Translated and edited by Hitogai
Thanks /darkgray for the recommendation
Kyouki – 狂鬼 – literally means mad demon/madman but I’ve decided to just leave it as kyouki for the time being
Bloodless/Stainless Death God – 赤なしの死神 – literally red-less death god.Still thinking how to translate it
East/west side -東側・西側- literally what I wrote. Not sure how else to put it
Bonafide – 極石級 – Honestly no idea what this means. Dictionary and google results show nothing helpful. Basic meaning I can guess from the context.
Anyways, this is my second translation. Apologies for any mistakes/poor writing. Enjoy.
Lapis no Shinzou – Prologue
Even if I tried tracing back my childhood memories, there was nothing there.
In the dark, filthy alleyways, my days would end as I drank muddied water and scavenged for scraps of food. By the time I had realized it, I didn’t even know how I ended up like this.
I had no parents. No adults that would look after and protect me. A life of desolation.
Stepping out onto the main street, it was filled with the lively voices of people. As they talked, they became engrossed in their shopping. They looked happy. But for some reason, whenever they looked my way, they would scowl and keep their distance. The merchants running the carts and street stalls yelled at me, telling me to go somewhere else because customers would avoid them if I was near.
One day, looking at my reflection in a puddle of water, I finally understood why. Reflected there was my right eye – surrounded by a large burn scar. Ragged and festering, it was a terrible sight.
―Ahh, I see.
I vaguely understood. The reason why I was alone was because my parents had abandoned me. Seeing my face, there was no doubt that they had come to hate me. That’s what I believed.
It was a complete coincidence when I found out that my eyes were better than others.
There are these quick bugs called kokyu that suck on human blood. Normal people weren’t able to follow these insects, but I was able to see everything – from their appearance, the movement of their wings, and the trajectory of their flight.
Whenever I showed adults that I could catch them, they’d be surprised and praised me. As a prize, they would also sometimes give me some of their food. It was something I held in pride.
It was a cold night. The snow that had began falling at noon now blanketed everything in white. Unable to find any food today, I was scrounging for food at a dumpsite when I saw a group of men run in from the main street.
They all wore the same light brown coloured clothes with swords hanging from their waists. It seems like they were soldiers. Hurriedly, they dispersed throughout the alleyways, but realizing I was here, one of them called out to me.
“Little boy,you see anyone strange pass through here?”
As if he had been running the entire time, the soldier breathed in heavily.
“I didn’t see anybody”
“If you see anyone you think is strange, tell me. I’ll treat you to anything ya like”
As he said that, he quickly hurried off and his figure disappeared into the alleyway.
His words rang strongly in my ears. My mouth watered as I thought of the sweet and sour sauce grilled meat and the sweet pastries at the food carts I had seen on the main street. In any case, today’s harvest was zero. Taking the chance for a reward,I decided to search the surroundings.
After an hour, I had finished walking around the area. Exposed to the growing coldness for an extended period of time, my hands had lost all feeling. Just as I was about to give up. I caught a glimpse of scattered red spots in the snow between the crevice of two buildings. As I approached, I noticed that aside from the red stains, there were also faint traces of footsteps hidden by the snow.
Following the trail of red stains, I found myself at the entrance of the sewers. The stains continued on inside.
I had never entered the sewers. However, remembering the words of the soldier, I mustered up the courage, shook off my fear, and continued inside.
Because the wind didn’t reach inside the sewers, it was slightly warmer than outside, but the strong smell of rot made it uncomfortable. After some time, my eyes became accustomed to the darkness and I was able to get a general grasp of the area with the little bit of light that leaked in from the outside.
It seems the red stains continued on further inside. Seeing a swarm of kokyu gathering at one of red spots, I finally realized the true nature of the stains.
―It was blood.
If that was the case, it might have been one of the soldiers from earlier.
Following the trail of bloodstones, I continued deeper into the sewers. The amount of blood on the floor had been gradually increasing. If they were still alive at all, they were probably just barely hanging on by a thread.
After a continuing a bit, the trail of blood suddenly stopped.
In the next moment, as if a gust of wind had just passed by, something flew past over my head.
―I wonder what that was.
The sound of rustling clothes reach my ears
“Is somebody there?”
What came from the darkness was the voice of a girl. A high, transparent voice of a young woman.
In front of my eyes, a fire crackled as if something hard was hit. The small bonfire lit up the dark room. Behind it was someone leaning against the wall as if crouching and holding their stomach.
Illuminated by the fire, her long black hair was dyed blood red. She had narrow eyes and a well structured face, with cold sweat running throughout.
“What’s wrong boy? In a place like this.”
I paused, unable to answer honestly or come up with a lie
“You look cold. Come over by the fire, it’ll warm you up.”
Her gentle voice rang out and for some reason, my sense of wariness had disappeared.
Stepping forward, I sat down in front of the fire facing the woman. Rubbing my hands together, the fire began warming up my frozen hands.
“Boy, how old are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“I see. Well… from the looks of it, I’d say probably around 6 or 7”
“….Who are you, auntie?”
A fist shot out in response
“I’m only in. my, twenties. Call me big sister or Amane.”
It seems like her name was Amane. Not wanting to be hit again, I decided to call her by her name.
“Amane, why are you here?”
“Well… you see, I’m like this because I screwed up at work.”
She raised her hand away from her stomach. Underneath, her clothes were drenched in blood.
“What kind of work?”
After a moment of hesitation, she answered.
Her words had surprised me. As if indicating that it wasn’t a joke, she stared at me sternly.
“ “The Bloodless Death God” In the west side, the name is pretty popular, but I guess nobody on the east side would know, let alone a kid like you.”
“Is Amane strong?”
Unless she was strong, there’s no way she was fit for the job. To a kid like me who knew nothing of the world, the only strong people I could imagine were the giant men bulking with muscles. Compared to that image, Amane had a slender and delicate body. With that kind of body, it didn’t seem like she’d be able to make a living off killing people.
“I’m strong. Very strong,”
As if ridiculing herself, she laughed derisively after answering
“But I guess it’s not very convincing when I look like this huh”
“Was the other person stronger?”
As I asked, it felt as if the surrounding atmosphere had changed. She narrowed her eyes and frowned in displeasure.
“I was tricked. I had heard they weren’t anything special but… that was a bonafide monster.”
“Bo, na, fide?”
“Basically a human as strong as a monster.”
Afterwards, Amane stayed silent as if she was thinking about something. Only the sound of crackling wood remained.
Unable to stand the awkward silence, I changed the topic.
“Before, soldiers were looking for somebody.”
“They were probably looking for me. When you came in, I thought you were one of them and threw a knife, but you were lucky it didn’t hit you ya know.”
Just before noticing Amane on the way here, I remembered something flowing over my head. I had thought it was just a gust of wind, but it seems like it was a knife. One wrong step and I would have probably died. Shivers ran down back just thinking about it.
“Then before, that was…”
“You should be thankful you’re short. If you were an adult, that would have pierced your heart and you’d be in the other world by now.”
My body shrunk as I imagined the scene. Seeing that, Amane laughed loudly.
“Anyhow… what the hell are these bugs since before… Even if I chase them away with fire, they keep coming back and they’re too fast to just kill.”
Countless bugs flew around Amane as they tried to swarm her blood drenched clothes.
“They’re kokyu, didn’t you know? They suck on people’s blood.”
“And…? We don’t have these annoying bugs in the west side.”
Putting on an annoyed face, she relentlessly tried driving the bugs away with her hands, but they weren’t the kind that would give up so easily.
“I can catch them for you”
“Catch them you say… boy, how are you gonna catch these.”
In time my eyes begin capturing the figure and flying motions of the kokyu. Even with an insect net, it was difficult to catch these bugs when they were flying around. However, for me, the movements of the kokyu gradually slowed down to the point where I was able to track their movements.
Stretching out my left hand, I killed one. With my right hand, I killed two more. Repeating those movements, I eventually got rid of all of the kokyu that had been flying around Amane. Having done the same thing so many times before, it was as simple as walking or eating to me.
Opening my palms, I show Amane all the kokyu that I had killed. Several of them had already eaten their fill and so something resembling Amane’s blood leaked from the dead bodies.
–I wonder if she’ll praise me
Is what I thought, but Amane sat there with a blank expression on her face.
“Just now, how did you…”
“Look, I caught them!”
“Not that! Those bugs are so fast, you can barely see them. How did you catch them so accurately?”
“If you just look closely, it’s no problem.”
“If I looked closely you say… it’s not something so simp- oh right, here”
From her breast pocket, she took out a silver coin.
“This silver coin used to be used in a kingdom on the westside. I’m going to flip this coin. I want you to tell me what kind of pattern is on the front side. If you get it right, I’ll give you something nice.”
“I promise. Okay, here I go~”
The sound of metal rang out as Amane flipped the coin up with her thumb. The coin rotated quickly as it rose up into the air. Like the time with the bugs, he focused and looked at the rotating coin.
–See it. I can definitely do it.
Increasing his focus, the movements of the coin quickly rotating in the air gradually became slow and he was able to discern the patterns on both sides of the coin.
The coin landed back into Amane’s hands.
“One side has a big tree with lots of flower petals. The other side is some kind of four legged animal with a bird’s head.”
“…correct. What the hell kind of dynamic vision is that.”
It seemed like she was impressed. As if realizing I was being recognized, I become proud.
“Hey, are you gonna give me something nice?”
I wonder what she’s gonna give me. Maybe it’s the coin she just tossed. My heart danced in anticipation, but her answer was different than I expected.
“Boy, you’re an orphan right?”
I slowly nod my head.
“Is there anybody taking care of you?”
Quickly, I shake my head.
“Well then how bout this~~ boy, do you want to come with me?”
“You see, I’m the successor of an old fighting style. Using that, I’m doing my current job. When I learned this from somebody I call my master, he made me promise one thing.”
“What kinda promise?”
“To pass it on…What I received, I need to pass it onto the next person. And the person I want to pass it to is you.
“Those eyes of yours are rare. Dynamic vision, that’s what we call the ability to see the form of moving bodies and objects. You will definitely become strong. Stronger than me.”
“I don’t really get it.”
As an orphan who had been living day to day with no purpose, I couldn’t understand the words that she had said. To become strong—I wonder if there was any meaning in doing that.
Gazing at the flickering flames, she desperately began talking to herself.
“You know… I think our meeting was fate.”
“The first time I took a job on the east side, the first time I failed, and the first time I had to take cover, I met a kid like you.The boy was an orphan and I had been searching for a successor. You see?”
“…I don’t get it”
“Okay, then how about this. If you take my offer, I’ll give you food and a place to stay until you become an adult who can stand on his own.”
Even though it was selfish, my heart shook at her offer.
“Really. But, I’m telling you this in advance. The training I’m going to have you do will make you wish you lived out your entire life as you have been so far. But if you can withstand it all, I will give you housing, food, and teach you everything I know. In other words, this is a contract okay?”
“Right. We both have something to gain off each other. So if you protect your promise, I’ll protect mine. That kind of promise. What do you say?”
Carefully thinking about her offer, the person that benefited the most was me. However, it wasn’t like I was in a position to offer her fair conditions. As an orphan who was stuck in a maze with no exit, there wasn’t a single reason for me to turn down her offer.
“I’ll go with Amane”
Hearing those words, Amane who had been looking at me with unease, began smiling as if flowers had bloomed.
“Im glad. I wont let you regret this.”
Smiling, she began to leave.
“Amane, what about your stomach?”
“Ah, I rubbed some ointment on it as soon as I got here. The wound closed up a long time ago.”
“Eh? But before…”
She had definitely been sitting there holding her stomach in pain .
“That was an act. If you show yourself like that, the enemy will drop their guard right?”
“Amane, that’s cheap…”
“I’d prefer if you’d call it leaving no gaps. ———Ah by the way, no more Amane. Call me master from now on.”
“Yup. I’ll be training you from now on so we gotta make a distinction. That’s why I’m master, and you’re a disciple.”
I felt a strange feeling of happiness just from uttering the word master. Always being alone, I finally had a special bond with somebody.
“Yoshi, yoshi. Well then, shall we go?”
Pouring water onto the fire, she put out the flames. As she took my hand and began taking a step, she slowly stopped.
“Oops, forgot to ask something very important. Boy, what’s your name?
“I don’t know. I’ve always been alone.”
“I see…then from now on, call yourself Shuou.”
The name she had given him was one he wasn’t used to hearing.
“…Do you like it?”
Right now, while being my master, at the same time Amane had also become something like a God parent to me.
“Right, right. It’s good to be honest.”
As if satisfied, Amane nodded.
“But why Shuou?”
Her face stiffened.
“Ahh, well, if I ever feel like it, I’ll tell you. Okay, let’s go before they find us!”
As if trying to trick me, she began walking faster, but I didn’t chase after her.
The joy of being needed by somebody and a life full of hope. When I thought about it, it felt as if feathers had grown on my feet lightening my steps.
A dark, wet sewer with a foul lingering stench. It wasn’t a place befitting of any kind of compliment, but right now Shuou was the happiest he had ever been. This was the first step in his life alongside Amane.
◆ ◇ ◇ ◆ ◇
12 Years Later
◇ ◆ ◇ ◇ ◆ ◇
Inside the Deep Boundary, a forest of ashen grey.
A world of grey that continued endlessly; just walking through it would bring down one’s mood.
The towering grey trees stretched upwards, blocking even the slightest of light that leaked through the clouds. Looking down, a world of gloomy darkness spread through his vision.
――The air was heavy
The smell of water tickled his nose.
Before long, a light drizzle of rain began to fall like specks of powder. Even for Shuou who had become used to this forest, the situation completely changed when it rained. This was the time when fierce monsters called Kyoki would begin to move in search of beasts and bugs to prey on.
As if going mad, the fierce roars of beasts resonated throughout the forest.
Bringing his body up against a large grey tree, Shuou covered his body with a cloak. Naturally like a plant, unmoving like a stone, he simply waited for time to pass.
He closed his eyes.
Yesterday’s events continuously ran across his mind.
――She was crying.
Always aloof, she was elusive and somebody difficult to completely understand. He thought of the girl he had began living with 12 years ago through a chance meeting. She had taught him how to read, how to live, how to fight, and how to be strong.
She was his teacher, his saviour, the person who had given him a name, as well as the person who brought him up. He had made that person cry.
“Are you really gonna go?”
“It’s still too early for you”
“You’ll definitely get hurt, the human world isn’t that kind.”
“Why you ask…it’s obviously because I’m worried!”
“…That’s enough. Do what you want.”
His body shivered as a cold wind blew past him. Just how much time had passed; he couldn’t tell whether it was a dream or reality. Calming himself down, he undid his cloak and observed his surroundings.
As the rain stopped, the forest regained its silence.
This forest strongly rejected people living in it. He was told that this forest was originally a place that people had lived in normally.
A long time ago, grey trees began to sprout on the land. As time passed, the number of those trees grew and expanded until it drove out people out of their homes.
The single grey tree became a forest and violent beasts that attacked humans began to settle down. Their daily lives being threatened, humans ran and took refuge in the mountains and elevated areas. Strangely enough, the grey trees would never grow anywhere higher than level ground.
The result of this current world was because of the invisible boundary that separated the two. On the ground level was the forest of grey trees; in the mountains and elevated places were where the humans came to live. People made a distinction; the world covered in ashen grey trees came to be called the “Deep Boundary,” whereas the mountains and elevated areas in which humans lived came to be called the “Upper Boundary.”
Navigating the grey forest was something his master had pounded into him since childhood. Hiding your presence, erasing your smell, and sealing the sound of your footsteps as you walked.
Being able to walk through the forest without being detected by the Kyoki was a result of 12 years of that training. Even a healthy adult male would find it difficult to survive in the Deep Boundary forest for even 30 minutes. To humans, this world was an existence close to hell; a place they were not to tread lightly. Because it required you to be constantly aware, it was extremely straining both physically and mentally.
As he walked through the dark forest, he touched the leather eye patch he was wearing.
“Take this with you. You’ll stand out with those burns in the human world. Do your best to keep it hidden.”
What his master handed to him was a handmade black leather eye patch. Since he was a child, he had carried a large burn scar on the right side of his face. Because of that, the skin stuck on like an adhesive and prevented him from being able to open his right eye. It was an ugly sight. The eye patch his master had given him was made to cover all of that. The materials were strong and made with quality hide. Made to fit Shuou’s facial structure, it was probably closer to a mask than an eye patch.
Suddenly, the forest ended. The scent of the grey forest, a scent void of life, had disappeared and in it’s place he could smell the scent of natural greenery filled with the breadth of life. Looking up at the mountains that seemed like they stretched all the way to the heavens, they endlessly rose as if coercing him.
He looked back at the grey forest he had lived in for the past 12 years.
“Take care, Shuou.”
Thinking of the last words his master, as well as his parent, had sent him off with, he bowed deeply.
―I’m heading off, Master
His destination was right in front of his eyes.