Fushigi Yuugi Novel #4
(“The Legend of Shooting Star”)
Based on the comics by: Watase Yuu
Written by: Nishizaki Megumi
Chapter 3: Flute of Destruction
The girl walked along the alley of the war destroyed city. She stopped at the corner. Before her stood the charred remains of a house. On the slashed doorplate read the name “Shin”.
The girl stood in front of this house for quite some time. Her thin body, which was clothed in tattered garments, looked like that of a boy, but her glossy, black hair and her rosy cheeks held the beauty of a loveable girl.
A tear rolled out of one of her large, slanted eyes. Not bothering to wipe it, she whispered.
“Dad, Mom…. It won’t be long now. It won’t be long now, okay?…”
Clenching both fists tightly, the girl turned her back on the house. Suddenly she stopped in her tracks.
The girl’s ears perked up. She heard something that felt very calming….like the sound of a flute. As if in a trance, the girl began to walk toward the source of the sound.
The boy was leaning against a boulder in the marketplace of the dead city, playing his flute with his head solemnly bowed. The mysterious melody of the flute floated through the air; almost as if it were the only living thing left in the city.
The boy suddenly looked up from his playing and removed the flute from his lips.
There was a girl a few yards away from him, staring at him. When their eyes met, the girl fearfully walked towards him. When she arrived within touching distance, the girl slowly looked the boy over from the top of his head down to his toes.
“…..What do you want…” The boy asked suspiciously.
The girl snapped back to her senses. “Uh, well… I like that tune you were just playing…” she answered frankly.
“What’s it called?”
“It doesn’t have a name. I just play what I feel…”
“Ohhh… Wow, that’s cool; you adlib it, huh.” The girl’s eyes sparkled. “Are you making a living by playing the flute?”
“But there’s no one around here. Why don’t you go play somewhere else, where there’s a palace or something?” In saying that, the girl reached into her pocket. “Here’s some money… because I just listened to you.”
The boy smiled slightly and pushed her hand away. “You don’t have to pay…” His smile was warm and gentle, and yet at the same time, it was sad.
“My name’s Toka. What about you?”
At the girl’s question, the boy answered softly. “….Kotoku.”
“So you’re an orphan from the war, too, huh…” Toka lowered her voice.
Kotoku stole a glance at the fourteen-year-old girl sitting next to him on the boulder.
“So your parents died six years ago?… Mine died just last year…”
“….Are you living alone?” Kotoku asked Toka.
“Nope, I’m living with my big brother…”
At Kotoku’s flat response, this time Toka asked a personal question. “Kotoku, do you have any brothers or sisters?”
Toka awkwardly rose to her feet. “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to be so nosy. You don’t have to tell me.”
“No, I don’t mind,” Kotoku told her as he gazed at the sunset. “I…had a little brother, but I left him…three years ago.”
Kotoku noticed that Toka was staring at him again. When their eyes met, Toka smiled.
“Oh, so that’s all. So he didn’t die or anything. That means you’ll see him again some day.”
“I mean, the Civil War is stopping now, so don’t be so glum! Well, I’ve gotta go now. Thanks for letting me hear your flute!” Toka said with a wave of her hand as she ran off like the wind.
A month had passed since Kotoku had made himself a home under the stone bridge of that deserted city. Even though Shunkaku had been sold three years ago, Kotoku still never gave up searching for him.
To every person he met, he would ask “Have you seen my younger twin? He’s sickly and shy…”; but no one had ever seen such a boy.
Kotoku feared that as Sou had said, Shunkaku might have died just after he was sold. But it wasn’t only his brother who could not be found. The lonely years passed without any sign of Seiryuu no Miko’s ki.
Then one day, Kotoku had found this dead city.
He found comfort in playing his flute to himself in the ruins. Perhaps it was because this city bore a resemblance to the village in which he was raised.
It was also in this city that he also met Toka. Just as she had said, Kutoh’s Civil War was now under much better control than it was when Kotoku had been living at Kou’s house.
Kotoku also heard rumors that under the leadership of Kutoh’s new, young Shogun, the military was growing stronger. The Civil War was no longer a threat to the country, but it almost seemed that the strong military was gaining control of the government.
The citizens of Kutoh were still restless and in poverty.
“I wonder if Kutoh has any hope of becoming peaceful….” Kotoku whispered forlornly.
The next day…
While playing his flute and taking in the sunset in the abandoned marketplace, Kotoku felt a long shadow hovering over him.
Kotoku looked up at the owner of the shadow.
“I’m ba~ack. I thought you’d be here…” Toka said as she plopped down next to Kotoku. “Don’t stop playing…. I can’t really explain it, but…it brings back happy memories and calms me down.”
Kotoku nodded and readied his fingers on the flute.
In the sunset, the silhouettes of the boy and girl who had lost their parents in the war vibrated to the melody of the flute.
“Hey, Kotoku. Have you heard of the legend of the Seiryuu Seishi?”
Kotoku’s flute suddenly squeaked.
“AH! Wha, what happennnnned?!”
“Uh, sorry…My finger slipped a little….ahaha. Well, to make up for that, I’ll play this tune!”
Kotoku piped out a whimsical melody.
“Aaaah, that’s the melody the ramen-seller plays! Damn, Kotoku, you’re pretty silly!”
The two laughed heartily.
“Hey, don’t you ever wonder why the Seiryuu Seishi haven’t been gathered together yet?” Toka pestered.
“…..Yeah…I guess so.”
“I mean, if they had assembled and found the Miko much sooner, then we wouldn’t have had to lose our parents, would we.”
“….I guess….so…. But don’t you think it would be hard assembling seven people?…”
“Yeah, you’re right. And they can’t do anything without the Miko anyway.”
“But if one of the Seishi appeared in front of me right now, I’d grab him by the ear and demand why he’s just sitting around and not trying to save the country.”
Beads of sweat popped up on Kotoku’s forehead.
“Juuuust kidding! I’d probably actually get all excited and ask for his autograph.”
Autograph, huh… Kotoku fantasized this scene in his head for an instant until his thoughts were broken by Toka.
“Hey, play some more for me,” she pestered. “I could just sit here and listen forever….to your flute….”
“Ah….okay. As you wish.”
Kotoku brought the flute to his lips once again.
From then on, as soon as sunset was coming near, Toka would come to the abandoned marketplace.
This time, when Toka had come to the marketplace to meet Kotoku, she had suddenly grabbed his hand and begun to run.
“Where are we going, Toka?”
“Never mind, it’s a secret.”
After a while, they came upon a city with a palace courtyard. They were suddenly surrounded by townsfolk.
This city had also been damaged by the Civil War, but reconstruction was already underway, and the city’s former atmosphere had mostly returned.
Toka stopped walking, suddenly turned to the peasants and spoke out in a loud voice.
“May I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen! There will now commence a performance of the flute given by a boy genius, the kind who appears once in a hundred years!”
When Kotoku heard this, he tugged on the girl’s sleeve.
“Wait a minute…. Don’t do something so rash like this!…”
“You’ll be fine!” Pushing Kotoku’s hand away, Toka raised her voice once again. “Hey, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, just take a few minutes to listen. I assure you, you will be spellbound! I assure you, you will become happy! This is all thanks to the boy’s mysterious, magical flute!”
Toka’s clever sales pitches had gathered a small crowd of people.
With a grin, Toka gently gave the anxious Kotoku a tug.
“I am proud to introduuuuuce the genius flutist, Kotoku! Yaaaaaay!”
With red cheeks, Kotoku began to play the flute. The once noisy townsfolk now closed their mouths, and the marketplace was embraced in a calmness like light ripples in water. While praying for the country’s peace, Kotoku’s soothing melody gently floated through the air.
The calming of the people was also interspersed with conflict.
Light sobbing emerged from some of the listeners. Tears glistened in the eyes of men and women, old and young. Many young women also fell to their knees absentmindedly.
When the performance was over, Toka’s bag, which was passed around to the listeners, was full of coins.
The teenagers cheered as they divided up the food they had bought with their earnings after they had returned to the abandoned marketplace.
“Your flute sure is amazing, Kotoku…”
“Um, thanks…” Kotoku answered shyly.
“Hey, if you perform in that city every day, you’d be rich pretty soon! The Emperor might even hear you and hire you to be his minstrel!” Toka looked at Kotoku, waiting for a response.
Kotoku just smiled and shook his head quietly.
“But it’d be a shame to put your talents to waste playing in deserted cities like this the rest of your life,” Toka scolded; her mouth stuffed with fruit. “But I guess I’d also feel kinda jealous… if you played for lots of people like that…”
“I’m flattered,” Kotoku teased.
The two looked at each other and smiled.
“Kotoku… You seem much happier now…” Toka told him with a smile.
Kotoku coyly smiled back.
Then the two reminisced together: memories of their childhood, their parents…and then, Kotoku eventually opened up to the girl about his twin brother.
The sun was now sinking behind the ruins.
“Shouldn’t you be getting home now? Won’t your brother be worried about you?”
“Oh…I guess so. Okay, I’ll go back now.”
Kotoku tossed the remainder of the coins into Toka’s hand as she stood up.
“But this is your money, Kotoku.”
“No, this is your stipend as my manager.”
“Kotoku…” Toka stared at the heavy coins in her hand. “You’re so sweet…”
“No, I’m not…”
“That’s not true! I don’t believe for an instant that you abandoned your brother!” Toka declared, raising her voice.
Kotoku just sat in silence.
“You must’ve had a good reason, right?…”
I can’t tell her that I’m a Seiryuu Seishi. Even if I do, it’ll just sound like a pathetic excuse. No matter how you look at it, I abandoned my brother…
“How long are you going to stay here?” Toka timidly asked Kotoku.
“….I’m not sure.”
“Are you going to go out and look for your brother?”
“Yeah, I think I will.” Kotoku finally looked up at her. “Thanks to you, I feel much better now. So I’ll start looking for my brother again.”
“Wait!” Toka blurted out. Then, perplexed, she put her hands on her forehead. “Wait a minute… Can’t you stay and look around here for a while longer?”
“No, I’m pretty sure he’s not anywhere around here.”
“I’ll help you look! So you don’t have to go away yet!”
“Okay? So…you can’t….you can’t go!” she commanded and dashed off into the sunset.
Kotoku looked in confusion at the girl’s retreating figure.
The next afternoon, the sky was blanketed with clouds. Kotoku gathered up what little belongings he had and prepared to set off once again on his quest. He realized he would be breaking his promise to Toka, but he knew that if he were to see her again it would be all the more difficult to leave.
Suddenly Kotoku’s hand jerked and his entire body was pierced with what felt like lightning.
Kotoku stood there, paralyzed.
What powerful ki! It’s nothing like Shunkaku’s at all. It’s almost like it’s a power alien to this world…
“Seiryuu no Miko…?!”
Kotoku ran after the source of the ki. But unfortunately, while running through the narrow alleyways of the abandoned city, he lost the connection.
“It disappeared?….But it was so strong…”
Kotoku suddenly realized that there were two men lying at his feet.
Even though there were no external wounds, they lay still on the ground; their faces holding twisted expressions of pain and fear.
Kotoku then noticed three unconscious men near the two corpses.
“Excuse me, but please wake up!”
The men who were disturbed by Kotoku groaned and slowly sat up.
“Um… Did you happen to see a strange-looking girl walk by here a minute ago?”
The men exchanged fearful glances at Kotoku’s question. There was no mistaking it; these men had just seen Seiryuu no Miko.
“Did you notice which way she left? Where did she go?!” Kotoku demanded aggressively.
One of the men answered. “Beats the hell outta me. When we saw this girl wearing strange clothes wandering ‘round like she was lost, we decided to do her, when all of a sudden he knocked us out…. And he…killed our buddies over there…” The man said, indicating the two corpses.
“’He’? Who are you talking about?!”
“Beats me,” the man said as he touched his hand to his chin. “I think he had blue eyes….though.”
“Yeah, yeah, and when he glared at me with those eyes, I flew back.”
“Hey, wasn’t he a blondie?”
Descriptions of the mysterious man seemed to flood out of the men now.
A blonde-hared, blue-eyed man… who can spout energy out of his eyes…?
“So where’s the girl…!”
“Beats the hell outta me.”
“Didn’t that foreign bastard take her away?”
“Shit! What the hell is goin’ on here!…”
The three men anxiously left the place; yelling profanities as they went.
Kotoku fell to his knees. Seiryuu no Miko had been kidnapped by that mysterious foreigner.
But wait… Kotoku raised his head. At least I know Seiryuu no Miko is now somewhere in Kutoh. And it is possible….that the foreigner is also a Seiryuu Seishi. They must not be too far away from here. I’ll wait. The Miko is sure to call me again. And if Shunkaku really is Suboshi, and if he’s still alive, then he’s sure to be drawn to the Miko as well. And then we’ll find the other Seishi, call on Seiryuu, and then this country will become a peaceful place with no more war.
Something was happening now. Kotoku could feel this strongly in his heart.
Read Tetris no Miko’s other Fushigi Yuugi light novel translations here.