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The Novel- Chapter Eight
Shounen Ou ("The Boy King") by Enokido Youji, Hasegawa Shin-ya
commercial use of these translations is prohibited
TRANSLATOR'S NOTES: "Sei-Ma", "Demon of Life", is the opposite of "Shi-Ma". The word translated as "monster" is "mamono", literally "demon/sorcerous thing". In the description of Prairial's research, it is literally said that "'ma' no mono" ("thing of magic") comes from "'ma' no mono" ("thing from between"). "Shi-Ma Dog", "shima-inu" is also a play on the word "shima-uma" ("striped horse").
With the once-unknown true nature of the world laid bare and a new understanding of what it means to fight against his appointed role, Mikoto sets forth to settle the score...
Chapter Eight: The Dogs of Night and the Girl
The starry sky above continued to silently revolve. Almost like a broken planetarium. And instead of revolving around the polar axis, it was revolving around a point above the school. No, not just the sky. Even the distant mountain ridges were slowly melting and flowing with the rotation. The slender moon was circling low in the sky above. It was like the eye of some nocturnal beast, which sought to engulph everything on the earth's surface in this rotation. And in the light of that circling moon, all the shadows gyrated like the hands of a clock. This nonsensical spinning universe was produced by a "center" somewhere on campus.
Originally, the world had no center. The "self" is a center. However, the recognition of the duality between the self as the center of one's viewpoint, and the objectivity of the centerless world which includes the self, is the basis of the ego.
But now, somewhere in this campus, the world had developed a center. Someone had used the wrong equation on space-time and created this revolving scenery. Someone had greatly increased the number of those who depended on others, and made the school revolve. The students were asleep. And while they slept, this magical space robbed them over their subjectivity.
The entire campus was now one gigantic Becoming A Stranger apparatus.
Around, and around, and around. Ryuugen jumped onto the closed metal gates of the school and leaped over the top. In the brief moment before he landed he took stock of his surroundings, flattening his body against a statue for cover. All was quiet. At least there was no visible danger. But the atmosphere was rife with hostility. Ryuugen ran through the night through the school's plaza. The order for his assassination had already been given. There was probably no such thing as a safe path anymore. He planned to break through to his destination through the shortest path possible.
I knew I shouldn't have brought Karin to this school... Now that this space was blockaded, escape was impossible. If something wasn't done to halt this mess, her life would be in danger. Besides, this preliminary battle was for her sake alone. The real fight he came to fight lay beyond it.
His battle - the "federation" his country Prairial was part of was originally an alliance formed in opposition to the large nations, but now the hundred-year old balance was about to collapse. Unable to oppose the might of Frimaire's rapidly expanding influence, it was on the verge of disaster. And given the alliance's current military strength, none of its members stood a chance. In a bid to seize control of the galaxy, Frimaire had plotted to foment trouble within the federation, and Ryuugen's country Prairial was prepared to betray the federation as well. If he intended to protect his country, Ryuugen should have had no room for decision on that point.
Everything in foreign relations between the kingdoms was about power. However, Ryuugen had never come to terms with the actual means behind Frimaire's expanding influence. He felt greater compunction about allying with Frimaire than about betraying the federation. Of course, personal sensibilities had no place in statesmanship. All one needed were cold, clear awareness of and calculations of the relations of power. However... Ryuugen still had a chance of not giving in to Frimaire. Thinking of that chance, Ryuugen smiled faintly. After all, faintly smiling during the most dangerous of journeys was the way he led his life, both as a king and as a boy. Winning the final battle depended precisely on the "stupid gamble" he had told Mikoto of.
...! Having reached the middle of the plaza, Ryuugen came to an abrupt halt. Within his hand, the shining silver gun of his kingdom had suddenly manifested. Andrea Prairial. Which meant an enemy was near. Steeling himself, he surveyed his surroundings.
The long shadow pivoting around him was just like a radar screen. From within the shadows of the flowerbed, he heard the low growl of an animal. The Andrea's muzzle aimed for the middle of its forehead. It was the shadow dog which Mikoto really had caught a glimpse of in the middle of this plaza the other day. Within this magical space, the monster standing in the darkness wasn't just a shadow but an actual body. This aberrant lifeform, invisible under normal circumstances, was now plain to be seen. The black beast was striped all over like a zebra.
"Shi-Ma Dog, aren't you."
Its two blue eyes glared coldly at Ryuugen. And although the shadows of all other objects rotated in time with the moving light source, its shadow alone was motionless. Proof that it was a monster. ...i'll devour you... the beast spoke in a nigh-unintelligible voice, and began approaching, panting and lolling its tongue from between its fang-filled jaws. ...be afraid, be more afraid, guns don't work on me... What Ryuugen saw in the Shi-Ma Dog's eyes was neither malice nor hostility, but overt "lust". They were almost like eyes gone mad with love. Having reached its desired range, or more likely unable to contain its lust any longer, the Shi-Ma Dog leaped for his throat.
Ryuugen judged his opponent's movements and put his finger on the trigger. The muzzle was already aimed precisely at the ravenously approaching Shi-Ma Dog. And Ryuugen knew in the next instant that the Andrea's ballistics would hit the target. And in reality, after a short pause that's exactly what would happen. What would happen, but...
At the moment he touched the trigger, Ryuugen the boy king felt his heart stricken with a fierce, burning pain. It was a type of pain he normally didn't feel, had no need to feel, made no attempt to feel. Anxiety, impatience, anxiety, pain, anxiety, hatred, anxiety...
That instant seemed like an eternity, a never-ending kaleidescope of passing sentiments. Memories stained with shame, the fear of losing, of being betrayed, the vulgarity of hurting others, the pain of going on living, the vanity of existence, the reality of the cruelness of the world, the contradictions inherent in human existence, or perhaps the loneliness of being thrust into a world where one is not aware of the self. In that moment, he confronted the bare truth that these pangs weighed upon him always, like anesthesia wearing off and restoring the sense of pain. The fear. The pain. At the instant he touched Andrea's trigger, all the conscious circuits he had closed away reopened, forcing Ryuugen to savor this severe trial. However...
The fear didn't attack Ryuugen because his opponent was a demon lord. Pain caused by the monster meant nothing to him. It was just "the usual". It had been that way all along, and probably always would be. Firing the Andrea meant exactly that. A normal person probably couldn't even hold the grip without going insane.
Ryuugen pulled the trigger. The Shi-Ma Dog was blown back, rolling across plaza's center. It moaned in agony, but as it did its voice got thinner and higher, and before his eyes as it rolled across the ground it metamorphosed into the form of a human - a girl. Licking at a scratch on her arm, the girl slowly stood within the darkness and said thank you. She was searingly good looking, her exposed, naked body magnificently well-balanced. Silver hair flowing down her slender neck. Full breasts. High, well-developed hips.
"Shi-Ma put a curse on me to turn me into that dog."
"......." Ryuugen kept the gun leveled at her, not letting down his guard. His expression was cold.
"You saved me. What a surprise, that amazing gun of yours. But I'm scared, so don't point it at me." She looked at him coquettishly, and gave him a slightly shame-faced smile. She took one step towards Ryuugen, reaching out her hand. Her whole body reeked of burning lust. "Please, put down the gun." The fragrance of lust ignited Ryuugen's senses like innumerable feelers as this shameless girl provocatively stretched those long legs like a bow. It was an act of animal courtship. I want to bear your child. Her whole body told him that.
"I see. Quite attractive," Ryuugen said drily. "I take it you're Sei-Ma?"
At the mention of her name, the girl's smile stiffened. Upon inspection, her shadow lay independent of the moon's light. Ryuugen pulled the trigger again. The attack struck her in one of those full breasts. She let out a shrill scream. But instead of being blown completely away by the attack like a normal human, it merely knocked her back several steps. There was no blood, and no wound. However, her body seemed to lose its corporeality, and becoming half- transparent resumed its zebra-striped coloration. And the odor of desire became stronger yet. Bewitching and beautiful was the Shi-Ma's form.
The dog of night was the embodiment of death's craving for corpses. This girl who wished to conceive was the goddess of fertility. But the Shi-Ma Dog and Sei-Ma were nothing more than different aspects of the Archdemon "Death".
"Stop it," said the girl painted with the Shi-Ma's stripes. "I want you to take me."
That probably wasn't a total lie, Ryuugen thought. And he knew what pleasure there was to be found in the monster girl's embrace. Yes, if he made love to this so-called Archdemon Shi-Ma girl, sublime sexual pleasure was assured. Further, Ryuugen had no taboos about having sex with a monster. No principled ascetic, he took whatever species of pleasure his lusts lead him towards. It was just that pleasure wasn't necessary now. Ryuugen never let lust in and of itself be his motivation for acting. In the final analysis, by intoxication, a dependent condition, human existence could never attain more than half of true, supreme bliss. The greedy boy king never forgot about that other half.
As Ryuugen put his finger on the trigger again, the girl began to show signs of panic. "No, not that - what is that gun? How can it hurt me?"
"For someone who's joined forces with Frimaire you don't know very much." Ryuugen mercilessly fired the Andrea. The girl screamed at the top of her lungs, writhing in agony. The next moment, her body faded from view. But he knew that he hadn't really killed Shi-Ma. The Archdemons were undying. They never were alive to begin with, so they couldn't die either. The apparent destruction of the girl's body meant nothing more than the loss of one of it's masks. And within this magical space, it could return to life immediately. A very troublesome foe. "No wonder Karin hates her."
Research on the monsters had been done in Ryuugen's kingdom too. They were spiritual parasitic beings, and had been classified as "I.B."'s (Irrational Belief). The so-called "monsters" were really "beings from between", created by interference between spiritual waves. Among them, the so-called Archdemons were beings that had managed to evolve independent consciousness due to a gigantic influx of directed spiritual waves from the citizens and royal subjects. Thirteen types had been identified so far through their interactions with human society, which were popularly known as "Archdemons" and the like. And the girl who had just vanished before his eyes was one of them.
As it had vanished, it had whispered, ...i shall curse and kill you.... Ryuugen had laughed cruelly when he heard that, and with Andrea in hand ran off toward the brick tunnel behind the school buildings. That was surely the entrance to the demon world the death dog had been guarding. And a short while later...
Mikoto charged down the familiar path leading to school. He was unconsciously keeping his speed down to protect the wound in his back. Fluttery's voice came from the ring around his neck. "I haven't been able to get through to Central lately."
Mikoto came to a stop, taking short, violent gulps of air. "Well of course it's hard to get through this magical space to the outside. What're you trying to contact them about?"
"The time limit for executing our orders has elapsed. We've got to report the failure of our mission."
"Mind your own damn business!" Mikoto shouted. "It's a good thing you can't get through now that the time limit elapsed. I haven't fought him yet. I haven't settled the score yet..." As he spoke, Mikoto couldn't suppress his gasping.
"Your wound's bothering you, isn't it?""Kinda," Mikoto spat. "But my messed up sense of balance is making me sicker than the wound. This rotating scenery's too vivid." A rotating world. Moreover, a world where the speed and axis of rotation changed at random. On this mountain road, the moonlight shadows cast by the trees crawled over the ground like the writhing of innumerable snakes. Mikoto put his fingers over his eyes and knelt on the ground. "I guess it won't go away that easily."
"What is this 'rotating scenery' you're talking about?"
"...Don't you understand what this cataclysm is?" Mikoto remembered how Fluttery hadn't been able to see that monstrous dog. That's right, artificial sensors couldn't pick it up. Perhaps they weren't capable of detecting the the rotational phenomenon of this magical space either.
Oh. In that case... "I'm assuming direct control. Land on my shoulder." During direct control the paragrine was completely subject to Mikoto's consciousness, and the autonomous control AI that was Fluttery was halted. "Roger. You insist on settling the score with Ryuugen, don't you."
Mikoto took the ring from around his neck and fastened it around his head. The metallic necklace's circumference contracted, assuming its original "ring" form around Mikoto's head. Mikoto's perception abruptly fused with the paragrine's sensors. The paragrine descended from the night sky and deftly perched its surprisingly large body on Mikoto's shoulder. It assumed a posture covering Mikoto's face. Effectively, it became a bird-shaped periscope. The view of the night became totally different through the IR sensors. As he had previously realized, the rotational phenomenon wasn't picked up by the artificial sensors. Mikoto supposed that even having dull perception could come in handy once in a while. With his newfound artificial eyes, Mikoto resumed his dash down the path to the school.
That's right, I'm going to settle the score...
Upon reaching the library at the back of the school complex, Ryuugen kicked open the door of the vestibule and went inside. The library's insides had been hollowed out of the ground, and part of the first floor was a corridor that lead down stairs to a wide reading area in the basement. The blinds screened out the light of the moon, but the reading lamps on the rows of desks shed indirect light through the gloom of the room, preventing it from being pitch black.
Several days ago, Ryuugen had been guided by the Earth-Man far below ground to see the "Becoming A Stranger" apparatus. The secret door that lead there was inside this building. He couldn't kill the I.B. But it should be possible to destroy the apparatus that magnified its magical power.
"Such a nice night," came the Earth-Man's voice. "The galaxy's stars are so beautiful." He was sitting in one of the desks, looking up at Ryuugen.
"Sure, if they weren't rotating," Ryuugen answered.
"Well now, differences in scale aside, the stars are always turning you know. By the way, you're pretty late. I got tired of waiting."
"This is a library. If you got bored you should have read a book or something."
"To think you actually decided to take a stand against Frimaire, King of Prairial. And all for the sake of one little girl. I thought the federation was filled with more sensible people than that, in all honestly. Sadly, the order to assassinate you has now come down."
"So it seems."
"And happily, that bird-using brat messed things up. Meaning that if I eliminate you, my worth in Central will rise all the more."
"You really like your job, don't you?"
"Although, I doubt I by myself could defeat you." From the dark shadows of the reading desk came the ravening growl of a dog. "I see," said Ryuugen. "Shameless women recover fast, don't they?" Once more, the Shi-Ma Dog appeared out of the shadow of the desk, blue eyes shining. And there wasn't just one. As far as he could see, there were at least thirty. Of course, it wasn't as though only one of them was the "real thing". They were all "projections", all masks. And thanks to the magnification of its powers, it seemed that its ability to make copies had considerably increased. "I guess I should expect you to be this frisky this close to the 'apparatus'."
...i want you. you're beautiful. i want to take you. i want to eat you... A terribly strong force of lust bore down on Ryuugen.
"My, aren't you popular," the Earth-Man said. "I wish I was that lucky."
"....." Ryuugen aimed the gun downstairs. Seeing that, the Earth-Man spoke. "According to my information, every time you pull the trigger you're stricken with terrible pain and risk. I hear that nobody's ever fired more than a few shots per day." He pressed a switch on the table. The desk lamps went out, plunging the insides of the library into darkness. At that signal, the Shi-Ma dogs all swarmed towards Ryuugen. Innumerable frenzied blue eyes drew closer. However, the beast's eyes weren't the only thing that shone in the darkness. Ryuugen aimed precisely for the targets he couldn't possibly distinguish in the darkness, and shot his way through them. His one good eye gave off an even fiercer light than the beasts. With every explosive gunshot, the library was lit with a flash of green.
It was a terrible barrage. The swarming, ravening dogs couldn't make it to the stairs. The echoes from the library's alcoves contained a mixture of the cries of the wounded Shi-Ma Dogs and the screams of girls. However, it also resembled gasps of sexual ecstasy. The battle continued without respite. The oncoming beasts and the opposing boy faced each other tirelessly, a collision of lust and fighting spirit. But slowly the Shi-Ma Dogs began to be beaten back by the unforgiving barrage. Their numbers had become very thin."As I'd expected of the rumored Boy King." The Earth-Man watched with a look of bemusement on his face. It appeared he had some kind of plan. Ryuugen had to focus his attention on the front of the oncoming Shi-Ma Dog attack. That's why he didn't notice the second gambit creeping up to his legs. It was a poisonous snake. Yes, the Earth-Man's Midzuchi. The Earth-Man had based this operation around killing Ryuugen with the Midzuchi all along. He had wanted the strongest form of proof that he was responsible for Ryuugen's death. And just as planned, the Midzuchi drew close to Ryuugen and struck at his blind spot like a loosed arrow. The Earth-Man was sure of his victory.
But... Far swifter, almost like a canon round came a mass shooting through the window blinds into the darkness, shooting in a straight line and crushing the oncoming snake.
"!" Ryuugen grasped what had happened beside him in an instant. The paragrine, having crushed the snake, wheeled through the air at amazing speed, and flapping its wings came to rest on the shoulder of its master, who stood in the vestibule. It was Mikoto, hands in his pockets in a rough posture at the door. "What do you think you're doing?!", said the Earth-Man. There was hatred in his voice at having his chance at victory interrupted. "Have you betrayed Frimaire?!"
Ryuugen kept firing, mopping up the rest of the Shi-Ma Dogs in the library. Then, with a look of amazement on his face, posed the same question to Mikoto. "Really, what do you think you're doing?"
"I came here to settle this," Mikoto answered. "You've got me interested in this 'stupid gamble' of yours."
"Hmm." Ryuugen was as inscrutable as ever, but he flashed Mikoto a smile. And pointing the gun at one of the bookshelves downstairs, he pulled the trigger. Among the scattered books, a secret door opened."You fool!" the Earth-Man shouted. "Don't you see that he's just manipulating you?! Get this, you're about to lose any hope of a place to return to! But if you kill him right here and right now, I'll let the whole damn mess slide."
"You going?" Ryuugen asked.
"Of course," Mikoto replied. Knowing they had no time to waste, the two orphans descended the stairs and vanished through the doorway.
to be continued next issue
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