Fushigi Yuugi Novel #4
(“The Legend of Shooting Star”)
Based on the comics by: Watase Yuu
Written by: Nishizaki Megumi
Chapter 2: Shunkaku’s Awakening
Kotoku stared at his little brother, who was deep in sleep.
Yet again teased by the girls and worked like a mule all day to the point of exhaustion, Shunkaku was finally able to sleep in peace.
Kotoku paused. Then, he slowly lifted up Shunkaku’s shabby clothes, exposing his upper-body. As he feared, there was still no blue symbol on his twin’s shoulder.
Three years had come and gone since they were brought to that house. And each new day that came was spent toiling the soil. Kotoku had hoped their lifestyle would improve, but it had just been getting worse and worse.
On top of Kutoh’s army splitting into sub-groups and fighting amongst one another, anti-government guerillas were popping up all over the country. Wherever there were soldiers there were killings. The innocent peasants were often dragged into these conflicts, and in this very village, fields were often burned.
And because of this, Kotoku’s and Shunkaku’s chores increased. Even if sick with a very high fever, Shunkaku was dragged out into the field and worked until he collapsed. And whenever Kotoku could not be there to save him, he would share his ki with Shunkaku later in the night.
“I just know a peaceful world will come someday. And when it does, let’s run away from here together. But until that happens, let’s hang in there…”
And then Shunkaku would always answer meekly, “Okay. I can do it as long as you’re with me, Nii-chan.”
Before the village they had been raised in was plundered by the outlaws, the country had been peaceful.
Guided by the love of their mother and father, both Kotoku and Shunkaku had been raised to have free spirits. It was now hard to believe that there had once been days like that…. Kotoku’s chest tightened.
His anger towards those who robbed him of everything boiled up stronger than ever. If things stayed the way they were, this country would only continue down the path of destruction.
Something must be done about this.
Over time, these feelings in Kotoku’s mind had grown to become a disturbing sense of duty so great that he could no longer ignore it.
“……….I am Amiboshi….”
Kotoku said his Seiryuu Seishi name out loud. He then stared mindlessly at the blue symbol glowing on his right shoulder. It was clearly visible in the dark shed where the twins slept.
Carefully moving a deeply sleeping Shunkaku down to the floor, Kotoku quietly removed the wooden flute from behind the shelf. The day the two had been brought to this house, he had immediately hidden it so that no one could find it.
Kotoku shuddered in fear as he remembered how he had used his powers with this flute to save his brother. Up until then, Kotoku had only spellbound his family and the neighbors into happiness by whistling, or cooled Shunkaku’s high fevers with his ki.
But he had no idea that his powers could kill… More than anything else, Kotoku feared the voice inside of him that had whispered “die…”
It was then that he had felt in his strong, little heart, that he must only use his flute when fighting as a Seiryuu Seishi. So no matter how harshly Shunkaku was treated and no matter how many times Shunkaku begged him to use the flute, Kotoku refused.
As Kotoku gazed at his little brother’s face, his mind was swimming around in circles.
“Don’t worry. Nii-chan will always be with you…” He whispered to his little brother.
Even if they were separated, wouldn’t they still always be together? Kotoku could not take his sick little brother with him on a quest where unknown dangers awaited. Kotoku did not have the confidence to be able to protect his twin from those dangers. If Shunkaku were to stay here, no matter how harsh the labor, at least he was given food and a bed….
And Kotoku was still not even supposed to tell Shunkaku that he was a Seiryuu Seishi. He would not be able to forgive himself for involving his little brother in a fight that was not necessarily his.
“Shunkaku… Wait for me…”
Kotoku got to his feet. Securing his flute in his waistband and taking one last look at Shunkaku’s sleeping face, he quietly opened the door to the shed and stepped outside; never looking back.
Twelve-year-old Kotoku then set out in the early, spring morning on his quest as Seiryuu Seishi, Amiboshi; to find his Miko.
“Just how long’re you gonna sleep, you lazybones!”
Shoko violently opened the door to the shed. But what was in there was only the weaker twin, who had been startled awake, staring at her drowsily.
“Wait a minute, where’s Kotoku?”
Shunkaku’s eyes, filled with fear, darted around the room.
“Kotoku!” Shoko’s ear-piercing voice, and the sound of stomping feet echoed throughout the house.
“Maw, I don’t think he’s here anymore.”
The two sisters ran after their mother towards the shed. Shoko looked up and clenched her teeth.
“Move it!” Koh commanded as he cut through his family and entered the shed. He examined the blankets at Shunkaku’s side.
“Cold… Looks like he left hours ago…” Koh said as he fiercely kicked the shelf. The rubbish that had been collecting dust on the shelf fell to the ground. “Shit! Why’d he have to run away by himself!”
“He’s not the kinda boy to leave Shunkaku behind…” Chikuei said as she frowned suspiciously.
“He must’ve run away…” Bairin said sadly, as if she had special feelings for Kotoku. “…Cuz he got sick of covering for his little runt of a brother…”. She then pointed accusingly at Shunkaku “It’s his fault Kotoku ran away!”
Shunkaku, his blank eyes stuck open, was surrounded by Koh’s family.
Nii-chan ran away.
Nii-chan ran away alone.
Nii-chan left me behind and ran away alone!
Shunkaku was falling into the depths of despair.
Grabbing Shunkaku and taking a look under Shunkaku’s shirt collar, Koh clicked his tongue.
“This’un might be different…” Koh murmured to himself, but then shook his head. No, if his twin is like that, then this’un must be the same.
“Listen here. No matter what happens to Shunkaku, don’t let him run away!”
Leaving this command to the three females, Koh left the shed, angrily kicking rubbish aside as he went.
“Come on, don’t just stand there, com’ere! From now on, you’re gonna do Kotoku’s chores, too. And as punishment, you’re only getting one meal a day this week!”
Shunkaku, his hand yanked by Shoko, dragged his feet like a zombie as he walked.
For the next few days, Shunkaku was surrounded by the three women all day as they worked him like a slave.
“Don’t be so lazy! Put your back into it!”
He collapsed in the field, and water was dumped on his head.
“Kotoku’s not comin’ to rescue you no more! You’re all alone now!” Shoko yelled.
Shunkaku sluggishly looked up at her.
“Why’s you lookin’ at me like that!”
It had almost been a week since Kotoku had left him.
There must be some mistake. Nii-chan wouldn’t have run away without me. He must be off somewhere thinking up a plan to rescue me. Shunkaku assured himself nervously.
“Nii-chan….where are you?…. Where did you go?…”
Shunkaku had been crying out to his brother inside of his mind ever since he had left.
But Kotoku never answered. Perhaps they had been separated by such a long distance that his ki could no longer reach his brother. Shunkaku did not sense his brother nearby, coming to rescue him. As every day passed, Shunkaku’s faith in his brother had been gradually diminishing.
Just like everyone says; I was just a burden to him. Nii-chan got sick of looking after such a weakling like me. If he’s alone, he’ll be able to make it in this world somehow. Especially since he has that flute…. Shunkaku realized that the flute was missing. That’s right. Nii-chan abandoned me.
Shunkaku arrived at that conclusion. That was the only explanation he could come up with.
“Shunkaku! Don’t just stand there! It’s gettin’ dark…”
Shoko cocked her head at what Shunkaku had mumbled. “Wha? What’d you say?” She could have sworn that the only word she had ever heard come from his mouth was “Nii-chan”.
“What did you just say.” Shoko threateningly brought her face down to Shunkaku’s.
Shunkaku looked up at her. “I said, ‘shut up, bitch’; you old hag!”
Shoko, this time sure of what she heard come out of Shunkaku’s mouth, fell to the ground in shock.
“You!, you…you…what did you…!”
Violently throwing the hoe he held in his hand to the ground, Shunkaku glared at the woman with fierce eyes. Those once weak eyes that had relied only on his big brother, were now flickering with a savage-like glow. Inside of Shunkaku, something was destroyed, but at the same time, something new was born.
“You sure had some fun all these years…”
“How…how dare you talk to me like that! I’m your mother!”
“’Mother’, my ass!”
Shunkaku spat on Shoko’s face.
The two sisters, who had witnessed this from inside the house, ran out to the scene.
“Just what do you think you’re doin’ to our Maw!” Bairin demanded with a raised fist.
Shunkaku promptly kicked her shin.
“How dare you!” Chikuei screamed, preparing to attack Shunkaku.
“Stop it!” Shoko commanded. “He’s…he’s gone nuts.”
When her daughters heard that, they tried to back away, but were stopped by Shunkaku; who had picked up his hoe and was charging at the three women.
“I’ll fucking kill you!! What’s with that ‘Shou-Chiku-Bai’ shit! You’re so butt-ugly and tone-deaf you’d never make it!”
One hour had passed now since Koh was finally able to seize Shunkaku.
When discovered, he had been wildly chasing the three females; his hoe held high.
“Just what do you have to say for yourself!” Koh demanded as he roughly held Shunkaku down.
“For Christ’s sakes, why’d you go crazy like that? I’ve had all I can take of this little rat!” Koh’s pudgy wife declared, huffing and puffing with flared nostrils.
Her daughters still seemed to be hurt over the “butt-ugly” and “tone-deaf” remarks, but for some reason, their father smirked mysteriously.
“Hmph. Seems’s though we got some good timin’ here.”
Koh lifted up Shunkaku’s shirt collar, and checked once again just to be certain. Then he nodded in satisfaction.
“What the hell’re you doin’, honey?”
“Okay, you’re comin’ with me!” Ignoring his wife, Koh violently pulled Shunkaku to his feet and bound his hands. Before leaving the house, Koh told his wife, “Get some good celebratin’ booze ready for me when I get home.”
“Shunkaku! Shunkaku! Can you hear me!!”
Kotoku sent his ki out to his little brother over and over as he ran.
“Shunkaku! It’s me, Nii-chan! Answer me!”
However, during the past week, he had received no answer. Frustration and regret were flooding Kotoku’s mind.
The shooting star that had flown over his head was his sign to go back.
Fighting back his tears, Kotoku headed for Koh’s house.
One week had passed since he had left Shunkaku behind at Koh’s house. During that week, Kotoku had been wandering aimlessly around Kutoh; from warm and cozy mountain villages to destroyed towns, with the stench of smoke still in the air…. While sleeping in the woods and begging for food, he had continued on his quest. However, he had never given good thought to how he was exactly going to go about looking for this “Seiryuu no Miko”. All he knew about her was that she was “a girl who comes from another world”.
Whenever he came upon a girl who was wearing strange clothes, he would ask “Excuse meee…but are you from this world?”.
Whenever he asked this, he was usually smacked in return with a “Do I look like a monster to you?!”
He also had tried asking wise-looking old men, “Do you happen to know where Seiryuu no Miko’s whereabouts would be?”.
…But he hardly found them to be helpful either.
“Ohhh, I’m sorry, sonny; I don’ recollect hearin’ ‘bout no ‘Sail You, Amigo” business…”
When Kotoku realized he wasn’t getting any closer to finding Seiryuu no Miko, he also realized that what he was doing might be wrong.
Kotoku, who had no confidence in the Shogun of Kutoh’s ability to end the Civil War, had blindly plunged himself into a quest to look for the Miko. He had thought that the only way to save Kutoh was to find the Miko and get the seishi assembled as quickly as possible.
But was the Miko not able to look for him as well? Kotoku realized that when she appears in this world, he will feel her ki.
…It was when he saw that shooting star that he realized his mistake.
Ever since he had left Koh’s house, the fact that Shunkaku had not been returning his ki had worried him. He had shrugged it off, assuring himself that it was probably because there was too big a gap between them; but even now, when he was approaching the house, he still felt no replies from his twin….
An uneasy chill ran down his spine…. Something must have happened to him.
The village he had left one week ago finally appeared before his eyes. Kotoku made his way to the house he had left without saying goodbye. He hastily ran circles around it a couple times, but there was no sign of his brother. There was no light coming from the shed. He could faintly hear the drunk, laughing voice of Koh coming from the house.
“….Aren’t you Kotoku?”
Kotoku, startled by a tap on his shoulder, whirled around. It was the old man, Soh, who lived next door. As a fellow man who lived all alone, he felt pity for the twins and had often slipped them bits of food, or had tried getting some sense into Koh’s thick skull that how he was mistreating the boys.
“If you’s lookin’ for Shunkaku, you won’t find him in there.”
“What!?” Kotoku pounced on the old man. “Do you know where my brother is? Where is he!”
Soh slowly shook his head. “Shunkaku…was sold…. I heard some’un saw Koh sellin’ Shunkaku to someone…”
“But if he did sell Shunkaku, it couldn’t’a been for too much money. But it seems’s though Koh needed the money…”
Soh spoke firmly to Kotoku, who had lost his words and was staring blankly at him.
“I don’ think Shunkaku can live much longer. …I know you’s a nice boy, so you came back here lookin’ for him, but you’s as best give up. Common, run along now. I know it’s sad what happened to Shunkaku, but that’s fate. And ‘sides, you now has no place in that house….”
Soh gave Kotoku’s back a little pat in the direction away from the village.
Kotoku stood on the border of the village, choked with tears.
“Shunkaku…! Please forgive me!…. It was my fault…. If I hadn’t left you like that….I could have protected you…”
During those three years in that village, the twins had survived by leaning on each other’s shoulders. Kotoku was the only person Shunkaku could count on. Kotoku’s heart shook with guilt for not realizing sooner how Shunkaku would feel if he were to suddenly disappear out of his life…
Shunkaku surely must bear a grudge against me now. He must hate me…. That must have been why I wasn’t able to send him my ki.
Flames rose up from the neighboring village. It was probably another guerilla attack.
“If Shunkaku really was a Seiryuu Seishi, then….that means we can’t call Seiryuu anymore…”
Kotoku ran fingers through his hair in grief. If what Soh had said about Shunkaku being sold was true, then he must be in even harsher conditions now. …..It would be almost impossible for Shunkaku to bear that kind of lifestyle all alone. He might even be a Seiryuu Seishi, but without ever knowing that honor….Shunkaku will…
Kotoku’s eyes, wet with tears, reflected yet another shooting star. It seemed as though that star were screaming “Nii-chan, help me!”
Over Shunkaku’s head flew another…and yet another shooting star.
Kotoku pounded his fists over and over again into the earth until the ground was stained in his blood.
As if in sympathy over the twins’ cruel fate, the night sky poured down her silvery tears.
Read Tetris no Miko’s other Fushigi Yuugi light novel translations here.