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Letters from the Warden's Tower

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[Sent: 18-07-651, 17:03:01]

[To: White Owl]

[From: Black Hawk]

[Subject: Welcome to the lab]


Dear Shirofukurou,

It's my first time trying out the lab's messaging system, so I hope it works.

How do you do? Since we'll be colleagues, I wanted to introduce myself. I'm Kurotaka, the Researcher's current assistant. Welcome to the lab, and I hope that we can work well together.

See you tomorrow.


[Sent: 19-07-651, 18:12:30]

[To: White Owl]

[From: Black Hawk]

[Subject: Re: Welcome to the lab]


Dear Shirofukurou,

I needn't have worried about how you're settling in. It's your first day on the job and you're already making me look bad.

That work was supposed to last until next week! And you finished it all in one morning? Hey? I set the bar low on purpose so I don't have to work hard?

I initially thought you were trying to show me up, but it's clearly not my opinion you care about. Really, do you need to follow the Researcher around like a puppy dog, trying to impress him? (You have, by the way.)

Still, it's good to have another bird around. The Researcher has a lot of experiments, and it's nice to have company overseeing them. Someone else can watch the miniature gardens while I go and stretch my wings. And I wasn't looking forward to taking all those readings, so I'm happy that you already finished them.

Even though you're doing fine, I suppose I am still your senior, so if you need anything, just let me know.



Audio Transcript


[10:03:05] Hey, Shirofukurou. Where did the Lord pick you up?

[10:03:21] Ah, it's not that important.

[10:03:25] I just thought that in this area, us birds are usually black or brown.

[10:03:30] With that coloring, it's easier to blend in and hide.

[10:03:34] White feathers like yours are much rarer, so I wondered.

[10:03:46] I was just making conversation, and surely there's no need to glare like that.

[Sent: 19-11-651, 22:12:50]

[To: White Owl]

[From: Black Hawk]

[Subject: A little question]



I can see why the Researcher wanted to look for another bird. These gardens are far more complex than the previous ones, and I can't watch them all on my own. (Actually, I probably could, but don't tell the Researcher. I like having free time, and I think you still want your job.)

Anyway, I was wondering about something. Do you think these changes the Lord is making are really going to alter the nature of these living things?

They are capricious and violent, and like to kill each other for their own amusement. So far, the Lord has tried to reduce these tendencies by adjusting the environmental conditions - the weather, the available resources, the variations within populations, and such things - but it has hardly made a difference to their behavior.

What other experimental variables could we try? Let me know your thoughts, if you have any. (I am certainly not picking your brains after the Lord asked me to submit more experiment proposals.)

Do you even get these messages, anyway?



Audio Transcript


[14:22:21] Hey, Shirofukurou.

[14:22:23] What do you eat, meat or vegetables? What kinds of books do you like? What music?

[14:22:34] Even though we've been colleagues for a while, I don't know the first thing about you.

[14:22:51] I already said, I'm just making conversation.

[14:22:58] It's immensely monotonous staring at these miniature gardens all day.

[14:23:25] Yes, yes, the Lord's work is sacred. But don't you think it's also a little boring?

[14:23:57] Of course you don't. I should have known.

[14:24:17] All right, I'll shut up, I'll shut up. No need to look at me like that.


Unbelievable. You go on and on about the sanctity of the Lord's experiments, and then you go ahead and wade right into one of their wars.

Next time, don't get involved. I still don't know what kind of bird you are, but going by your claws, you don't seem like the fighting sort. We don't always see eye to eye but I still didn't like seeing you get hurt.

You know another way us black birds are useful? If we have to kill something, the blood stains are less visible. Those white feathers of yours are beautiful, but very hard to clean. I did what I could but you'd better take care of the rest yourself.

When you wake up, the Researcher wants to see you. Don't worry, you're not in trouble. You can convey your thanks to yours truly.

Left you some medicine, wish you a speedy recovery -Kurotaka

[Sent: 33-03-652, 13:01:40]

[To: White Owl]

[From: Black Hawk]

[Subject: New experiment]



Just heard from the Researcher. New experiment, with only one world this time.

He'll explain more later, but here's the system: There will be a death counter which tallies the lives lost when people kill each other. When it reaches a critical level, a certain person will be born, who will bring about the end of the world. At the same time, a certain other person will be born who can stop them, so the world has a chance to continue on.

Our job is to oversee the garden as always, but this time we have an additional task: to protect those children until they grow up and fulfill their roles. I don't care which one I get, so you can pick yours first. Although I think I already know which you'll choose.

We'll be briefed further at 1800 hours at the workroom in the Tower.

I still don't know if these go through so I'll come find you if you don't reply.



Audio Transcript


[10:13:21] Shirofukurou?

[10:13:24] Listen to me, you damn owl. The Lord has already dismissed this garden as a failure.

[10:13:36] He left it here, moved on to other experiments, and isn't coming back.

[10:13:46] He didn't destroy it like he did the others, but that's only because--

[10:13:58] It doesn't matter. He's not coming back. How many times do I have to say it before...

[10:14:21] It's no use, is it? You think I'm a loudmouth and a slacker and everything I say is worthless.

[10:15:10] All right. The Lord left the garden around because I asked him to. I made a promise to someone. Absurd, I know.

[10:15:51] Kuroto's first vessel is dead, but the death counter was only reset, not stopped. When it climbs high enough, again, Kuroto's soul will reincarnate. The Savior's, too.

[10:16:40] They were just children, Shirofukurou. They didn't deserve that.

[10:17:31] Maybe I'm too soft-hearted for this line of work after all. The Lord was prescient in inviting you...

[10:17:50] Yeah, I know you aren't listening to me.

[Sent: 13-10-653, 09:03:20]

[To: White Owl]

[From: Black Hawk]

[Subject: 'The snow is the grief of the Lord at the taking of human lives by others' is a striking line, I have to admit]



Or is it Prophet White Feather now? I'm impressed. How underhanded of you.

All this time you've been spreading the legend of Kuroto, the abomination who will bring about an ending winter to destroy the world. Now you've positioned yourself as a soothsayer to gain the Sai Emperor's favor in this uncertain wartime, and used your new influence and power to locate Kuroto and the Savior.

Meanwhile, all I've been doing is frittering away my time, as you used to put it.

But, as always, you did all the work for me. You found Kuroto first, you took him from his family, and you tried to kill him. I don't know why you tried, but then I never really know what you're thinking.

After that, it was simple for me to steal him from under your nose. I hardly lifted a feather. You need better lackeys.

You can keep playing your games, Shirofukurou, but don't forget who you're playing against. I was by the Researcher's side long before you came. You're so stuck on making sure this world continues on, you lost sight of the reason the Lord creates these worlds in the first place.

Kuroto was just a child, and what you did to him and his mother was reprehensible. I hope cleaning your feathers later was hell.


[Sent: 33-10-653, 18:01:01]

[To: White Owl]

[From: Black Hawk]

[Subject: Who cares I'm sure you throw these out unopened if you even get them]



Your little Savior was here again today, and nothing happened.

Really, it was a little surreal. He stayed for tea, and Kuroto showed him the birdhouse he was building. It was as if they were just two ordinary people who met and hit it off nicely.

The boy is cute, if a little rude. Your doing, I'm sure.

Kuroto knows everything he needs to know. Who he is, what his continued existence means, and what everybody is expecting that boy to do to him. On the other hand, does that boy know? I actually can't tell. Knowing you, I'm sure he does. But then why didn't he...

Of all the ways I expected them to meet, this was not among them. It makes me wonder.

And how are you doing, old friend colleague acquaintance?


[Sent: 33-10-653, 18:03:00]

[To: Black Hawk]

[From: White Owl]

[Subject: Yes, I read these]



Thank you for informing me that Hanashiro has found that person. I was not, in fact, aware he had.

It seems you have your uses after all.