Kino no Tabi:Volume7 Chapter2
 “A Land with a Certain Love” —Stray King—
It was a large country.
Let alone the opposite sides, even from the royal castle built at its center, the walls surrounding the country could not be seen.
Except for the castle town and the nearby villages east and west of the castle gates, the whole country was an expanse of farmlands and grasslands. Numerous rivers flowed within the country, and there was a large lake located at its southeastern end. Luminous clumps of white clouds lazily drifted in the sky.
“There’s no one in this direction either.”
“Damn . Where could he be?”
A number of the king’s aides were running around the castle corridors, faces blue from distress. They opened doors at random and searched inside.
One person seized a maid and asked her where the king was. The maid, overcome with the person’s rough behavior,
“His highness was supposed to meet with some travelers…”
“I already know that! I’m asking where they are right now! He couldn’t possibly be abducted by those travelers, could he?”
“No way,” said the maid. The aide ignoring her,
“No, it’s possible. Those two are suspicious no matter how you looked at them. It must be a piece of cake for them to abduct his highness in exchange for bribes. I can see it in their faces. That’s why I was against the idea of letting them enter the castle. Damn! You go look for them too!” the aide said, pointing his finger at the maid. At that moment, she saw three people coming from the other side of the corridor.
One of them is a young man — this country’s king. One is a rather short, handsome man with blonde hair and blue-eyes, a traveler. And the last one is a youthful woman with long black hair and wearing a stylish jacket, a traveler.
“What’s with the ruckus? It’s so noisy,” said the king. The maid bowed reverently, and the aide hastily turned around and followed suit.
The king explained that he was drinking tea with the travelers in the courtyard, and added, “I became engrossed with stories from foreign lands. But I was bothered with the all the riot you created just because I was not in my usual room.”
“Yes sir. Our sincerest apologies.”
“The guests will be leaving after a while. I’ll go take a walk around the castle after that, so don’t go about looking for me, yelling all over the place.”
The three walked away, leaving the aide bowing with a loathsome look on his face.
A car passed through the gates of the castle.
It was small, yellow, and quite battered. The car looked as if it’s going to break at any moment.
The female traveler was in the driver’s seat, while the male traveler was sitting in the passenger seat.
The car was making sputtering and other unpleasant noises as it ran on the stone-paved streets of the town. It continued on with occasional repetitive thumps and thwacks coming from the engine’s defective spark plug accompanied with white or black smoke belches.
The man spoke. “Master. Let’s have that broken window fixed. If we go buy glass, it won’t take long.”
The window by the driver’s seat was cracked and badly fixed with tape. Its vibration was making an annoying rattling sound.
“One of these days then,” the woman said.
The car exited the town and went through a narrow road between the fields. Nobody noticed them except for people doing farm work from afar.
“Your highness, is this really okay with you?” the man asked all of a sudden.
The king was tucked in at the bottom of the luggage in the narrow back seat. Still in his very unique position, the king answered with a smile,
“It’s fine. This country’s lord is nothing but decoration. We were deprived of all power during my great-grandfather’s time. Most of the citizens don’t even know my face. That’s why none of the citizens would worry even if I disappear. The ones who will be troubled most are the handful of people whose job is to deck out the king, enriching themselves with the budget meant for that.”
“I see…,” said the man. The woman did not change her expression and continued driving.
“That’s why I have decided to live with the one I love. I’ve had enough living like a bird in a cage,” the king said decidedly.
“This love of yours must be quite a beauty, huh?” the man asked cheerfully.
“Why, of course,” the king answered. “I shudder whenever I recall that beauty. That we can live together always from now on… makes me feel tremendous happiness deep inside my soul.”
“How did you first meet?”
“One day, a festival was held in the castle town. Only on such occasions can I participate, hiding my real identity. I’m surrounded with an annoying entourage, though. Then, I met her, who came from the outskirts of the country. One glance and it was as if I heard the sound of the world being redrawn in an instant by an angel of love. It was a divine moment.”
The man whistled. “But your highness, couldn’t you just have called her to the castle?”
“When I told this to my heartless and ignorant henchmen, they treated me as if I was sick. They called a doctor and tried to give me some terrible medicine. It seems they think that there are more appropriate women for me. ——Ugh! Rubbish. Anyway, they will probably arrange it to be someone’s haughty daughter.”
“I see…. But isn’t that great? You threw away everything for the sake of your romance,” the man said, and the king replied with a slightly dejected tone,
“I’m truly sorry that I got you involved like this. I’m truly grateful. You were able to get me out with little trouble. And without asking for a reward…”
Then, the woman behind the wheel who was silent until now slowly spoke. “Your highness, we were touched by your sincere feelings. For that, pretending to be kidnappers is not a big deal.”
The man also smiled. “Anyway, our notoriety is well-known everywhere. Your highness made the right choice.”
“… I will never forget you both. Someday if a child is born between us, the beautiful fruit of our love will be named after you.”
“That’s an honor, your highness. Please make a lot of cute babies. Soon, you can reveal yourself. Until then, I apologize for keeping you in such a strange position,” said the man.
The car reached the outskirts of the country, as the walls came into view. Pastures spread out all over the whole vicinity.
The king gave the woman directions.
“Oh, over there. That lone house in the meadows. There’s no doubt about it.”
“Ah, this place is nice,” the man said.
The car stopped in front of a cozy little house. It seemed like it belonged to a farming family, as a silo can be seen behind it.
The king borrowed the man’s hand to crawl out from the back seat, and immediately shouted,
And then he rushed to the house.
“So it’s ‘Miss Marie’, huh?” the man said happily, and from the back of the house,
“Who is it?” the clear voice of a woman was heard.
The king hastily turned to the back of the house. The two followed after him.
At the back, there was a small barn and a well where water could be drawn. Beside a big bucket where the water was collected, there was a girl.
“Marie!” the king said happily, arms wide open and face beaming with delight.
The girl saw the king. Her long chestnut hair was braided on both sides, and her neat facial features were left with a few freckles. The sleeves of her checked shirt were rolled up, letting a sheep drink water from her hands.
“Oh…” The girl stood up as she spoke. She wiped her hands lightly on her apron.
“You’re the mister from the festival, right?”
The king gave a small nod.
“Yeah. I’m so glad you remembered me…. I came to see you. Since that day, that time…, I wanted to see you again ―― ”
The king cut short his words, and slowly proceeded with his confession.
“I couldn’t forget about you. That’s why I discarded my previous life, and I’m here now…. That is… From here on, I want to always be with you. I want us to live together. There’s nothing else in this world more important to me than you. …. So, I want to stay here. I want to live here with you…. Is that not possible…?”
The girl’s face showed a bit of surprise, “I know how you feel.”
Then she smiled and asked the king, “If you live here, will you help with the work?”
“Of course! I’ll do anything!” the king answered right away.
The girl coyly lowered her gaze, and asked in a gentle, but clear tone. “Will you… be kind?”
The king looked straight at the girl’s eyes. “Yes. I swear to God. … Is that good enough?”
The girl nodded a little shyly, but firmly. The king slowly stepped forward and approached. Before the two travelers who looked on, the king kneeled by the girl’s side,
“Marie!” he exclaimed, and embraced the sheep that was drinking water.
“Marie! Marie! Marie!”
“Meeeeeee-eee,” the sheep cried out as if it was in pain. The girl squatted beside them, and spoke,
“Look, mister. Don’t squish her too much. Marie hates that.”
“Ah, sorry. I’m just so happy right now…. I love Marie so much.”
“I know how you feel,” the girl said. The king once again threw his arms around the white and fluffy hair of the sheep.
“Oh, Marie. From now on we will be together. Until you die, I will devote my life to you. Our love will be for eternity.”
“Isn’t that great, Marie?”
Behind the two humans and one sheep,
The male traveler made a face that was very hard to describe.
The female traveler simply stood without changing her expression. And then she spoke.
“Well then, it’s about time for us to go.”
The small, yellow, battered car that looked as if it’s going to break at any moment ran through the meadows while the sound of its rickety engine reverberated. The walls reflected in the side mirror steadily became lower and soon disappeared.
The man in the passenger seat looked bored, tinkering with his favorite hand persuader (Note: A persuader is a gun. In this case, a pistol). It was a slender, automatic-type, with a weighted square barrel.
When he got tired of this, he put away the persuader in the holster on his left hip, and opened his mouth to speak.
“What is it?”
“Umm, about the king and Marie… is that okay?”
The woman answered, “Who knows? If they themselves say it’s fine, maybe everything will be all right.”
“… Well, I suppose that’s true, but…,” the man took one deep breath, and changed the topic. “Besides that, I have better opinion of you, Master.”
“You accepted this job even if there’s not much money involved. Though it turned out like this… Despite your outward appearance, are you actually a romantic?”
The woman looked at the man for a moment. “That may be true. Take the bag under my seat.”
The man stretched his hand to the back seat and took the bag under the driver’s seat. He wondered why it was awfully heavy and took a look inside. A fairly large number of glittering bracelets, rings, jewels, and gold coins were inside.
The man became speechless for a while.
“… Uh, Master… what is this?” the man asked.
“Those were things from the king’s room and the hallways. I packed them up since we’re at it,” the woman answered frankly.
“Have you heard of the term ‘fire looters’?”
“Yeah,” the woman said shortly, and then, “He wouldn’t have any need for those anyway. Besides,”
“‘Our notoriety is well-known everywhere’, right?”
The car spouted white smoke intermittently as it ran.
“If this leaks out, our physical descriptions will be distributed to other travelers for sure.”
“I don’t really mind. ―― Do you want to go home now?” the woman said, stopping the car which was now spitting black smoke.
The man in the passenger seat was silent for a while, and then spoke.
“…Hey Master, let’s have that broken window fixed.”
“One of these days then,” was the woman’s short answer as she started the car.
 Translator’s Notes
- No, it’s not shocking, really. It won’t sink in… at least not until you realize they were talking about cute little babies a while ago…. To preserve this little twist, all of the ‘Marie’ was replaced with ‘you’ in the exchanges between the King and the girl. In Japanese, it is not required to use the pronouns for ‘you’ and it’s not strange to refer to a person by name, even if you’re talking right in front of that person. In the Japanese version, it wouldn’t be weird for the king to call Marie’s name in every single sentence…, but in English, one would either think that the king’s way of talking is weird, or notice that he wasn’t talking to the girl at all, betraying this ending…
- I’m not sure if this is the exact term in English, but basically, he was referring to people who steal things from a house on fire, or steal things rescued from a fire.
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