Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 9 (Part 1)
“Moon… moon. I think I’ve read about it in an old book, but if you ask me to explain what it is, I wouldn’t know how to.”
“Hm. This one too, does not know. Where did you two learn about it? Ahh, this one is called Camilla by the way. 1 Pleased to meet you, Zagan.”
“I’m Cindy. Onee-san is also curious. Please do tell us about it. Of course, it’s fine if Noel-chan explains it too.”
“M-Me? …Uhh, let me see.”
Noel sent me a pleading look. Why was she looking at me? Moreover, I wondered what she was perplexed about. She only glanced at me repeatedly, and wouldn’t answer their questions at all.
Did she perhaps want me to answer? No way. If I answered her, wouldn’t it only convince Noel further that I was her brother? No, actually, didn’t she want me to answer because she wanted to confirm it?
Since Noel was staring at me, Camilla and Cindy’s gazes focused on me too. These two seemed unafraid of me despite my black hair and red eyes. Leaving aside Cindy, who has a curiosity for anything and everything, Camilla is old enough to have seen the last time the evil god appeared. Characters who don’t feel fear sure are troublesome.
I shot a pleading look towards Luca, but he simply smiled.
Hey, what about our promise from just before? Did he think that it would all be fine as long as he himself didn’t tell the others? …Normally, that would have been fine, but I wished he’d be a little more perceptive and, if possible, urge Noel to answer.
There was an air of expectation from everyone for my response. I sighed and resigned myself to the situation.
“…It was from a picture book for children.”
“M-Me too. When I was young, my brother had read it to me many times.”
That’s right. She used to pester me over and over. That’s why I used to sit little Noel on my lap, open the book with beautiful pictures, and read it aloud.
“That means the two of you had happened to read the same book as children. That’s great, Noel. You and Zagan have a lot in common.”
Luca followed up with perfect timing.
I’m sorry Luca. I was blaming you in my mind earlier. The moment Noel heard Luca’s words, her shoulders drooped in disappointment. From the beginning, we had no relationship. Isn’t that right?
“Hmm. This big sister has read a lot of difficult books, but not many picture books. It was an oversight.”
“I’m the same. So, what did the book say? ”
“It was a story about the gods. About the Sun God, and the Moon Goddess, and the Evil God.”
My father had given it to me to read when I was three years old, which was an age where one wouldn’t normally be able to read. He had wanted me to read about the Evil God. After I had read it, I learned that the moon was hidden in this world. Later on, I studied the kingdom’s history and realized that only the Kingdom of Soleil could not see the moon.
“Zagan. I also want to read that book. Do you still have it? ”
“I do, but isn’t it meant for kids? ”
“That’s fine. I want to learn more about the moon.”
Thanks to Luca’s follow-up, I no longer had to hide it so I opened my magic bag. I put my hand inside and visualized what I wanted in my mind. I then took out what I had pictured. It was a picture book with a silvery full moon and a praying goddess drawn on the front cover.
When I handed it over to Luca, he opened the picture book and slowly began reading it out aloud.
Once upon a time, there were two gods, the Sun God and the Moon Goddess .
Both the gods were really pretty and sparkly.
They grew close with each other and fell in love.
But one day, the Evil God, who had also fallen in love with the sun god, hid the moon goddess.
The sun god got angry and defeated the evil god, but he could not find the moon goddess anywhere.
—My love. Where are you? Where do you hide?
No matter how much he called out, the moon goddess did not come out.
The moon, which used to float in the night sky, remained hidden.
The Sun God, weakened by his battle with the evil god and unable to find his beloved, fell asleep in sorrow.
Someday, he will meet his moon goddess again.
Believing in that, he slumbers to this day, thinking of her.
“Hey, big brother. Is Sun God still in sleepy-sleep?”
“That’s right. That’s because he’s tired. Even Noel goes sleepy-sleep when she’s tired, right?”
“Then, will he wake up?”
“I wonder when. I don’t know. But he will surely open his eyes and find the Moon Goddess . Because the Sun God really loves the Moon Goddess .”
“I see. It’ll be nice if Sun God can meet the person he loves.”
I heard Noel mutter. She must have been recalling the past.
Hearing that familiar tale once again, nostalgia welled up in me. Back then, every time Noel had badgered me to read it to her, she would also ask if the god had woken up yet.
I almost smiled at her cuteness, but casually covered my mouth with my hand so that no one around me would see. Luca also covered his mouth with his hand as well, and seemed to be pondering about something. Was he that curious about the moon?
“Can I see it too? ”
Camilla glanced inquisitively at me, and I nodded in response. She then took the picture book from Luca. After she returned to her seat, she opened it with Cindy. Bennett peeked at the book as well from behind them.
“…I see. Although the existence of the sleeping god Soleil and the sealed evil god is clearly mentioned, the reason why the two fought isn’t so clear. As such, they turned it into a love that even infants could understand. The goddess of the moon appears as the partner. In other words, we don’t know if the moon drawn in this picture really exists or if it is hidden.”
“No, it really is hidden. I went through the Great Forest towards the neighbouring country and confirmed it.”
“Huh? Don’t tell me you’ve been through the Great Forest of Etoile? That vast forest where the further in you go, the darker it gets and the stronger the monsters become?”
“Ahh, it was three years ago though. I challenged it because I had reached a much higher level and strength. I think I still had many close calls then. Also, it took me over a year to get out.”
I had been confined in the basement of the mansion most of the time when I lived there. But for a few brief instances, I had also been held up in my father’s arms and brought outside. I had looked up at the night sky from the garden of the mansion and, just as the picture book had said, the moon had been hidden by the evil god and couldn’t be seen. I conclusively learnt about the existence of gods and evil gods. I learnt about the history, and understood that the moon was concealed only in the Kingdom of Soleil. That was why I wanted to go to another country someday and check it out. To confirm if the moon in this world was the same as in my past life.
The Kingdom of Soleil was surrounded by nature on all sides and was isolated from other nations. The 12th to the 4th cities were adjacent to the Great forest. Midway through the 4th city to the 6th city, there was a high altitude mountainous area, and from the 7th to 11th cities was the ocean. If one wished to go to another country, they’d have to pass through the forest, or go out to the sea.
At first, I had thought it would be faster to go to the sea. If I did that, I would have been able to see the moon immediately. However, the sea was an unknown frontier to me. Many monsters dwelled in the sea and, in the first place, rowing a boat alone was too risky. On the other hand, I was familiar with the forest as I had lived there since I was nine. I decided to take my time and pass through the forest.
I can say now that I’d made the right choice. If one could see the moon by spending some time out in the seas, then the Kingdom would have known about the moon from the sailors.
I digress. Once I had gotten out of the forest, there was a foreign nation, as shown on the ancient maps. And there, in the night sky, was the moon. The moon shone brightly, just like it had in the picture book and in my past life.
“This is the moon.”
I pulled out the photos I had taken with my camera, a magical tool that was similar to a Polaroid camera from my past life, from my bag. I had several dozens of stacks of them. They were taken over the course of a month, and recorded the various phases of the moon.
When I handed the photos to Luca, he began to look at them with a serious face. It seemed that he was extremely interested in them. Before I knew it, the picture book had also been passed to Nina and Miranda, and the two were engrossed in it.
By the time the pictures fell into the hands of Camilla and the others, Noel had moved next to Nina. She held the picture book as if it were a treasure, and flipped through each page carefully.
As I watched them, Luca, who had been thinking quietly all this while, looked at me.
“In other words, the person who drew the original picture book was someone who had seen the moon and knew what it was like. They also would have known that it was hidden by an evil god. Nowadays, the moon is passed down as a fictional idea to a few in the form of rare picture books for children. No one had actually gone to verify the moon’s existence, so it has remained a fictional creation …Until now, that is.”
“I was curious, so I had no choice.”
“Yeah. Also, I’ll wait to ask you about that dangerous journey of yours when we’re by ourselves later.”
Hey, don’t say such an unsettling thing.
“Why isn’t it known now that the moon was hidden by the evil god?”
“Well. If I have to give a reason, I’d say that leaving behind records wasn’t given much importance a thousand years ago. Or perhaps, something inconvenient happened that needed to be covered up. Don’t you think so?”
“It makes sense to think that way. That’s why there’s a loophole like this in the picture book. The only ones who might have some knowledge about the circumstances of the god who watches over the country would have been the royal family. The royal family a thousand years ago… we need to investigate them somehow.”
Now that he mentioned it, I also became curious. Why has the existence of the moon been hidden to the people? Why did the Evil God hide the moon? But then again, how can you investigate something that happened a thousand years ago?
“Yes, yes, ye-s. Can I ask a question?”
Nina, who was beside Noel, glanced up from the picture book and raised her hand.
“In the first place, what kind of existence is god? The evil god too. I have heard that he destroyed this country many times, but I have never seen it with my own eyes. So I wonder if gods and evil gods really exist. Uhm, you see. I am an orphan… I never went to school, so I don’t really know.”
“Hey Nina, there’s no reason to put yourself down. If you don’t know something, you can just ask, like now.”
“Uh-huh, that’s true. Heheh, thanks Miranda.”
“I mean, even I don’t know the details.”
“Ehhhh. Even though I was moved after all that, don’t suddenly destroy the mood with that line–.”
Miranda laughed heartily, and Nina joined in. The others started laughing too, even Luca. They seemed to have built a good relationship with each other. It looked like the circle was just disrupted when I entered it.
“Then this one will teach you. Nina, where do you think monsters come from? ”
“Miasma… from demonic essence, right? Even I know that much.”
“Yeah. Even among monsters, there are various types, from weak ones like slimes to powerful ones like devils or dragons. Most monsters born from demonic essence have a short lifespan, but some devils and dragons with wisdom can live for thousands of years. The evil god is a much stronger version of those monsters. He is so powerful that we humans could never compete with him. Furthermore, gods are beings with tremendous power, born from the opposite of the demonic essence. This phenomenon is called… pure spirit or demon clearing. Has Nina ever seen any spirits and fairies? ”
“No, but I have heard of them.”
“I see. It is said that before the evil god attacked the country, spirits, fairies, and holy beasts, which are now rare, were commonplace back then. God Soleil, who protects this land, was also a familiar existence. However, just as the picture book said, he was weakened by the evil god, and then he disappeared.”
That event happened around a thousand years ago. No one living in the kingdom today has ever seen the god Soleil, but they still believe he exists and that he is merely sleeping. They also believe that the slumbering Soleil has been the one making the Lumiere appear beneath the castle.
“I’ll also teach you some history while I’m at it. Now, a question for you all. Animals, plants, and bacteria, which include us humans, are all called living things. But then, what do you call spirits and monsters? Those who know can answer.”
Camilla looked around at everyone. Nina tilted her head in puzzlement, and Miranda shook hers. Cindy simply smiled. Noel was still staring at me, despite leaving her seat. I then let my gaze drift to Luca once again, but he just grinned at me like before. This fellow…
When no one answered, Bennett raised his hand timidly.
“They’re d-demons. It means “those born from the mana of the world”.”2
“Huh, is that so? I always thought Monsters = Demons.”
“In this day and age, that’s what the common belief is because there aren’t many spirits around.”
“Yeah. Just as Bennett said, demons are those born from the mana of the world. The demonic essence and demon clearing substances that occur here and there are the mass of the world’s mana. As such, this means that they have existed on this earth since long before we humans were even born.”
Hasr: Sorry for the delay, irl’s sorta been a rollercoaster these past 48 hours.