yohjideranged: (HopeForlorn - Schwarz green)
[personal profile] yohjideranged in [community profile] hopeforlorn
Jey Kama's Forward Notes:

This story brings up references from Murasaki Shikibu's "Tale of the Genji." Unfortunately, I haven't read the Uji chapters (or any of it), so I can't make any deeper connections, but someday... someday... Perhaps all the violet and pink colors are in Murasaki's honor (which means "Purple"), though the "Ran" (orchid) in "Ranjatai" is none other than the Chinese character for Aya's real name, "Ran Fujimiya". The events in this story occur post-OAV and pre-DP in the WK time-line.
________________________________________

The mission completed, Weiß now enjoys a brief moment of peace. But one day, a girl appeared before them. She was asking for... the Remaining Fragrance.

Ranjatai
Author: Kawara Yuuji
Illustrator: Asagi Sakura
Translator: Jey Kama, 5.4.00
Source: Weiß kreuz Verbrechen & Strafe Animedia Gakken Mook
Especial thanks to Jacque Koh, for scanning the whole darn thing in 200dpi!


"The next deed seeks yet another" - from King MIRINDA(?)'s Question

He thought he could still smell the fragrance from that dream. Recently, he had been haunted by strange dreams of ghosts, but when he awoke, he could remember nothing of them at all. However, this morning's ghost had left a faint fragrance...

When Aya pulled himself out of his bed in the trailer, he picked up the towel laying nearby to wipe the cold sweat from his body.
The stink of of the dream lingered in his nostrils.

The perfume of aloe-wood...

Fool!

Throwing the towel from him, Aya picked up his katana.

________________________________________

The katana he named "Shion"...that gleaming sword reflected the green forest scenery he had immersed himself in.

The next moment...

He shreds the wind!

Slice! Sweep! Cut!

Aya threw himself into the morning haze of the mountain.

What pure serenity!

It was as if he had returned to the time in his "youth", when he first learned the blade...

Of course, he was still technically "young". However, now at that age's boundary, he had accomplished everything he had wanted, now become dulled memories.

From the time he had first used this sword.

From the time he had taken pay, received missions, hunted the "black beasts"... when he had joined Weiß!

But the truth was, during the time he was placed in the Kritiker group at Sendai and received orders from the sword-master Shion, he had never had the lucidity he felt now.

Back then, he had burned with rage and lust for revenge.

But it had been three years since then...

He had gotten revenge for his parents. His sister had awakened from her coma, and now lived in Tokyo alive and well.

And now, his heart had nothing left to feel for.

Nothing...

"Unh!"

The blade struck the trunk of a tree, bark flying, as his pace quickened and breath ran ragged.

And what am I now?!


Now, without need of revenge, he was just Weiß... only the murderer was left.

He sometimes missed those burning days of revenge. In those days, his life had been simple.

________________________________________

Leaving the mountain, Aya crossed through the morning fog lingering over the Uji river. The red handrails of the pedestrian bridge emanated the elegance of the former capital.

[*i.e. Edo, now Kyoto, was the former capital of Japan]

March. The town of Uji, located south of Kyoto, was suddenly bursting into spring. The cherry trees at the river shore bloomed early here, and one after another, the blossoms were starting to swell.

After they had completed their last mission farther north, Weiß had been ordered to move westwards towards Kansai. Since then, it had been a long period of quiet.

From a pagoda halfway across the bridge, he could see Ken on an island of mandarin trees. This island surrounded by the river was replete with children playing and people gazing at the flowers. And Ken was there running in zigzagged lines. If a stranger saw him, they probably would think he was nuts.

Ken...you can't play soccer by yourself.

Watching absently, he thought he could see that invisible ball Ken was trying to chase.

Hmph... this isn't like me.

A bitter smile crept to Aya's lips while thought to himself. He wasn't the type to be particularly sentimental.

Am I bored with peace? Ever since we came to Uji, something's been nagging at me..
.

Eventually, without Ken ever having seen him, he walked from the pagoda to another bridge, taking a roundabout route to the opposite shore.

________________________________________

At the front gate of the Equality Center was parked the trailer, the temporary residence of Aya and the rest. Its rear doors were open and set up for the business of their other job, the flower shop. The tourist season wasn't quite in full-swing yet, so the customers were few.

She's here again..."

Youji with his keen eyes picked out the girl in traditional clothing.

When the darkness of night drew near, the girl would show up.

Cheeks so pale to seem sickly. Smallish lips. Those glistening black eyes nearly hidden by long eyelashes, and the tiny mole below her left eye.

From a distance, both kimono and Nishijin-style obi seemed the same hue of black. Her long black hair was fastened behind her head with an unornamented hairpin.

She looked somewhere around eighteen, but lacked the sparkling brilliance of other young girls who wore furisodes. [* furisode=long-sleeved kimono, worn by unmarried young women]

However, she was unmistakeably beautiful. To be wearing traditional clothing at this hour did not seem the least bit out of place for her.Standing quiet and inconspicuously in the shade of the tea store several meters away, she finally came this way.

"I wonder if she's Ukifune's ghost..."

Omi spoke in hushed tones.

"What the heck's an Ukifune?"

"Don't you know, Ken-kun? She's a heroine from the Last Ten Chapters of Uji of the Tale of the Genji."

"Ya think I'd know that kinda thing?!"

"In the story, I think she was loved by two princes and friends, named Kaoru and Niounomiya..."

"She sounds like the double-crossing type."

Youji interrupted with the side-comment.

"...and then Ukifune in sorrow threw herself into the Uji river."

"Why?"

"I don't know... Probably she thought it better to die than let the two keep hurting each other... But there's something else to the story..."

"Hey, Ukifune's coming this way."

Youji tapped on Omi's shoulder.

Turning around in surprise, Omi found himself face to face with the girl.

"Er..e.rr... Welcome!"

Pushing away her right sleeve with her left hand, she pointed with too-slender finger at the Narcissus.

"These?"

When Ken pulled out a single stem of white narcissus, she gave a tiny nod and lowered her eyes.

"That... that man... where is he?"

Her voice was so tiny, they couldn't tell for sure whether it really came from her mouth.

"That... man?"

Omi, Youji, and Ken all exchanged glances.

________________________________________

"Hello..."

He turned when the sad voice called out.

The girl in the black kimono carried a narcissus pressed to her breast. Only the white flower, white hands and white face surfaced from the darkness.

"You are ...Aya?"

The girl's black eyes shimmered with cold brilliance.

Who is she?!

The light in her eyes. The mole beneath one eye. Without a doubt, he'd met her somewhere before. There was something else strange about this...

While Aya was searching through his labyrinth of memories, she told him that her name was Shizu Hanase, that she wanted him to promise they would meet tomorrow, and that she took Aya's silence as his assent, and then left without a sound.

Aya let out a long breath, his clenched fist clammy with sweat.

A murderer!

Without a doubt, he saw that in Shizu Hanase's eyes.

Or was I nervous...?


Idiot. How could he imagine such a fragile woman being a murderer?

No, wait... this fragrance...

The fragrance that Shizu left behind.

It wasn't the fragrance of narcissus. It was a subtle and elegant fragrance.

Aloe-wood...?

________________________________________

The next day, after the daylight of spring had departed, Shizu appeared. She wore her purple three-layered kimono as if she were in mourning rather than for pomp, only seeming distantly young. Her lustrous black hair streamed below her shoulders.

Youji and the rest were surprised, seeing the tiny smile rise to her lips. And then they were shocked, when Aya nodded in return, and left with her for who-knows-where.

________________________________________

And so for several days afterward, Aya and Shizu continued to meet. Though they walked for long times along the riverside or the shrine overlooking Uji, they hardly ever spoke.

When it became dark, Shizu would leave.

Aya himself did not really know what he was doing. When woman and man are together, usually the desire to generate new life would murmur. However, he felt no such thing for Shizu.

Instead, it was a peaceful feeling, the same as when he would spend time with his sister.

And so, maybe because of Shizu, the anxiety he had felt since coming to Uji had ceased.
No, it wasn't that at all.

Sometimes, when shadows of passersby had dwindled, Shizu would stop walking, and look at Aya with her eyes heavy of emotion.

It was a look more ponderous than mere love.

It was nothing other than "murder", he thought.

He felt a dangerous premonition...

But, Aya was captivated by that look.

________________________________________
After leaving Aya, Shizu hurried along the road to the station with melancholy written on her face.

Meanwhile, Youji followed her.

Of course, he had no business knowing who Aya was going out with, but Youji sensed a dangerous scent from Shizu that gave him the creeps.

Transferring from the Kyoto-Osaka train to the subway, Shizu left from the north Osaka terminal.

Quickly blending into the pedestrian traffic of this commercial area, she entered the grounds of a shrine nestled in a lacuna between the buildings.

Around and behind the shrine was a cemetery, which Shizu made her way into.

Huh... don't tell me she's going to disappear in there?

Youji shivered, like he'd drunk too cold a beer.

________________________________________

Aya and Shizu took their time descending the long stone stairway from Mimurodo Temple.

Below them, enshrouded by trees, the evening sun washed Ikeizumi Park in rosy hues. The hour was late, so the two of them had become alone on the mountain.

Aya watched her slumped shoulders patiently. Today, she wore a kimono of pale pink, but nothing had changed about her graceful calm.

"That fragrance..."

"Hm?"

Shizu looked up at Aya, almost startled.

"It smells like aloe, but a little different."

Dimples appeared at Shizu's cheeks.

"So you have noticed that?"

She spoke normally, but her intonation was refined.

"I burn incense at home. Each time, I've changed it a bit..."

Abruptly, she closed her tiny mouth.

At the bottom of the stairs, three men appeared. Though dressed like monks of the shrine, each carried a Japanese sword in their hands.

"Do you have business with me?"

Aya asked, without any change of expression.

And in answer, all three unsheathed the gleaming blades.

"I'm borrowing this."

"Eh?"

Aya pulled the fan from her obi as the three drew near with their swords.

Holding it concealed, he bided his time, suddenly sweeping one of them with its hard edge.

Appropriating the man's dropped sword, he reverses the edge away, with its spine cracking one in the waist, another in the shoulder, and the last in the stomach, all in swift succession. Not knowing what hit them, the would-be assassins crumpled to the ground.

"Let's go!"

Tossing away the katana, he grabbed the dazed Shizu's hand.

They ran down the rest of the road without looking back. However, Shizu was in a kimono. She really couldn't run. She stumbled many times. But Aya didn't slow his pace for her, and dragged her roughly along.

After shortly reaching a residential area, Aya finally stopped. Shizu caught her breath, still holding on to the hem of her kimono. Unsurprisingly, her labored breathing was harsh and ragged, and her normally pale cheeks flushed faintly crimson.

Aya eyed her coldly.

"Who were they? Would you happen to know?"

"Happen to...? I... don't..."

"It's obvious they were laying in wait for us."

"I'm scared!"

Flinging herself at him, Shizu clung to Aya's chest.

Aya's words disappeared in his throat. It wasn't that he suddenly felt a woman's body pressed to him. Completely the opposite.

Shizu's body had almost no weight at all.

________________________________________

Shizu's home was on the third floor of an apartment complex not far from the Uji Town Hall. It was a room/kitchen style apartment, but the main room was piled with boxes of clothing.

Feeling a strange sense of barrenness in the place, Aya stood up on the tatami in the small room.

It was too clean. There was none of the signs of daily life. Well, there was tableware and the basic essentials, but no TV, stereo, or any objects of the personal nature.

"Please, enjoy yourself here."

Shizu emerged from the small kitchen with steaming tea.

"These are?"

He was looking into the cheap-looking tea mug, but set all around were various ceramic, metal, lacquered, and metal-lacquered objects.

"Eh? These are the implements of fragrance. Isn't it strange? These are the most expensive objects in my home."

Sitting before her tea mug in proper Japanese style, she pulled a small parcel wrapped in white cloth from a drawer below the table.

Aya's mind summoned the image of a curio box.

Of course, it was no such thing. When Shizu unwrapped the cloth, he could see the delicate coils of a perfume bottle.

"A memento of my mother's."

"Memento?"

"My mother started a small perfume company, but originally, she led a school on the art of fragrance. This is called "Ranjatai", which my mother mixed especially with aloe."

"'Ranjatai'..."

Where had he heard that before...

"Ranjatai, the birth of the viper in the orchids... This perfume was once popular, because very little was needed."

Of course, Aya really knew nothing about the art of fragrances. However, the sword-master Shion had talked about it once in a while, so he had a rough idea of what she was talking about.

Shizu, who was normally very polite, exuded a sense of grave dignity as she prepared the fragrance.

Before long, she pushed before his knees a white ceramic pot, painted with illustrations of orchids and snakes.

Aya took the fragrance censer in his left hand. It was faintly warm from the charcoal flames, but there was no smoke that he could see. Bringing it to his face, he wafted it with his right hand.

He couldn't smell any fragrance.

Then again, it was Shion who said that "Don't smell the fragrance with your nose, listen to it with your heart"... He was a man always arguing spiritually...

He heard her giggling... then, there was a strangely pleasant feeling.

The next moment, he thought damn...

But it was too late, his consciousness had already retreated far away.

The censer tumbled to the tatami as he lost sensation in his hands.

Shizu's sorrowful face faded into darkness, and finally disappeared all together.

________________________________________

The next morning, Aya awoke in the trailer. He would have a lousy headache for the next two days, but otherwise he was unhurt.

But what happened last night, and how did he get back...?

No, it was just like the times before... no, or was it just my imagination? This is some serious deja vu...

Aya searched for Shizu's apartment in the afternoon.

It had become just an empty room, not one thing remaining. It was as if no one had lived there from the start...

That night, Aya asked Omi to check for "Ranjatai" on the trailer computer.

"Ranjatai... Ranjatai... It's weird. I feel like I've heard that word from somewhere, too... a... is this it?"

Omi pulled out a window on his encyclopedia software.

*Ranjatai: A treasure located in the storeroom of the Tokyo University Masakura temple. A fragrance tree brought from China in the Nara period. The best aloe.

"It's not the right word..."

"Yeah."

At any rate, it wasn't the Masakura temple treasure in that mug of tea.

________________________________________

A few days later, early in the morning...

Not really a morning haze, more like a dense fog... the white vapors shrouded the area surrounding Uji river.

Aya left the trailer, katana in hand.

"Aya..."

He paused at Youji's voice.

"I've found quite a few things about that Shizu Hanase..."

Aya lifted an eyebrow.

"I thought it'd be bad news if someone was out hunting us."

"And..."

"Near the North Osaka terminal, there's a private club for the exclusive use of VIPs. She's works there. That Shizu Hanase's a slut for whomsoever is rich enough to pay!"

"..."

"I didn't hear too many good rumors about her. Stuff about her older patrons dying during sex... They say she's a woman who'd do anything to get her way."

"...Oh."

"What, you knew?"

"No, this the first time I've heard about it."

"...Well, if you don't care, that's none of my business. But she's got a lot of shady characters among her customers. At least be careful."

His face never changing expression, Aya departed.

Youji tousled his already-tousled hair.

"Hmph... I guess I'm just too nosy after all."

________________________________________

The so-called 'normal girl' would not have Shizu's calm. Although experienced so well in selling herself, she bore herself with a dignity not of that world.

But Aya had never expected Shizu to be a normal girl. Therefore, he was not disappointed at her. What disturbed him was Shizu's own thoughts. The lewd woman versus the chaste... Which was her true self?

When he crossed the bridge in the morning hase, someone was waiting in the center.

"Shizu?"

"Yes."

Shizu's form emerged from the fog, a single pale white kimono wrapped around her, a katana gripped in her left hand. He could now clearly see the lines of her body, having always been wrapped in heavy kimono before, but she exuded not lewd sexuality... Rather, the purity of a young girl.

"You were... hunting for my life?"

Aya asked, right to the point.

"Yes, many times, I tried to kill you. But every time... I lost my courage and couldn't. I hired those three men back then, but..."

"That night, I fainted because of the fragrance. You could have easily killed me then."

"Yes... but... when I saw your sleeping face, I was very... After that, I have been waiting here. Please, no apologies, and fight me seriously."
"I've met you somewhere before..."

"Two years ago, in a perfume factory in Sumida..."

Suddenly, Aya's veiled memories struck a bell.

________________________________________

It was one of his first missions

The popular woman's fragrance Ranjatai was mixed with lethal doses of some hallucinogen. Many people had died because of it.

The gang handling its sales underground was none other than their old enemies, the pharmaceutical company "Kourin" of the Takatori group. However, at that time, Aya and the rest had been told nothing of this...

Tokyo, Sumida district. Infiltrating a small factory, Weiß dealt justice to the leaders of the guilty, one after another.

Aya cut down the woman who owned the perfume factory with one stroke.

At that moment, he heard a shrill scream, then a girl flung herself from the shadows of the shelves, clinging to the corpse.

It was their misjudgment. The owner's home was quite close to the factory. It wasn't strange that family members had come to play.

"Why!? Why did you kill mother?!"

That fierce light in her eyes! The mole under her right eye burrowed itself deep into Aya's memory.

Aya had been Weiß for many missions, and this was his first failure. The murder was seen, even his face was seen, and more, the "law" demanded that he not let her live, but...

Here, his memory broke off. Suddenly assaulted with vertigo by the heady fragrance of aloe, after that, the memory itself ceased to exist...

________________________________________

Shizu spoke.

"My mother... was involved in some terrible things... But she did it for my sister and me!"

During the recession, her mother's perfume factory became burdened with an enormous sum - a loan from "underground" sources. Everyday, the gang would come to extort money from her. When they threatened "We'll kill your children", she couldn't disobey then. Under their orders, Shizu's mother created the fragrance of death, "Ranjatai". She created the strange "fragrance" with her skill, but it became a success, for it nulled the obvious stink of Kourin Co.'s newly developed hallucinogen.

After her mother died, a different gang intruded, as the other "underground" group had sold them their IOU. In the end, they stole the company and the family, coercing Shizu and her sisters to "repay it with your bodies!". Shizu and her sister had still only been in middle school, but the gangsters and the drugs wore them down, and finally their will broke...

"I kept on wanting to die, but I stopped myself every time!"

Shizu looked at Aya straight in the eyes.

"Because every time, I would remember your face, that someday, we would meet again. And when we met again, I would get my revenge! I'd kill you! When I thought that, I could keep on living!"

She spoke about the cruelty of her sorrow. Looking for influential people, she started working at a truly high-class club in Osaka. Those influential people got rid of their original problem, and she became completely free. However, she still worked at the club, having no reason to live outside of revenge.

And then... two weeks ago... she chanced to see Aya in the Phoenix room at the Equality Center.

"I was ecstatic! Isn't it strange? I was so happy. I felt like I'd met my lost family again when I met you. Every night I would look up at your face and curse you. I asked myself, why did we keep meeting like this? It was so I could tell you in complete detail what you really did that day. And because... because... I have no one else to tell it to!"

He had heard much about love turning into hate. Maybe the opposite could happen, too.

At any rate, those emotions birthed Shizu's days of hell and loneliness.

"I loved it... those two weeks... Those times I was with you, I felt like I was really myself. But..."

Shizu's brow creased slightly, mouth curved in self-derision. Such a pathetic profile...

"I was called "the woman who'd do anything" over in Osaka. Hehheh...That too, is how I really am. Probably it started with my mother's death... I probably had that fuck-anyone personality in me from the beginning... Therefore... I really can't bear you any grudge for myself... but... not for my little sister!"

Shizu's eyes, once again, blazed with an icy brilliance.

Aya nodded gravely.

"I have my own work I must complete. Whatever consequences may be borne from it, I cannot know. But... I understand how you feel. I, too, once lived only for revenge."

He slowly pulled his katana from its sheath, setting it before him.

"Come."

Then, wiping away her tears, Shizu also unsheathed her sword, holding it before her in middle stance. Her shoulders trembled, though finally held still... perhaps she had received training with a sword.

"I'm coming for you!"

Raising her blade, she hurled its edge down.

Sparks flew as katana crashed into katana!

She's not bad!

He felt a wild joy.

This, was why he had kept meeting with Shizu. He had waited for this moment...

He himself had become a target of revenge, and his opponent had twelve minutes worth of reasons to murder him. This was much better than killing villains he cared nothing about, so much better!

The fight had gone for a few dozen blows. This was nothing like the usual intercourse between man and woman - this was by far the most consummate of sexual unions.

Shizu's breath rasped shortly.

Aya, who had done this thousands of times, diverted his attack, for Shizu 's back faced the hand-railing. She had nowhere to run.

What do I do now!?


Aya prepared to accept the kill.

Shizu, accepting she would be killed, ran towards him!

"...!!"

Aya's sword froze, edge sighing upon Shizu's neck.

The tip of Shizu's sword paused a hair's breadth from plunging into his heart.

Their eyes spoke to each other...

Aya's ordered her to strike.

And from Shizu's brilliantly clear tears began to spill.

"I can't..."

Her sword tumbled to the floor as she collapsed.

"I.... I can't do it... I can't make myself murder... not even you! I can't kill people! Why... why?... I thought I could... kill anyone... but why...!"
Letting out a long sigh, Aya slid his katana back into its sheath. Turning his back to Shizu, he started to walk back across the bridge.

A bitter, mocking smile alights on his lips.

At that dangerous instant, the sweet thought "I can die like this..." had risen to his mind...

Suddenly, the feeble fragrance of aloe-wood...

Looking back with ominous premonition, he saw Shizu breathing deeply the faint violet smoke from a tiny incense burner.

"That's...!"

She looked at him with a dazed but beautiful smile. And then... as if only tossing her head back, she threw herself over the handrail.

"Shizu!!"

He rushed to the side, lurching over the handrails. She must have fallen... but he could hear no sound from the water...

Did she...disappear?

The gorging waters of Uji river rushed along, shrouded in mist.

Or perhaps...

Perhaps long ago, she had already died with her mother...

That was the ghost in his dream...

Just as he had come to remember her, the existence of the woman named Shizu had been fleeting and miserable.

But, her last question approached him ponderously.

"Her unhappiness was probably deeper than mine ever was. She degraded herself until called a "woman who would do anything". Nonetheless, she couldn't bring herself to kill me. Why?"

It wasn't a fault of courage or strength.

Then, in this world there are people, no matter the situation, no matter the circumstances, who just cannot kill.

But I... crossed that line!


For revenge...

However, wasn't that just an excuse? Perhaps, from the very beginning, he had possessed the personality of a killer...

That last remaining fragrance of aloe-wood would never disappear from Aya's memories.

-owari-

From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

hopeforlorn: (Default)
HopeForlorn - Smaller, travel-sized version

May 2011

S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15 161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 27th, 2017 02:33 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios