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Most of the old stone walls bordering the pasture stretching between the office and the village still remain.
For sheep, these walls are a merciless prison, while for humans, they’re just the right height to sit on, so the shepherds often climb on top to spread out their lunch boxes.
On one of these walls stands a fairy.
“Ms. Human, a gift of thanks!”
“We’re filled to bursting.”
Fairies eat sweets.
And I… I’ve given the fairies a lot of sweets. As I’m sure I’ll continue to do.
It’s more interesting to serve sweets to people than to eat them yourself, after all.
Even today, I delivered the golden can to them…
“Oh, thanks for that?”
“Bananas, like them?”
“Yes, I do. I can’t ever get them fresh, though.”
“I present to you the latest iteration.”
I don’t really catch its drift, but it looks like the fairy is trying to give me a banana.
“Thank you very much for that?”
“It’s the newest version, you know?”
“I-I wonder what it’ll be like?”
I don’t feel like being dragged into anything troublesome…
“There’s no more slipping.”
“I see… That’s good, isn’t it?”
“You’ll return to normal for real later? It’s all gonna be A-Oh-Kay!”
What in the world does that mean?
“It’ll stay delicious forever.”
A banana with no expiration date?
“A’ight, see ya!”
The fairy throws itself into the grass and disappears.
“… Just what?”
And as I stand there in bafflement…
“Hey! What are you doing here?!”
At the sound of Grandfather’s irritated voice, I stiffen up and clumsily fall on my backside.
A war chariot with Grandfather on it stops right in front of me.
“Why didn’t you go pick him up?”
“I’ve gone too many times to count!”
I’m surprised to hear these words slip out of my mouth.
Huh? Did I really go?
“… You only need to go once.”
“Well, of course…”
We cock our heads.
“… At least get going now. You’re late, and he’s probably anxious from the wait.”
“I lost the watch, so I don’t know what time it is.”
“Hm? You lost the sundial too?”
“Yes, I don’t know when that happened.”
Grandfather makes a sour face and groans.
“…I see. Well, it wasn’t that important…”
Ah, I feel a little frustrated. Why?
“I mean, I couldn’t even read that sundial, so how’d you expect me to know the time anyway?”
“I’ll teach you how someday. For now, just go. He’s a difficult child. I thought you may be able to understand him since you’re of a similar age…”
“I’m awfully tired for some reason…”
I really am tired.
I feel a heavy fatigue, as if I’ve been running all day.
“… All right. Then I’ll let you ride the Merkava. Sorry, but could you switch with her?”
I fearfully take the place of another old man, who gets down from his place next to Grandfather. He seems to be one of Grandfather’s friends.
“There’s a composite bow over here, so you can be just like one of those ancient archers if you want.”
“I’m not doing that, no way.”
There aren’t even any enemies to shoot, so why would I?
The chariot begins to move. It’s an incredibly rough ride.
Every time the wheels run over a pebble, I feel an incredible impact all the way up to my bottom. The ride quality is horrible!
“Ah, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow… Hyeeek!”
“Steady now, Deimos, steady!”
Grandfather and I leave the carriage at the edge of the village and head to the meeting spot.
“There’s a lot of dogs here.”
“… You’re right.”
I see numerous identical dogs everywhere I look.
A dog sitting idly on the side of the road.
A dog sprawled out on the roof.
Several dogs sleeping in a huddle.
“D-doesn’t it feel like dogs have taken over this town?”
“Hmm… Were there always so many dogs here?”
At first glance, about half of the residents are dogs.
A life full of dogs…
These dogs don’t look like they move around much. They aren’t really getting in the way of anything. Things look quite peaceful.
“Anyhow, let’s get to the meeting spot.”
Beneath an old-fashioned sign adorned with a lamb and olives, a woman in a doctor’s gown and a short boy holding a dog are waiting side by side.
Another man is standing a short distance away but doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the first party.
“Oh, there he is.”
Grandfather points at the boy.
He’s a pale, unfortunate-looking boy.
He has slender limbs, flowing hair, and a listless gaze.
The funky Hawaiian shirt doesn’t suit this boy… This boy, who still doesn’t know for sure who he is, who barely has an ego.
“I talked to him a little before, and it seems his guardian died when he was very young. He ended up living at an extreme disadvantage because he didn’t even have a grasp on language. Perhaps that’s the reason… I can’t really say it well, but he’s a little, what to say… transparent. You know, he’s got a weak presence…”
I can sort of understand why Grandfather is struggling this hard to explain it.
The boy’s contours are indeed thin and whispy.
“I won’t force you on this, but please talk to him. He needs an environment with somebody like you around.”
He’s dangerously indistinct, to the point where if I’d met him on the street, I might just have walked past him.
“But you know, Grandfather.”
“What is it?”
The youth smiles gently, in contrast to Grandfather’s explanation. His eyes twinkle with a quiet intellect.
“Really, now? Hmm… I didn’t think a misanthrope like you’d say something like that. Let me introduce you. He probably won’t respond much, but I hope you’ll accept him for what he is.”
“No, I’ll try talking to him myself.”
I don’t know anything about him.
I feel proud, even though I know nothing.
As I walk toward him, he notices me.
I stop before him, searching for the right words to say.
A question naturally comes to mind. And this is how it goes.
“Did you find what you were looking for?”
The boy’s cheeks take on a gentle flush, and he gives a little nod.
The chariot clatters loudly as it runs.
“… You two know each other?”
“You’ve definitely met before, haven’t you?”
“I know absolutely nothing.”
“And yet that was the first time I’d seen him react like that.”
“Is that so?”
“… Argh, young people. I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
The chariot is a two-seater.
The three of us have crammed ourselves into it anyway and are headed back to the office.
“So, in the end, I was right to leave it to you,” asserts Grandfather.
“Doesn’t it hurt?”
The silent boy shakes his head from side to side.
“…I’m surprised. How did he manage to change like this in such a short time…”
“The doctor in charge was surprised, too.”
“Hmm… I wonder what happened?”
I’m sure nothing serious has happened.
“He was probably able to find what he was missing.”
“What was he missing?”
Grandfather asks as he steers the horse.
“I guess… Awareness of who he is as a person?”
“How do you find something like that?”
“… People inherit their consciousness from others.”
“But he doesn’t have parents, you know?”
“Which is why he had to cheat a little to make up for that.”
As we talk, I vaguely come to realize where he’d been headed.
“This is just an example, but… Things like rumors about himself… He’d collect them.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Why would he ever do that?”
I’m not very good at explaining things, and Grandfather is rather hard-headed himself, so I can’t really get through to him.
A reason why that would be the case, frankly… I find myself imagining a fairytale-like explanation of how it’s because this world has become gentler than it was in the past…
Which is to say, it’s because of this being the era of the fairies, no?
I cast a sidelong glance at the youth’s face. I can tell he’s listening intently to the conversation between Grandfather and me, despite his probable inability to understand us.
He had probably fallen into a crevasse between existence and nonexistence, unable to define himself.
One of the few bugs in this otherwise fault-tolerant world.
To make up for his diluted ego, he absolutely had to collect concepts related to himself. And so-
“I’m sure the fairies had a hand in this.”
“They did? It’s not something I’m inclined to believe myself…”
“He probably met the fairies before he was taken into custody.”
Indeed. When you go looking for miracles, fairies are naturally the first option.
Easy to understand, isn’t it?
In that situation, I’m sure it was that desire of his that caused me to gather like that.
Only at that ridiculous tea party, a domain that would sap me of my awareness, could rumors of the Assistant gather in such a quantity…
“… That tea party?”
“Did I just say tea party?”
“That’s what I heard.”
“… Wait, what?”
“Did you go senile?”
“… I don’t think memories are as certain as one would’ve thought.”
“Oh? That a theory of yours?”
“After all, people sometimes even go so far as to embellish something they forcibly snatched as a present they were given, don’t they?”
Grandfather gives me a puzzled look.
“… Just what are you on about?”
“Now that the office is a little tidier, you can sit over here, Assistant.”
With a small nod, the Assistant sits in his assigned chair.
With a dog in his arms.
“So you brought a dog with you?”
“It isn’t causing a ruckus, so we can let it pass, can’t we?”
“This dog’s rubbing me wrong. Why’s it look like it has something to hide…”
The only remaining mystery is that of the dogs.
Are they related to this entire chain of events somehow?
Since they’ve been intruding upon my life an awful lot just for today…
“I wonder what they call this breed.”
No one can answer that question.
But as I silently shrug the question away…
“… They’re Time Paradogs1.”
A feeble voice escapes the Assistant’s small lips.
The office is quiet.
“… He talked.”
Grandfather’s and my voices are in perfect sync.
“Wait, wait, isn’t this something to celebrate? Hey, this is great, don’t you think?”
“But I feel like there’s some wordplay going on here… What’s with that name?” I ask.
“How about if these dogs are born as a debt to the universe to balance out time paradoxes?”
This old man is busy entertaining himself.
“What do you mean, ‘How about if’?”
“I was just romanticizing on the idea that every time someone travels through time, the universe does away with the immense incongruity of it all by creating these dogs…”
I just don’t understand this elder of mine.
“Well, I’ll be counting on you.”
Ignoring Grandfather, I hold my hand out to the Assistant.
His hand is soft as if he were a newborn.
We found somebody had planted a perennial plant of the Musaceae2 family just outside the office. What a strange occurrence.
“It won’t survive the local climate. It’ll wither away soon enough.”
Ignoring grandfather’s concern, the perennial plant of the Musaceae family grew quickly, reaching a height of several meters. In but three days.
The fruiting bud, barely noticeable at first, grew larger and larger, eventually forming into bunches of nascent fruit. As someone fond of such things, I had high expectations of the fat, juicy fruit these buds would mature into.
No matter how many times we harvested the plant, a new one would stand tall and laden the next day, even when its fruit had no seeds.
At about this time, Grandfather finally accepted reality and fell silent.
That perennial plant of the Musaceae family… Well, it was nothing but a banana plant.
I’ve been harvesting the bananas with the Assistant’s help.
“Down the hatch.”
The two of us eat the bananas as-is.
“By the way, Assistant, do you know of the one running gag about bananas?”
“It’s where you step on the peel and slip after eating one.”
nod nod, agrees the Assistant.
“As long as you follow through on that, you’ll be able to eat all the precious bananas you want for the rest of your life.”
Hmm, hmm, agrees the Assistant.
“… That’s just how the banana splits, so don’t you worry.”
And so, the Assistant and I are escorted by fate to our preordained destinies, executing a perfect slide on our banana peels.
I lie on my back in the garden, unhurt and still wide awake.
“I see, so that’s what that fairy meant when it said I’d really go back to normal later, that it’d all be A-OK in the end…”
I tilt my neck to check on the Assistant, only to find he’s quickly gotten up. He’s now standing in front of the banana plant with a plant nameplate in hand. What a hard worker.
After hesitating a little over how to fill in the empty sign, he writes:
《Caution: Time Bananas. May cause slippage when eaten.》
It is a fairy-made tool.
Though it may appear to be a simple measuring spoon, it has the power to turn intelligence into flour.
If you eat the flour, you’ll regain your wisdom, but if you continue to use the spoon without doing so, your brain will rot. You will eventually be left incapable of even comprehending the world. Let us all make sure to never use this spoon. It is extremely dangerous!
This spoon also has the power to quantify the user’s current intelligence. Please be advised and avoid carelessly using it so as to not stir up unnecessary feelings of envy, jealousy, or other negative emotions.
How nice it would’ve been if this were a spoon that could turn excess flab into flour instead!
The village of Camphorwood’s administration responded to requests from local residents and collected a number of implements of suspected fey origin based on reports from across the village.
The subsequent investigation by staff revealed that twenty-seven of the recovered items were of fairy make. Each item was then subjected to a thorough investigation covering topics such as their effects, possible risks of use, and origin.
As a result, it was determined that one item in particular, a fey measuring spoon (Refer to Figure I) posed an exceptionally potent risk, though this was established at the cost of intellectual damage sustained by the concerned staff due to signs of so-called “fairytale disaster”-esque events. Fortunately, the concerned staff member heroically volunteered to prevent the spread of this disaster.
Strictly speaking, even at this time, the intellectual abilities of the concerned staff member are adversely impacted, and the aftereffects of a sudden decline in mental faculties have continued to affect them seriously.
There are also suspicions of human involvement in the natural disaster brought about by the wildfire that occurred around the same time as the aforementioned incident, but I must say I am absolutely innocent; that wildfire really was naturally caused and I most certainly had no hand in it. You went out of your way to send us a letter to inform us of this matter, but I must say, that is an awful stretch of the imagination.
As for the effects of the spoon-shaped item, please refer to the attached investigation report. Furthermore, due to the perilous nature of this item having been well-established, the concerned staff member in charge of this case proceeded to take strict measures to seal the item into a bottle, only for the item to be misplaced. They looked all over, but never found it. As the case of this item being missing from within a sealed bottle is so reminiscent of a locked room mystery, it is necessary for a proper assessment of the circumstances or something to be performed before a decision is made, so as to not make an example of the concerned staff member.
Also, regarding the existence of ermines within village limits; they are not extant.3 No, they are extant. When I say they are not extant, though I mean to say they do not exist, I worry that some may misread that as me saying they are not excusable, as if I were apologizing, and what a mixup that would be, so if I were speaking precisely, they are extant. Ermines are despicable creatures, so an advisory was issued to the village inhabitants directing them to safeguard livestock such as chickens from predation. And any passing hamsters too. For now, please peruse of this image of an ermine (See Figure II).
I understand that this incident report is in terrible shape, but would like to impress upon the reader the desperation with which I write this report. In order to prevent the repeat of such a situation, I would like to request that the UN provide me with a top-of-the-line “Bug collection kit”.
- The second half
Nothing of note.
Additionally, one staff member absent for medical reasons has returned.
The staff member had been receiving treatment for social interaction deficiency disorder for a while, and his participation in mediation was a part of his therapy.
However, the recovery of the staff member was remarkable, and he will no longer face substantial difficulties in performing his duties.
It is unknown how his condition came to be cured.
According to one theory, the fairies’ involvement is rumored, and the staff member has also testified that he has had prior encounters with fairies.
While it is important to investigate this, it was acknowledged that the cause of the staff member’s recovery may have been an extremely personal mental factor. It was thus decided through discussions with doctors affiliated with the medical association that any invasion of privacy would be avoided. We shall only monitor the staff’s progress for the time being.
With this increase in talented staff, we should be able to expect more effective supportive actions for the region’s mediation efforts in the future.
Due to the lack of space, I’ll avoid using my enter key. I’ve published two volumes now. Thank you very much. This volume got quite long. As the page count increases, so does the price. Isn’t it a shame that the second volume is priced at 700 Yen, when even the first was only at about 600? I was all for making money, but I didn’t want to overdo it, so I discussed this with His Excellency in charge. I’d considered various dark arts (sneaky tricks). Tricks such as sneaking an 18th line into pages that only fit 17, or increasing the number of characters in each line; there were too many such small tricks that I could play, but in the end, I settled for the honest choice of reducing the number of line breaks used throughout. Exactly as I have done in this afterword. However, I’d forgotten to make room in my schedule to do all that, so my life became hell again and took on the pleasantly nostalgic trappings of Judecca (The fourth level of Cocytus). To the point where I was only sleeping every other day. One day, when I was on the train muttering to myself, “It’s impossible, it’s impossible,” like some kind of high-risk individual, some celestial personage called Ariel (Likely an archangel) descended to scold me and executed a mind attack by whispering, “It’s possible, it’s possible,” in my ear. The heavens need to shut up. Later, during Higan, I even stacked some stones. To all my readers, I did my best to get the price down to a reasonable level, so I’d be grateful if you’d pick up this volume as well. We memorize every survey and fanletter we get by way of memory bread (A practice unique to Shougakukan). Well, see you later…
Born in 1973. A freelance writer who mainly plays PC games. He has a reputation for being merciless enough to move even a super-cute cat sleeping on his knees or on his keyboard without batting an eye.
Bananas, essentially. ↩︎
This paragraph is a lot funnier in Japanese due to the word for “x does not reside” (sumimasen spelled as “住みません”) and one of the words used to apologise (“sumimasen” spelled as “済みません”) being homophones. I shall translate this paragraph while trying to keep the style as close as possible to how it was intended. ↩︎