Jun 22, 2017

Majo no Tabitabi V1 Chapter 10

Chapter 10: The Gently Approaching Peaceful Death

Part 1

It was a primeval forest with tall trees lined up one by one.

Moss densely grew on the underfoot that I passed. From within the gaps of bright greenery spilled the bright sunlight, the dim light illuminating the narrow road.
I followed that road while avoiding trees by skillfully operating the broom. The lukewarm wind that accompanied the fast traveling brushed passed me as if it was licking me, and it felt really bad.

"............"

After advancing for a while, I arrived at the open space.

At that place, there was a village.

It was extremely small──so small that the whole village could be seen just from the entrance.

"Eii!"

Descending down from my broom, I sank foot in the moss-smeared ground. There didn’t seem to be a gate, so after passing through the gap in fence, I easily entered the village.

There were wooden houses lined up in the village. Since they were very simple constructions made by lined up timber, there were no useless ornaments to them. They left me the impression of the houses used merely for lodging.

Well, in any case, it was a splendidly empty village.

Shall I rethink about staying here──No, in the first place, it's questionable whether there's even an establishment for staying here. Or rather, it was difficult to tell whether people really lived here to begin with. Could this place be abandoned?

As I walked aimlessly at the deserted village, one of the villagers came out of their house. Oh good, so people do live here──along with slight feelings of relief, I directed my attention towards that villager.

It was a young man with axe on his shoulder.

".........!"

Strangely enough, when that man saw me, he opened his mouth in pure wonder. It was a reaction as if he had seen something unbelievable.

Hm......? What happened?

He thrust his shivering finger towards me who stood puzzled, "......Mina! Hey, aren't you Mina!" and called out to me.

Huh......? What?

The man cast away the axe and rushed over to me.

"Thank god......! Thank god! You found the panacea right? You made it in time right? Abel-kun will surely be pleased as well! Mina!"

"Huh? Eh? Hey, um......"

I immediately understood that he was having some kind of misunderstanding. Who in the world is Abel?

However, when I tried to ask that, he called out.

"Heey, everyone! Mina has returned!"

The strong voice, as if livening up the primeval forest, had resounded within the village in a flash. From some rustling tree, I saw the birds flying away.

The village was really small. If one raised their voice, it would surely reach everyone──and people started to appear from the all the village houses.

One after another.

Old people, children, and spouses. The villagers who saw us, as if they had conspired beforehand, have all started to run towards us with agile and unhesitating movements.

Before I noticed it, they had surrounded me in a perfect circle. Oh no, I'm scared.

The people who bustlingly gathered mercilessly directed their pure gazes at me as if praising a hero who just returned from war. Oh no, I'm scared.  

"Hey, Mina onee-chan! Did you bring back a souvenir from town?"

"Oh my, in the short time we haven't met, you have become quite a beauty."

"Didn't you shrink in size a bit?"

"Besides, what's with that getup?"

"Look, father. Aren't they the clothes that are popular in town?”

"So, did you buy panacea?"

"Now now, give her some space."

The villagers said whatever came to their head.

I can't take this anymore. As I judged it so, I detached part of my consciousness, and ignored the voices of rowdy villagers as if it was a noise.

The cheers stopped after some time.

The man who gathered the villagers yelled, "You are too noisy. Be quiet!" towards them. You are the noisiest here. Be quiet.

"......Good grief, Mina should also be tired from the long trip. She looks quite pitiful."

Oh my? What are you saying like a good person? Aren't you the ringleader here?

No, rather than that.

"Everyone, aren't you misunderstanding something?"

As it became quiet, I revealed the truth. I would be troubled if the misunderstanding went on like this after all.

"Misunderstanding? What is?" the man said blankly. I felt the murmuring spreading within the surrounding villagers as well.

Gathering strength, I spoke indifferently.

"I'm a simple traveler. I'm not the villager Mina you all are referring to."

I intended to say it seriously, but there seemed to be few who took it as such: because of the laughs followed right after it. "What is this girl even saying?" they said.

So you won't believe me? Or should I rather use Magic and make you kneel? Judging from the conversation of the villagers, it doesn't seem like a Witch has ever visited this village before, so that should be shocking in it's own right.

Well, the final means it is.

"............"

And so.

After everyone aside from me laughed happily.

One villager spoke.

"Eh? Now that you say it, you seem even younger than Mina-san......"

Following that, the person next to him also spoke.

"Looking closely, your chest seems smaller......"

The anxiety that was born out of nowhere started to grow large.

"I thought she’d become quite a beauty in the short time I haven't seen her, but could it be......"

"No matter how you put it, it's usually impossible for someone to shrink in height......"

"Or rather, what's with this getup......"

"Granny, where's my rice?"

"No way, didn't you eat it yesterday?"

"............"

It took no time for anxiety to cover the place.

Before I knew it, the gloomy atmosphere drifted within the surrounding people as if it was a funeral.

"......Are you really not Mina?"

The man before my eyes raised a pathetic voice.

"That's what I've been saying since some time ago. That you guys are having a misunderstanding."

"......There's no way."

The man sank down on the spot.

Then, in a shaking voice,

"Can Abel-kun not be saved anymore......?"

He said that.

What in the world is going on? In the first place, who is this Abel?

"......No wait. There's still a way."

Aside from my doubts, someone muttered from somewhere.


Several of the people surrounding me separated and regrouped at a different place.

And then, after returning back, "We want to talk to you about something so please some with us." And they said that at the same time.

Perhaps because they had so much persuasive power that I couldn't say anything, or perhaps because the faces of adults were dead serious, before I noticed, I gave them a nod.

After being led by that man and several other adults, where I arrived was the largest house of the village.

Persuading me for a meal, "Please have a seat," said the young man and he pulled out a chair for me. So I sat.

Opposite of me, only two people sat down. The left one, from my perspective, was the young man I met at the start. ......Because he became silent like an extinguished flame, he looked like a different person.

The white-bearded old man (perhaps the village head) sitting on the right crossed his hands and started to talk.

"We have well understood that you aren't Mina. Sorry about that."

"It's alright."

As long as you get it.

"However, you look so much like the girl called Mina that it confused all the villagers. So much so, you could say you are like two peas in a pod."

The young man nodded greatly.

The old man brushed his white beard and said:

"First, let us talk about our request. Miss traveler, Just one day...... no, it would be fine even for a bit. Would you pretend to be Mina?"

"......For what reason?"

It seems it has something to do with this Abel fellow, I somehow understood this fact.

"Mina had a lover. A man called Abel. A very serious and great man. For that man, we want you to pretend for a bit."

So you see.

Let's suppose the next development as well. "The life of that Abel-san is in danger, so you want me to pretend that her lover who moved to the city had returned, is that it?"

However, the old man slowly shook his head.

"No, Mina didn't move to the city or anything. She merely rushed towards the city to get the panacea."

"......I see."

That reminds me, the villagers and the young man also said such things. Asking whether I got the panacea.

"Abel is currently succumbed to the illness."

"......I see."

I urge for him to continue.

"What is eating away Abel seems to be an incurable disease──to the point that the village doctor had decided to give up on him. There was virtually no effect, no matter what medicine we administered. On the contrary, Abel's condition was only worsening. At first, he only had a mere fever, and yet he can't even properly get up now."

I see.

"And that's where panacea comes in?"

"Yes. After understanding that the village medicine was useless, Mina rushed out of the village saying ‘I'm going to get the panacea.’"

"And where did she want to obtain that panacea?"

"If you advance far north from here, there is a large country. There was a rumor that panacea could be obtained there. However, to reach that country, you have to walk for two whole days. There was no one in this village who could ascertain the truth."

"Relying on that uncertain information, Mina-san rushed out of the village, you say?"

"She probably bet on the chance that it was real. Her feelings of wanting to save Abel were strong to that point──however."

The young man followed up on those words.

While powerlessly hanging his head.

"But it's been two weeks even since she left. Mina──my daughter──should have returned long ago, but she still hasn't."

......Daughter?

So she's your daughter?

"Eh, so you were her father huh?"

It was a shocking truth. The young man silently nodded.

Isn't it really bad to be confusing your own daughter with a complete stranger? ──No, I guess he was exhausted to that point.

"The more time goes by, the closer Abel approaches death," the old man said, "According to the village doctor's words, he can only last three more days."

Three more days.

Would Mina-san return I wonder?

Arriving to the country that has panacea needs two days. And buying the medicine and returning back takes two more days. And yet, two weeks have passed.

To be late with return by over ten days, it is certainly far too long. I can only think of some trouble coming up──or perhaps...

Will Mina-san make it within the verdict of remaining time. No, the two before me already understood something.

Mina-san will surely not come back anymore──

"Abel has been earnestly fighting with the disease until now. And yet──wouldn't it be too sorrowful for him to die without meeting with his loved one who was always beside him like a family member?”

"............"

"Ever since he lost family when he was a child, Mina-san was the only person he relied on. Mina is the only one who can save his spirit."

Even a fake would be fine──I want for him to feel happiness at least in his final moments.

The old man said.


Part 2

While I didn't immediately agree, I still went with the old man's proposal.

There were no risks for me, and I would be a terrible person if I refused him there.

Be that as it may, I am a traveler. I don't want to spend a whole day in this village where there is not even an inn on top of it having no characteristics. If possible, I would want to fly on my broom towards that country which is said to have that panacea at once.

So I gave my conditions.

"I will cooperate. However, it will be just one time. Once I meet with Abel-san, I'm immediately departing on my journey."

The two of them replied that it would still be fine.

After settling that, it was followed by immediate preparations.

There were several women waiting for me who were led from that large house to another one. Their ages were different, from younger girls to older women.

The oldest granny among them seemed to be the one who managed that place. While showing the wrinkles on her face, she said,

"Now, let's prepare. All men get out!"

And, with a violent strike of her staff, all the men who came to watch including the old man and Mina-san's father were kicked out of the room by women.

But the way, although I said staff, It wasn't like the Magic Staff that I have, but rather the one that you use as a third leg.

The granny, who closed the door and blocked it with the pole to make sure no one entered, sent the eye signal towards other women. And immediately following it, every woman aside from me started to act and started to close the curtains and the backdoor of the house.

Then, in the house that became dim, the granny approached me from the front.

"Now strip."

The granny suddenly grasped my robe.

"Eh?"

"Remove your strange outfit at once! If you wear such thing, Abel will immediately notice it!"

Ah, so it was that. My heart skipped a beat.

After removing the brooch that was the proof of being a Witch from the robe and grasping it in hand, I stripped everything I wore except the underwear

One very young girl received my clothes and she gently folded them on the side.

"Now, put this on."

The women who received the pack from granny walked towards me in quick steps and took out the clothing from within it. "Now everyone. I'm going to put this on miss traveler, so lend a hand."

Eeh? I can put it on by myself you know?

However, before I returned the words to her, several women were already surrounding me, and I once again closed my open mouth from their indescribable pressure.

And it turned into me acting as a dress-up doll.

"Okay, raise your leg."

"Will sleeves pass in this blouse I wonder? Oh, the size doesn't fit."

"However, she looks so much like Mina-chan."

"She's even prettier than Mina-chan isn't she?"

"Yes."

"What would be okay for the ribbon color? It should be red after all, huh."

For some reason, everyone was motivated. They were having a lot of fun.

When I gazed down after dressing was mostly over, I wore a dark brown flare skirt on white blouse.

Although I could have managed this much by myself.......

"Then for the finishing touches──it will be a little painful, but endure it, okay?"

As the woman behind me said those words in a refreshing tone, she wrapped something black around me.

"............?"

As I wondered what it was, it turned out to be a corset. I was wrapped in a corset before I noticed.

"Eh, hey, wai──"

Ignoring me who had become bewildered from the sudden development, the surrounding girls took hold of me, and forcefully pulled the string on my back.

Before long, I felt as if I was being crushed around the stomach.

"I-It hurts! It hurts! Even if you want to tighten it, at least do it more gently!"

"Ah, hey. Stop struggling."

"Endure it, endure it."

"You'll get used to it in a bit."

"Traveler Onee-san. Hang in there."

Like this.

While everyone aside me was engulfed in a harmonious mood, the dressing operation had finished.

After that, the granny presented a bundle of pads with serious face, saying, "Your chest is lacking, so won't you wear some pads?" so I threw them on the ground.





Part 3

There was a hut just out of the village.

As if it wasn't tended at all, the knee-high grass was noisily being crushed as I walked.

Compared to the houses that were gathered together, this hut looked old, and walls so thin that it would probably make a hole if you hit it.

Rather than a house for living, it instead looked like a storage room for items one doesn't usually use.

I was told Abel-san was isolated here.

Abel-san suddenly fell to an illness on day. It was unknown for the villagers whether that illness was infectious or not. That's why, in order to decrease the possibility of infection as much as possible, they confined him in this hut.

It appeared it was Mina-san and her father who were helping him. It seems that at first, Mina-san being his lover, had nursed him from day to night, however, as his condition worsened, she rushed out of the village.

Could it be that she just ran away, it seems there were also villagers who thought so.

Whether that was true or not is not known.

After taking a deep breath in front of the hut, I opened the door. It made a ear-hurting sound.

"........."

Entering inside, I closed the door from behind.

A man was lying on the bed. He was a young man with black hair. Without a doubt, he had looked very handsome when he was still healthy──but there was not a trace of it now. And now, the man who looked at me with vacant eyes had no light in his eyes and his cheeks were all loosened.

"......Mina?"

His weakly moving lips have uttered the name of his loved one.

"Yes. It's me. Have you been well?"

I told a lie.

As I walked while making the floor give out creaks, I sat down on the chair next to the bed. He faintly laughed.

"So you returned...... I thought you'd never come back again."

"I'm your lover, right? Isn't it given that I would return at all costs?"

"......That's right, huh."

He directed his gaze outside of the window.

There wasn't anything there. But only thick weeds and the primeval forest seen afar.

Not just the outward appearance, but as if it really was completely tattered, the draft that got in from somewhere had shook his hair.

"I found the panacea."

Then I said so.

Just like reading a prepared manuscript.

"I will bring panacea together with today's dinner, so please take one pill after filling your stomach. It might take time, but you will surely get well."

Of course, that was a lie.

This was the proposal from Mina-san's father. If Mina-san returned, it would look strange if she didn't bring the panacea with her. That's why pretending as if she had obtained the medicine would give him a peace of mind.

The contents of the medicine they would give him with food are actually sleeping pills.

What the villagers planned to do with him after letting him talk with his loved one──I didn't ask. No, rather, I guess I should say that it didn't even require asking.

"Hey, Mina." The man looked in my eyes. "Can you hold...my hand?"

With difficult movements, he pulled his hand out of the futon. It by no means looked like a muscled hand befitting of a youth, but instead it was a hand that was withered to the bones.

I must not waver──immediately, I grasped his hand with both of mine. It had grown so cold as if there was no blood flowing in it at all.

"It's warm."

It's proof that my heart is growing cold──He said so.

And then,

"Hey, Mina." He, once again, called out the name of his beloved. "Won't you kiss me?"

"Eh, kiss you say?"

I unintentionally returned the question back. And, I immediately regretted it.

"......That's right, a kiss. You don't want do?" I felt like there was a grain of suspicion floating in his eyes.

And I thought. Thought and thought.

What should I do? Of course, if it's a lover, then kiss is only natural thing to do, but I'm── Ahh, he'd notice if I hesitate for too long. What to do, what to do.......

As I was locked up in maze with no answer, he looked at me with a smile.

And giggled.

"My bad. I was just joking. Please don't worry about it."

Somehow, it looked as if he had regained his vitality even if only a bit.

Then, he said,

"I'm not seriously going to pester a girl who's not my lover to kiss me," and showed a wide smile.


Did my acting get exposed because of my carelessness? Thinking so, I denied it many times in fluster, but his belief was firm. "You aren't real Mina. You don't have to force yourself," he said.

Still, towards me who tried to keep acting in spite of it, he uttered words filled with confidence.

"In the first place, there's no way Mina would ever return to me. What a fool."

I did not know towards who were those words directed at.

It appears there were different circumstances──I gave up on Mina-san act, and revealed everything about me.

That I was a traveler. That I was a Witch. And that I was requested to act as Mina-san since I looked like here. I told him all that, without hiding anything.

He said while pondering:

"You certainly do look exactly like Mina."

"Is it really that much?"

"Yeah. You could say you are like two peas in a pod."

That said, he continued. "What's a Witch?"

"So the villagers here don't know about Witches huh."

"That's right. First time hearing it."

Well, it certainly is a remote village two days away from the nearest country, so I guess it's not too unnatural for them to not know about Witches.

I politely explained, while taking out my staff and demonstrating Magic to make it simpler.

"Amazing......! Hahaa, so there are such people in the world!"

Albel-san laughed with all his might. His dry laugher that forcibly made his stomach move, before long turned into coughs.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, sorry. I became a little too excited──And so, about me and Mina..."

"......Yes. What is the matter? The thing about not returning back."

And so he said, looking up at the ceiling:

"I'm the one who made up the story about panacea. Something like that doesn't exist."

"Doesn't...... exist?"

He gave a nod.

"Mina, you see──"

Then, he quietly began to talk.


She was a girl so kind, so lovely that she was too good for me. She was my only support.

Even after I fell to the illness, she nursed me without once looking troubled. Every day she came to my room, and fed me her handmade cooking, and brought me books to not get bored while being bedridden. Staying next to my side until I fell asleep.

I was saved by her who nursed me with all her power.

However my illness just kept worsening. No matter how long I kept taking the medicine or how much I slept. Before long, I couldn't even eat properly. And even when looking at the food that she brought to me, the sense of it looking delicious had also disappeared. But instead, I only felt nausea.

Probably, I didn’t have much time left.

I somehow understood that fact.

However, she encouraged me with all her might. That appearance of hers was just lovely. I wished that she would live in happiness.

Then, one day, I told her, "The village medicine is useless against my illness. It won't make me better. You know that there's a large country to the north two days walk from here right? I heard that there's an all-curing medicine there. If it's not much trouble, can you go and bring it?"

Mina was bewildered.

Does such medicine really exist, she said. Besides, you will definitely get better if you do your best, she said.

But I ignored her words. And on top of ignoring them, I pushed large amount of money I was secretly saving up for going on a trip with her in future, along with one letter.

"This much should be enough to buy it. Take it. And until you obtain the panacea, never return──and if you can't obtain the panacea no matter what and be at loss, open that letter."

And said that.

Mina was truly a good girl.

After a lot and lot of worry, she finally agreed to my proposal.

"I will definitely, absolutely find it and come back," she said.

Even though such medicine doesn't exist.

My environment changed from the next day. Because Mina went to obtain the panacea, the fact about my illness not improving had spread among the village. The villagers who wondered whether my disease was infectious appeared, and you can see the result.

I was isolated. And only Mina's father started to take care of me. But I thought it was fine nonetheless.

──You see I, love Mina with all my heart. So much that it's unbearable.

Being separated from her was, as expected, painful. But causing her to be sad was even more painful. I didn't want her to grieve over my corpse. I wished for her to remain smiling.

For that reason, I decided to drive her away from the village.

"It's better if you don't come to see me again." If I rejected her with such words, there's no way she would obediently agree to it. That much, I understood. But even if I still rejected her and made sure she wouldn't return to me, she would surely be sad nevertheless. On the contrary, there was also the possibility of other villagers butting in our problem.

Above all.

I didn't think that she would truly be happy in a village where my dead body lied. It might be presumptuous, me being conceited, but I thought she might be dragging me along too much. but wasn't she pulling me along with her, I thought.

She would surely arrive at that country after two days. And would start searching for panacea there. But no matter how many days and hours she walked throughout the country, she would naturally still not find it.

Then, she would open the letter.

That letter is filled with all my feelings──and I thought that when Mira finally read that letter, I would already be dead. I hope that you would find happiness in that country. I wrote that in it.

After all, in that big country where she headed to, there must be a great man somewhere who will heal her wounds. There should be someone, who will make her smile once again.

Isn't it pretty selfish talk? However, since the start I had thought that this cramped village didn't suit her, and that she had to see a world much more vast.

By the way.

Since miss traveler was acting like Mina, that means she still hasn't returned, right? Even though it should already be about two weeks since she left.

In that case, it must be like that.

──She surely found happiness there.


At the end of his story, he looked outside the window with worn-out eyes. Just absentmindedly.

The wind blew, the tree leaves danced, and before long disappeared from view.

"And you are really fine with that?"

Those were some common words. But I couldn't find any other words to offer him.

"Of course I'm not. Parting with your loved one is a sorrowful thing."

"............"

In that case – I started, but stopped.

For both Mina-san and Abel-san, the parting would be just as sad. But she must overcome that sadness──This was the result of thinking what to do for that.

An outsider shouldn't butt in the problem of these two and two alone.

"I'm glad that I met you, miss traveler. Albeit not real, I was able to meet with her once more."

"......I also think that meeting with you was nice."

Glad to hear it──After muttering so, he said:

"Miss traveler, miss traveler Witch. If you are a Witch, that means you can use miraculous power that we aren't able to, is that right?"

"Hm? Eh. Well, that's correct."

I was a little surprised from the sudden question, but affirmed it.

Magic, after all, is not something available to anyone.

The Magic you showed me some time ago was absolutely amazing. It was as if I was in a dream world."

"Why thank you. I'm glad that you enjoyed it."

"Hey, can you do something like this with Magic? Like for example──"


Part 4

Immediately after leaving the hut, I returned to the house for changing clothes and had the corset removed. It was too tightly fastened around my back, so I couldn't remove it by myself.

"Did it go smoothly?"

The granny asked to me as I changed back to my robe. I answered something that didn't happen.

"Yes. He was under the impression that I was Mina-san to the end."

"That's a relief. Meeting with Mina at his final moment should've surely brought him happiness as well."

"............"

His final moments...... you say?

"So, how is Abel-san now?"

"He told me he wanted to sleep because we talked for a long time. Please leave him be until the night."

"I see... Understood. I will convey that to the village head as well."

The village head should be the old man with white moustache. "If you would."

Attaching my star-shaped brooch and putting on a tricorne, I finished changing. I returned back to my usual self.

"What are you going to do from now on? If you plan to stay in village, we have space......"

It was a pleasant proposal. However, I shook my head.

"No. I'm departing from this village soon. I have to hurry ahead."

Besides, I want to see that large country for myself.

"......That's a shame."

"Sorry for that."

"Will you go without meeting with the village head as well?"

"I might be detained here if I do, right? That's why I'll vanish like this. Give my regards to the village head and Mina-san's father when you see them."

So you are going already. It's a shame. Come again sometime.

The women who helped me remove the corsage said those words at the same time.

And I,

"Yes, I'll surely visit again."

Said something I didn't plan to do.

And so, I left the village.

Within the primeval forest, I flew north. I simply looked straight ahead, without once turning back.

It felt that the sensation of Abel-san's cold hand was still remaining on my hands that were grasping the broom.

He──


Part 5

"......Are you seriously saying that?"

Hearing his proposal, I was greatly perplexed.

"That's right, I'm serious. ......I'm going to die soon. I'll surely die very soon. And that is scary and unbearable. Every day, I think that if I sleep today, maybe I won’t wake up again. I am afraid, scared, I can not help it."

He continued as he lied on bed.

"Besides, I know. That Mina's father and villagers think of me as nuisance. Deep down, they wish for my death. They are thinking that if I die faster, the need to take care of me would disappear. That's why I'm done. It's my limit. That's why──won't you answer my request? Won't you kill me?"

He wasn't joking.

He said that with full seriousness.

So he was already at a limit huh.

However.

"I refuse."

There is no way I would accept such request. I did not become a Witch in order to kill people.

Even if that was his final request──for me, it would be impossible.

"......It's a shame."

He became quiet.

As if he didn't expect it from the beginning.

"I'm sorry."

"No, you don't have to apologize──at any rate, even if I don't die by your hand, I will still be killed by the villagers sometime tonight. They will kill me by putting poison in my food or something, and pretend that I passed on peacefully.”

"......Such a thing."

"No, I get it. I won't be able to stand up anymore, and someone who's just lying on bed is worthless to this village. There's nothing left at this point but waiting for death."

"........."

"Even so, the reason I lived to this day was because the villagers hoped that Mina would return. They seemed to be under the impression that I still had lingering feelings for her──but that is no more."

So that means,

"......Is it because I came here?"

"It's not like I'm blaming you, so don't get the wrong idea, okay? Ending up like this someday was my fate."

"............"

And then, he smiled.

"Well, if I had to speak of my desire, I wanted to die while being taken care by a girl that looks like Mina──but I don't want to insist on it. Sorry for asking such a strange thing of you."

"No, please don't mind it──"

I said so.

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