Chapter 1 - A Land with an Interview
~Out of the Question~
The National Daily
Spotlight Feature: Interview on the Streets
Kino the Traveller - A Young Traveller Journeying to the Future
Welcome to the Special Edition of [Interview on the Streets], the regular feature showcasing the lives of people we meet on the streets through an impromptu interview!
Agreeing to an interview for us this time was Kino, a traveller who visited us last week and departed after a three-day stay.
One of our reporters happened to meet Kino just before her departure, and managed to snag us an interview. Why does this young woman travel so? What goes through her mind as she journeys?
Looking at Kino, I became sure of this--when the desire to travel overtakes you, age is but a number.
Kino tells us that she first decided to leave her homeland at the young age of twelve.
Kino: In our country, twelve is the age of majority. Having been pretty against the conformity of it all, I guess twelve was the perfect age for me to make my decision. I decided on it on my birthday, and I was out of the country before a year had passed. (Laughs)
It would be unthinkable to have our children fix up a motorrad and leave the country at the tender age of twelve, as Kino had. Different countries have different lifestyles and educations. But this reporter believes that there is no age too young to choose a life goal for oneself and attain the courage to move towards it.
But hadn't her parents opposed the idea?
Kino: Of course they were against it. (Laughs) But my parents were stubborn people who have to see everything through to the end. Once I'd made up my mind, they cheered me on wholeheartedly. Now that I think about it, I think I've really taken after them in that sense. (Laughs)
That was how Kino left her country. Naturally, a sudden long-term journey was too much for her. Initially she repeatedly visited nearby countries and returned to her homeland regularly. After all, things are always difficult at first. This applies even more in one's youth. Though her journey was full of failures and disappointments, Kino, in the midst of her despair, happened to run across an elder she calls her Master. It was a serendipitous meeting in the forest.
Kino: I was just realizing how much I was lacking. I lived for some time with Master, learning all kinds of things--like how to handle firearms.
Having realized that a certain degree of preparation and training are absolutely necessary in any endeavour, Kino spent these days under her Master's care, training to ready herself for her journey.
Kino: But now that I think about it, that was too much of a coincidence, don't you think?
Kino still has her doubts about some things. Was it truly a only coincidence that she happened to meet such a warm-hearted mentor out of nowhere? Perhaps her parents had worriedly sent an acquaintance her way to ensure her safety?
Kino: Maybe so, but… I'm afraid there's no way to know at this point.
Unfortunately, Kino's parents passed away in a fire while Kino was in training. Kino tells us that once she received the terrible news, she abandoned the idea of going home.
Kino: I finally worked up the courage to go on a lengthy journey. Even Master told me, "You're ready". So I decided to go as far as I could possibly go. That was three years after my twelfth birthday.
And that was how Kino left on her journey proper. What is daily life like for her, travelling from one country to another?
Kino: What do I worry about most? Food. (Laughs) I usually live off of portable rations when I'm on the road, but I always wolf down any fruit I find along the way. (Laughs)
What is a man without food to keep him going? In that sense, Kino is no different from any of us.
Kino: What else do I eat? I go fishing and grill whatever I happen to catch. They're perfect in cold seasons like this, since they don't go bad. Once, I had them hanging off my motorrad along the way and almost got them stolen by birds. (Laughs)
She also tells us of the sense of solidarity she felt with both humans and nature along her travels.
Kino: Looking at the beautiful natural landscapes on the way, I find myself very glad that I left on my journey. But what made an even bigger impression on me were the other travellers I met on the road. They were all very kind to me. Seeing as I'm still rather young, they take care of me, asking me if I'm doing all right, or if I'm eating well. One person even shared some food with me, even though he didn't have very much himself.
Travellers greatly value their sense of camaraderie. As they are always so far from their own people, they show kindness and sympathy towards others in their position. If only the quarrelling people of our country could live by such a mentality.
When I finally asked her what she has planned for the future, Kino smiled brightly.
Kino: I'm going to keep travelling. But later, much, much later, I'm going to go back to my homeland and become a teacher. Then, I want to teach the children there, who might be struggling with what they want to do with their lives, by telling them about all the things I've seen on my travels. It's not that I want to send them travelling like me, but I want them to use that knowledge to help my homeland.
This reporter found himself certain--Kino will achieve her dream someday soon. There is no doubt.
Kino: Once I become a teacher, I'm going to show off to my students and tell them that I was once interviewed for a newspaper on my travels. (Laughs)
"Hello, Miss Kino. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview."
"Not a problem. …But aren't you going to interview Hermes, too?"
"I'd first like to hear your opinions as a traveller, Miss Kino. You don't need to say anything, Mr. Hermes. Thank you."
"I understand. Stay quiet for now, Hermes."
"Fine. I don't really mind since they gave us all this stuff. I'm gonna go to sleep, so wake me up when you're done."
"Got it. Oh, you can start now. Considering everything you've given us, I'll do my best to answer as best I can."
"Thank you. But I'll take out the thing about the incentive we gave you from the article. Haha! We are a national paper, so I'll just write that you happened to agree to the interview on the fly."
"Great! Let's begin. Let me explain this again. You'll tell me genuine stories about your travels, and we'll publish it on our papers. It's truly unfortunate that you're leaving today, Miss Kino, or you could have read the article yourself…"
"There's no helping it. It's all right."
"Thank you for understanding. You see, the people in our country greatly admire travellers like yourself. We don't see them very often, so I'm sure you'll understand if we want to know about even the smallest of details."
"Should I answer honestly?"
"By all means! I'm sure they'll all want to know the reality of your travels. Everything you say will be published, I assure you. Of course, if there's anything you absolutely cannot answer, then please make your position clear. We will respect your privacy during this interview."
"Wonderful! Now, this might be a cliched question, but could you tell us a bit about how you began travelling? When did you start your journey? Why? Didn't your parents object at all?"
"Well, let's see… I lived in my homeland until I was twelve years old. I went to school every day and lived a normal life."
"Oh? So you left your home at the age of twelve?"
"At such a young age? I must admit, that is quite a surprise. Could you perhaps tell us why you decided to travel?"
"Huh… Well, in my homeland, when a child becomes twelve years old, they're given an operation to, well, turn them into adults."
"An operation? Is that a term used to refer to some sort of rite of passage?"
"Huh? No, I heard it was a surgical operation, where the child's head is cut open and the brain is altered. I learned that, through the operation, children would become 'proper adults' who could do even the worst of their work with a smile."
"I, I see…"
"Naturally, I thought that I'd also receive the operation to become an adult. But I began speaking to a traveller I met just before my operation, and began to question the tradition."
"I see! So that traveller inspired you to journey to other countries, then?"
"No. After speaking to him, I immediately ran to my parents and told them that I didn't want the operation. Then they told me that I was being foolish and got very angry at me."
"So you got a scolding. I suppose it takes a great deal of courage to reject tradition, no matter what country you're in."
"That's right. My parents began to call me a defective child who wouldn't obey her parents, and tried to kill me on the spot. The traveller I spoke about earlier protected me and was stabbed to death by my father."
"Just as I accepted dying at my father's hands just like the traveller, Hermes, who was on the ground--he was actually practically a piece of junk, but the traveller had fixed him up earlier--anyway, he suggested that I should run away. so I hurried on and escaped from my country on Hermes. So I guess you could say I never made the decision to leave my country… I was just trying to survive."
"… Um… Uh… That's… Well, I suppose that must have been a rather difficult choice… Um, so, is that how you began your travels?"
"Hm? Actually, no. afterwards I had no choice but to wander around. I collapsed of hunger in the forest and almost died. That's when I met someone I call "Master" and received her help. I lived with her for a while and learned all kinds of things, like how to shoot a persuader."
"O, of course. I suppose it must be thanks to her guidance that you could travel like this today."
"I guess so. Although she's the kind of person who'd shoot rubber bullets at me like no tomorrow as I slept."
"…So after that, you began your journey?"
"Not immediately, no. Although I was a little tempted to leave when I heard her stories about her travels when she was young."
"So I take it that something happened then to motivate you to leave?"
"Yes… I guess you could say that. It was after a certain incident that I really started thinking about travelling."
"Of course. And what might that have been?"
"Remember the traveller I talked about before? The man who died because of me? I happened to meet his mother."
"My goodness! What are the odds?"
"He essentially died because of me… so a part of me had always wanted to apologize, if I ever came across someone he knew."
"So what happened when you met her?"
"I told her about him, and she thanked me for telling her the story."
"I see. And so you left on your journey, moved by his mother's kindness?"
"No. Right after that, she poisoned me and tried to strangle me as I lay on the floor."
"And I shot her to death."
"After I returned to Master, I was at a loss. But I kept listening to her stories about her travels, and I began to really want to go myself-"
"S, so you discussed the idea with her, then?"
"Not at all. I thought I might start second-guessing myself if she said I couldn't, so I just took Hermes and left. I took a lot of stuff from her house without permission, so she won't exactly be welcoming me with open arms."
"…O, of course. Thank you for telling us about how you started travelling. Um, next, I'd like to ask about your day-to-day life on the road…"
"What is your biggest concern when travelling between countries?"
"That would be food."
"Of course. Finding food must naturally be at the top of the list. What do you usually eat?"
"I generally eat portable rations on the road, but if I spot an edible animal I quickly shoot and clean it. Generally I eat rabbits or birds. Sometimes I run into deer in the woods, but they're usually too big for me to eat by myself, so I let them go. But fawn are perfect size-wise, and they're very tender. So when I find one I kill it and shoo the mother away."
"R… Right. I suppose you barbecue them, right?"
"That's right. Meat's always a great source of energy."
"Cold seasons like this are perfect for eating meat, because they don't go bad. Sometimes I ride with a leg of venison or pork on Hermes. He doesn't really like it, though. Also, if I travel that way, I always have to be on the lookout for eagle attacks."
"I see… So, other than food, what are the biggest challenges you face on your journey?"
"Well… There are problems like rough roads, bad weather, not being able to shower for long periods of time, and like I mentioned earlier, food. But the biggest difficulty on my travels is--"
"Pardon? …Other people?"
"But I would think that other people you meet on the road might be a valuable source of stories and information."
"Yes, that's also true."
"Isn't there some sort of sense of camaraderie between travellers?"
"There is. But that only really applies to half of them. The other half is very dangerous. Some tried to rob me, do things to me, or… at any rate, they're violent people. Usually I can tell them apart by awkward movements or off-kilter laughter, so I'm always on my guard. Some of them realize that I'm on to them and give up, but not everyone's like that."
"So… in the event of an… attack, what do you do, Miss Kino?"
"I fight back."
"…And… uh, specifically?"
"If they're pointing a persuader at me, they tend to shoot right as they take aim. So I usually kill them."
"…You… k, kill them?"
"That's correct. It's very difficult to go easy on anyone when you're fighting with a persuader. Not only that, My [Cannon] is a large-caliber persuader that uses highly destructive rounds. Even a hit to the arm or leg causes a great deal of damage. Mostly it means death by blood loss."
"B, but… Isn't it… well, cruel to just shoot them on the spot…?"
"I'm afraid not, when my survival is on the line."
"O, of course… it must be very difficult for you… So, uh, might I ask why you earlier specified, 'living' people?"
"That's because dead people are absolutely harmless. Sometimes I come by corpses along the road. Some are travellers and others are not."
"Then I expect you wish them a peaceful rest and give them a burial?"
"No, that isn't necessary. The wild animals will clean them up anyway."
"When we come across a corpse, we travellers generally start by--"
"We start by searching them for useful items."
"We leave them be if there's nothing of any use, but sometimes you can find things like jewelry, portable rations, weapons, ammunition, and other valuables."
"So you mean to say… that you take their belongings…?"
"That's right. Large objects are out of the question, of course, and I avoid distinctive items like rings in order to avoid misunderstandings. I don't want to be framed for murder, after all. There is the practice of searching a corpse's mouth for gold teeth, smashing the jaw to extract them, and selling the gold, but I personally don't want to go that far."
"Is it over yet, Kino?"
"That went faster than I expected."