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Prologue: In the Clouds・B
It was blinding.
Above and below and right and left, the world was white as far as the eye could see.
A low wind howled like the moan of a massive animal.
“Wait,” said a boyish voice, “can you see?” he asked into the opaque world.
“No. I can’t see a thing,” a slightly higher-pitched voice answered.
“Visibility is practically zero here. We shouldn’t move for a while,” said the first voice.
The other voice briefly voiced agreement and said, “It really is impossible to see in these conditions.”
“It is,” replied the first voice.
The wind shrieked for a moment before falling into a low howl again.
“But we’ll be able to see soon,” said the second voice.
“Yeah,” said the first voice.
At that moment, the world of white seemed to tremble. It began to clear slightly from upwind.
“Imagine this clears and we don’t see anything in front of us. Wouldn’t that make you feel kind of glad?” asked the first voice.
“Yeah. But that’s not possible.”
“What’ll you do when we can move again?”
“I don’t know. There’s not much I can do here. So we’ll just head off. That’s all.”
“Not everyone here could do that, though,” said the first voice.
“Yeah. If only they had that small bit of knowledge. If only someone had given them that little piece of information. Or if only we’d gotten here a day earlier.”
“Yeah. And the same goes for me. There might be something I don’t know, and that might lead to the same thing happening to me. I want to avoid that scenario, but what can I do?”
The voice kept silent for a moment before speaking up again.
“Do you think I know, Hermes?”
The answer came without delay.
“I don’t know.”
The world upwind grew clearer. The layer of white filling their vision thinned.
“It’ll clear soon, Kino,” said the first voice.
A sudden gust of wind swept the cloud away in the blink of an eye.