The morning mist lightly covered the Slag Valley.
Before sunrise, the edge of the window in Pazu’s cabin began to whiten.
Pazu woke up earlier than usual with a restless feeling. Anxiously raising his upper body, he turned his eyes to the bed by the window.
The girl was sleeping with a calm expression, Pazu’s quilt pulled up to her neck.
<It’s really true>
Her face, which looked like a dead person last night, was now tinged with red. Her eyelashes beautifully reflected the dim light.
There were a mountain of things Pazu wanted to ask the girl. Where from, why, and how… But seeing her peaceful profile, he didn’t feel like waking her up immediately. Moreover, right now, that didn’t seem like a big issue. Just being able to confirm that this “treasure that fell from the sky” was “really” sleeping in his humble homemade bed in his modest cabin was enough to make his heart throb excitedly.
As Pazu tried to put on the work clothes he had used as a quilt, his body ached terribly. It’s not surprising since last night, after working overtime, he had walked from the workshop carrying a girl of similar size. However, that pain felt rather pleasant.
Quietly folding the blanket on the floor, he added wood to the stove. He didn’t want to use the wood much, but he wanted to at least warm the room when the girl woke up.
Looking outside the window, although there was some fog, it was clear. The north wind had stopped, and the refreshing autumn had returned. It was a pleasant morning.
<I’ll play for her this morning>
Pazu, taking the trumpet from the wall, as usual, went out to the roof from the skylight. At the bottom of the valley, the factories and light railway tracks could be faintly seen beneath the remaining fog.
The pigeons kept at the blast furnace noticed Pazu and raised a cry. Opening the screen door, like they couldn’t wait, seven pigeons left their wing sounds behind and flew off one after another.
The sky was rapidly gaining a blue hue. Sooner than the ground, the clouds were dyed orange by the morning light. The white bodies of the pigeons, now the size of beans, glittered in the clouds.
Pazu briskly climbed to the top of the blast furnace and let the piercing sound of the trumpet echo in the valley. The pigeons, as if to match that “morning tune”, lightly danced on the opposite hill.
Since Pazu had never played the trumpet for anyone other than the pigeons, he didn’t know if he was good or not. More than that, when he was playing the trumpet for the pigeons soaring in the blue sky like this, he felt like he could fly above the clouds too.
The morning light shined on Pazu. This morning it seemed to shine brighter than usual.
<What on earth has begun?>
His chest throbbing so much that he could hear his own heartbeat, Pazu was excited.
Sheeta is awakened by a sound from above. She feels dizzy and lightheaded as she wakes. During her sleep, she repeatedly dreamt of falling. Initially panicked in the dream, she eventually realizes that she is dead, which somehow brings an end to her nightmares. As she stares at the ceiling, vague memories of gunfire from Muska and pirates return to her mind, but they feel very distant.
She reassures herself that she is alive, yet the despair from glimpsing into the darkness does not easily fade. She scans the room, finding no one. The room is furnished with handmade wooden tables and chairs, a basket for storage, and other items including a pot, cup, and plates. The pot on the stove is steaming. Despite the modest furnishings, the room is clean.
Sheeta has a brief illusion that she is in her home in Gondoa. As she slowly gets up, her chest pendant sways. She grasps it firmly, feeling reassured that Muska is not there. Her stiff limbs gradually relax.
There is a ladder leading up to a skylight near the stove. The sound she heard appears to be coming from there, and it’s a pleasant daylight color. Instinctively, she thinks it suits the owner of the room. She climbs the ladder without hesitation, her remaining caution fading.
Above the skylight is a blue sky, and on the brick chimney to the left, a boy of a similar age to her is playing a trumpet. Pigeons are flocking around him. When the boy stops playing and pulls out crumbs from his pocket, the pigeons swarm his hand.
“Whoa, whoa, don’t rush,” he says with a bright voice while playing with the pigeons. He notices Sheeta poking her head out from the skylight. They make eye contact, and the boy apologizes for waking her up.
Sheeta tries to speak, but her words falter. The boy, smiling, climbs down and introduces himself as Pazu. He lives there alone. As he talks, the pigeons once again flock to the crumbs in his hand. Hearing his lively voice, a smile naturally appears on Sheeta’s face. It’s been a long time since she’s seen such clear eyes.
Feeling relieved, Pazu jokes about thinking she might be an angel. Sheeta thanks him for his help and introduces herself. They talk about her fall from the flying ship and her miraculous survival. Pazu’s eyes fix on the pendant on her chest, confirming the blue light he saw the previous night wasn’t an illusion.
He asks to see the pendant, observing the dark blue stone adorned with a golden bird-like emblem. He comments on its beauty and learns it’s a heirloom. He borrows the pendant and puts it around his neck, handing Sheeta a trumpet and walking to the edge of the roof. He tells her to watch as he jumps off, leading to a crash and Sheeta’s alarmed call.
When Sheeta investigates, it appears that the pendant may have caused the crash, and as she leans in to check, the wall collapses, sending Pazu falling into a dim basement. In a panic, Sheeta slides into the hole to follow, but ends up losing her balance and falling onto Pazu below.
Pazu, trying to accept it, reached out his hand while still collapsed,
He was crushed and made a strange noise.
“S, sorry, Pazu, hold on.”
“…… N, no I’m fine. Sheeta is”
“Are you okay? Did it hurt?”
“No, my head is harder than the boss’s fist.”
With his face covered in soot, Pazu smiled. Seeing Pazu smile, Sheeta, forgetting the situation she was placed in, felt joy from the bottom of her heart. Their laughter echoed in the basement.
“That’s right, I left the pot hanging. You must be hungry. Let’s have some rice.”
As Pazu started to climb the basement stairs,
“You can wash your face there.”
He pointed to a bottle in the corner.
As Sheeta started walking, she noticed a skeleton of an airplane. There are several books, model airplanes, and what seemed like blueprints.
<He’s not just a clumsy guy.>
Even though she just met him, Sheeta was happy to see Pazu doing something that seemed impossible for her to do.
On the wall beyond the workbench, panel photos are displayed. One photo is of an early airship with a picture of a man who looks like an adventurer. Another photo is blurry and unclear. It looks like an ancient castle enveloped in fog or clouds.
Unintentionally, Sheeta’s eyes were drawn to the characters written under the photo.
Sheeta repeated it several times in her mouth. For some reason, it was a word that faintly touched the distant memories of her childhood days stored deep in her mind.
Pazu, seeing Sheeta not coming up, came down to check on her. In front of the photo of “LAPUTA”, Sheeta stood still. Pazu spoke to her from behind.
“That, is a photo my dad took from an airship. It’s an island called Laputa that floats in the sky.”
“An island floating in the sky”
“Yeah, it’s said to be a legend, but my dad saw it.”
Pazu suddenly had a distant look.
In the town where Pazu lived before coming to this valley with his mother, his adventurer father was popular among both adults and children. He died in an accidental accident while out looking for sponsors for a new airship construction, but Pazu can still vividly imagine his father’s gallant figure.
“He said when he passed through a sudden, terrific tornado, a magnificent castle covered in green and shining with a golden roof appeared from between the clouds. It was immediately hidden by the clouds, but that’s the photo my desperate father took at that time.”
Pazu took out a worn-out notebook from the workbench.
“This is the imagined picture of Laputa that my dad drew. Now, no one lives there, but it’s said that a lot of treasures are sleeping in the deserted palace.”
As Sheeta took the notebook and eagerly began to flip through it, the inside of the castle was detailedly sketched. If this is true, it certainly is “a palace in the sky.”
“But nobody believed it. My dad was treated like a fraud and died….. But, my dad is not a liar.”
Pazu looked up at the ornithopter.
“I will complete this and surely find Laputa.”
Pazu firmly bit his lip and tightly grasped the bone of the ornithopter’s wing.