This is basically my translation of the scene in KKK that made me go from “I really like this VN” to “I’m madly in love with this VN”. It’s the first big moment of heroine Koga Rindou explaining her ideals and what she’s all about.
Context: A tournament was organized to determine who would be the most fit to lead their armies to the Eastern continent to exterminate the the threat of supernatural monsters. Rindou was one of the spectators to a massive battle between Keishirou, Soujirou, Shiori and to an extent, Ryuusui as well. Habaki is meanwhile ordered by Ryuumei to watch over Rindou to see what she’s like. There’s a lengthy fight scene, after which Rindou leaves her seat and does… well, this.
And now, gazing down from above the tree surrounding the palace proper, I first beheld the problem-princess in question. I know not if eccentricity or sheer madness made her so, but of this, I was certain: Her Ladyship seemed no ordinary woman.
What is she planning, exactly? What is going on in that pretty head of hers?
Kujou, Kyougetsu, and Soujirou are no fledgling greenhorns. Much like I — having spectated their bout — managed to realize that, our dear princess must have no doubt arrived at the very same conclusion.
Truth be told, that shortie, Ryuusui, did surprise me a bit back there. Still, clear as day: this was a ruthless battle royale in the making, nothing less. It begged for a conclusion.
Which brings me once again to the question: what *is* she planning?
Habaki: “What’s on your mind, princess?”
Ryuumei’s orders notwithstanding, I found myself unable to take my eyes off the scene unfolding before me.
Indeed — she steeled herself and made her stand, gaze stern as fire; her ideals nocked unto bowstring, ready to be released.
Rindou: “Sheathe your steel at once. Comply, else I promise to shoot you dead where you stand!”
There are no brave heroes in the realm. True knighthood is but a distant ideal now, naught more. She knows this world and its laws as alien, and herself an outsider in its prison.
And yet she defies its taint, unwilling to turn her back on it in childish rage. To latch onto one’s own principles while letting the rest of the world fend for itself would be the height of irresponsibility, making her no different from the very people she detests. After pondering long and hard on the matter, Rindou finally realized what she ought to do.
Reizen: “Your Ladyship… what manner of farce is this…?”
At Rindou’s side, Nakanoin Reizen gave her a puzzled look. What is about to happen is clearly beyond the comprehension of a man such as he.
Rindou: “‘Hardly a farce, my Lord. Pray recall who the head of this House is — for it is none other than I. Should I quell their bloodlust, this dance shall came to its end. Would it not?”
Reizen: “What are you saying…?!”
The Great Conquest of the East mustn’t end in failure. We must emerge victorious — to survive, to protect our country; whatever their reasons or motives may be, this single thought lives strong in the hearts of every man and woman of the realm.
And so a commander must rise, one fit for the role. The Houses of Chigusa, Rokujou and Iwakura — all out of the question, much like Ryuumei had once said. It follows that only two choices remain: Koga or Nakanoin.
Lineage and tradition would favor Koga, that much is true. However, up till now, Rindou had been struggling with severe doubts. Had she been shielding herself with talk of responsibility, of a head’s duty, only to find herself merely wanting to have her own way? The thought tormented her to no end.
And so, matters had to be considered and decided in fairness, with no room for subjective notions. Should Reizen be the most fit commander to save the country, I would find no qualms with the outcome. Even should I become a mere trophy to adorn his side, even if it meant I had to lie with man whom I did not love — if that would, in the end, save our country from ruin, I would accept my fate with open arms.
She stands by whichever choice benefits the people the most, taking pride in it. Such is the utmost desire of all who belong to the great warrior families, a duty shared by them all: a noble sacrifice. She believes in that from the bottom of her heart.
And so she took matters into her own hands, ready to settle it here and now. Which one of you shall lead our forces to victory in the East, bringing peace and stability to the realm?
In the end, Reizen lacks the quality that would enable him to become a man of such caliber. Him responding to my actions with quelled laughter, despite knowing that inaction might very well lead to wholesale massacre is crystal clear evidence of that. He who sees death, be it his own or that of his men, as a floating sensation and nothing more, can lead no one to victory. That is the very same thing which resulted in our defeat three hundred years past — this, I can say now with certainty. A warped mindset inhabited by all who live in these times.
How could he who loves not his fellow men, who feels no pity for the weak earnestly fight to save an entire country?
Rindou: “I do believe I have made my intentions clear. Lower your weapons.”
While that made her unable to acknowledge Reizen as worthy…
Rindou: “Any that refuses to obey is welcome to stand forth to fight me!”
…she herself will need to be put to the test just the same.
Ryuusui: “Lady Rindou…”
Soujirou: “What is she thinking…?”
Shiori: “And so the rumors have proven to be true…”
…that I have lost my wits.
Rindou let a bitter smile creep onto her lips at the implicit accusation.
Keishirou: “Are you sure you’re feeling quite alright, princess?”
Indeed, it comes as no surprise that they would view me as such.
However, her mind is made, her doubts washed clear away. With steel ambition burning in her heart, she posed the question.
Rindou: “Tell me — what is it you desire from this life? What feelings stir your hearts as you to take to our dance as the chosen, wielding power fearsome enough to demolish armies? What dreams do you chase, what goals you hold aloft, what ideals blind your gaze as you brandish steel?”
Rindou: “Answer me, Kujou! Kyougetsu! Mibu Soujirou! And Ryuusui… you are hardly exempt, either!”
Ryuusui, her breath taken away by her Lady’s booming proclamation — defying her otherwise gentle stature — stood in silence. The other three followed suit, their words caught in their throats, overcome by sudden bewilderment.
All the other men felt the same as Rindou soon became the center of their attention. No soul that heard her words could look away; all eyes were fixated on her and her every move.
Rindou: “Is it your own will? Or a lust for glory? Unable to look past the immediate future, do you wish only to live freely as your mood dictates? You are fools beyond measure! Insects on the ground! No great deed springs to life from a mind so narrow, so petty! Wherein lies our true common ground? And the power to see us through, the feelings to light our way? How will they blossom true?”
Rindou: “How cheap would your deaths be, should your blood be spilled on grounds such as this! What value lies in a heart that bleeds for so little?”
“The human heart and soul”* is what Ryuumei called it — that which all men and women bear with no exception, slumbering deep within their breasts. A notion now cheapened and obsolete beyond recognition.
*(she just says tamashii — 魂.)
Rindou: “Are you naught but flesh and blood? No more? Your hearts intoxicated by a stupor of madness, all the while possessing nothing man could label immortal? If that is how you are, then every single one of you is but a hollow shell; living, yet dead at the same time. And you, in your un-life, must fear nothing — neither murder, nor being killed. You are hardly capable of feeling death’s true weight. And so…”
With one step after another, Rindou descended unto the courtyard, treading upon the white desert of accumulated winter snow. The act signaled her own participation in the battle royale: another player to join the bout. It sharply distanced her from the line of nobles resting up in their seats, thus making her another combatant willing to risk her own life.
Rindou: “…I am here to show you the way.”
The first and swiftest to respond was Soujirou. Mindless of his injuries, like a man immune to pain, his eyes flashed once again with the zeal of a warrior. Reizen was heard shouting something or other from his station, but his words fell on deaf ears. Mibu Soujirou was war incarnate, a daemon of the sword; should anyone, regardless of status, set foot upon his battleground, they would meet a swift end under the young man’s steel.
That simple principle guides his every action, and so he falters not in in ways.
Soujirou: “Very well, Lady Koga. I know not how you wish to enlighten us, but you have managed to pique my curiosity, at the very least. What a fascinating woman… I now have an irresistible urge to kill you.”
Ryuusui: “Th-This is madness! I’m not letting you do that, Soujirou!”
Rushing to force her way between the two, Ryuusui stepped forward as well, similarly mindless of the wounds covering her body. Even for someone like her, who had gotten used to Rindou’s peculiarities, this was simply too much to ignore.
Ryuusui: “If I did anything to displease you, my Lady, I offer my humblest apologies! B-But Lady Rindou, I beg of you, cease this madness and come to your senses!”
Shiori: “Not sure what that princess is on about, but it appears she’s intent on mocking all of us. If you wish to stop us, you are very welcome to try. I doubt you could do it, though… unless you happen to be a Kyougetsu?”
Keishirou: “A tasteless joke, if I ever heard one.”
Shiori was playful, despite her astonishment; Keishirou, on the other hand, spat out his words with dejection.
Keishirou: “So, we’re narrow-minded, huh…? You sure put on a fine show for us there, I’ll admit. But I don’t I want to hear that from someone who hasn’t even done anything to display their strength.”
Rindou: “Worry not. For I have shown more than enough.”
In response to the trio’s varied comments, Rindou let out a faint laugh of self-derision, birthed both by amazement and resignation, yet full of power, lacking the hue of despair.
A smile unrending, for it knew what fear tasted like. A laugh seasoned with joy, for it felt the chill of death. An expression of one who bears what she herself once spoke of — a soul.
Rindou: “What you and I refer to as determination, as resolution… are two vastly different concepts. Naturally, I talk not of mere status or pedigree. No, what I am here to proclaim is bravery itself. I believe I’ve already made myself clear once — I called you petty insects.”
Rigidness in all things — in murder, in death. As death holds no further meaning other than merely dying — nothing more, nothing less –, their actions thus carry no true weight, even should they appear gallant and brave to an outside spectator. Staking your life in a battle to the death — all hollow remarks; a farce through and through, with no genuine substance.
For they know not where the soul dwells. No matter how gallant, how splendid their waltz may be, its essence is no more than a dance of the dead.
A heart ready to face death? They possess no such thing.
Rindou: “But I am different… and I am ready to confess: indeed, I find all of you terrifying beyond measure, and I do fear death. My legs are quaking and I just might break down crying. Aye, ’tis hardly becoming of the head of House Koga to openly voice such sentiments, I do realize — and yet, I could hardly get through to the lot of you without a clear, easy-to-digest explanation. Besides, you wouldn’t acknowledge me, had I not done all this. I know not why you chose to wield such immense power, nor will I question it any longer. But take this to heart:
“Should you truly boast of skills supreme, your very soul must hang in the balance.”
Rindou: “In its truest sense, I am now placing my soul on the line. My behavior, rash as it may have been, is no danse macabre. Not like yours.”
Rindou: “And so, I once again order you to sheathe your weapons. I will not allow skill of such magnitude be tarnished by your juvenile clangor. Once you’ve found your soul, and can earnestly desire for it to burn bright like a star — come to me then, and I shall award you with a battlefield fit to perish on. In other words…”
I will teach you what it means to truly stake your lives in battle.
And who possesses the right to decide that? Who can proclaim to know such a thing? Everyone knew in an instant what her words implied.
Rindou: “I shall be the commander to lead us to the Eastern front. And as your commander, I will not permit any more bloodshed today.”
A beast that fears nothing consequently has nothing to lose. Such savage, foolhardy bravery, such hollow sentiment has no place in an army commanded by Koga Rindou.
It is all for a single goal — to win the war in the East.
Rindou: “I need all of your strength at my side. And should I come to command you, I must first have you truly understand the words I have spoken!”
Did her proclamation resound with enough force to reach their hearts?
Yakou: “Oh dear…”
Habaki: “And there she goes again…”
Sakuya: “This woman… she says the most peculiar of things, does she not?
And yet, one thing was certain: that her words brought about a certain change in all those who listened.
Soujirou: “I see… in other words, you wish to have proof that we’re not just all talk.”
Shiori: “In essence, you’re telling us to test ourselves.”
Keishirou: “Do you have what it takes to reel me into your army?”
Rindou’s actions were reckless, thoughtless and practically equal to a death wish. Reviving these un-living warriors, these fallen dancers, would be a monumental task indeed. However, making them truly understand the essence of the soul will never happen, not unless she herself puts her own life on the line in the process.
The Great Conquest of the East is a struggle for life itself. As such, only those who truly fear death, those who, despite all odds, can rise to battle and look the reaper in the eye will have even the slightest of a chance to vanquish the monsters dwelling in that nether realm.
Ryuusui: “My Lady, I…”
Rindou: “Aye, my words were meant for you as well, Ryuusui. You submit too easily, lacking the courage to question the words of others, or the position you’ve been given. Not thinking for yourself is a vile habit of yours.
Rindou: “You must choose your own path for yourself. Ask your heart and find your own answers. Is conforming to the existing status quo your way, Mikado Ryuusui? Wake up and see with your own eyes!”
Rindou: “I made my choice. Of my own free will. Should you do the same and still hold me dearly in your heart…”
Koga’s mad princess cut herself short and looked upon her listeners. A moment later, she cried out from the top of her lungs.
Rindou: “To my embrace, all of you! None shall be turned away!”
Shiori, Keishirou, Soujirou and all the others in attendance felt something deep within them well up and burst to the surface.
Rindou: “If you dare call yourself a hero, your place is with me! None shall be in want of my love! That is all!”
Rindou: “Behold and look upon the woman who will rise as your commander! I shall not fall!”
Rindou: “And yet, should such an event still come to pass, I firmly believe that my life will ignite flames brighter than ever. The moment that happens, you shall cease to be one of the un-living fallen!”
In other words, they will learn to look upon what lies beyond death. In the world they currently inhabit, such a mindset is both blasphemous and unnatural, she knew that. However, at the very least, her words carried no pretense and reflected her genuine, innermost thoughts. For those feelings, both fierce and gentle…
Rindou: “With such comrades at my side, our victory in the East ceases to be a dream. I have faith in that… and so, I want you to look deep inside and find your souls’ dwelling place.”
None of them had ever witnessed radiance of such magnitude, so strong in its brilliance that it may very well melt the heaps of snow beneath their feet.
Habaki: “I accept!”
A gust of fierce wind fell upon her then, circling down below to the courtyard grounds as if to protect her, to embrace her.
Habaki: “My heart is yours for the taking, fair princess. Here I am, ready to die by your command!”
And so arrived the first man to pledge his life to the new commander.