D no Shokutaku: The Novel - Prologue

Prologue: The Time of Birth

The foetus dreamt.

The cells that had begun to divide within a thick, warm fluid, like an ancient sea, finally functioned as a single living being. From that very moment, it began to dream.

The foetus - its brain and nerves not yet taken form, let alone its arms and legs - saw it through the eyes of the soul that had only just begun to dwell within. The dream was a gruesome nightmare filled with blood and groans. Bodies were torn apart with playful ease. A sharp stake pierced the warm flesh over and over. The air brimmed with screams of anguish and cursed voices, along with huge splashes of blood. The foetus, with no experiences of its own and unable to comprehend the meaning of the scene, at first simply stared at it using its mind's eye.

But the images of slaughter went on without respite, growing more and more vivid as the foetus' brain and body took shape. Finally, emotion was born within its consciousness for the first time. That emotion was the sprout of what it would later call "anxiety".

The foetus had noticed a gigantic shadow standing in the midst of the massacre. The shadow was a man. He was clad in a jet black cloak, but sometimes it looked like a white coat drenched with blood. The people murdered in cold blood directed their curses at the man, but he simply responded with a cruel smile. His lips, running across his pallid face like fissures, bloomed with the fresh blood of his victims. The foetus felt a strong fear of the man. It knew that this man was the performer of the endless tragedy. This man was the one who had orchestrated it all. He even seemed to be aware of the fact that the foetus was having the dream.

...Or perhaps the very dream itself was of the man's own volition.

The foetus squirmed. It moved its limbs in an attempt to escape from the nightmare, using the limited strength it had gained at long last, but it was impossible. The man's unfeeling smile deepened, as if mocking the foetus' response.

The people's screams grew louder, blood flowing like a river. The foetus, unable even to close its eyes or cover its ears, simply continued to move helplessly. Some sort of phantom emerged before the growing mountain of corpses, drawing the foetus' consciousness to it. It was the figure of a lone woman. With hair of gold and bright blue eyes, she stared at the man. A look of shock appeared on her face, and the woman began to approach him on slender legs.

A new fear welled up within the foetus' mind. It felt as though if the man were to spot her, something impossible to take back would happen to it. If it were able to scream, it surely would have done so. But the foetus could do nothing at all.

The man's eyes roamed steadily, settling upon the golden-haired woman. His bloody lips twisted with joy, revealing flashes of sharp white teeth and a crimson tongue.

"Come to me," the man said in a voice that seemed to echo from the depths of the earth.

The foetus writhed in desperation. It couldn't stand to watch the woman as she stepped through space, heading for the man; to watch as the man opened wide his cloak or white coat, embracing the woman in a manner that was the polar opposite of affection... And then...

Suddenly, the foetus felt a force tighten around its whole body. Before its very eyes, the scenery of the dream began to fade, vanishing from the foetus' mind for the first time. The warm sea in which the foetus had floated flooded out, trying to wash the foetus along somewhere with it. The foetus unconsciously contracted its body, drifting along on the rapids and passing through a narrow opening.

It was time to be born.

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