Chapter 14: The farewell, of you and me. — IV
The sound of rain was not stopping.
A severe rain was now falling for two days.
We can’t stay in a fief where the lord was poisoned.
Insisting so, the people from Darich fled the mansion, but were being held up by an out-of-season rainfall that we could not get out of Laius yet.
Being held up in a countryside village without any large inns, Joblin was feeling irritated as he rocked his large body. It seems that he is also angry that he was forced to use a barn that had a large entrance since there were no rooms fitting his size. If he gets angry at such stuff, he should reduce his waist size. It seemed that he could not think of such a thing, since he was now grabbing snacks like an eagle, gulping them down like water.
I wonder if this was why mother disliked him, saying that the man was dirty.
Near the barn, there was a bell tower tolling every six hours to tell the time.
Since the bell tolled just a while ago it dawn must be breaking now. Leaning against the window shut tightly to keep out the rain, I listened to the sound of rain.
In the room, there was me, Joblin and three servants. It wasn’t a place where everyone could fit in.
As for one servant, the person is staying in the bell tower. It must be painful to listen to the bell that tolls all over the village four times a day up close. This is pretty close too, but it’s not the same building so I don’t get startled by the sound at least.
Wilfred always went out somewhere to gather information.
It’s been four days since we left the mansion. He’s been coming back dejected every day.
“He’s not dead yet.”
Those words were my only salvation.
After that, I never talked with him. From his conversation with Joblin, I could get that Joblin has not realised that he is Wilfred.
“If you will be a bit more lovely, I shall give these to you too.”
I looked at Joblin who held out a box with leftover chocolate with a hand smeared with chocolate melted from his body temperature as if he were a filthy thing. Not only did he seem filthy, the way he licked his fingers was indeed dirty.
He just had breakfast, yet he seems to be hungry already. Since the sound of rain and wind was strong, he was up early after all. Though, he’s been eating something all day so it might not be related.
“Please don’t approach. It feels nauseating to just be in the same room. Unless you note your own squalidness, pigs in sties still have more elegance.”
“Hoho, she talks well for a country girl. She runs her mouth like a finely brought up lady.”
“It’s you who can’t talk like a fine lord. It troubles me if you blame your own incompetence on me.”
The lump of meat shook its body as it laughed.
Then the expression suddenly turned neutral.
“What are you trying to by making me angry, girl?”
I wish he would charge like an enraged boar and destroy the window and entrance, but I know that to be impossible. If it’s Joblin’s body, he can muster up sufficient strength but he has trouble from just sitting down so he won’t lift his body up to charge at me. I’m welcome if he comes charging at me any time but now he has no signs of moving at all. He rarely stands up, so there is little hope.
Unlike the man who erased his expression, I smiled further.
“Rather, I might ask what you are trying to do by waiting upon a country girl.”
It seems like I’ve been judged as a worthy conversation partner, good.
Despite his clumsy appearance, he is quite the meticulous and ambitious person. Otherwise, he couldn’t have kept up this long as a lord while watching for the opportunity to claim other fiefs’ lands. The man who concluded that the conversations with me in the past four days were not meaningless stopped leaning against the window and stretched his back.
Amidst the face buried with meat, his eyes that were oddly small narrowed, which was quite hard to tell it did.
“That shrewd Tim, you, the youngster of Laius, children these days are frightening. My guts feel queasy.”
“I am honoured for the praise, but I do not feel happy at all from getting praised by you.”
“No no, it truly is frightening. At first I thought you were just a dull country girl, but then such a crafty man like Tim would not give you up. It was the correct choice to bring you, thinking that it would be interesting.”
The eyes that could only be seen as circles depending on the angle looked down at me silently.
“I hear you even tamed that wolf lord?”
“A wolf is a wolf because it does not follow people. Things that wag their tails to people are not wolves but dogs. Don’t you even know that?”
And things that get tamed by people without wagging their tails are not dogs.
Just humans. People liking others as people. Just that.
However, I have no plans to tell him that. Saying that he is just human, to those that can’t get such an obvious thing, there’s no use from telling them that.
When I gave him a high-pitched laugh, Joblin snorted and grabbed more chocolate with his hands. Without minding that it was melting from his body temperature, he tossed them into his mouth and licked up what was left on his hands.
“I wish I could have had a chance, even once. I could have chosen a suitable black-haired man to make a child and use the child as a pretender to take the place, it’s a regrettable thing.”
He talked of a filthy thing as if he were talking about chocolate. Willing to choose any method for his goals, this is the lord of Darich. Just as ugly as my father and even slier.
“Even without having to look for uncouth country girls, he has many people that will be with him. Why don’t you let me go if there is no use for me then? I could comply if you order me to.”
“Well, don’t rush to a conclusion like that. What, once the storm passes it could immediately be used for Darich. In that situation, thinking slowly is possible, is it not?”
“There is nothing to think about.”
The man who licked his fingers with his thick tongue shook his body in puzzlement.
“The venue, the dress, the food, the guests. There are many things to think about, no? Even if you are a country girl, you must have dreamed of getting married. What, rest assured. Let me give you generous help.”
For a moment, I didn’t realise what he was talking about. I wonder what kind of face I had been making. A dumbfounded face, or an expressionless one.
I couldn’t tell, but it seemed like it was enough to make him laugh, as Joblin rocked his body in pleasure.
“My own granddaughter too just came of age and fell in love with the him, so I wish to cheer her on wholeheartedly, but it’s the feelings of the person in question that is the most important, you see. He insisted that he must have you and only you. I too wish to support the love of youngsters.”
After barely managing to squeeze out those words, the lump of meat laughed buoyantly. Just a while ago, he was saying that he wanted to use a suitable black-haired man to get a child, but now he was cheering love on.
Both Joblin and Wilfred taught me with all their actions what duplicity is. However, I’m not any different. I too lied nonchalantly. I lied about important things and lived as only as a contraction.
I’ve been thinking for the past four days. Even now, I am still thinking while listening to the sound of rain.
I remember the face of everyone when I left the mansion.
Sorrowful. Bitter. Pained. That wasn’t all. In this life, many smiles were bitter ones. There were many good people. Kind people, warm people. Those people smiled bitterly at me.
I remember those faces.
It could be that I wasted these past fifteen years. I had thought that if I stubbornly clung on and did not feel happy that I will be atoned. Living like that, I have hurt others, made people worry, put dark expressions on their faces. I was befuddling myself that this obstinance was alright. Pain, suffering, sadness, I had thought of them as because of the sins from my previous life, pushing them on myself. By saying that I shouldn’t be happy, making my surroundings unhappy, I may have been running away.
If I really wanted to atone, if I really wanted to make up for it.
I shouldn’t have made myself unhappy and hurt kind people but give happiness as much as I have sinned.
Like Kaid, I could have struggled to make people happy, but I headed the opposite direction and hurt the hearts of kind people. Instead of making such expressions, I could have smiled. Now I know.
I always make mistakes. I only learn of them after it’s too late.
Thinking that I can’t be happy, I isolated myself, not trying to know anything.
It’s the same. I had not changed any bit from when I did not know anything.
Ah, I really am a stupid woman. I learned of that only now. I hurt those kind people beyond healing and left them.
Kaid, ah, Kaid.
Sorry, I’m really sorry. Isador, I’m not just a shackle. I’m a curse. Drunk in unhappiness, spraying unhappiness, I am a calamity.
“That’s not very nice, Joblin-sama. The words of proposal I thought up carefully were just spoiled.”
“Hoho, wasn’t it a good lesson for you, learning that discerning the timing is the most important?”
I don’t know when he changed, but Wilfred threw his wet clothes, shrugged his shoulders and scratched his head.
“Then at least give me time to persuade her please.”
“Hoho, there’s rain anyway. There’s plenty of time.”
“I can’t persuade her unless there’s just the two of us. Since she’s a sheltered princess.”
“The country girl talks unabashedly. I had thought that it was strange that you would be interested, but, hm, she indeed is an interesting girl. Grand, I shall lend you the carriage. You may talk with her as much as you please.”
“I am grateful and happy, though, it is very generous of you.”
“What, one needs to enjoy themselves even in a gloomy weather. Although, I will have the carriage back, so you shan’t dirty it, is that clear?”
“Since it is a specially made one, I won’t do such a bothersome thing. Then, let’s be off, Shirley.”
I stood up without holding the hand that was held out.
Wilfred deftly raised an eyebrow.
“My, the princess can stand up on her own?”
“She stood up, hm.”
Over a long time, people who did not abandon me even as I kept making mistakes taught me. Not yet. I have not repaid anything yet. I have not yet apologised for anything. To everyone, to that person.
Kaid, I’m sorry, Kaid.
I got you twined in me and made you drown. You who is drowning in unhappiness, I will pull you up this time. I will take you to a bright place. I will definitely do it.
So please, don’t die. Please, make it. Don’t say that it was too late, or that you couldn’t make it.
No matter what happens, I will come back for you, so please don’t die. Please, stay alive.
God, I plead you. I don’t care if all my luck runs out. I will become happy even without luck. I will never hope for happiness, never again. I will not run away. No matter what, I will never give up in trying to be happy. I will give my everything to make it so that people who see me are not saddened.
So please, God.
In the rain, we headed to the carriages. Tim sailed right past the carriage that was at least thrice as big as the other ones and opened the door of a small carriage and got on.
Since I only have bad memories of that carriage I didn’t care, but I was looking at it anyway when I was pushed inside.
“There’s probably someone inside that. I’m sure you don’t want others to hear, yes?”
Even if it’s small, it’s big enough for four people to get on. There’s space for that.
I wiped my hair that got wet from the rain which an umbrella had no meaning. We sat with out knees facing each other and I grabbed my index and middle finger.
“Let me go.”
“I have a question.”
He’s a man who doesn’t listen to people. Well, I suppose I’m the same since I asked for a request before listening to the other person.
Left with no choice, I shut my mouth. Currently, Wilfred has the lead.
To me who grew silent, Wilfred tapped his knee with his index finger. This is his habit. Since I never saw him doing it as Tim, he knows of the habit too.
“You, I heard you kept refusing marriage with me. I heard you kept asking your father to cancel it.”
“If I knew that you were this kind of person, I would have felt much more disgust, but so what.”
“At the mansion, I did see that you were stirred up a bit or had a weakness for him, but…… could it be that you were already lovers back then?”
There is, no reason to flinch, at the gaze that will not miss even a blink.
“What about it.”
The eyes, opened wide.
Even an ignorant and foolish girl knows that a noble’s daughter marries for the good of the family. Thus, I had thought that if my relationship with Helt is found out he would be fired and that we would not be able to meet again. Actually, he wouldn’t just have lost his job, but also his neck. Even if I didn’t think that far, the two of us met in secret so that no one would know. I didn’t know back then that Helt was good at concealing such things, but he did it very well. I was not very close with the maids to begin with and there were only a few people I was friendly with.
One of those few were Caron. I had told Caron. Whenever I went to meet Helt, she helped.
However, because of that, when I refused the marriage for the family without any reason, father did not allow it.
“Ha, haha, ahahaha! Then, you weren’t just betrayed by your servant, but by your lover! This is a masterpiece!”
Wilfred laughed while holding his belly button, tears forming in his eyes. When I replied yes to him, he grabbed me by the collar.
“Are you an idiot. If that’s the case, what the hell are you doing.”
“Nothing, I didn’t do anything. I haven’t done anything for him to be happy.”
With the sound of skin hitting skin, my vision blurred. I was slapped or hit. Doesn’t matter.
I corrected my head’s angle which was turned by getting hit on my cheek.
“Pretending to be a saintess?”
“That’s nice. Rather, it’s the ominous kind.”
I wiped my lopsided lips and spat those out. He twisted his face a little in surprise. That face was delight that was like madness.
“You’re making a good face. Back then you were a boring woman who didn’t even know profanity. If you’re dissatisfied, you’re making that face at the wrong person.”
“……Wilfred, why now. Now, I’m neither the only daughter of the lord of Laius, nor do I have royal blood, just a simple country girl. From a long time ago, I’m sure you didn’t really like me.”
“I liked your face and body very much though.”
When I stayed silent to the answer that was hard to reply to, he chuckled. He laid his elbows on his knees and rested his head on his clasped hands and looked at me.
“Well, you’ve been lonely, haven’t you?”
With a voice that one could misunderstand as kindness, he smiled.
“It is only humiliation to to keep reviving through recollections a place that will not return into our hands again. We should be holding the regret of being killed by him, raising that towards him. Hey, I think you should be like that too. Just how many times were we killed even in mere pillow talks? With the pretty voice of bards, in the picture shows of wandering jesters, in school classes, in children’s games, how many times did we die? How often did people rejoice over that sorry sight?”
“……We were justly hated. We were persecuted justly so it’s a natural thing.”
“Everyone applauded and cheered at our deaths. Since we don’t even exist any more, crimes that we didn’t commit are added on. Children play with figures in my shape. They swing the head about, hit them with sticks, throw stones but their parents to not chastise that. Even though they don’t know the pain of thrown stones and getting hit with sticks, they coolly reproduce that seen.”
“However we certainly are here. We are still here. Even if no one believes it nor recognises us, we are here. We’re here. It’s not over yet. To those who think so, I’ll make them realise it with no room for doubt.”
Like how a beast bares its fangs past its lips, I shouted instinctively.
He looked surprised for a moment and then concealed his teeth.
“You’re the only one who calls me that now.”
Of course. Since we were born as different people.
Even if everything was like ourselves.
Wilfred rested his head on his clenched hands and looked down.
“If it was something from a long past, I would have put up with it. If it was just history, I would have lived as Tim. However, it’s not. The man that killed is leading a carefree life even now and the place is brimming with people that rejoice over our deaths. As if I can live like that! The people that won’t let me forget that I am Wilfred is them! ……I became Wilfred from their hands. They will take responsibility for that.”
“You and I were both relics of an already ruined miniature garden. We had tormented Laius enough. We were pests that harassed the land, the people. We stirred up Laius and made the land go desolate. So we were removed. That was all.”
“You’re saying that because the things you lost were given to you. I gained everything with my hands. Then I was robbed of them. So I am taking them back, that is all.”
That cannot be allowed.
I didn’t say that out loud, but as he lifted his head up and saw me he understood how I felt.
“I who was killed by him will kill him. Then maybe he will be reborn. Then I might die from his hands. Even if that repeats…… I won’t lose you. You’re a person on this side. Because that is so. You were our flower. You were the flower that bloomed at the summit of us.”
“It already withered away. Because I’m the fruitless flower of Laius. I disappeared without producing fruit.”
“No, you are here. You are still here with me.”
It sounded like he was telling that to himself.
“No…… I’m lonely. I’m lonely on my own. There’s no one that doesn’t know Wilfred the devil of Laius. However, the only person who knows that I am Wil, Wilfred, is only you now. And only I know you. Only one person in the world, I know the same thing as you. Just you and I are living in this same hell.”
The hand that reached out as he was looking downwards suddenly grabbed my elbow. With no time to even feel startled, I was pulled in and embraced. After I tried to push him away in confusion, my hand stopped as I tried to push his shoulder.
He was trembling. The arms on my waist, the head on my chest.
His trembling body temperature could be felt.
“……Am I a lunatic? Am I just a lunatic who believes that he has a past life? ……That’s fine, that’s still fine, so please…… stay with me. Please, don’t, leave me alone.”
“……Wil, please, let me go.”
“I won’t ask you to give me your heart. However, if you won’t be mine, please say that at the least you won’t become anyone’s.”
“No, not with you.”
“I won’t let you go! At the least, I won’t let you be his! No matter what happens, wherever you run away, even if we both die, I will find you!”
We were both crying. Weeping while trying to tear the clothes off, crying and screaming as he chased me, we struggled violently, causing the carriage to rock heavily.
The hairband was pulled and ripped to shred. The buttons flew away. Since both our bodies had not finished developing, the physical difference was not as much as adults. So Wilfred and I both became beaten up.
When I groaned from getting bitten on my neck and loosened my strength a bit, he grew careless. I used all my strength to kick him away.
In that frame of time where he lost his breath from hitting back in the small carriage, I ran out.
The rain had stopped before I knew it.
It was a little late to see the sunrise, but the thick clouds quickly cleared up. The wind that was still slightly strong picked up my loose hair and batted it against my clothes.
I sensed Wilfred exit the carriage behind me. Yet, I couldn’t move. Wilfred also didn’t pounce on me. He absentmindedly stared at the world, then ran off as if he was repelled.
The bells echo.
The curtains of night fell on the small country village. I watched absentmindedly as the village was being dyed black. Because today is the Liberation Festival. It was the day when the decorations that were being suppressed from the rain would shine from light from the sky.
Yet, I wandered if night did come for a moment.
But the clouds rapidly washed away to reveal a refreshing blue sky.
The bells resound.
It hadn’t been long since the six o’clock morning rang, yet the bells didn’t stop.
I wonder what that black thing is.
The black shade was fluttering in the wind. The black wavered on rooftops and the black colour dyed the windows. People hid their faces and were looking downwards as their black clothes were getting soaked. The people who should be wild with joy for the festival all had their heads down, the black flowing through the village.
Strength left my legs and I had my knees on the wet floor.
Ahead of me, Wilfred was coming back, panting. Though he had a terrible expression just a while ago, he smiled like normal children, like Tim.
A glittering, innocent smile.
“This morning, Kaid Falua died.”
He announced as if to tell that to the sky.
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