Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hakuouki SS: Dawn, The Month They Come

translation of the Hakuouki short story "Reimei, Kuru Gatsu", posted around the same time as the Reimeiroku release and taking place a little bit before that game. incidentally, the title can be interpreted several ways; I decided to go with "month".

Hakuouki SS
Dawn, The Month They Come

This happened approximately half a month after the departure from Edo and concerns the struggle of the division of 234 people.

Kondou and Hijikata's Shieikan faction, the Mibu samurai, had come to stay at Yagi Gennojou's estate.

"Ah~ I feel refreshed! Honestly, I thought I would choke on the stink of the sweat and dust and dirt!"

Somehow, he had arrived early and it seemed like he had washed his sweat off at the well. Nagakura Shinpachi said this looking like he had been freed.

For half a month, they had continued to walk without being able to soak leisurely in a hot bath. The feeling of oil and dirt covering their bodies was becoming unbearable.

"It would be good for Sano and Heisuke to wash the sweat off too while the water's still cold. I got wet since if we smell like thrown-away rags, the people of Kyoto will hate us."

"That's right. Well then, why don't we get this over with!"

Saying that, Harada Sanosuke stood up in the corner of the wooden floor of the huge room in which he had been sitting, but Toudou Heisuke hung his head with a dispirited face.

"What is it? Heisuke. It can't be your stomach hurts?"

–Harada called out like he was worried.

"Hey, Shinpattsan, Sano-san. …I wonder if that guy is okay?"

Finally raising his head, Toudou whispered as an expression of worry crossed his face.

"That guy? You mean–"

"Yeah, that guy. The one Serizawa-san was saying he picked up while we were coming here…"

At Toudou's words, it seemed like the other two also remembered at last.

While they were headed for Kyou – arriving at the edge of Ootsu, Serizawa Kamo informed them, "I'm gonna piss," and separated from the line of soldiers, and came back bringing along a single boy wearing dirty clothing.

It seemed like the boy hadn't eaten in several days, and up until they arrived in Kyou, he didn't wake up even once.

Even now, along with Serizawa's faction, it seemed like he was at the Maegawa estate next to the Yagi estate, however…

"…that guy, I wonder why he was collapsed and dying in a place like that?"

Toudou muttered curiously, but Nagakura answered without much interest while cracking his neck.

"Who knows. While we were coming to Kyou, 'Didn't he run into robbers?' was what Serizawa-san was saying, but…"

The moment Serizawa's name was said, Toudou scowled unhappily.

"…Shinpattsan, do you really think we can take Serizawa-san's word for it?
It's not that he helped the guy who ran into robbers and collapsed, but couldn't Serizawa-san have robbed him? Robbed that guy."

"Why would he do such a troublesome thing? To begin with, if it's money or stuff like that, it doesn't seem like that guy had any with him, right?"

"Right, that's true, but – I definitely can't imagine a guy like Serizawa-san picking up someone out of pure kindness…"

Toudou argued vehemently, not looking convinced, and Nagakura frowned and informed him, while throwing himself heavily down on the floor:

"…let's stop talking bad about him behind his back, it's shameful.
If that man can also be worried about someone, then he can't be all bad, right?"

Nagakura's school was the same as Serizawa's, and they were fellow students of Shindou Munen-ryuu. Also because of that, he didn’t hold the feeling of being distant from Serizawa that everyone else from Shieikan had.

Nagakura also realized that he was somewhat of a problematic man – even so, someone saying bad things about Serizawa behind his back, right in front of him, would make Nagakura uncomfortable.

"No, I wasn't really just talking bad about him–"

Between Nagakura and Toudou, a dangerous atmosphere had started to brew, but…

"…hey, come over to the well to wash off the sweat a little, Heisuke. You smell like a stray dog on a rainy day."

While Harada was saying that, he caught Heisuke's arm and made him stand up.

"I – I'm fine! If the water's cold, I don't really feel like taking a bath-"

–said Heisuke and shook off Harada's arm, but Harada didn’t accept that.

"Even if you say you don't feel like it, it's a pain for the guys near you. It's fine, so come on."

"What is this…! I don't really smell as bad as you’re saying!"

However, Harada paid no attention at all to Toudou's words and half-dragged him outside, toward the courtyard.

While heading toward the well, they caught sight of Okita Souji sitting on the porch, spacing out and looking up at the sky.

"Souji, what are you doing over there?"

Toudou called out, but Okita answered without sparing him a glance.

"Exactly what it looks like. I'm just spacing out."

"That's unusual. We finally came to Kyou, so I thought you'd be more motivated, and wouldn't you be practicing the sword, but…"

“It’s just that, isn’t it? If they’re gonna spar evenly with me, they have to be on the same level as Shinpachi-san. If I spar with Shinpachi-san, probably, he’d make too much noise, wouldn’t he?
Since we just arrived in Kyou, if either of us gets seriously hurt, we’ll definitely be scolded by Hijikata-san and Sannan-san.”

“I see. Well, I guess that’s true.”

Harada agreed with Okita’s words as his shoulders shook like something was funny.

“Anyway, if Hajime-kun came with us, then that would have been good. If it’s Hajime-kun, you’d be able to fight evenly, and Souji would also be able to end it without being bored, right?”

“Yeah, that’s true, but…”

“…what’s Hajime-kun doing? Suddenly not coming to Shieikan and also not contacting us…”

Toudou said this while closing his eyes as if lonely, but Okita answered with an expression that said he didn’t mind much:

“Well, even if we run in circles thinking about the people who are no longer here, there’s no helping it, huh?”

“People who are no longer here… Souji, that’s cold. Hajime-kun is a comrade of ours, isn’t he?”

“But right now, he isn’t here, and we don’t have any idea where he is or what he’s doing now, do we?”

“That’s true, but…”

–Toudou responded with a bitter answer.

Even though he knew that Okita had a sound argument, it was unacceptable.

“…we should stop thinking about things that can’t be controlled. I think leaving that sort of thinking to the people who can do something is fine.”

“By leaving the thinking to the people who can do something, you mean…”

Come to think of it, Kondou, Hijikata, and Sannan were nowhere to be found.

Were those three gathered to talk about what would happen from here on out?

“…after all, the fifty ryou it seemed like we would receive for traveling decreased to ten ryou, so it looks like we won’t be able to repay Tsune-san and Shuusai-sensei. Are they meeting to talk about that?”

–Toudou let out slowly while hanging his head apologetically.

In the beginning, it had been said that they would be given 50 ryou for each soldier to make preparations to go to the capital from Shieikan.

Of course, Kondou was awarded the honor of being the shogun’s escort and there were feelings like “I want to serve the Shogunate,” so money to cover the cost of those three at least was necessary.

They, freeloaders who were becoming a burden, were insisting that if they just had that large amount of money, they would be able to rally the declining Shiekan Dojo and also be able to support Kondou’s family, but—

“Horrible, isn’t it. That just before we went to the capital, the big-shots in the Shogunate said things like ‘You gathered too many people, so we won’t give you fifty ryou per person.’”

Harada said this in an unpleasant tone.

If this was said just before they left for the capital, of course they wouldn’t be able to stop their participation.

If they did that sort of thing, it would end with people slandering them, saying “You were only pretending to have loyal hearts, huh?”

“…hey, Souji. Haven’t Hijikata-san and the others been saying some things about me?”

Toudou asked of Okita in an uncomfortable voice.

However, Okita was also not the sort of man who would answer that kind of question straightforwardly.

“When you say ‘some things,’ what do you mean specifically?”

“You know, like….this time the one who brought the stories of the ronin back was me. Because of me, this sort of thing happened, so I was thinking wouldn’t they be mad…”

Hearing Toudou’s words, Okita let out a snicker.

And then–.

“Heisuke thinks too much of himself. You don’t have to worry; the people around you don’t pay much mind to what you’re thinking.
That’s right, you should stop thinking that everything that happens is your own fault.”

Okita said so with an expression like he was ridiculing Toudou.

“N-no, but really, this time it’s turned into something I didn’t expect…”

“So because of that, no one’s saying that it’s your fault.”

After interrupting Toudou’s words rudely, Okita continued while looking up at the night sky:

“…in this world, when something troubling happens, people who make it the fault of someone else, and the people who wonder how to recover from then on, both kinds exist, but… Hijikata-san is probably the latter kind, right? Right now, how to turn this situation around, or how to work so that Kondou-san’s family in Edo can earn just enough money to live on – he’s probably only thinking of those things alone.”

After Okita bluntly said this, he added in a murmur, “But that person can’t be pleased with this state of affairs, huh.”

“T-that’s right… Definitely, if it’s Hijikata-san, that’s true.”

At Okita’s straight-to-the-point words, Toudou’s expression changed to one of relief.

Harada, who had been listening from next to him, said teasingly:

“What Souji’s saying is right, Heisuke. Worrying so much over these things isn’t good, you know. You can go ahead and do what you want.”

“Yeah, that’s right!”

At Harada’s words, Toudou at last showed white teeth in a smile.

At about the same time.

Kondou and Hijikata, and Sannan as well, were sitting knee-to-knee in a meeting in one room of Yagi House, discussing what would happen from now on.

“…in any case, we were able to reach Kyou unharmed, but what’s essential is what happens from now on.”

Deep creases were etched in Hijikata’s forehead.

The ronin’s journeys had all ended about half a month ago, and they had only reached Kyou this morning, but – they absolutely could not relax.

“That rascal Kiyokawa…he’s somehow suspicious. The one who gave this idea to the Shogunate was him, wasn’t it?”

The “Kiyokawa” that Hijikata mentioned was the driving force behind the group of ronin—a man called Kiyokawa Hachirou. Sannan answered while choosing his words carefully:

“…it seems that way, doesn’t it?”

“To start with, when we had to pay fifty ryou each of traveling costs we didn’t have, what did that guy say?”

“It was definitely something like…at first, he arranged the recruitment of fifty members with an estimated 2500 ryou, but because the number increased to three hundred people, it turned out they weren’t able to earn enough to pay traveling costs, wasn’t it?”

“To start with, what was he thinking, increasing the number of people so much?”

“Isn’t it something like… better having more than fewer? Or possibly the mistakes piled up?”

“A man who is guilty of those errors is one who must be blind.”

“It’s like they say, you must not be fooled by one’s appearance.”

Hijikata let out a bitter laugh at Sannan, who had answered with a nonchalant expression.

“…it can’t be, do you honestly feel that way? Sannan-san.”

And then like always, he inclined his head while giving an unreadable smile.

“Well, I wonder?”

At this reply from Sannan, who wasn’t giving an inch, after letting out a small sigh – Hijikata’s face turned serious and he said this to himself.

“…If the number of people had increased beyond that which had been agreed upon, it simply would have been better to not bring enough. He could have just chosen those who were best with swords.
…I wonder why didn’t he just do that?”

Sannan did not immediately answer the words Hijikata said to himself.

He closed his eyes, and after pondering for a little while…

“…well, there were various circumstances, weren’t there?”

Only words that had hidden implications left his mouth.

While letting out a long sigh, Hijikata’s shoulders slumped and he muttered this:

“Even if we worry about all this, there’s no helping it. Until they are mobilized, we’re still just watching and waiting.
At least while we’re here, we don’t have to worry about food or beds.”

“…that’s true.”

Sannan also nodded at his words, but – only Kondou had not said anything from the beginning and was staring broodingly at that tatami mat.

“…oi, Kondou-san, don’t make that kind of face. It’s not your fault.”

“But – I was the one who decided that we should all participate together with the ronin.
If I receive even a little money, I have to know what kind of responsibility I should take…”

While biting his lip, Kondou said these timid words.

In front of everyone else, he definitely wouldn’t say these kinds of things, but – in front of his two trusted friends, it seemed he revealed his true intentions.

“You’re saying that seriously, aren’t you. I’m following you, you know. …you can’t make any mistakes, none at all.”

And then, while smiling broadly, Sannan added:

“…it’s not just Hijikata-kun. I as well, for Kondou-san’s sake – if it’s to protect the place everyone belongs, I will do anything.”

It was when he said that.

They suddenly heard a screen slide open – the flustered face of Inoue Genzaburou fled into the room.

“Isami-san, Toshi-san, Sannan-san, are you here?”

“Gen-san? What in the world, for you to panic like this…”

“A notice was sent out that all of the ronin are to gather at Shintoku Temple. Somehow, it seems that there’s an important announcement—”

Inoue’s words caught the attention of everyone there.

“There’s an important announcement?”

After that, Kiyokawa’s speech which could be heard at Shintoku Temple could surely be only called a bolt from the blue.

Clad in black hakama with his family crest, the regal Kiyokawa declared this while scowling at the three hundred ronin gathered close in the main temple:

“—Our group of ronin escorted the shogun and his officials close to the capital along their journey, and have come this far under the pretext of protecting the peace of Kyou.
However, this is merely a thorough façade, and our real objective is to pioneer the expulsion of the foreigners, and to expel the foreigners who are rampaging in through the Land of the Rising Sun!”

At Kiyokawa’s words, uproar filled the area.

Those from Shieikan who had gathered in the main temple building – Kondou, Hijikata, and Sannan strained to see and hear.

And then, at last, Hijikata, who perceived Kiyokawa’s true objective, clicked his tongue.

(…I get it, so that’s how it was? From the beginning, the plan to assemble fifty ronin that would increase to nearly three hundred was for this reason? The amount of money he accepted for preparations, on the order of ten ryou per man, can’t even be called a stipend – so then, it’s become a situation where everyone here doesn’t feel like they have any obligation to serve the shogunate.)

In other words, Kiyokawa, along with the money provided by the shogunate, had gathered these ronin here and tricked them.

Kiyokawa spread out the paper he was holding, and while showing it to the ronin, he informed them:

“We are already receiving imperial orders to ‘Hurry and return to Edo and work for the sake of throwing out the foreigners’! I think almost all of you gentlemen feel sorrow at the thought of the foreigners laying waste to this Land of the Rising Sun, that you feel irritated that the shogunate has only taken a weak stance in their dealings with foreign nations! Now as well, your power is needed at this time! I request that you work under I, Kiyokawa, from now on, for the sake of protecting Japan, the land of the gods, from the foreigners!”

When Kiyokawa threw out this appeal, voices rose from all corners of the temple building, responding, “He’s right!” “It’s just as he says!”

Frighteningly, the protests were mixed together with the cries of the ronin who were overtaken by Kiyokawa’s mood.

(Honestly, look at this cheat…)

Hijikata thought bitterly and gazed at Kiyokawa, who had made such a fervent speech.

The temple hall was wrapped up in a bizarre enthusiasm, and it was an atmosphere where it was impossible to raise an objection to Kiyokawa’s words.

“Well then, if you gentlemen will quickly return to your lodgings, I want you to begin preparations for traveling east. We’ll disband for tonight–”

It was when Kiyokawa was saying that.

“Wait! I’ve been quiet for a while, but I can’t bear just listening to so much cajolery, flattery, and falsehood… You’ve deceived the Imperial Court and gathered people, but do you have a real objective in mind? How dare you, brazenly making that sort of speech?”

The one who had suddenly stood and called out was –Mito Tengu-tou group’s hero, Serizawa Kamo.

[Tengu-tou was an extremist anti-foreigner group that Serizawa took part in prior to this point in history. Mito is the city (and apparently the clan) where they were located and whose beliefs they followed.]

Kiyokawa made an astonished face at Serizawa, who declared this in defiance of the place’s atmosphere.

However, soon afterwards he regained his composure—.

“Serizawa-dono, weren’t you of Mito, who hotly defended the precept of reverence of the emperor!
Saying that we should quickly return to Edo is an imperial command that the Imperial Court has graciously bestowed upon us! Do you intend to disobey an imperial command!”

–Kiyokawa declared with fierce vigor, but Serizawa shouted back with force that exceeded that:

“Silence! In the end, one who has swindled the Imperial Court and gathered people to make his own private army and is not ashamed of himself – a wicked man like you – does he think that he will be accompanied by this Serizawa Kamo!”

It was as if a lion had roared.

At the fierceness of Serizawa’s bellow, Kiyokawa ground his teeth as if vexed, and cold sweat oozed out.

–it could be said that “their roles had changed,” right?

Before long, Kondou readied himself, stood up and declared:

“It’s just as Serizawa-dono says! For the sake of escorting the shogun, we came here from a long distance away. If by any chance we return to Edo before the shogun reaches Kyou, do you plan on taking responsibility, Kiyokawa-dono!”


Like he thought it was impossible that Kondou would raise objections, Kiyokawa bit his lip in annoyance.

However, the ronin except for the Serizawa sect and the Kondou sect were, without a change in attitude—.

“You’re noisy, get back!”

“Don’t you know what’s happening in Edo right now! A fight might break out between Satsuma and England!”

[Satsuma is one of the clans; they appear occasionally in Hakuouki as antagonists.]

Jeers poured out one after another, directed at Serizawa and Kondou, who had raised objections against Kiyokawa

Before long, Serizawa turned his large figure around…

“…Niimi, Hirama, we’re going back. We won’t go along with this kind of farce any longer.”

Saying that, he took along each one of his followers and left the temple building.

“Honestly, it’s as we expected, but… it became something outrageous, huh?”

After they left Shintoku Temple, Hijikata let out a sigh full of exhaustion while letting his shoulders sag.

“Well, we were finally able to learn the real intention of that man Kiyokawa, without a doubt, but…what shall we do?”

–Sannan murmured, half in admiration and half in amazement.

Kondou was scowling uncharacteristically, pressing his lips together without hiding his bad mood.

“No matter what we do, it won’t matter. We came here from a long way away for the sake of escorting the shogun to Kyou.
If we abandon that duty, can we return to Edo with our heads held high?”

Only Kondou, to whom such things as tricking and cheating people were foreign, could not possibly understand Kiyokawa’s longtime behavior.

“I also agree with Kondou-san’s opinion. Out of everything, I can’t stomach that we moved out because that Kiyokawa bastard asked it of us.”

“…however, we don’t have any supporters. We don’t have any connections that would allow us to speak with the Imperial Court and shogunate like Kiyokawa.”

At Sannan’s indifferent words, Hijikata became silent.

His argument was sound. Whether it was Kondou or Hijikata or Sannan – and of course Shieikan – or anyone else from the school, at a time like this, they had no connections on whom they could rely.

Finally, as if he was muttering to himself, Sannan revealed:

“…it seems Serizawa-san and his followers also intend to remain in Kyou.”

At the moment when he heard that name, Hijikata grimaced, making a face like he had been forced to drink bitter medicine.

“Are you saying we should cooperate and join forces with those people?”

“There’s no way it’ll happen, right?” –his face said as much, as he glared at Sannan.

However, Sannan answered with a calm expression, seeming as though he didn’t care about that look:

“Of course, if there is another way, there would be no better choice than to adopt that method instead.”

“…are you serious? While we were coming here…have you really just forgotten what happened at Honjou-shuku?”

“That’s why, if there is another way, I’m saying there’s no problem if we choose it.”

At Sannan’s words, Hijikata once again fell silent.

Hijikata also understood. With the current state of affairs, there was no other method they could use. However, even so….

“…can’t you wait a little longer before revealing this conclusion? Maybe some other good plan will come up.”

Even though he said so as a cover, he had the feeling that no other plan would emerge.

After regarding Hijikata with a bitter smile, Sannan said….

“Understood. Then I will also try to think about it a little bit more.”

With an expression that said he was letting himself go along with Hijikata, a man who was many years younger than him, he answered as if forgetting his troubles.

“…that would be great.”

Hijikata was also relieved.

And, Kondou, who had been watching the exchange between the two until then, murmured in a subdued way:

“Toshi…. On the matter of Honjou-shuku, you were talking about before, it was that time…right?”

“There’s something else about that?”

Hijikata’s words automatically become aggressive.

Kondou looked at him, showing his confusion at Hijikata’s attitude.

“That’s something that’s already over, right? I also made mistakes, and neither Serizawa-san nor I care about it anymore.
To let it drag out forever–”

“You might want to forgive and forget, but I will definitely not forget. Like if anything from before happens again, I won’t forget as long as I live.”

At those hatred-filled words and eyes, Kondou was unable to say anything more and sank into silence.

After letting out a tiny sigh, Sannan informed the two of them of this:

“…shall we return soon? Since we have a number of things that we should think about from now on.”

“That’s true…”

As the yellow waning moon watched over them, the three people began to walk to Yagi House, where it was already past time to sleep.

Serizawa, who had returned from Shintoku Temple even earlier than the Shieikan sect, was smoking tobacco while looking up at the haze-shrouded moon.

What came to mind was the argument that had taken place at Shintoku Temple some time ago.

(It can’t be, the man who has openly expressed his opinion to Kiyokawa is…)

It could be said that most of the people who had been in the temple building, pressured by the atmosphere of the place and Kiyokawa’s courage, had been unable to say a thing.

(Kondou Isami, he’s called, huh? Indeed, you could say he seems like an unrefined bumpkin, but… it seems like that isn’t all there is to him.)

While he was thinking such things—.

“Master, the futon has been prepared in that room.”

Hirama Juusuke, Serizawa’s trusted friend who adored him and had followed him from Mito, called this out from behind the sliding screen.


He replied rudely, breathing the tobacco smoke deep into his lungs – he suddenly remembered something.

“By the way, while we were coming here, we picked up a stray dog. What’s that guy doing?”

“That youngster…? He is still sleeping. It seems he was extremely weak…”


If he was collapsed and dying in that place, most likely he was heading towards Kyou, but–.

(So he’s the sort who is driven by ambition without thinking of the consequences? The path that sort of guy takes has already been decided.
Whether it was finally becoming exhausted after writhing and rolling in the mud, or if he gave on everything before becoming exhausting, he’s going to live like a bug creeping along the ground.)

The path that people like him took, even though it had an obvious end, why did they choose it – why they would be so fickle,
Serizawa did not understand at all.

Just that…

(By coming to Kyou, this Serizawa Kamo is making a once-in-a-lifetime gamble.)

While muttering such a thing in his heart, he saw all of them in his mind’s eye – Kondou Isami, Hijikata Toshizou, Sannan Keisuke – and their comrades, and then the boy they had encountered while coming to Kyou, the one like a stray dog who had raised confusion and whom they had taken along.

(Associating with them will definitely keep Kyou from getting boring…)

While looking up into the moon that was a sharp as a sickle, Serizawa snickered to himself.

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