Gosick II – 1.3

[3]

The next morning, Kazuya woke up in his room in the boys’ dormitory of St. Marguerite’s School at precisely his usual waking time.

In the student dormitories, every private room was luxuriously arrayed for the comfort of the noble-born students. The beds and desks were crafted from the finest mahogany. Beautifully embroidered silk curtains hung in front of the closets, the washbasins were made of polished brass, and the floors were covered in the plushest of carpets.

Since each boy had a room to himself, it was typical for the rooms to be somewhat messy, but Kazuya’s was the only one guaranteed to be spotlessly clean at all times. If, heaven forbid, a single piece of trash were to fall on the floor, he would immediately pick it up and place it into the waste bin.

True to his morning routine, Kazuya woke up, washed his face, changed, arranged the contents of his book bag, and walked down to the first floor dining hall with perfectly straight posture. Since the rest of the boys were used to sleeping in until the last minute, at this time of morning it was typical for Kazuya to be the only one having breakfast, along with no more than two or three other students on the busiest days.

The distractingly voluptuous red-headed housemother sat, legs crossed, on a wooden stool in a corner of the room. She was reading the morning newspaper, a cigarette hanging from her lips and a frown wrinkling her brow. When she saw Kazuya come in, she got up from her seat and served him his breakfast of bread, fruit, and lightly sautéed ham.

After Kazuya thanked her and began to eat, she noticed him glancing back in her direction. “Wanna read it?” she asked drowsily, and handed him her newspaper.

As Kazuya ate his breakfast, he carefully scanned the newspaper. Then he put his head to the side musingly. “Huh? That’s odd….”

The headline concerned the theft of the Dresden plate that Victorique had just solved yesterday. Normally, Inspector de Blois would have taken the credit for himself as soon as he found out who the culprit was, but strangely enough, this time the headline read:

{Famed Inspector de Blois Admits Defeat!
Dresden Plate Missing, Whereabouts Unknown}

The headline seemed to imply that the nun who had stolen the plate was still on the loose.

“That’s strange. He always catches them right away so he can make a splash in the papers the next morning. I wonder what happened?”

Kazuya also recalled how the inspector had been acting somewhat strangely right before he left yesterday. His face had gone purple and he had been unusually quiet, but also looked as if he had something he wanted to say….

“Hey, Kujou!”

Kazuya looked up, and saw the housemother beckoning him from her seat in the corner, as she sat cross-legged and smoked her cigarette.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“See the classifieds on the last page? I always make sure to read those.”

“Why is that?”

“’Cause they’re interesting. You might find ads looking for daughters who ran away from home, or from people looking for work, and sometimes fishy ones that sound like shady business. Go on, take a look at today’s.”

Kazuya skimmed over the area where the housemother was pointing.

And then he raised his eyebrows.

There he saw:

{To the children of the Grey Wolves:
The midsummer festival is approaching. All descendants are welcome.}

The rest of the advertisement consisted of a simple set of directions to the small town of Horowitz near the Swiss border.

“…I wonder what this is all about?”

“I haven’t the foggiest notion. Still, the ‘grey wolves’ are legendary in Sauvure. You know how every country has their own set of folktales, like vampires or abominable snowmen? Well, in Sauvure, we’ve always heard stories about quiet grey wolves who live in remote mountain valleys where the elm forests grow,” she went on excitedly. “Grey wolves are supposed to be much, much smarter than people. So whenever there’s a child born who’s a mite too clever, people might say the mother birthed a wolf cub, and try to drive her out of the village. Well, I’m talking about a long time ago, of course.”

“Hmm…?” Kazuya thought of the rumors that referred to Victorique as the incarnation of a grey wolf. He had always wondered why, but thanks to the housemother’s explanation, he felt like he understood a little bit better now.

So the problem could be boiled down to being too smart, then…

“…Oh, g’morning,” the housemother muttered, looking up at the blue-blooded children who had belatedly climbed out of bed and come down for breakfast.

Whenever they happened to catch sight of Kazuya, they quickly looked away and silently sat down on the other side of the room. But he was by now thoroughly used to such treatment, and he finished his meal and stood up without feeling much affected by it.

As he left the room, he saw from the corner of his eye the housemother deftly serving food to the line of students. He started to walk down the hallway, but then that classified advertisement rose up in his mind again. Maybe this could be a little something to pass the time, he murmured to himself, and turned back to the dining room.

“May I borrow your newspaper?”

“Sure! I’ve already read it.”

“Th-thank you very much.” Kazuya tucked the newspaper under one arm and departed the dining room.

*****

With his back held ramrod straight, Kazuya walked through the front entrance of the dormitory and down the path that led to the main building. On the way, he spotted his teacher standing on the grass, a look of dismay on her face.

Miss Cécile was a petite woman with shoulder-length brunette hair, large round glasses, and a vaguely childlike air about her. And for some reason, she had been moping all morning.

“Good morning, Miss Cécile.”

“Oh, Kujou.” Cécile turned to Kazuya and smiled at him.

“What happened?”

“Well, it’s just that…” Cécile pointed at a stand of trees beyond the lawn, in the direction of the tall hedge that blocked the campus off from the outside world. “I was so happy to see some lovely violets in bloom over there, but it looks like someone trampled all over them yesterday. It’s such a pity. But I can’t figure it out…. Why on earth would someone be passing through that area in the first place? I mean, it’s not like there’s any walkways in that part of campus; there’s just the hedge and that’s it.”

“Hmm… Huh?” Kazuya fell silent. He remembered that that was around where he and Avril had sneaked through a hole in the hedge after returning late yesterday, when the school gates had already closed. Which would mean that they themselves were probably the ones who had trampled on the violets…

Miss Cécile walked away gloomily, unaware of how Kazuya’s face had paled in panic….

*****

At lunchtime, Kazuya ate quickly under the bright sunshine that streamed through the stained-glass ceiling of the school cafeteria, then hastily rose from his seat. Avril, who was busy tearing her bread into tiny pieces, watched him leave, staring after him with curiosity in her eyes.

Kazuya was headed to the main library on the outskirts of campus.

The wind was much stronger than it had been yesterday, bearing an icy chill even though summer would soon begin.

At this time of day, there would be no one else besides Kazuya in such a hurry to leave the main building. He walked along the narrow, deserted gravel path, shivering to himself.

“…Victorique?”

Kazuya climbed the narrow wooden staircase as he did every day, calling out her name even though he knew he would receive no answer.

He climbed.

And he climbed.

When he finally arrived at the top, he expected to find Victorique sitting in the position he always found her in, surrounded by various large leather-bound books…. But today her small body was lying prone, her elbows resting on the ground and the palm of a tiny hand squishing one of her soft, round cheeks. Her other hand was holding her customary ceramic pipe, holding it close to her lips for a smoke.

“Look at you, sitting like that. You’ll dirty your pretty dress.”

“…Anything interesting in the newspaper?”

Kazuya’s mouth was open, about to say something, but he closed it again, wondering, How did she know that? as he took a seat beside Victorique. And then…

“…Ouch!”

Kazuya sat down on something round and hard. From underneath his bottom he heard a dry crunching sound, and then felt something being crushed. He jumped up in surprise. When he peeked, he saw that it was one of Victorique’s sweets that were scattered all over the floor—a macaron dusted with cocoa powder.

“There you go again, making a mess,” said Kazuya in exasperation. “Victorique, you should have something to put your sweets in instead of just leaving them on the floor. I just sat on one.”

“Ack!” Victorique looked up, her emerald-green eyes widening in horror. “My macaron!”

“…It’s all squashed now. I’ll have to throw it away.”

“You can’t. Take responsibility and eat it.”

“Huh!? But it’s been smashed into bits.”

“Kujou…” Victorique stared at him for several seconds. “Eat it.”

“…Yes, ma’am.”

Unable to resist Victorique’s piercing gaze, Kazuya reluctantly ate the shattered remnants of the macaron. As he chewed, he reseated himself next to her, and held up the newspaper that he had received from the housemother. Victorique didn’t bother to give him a moment’s glance, keeping her face buried in her book.

“It looks like Inspector de Blois hasn’t solved yesterday’s theft of the Dresden plate yet.”

“…Mmm.”

“That doesn’t surprise you?”

“There’s probably some reason behind it. But I don’t want to get too involved in the affairs of the de Blois men.”

“Hmm….”

“They all have the strangest hairstyles.”

“…Really? All of them?!”

Victorique raised her head and yawned widely. “I suppose it’s hereditary.”

“Come on, you can’t inherit that. And look at your hairstyle; it’s normal.”

“I take after my mother’s side of the family.”

“Oh?” Kazuya nodded. And then his eyes grew distant as he thought about his own family left behind in that faraway island country beyond the seas—his stern father, a military man, one who always emphasized righteous conduct, a man among men. His two older brothers were much like their father, larger than life, perhaps so large that they tended not to sweat the small stuff. Their polar opposites were their mother, a gentle and quiet woman, and sister, older than Kazuya by two years, a lovely woman just like their mother. Kazuya sometimes wondered why he resembled his father so little even though he was a boy, but out of fear of hurting his dear mother and sister’s feelings, he kept those thoughts to himself.

“…Yeah, I’m more like my mother, too.”

Victorique didn’t respond.

When Kazuya turned to look at her, she had taken her pipe out of her mouth and was stretching her limbs. Her small body elongated to a surprising degree, in the manner of a cat.

“Did you come to talk about Gréville?”

“Yeah, among other things.”

“You seem awfully fond of that pumpkin-headed brother of mine. You pay attention to his every move.”

“On the contrary! I can’t stand him!”

“…I know. I was just teasing you because I thought it might be a little amusing to make you angry. When it comes to Gréville, Kujou, your boiling point is actually quite low. I found that to be highly peculiar, so I decided to have some fun with it.”

“…Well, pardon me for that,” grumbled Kazuya, stretching out his legs that he had been hugging to his chest. Then he opened the newspaper to the classifieds and held it up in front of Victorique.

Victorique spared only the briefest of weary glances to the advertisement that began, “to the children of the Grey Wolves.”

And then she shot upright.

Victorique snatched the newspaper out of Kazuya’s hands, and brought it so close to her face that her eyelashes were nearly touching it. She read the advertisement over and over, her head moving from left to right, then left to right again.

“’To the children of the Grey Wolves’…. ‘The midsummer festival is approaching’….”

“Sounds strange, huh? The housemother told me that people use these classifieds to search for runaways, to look for work, or sometimes even for mysterious messages that sound like something criminal afoot. And this message sounds especially mysterious. Victorique, you’re always complaining about how bored you are. So I thought I’d bring you a bit of mystery from the outside world…. What’s wrong?”

Victorique scrambled to her feet, her movements jerky like a doll whose spring had been wound up. She clearly seemed agitated, and her face, although not quite as pale as that of Inspector de Blois yesterday, was drained of color.

“…What’s wrong?”

Victorique tried to run, but bumped into Kazuya’s outstretched legs and fell over instead, hitting the floor with a ringing thud. Kazuya first saw the soles of her tiny button-up leather boots, followed by her billowing frilly white petticoats and delicately-embroidered drawers, which slowly settled back down to rest on her motionless form.

“Victorique?”

Several moments of silence elapsed.

Then Victorique sat back up.

She was still being quiet, prompting Kazuya to look closely into her face and ask, “Are you all right?”

Victorique spread her dainty hands and pressed them against her face. “It hurts.”

“…I guessed as much. You hit the ground awfully hard there.”

“It hurts.”

“I know.”

“…It hurts, I’m telling you, it hurts!”

“Don’t get cross with me. You fell all by yourself.” For once finding himself with the upper hand over Victorique, Kazuya said this slightly cheerily, albeit not without concern. “Oh, boy. Are you all right? Come on, let’s get back up. Where were you trying to go?”

“I wanted the book that’s thirty-first from the right and seventh from the top on the right-hand bookshelves. Kujou, you get it.”

“Huh?”

“It’s a thick book, and the cover is brown leather with round tacks.”

“…Fine.” Since Victorique was still holding her face in her hands, Kazuya resignedly walked partway down the stairs and leaned over to pluck out the book from the location she had dictated to him. The wooden staircase swayed unsteadily in time with his movements.

While Kazuya was standing on tiptoes, Victorique climbed down the stairs and abruptly planted a booted kick into his back. Although she had kicked him at full force, it amounted only to being pushed slightly by a child. But in his precarious position, he lost his balance and nearly tumbled off the staircase, ending up falling head over heels onto the stairs. “Wh-what the hell was that for?!”

“Heh. Looks like you better watch out, too.”

“That was no accident!”

The atmosphere was threatening to turn explosive at any minute, but they returned to the conservatory, where Victorique sat back down and placed the book in front of her. While flipping through the pages with a practiced hand, she tossed a macaron into her mouth and threw the wrapper to the side. Kazuya quickly picked it up and put it in his pocket.

“In Sauvure, the deeper you go into the mountains, there’s this one ghoulish tale you’ll hear more of than any others. I suppose you’ve heard of it, too. The story of the ‘grey wolves’.”

Kazuya nodded.

“Most of the legends are made up, but this one is based on a credible account. A sixteenth century English traveler wrote about it in his diary. You know, I’ve always wondered about his description.”

Victorique held the book up to Kazuya. He took a hesitant peek, thinking to himself that if it was in Latin or Greek, he would be done for; fortunately, it was in English. Taking great pains to decipher the archaic language, he somehow managed to haltingly read the passage.

*****

…In the yere 1511, I wandred astraye in the mountaynes on the bordoure bytwene Sauuure and Schwytzerland. Withoute a guide, and my compas spinnyng wildely, I romed lost in the dark forest. When nyghte fell, I made a fyre, aferd of the presence of beestes. I knewe that wilde beestes feard fyre. And when it cam close to midnyghte, hee appeared.

He was a yonge Wolf with siluer-grey furre. He was not like other beestes, and did not feare fyre. Treading ouer fallen leeues, he slowely approched me.

When I thoughte my dethe was certayne, a startling thynge happend.

The Wolf opened his mouthe. I saw his scarlet tung streke throu his mouthe. But he woulde not deuour me.

For he in stede beganne to speake.

The Grey Wolf was calme, with wisdome and tranquillite farre beyonde his youthe. As he dwelled depe in the mountaynes, he surely had fewe compaynions with whome to talke. He asked me questyons, and I answerd them. Aboute profounde Misteries of the world, and the historye of men and beestes. Soone cam the dawnynge of the daye, and therwith he guyded me oute of the woode.

At my departynge, I made a promyse with the Grey Wolf.

That I woulde neuer telle another soule that I had mete a Wolf who coude speake the language of Men.

But I coude not kepe this promyse. After I retorned home, I coude endure my silence no more, and I told my wyfe, and she told her brother. And thenne an official cam to knowe the story, wherfore he called vpon me to aske what had happend. And he made me promyse the same.

That I woulde neuer telle another soule…

One yere passed.

I retorned ageyne to those mountaynes.

When I cam backe to the place where I had mete the Grey Wolf, nere by I found a smal village. A yere ago it had been too darke for me to see. But now I fonde no body there. It was bernned to the grounde, and was now a hepe of desolate asshes.

I remembryd the faces of the officials.

The faute may be myne. I, who had broken the promyse…

I called out for the yonge Wolf.

No answer cam.

But thenne I herd the sound of drye leaues.

I turned aboute, and saw a shadowe vanisshe depe into the woode. From bytwene the trees I had a glimse of siluery grey.

Thenne cam a Howlyng from on far, and I threwe myself down the hille. I herd the Houle of many Wolues. I descended the mountayne, almost fallyng down it. Sodainely, I felt aferd, for I knewe my owne sinne. But as I ranne, there was only one thought in my mynde.

They were aliue. They had escaped.

And they stille dwelled in the mountaynes, euen now….

*****

At last, Kazuya made it all the way to the end of the English-language passage, then sighed with relief and told Victorique that he was done. She gave a start.

“You mean you were reading this whole time?”

“…Well, excuse me for not being able to read as fast as you can.”

“Really, you leave me in constant awe at your singular talent for being a half-wit. I was under the impression that you had fallen asleep with your eyes open.”

“Ugh… I just can’t win….”

Sparing no attention whatsoever to Kazuya’s frowning and groaning, Victorique picked up the book and began rapidly turning the pages.

“This country is known for its many legends about wolves. These aren’t your typical bloodthirsty tales of man-eating wolves, or werewolves who hunt people down on full moons. ‘The silent grey wolves.’ ‘The fur-clad philosophers.’ There are various theories about these stories. I am of the opinion that if you take a broad view and consider this country in its context, a lot of things become clear. The issue is that these wolf legends only came to exist surprisingly recently, on the order of the past few centuries. For example, if you read books from the thirteenth century, you won’t find mention of wolves at all. What this tells me is that…”

As Victorique continued her monologue, Kazuya gazed absentmindedly at her. He didn’t quite understand what she was talking about, and he was falling steadily into boredom.

Now that I think of it… He suddenly remembered how she kept repeating that her head was hurting after her perfectly executed faceplant. Maybe Victorique has a low tolerance for pain. Well, obviously, nobody likes pain, but still, the way she made such a fuss about it, you’d think the world was ending.

When Kazuya thought back to that moment when he finally had the upper hand over her for a change, he couldn’t resist smirking.

Victorique noticed his expression. “…What happened? There’s a rather grotesque look on your face.”

“Victorique, come here for a second.”

“Mm?”

When Victorique turned to face him, Kazuya playfully gave a light flick to her pale forehead, like porcelain bestowed with an intelligent soul.

Of course, he didn’t want to hurt her, so he was careful to make it no more than a slight, barely audible tap. But as Victorique stared up at a giggling Kazuya, her emerald-green eyes instantly welled up with tears.

“Ha-ha-ha, did I startle y—V-Victorique!?”

“I-it hurts.”

“It can’t hurt that bad; I just did it lightly. You’re exaggerating.”

“It hurts.”

“Wh-what are you talking about, Victorique?”

Victorique backed away from him, shielding her forehead with both of her tiny hands. Her face wore a fearful expression of utter disbelief, like a spoiled kitten that had suddenly been kicked by its owner.

“You’re really overreacting here!”

“Kujou, I didn’t know you were that kind of man.”

“What?! F-fine. I’m sorry. I apologize. Did it hurt that much? Still, though… Whoa, I’m sorry!”

“I never want to speak to you again for the rest of my life. I’m through with you!”

“You can’t be serious!?”

At first, Kazuya chuckled at Victorique’s over-dramatic proclamation. But afterward, no matter how many times he tried speaking to her, she would offer no response. When he realized that she was completely ignoring him as if he didn’t even exist, he felt sad, but his feelings soon turned to indignation.

Her attitude is exactly like Inspector de Blois’ when he ignores her. I get it now. If there’s something they don’t like about someone, then both of these siblings end up treating that person like he’s invisible. But still…

Discouraged, Kazuya stood up. “You’re the one being cruel, Victorique. You’re through with me? Even though I did the right thing and gave you a proper apology? You’re just being selfish. I’ve had enough out of you.”

Victorique said nothing. She simply continued to smoke and immerse herself in her reading, as if no one else were there.

“I guess you like books better than you like me, then.”

“….”

“Fine. I won’t come here anymore.”

“….”

“This really is it. I’ll never come back to the library again. Victorique… Victorique, you crybaby!” Kazuya shouted, and ran as fast as he could down the narrow wooden staircase, still carrying the morning newspaper that he had brought with him.

He ran down.

Down…

And still had longer to go.

He nearly tripped down the stairs in his haste.

When he finally arrived at the first floor atrium, he couldn’t help one last look back at the ceiling. For a brief instant, he thought he saw a small white face look back down at him, but a second later, it skittishly drew back.

“What’s wrong with her…?” murmured Kazuya. “I’m really not coming back….”

In the distance, he heard an iron bell begin to ring, signaling the start of afternoon classes.

“I’m serious….”

Kazuya opened the massive door, letting in the warmth of the sun and the chirping of birds. He walked outside, his gaze downcast. After the heavy door slowly closed behind him, the inside of the library would again be enveloped in an atmosphere filled with dust, mildew, knowledge, and a tranquility that no one dared disturb.

There would be nothing left but the sound of silence.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Gosick. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gosick II – 1.3

  1. Karen says:

    >.< I know that he'll come back but man. Ending like that only makes me more aware of how alone Victorique is. :(

    Thank you for the translations as always! XD The English letter was so hard to read. Rather than archaic it just seems like he wrote the letter really really fast and with lots of spelling mistakes.

    • agrifolia says:

      Since the passage was supposed to have been written in 1511, and Kazuya said the language was archaic and hard for him to read, then it sounded like it would have been written in Early Modern English in real life. I could have chosen to go the route of Tokyopop’s translation and just written it in normal-sounding modern English, and indeed, the Japanese text was written in modern language. But as my translation is in the same language that that passage is supposed to be in according to its fictional context, I felt that I had an opportunity to partially recreate the experience Kazuya would have had. Otherwise, his comments wouldn’t seem to make much sense.

      I used Le Morte d’Arthur and early 16th century texts at the University of Oxford Text Archive as my main guides. All of the spellings I used come directly from late 15th-early 16th century sources. If it’s insufficiently archaic, then I apologize. My syntax and word choices are modern because I’m not familiar enough with Early Modern English to be able to write in truly authentic period language. But I wanted to achieve at least the form of “archaic” and “difficult” in order to have internal consistency with the description, while still preserving the original meaning of the words.

      I knew not everyone would agree with this translation choice, but the above is my reasoning for it, take it or leave it. Yes, another route would have been writing in modern English and letting the reader imagine reading something in an older style… but that would be less fun.

      • Karen says:

        No. No. It’s totally fine. Back then their spelling was kinda like that actually (at least the letters I’ve read that date back to at least the 1900s). It was pretty fun to read it. XD I didn’t mean to criticize it or anything. It’s just that when I think of archaic, I think of thou’s and art’s. ^^; I think your translation choice is good! If I translated, I would’ve done the same :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s