Kyotou Yasuri – Chapter 10

“Oh? What’s this? That’s weird. I’m here to see Higaki Rinne the sage1, so who’s this creepy, gangly guy covered in scars?”

“Ukeke. That’s no way to talk about someone, Hida Takahito, mastermind of the rebellion. Takahito, you’re being rude to me and rude to yourself. After all, I’m you right now.”

“You’re me? Oh, yeah, that’s how it goes. That’s right. That’s what’s going on. You’re Higaki Rinne the sage, and you look different to different people. You’re a wishy-washy flip-flopper who’s impossible to make sense of—or something like that.”

“That’s pretty rude, too, but you should keep in mind that what you’re saying applies just as well to yourself. Actually, this is a first for me, too. It’s quite confusing. You see, I’m basically a mirror that reflects whoever a person is uncomfortable with. So when people talk to me, they’re confronting their own weaknesses. But here you are looking at yourself. Don’t you think it’s strange? Now I’m just a regular mirror! It’s just bizarre.”

“Really? I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary.”

“Oh? I never imagined you of all people would be talking about what’s ordinary.”

“I mean, there’s nobody I’m uncomfortable with. There’s nothing and nobody in the whole world that I’m afraid of. If I had to pick something, I’d say I’m afraid of steamed buns.”

“Oh? Is that so?”

“And if I really had to say, I’m afraid of myself for that. I’m afraid of myself since I can’t see myself. How about that, Higaki Rinne the sage? Aren’t you afraid of yourself, too?”

“Ukeke! That’s really something. Are you trying to guess who I’m uncomfortable with? That’s not such a good idea. See, I’ve obtained enlightenment and become a sage. I’m not afraid of anything in the world.”

“Hm… but I have to wonder if you even belong to this world.”

“Eh?”

“Something that feels off about reality. It isn’t really realistic, or rather, it seems fictional. I just can’t come to terms with it. You can’t come to terms with it either, can you? It’s just not humanly possible for me to be accept it. It can’t be humanly possible for you to accept it either, can it?”

“How intriguing. I’m not actually human, but do go on.”

“Oh, there’s no point in explaining the whole thing to a sage. It’s just that it’s all too suspicious. Like you, for example. It feels fake to be able to meet something as nonsensical as a sage in person. It feels contrived, and the more you think about it the less it makes sense. And then there’s Mutsue’s Kyotouryuu. The idea of a swordless sword school surpassing all other sword schools is just absurdly inconsistent. And by consistency here, I mean the kind of consistency a story has. It’s like it’s all out of a book.”

“Since when was this?”

“Huh?”

“Since when have you been thinking that? It must have been hard to come up with such an egotistical idea.”

“Well now, ever since I could remember, something felt off. There were little things about everybody including myself that kept bugging me. It made me want to to find fault with the entire world. I couldn’t help but wonder how everyone else got by without thinking about it.”

“Ukekeke! Well, you know, not everyone’s a genius like you.”

“That’s true, I am a genius.”

“C’mon, how about a little humility?”

“Humility is just a waste of time. Society is kinder to people like me when we’re arrogant.”

“Society, you say?”

“That’s right. This artificial society. A society dancing on strings in a world that runs to a script. And it’s the fate of geniuses like me to stick out in this kind of society.”

“I wouldn’t exactly call that fate.”

“Hm?”

“Never mind. I’m a sage who’s reached enlightenment, but all that really means is that I’ve been alive for a long time. So there’s nothing I can teach a genius like you. Sorry to tell you that after you took the time to visit me. Still, there is something I can tell you because I’ve been alive for a long time. I have a hunch about who wrote the script.”

“A hunch?”

“You do too, don’t you? Isn’t that why you went out of your way to bring up Kyotouryuu as an example? A certain family that the legendary swordsmith Shikizaki Kiki belongs to are what you’d call the authors of this world. Without them, neither you nor I would have been born into this world.”

“Been born? Hold on a minute. I won’t deny that I’ve noticed that history has been influenced by a certain family, or rather, by a legendary swordsmith who’s forged a thousand swords; but even if that’s why you were born, that shouldn’t be why I was born.”

“That’s not quite true. Even if you would have still been born, you wouldn’t have your peculiarities without Seitou Hakari.”

“Seitou?”

“That’s the truest sword in the world. It’s more or less mine, but it’s hidden in Hida Castle, where you were born and raised, so it should have had an effect on you.”

“I’m not sure I follow—are you saying that I’m doing what I’m doing because of the influence of this sword Seitou?”

“Ukeke. Yeah, that’s about right. I can’t guarantee it though. This is only how I’d imagine it. And I can’t even guess at why Shikizaki Kiki would entrust a Completed Deviant Blade to me. He didn’t even live that long, but it’s like he was enlightened from the start. That’s what it seemed like, anyways.”

“Anyone would be short-lived compared to you.”

“Uke, uke, ukeke. But you know, I think Shikizaki Kiki might have predicted this would happen. Maybe he gave me Seitou so that you would be born.”

“So that I would be born?”

“Born to be the person you are, maybe. Ukeke! In other words, you’re a mechanism of history. The rebellion you’re fighting for the sake of history might just be another part of Shikizaki Kiki’s plans. Doesn’t that make everything feel pointless? Supposing your rebellion against a scripted world was all a part of the script.”

“So then, what’s the point?”

“Hm?”

“Why did these authors of history have me start a rebellion? Don’t tell me it’s to add depth to the story. That can’t be the reason.”

“Well, now. I’m afraid that’s beyond the scope of a one-off character like me.”

“So much for being a sage.”

“I mean, I might be a sage, but that’s only a title someone else gave me. It wasn’t Shikizaki Kiki, but his ancestor from way back. But Shikizaki Kiki was definitely the one who gave me Seitou Hakari.”

“I get this feeling that you know more than you’re letting on. You’re only telling me what you want me to know.”

“You’re right. But just because you know that, it doesn’t mean I’ll tell you the whole truth. After all, I’m you right now.”

“You’re me. I’m you.”

“Exactly. I have the same awful personality that you fear and hate. I said so at the start, didn’t I?”

“That you did. Well, I already knew that. Everyone says I have an awful personality. I’m not the kind of guy that people want to be friends with.”

“So what, you’ve got plenty of people following you anyways. You’re charismatic enough to make up for your awful personality and character flaws. Good for you.”

“That doesn’t sound like much of a compliment.”

“That’s because it’s not one.”

“How about we get back on topic? Why did Shikizaki Kiki and his family give me this nonsensical role as a rebel and the greatest laughingstock in history?”

“That’s not necessarily true. I’m just saying it’s a possibility.”

“When people like me bring up possibilities, they’re nearly always talking about the truth. There are almost no exceptions.”

“Ukeke. But that’s only another possibility! But that aside, you sound pretty pessimistic, Hida Takahito. The war is still raging on, and you’re already talking about being the greatest laughingstock in history—it’s like you’re planning for failure.”

“I am going to fail.”

“Hm?”

“Though that possibility isn’t easy for me to talk about. To be frank, I can clearly see that this rebellion will fail. In other words, I have absolutely no possibility of success. There’s no path leading anywhere. My actions and our struggle are cut off from all possible futures.”

“Futures, huh?”

“What about it?”

“I was just thinking that Shikizaki Kiki used to talk about that stuff a lot. He talked about stuff like the future and history all the time. You do too, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do. Everyone does. There’s nothing unusual about that. The future, history, hopes, dreams, and all that. Not that I’ve got the faintest bit of either hopes or dreams.”

“Like I said, don’t be so pessimistic. You might actually win! The experts are all saying that Shogun Yanari’s Owari shogunate isn’t in good shape.”

“My enemy isn’t the Owari shogunate. And it isn’t Shogun Yanari.”

“Oh? Then who is your enemy?”

“Shikizaki… no, it’d have to be Mutsue.”

“Yasuri Mutsue, that’d be Kyotouryuu’s fruitless flower.”

“You see, I had all these plans to win Mutsue over to my side, but none of them worked out. It’s got to be Migiri’s fault. His wielder, Migiri, is just too dangerous. She’s definitely this generation’s fruitless flower.”

“The Tetsubi family, too. Though they don’t seem to have much to do with Shikizaki Kiki’s family. No, actually, there’s no one alive who isn’t a part of their script.”

“That’s right. That’s why I started a rebellion: to make the world more free. To bring change to a predetermined world. But since I am a genius, I’m more or less aware that doing so has absolutely no meaning.”

“Hm, what do you mean by that? You’re not talking about how the rebellion will fail?”

“I’m not. But my rebellion will definitely fail. I just don’t know how it’ll fail yet, which makes things exciting. I mean that even if I succeed, my success will be meaningless.”

“‘Meaningless.’ Just what do you mean by that?”

“I mean just like how the future and history are illusions, and hopes and dreams are illusions, the concept of freedom is only an illusion. This isn’t even a possibility, it’s the plain truth. After all, there’s no one in this world who lives freely and spends their days freely.”

“I don’t know about that. Aren’t there plenty of fools doing as they please?”

“They’ve only been told what they want. They’re only pretending to be free, and they have no desires of their own. Even if Shikizaki Kiki’s family hadn’t written their script, everyone in the world would still become the people they are by listening to what other people say. So you could say that all my work will be for nothing. It’s only the difference between one ruling over all and all ruling over all.”

“Well, I think that’s a pretty big difference. Anyways, maybe the way you keep bothering yourself with things you don’t even need to think about is why you were made to act as a restoration mechanism of history.”

“What was that? A restoration mechanism of history?”

“Whoops! That’s just my personal opinion, so don’t take it too seriously. Ukeke! It’s only the opinion of a sage, you don’t need to pay any attention to it.”

“That’s fine. Just tell me what you mean by a restoration mechanism of history.”

“I mean it literally, as a reason why the authors of history might have had you start a rebellion. I think you were set up to redirect the course of history after it flowed off in a unexpected direction, which would make you an artificial watershed.”

“Watershed?”

“From what I can tell there was a divergence, or rather a discrepancy that popped up around the time of Shogun Kyuu. And so even the rebellion you decided to start was a part of Shikizaki Kiki’s plans all along. This is all still just a possibility, though. How about that? Doesn’t it make everything you did feel—”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“Oh?”

“Even before you told me that, I was only doing what I was because I had no other choice. And I’ll probably fail, but even if I fail, that won’t be the end of it.”

“Oh? Is that so?”

“Yeah, it is. That goes without saying.”

“Anyways, Hida Takahito, why did you come to see me in the first place? This whole time I was thinking that you wanted to know if your actions, and your rebellion, were scripted. I thought you came here to confirm that.”

“No, that’s not why. I have a request for after I’ve failed.”

“A request? From you? To me?”

“From me to you. In other words, from me to myself. My request is about my daughter.”


And so Hida Takahito made preparations for the future that would follow in twenty years and for the history of twenty years later. He did not make these preparations as a strategist. In a manner of speaking, he was a character acting on his own accord. It was an action that nobody who knew him had predicted and one that would greatly change history. And for Hida Takahito, it was his final revolt against history, after which the rebellion dramatically lost its momentum. At last, the end had arrived.

Translation Notes

1Specifically, a xian, an immortal being in Taoism. Xian are people who have reached enlightenment. They live outside of society and have various supernatural abilities like flight.

Name Meanings

Higaki Rinne

Higa(彼我)- self and others.

ki(木)- tree, a common character in surnames.

Rinne(輪廻)- samsara (the cycle of reincarnation).

Shikizaki Kiki

Shiki(四季)- four seasons.

zaki(崎)- peninsula, a common character in surnames.

Kiki(記紀)- An abbreviation for the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, the two oldest existing written accounts of Japanese history.

Ki(記)- record.

ki(紀)- period, era.

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