Thank you very much to Katu Fushigi for the first fanfiction submition
So was Kino.
There was really no need for speech as they passed the numerous graves on the side of the road. It would dishonor the spirits, or so the pair felt.
Covering this bleak countryside were hundreds upon thousands of graves. They could be seen from miles around, lining the road- crosses, concrete angels, crypts even. Apart from that, the country was eternally gray. Dark clouds threatening to release their stormy vengeance upon the area, brown grass for miles on all of this, there was the weight and omen of death upon their shoulders.
Hermes wanted a change of scenery, but didnt voice this opinion to Kino.
Because, honestly, Kino wouldnt listen.
I wish to travel the whole world. No matter the death great, or the famine consuming. I wish to travel this terrible, magnificent world.
She really should be a philosopher.
They finally spoke again, about an hour later, when the graves were far behind them.
How do you think so many peoples graves fell into one place? Do you think thats the whole world back there? Hermes was the one to break the silence.
No. The world is bigger, and death much greater. There is no way it would be contained in that small area. Kinos quiet voice piped against the wind.
A while down the road, they came to a fork in the road.
Kino stopped Hermes, and pulled out the map while the motorrad played eenie-meenie-miny-moe.
Hermes? Would you stop, please? You sound childish. Kino said, massaging her temples and focusing on the map.
Whos a child? The motorrad laughed.
Well Kino sighed after a long moment. We can always come back and go the other way.
Onward, Kino muttered, revving Hermes motor. To the Country of Memories.
The gates of the country were a dull yellow-white. Like that of slowly decaying bones. Kino gave a slight wince, but they continued on up to the guardhouse, to ask permission to enter. And as they approached, the travelers heard the strangest thing.
It sounded like a man crying.
What do you think? Hermes asked his companion.
Wait here, Was all she said as she dismounted the motorrad.
Excuse me, Kino called in her calm, gentle voice. Is there anyone here?
N-n-no ! I didnt mean to hurt you, I swear!
Um sir? Kino made her way to the back of the house. The guard was curled on the floor, clinging to a picture frame, sobbing. Sir! Kino finally yelled, and he looked up.
O-oh Oh, dear. Im sorry He dried his tears on the collar of his coat. H-how may I h-help you?
I would like to enter your country. I am a simple traveler.
Are you sure you want to do that?
Why wouldnt I be sure?
Because! He yelped. This is the country of Memories! Your memories will haunt you here!
I have no memories to haunt, sir.
He stared blankly at her for a moment. Well, He said eventually. All right. But I warned you! How many in your party?
One human and one Motorrad.
Oh alright . He stood, and hit a button on the counter. There was an eerie creaking outside as the gates swung slowly open. Just dont expect much hospitality.
Kino and Hermes entered the city, which was shrouded in a fog.
Kino and Hermes didnt meet another man like that in the country. On their first day, though, they did meet quite a few other colorful people. The entire country, Kino observed, was monochromatic. Almost everyone wore sepia tones. If not that, black. No one stood and spoke in the narrow streets or shops. They would walk around (or run, in a few cases) muttering to themselves. Kino just couldnt find the answer why. She finally got a room in an inn, and managed to talk to the clerk for all of about two seconds until she screamed and ran off, leaving the key on the counter.
Excitable bunch, arent they? Hermes chuckled.
On the second day, Kino scaled the huge wall that surrounded the city. There were stairs, but most crumbled when ones weight was placed on them. They, like the gates, reminded her of decaying bones. Except this was almost soil.
She heard mumblings of guards a ways from the stairs.
Hello? Kino called.
Someone there? Came a guards call back.
Kino walked a little farther on, and found three men playing cards.
Oh! A traveler? Said one with a toothy grin. What brings you to this horrible place?
A whim. Kino said simply. Do you mind if I ask a question?
You just asked one, didnt you? We dont, dont worry. Smiled the youngest of the three.
Thank you, Kino said, a slight blush from humiliation tinting her cheeks. Why are people haunted by memories?
You see that unearthly fog? Said the first. We call it the dream fog. Because people have bad waking dreams when theyre in it. They remember people theyve wronged or people who have wronged them. They go about sobbing over the past, and they cant see the present in their eyes!
This was a city of thieves. The youngest piped up.
They are repenting their sins. Said the other, pointing down below.
Why arent you affected?
It doesnt affect us because we live up here. Above the fog.
And because we couldnt steal anything if we tried! Laughed the youngest.
Hmm. Thank you, sirs. Kino turned and left with a smile.
Kino was not haunted by any memories (hers or otherwise) until she tried to leave the city on the third day, like always.
As she secured her few bags to Hermes, she saw a tall man, watching her.
He was much taller than just about everyone who passed him.
He seemed familiar, Kino thought. But she tried to ignore him as she mounted Hermes and headed for the gates, and back to the fork in the road some miles before it.
She also ignored the fact that he seemed to be semi-transparent.
Reaching the gates, the doors refused to open. Kino stood there, after dismounting Hermes, staring at them, demanding mentally that they opened. But they wouldnt; they just stood there, four feet thick, mocking her for not being physically strong enough.
Twisting her name into cruel jokes.
She looked around.
Wait. Wait a minute.
Thats not my name. She muttered, tears welling slightly in her eyes like they always would. That isnt my name!
Whats not your name? Hermes voice punctured her flashback.
I . Kino started but then shook her head, and tried ramming the heavy gates stupidly with her shoulder. She took a few steps back. How are we going to leave?
Dont ask me.
Kino looked around. Narrow, crowded streets all around, all muttering, all ignoring each other. And then, she saw him again- that tall, brown-haired man.
Kino. That man that had saved Kinos life. The name of which she took to keep him alive in spirit.
He was staring at the gates intently in the same manner Kino was.
He turned and yelled something inaudible at the gaurds.
And when he received no reply, he turned and stared again. He was so much younger than Kino remembered. Maybe this was a while before he had come to Kinos country?
She watched him push his glasses up his nose, and move to the very center of the doors, right at the crack. He took a knife, and stabbed it shallowly between the two doors. And then he left.
Returning with a gun about five minutes later.
He shot the hilt of the knife, once, twice, three times, until he smiled. And walked through the closed doors.
Kino looked at Hermes.
Did you see that?
Never mind, then.
Kino pulled a dagger from a hidden sheath.
Kino ! Killing yourself is not the answer! Hermes yelled, rather distressed.
Hermes, you really dont know me at all, do you? Kino laughed quietly, and stabbed the dagger in the door cracks, and stepped back, drawing a Persuader.
Hito no Mori. Serve me well.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
People all stopped and watched in awe, as Kino removed her slightly damaged dagger from the doors. Fog drifted from the city, evaporating in the morning light.
Mounting Hermes, the two drove off into the sunrise.
And hundreds followed.
Hey, Kino? Hermes voice broke the silence of night. He knew she couldnt sleep.
Why do you think they followed?
Because they needed to escape their prison. Kino replied simply.
I dont know. I dont know everything, Hermes.
Who do you think would do that to a city? Hermes wondered aloud.
Search me. But people shouldnt be chained to their pasts. The should be free to start a new future
But, what about them paying for their sins?
Kino shrugged. Its a thesis. Let it be debated by someone else.
Good night, Kino. Hermes said with a chuckle.
Good night, Hermes. Kino rolled over, and dozed off.
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