Translation: Albatross Koukairoku – Prologue

Once, there was a ship

Through a certain age of darkness & chaos – it weaved through the gaps. A ship determined in its voyage. A persistent ship.

Rust & deterioration accumulated within that hull.

Perhaps, truth be told – the very fact of its floating was a miracle unto itself. A slap in the face against the engineers and the physicists.

And – this ship was called.

The Albatross!

But, we are getting too far ahead of ourselves…
For our story – shall start away from the sea.
Firstly, a certain time, a certain country, a certain port
In the rum-tum-tumble of a certain street.



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They were coloured deeply –
Embossed even
To the point where those dark green wings stood out with pellucid clarity.
This was in the principal street of the port city, and neither the street lights nor the people-enlivened gradations of twilight – could stand up to that striking hue. That – deeper gloss.

Those wings drifted open like gulls taking upon the air-current.
Or, perhaps – like fishes in their jump… skimming the surface of the water into the deep blue yonder.

As evening drew in, it was time for commerce. The bustle extended throughout the street like the extending filaments of a coral-body. The port was astir.

For example: the night-walkers who hungered for a bout of merriment, and the day-workers who were released from their daily burden to the homecoming road. The air was rustling with barters, and the sweet-tongued harlots were nustling against prospective customers with their salaciously trained bodies.

Well, it was certainly lacking that flavour of the new, and, for all intents and purposes – it was a normal street of a normal port. But despite the mundanity of the activity – the twilight cast gave it an illusory haze. It was like the illumination from a magic lantern.
Yet, within all that was something peculiar –
More aloof, more strange.
A certain form of a certain back.

The atmosphere was an evening cool, and the dimness slushed around like thin gruel – a lukewarm attitude.

In that stagnated air – these two wings trailed off as though clad in the winds. Dark hair.

There were the men & women, nudged up against each other – with shoulders almost touching.
There were the carts protruding. Outwards – like obstacles to cross.
Despite that – the bird thrust forward.
Even in the somewhat jammed congregations of people, it weaved in and out of sight – evading and progressing.
A steady, unchanging tempo that pushed through the crowd.

With only the wind as a tail – passing through the sea-town. The solitary back.
Without a care for the surrounding activity.
Without affecting anyone else. Without anyone else noticing.

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Yes…That. That back.
And, perhaps, as though that moment was chosen.
Ah… it turned – and yet it was only a glimpse. A sliver of that face.
Even then… it was like the half-moon piercing through the ink-black clouds,
And then, returning back into its hiding spot –
That single moment of an illusory face,
That dimmed back into the hair – and walked forward again.

At that point in time… the wind flowed.
The wind blew the forelocks of the young man. The hair caressed his nose.
The fluttering locks of the bird called out to him, swaying through the air, and even though the waves of overlapping bodies surged into a kind of barrier – in the end, they seemed to split apart for the young man… and his target was unobstructed.

Then… there was a single twist of a scent in the air.
Even though the other modes and smells of activity were astringent in the air, and that one twist of scent was mixed in those breezes – it seemed to clean up when it touched his nostrils.
There was only that single smell. That instantly discernible smell.

The smell of saltwater. Without a single impurity – the fresh parfums of the ocean. As though… some seas away were the unexplored waters, untouched by any traveller – and into those new waters – we travelled there.

That fragrant fancy tickled the nose – and simultaneously, a voice:

“I’ve found you – at last…”

Come to the sea – Naomasa.”

“For me – for you I’m…”

“Waiting for you to arrive…”

At that moment – all human murmurs and pattering feet, and the variegated exhales from the market activity… should have overwhelmed that voice. Yet, he had heard it.

As though his ear had been chosen specially for that message. That murmur.

It was a murmur that stood above the loud voices and entreaties of love – faster still – deep into his being… or maybe you could have called it the core of his personality. That pit of existence was swelled up like a dry sponge ensconced with water – and then… it spurred him on.

Material grime and earthly desire – sloshed upon the young man’s body in the day-to-day… all of that was aroused in him.

And – that spur was certainly… fear – and longing.
The gap that had been left behind embraced the prospect of fear – fear of an unknown… far away – unreachable distance of impregnable miles. Yet, inability to be contained. That craving.

And that arousal – probably… as though the sudden heat burst from the changing seasons – creating an impatience that called onto him.
An anxiety quite indefinite, and a revulsion towards comfort. A palpable turmoil arose and ignited him on.

And normally there was that second layer worn onto the skin – acclimatization to the everyday world around him… but suddenly it had changed in a snap – into coat of briars. Thorns bit into his skin, and pressed upon him with an unbearable sharpness and itchiness.

He was in there – that moment when all comfort seemed disgusting and an unease called out to him.

That moment when the world was against him – filled with existential bite that ran into him like a muddy & decrepit stream…

…And that voice – fetching him from the ingrained commonsensical consciousness of the everyday – deep into longing & fear & irritation. Scooping it out of him.

And so.
Led through the ears by that inviting murmur,
The young man chased that form – which was like a bird, or a flying fish,
With its strange walk and strange back…
Into a new locale – leaving the rest behind.

From the street. To the port. And perhaps – to the Sea.

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