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Dragon Quest IV Novel, Book 1

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Introduction Part 2 (Part 2.3)

 

****************************

 

Halfway down the stairs, Saro stopped and looked around. When he was sure that no one else was there, he traced a mysterious design in the air with his finger and chanted an ancient spell under his breath.

 

There in empty space, cold sparks appeared. The fire flowed in thin streams and formed the golden outlines of an invisible door, a door that was sealed with powerful protection magic. Saro stepped forward silently and the door opened by itself. After receiving its master, it closed quietly and disappeared.

 

Inside the door was a spring meadow overflowing with green. Butterflies congregated under the bright sunshine and birds danced through the air. In the middle of a vast field of sweet-smelling flowers there was a pond with a fountain spraying water wildly. Sitting on one of the paving stones encircling the pond was a beautiful young girl in a gray dress. She was singing to herself in a low whisper. There was a tiny bird pecking at something in her hand, and sensing the Youma it raised its face delicately.

 

But the thing that appeared to be a tiny bird was actually a fish made to fly. And the butterflies that flew past, if you looked closely, were actually bats with their wings painted in bright colors. The trees and shrubs all had trunks molded from copper, leaves carved from jade, and fruit shaped from coral. The flowers sparkled with sapphire and ruby buds that would never open. The dew on their leaves was not dew at all, but pearls. Even the water that gushed up from the fountain was just tens of thousands of broken shards of glass from a mirror. Again and again they scattered and fell, only to become a full mirror again when they hit the surface of the "water".

 

Within the artificial garden, amidst all the fake things constructed by the skillful magic of the Youma Saro, there was only one who was not an illusion. She was the healthy young girl who now stood up, adjusted her gray dress and ran headlong to the Youma. The child of the late elf king. Rosa.

 

(39)

"Don't run. You'll injure yourself." Saro narrowed his eyes, but the young princess ran within three steps of him and stopped.

 

She shouted at him with a willful voice. "I want to go outside! Let me out. I'm so sick of this place!"

 

"Foolish girl," the Youma mumbled in a low voice. Then, to soothe her, he changed the pitch of his voice. "Listen. Rosa. It's dangerous out there. Your yearning for the outside will only lead to death. Learn to be content with the things I have given you. If you listen to me, I'll give you something as a reward. How about that? What would you like? Just name it."

 

The young girl didn't answer. Instead she turned away from him.

 

"You won't say anything?" the Youma covered her sulky look with his hands and looked into her eyes. "Well, how about a mischievous young deer? You like to run around, don't you? A deer is fast. You could ride on its back and it could run you around until you are dizzy. Or how about a golden flute? Put it to your lips and it will play music unknown to this world. A sound so indescribably beautiful that any songbird who hears it will be ashamed of its clumsy throat, and want to peck out its own heart."

 

(40)

"I want to go outside," The young girl insisted, glaring into his golden eyes with her blue crystal eyes. She was obstinate. "I want to see the sun!"

 

"The sun... that is not possible. I hate the sun. How about the moon or some stars instead?"

 

"No!" the young girl shook her head. "I want to feel the sun's rays on my body. I don't want anything else! The deer, the flute, they will just be fake like everything else. I hate fake things! I hate this place! And you.. you.. I hate you!"

 

Large tears poured out of the young girl's eyes. The elf princess's tears twinkled red in the light. They spilled out like surging blood into the Youma's open palms. But not long after she began crying, she fell silent. She suppressed her whimpering and chewed on her lip. She wiped her eyelids with clenched fists.

 

The Youma smiled in amusement. He removed her hands and took pleasure in her tear-stained face.

 

"You're very brave Rosa," the Youma whispered gently. "It is just like you to look me in the face and abuse me like that. It seems your blood has beautifully inherited the memory of your noble race. However, going outdoors is forbidden. We are in the middle of a war now. And I don't entirely trust everyone on our side. I can't be seen escorting a young girl around. Please wait a while longer. Before long, my grandfather will win the war and...."

 

(41)

"I'm not afraid of monsters." She hardly knew a thing about monsters, but the girl's will was firm. "I don't care. If you are too scared, I'll go by myself. I will go to see the sun. So let me go!"

 

"NO!" The Youma's voice was like a snowstorm. But a moment later he smiled and lifted the struggling girl into his arms. "There there. Hey, I've heard that there is supposed to be a sun in the Underworld. It's likely a bit different from your sun, but shall we go search for it together?"

 

The Youma wrapped the girl up in his cloak and dragged his cold lips across her smooth round cheeks, her trembling eyelids, her pouty lips.

 

The princess struggled against him and glared at him when their eyes met. But that angry face gradually changed to a look of confusion and finally that small chest of hers began to throb excitedly, so strongly that you could hear it on the outside.

 

The Youma's lips were like a love potion, his clawed fingers a cold fire. The Youma spun a rapture that nobody above or below the earth could escape, no matter how strong of heart. He was seduction itself.

 

The innocent girl saw a side of herself that she didn't know existed. Her eyes wandered back and forth as if in a fever dream. Her cheeks blushed and became hot. She opened her mouth to beg the prince for mercy, but an indulgent sigh poured out instead. The Youma gave a cold smile. His eyes were filled with a merciless love. He enjoyed the wriggling of the little bird in his hands.

 

(42)

The world melted and boiled, scattered and gathered again inside the young girl. Her white throat was thrown back, and the jeweled hairpin holding up her honey-colored hair fell out. Her hair fell down like a waterfall, spread out like a golden tassel on the Youma's black costume.

 

The Youma raised his voice and laughed. "Do you understand now? The sun is inside you. No, we should say it's inside of me."

 

The Youma combed through the young girl's hair with his fingers. "Just a little more patience, Rosa. I won't break my promise. I will let you out of here. I will let you walk anyplace you like. As my wife."

 

The young girl couldn't answer. She was still at the mercy of her emotions, which were like a million stars singing.

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These are good don't stop :)

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You already know I'm hooked as well. Keep up the good work. :)

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Thanks for the comments! It gives me a happy warm feeling inside to know people are reading it and enjoying it.

 

I think I'm starting to get a little faster with my translating skills. I have the next two updates in rough-draft form already. Maybe I will reach Ragnar by Christmas afterall!

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Thanks again for doing this. Your translation is very good - I can't comment on the accuracy as I can't understand Japanese myself, though obviously I trust you with it, but what I can comment on is the fact that it doesn't sound like it's translated... So many fan translations sound clumsy and like the translators lack the talent to put it into well formed English sentences.

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Thanks again for doing this. Your translation is very good - I can't comment on the accuracy as I can't understand Japanese myself, though obviously I trust you with it, but what I can comment on is the fact that it doesn't sound like it's translated... So many fan translations sound clumsy and like the translators lack the talent to put it into well formed English sentences.

 

Thanks! I try my best to turn it into natural English without making drastic changes to the author's word-choice. Sometimes I still get clumsy sentences like: "It seems your blood has beautifully inherited the memory of your noble race" :), but I'm happy to hear that it reads smoothly for the most part. Thanks for the comment. When I get kind comments from readers it really motivates me to keep going. I appreciate the support. Next update should come really soon!

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Introduction Part 2 (Part 2.4)

 

*******************************************

 

Deep down in the depths of hell, a sea of boiling magma broke in waves upon a cliff. On the side of that cliff, a black cave opened wide. Prince Miasof clicked a rusty key into the iron gate blocking the cave entrance and intoned an ancient spell to break the seal. An eerie sound like an astonished scream reverberated from within. Then the door opened as if beckoning him to enter. Miasof nodded his head to the three armed monsters that accompanied him and they returned the nod silently. Then they stepped into the darkness one by one.

 

(43)

The floor of the rocky corridor was wet and slippery. The walls, illuminated by rush torches, had a tinge of flesh-color, like being inside the womb of a gigantic creature. The group pushed their way silently through the thick darkness. A terrible smell, like the rotting carcass of a dead animal, filled the inside of the cave.

 

Along the way, the monster at the end of the line turned to look behind him. What he saw caused him to let out a throat-gurgling scream. The cavern behind him rolled and waved like the undulations of a worm. The "straight" path they had walked stretched far above. They were going down. Without realizing it they were being thrust towards the abyss, towards the bottom of Hell. Loud spine-chilling laughter filled the monster's ears. Fear swelled up inside him.

 

Miasof turned around at the faint sound of a sword hilt coming out of its sheath. Quickly assessing the situation, he pressed down the hand of his henchman who was about to draw.

 

"Don't panic. We have protective magic cast upon us. Nothing will harm us." The henchman forced his pale lips into an uncomfortable smile and let go of his sword. The four of them once again began walking.

 

From time to time, they felt like there was something in front of them. At other times they felt it was following them from behind. Scorching breath grazed their cheeks. Whispers of poisonous women stroked their ears, but Miasof didn't stop or draw his weapon. His companions, who were weaker of heart, felt their anxiety grow into fear, then into madness. It was more than their minds could bear. Then the corridor came to an abrupt end and emptied into a room that glowed a dim, hazy blue.

 

The room was like a large hall. Tall shelves were arranged in a pattern that resembled a labyrinth. The shelves and the floor were littered with old dusty books and scrolls. Grasshoppers, crickets and seven-colored lizards hopped and crawled through piles of tattered and torn paper. Miasof brushed away a spider's web with the scabbard of his long sword and entered the room. He walked with the confidence of someone in familiar territory. Scanning the room he saw a shriveled form of gray rags sitting upon a desk.

 

(44)

"Master Jakosh," Miasof called. "I am Prince Miasof, son of Haygen, son of the Ruler of Evil Nargoth. I wish to have an audience with you, O Wise One from heaven, who has no equal in this world."

 

The gray lump moved and a sly face peeked out from a place you wouldn't expect the head to be. The gray figure's emaciated cheeks looked like thin skin stretched over a huge skull. His face twitched with a sarcastic smile.

 

"Ruler of Evil! Ha!" Jakosh laughed, but there wasn't a scrap of warmth in his smile. "Has another pretender appeared in the Monster World? My, how history repeats itself. Just like the law says."

 

"Master of Truth," Miasof kneeled. His companions hastily followed suit. "Chancellor of Fate. It brings me great happiness to find you. You have been a captive in this darkness for so long, Great Sage. But I didn't forget about you. Not like the others did."

 

"Ho!" The magician's thin lips twisted out into a sideways grin. "Tell me now, what happened to them? Those idiots who called me a fraud, a phony? Ungrateful fools. Emperor Esturk's generals, what happened to them?"

 

(45)

"They all died. A long time ago."

 

The magician's eyebrows rose. Miasof moistened his tongue and added, "The generals were still alive after the war and seized power. But they were overthrown by my grandfather Nargoth and disposed of. We have come here for the very purpose of putting right what went wrong in the time of Esturk."

 

Jakosh rose and let out roaring laughter. Like a madman he pointed to the sky, trampled the ground and threw books around the room. Miasof endured the old man's tantrum patiently, maintaining a calm, impassive face. The same could not be said of his three companions however, who were doing all they could to stifle the shaking in their knees. After a few minutes, Jakosh calmed himself and his madness subsided. He approached Miasof.

 

"Well then, do you believe? That I am a great magician of Truth? That I, who was not born on earth or in the Underworld, am a great priest of heaven?"

 

"I believe," Miasof nodded confidently. "I know. And accordingly I believe that there is no being stronger than you who seeks revenge against the lord of heaven, the Dragon God."

 

"The Dragon God!" Jakosh spit. "Oh yes, that one is jealous of my intellect. He fears me. He thought his position was threatened. He smeared my name with offenses and guilt, I who had done no crime. He seduced all of my friends to his side. He snatched the glorious wings from my back and threw me down to the earth. Everything to make that divine secret, the secret of evolution that I produced, his own..."

 

(46)

"The secret of evolution..." One of Miasof's underlings blurted out in surprise. "That's forbidden. Young master, that's nothing but superstition. It's bad luck. A bunch of nonsense. Master Miasof, don't tell you came all the way down here to try.. ?"

 

A yell spurted from Miasof's lips, and the insolent henchman died in the middle of his speech. From underneath its body greenish blood oozed out and soaked the stray books and papers on the floor. The remaining two henchmen went pale, but Jakosh laughed, his sunken eyes darting around restlessly like a skeleton1.

 

"I think I'm starting to believe you too, Prince."

 

"My companion committed a great offense. Please forgive me."

 

"This isn't the first time that's happened." Jakosh frowned. "At that time, everyone treated me like a madman. They called me a liar. But I wasn't wrong. My theory was perfect. Just one thing, one pivotal piece was missing: the Golden Bracelet. If only the Dragon God hadn't intervened... I stopped. I stopped Esturk. Without the Bracelet, the secret will not work correctly. Esturk was in too much of a hurry to win and...2"

 

The magician stopped talking and looked down at Miasof. He raised his eyebrows. "What am I doing? I get a rare visitor and here I am prattling on about an old story. It must be boring for you. We beings from heaven do not die on earth or in the Underworld. I am very old. In consideration of my age, please also forgive me my impoliteness.. so.. Prince, what is it you have come here for? Putting right what went wrong in the time of Esturk? You didn't just come to apologize to me, did you?"

 

(47)

"No," Miasof's eyes lit up with greed. "I have come to escort you out of here. I have come to give you freedom."

 

"You can do that?" Jakosh frowned suspiciously. "Has the Monster World decided to accept me again?"

 

"I'm afraid that that time hasn't yet arrived. There are still many like my recently deceased companion who are stuck in old ways of thinking. But you can lend me your power. Then, when the time comes and my father... no, when I, Miasof, take the throne.. yes, at that time, it will be your time Jakosh. What do you say?"

 

The prince from the monster world and the magician from heaven stared at each other in silence for a short while.

 

______________________________________________________

 

Notes:

 

1 Of course, skeletons don't really have eyes, but think about the googly-eyed skeleton sprites in DQ games.

2 It isn't really clear to me the exact sequence of events, but my guess is this:

 

1. Esturk invades the overworld. Heaven is still neutral.

2. Jakosh produces the secret of evolution in heaven.

3. Somehow Jakosh gets in touch with Esturk and helps him with his secret of evolution (which is still incomplete).

4. The Dragon God decides to help the humans fight off Esturk.

5. The Dragon God kicks Jakosh out of heaven, because the secret of evolution is dangerous? forbidden? because Jakosh is aiding the enemy? 4 and 5 might be related.

6. Esturk wants to use the secret of evolution right away, but the Golden Bracelet is missing, so Jakosh pulls out.

7. Dragon God and Esturk fight. The world is destroyed and Esturk is sealed deep underground. Seeing the destruction he caused, Dragon God vows to never intervene again.

8. Somewhere along the way, Jakosh ends up at the bottom in hell, perhaps imprisoned by Esturk's generals, who think he is a fraud.

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*patiently waiting for Ragnar's part with bated breath and curiosity...*

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*patiently waiting for Ragnar's part with bated breath and curiosity...*

 

Me too! When I first saw this book at the bookstore, I was ready to dive right into Ragnar's story. Having Healie in the introduction got me pumped even more. This lengthy introduction about monster politics was a surprise. :) It's interesting and all, but I'm really hoping to finish it up soon.

 

I think I'm about 6 updates away from Burland. I actually just finished the introduction in my reading (I try to stay a little ahead of the translation so I know what's coming). Won't be too long now.

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you'll keep coming back. I've been reading your story too. I have it saved on my desktop. I'm at the part where Ragnar and Harald are heading to Burland Castle to pick up Flora :)

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Yeah tummai, I have not posted my appreciation of this yet but it can wait no longer! This is amazing. You are a gifted translator and we are all very fortunate to have you sharing this with us.

 

Thanks! (as if "thanks!" adequately conveys my appreciation for your hard work...)

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Awesome man! Great stuff. :)

 

Yeah tummai, I have not posted my appreciation of this yet but it can wait no longer! This is amazing. You are a gifted translator and we are all very fortunate to have you sharing this with us.

 

Thanks! (as if "thanks!" adequately conveys my appreciation for your hard work...)

 

Thanks guys. If there's ever anything that doesn't make sense or whatever, please let me know. Also, feel free to comment/discuss the story at anytime if there's anything that jumps out at you.

 

We just had a three-day weekend here and I didn't do any translation stuff during the break, but this morning I just about finished up the next section. It's a pretty funny scene. I will post it tonight (Japan time). Thanks for reading!

Edited by tummai

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Thanks for reading! I hope you'll keep coming back. I've been reading your story too. I have it saved on my desktop. I'm at the part where Ragnar and Harald are heading to Burland Castle to pick up Flora :)

Heh, cool. I'm sure there will be quite a few differences, although it'll be interesting to see if there are any similarities beyond the basic game plotline.

 

Although it's probably hard to tell, any idea how many words these books are? Going by your translations, there seems to be an average of 400 words per page.

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Thanks for reading! I hope you'll keep coming back. I've been reading your story too. I have it saved on my desktop. I'm at the part where Ragnar and Harald are heading to Burland Castle to pick up Flora :)

Heh, cool. I'm sure there will be quite a few differences, although it'll be interesting to see if there are any similarities beyond the basic game plotline.

 

Most old stories and legends (Sigurd/Sigfried, King Arthur, Jataka tales, etc) have differences between tellings. It makes them more interesting. :) I'm also curious to see if there are any similarities though, especially when it comes to details about the characters.

 

Although it's probably hard to tell, any idea how many words these books are? Going by your translations, there seems to be an average of 400 words per page.

 

DQ4 is a trilogy. Book 1, which covers Ragnar and Alena/Cristo/Brey, is 326 pages. Book 2, which covers Taloon and Mara/Nara, is 255 pages. Book 3, which covers Yuril and the Wagon Warriors, is 375 pages. If your per page estimate is close, then we have

 

Book 1: 326x400 = 130 400 words

Book 2: 255x400 = 102 000 words

Book 3: 375x400 = 150 000 words

 

for a grand total of 382400 words, minus a few thousand for blank pages, pages with short poems, pictures, etc.

 

Only about 360,000 words to go!

Edited by tummai

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Book 1: 326x400 = 130 400 words

Oh, wow. That's all? Heh, the two Parts to Alena's story that I've written tally up to about 138, 000 words alone. I have a sneaky suspicion that mine are going to be a bit rather more... detailed. :angel:

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Book 1: 326x400 = 130 400 words

Oh, wow. That's all? Heh, the two Parts to Alena's story that I've written tally up to about 138, 000 words alone. I have a sneaky suspicion that mine are going to be a bit rather more... detailed. :angel:

 

Yes, especially since Japanese Alena has to share her 130,400 words with Ragnar and Saro :) Did you finish writing Alena's story or is it still a work in progress? If it's unfinished, how many words do you think it will be when it is finished?

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Introduction Part 3 (Part 3.1)

 

The Ruler of Evil Nargoth was presented with a golden woman. Her skin, eyes, hair, everything glowed like moonlight.

 

It was the work of one of the dwarven craftsmen captured from the elf forest, the most skilled and aged among them. He said that a young stranger came to him in a dream and challenged him to make something great, to pour all of his energy and ability into the work. This was actually all part of a carefully planned scheme, the result of that secret meeting between Jakosh and Prince Miasof, but the dwarf of course didn't know a drop about it.

 

(48)

The old engineer devoted all his skill, experience and will to building the beautiful woman. She was a mechanical doll. She could walk. She could smile. King Nargoth was asked for his opinion on the work. As a joke, he infused the doll with life. Consciousness arose within the doll and immediately she began to sing abuse and insults at the old man that had made her. She reported how the old man used crude materials to create her, how he cut corners on certain unseen parts, how she resented him for his tasteless and vulgar molding skills. It was obviously not true, but it poured out of her mouth like a confession.

 

The embarrassed old man was flustered and tried to defend himself but he couldn't rival the doll's gift for words. The gathered monsters rained laughter upon the poor old dwarf and he ran away humiliated.

 

The impudent mechanical girl continued to chatter on and on. Not a lick of what she said was true. At first Nargoth thought she was entertaining, a good way to kill time, but before long the Ruler of Evil grew tired of her. He gave her to his loyal retainer Dakros, joking that she would make him a nice wife.

 

Dakros took it seriously.

 

The Karon Dakros was a longtime bachelor and he felt deep emotions for the beautiful woman that the king had presented to him. He took her home and called her his sweetheart. He took care of her with wholehearted devotion. He brought her flowers, candy and jewelry. He fawned over her and spoiled her with praise. When they were together, he took great care to dress in his best clothes in order to impress her. But in spite of all this, he couldn't attain the happiness of marriage that he was so desperately looking for. When finally he decided to bring her into his bed, she slipped out from under the blankets and tried to escape. When he scolded her, she cried like a child and said something very peculiar.

 

"Ahh, I'm so sad. Ahh, I feel so miserable. There is another gold-haired woman besides me in the Underworld. Ahh, I can't stand it. I hate it, that such a beautiful woman exists. As long as she is here, I won't be your wife."

 

(49)

"Calm down love. There aren't any women with gold hair here, much less a woman who is even half as beautiful as you."

 

Dakros, flustered, took the woman's hand and patted it gently to soothe her. But she shook her head stubbornly.

 

"No, she is here. The gold-haired woman is here. That lovely girl is here in Hell, in His Majesty's territory. There's no mistake. She's in a hidden room in Dire Palace. I know she's there. And it makes me so sad."

 

It was already well-known throughout the monster world that the mechanical woman spouted nothing but lies, but lovestruck Dakros swallowed the story whole. He scoured the castle searching, he turned over every rock in Hell looking for the golden-haired woman. He tore the hoods off of elderly Lilypas, he put a magnifying glass to the clay crowns of Mystic Dolls, searching for gold hair. He got into a lot of unnecessary trouble when he turned up the robes of Bharacks, Phantom Messengers and Mad Clowns1 to check and see if they were women or not.

 

But he didn't find the golden-haired woman.

 

King Nargoth was amused like the rest of the monsters by his chief retainer's desperation, but he grew suspicious. He used an ancient spell and summoned a dark reflective pool called "Omnilun2", a magic mirror whose function was to reflect everything in the world. The king's voice was charged with a magic power that nothing could disobey. He asked the mirror sharply.

 

(50)

"Is there a golden-haired woman hidden in one of my castles? Other than the mechanical woman made by that dwarf."

 

"There is and there isn't" the mirror sang. "In the western tower of a castle, at one section of a spiral staircase, there is a place between space and time. In that place, hidden from you, there is an elf girl. She has honey-golden ringlets. A lovely young girl."

 

"An elf girl?" The color in Nargoth's face changed. "What girl? Why is she there? What is she doing?"

 

The mirror continued. "She is the youngest daughter of the Idiot King. And she has won the heart of Your Majesty's grandson. She is still a young girl, too young to marry, but already she behaves like a queen, and she could make away with the monster world."

 

"Saro," Nargoth smiled bitterly. His face cracked up like a frozen lake.

 

"My prodigal son. So you went to the elf forest afterall. Against my orders. And to fall for one of the enemy, what a stupid thing to do. Good-for-nothing fool. You might as well be one of those pieces of overworld garbage, one of those dream-eating elven morons. Very well, beautiful grandson, I will change your appearance to something more in line with your stupidity!"

 

Nargoth sneered and a cloud of sulfur-smelling smoke appeared in front of him. Nargoth put his clawed finger to it and stirred the sulfur cloud into swirls. He breathed it in.

 

(51)

An unearthly spell roared through the monster castle, through the monster world, into every corner of hell. Monsters everywhere stood at attention, shocked and afraid. Something had changed. Moments before, they had felt young prince Saro's presence in the Underworld, but now that presence was gone.

 

___________________________________

 

Notes:

 

1Here are the monsters who were "disturbed" by Dakros (in order, Lilypa, Mystic Doll, Bharack, Phantom Messenger and Mad Clown):

lilypa.gifmystic-doll.gifbharack.gifphantom-messenger.gifmad-clown.gif

 

In case you forgot, Dakros is a Karon, which looks like this:

karon.gif

 

2The Japanese is actually something like "All over like a full moon". It was long and clumsy in English, so I made up my own word from "omni" and "lunar".

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Yes, especially since Japanese Alena has to share her 130,400 words with Ragnar and Saro :) Did you finish writing Alena's story or is it still a work in progress? If it's unfinished, how many words do you think it will be when it is finished?

I've written about 27, 000 words so far for Part 3. The in-game events this covers is the trip from Frenor to the travel door leading to Endor -so, maybe 5 minutes of game time.

 

Yeah, this Part is gonna be a beast. Don't be surprised if it breaks the 100, 000 word mark. :whoa:

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Is the original version or the updated version of the game closely based on the novels?

 

The other way around. The novels are based on the game.

 

But this introductory chapter doesn't occur in the game. It's just background information. The game starts with Ragnar's story, which I haven't quite gotten to in this translation.

Edited by tummai

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Sorry it's been so long! I've been studying for the JLPT, interviewing students and fighting sickness. Not to mention this scene is pretty long compared to previous ones. Anyway, here it is.

 

Introduction Part 3 (Part 3.2)

 

Rosa sat at the edge of the fountain lost in thought. The water mirror reflected her lost eyes and sorrowful look. She casually touched her finger to the water and the ripples contorted her reflection. It looked like she was crying, the way the tiny waves rolled across her eyes.

 

The birds and butterflies did not come to rest by her side. They could sense her mood and stayed away.

 

Rosa didn't know how long she had been sitting like this. Sometimes it felt like Saro had just left, other times it felt like she hadn't seen him in a year. When he was gone, she sat here waiting for him. For that beautiful Youma that meant the world to her.

 

Time flowed funny in that place. Rosa lost track of the days. When her heart burned with desire for the Youma, when she got impatient, time slowed to the pace of a slug's crawl. And during those long waits her heart was filled with worry. Now the winds of war blew through the monster world. She wondered where he was, what he was doing, if he had been injured. Sometimes Saro would tell her about what happened on the outside. They were all stories of bloodshed, cruelty, conspiracy and destruction. She thought that he should spend more time here with her, where he could relax and be at peace.

 

(52)

As the length of his absence stretched on and on, her anxiety and suspicion grew worse, and the innocent smile was snatched away from her cheeks. When she thought about growing old in this place waiting for him, tears rolled down her cheeks. She thought many times that it would be better to die soon than to rot away, alone, in this place.

 

Her lover was kind, but he was cold. He did as he pleased, free like water. Just when she thought she had something to hold onto, he slipped through her fingers. She just couldn't keep him there.

 

Her lover was hateful. He had brought her here to this lonely place and kept her here against her will. She couldn't help but love him, and she felt bitter for it. But love is beyond thought. Once you have been seized by the madness of its flame, nothing can save you: not reason, not emotion, not magic or any kind of amulet. When fate brings you together with another, and you fall in love....

 

Rosa sighed. Then she looked up, wrinkling her nose.

 

A smell like sulfur pervaded the air like a fog. Rosa felt dizzy. No, not dizzy. The ground was actually shaking. The landscape around her was wavering violently.

 

She closed her eyes and opened them again.

 

Rosa gasped.

 

The surrounding scenery had changed completely. The land that now spread out before her was a rich, green forest. It was not the artificial world she had been trapped in. She inhaled softly and the refreshing scent of grass, trees and bushes filled her chest.

 

(53)

The mirror fountain had morphed into a cool, clear mountain stream. A young deer was taking a drink from the side of the stream. When it saw her, it looked up and bowed its head lightly in greeting. On the opposite shore, a stripe-tailed raccoon was diligently cleaning its forepaw. Fish sprang out from the surface of the water, twisting and splashing. Multicolored birds fluttered by playfully, landed on her shoulder as if inviting her to play with them. Above her, a radiant light poured down through the spaces between fresh green leaves and branches. There could be no mistake, it was the light of the sun!

 

(Samulraan...)

 

This place resembled that "City of Slumber", her father's capital. Her memories of that vanished paradise and her life there had grown hazy during her time in Saro's fake garden. Now someone had brought it all back with an accuracy that bordered on cruelty. An ironic kindness. Smiling, Rosa felt her eyes get wet. Here in the green forest she felt the absence of her beloved father and family more than ever. They had not been brought back by whoever it was who performed this unfathomable feat..

 

Whoever..

 

She only knew of one person who could do such a thing.

 

"....Rosa? Why do you have that look on your face?"

 

Raising her chin to that sweet voice, she saw a tall young man standing beside her. It was none other than the "one person" she had been thinking of. Rosa raised her fist and was about to shout at him, but she felt something strange and stopped.

 

(54)

The young man was wearing a dark green tunic and sandals woven from tree bark. It was not the noble, all-black form she was used to seeing. Atop his head he wore a headscarf to shade himself from the sun. Over his shoulder he carried a shovel. Around him stood several dwarves. Their short bodies were dripping with sweat, the aftereffects of a long day of work.

 

The young man had Saro's face. She could see the crescent earring, the mark of his imperial pedigree, hanging from his ear. But was this really her arrogant Youma? His dark presence, his frank self-confidence and his mysterious charm were nowhere to be found. He stared back at her with a look of simple honesty. His face was colored with the clumsy shyness of a confused young man. Just before, when Rosa had raised her fist at him, he shrank back in surprise even though he had no need to fear a strike from someone like her.

 

"What's wrong? You look like you just woke up from a bad dream." The young man lowered his shovel and came close to her. Wrapping his hands around her fist, he hesitantly locked fingers with her.

 

"You tomboy. I bet you were fighting someone in your dream, weren't you? It wasn't me, was it?"

 

Rosa trembled as she looked into the eyes of this man, her lover. She felt like she didn't recognize him.

 

Something strange had happened. It was like someone took his body and soul and extracted the parts that were most like him. This man was a cast off skin. Or was he a look-a-like impostor? Was this someone's clever trick? Was someone trying to deceive her?

 

(55)

"....Saro...!" Rosa grasped her lover by the chest and shook him. She lowered her face so that she wouldn't see his eyes and she called his name again and again.

 

"....Saro, Saro. I'm the one who wants to ask 'what's wrong'. Did something happen to you? Are you really Saro....?"

 

"Hey, hey," Saro laughed. There was no maliciousness in his laugh. "Did you forget my face? There is only one me. Isn't that right guys?"

 

He looked around and the dwarves voiced their assurances.

 

"Aye, aye. That fellow surely be Saro."

"You still be half-sleeping Rosa. Harhar."

"He been with us the whole time. He done nothing bad. Ye have me word on it."

 

The rabbits and foxes that had gathered there too nodded their heads, showing their agreement. It seemed Saro was loved by the animals here. He was accepted as an equal, a friend. He behaved like he was nothing more than a simple young man. It was as if he had been implanted with false memories. Memories of coming here to live long ago.

 

Or maybe she had been pulled into another world, another time. One that resembled her own world?

 

(56)

"Rosa....?" Saro took the dumbfounded girl's hand and caressed it lovingly. "You aren't angry with me are you? Because I left you alone for such a long time? But weren't you the one who told me you wanted me to build a shrine? That's why I'm here, wearing a hat to block the sun even, working so hard to get it done quickly. For you. Please understand me."

 

"....Ah....!" Rosa backed off, staggering.

 

The Youma hated the sun more than anything. He would never come out to the surface in the noon sun. To be bathed in the light from heaven, for him, would be something akin to a fish in the open air, or a bird deep under the water. He could endure it for a short time, sure, but it must be torture to be out here for such a long time.

 

For Saro to willingly submit himself to such pain. For him to soil his hands with earth, to drench his forehead with sweat, to do back-breaking labor, and to do it in harmony with dwarves and animals!

 

"Rosa? What's wrong? Are you feeling ok? Here, hang on to me. Can you walk with me to the tree over there? Let's get you under some shade."

 

Saro supported Rosa with his arms. Together they walked into the shade of a large elm tree. Saro lowered her gently onto a soft carpet of moss. He didn't seem to mind getting his hands wet from grass dew, or getting his knees dirty on the forest floor. He straightened the wrinkles out of her dress and then pulled himself back from her side. It was like she was a fragile treasure that he feared breaking. It was as if he didn't want to touch her, even with one finger, without her permission.

 

(57)

The dwarves exchanged worried glances. Seeing her condition, they judged it was best not to get in the way. They tapped each other on the shoulders and quietly walked away. Saro remained silent, but he gave them a thankful bow as they left.

 

Rosa pressed her nails into her palms.

 

She felt sick to her stomach. Her body shook with isolation and fear.

 

She loved Saro. The Saro she lost. That arrogant Saro. The Saro brimming with self-confidence as if there were no man in the world grander than he, she loved him dearly. Rosa now realized just how much she adored him, yearned for him.

 

He was born to rule. Dangerous, cruel, uninhibited, kind yet cold, direct yet ambiguous, careful and precise and possessing a dark charisma that she couldn't resist.

 

But the Saro she knew wasn't there. Saro had changed.

 

Rosa covered her face with her hands and sobbed. Saro was flustered. Seeing that her body wouldn't stop shaking, he gathered some fallen branches and cautiously started a fire.

 

When the weak flame started to blaze, Rosa immediately stopped crying. The Youma didn't call forth thunder from his fingertips to start the fire. He used a small piece of flint covered in lint and threads that he pulled out of his pocket. Saro had lost his powers. Or he had forgotten how to express his powers. And he didn't appear to find that especially strange.

 

(58)

This wasn't the time for tears. She calmed herself and tried to think carefully. Saro didn't remember the old Saro. The Saro that could call thunder at will. The Saro that treated her like a musical instrument made for him. The Saro who prospered in the Underworld as a prince. The Saro who would never mix with dwarves and others of low status. That Saro was gone. He had forgotten all of it, all of it.

 

What happened?

 

The elf girl gathered her eyebrows suspiciously.

 

Could Saro have been banished from the World of Darkness?

 

It seemed like that was the case.

 

Power was a breeding ground for suspicion and mayhem. Rosa, a princess herself, understood the burden of those those who stood above other people. They were always sitting beneath the sword, in danger of being taken by someone and replaced. It's possible that the Ruler of Evil Nargoth himself feared Saro's power and popularity, and shunned him out if jealousy. Or .... She heard that Prince Miasof was cruel and sly. Saro was in the way of his inheritance. Maybe he hatched a scheme to remove Saro from the picture. The fact that Saro was sheltering an enemy princess was an ideal pretext to do so.

 

(59)

Is it my fault that Saro has been punished like this?

 

A snug, comfortable pain, a sweet throbbing pounded in the girl's chest.

 

Now the man she loved was like a young bird who had just hatched from its egg.

 

"Ahh, Saro..." Rosa grabbed the bewildered man's hand and held it over her head as if praying.

 

"Rosa," the young man's cheeks blushed innocently. After much hesitation, he brought her in close to him and embraced her.

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Introduction Part 4 (Part 4.1)

Time passed, seasons changed.

 

The forest shrine was simple but built with painstaking care. With the help of the dwarves and animals, Saro completed his great project. Rosa collected nettle, holly and ash from the surrounding area and constructed an altar. Her memory of the ritual was a bit hazy, but she did her best. When she finished, she lowered her head and prayed. She prayed there in silence for three days, taking neither food nor water. Then a miracle happened. From seemingly nowhere, a sacred priestess appeared in the village. The priestess blessed the villagers and took up residence there. She was to administer to the religious needs of the community. And a guardian elf spirit descended into the altar, pledging to protect the village.

 

(60)

That day, the village was given a name. Rosaville. It was an expression of the residents' admiration and gratitude.

 

A lively festival was held to celebrate the completion of the shrine. At night, the dwarves lined up in two columns stretching from the entrance of the village to the shrine. Each of them held a torch reverently in their hands. Animals scattered flower petals onto the earth. Then Saro and Rosa walked gracefully down the makeshift aisle, like a groom and his bride. The worship hall was filled with gifts. Berries, fruit, rare mushrooms and beautiful flowers overflowed from bowls of wood, stone and polished gold. The white-faced priestess sang a prayer invoking the sacred spirit to bless the villagers with happiness, devotion and love.

 

After the prayers, the banquet began and it continued until dawn. Lines of villagers formed circles and raised their glasses in cheers. Lively music and laughter echoed from the roof of the new building. Saro's silver hair was adorned with a crown of hawthorn sprigs. Rosa wore a crown of woven golden-rayed lilies in her hair. They were dressed in simple clothes but when they danced together they looked elegant. They looked a perfect match, and their faces glowed with happiness. It was like the end of a story. An illustration of the part that goes "and they lived happily ever after".

 

But something didn't feel right inside Rosa's heart. Deep inside something was bothering her.

 

In the middle of the banquet, Rosa left. Saro, seeing her cloudy expression, immediately followed, but the other villagers held him back.

 

Hours passed. When Saro returned to their small house, it was close to dawn. He opened the door softly to a golden sea that glittered under the starlight. Rosa was in the middle of the rolling waves that spread upon the floor, staring absentmindedly into the sky1. Saro sighed and picked her up in his arms. Then he gently laid her on top of a mattress inlayed with golden-rayed lily petals.

 

(61)

"What's the matter? It's such a joyous day."

 

"....Saro...." Rosa mumbled. "My precious Saro. You are the most wonderful person in the world. A king for all kings. But the true you is sleeping inside."

 

Rosa was afraid to be happy. The more comfortable she felt in the forest, the more it felt like her home Samulraan. The more she thought of home, the more her feelings of guilt ate at her.

 

It's true that an elf spirit had come to protect the village, but everything still felt like a stupid copy. This forest village was a mockery of her father, the elf king Nelwick. Her feigned happiness was an insult to Saro, whom she loved. Beneath the starlit sky, fear and loneliness forced tears of anguish from Rosa's eyes.

 

"Thank you. But you think too much of me," Saro said, gently patting his lover's back. "Isn't this enough, what we have now? Aren't you happy?"

 

"No. No!" Savoring the pain of her decision, Rosa stared right into the eyes of the man she loved. "What we have now is a lie. A daydream. I made a mistake pretending. I feared waking you up."

 

"What are you saying?" Saro groaned. "You look like you've been possessed by a monster."

 

"I am," Rosa nodded seriously. "By a monster called you." She paused. "Dah, let's get out of this tepid water. The wind will be cold on our skin, but...."

 

_______________________________________________________

 

Notes:

 

1There's a sea inside their house? Huh? I don't quite understand what's going on here. Maybe she was crying for hours and covered the floor of the room with her tears (though it doesn't mention the sea being red)?? Or maybe there really is water in there. No idea.

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Introduction Part 4 (Part 4.2)

 

 

******************************

 

(62)

Their life together became more bitter than sweet. Their relationship was strange, out of balance and restless.

 

In their day to day life, Rosa would instruct Saro on various subjects. When they lined up to gaze at the sky, she'd teach him how to read the weather patterns. When birds would sing, she'd teach him how to distinguish between them. At first, Saro was hopelessly bewildered. Sometimes he'd stare vacantly into Rosa's face as she talked. Other times he'd turn his face away, as if bluntly saying "This doesn't interest me." Sometimes he'd just leave. But Rosa wasn't deterred. She didn't let up. She taught him the same things over and over again, patiently. And those times when he did get something, when he succeeded in identifying a bird by its song for example, or a tree by its leaf, his lover's face would light up with happiness. This encouraged him and Saro gradually became more eager to learn.

 

The first time the Youma produced a spark from his fingertips - it was a modest bolt, mind you, not a thunderstorm - Rosa couldn't hold back her tears and ran to the shrine. When she didn't return, Saro went to look for her. When he found her, he was surprised to find her kneeling. She was praying. That night he didn't say anything to her. Rosa was worried. Am I rushing him? Am I nagging him too much? Will he leave me? But the next morning she was quite moved when Saro began asking her questions, lots of questions!, his eyes filled with curiosity. From that day onward, the prince listened earnestly to every syllable that came out of his lover's mouth.

 

(63)

The Ruler of Evil's1 education continued. The dwarves taught him many skills. They taught him how to mount an antelope and bring it to a gallop. They taught him how to grind metal with a stone. They taught him how to shoot an arrow long distances.

 

And when the veil of night fell, the training in forbidden things began. Rosa taught Saro about the history and customs of the monster world. She taught him light magic and dark magic, ancient spells, matters that demanded great responsibility. She taught him secrets that must be handled with great care, on pain of life and soul2. Little by little she taught him these things, though more than half of them were her just echoes of what the old Saro had originally taught her.

 

Saro absorbed everything quickly. Even the strictest of teachers would be amazed at his progress. This was only natural, for in truth, he wasn't learning these things. He was remembering them. He Wanted to impress his lover, so he devoted himself to his training and before long he began to enjoy it wholeheartedly. After about one year, the way humans measure time, Saro had regained the majority of his old powers back.

 

But his new personality...calm, serious, honest, without a fragment of conceit .. no matter how hard Rosa tried, she couldn't change it back. Saro respected his lover's wisdom, worshiped her beauty, and loved her kindness most of all.

 

______________________________

Notes:

 

1This is the first time Saro has been referred to as the "Ruler of Evil" (魔王), but I don't think that's supposed to happen for another two updates. Maybe it's out of order.

2Sorry for the clunkiness of this line. I had a lot of trouble with this paragraph. :)

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Introduction Part 4 (Part 4.3)

 

*************************

 

(64)

Before long, the two of them felt like going outside the forest. They became birds and soared through the night. They crossed mountains and travelled to faraway lands. They went to the sea. They built sandcastles on the beach and destroyed them together. They became fish and swam to the floor of the sea, to explore treasure ships that had sunk long ago.

 

They went into towns to peek in on the life of humans. The Youma prince and the elf princess were fascinated by the silliness and merriment of human behaviour. The short-lived humans laughed, cried, hated each other, loved each other, but to the monsters' eyes1 it looked like a humerous one-night play.

 

Sometimes Saro and Rosa would turn invisible and play pranks on the humans. They snuck into a king's bedroom late one night and turned the concubine in his arms into an old sheep. They transformed a poor pot-mender's house into a grand palace. They teleported a pirate ship to the peak of a snowy mountain. They made a tropical orchard appear in a northern hunting village2.

 

But more than anything else they liked don wayfarer's clothes, disguise themselves as humans and attend human festivals. They went to Santeem, to Soretta, to Lakanaba. They would appear in the middle of the lively dances, a couple that nobody had ever seen before. The silver-haired gentleman and his golden-haired beauty. They moved beautifully. They would dance lightly and skillfully as if they had wings on their backs. And indeed their love for each other appeared so strong that the image of them remained in the townsfolk's memories for a long time.

 

The villagers and city-dwellers always welcomed the strangers. Sweets were served, alcohol flowed. They threw flowers and encouraged the couple with song, whistling and accordians. They presented the young man with gifts of short swords and protective belts - the woman with intricate veils and precious accessories. These things weren't much compared to the precious gems and ancient treasures they were used to, but their hearts swelled at the kindness shown them by the humans.

 

(65) Picturedq4novel1_sarorosa.JPG

 

(66)

At one such festival, a squid-fisherman's boat lit up the town with its light, so the couple thought it must be a fishing village. When they tired of dancing, they walked to the wharf in search of a cool breeze. On the way, they ran into a withered old woman standing next to a rickety hut. The old woman saw the illustrated folding fans, gifts from the villagers, in their hands, and started muttering.

 

"Ho! It looks like someone has paid tribute to the prince of Hell. Though they don't know that they might've been killed for it."

 

Rosa paled. But Saro just smiled and said.

 

"Grandmother, if you are a fortuneteller, can you tell us how we match as a couple? When we will be blessed with a child?"

 

"A sorrowful affair, that."

 

The old woman made a gesture to ward off evil. She gazed at Saro with glistening eyes. "Your love begets revenge. Your offspring will be hatred and destruction. What you are now is not the real you. Soon the time will come when your dark instincts will awaken. If you have any compassion at all, Youma, you must not forget this dream you are living, this time together with us. We humans are not your enemy. The true enemy is inside of you."

 

(67)

"...Let's go!" Grabbing an astonished Saro by the arm, Rosa began walking.

 

"You can stop up your ears, but that won't change a thing!" the old woman called out from behind them. "Nobody can escape their fate. Love is the very thing that will tear you apart, that will swallow up the whole world. Elf princess, you will call out to us once again. Searching for help. Consumed by feelings of guilt. The day when you plead to the humans 'Kill him' with your own sweet lips is coming. It's coming!"

 

The old woman fell down in the middle of her rant. She was struck down by Saro's thunder. Struck dead.

 

Yes. It was thunder. Not a mere spark.

 

The monsters3 retreated into the darkness silently. They felt joy, sadness and a sick cold lump of anxiety in their chests.

 

____________________________________________________

Notes:

 

1Here is refers to Saro and Rosa as "monsters". If you remember, the Karon Dakros made an implication earlier that the monsters and elves were distant kin. Moreover, he said that Nargoth was trying to "unite the monster race", the subjugation of the elves and dwarves being part of that. So, Rosa is a monster too now in a way.

2What a nerdy prank.

3See note number 1.

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Introduction Part 5 (Part 5.1, the only part!)

 

The Rule of Evil Nargoth's death happened a short time later.

 

Only the highest ranking among his retainers were invited to his deathbed. The king lay facedown on the iron bed. Standing at attention at the top of the steps leading from the bed were Prince Nyuii1, Prince Haygen, and Haygen's son Miasof. On the step below Miasof stood a dark figure wearing a heavy black hood. The figure was unknown to most of the monsters present.

 

(69)

The Ruler of Evil's face was illuminated by the brilliant red flame from a nearby candlestick, but he was still paler than the moon, blacker than darkness. Amber-colored snakes wriggled around in his thick, lusterless white hair. They had been placed there to numb the pain of death with their venom. Seven days had passed since it looked like the king had begun his final sleep. Everyone thought that he would not regain consciousness again. But on that night when a full red moon hung high in the Overworld sky, the king sat up suddenly and let out a soul-freezing scream. He scowled at the monsters clamoring below the steps.

 

"Master Nargoth....!"

"Master Nargoth. Say something....!

 

Looking out over the startled crowd of monsters, the King's eyes came to rest upon the sunken black figure beside Prince Miasof.

 

"Jakosh..." the king mumbled, but it was such a feeble moan that nobody heard it. Nobody except Jakosh that is. "So that's it then. That's what happened."

 

Remorse racked his body and forced the little remaining life from his body. He fell off of the bed and landed with a force strong enough to crush his bones.

 

(70)

The monsters wailed and cried and shouted. Only Jakosh, hidden deep in his black hood, smiled as he chuckled quietly. He smiled because this was something that he wanted. This was revenge.

 

But Jakosh was inattentive in his happiness. He didn't yet know that in his dying moments, the king took one last action. In the space of one breath, the king cancelled his spell and restored his absent grandson's memory and powers. It was precisely because he wasn't here that the king knew the solitary prince had not betrayed him, and for this reason he poured all of his power into Saro.

 

********************

 

In a faraway place, now, Saro awoke.

Once again, as THAT Saro,

And as something more,

As the Ruler of Evil Nargoth's true successor....

 

END Introductory Chapter2

 

__________________________

Notes:

 

1In case you forgot, Nyuii is Saro's father. Haygen is Nyuii's half-brother, and therefore Saro's uncle. Miasof is Saro's cousin.

2Next up: Burland and Ragnar!

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