the young girl’s voice rang like a repentance, spilling forth from her feeble lips.
“Do you loathe me that much…?”
The name she softly uttered went unheard, melting into the chaos. A name of someone who had already gone far… uttering it holds little meaning now.
And in that moment…
“I love you, Mizuki.”
*(Benbou, although I have no idea what that is)
A fierce gust swept across the ship, a flash in the midnight void. His tall figure appeared before the young girl, defying the fire and the blazing chaos, slicing dust and smoke apart. Standing strong and gallant — the outline of a hero, swelling emotion in all that looked upon him.
“Don’t give up! All is not lost!”
Amidst darkness and fury that would easily break the resolve of a lesser man, he alone stands, like a fierce bastion, unfaltering. His will, steeled as ever, loses not a spark of its radiance. He faces the advancing despair head-on, dwarfing in brilliance heroes far and wide.
‘Tis how a true hero takes the stage. A commander never yields to the shackles of fate, no matter the odds. As long as his feet stand on firm ground, his eyes see and his hands course with blood to seize victory, defeat is unacceptable.
As long as he — the most powerful of us all — draws breath, we can rise again. The end is yet to come. We can still emerge victorious…
After briefly being engulfed by such thoughts, Sera is once again struck by grief.
The large cannon of the steel monstrosity howls a creak as it turns to face him. Strictly from a physical point of view, the cannon is hardly in functioning order; and yet, as if moved forcefully — like by child that plays with a toy already broken –, it continues to turn… and targets the young man. Should he evade the cannon’s gaze, it will merely continue to bend further to chase him. Truly, a spectacle defying logic, and yet at this point, hardly worthy of surprise, for this warship — no, this entire battlefield — was merely a part of Kantan. And so, as long as the dreamer wills it, anything is possible, no matter how absurd or twisted a form it may take — such is the principal rule that governs the realm of dreams. Aye, this is a wicked nightmare assaulting reality itself; and as long as its source remains undefeated, not a soul can wake from it.
The main cannon of the warship — bent to an unbelievable shape — howls like thunder, breathing fire. The very fact that it is still capable of firing in its current state only stands to prove the maddening lack of earthly logic in its workings. Should a mountain be raised to block its firing path, the shell would still — like a ghastly illusion — pass through it with ease. In other words, attempting to rely on common sense in such a battle is a foolish notion at best.
To fight a dream means to become a dream yourself.
Mizuki watched as he carried out his mystical arte of rapid gestures with never before seen precision and efficiency — he was still and quiet during the process, yet his movements burned with zeal.
Steel wit and a fiery torrent of passion. Those two attributes, standing as symbols that reflect his very being, fueled his heart’s ever-blazing fury. He conjures up a dream far surpassing the realm of understanding, remaining unscathed by its vastness. The amount of sheer power he — still refusing to give into despair — summons renders the threat of a cannon shell or two completely obsolete.
He deflects the shell, which shatters and disperses into the black of night, like flakes of snow kissed by warm air. A moment later, the cannon itself explodes, taking the entire upper half of the warship with it. That such a young man was able to accomplish this with but a single swing of his arm is a dreamlike miracle in itself — there is hardly any other way to phrase it. However, only an ordinary, everyday onlooker would arrive to such a conclusion; Mizuki, on the other hand, was able to discern exactly what the previous moment had meant in terms of the fight and its balance of power.
First, the enemy.
Manipulating, shaping and influencing the physical composition of the cannon at will is a Material-class spell of the Magia Creatio. Furthermore, should the enemy choose to avoid — and not deflect — the shell in question, the cannon will relentlessly continue to chase its mark: an inhuman firing range made possible by a Discharge-class spell of the Magia Hex. In other words, it was a tight combination of two types of dreams — “creating” and “discharging” — that gave birth to the attack launched a moment before.
By contrast, the man who had just deflected that attack used the Armor-class spell of the defensive Magia Aegis, as well as the Amplification-class spell from the offensive Magia Arma. Shrugging off a cannon shell is a feat no man would normally be capable of — and in order to accomplish that inhuman feat, he had no choice but to don those two dreams and steel his own body by amplifying both his physical strength and endurance. Furthermore, by unleashing the the Ruin-class spell of the freeing Magia Libertas — used to disassemble the dreams of an opponent, rendering it impotent –, he succeeded in perfectly repelling the blow.
The dreams woven by the opposing sides — both obeying the laws dictated by the Kantan — were double-layered and triple-layered, respectively. The combatant that displayed the more advanced technique had indeed been the bold savior from Mizuki’s side. And yet, even still, she would not let this brief victory fool her into thinking they were having the upper hand.
The fact that the hero had to unleash a higher level technique just to be able to to deal with the lower level one conjured by his foe meant that there had been a notable gap between them and the powers they commanded.
For the man now standing atop the remains of the ruined cannon shows not the faintest sign of being wounded at all. Standing in the midst of a raging inferno that could melt the very steel around him, he looked down at the other with a grin wider than a madman’s, as the cloak he wore danced with violent spasms in the fierce heat.
And he was laughing, cackling; as if to show his utter contempt and disappointment in the weakness of the hit he had taken the brunt of moments before, all the while displaying his own superiority.
As if to show how strength marks superiority.
What is strength? That single word, like a curse, tormented Sera’s heart still, forcing her to momentarily forget even the crushing pain. However, what she knows with certainty is that as long as that “thing” is not stopped, the world is doomed to face a hellish future — a reality just as cruel as it is merciless, one that defies escape. A future Mizuki can envision as clearly and evidently as one accepts the fact-like principles of elementary, infantile arithmetic. If “strength” is the power necessary to manifest one’s supremacy in this world… then no soul exists that could stand a chance to rival him. She can state that as fact, without a shred of doubt.
His power lies not in the intensity of his emotions or the firmness of his resolve. While such qualities do manifest in him at extraordinary levels, Mizuki’s commander is not, by any means, inferior to the other in terms of willpower. He, and none other, has now reached a level where he could face off against that monster on equal terms. If we’re talking sheer quality, he is in no way a lesser man.
And yet… it is futile.
The open void in the sky trembles as the sinister oratio fills the air, resembling the near-mechanical buzz of a hornet swarm. Like a tainted fruit fallen onto the earth, a nightmare seething and vile is ready to slither forth. Even if they are equal in rank, the fundamental difference between the two that prevented one from toppling the other could hardly be attributed to something as trifle as mere character.
In terms of character, they represent two sides of the same coin, and as such, neither of them excels over the other. Water may extinguish fire; yet fire is just as capable to evaporate water. A tree’s roots may gouge the earth to gain nutrition from it; and so, the moment the earth dies, the tree withers with it — such is the nature of universal co-dependency present in life and all creation. In Nature’s realm, elements that defy qualitative categorization consequently represent equal values — as such, trying to claim that, for instance, “A” would always be superior to “B” or vice versa is but a foolhardy venture. Like in a three-way deadlock, no matter what form the relationship takes, equilibrium shall always be maintained. Steel as steel. Water as water. As long as the serpent remains but a serpent, no problems arise. But what happens when that ceases to be the case?
Hero: “You dare mock my dream as impure?”
For instance… when a weak being forces, pushes itself to become strong?
Hero: “I am out of my element… is that what what you mean to imply?”
The weak and frail shall always remain so. The tainted shall remain impure. In other words, one’s natural habitat and given role to occupy.
Foolishly — arrogantly — defying one’s given nature, one’s allotted birthright — water of twisted, unnatural composition that thus ceases to be as such. No matter how miraculous, how radiant a transformation it may be… even the water of a tainted swamp glitters in purer light than the clearest stream-water birthed by such twisted artifice.
And so, she can see it all to well. As long as the hero fights with bravery, love, duty and compassion at his side — the light of innate good that shines his path –, he will never stand a chance to defeat “it”. For “it” is…
Mizuki: “Please… I beg of you, stop…”
For “it” is the absolute justice of the deepest layer of the Kantan, embracing genuine love and hatred towards its own true nature.*
*(swamp/muddy water, referenced above)
Seething passions erupt in unison as the curtains rise on their final, decisive clash. Arma, Aegis, Hex, Libertas, Creatio — and a sixth mystic technique possessed only by the two of them. Arte flashes after arte till none more is left to be summoned; their raging Kantan invades reality itself, dismantling the dreamworld, allowing for no intervention as the two titans dance and bite into each other in a cosmos-shattering struggle, akin to a nuclear explosion: a terrible weapon not yet invented in their era, yet it fails to phase or elicit surprise in them. Consequently, conjuring up a detonation of such caliber, scattering both radioactivity and unimaginable heat is but child’s play to them. Naturally, the same can be said of their ability to erect defenses that can easily endure that very energy.
The Magia Arma — its Velocity-class spell allowing the user to transcend the speed of light and rid himself of the shackles of gravity.
The Scatter-class spell of Magia Hex — an otherworldly howl that shakes the very heavens to their core, its impact so powerful it may reach to the farthest corners of the earth. The Penetration-class spell of Magia Libertas, like a paranormal mirage*, taking only a blink of an eye to swiftly pass through it and into opponent’s blind spot. Their dance is violent, their strikes punctual and efficient, raging and reverberating with an intensity that may easily fool a man to believe the sky itself had been ripped open; at the same time, a dreary sensation took hold of the air, as if a puzzle was mechanically being pieced together.
Ah, this phenomenon… this volcanic, yet steady and solemn erosion of their life energy — how did he phrase it?
“The Gears of Hell.”
Indeed. A wicked script that has but one finale, of man plunging deep into the vortex of ruination.
Eliminating all other possible outcomes, steel polished to perfection with malice dark as a bottomless pit, in order to spread far and wide his prided craft. (**I’ll be honest, I have no idea what the script is trying to say with that previous sentence, haha. But here’s the original if anyone cares: 他のあらゆる可能性をすり潰し、自慢の商品を売りつけるために底なしの悪意で磨き上げられた鋼鉄だ。 ** Maybe it’s an idiom/metaphor I’m trying to take too literally…
She wants to see none of it — and so, while knowing all too well the folly of it, she pleads regardless.
Mizuki: “You… have to run…”
It was all my fault. Forgive me. You are strong. Tremendously so. I finally understood that… I get it, so please, I beg of you, put a stop to this.
You promised never to make me cry. To always make me laugh. So here and now, I want you to keep that promise. That is… all I wish for. I beg of you… I never want to see anything like this, ever again.
Voice: “It’s no use, my dear.”
I know it’s futile. I know. My request is all but logical, and I have no right to push the blame on him.
Voice: “Besides… you the first to break that promise, as I recall.”
And that marks the start of it all, the catalyst for this tragedy that cast me into this boiling chaos.
The dark rain trickling forth from the void in the sky begins to slowly but surely take shape. A glassy, gelatin-like shape that nonetheless oozes a strikingly tainted aura of pure malice, no doubt a torrent of vile energy coiling inside his body. His midnight visage sustains its dark hue even as the battle rages and the warship burns in his vicinity. This being, given birth by the void stretching across the sky, is darkness incarnate. The delicate vibrations that coat his being reverberate like an ominous requiem, reminiscent of the unpleasant hum of a swarm of insects fluttering close to one’s ear.
No, it may indeed be a flock of tiny, molecular beings joined together, the most plausible explanation being a swarm of insects. An ebony mist composed of beings that naturally induce disgust in the human psyche — flies, insects, bees, spiders, mosquitoes and cockroaches. The swarming molecules of his body, every last one of them, were the very definition of repulsion; an element that no sane man would ever allow to exist in this universe, pulsating with an energy of pure evil.
“Amen, Jesus Maria”
The dark monstrosity — its form a concentration of all the ills in the world –, spread its arms wide, as if to embrace the heavens themselves, and uttered that brief phrase of scriptural blessing. His face shifting, swaying like thick smoke; his body covered by a cassock black as the night, making his features difficult to make out. And yet, anyone could tell that the monster was smiling, for his glowing, tainted eyes were moist with grotesque joy; his smile ridiculing all.
The unholy energies pulsing forth in waves from his entire body were that of a being spellbound by his beloved, singing her praises without a second’s rest.
Monster: You are so beautiful, Mizuki… ah, how lovely it is to look upon you.”
So howled the dark mist in his humming voice, like a chorus chanting in near-unison — claiming that Mizuki — now drenched in tears and blood, strangled by fear and repulsion — was beautiful.
“Those two will soon be finished. And exactly as you think… the outcome is clear as day. Pray refrain from labeling it a mere farce. If I may be allowed a brief second to boast… I have labored long and hard to stage it to your liking. Is it not the most splendid of dreams, my dear? Every wish is ripe to be fulfilled here.”
Mizuki — reflexively shrinking away from his opponent — replied to the dark man still intoxicated by his own personal catharsis. Simply by facing him and parting her lips to speak, she was assaulted by the grisly, nightmarish image akin to a thousand insects swarming forth from there.
Mizuki: “I beg of you… save him…! Do whatever you want with me, but please, let him go! It is only me you want, right…? Then take me, and leave the rest!”
“If it is me you hate, I will take all the blame. I won’t flee. I will accept any punishment you deem fit, so please… no more. Enough.”
A sound is heard, like an ant clanking its pincers.
The air vibrates, as if a host of flies were swarming its very fabric.
Terrifying. Repulsive. His eyes were the only things to stand out in the thick darkness, and yet, their bright contrast with the deep ebony reminded her of a wriggling, squirming caterpillar. Still near-paralyzed by the sheer pressure of the vast quantities of evil energy coiling about her in the air, Mizuki howled at the top of her lungs.
“Say something, you coward! You are nothing! A nobody! How dare you take advantage of our mistake to spout lies of him! He is not like that! My… the man I love…!
He is kind, albeit at times unreliable, yet his heart is in the right place. It was I who urged him to become strong. It was I who set him off on a journey to chase that unnatural ideal. And so, only I have sinned. The blame lies with me.
He has done nothing wrong, and I will not tolerate as you sully his name.
“Wishing for a nice and convenient dream that fits all your needs… now why would I do that, Mizuki?”
“He must have been like this. He must have felt this way, no doubt about it. Ah, if that truly were always the case, the world would be simple place indeed.
“Besides, it is hardly as if “we” had ever seen eye to eye before… right?”
She could not deny the truth of his words. It was precisely because their ideals clashed that things ended they way they did, in the worst possible way. The present reality before her eyes was solid proof of that.
Mizuki: “But… even should he hate me…”
“No, it is exactly because he hates me that I…”
Shinno: “Oh my… Like I’ve been saying, Mizuki…”
Cutting off Mizuki’s vehement argument mid-way, the grotesque shade called Shinno shrugged in the most grandiose manner possible. His faceless visage curled upward, spinning his monologue with what appeared to be a smile.
Shinno: “I’m telling you that is a mistake. Who exactly hates you again…? I’ve told you time and again — I love you.”
With genuine wickedness and a touch of madness, pouring down like a springtime shower.
Shinno: “You always manage to say the most insensitive of things, my dear. It’s almost as if you were blind to my feelings.”
The monster tasted every inflection of my bitter curse, my foolish utterance — that longing for a strong man — as if it was the sweetest of delicacies.
Shinno: “Tell me… am I not strong now? So love me.”
Mizuki: “How dare you…!!”
Her cry was the crimson of blood. Her new-found fury, like a volcano about to erupt, lurched her into motion as she struck her opponent bare-handed. However, her fist failed to reach its target as Mizuki ended up dashing right through the monster’s body. Shinno’s ethereal, fog-like body is immune to any and all attacks of physical nature. And Mizuki, who consequently should not have suffered a blow herself in the process, ended up collapsing on the deck, bloody vomit rushing to her throat as she fainted. Having thrusted herself headfirst into that mist of agglutinated evil, she felt her entire body burned by hatred and pain of deathly intensity. And the monster, exhaling a sigh of mild irritation, turned around — still a remnant of a smile dancing on his features — looked down upon her on the floor and extended a helping hand towards the girl.
Shinno: “Are you alright? Can you stand, my dear? It is ever so dangerous to hazard such hasty movements on board, you know… To be so mindless of of your surroundings that you would allow yourself to throw up — my, far be it from me to call it scandalous, and yet…”
Shinno: “Wasn’t that… a friend of yours? Gagging and coughing straight into a dear friend’s very face… well, you see, even I might start to wonder what’s gotten into you.”
She opens her eyes as the ominous monologue reaches her ears. Her vision, blurred at first by tears, is slowly but surely clearing up, allowing her to make out the contours of a face… a familiar, well-known face…
Mizuki: “A…A… Aki…”
It was a girl — once energetic, strong-willed but surprisingly bashful. In truth, she detested violence the most in their group — and yet, decided to stick with them till the bitter end, as a true friend would. Her ruined face, now smeared with the very blood Mizuki had just coughed up a moment before, will never flash another smile. Mizuki, looking deep into the severed head’s hollow, gouged eyes — centipedes still scurrying about in the sockets –, let out a bone-chilling scream.
And and no please God no I don’t want to see enough enough enough I can’t take it.
Even though I knew all too well we might all end up like this, confronting the grisly scene face to face is simply too much to bear.
I’m falling breaking beyond repair. Ah, if only my mind could break and switch off, at the very least, it would at last find peace.
But Mizuki knew that the man now in front of her would never allow her to taste such repose.
Shinno: “Ahaha… hahaha….hahahahaha…!!
As if to embrace the faceless, cackling darkness, severed, ragged “things” began to fall from the skies above. The rain was deep crimson in color, a spectacle that no man would fail to recognize. The Gears of Hell manifest not the minutest trace of a foreign element — it was an arte particularly specializing in summoning horrific nightmares that any man or woman could envision and consequently fear.
Below the heavens now raining chaos, the man in pursuit of his dream of paradise took to song: like an ode chanted to embrace victory, a requiem of the Armageddon.
Within the mere few minutes it took Mizuki to confront Shinno, the fate of the cosmos had been decided. — just as she had imagined, in the most simple, unceremonious way, the of end of times descend as Pandora’s Box is thrown ajar.*
*this is the exact same kanji sequence as in Dies, so I decided to go with the same expression
Mizuki, now all alone, fell onto her knees as she gazed upon at the heavens stretching above, realizing the impending doom would allow nary a breath of prayer to leave his lips.
Shinno: “Well now, I believe I have kept you waiting. The best is yet to come, my dear.”
The daemon before her would never have his fill with just this — no, he won’t let it end just yet. His is a nightmare from which there is no waking, forever and ever, till the end of times — and this is merely its beginning. Chattering his uneven set of teeth, Shinno* makes his proclamation, with an appetite ever-hungering for sweet misery.
Uttering words of love softly, like a maggot gnawing on rotten flesh.
Shinno: “And now, you are…”
That one sentence.
Exposing to the realm far and wide that bitter, unacceptable darkness slumbering within the depths of her very soul, the final bastion that still stood stalwart in Mizuki’s heart falls and crumbles to ashes.
Her battle cry resounds in the air, she herself wondering whether its fury was truly aimed at the opponent. She cannot tell, not anymore.
There is but one thing she feels with unshakable certainty. That sole, singular truth that had always been residing in her heart.
I should never have wished for a strong man.
I should never have allowed that phrase to leave my lips.
I regret it to this day. Agonizingly so. I would readily throw my life away… if it meant I could correct that.
And so, that single, maddening thought rages in me still, with an intensity that no other could ever hope to fathom…