Kino no Tabi:Volume8 Chapter1
A car was running on a forest road.
It was a small, yellow, car in a condition so bad that it looked as if it’s going to self-destruct at any moment. It rumbled and proceeded shakily on the road as white smoke sputtered from its exhaust pipe.
It was a vast land overrun with dense forests over flat terrain. The sun shone radiantly above the eastern horizon. A variety of birds were singing; it was a cool morning in early summer.
Two people were riding in the car. On the right-hand driver’s seat was a rather short but handsome young man with his hands on the wheel, while a young woman with long, black hair was seated in the passenger seat at the left side. Meanwhile, the narrow back seat was packed with dirty luggage and bags.
“Master,” the man spoke while driving. As the road was not in its best condition, he adjusted the steering wheel from time to time.
“What is it?” answered the woman called Master.
“We’ll soon be arriving in the next country, so—”
The man proposed that they sell the gem that they have in the next country and exchange it for food, fuel, and gold dust. The woman contemplated for a while.
“I guess we have no choice, but—”
“We should sell it at the highest possible price. I know.”
Just ahead the car, the top of the walls came into view.
It was not too big of a country, but it seemed rich.
The first thing they beheld upon entry was the vast expanse of fields. After running for a while, they reached the country’s center that was lined up with stone apartments. The wide, streetlight-lined roads were dense with shops on both sides. It was a rather splendid townscape.
“This country looks great, doesn’t it? Its population is comparatively small, and its technology is pretty advanced. This is the sort of place where we could sell at a high price,” said the man in the driver’s seat of the tiny car.
This car was the dirtiest among the numerous vehicles running on the street. They were laughed at as a luxury car overtook them.
“What you said about the selling part is true; however…there are too many policemen in this city.”
The man agreed to the woman’s observation. There were lots of people walking around the city in the morning, but there were as many policemen, who looked like soldiers with their green uniforms.
“The immigration procedures took awfully long. That guard must also be an MP,” the man said. In this case, ‘military police’ refers to a system that combines the army and the police.
“Based on my experience, you cannot let your guard down in countries like this.”
The man cast a sideways glance to the woman, and then asked, “Because of the bad public order?”
“No. —It’s the authorities we should be wary of. Let’s lay low in this country.”
The car stopped in front of a cheap-looking hotel.
“Well then, I’m going to cash out.”
The man said from the cramped room of the hotel. He wore a square-barreled hand persuader (Note: A persuader is a gun. In this case, a pistol) on his left hip, but it was hidden by the thin, brown jacket that he wore. He put the tiny bag that contained the gem inside his breast pocket.
“Please come back as soon as possible. There’s no need for us to stay long here. Let’s depart by evening.”
“I understand. I’ll be back by noon. Meanwhile, you go and have a relaxing shower, Master,” the man said as he left.
But noon has come and gone, yet the man did not return.
This is what happened to the man.
He showed the gem to a jeweler in the crowded shopping district. The shopkeeper’s momentary surprise was replaced with a broad smile. Then he disappeared to the back of the shop and came back, proposing a price that surprised the man. The man readily agreed, imagining the woman’s pleased face, and left the store with a grin. However,
“You there, wait.”
The moment he came out to the streets, he was surrounded by four policemen.
“You are suspected of possession of illegal drugs,” one of the cops said.
Another policeman acted as if he was taking out his hand from the man’s pocket. And then he exposed a small bag that he was holding.
“Look we’ve caught you red-handed. We are arresting you for possession of illegal drugs.”
For a moment, the man considered pulling out his persuader and shooting to death all of the policemen—it wouldn’t take him two seconds—but,
He stopped after giving it a second thought.
The man was handcuffed and his persuader and personal belongings were confiscated. As he was about to ride the police car, he saw the shopkeeper of the jewelry store pass money to the police. The man let out a small curse and pondered how, even at this state, he could beat down all of the police, steal the car, and lunge it into the jewelry store while he’s at it. But,
He stopped after giving it a second thought.
“In short, your lover was arrested. In this country, illegal possession of drugs is a serious crime. It will be decided by the court from here on, but ten years in jail should be a fair estimate.”
“I see. But I’d like to correct one thing. He is not my ‘lover’, he’s just a travel companion,” said the woman, who was in a room inside a large building at the country’s center—an enormous and grandiose building octagonal in shape, built along with the spacious lawn that surrounded it.
A splendid clock tower stood at the center of the building, with a huge clock attached on each of the four sides facing east, west, south and north. The observation platform in its rooftop is higher than any building in the country, offering a 360-degree view of its surroundings.
It was in this room where the woman was seated in front of a desk, opposite a middle-aged police officer dressed in a uniform with important-looking decorations and embroidery while reclining comfortably in his seat. Several policemen stood around him. The outdoor scenery was visible from the gaps of the blinds, presenting a rather beautiful view of the sun setting to the west.
“Where is he right now?” the woman asked, and the middle-aged police officer answered that he was in an underground detention facility.
The woman took the opportunity to ask about the building. She was told that it was a historic structure that once served as a royal palace. But as the land was no longer ruled by a king, it was now used by various government offices. The clock tower was apparently a protected cultural site.
“It is the police who have the administrative rights to this building. In fact, this place is the police headquarters. I don’t think other countries have headquarters as luxurious as this,” the middle-aged policeman said proudly, and laughed.
“I see. That means it is the corrupt police who holds absolute political power, and use their authority to do as they please. Just as I thought.”
The woman did not say these words, which accurately point out the situation. Instead, “I understand the circumstances, but as you can see, we are travelers. With your excellency’s influence, it’s not at all impossible to arrange for his deportation, is it not?”
“Hmm. How much are you willing to pay?”
“About this much,” was the woman’s reply to the middle-aged police officer’s frank question, indicating a figure she wrote on a piece of paper. No one knew whether the amount was really all that she could give.
The middle-aged police officer leaned forward and peeked at the piece of paper.
“That won’t do. It’s not even worth discussing.” He leaned back to his chair once more with a shake of the head, and continued, “You’d better leave the country immediately. I’ll keep quiet about the offer you made here with us.”
The woman replied with her imperturbable expression and tone, “I’ll do just that. To begin with, he’s just some person I got acquainted to during my travels. I really don’t know anything about him, and it can’t be helped if he was caught doing something bad. I’ll leave him behind.”
“That’s a wise decision.”
“Just one last thing. Can I bid him farewell?”
“We can’t allow that since he has committed a serious crime.”
“About this matter, I would be very grateful for any assistance you can lend me,” she said while slowly taking out a single gold coin from her bosom. She placed it on top of the desk, covering the piece of paper she wrote on earlier. Seeing this, the police officer’s face relaxed.
“Hmm… But since you are a traveler, I’ll make an exception and allow you to talk with the criminal for a short time.”
The middle-aged police officer and the woman, together with an entourage of policemen, went out of the room and made their way down a corridor.
Along the way, the woman looked left and right with only her eyes, checking the tags stuck in front of the rooms. The policemen around her took no notice at all.
Eventually, the party went down to the basement using an elevator, and passed through the gates of the entrance to the detention facility, which was protected by policemen.
They proceeded on a hall lined with jails on both sides. Drab rooms with only beds, toilets, and water closets continued on.
And, in one of the rooms, there was a person—a handsome, but slightly short man—sitting on the bed. He raised his face as he heard the sound of footsteps. When he recognized the face of the woman surrounded by the police,
“Ah, Sis! You came here to have me released, right?” He said happily, gripping the cage. But the woman replied mercilessly,
“You were found guilty of doing such a terrible thing, you know.”
“I even told you stay clear of unlawful activities.”
“No way… I was framed!”
“I hate causing trouble for other people. You know that, right? —Please face your trial here. There are countries I have to visit, so I can’t wait for you.”
“No way…” The man still gripped the cage and looked down helplessly. “Even if…I have lived my life so far without doing a single bad thing…”
“Then reflect on your crime here,” said the woman. The policemen around her looked at each other and laughed.
The man spoke feebly. “Sis, there’s something in my bag that I haven’t shown you yet. Sell it in the next country to add to your traveling expenses. I have no use for it anymore. But please sell it for a high price because it’s worth 434 silver coins when I bought it. You can also have the things I took with me this morning. Do as you like with them.”
“I understand. I’ll do that,” the woman answered, and the man went back to his bed, still crestfallen. And then he collapsed face-down on the bed, curling up his body.
“Surely that’s enough.”
As commanded by the middle-aged police officer, the woman walked to the exit from the man’s jail.
She came back to the entrance of the detention facility and asked the police clerk about the man’s belongings. He took out the man’s persuader, holster, belt, knapsack, and a tiny bag.
“What about the gem and cash he had?”
“Oh, those are possible funds coming from illegal drug trade, and were all confiscated as evidence,” explained the middle-aged officer.
“I see,” was the woman’s only reply, and put the man’s belongings in the knapsack.
“Now, everyone, I’ll be taking my leave.”
And she left the building.
Upon returning to the hotel room, the woman relaxed for a bit, and then firmly closed the blinds.
Then, she opened the man’s luggage, a big backpack. At its bottom, there was a very sturdy plastic case that was about as big and thick as an encyclopedia. It looked like it can be used for beating people to death.
On one side of the case was a numeric keypad.
The woman keyed in 4-3-4 and the case opened smoothly. The inside was lined with a thick cushion cut out in several places, with a variety of contraptions neatly fitted in each.
“… Good grief. I wonder what that man did in the past. Well, let’s put these to use.”
The woman closed the case with a click.
“First is shopping. And then let’s get out of this country,” she muttered to herself.
The setting sun dyed the observation platform in the police headquarters in a yellow color.
The sound of a bell echoed from the lofty clock tower.
A police messenger came to the middle-aged police officer who was reclining on his chair.
“The woman earlier just left the country in a car. She only bought portable rations and traveling equipment. There was nothing suspicious with her actions.”
“I see… I thought she was dangerous, but she was just a fool after all. Don’t let her re-enter the country. Things might get troublesome.”
“Yes sir. By the way, there’s a message from the director who was attending a dinner party with politicians: ‘Good job. We’ll send your share later.’”
“Hmm. You also did very well.”
“Thank you very much. —What are we going to do about that man?”
“He could have been deported just fine, but punishing him with twenty years of hard labor is not a bad idea. We can decide later on.”
Night. It was quiet in the forest.
The stars twinkled in the clear, moonless sky.
The woman’s shabby, yellow car was parked in a forest a bit ways off the country.
The woman was sitting beside it, making rummaging sounds as she worked on something.
“Now then,” she said as she stood up. The scruff of her jacket was tightly closed, and she wore gloves and a knit cap. She was garbed in a single color—black. The holster of her favorite high-caliber revolver hung from her right hip, and she carried a knapsack on her back. Lastly,
“I see…what an interesting device.”
Over her left eye, there was a strange cylinder that looked like a short and stout scope. A band wrapped around her head held it in place.
The woman gazed at the forest scenery through her left eye. The branches of trees swaying from the wind, as well as the moving animals, were amplified by the device. It created a world covered in a suspicious shade of green.
“‘Night-vision equipment’, is it? Fascinating,” the woman murmured to herself.
This set of night-vision equipment was one of the items stowed inside the man’s precious case. Other than this, there was the man’s persuader silencer that was especially made for assassination, for-assassin-use plastic knives that can pass through metal-detectors, for-assassin-use wires that can be used to strangle someone from behind, for-assassin-use capsules containing poison that can pass off death as a heart attack, for-assassin-use stabbing pen with a poison-laced tip, and so on. It was an arsenal for various assassination tools.
The woman traversed the forest without making any sound. Later that night, she arrived at the walls of the country she just left. Its tall, black walls soared towards the sky.
After confirming that there were no guards nearby, the woman pulled out the revolver from her waist. She disassembled the front half of the revolver and removed the barrel. She took out a different barrel from her knapsack.
It was a strange device. A thick, metal jar was inserted at the tip of the barrel, and was securely fixed with a wire. The bottom of the bottle has been hollowed out.
The woman attached this to the revolver’s body, and snapped open the hammer with her thumb. She pulled down the loading rod under the barrel, gripped firmly with her left hand, and aimed the bottom of the jar towards the top of the walls.
The woman fixed her aim, and pulled the trigger.
There was a muffled shot, followed by a forceful quiver from the revolver’s recoil. An iron claw, a three-hooked metal not unlike a ship’s anchor, came out of the jar. The thin wire tied to the claw, which has been coiled inside the bottle, unwound as it came out.
The faint sound of the claws hitting and catching the top of the walls was heard. The woman returned the revolver to its original form and put it back in its holster.
She put on thick leather gloves and pulled the wire at different angles to make sure that it was stuck firmly.
“Here we go.”
The woman began climbing the wall.
While the woman climbed the dark walls without making a sound,
Inside the dimly lit detention cell, the man turned face-up and began to yawn and stretch.
“It’ll probably take a bit more time. Maybe I should sleep.”
He rolled over, and slept.
Even though it was almost midnight, the shops in the country’s entertainment district were still crowded. Drunken customers happily come and go.
In one corner of the street, a policeman stood guard by himself with his back on the dark alley. The young man gazed at the street with a bored expression, tapping his palm with the baton in his other hand.
Two dark arms stretched from the darkness of the back alley. One arm closed in on the guard’s mouth, and the other one wrapped around his neck. The arms returned to the darkness without a sound.
No one noticed that one policeman disappeared from the street.
It was well past midnight.
The lively entertainment district has subsided, and only a few drunks were lying about on the quiet street,
It was like the sound of escaping air, but much louder. The noise swiftly resonated.
A nearby drunk opened his half-closed eyes. What was reflected in his eyes was a cloud of smoke rising from a trash can that has started to burn.
He stood up as he muttered, and recklessly held out his hands towards its warmth. At that moment,
Successive explosions were heard in every corner of the street.
The man’s wide-open eyes reflected the bright light of the burning trash cans.
Police cars and fire trucks rushed in with bellowing sirens.
When he heard these sounds, the man in the detention facility opened his eyes. He sat on top of the bed, stretched, and let out a big yawn.
Amidst the nonstop blaring of the sirens, he could make out the distant clatter of running footsteps from the building’s upper floors.
With such noise as his backdrop, the man used the toilet, washed his hands and face, and began to exercise.
“Zero-one-two, three-four. Five-six, seven-eight.”
He moved his body gently, relaxing his muscles, and ended his exercise with a deep breath.
The man gripped the cage, and shouted in a voice loud enough to be heard through all the clamor.
“Hey, guard! What’s with the commotion? It’s so annoying I couldn’t sleep!”
“Quiet! It’s none of your business so shut your trap!” the guard yelled back from the entrance of the detention facility.
“Eh, but this commotion is not normal is it? Something big must be happening, right?”
“Shut up! There was no contact from above, and I was about to go and ask!”
“Is that so? You’re such a hard worker. If you find out, kindly tell me—”
“Shut up! —Ugh!”
“Huh? What’s the matter —?”
No answer came from the guard, who only let out an unpleasant scream.
Instead, another policeman came walking down the corridor and stopped in front of the man’s jail.
“I knew you’d come for me, Master. —I’m sorry for letting down my guard.”
“Good grief, you’re really an apprentice I had to look after.”
The one wearing the police uniform was the woman called Master. She wore the uniform tightly over her other clothes, and hid her long hair underneath the uniform cap. At first glance, she looked like a refined young man.
The woman quickly opened the man’s jail with a key, and tossed him the knapsack she was carrying.
“Inside is your persuader, as well as a set of uniform. Change your clothes.”
The man took the sack and started to change. Meanwhile, he asked, “Where my ‘toys’ helpful?”
“Well, in a way. —We’ll leave this place once you’re finished changing.”
“What are we going to do?”
The man stuffed the clothes he has taken off into the knapsack once he has finished changing into the police uniform.
“We’ll walk into the building from here.”
“Eh? Shouldn’t we escape right away?”
“Right now it would be impossible to get out the country. The gates will definitely be closed, and the security will be tight. It’s unreasonable to break through the gates with just the two of us. Eventually, people will come here as well.”
“That’s true, but…what should we do?” the man asked.
“What would you do?” The woman returned the question. The man’s eyes registered an unusually serious expression.
“Let’s see… I’ll hide at once in a place where I can’t be found, for instance, in the attics or in the sewers. The search party will be tired by the third day or so, and by that time, I’ll immediately leave the country secretly, or by force, if necessary.”
“That makes sense, but not quite correct.”
“Oh?” The man had a rather disappointed look on his face.
The woman revealed the answer with an amused smile, “Waiting it out for three days before leaving is correct. However, hiding is not.”
“Then what is?”
“We’ll go on a rampage. First let’s go to the third floor, where there’s food and weapons. You’ve had plenty of rest while in jail, right? If you don’t want to get rusty, you should do some serious fighting once in a while. Also, the scenery from a high place is quite breath-taking.”
A gleeful expression crept on the man’s face as he gradually comprehended, then he laughed fiercely.
“Then, what happened to the two after that, Kino?”
A motorrad (Note: A two-wheeled vehicle. Only to note that it cannot fly) asked.
The motorrad was loaded with plenty of luggage on both sides and on top of its rear wheel. It was running leisurely on a road inside a forest, with the autumn foliage fluttering around it.
“Yup. After that—” The motorrad’s driver called Kino answered. She was wearing a brown coat, the excess hem of which was rolled up to her thighs. Goggles were strapped on her face, and she had on a brimmed hat with flaps covering her ears. She was considerably young, around her mid-teens.
The autumn sky was clear and not a single cloud can be seen. The bright sun announced the time of the day.
Kino answered the question while letting the motorrad run slowly. “Aside from the streets, Master also planted explosives and incendiary bombs in police cars and power stations. As a result, the headquarters was in chaos, and they could walk to the arsenal in their disguise without being discovered. Most of the police force was dispatched due to all the commotion Master caused. When they went into the arsenal and ransacked it for persuaders, not a single one found them suspicious, as they were dressed in police uniforms, and they stunned a few who stopped by the arsenal. Then they filled up a trolley with sniping rifles, small rapid-fire persuaders, ammos, and all sorts of explosives.”
“Whoa, scary. —It’s just like ‘dancing the mambo’, huh?”
“That’s right, Hermes,” Kino agreed so easily that the motorrad called Hermes fell silent for a while. Then he pulled himself together, “—Um, please continue Master’s story.”
“Ok. After they took all the weapons they could carry, the two headed next to the food storage, and loaded another trolley with portable rations and drinking water. Because what they were doing then was so suspicious, they had to knock three policemen in a nearby room unconscious.”
“And then, and then?”
“And then, they let out a rumor that bombs were planted inside the building. They activated the alarm and threw flares here and there. Everyone in the building scurried out. After that, they boarded the elevator to the top floor, carrying the two trolleys with them.”
“The top floor? They didn’t escape? I was certain that they would escape by mixing in with the fleeing crowd.”
“It’s completely the opposite. Master and her apprentice encamped with their luggage in the rooftop of the clock tower, which, though not wide, was the highest place in the whole country. They blew off the cable of the lone elevator leading there, and let it fall all the way to the basement.”
“It was almost dawn. They took aim at the people who evacuated outside, as well as at the exhausted policemen who were just coming back after the commotion has finally settled down, and—”
“Yes. From the top of the tower, they fired at every single person outside using their sniper rifles. They shot the tires of the cars so that they wouldn’t move, and picked off the people who fled the cars one after the other. From such a high position, they had a perfect view of the people running across the wide-open square. There was no way out,” Kino said indifferently.
“Scary!” Hermes exclaimed. “So they killed every single one of them?” Hermes asked, but Kino only shook her head as she drove.
“Wrong. That’s what amazing about Master. She did not kill a single one.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“It was deliberate. She intentionally avoided their heads or chests, and aimed at their legs. Thick blood vessels run through the thighs, so she did not target them, either. She only aimed at the non-fatal spots on the knees or shins, and accurately hit them with her rifle.”
“Ah, so that they can shoot down the ones that would come to the aid of the wounded moaning for help, right? Just like any good sniper.”
“That’s wrong too.”
“The two of them shot neither the people crawling to escape nor the ones who were helping.”
“Why? How come?”
“I also asked her the same question. Master gave me some time to think about it, but I only learned the answer when she continued her story.”
“Then I give up. Continue the story, Kino.”
“Okay. It is connected to the reason why they climbed the clock tower instead of escaping. Master knew full well that they couldn’t possibly break through the gates with just the two of them.”
“Well, that’s because there would be a lot of people positioned there to securely protect it and make sure that no one will escape.”
“That’s why they decided to wait until the citizens begged them, ‘We will open the gates, so please pass through.’”
“Ah, I see. It was a siege, wasn’t it? I finally get it!” Hermes exclaimed in glee, and Kino gave a small nod.
“Yes. They barricaded themselves at the top of the clock tower, and sniped anyone who comes near. This way, the building can no longer be used, and the everyday work of the people was interrupted to a great extent. The police tried to get in one way or the other. But—”
“They were being shot.”
“Yep. To them, being shot in the leg is worse than getting killed. If instead, they see their comrades getting shot cruelly to death, it will fire up their desire for vengeance, and their fighting spirit will rise. But when they see their companions getting shot, screaming in pain, they start to have such thoughts as ‘What if I’m the next one?’, and hesitate. Humans whose jobs revolve around fighting are far more terrified of being in pain than being killed on the spot. In any case, their morale is down.”
“That makes sense.”
“Even so, the police tried to do their best in front of everyone. They used armored trucks and tried to break into the building on both sides.”
“But to no avail.”
“Master thought so too, and it seemed that her student, who was framed and jailed, got fired up. He could snipe through the eye of a needle and still wouldn’t miss. All the troops that broke through were sent to the hospital, and it took lots of ambulances to accommodate the wounded. Once everything settled by noon, they dropped a letter in a sealed envelope. Of course, they used police equipment.”
“What was written in it? Something like, ‘If you don’t want any more casualties, let us leave right away!’?”
“Nope. They didn’t write something so blatantly threatening. It was more like this:
The wind hints of the approaching summer, but we are glad to see that everyone in the police force is becoming more spirited by the hour. Well, we two scoundrels decided to turn this place into a graveyard, and so until our bows break or until we run out of arrows, we will defend this place to the last of our strength, and we intend to rampage to our heart’s content. For the two of us are unskilled, we request that you grant us your guidance and encouragement.
P.S. We set up loads of bombs on the stairs up the clock tower, so if you don’t want to lose this historic building, kindly refrain from using the stairs.
When Kino finished speaking, only the sound of Hermes’ well-maintained engine could be heard in the forest.
Eventually, Hermes whispered, “Scary.”
“Yup, scary. —At that time, they had no idea what was going on in the heads of the policemen, but at that moment, they must be considering that it would be better to let the two escape.”
“Yup, scary. —And of course, the commotion has already made it into the news, and the situation was made public. It was even broadcasted live on radio.”
“That is so stupid.”
“Yes. Master thought so too. The two of them were also listening to the radio, so they were saved because they learned every move of the police. At any rate, the day soon turned to night, and the police tried several times to approach stealthily. However, Master’s student had a night-vision device attached to his rifle, and so they were beaten at their own game. The two of them slept in shifts, and remained in their positions even while eating and drinking.”
“Well, how long did they keep it up?” Hermes asked.
“Three days and three nights,” Kino answered, and explained. “The situation was—
[Ehem, you two over there, can you hear me?! You bastards can’t escape! As you wish, that place will be your grave! If by any chance you don’t die there, you will be hanged after being paraded in the city! You’d better prepare yourselves!]
[You guys are completely surrounded! So surrender like real men! If you surrender obediently, we’ll spare your lives!]
[Is there anything you want to say? Can’t you see we’re being generous by even trying to hear your side?!]
[Sirs, our side is willing to negotiate. It’s not a bad deal, you know.]
[Uh, how are you doing? We would like to ask for a cease-fire to be able to talk, and agree on terms for our mutual survival. What do you think?]
[Good morning. There is something we would like to tell you. If you wish to leave the country, we will gladly allow it.]
[We are begging your excellencies. Please pacify your anger, and leave our country.] 
Bam. Bang. Boom.
[We beg you. From the bottom of our hearts, please stop this. Please—]
[Save me! Please stop already!]
“Now that you mention it, it would be better for us to leave the country quietly than to die here.”
“Well, how much are you willing to pay?”
“How much are you willing to pay?”
[… Um, will the amount I write down here do?]
[We’ll give more!]
—Well, something like that.”
“At any rate, rather than prolonging the situation and letting the number of casualties increase, they realized that there will be less damage if they just ‘deport’ them. Master and her student ripped off the government’s money, took the police commissioner who brought it to them hostage, and made him drive the escape car up to the gates.”
“And they all lived happily ever after. The end. Wow, what a great story. —Ah, I see it.”
Just ahead of the forest where Kino and Hermes was riding in, the top of the walls became visible.
“Just in time. So, in that country, we will keep it a secret how I obtained ‘Canon’. We will go ‘shopping’ in the flea market. And of course, never ever talk about Master’s story.”
“However, since we’re in this country, I want to know what remained of that story.”
“It must have been a historical event, right?”
“Unless, what Master told me was nothing but a nonsensical, exaggerated lie.”
“All of a sudden, I don’t want to believe it—”
“But we’re talking about Master here. She’s capable of anything.”
Kino suddenly looked back. She gazed at the road they just came through. There was nothing but the leaves dancing on top of the road.
“It’s all right. There’s nobody,” said Hermes.
“So look ahead as you run.”
Kino entered the country around noon.
Kino and Hermes stood in front of the lawn-enclosed, octagonal building with a clock tower in its center. They stopped at the end of a road that extends straight towards it. There were people enjoying a picnic on the lawn under the clear autumn sky. A few policemen could be seen among them.
“It’s a good thing the historical building remained.”
“Yeah,” Kino agreed to Hermes’ words.
“It’s octagonal, without a doubt.”
“And there’s the clock tower too.”
Kino launched Hermes and ran on the road surrounding the building.
“Kino, go a little slower.”
In response to Hermes, Kino loosened the right-hand accelerator. Hermes told her that there’s a monument beside the building’s entrance, and Kino turned in that direction.
Kino stopped Hermes in front of the monument and cut the engine. The monument was not large, and was placed obscurely on top of the grass.
Only small characters were carved on the stone. Kino set down Hermes’ stand and crouched in front of the monument.
“Kino you’re blocking the view. What’s written on it?” asked Hermes.
“The characters are small and hard to read… It doesn’t seem to be a commemoration stone for the building’s foundation, though…” Just as Kino muttered this,
“Actually, that is—”
A loud voice sprung from behind them, surprising Hermes. Kino stood up and turned around.
It was a bald old man with a cane. He looked considerably old, and with him was a four or five year old girl who seemed to be his granddaughter or great-granddaughter.
“Ah, sorry if I surprised you. That is a monument built to commemorate the two heroes who saved our country,” said the old man.
Hermes asked, “Two heroes?”
Kino took off her hat and bowed to the old man and the girl. “I’m a traveler, but I have interest in the history of countries. Can you please tell me the story?”
The old man smiled. “Why, of course. When I was still young, political corruption has grown widespread in this country,” he began.
“Ooh. And then, and then?”
“Even the police were involved in the misdeeds, and everywhere you go, there’s this bad atmosphere. At that time, two travelers with a strong sense of justice came to our country. They spoke up on behalf of the citizens, saying ‘This should not be done!’ or ‘This is wrong!’” The old man recounted passionately.
“After that, after that?” Hermes chimed in happily.
“After that, the two travelers, backed by the power of the masses, came and petitioned in this building—in this government building.”
“Justice and courage overflowed from the two. In fact, their speech lasted for four days. Their zeal touched our politicians and police officials, who were deeply embarrassed of their actions until then and promised not to do bad things in the future. Thanks to that, this country is now rich and happy. And they lived happily ever after. The end.”
When the old man finished speaking, the girl whose hands he was holding jumped in delight, “Grandpa’s stories always end with ‘happily ever after’!”
“There, there. You’ll make this old man fall over with your jumping,” the old man chided her with a smile.
“I see, so this monument was for that historic event,” Kino remarked.
“That’s right. Even now, the story about the ‘two travelers of justice’ is written in our history textbooks. When this child grows up, she’ll also learn it at school.”
Kino thanked the old man, and then asked, “This is another story, but…what happened to your legs? In this country, there are so many old people, particularly men, who are carrying canes with them.”
For about five seconds, the old man’s face twitched and froze. The girl looked up at him wonderingly.
“Uh, w-well! —People my age were born with bad legs, you see. The c-cane-manufacturers made a k-killing out of it, too,” the old man stammered, his expression still stiff. And as he laughed, he gripped his cane firmly, dragged one foot and walked away together with the girl.
When the two have vanished from sight, “What now, Hermes? Want me to read the monument just in case?”
“Nope,” Hermes answered immediately. Kino put on her hat, straddled Hermes, and started the engine.
Kino rode Hermes slowly, the building behind them. They began to converse as soon as they were out of earshot.
“That was something. Kino, which one do you think is true?”
“You can tell, can’t you, Hermes.”
“Yeah. But it’s an optimistic country, in a way. And being optimistic is a good thing.”
“In a sense, maybe.” Kino agreed with Hermes, laughing lightly. And then,
“But, what will you do if Master makes a comeback?” Hermes asked casually.
Kino suddenly looked back. She gazed at the road they just came through. There was the form of the big building with the clock tower.
“It’s all right. There’s nobody,” said Hermes.
“So look ahead as you run.”
 Translator’s Notes
- Also included in the second PS2 Visual Novel.
- It is not so obvious once translated, but in Japanese, this dialogue is quite comical due to the change in the tone of the police officer from extremely rude to extremely polite. This is particularly observed with the pronouns used for ‘you’: kisama --> omae --> kimi --> anata --> anata-sama (arranged from rude to polite).
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