Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Kino's Journey III: Frontispiece

Here's the first update for Kino's Journey III. The final chapter of the Story of One Continent will be posted either later this week or early next week.


* * *

The Country of Love and Peace
-Power Play-

My name is Riku. I am a dog. I am on a journey with my master Shizu. This is the story of when we visited a certain country.

“What is that?” Master Shizu asked in surprise from the driver’s seat when he saw the country.

Most countries were walled off to protect their inhabitants and their property from the outside world. But this one had nothing but low wooden fences to keep out wild animals.

Master Shizu met with the country’s ruler to ask if they had a military so powerful that they did not need any walls. But the ruler smirked.

“We have no such barbaric organizations in our country.”

“Then how do you protect your people?” Master Shizu asked, a little emotional. As expected from a prince.

The ruler replied as though speaking to a backwards barbarian.

When Master Shizu asked if the country had never been invaded, the ruler responded, “We’ve been invaded more times than I can count on my hands and feet. But each time, we handled the matter peacefully. And we will continue to do so. This is why we have no need for an organization of killers, or walls that cut us off from the wonderful view of Mother Nature.”

Master Shizu still looked dubious. The ruler replied with head held high, “Our country has a paean of love and peace. By singing this paean, we emerge victorious without spilling a single drop of blood.”

“I feel unsettled. It’s almost like using the bathroom with the door unlocked,” is what Master Shizu said about staying in this country. He seemed to want to leave as soon as possible, but we were forced to remain for some time to get the buggy repaired.

One morning, there was a commotion.

The country received word that a neighboring country had crossed the plains to attack. The enemy had sent a messenger and unilaterally declared that they would invade the next morning.

With an amused smile, the ruler came to Master Shizu and said in a mocking tone, “Let us show you our wondrous victory. I can scarcely wait for tonight.”

That night, we could see lights from the enemy camp beyond the wooden fences surrounding the country. There was a large platform set up before the fences. It was lit by torches. The ruler prepared Master Shizu a seat next to the platform. Master Shizu sat there with his beloved sword at his side. I sat between his feet.

The enemy forces marched with practiced discipline and stood imposingly before the platform.

“Savage beasts who know naught but violence. You invade us again, knowing your defeat is certain.” The ruler snorted and gave an order to the subordinates.

“If we have to escape, you know what to do,” Master Shizu whispered to me.

A group of people went up to the platform. From the way they dressed, they could only be a choir.

A conductor suddenly led them into song. They hummed a slow, relaxed melody.

Then a beautiful woman in extravagant clothing stood at the front of the stage and sang a lovely aria.

The lyrics spoke of the greatness of love and peace, and the foolishness of war. It called on all men to lay down their arms and take up farming tools. Master Shizu seemed to have a headache from attempting to fight off his drowsiness.

That was when a great change swept over the enemy forces. They put down their weapons and began to move to the melody with smiles on their faces. The troops cheered loudly for the singer and began to chatter excitedly.

“See, Traveler? They no longer wish for war. The paean of love and peace has changed their hearts. —Hm? I see. —Traveler, we’ve just received word that the enemy forces have decided to retreat. They thanked us for the music. I suppose it’s time to reward the performance with some good food and drink. Why not lay down your weapon as well, Traveler?”

Master Shizu watched the singer’s impassioned performance, the strangely excited enemy troops, and the gloating ruler, and fell into thought.

The repairs to the buggy were completed the next morning. Master Shizu and I left at once. Around afternoon, we happened across the troops from the previous evening, resting on the plains. Master Shizu glared at a soldier pointing a persuader at him and threatened him back.

“Are you planning to shoot me? Are you the commander of these forces? If not, you might find yourself in trouble with your superiors should you choose to act without orders.”

About five repetitions of the threat later, we were allowed an audience with the commander. He gave us a perfunctory apology for his men’s insolence.

Master Shizu stated clearly that we were travelers and that we had no intention of going back to the unwalled country. Then he said, “You had no intention of attacking that country to begin with, did you?”

The commander nodded, smiling. “That’s correct. The mock invasion last night was a way for us to boost the troops’ morale. The men don’t give a second thought to the lyrics, and they have no idea that we even declared an invasion against that country. For them, last night was simply a celebration. We told them that a vassal state was holding a party out of gratitude for our protection. Of course, we ordered the men to be silent before the music began.”

“I see. Then who is your real opponent?”

“The powerful country across the mountain range. An evil land with an unforgivable system of governance. It is our noble duty to eradicate them from the face of the world. If they invade our vassal state, we will have a justification to start an all-out war. Justice and victory are both on our side.”

As soon as we returned to the buggy, I asked Master Shizu if we would visit the country that sent these troops. He shook his head.

“I’d rather not get involved with countries that love or don’t understand war.”

“Both are not easy to find.”

“You’re right. …I’m sorry we have to keep wandering like this, Riku.”

Master Shizu leaned on the steering wheel, looking up at the clear blue sky.

“It does not bother me, Master Shizu. My place is always at your side,” I confessed. Master Shizu turned.

After a moment of silence, he put on his usual gentle smile.

“Let’s go.”

“Of course, Master Shizu.”

As usual, he started the buggy.

Aware or unaware or aware?
-Where is the terminal?-

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