Microsoft recently held a huge Lost Odyssey event in Tokyo. It was announced that the game has gone gold and will be out December 6th in Japan. Also, there were orchestral renditions of Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey music as well as fantastic facial hair. Kotakuite Adam was in attendance and picked up a copy of the book The 1000 Year Dream, which consists of 32 short stories by award-winning novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu that have been incorporated in Lost Odyssey. In order to help non-Japanese speakers understand what kind of stories these are, Adam has done a nice job of translating one of them. That after the jump!
A Courageous Soldier's Return
In a post town pub, Kaim sat in the corner, alone, sipping on his drink. A man entered the pub. A big and strong man - his clothes give away that he is a soldier, coming from a long journey. His clothes were covered in dust, and he had a look of exhaustion on his face, yet the gleam in his eyes remained sharp. He had the serious look of a "soldier on active duty".
For a moment, the pub became quiet. All the drunken people who happened to be there stopped and stared at the soldier with eyes of both fear and gratitude. The war with the neighbouring country had at last come just to an end and all the soldiers that had been at the front were each on the road to their homes. This man, he was one of those soldiers.
The soldier sat at the table next to Kaim and starting gulping down drink after drink - his manner of drinking being that of a man full of immense suffering. He drank a second drink, then a third, and a fourth...
Another person glared at him and smiled, then walked over to his table with a bottle in his hand. He looked like a dirty, local thug.
"Brave soldier, who defended our ancestors' country, let me buy you a drink!"
Without expression, the soldier raised his cup and was poured a drink.
"How was the front line? How many great deeds have you performed?"
The soldier, saying nothing, finished the drink.
The thug poured him another glass, and glared at him once more.
"Seeing as I'm here, why don't you tell me some of your heroic tales? How many men have you killed with that big arm of yours..."
Without a word, the soldier smashed his cup against the thug's face.
The thug suddenly pulled out a knife - at that moment Kaim swiftly knocked down the thug's knife with his clenched fist.
The thug, overpowered by both Kaim and the soldier, said something over his shoulder and ran away. After chasing the thug off, Kaim and the soldier looked at each other and chuckled. Without even talking to him, Kaim knew from this soldier's shadow that he was wallowing in sorrow. Conversely, the soldier could tell that Kaim knew this from the expression on Kaim's face.
After a moment of silence, the pub returned to normal. Kaim and the soldier decide to share a drink together.
"You know, I have a wife and daughter... I haven't seen them in the 3 years I've been on duty." The soldier said, showing the hint of a smile on his face for the first time.
He opened his locket, took out pictures of them, and then showed them to Kaim.
The picture showed a neatly dressed wife and a young daughter.
"I only survived these 3 years because I have them. The only thing that kept me going was to return home to them".
"Is your home far from here?" asked Kaim.
"Nah... My village is just beyond the mountain pass. Both of them should have heard the news that the war is over and must be waiting for me."
The distance was close enough that he could go there overnight if he wanted to.
However, the soldier groaned and continued to speak.
"I'm scared... to go home."
"Why?" asked Kaim.
"I want to see my wife and daughter's face. But I'm afraid... to show them mine. I have killed countless enemies over these 3 years. I had to in order to survive. I had to keep killing if I were to return home to my family."
That was the code and duty of a soldier. "Kill or be killed" - this is what it meant to survive a battle.
"I didn't have time to think about it on the front line. I was so desperate to stay alive. But now that the war is over I realise what I have done. My face is engraved with three years of "sin". My face... is the face of a killer. I can't... show this face to my wife and daughter..."
The soldier reached into his leather pouch and pulled out a small stone and showed it to Kaim, telling him it was a gem he found on the first battlefield he was on.
"That's a gem?" asked Kaim with a puzzled expression on his face.
The stone sat on the table - a pitch-black stone that didn't sparkle in the slightest.
"It sparkled at first. When I found it, I decided to take it home to show my daughter. I was sure she would love it."
However, over time, it lost its colour and sparkle.
"Each time I killed an enemy soldier, the stain of blood changed the stone. Over the three years, it has turned pitch-black as you can see. My sin is chiseled in this stone... This has become my "Stone of Sin"..."
"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself" said Kaim without thinking.
"You killed because you had to in order to survive."
"I know. I know, but... the soldiers I killed also had homes to go back to and families waiting for them..."
"Surely you have a family yourself, right?" the soldier asked Kaim.
"I have no family" said Kaim, slightly shaking his head.
"How about a home?"
"I have no home to return to" answered Kaim.
"...so you're stuck on an endless journey?"
"Yes, something like that."
The soldier, the extent to which he took stock in Kaim's words being unclear, took the "Black Stone" and put it back into his leather pouch.
"I've been thinking... if this "Black Stone" turns black each time I take a life, maybe I can restore its colour and sparkle by saving a life..."
Kaim, keeping quiet, finished his drink and stood up. He looked at the soldier, who was still seated, and tried to reason with him one last time.
"If you have a home to go back to, you should go. No matter what's on your conscience, you should go home. I'm sure your wife and daughter will understand. You committed no sin. You did what you had to do to survive - you are courageous."
"It makes me feel better... to meet someone who will tell me that."
The soldier reached out his right hand and gave Kaim a handshake.
"Have a good journey" said the soldier.
"Your journey is almost over." Kaim said and chuckled as he started walking towards the exit of the pub. Suddenly, the thug from before appeared behind Kaim with a pistol in his hand.
"Watch out!" yelled the soldier as he ran towards Kaim.
As Kaim turned around, the thug said, "How dare you make a fool of me earlier!" and got ready to pull the trigger.
The soldier ran in between the two, blocking the shot from Kaim with his own body. The soldier is shot in the stomach as the thug pulls the trigger.
Just as the soldier had wanted, he had saved a life. The life of Kaim, whose body would never rot, and life would never end. This was the "life" for which he sacrificed his own.
The soldier lay on the floor, and with a dim consciousness reached for his leather pouch.
"Look... at the "Stone of Sin"... Is it sparkling again?"
With a weak laugh, blood started to pour from the soldier's mouth.
Kaim peered into the leather bag and said to the soldier, "It's beautiful. It's sparkling again."
"Really... I'm so glad... I'm sure my daughter will love it..."
With a smile of satisfaction, the soldier opened his hand and took the pouch. However, at that moment the soldier stopped breathing and the pouch fell from his hand to the floor.
The soldier's face was peaceful as he died.
However - the "Stone of Sin" that fell from the bag when it hit the floor, was still pitch-black.