We were sitting inside the carriage on the way back from the Fairus Empire.
It only took one word from the twins completely changed the atmosphere from fun to oppressively heavy.
Because of the Colossus Ruins incident, the meeting was interrupted; the Kingdom of Lemaire declared non-participation, and we had no choice but to return to our Kingdom immediately. His Imperial Highness said, “Handle the continental dispute on the continent,” but I think he was just being flashy.
What made me feel so was the fact that His Imperial Highness winced for a moment after hearing the name Alkaios. Perhaps this situation had turned more severe for the Kingdom of Lemaire than the greedy ex-wise man or the drunken Count had expected. If this hadn’t happened, I don’t think I would have returned home in such a way. In short, we arrived home faster than we had planned.
In a fast-paced, swaying carriage, I was thinking of him; that damned green man. I thought about the past, which I couldn’t and must not forget.
I’m not particularly eager to talk about the past. It’s painful, prickling, and above all, it’s irreversible. At the time, I was forced to do something unreasonable by that green bastard, being the arrogant child that I was.
I had a powerful friend. Her name was Sara-chan. I realized too late that I was as omnipotent as she is.
…Oh, I want to hit my past self. At that time, I was playing spies. When I learned the word spy from my brother’s story, I remember I went around like an idiot and called everyone my friend. People were not offended. They laughed, accepting my words, and became my friends.
I misunderstood the kindness and started to act carelessly. I was looking for people I thought were terrible and exposed atrocities that I believed were bad… I didn’t doubt that I was justice incarnate, even when my father and mother fell senseless each time; even when my brother was trying to talk some sense into me.
Yes, I didn’t understand any of them.
I could never forget my attitude towards people; I manipulated them as I wanted. I furthermore bear responsibility for the orders I had given as part of the Count’s family. Those were caused by I, who was so young and irresponsible…
It wasn’t I who paid the price.
It was too late when I learned that it was better to stay away from that organization. I was only interested in it because of my curiosity. I was standing alone in the hut, where I was hiding without any permission.
—Surrounded by a sea of blood.
Sam who laughed as if it couldn’t be helped.
Old Tran who told me that I was like a granddaughter to him.
Sania who was as bright as a flower.
Dan who said I looked like his sister.
Aisa who always made her hands into fists while saying, “Leave it to me.”
Uto who constantly made delicious sweets.
Zack who gave me a pat on the back while saying, “Rely on me.”
Gundo who stroked my head like I was a child.
Lallana who, roughly speaking, shook off the dust and dirt off me.
Everyone died. It was something I couldn’t wrap my head around, but at some point, when the stench of Iron hit my senses, I realized that they were no longer in this world. Tears gushed from my dazed eyes, and I couldn’t stop them.
“You are the Count’s child, yes?” The murderer was still before my eyes. Нe had narrow eyes, and his presence seemed to be everywhere. He talked to me with ease alike to that between close friends… Even though he had just killed my loved ones…
“Your friends… I wish it were different.” Soitsu kept getting closer and closer to me, disregarding the puddles of blood…
“It’s just a coincidence, okay? That happens.”
– That happens…
These incredible words stunned me… All I could do was look at the man in front of me. The haze covered my eyes, I was terrified, but I still saw him. Soitsu changed his expression slightly and looked into my eyes.
“Maybe you think it’s unreasonable?” I felt an indescribable discomfort under the gaze of the grinning Soitsu. He seemed to have touched on something unidentifiable and terrifying… I just wanted to escape somewhere.
It felt as if I were to look away or moved back, it would somehow firther destroy everything I had cherished. So, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t take a single step. Soitsu came closer to me.
“The world is full of unreasonable things even if you don’t know about it.”
He threw cruel words towards me with a normal voice, as if he was simply saying something mundane like how flowers are beautiful.
“I’ll keep you alive. So, could you not follow me? Place yourself out of the way.”
He swung his blood-stained sword and put it in a sheath. I wanted to yell at the bastard who took away my loved ones. I tried to reach the enemy, but my body was frozen.
“Wha… What do you mean?” He touched the blood on my cheek with his thumb.
“What I meant was that you’re only alive simply by my whim, understand?”
Soitsu then happily spread the splotch of blood across my cheek.
“Hey, do you still feel that I was unreasonable? Do you feel humiliated? How do you feel?”
I felt intense anger that I had never felt before. Gathering all my energy while focusing on the memories of the people I’ve lost, I was able to glare at Soitsu with hatred. He began to cackle like crazy as if he had heard an interesting joke.
“Ahahahahaha! Ahahahahaha! Hahahaha! Okay, that’s good!?”
When he stopped, Soitsu waved his hand.
“Do you hate me? Want to kill me? You can’t do it now, though?”
I realized that he might kill me, but I couldn’t stop glaring at him.
“…Then, I’ll wait, yeah? What a brave lady.”
After he let out those words, a pulse went down my spine, and my consciousness faded.
The last image that was burned into my eyes was Soitsu’s out-of-place bright green hair.
When I came to my senses, I was in my bed. Sara-chan, with an ashen face, held my hand. My mother cried and hugged me tightly.
—The scene of how I lost them was still clear. Hollow eyes, flowing blood, a mouth that can no longer speak, hands that can never be held.
I could not accept it, and I didn’t want to put up with grief, so I retreated in my shell.
An expressionless Sara-chan hugged me with tears forming at the corners of her eyes, she muttered an I’m sorry.
My mother gently stroked my hand when I couldn’t say any words. My father and brother had to say something as Lords, but they did not utter a single word. They just indifferently started the post-processing.
—Then time passed.
When I came to my senses, everything was over.
Sam, Old Tran, Sania, Dan, Aisa, Uto, Zack, Gundo, and Lallana–
The friends who helped me at the time… mourning over them would be one day too late. It made me feel bad and embarrassed. We had a good time. With all that help they gave me, I wasn’t able to properly mourn everyone who died because of me.
Sara-chan gently held me back and told me to stay with my father, brother, and mother when I said, “I have to go.”
…I know they’re all worried about me… But I’m sorry, okay?
I have to go there by all means.
A rugged rock was placed on a hill with a beautiful view. The cool breeze was blowing through it. Sometime before, the mountain was even overflowing with flowers. Escorted by a knight, I approached the memorial monument.
It wasn’t just my friends who were killed. According to Sara, it was a demonstration to take away something. Mass murders occurred in various places. My friends were just one of the cases out of many. I gently stroked the surface of the memorial monument. I had no idea what to do with the scale of what I had done.
“It’s your fault!” A boy shouted at me with a frail and shivering voice. I held back the knight and looked at the boy.
“You… You were involved! But you didn’t die!” The boy glared at me. He hated me from the bottom of his heart. Tears were overflowing from his eyes. I took that hatred for granted.
“You! How dare you refer to the young lady like this?!”
“It’s all right, Kite.” I pushed down the knight’s sword with my hand. I closed my eyes for a few seconds, while I asked myself…
Should I surrender to hatred like this boy?
…No, of course not.
Should I kill the green bastard who killed everyone?
…No, of course not.
Should I dive into self-pity as if it’s not my fault?
…No, of course not.
What should I do?
After thinking about it, I went to the boy and knelt down in front of him.
“Lady Rururia!” I ignored the panicked Kite and stared only at the boy in front of me. Sore weakened eyes filled with tears… Eyes that should be looking cheeky instead… Young cheeks with dried tear stains and the same brown hair as the one Sania had.
“Sania’s younger brother, Sais, right?”
“What?!” The boy, Sais, was visibly shaken. Even if an aristocrat somehow knew the name of a commoner, no one would have thought that said noble would likewise know the name of her younger brother.
“Sania’s death is my responsibility.”
Those words finally came out… I reckon this is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. The boy gasped at these words. I looked into the boy’s eyes with all the strength I had.
“The guy who killed everyone is much stronger than me, and I could not overcome him.”
I had been thinking about it for a long time, but it was still painful to put it into words. These words were the reason for giving up. Therefore, I wanted to think that everything was all right. But I still didn’t understand whether I should face the anger and sadness sitting at the bottom of my stomach, or not. I was sure the boy whose sister was unjustifiably taken away acts precisely because of that.
“I can’t return your sister.” I looked him straight in the eyes and touched his cheeks wet with tears. It was different from hatred, and it was also different from resentment… Well, was it perhaps the closest thing to the feeling of being unforgiven?
“But I can promise one thing,” I laughed so that I could look more confident, “I will hit the guy who killed everyone!”
…I got a slightly dull reply, but I didn’t care.
Kneeling, I put my hand on my heart and continued. “I swear to you that I, Rururia Talbot, will hit that damned green man.”
That was it. I was entirely convinced. That was what I was thinking of doing with that bastard!
“I swear, I’ll never give up until my very last breath. No matter what dangers I’ll face, no matter what evils I encounter, even if I am killed.”
I remember the faithful knight Kite who muttered something to the boy who, again, burst into tears with a stunning face, “Because the young lady is…”
I turned around before he could finish and went home.
The boy’s reply was irrelevant because it only matters what I do.
Yes, I’ve decided.
I will hit that green man’s unreasonableness with my unreasonableness!