Silence falling upon, the barren and infertile land saddened the current scene even more.
Her hand trembled fiercely with the katana, whose silver blade kept reflecting its owner's pale and despaired looks.
On the moon, witnessed by the deserted shrine, only she and Hi sama were still standing.
The decisive battle had been over, but people's haunting screams and shrieks still lingered around her ears.
Worn out, she kneeled down on the ground. Supported solely by the cursed blade, she managed not to fall completely.
Then a pair of familiar arms gently circled her into a warm embrace.
"……Are you fine?" Hi sama spoke softly with her tender voice, smoothing the dark long hair of the hugged girl comfortingly.
She nodded silently. She was still gripping that two-handed sword with her right hand, as if it had become one with her body and were never to be let go again.
And her free left hand held tightly on Hi sama, since this girl had long been one with her soul, too, and were not to be let go easily.
"All over now……Orochis……and everyone……" She sobbed, "If I could have tried harder, if I had been stronger……I could, I could have saved them……"
Hi sama sighed by her ear. Her tea-colored hair, soft and smelling so nice just like its owner, lightly stroke her cheeks, consoling her sorrow.
"The kind Juuiki……" Hi sama's nose caressed her face, her delicate voices containing a clear lingering. " The Juuiki who wants to protect everyone……"
She closed her eyes, feeling the warmth and understanding from Hi sama.
"Do you think you did not try hard enough?" Said Hi sama in an unusually calm tone.
"Em." She nodded, self-blaming.
"Do you think that everyone was innocent and their lives shouldn't have been sacrificed like that?" Still hugging her, Hi sama asked kindly.
"Em." She nodded harder.
"Do you want to……" The hand smoothing her hair stopped, and she detected a sudden change in Hi sama's tone. "……let everything return to its original state, and let everyone survive and live in happiness?"
A little suspicious about why Hi sama croaked, she still answered firmly, "Yes, I do."
"……Is that so……" Hi sama murmured, a light smile appearing on her face.
Those shining purple eyes were filled with her images alone, she couldn't help looking at them infatuatedly.
Without notice, a mask carved strangely appeared in Hi sama's hands. "Juuiki, remember what I told you last night?" Said Hi sama in her sweetest voice, her affectionate expressions bloomed like splendid peony flowers.
She stared at that casual smiling face in astonishment.
"I said, 'after today, I will devote myself to you'……" Passing the mask with both hands to the other girl, Hi sama continued softly, " 'This is not only a promise, but also my wish.'"
"----What do you mean by that?" No, this was not right. Something, something horrible was going to happen. She clearly smelt the atmosphere spreading in the air turning heavy and freezing. "I don't understand what you are saying."
/I didn't WANT to understand, either. / Hi sama's smiling face made her almost break to tears.
With a feeble sigh, Hi sama explained slowly and patiently, like a teacher explaining to a five-year-old. "There have been no record after Orochis' defeat, because the priests didn't want it known by people how much cruel sacrifices their respected mikos had to make to protect the world peace for the mankind----"
Just by touching this limpid-eyed girl, Hi sama could feel a violently oscillating heat source from her fingertips. This heat flew throughout her body and entered her soul, which had been calling for warmth and freedom forever.
"----We are mikos of the sword; we hurt with the sword, also will be hurt by the sword, because everything has its price to pay for…… I am ready to take this condition, and you---- " Hi sama clasped the young miko's hand, assisting her to lift the attached blade. "You, the noble Miko of the moon, should also choose to pay something to protect this world, shouldn't you?"
To pay everything.
She knew what Hi sama meant, she knew that Hi sama was aware of her determination to give up everything to protect this world.
"----So you must do it, as it is the fate of Mikos of the godless month----" Hi sama reinforced her hand and her nails fallen deep in her back of hand. "Use my life to restore the world."
"NO!" She jerked the petite girl away. "That kind of things----how can I, how COULD I----" Her violently shaking hands, however, were still holding tightly the shaft, unable to throw it away, which made her so sick that she felt like vomiting.
"You have to, that's why you were born."
"I was born to HELP you!"
"To help me purify this world."
"NO!" She shouted with all her might, "NO! IT IS NOT LIKE THAT! I WAS NOT BORN FOR THIS----THIS……" Tears flooded over her face, but she didn't even notice it. "I WAS NOT BORN TO KILL YOU……"
Hi sama stood up. Staring at the mask for a few seconds, she raised her head and looked at those anguishing blue eyes quite imposingly and frankly. "We have tried this hard, for this long, with this much lost, would you rather make it all for nothing?"
A sign of disapproval and disappointment showed up on Hi sama's cool and determined face.
She bit her lips so hard that a taste of blood diffused into her mouth and spread at her tongue tip. "Then take MY life----" Waving her bright purple katana, she placed it right against her own neck.
Hi sama quivered，as if she were going to dash forward to stop her。
"Please kill me, and use my life to purify this world----"
"There will be no use even if I kill you." The cold voice effectively cut through her words.
As she peered in surprise, Hi sama maintained her indifferent, profound looking. "You are no longer a virgin. At the moment when you lost your virginity, you have also lost your eligibility of being a sacrifice."
As the truth was revealed coldly by Hi sama, there had never been any moment when she felt so shameful of, or disgusted by her own body.
"That's why you……it is because of this, you, you and me……" She couldn't even put words together. What Hi sama and she did last night, those caressing and embraces, those intimacy and kisses, what were they, after all?
Those hands tenderly touching every inch of her skin, those eyes affectionately appreciating each of her virgin territories, those words of love and adoration, those droplets of tears……
Why on earth did all those things happen?
"Juuiki," Hi sama agonized. "Please don't doubt my feelings for you. This is more unacceptable to me than our arranged destiny."
The petite young miko walked to her. "We have both made our choices. Maybe you can't forgive or understand me, however, the only thing you shouldn't doubt is----" Hi sama stood on her toes and left a light kiss on her familiar, warm lips. "My heart for you."
The kiss brought a bloody taste mixed with tears and the iron blade. Hi sama sympathetically licked those wounded lips of her companion with her tongue.
However, there was nothing she could do to help that wounded heart. She could only repose her hope to the unclear future, and pray with her life that the to-be-forgotten memory would no longer hurt this innocent, good girl.
"The sun exists so that the moon would shine……And I, was born in this world so that you can live on."
The icy, hard mask was lightly put on her face, as a small hand gently lifted her hand with the blade.
"We both should finish what we are supposed to do……This is the mission of us mikos……"
A feeble but fully understanding voice irrigated her mind.
"Wish you……can live happily in a peaceful world……"
Howling like a beast, she darted forward, almost losing her mind. Her hands clasping the shaft were burning like flames.
"My Juuiki……" As the blade was thrust deep into the soft body falling into her arms, her strange mask also fell down. "……my moon……"
Hi sama, smiling weakly and not showing the slightest sign of pain, extended her forceless, blood-drenched hand to caress her teary face. There wasn't any pain on Hi sama's face. "Thank you for making me grateful of this destiny……"
For the last time, Hi sama embraced her tenderly. "……Thank you……for letting me live once for real……"
More hot tears sprang out of her eye sockets, dripping on the ground and soon disappearing. Even they seemed to understand a life passing way, and to be grieving in their own way.
She drooped and kissed lightly on those slightly bloody lips, she whispered softly, "……Love you, my warmest sun."
"----With a miko's life presented by another miko's hands, the world shall be purified again----" A voice came from an unknown source appeared, "You shall reincarnate into another being……to live in the new world, Miko of the moon……"
"……I will not forget……" She looked up, teary eyes emitting cold, darting blue light. "……I will not forget who has made me murder the one I love the most." Betrayed by her own belief, her resentful eyes were as freezing and piercing as the never-melting ice.
Silence and solemnness surrounded her again completely, taking her away from the only warm and bright existence, dragging her cruelly apart from the other half of her soul.
And she would not forget. Never.
In the next life, she swore, this scene would never occur once again. The purple katana would not have a chance to be stuck inside of Hi sama.
She would never forget who ruthlessly isolated the sun and the moon with day and night.
Silver rays of light shine brilliantly from the seal on her back, which is burning so much that Chikane's vision blurs.
She quietly stares at the kissing boy and girl at the sea, her heart swollen with all the pain and sorrow accumulated over a thousand years. That eternal love makes her unable to breathe, nor to move her eyes away from them.
"I see…… So this is……how it is……" Chikane lowers her head and shows a bitter smile. Caressing the mane of "Chasing Sun", she murmurs, "I see……"
The horse tamely follows the control of its master, cantering back the same way as it came by. The night breeze from the sea passes over all the living things in nature gently and swiftly，like the cool wind in the Godless month always does.
It loyally stays and equally embraces everything in the human world, even in the days without gods.
Everything that's good and bad, everyone who's happy and sad. Each good and evil, each love and hatred.
…… In the days when Gods are missing, Mikos of the sun and the moon. with their pure minds and firm beliefs in possession, always selflessly guard and protect the common world, till the eternity…….
In the legends, they take their turns to dye their thread of thousand-year destiny with each other's blood, tying them tightly together, for the eternity……
The End of The Solitary Moon Arching over the Sky
It has been my very first translation work and so far, probably my longest writing, too. It had take me more than two months to do it, a now-and-then amateur work of course, and I hope that my style didn't change too much over times ;; It has been a lot of fun on the way, mixed with occasional dilemmas, and now it is finally done.
I would like to thank the staff of Kannaduki no Miko for the excellent plot and sharp characters that this story is based on.
I have to thank the author, Faith (FaithKasume), her work stimulated me into doing something as crazy as translating a 24-page Chinese fanfiction. She generously permitted my urge to work on one of her masterpieces and provided many valuable suggestions along the process. Thank Nitro for the very beautiful illustrations, which are but a few out of many inspired by Faith's famous work.
At last, thank you who finished reading all of it, I wish that you had enjoyed it just like I did!