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Quietly, The Grave Visit
Note: In this chapter, we’ll be talking about funeral customs, and assuming that the custom described in this chapter takes after a Japanese’s funeral procedure, do note that I don’t have any deep understanding around that topic. If you happen to understand more about the custom described in this chapter and would like to offer better suggestions on how I wrote the translation, feel free to do so! ^^
The next morning, as expected, Taiga-san didn’t show his face. Nah-, if he really comes today, it’s no doubt that Minoa-san will throw a basket or something else this time. As I thought that it was somewhat unfortunate, perhaps I wanted to escape from reality for a bit.
Before the breakfast, Kuon-sensei unusually came. I barely finished changing clothes, so it’s a safe. No, regardless of how I view myself inside, my body is of a female’s, so there won’t be a problem even if I was seen by her, right? But, still.
There was something wriggling about on top of Kuon-sensei’s shoulder. Upon taking a closer look, it was a light green colored snake.
At its back… uhm, it’s more like at the snake’s ‘shoulders’ judging from its position, there were a bird’s wings as big as around half of its body. Which means, it’s the living example of the snakes that can only be used by magicians.
Still, are all the wings of the animals over here birds’ wings? Come to think about it, I have never seen a bat so far.
“I have received a reply from my grandfather. He said that he would be investigating the things over there, so we should be careful of our surroundings.”
“Right. Yes, I understand.”
“Also, he asked how about talking this to your parents? He said that the timing would come very soon, wouldn’t it?
During the conversation with Kuon-sensei, the snake was staring fixatedly at me. Ah yes, that’s right, whatever it is, I will be concerned about it later.
Even so, what is it with the timing to tell my father and my mother? I wonder if any flag has been raised? Well, for the moment, let’s stop thinking about it first.
Anyway, the snake. It’s light green with black pupils, and its wings are emerald green. I think it’s quite pretty. Yes, the snake is unexpectedly cute. That being the case, since I was a man that recently became a woman, it’s not like I can suddenly exclaim, “Kyaa-1!”. Humans don’t easily change on the inside.
Ah, it intimidated me. Apparently, it seems that I have no quality to be a magician.
(T/N: Whaaaat?! No, Seiren, I had hopes that you’d be a magician T__T)
After having breakfast, today, my family will be going to visit the graveyard all together… in other words, we’re going out to a grave visit. Well, it’s because I said yesterday, ‘I will be going tomorrow.”
Nonetheless, we mainly wear black clothes during when we go to funeral or occasions like that even here, but since it’s only a grave visit, we are not dressed in a complete black. Because today, the dress that I’m wearing has the pattern of a checked light blue color. Since it’s a high neck that covers up until the bottom of my neck, the pendant goes inside. Since we’re going on a grave visit, today, the bigger ring is being hung on the necklace.
Using the carriage that I rode in yesterday, perhaps it would take around 5 minutes. The road is comparatively flat, or should I say that it’s a well-maintained road. When we headed a little bit deeper into the forest, there were several gravesites. The gravesites were buildings similar to little houses, and if one doesn’t know it, it would look like a village.
The horses and carriages stopped before a gravesite… Well, there was a spot that looked like a parking place, so we got off the carriage over there. So, the thing that I saw over there was a white crow-headed horse. A-ga-in, hu-h-?
“…Hey Saryuu, that is…”
“…That’s Nii-sama’s horse.”
I exchanged glances with Saryuu. My younger brother’s lips, the corner of it was stiff. I think I probably have the same expression.
“Oh my, oh my. Taiga-dono, so you have come.”
My mother is laughing happily, but my father has a serious expression with his arms folded. Well, I guess he has lots of things in his mind.
“…Can I throw something at him?”
“Minoa, you’d better stop that, you know?”
“That’s right. If you throw something here, it’s more likely that Minoa will be the one flying-.”
“…I’m begging you, please stop it…”
Towards Minoa-san who’s somehow motivated, Oriza-san and Kanna-san said the words to encourage her to stop it, but their expressions didn’t indicate the same thing. It seems that the most serious Maki-san is having a great trouble over it.
“Well, well. There should be a reasonable motive to throw something. That’s why, let’s stop it.”
“Or should I say, did you seriously want to throw something at him, Minoa-san?”
“Eh, no, that’s not it!”
When Kuon-sensei and I rebuked her, Minoa-san shook her head around in a panic. After that, the swinging stopped perfectly. Of course, it’s because we perfectly recognized the figure of the person who rode the white horse.
“Ooh. Everyone from the Shiiya family, Seiren-sama. I’m glad that we could meet here.”
Right, he finally showed up. The voice that I have heard for 3 consecutive days. The one who’s appearing with small steps from the inside is that person, Shikino Taiga. Today, he’s wearing an outfit with white base and accented strong red. Hee, the color combination is suitable, with this person.
No, this is wrong. Why would he address only me differently from the rest of my family? Can I really say that he’s seriously targeting me, this person?
“Taiga-dono. If I’m not wrong, I heard from Touya-dono that Shikino’s grave visit was done yesterday?”
“Yes, that’s right, but… that, I thought that I wanted to see Seiren-sama, that’s just it. Besides, wouldn’t it be good for me as a big brother to greet the ancestors of the family that’s been taking care of Saryuu?”
Towards the question that my father whose veins sticking out for no reason, Taiga-san answered indifferently with his refreshing smile. Aa-aah, Kaa-san seems to be enjoying this as much as he does.
Or well, where should I thrust my comment into the conversation? You, didn’t you just go to someone else’s room first thing in the morning yesterday? How would you want to see me that bad? I think you don’t know this, but I’m a man on the inside.
Well, it doesn’t seem like there’s any particular trouble for having someone outside of our group around, and so Taiga-san is coming to do a grave visit to the Shiiya’s together with us. I can understand his feelings of wanting to greet the ones who’ve been taking care of his little brother, somehow.
In this world, it’s fundamentally just a burial, so it seems. Then, the grave’s dug up a few years later after it’s become bones, put it in the urn again, and repair the grave. Being buried in the ground is a necessary preparation in order to join your ancestors, and by becoming bones and by being turned into bones and being put inside the jar would mean that the person’s spirit has been cleared, and then that person shall become the revered ancestor.
The graveyards of my family and Shikino family are located in a deeper part than the initial burial place. And, in the building located right in front of my eyes, the funerary urns of our ancestors are lined up there, so we will visit them to pay our respects there.
Shikino family’s graveyard is located in the forefront, but the graveyard of Shiiya family is located in the deepest part of the village of graves. There seems to be some remnants of the past where our principal residence was still located around this area. The greatest higher-ups seem to be located in the deeper area.
“Come to think about it… There’s something that I’m curious about.”
Right after we finished our grave visit, Taiga-san abruptly opened his mouth. Ah, the method of this world’s grave visit is by putting our offerings while joining our hands… no, I mean, joining our hands together in prayers. The god that’s believed in this world is basically the God of Sun that feels lonely, so during when we show our faces to our ancestors, it seems like we are praying while taking the god’s loneliness into account.
Putting that aside, our gazes are focused on Taiga-san.
“Something you’re curious about?”
“It’s about Shikino family. However, it’s a topic that I can’t talk about at home.”
“Which is why, I wonder if it’s good for you to leak it out to the Shiiya? Won’t you succeed the Shikino house soon?”
It’s just as my mother said. The matter of Taiga-san’s family that he can’t talk about in his house, generally, it’s a dangerous matter. Even if our family adopted Saryuu, I wonder if it won’t cause a trouble to talk about it with another family?
“That’s right, but… I believe that the circumstances surrounding my father might have some connection with Seiren-sama.”
I reflexively pointed at myself, and Taiga-san nodded in response. Which reminds me, if I’m careless, Touya-san might find out about my going to the other world.
“My father had a younger brother who was born in the same year. I heard that he passed away a bit before I was born.”
“I know about it. After that, there were various problems, or so it seemed.”
My mother answered. In the first place, my mother lived nearby Shikino’s household, that’s why I think she is more well-informed regarding the condition of the Shikino family compared to the rest of my family.
Nonetheless, I have heard about it roughly. I heard that he was born of a different mother and passed away due to falling from the horse.
“It’s about that younger brother of my father, or in other words, my uncle, Touka… There was a record that he was buried in Shikino’s graveyard, but there was no record of his reburial.”
“My paternal grandmother’s been properly reburied. She’s my grandfather’s legal wife who passed away around the same time.”
Taiga-san’s facial expression didn’t really change as he continued to speak hesitantly. More or less, I couldn’t really comprehend the meaning behind his words. My general knowledge around that matter was still thin, so no matter how I thought about the meaning behind his words, I couldn’t really understand it.
“However, only my uncle hasn’t been lined up here until this very day. Since the current head of the family is my father, if he doesn’t instruct for my uncle’s reburial, then it won’t do. That’s why…”
“I wonder why. If we don’t offer his bones and put it in the jar, then he won’t be able to join the other ancestors who’re lined up there to protect the household.”
Therefore, my response was categorized as thin. My father’s stunned expression and my mother’s words are the common sense here.
I have mentioned it earlier, but a burial alone won’t be enough here. The burial was just a preparatory phase in order that the person could become the family’s ancestor or the family’s guardian spirit. It’s a standard funeral procedure to have a proper reburial until it’s been turned into a funerary urn.
If their bones weren’t put into a jar, then that person would continuously be in preparation phase, and it seems that the person won’t be able to go anywhere else and would be lost. That’s why, even if it was a deceased person with no one to tend the grave, they would still be prepared until their bones could be entered into the jar properly within the span of approximately one year, and they would be taken care of as if they were the whole gravesite’s ancestor.
So, in case of large households like the Shikino’s, the responsibility of ensuring the process fell to the head of a family. What Taiga-san meant by the reburial’s instructions must be made by Touya-san was such a thing. Instead of bearing the responsibility, it seems like he’s having a full authority.
However, it would be strange for him not to handle the whole process even for his younger brother of a different mother. To put things bluntly, it was something very thoughtless of him. First and foremost, that younger brother’s mother was properly put into a funerary urn, so that was even more the case.
…Younger brother, huh.
Suddenly, I wanted to ask something strange.
“…Uhm. May I ask you something that might be quite impolite?”
Taiga-san directly turned around to face me as he heard my words. I’m going to ask something quite strange, so sorry for that.
“Your uncle, Touka-sama… have you ever heard from your family about him, like how was his appearance?”
“No, not at all.”
Taiga-san shook his head in response to my question, without even pausing a bit to think. He answered flatly.
Then, he added more words to complement his response.
“There is no portrait of him, and the servants who worked during the time my uncle lived have all resigned or passed away. There were only several people remaining who were appointed to their own roles by my father, but since they were on bad terms with my uncle to begin with, they didn’t really want to talk about him.”
“…Why is that, I wonder?”
That was not my words, but it was Kuon-sensei’s.
Certainly, I wonder why. Or more precisely, there was absolutely something going on in the Shikino family.
It was as if they wanted to completely erase the traces of the person named Touka.
“Speaking of the servants…”
Then, Taiga-san seems like he just remembered something else. He opened his eyes wide and his face seemed to be quite pale.
“Our exclusive magician was replaced around the time when Seiren-sama was born, so it seems. Still, the whereabouts of that magician before was completely unknown since then.”
“The magician who’s gone, it’s about Doumu-dono, right? Right after Seiren was born, I remember that he came along with Touya-dono to congratulate us.”
Mother, I thought that you only knew the magician who worked for Shikino family, but to think that he had ever visited our house? Ah, that is not really weird, though.
But he has ever met me, huh. As expected, since I was barely born at that time, I really couldn’t recall it.
“…What did you say, right after that?”
“Yes, that Doumu. I remember that he disappeared approximately one month after he visited Shiiya’s house.”
“…Around that time, the exclusive magician that served our house also disappeared. We had Jigen-san come and then we relied on him afterwards.”
My father muttered those words in a low voice, as if to drown out my voice. At that instant, the atmosphere of the place turned heavy at once.
The magician who visited right after my birth to congratulate my family disappeared one month after that.
The magician who worked for Shiiya family also disappeared around the same time.
Isn’t that at the same time around my disappearance from the Shiiya family, too?
Ooh, finally more information on the orphanage director’s mystery! I think we can now make a more plausible theories after those matters are revealed!!
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- In case it’s unclear, that exclamation is usually used for mainly girls to express their fascination/love to cute things. ↩