Everything has but one end.
Only sausages have two.
—A German Proverb
Have you ever felt like wanting to soar through the skies?
Or perhaps like wanting to become invisible and play a prank?
Or maybe you’ve wanted to talk to animals at some point?
Anything is fine.
Mankind has dreamt of countless things since time immemorial, solving each through the power of science.
Starting with the first manned flight by the Wright brothers, aircrafts eventually evolved into rockets powered by ion engines and personal flying vehicles.
It’s kept to military uses only, but even something like optical camouflage has already reached maturity. It’s said that the use of ether is a commonly used means of finding the enemy in modern battles.
Although conversing with animals that don’t have the intelligence to understand speech is closer to being joke material, the application of highly efficient machine translation has long since broken down the walls separating the human race from itself. There’s even been some amount of cultural exchange beginning with dolphins, some squids, and chimpanzees.
The past century could easily be called the age of science.
But, even so, I still couldn’t abandon my yearning.
My yearning for the wondrous fruit, the miracle of miracles, something far removed from the modern way of thought.
Namely, for magic.
I couldn’t even remember whether or not I had an impetus for my desire by now.
Rather, there might not have existed one to begin with.
I was but a youth when I’d realized that I was captivated by the concept of magic, something that was not of this world, and set out to pursue something that couldn’t be explained by science.
Rune magic, calligraphy magic, European rune magic, alchemy, astrology, witchery, sorcery, wizardry, esoteric shamanism, yin yang techniques. I studied all sorts of magic from all ages and countries, putting their methods to the test.
My interests didn’t stop at magic, of course.
Apparitions, spirits, mysterious sightings, psychokinesis, deities, and demons. I studied every last piece of myths, legends, and folklore the world over. Whenever I came across mention of someone with some unexplained ability I would attempt to meet them if at all possible.
At some point while I went on about doing that, I came to be known as a world famous occult researcher.
It’d put my eighty-nine years of life into it.
Spending my life on pursuing the mysterious, I came to a conclusion.
This world has no mysteries.
The world was too robust.
Everything had already been done. There was not a single mysterious thing left, the only things that appeared to be were simply due to misconceptions.
Of course, it wasn’t as though I’d verified everything. There were occasionally things that I could only define as strange.
But even those things were far from being what I could deem as mysterious.
I don’t know how future generations will assess those things, but subjectively, the effort that took my whole life ended as being all for naught. Seeking that which did not exist, I finished my life with neither wife nor children.
It would be a lie for me to say that I had no regrets. I have innumerable regrets.
However, I never once regretted the way I lived my live.
If I were born ten more times, I’d live my life in the same way another ten times.
Besides, at the very end, there’s only one enjoyment left to me.
I’d like to be disappointed one last time.
But this is the first time that I don’t have to worry about being disappointed. If you must know why, it’s because right now, the existence of ‘Me’ is coming to an end.
Giving away to my fading consciousness, I slowly closed my eyes.
My world was swallowed by darkness.
—To be exact, I should have died.
＊ ＊ ＊
The area around me was pitch black when I next came to.
I’m aware that I had died. Is this the afterworld?
Also, I keep hearing the sound of moving water in my ears. Given that I can’t even see anything now that I’ve died, shouldn’t it be more quiet? I think it should be, at least.
Moreover, I feel unusually cramped. Immediately after I tried holding my hand out, the tips of my fingers hit something soft. I can’t see anything, but it seems like there’s something there. With that there, I can’t even stretch myself out. This is weird. My body feels as light as a feather, yet I can’t move around too well at all. I can’t even brace my feet against the ground to press against the wall. Something weird is going on here.
I have to get out of this confined area. Just as I thought that and started to struggle, I heard a voice coming from somewhere. I couldn’t hear it that clearly, but I could still understand that I’d never heard the language before.
But I could somehow understand what the meaning behind those words were.
I also somehow began to understand where I was.
It seemed as though I’m not in the afterworld. Quite the opposite, in fact. I gently touched the wall I’d so rashly pressed against a moment ago.
The voice I heard before was an affectionate one, a woman’s. A voice worrying about the child in her belly.
In other words, I appear to be in the living world.
Alone, I had trembled within my mother’s womb.
Reincarnation. Moreover, a form of reincarnation that allowed me to be reborn with memories of my previous life.
Is there anything as mysterious as something like that? To be honest, I practically didn’t believe in things like life after death and reincarnation.
I thought that I would stop existing upon dying, the existence of myself and my thoughts ceasing to be.
It’s not as though I’m not feeling just a little disappointment that I’d had to part from my world to experience this. Being so robust, it was the world that had continually betrayed my life’s work. It was something of a rival to me, pushing me forward to persevere that much harder.
However, that small amount of disappointment was dispelled by the sheer delight and feeling of satisfaction spreading through my chest. If I was pushed to say, I’d say that dissatisfaction was something of a victor’s right. Although there’s a possibility that I will end up losing my memories as I grow up, that’s alright. I will bow out and quit while I’m ahead.
But still, I have to be born safely… well, even if I’m eager for it to happen, there’s nothing I can really do about it. I guess I could be careful and make sure I don’t go out feet first? I also have to avoid stupid things like strangling myself with my umbilical cord.
Once I thought about that, I realized something. I don’t have an umbilical cord attached to me. What? What!? I felt around my stomach in a panic, but there really isn’t one attached. When I tried turning my body in circles as a test, I was able to keep on going forever. I’m wireless here. What happened?
Just when I started panicking, the pressure around me suddenly started to increase. No way…
No sooner than I thought that, I felt my body forcibly pushed somewhere. I couldn’t resist it with my strength as an unborn child, so I allowed myself to be taken by it.
My pitch black field of view was suddenly filled with light, so I shut my eyes to block out the light. Like that, I was quickly dragged out by gravity and fell to the ground.
It looks like I was able to be born safe and sound. While on the subject, I can’t say I know what a baby’s supposed to do right now, but I assume I should be crying?
Thinking about something as trivial as that, I opened my eyes a little and saw both of my arms covered in red. I get that babies are a bit red, but aren’t I a little too red? I was single in my previous life, but I have seen my younger sister’s baby. That baby was definitely not this red. I’m practically scarlet.
I tried putting some strength into my body and heard the sound of something wet on my back. Still on the ground, I looked at my back.
It was also red. No—the redness didn’t matter. What’s important is that there’s something I’ve never seen before there. And it looks like wet clothes. They’re probably wet since I just left my mother’s womb. But as far as I know, there aren’t any creatures born with clothes on.
Someone licked my head while I was busy being confused. When I looked up out of reflex, I saw a huge face many times larger than my own staring back at me. Its mouth was open, a familiar voice coming from it. It was the voice I’d heard inside her womb. In other words, she’s my mother.
She had a long, snakelike neck on her scarlet, scaly body. Her golden eyes with vertical pupils watched me fixedly. Teeth filled her reptilian, elongated mouth and some number of horns grew from the back of her head as well. There were knife-like talons sprouting from both her long and dexterous forelegs and her thick and weighty hind legs. A long tail extended from her hips and batlike wings were situated on her back.
The things on my back are probably similar, mini-sized versions of hers. Seeing her body, I remembered something.
That something was an existence that anyone would know, let alone someone who researched all of the world’s mysteries like me.
That is, a dragon.
Just a moment ago I was wondering if there was anything that could be more mysterious than reincarnation. But now I’m beginning to realize that that line of thought was wrong.
I’d finally found one of the mysteries I’ve been searching for. It just happened to be me.