SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 19

Chapter 19 – What It Means To Laugh

 

A strange phenomenon appeared before my eyes. The air trembled, it looked like space itself was bending. I frowned.

“……..”

I had scattered “Spada” all around, in order to detect any disturbances. One of them shook and communicated to me.

I and my “Spada” were one and the same. As soon as I noticed the strange phenomenon, my “Spada” warned me about it too.

Without the need for me to give any order, the floating “Spada” pointed its tip towards the phenomenon, almost independently.

Slowly but surely, two silhouettes were taking shape.

I had noticed them before anyone else and put the most suitable response in action. My words followed afterwards.

“Spada – Shadow Bind.”

Two “Spada” rose from the silhouettes’ shadows and blocked their movements.

Rowle had told me who had gone to look for the Rainbow Flower.

I wasn’t foolish enough to believe those words unconditionally and immediately trust two people that appeared out of the blue.

There was also the presence of someone with powers similar to “Game of Illusions” Idies Farizard, so I would doubt anyone and anything.

Even towards Welles and Rowle, with whom I had spoken in somewhat friendly terms, I made preparations to be able to kill them immediately if they ever did anything suspicious.

The only people I could trust to an extent were those with whom I had spent most of my time with after being born as Fay Hanse Diestburg and to whom I had opened my heart. Anyone else I wouldn’t trust, barring extraordinary circumstances.

Even if I acted like I was on good terms with them, I made sure to be ready to kill in case anything happened.

The two silhouettes that appeared completely resembled the features and characteristics I was told about, but I still used my “Spada – Shadow Bind”, without the slightest sense of guilt. I fully believed it was an obvious action on my part.

Just how broken was I? I couldn’t help but wonder.

“!!”

I could hear the sound of swallowing breath.

I saw the two silhouettes’ surprised expressions.

Despite their resistance, my “Spada” wouldn’t let them move.

I turned away from them and looked somewhere else.

Velnar’s corpse.

If they were enemies, they would surely react to its sight, even if slightly.

So I led them to look at it, to find out their identities. Or at least that was my intention.

“…who the hell are you?”

One of the silhouettes tried to resist with all his might and glared at me while his hands shook, attempting to reach for the scythe on his back.

The other was observing me, or rather staring at my “Spada”, so I couldn’t lead their gaze anywhere.

“………”

I approached them slowly but did not answer yet. I needed to make sure whether they were enemies or not before I did.

Then it happened.

“Please, wait.”

One of the two silhouettes, a girl younger than me, called to the man with the giant scythe.

“I probably know him. I never met him before, but he probably is—”

The girl seemed somewhat confident. The man seemed to consider her words reliable: his body relaxed to some extent.

In order to be completely sure in her words, the girl turned towards me—if only for an instant.

She looked at me, at Fay Hanse Diestburg.

“……….”

“……ah?”

The girl had turned completely quiet, as if her mind wandered off somewhere. The man with the giant scythe apparently found it unusual. He called to her, but her consciousness was already gone.

The girl’s change was abrupt. Normally, it would be obvious for me to wonder what happened too, but for some reason, I instinctively understood what she did.

.

<<We’ll meet again, I know it.>>

.

I couldn’t hear the voice.

But I could read the faint movement of her lips and the long-haired man disappeared from the sight of the past me.

The girl’s gaze acted as a trigger: past memories flooded my mind. The deaths of many people played as a sort of slideshow in my head…one after the other, an endless parade of death.

This time it was a short girl.

A strong, young girl, who died while protecting me.

She had a large, gaping hole in her stomach, but she still laughed, laughed while crying. A young girl who passed while laughing.

Then someone else. Then someone else again. At the same time, I was shown the instants of me killing others.

Many, many people were killed for me to survive. Next to them, all the people I killed to survive. That was the hellish sight flashing before my eyes.

I felt my heart break down.

My emotions dry up.

Accusations, guilt, remorse.

The story of a man, tortured by regrets and solitude for years.

I could continue living because of the memories of happiness, the time spent with the people precious to me, etched deep into my heart.

They supported the past me, allowed the past me to live, to maintain the slightest will to live on.

I swung my sword, again and again, and again.

I continued swinging my sword, desperately maintaining a facade, desperately laughing.

A laugh dried of emotion on my face, I continued the same action for days, weeks, months, years.

Why was I swinging a sword?

In the end, I could not even recall the reason for my actions.

The memories of a man who wielded his sword to survive, who ultimately took his own life on top of the mountain of corpses he had built. The way of life of a swordsman who couldn’t endure solitude was probably too much for the young girl to bear.

Her breath gradually became more ragged.

It was a matter of time before the man with the giant scythe turned an accusing gaze towards me, due to the girl’s clearly strange state.

“….what the hell did you do to her?”

The man looked at me with surprise.

In contrast, my own state of mind was rather calm.

In a place like this, would an enemy ever mistake their opponent and lose consciousness? If this was an elaborate strategy, I would have honestly praised their superlative acting ability.

I had never seen symptoms like what affected the young girl.

Though, I had the feeling that she had peeked in my head. She stared at me, apparently lost her consciousness and had a kind of seizure, She was looking at me with an expression that suggested she couldn’t believe her eyes too. An expression that made me think of one thing. Additionally, the past memories that came back to me. Because of the timing, I had to conclude that she had seen them too.

I walked towards the girl and stopped in front of her. Rowle and the others probably hadn’t realized what happened yet: they were still frozen.

No one was there to stop me.

So I— 

“Ouch!”

I bent forward a little and flicked the girl’s forehead.

“Ow….”

The girl crouched down, holding her forehead in pain.

The man was surprised again: both by the fact that she had regained consciousness and that “Shadow Bind” had been released.

“I’m sorry for attacking you all of a sudden.”

Most likely, they were “Faraway Hollow” Zerum Barbatos and Rinchelle’s third princess, Lychaine May Rinchelle.

I ignored Lychaine, still in pain from the forehead flick and apologized to Zerum. Maybe he was surprised by my apology or my quick change of behavior, but he barely managed to reply.

Even so, I judged there were no problems, scattered my “Spada” in the area to check for any unusual activities and turned towards Lychaine.

“Haah…”

I sighed to myself. Why did I even need to do this…?

“Don’t go looking inside people’s heads without permission.”

“Eh! Ah, er, you, you could tell?”

“The way you did it, anyone could.”

The loss of consciousness was probably still lingering: Lychaine wasn’t thinking properly and couldn’t speak normally yet, but she managed more or less to understand what I said.

“If you can’t endure it, I advise against looking inside my head. The memories you saw were nothing pleasant, right?”

It was the *second time* someone looked inside my head. I harbored no anger towards that action itself, though.

It would be different if my memories were taken away from me, but if they just looked at them, I didn’t feel it was something to be angry about.

On the contrary, I felt kind of dejected.

“And it’s better if you don’t use that ability too much. Or your heart will break down.”

“……….”

Lychaine seemed to be extremely surprised by me speaking as if I had met people who could read others’ minds before. She was completely absorbed.

“How much do you know?”

“…who knows. But you know the answer better than anyone. After all, you’ve looked inside my head.”

I replied, sarcastically.

I really meant what I said, but Lychaine seemed to honestly not know the answer, as her following words proved.

“I actually only saw the death of many people. Nothing else.”

It was probably an important memory in the depths of my heart, so it came out first.

“…have you ever met someone like me?”

It was more than clear what she meant.

“…yes, one. Do you want to know what happened to them?”

The silhouette of a person who lost all emotion appeared in my head.

They couldn’t laugh, they couldn’t cry, they wanted to weep and lament, but couldn’t do even that. A person who continued to regret for the rest of their life.

A person who regretted forever the fact that they couldn’t even feel pain when those important to them died. I knew such a person.

.

<<So please, laugh, cry, get angry on my part too.>>

.

I knew of a person who died while saying such— 

“No, no thank you.”

“I see.”

I believed her choice to be the right one, so I smiled and approved.

“So, did you find the flower?”

“Yes, thanks to everyone’s help.”

“That’s great. I’m sure they’ll get better. Your family too.”

“I too believe that this flower will cure them.”

Maybe she wanted to drive away her fears or maybe it was from the heart.

I couldn’t know what Lychaine actually felt, but she showed me a very nice smile.

“Hahaha”

Before I realized it, I found myself laughing.

Lychaine looked at me, puzzled.

“Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make fun of you. I just thought that being able to laugh is a really wonderful thing.”

If they were born in a different world, even that guy would have laughed in the end, despite suffering ‘till the end. I too forced myself to laugh so often that my expression got twisted. Because of that, I didn’t like laughing very much, but being able to laugh was a blessing, I thought.

“Treasure your feelings, and your heart too.”

I continued to look in Lychaine’s eyes as I stood back up. I mentally berated myself for wasting time like that, despite saying I wanted to leave as quickly as possible and started walking towards the location where my ship was anchored.

“Wait.”

A voice called to me.

“….who or what the hell are you?”

It came from the man with the giant scythe, Zerum.

“Me?”

I looked over my shoulder, thought for a second, then turned my thoughts into words.

“I am the third prince of the Diestburg kingdom, Fay Hanse Diestburg.”

I continued, many emotions swirling in my breast.

“Someone who can’t forget his past and is stuck in it— ”

I tried discarding it before.

In the end, I couldn’t. On the contrary, I was even starting to walk the same path.

I couldn’t protect anyone but now wielded my sword again, to protect others. The same choice as before.

It might be a foolish idea.

But it worked for me. That’s what I thought.

So I continued with a laugh, with no second thoughts.

“—the ‘Trash Prince’.”


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