*drum-roll* Here comes the full prologue translated in English with a bad-quality image at the place where it is in the book /might edit one day or another when I get my hands on the scanner/.
And if any of you reading this are a native English speakers who know how to grammar and are confident in their language skills and feel like editing this to be even more comprehensible, please contact me~
Well then, enjoy the read.
A high-pitched sound of a bell resounded through the dark gray sky. The Liberty Bell. This is the name that the inhabitants of the Shiganshina District had given to their hanging bell. This bronze hanging bell, located on the top of the 50 meters high Wall Maria, is one of the district’s symbols. While originally meant as a device to prevent disasters, luckily it has never been used in that way to this day.
It wasn’t bright outside yet, but Anhel Altonen was holding his hand against Wall Maria and looking up at it towering over the district like a cliff. The wall is a gigantic architectural structure the way it is already, but standing next to it made it even more conspicuous. The presence of the wall is so enormous, it creates a sense of awe in everyone, and some even consider it to be sacred. In the world with no god to pray to, the presence of the wall is the only support to people’s hearts. However, Wall Maria wasn’t built with any religious intentions. It’s purpose is clear. It’s a protection against the enemies outside. In other words, outside of the walls exists a threat to all humanity – monsters dreadful enough to require an enormous wall to guard against them.
“Well, it’s dubious whether they actually exist at all.” Anhel furrowed his brows, dim light distorting the shape of his face, bed hair roughly falling on his face. His usually golden hair, for some odd reason had unclear hue. And not only his hair. Perhaps because he was secluding himself in his workshop developing armor day and night, he looked so pale, co-workers often made fun of him calling him a weakling.
At first glance, he seems to be really unhealthy, and it is, indeed, true that his lifestyle isn’t the healthiest. However, Anhel’s body is unexpectedly sturdy and this fact is noticeable even from beneath his samue1. Probably due to the nature of his job, without him noticing, his body had been forged to be strong, and the energy swelling up inside him was exactly appropriate for a 18 years old boy.
“If only the wall was a little bit shorter…”
“You could peek outside you think?”
Hearing a calm voice from behind him, Anhel responded with bitter smile without turning around. “What is hidden, makes you want to peek at it even more.”
“Is that the male nature?”
“it’s simple curiosity.” Muttered Anhel, stealing a glance at the face of the girl standing next to him. The one gazing at Wall Maria with a composed look on her face was Maria Karlstadt. Both her standing posture and the way she wears her military clothes are always flawless. Roses – emblem of the Stationary Guards – are depicted on her khaki jacket, showing her pride and confidence towards her duties. Her beautiful black hair tied up on the back of her head is the proof of her determination.
“Please restrain yourself from conspicuous actions. It would be troublesome if military police set an eye on us.”
“Is that a warning from a soldier?”
“It is an advice from a childhood friend.”
These are the times when having interest in the outside world is considered taboo. If one acts too flashily, there is no escaping from being marked by the Military Police as a person requiring special attention. (They should just announce the information publicly already.) If the government made the information about the outside of the wall public, the curiosity of people would also fade away but since it isn’t happening, there are probably some guys who would lose their profit if it was known.
“It’s the truth that this wall is hindrance to my job though.”
“However we can’t live without it.” Saying that while looking up at the wall, Maria had a triumphant expression on her face. There’s no doubt that for Maria, who had become a member of Stationary Guards, Wall Maria was a really special building. After all, the main duties of Stationary Guards are guarding the fortified city as well as strengthening and repairing the wall which is the most important military facility.
But unlike Maria, Anhel had no special feelings towards the wall. (A wall is just a wall.) He reached such conclusion because Anhel’s occupation is development and production of the weapons sold to the army.
(Attack is the best form of defence.)
He thought that but did not say it out loud. There was no way Maria would empathize with him even if he voiced that and it was obvious that he wouldn’t accomplish anything by arguing either. Actually, this topic had arisen in their conversation a couple of times in the past, but every time it had ended with Anhel being harshly cornered in an argument.
“By the way, what’s with this hair…?” Maria let out a sigh and combed Anhel’s hair with her fingers.
“H-hey! I’m not some brat so stop it!” Anhel got worried about others seeing him, but Maria didn’t seem to mind.
“If you’re not a brat, then don’t be so difficult to deal with.”
“And don’t forget to shave your beard.” She finally managed to dress his hair well enough. Circling around Anhel and checking his appearance, she nodded with consent.
“By the way, is it alright to slack off like this?”
“I just had a night shift. I’m not playing a truant.” Maria glared at Anhel.
“And you are therefore going to pick up Solm? You sure get along well with him.”
“And so do you, right.”
“I don’t recall getting married to Solm though.” muttered Anhel, at which Maria stayed silent but lifted her eyebrows.
“Correction. Your relationship is actually called friendship.”
As Anhel and Maria proceeded to amuse themselves with idle talk, the outskirts of the main gate started getting filled with people. Perhaps due to the sound of the bell, everyone had begun to gather, and in no time the surroundings of the gate were jammed with people. At first glance, there might’ve been around three hundred people. There were men and women of all ages, but their objective was the same as Anhel’s.
Soon the Recon Corps would return from their expedition outside of the walls. They would enter from the main gate and walk through the main street simply returning to the barracks, but as this scenery demonstrates the courage of the troops, it is considered quite alike a parade in the name of a triumphant return. For the inhabitants of the Shiganshina District, who have little amusement in their lives, the return of the Recon Corps was somewhat of a big event.
(However this is also a story of the past.)
At first glance it seemed as if many people had gathered, but in reality these were just locals. If one takes into the consideration the population of Shiganshina District, which is over thirty thousand, the conclusion reached is that the return of the Recon Corps isn’t a matter of citizens’ interest. Not to mention that most of the spectators were the soldiers’ relatives. However, the cooling of people’s reaction isn’t surprising.
(They don’t disclose the information. They provide no results. Not to mention that the expenses of their expeditions are paid from taxes…)
For Recon Corps to be allowed to continue existing despite all the complaints from citizens, there must certainly be some political reasons. Also, while the many expeditions of the Recon Corps were at least known to everyone, none of the civilians really knew what was happening behind the closed doors of politicians’ rooms.
“It’s time for the heroes’ return.”
The wall still prevented everyone from seeing the noble figures of the members of the Recon Corps, but rhythmical sound of steps could be heard from the other side of it. It was the sound of the footsteps of couple dozens of military horses. The movements of the soldiers seemed to become more rushed as they got closer, amplifying the sound even more.
Because of their daily practice, they made no futile movements, and moved orderly making them look almost like machines. Since both opening and closing of the gate should be done quickly, being systematic was just right.
“It’d be good if everything went well.” Feeling of uneasiness was noticeable on Maria’s face.
“Are you talking about their mission?”
“What else could I possibly be talking about?”
“Even though their results are of secondary importance to you.”
“That’s not true.” Maria managed to say nonchalantly, but that’s not what she actually felt. What worried and was of importance to was not the mission of the Recon Corps but Solm’s safety.
(Well, it’s the same for me though.)
Between the mysterious mission and the life of a friend, the latter one was obviously causing both of them more anxiety.
“You damn honor student.”
“Only when I’m wearing my military clothes.”
As the conversation was unfolding between Anhel and Maria, the Recon Corps approached the wall. Many horses were kicking up the ground behind the wall making the ground shake slightly.
“Open the gate! Open the gate!” The soldier standing on the lookout shouted out the orders. Quickly, a gigantic 10 meters high gate started moving upwards with a thunderous roar. Without wasting any time, Anhel narrowed his eyes and leaned forward managing to catch a glimpse of the outside world.
(The only thing I manage to ascertain though, is a vast deserted land.)
Anhel strained his eyes but still saw nothing of great value and as he observed, in no time, the outside world got covered with a cloud of dust caused by the horses.
(If only the rumored monsters would appear…)
But the only thing visible wasn’t the monsters but pack of horses. The ones riding on them were cavaliers with a crest of wings on their cloaks and hoods pulled over their heads… in other words the members of the Recon Corps.
(Setting aside their reputation, this is just what one would expect of soldiers.)
The sight of cavalry members passing through the gate one after another was rather compelling.
“Close the gate! Close the gate!” The moment all members of Recon Corps had entered the district, was the moment the gate was closed. And the speed with which it all had been done was really worth a praise. The gate was open for only about one minute, demonstrating the unshakeable conviction of the Stationary Guards, that the penetration of the foreign enemy is not to be allowed. Even Maria’s facial expression looked somewhat prideful. There were the Stationary Troops who managed to perfectly execute their job, and then there were the Recon Corps who didn’t seem to be in a very good state.
“They sure have reduced in their numbers.” Even though the expedition only lasted for half a day, the damage caused was enormous as out of the eighty soldiers who had left, only about fifty returned. And the survivors didn’t look too good either. Most of them only had light injuries but there were also those, who had lost some of their limbs. And of course there were those who had returned as corpses.
(I don’t know what they were trying to do, but this time once again, it seems that the mission ended with a failure.)
Seeing the damage and sour looks on soldiers’ faces, it didn’t take a genius to deduce that. The civilians also sensed it and thus little cheers were heard, and for a triumphant return, everyone was too unexcited. However there was also not much disappointment as nobody had really expected anything in the first place.
(The best way not to be disappointed, is not to expect anything from the very beginning, huh.)
Anhel let out a sigh and started examining faces of the safely returned soldiers one by one. As expected of the Recon Corps which was filled with men of valor, every single one of them had a fearless expression despite the current situation. And among them, there was a figure of a familiar handsome man.
Solm Humey. He was a promising rookie of the Recon Corps as well as Anhel’s childhood friend.
(You sure have grown up to be a lady-killer.)
Solm’s face was dirty, covered in soot and dust, but he didn’t seem to be injured. His sharp gaze was fixed in front of him and he was maneuvering the reins, controlling the horse.
“Well, I guess he won’t drop dead that easily.”
“Of course. Being made a widow before even getting married would be troublesome after all.”
“You should make him submit a written request to change the divisions already. Sooner or later you won’t be able to dismiss this as a joke.”
“If only he was the kind of person who listens to others…”
“Indeed.” Anhel smiled wryly.
“Anyhow, this time he returned safely, so it’s all fine for now.”
Just like Ahnel and Maria felt delighted at Solm’s safe return, there were also relatives of the dead ones suffering from grief and heartache. Soldiers, as well as their families, even before the expedition, could not deny the possibility that it would turn into their last journey, so most of them had departed prepared to die.
(But none of them really thought they would die.)
This could be seen from their dismay.
The one who especially caught Anhel’s attention was a young woman in maternity clothes. She was in the beginning of her twenties. She was thin, had a pale skin, and gave off impression that she was about to collapse if not supported. Maria frowned at the sight of the woman loitering aimlessly like a ghost.
“Yeah. Her name is Elena Mansell. Her husband is squad leader Heath.”
“Which means, he’s Solm’s boss?” Anhel didn’t know him, had never heard his name, and couldn’t recall his face, but Heath was most certainly influential member of the Recon Corps. His status of a squad leader was clearly impliying that.
(What chances to one man2, huh.)
With uncertainty in her every step, Elena walked up to the soldiers, and attempted to inquire information regarding Heath’s safety. Her gaze was blank, eyes unable to focus on one point.
“The government guarantees her insurance, right?”
“I think she won’t have money troubles.”
“But just money can’t replace her husband.”
“I wish we could do something.”
“Me too…” But there was not much that could be done for Erena.
(From her point of view, she probably doesn’t care for money and only wants her husband back.)
In other words, right now they could do nothing that would provide Elena with salvation.
(In the end, the time will heal the wounds though.)
As Anhel was lost in his thoughts, a roaring sound resembling that of a thunder reached his ears. The air trembled slightly from the impact. Anhel reflexively drew back his body nearer the wall, but no traces of lightning could be seen anywhere.
“What just happened?” At that moment, southerly wind blew, and as if mocking the question, a faint smell of chemicals reached his nose.
“This is…” Anhel twitched his nose and managed to determine the composition of the indistinct smell drifting through the air.
(Saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur, aluminum…)
In other words, it was the gunpowder smoke.
“Did they fire a cannon or something?” This statement couldn’t get any confirmation from the ground, but was nonetheless quite certain. The reason why he had reached such a conclusion was pretty simple.
(To put it simply, the cannons I created were installed up there.)
The army corps had ordered him to produce about ten cannons some time ago but he wasn’t told what they’d be used for. But since a sound of explosion just came from over their heads, that was probably where the cannons were now located.
“What was that bombarding just now?”
“Probably a warning shot.”
“Which means that the rumored great titans found time to visit us?”
Titan is a general term for monsters who prey upon humans. The reason why humans built the enormous wall and now have no choice but to live inside of it, is all for the sake of escaping from the threat of being eaten by the titans. The ones responsible for the great damage caused to the Recon Corps in their latest mission were also Titans.
(I really wish I could see them even just once for future reference but…)
Anhel could easily imagine that titans were outrageous monsters, but he did not feel particular horror for them either. After all, there was no way he could fear an opponent he had never even met. For Anhel, titans weren’t made of substance and thus were quite similar to ghosts.
“But this really is an awful sound…” Anhel covered his ears with hands and frowned at the succession of resounding cannon explosions.
(This is caused by the compressor.)
Just as he let out a strained laugh, tenth shot resounded, and then, suddenly, everything fell silent.
“Did they bring it down?” As he removed his hands from ears, his eyes met Maria’s.
“I hope they did, but I think it is impossible.”
“Impossible, huh…” muttered Anhel looking up at the Wall Maria with a bored face. If the cannon had been fired ten times already, then even if the titans hadn’t been directly hit, the surroundings should’ve, by now, been as a sea of fire. No living creature could survive there.
(For the creatures who live in that area, this certainly was an instant death.)
Even if the titans really were unimaginable monsters, the cannons were built with this consideration.
(One whole roasted titan coming right up!)
However, the sound of the footsteps coming from the other side of the wall just became louder, as if wishing to crush Anhel’s pride.
(Hey, you’ve got to be kidding me…)
“I think that the titans probably have managed to get too close to the wall.” Said Maria, explaining the situation to Anhel who gaped at the sound.
“Is this the reason why they stopped firing?”
Wall Maria, which is claimed to be indestructible, has, to this day, never allowed titans to get in. This wall is thick enough to be able to fight against pushing of the titans, and high enough for their hands to reach.
“From that way of speaking, you already knew it’d end up like that.”
“At least it’s better than attacking unskillfully, and accidentally damaging the wall.”
“This is a really delicate subject for me who has made these cannons though…” Anhel strongly clenched his fists.
(But for this to be sound of footsteps…)
Anhel couldn’t help doubting his own ears. The sound of the footsteps that were gradually drawing near, were nothing like those of humans. With every step, the main sound was a slight grumbling of the ground. It was a proof that the titans were unbelievably huge.
(It’s like a walking disaster.)
Along with the comparison to natural disaster, a feeling of uncertainty creeped on as a undefined ghost.
The titans weren’t fictional monsters. They were an actual threat to humanity.
Anhel’s intracerebral opinion of titans was quickly getting overwritten. And as soon as it had been changed, chills ran down Anhel’s spine. His body got covered with cold sweat, he got goosebumps all over his body, and his heart started beating extremely fast. Instinctive alarm bells rang in his head.
The titans continued to make the ground grumble.
One step. Another step.
The steps were slow as those of cows, but the distance between the wall and the titans was steadily wearing shorter. But perhaps because something got in their way to the wall, the footsteps stopped abruptly.
(They are getting ready to attack.)
Anhel put himself on guard and tried to sharpen his senses to feel the movements of the titans. However, he did not grasp anything out of ordinary.
“They are not doing anything?” Anhel wrinkled his eyebrows. “I was pretty sure they would try to break the wall.”
However this was just Anhel’s opinion of titans, which, due to his ignorance, was based purely on the image that titans seem to create.
(Well, if they had sufficient intelligence to come up with a plan to destroy the wall, the humanity would’ve been wiped out a long time ago.)
Anhel looked up at the Wall Maria, which stood towering over the town.
“Something along the lines of “Our Gracious Wall Maria” huh.”
“Did you finally understand the meaning of existence of this wall?”
“It has become almost annoyingly clear.”
“Do you still think that attack is the best form of defence?”
“You sure are ill-tempered.”
“Sometimes I am.” Anhel shrugged at Maria, who had a wide grin on her face.
Perhaps due to their frivolous chatting, the feeling of tension also seemed to subdue. The civilians who had not expected to witness something like bombardment were also starting to recover from shock. Perhaps there were even those who mistook it for a signal shot meant for celebrating the return of the Recon Corps.
“We should go meet up with Solm already.” As Anhel was calling out to Maria, a raindrop fell on his cheek. He wiped it off with the back of his hand and looked up at the sky. It was covered with a huge cloud and gave off a mood as if it could burst out crying any moment now.
“So this is that rain of the times of sadness3 huh.”
“This might turn into a true shower…” Maria raised her hand as if covering her eyes from sunshine, and looked at the gray sky.
Bit by bit, it started to rain. At this rate, slight rain would turn into a regular rainfall in no time at all.
(It’s better to change location as soon as possible.)
As he though that, something, which bore resemblance to a dark sphere, entered Anhel’s field of vision.
“A horse…?” He quickly rejected this idea. After all sphere-shaped horses don’t exist.
“Dodge!!” Anhel stiffened at the unexpected shout from above. The one who had raised his voice was a soldier from Military Police standing on the wall.
He was pointing at the dark lump, but it was still impossible to see clearly what kind of hazardous thing it was.
And even if the identity of the lump was clear, there would still be not enough time to react. The lump fell on the pavement a couple of meters away from Anhel.
“Get down!!” Anhel and Maria fell down on their knees. There was a possibility of it being explosive, however as it fell down, it got smashed with a sound of a crushed fruit, scattering around its strange contents.
“This…” Even though it was flattened at the moment of collision with the ground, understanding what it was was still possible. “Is it… a head…”
It had lost most of its original form, but understanding what it once was is nonetheless an easy task. The eye sockets had caved in, and the nose was split; the lower jaw had altogether vanished but it was still possible to make out the mouth. The reason why it looked like a black lump was probably because of hair. And the thing that flew off in all directions was a mix of brains and body fluids.
The scene was so unbearably gruesome, it made the contents of the stomach rise to the throat. As he felt gastric juice reaching the insides of his mouth, Anhel grasped his mouth with hands and somehow managed not to throw up.
“What… what the hell is this…”
A woman uncertainly walked up to confused Anhel with. It was Elena.
“Ah, lying at a place like this?” Elena walked to freshly severed head, squatted down, and, without care about her clothes getting dirty, tore it off from the ground. She then embraced it. “No wonder I though you were late.” Elena let out a strange cackle.
“Is that… your husband’s?”
“I can’t be sure without an official check up but probably…” Elena, perhaps unable to fully accept Heath’s death, continued to hold onto the lump of meat and murmur something to it.
(But why did a head fall from the sky…?)
What Anhel saw when he looked up in search of an explanation was a sight that could only be called unbelievable. That was so, as several heads were flying in the sky like some kind of falling stars. The ones at other side of the wall kept throwing them, and as they were falling on the ground, distorted bloody roses bloomed on the pavement. When that happened, here and there loud screams of horror could be heard.
“Are titans the ones throwing the heads?” However even if it was the work of titans, it was hard to make out the reason for such weird actions. “But why heads…”
“There’s no reason for that.”
“What do you mean?”
“They want to eat so they eat. They dislike it so they throw it away. Surely, that’s all there is to it.”
“They are the same as humans” was what Anhel wanted to say, but decided not to. There was no way such a way of thinking would get approved.
As he tried to understand the meaning behind titans’ actions, the heads kept flying one after another.
“Damn it! Are they trying to play some ball-throwing games4 or something?” Anhel cursed vigorously.
Luckily no one had got hurt, but the pavement and buildings had been terribly sullied with brains, body fluids, and random pieces of meat. The sight was truly disgusting – something locals could never even imagine could actually be true. This scene, which could even be compared to hell, certainly scared them. The people, who gathered to celebrate the triumphant return of the Recon Corps, were now running right and left with screams escaping their throats. Human heads flying through the sky was something quite hard to believe, so their reaction to it was quite natural. Even though the heads had already stopped flying, the people were already prisoners of their own fears, and it was only a matter of time before everyone fell into state of panic.
(Doing whatever they please…)
This was the kind of situation where even Anhel couldn’t stay calm, however there were some whose heads remained relatively cool. These were the members of the Recon Corps. They didn’t even flinch at the disastrous scene opening up before their eyes and stood straight with a look of resolution. This was a proof of the intense training as well as a sign that they had overcome many harsh and cruel situations. Yet, in the middle of all the soldiers there was one, who had the most remarkable and somehow majestic presence.
This man, with an appearance so solemn it resembled that of a statue, was the commanding officer of the Recon Corps. Jorge took a signal gun which had been attached to his waist and pointed it at the sky. And then, without a hesitation, he pulled the trigger. A sound of firing came out of the muzzle with a flash and in the upper skies the bullet exploded emitting a light almost as bright as that of a sun.
““White Star” huh.”
This is the name of the bullet shot from the signal gun. The primary purpose of the “White Star” is illuminating surroundings at night and signalling comrades. However this time it was to catch attention of the panicking citizens. Their movement came to a halt and their gazes assembled on the light above their heads.
For an instant, the surroundings fell gravely silent. Grasping the opportunity, Jorge went into action.
“Calm down! Calm down!!” His voice, even louder than the gunshot, spread out between the shaken up residents.
It’s effect was immense. As if freed from an evil spirit, they start, one by one, to regain their sanity.
For Jorge, who has to control men of valor, encouraging citizens was rather easy.
Unexpectedly, this turn of events ended up making everyone feel the presence of the Recon Corps but the parade of their triumphant return was already out of question. The rain which had been silently falling, was gradually gathering strength.
It would undeniably help to wash away the scattered brains.
1. Samue (作務衣) - monk’s working (non-spiritual) clothes
2. Anhel references to a saying 今日は人の身明日は我が身 which in English would mean something along the lines of “What chances to one man may happen to all”
3. The term Anhel uses is 涙雨 (namidaame) which consists of words tears (namida) and rain (ame) and means light rain, thus giving the word two meanings. Sorry for being unable to translate it well enough.
4. Tamaire - ball-toss game in which balls are thrown into a basket on a high pole (played at sports festivals)
1st part of chapter 1 is HERE