Saturday, September 24, 2011

[Novel] NO. 6 - Vol 3 Ch 1 (a)

This is a translation of the novel NO. 6 by Asano Atsuko.

* * *
What lies beyond the wall....
* * *

The Beautiful Ones...

Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

-Macbeth Act I Scene VII[1]

The sky was blue and bright. The sun's rays, approaching noon, were gentle and warm. It was a temperate afternoon that made the frigidness of a few days ago seem like a dream.

Shion lifted his face, and narrowed his eyes as he looked up at the azure sky.

He thought it was beautiful.

The sky was beautiful. The blinding whiteness of the crumbled ruin as it reflected the sunlight was beautiful. The odd bubble that floated up as if by magic from the soapsuds was beautiful. The sheen on the fur of a freshly-washed dog was beautiful.

All the little things that surrounded him were beautiful. A lone bubble floated up again and drifted on the gentle breeze.

"Hey, stop slacking off," Inukashi's voice called over to him. "There are still tons of dogs left. Space out every other minute like that, and the sun's gonna set before you're even halfway through."

As if in agreement with Inukashi's reprimand, a large white dog covered in suds gave a low growl.

"Oops, sorry."

Shion stuck his hands back into the suds and washed the dog thoroughly with his fingertips. The dog evidently found it very pleasing, for its eyes were closed and its mouth lolled half-open. Today was only Shion's second time at his dog-washing job, but already he had learned that dogs had many different facial expressions. They also varied in personality and tendency: some were lazy, others diligent; some high-strung, others laid-back; they could be mild, impatient, rambunctious― all of this was new to him.

The white dog that he was washing now was a female that was quite old. It was gentle and intelligent, and reminded him of the wise old woman that often appeared in tales.

"Shion, you're spending way too much time on each dog. How long is it taking you to wash just one?" Inukashi, with his long hair tied at the back and soapsuds on his nose, pulled a face at him.

"You lend these dogs out to serve as blankets, don't you?" Shion answered. "They need to be cleaned properly, then."

"A quick wash is good enough. The customers are all like dirty strays anyway, the bastards."

In a building mostly reduced to rubble, there was a part that still somewhat retained a semblance of the hotel that it used to be. Inukashi lent space there as overnight accommodation for those who had nowhere to stay. He lent out dogs in preparation for the coming winter. Boarders spent the night buried amongst several dogs, and by doing so were able to avoid freezing to death. Shion had been hired to wash these dogs.

"Inukashi, I don't think that's a nice thing to say about your customers."

"Huh? What'd you say?"

"It's not good to call your customers bastards, or call them dirty."

Inukashi rubbed his nose with the back of his hand, and gave a small sneeze.

"Are you my Mum or what, Shion?"

"No. I've been hired by you to wash your dogs."

"Then that makes me the employer and you the employee. And your job is to shut up and do what you're told."

Inukashi yanked the white dog out of Shion's hands, and began vigorously rinsing the dog by dumping water over it, which he had drawn from the stream.

At the back of the ruins, there ran a small, clear river. Not long after Shion had escaped from No. 6 to this West Block, he had nearly died from a parasite wasp that had planted itself in his body. Although he was unconscious most of the time from severe pain and high fever, he still remembered clearly the taste of the cold, delicious water that had slid down his throat numerous times.

When he had thanked Nezumi for giving him water and treating him, he had gotten a gruff answer that there was a decent spring nearby. Perhaps this stream originated from that spring.

"Inukashi, don't do that. All the soap is getting into the river." Shion hastily restrained Inukashi's hands. Soapsuds bobbed on the stream as they drifted away from them.

"So what?"

"Everyone drinks from this stream, don't they?"

"Well, yeah, of course. We don't have any fancy facilities that give you sanitized and temperature-controlled water at the push of a button. Everyone draws water directly from the river or spring."

"Then you can't get it dirty. It's bad for the people downstream."

Inukashi stared into Shion's face for a brief moment.

"And why should I care about the people downstream?"

"Well, I mean..." Shion faltered. "If you know that the people downstream are going to be drinking from here, you wouldn't want to make it dirty for them. That's normal, right?"

"Normal? By whose standards are we talking about, Shion? This is the West Block. You wouldn't be able to survive here if you went around putting everyone else first."

"Yeah, but there's no need to go out of the way to make it dirty," Shion protested. "We can do what we did yesterday, and put water in steel drums and wash the dogs there."

"Yesterday we only had small dogs. FYI, Shion, we were supposed to get through all the dogs yesterday. You taking your sweet time is costing us. You understand that, right?"


"Not only are you horribly slow, the dogs we're washing today are all big. And that's not it― wait for it― there are shitloads of them. Are you getting the picture? If we drew a bath each and every single time, it would take forever."

Then Inukashi stopped, and shrugged slightly.

"But if you wanna draw water from the river on your own, I'm not gonna get in your way."

"Fine. I'll do it."

"It's heavy labour, man."

"I know."

"By the way, I'm only paying you to wash the dogs. Carrying the water is something you're doing entirely on your own."

"I don't mind."

"Well then, get cracking. I'm gonna have lunch."

The white dog shook itself vigorously, and water droplets flew in all directions. Shion grabbed the pail that Inukashi had tossed at him, and drew a pailful of water from the river.

"Shion," Inukashi said abruptly.



"Why what?"

"Why shouldn't I badmouth my customers? Why do I have to bother about the people downstream?"

Shion looked up into Inukashi's tan face as he sat perched atop a pile of rubble.

"Because we're the same."


"They're the same humans as us. So―"

Inukashi suddenly threw his head back and laughed. His voice rang out and was sucked into the bright blue sky. Several dogs began barking in agitation.

"Same humans, huh? Ha ha, you nearly bowled me over. I've never heard those words before in my life. Shion, is that honestly what you think?"

"Yeah, is there a problem?" Shion said stoutly.

Inukashi leapt down from the rubble and drew up to him. He had a small frame, and only reached up to around Shion's shoulders in height. His thin arms and legs protruded from his black clothes, and his skin was the shade of tanned leather.

"So my filthy customers, and the brats that come here to draw water are the same humans as us?"


"Are you and I the same humans?"


Inukashi lifted his arm and extended it upwards to the noon sun above.

"Are the people of No. 6 the same humans as us?"

Shion nodded slowly, and answered.


Inukashi's smooth, tan skin glowed in the sunlight, and his long bangs cast a shadow over his forehead and eyes. Under its veil, the same tan-brown eyes blinked a few times at him.

"Shion, you're gonna die."


"Is your head up in the clouds[2] or something? If you keep believing in that fantasy of yours, you'll never survive here."

"Nezumi tells me the same thing," Shion said. "That I've got my head up in the clouds."

"The clouds wouldn't be high enough, actually. Your head must be in space, or something. I don't know what space is supposed to be like, but it's really high up, right? And sometimes you burn up, just like that, before you even get there."

"I've never been to space, but yeah, I guess it is really high up."

Inukashi climbed nimbly up the ruins, and sat down with the blue sky at his back. He dangled his legs over the edge, and spoke quietly as if to himself.

"I wonder why Nezumi even puts up with you. He hates people that are all talk, and unrealistic."

"Inukashi, are you close with Nezumi?"

"Close? What do you mean by close?"

Shion heaved the pail up the path of withered grass and rubble, and dumped the water into the steel drum.

"It means you know a lot about each other."

"Oh, if that's the case, then no. I know less than the tip of that guy's tail, and I wouldn't want to know." As he spoke, Inukashi pointed at the light brown puppy that was tumbling about at Shion's feet. Its tail was tipped with white.

"I thought you were friends, but I guess I was wrong..."

"Friends!" Inukashi exclaimed incredulously. "There's another word I don't hear often. Friends. Hah, ridiculous. Nezumi only comes here when he wants information that me or my dogs have collected. I give him information, and he gives me money. That's it, that's everything."

Inukashi fell silent. His gaze wandered, collided with Shion's, and slid away.

"It's not just information and money that you guys trade," Shion said. A statement, not a question.

"Uh― well, once in a while, he― sings for me."


"He has a good voice. So I... I get him to sing. Sometimes when my dogs die― it's alright when you wake up and they're already dead, but― sometimes, they're sick or hurt, and don't die as easily, and they... they suffer. It hurts them so much, they whimper all night long. That's when I get him to sing. I don't know what the song's called. But it― I don't know how to describe it― I dunno, what would it be?" Inukashi murmured to himself.

"What does it sound like?"


"Nezumi's song. Nezumi's voice. If you were to compare it to something, what would it be?"

Inukashi tilted his head to the side, and pondered in silence. Shion also silently continued carrying pailfuls of water. He made several trips between the river and the steel drum, and when more than half of it had been filled, Inukashi opened his mouth again.

"The wind, maybe...?" he said hesitantly. "A wind that comes blowing from far away... yeah, his song steals away souls that are struggling because they can't die. Just like how the wind scatters flower petals, his song cuts the soul away from the body. Any dog, no matter how much he's suffering, closes his eyes and becomes quiet. You think he's just settled down, but he's actually not breathing. They all die quietly, like all their suffering was just a dream or something." He paused. "It was like that with my Mum, too."

"Your mother's passed away?"

"Yeah. She got killed by a couple of brats that live downstream, the ones you said I shouldn't make the water dirty for. She got rocks thrown at her, and was clubbed to death with an oak stick. But my Mum was at fault for that, too. She tried to steal their only supper. She snuck into their hut, and got caught holding their dried meat in her mouth. When she finally got away and managed to come back, both her front legs and ribs were broken, and she was bleeding from her mouth. There was nothing we could do."

Having finished filling the drum with water, Shion wiped the sweat off his brow. He couldn't understand Inukashi's words.

"Inukashi, by front legs... you mean your mother's, right?"

"Yeah. She's a dog."

"A dog?"

Shion could feel his jaw drop. Inukashi looked at him and gave a laugh. His voice was high and rang out clearly into the air.

"I was dumped here when I was still a baby," he explained. "The old man that picked me up was a weirdo who lived here with his dogs, and he raised me together with them. My Mum gave me milk. She licked me, and curled up with me to sleep. When it got cold, she huddled close to me and my siblings― her puppies― and kept us warm. She always used to say, you poor thing, you have no fur― but at least you're cool in the summer, and you don't get fleas. She'd tell me that over and over again, and lick me until I was clean."

"She must have been a great mother," Shion said softly. "Gentle and caring."

Inukashi blinked several times.

"You really think so, Shion?"

"I do. She cherished you. Since you didn't have fur, she protected you and made sure you didn't freeze."

"Yeah. Mum was always really nice. I still remember how her tongue felt. It was warm, and wet... funny, I can never seem to forget about it."

"It's a gift of memory."


"It's a gift of memory from mother to son. Memories that your mother's left behind for you."

Inukashi stopped dangling his legs, and drew his chin back.

"I've never thought of it like that..." he said pensively. "A gift of memory, huh..."

Shion knelt at the river's edge and sipped a mouthful of water.

It was cold. It soaked through his entire body, and it was delicious.

Ah yes, it's this water.

It was the water that had quenched his exhausted body like an elixir after his battle with the parasite wasp. Not only his body― it was from the moment the water had slid down his throat and he had found it delicious, that Shion's entire being was revived again. He believed it so.

This water was connected to what it meant to be alive. This coldness, this deliciousness. It was connected to the voice that called to him, telling him, don't die, live, come crawling back up again.

That was why he would remember it forever. There was no way he could forget it. Deep within Shion, this water and that voice had set its roots down, and would continue to thrive, never to wither. And at times, it would float to the surface of his conscious, and each time, it would whisper to him.

Don't die. Live. Come crawling back up again.

It was a gift of memory, indeed.

"I'll bring ya some lunch." Inukashi stood atop the rubble, and spoke in a tone that sounded more like a command. "You better be finished with that black one by the time I get back. I won't let you have it until you're finished."

"Wow, I even get lunch? That's nice of you."

"I don't just serve this to anyone, you know. It's a full-course meal. And by full I mean two: bread and dried fruit."

"That's more than enough."

Running a brush through the black dog's fur, Shion grinned at Inukashi. Months had passed since escaping to the West Block, and chronic hunger gnawed at Shion persistently. At times he wished he could eat his fill of dishes with plenty of meat, fish, and eggs, and he yearned for the bread and cakes that his mother Karan baked. But in contrast, things that he had never even acknowledged as food before― soup made with bits and ends of vegetables, and bread that was beginning to mould― made his mouth water, and satiated his appetite.

Being able to eat is enough.

Here, everyone was starving. They starved, froze, and passed away. Shion knew in his own way how precious the single slice of bread was that Inukashi was about to give him.

He looked up to the sky. The sun was bright. This light was also shining down on No. 6. His former workplace at the Forest Park, the high-end residential area of Chronos, Lost Town, where his mother lived, and here, West Block, were bathed in the same light. But things were so different. Too different.

Divided by a wall of special alloy, prosperity and poverty stood in opposition to each other. Life and death. Light and dark. At the same hour that an extravagant party was being hosted in the interior of No. 6, while people smacked their lips at the numerous elaborate and delectable dishes, in a corner of the West Block, an elderly person clad in rags would starve to death. While the boys and girls of No. 6 would crawl into their beds in their air-conditioned rooms, the children in the barracks of the West Block would huddle close to each other to avoid freezing to death.

It was the truth that Shion had seen with his eyes. There were far too few things which were like the sunlight, equally and amply distributed among all.

"Get working, then," Inukashi spat, and disappeared in the shadows of the ruin.

All that remained of the entranceway, which had probably once been flanked by thick, wooden doors, were pairs of rusted hinges. Every time the wind blew in, their screeching noise assaulted the ears. Inukashi passed through that entrance to climb the stairs to the second floor. Some sort of architectural consideration had left this particular part of the building, which used to be a hotel, withstanding against the elements. Durable though it was, plaster still peeled from the walls, and the hallways and ceilings were webbed with countless cracks.

Buildings too possessed a life. From the moment they were abandoned, buildings began to decay. They began to die. This hotel, which had become a ruin, continued crumbling and decaying still. It marched steadily toward destruction, neither loathing the heartlessness of its human owners, nor lamenting its fate.

Inukashi occasionally wondered what he would do once this building had completely collapsed into rubble.

The old man that had picked him up, given him dog's milk, and taught him speech and the written word was no longer here. He had wandered outside one snowy day, never to return again.

Snow? Was it snowing? Maybe it was thundering that day. Or it might have been a morning with chapped winds... either way, the old man disappeared. He vanished, without even leaving any words of farewell.

He wasn't lonely, because he had his dogs. From that day until now, he had lived here with them. He knew no other home. He also knew of no other human company. Nezumi was probably the same. He may have been to more places than Inukashi, but he probably lived alone, not knowing anyone else, nor ever having the need to know. Inukashi had assumed so, for no particular reason. He had no grounds for his argument, but he figured he wasn't entirely wrong. Inukashi had a sharp sense of smell. Nezumi always only carried the smell of loneliness. When that scent blurred, and Inukashi had begun to notice a mingled scent of another, Shion had appeared before him.

He was a weirdo. He was very strange. His hair was snowy-white, and he had a red scar. Though Inukashi wasn't sure, he'd heard that the raised scar covered Shion's whole body like a coiled snake. But in terms of appearance, there were tons more people who were weirder than him. His appearance wasn't the only thing― Shion was also weird on the inside. He said not to dirty the water for the brats downstream. He said the people inside the Holy City and people like us were the same. And he talked about the gift of memory. Not as any kind of joke or sarcasm, but in all seriousness.

He was weird. Very weird. Why is Nezumi hanging around a weirdo like him?

Inukashi walked down the hall, and opened the door at the very end of it.


Nezumi was sitting in a chair with his feet up on the table.

"Can't you even knock before entering the room?" Inukashi said irritably. "Someone didn't learn proper manners from Mama. Geez." He then swung a blow as hard as he could toward the pair of long legs resting on the table. Nezumi sniffed lightly in derision, and took his legs off.

"I called out before coming in. That dog gave me permission to enter." A dog with black patches on its fur was lying in a corner of the room. It cocked its head to the side, and gave a wide yawn.

"If you're here to pick up Shion, you're early. If he keeps going at this pace, he probably won't be done 'til evening."

"Pick up? Never."

"But he scuffled with the Disposers, din' he? Isn't it dangerous to let him walk by himself? I'll send him with a dog on the way home, either way."

"That's good enough."

"But the Disposers don't give up easily. That guy stands out, and if he gets caught, who knows what they might do to him."

Nezumi's grey eyes sparkled, and a slight smile played on his lips.

"Does it matter to us what the Disposers do to Shion? What's up, Inukashi? You're being awfully nice. Not like you at all."

Inukashi glared at Nezumi silently.

The small playhouse was one of the few entertainment facilities in the West Block. And as one who stood upon its stage, Nezumi made his audience pay― or rather, made them want to pay― out of what little money they had for a show that provided them no physical nourishment. It was Nezumi's beautiful countenance and deep, clear voice that made them want to. His voice laid trapped and dying souls to rest, gently detaching them from the body. His appearance made it impossible to discern whether he was male or female, human or demon, God or the Devil. His audience, in a brief slice of the evening, could forget the day's hardships and the next day's sorrows, and let themselves be immersed and intoxicated by his voice.

Once the outside the shabby doors of the playhouse, reality waited for them― no money in their pockets; children crying for food at home― but despite that, the people's faces were always filled with drunken contentment as they scattered hither and thither into the darkness.

It's all an illusion. He's just a big fraud.

Every time he met with Nezumi, Inukashi mentally spat these words from the pit of his stomach. Nezumi was like the beautiful mistress who manipulated men and milked them of all that they were worth. Inukashi had been through that experience once, too.

Mum was suffering so much, I didn't know what else to do but to call him. I asked him to let my Mum's soul go peacefully. That was still good. His song was impressive, and my Mum was released from suffering. But what he did before that― the sheer amount of money he demanded while my Mum lay there suffering― it was enough money for me to live a whole month without working. With other dogs, I would've given up. I would slit their throat, or smash their skull with my own hands, and let them die a quick and easy death. But I couldn't do that to my Mum. I could never do that to her with my own hands. He knew that, and that's why he demanded that sum. After burying Mum in her grave, me and the dogs had to work for three days without any food. He's a fraud. He captures people's souls, clamps down on them, and shows them a fleeting dream. It might be vivid, but it's still fake. Dreams are dreams. You can't live on them.

Inukashi unlocked the cabinet and retrieved the bread and a bag of dried fruits.

"If you're not here to pick Shion up, what're you here for?"

"Can you treat me to some lunch? I'm starving."

"You jest," Inukashi said in a mocking voice. "I don't have anything fitting for a star actor like you. But if you pay me one silver coin, I can give you bread, fruits, and water."

"One silver coin for mouldy bread, rock-hard dried fruits and water from the stream? That's stretching it, Inukashi."

"Way cheaper than how much it costs for your singing."

Nezumi chuckled softly.

"You still holding a grudge about that?"

"Damn right, I am."

"I sang for your dogs so many times after that. It might as well have been charity, for the amount I took as payment."

"That's what pisses me off even more. You took advantage of me. I got gypped out of all the money I had that time. I was this close to starving to death."

"Well, if that happens again, feel free to call me," Nezumi said amiably. "I'll sing you a song about food, and see you off."

"Just teeming with compassion, aren't you?" Inukashi retorted. He hunched his shoulders, and stood directly in front of Nezumi. He posed his question once more.

"What do you want?"

Nezumi, still deeply seated in the chair, tossed a single coin onto the table. Inukashi's eyes widened.

"Gold..." he whispered.

"It's real. See for yourself."

Inukashi pinched the shiny coin between his fingertips, and gazed at it.

"You're right― it's real. Yeah. It's the real thing."

"I want you to do a job for me," Nezumi said in an expressionless voice.

"Job? A job that's worth a whole gold coin?"

"That's down payment. After the job is done, I'll give you another gold coin."

"Big spender, aren't you? But I won't take it." Inukashi flung the coin out onto the table.

"You're going to refuse a job worth two gold coins without even hearing about it?"

"I'm refusing it because it's a job worth two gold coins. I can just smell the stench."


"The smell of danger. My nose is warning me― it's saying, don't go there, or else you'll get killed. I don't care how much money you're gonna pile on. If I die, it's all over. Either way, any job that involves a Rat and is worth two gold coins is like sticking my hand into a nest of poisonous snakes. I don't wanna die just yet."

"That's why you get the money without dying― isn't that what doing a job is all about? Avoiding danger isn't gonna turn you a profit."

"It depends on the level of danger. All your jobs are dangerous and tricky. This is two whole gold coins we're talking about here. If anyone else came to me with that deal, I'd have taken it in a split second. Damnit," Inukashi grumbled. "I feel ripped off already."

Nezumi stood up, and pocketed the gold coins.

"That's too bad. I guess it can't be helped."

"No hard feelings. Things are just too risky with you. To be honest, I don't even wanna have much to do with you."

"Then it's mutual," Nezumi said airily. "Fine. Let's not meddle with each other anymore. I'll never come to you with a job again. As for you, no matter how much you suffer, be sure you don't come to me about it."

Inukashi hastily grabbed Nezumi's arm as he turned his back. He had lunged so suddenly that he almost tripped over himself.

"W-Wait a minute, Nezumi. What do you mean, no matter how much I suffer?"

"I just told you. If you end up like your mother someday and you're suffering because you can't die, it won't have anything to do with me. You can call me, but I won't come."

"What're you going on about...?" Inukashi said shakily. "Me, going through a painful death? That would never happen... Besides, I'm younger than you, aren't I? I think so, at least."

Nezumi lazily brushed Inukashi's hand off.

"Inukashi, age doesn't matter in this place. You know that, don't you? Death can never be predicted. It just comes. And how many people here are lucky enough to die painlessly, huh? The majority suffer, suffer, and die writhing. Tomorrow, someone might stab a knife into your stomach. You might crack your skull open on a falling piece of debris. You might get bacteria into a wound, have it fester, and rot alive. You might come down with a serious illness. Can you guarantee that none of that is going to happen to you? Huh, Inukashi? Can you say with certainty that you, above all people, will die without suffering?"

The pair of grey eyes bore into him. They had the lustre of fine cloth, and glowed dimly like the clouds when they shrouded the sun. His voice reverberated deep in his ears.

Inukashi sucked a breath in, and took a step backwards.

It was a trick. An illusion. He's trying to suck me in.

"Suffer all you may because you can't die. I won't get involved. Fine with you, right?"

Inukashi sank into a chair.

He knew death. He had seen it countless times. Not one of them could be called decent. That was why― that was why he wanted to stay alive. He felt like as long as he survived, he would be able to experience a more-or-less better death. Although much too insignificant to call it hope, Inukashi admitted feeling a sort of longing for peaceful death.


He gritted his teeth. Nezumi's lips curled thinly into a smile.

This is a threat. I can easily turn Nezumi down now. But after that, if I were to get into the same fix as Mum did― my bones broken, my insides crushed, blood spurting from my mouth― and I had to die that way... If there was nothing to ease my pain, numb it even just a little― if I had no choice but to moan and plead for someone to kill me, quickly, please, until death came to claim me― Just thinking about it sent a chill down his spine. He broke into a sweat.

"Sit down," Inukashi uttered weakly. "I'll listen to what you have to say, first."

Nezumi's gloved hand extended toward him and caressed his cheek.

"Good boy."

"Fuck you."

Inukashi glared at the face that still smiled wanly at him. "Lemme tell you something, Nezumi. Don't think this shebang is gonna work every time."

"Shebang? I only want you to do a job for me. A rude way to treat a customer, don't you think, Inukashi?"

"Is this your idea of a decent customer? Taking advantage of someone's weakness, threatening him, and then forcing a dangerous job on him? I think even fleas are a little nicer to the dogs they infest, compared to you."

"Wouldn't you say," Nezumi said, "that the fault lies with that person for having a weakness that can be taken advantage of in the first place? In these parts, exposing your weakness can cost you your life. Not news to you, I hope?"

Nezumi once more gently stroked Inukashi's cheek as he fell silent, and murmured sympathetically.

"You're afraid of death. More than anything, you're afraid of the suffering that leads up to it. You'd do anything to be spared from it. I know that, and I'm able to ease that pain for you, am I not? I don't want to blackmail and wring things out of you. I'm taking the proper steps, paying you money in exchange for a job."

"That's enough!" Inukashi slammed the table with his fist. Two puppies that were playing under the table shot out from under it and fled.

"You fraud, you sophist, you third-rate actor! I hope you choke on rat poison and die." Out of breath, Inukashi inhaled raggedly.

"Are you finished?" Nezumi said momentarily. His calm and unruffled tone further stirred Inukashi's wrath. But it was no use getting irritated. Nezumi was right. He was at fault for exposing his weakness and leaving himself vulnerable. These were the rules of this land.

Inukashi sighed, and adjusted himself in his seat.

"Let's hear what you have to say. I don't have much time. Keep it short and sweet."

Nezumi lowered himself into a seat as well. He was no longer smiling.

Continued in PART B.

  1. Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1921-1951. (1.7. 81-82) (back)
  2. This whole passage is a play on words with the double-meaning of amai which can mean both "sweet" and "indulgent/naive". I've substituted the whole analogy with clouds/space because a literal translation wouldn't make sense. Inukashi also uses the analogy to allude to how Shion's arguments "melt" easily (i.e. they're unfounded, hence erode easily). However, for reference, here are the literal translations:

    "If you're serious about the sweet things you're saying, you'd never survive here."
    "Nezumi tells me the same thing, that I'm too sweet."
    "Too sweet doesn't cut it. What you're talking about is more like a sugar castle. I've never seen or eaten a sugar castle myself, but it's supposed to be really sweet, and it melts when you pour water on it, right?"
    "I've never poured water on one, but I guess you're right, it's really sweet."