Translated by: Yascob(AKA Yascobro/Yascob99)
Special thanks to: TheCatWalk on BT (I cross referenced a couple of my translations with his translation of the prologue on BT, I may have even borrowed a couple of the well worded ones.)
[ ] – Thoughts
A boy, Heath, was walking down a dark street at night while looking at the sky.
The moon was had just come out, a perfect circle in the cloudless sky — a harvest moon that words could not do justice. The moonlight was bright enough, even if only temporarily, to obscure the surrounding stars. It illuminated the weathered gravel road underfoot, making it easier to traverse.
On one side of the road, houses were scarce and, even though it was within the imperial capital, outside of the outer walls was no different from the countryside. If one were to shift their sight to the other side of the road, they would see a dense and sprawling forest. The road clearly cleaved a path right between the forest and the residential area.
“It’s gotten really late…”
It was already past midnight. It was not a good time for a boy in his mid-teens to be aimlessly wandering around the town. Be that as it may if you were to think about it from the boy’s perspective, it was, regrettably, unavoidable.
In one arm, Heath was holding a large bundle. What the bundle contained had value equivalent to sashimi with the skin still attached[TL] but it was armour nonetheless. He shouldered a long spear in his other arm.
Even so, he was a soldier engaged in his duty.
“I should not have taken on that shift tomorrow.”
Originally, Heath would have had the day off, however, he had taken on some work. If he had known the day before that his job would go this late, he would have not accepted the extra work, but… Heath could only sigh while muttering to himself.
[Since that event, three months have passed…]
Three months ago, during a certain ceremony, a knight — the leader of the knights at that— was killed and a riot occurred. Heath was not there, but senior pupils and acquaintances got dragged in so it was not someone else’s problem.
It occurred in the king’s presence and as such, even now, caused unrest among the citizens. And because of that chaos, the number of disturbing events have increased.
Even today, it seems a disturbance occurred in the town. When someone’s shift was done, the person who was to replace them did not arrive and until they did, that someone could not leave.
[I wonder if Mana is asleep…]
Thinking of his little sister at home, he picked up his pace.
“What was that…?”
As Heath was aimlessly staring at the moon, a strange shadow passed in front of it. It had bat-like wings and a snake-like tail. In regards to birds that fly in the night, it could only be an owl, but the shape of the shadow seemed to differ in appearance from that of a bird.
Temporarily dazzled by the the moonlight, Heath lost his sense of distance and was barely able to perceive the strange silhouette.
“Saika” is a general term for monsters that attack humans. Some Saika are said to have wings. Since it was’t a bird, the only thing that came to mind was that.
[I have to inform the Order of Knights!]
If you see something Saika-like inform a knight — that is common sense, even for children.
Fortunately, the shadow did not seem to notice Heath. It continued as is and started to descend into the nearby forest.
From here, he could get to the barracks where he worked faster than he could to a knight of the imperial capital.
As he started to turn around he noticed something.
Intertwined with the shadow’s tail, he saw silver silhouette. And from the silver silhouette, languidly spread limbs could be seen. It was to the point where you blinked and you missed it but he saw it nonetheless.
[Were they attacked…?]
Though Heath, who was returning home, was carrying armour, the only thing he could arm himself with was the spear he was shouldering.[TL]
To make matters worse, if it was a person grasped by the tail, that would make the shadow the size of a small house.
He should get help as fast as possible and go and gather as many strong knights and soldiers as possible.
[I can’t, I’ll lose track of them!]
Heath hesitated, only for a moment, but it was enough for him to make up his mind.
Heath dropped the package of armour and ran off into the woods where the shadow had vanished with only a spear in hand. Not even a quarter of a Koku[TL] in and Heath was already groaning.
[I can’t see anything…]
The branches of all the trees were disrupting the moonlight. It was so dark, Heath could not even see his own feet. To avoid tripping on the tree roots he had to tread carefully, but he had probably already lost track of where the shadow had descended.
[Calm down. It should be quite large.]
The trees were growing dense. If it indeed as large as Heath had thought, it should have broken some branches or trampled some grass. As such, it should be impossible for it to not have made any sound.
After listening carefully, the sound of splashing water could be heard.
[Water… That’s right, the lake!]
There was said to be a lake in the forest. The lake was connected to the legend of the <Knights of the Round Table> and, supposedly, a fairies dwelled within it.
As Heath advanced towards the sound an sweat started to trickle from his forehead; it was unpleasant. His breathing was getting heavy, to the point where he could not be close his mouth. it seemed like the pounding of his heart could be heard, echoing into the surrounding area.
[The monster from before should be just a little farther…]
Since he had thrown away the armour what could he even do? The possibility of the person who was captured being alive at the time of capture was slim. He might just be adding himself to the monster’s meal.
However, Heath had not decided to retreat.
[It was my teacher, he would never turn away at time like this!]
His spear securely in hand, Heath mustered up his courage. Heath has a teacher who taught him how to handle spears. In recognition of his spear skills, the sixteen-year-old him was allowed to become a soldier.
His teacher is an eccentric person, if it is within his power, he will not abandon a dying person. Because he thought his teacher was like a protagonist from an epic tale, he became his apprentice and trained desperately.
As he continued to advance, the dense forest suddenly gave way to open space.
[It’s the lake.]
Immediately as Heath was feeling relief from having light in the dark, he froze. Here was where the real danger was. Holding his breath he took a look at his surroundings and—
With a splash, silver droplets of water were dancing through the air and within them was a lone girl.
An almost miraculous scene of silver hair under the moonlight, surrounded by droplets of water entered Heath’s eyes. The colour of the water droplets must be due to the colour of the girl’s hair— at least that’s what he vaguely thought.
After shaking the water out of her hair, the girl cupped her small and beautiful hands and submerged them in the lake. She then raised her cupped hands, brought them to her soft looking lips and as she did so, some water spilled, trickling down her chin and neck.
Having satisfied her thirst, the girl let out a contented sigh and stared at the surface of the lake. As if caused by unseen water striders, a ripple disturbed the reflected moon then died out.
The girl was on the bank of small island within the lake. Her deep crimson eyes, continuing to stare at surface of the lake. Her long eyelashes were sparking, as if still wet from washing her face.
The girl was beautiful to the point that Heath had completely forgotten why he had come here.
Her clothing boldly exposed her shoulders and navel, but rather than lascivious, she looked fantastical. On her lap rested a richly coloured hat.
While Heath was completely entranced — *snap* — he stepped on and broke a branch.
Her voice was pointed and challenging, like a harsh bell toll.
“Ah, um, I am, uh…?”
While he was flustered and unable to give a proper answer, the girl before him rapidly became distant.
Heath noticed that he had started to float, and, before long, his sudden ascent halted. On the surface of the lake, he saw a large shadow growing, but it did not seem to his. Heath realized he had been lifted up by something huge.
[I mustn’t turn my head! I can’t! I shouldn’t!]
Even though Heath understood that, he turned his head, trembling as he did. There he saw a pair crimson eyes, identical in colour to that of the girl’s.
As for how the eyes were distinctly different, each pupil was roughly the size of the girl’s head. Furthermore, the head the eyes were connected to, was massive. It’s mouth seemed like it could crush a person’s helmeted head in it’s closely packed fangs.
[That is not some kind of Saika. It’s something much more terrifying…!]
He could feel the blood drain from his face.
The thing that was there was a genuine dragon.
It’s beautiful black scales seemed to melt into the darkness of the night.
The difference between dragons and Saika is exceedingly simple. There is a hopelessly large difference in strength.
Blades and magic are effective against Saika. A powerful person, even alone can contend with a Saika.
In the case of a dragon, everything is useless. Even a very young dragon’s scales cannot be damaged by iron blades and magic is nullified before it even reaches them. The one exception would probably be a blade imbued with a magic on the level of a secret magic of the <Knights of the Round Table>. It is an existence that even someone who has mastered both magic and swordsmanship might just barely be able to battle it.
Heath finally remembered that he had followed a monster into the forest.
Trembling, he turned looked back towards the girl. The girl was far from frightened, in fact she had her arms crossed as if pouting and was glaring at Heath.
A silver maiden, a black dragon, not to mention, a forest supposedly inhabited by fairies. Heath was starting to think that he had gotten lost in some fairytale.
As if it were a dog presenting its spoils, the dragon held Heath in front of the girl. With a splash, a spray of water arose but, Heath did not notice the complete change in height.
“Who are you? Why are you here?” inquired the girl, her voice filled with vigilance.
“I came to save you!” Shouted Heath, his face tense.
Heath was held in the dragon’s mouth, his legs dangling in mid-air, in his eyes, tears were about to flow out and his voice was squeaky. It could be said that is was admirable that, at this point, he had not let go of his spear.
Not matter how you look at it, Heath should have said “Please save me” not “I came to save you.”
In response to the seemingly brave Heath, the girl could only stare, flabbergasted and open-mouthed. The previously prudent face now displayed innocent surprise. Then, as if trying to hold in laughter, her mouth started to tremble. However, she still managed to question him in a steady tone.
“Save me from what?”
Though he was shivering, Heath managed a reply.
“Probably from… him.”
Dragon, monster, Saika — whichever term he used might offend the dragon or the girl so heath hesitated to use them.
The girl crouched and put both hands on her face. At the same time, the dragon lowered Heath to a position where he was touching the lake. The girl looked at him, her deep crimson eyes upturned.
“I want you to save me. How will you save me?” She whispered in a sweet yet mischievous voice.
“W-Well, uh, something along the lines of using the dragon’s blindspot, I’ll grab your hand and we’ll escape… How’s that?”
Hearing an answer like that, the girl finally magnificently burst into laughter and rolled on the ground of the small island.
Well, it was to be expected. Not to mention taking about using a dragon’s blindspot when he was captured by it, the girl did not need saving as she was the dragon’s companion. Even Heath could only laugh at himself.
After laughing for a while, the girl finally let out a contented sigh and stood up.
“Aha, that was funny. Your not bad, to actually make me laugh like this.”
While wiping away the tears, which seemed to have came out when she was laughing, she said in a troubled tone,
“About saving me… I see… I must have been seen riding Tifue.”
[I messed up]
Tifue was probably the dragon. When he heard the troubled tone in the girl’s voice, Heath felt a chill go down his spine.
“Um, am I going to die?”
Though he did not understand the relationship between the girl and the dragon, he could think of any other fate that could befall him.
As if considering what to do with the trembling Heath, the girl brought her index finger to her lips.
“Hmm, what shall I do…? You don’t seem to have any malicious intentions… or rather, for making me to laugh like this, I can’t not reward you somehow for it can I?”
In response to what the girl said in this situation, Heath could only tilt his head in puzzlement. The was girl examining Heath’s current sate, but, before long, she was smiling.
“It should be fine to over look you.”
Given a prospect of being spared, Heath regained a glimmer of hope.
“However, you have to listen to what I say.”
“I will! I’ll listen to anything!”
“You did not meet me hear nor did you see a dragon flying.”
“Yes! I saw nothing and met no one!”
“Really? Then is there no promise to keep in the first place?”
“E-Eh? Um, that is, uh…”
Seeing Heath flustered with his mind going in circles, the girl once again began to roll about in laughter.
“Ahaha, you really are quite amusing.”
After saying that, the girl turned towards the dragon and jerked her chin.
“It’s fine now.”
When the dragon heard what the girl said, he unceremoniously dropped Heath. With a loud splash, water was sent into the air only to come back down. Since the lake was shallow, Heath hit his face on the bottom of the lake.
After struggling greatly, Heath got his head above the water, and before he noticed, the dragon had disappeared.
In it’s place, the girl was looking down at him with the same crimson eyes. Chuckling, she took a step onto the water’s surface.
Seeing that snow white foot firmly planted on the water’s surface did not sink, Heath let out an idiotic sound.
The silver haired girl’s hair swayed as she leaned forward majestically.
“My name is Estelle, Estelle Norn Stern[TL]. I’m a clown.”
Now that she mentioned it, her mysterious appearance didn’t seem at all like a clown’s.
“For being able to make a clown laugh, shouldn’t I at least spare your life?”
She then pointed her finger at Heath as if what she was about to say was indisputable fact. [TL]
“But, if you tell anyone, next time you’ll be eaten for sure~!”
Heath quickly nodded, his then timidly asked, “U-Um, could I ask you one thing?”
“What is it?”
“The dragon from just now, what was it? Was it magic? It couldn’t possibly be real, could it?”
Her eyes were not light purple so there was no way she could possibly be an <Omen Speaker>.[TL]). The last part, 使い (Tsukai), means user or bearer.”]
The girl’s crimson eyes’ narrowed, as if she were enjoying Heath’s bewilderment.
“It was a clown’s antics, an ordinary magic trick.”
She would probably write off the amazing ability to stand on water as a magic trick as well.
The girl happily waved her hand.
“See you later, bye bye.”
As she said that, her body started to disappear as if melting into the night wind.
As Heath shouted that, the girl was nowhere to be seen.
The black dragon and the silver girl vanished as if they were never here to begin with.
For a while he stood there dumfounded but he started to shiver from the cold so he rushed up onto the lakeshore.
That was how, Heath and the girl, Estelle, first met.
- Basically it means it wasn't worth much at all.
- The kanji is 罪禍. The first means sin or guilt and the second means calamity, evil, misfortune or curse. So the meaning of it should be something along the lines of 'Sinful Calamity' or 'Sinful Evil.' If I were to be more liberal with the translation I would make it 'Sinful Abomination' but I think Saika will be fine for now.
- I tried, this was a pun in the original text(I think) because the kanji for armour, 鎧, is part of the verb 鎧う or to arm oneself and otherwise the first part of the sentence is completely redundant.
- A quarter of a Koku, or 四半刻 in kanji, is 30 minutes. Avid light novel readers might recognize this to be the same term used in Madan no Ou. A Koku(刻) corresponds to a traditional Chinese measure of time (時) equivalent to about 2 hours. I'm a little confused about why the characters are different as well but according this japanese article(http://www.weblio.jp/content/四半刻) 四半刻 means 30 minutes and 四半 means a quarter so a Koku(刻) must be 2 hours and according to this it does correspond to an ancient Chinese measure of time equivalent to 2 hours. Also I'm transliterating as Koku because I feel it captures the essence of a world that takes inspiration from the past. Since the time period this it is inspired by is probably the middle ages it should be fine to use a unit from that time period.
- Each of these names have significance both Estelle and Stern mean star, though Estelle is a name of French origin and Stern is of German. Norn comes from Norse mythology, it is related to the 3 norse goddesses of fate - The Norse equivalent of the Fates from Greek mythology - who are also known as the Norns.
- Ok this part was hard to translate because it used the term 'ビシッ'(Bishhi) which basically has a connotation of firmly stating fact so a lot of context had to be added to the english translation due to a lack of direct translation. Here is a link(http://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/4140/sound-mimesis-or-擬音語-ぎおんご-or-擬態語-ぎたいご-of-ビ-and-シッ) to a better explanation.