|“||If the spirit wills it, death itself can't stand in the way.||”|
Turducken is a funeral director who owns a funeral hall named "Nirvana". With a smile on her face, she beautifies the bodies of the dead and then, humming a happy song, sends them off to be cremated or buried. In her eyes, death is the first step in a new life, and so she gives the dead her sincere blessings. However, due to her tall stature and because she's often seen wandering around graveyards dressed all in black, many people think she is an extremely dangerous Food Soul.
Turducken is a well-known American delicacy with a very unique cooking method. To make it, a duck is stuffed inside a turkey, and then a chicken is stuffed inside the duck. Then seasonings are added, the turkey is sewn shut, and the whole thing is placed in the oven to roast, hence the name: "Tur-duck-en". It's a dish you won't want to miss out on when spending Thanksgiving in America. The ability to savor three different kinds of meat at once has made it a real crowd-pleaser.
How to Acquire
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|Contract||Shh! Quiet, quiet... Master, our guests don't like too much noise. Huh? My card? You don't need it. My name's Turducken, and that's all you need to know.|
|Log In||Hope you're well, Master. Should we drink a glass tonight too?|
|Ice Arena||It's just as cold as a nighttime graveyard, no big deal.|
|Ascend||I feel... the power of living.|
|Fatigue||*Yawn* I stayed up all night again last night... Can I sleep a bit?|
|Recovering||Staying up all night isn't healthy. Don't do as I do... Zzz"|
|Team Formation||For the last bit of their journey, I must take good care of them...|
|Knockout||Death is the beginning of a new life..|
|Notice||Hee, my cooking tastes pretty good, eh? It's not hard. Much simpler than interring a body.|
|Idle 1||My guests are all very cute. Master, do you want to chat with them?|
|Idle 2||Even if this sort of thing occurs, there are special places where you can make a transaction... Although compared with other funeral parlors, the ones at "Nirvana" are somewhat particular...|
|Idle 3||Scary paranormal incidents... do you mean those pranks the dead play? They're just scared that in their new world, there will be no one to play with them like before.|
|Interaction 1||If you don't understand death, how can you truly know life?|
|Interaction 2||When I'm convening with the dead, I sometimes lose track of time. So, if several days go by and you don't see me, you know where to go looking!|
|Interaction 3||Grooming the dead is a meticulous process, from the big stuff like dressing them properly, and the expression on their face, to the little stuff like matching their hair and fingernail colors. It's not as simple as just stitching them together.|
|Pledge||I'm happy you chose me, and I'll definitely be with you till the end-- Now, from this moment, give yourself over to me.|
|Intimacy 1||I don't fear death, but I don't want to part with you...|
|Intimacy 2||In the dark of night, just know that I'm by your side, and there's nothing to fear.|
|Intimacy 3||Growing old together is nice, and going to the grave together is too. Don't worry, I won't let you go.|
|Victory||All the thanks should go to my unseen friends.|
|Defeat||Uh... how about we have a do-over?|
|Feeding||Compared to those gifts from Cookie, your gifts are of course much cuter, Master.|
- ↑ JP Contract: Master Attendant, please be quiet. My clients hate noisy sounds. ... Eh? My name? It's Turducken. Pleased to be your acquaintance. I'll give you my business card later.
- ↑ JP Ice Arena: The temperature here is nothing if compared to the coldness of the graveyard at night.
- ↑ JP Skills: I summon the spirit of the dead! Shoot down the enemies!
- ↑ JP Interaction 1: You won't be able to properly understand the meaning of life if you don't know death. It's a knowledge needed in order to understand the dead.
I. Unnamed Summons
The ship pulled into the pier as the sun dipped beneath the horizon, its passengers gushing out towards the city gates, not unlike the gold-tinted tides.
Their souls puppeteered their bodies on their own grand journeys, painting a dazzling scene for me.
This aroused more curiosity in me for this city called Midgar.
This is the largest city in Gloriville. Just what magic is it behind its fame that causes people to stop by, that I felt a faint shudder just setting foot here.
The sky darkened as I stood on the pier, feeling the tremors in the depths of my heart.
Somewhere in the city before me is a struggling soul not unlike a caged animal. It guided me here from afar, and I felt my senses clear up.
It was clearly about to fall apart, yet it stubbornly clung tooth and nail to this world.
It seemed to understand clearly that leaving was not an outcome of death, that it was up to the soul to decide whether to stay.
I headed into the city, feeling that it was about to get interesting.
"Cemetery? Are you here to participate in the Day of the Dead celebrations too?"
The baker found no oddities in my question, and even skillfully picked a bag of bread from his display and voluntarily handed it to me.
"Here, bring these pan de muerto with you and hurry along, the parade headed for the cemetery celebrations just came through here, you'll be able to catch up to them if you jog."
Gently ushered out of the bakery, I blinked.
"Day of the Dead"... What's that?
I walked on, eyes on the bag of bread with skull decorations in my arms.
Since it's in the same direction I'm headed anyway, I'll check it out.
I soon found the parade.
The people before me were clearly humans, yet they were dressed in a variety of cryptic fashions. With skull masks and black robes said to only be worn by vampires or witches, they sang and danced in the cemetery.
I lowered my gaze to observe my own black get-up and long black fingernails, and understood why the baker thought I was one of them.
It was the first time I've gotten along with a group of people, amongst a variety of candlelit altars. Placed before them were pan de muerto not unlike the ones in my bag. Fresh flowers framed each and every black-and-white photograph on the graves. I could feel that the energy lingering in those photographs belonged to the departed soul they depicted.
Unexpectedly, the friends and family of the deceased who decorated their altars were laughing and making merry; it really was the scene of a joyous celebration.
This was something that I've never seen humans do in my travels. How was it that the humans here had such an attitude towards death, as opposed to fear and grief?
"Hey there, hello!"
I looked down to see a little girl with face paint on. Or, to be accurate, a food soul.
"I noticed you since just now, you were pacing back and forth here… What I'm trying to say is, if you want an altar to offer your bread, mine is open! The public altar is over there!"
She scratched her ears after she said it, as if she was embarrassed.
"What's the reason behind offering bread?"
"Hmm? You don't know? It's the Day of the Dead today, they say that every year, when this day rolls around, departed souls will return. And if their loved ones decorate altars for them and offer pan de muerto, they'll be able to find their way home and reunite with their family!"
Rare that humans have such a tradition.
"What is it?"
"She who is dear to me, her soul may never return."
"This- Um- It's… Don't be so pessimistic…"
I shook my head, not elaborating further.
"Thank you for the explanation, put these on your altar, they'll bring peace to the souls of this cemetery."
I handed her the bread infused with my soul power and turned to leave.
It wasn't that I didn't want to talk to her more, but the feeling of that constant call tugged at me again. Compared to mingling with these joyous souls, my priority was rescuing that soul in agony.
I got closer to it.
II. Unreconciled Soul
Passing through the cemetery, the cheers of song and dance faded and the agonized cries became ever clearer.
I followed the trembling voice, and many times, when I thought I've gotten close to it, it seemed to flee.
Like a vigilant beast, even on the brink of life and death, it avoids the encroachment of others desiring only to lick its own wounds.
Finally, I caught it a few hours later in an abandoned apartment building.
It was almost impossible to discern the original form of the soul; he was so broken it was as if a god kneaded him out of the earth with a few careless pinches and served up into the world to fend for himself as defective as he was. There were wounds so deep bone was exposed everywhere; his soul power was so drained and fissured that with every step backward his limbs threatened to shatter.
Even so, I was able to tell that he's a food soul.
I had never seen such a heavily injured food soul. Why wouldn't his wounds heal themselves?
"Go away! Stay away from me! Or else!"
Once again, he wasted his precious breath on yelling at me.
I shook my head.
"Shhh, be quiet, child, everyone around is asleep."
To me, he was but a child, a lost kid who needed guidance.
There's no point in pondering what happened to him. I came to save him just because he hadn't realized his soul's desire, but I had.
Unwilling to argue with him more, I stepped forward to tie him up with my thread.
My actions elicited a strong retaliation from him.
I didn't fight back, only dodging his attacks. I knew that his body couldn't take any more hits, and I didn't want to consider the irreparable consequences of attacking carelessly.
However, this child seemed to take my yielding as a sign of victory.
He started to blindly attempt to defeat me, not knowing that I was waiting for him to exhaust himself.
And that's when I reel it in.
Suddenly, something unexpected happened.
Something came flying and hit him on the head.
Oh, a boot.
He blanked. So did I.
"Don't look at me like that, that wasn't me."
It was as if the words "One-sided fight" were written all over his cracked face, and before I could cover my eyes, he passed out on the ground.
Only then did I see the open door behind him.
It was her?
The girl with the painted face leaned against the doorframe with lingering fear.
Her bootless foot was covered in a patterned green sock. She lifted that foot up and hopped to the shoe rack by the door and picked out a pair of indoor slippers as if she's done this before. Flinging off her remaining boot, she stepped into the slippers and walked towards me, picking up the boot under the stunned boy's head.
His head made a loud thump as it collided with the ground. The girl took no notice of it, dusting off her boot and returning it to the shoe rack.
Only then did she raise her head to face me.
"Are you alright, Turducken?"
III. Unfriendly Friends
Her slippers made a slapping sound on the ground. Slap, slap, slap, they went as she poured water. Slap, slap, slap, they went as she made tea for me.
She said she's "Pan de Muerto", as in the type of bread I gave her earlier that day.
"Tea leaves from Light Kingdom. They're a bit bitter, wanna try?"
Light Kingdom, huh? I've been there, but only to cemeteries and such, never around human towns, and I've certainly never tasted this northern tea leaf.
It was the first time I've seen it slowly unfurl in the tea. Yes, just like a soul awakening from chaotic energy.
I tasted it.
"How is it?"
"Oh, like I thought, the legend was fake."
I looked at her with confusion, and she covered her mouth hurriedly as if she said something she shouldn't have.
But under my scrutiny, her shoulders drooped and she smiled guiltily and politely.
"I once heard that if you placed tea from Light Kingdom before a grave, witches won't disturb its soul. I was just curious if you'd dislike it like the legends say… I'm so sorry!"
"The tea's alright, but I wouldn't say I like it, per se."
"Ooh, is that so… Ehhh? Are you seriously considering my question?"
"Should I not have? Apologies, I'm not too well versed in the conversation etiquette of humans."
Observing her shock, I tried the tea again. Strangely, it seemed to become less bitter the second time.
"Actually, I recognized you at the celebration."
I looked up to meet her gaze.
"Legends say that there's a mysterious food soul in Gloriville. Nobody knows when she came to be nor her past, only that she's only been seen in cemeteries, and that made people… intrigued."
"You can say afraid. Like they fear death, humans hold the same feelings towards me."
I looked down again to blow at the tea leaves and took a third sip.
"It's… Don't be upset, humans are just especially vigilant towards the unknown, very few of them actually have bad intentions."
"I don't mind it."
"That's a relief. Actually, since I heard of you, I've always wanted to meet you someday."
For some reason, she stopped herself with words caught in her throat again.
Pan de Muerto took a deep breath.
"The truth is…"
However, she was cut off by the loud, agitated noise echoing through the room.
"Oh god, that guy woke up!" Pan de Muerto exclaimed.
I sighed silently.
Before we sat down to chat, I tied the broken child to the bed and did some rudimentary healing. I didn't think he'd wake up so soon.
"I feel like he's going to break the guest room bed."
Pan de Muerto's mouth twitched.
I placed the teacup on the table and went into the guest room, and soon peace was restored to the world.
I returned to the couch and picked up the still-warm tea. Pan de Muerto looked at me blankly.
"Where were we?"
IV. Unspeakable Secret
"Let me bring you somewhere that can explain it better, but you gotta keep it a secret."
Pan de Muerto brought me to a tower, where she inserted a key into an old bronze lock and heaved open the thick door. The door kicked up a cloud of dust causing her to cough.
"This is it, come in."
She flicked a light switch on the wall, a motion familiar to her. Instantly, light flooded my eyes, illuminating this hidden room and up.
Before me was a slope.
It wasn't particularly steep, rather, it coiled upwards around a central pillar.
The lights were set in small indents in the central pillar, each one having glowing sigils.
"Do you remember them?"
Seeing me scrutinize the symbols, Pan de Muerto asked cautiously.
I remained silent. Behind each small indent there was an energy familiar to me, but it felt like it came from many different places, weak and mixed up. I couldn't decipher the stories of each one in the moment but I was instinctively entranced.
I reached out to the indents and closed my eyes to better focus on the words that the energy was telling me.
After a while, I opened my eyes and shared what I found out.
"They've been buried behind these indents… This tower, it's a cemetery."
"You're right… But, can you tell who they were?"
I shook my head.
"These are remnants of energy from long ago, and has weakened. Their souls are no longer here, so I can't find anything else."
Pan de Muerto nodded, unsurprised by my answer. She continued upwards and gestured for me to follow.
"Come with me."
I couldn't tell what she was trying to tell me, but the strange scenery here intrigued me like nothing else has.
I followed her up, curious to see what she had in store.
Turning a corner, the left wall caught my attention.
A painted mural following the path continued upwards, its strange and bold color combinations reminding me of Pan de Muerto's face paint.
The light from the central pillar illuminated the mural, and upon closer inspection, it seemed to be telling a story.
The first part was an ocean with a fleet of ships. They were all sailing ships and looked very different from modern ships, seeming to be from ages past.
On the largest ship in the fleet stood a uniformed commander with a telescope, looking into the distance. The soldiers behind him looked extremely excited, hands and rifles raised, as if they had just set sail.
The second part depicted them on their journey. The fleet had met with much turbulence on the open sea.
Lightning and thunder clouds appeared on the top part of the mural and the ocean darkened.
The crew members had come under attack from huge sea monsters and encountered the enchantment of demons, all while towering waves sent the ships out of control. Finally, when everything had calmed down, the once-majestic fleet had been halved.
Yet the commander still stood at the bow.
He pointed forward, eyes following the same direction, where a golden beach was finally coming into view. After much hardship, the fleet had reached their destination.
The third part depicted the happenings after the fleet reached land.
They dropped anchor and began their invasion of this land, rifles in hand.
Seeing this, I could finally confirm that the people in this mural were colonization troops.
Since this tower was constructed here, this may even have been depicting one of Gloriville's colonization wars.
ーーThe wars that were skimmed over, or entirely written out of human history.
I sighed softly and kept looking.
In the fourth part, the commander of the fleet seemed to have come out victorious as the natives of the land kneeled before him.
Something on the mural didn't seem right.
On the mural before me, the commander was alone in receiving worship. His crewmates and troops were nowhere to be seen, and rather than a throne behind him, it was a huge tombstone.
"This, what does this mean? Where has his troops and comrades gone?"
Pan de Muerto shook her head.
"I don't know either."
Seeing my panicked gaze, she hurriedly raised two fingers as a swear of truth.
"It's true, the mural was left behind by the ancestor of my past master attendant, not even I know what it means."
"So why did you bring me here to see this?"
"It'll become clear soon."
She grabbed my hand and hurried upwards.
The murals flew past me and I grasped, more or less, that they were of the life of this commander.
After the strange disappearance of his troops, a new fleet arrived from the open sea.
A new batch of soldiers and immigrants arrived at this land to aid him in governing the new colony.
Under his leadership, they rebuilt the local towns, created new laws, education facilities, and jobs.
Under his governing, the natives gradually accepted the culture and technology he brought and lived somewhat happily.
The commander married his wife, had children, grandchildren… and so on, till his final years.
Pulled along by Pan de Muerto, I turned the last corner. The mural was nearing its end.
One day, the elderly commander stepped out of his house and walked forward.
My eyes followed his footsteps and I was shocked.
Before him was the very beach he first set foot on all those years ago.
Then, on the blindingly white sands stood a stranger who's never appeared in the mural, yet one that I couldn't be more familiar with.
"This is why I brought you here."
"He said that if his descendants ever meet the food soul in this drawing, they have to bring her here and show her unparalleled gratitude. My master attendant never had children, so he left it to me."
"Though, he never told me the specific reason, the history of this tower, nor the story behind this mural."
Pan de Muerto said softly beside me.
I was in shock.
At that moment, I arrived at the top of the tower, where there was a single window.
I looked out of it and the entirety of this unfamiliar and magnificent city came into view, along with the faint signs of a beach in the distance.
"So I've returned…"
"Long time no see, Midgar, or should I say, Mado."
That which has disappeared from this worldーーmy hometown.
Stuff an entire chicken into a cleaned duck belly, then stuff the duck into a cleaned turkey belly, fill it with prepared vegetables and spices, then stitch it up layer by layer before grilling it in the oven.
This roast dish, named "Turducken", is a must-have main dish of the Food Festival of Mado.
The food soul named Turducken was born of this festival that was supposed to be filled with warmth and festivities, yet, tragically, what welcomed her was an empty castle.
Before her was a long and elegant dining table filled with delicacies, wine, and flickering candlelight. A lone elderly lady was seated at the end of the table, in the king's seat, no one else to be seen.
But Turducken didn't mind.
What she cared about, mysteriously, was that someone had brought her into this unfamiliar world through means she could not comprehend.
As she took in her new form with curiosity and the unfamiliar surroundings, the lady spoke assertively.
"Come here, I have something to say."
Turducken looked up. The lady held a scepter symbolizing absolute kingship, the rings on her fingers shone brilliantly, her clothes were neatly layered and the crown atop her head lustrous.
And yet, it contrasted her dull, aged face ever more harshly.
Her body emitted a rotting smell, along with the agonized cries of her soul for being trapped in this vessel.
Turducken moved not out of obedience, rather curiosity, towards the lady.
She stopped before her and bowed, her tall stature casting a shadow over her, eclipsing the remaining light in her eyes.
"Poor thing, are you the one who summoned me? Is it to escape this prison?"
The lady before her opened her eyes wide, starting to tremble unwittingly. She seemed ready to tear up.
"That's right, that's right, it's true, you're really a food soul born from my desire!"
Turducken backed up and tilted her head doubtfully, looking at the excited soul.
The lady forced her body up and grabbed Turducken's shoulders. Unexpectedly, her elderly, wilting body had such unshakable strength.
Turducken wanted to break free from her grip, but felt some stopping force within her trigger.
The lady's laughter was hoarse.
"Stop struggling, Turducken, you're the food soul I summoned into this world, and you cannot disobey any of my orders."
Only then did Turducken realize that she'd lost control of the situation.
What's worse, she couldn't remember her original name.
It was as if she'd been Turducken from the start…
The lady called out to her again.
She wanted to deny it, but couldn't reject the instinct to respond to this name.
"What is it?"
Unwillingly, she accepted the title for the moment.
The lady seemed to have calmed down and returned to her seat, and gave Turducken her first order.
Once upon a time, before the territory wars, soon after the appearance of food souls and fallen angels, on the mainland of Tierra was a country known as Mado.
The people of Mado were brave and spirited, their final queen an even more exemplary leader.
During the final queen's term, she led troops to overthrow the slavery system of the Mado tribe leaders, uniting with neighboring countries to create the magnificent culture of Mado.
Alas, as the country settled into an age of peace, the queen yearned for eternal youth, to forever be the queen of Mado.
Nobody knows how she did it, but the queen set off with troops to find the secret to eternal life, and returned to declare she had it.
From then on, the people never saw her again, and only received proof from the official decrees coming out one after another that she was still alive and well in her castle.
Three hundred years passed, and indeed, the queen became the longest-lived person in Mado.
Legends say she received a blessing from the gods to protect Mado forever.
Only the queen knew the truth.
Before, she truly was engrossed in the cat-and-mouse game of avoiding death, and even recklessly ignored the warnings and cut ties with death.
However, just when she thought she attained the eternal life she so desired, her rapid aging and the sudden deaths of the ones around her reminded her that everything has a price.
The price for eternal life was eternal solitude.
If so-called eternal life meant trapping the soul in rotting flesh forever, the vessel becomes the soul's prison.
And so, with madly chasing her desires landing her in an inescapable nightmare, she locked herself in a prison she'll never leave.
That year's Food Festival, she finally made up her mind on dying, ushered the public away, summoned Turducken and gave her the order to kill her.
Perhaps this is the reason Turducken is different from other food souls; she was summoned with the wish of death, thus she deals mostly with the dead rather than the living.
She has a natural affinity towards souls, though she knows not where it comes from.
Turducken knew from the start that there's often a dissonance between the body and soul.
If a soul entered a body unsuited for it, it will feel the pain of the conflict and is often headed towards a self-inflicted doom.
Turducken accepts such souls, for they come to her of their own will, they receive better choices and head down paths of more freedom.
Not unlike the queen of Mado, who built a large cemetery and designed an elaborate procession for her funeral, yet could never attain that peace.
Seeing her exhausted soul chained down in her flesh, Turducken agreed to release her.
With her Flames of Nirvana, the queen's soul was freed.
Shortly afterward, Turducken met the ancestor of Pan de Muerto's master attendant.
Soon after the death of the queen, the imperial soldiers of Gloriville invaded this mysterious country, their commander making it all the way to the castle, only to find a freshly erected tomb in the throne room.
Turducken had left the castle by then, guided by instincts.
Perhaps due to the war, many restless souls lingered on this land. Turducken placated each and every one of them, sending them off to their next life.
She walked and walked, and arrived at a beach.
Her senses told her that under the sand beneath her feet laid souls trapped in agony. The cacophony of screams caused her to unwittingly shed tears of rage and sadness.
As she attempted to free the trapped souls with her Flames of Nirvana, a masked man in a hooded cap blocked her path.
"What are you doing?!"
To her, the strength of humans was comparable to a fly attempting to stop a train.
Turducken stopped him and continued with her rituals. However, she soon found something amiss.
Beneath the sand weren't human souls like she was familiar with.
What were they?
There was no hesitation as she grabbed the masked man, and soon, she got the truth out of him.
In this colonization war Mado had just experienced, the invaders utilized not human soldiers, but troops of food soul soldiers.
These food souls obeyed every order their commander had and were the ideal killing machines.
However, after the war ended, to prevent the commanders from rebelling, their home country sent human soldiers and ordered the destruction of all food soul soldiers.
The war, the destruction, it was all confidential, and that was the fate of all food soul troops in the wars.
However, the masked man revealed to Turducken another terrifying truth.
Humans are nowhere strong enough to destroy summoned food souls, so these food soul troops were forced into spirit form and sealed underground, waiting for the day their soul power drained completely and they disappear.
The agonized cries Turducken felt under the sand were these food souls, unable to die for the better part of eternity, forever trapped.
"How could you do this?"
Turducken expressed disbelief towards the cruelty of humans.
"You shouldn't treat these souls like this."
"They don't belong to this world and were forced into such a form, yet you subject them to such torture?"
Under Turducken’s interrogation, the masked man knelt down and started sobbing uncontrollably.
"Take them away, please take them away with you!"
Turducken ignored him and summoned her Flames of Nirvana once again, using up much of her soul power and time sending off the food souls trapped under the sand to their next life.
As she set free the final soul, she turned to see that the masked young man had grown old, with head of grey hair.
Humans' sense of time was different from that of food souls', after all.
For a race with lives short as mayflies', they had such grand dreams.
On the bright side, some of them learned from their mistakes.
The old man bowed deeply to Turducken. She nodded, then turned to leave.
"So after that, I traveled the world. This is the first time I've returned here."
Turducken put down her teacup.
"So that's how it is… I never thought such a thing happened to my master attendant's ancestor. Seems like that tower he left behind was something he built in secret, as an act of guilt. He probably wanted to use that same sand to build a tomb for those food soul soldiers…"
Pan de Muerto concluded.
Seeing Turducken in silence, she piped up again, "After you leave here, where will you go?"
"I follow the guidance of souls, I'll go wherever they point me."
"Huh, including this time? Because you felt the pain of that guy?"
Pan de Muerto pointed toward the guest room.
Since they returned from the tower, it's been quiet.
"But this time, left him in his body and didn't send him off?"
Turducken shook her head.
"I don't send off every soul in pain, it's what his soul wished for."
Pan de Muerto nodded along.
"I kinda get it, but also not really."
As she spoke, she glanced towards the room, but this time, she got a huge shock.
The door had been soundlessly opened at some point.
The food soul with one eye and messy red hair leaned against the door frame, breathing heavily.
Turducken felt his gaze on her and turned to look.
"What my soul wishes, I'm the only one to know." The redhead said.
Pan de Muerto jumped up.
"What are you doing!"
Unexpectedly, he gave a strange smile.
He wobbled over to Turducken and reached out his hand.
"But this outcome is just fine. I'm Minestrone, nice to meet you."
The state of a soul is often dissonant with how outsiders view it.
Sometimes, not even they themselves can discern whether the figure in the mirror is the true self.
As the cycles of time close on a chapter, it continues on to the next tale. Whether it’s towards Nirvana or destruction, it moves on.
I. An Unknown Calling
The sun had not yet set into the surface of the water; sailboats leaned against the docks, and the surrounding passengers impatiently surged towards the city gate like golden waves.
Their souls waved about in their vessels , hurrying off to their own grand journeys. It was quite the foreign, yet blurring, sensation  for me. It made me unable to stop myself from feeling unnecessarily curious towards the city before me, called Midgar.
It was by far Gloriville’s largest city. What kind of magic is exactly beneath its prestigious reputation, to make so many stop here, even making me faintly shudder upon stepping on its land?
As the sky gradually faded, I stood at the docks, feeling my heart tremble from deep within.
Somewhere in this city before me, there was a spirit, struggling like a beast; it was what drew me here, from so far away. In that moment, my feelings were crystal clear.
It was evident that the soul was already close to falling apart, but continued to stubbornly hold onto the world.
It seemed to clearly understand that its departure was not the result of death. To leave or not is but a soul’s own decision.
I headed into the city, feeling that everything was becoming more interesting.
“Cemetery? Are you also here for the festival of Día de los Muertos?”
The roadside bread shop owner wasn’t surprised upon my request for directions; he even skillfully picked out a bag of bread from his push cart  before stuffing it into my arms. “Ay, hurry, bring this bread and go. The festival parade troops are headed to the cemetery, they just passed this street. You can catch up to them in a few steps.”
Upon being offered bread by the owner, I blinked.
Día de los Muertos… What’s that?
Looking at the skull adorned bread inside of the paper bag, I headed upwards.
Since they’re on the same road as me, I might as well go have a look.
Very soon, I found the parade procession.
It was clear that the people before me were humans, but they were dressed up as all sorts of ghosts and goblins, wearing skull masks, donning black robes that only fabled vampires and wizards wear, dancing and singing in the cemetery.
I lowered my head to glance at my own black attire and long black nails, and I understood why the bread stall owner thought me as one of their own.
It was the first time I got along harmoniously with a group of humans like this. I passed the altars, covered in candles both big and small. In front of the altars was the same bread in my arms; the area was scattered with fresh flowers, and in the middle was a black and white portrait. I could feel the remaining energy in those portraits: they belonged to souls of the deceased.
The friends and family that decorated the altars for the deceased, they laughed and clamored before them—a scene of celebration.
I never saw humans like this during my travels elsewhere. The humans here, were their attitudes towards the dead not of fear or sorrow?
“Hey, what’s up!”
I lowered my head. It was a girl whose face was painted with flowers; or more precisely, she was a Food Soul.
“I noticed you from the beginning, watching you wandering around… What I mean is, if you need an altar to place your bread, you can use mine! A community altar, right over there!”
She rubbed her ear after she finished, looking sheepish.
“Why put bread on altars?”
“Huh? So you don’t know? Today is Día de los Muertos- it’s said that every year, during this time, souls that have left this world will return; if their loved ones decorate their altar for them and give them pan de muertos, those souls will be able to find their way home and reunite with their family!”
For humans to have such a festival, that’s quite a rare occurrence.
“What a shame…”
“That love of mine,  her soul probably will never return.” “Hey, hey, hey… Don’t be so pessimistic…”
I shook my head, not elaborating any further. I passed the bread in my hands to the girl.
“Thank you for your explanation. Put the bread on your altar then, they will appease the souls in this cemetery.”
I gave the bread, primed with Soul Power, to the girl, then turned to leave.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to continue our talk; but at that moment, the calling that I sensed appeared again. Compared to wandering about, alone with the merry spirits, saving that suffering soul was the most important thing I needed to do.
I’ve gotten closer to him.
II. An Unyielding Soul
Through the cemetery, the people’s songs and cheers gradually disappeared, and the pained wailing became clearer.
As I searched, I followed the trembling voice. There were a few times when I felt that I was getting close, he’d flee.
Just like a vigilant wild animal, it still wouldn’t let others come near, even at the brink of death; it only wished to lick its own wounds.
Finally, after several hours, I caught him in an uninhabited little house.
I practically couldn’t see his soul’s original appearance- he was so broken it was as if he were a defect that was pinched and molded at random by a god, then kicked into the world of living to survive on his own whims. All over him, there were injuries so deep you could see bone. The dried up cracks of his Soul Power were what allowed him to keep on taking steps back, his four limbs looked like they were thoroughly fractured.
But I could still tell that he’s a Food Soul.
I had never seen a Food Soul so heavily injured before. Why weren’t his wounds healing up on their own?
“Go away! Stay far away! Don’t go blaming me if I hurt you!”
He wasted his precious strength once more to lash out at me.
I shook my head.
“Shh, settle down, little one. The people nearby are all sleeping.”
To me, he is only a small child, a lost child in need of guidance.
I had no intention of interrogating him over what happened to him, I was here to save him. It’s just that he hadn’t come to realize the yearnings of his own soul, but I did.
I didn’t want to speak anymore with him. Taking a step forward, I intended to use silk threads to tie him up.
But my actions immediately evoked intense resistance from him.
I didn’t strike back, only continually evading. It’s because I understood that his body couldn’t withstand any more attacks. If I acted hastily, I didn’t know if it could lead to irreparable consequences.
And this little one seemed to take my retreats as a sign of him winning.
Just as he began to think he could defeat me without repercussion, he didn’t know that I was waiting for the moment he exhausted himself.
That’s was my opportunity to close in the net.
However, at that moment, something I could’ve never seen transpired.
I didn’t know what suddenly flew by and smashed his head.
Oh, it’s just a boot.
He stared, I stared.
“Don’t look at me like that, it wasn’t my doing.”
His face, full of splitting wounds, seemed to have four letters written on it— “胜之不武 ”. But before I could cover my eyes and avert my gaze, he fainted onto the floor. Only then did I glimpse behind him at the front door, which had opened when I wasn’t looking.
It was her?
The girl with flowers on her face leaned against the doorway, with an expression of lingering fear.
The leg she had tucked in showed a garishly colorful woolen sock. She hopped on one foot towards the shoe cabinet by the door, skillfully pulling out a pair of slippers and pushing them lightly besides her feet. She flung off the remaining boot on her foot, and then stepped into the slippers, before coming over to me, tossing aside the boot against the comatose one’s head.
The comatose one’s head made a crisp knocking sound against the floor, but the girl took no notice of it. She patted away the dirt on her boot, then put it back onto the shoe rack properly.
It was then that she came over to me, lifting her head.
“Turducken, are you alright?”
III. An Unfamiliar Friend
Pan de Muerto’s slippers went ba ba ba on the floor, they went ba ba ba as she went to pour water, and then went ba ba ba as she returned with a cup of tea for me.
She said her name was ‘Pan de Muerto’,  the bread that I had given her today. “Light Kingdom tea, it’s a bit bitter- want a taste?”
Light Kingdom, huh? I had been there before, but I only ever stopped over at their cemeteries and such; I did not go near human cities, nor had I ever drunk this sort of Eastern tree leaf.
It was my first time seeing it gradually awaken in a tea cup, blooming open. Ah, it looked very much like a soul awakening from turmoil.
I took a sip.
“How is it?”
“The taste is strange.”
“Heh, as I expected, the tales are false.”
I looked at her with uncertainty. Pan de Muerto seemed to realize what she just said and hurriedly covered her mouth.
However, under my analytical eyes, she finally drooped her shoulders, smiling politely yet embarrassingly at me.
“Back then, I heard that if you put Light Kingdom tea in front of a tombstone, it can prevent hags from disturbing the spirits of the deceased. I was just a bit curious over whether or not you actually dislike tea, like in the legends… My bad, my bad!”
“I can accept it, but I wouldn’t say I like it.”
“Oh, is that so… Ay ay ay? You’re actually seriously answering my uncertainties?”
“Was I not supposed to answer like so? My apologies, I’m not too familiar with how humans communicate.”
I looked at her expression of surprise, and then tried another sip of the tea. What’s amazing is how, on the second sip, the taste doesn’t seem to be as bitter and astringent anymore.
“To be honest, I already recognized you at the festival.”
I raised my eyes to look at her.
“Legend has it, there’s a mysterious Food Soul called Turducken in Gloriville. But no one knows her birth date or her past, people have only always seen her at various cemeteries. As a result, the people feel it’s quite… mysterious.”
“You were trying to say ‘scary’, right? Just like their fear of death, humans carry the same sentiment towards me.”
I lowered my eyes; I blew at the tea leaf in the teacup, then took a third sip.
“This… Don’t be sad, it’s a fact that humans are very vigilant, so they maintain an alertness towards the unknown. Most of them aren’t actually malicious.”
“It does not really matter to me.”
“That’s good then. Actually, ever since I heard of your existence, I really hoped to meet you one day.”
I didn’t understand what Pan de Muerto was trying to say .
Pan de Muerto sucked in a deep breath.
Suddenly, her words were cut off by violent noise, coming from the other room.
“Ay Dios mío, that hombre’s awake!” Pan de Muerto exclaimed.
I internally let out a silent sigh.
How unexpected for the broken one to have awoken so soon after our conversation. I had just tied him down to the bed and finished some simple repairs.
“I feel like he’s going to tear down the guest room’s bed.”
Pan de Muerto pouted.
I placed the tea cup onto the table and entered the guest room. Not long after that, the world was restored to the quiet I wanted.
I returned to the sofa, picking up my still warm tea. Pan de Muerto blankly looked at me.
“So what were you saying?” I asked.
IV. An Unspeakable Secret
“I’ll bring you to a place, that’ll explain things more clearly. However, it has to be done secretly.”
Pan de Muerto brought me to a tower. She inserted a key into the old copper keyhole before us, and pushed open the heavy door.
Some dust rose up, choking me and causing me to cough a few times.
“This is it; please, come in.”
She skillfully turned on some lights on the wall, and suddenly, brightness illuminated before my eyes. The lights stretched on and on into this secret space behind the door.
Before me was a slope.
The incline wasn’t tall, but it spiraled around a central helical pillar, going up.
The lit lights came from countless little rectangular cells, inlaid in the central pillar, and each cell had several glowing characters on them.
“Do you remember them?”
Pan de Muerto carefully asked me, as she watched me attentively study those characters.
I had no words. While there was indeed a kind of familiar energy behind the cells, they seemed to be coming from many different places; extremely diverse but weak. For a moment, I couldn’t identify one of the messages, yet I was instinctively attracted to them.
I reached out to those cells, closing my eyes to thoroughly feel what those energies were trying to convey to me.
After a long while, I opened my eyes and said out loud:
“They’ve all been buried behind those cells… This tower is a cemetery.”
“You're correct… But can you tell who they are?”
I shook my head.
“Energies from long ago have survived, but they’ve already become weak, and their souls are no longer here. I cannot see the other messages.”
Pan de Muerto nodded her head, seemingly unsurprised by my answer. She walked towards the slope, motioning for me to follow her.
“Come with me.”
I didn’t know what she was trying to exactly say , but the strange scenery here certainly roused an interest in me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I followed Pan de Muerto up the slope, wanting to see what lies ahead.
Passing a corner turn, the left side of the wall caught my attention.
An elaborately detailed mural  was spread out, following the path of the wall. It was full of wild and fantastical color schemes that instantly made me think of the colorful patterns on Pan de Muerto’s face. The radiance that came from the pillar’s cells illuminated the entirety of the left side of the wall. Looking carefully, I realized that the wall’s mural seemed to be narrating a story.
The first part of the mural depicted the sea. There was an enormous fleet on the sea, but the ships were only sailboats. They looked very different from how the ships of today look, and seemed to be a style from long ago.
Among that particular fleet was the biggest sailboat. On it was a uniformed general, raising a telescope as he gazed into the distance. Behind him were soldiers who appeared extremely excited, their arms raised high, grasping rifles. They must’ve been sailing for only a short while.
The second mural narrated the course of their voyage. This fleet encountered many twists and turns on the ocean.
On the upper side of the mural, lightning and storm begin to appear, and the color of the sea, too, changed to black.
The crewmen encountered giant sea monster attacks, suffered from bewitching sirens, and endured peril from giant, towering waves. But ultimately, everything calmed down afterwards. The originally huge fleet was left with only half its initial size.
But that captain was still standing at the bow of the ship.
His finger pointed ahead. In the direction he was pointing, a strip of golden coast finally appeared. The fleet, having gone through all sorts of hardship and suffering, had finally reached their destination.
The third mural depicted what happened after the crew’s landing.
They anchored ashore, and one after another, they headed towards this piece of land, rifles in hand, ready to begin the attack.
Having reached here, I could conclude that the fleet in the mural was an expeditionary colonization troop.
This tower, having been built here, might have even depicted some of Gloriville’s colonial wars.
--Those wars, skipped over by human history.
I sighed quietly and continued to look.
In the fourth mural, the fleet’s captain seemed to have obtained victory in this invasion. The indigenous people of this land were kneeling before him.
I found something wrong in the picture.
In the mural before me, the captain alone was being worshipped. His fleet and troops were all gone, and behind him was not a throne, but a giant tombstone.
“Here, what does this mean? Where did his crew and companions go?”
Pan de Muerto shook her head.
“I don’t know either.”
Seeing my inquisitive gaze, Pan de Muerto raised two fingers in slight panic.
“It’s the truth, this is the mural that my former Master Attendant’s ancestors left behind. I don’t know what it specifically means either.”
“Then why did you want me to see this?”
“You’ll understand very soon.”
She pulled my hand, and quickened her pace.
The murals by the side quickly flit past us, and I roughly understood that those murals were depicting the captain’s life.
Not long after his troops disappeared under unknown circumstances, a new fleet came from the sea.
Yet another group of soldiers and immigrants came here, and helped him manage this new territory.
He led them to transform the local cities, enacted new laws, started up education and business, and more.
Under his command, the local inhabitants gradually became accustomed to this civilization he brought, and he supposedly lived a life of contentment.
The captain took a wife and had a child, a grandchild… At last, he walked towards his declining years.
Led by Pan de Muerto, we took the last turn of a curve. The mural before us was close to the epilogue.
One day, the aged captain left his home, and kept walking forward.
I followed his footsteps as I looked on, and became stunned for a moment.
Before him was the beach that he landed on.
At that moment, on the sandy white beach, stood a person that never appeared before in the mural. And this person, I am all too familiar with.
--It was myself.
“This is why I brought you here.”
“The ancestor said if his descendants ever met with the Food Soul in the picture, she must be brought here and have unmatched gratitude expressed to her. My Master Attendant did not have children, so he entrusted this to only me.”
“However, he didn’t tell me the specific reasons. The history of this tower, and the story of this mural, I don’t understand them either.” Pan de Muerto spoke quietly beside me.
I felt dazed.
So it seems…
I had now reached the highest point of the tower, and there was a window here.
I looked through the window to the outside. In full panoramic view, the foreign yet flourishing city and the distant faint coastline just so happened to be currently under my feet.
“So it seems I’ve returned to this place…”
“Long time no see, Midgar. Or rather, as I should be calling you- ‘Mado.’”
My hometown-- already gone from this world.
Stuff a whole clean-washed chicken into the stomach of a duck, then stuff the duck into the innards of a clean-washed turkey. Fill in the middle with a mix of vegetables and spices, then sew them together, layer by layer, before putting it into the oven to roast.
This kind of roasted dish, called ‘Turducken,’ is a mandatory entrée for Thanksgiving in the country of Mado.
The Food Soul called ‘Turducken’ was born on this day, which was supposed to be brimming with warmth and celebration. But regrettably, what welcomed her was not a joyous ceremony, but an empty castle.
Before her was a long and luxurious dining table, filled with exquisite food and wine, as candle lights danced all around. At the end was a single white haired woman, sitting upon a throne. Other than her, there were no shadows of a second person.
But Turducken paid no attention to all of this.
What she was paying attention was how she was brought from the dark into this foreign world, by someone using a method she couldn’t understand.
She curiously looked up and down her new self, along with the foreign environment; when suddenly, that woman spoke in a tone of absolute order:
“Come here, I  have something to say.”Turducken lifted her eyes and looked over: that woman was holding a scepter symbolizing absolute rulership, a gorgeous, lustrous ring on her finger, her complexly layered yet graceful clothes, and a gleaming crown on her head.
However, all that created a sharp contrast against her aged face, making it all the more dim and pale.
There was a vessel emitting a decaying odor, and within it was a chained soul, mourning in agony.
Turducken was not driven to move by order, but by her own curiosity. She went straight to the woman.
She stood before her and leaned down. The shadow of her tall figure cast a shadow that blocked out the remaining light in the woman’s eyes.
“Poor thing, were you the one that summoned me? Is it to break free from the prison before you?”
Her voice had just fallen when the woman’s eyes suddenly widened; without warning, her body began to tremble, as she wept without tears.
“It’s alright now, it’s alright. You really are a Food Soul born from a lonely wish!”
Turducken hesitantly took a step back, tilting her head as she looked at the overly excited soul before her.
At that moment, the woman propped up her body and stood up, grabbing Turducken’s shoulders. How unexpected for her seemingly degraded body to possess such strength.
Turducken wanted to break free, but she felt a sort of sudden command triggered from inside her.
The woman hoarsely laughed.
“Stop struggling, Turducken. You’re a Food Soul born from my summoning, you can’t go against what I want you to do.”
It was only then that Turducken became aware that the situation seemed to be spiraling out of control.
What’s more scary was her realization that she couldn’t remember her original name or where she came from.
It seems the moment she was born, her name must have been Turducken…
The woman called her that once again.
She wanted to repudiate it, but she couldn’t resist the natural reaction of this name.
“What is it?”
She had to helplessly acknowledge this title for the time being.
The woman seemed to have calmed down, and returned to her throne. Then, she gave Turducken her first command.
A long, long time ago, long before the border wars even started, shortly after Food Souls and Fallen Angels came to be, there used to be a country called ‘Mado’ on Tierra’s domain.
The people of Mado were brave and skilled at war, and their last queen was an outstanding individual.
During their last queen’s reign, she led the army to overthrow the Mado tribe elders’ system of slavery, united the nearby smaller kingdoms, and brought forth a flourishing Mado civilization.
However, after the country’s regime stabilized, the queen’s ambitions no longer became limited to a respected, but temporary regime. She wanted to be queen of Mado forever.
No one knew what circumstances the queen had gone through, they only knew that after she came back with her expedition troops, seeking immortality, the queen announced that she had already found a way to live forever.
Ever since then, the people never again saw her. Only one government decree’s publication proved that the queen was still alive, living in her castle.
More than three hundred years passed, and the queen truly became Mado’s longest living person.
Legend has it that the queen obtained the treasures of the gods, and having achieved immortality, will protect Mado for a lifetime.
Only the queen herself knew the truth of everything about this.
Previously, she was indeed obsessed with Death’s game of cat and mouse, to the point of not caring for anything else. Under heavy warning, she still chose to sever her connection with death.
However, when she thought she finally obtained her coveted immortality, her rapidly aging face and the continuous deaths of those close to her reminded her that everything in this world requires a price.
The price of immortality is absolute solitude, in both mind and body.
If this “immortality” wanted to trap one’s soul, to be forever stranded inside a decaying body, then the flesh became the soul’s prison.
And so, her crazed pursuit became her inescapable nightmare. The queen closed herself off forever, in a prison with no way out.
Until this year’s Thanksgiving. She finally dismissed everyone, made a death wish, and summoned Turducken, then commanded her to kill her.
Turducken had a sort of natural affinity towards souls, though she didn’t understand where this ability to guide came from.
From the start, Turducken understood that in this world, souls and vessels often had elements that did not fit with each other.
If a soul meets an unmatched vessel, then that individual will feel pain and conflict. These souls that have entered into the wrong body will often descend into an early death.
Turducken takes in these humans who choose death. Because it’s those souls’ self-made decision to go to her, the souls will obtain a freer match in their new life, head to a freer place.
The queen of Mado had constructed a huge grave, even designing a series of complex and elegant processes for her own death. However, she never reached that land of peaceful slumber.
Turducken saw how utterly exhausted her soul was, locked inside the vessel, and thus, agreed to liberate it.
Under the fire of Nirvana, the queen’s soul obtained freedom.
It was not long after this that she saw Pan de Muerto’s Master Attendant’s ancestor.
Shortly after the queen’s departure, a Gloriville dynasty’s new army attacked this mysterious nation. The captain had brought his troops to attack the castle, but they only saw a new grave on the lonely throne.
At that time, Turducken had already left the castle, relying on her intuition as she walked.
Perhaps because of war and strife, there were countless disturbed souls roaming the land. Turducken appeased them, one by one, and sent them into the afterlife.
She walked and walked and came to a beach.
Her intuition told her that here had many wailing souls, bound by something under the beach. The intense resonance made her unconsciously shed tears of fury and sorrow.
Just as she was attempting to use the fire of nirvana to set those souls free, a masked man wearing a hood appeared, and held her back.
“What do you think you’re doing!?”
A human’s strength trying to stop her was like a mantis trying to stop a chariot.  Turducken subdued him and continued her ritual. But quickly, she discovered something was amiss.
Under the beach were not human souls, like she had recently seen.
What were they?
She didn’t hesitate to drag the masked man to the front, and very soon she knew the truth.
The invasion that Mado had just endured, the invaders used were not human soldiers, but Food Souls.
These Food Souls unflinchingly obeyed the captain’s commands, and were unmatched as weapons of slaughter.
However, after the invasion ended, to prevent the captain from over expanding his military powers on this new land, his motherland forced all the drafted Food Souls to be destroyed. New colonial armies of humans would be dispatched to the colony.
Their efforts were destroyed, and the fate of all those Food Soul Troops were hidden behind a secret agreement.
However, the masked man informed Turducken of another frightening fact.
A human’s power cannot truly destroy a summoned Food Soul. All these military Food Souls had their spirits sealed somewhere underground in this world.
They can only perish when their powers have completely sealed off, and until that day, they would have to wait an interminably long time.
And underneath this beach, the wailing that Turducken felt were from these Food Souls. The weeping of these practically immortal, yet eternally repressed souls.
“How could you all do such a thing?”
Turducken struggled to understand human cruelty.
“You should not treat spirits like this.”
“They never belonged to this world in the first place, they were forced into their current forms, and yet you have the audacity to torment them like this?”
Hearing her questions, the masked man before her fell and knelt on the ground, covering his face as he uncontrollably wept.
“Take them away then! You take them away then!”
Turducken ignored him, and summoned her fire of nirvana again. It used up a lot of Soul Power and took much time, but she finally guided all the souls underneath that beach to the afterlife.
After she’d ushered away the last of the souls, she turned around to see that the young masked man had become a white haired old man.
In the end, the time humans have is different from a Food Soul’s.
Their lives were short like a mayfly’s, yet they liked to do things that were beyond their abilities.
But what’s good is that some of them learn regret.
The white haired old man bowed deeply to her. Turducken nodded, then turned to leave.
“Since then, I’ve gone elsewhere. This is my first time returning here.”
Turducken put down the teacup in her hands.
“So that’s what happened… I never would’ve expected for something like this to happen with my Master’s ancestors. It looks like the tower he left behind was secretly built because of his remorse. Guess he wanted to use the beach’s gravel to build a memorial for those soldier Food Souls…”
Pan de Muerto said.
Seeing that Turducken did not speak, she asked again. “So after you left this place, where did you go?”
“I only follow where the souls guide me, they will point me to where I need to go.”
“Eh, including this time? Is it because you found that guy’s suffering?”
Pan de Muerto pointed towards the room.
The room had been quiet ever since they returned from the tower.
“But why didn’t you send him off this time, instead, letting him remain in his vessel?”
Turducken shook her head.
“I am not here to send off every suffering soul. His soul wished for me to do this.”
Pan de Muerto nodded, not entirely comprehending.
“I feel like I understand, but at the same time, I don’t.”
As she spoke, she looked towards the room; this time, she got so spooked she jumped.
It’s unknown when the room’s door silently opened.
The red-haired Food Soul had lost an eye and his hair hung down loosely; with great effort, he leaned against the door frame, panting lowly.
Turducken turned around, as if she felt his gaze.
“Only I know what my soul wants,” The red-headed Food Soul said.
Pan de Muerto jumped up.
“What do you think you’re doing!?”
They didn’t expect him to suddenly reveal a vague smile.
He staggered as he walked to Turducken, extending an arm.
“But I can still accept it, outcome-wise. I’m Minestrone Soup. I look forward to your guidance.”
Often times, a person’s soul looks different to other people.
Sometimes, one cannot even decide if the person in the mirror is actually their true self.
The cycle of time has finally reached a new point: whether the next story is of nirvana or destruction, everything will still continue.
Note: Citations are usually indicated by the [#] hovering near the sentence.
- ↑ Translator’s Note: The original text was body; I chose to use vessel because 躯壳, or vessel is used in a more spiritual sense.
- ↑ Translator’s Note: The original text was taste, weird for them to use taste here.
- ↑ Translator’s Note: original text used tekiya, which refers towards itinerant Japanese merchants.
- ↑ Translator’s Note: It should be noted in this instance that love is not used in a purely romantic sense.
- ↑ Translator’s Note: 胜之不武 (a proverb that means ‘victory over the other person is not based on courage or wisdom etc’)
- ↑ Translator’s Note: At this point, they used “the thing that it is itself,” which is more confusing than any meaning it adds to the sentence, so it was cut for clarity.
- ↑ Translator’s Note: The original text used欲言又止, which is a proverb that means, ‘wanting to say something but can’t get it out.'
- ↑ Translator’s Note: Original text used “what medicine she’s trying to sell exactly.”
- ↑ Translator’s Note: Original text used “emaki mono,” referring towards panoramic Japanese illustrated scrolls; it felt odd to use a Japanese term here so “elaborately detailed” was used instead.
- ↑ Translation’s Note: [孤] A suffix used by emperors back in the days.
- ↑ Translator’s Note: This is a chinese proverb, it means “to overestimate one’s abilities and try to hold back an overwhelmingly superior force.”
I. Unnamed Summons
The sunset didn't enter the sea, the boat was leaning against the dock, and the surrounding passengers, like the golden tide, couldn't wait to go to the gate.
Their souls danced their bodies and went to their grand journeys, which seemed to me to be a dazzling taste.
This made me feel a little extra curiosity about the city named Midgar.
This is the largest city in the current Grirlo, under its prestigious name, what kind of magic is there, let people stay here, even even on this land, I also have a faint shudder?
The sky faded, I stood at the dock and felt the tremors coming from the depths of my heart.
Somewhere in the city, there is a soul that struggles like a beast. It attracts me and comes here from afar. At this moment, my feelings are clearer.
It is clearly almost falling apart, but it stubbornly bites the world.
It seems to be particularly clear that leaving is not the result of death, and whether to stay or not is the soul's own choice.
I went to the city and felt that everything was getting interesting.
"Cemetery? Are you coming to the Day of the Dead Festival?"
In the face of my question, the bakery owner on the street was not surprised, and even skillfully picked a bag of bread at the booth, and couldn’t help but say it was in my arms.
"Hey, take these undead breads and go to the cemetery. The parade that participated in the ceremonies just walked through this street. You can catch up with them when you run a few steps."
I was blinded by the boss and gently rolled out the bakery.
The Day of the Dead... What is that?
Looking at the paper bag with the enamel-patterned bread in my hand, I walked forward.
Since I am on the same road as the place I am going, check it out.
I quickly found the group of people who were marching.
The people in front of us are all human beings, but they are dressed in various ghostly costumes, wearing skull masks, wearing black robe gowns worn by legendary vampires or wizards, singing and jumping in the cemetery.
I looked down at my own black coat and black long nails, and I understood why the owner of the bakery would recognize me as a member of them.
For the first time, I lived in harmony with the crowd. I was here with a large and small altar of candles. The altar was placed in front of the altar with candles, candles, surrounded by flowers. In the middle is a black and white portrait. I can feel that the energy remaining on those portraits belongs to the soul that has passed away.
For the relatives and friends who set up the altars for these survivors, they laughed and clamored in front of the altar, and celebrated the scene.
This is what humans have not seen when I traveled elsewhere. Is the human being here not afraid and sad about the attitude of the survivors?
I bowed my head. It was a girl with a flower face on her face. To be precise, she was a spirit.
"I just noticed you, see you walking around here... I mean, if you need an altar to put your bread, you can use my one! Public altar, over there!
She said that she touched her ear and was a little embarrassed.
"Why should you put bread?"
"Well? You didn't know it? Today is the Day of the Dead. It is said that at this time of the year, the souls who leave the world will come back. At this time, if there are relatives who arrange the altar and the undead bread for them, then the soul can find it home. The road, reunion with their family!"
It is rare that there are such festivals among human beings.
"My loved one, her soul probably won't come back."
"This is this... you don't want to be so pessimistic..."
I shook my head, no longer explained more, and gave her the bread in her hand.
"Thank you for your explanation. Put these breads on your altar. They will bring comfort to the soul of this cemetery."
I handed the spiritual bread to the girl and I turned and left.
It’s not that I don’t want to continue talking with her, but the call that was sensed at that time has once again appeared. It’s the most important thing I should do now to save the painful soul between these happy souls.
I am closer to him.
II. Unacceptable soul
Through the cemetery, people's cheers and songs and dances gradually disappeared, and the painful whine became clearer.
I went all the way in the trembling voice, several times, and when I felt that I was about to approach him, he suddenly fled.
Just like a vigilant beast, even on the edge of life and death, avoiding the proximity of others, only wish to hurt yourself.
Finally, a few hours later, I caught him in a small apartment building where no one was.
I almost couldn’t see the original appearance of his soul. He was broken like a bad thing that was pinched by the gods on the ground, and was thrown into the human world to kill himself. There were deep bone wounds everywhere. The spiritual dry cracks let him take a step forward, and the limbs will be completely broken.
However, I still see it, he is a spirit.
I have never seen such a serious injury, why is his wound not repaired by himself?
"Go away! Stay away from me! Otherwise, don't blame me!"
He once again spent a lot of effort on me.
I shook my head.
"Hey, children, quiet, everyone nearby is asleep."
For me, he is just a child, a lost child who needs guidance.
I have no intention of exploring what happened to him. I came to save him just because he didn't realize the desire of his soul, and I heard it.
I don't want to talk to him more. I want to step forward and I want to tie him with silk.
But my actions immediately aroused his strong resistance.
I didn't fight back, just kept avoiding. Because I understand that his body has not been able to withstand any attacks. If you rush to take it, I don't know if it will cause irreparable consequences.
And this little child seems to regard my retreat as a signal that he is about to win.
He began to defeat me without any rules, but I didn't know that I was waiting for the moment when he was exhausted.
At that time, it was the time for me to close the net.
But at this time, something that I didn't expect happened.
I don't know what was suddenly coming and squatting on his head.
Oh, it’s a boot.
As soon as he is, I am also a glimpse.
"Don't look at me like this, not what I did."
His face full of chapped wounds seemed to read the four characters "Winning is not martial", but I didn't have time to cover my eyes and watch, and he completely fainted on the floor.
I only looked behind him, the door that opened when I didn't pay attention.
The girl with the flower face leaned against the doorway, and her face was full of expressions.
She shrunk one foot to reveal the colorful woolen socks, jumped to the door of the shoe at the door, skillfully pulled a pair of home slippers to the feet, smashed the only remaining one on the foot, and then stepped on Slippers came to me and pulled out the boots that were stunned by the back of his head.
The head of the coma made a crisp sound on the ground. The girl did not care, took the soil on the boots and put them back on the shoe rack.
Here, she came over and looked up at me.
"Three ostriches, are you okay?"
III. Unfamiliar friends
The slippers of the undead bread stepped on the ground and screamed, and she slammed the water to the water, and then rushed back and gave me a cup of tea.
She said that she is "the undead bread" and the body is the bread that I gave her today.
"Yao Zhizhou's tea is a bit bitter, can you give it a try?"
Yao Zhizhou? I have been there, but I only stayed in places like cemeteries, not close to human towns, and I have never had such oriental leaves.
This is the first time I watched it slowly wake up in the teacup and open. Well, it’s like the soul just woke up from chaos.
I tried it.
"how about it?"
"Oh, sure enough, the legend is fake."
I looked at her with a little doubt. She seemed to have just reacted and said that she had leaked and hurriedly stopped her mouth.
However, under the eyes of my repeated exploration, she finally collapsed her shoulders and opened a sly and polite smile to me.
"I have heard that if you put the tea in Yaozhou in front of the tombstone, you can avoid the witch's interruption to the undead. I am just a little curious. Are you not like tea in the same way as the legend... Sorry!"
"I can accept it, but I can't say it now."
"Oh, this way... eh? Actually answering my doubts seriously?"
"Don't you answer this way? Sorry, I am not very skilled at how people communicate."
I looked at her surprised expression and tried to take a cup of tea. The magic is that it seems that after the second try, it tastes less bitter.
"Actually, I recognized you at the festival."
I looked up at her.
"The legendary Greelow has a mysterious scorpion named Three Owls, because no one knows when she was born, she doesn't know her past, she has been witnessed by people in various cemeteries, so it makes people feel Very... mysterious."
"You want to say fear. Just like fear of death, human beings hold the same emotions for me."
I coveted, blowing the tea in the tea bowl and drinking the third.
"This... you shouldn't be sad. Human beings are actually more vigilant. They just keep an alert on the unknown. Most of them are not bad-minded."
"I don't care."
"That would be great. In fact, since I heard about your existence, I hope that I will see you one day."
I don't understand what she wants to say and what she wants to say.
The undead bread took a deep breath.
But her words were interrupted by the violent noise that suddenly came from the room.
"God, that guy woke up!" Undead Bread exclaimed.
I sighed silently in my heart.
Soon after we sat down and chat, I just tied the broken child to the bed and finished a simple repair. He woke up so quickly.
"I think the bed in the room was going to be demolished by him."
The undead bread was pumped out of the mouth.
I put the cup on the table and walked into the room. It didn't take long for the world to recover the silence I wanted.
I went back to the sofa and picked up the warm tea, and the dead bones looked at me.
"Where did you say that?"
IV. Unspeakable secret
"I will take you to a place so that I can explain it more clearly, but keep it secret."
Undead bread took me to a tower, and she inserted the key into the bronze keyhole in front of us and pushed the heavy door open. A slight dust rises and she coughs a few times.
"Just here, please come in."
She skillfully opened a certain light on the wall, and suddenly, the light illuminates in front of her eyes, and it illuminates the hidden space behind the door.
I have a slope in front of my eyes.
The slope is not high, but it spirals around a central column.
The lit lights are from the central column inlaid with countless rectangular cells, each with some glowing characters.
"Do you remember them?"
The undead bread saw me look at the characters carefully and asked me carefully.
I don't have words. Behind those little ones, there is indeed some kind of energy that I am familiar with, but they seem to come from many different places, very complicated and weak. For a while, I can't identify the information, but instinctively they are Attracted.
I stretched my hand to the little ones, closed my eyes and carefully felt the words that the energy wanted to convey to me.
For a long while, I opened my eyes and said the information I found.
"They are all buried behind these lattices... this tower is a graveyard."
"You said it is good...but can you see who they are?"
I shook my head.
"The energy remaining a long time ago is already very weak. Their souls are no longer here. I don't see any other information."
The Undead Bread nodded and it seemed that the answer to me was not unexpected. She walked up the slope and motioned me to follow her.
I don't know what medicine she is selling, but the strange scene here has indeed caused me an interest I have never had before.
I followed her up the slope and wanted to see what else was ahead.
Walking through a corner, the wall on the left attracted my attention.
A painting mural follows the trend of the wall and spreads upwards. The wild and mysterious color scheme reminds me of the color of the face of the undead bread.
The light from the small grid on the column completely illuminates the wall on the left. I looked closely and found that the mural on the wall seemed to tell a story.
The first part of the mural is a sea. There is a huge fleet at sea. These ships are all sailing boats. The system looks very different from today's ship system. It seems to be a long time ago.
On the biggest sailboat in the fleet, a uniformed general was holding a telescope and looking into the distance. The soldiers behind him were very excited. They held high hands and held long guns in their hands. It should be sailing soon.
The second mural tells the story of their voyage. This fleet has encountered many twists and turns in the sea.
Above the murals, lightning and storms began to appear, and the color of the sea turned black.
The crew had been attacked by huge sea monsters, and they had encountered the enchanting Kraken. The huge waves of the sky made the fleet crumbling. Eventually, after all the calm, the original large fleet was close to half.
But the pilot is still standing at the bow.
His fingers turned to the front and looked in the direction he pointed. A golden coastline finally appeared. The fleet had gone through many hardships and reached their destination.
The third mural depicts the situation after the fleet landed.
They broke down ashore and held rifles in their hands, starting an attack on the land.
Seeing this, I can finally be sure that the fleet on this mural is an army of expeditionary colonization.
The tower was built here, and it may even be part of the colonial wars that Grillo had originally carried out.
- Those wars that have been skipped by human history.
I sighed a little and continued to watch.
In the fourth mural, the leader of the fleet seemed to have won in this war of aggression, and the land of the original people crouched in front of him.
I saw something wrong with the painting.
On the mural in front of him, the leader was alone and accepted the worship. His fleet and army were gone. He was not behind the throne, but a huge tombstone.
"What does it mean here? Where is his army and companions going?"
The undead bread shook his head.
"I do not know either."
Seeing the look I was looking for, she raised her two fingers in a panic.
"It is true. This is the mural left by the ancestors of my past servants. I don't know the specific meaning."
"So why do you want me to come to see this?"
"You will understand right away."
She pulled up my hand and accelerated up.
The murals around me flew past, I probably understand that this mural painting is the life of this pilot.
Soon after his army disappeared for some reason, a new fleet came at sea.
Another group of soldiers and immigrants came here to help him manage this new territory.
He led them to transform local cities, re-enact laws, and start education.
Under his command, the residents here gradually accepted the civilization he brought, and they lived a life of peace and contentment.
The leader also married his wife, had his own child, grandson... and finally went to the leap year.
I was led by the Undead Bread and turned the last bend. The mural in front of it is nearing the end.
One day, the leader who entered the leap year left the house and he walked forward.
I followed his footprints and stopped.
In front of him, it was the beach that landed that year.
At this time, on the white sand beach, there is a person who has never appeared in the mural, and this person, I am familiar with it.
- That is my own.
"This is why I must bring you here."
"The ancestors said that if his descendants meet this painting, they must bring her here and express gratitude to her. My prince has no children in his life, he only needs this one. I have handed it over to me."
"However, for the specific reasons, he did not tell me, including the origin of the tower, the story behind this mural, I am not sure."
The undead bread whispered around me.
I am a little blasphemous.
At this point, I have come to the highest point of this tower, there is a skylight.
Looking through the skylights, I was able to see the strange and bustling city under my feet and the faint coastline in the distance.
"I turned back to this place..."
"Long time no see, Midgar, or, should call you "Mado." "
Has disappeared in this world - my hometown.
V. Three ostriches
Stuff the whole chicken into the cleaned duck's belly, then stuff the duck into the cleaned turkey, fill in the prepared vegetables and spices, and then stitch them together layer by layer and into the oven. Grilled.
The dish called "Three Starlings" baked in this way is the must-have main dish of the country called Mado.
The scorpion named "Three Starlings" was born on this day that should have been warm and celebrated. However, it is regrettable that it is not a cheering ceremony but an empty palace.
In front of it is a long, luxurious table filled with delicious food and wine, candlelight beating, a lonely and aging white-haired woman sitting alone on the throne at the end of the table, except for this, there is no second person.
But the three ostriches don't care about this.
What she cares about is that in the midst of it, someone brought her to this strange world in a way she could not understand.
She was curiously looking at her new self, and her strange surroundings. Suddenly, the woman spoke with an absolute command.
"Come here, have something to say."
The three ostriches looked up and the woman’s hand held the scepter symbolizing the absolute kingship. The ring on the finger was brilliant, her clothes were stacked and the crown on her head was shining.
However, all of this has eclipsed her old face.
The body that emits a rotten smell, and the soul that is bound in this body, is mourning.
The three ostriches were not driven by orders, but they walked straight toward the woman with their own curiosity.
She stood in front of the woman and leaned over. The tall figure cast a shadow and covered the only light in the woman's eyes.
"Poor, is that you summoned me? Is it to get rid of the prison in front?"
The voice just fell, the woman's eyes were wide open, her body trembled without warning, turned out to be a cry without tears.
"Yes, it’s true, you are really, you are born with a lonely wish!"
The three ostriches took a step back with some doubts and looked at the soul of the excitement in front of them.
The woman was holding her body at this moment, stood up and grabbed the arms of the three ostriches. Unexpectedly, her seemingly decaying body had a force that could not be shaken.
The three ostriches wanted to break away from her shackles, but they felt that a certain kind of sudden rebound in the body was triggered.
The woman’s laughter is hoarse.
"Don't struggle, three ostriches, you are the scorpion that I summoned and I will let you do anything. You can never violate it."
The three ostriches realized that it seemed that things began to become out of control.
Even more frightening is that she found that she could not remember her original name and where she came.
It seems that when I was born, I should be a three-legged bird...
The woman called her again.
She wants to deny, but she can't resist the natural reaction to the name.
She reluctantly agreed to this title for the time being.
The woman seemed to calm down. She sat back to her throne and gave the first order to the three ostriches.
A long time ago, long before the border war did not start, and the spirits and gods were just coming out. On the territory of the mainland, there was a country called "Mado."
The Maduo people are brave and good at war, and their last queen is even a leader.
During the reign of the last queen, the army led the army to overthrow the slavery of the Mado tribe elders, merged several small countries around, and created the prosperous Marado civilization.
However, after the stability of the state power, the Queen’s ambitions are no longer limited to the momentary scenery, she wants to be the queen of Maduo forever.
No one knows what kind of circumstances the Queen has in particular. She only knows that when she came back with the army who was seeking the law of longevity, the Queen declared that she had found the law of eternal life.
Since then, people have never seen her again. Only one official decree proves that the Queen is still alive and lives in her palace.
After more than three hundred years, the Queen has indeed become the longest-lived person in Maduo.
According to folklore, the Queen got the treasure of the gods, and realized eternal life from then on, and will protect Maduo for the rest of his life.
Only the Queen knows the truth about it all.
Previously, she was really addicted to the death of the cat and mouse game, even desperate, under the heavy warning, still choose to cut off contact with death.
However, when she thought she finally got the eternal life she wanted to have, the aging face and the violent temperament of the close people reminded her that everything in the world would have to pay.
The price of eternal life is the absolute loneliness of mind and body.
If the so-called longevity is to tie the soul and be trapped in the decaying body forever, then the flesh becomes the prison of the soul.
Thus, the once crazy pursuit became a nightmare that she wanted to escape but had no path. The Queen kept herself in a jail that could not go out.
Until this year's sacred festival, she finally retired everyone, made a wish for death, summoned three ostriches, and gave her instructions to kill herself.
Perhaps this is the difference between the three ostriches and other scorpions. She comes in accordance with the desire to die, so the object of dialogue with her is often the soul, not the body.
She has a natural affinity for the soul, although she does not understand what the ability to guide.
The three ostriches knew from the beginning that in this world, there is often a place where the soul and the body do not fit.
If the soul encounters a mismatched body, then the individual will feel self-contradiction and pain. These wrong souls often go to premature self-death.
The three ostriches accept those who choose to die, because in her, that is the choice of the soul, the soul will be more freely matched in the new life, to a more free place.
Like the queen of Maduo, she built a large cemetery and designed a series of complicated and beautiful processes for her death, but she never reached the place of sleeping.
The three ostriches saw that the soul she was locked in the body was exhausted, so she agreed to liberate her.
Under the fire of Nirvana, the Queen's soul was free.
It was only after this that she saw the ancestor of the imperial bread priest.
Shortly after the Queen’s departure, the new dynasty of Greelow attacked this mysterious kingdom. The pilot took his army to the palace and saw only a new grave on the lonely throne.
At this time, the three ostriches have left the palace, and she walked by instinct all the way.
Perhaps because of the war, there are countless unsafe souls on this land, and the three ostriches comfort them one by one and send them to life.
She walked away and came to a beach.
Intuition tells her that under this beach, there are many souls that are bound by something and are crying. The strong resonance made her unconsciously shed tears of anger and sadness.
Just as she tried to use the fire of Nirvana to free those souls, a masked masked man appeared to stop her.
"What do you want to do!"
The power of human beings is like a car to her.
The three ostriches controlled him and continued his ritual. However, she soon found out that something was wrong.
Under this beach is not the soul of human beings she has seen recently.
what are they?
She did not hesitate to catch the masked person in front of her, and soon she learned the truth.
In the colonial war that Mado had just experienced, the invaders were not using human soldiers, but a whole army of spirits.
These spirits obey the arrangements of the leader generals and are excellent killing weapons.
However, after the end of this war of aggression, in order to prevent the pilots from over-expanding their own army in the colony, the leader’s home country must forcibly destroy all the soldiers who participated in the battle, and the mother country re-dispatched the human colonial army to colonize the colony.
Combat, destroyed, this is a secret agreement, the fate of all the spirits of the time.
However, the masked man informed the three ostriches of another terrible fact.
The power of mankind cannot truly destroy the summoned spirits. All these army spirits are sealed in a certain state of the world in the state of the spirit. They can only be in the case where the power is completely sealed. In the long time, slowly wait for the day of complete dissolution.
Under the beach, the sorrows felt by the three ostriches are these sorrows, which almost never die, but are always crying by the suppressed soul.
"How can you do this?"
The three ostriches are hard to understand the cruelty of mankind.
"You should not treat these souls like this."
"They didn't belong to this world. They were forcibly shaped into the present form. Do you still have to torture them like this?"
The masked man in front of him listened to the question of the three ostriches, and suddenly he couldn’t help but fell to the ground and covered his face and cried.
"Take them, let's take them away!"
The three ostriches ignored him. She once again summoned the fire of Nirvana. It took a lot of spiritual power. It took a lot of time to finally guide the scorpion under the beach to life.
After she took the last soul, she looked back and saw that the young masked man had become a white-haired old man.
The time that human beings have, after all, is different from that of the spirit.
Their lives are as short as they are, but they always like to do the coffin.
Fortunately, some of them are able to learn to regret.
The white-haired old man gave her a deep glimpse, and the three ostriches nodded and turned and left.
"Since then, I have gone elsewhere. This is my first time here."
Three ostriches put down the teacup in their hands.
"It turned out to be like this... I didn't expect the ancestor of my servant, there was such a thing. It seems that the tower he left behind is secretly covered by him. He wants to use that beach. The gravel, build a dressing tomb for the spirited soldiers..."
Said the Undead Bread.
Seeing that the three ostriches did not speak, she asked again: "So, after you left here, where have you gone?"
"I am just following the guidance of the soul. They will indicate where I will go."
"Hey, including this time? Is it because I found the pain of that guy?"
Undead bread refers to the direction of the room.
The room has been quiet since they returned from the tower.
"But why didn't you extradite him this time, but left him inside the body?"
Three ostriches shake their heads.
"I am not trying to send away all the painful souls. His soul wants me to do this."
The undead bread seems to understand and nod.
"It seems to understand, but I don't seem to understand."
She said that she was looking at the direction of the room. This time, she was shocked.
The door of the room was unknown when it was quietly opened.
The red-haired scorpion had no eyes. He was wearing his hair, and he relied on the door bar and was breathing low.
The three ostriches seemed to feel his sight and turned their heads.
"My soul wants to do it, only I know it myself," said the red-haired scorpion.
The undead bread jumped up.
"What do you want!"
Unexpectedly, the guy suddenly showed an unclear smile.
He staggered to the front of the three ostriches and reached out.
"But I can still accept the results. I am an Italian vegetable soup. Please advise."
How a person's soul is often inconsistent with what others see.
Sometimes, even one's own can't decide, whether the mirror is the real one.
The cycle of time finally reaches a new node, and the next story is Nirvana or Destruction, and everything continues.