Shakugan no Shana:Volume0 Chapter2 Part2
 2. The Two, Covered in Ash
In a corner of the kingdom, a strange family lived.
It consisted of nothing but women, who for a certain purpose made steady progress.
Speaking frankly, in the case of a certain girl left behind as a momento of a former wife, special training was being undertaken.
This word, in English, has the meaning of 'haikaburi' (covered in ash).
In second part, a name with the same meaning in French appears and diverts attention.
So if I write 'Shana', I want you to read it as 'Cinderella', my dear readers.
Taht's the relationship. While Shana had an innocent, cute look, there was much behind it. She was in training, studying the literary and martial arts, improving her courage and resourcefulness. Her ideal figure was being raised to become a ruler among rulers.
In contrast, her stepmother had an odd sense of values. She had the countenance of a devil and a character that was the same. She was a little strange.
And her two daughters, whom she brought along with her, were the same way.
In the kitchen, under the gaze of he stepmother, for many consecutive years, her training continued.
The eldest daughter, Merihim, took out some black beans from a cage. This was a black soya bean. She collected some of them in her hand and then faced Shana.
This would be like driving out the devils on Setsubun, I must confess.
"Break everything. Or I'll break you!" said the girl.
Shana, with burning eyes, grabbed every bean she saw. The action of her hand was like well-practiced swordplay. She quickly repelled the beans tossed at her. But it could not be helped. There were too many beans.
Soon, some hit her body. "Fool!" said her enemy. "You will have no dinner! Just eat the beans on the floor."
"Hai," said Shana, obeying the elder sister's rebuke. Shana dropped her face as she replied.
"Now look here! I'll tell mother about your incompetence! You must sleep here again tonight!" said Merihim as she left the room.
Shana, who remained behind, calmly picked up the beans off the floor. To make sure they were safe to eat, she roasted them, for they would be her dinner. This was not the first time she'd had to do this.
Living in a stern environment toughened her ability to stay alive, and she was in training.
Yet again today there was something like a blunder. So she'd be forced to sleep in the kitchen again. That was her everyday pattern of taking meals. While in the middle of picking up the beans from the ashes in the fireplace, she felt something vividly in her hips, and her red hair was stained with ash.
It was behind her.
"So ... will you be sleeping there again today?" A flat voice called out. It was from the second daughter, Wilhemina. Even though she wasn't a servant, she wore a simple one-piece dress, a white apron, and and a strange sort of apparel that was some kind of headress that leaned to one side. In her arms, she carried many books.
"Today we're going to translate all of these. If you make a mistake, a bean gets confiscated."
"Go ahead and begin." said another person supervising the project.
It was someone trying heart and soul to handle the second daughter.
It was Tiamat, who was rushing along. Shana agreed and set to work.
Shana answered, and then put the beans back in the cage that the woman had left behind for her. Even though she'd had no break period, it was time to study. Over the course of translating a very thick book, her store of beans decreased.
"This text usage here is wrong. Confiscated."
As they worked, Shana forgot about the one bean left in her palm. Even so, Shana said not one word of complaint and took a mouthful of beans for her dinner before sleeping. She had to get ready for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the royal family was scattering to fulfill its plans. Silently they confronted their painful ordeal, like a certain girl we know.
Off in a corner of the country was another girl. Her name was Sandorion. Her name, like Shana's, meant 'covered in ash'. To help distinguish her, I'll write that as "Yoshida". That ties it up well. Yoshida was a member of the nobility, but after a few years she also lost her father to an accident. As a result, she had to deal with Dad's second wife and the two daughters she brought along with her.
By the way, the scene now shows the house of the second wife, or to be more precise, the daughter of the second wife, who had come to bully Yoshida.
Shana was forced out of her room and made to live in the attic. Her once-pretty clothes turned ash grey, and her wooden shoes were thrown away. She had to fetch water, start fires, cook, clean, and do the laundry. Her family used her for all kinds of things and bullied her.
It truly was the hard knock life, yo. (TL: note, it says "hard luck life" in kana but I thought this sounded better.)
Because of that, she always looked as if she was holding things back, and her countenance showed grim resolve in a sea of troubles. Her loose hair was pretty, and her figure gradually changed to an unhappy one. Today she was cleaning dust and ash from the corner and working for her sisters.
"Oh, what is this dust?" asked one fo them. This woman ran her finger along the windowsill, collecting the accumulated dust that had been dislodged by the window washing. Thus was Yoshida's hard work called into question by Tiriel. She had the outward appearance of a lovely French doll, but was acutally a sadist. On the tip of her finger adhering to it was something barely visible that could barely be called "dust".
But because bullying the girl was her goal, this was sufficient.
"I swear, wherever I look I wonder if you're actually doing the cleaning. Are you trying to sully Onee-sama?"
"That's right, I don't want to get dirty, Tiriel!" Tiriel stuck out both arms and entangled them, then the two saw the older daughter, Solat, appear.
She obeyed her younger sister and had no will of her own. Tiriel continued.
"Your food sucks, and the house is so filthy we're thinking of abandoning it. Mother feels the same way, doesn't she?"
Suddenly the stepmother surprised everyone by answering.
"Well, I wonder about that. The cooking is tasty and the cleaning is generally done wel-"
Ordininarily, this woman could be said to have a good shape and a pleasant, handsome countenance. Tiriel shot her a severe glare, which stopped her and she retreated quietly.
"Forget I said anything."
Tiriel, withered her enemy with hatred shining in her blue eyes and then the focus of the screen shifted to Yoshida.
"You'll redo the cleaning. You'll redo it as many times as needed, until I recognize it as done. After that's done, take care of the garden. After that comes meal preparation. You have a mountain of work to do."
Of course these two houses were divided. These two were sisters in law. Yoshida meekly obeyed. She weakly gave in, obedient and submissive. She had that air about her. But for her living on her own would be hard, and these were difficult times. She continued until night, when she was now completely exhausted from being overworked.
Her attic room was a dark affair with a simple straw mattress. She uttered a deep sigh, but no tears fell from her eyes. she put on a dirty apron and checked the pocket. "Okay, you can come out now" she said. She took out broken bits of food left over from the kithen pans and sprinkled it on the floor.
This was the one happy thing in her unhappy circumstances. While living in the attic, she had one joy - talking with the mice. This is a lonely pattern but there were no others for her to talk to.
"The castle is bright today." she said.
Off in the distance, you could see the King's castle.
En masse, from the corner of the room, 24 rats came out. They assembled together, but to a hum these were just mere rats.
"Squeak," said one. (This really isn't much.) This was #4, a thin, cute rat.
"Speak," said another. (Don't say that. You'll have your turn.)
Rat #14, like a great work of art, had looks and zie.
Yoshida called the pretty rat Satou, and the big one Tanaka, and doted on the two of them.
"Well, there's a rumor that the Prince will pick his princess at the ball." she said as she rested her head on her hands while staring out the window.
Sensing her mood, Tanaka and Satou trie dto cheer her up.
"It wasn't always this way. When her husband was still alive, that woman was a proper young lady."
"That's right. Yoshida-chan will shine if she's polished. How to get her to shine is the issue."
While they thought of a way to do that, Yoshida answered with a laugh.
"Heh. Complaining won't change a thing. I'd better get some sleep. Tomorrow will be here soon. Gotta get ... the ... water."
After putting herself to bed, she succumbed to fatigue and crashed into slumber. Being careful not to wake her, the rats ate the remaining crumbs from the pan.
|Back to Part 1||Return to Main Page||Forward to Part 3|