Category:Epitaph of Twilight Translation
Unofficial translation of .hack//Epitaph of Twilight
Author: Miu Kawasaki Artist: Asako Shiina
Special Thanks to Endrance for helping with the Prolouge
The curtain of night falls down, a thick fog surrounds us. It was at this place called Alba Lake, which rests at the center of this world, enshrouded in a deafening silence. At the naval of the lake amidst the perfectly still waters---lies a cathedral which poses a myriad of questions. When was it built? For what purpose? Who made it? Why such a place? With its origins left unknown, here it stands in total isolation.
All that is known is the cathedral's name, Hulle Granz Cathedral.
Tonight, within this cathedral rumored to be of ancient times, an unprecedented meeting was to take place. Helba, queen of the dark, beckons. Apeiron, king of light, heeds Helba's call. The two greatest powers of this world, light and darkness, were locked in a seemingly unending conflict.
---They share a long history. Long before man was born, from a strong wind overseen by the twilight on the 10th month, the land and the skies birthed two spirits: Light and Dark. That was them. Right from birth, light and dark have fought continually for sole control of the regions. It was then that man was born amidst the conflict, but coexistence was impossible, as humans created shadow. Although they appear the same, man has shadow, while the spirits have none. Realizing this difference, mankind turned against those without shadows and persecuted them. Several of their companions were endlessly pursued, and others disappeared entirely. It once seemed that the struggle between the three would last forever... but the spirits’ defeat was inevitable. The reason being that spirits are seldom born, however, humans could reliably increase their numbers. So the spirits created a world for themselves far away from the humans, and since then, the conflict between light and darkness had calmed.
But what would drive the feuding leaders of light and darkness--- even within this lull, to meet?
A calamity, known as the Cursed Wave. A calamity which threatened to erode their world, and pushed the spirits to the brink of annihilation. The Cursed Wave, literally in the form of a wave, steadily advanced, however the spirits had no means to fight such a foe. From where it comes, it swallows everything in its path, sweeping even the face of the earth before fading away.
Because the situation was so dire,
“I wish to speak with you about the Twilight Dragon, and the Cursed Wave…”
If the message Apeiron received from Helba was about anything less, Apeiron would not have heeded the call.
“It might be a trap.”
Apeiron’s adviser, Fili the White felt uneasy, however, Apeiron was prepared to leave for Hulle Granz Cathedral in spite of Fili’s concerns.
Helba claimed that the Twilight Dragon would save their lives from the Cursed Wave. Regardless of whether or not the dragon actually existed--- because the wave was still alive, countermeasures needed to be taken immediately.
In this world, there’s a legend about the Twilight Dragon. A legend that spirits… and perhaps even humans know of. A legend riddled with uncertainty, but the spirits now had no choice but to believe in it.
“When the cursed wave doth rise, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon that will save the world of the spirits.”
As if off in the distance, I faintly hear someone’s voice.
This time it was very clear. Someone was calling my name.
A warm, gentle voice.
I slowly rub my eyes trying to shake off the pink haze enshrouding them.
“Lara, we’ll be there soon.”
Papa says softly to me as I'm still half asleep in the passenger seat of his car.
“I’m sorry, I fell asleep.”
Papa smiles as he says, “No need to be sorry”.
“I suppose… I just think it's terrible falling asleep when I kind of forced you to take me along.”
“Don't worry about it, really. I'm really happy you'd come with me.”
I just smiled at Papa. It made me happy that he was happy.
“It's been quite a while since you last met your uncle, hasn't it?”
“A while?! But, I'm pretty sure…”
“Maybe for you, Papa. I've never met him before.”
“Not never. He came over to play once, around when you were still really small.”
“I don’t remember anything like that.”
Papa smiled wryly when I said that.
“I remember he would look at you strangely.”
“Well, you were just born, and I guess it was the first time he'd seen a newborn.”
“Well, it's not like you see babies everywhere you go.”
I’ll be 14 this year. Although I may still look like a child to Papa and to the rest of the world--- I think it's more of an ambiguous age. Neither a child, nor an adult. Somewhere around the borderline between the two.
“I’m kind of looking forward to meeting him.”
I said, as I stretched my whole body, and rolled down the car window.
The breeze flows into the car with the scent of grass and humid air. It was pretty different from the smell of the sea breeze that runs along the coastline, but it still smelled pleasant in its own way. I took a deep breath of the forest air. Because I live by the sea, I don’t get to experience the rich smell of forests like this very often.
“By the way, did you do some research on it yesterday as well?”
Papa asked, as I turned around away from the window to look at him. He always watches straight ahead when he's driving. He's done this ever since the time he scraped the car against a wall because he'd gotten so engrossed in conversation. Even when he's stopped at a red light he won't look at you. His face will be full of expression, but always facing straight ahead. It's as if he's speaking to the windshield.
“Yeah, but I didn’t have any luck. It’s been a while since the site with the original text disappeared. I don’t even know what kind of keywords to search so I can find the full text.”
“‘The Epitaph of Twilight’… Huh.”
Papa muttered to himself inquisitively.
I’ve starved myself of sleep night after night trying to research the “Epitaph of Twilight”--- A web novel written by a woman named Emma Weilant. Being written by an amateur, the first section can be explained in fairly generic terms.
Epitaph of Twilight --- the story of how the Cursed Wave eroded the world of the shadowless spirits and brought them to the brink of total destruction. This wave steadily advanced, but there was no practical way to fight it. During this desperation, the world’s two great powers, Apeiron king of light, and Helba queen of the dark, forged an alliance to face the wave together.
In that world, there was a legend that states, “When the cursed wave doth rise, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon that will save the world of the spirits”.
The story begins with one of those shadow bearers--- a young girl, known locally as the Little Witch, who lives in a windmill shed in the middle of a cornfield, when she rescues a buck with no shadow.
Believing in that legend, she embarks on a journey to find the Twilight Dragon together with Fili, a spirit from the country of light, Bith, a spirit from the country of darkness, and two other shadow bearers.
The girl believes in the legend, and now she, along with Fili the White, Bith the Black and two shadow-bearing individuals leave in search of the Twilight Dragon. It’s a very, very long journey...
This story, however, has no ending. It's still incomplete because the author, Emma Wielant, died in an accident before she could finish it.
Without her around, the story has been swallowed up by the ocean we call the internet. Seems there's no one to preserve some no-name hobbyist writer's work. Even if you find something, it's hard to discern whether it’s from the real original writings, or from one of the many fake copies.
The copy I have on hand goes from the opening portion to midway in their adventure. It's also in a worm-eaten state with some chapters written in fine detail, and then others I can only understand the subtitles.
The only reason I got into studying such an underground novel is because I knew Emma Wielant’s name from bulletin boards on the net.
Wielant didn't lead any ordinary life (getting caught up with the troubles of inheriting a fortune, and she even had a boyfriend twenty years older than her!), and apparently not long before the accident she had gotten absorbed in the philosophy of anthroposophy.
She’s like the heroine of some drama, or a tragedy.
At least that's what I thought while looking into her life. To think that people like this actually exist.
I think it's because the book was written by someone like that that I got so inspired to look into it.
Also, this anthroposophy is supposedly aiming to prove the purpose and existence of ghosts and other such things unexplainable by non human sciences. Things like believing in a sixth sense or reincarnation. But personally, I can’t believe any of it.
“There it is.”
I tried to find where Papa was looking.
One of the evenly spaced, but detached houses in the forest--- the only house that had an unkempt, neglected lawn. Even with the sunlight shining down, it was a dark and depressing sight. It even looked run down, like it was abandoned.
“...He lives here?”
Papa noticed the scowl on my face and smiled wryly.
“He does. He just hasn’t really taken care of it.”
“How does it get like this when he lives by himself…”
“I'm sure his job is keeping him too busy to worry about it.”
I took a look around.
Surveying the surrounding area there are beautiful, well kept lawns behind quaint white picket fences, and I can faintly hear elated laughter coming from within some of the houses.
Meanwhile, at the far end of those lots stands my uncle's bizarre looking house.
I've heard that my uncle, Papa's younger brother, is quite the famous programmer. A brilliant engineer known across the world. On top of that, he also seems to be quite familiar with the concept of anthroposophy that Emma was so devoted to.
"It still surprises me, despite working at the forefront of the world of 1s and 0s, he's still managed to keep his obsession with that philosophy a secret."
I couldn't tell whether or not Papa was being serious with that bitter smile plastered across his face.
My uncle seems to have been out of touch from us for the past few months. I hear that he even forgets whether it’s night or day when he gets fixated on something.
Papa got a bit worried, and decided to go check up on him, but didn’t tell me to come along. Even though it isn't exactly a short trip either. I was worried about Papa, because he’s not the greatest driver (Maybe I was a little worried being with him too.) …But I was also interested in meeting my Uncle, so that pushed me into coming along.
“Well, let’s go.”
Papa stopped the car in front of the house, leaned over and prodded me to go.
I went with him up to a door overgrown with ivy and rang an old-fashioned doorbell. But, I’m pretty sure it didn’t ring, because when I pressed the button, it just lodged itself inward.
Papa leaned his head down, forcibly pulled the button back out and tried pushing it again, when --- the door creaked open.
“…Who are you?”
It made me flinch for a moment.
A tall, lanky man’s figure half emerged from around the door --- he looked at Papa, then glanced at me.
“My brother, huh…?”
The man --- my uncle, muttered and sighed.
“Yup. Now, don’t be a pain after I came all this way to see you.”
Uncle made a sour face and looked back at me again. It was apparent we weren’t going to receive a warm greeting, but I introduced myself politely.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Lara Hoerwick”
Uncle furrowed his brow. His silence begged Papa for an explanation.
“My daughter. You visited us back when she was first born”
As if searching for a distant memory, he just fixated his eyes on me. He had long silvery hair, an almost abnormally worn out look to his face, yet his amber eyes never lost their glimmer.
Papa has the same silver hair, but you’d never suspect them to be brothers just by that. And I don’t think they look like grandma or grandpa at all. Maybe distant relatives at best… Even then the resemblance isn’t there.
Although I thought it was rude to stare at me like that, I just smiled at him. I’m not sure if I was smiling all too nicely though.
Uncle finally turned his gaze back over to Papa.
He probably doesn’t remember. No wonder. That was 14 years ago, and I’m sure that there’s not even a shred of resemblance compared to when I was a baby.
“Ah, alright. Come on.”
Uncle said as he turned back into his house. Papa and I exchanged glances. As Uncle disappeared into the house I whispered,
“That wasn’t much of a welcome.”
“That’s just the kind of man he is, Lara. Don’t worry about it.”
“Geez… He’s not mad about us showing up so suddenly, is he?”
“If he was angry he wouldn’t have told us to come in.”
“…Is it really okay for us to go in?”
Looking inside it was even gloomier yet, like some haunted house. I stood there hesitantly next to Papa as he smiled wryly.
“Can’t just wait in the car, right? Let’s go in.”
When saying that, we went inside.
Uncle looked back at us from across the hallway. I felt as if our eyes met, and flinched again.
(What the heck... is my uncle even doing here?)
As I stood there thinking, Papa got way ahead of me.
“Hey, wait up!”
In a panic, I ran to catch up.
From the look of the outside, I couldn’t begin to imagine how neat and pristine everything was inside. I seriously thought it’d be lined with dust, and spider webs spanning the walls.
But no, the living room was even swept up all neatly, and surprisingly --- A lone picture stood atop the cupboard. In a room with the newest TV and audio system set up, that picture looked really old-fashioned.
“Surprisingly clean in here, huh?”
Papa says sitting down on a leather sofa in the living room, his voice calling out to Uncle.
In the kitchen attached to the living room, Uncle just laughs to himself.
“Why don’t you have a seat too, Lara?”
I sit down next to Papa.
I was more surprised than anything.
Uncle, standing in the sun rays shining into the kitchen, was like a completely different person.
(Maybe he’s surprisingly nice after all.)
He was kinda likeable.
Uncle walked back into the living room, and the smell of hot coffee fills the air.
“There’s more in the pot if you want.”
He lines up three coffee cups on the glass table, the one for Papa being filled with straight black.
(I like coffee, but not without at least some milk and sugar…)
As for the cup placed in front of me, I decided to just endure it and drink it anyway, but it was filled with pure white milk.
The words escaped me without thinking.
“I thought milk might be better for kids.”
While saying this, uncle, sitting across from Papa, stood up.
“Oh, yeah that’s fine. I don’t care for straight coffee… Thank you very much.”
And without expression, he sits back down.
The cool milk definitely quenched the thirst.
The unexpected consideration made me like him even more.
Papa, sitting next to me, began talking about his current home situations. Even though we had to have come to check on uncle’s condition, Papa just spoke of the comedic events from recent.
(Not much I can do about that.)
Papa and uncle would exchange glances between themselves. Despite Uncle’s expressionless face, he looked intent on listening to Papa.
(It’s all kinda boring…)
We certainly had nothing but time to burn here as I stared into my now emptied cup. Papa put down his cup.
“Shall we go outside for a bit?”
Uncle noticed Papa get up from his seat. As he stood up to follow, he seemed to be pained. They then both walked over to the door. After seeing uncle out, I asked Papa,
“I don’t suppose… I could go out too?”
“Maybe not. I just thought it might be good we talk outside and get some fresh air instead of staying cooped up in here.”
“We’ll only be out for a bit, so maybe turn on the TV or something.”
Papa said and hurried his way out the door. As the door shut behind him the sound resonated throughout the now vacant living room.
“Came all this way just to watch TV…”
I got up to leave the living room and walked over to where I had seen that standing picture frame. Uncle was standing next to a woman in a long black one-piece dress with a parasol and a laced hat, but I couldn’t see her face all that well.
The two of them standing under the radiant sun like that, it makes me think that they would've made a nice couple.
(A picture like that makes me wonder if there aren’t any pictures as magical as this one…)
I turned away from the picture stand and left the living room. Even still, I wanted to know what it is my uncle does around here. Leaving the warm sunlight of the living room, I turned and walked into the gloomy corridor of an entryway. The door at the end of the hall was cracked open slightly, from which a pale blue light was emanating.
“The heck is that?”
I peered into the room. In one corner, there were multiple displays lined up. They had to have been on for the dim light to be shining through the doorway like that. I slowly made my way into the room.
Against the back wall was a bookshelf so tall, that it reached up to the ceiling. Books were even scattered along the floor reaching to the end of a bed, with dust coating everything in sight.
“Is this his study?”
However, the monitors had nothing on them. They just emitted that dim light. Maybe they’re in standby mode.
I then noticed something left in front of one of the monitors. It looked like a thin pair of goggles, and next to that was a game controller.
(Does uncle sport these around?)
I pushed away the piled up books and slowly made my way over. I could see that the goggles were emanating the same faint light as the monitors from within the eye cup. And the light couldn’t have been reflecting off of the monitors, but rather it was being produced by them. Papa’s always fascinated by the latest technology, so if this is some kind of modern video equipment, I should have heard about it from him.
“What could this be…”
Something was playing on this device, and it was making noise, but I couldn’t see what it was. I exited the room to make sure Papa and uncle had not come back in.
“It should be fine if I just take a peek for a little bit.”
I grabbed the goggles and timidly peered inside to see what it was. The picture displayed in the eye cup was an expansive gold-colored wheat field, though the sky was heavy with clouds and mixed with a weird purple color. Not like a thunderstorm, but actually a more unrealistic purple.
(What's this place supposed to be?)
At the far end of this continuous field I saw a windmill. It was pretty easy to see it was operational too. The wind had to be blowing because the wheat was making a rustling noise and began to sway.
It was like nothing I'd ever seen, yet it felt as though I was being absorbed by it. I became uneasy on my feet and a weird feeling overtook me. I needed to do something or I'd fall, so I shot my hand forward onto the desk where the goggles were.
And then something sounded like it fell. It was the controller that had been beside the goggles. As the controller hit the floor, some buttons got pushed and text appeared on one of the monitors.
Probably the game's title. Under the game title was some login info. The same text was being displayed from inside the goggles too.
(Maybe it's played by wearing the goggles?)
I picked up the controller and pushed another button at random.
This time some text I know popped up on a different monitor.
“The spirits have held onto a legend regarding the Twilight Dragon--- When the cursed wave doth rise, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon that will save the world of the spirits.”
It’s the Epitaph of Twilight.
I wonder if that means the picture I saw in the goggles is the wheat field the little witch lives in.
I peeked into the goggles again.
Maybe this is what uncle was so fixated on for the last several months; making a game based on the Epitaph of Twilight. It's only speculation, but he probably met Emma because of his interest in anthroposophy--- uncle being a programmer, thought he'd try make Emma’s fantasy into a game.
It was just a guess though.
I don't know why, but that's how it seemed to me.
Something in my mind had me certain there was a chance. I don't know if it was inspired by the odd atmosphere of this dark room where the only light came from the monitors, but I shut the door.
Then, as though being lured in, I put the goggles on and grabbed the controller.
(Surely it'd be fine if I just play a little bit.)
Then, as if under some sort of trance, I clicked Login.
Episode 1: Can't Back Real Home
In the center the world of Alba, high above the Hulle Granz Cathedral, a countless number of white doves slowly turn in the sky as a golden light shone down upon them. From a distance, they glowed like an angel’s halo in the veil of fog. A single man in white gazed at this wonderous site by the lakeside, yet, despite such a view, he wore a serious expression.
That man is Fili the white.
The confidant of the king of light, Apeiron. The flock of doves, his familiar. Fili had no doubt in his mind that the meeting tonight was a trap, however, Aperion ignored his warning. So, Fili had ordered his familiar to wait above the holy ground despite Apeiron’s wishes.
Normally, he would be by Apeiron’s side --- who would enter the cathedral this evening, however, the meeting specified that only Helba and Apeiron were to attend.
Fili stares at the cathedral blurred by the dense fog, praying that nothing would happen. Long before this lull, the country of darkness consistently launched surprise attacks against the country of light. The country of light was always on the defensive. For the hundreds of years Fili has lived, never once has the country of darkness been invaded. The country of light would retaliate, as soon as everyone had recovered, the country of darkness would launch another surprise attack, leading to yet another battle… It was an endless cycle.
It was a bitter memory to Fili, and one he’d rather not recall. The dense fog swayed behind him in silence, yet showed signs of someone approaching nearby.
“Are you really that worried?”
Fili jumped back swiftly, reading his staff. However, the speaker was shrouded in darkness, unable to be seen.
“...Who are you?”
Fili’s voice trembles in surprise.
”Did I surprise you?”
Said the figure wryly.
“You people of the light always find the darkness to be so terrifying.”
Fili was right on the mark. He raised his voice.
Fili’s staff began to glow brightly.
“Well, aren’t you a lively one?”
Two hands emerge from the darkness, holding what appears to be a pitch black hat, as if he just took it off.
Before Fili could even look up, that man with slanted eyes had appeared. The man named Bith, who aides Helba, queen of dark.
“Bith the black...?”
“That’s right, Fili the white.”
Fili lowered his staff.
“What did you come here for?”
Bith glances over at the doves flying over the cathedral.
“Mind calling them down?”
“This is a meeting between fellow rulers. Something like that would only get in the way.”
“I don’t remember taking orders from you.”
Bith shook his head seemingly annoyed.
“If my queen wanted to, she could easily erase all of them in a single shot, However, she hasn’t. Why do you think that is?”
“It’s because she doesn’t want to ruin this meeting. I don’t know how the king will answer---but for now, we’ll have to try to get along. If we fought now, this would’ve all been for nothing.”
Fili initially glared at Bith --- But it quickly faded, it was impossible to phase him anyway.
“Do you want to ruin everything by acting off on your own?”
Fili lowered his staff dissolving the last of any spell that remained.
“...I get it.”
Fili muttered, using his staff to draw a pattern on the ground instructing his familiars.
Shortly afterwards, the doves vanished as if melting into darkness.
When Bith saw this, he sat down beside Fili, with Fili casting his eyes down.
“What, are you my supervisor?”
“Are you stupid? We’re going to be called in soon.”
“If we go in together, it’ll save us some effort, don’t you think?”
“What do you mean?”
But Bith ignored Fili’s question, and just continued to stare at the cathedral.
After Apeiron saw that Fili’s familiar had dissolved, he turned away from the window, and faced Queen Helba.
“Give me your hand.”
Helba sat across an un-deified pedestal with a smile upon her face, toying with her silky golden hair.
“Shall we continue?”
Apeiron leaned up against a window listening attentively to Helba’s story, stroking his stoic beard.
“As I had mentioned earlier, this area has already started to become corrupted. However, the Cursed Wave’s invasion has only just begun. If we act now, there might still be means to retaliate.”
“...Too hard to believe?”
“That’s just the truth of it.”
“So Helba... What do you propose we do?”
“As the letter I set you described. I’d like to start searching for the Twilight Dragon.”
“When the cursed wave doth rise, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon that will save the world of the spirits... How much of that legend is true I wonder?”
Helba chuckled to herself over her thoughts, and glanced over at Apeiron.
“You’re acting rather suspicious.”
“You’re the leader of another country. It’s only natural to be cautious.”
“There isn’t much of a difference between carefulness and timidness.”
With her visor shielding her eyes, it wasn’t possible to fully determine the expression of Helba, but with her smile, she was obviously looking down on Apeiron.
Apeiron scowls, drawing the sword fashioned on his hip, and points the tip at Helba.
Helba tilts her head, retaining her composure.
“What good does it do to pull that out? Even if I’m dead, the Cursed Wave won’t stop.”
Helba slowly raised up, and moved in front of Apeiron’s sword without taking a single step. The glamorously slender Helba extended her index finger from the sleeve of her pure white dress, and tapped the tip of the blade.
Both of them tremble as silence fills the room. The crimson blood rolled down Helba’s finger, dripping down to the cobblestone.
Realizing that this silence was a waste of time, Apeiron tightened his grip on his sword, and sighed muttering to himself.
“I’m overlooking a few things.”
Helba licks her finger, and some of the blood dripped down onto her sleeve, yet her smile doesn’t fade.
“Do you have any personnel you can use for the search?”
Helba nods in satisfaction to Apeiron’s reply, and walks up to the pedestal. While the pedestal is devoid of deification, it’s still a delight to behold in it’s old fashioned style.
“There’s no time. When those two return, we’ll start our departure.”
“That soon? Hold on a moment. It’ll be a long trip, you should take time to prepare--”
Helba looked back, and interrupted Apeiron.
“Will you be sending Fili? I can be prepared for that. Although, his familiar is flying about, so we should make preparations elsewhere.”
Helba says, looking back at the pedestal.
“We have no time. No time to pray to God, nor to run away…”
They continued on --- and at that time, from the windmill standing in the midst of the great wheat field far to the north of cathedral, a sleepy eyed maiden departed.
Seemingly reluctant, the maiden mounted her broom and flew towards the blades of a windmill.
“Saya, surely we’ll fix it today!”
A black cat yells to the maiden from the windmill’s attic window.
“I told you I got it! Don’t yell so early in the morning.”
The maiden’s name was Saya, though in the surrounding area ーー due to her small stature, she’s more commonly known as the Little Witch. She had the special ability of understanding the languages of flora and fauna alike. She loved peace more than any other, and had a far deeper love for the plants and animals.
Also, the name of the black cat that called out to Saya is Vesper. He lives inside the windmill with Saya, and could be considered as her very knowledgeable partner.
Saya’s work these past few days hasn’t been milling wheat as usual, instead she’s been working to repair a broken windmill blade. Until the broken blade is repaired, they’re unable to mill the wheat.
It was when she mounted on her broom, Saya tried to repair the blade.
The wheat field behind them began to stir.
Saya turned around, her gaze meeting the wheat field, and listened to its voice.
“There’s something there!”
Saya found something in the middle of the wheat field, and immediately gripped her broom tight, and flew over.
With the wheat field lined up so neatly, it was easy to spot any oddities within it.
Saya flies down, carefully drawing near where the wheat was tarnished. Noticing that it lathered in the thick crimson of blood, she readied her wand.
In front of Saya’s eyes, a 6 legged silver buck had collapsed. The wounded buck weakly raised his head, and looked over at Saya.
“Who would do this...”
Saya rushed over to the buck, her spell released a warm light enveloping the buck, healing him.
“Your wheat is... I deeply apologize.”
The buck said breathlessly, putting his head back on the ground. Saya gently pets the bucks head.
“It’s alright, the wheat will be fine. However, I’m more worried about you.”
Seemingly fatal wounds covered the buck’s body. Saya’s spell wasn’t powerful enough to immediately close them all --- So, she tightly wrapped her cloak around where the buck was bleeding.
“It’ll take a little bit... But if you rest for 2 or 3 days, you should make a full recovery.”
Hearing Saya’s words, the buck opened up his eyes wide, staring at Saya with their sky blue hue.
“It’s not a good time to rest. I have to leave at once.”
The buck says as he shakily shifts his feet to stand up, and looks up at the sky.
“Where do you need to go? I can close your wounds to some extent, but flying in your condition is out of the question.”
“Thank you. Someday, I will surely return your kindness.”
The buck with trembling legs proceeded into a gallop, running off far into the sky.
“Wait a moment.”
Saya’s voice resounds in vain.
Saya mounted her broom, chasing after the buck.
The wheat field stirs, ensnaring Saya’s broom, holding her to the ground.
I stood amongst the expanse of a wheat field. The gentle breeze, and the sway it wrought, the wheat’s movement felt too real. The windmill that looks so far away, the breeze that brushes along my cheeks, everything in this world, it’s all as if it was actually real.
I wouldn’t think I’m looking at this from the goggles. I reached out my hand to touch the wheat around me, that stretched to my height. The wheat rustled vibrantly, and it felt so lifelike.
It wasn’t like using a controller at all, I moved however i wanted.
“My uncle sure is incredible.”
Isn’t this the first time somebody’s made a game where you can feel things? Once again, I see just how great my uncle is.
If this is The Epitaph of Twilight’s prologue, then there must be something in the windmill. Maybe, I’ll even get to meet someone from the epitaph.
Full of hope, I rushed over to the windmill. I avoided the snarls in the wheat, and thanks to that, the way to the windmill was clear enough for me to run straight over to it.
I run out of breath.
Exercise isn’t exactly my strong point. I arrived at the windmill, but, I was completely out of breath. I felt exhaustion spread throughout my entire body as if I really ran.
“What even is this…”
(This is a game, right…? Why am I so tired?)
I grumbled, as a black cat approached me. One with delicate, soft fur and a nice sweet scent. That cat, with clear blue eyes, peered up at my face with a seemingly puzzled expression.
“What are you doing?”
I subconsciously flinched. The black cat stares at me, and tilts his head.
“Ah, I get it…”
(It’s only natural it can talk because it’s a game.)
Surely, a black cat would’ve appeared in the Epitaph of Twilight. One of the shadowed ones, The Little Witch Saya, she had a black cat as her familiar.
(Umm, his name was…)
In response to me calling out Vesper’s name, he only frowned. He may be a cat, but it’s easy to tell that he’s frowning.
Based on what Vesper said earlier, the owner of this windmill, Little Witch Saya should be somewhere around here.
When surveying the surroundings, Vesper called out to me.
“Saya… Did you hit your head?”
“You’re not acting like yourself.”
I’m sure he’s talking to me, but he called me Saya.
“And you’re Vesper?”
Vesper nodded again.
“Did you lose your memory?”
“Wai-Wait a moment. Why does this conversation keep going?”
“Why…? I don’t understand what you mean.”
“This is a game, isn’t it?”
“What’s a game?”
“Hmm… Something like a manufactured world made for entertainment.”
“Manufactured? Wait, Saya, I’m not sure I understand.”
The cat got angry.
(What do you mean?)
There are only a few games where you could have legitimate conversations. But as far as I know, that only happens in online games. In games where other players talk back and forth, exchange information, and advance the conversation through the internet. Other than that, I don’t know of any game where a character could respond to anything I say.
“Can I pet you?”
“If it’ll bring you back to your usual self, then go ahead.”
I slowly reach out for Vesper’s head.
My hand brushed across Vesper’s soft fur. His fluffy fur was oddly lifelike, so I made sure to run my hand down his body.
“Saya, did you fall off your broom?”
“You were using it to repair the blades, right?”
Vesper said looking up at the windmill. I follow Vesper’s gaze to see the windmill’s blades utterly torn.
“They aren’t fixed…”
“Yeah, they’re completely broken.”
“Completely broken, no that’s not it. If that’s the case then… You’ve skipped out on repairs, haven’t you?”
I frantically shook my head to Vesper, who seemed to be on the verge of snapping.
“For repairs and whatever else, I’m here now.”
Vesper looked over at me with a confused look wrought across his face. Hoping that he might finally hear me out, I began explaining everything to him. About how i secretly started playing a game I found in my uncle’s room that might’ve been based off the story of The Epitaph of Twilight. How I appeared in that wheat field after logging in, and thought the story would progress if I approached the windmill, but didn’t expect to talk to the game characters so freely. I tried to explain it in a way he could understand.
“So then Saya-- you came here from a different world?”
“My real name is Lara Hoerwick. But… if my name is Saya in this game, then calling me Saya is fine.”
“I still don’t know what a ‘game’ is.”
“The game. I just explained that…”
Vesper went into deep thought about this.
While I waited for Vesper to call out for me, I examined myself. My hair was still strawberry blonde, and even fluffy but straightened in the same way. I still had the same hour long polish to my nails. My chest's size was still pitiful, my arms and legs were still slender, everything about myself that I could see was exactly like the real me.
The only difference was the clothes. The pointed hat and one piece dress complete with a cloak, all in black, with some lavender accents.
I pinched my cheek. It hurt.
When I realized something was wrong, I spoke to Vesper about it. My voice trembled.
“What kind of girl is Saya?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Are the Saya you know, and the Saya right here the same?”
Vesper looked me over intently.
“I don’t think there’s any different.”
I take another look at my body. It certainly felt like it was mine, but upon close inspection, these were the hands of a hard worker.
(Maybe I’m thinking about it too much…)
But it did hurt when I pinched myself. There is a sense of pain.
Vesper looks up at me.
“Did you understand it all?”
“If this world was fabricated, then where are you from?”
(Where am I from?)
“From the world where the people who made this world are.”
“In what way?”
(In what way?)
I muse over Vesper’s words. The answer should be obvious, but it all seemed so hazy.
(How did I come here…)
My temples started to hurt, so I rubbed it with one of my hands. And of course, because of that I couldn’t remember what I need to remember, which only lead to my heart beginning to throb from my impatience.
“Uhh, Well, I wore something like goggles… Picked up a controller… Then selected Log In from the display…”
My voice was trembling. The more I tried to remember, the more it made my head hurt.
“Where is that?”
I tilt my head at Vesper’s question.
I look at where I should be holding the controller. Of course, it’s not in the game. I touch my face, but I don’t have the goggles.
(Where is it?!)
I shook my head, but there was no sign that the goggles were out of place. I reached out to touch the display that should be right in front of me, but there was nothing there.
“It’s gone! It’s not there!”
(How did this happen?)
I completely search my whole body, but all I could feel was the gentleness of cloth. I look around flustered, it shouldn’t have fallen off. But, since I first logged into this game, I didn’t feel like I was holding a controller.
My vision blurs.
My back gives out, and I fall down on the ground.
“Where am I?”
They dry ground soaks up a single tear that rolled down my face.
“This… This is a game, isn’t it…?”
In my confusion, Vesper stared at me completely bewildered. Vesper peeks at my face, and sits down beside me to hear me out.
“…Can I help you sort everything out?”
I nod silently.
“You’ve come from another world that’s different from this one.”
I nod again.
“You came here with the help of some kind of tools, but you don’t have them anymore.”
“And without them, you can’t go back to your original world.”
“Maybe… Who knows? I certainly don’t.”
I shook my head.
Even if I had the goggles and controller, could I even choose to logout? Considering I haven’t seen or felt either of them since coming to this world, I don’t even know if they could be used let alone found here.
“You have no memory of being Saya?”
“None, I’m Lara Hoerwick.”
“Can you cast any spells?”
“Saya’s really good at recovery magic. Can you use any?”
“I can’t do that at all. I don’t even know a little…”
Vesper hung down his head and sighed.
“Then how about the voices? Can you hear them?”
“I can hear your voice.”
“No, not mine, the voices of the wheat.”
“Communicating with the plants and animals. It’s an ability Saya has.”
I listened closely, but I could only hear the sound of the wind.
“…I can’t hear them.”
“You usually can’t hear them.”
Vesper said with a bitter smile.
Vesper stood up, and walked towards the wheat field where I came from.
I stand back up with trembling legs, and chase after Vesper.
While standing beside Vesper, I watched as the wheat field spread out before me. I don’t really know what’s going on, but I suddenly don’t feel like I’m alone anymore, just like Vesper said.
I slowly closed my eyes.
(It’d be nice if this was just a dream…)
The wind ceased, as my ears were wrapped in a painful silence.
(If only I could hear a computer’s fan right now…)
I take a deep breath.
My hopes were quickly dashed as a faint sound brushed across my ears. The sound of someone asking for help.
I cover my ears.
All the wheat in front of me suddenly started to stir.
My eyes opened up wide in surprise.
Vesper stood beside me staring at a single point in the wheat field while wearing a serious expression.
“Now, I can hear something--”
The wheat only continued to rustle even more. Even though there’s no wind at all, all the wheat seems to be gravitating towards the point that Vesper’s staring at.
“Did it stop? ...Wait a minute!”
Before I could say anything, Vesper was already running towards the wheat field.
I chased after Vesper, and thanks to the way the wheat parted, I was able to chase after him easily, without ever losing sight of him.
As I ran through the wheat field, I noticed the strong smell of blood. I catch up to Vesper who had stopped a little further in, and try to catch my breath.
“Vesper! What the heck is this--”
In front of Vesper was a blood ridden buck, that had collapsed.
My legs froze up.
The wheat surrounding the buck was stained red with blood. The buck seems to be covered in scratches, blood gushing out and soaking into the ground.
“Hey, is this buck… dead…?”
Vesper slowly approached the buck, and licked his cheek, but the buck doesn’t move even once.
Vesper turns over toward my side, and beckons to me. I timidly sit down beside Vesper. Rather than sitting down, it might be more accurate to say that I couldn't stand up properly.
“Saya, heal it.”
“Now while it’s not too late.”
Vesper stepped into my mantle, and came back out holding a small staff in his mouth.
“Use this. To heal him, you just need to fill your mind with a prayer.”
“How am I supposed to pray? What am I supposed to pray to?”
Vesper prodded me with the staff in his mouth.
While I was glared at by Vesper, I timidly took the staff from him.
“How am I supposed to use this?”
“How to use it… that’s a problem. Saya just healed by praying without saying anything.”
I grip the staff and gaze between it and the collapsed buck. I really didn’t know what to do, I was at a loss.
I’m Lara Hoerwick, not the Little Witch Saya who lives in this world. I don’t think I can manage to heal him no matter how much I pray. I can’t select any in-game commands, and I can’t believe that you can cast a spell with your own feelings.
(What even is this situation?)
I mulled over it and glanced over at Vesper, and took a deep sigh.
(I wanna go home…)
Holding back my tears, I stared at the motionless buck.
“…Heal from your heart, pray with the hope that he’ll be healed.”
“From my heart?”
“That’s right. Brush off any and all wicked thoughts.”
“Any and all…”
“Now let’s help the buck. You can take everything I told you before one step at a time.”
While I gripped the staff in hesitation, Vesper yelled at me.
“Saya! Are you going to do nothing while standing in front of this badly wounded buck?”
I shake my head. It’s not that I’m not praying.
“But… I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
“I told you earlier didn’t I? It needs to be an innocent prayer.”
I slowly closed my eyes. I gripped the staff I received, praying that the wounds of the buck in front of me would heal.
I’ll ignore my feelings of wanting to return to my own world for now.
If I can save this buck by praying for it to heal then-- Now, as Vesper was saying, I’ll focus on praying from my heart.
(…May this buck’s wounds heal.)
The staff I was holding slightly tinged.
I open my eyes in surprise. The tip of the staff was emitting a warm light that got warmer and warmer.
This body seemed to remember how to heal. Slowly stroke the tip of the staff across the buck’s body. The buck started to move a little.
“…Uhm, are you okay?”
Episode 2: Imbroglio
Episode 3: Amnesia
Episode 4: Raid
Episode Real: At The Time
Episode 5: Discord
Episode 6: Lost
Episode 7: Merge
Episode 8: Riddle
Episode 9: Twilight Dragon
Epilogue: "The World"
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