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ButThouMust

Dragon Quest Novel Fan Translation

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Greetings, all!

 

This seems like the most likely home for this thread, but if it is not, please accept my apologies.

 

I've not yet encountered a fan translation of the 1988 novelization of Dragon Quest by Hideo Takayashiki, so for fun and to exercise my Japanese language muscles, lest they atrophy, I've decided to work, as time allows, on just that. As I complete a section, I'll post it here in case anyone's interested in reading, and when I am done, I'll compile the whole thing into a PDF for ease of reading and archiving here on the Den.

 

The book consists of 42 chapters divided into 7 sections, plus a prologue, an epilogue, and an author's afterword. It is my intent to finish a minimum of two chapters per month, but this will depend on my available time. In any case, no matter how long it takes, I intend to finish the project. If folks are interested when I finish this one, I'll consider tackling the DQ2 novel and so on--but first things first, yes? ;)

 

NOTE: I have used the original Dragon Quest nomenclature for this translation, meaning that people, places, and items may have different names than they do in Dragon Warrior. Several of my chosen spellings derive from the Nintendo Fun Club News of December of 1987 (1:4, p.14), where the names Roto, Radatome, and Dragon King (DW: Erdrick, Tantegel, and Dragonlord) are used in a preview of the game. Other places, however, I have simply made my best guess, or have negotiated between established spellings and/or what struck my eyes as most aesthetically consistent. As with all romanizations of katakana script, your preference may not be mine. If my spellings make you twitch, please accept my apologies.

 

ALSO NOTE: If you think you've spotted a typo or an error, please don't hesitate to point it out. I'd rather have an accurate translation than an unquestioned one, and I'll be happy to include your username in the final document as a confirmed error-catcher if you bring a verified boo-boo to my attention.

 

Finally, if you find you enjoy the translation, please direct your gratitude to Mr. Takayashiki, the author. I am only functioning as a conduit here, and an imperfect one at that.

 

And now, without further ado, the prologue!

 

(Click the Spoiler button to read.)

 

 

Dragon Quest

The Fantastic Tale of a Young Hero’s Love and Courage

by Hideo Takayashiki

Cover Art and Illustrations by Mutsumi Inomata

Fan Translation by ButThouMust

 

Prologue

 

In the kingdom of Alefgard, in the sea off the southern coast of Radatome, lies an ominous island. Year round, it is cloaked in dark mist and clouds, and from those clouds dart jagged blades of lightning. All around the island, the currents rage with whirlpools and wild waves, driving away any who would come near. Like a mirage, the island seems at times distant and at times nearby. At other times, it seems to vanish altogether, and when the winds blow from that place, it is said that they always bring with them the smell of fresh blood.

 

No normal human being may journey to this island. Only those who have sold their souls to the devil can make that crossing, for it is the home of the tyrant overlord of Alefgard, of evil incarnate—the Dragon King.

 

But in the beginning, this was not so. The island was once revered as holy ground, the seat of the cult of Rubiss, who created Alefgard, and the land rejoiced in its peace and splendor.

 

The year of the Dragon King’s appearance was, by the Alefgard calendar, 1348.

 

It occurred in the Year of the Dragon, in the Month of the Dragon.

 

From every corner of the land, the greatest sages, priests, and soothsayers were summoned—more than 300 in all—to Radatome Castle, there to conduct before King Larus VIII the solemn and ancient Rite of Divination. On such a day each year, the fortunes of the coming year were assayed.

 

But—no longer. For on this day, the omens were without meaning, and the dread hand of calamity reached out from a dark and unknown place.

 

An ominous crescent moon, red in color, rose over the spires of Radatome Castle. Hordes of monsters attacked, and they carried off from the treasury the kingdom’s greatest relic, the Ball of Light. It was said that, in ancient times when Alefgard suffered in thrall to the Demon King, the hero Roto received the Ball from the gods, and that he defeated the fiend thereby, restoring peace to Alefgard. Indeed, it was that same Ball of Light which was taken.

 

Within the palace, confusion reigned, and soon thereafter, an earthquake unlike any before shook the land. With a terrible groaning, the earth yawned wide, swallowing the people as they slept. Drowsing volcanoes suddenly awakened, devouring the towns and villages of the mountain passes.

 

On Ishtar Island at the epicenter of the earthquake, the temple of Rubiss suffered terrible violence. The white and shining walls, which were made of marble, crumbled to ruins, and a great tsunami dragged the town and harbor beneath the waves. The bridge that joined the island to the western edge of Rimuldar, called the Rainbow Bridge, collapsed, washed away by the wild sea.

 

The groaning of the earth resounded even in the distant west, and plumes of smoke could be seen, it is said, as far away as the villages of the south-sea kingdoms.

 

The earth shook for three days, and when at last the calamity had ended, the island was greatly changed. The temple had vanished, and in its place stood a dreadful and grotesque castle.

 

On the opposite shore, the people gazed upon the night-black castle in mute amazement. They marveled, and they did not understand. And then an ominous voice echoed in their ears. It called itself the Dragon King and greeted them thus:

 

“I am the rightful ruler of Alefgard, he who possesses the Ball of Light! Pay heed, foolish humans, for from this day forward, this land is my dominion!â€

 

Then a dark cloud arose in the skies above the castle, and terrible monsters swarmed forth.

 

At once, Larus VIII raised an army and rode out to battle. In the harbor south of Radatome, hundreds and thousands of warships assembled. From Rimuldar and Merkid, and even from foreign lands, reinforcements came. In all, one hundred thousand knights and soldiers crowded the coastline.

 

Yet for all that, the fighting lasted only two months. The fleet that sailed to the island was savaged by chimeras from the sky, and from the spires of the Dragon King’s castle, lightning lashed out at them, and the ships burned.

The screams of the dying spanned the sea to Radatome Castle, and leaping flames seared the skies.

 

The armies of the Dragon King, together with wild beasts maddened by the disasters that had unfolded, bore down upon the towns and villages one by one, visiting destruction and slaughter upon them.

 

So it was that the army of King Larus was laid waste, and countless towns and villages were destroyed. Apart from Radatome, only Domdora, Rimuldar, Garai, and Merkid withstood the assault.  And of all the many villages that had been, Maira alone endured.

 

It is said that in the fighting, fully two thirds of the population of Alefgard was slain.

 

The green and bountiful croplands became wilderness, grasslands withered to deserts, the plentiful waters of the rivers were defiled by poison and slime, and the forests filled with the roaring of monsters.

 

Thus, Alefgard, the beauty of which the poets had once competed to sing, became a land of darkness, and a long, bitter winter set in.

 

And the river of time flowed on...

 

***

 

On that ominous island, in his castle on the northern coast, the Dragon King sat enthroned. Before him stood the wizard Zartotan, one of his Demon Generals. Holding a blue crystal ball up to a blazing fire, Zartotan intoned the words of a spell with single-minded focus.

 

In the battles of 1348, the humans were not the only ones to have lost much. Against their desperate resistance, the Dragon King had lost many servants. For that reason, the radiance in the Ball of Light had also gone, and the Dragon King’s sorcery had grown weak with its passing.

 

But the Devil had said to him, “The Ball of Light, which for a time has lost the radiance which is its power, will require two hundred years to be restored. When that time has passed, it will shine once more.â€

 

To the Dragon King, who yearned to rule not only Alefgard, but all the earth and even Heaven itself, the Ball of Light’s revival came to represent the beginning of a new and glorious campaign. He believed in the words of the Devil, and he waited on the coming of their day. The time was nearly at hand. Only seventeen more years must pass before the two hundred were done.

 

The Dragon King thought he saw the wizard’s crystal ball flash with brilliant light. It flashed again, and flames rippled across its surface. Zartotan gasped, and his complexion paled.

 

“Zei, zei...â€

 

The Dragon King chanted eerily, turning his dreadful eyes upon Zartotan. The wizard advanced slowly toward him. Prostrating himself, Zartotan spoke.

 

“I have news, Majesty. A child of the line Roto has been born.â€

 

“What? Of Roto’s line?â€

 

As one might expect, the Dragon King was shocked. Abruptly he stood from his throne, and he went and gazed into the crystal ball before Zartotan. In the flames, the form of a small child took shape.

 

“The child dwells in the town of Domdora, to the southwest of here,†Zarotan said. “Moreover, Majesty, should this child acquire the love of a princess, at that time it will gain the power to defeat Your Majesty.â€

 

“If that is true, then the princess—?â€

 

“Seven days ago, a girl child was born to King Larus XVI—an heir. I have heard that all of Radatome overflows with rejoicing. I cannot say for certain that this girl child is the one, but—â€

 

“But if it is, Zartotan!â€

 

The Dragon King seized the crystal ball, clutching it as though he might crush it to dust. His voice rang out.

 

“Go at once, and do the work to which you are so suited! Slaughter the descendant of Roto, together with the people of Domdora. Let there be a feast of blood! Attend to the daughter of Larus as well!â€

 

***

 

On that same day, a beautiful boy was born to a young couple living in Domdora.

 

That night, the couple was visited by three travelers. The first among them was an old sorcerer. He laid an ancient map made of parchment beside the boy and, saying not a word, took his leave. The second visitor, a priest, pressed a blue and shining mysterious stone into the boy’s hand, which was small and red like a maple leaf. Then he, too, departed in silence. Third, a gaily costumed jester came. He entrusted the boy with a beautiful chimera’s wing shining with the colors of the rainbow, and, like the others, wordlessly went his way.

 

Looking upon the peaceful face of their son, who was born in the Year of the King and the Month of the King—and, more than that, at noon on the Day of the King—and looking upon the gifts which the travelers had left, the young couple could only exchange puzzled glances.

 

Once, long ago, there had been born a boy child in the Year of the King and the Month of the King, on the Day of the King, and he had been a hero sent by Rubiss, or so the legends said. But the history of the land was long, and this was a thing that had passed from the memory of the people.

 

***

 

Some hours later, dragons attacked the slumbering town of Domdora. The guards and soldiers who stood against them fought valiantly, but the beasts breathed great gouts of fire, and as they did, a fierce gale rose. The town became a sea of flame. Dressed just as they were, the people fled their burning homes, and the dragons fell upon them and seized them.

 

The terrible inferno roared high into the winter sky.

 

The next morning, a cold and silent rain fell upon the scorched earth of the town.

 

The bodies of the slain lay all about: a young girl, her face torn away; a soldier, his throat sundered; an old woman rent in two; a young boy; a woman heavy with child. Countless they were, such that there was no room to walk among them. From all over Alefgard the vultures came, it seemed, and without looking askance, they tore at the dead.

 

After a time, the rain became snow...

 

 

Quick Links to Later Updates:

 

Chapter One: The Descendant of Roto

1. Aleph's Fifteenth Birthday (14 August 2014)

Edited by ButThouMust
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Very cool, I like it. I would definitely read it if you finished it :)

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Good to know!

 

I will pop the chapters up here as I finish them, and I'll compile the PDF once everything is complete.

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Awesome! I fell asleep reading it the other night (I read the Den in bed nightly). I picked it back up the next day and finished it. Love what you're doing!

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Glad to know you're enjoying it! It's a fun little story, and I think it's a shame we never got a release in the West. I know I would have gone crazy for something like this when Dragon Warrior first came out...but better late than never, right? ;)

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This is awesome! Brilliant localization, it reads as if it was crafted natively in English.  Thanks for your work on this, and looking forward to seeing more.

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Thanks!

 

I'm doing my best to retain the tone and feel of the original text, which has a very lyrical feel about it--something you might expect to have read in an old pulp magazine of decades ago. Considering that light novels (which is what this novel is) are directly descended from the pulp and serial fiction tradition as it developed in Japan, that's not too surprising.

 

There are places that still bother me in my translation, but that's perhaps always the case. Some things work grammatically in Japanese that just...don't in English, and negotiating that and trying to arrive at a sentence or paragraph that has the feel of the original but behaves as a "proper" English sentence can be a real pain. For example, that bit at the end about the town and the vultures drove me nuts...it's all basically one sentence. ;)

 

Hopefully I'll have Section 1, Chapter 1 up by the end of the weekend if my workload doesn't eat me alive. We'll get to meet our hero, awkwardly earnest guy that he is, and see what kind of epic trouble he's about to get himself into. ;)

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Oh, wow. Thanks for the effort. I was literally thinking about whether or not someone translated in novel yesterday.

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You're welcome. :) I just wish I was a faster, better translator. But with practice, perhaps I'll improve.

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Please don't feel pressured to go faster or even to work steady on this ButThouMust.  I'd hate to see you burn out on it.  We've had a few people take on some translation projects like this before, but very few of them maintain enough steam to keep going to the finish line.  A notable example is this Dragon Quest IV Novel translation topic by Tummai.  He made it through the Prologue and the start of Chapter 1, but burnt out on it and then the project died, which was a real shame.  These novels are amazing and we English speaking types rarely get the opportunity to experience their glorious content.

 

Please let us know what we can do to continue to encourage and support you in this.  Thanks again for sharing your work with us.

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Burnout is a pretty terrible thing. I've dealt with it before on other projects, so I am doing my best to be cautious of it. That's why I've set myself a minimum goal of 2 chapters a month (which is about 12-16 pages). The work's exhilarating, but  it can also be a mental drain, just as writing is, and it drains one's mental resources rather quickly...so I feel it's better to have a couple of good chapters a month at minimum than a whole bunch of them that're so-so.

 

It's too bad about Tummai's translation of the IV novel.  Provided that, at some point in the future, I get to that book, I'll take a look at what Tummai did and hopefully flesh out what s/he didn't manage to get done. But that's a long time from now. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say...or completes the quest. ;)

 

As to what other people can do to be helpful...right now I'm not sure, aside from following along as the chapters post, giving me earnest feedback and constructive criticism, and hunting typos. That applies to everyone, whether they read Japanese or not. Folks who know Japanese are welcome, of course, to check my translation work, but everyone's welcome to give feedback to help make the English rendition as good as it can be.

 

That and, if it looks like I've quit or burned out, anyone is welcome to send me a message reminding me to get back on it. :)

 

EDIT TO ADD: Also--outside of Tummai's DQ4 translation, are there others, partial or complete, that I should be aware of?

Edited by ButThouMust

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Here's the next update, at long last!

 

I apologize for the delay; work has been crazy this week, and I never thought I'd dig myself out. 

 

The tone of this chapter shifted somewhat from the previous one. The narration is still overblown and pulpy (which is just like I like it), but there are other aspects that really do reinforce that this book is intended for a younger audience. I've tried to carry those things in the tone of my translation, so I hope they've come through.

 

Also, Japanese literature makes use of a lot of onomatopoeia (sound words, such as crash, boom, bang, etc.). Sometimes these just don't fit the tone in translation, so where they've occurred, I've made an effort to fold them into the narration. Call it, perhaps, localizer's license.

 

There were also two words in play today that don't translate well. The first is the expression "Yatta!", which literally means " did it!," but which is used more along the lines of a cheer of joy or excitement in this case. Rather than leave the word in Japanese, I folded it into the narration as a cry of joy. The second was "kansha", which means something like profound thanks and gratitude. But the nuance is a bit different than those words in English, so I took my best stab at conveying our hero's sense of gratitude toward the end of the section in a way that would approximate the original.

 

In any case, you're not here to read my complaints; you're here to read the update!

 

Below the spoiler cut is the first chunk of Chapter 1. The chapter is divided into six sections, with a short overview at the beginning. Today's update includes that overview and the first section.

 

 

Chapter One

The Descendant of Roto

 

In the north of Alefgard, a precipitous mountain range stretches from east to west. Known as the Alefgard Mountains, it is shrouded in snow year-round. At present, the grim peaks lie dormant, but at the time of the Great Earthquake of 1348, they erupted with sudden fury, and even now the people of the land live in fear of the devil of flame that dwells within them.

 

A desolate swath of hills known as the Radatome Plains stretches out to the south of the mountains. Where the rolling vastness gives way the ocean stands Radatome Castle, wherein the House of Larus dwells, and beneath its spires lies Radatome Town.

 

Once, this region flourished as the heart of Alefgard’s government, culture, and commerce, but in the fighting with the chaos and carnage of 1348, its aspect changed utterly.

 

The Dragon King’s legions advanced over the land, making battlefields of towns. With the cry, “Defend the capital to the death!†Larus VIII rallied the armies sent to him from afar. He gathered his forces on the plains and fought fearsomely, saving the castle and the town by the narrowest of margins. In the struggle, however, the last vestiges of the Radatome that had been were lost.

 

Glory and splendor became but fleeting memories of the past, prosperity the stuff of legend.

 

And now—the present day.

 

In the home of a blacksmith in Radatome Town, there lived an only son. He was a bright-faced and healthy boy, much beloved of his parents and possessed of a strong sense of justice. His name, it is said, was Aleph.

 

 

1. Aleph’s Fifteenth Birthday

 

“Dragon King—!â€

 

Aleph leapt through the open air.

 

“Prepare to die!†he cried, swinging a hand-made oaken sword with all his strength.

 

The blade rent the early morning dark, and the sound of its passing was sharp and satisfying.

 

If the midwinter cold of the Radatome Plains was cruel, the chill of the pre-dawn darkness was crueler still. The icy winds that howled down out of the Alefgard Mountains struck without mercy, and it was not at all unusual for temperatures to fall more than twenty degrees below freezing. Aleph’s breath was white, and the feeling in the fingers that gripped the sword had long since gone.

 

Even so, he was, on this morning, in particularly high spirits. It was his fifteenth birthday. He was nearly a man now, and his heart swelled at the thought.

 

“When I grow up, I’ll defeat the Dragon King, just like Roto!†Such had been a favorite phrase of Aleph’s since childhood.

 

This was not altogether unreasonable. The children of Alefgard, from the time of their births, were reared not on lullabies, but on the legend of the hero Roto. In a bygone age, the stories said, Roto received the Ball of Light from the gods and defeated the Demon King, restoring peace to the land. Such was the nature of the legend and, thus, the nature of Aleph’s words.

 

Nevertheless, Aleph’s friends only mocked and shunned him. Legends, after all, were only legends. When he was nine, Aleph told his father Gaul as well, but Gaul said to him, “Don’t say such stupid things!†Then, without warning, he struck little Aleph a blow that sent him crashing into a wall.

 

After that, Aleph ceased to speak of the matter in front of others, but the thought of it grew stronger with the passing of the years. So it was that, three years ago, he had taken to training with the oaken sword at the top of the cathedral tower in the center of town.

 

The top of the tower was ringed by a sturdy, waist-high wall, and Aleph did not fear falling. More than that, though, he had no fear that anyone below might take notice.

 

On days when the rain drove down, on days when the winds shrieked, on days clouded with snow—on all of them, Aleph trained his body without respite. All the while, his thoughts ran ahead of him to that distant battlefield where the Dragon King waited.

 

At first, the oaken sword had been heavy and clumsy in his grasp. But his skill, self-taught though it was, had grown with time, and now he brandished the blade easily with one hand.

 

“Taaa—!â€

 

With all his might, Aleph slashed at the empty air.

 

The whole of his body was drenched in sweat. Steam rose from it, white in the cold. The feeling of the sweat as it ran and dripped from his forehead was pleasant, and even though he had trained for nearly an hour, his breathing was easy and undisturbed.

 

In the east, the sky began to brighten faintly. As was his custom, Aleph tucked the oaken sword into a hidden recess in the wall and hurried nimbly down the tower stairs. From the rear entrance of the cathedral, he turned quickly down a side street just as the bell in the tower pealed. It was the bell that announced the six o’clock hour, the first of the morning.

 

Aleph returned home. He slipped into the kitchen through the back door, only to find his father Gaul at the table finishing his morning meal and readying to depart for the castle.

 

A blacksmith, Gaul went periodically to the castle, there to repair the swords, spears, and other weapons. On those days, he always rose early. That he had said today would be such a day Aleph had carelessly forgotten.

 

“G-good morning,†Aleph said to him, momentarily flustered. Though Gaul had not asked, he added, “I woke up early, so I went for a walk.â€

 

“Hurry up,†said Gaul. “Eat and get ready to go.†He took a piece of black bread from a basket on the table and put it in his mouth.

 

“Get ready to—â€Aleph replied, shocked. “You’re taking me with you?â€

 

“You’re fifteen today, aren’t you?â€

 

Aleph’s mother Jessica brought fresh goat’s milk to the table and filled his cup. “Sooner or later you’ll be helping at the castle, too,†she said. “Anyway, since that’s the case, it’s best to introduce you there sooner rather than later, don’t you think?†She looked at Gaul and smiled sweetly.

 

Unthinking, Aleph let out a cry of joy.

 

It was an unexpected turn of events. From the time he was a young boy, Aleph had longed to discover what lay beyond the ramparts that encircled the town. This was because Aleph—and in this regard he was no different from all the children of Radatome—had never taken a single step beyond them. Monsters roamed the wilderness, so it had been decreed that no one younger than eighteen might, without the leave of a parent, venture outside alone.

 

Now, at last, Aleph would be able to go out. The castle was, even for a child, not ten minutes by foot, but no matter. Outside was outside. Aleph gave silent thanks for his fifteenth birthday.

 

No one could have guessed at the strange and unexpected things that lay ahead.

 

His fifteenth birthday—it was a day that would greatly change Aleph’s destiny.

 

 

Look for my next update around the end of the month or the early days of September. I've got a lot on my plate in the next week to ten days, so I don't see myself having time before then. As always--let me know what you think!

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Ooh, a new update! Awesome, thanks so much.  I haven't read it yet, but will try to get to it today at lunch.  Something to look forward to, to get me through this morning.

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As an avid reader, I really like to read new books. The fact that there's a DQ novel and it's pretty well-written is awesome. Thanks so much for translating!

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Thanks, folks!

 

Look for the next section sometime in the first full week of September!

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