an English translation of the novel

Page 226-227

Ryou stared at me in disbelief.

“What…why?”

“I’m really sorry. But I thought it would be polite to tell you beforehand.”

I went back to the classroom, leaving him standing speechlessly in the hall. Satoru stood near the door.

“Saki, are you going to put his name down?” he asked sourly.

“Of course not.”

“Huh? Why?”

I stared hard at Satoru, suddenly seeing him in a new light.

“Hey, why did you like Ryou?”

“Why…because…” he looked horribly confused. “I wonder. Now that I think about it, I have no idea.”

“I see. I knew it. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s just not fit for the role.”

“What?”

“I’m positive it wasn’t him. The person we both love.”

It took a moment for my words to sink in. His cheeks turned red. Although he didn’t say anything, I saw the light return to his eyes.

 

Most pairs were decided in the first round of nominations. Although there were students who decided they had nothing to lose and put down the names of people they had no chance of being partnered with, most people had already discussed and decided their choices beforehand.

When Satoru and I were paired together, Ryou didn’t give either of us a second glance. Immediately after, he was partnered with a girl from team two, which was no surprise.

The entire class was focused on who Maria would choose, and she decided on Mamoru without a moment’s hesitation. This was probably Mamoru’s just reward for being so devoted to her.

“What happened? Why didn’t you choose Ryou?”


Page 228-229

After class, we had gathered near the deserted waterway. Maria wanted to celebrate the four of us being paired off . Satoru and I told her the truth about what had happened. Rather than simply being doubtful of our story, she looked as if she suddenly thought we had gone insane.

“That’s why it wasn’t him. There were five people when we went to summer camp, but Ryou wasn’t with us.”

“That’s impossible. I remember him. He was the first to find the haythatcher’s nest.”

Actually, I was the one who found it, but this wasn’t the time to argue details.

“That wasn’t Ryou.”

“Then who was it?”

“I don’t know. I can’t remember his name.”

“What was he like? What did he look like?”

“I can’t remember his face either.”

I remembered him saying in the dream that he didn’t have a face.

“Do you really expect me to believe this? Is there something wrong with you, Saki?” Maria shook her head, smiling wryly.

I was offended by her condescending attitude.

“…but I can remember parts of what she’s saying,” Satoru said, coming to the rescue. “I remember going out with him…but now that I look back on it, I just can’t see it being Ryou. He’s not my type.”

“Well we all know you go for cute little pretty-boys…like Rei.” Maria folded her arms, looking smug. “Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing. Maybe he was just persistent enough.”

“No, I was the one who had to persuade him,” Satoru said, turning red. “Anyway, I’m sure that our memories have been manipulated. The details just don’t add up.”


Page 230-231

“Like what?”

“Ryou…no that’s confusing, let’s call him a different X. I remember going to X’s house a lot when we were little. But it’s different from Ryou’s house. He lives in Outlook, right? It’s up on the hill in an open area. But X’s house is…”

“In the forest!” I shouted without thinking.

“Right. Way in the north. I remember it being a huge, isolated house.”

“Now that you mention it…I’m starting to remember as well,” Maria said, frowning.

Even with that expression, she still looked beautiful.

“I’ve never been to Ryou’s or X’s house.” Mamoru suddenly spoke. “But where would this forest to the north be?”

I had been thinking about this too, but couldn’t come up with anything that fit.

“Hey, name all seven of the towns in order,” I said to Satoru.

“What? Now?”

“Just do it already.”

Up until now, I never thought that Satoru would take orders from me, but he was surprisingly obedient now that we were duty pairs.

“Um, Oakgrove, Withertree, Whitesand, Gold, Waterwheel, Outlook, and Hayring, right?”

It was my turn to frown. These towns had been around all my life, but why did they sound so weird?

“If it’s in the forest, would it be Oakgrove? But if it’s in the north…” Maria had a look of intense concentration on her face now. “Withertree, I suppose. I’m not positive, but I don’t think there are any big houses there.”


Page 232-233

“Yeah, it’s hard to imagine it being there. And most of the area beyond that seems to be beyond the Holy Barrier.”

The corner of Satoru’s eyelid twitched as he spoke.

Seeing that, I gasped. This feeling… It was the same feeling I had many times in the past when I was on the cusp of remembering something. I wonder if other people noticed my eyes twitch during those instances. It was probably some sort of warning. A trigger buried in our mind that prevented us from remembering certain things.

“Let’s go,” I said.

Everyone stared at me.

“Where?”

“Withertree, of course.”

“But we just had our pairs decided today. Everyone’s out celebrating. Do we really have to go to that depressing place?” Maria complained.

 

It was true that Withertree wasn’t exactly a lively town.

There were houses lined all around the dock, giving you the impression that you were in the bustling center of town. But if you went farther in, everything instantly became darker, with rows upon rows of abandoned houses. It was more a ghost town than anything.

“Where did everyone go?” Satoru asked, touching the closed shutters of the windows.

“Wasn’t there a disaster of some sort and they all had to resettle in the other towns?” Mamoru said.

That was what I remembered too. Even in a small society like ours, there was still so much ambiguity surrounding the events that occur.

“Anyway, …X’s house should be even farther north. Let’s try looking for it,” I urged them on.

We followed a narrow, inconspicuous path and met no one else along the way, which would have been impossible in any of the other towns.

After about an hour, we gradually began to see the after-effects of the “disaster” that had befallen Withertree.


Page 234-235

There were large fissures here and there into which many trees had fallen. In some places, the ground had been vertically displaced a meter or more. It looked like the aftermath of a huge earthquake, but if there had been an earthquake of this magnitude, the entire district of Kamisu 66 would have been severely damaged.

Spreading out over a large area was what looked like a giant wrinkle. It formed a miniature mountain range over three meters tall in some places.

“What in the world happened?” Satoru whispered to himself.

“It must have been someone with a really powerful cantus to do something like this,” Maria replied.

“Why, though?”

“I don’t know any more than you do.”

We stopped short as the path forward was blocked.

“The Holy Barrier…”

The red pines had fallen on each other like dominoes. At intervals, the trees had been pulled upright and tied with the thick rope of the barrier.

“Was Withertree always this small? We’re already at the barrier,” I said.

Satoru examined the rope.

“No, this rope is new…” he suddenly stopped and looked at me.

As if by telepathy, I knew exactly what he was thinking. Deja vu. We had had this exact conversation before; I was sure of it.

We walked along the rope and arrived at an open space on a hill that had been cleared of trees.

“I never knew something like this existed,” Maria said, sounding awestruck.

A deep blue lake stretched out before us. It was almost a perfect circle, as if it had been formed from a crater. Since it was on the other side of the barrier, we couldn’t go nearer for a better look, but it was easily over two hundred meters across.