Chapter 01 – A Meeting by Chance
My day started with me lighting mom’s tobacco.
“As I thought. There’s nothing better in the morning than a cigarette lighted by Mizuki’s hand.”
“Is there really any difference when I’m the one doing it?”
“Mizuki, it’s still too much for a minor like you to understand. There’s no point in anything lit by a woman over twenty. If you plan on smoking in the future, then make sure it’s lit with an Oil Lighter by a minor. This is my order as your mother.”
“Don’t worry, I plan on living my life smoke-free.”
My mother had always been kinda strange, and she often called for me, her son, to help her with menial things.
This time, she says that if her smokes aren’t lit with an oil lighter, by my hand, there’s absolutely no meaning.
When father tried lighting it, she got into a bad mood, and said, ‘You just don’t get it, do you.’ But this is merely one of the fun scenes of my house.
My mother’s work is, to put it in modern political correctness, a Flower Artist.
Other names for it are Ikebana Artist, The School of Thorns, of Flower Specialist. There are various names for it, but if you say any of them, she gets mad, so we just call her a flower arranger.
By the way, when I tried speaking about her to my best friend’s mom, or anyone else who knows her, they’re quite shocked.
Since mother is this sort of person… how should I put it, quite a few people imagine her being a secretary, or something of the sort.
“Mizuki, did that man leave?”
“You mean father? Yeah, he left quite early in the morning.”
“That’s good. If he was still in the house, I would have gotten out the divorce papers.”
“Please don’t say such dangerous things.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be the one taking custody.”
“I didn’t mean it like that…”
My father’s job is Florist.
It seems from a young age he liked flowers, so the inside of our house is filled with ones he raises.
Every day, without fail, he goes to the market to stock up on fresh ones.
I’m not that knowledgeable about it, but sometimes he doesn’t even come home at night. He must really like it.
And surprisingly, Mother was the one who initiated their relationship.
“That man isn’t fit to run a flower shop. Just you watch, Mizuki. In ten years, he’ll be running an entire flower cultivation farm. What’s the problem? I’ll buy all of his flowers. We won’t be troubled with writing receipts.”
“So you plan to keep all expenses and incomes within the family?”
Like this, Mother’s fallen for the flowers Dad raises.
Father also gets along well with my flower arranging mother, so we’re all a happy family… I think?
“I’ll be off to school.”
“Sure, you have to steal a scholarship from that prep school so I don’t have to spend all my hard-earned cash.”
(TL: A prep school is one centered on getting students into college)
“… If you put it like that, I’ll be a little troubled.”
It’s our everyday exchange, so I won’t say much. Mother is always like this.
I pass my cuffs through the sleeves of the school uniform coat I had hung against my chair, and did a final check on the contents of my bag. Next, I stuffed the bento I had made this morning, as well as two condensed coffee milks, and my own creation the Supplement Combo Shortbread into my bag. At that point, Mother popped her head in to see what I was doing.
“Mizuki. You plan on feeding that sugar pig again? Giving food to that one will only do much more harm than good.”
“Mother, would you please stop referring to my best friend as a pig?”
While I am a bit worried about him developing diabetes, calling him a sugar pig is a bit much.
He just likes sweet food a bit more than the average person.
He just likes putting honey and maple syrup in his condensed coffee milk before drinking it.
What’s more, he’ll only eat chocolate flavored shortbread.
“You’re quite strange yourself, for having a sugar pig as your best friend.”
I’m frustrated that due to his sugar intake, I can’t actually deny it.
By the way, he’s not actually fat or anything.
“… I’ll be off. See ya, mother.”
“Sure. I’ll be back by 22:00 today.”
“Got it. I’ll cook the meat dish you like tonight.”
This is my everyday life.
I’m often told my family isn’t normal, but father and mother get along well, and I have a best friend I’ve known for the past ten years. Up until now, I’ve never really been troubled with life.
Right, never once.
The route to school, I was walking down the familiar path as always when it happened.
— Sound disappeared from the world.
To be more specific, it wasn’t gone.
The sound of leaves brushing past each other in the breeze, and other sounds that everyone had simply gotten used to hearing still sounded.
But the beat of life, or something like that suddenly vanished altogether.
When I turned around, the path I had come down had changed, and when I turned back, the scenery in front was different this time.
The town where I lived had ties to both mother and father’s work, amd besides residential areas, the place was brimming with nature. But what was currently reflected on my eyes wasn’t a scene of an area filled with nature, but nature itself.
If I were to describe it in a word, it would be a forest.
If I were to describe the landscape, I guess a mountain.
If I were to describe the situation… that would be hard with my limited life experiences.
Anyways, a scene of nature much greater than any I had seen in my elementary school’s ‘class alongside nature’ was rolled out before me.
The air is filled the smell of plants soaking in the area’s moisture.
Weeds have been left to grow as they please, and the trees grow everywhere without direction.
At the very least, I think the mountains I’ve been on were a bit more maintained.
Thinking back, all of the flowering plants I’ve seen before were intentionally raised by someone’s hand.
“I wonder where I am.”
So strange things do happen.
If I wasn’t half asleep, I’m sure that I was headed for school.
It may be a prep school, but it takes less than an hour by foot, so I always walk there.
As evidence of my direction, I’m currently wearing the school’s designated uniform.
I just checked the contents of my bag, and it’s exactly what I need for today’s class, so I don’t think this is a dream.
But perhaps it actually is.
Dreams like to jump around, and they have no set rhythm, so considering my present situation, it’s not impossible.
Yep, this is a dream. That must be it.
Now then, inside of this dream, what should I do?
Since this is a dream of me being stranded in an unfamiliar mountain, should I set returning to civilization to be my end goal?
Thinking about it like that, I noticed that I have to go and get down from this mountain for starters.
Luckily for me, it’s a slope all the way down, so if I proceed slowly, I’ll eventually get off of this mountain.
For that, I slowly moved forward step by step as I began descending.
The surrounding dirt is drenched, and it clings to the outside of my shoes.
They’re just the standard sneakers I use every day, so I guess that can’t be helped.
The special mountain-climbing boots Mother and Father have would probably have a firmer grip, and they allow you to walk fine even if dirt and mud stick to them, I think, but I’ll have to ask them about it next time.
Both of them kindly share their expansive knowledge on plants, and everything pertaining to them, with me.
I notice something, and stick my hand into my left pocket.
Checking the display on my cell phone, I see I have no reception.
Even if it’s a dream, I see that phones are unusable in mountainous regions.
Maybe because it’s a mountain, it’s getting unpleasantly cold…
The sunlight filtering in through the trees is warm, but the mountain’s specific atmospheric temperature, and moisture cool my body.
This uniform is supposed to be made of good insulating material, yet still, I’m freezing.
I found it a little wondrous.
But even those thoughts got fainter as I continued to descend the mountain.
At the start it was unpleasantly cold, but due to me continuously moving my body, I slowly warmed myself, and my worries faded.
Even so, this seems to be quite a large mountain, and even after a long period of time, I can’t seem to see the foot.
The cold must have been because I was really high up.
Originally, I would probably be in trouble without the proper breathing apparatus, but I must be fine because this is a dream.
A few hours later, I started to grow hungry.
After finding a clearing to sit, I opened the bento.
Inside is an arrangement I thought up taking both nutrition and taste into consideration.
Conpared to my best friend, I’m a light eater… no, he’s just a heavy eater, so perhaps I’m normal. I begin taking up the chopsticks, and eating the contents.
“Yep… it’s not bad.”
This may be a dream, but eating in a place surrounded by nature makes food taste better.
The moisture is enough to appease my thirst, and excluding the condensed coffee milk, today’s been quite a nice day.
It would be nice if he doesn’t develop type 2 diabetes~…
In the real world, I’m probably smiling. I offer some worries for my friend as I finish my bento.
This place sure is quiet.
As I go further down the mountain, the density of trees increases, and while it’s getting warmer, I still hear nothing but the rustling of leaves.
I think it’s related to the altitude and season, but the world of my dreams is overly quiet.
I don’t hear a single bug or bird cry out.
— It’s as if they’re all dead…
No that was rude to the god of this mountain. Let me take that back.
I put my hands together, and direct my prayers to the god of food, and whatever god offered me this spot to eat. I apologize, while I offer my thanks.
And having finished lunch, I began my descent once more.
About ten minutes after I restarted my venture, I heard the sound of running water.
I inclined my head, and turned my ear to the sound. When I went that direction, what I found was a river.
In it flowed crystal clear water without a hint of mud, so it seemed drinkable to me. Of course, it may not be fresh water, so I won’t drink it recklessly, but as I dipped my hand in it, the cold sensation that came over it was quite nice.
The river is flowing downwards. So if I follow the river downstream, I’ll eventually reach human inhabitation.
… Is it just my imagination that there are no fish or insects?
The water is this clear, so it wouldn’t be odd to see a fish, or two.
Are they hiding in the rocks? There are less bugs at high elevations, so I may still be too high up.
And about an hour after following the river, the slanted earth changed to level ground.
After escaping the dense forest of trees, what met me was a vast, clear, blue sky.
Higher and more vast than a clear December day. A distant sky.
The air is clear, and there’s no foreign matter mixed in, it’s a good taste.
Eventually, while uneven, I stumbled upon a paved road, so I breathed a sigh of relief.
But what it led to was a ghost town.
What remained was a series of unwelcoming buildings.
I’ve never seen a scene like this in our history textbooks. At the very least, this isn’t the old architectural style of Japan.
What should I compare it to?
Log Houses with different numbers of floors, as if signifying rank, were repeatedly lined up next to one another.
The wooden construction itself seemed to hold some practicality, even in modern Japan. The reason I was sure no one lived here was the abundance of weeds, and the lack of human hands to take care of them.
But for a wooden construction, the structure looks much too new. I don’t think many years have passed since it was first set down.
I’m no carpenter, so I’m not that knowledgeable, but I think that a few of these flimsy houses would break construction code.
Of course, it could just be that I don’t know, and that houses like these are built regularly. In the first place, this is my dream, so my mind might just be randomly organizing images from my memory.
“Is anyone there?”
I ask in a loud voice.
As I thought, no one answered, so I decided I would have to walk further.
After treading down the path dotted with weeds, I caught sight of some fields.
There’s produce growing in them, but out of long years of abandonment, wither vegetables, way overripened vegetables, and ones turned black through rot run rampant through it.
Was it abandoned before harvest?
There’s also weeds spread across the field, so it wasn’t a mere one or two days.
A month, or two.
It would take at least a month to get a disastrous scene like this.
If mother saw this, she would be furious~.
She’s usually a slovenly person, but when plants are involved, she’s more earnest than anyone.
Both me and my Father look up to that part of her.
Of course, I think there are some circumstances surrounding this scene.
But in a few months, is it possible that all the people that lived here suddenly up and left?
I guess possible reasons could be something like Dam Construction.
It probably won’t happen immediately, but if the reason is Dam Construction, I’ll have to find a worker, and ask where exactly this is.
And while I walked forward, a sense of isolation permeated my chest.
— It’s the sounds I’m used to hearing.
Cars, and bikes. The cries of bird and beast.
There isn’t a single indication of such sounds.
The only thing I hear is the whistle of the wind, and the click of my own footsteps…it’s a quiet, unwelcoming place.
It may not be my place to speak with my little life experience, but…
“I think I… hate this place.”
I speak without thinking.
Without knowing the situation, I indiscreetly speak ill of the place. How mean.
But there’s no way the current me will come to like this place.
… Let’s go. Let’s find someone.
At times like this, I think I succumb to loneliness easily.
Even if I meet a scary person, I begin wondering whether or not they’re really scary.
My best friend loves special supernatural programs, and ghost stories… and wait, during the summer, I watch them, but the past me was too scared to handle them.
When I was scared like that, Mother and Father taught me.
“Mizuki-kun, ghosts were once human, so they aren’t scary. Like all of us, they just have some scary parts to them.”
Father told me that.
“Mizuki, ghosts don’t exist. If they did, then it would be unfair if it were only humans. The spirits of the 100,000,000+ bugs that die every year would just be loitering around. Even if it is only humans, then wouldn’t that make this world too convenient for them? See, if you think about it logically, it isn’t scary, right?”
And Mother told me that.
Both of their tales revealed much about their personalities, and made for a good memory. I was happy.
So even if humans carry scary parts inside of them, I believe that they have plenty of good parts as well.
There should be plenty of good things in this place as well.
While I was thinking along those lines as I walked forward, the fields slowly turned to buildings.
This sure is a wide village.
Even though everyone in Japan has to crowd together due to limited living space. I’ll bet I’m really out in the sticks.
Throughout the standard line of houses, only a single one seemed to be maintained better than the rest.
That house’s roof was painted in red, and while it was a bit weathered, it had a kind atmosphere.
It was surrounded by short weeds, which was a world of difference from the weed jungles around it. I also smelled the scent of humans. I even smelled the scent of spices used for cooking inside, so there was definitely someone living here.
“Um, Excuse me~! Is there anyone there~?”
When I called out in a loud voice, I heard the sound of metal hitting the ground from within.
Did I surprise them…?
They were probably startled in the middle of cooking, and dropped their cookware.
I hope they didn’t get injured with a knife, or anything.
It’s a girl’s transparent voice.
Noisy footsteps echoed within, and what emerged was a foreigner.
It was a log house, so I expected a hinged door, but the door slid open.
Is that native clothing? Should I call it that?
The girl was wearing a silver-ish rain-coat-like hood that covered her whole body, and and from it, beautiful silver hair fluttered out.
Her expression indicated that she was in a panic.
It’s often said that it’s hard to read a foreigner’s expression, but the young-looking girl was different from what I imagined of a foreigner.
She was ephemeral, or should I say her existence was almost transparent. The youg girl wore an aura like that.
Eventually, the girl began scanning me. Her eyes slowly moved from the tip of my heat to the soles of my feet.
And as the girl’s golden eyes took me in, both of her hands slowly moved to cover her mouth.
In her eyes, large drops of water… tears begin to build up.
I unintentionally apologized.
It’s not normal for a girl to suddenly burst into tears like that. I must have done something bad… perhaps because I called out in such a loud voice, she accidentally made a mistake.
I don’t know if she’ll forgive me, but if I’m at fault, I have to apologize first.
“Homehrya Mihimoyse? Lomesonogen Byu?”
“Um… sorry. I didn’t understand a word of that… wait, you won’t get it if I put it in Japanese, will you… what should I do…”
I don’t think this is English. Even so, I have no idea what country she’s from, and even if I did, I’ve never left Japan from the day I was born.
What’s more, I only understand Japanese, so I don’t think I’ll be able to come to a mutual understanding with her.
I-I wonder what I should do.
“Rom d’nokuch. Machmiz hohkichtemum meyomya kezo…”
The silver-haired girl breaks into a smile through her tears, and approaches me. One step .Two steps.
Her reaction indicated her joy at meeting someone. This may be a bad comparison, but it’s as if she had once again encountered her beloved, who had parted through death… anyways, it’s an expression I’ve never seen in my life.
I was flustered as the girl tenderly clung to me, and repeated the same words, over and over again.
“Fukametni temu met mawozamph… Chnitch temu met mawozamph…”
All I could understand was that her words seemed to contain feelings of gratitude towards me.
Looking at the hair covering the face of the girl embracing me, I noticed.
Her hair wasn’t silver. It was transparent, reflecting the light hitting it.
I saw her clear hair reflect the scenery around me.
I began to regain my senses. My heart was beating several times faster than normal.
Even I don’t think that was my intention, but I don’t have much experience dealing with women. My body temperature starts to rise.
But the beat and warmth I felt from the girl in front of me seemed strangely realistic.
“Could it be… this isn’t a dream…?”
Her beating heart transmitted a deep grief to me. It berated me, telling me that this was indeed reality.
Thinking back, from morning until now, time and space have been flowing steadily, and the taste of my bento was the same as it was every day. The condensed coffee milk was just as sweet and stimulating as always.
My body heat, which had been raised from my continued walking, and embarrassment, starts visibly dropping.
If this isn’t a dream, then where am I?
If you remove the explanation of, ‘it’s just a dream’, then it’s clear this probably isn’t Japan.
And there, my thoughts froze.
Japan… not anywhere close. If this isn’t Japan, then where is it?
Like that, my thoughts looped.
What should happen from here? What will happen to me?
If I had as much wisdom as my mother, then perhaps I would have been able to think through it, but it’s impossible for me.
My mind’s in a mess, and I can’t even make sense of the current situation.
“Mach milhansoch fuhkalehmo?”
The girl’s tone indicates she’s asking a question, but I have no way of knowing just what she’s saying. But I can see she’s smiling, and she’s overcome with joy. I don’t know why, but I was lured in by her, and I smiled as well.. the cold feeling from before vanished, and my heart felt warm again.
… It must be because this child has such a nice smile.
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand your words.”
“How can I get this across… I’ve heard of non-verbal communication, but should I try gesturing?”
Since Father’s a florist, he’s knowledgeable about the flowers of various countries.
Apparently, his knowledge was gained when he wandered across various countries when he was young. Of course, there were plenty of countries where conversation wouldn’t get through, and through non-verbal communication, he somehow managed, so I’ll bet he would have used it in a time like this.
Honestly, up until this moment, I’ve never looked up to father.
I never imagined that trying to get words through to someone who doesn’t speak the language could possibly be this difficult.
“Yamhra Celeilia, mahmila?”
If I solve the reason for this embrace, I should figure something out. Her expression is soft, so I don’t think I’m being attacked, but what sort of answer should I give?
The girl’s eyes turn serious this time, as she begs for an answer. It may be a problem with my attitude, but it would be nice if the fact that words aren’t getting through was transmitted.
Finally, the girl closes her eyes, and thinks deeply for a moment. Her eyes burst open, and she puts both hands on her body.
“Celeilia? Is that your name?”
When I call out the girl’s name, she releases a smile whose radiance rivalled that of the sun.
“Roph! Yamhra Celeilia. Mahmila?”
She happily proclaims her own name to be Celeilia, and shifts her hands from herself to me.
Mahmila… is probably referring to me. It may be a word equal to 『you』or something. If that’s the case, then it’s my turn to identify myself.
“It’s Mizuki. Celeilia, my name is Kagiya Mizuki.”
“Yep, I’m Mi. Zu. Ki.”
“Roph, Mahmila, Mizuki, Sochfumo he.”
“That’s right. I’m Mizuki, and you’re Celeilia. Is that correct?”
“Roph! Yamhra Celeilia, Mahmila Mizuki.”
For a while, we merely called out each other’s name.
I wonder why. Just knowing something as simple as her name filled me with happiness.
I think I understand why Father spoke of his time researching flowers overseas with such fondness.
“Mizumi, lyophzo noiyonan hamo, Mizuki, Ominet?”
Eventually, Celeilia grabs my hand, and leads me into the house.
Even if the owner is inviting me in, I was a bit hesitant to enter the house of someone I just met. But Celeilia seemed so overjoyed that I was unable to refuse.
The inside of the house was nicely cleaned.
But its arrangement was quite different from what I imagined a typical house to look like.
First of all, it smelled of trees. This is Japanese Cypress… I think. You can smell it in areas with onsens, and when its scent is added to the water of a normal bath, it makes you feel at peace.
That may have popped into my head due to the abundance of plants Father and Mother raise at home.
And for a modern home, the design plan is a bit too old.
A little bit of tampering could cause it to collapse. My frank thoughts are that it’s a dangerous house.
“Mizuki, homra yamih mosoumwo, Minetmu meyo?”
From her crying, Celeilia’s eyes are a bit swollen, but she smiles as she leads me to a table, and begins bringing food over to it.
The table was made of worn-down wood, and I could feel a deep history emanating from it. The plate the food was placed on was silver… it isn’t stainless. It’s a metal I’m not really familiar with.
The food was a simple baked bread made out of kneaded wheat flour… no, it was more like pizza crust. That staple bread in India, Nan. There was also dried meat that had been softened through boiling, and various vegetables. It seems to be an eating style where you dip the food in sauce before eating it.
This cooking style resembles what I think is found in the Middle East.
But the clothing Celeilia is wearing is a warm white coat.
I don’t really know about brands, so I can’t say for sure, but compared to what I’m wearing now, it’s made sturdier, and there are pretty ornaments fashioned onto it. It looks quite expensive. This may offend those in the Middle East, but it definitely looks out of their cultural zone.
Of course, it could be that Celeilia is of a different nationality, and she’s just living here now, but if I proceed along this train of thought, my mind would merely freeze up like before.
The reason being I lived in Japan, and I was walking through various Japanese streets when I found myself on that mountain.
From her strong will, I no longer believe this to be a dream. So I need to find out why I’m here, and what exactly Celeilia was trying to ask of me.
The climate is foreign, the houses seem old. The plates are silver, and the food Middle East. There’s also her clothing.
I can only think of these as a mismatched jumble.
America, or England. Russia, or Germania. No matter which one you suggested to be her nationality, I would shake my head, but the structure of her face was the Japanese model foreigner: she had the flavor of Europe.
Up ‘til there is fine. But what about the next two?
Hanging from Celeilia, that glittering hair surrounded by light… colorless.
There are transparent wigs. If I think of it being made of synthetic polyester fiber it may make sense, but no matter how I look at it, that’s glossy life hair growing directly out of her scalp. It’s quite healthy at that.
And her golden eyes.
Amber. I’ve heard amber eyes actually do exist, but unlike a dark yellow, or reddish brown, her eyes seem to be made of the purest gold. They’re pretty eyes that seem to draw you in.
“Zofhimimo? Yamihmoki hakiuchit chiyo?”
Perhaps noticing me staring hard at her, Celeilia asked a question.
I don’t underrstant her words, but it’s probably about the food.
“Y-yeah, let’s eat.”
I’ve already eaten lunch, but I’ve already been invited into the house, and she even provided food, so it’s hard to refuse. I couldn’t tell her I was already full.
More importantly, I don’t have a way to get the message across.
Seeing Celeilia stack the dried meat, vegetables, and sauce on top of the nan-like thing in good proportion, I tried copying her.
I’m not sure if it’s hand-made, but the smell of freshly baked bread, and the stimulating flavor of the sauce danced around the tongue.
The vegetables were prepared nice and crisp, and while they held a flavor I’d never tasted before, they were fresh and juicy.
They must be organic.
The dried meat was several times softer than it looked, and it had a nice texture to it. Its deep flavor expanded before me as its juices leaked out. I honestly find it amazing that you can get this much flavor out of dried foods.
I have a bit of confidence in my own cooking, bt this is much more tasty than any bento I’ve ever made.
“Yep, it’s delicious. Celeilia, it’s really good.”
“Iihyom? Does that mean the same?”
When I say Yhyom, and put food in my mouth, Celeilia smiles happily.
It’s definitely a word that praises her cooking.
Kind, and truly beautiful. Celeilia said this with a smile, with slightly teary eyes.
Mawozamph, I think it was a word she repeated when she was hugging me.
I don’t know its meaning, but it makes my chest feel warm… something like that.
In the end, even though I had been filled up by the bento, I finished all of the food Celeilia set before me.
It truly was good. Though I’ve eaten an uncomfortable amount, and my stomach aches.
And once lunch was over, I tried asking Celeilia, who had come to collect the dishes.
“Um, what country is this?”
Inside my bag was a geography textbook. I opened it to world map, and show her the depiction of the world. It’s my good luck that I was going to have social studies today.
I doubt she doesn’t know the area where she lives.
Celeilia seems to have a question mark floating above her head as she gazes at the map I spread out.
“Tamihohan hachlikemia kezohomera?”
It doesn’t look like it got across.
If she was using English, then maybe my English textbook would help out, but it seems she doesn’t know the language. She had the same reaction to the English one as to the map.
So perhaps she really is Asian.
If so, then perhaps it’s Arabian, or Hindustani. Farsi’s also possible, though I’m just recalling what father told me. While I don’t think so, Chinese is also viable. Russian technically falls under Asian jurisdiction as well
Of course, I didn’t know a single language on the list, so an answer never came.
“Rubochni Byuwhe, Mizuki, Mahmila Zohsa nimiho?”
Having had her interest piqued by the textbooks, Celeilia calls my name in a questioning tone, but her expression is strained as she tries to get words across just as I had attempted.
And closing it as if it were a delicate artifact, Celeilia once more scans me from head to toe. It’s as if she was looking at me just as I had analyzed her before. So this is how she felt back then. I’m repenting. I admit it was a bit rude.
As she looks upon me, I think.
From Celeilia’s point of view, perhaps a Japanese school uniform looks odd. Though we’re pretty much the same, as I see her robe as some sort of unfamiliar native outfit.
Even so, when our eyes met, she smiled.
For some reason, whenever she laughs, I naturally find myself smiling as well.
I don’t know the exact reason, but I think it’s because Celeilia’s a good person.
“Lonhah honsoz fudeoch chyake he!”
She joins my hands with her own in joy.
Why is it that this person is so happy?
That question made me quite curious.
But I have a place I must return to.
I’m happy that she treated me so kindly, but I’ll have to find my way back once I offer my thanks.
“Um… thank you for everything. Your cooking truly tasted great.”
As my words of gratitude exit my mouth, I bow.
Though words don’t get through, I made sure to match my actions so tat least the feelings remained.
IT seems Celeilia’s puzzled as well, but as she’s smiling, I’d like to believe she understood.
“Then I’ll be off. Truly, thank you very much.”
And when I tried to leave the house, Celeilia suddenly clung to me.
“Zuhok chimumo, Mizuki? Losok nahak ohachmock.”
How troublesome. Celeilia’s raising her eyes in sadness.
It seems she’s asking for something, but I haven’t the faintest clue.
Father did this as well. For now, I’ll have to make it through with gestures.
“I need to return. So I’ll have to search for the path.”
Taking my bag in hand, I point to the door, and make a motion of walking.
“Azahkich hoph? Yasmmichihhyo kichmu!”
Perhaps my non-verbal communication worked. Celeilia gave a nod.
And after a while, Celeilia starts running around the house before returning to me. I don’t even need to understand her words to make out what she’s doing. She appears to be packing.
Did it somehow end up that we’re going together?
Perhaps she’s saying she’ll take me to somewhere with other people.
It may be something completely different, but if she knows someone knowledgeable in geography, at the very least, I won’t be troubled with directions.
And if I meet another in a similar fashion to this, then like with Celeilia, I don’t think they’ll understand my words. Even though Celeilia treated me kindly, I can’t say the next person will be the same. If she travels with me, then it should get a little less dangerous.
If she’s willing to lead me, then there’s nothing better I could have hoped for.
Celeilia comes equipped with a shoulder bag of the same sturdy make as her clothing. Inside, she’s stuffed various things.
A change of clothes, and a spare bedsheet. Dried meat, and what looked like a potato. She has at least enough food to last a day.
Small cookware, a few sets of tableware, a stack of paper.
The paper seems quite crinkly and dry… Is it that parchment thing?
Comparing it to the paper contained in the notebook I use, I can’t really offer any praise to it, and on the front, various geometric shapes that seem to have been burned on. It’s a bundle of paper that’s been hand-made page by page.
After heating the paper, it seems that various colors have been added, and its pages are abundant with reds, blues, yellows and greens.
I wonder if it’s something precious to her. Of it could be something religious.
Because the clothing she Celeilia wore was so unfamiliar, that’s the thought that came to mind.
“Mizuki, Kamiemya he.”
Having finished preparations, she cheerfully comes to me with a bag on the verge of explosion on her back.
She probably said something like『Let’s go』, or『I’m sorry to have kept you waiting』.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Using my non-verbal-fu, I point to the road, and nod.
At my motions, Celeilia bows her head, and walks forward.
On the way, I tried to offer to hold her bag for her, but as if to say『It’s light, so I’m fine』, she lifted it and lowered it with ease. I was surprised.
Amazingly, it appears that Celeilia has more physical strength in her small body than me.
Should I exercise more to build up strength?
And like that, even when it became evening, we never reached a place with humans.
My feet were experiencing muscle pains, and swellings, but as Celeilia remained energetic the whole way, my manly pride was at stake… no, it’s more that I was just watching her.
By watching her, I wanted to try hard as well.
By the time I noticed it, I was filled with those sorts of feelings.
The day came to an end, and a deep crimson sunset shined on the path we tread. Celeilia took something out of her bag, and began preparing for something.
“Is there anything I can help with?”
“Mizuki, mawozanph, rofhe…”
My words were transmitted through actions, and Celeilia nodded happily. She looked for a tree, and began collecting the fallen branches before showing them to me.
After collecting them, and showing me how to stack them on the ground, I nodded.
“Got it. We’re going to light a camp fire, right? I’ll go collect the wood.”
A little ways from the path, trees grow everywhere. Just looking around them, I found plenty of firewood.
Wood that’s too moist is hard to burn, so I searched for drier ones.
Because of Mother and Father’s livelihood, I’ve camped before.
They both love mountains, so since I was young, they often made me tag along with them.
I have plenty of camping experience.
Because Mother wasn’t skillful at dealing with people, whenever I was feeling down, she would always take me out to cheer me up.
So I love sleeping in places like this.
The bugs aren’t really to be desired, but the special feeling of camping outweighs those negative feelings.
Now that I think about it, I promised to cook mom’s meat dish today.
At this rate, returning today may be a bit hard…
Mother, I’m sorry for breaking our promise. I’ll definitely compensate you for it, so please forgive me.
I offer apologies to my absent mother as I look for dry branches
“I guess that’s about enough.”
By the time I had finished gathering usable wood, the sun was just about to disappear over the horizon. The sky was died a light purple color, and it became twilight.
When I came back to Celeilia, who was busy preparing, I witnessed a strange scene.
Using small stones, she made a circle, and in the very center, she placed a red-colored paper. She stuck three reds there. And she stuck a single green paper on the edge of the circle, as she held a small saucepan in one hand. On the bottom of the pan was a similar blue sheet.
I can understand the red and green being placed for religious reasons, but what about the blue?
Having noticed me, Celeilia took the wood, and placed it on the circle.
“Ah, I forgot to leave the lighter at home, so do you want to use—“
It? Before I could finish, I witnessed an unbelievable scene.
The red sheets flared up, and consumed the branches in flame.
It couldn’t even be compared to the flame of a lighter, a blazing flame.
And when I examined it closer, I saw that the green ones were feeding oxygen into the flame.
It’s true that fires use oxygen to grow, but in this case, it’s as if the flame’s actually sucking up the wind.
I was in shock, and I couldn’t form a single word.
Could it be that those sheets were soaked in oil? No, I don’t think that’s right. At the very least, the stack of papers she had was quite dry, and they didn’t seem to have anything to bring about a fire of this scale.
More importantly, oil doesn’t explain the wind.
Ah, right. There was a blue one on the pan. I shift my gaze to it, and see the pot filling with clear water. Unbelievably, it looked as if the water itself was flowing from the sheet.
“Um… what, is that, exactly…?”
I forgot that words didn’t get through as I asked.
At the very least, I don’t know of any technology that can bring forth fire, water, or wind from a single sheet of paper.
But of course, it may just be that I don’t know, and that it actually exists somewhere. But here, I prioritize my own understanding of the laws of physics, and common sense. I really can’t believe the spectacle before me.
If I had to describe it, it would be magic.
It’s just what came off the top of my head, but『Magic』 describes the current situation quite well.
It’s as if the miracles of a fairy tale were unfurling before my eyes…
But does that mean Celeilia is a magical girl?
As I think that, I notice that the full body coat she wears resembles the magician’s robe right out of a fantasy. The witches of the fairy tales I’ve read were always laden in black, but hers was merely a different color. If she were to bluntly say, ‘I’m a magician’, I think I would believe her.
“Seruu nahich? Osah miammi hasan rehmehach yak he.”
Seeing my eyes as round as plates as I stared at the sheets of paper, Celeilia speaks kindly.
I don’t really know, but it seems to be a natural fact of life for her.
If you think about it, there’s a large difference between her ‘normal’ and mine.
Of course, that has to do with the place she lives, and the language, but I get the feeling something is fundamentally different here.
It’s just that I don’t have the means to ascertain the truth.
I swallow the words on the tip of my tongue, and resume assisting her.
Dinner was the nan-ish thing left over from lunch, and a consommé-like soup made by dissolving a powder in the pot of boiling water.
Both of them had a naturally good taste, but eating it alongside nature made it top class.
By the time dinner was over, the sun had completely disappeared, and everything was pitch black.
We don’t have anything like an electric light, so it truly is dark.
Our only light is the warm fire blazing before us, and the starry sky above.
I became ecstatic upon spotting the first star. How unbecoming of my age.
But here, I confirmed that this wasn’t the town I grew up in.
The air was completely transparent, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. From the mountain of an abandoned countryside, I saw the light of the night sky. I was scared of the darkness, but if it lets me see a starry sky this beautiful, then perhaps I should be glad we don’t have any flashlights.
… Even so, it’s quiet.
I hear the fire crackle as it continues to eat away at the branches. The only thing else is the sound of the wind tickling my ears.
Perhaps because I was gazing so intently at the sky, Celeilia asks me a question.
The soup is still hot. It lets out steam that gets carried away in the wind.
Since she’s asking something, is it about the food?
“Yhyom, I guess.”
I see. So the words Celeilia just said meant『Thank you』.
Let me offer my thanks to the night sky.
In this country, should I just pray, Mawozamph?
“Nyophna, Mimwanma yochmisal, ofhka hyoph.”
After dinner ended, Celeilia produced a thick, warm-looking cover from her bag.
She’s using it because it’s cold? Or is it already bedtime for her?
She sits next to me, and wraps it around us both, so that only our necks up are exposed to the elements.
It must be quite high-class. It’s really warm.
But more importantly, any more and my embarrassment will raising my body heat in itself.
There’s also the fact that our surroundings are unbelievable quiet, but Celeilia’s movements. She’s close enough that I can even hear the sound of her breath.
Is the hastened beating of my heart reaching her as well?
Right… sound is…
I take a small breath of air, when I hear the sound of breathing muffled by water.
I turn my head to Celeilia.
She’s quietly crying to herself.
Did she see through my strange thoughts, and get hurt as a result?
If I’m the cause, then I want to apologize
But Celeilia merely showed me the ephemeral… wide smile she showed me before, as large tear drops flowed down her cheeks.
I want to know the reason for her tears. I want to offer her words of comfort.
I’ve only known Celeilia for a few hours, but I honestly harbored those emotions.
But between us is a high wall of words.
Why is she showing me a face like that…
That question was my only regret.