an English translation of the novel

Page 247-249

We rode in a windowless houseboat like the one I took to the Temple of Purity. However, this time the boat went by the normal waterways and did not make pointless changes in direction to try to throw off our sense of direction, so I had a rough idea of where we were.

The dock was a normal dock as well. That was a little anticlimactic since I was expecting to be taken outside the Holy Barrier.

I spotted the town hall and library where my parents worked out of the corner of my eye as we headed toward a narrow alley branching off of the town’s main street.

The Ethics Committee was set up just outside the center of Hayring. It looked just like a normal shop until we entered the front gate. I saw a long hallway stretching out before me and realized it was actually a pretty big building.

We arrived at a quiet inner parlor. There was sandalwood incense burning and a scroll depicting winter peonies hanging in the alcove.

Next to a large lacquered table were three deep purple floor cushions lit by the light filtering through the paper windows. We sat down apprehensively.

“Please wait here for a moment,” said the woman escorting us, and slid the door shut.

“What’s going on?” Maria and I asked Satoru in unison.

“You never told us your grandmother was the head of the Ethics Committee.”

“You haven’t been spying on us for her, have you?”

“Hey, wait a sec,” Satoru said, recoiling. “I didn’t know either.”

“Didn’t know what?”

“That my grandmother…I mean Tomiko Asahina was the head of the committee.”

“Liar.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me. How could you not? You’re her grandson.”

“Just hear me out.” Satoru backed away from us so hastily that he fell off the cushion. “You guys didn’t know who the head was either, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Unlike with other jobs, the members of the Ethics Committee aren’t public knowledge. The members keep their own identities secret as well.”

“Couldn’t you tell somehow?” Maria asked, still suspicious.

“Not at all,” Satoru said seriously, sitting up cross-legged.

“But she’s your grandmother,” she said obstinately.

“I’m perfectly aware of tha…”


Page 250-251

“Excuse me,” a voice came from the other side of the door.

Satoru hurriedly sat back on the cushion. Maria and I also turned and sat down properly.

“Sorry for making you wait.”

The door slid open and the woman from before came in with a tray of teacups. She set them down in front of us along with some snacks.

“We’d like to talk to you individually, so would you please follow me one by one?”

I wondered what would happen if I refused, but of course that wasn’t an option.

“Well then, Saki Watanabe, please come with me.”

I was dying for a drink but had no choice except to follow her out into the hall.

“The man who was supposed talk with you all is Mr. Niimi, the man who was with you earlier. Oh, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Kinomoto. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, giving a quick bow.

“…anyway, when I informed the chairman of your arrival, she asked to speak to you directly instead. So we are going to her office now.”

“Oh, you mean, Satoru’s…Tomiko Asahina?”

“Yes. She’s very kind, so don’t be so nervous.”

There was no point in her saying that. My heart, which had already been beating quite fast, began pounding even more vigorously.

“Excuse me,” Kinomoto bent down on one knee and knocked on the door.

I waited with trepidation.

“Come in,” a clear female voice replied.

The door opened and we entered what appeared to be a drawing room that was twice as large as the parlor we had come from.  There was an elegant alcove on the left inside, inside which was an attached study, and opposite it was a set of staggered shelves.

“Bring her in please.” The grey-haired woman seated at the table spoke without looking up.


Page 252-253

“As you wish.”

In the middle of the room was a low table similar to the one in the parlor. I sat down on a cushion in front of it.

“Well then, excuse me.” Kinomoto retreated swiftly.

I felt as if I had been abandoned in a cage with a wild animal. My hands and feet were cold and my throat was dry.

“Saki Watanabe? Mizuho-chan’s daughter,” the grey-haired woman said.

Apart from the lines around her mouth, she had no other wrinkles and looked younger than I expected.

“Yes.”

“Don’t be so nervous. I’m Tomiko Asahina. I hear you’re good friends with Satoru.”

She stood up gracefully and came over to sit with her back to the alcove. She wore a delicately patterned silver-grey outfit that matched her hair.

“Satoru…Satoru-san and I have been friends since we were little.”

“I see,” she smiled.

She appeared to be in her mid-sixties. With her large eyes and shapely features, she must have been very beautiful in her youth.

“Just as I thought. You have wonderful eyes. They’re full of light.”

People often complimented my eyes. Probably because there was nothing else to compliment. I also often heard them say that there’s light in them, but then again, people who have no light in their eyes are usually dead.

“Thank you.”

“I’ve always wanted to talk with you at least once.”

She didn’t seem to be saying this out of mere politeness. I was confused.

“Why?”

“Because you will someday succeed me.”

My jaw dropped. I couldn’t think of a response.

“Surprised? This isn’t a half-baked idea or a joke though.”

“But…there’s no way I’m fit for the role.”

“Hohoho. That’s what Mizuho-chan said too. Like mother like daughter.”

I don’t usually translate the honorifics (the -san, -chan, etc suffixes), but did in this case because it’s kind of significant. Tomiko calling Saki’s mother Mizuho-chan is a clue that would be missed in English if I didn’t include the suffix. -chan is a childish/cute honorific that adults call children and children say among each other, but adults almost always use -san for their peers (outside of intimate/family relationships), so it’s indicative of…something ;)
Also translated Saki saying Satoru-san because she’s making an effort to speak formally.
I can’t decide if I want to keep the suffixes in the PDFs though. Any thoughts?

Page 254-255

“Did you know my mother?” I asked, leaning forward.

Although I had been extremely nervous earlier, Tomiko Asahina had a special way of making you drop your defenses and open up to her.

“Yes, very well. Ever since she was born,” she said in a voice that went right to the depths of my heart. “Mizuho-chan has a special knack for leading people. She’s doing an excellent job as librarian. But my position requires more than that. And it’s something no one but you have.”

“But…why me? I’m still a student, and my grades aren’t that good.”

“Grades? You mean your cantus? You’re not interested in being someone like Shisei are you?”

“Well…even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.”

“Your aptitude for cantus is not the only thing tested in school. There’s also the personality index. It’s something we never let the students know about.”

“Personality index?”

Tomiko smiled, revealing teeth unnaturally white for her age. “In every era, what is demanded of a great leader is not some special ability but their personality index.”

All at once, I felt everything become lighter. Until then, I had been oppressed by all the things I felt inferior about.

“Do you mean things like their intelligence, or sensitivity, or leadership skills?” I asked fervently.

But Tomiko shook her head gracefully. “No, It has nothing to do with intelligence. Or sensitivity. And leadership abilities are acquired through various social experiences.”

“Then…?”

“The personality index is a number that indicates a person’s stability. It is their ability to maintain a grasp on themself and carry on without breaking down no matter what kind of unexpected situation or psychological crisis occurs. That is the most important quality in a leader.”


Page 256-257

Somehow that didn’t make me particularly happy. I recalled Maria saying that I was strong. Didn’t that just mean that I was insensitive?

“So my score is high?”

“Yes, wonderfully so. Possibly the best in the history of the Academy.” Suddenly a sharp look came into her eyes. “But that’s not all. The most remarkable thing is even after all of you discovered the truth, there was no permanent decline in your score.”

I felt the blood rush to my face. “What are you referring to…?”

“From the false minoshiro, you learned the blood-stained history of our society, and the thin ice of peace upon which we now tread. After you returned, we subjected you to a thorough psychological assessment and monitored your subsequent behavior. Your personality index stabilized in a remarkably short amount of time after the initial shock. The other four took much longer to return to normal.”

So after learning the truth, we had been observed like guinea pigs. Although I had expected that to some degree, it was still a huge blow to me.

“Could it be…you had it planned out since the beginning?”

“Hardly.” The kind expression returned to Tomiko’s face. “We’d never take such a big risk. All we knew was that you were planning to break the rules. But catching a false minoshiro…a library terminal from the previous era, nobody could have predicted that.”

Was that true? I couldn’t bring myself to trust her completely.

“So the results of the test…”

“No. To be able to shoulder the fate of all the people as their highest leader, one needs to have a broad mind and nerves of steel when faced with the truth. You have both.”

Broad-minded was a convenient phrase. Anyone could accept something beautiful. The important thing was to be able to calmly accept the dirty and ugly things as well.

“We broke the rules and learned what we weren’t supposed to. Why weren’t we disposed of?”

Even though my tone had suddenly become accusing, Tomiko did not seem to mind.