SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 21

Chapter 21 – ***

When Grerial’s party was still in Rinchelle, a certain person visited Fay’s empty room.

“Still buying flowers? Seriously…”

With a sigh, but also happiness in her tone, the maid looked at the flowers set in a vase.

In recent years, the sight of red spider lilies had become familiar to her.

In the language of flowers, they meant “Looking forward to meeting you again”.

They were graceful flowers, but also so vividly red that they felt ominous sometimes.

The maid — Ratifah, however, found them nostalgic.

“Does he know who actually takes care of them, honestly…”

Ratifah placed the flowers, one by one, in the vase filled with fresh water she brought.

“Always red spider lilies.”

Ratifah placed the seventh and final flower in the vase, then stopped moving.

“And always seven too.”

She took one of the curiously nostalgic red spider lilies in her hands and smiled.

“I’m sure that *everyone else* is laughing too, you know? You haven’t grown at all.”

The maid thought about her master, currently away from the castle.

A lonely boy, with a heart weaker than the average person.

Ratifah was truly fond of him. That was why she kept him at a distance.

If she revealed her past, he would surely start depending on her.

She didn’t hate it. On the contrary, she would have been happy. But it wasn’t what she wanted. Ratifah was not charmed just by his weak side.

He struggled towards one goal, persevering with honesty one step away from foolishness.

He wasn’t even strong, but thought and cared about others so much, became sad for them so much…Ratifah had fallen for that kind side of his.

She wanted to protect him.

A relationship in which they depended on each other was something that Ratifah — as long as she was *Ratifah* — could not accept.

“Have you found it yet?”

A reason to live while laughing like idiots, like a long time ago. A reason to live on.

We can’t go and leave him alone, can we?

Ratifah suddenly recalled the words spoken by the person Fay called his mentor, as vividly as if she could actually hear them. That time, they were still happy.

Even then, however, there was something dangerous about him.

His words and actions had something frail about them. So everyone said the same thing: we can’t leave him on his own.

Looking at him, however, Ratifah realized that he probably survived alone in the end, and looked down in apology.

“No one would have blamed him, and yet…”

It was the opposite; she was sure that most of them would apologize for going first.

She was like that, and the others were too.

Based on Fay’s personality, however…

“But that might have been the reason why he blames himself…”

It was clear that Fay had been blaming, accusing himself all this time.

To survive, to protect, to win against someone, to not lose anything…the man who wielded his sword for these reasons was nowhere to be seen in him.

“Things just don’t work out, do they.”

She continued.

“But you said that you’ll protect me, right ***? So I’m not going to help you.”

They happened to meet again, but Ratifah thought that it wouldn’t happen again. Even if she lent a hand to him, it would be just a temporary measure. It would be a choice that made him suffer more in the end. So she kept her distance.

That was the reason why Ratifah continued to act as a maid.

“You better find your own reason to live soon.”

Because that was the best thing you could do.

“If you do, I bet I’d fall for you again…fall in love. Say that I love you…”

I’d always look at you, striving in that foolhardy way, I’d cherish, admire, love that, I’d never stop looking for you, always talking to you with the biggest smile on my face…

Ratifah thought about the future fondly.

Together with her past memories, her feelings grew fonder and fonder.

“This time, I want to make more memories…and laugh more too…”

So…

“Make me fall for you again. Make me fall in love. Show me how cool you are.”

She exposed her feelings of love. She knew they never stopped.

It happened such a long time ago, it felt like a blur.

The memories of bickering with him resurrected.

The memories of the first encounter between the boy and the girl, when she first talked with ***.

◆◆◆

That day, fire and flames were raining everywhere.

The mock sun rained hellfire on the earth. A black sun ruled over the skies.

All residents were running away, but they were cruelly killed, one by one, by the creator of such a catastrophe.

Again and again.

In that world, it was a painfully normal event.

To kill others just because you wanted to. It happened day after day.

Weakness was a sin. In that world, that was an unshakable law.

She planned to ignore the hellfire and go on. A boy, however, recklessly stopped her.

A scream burned in her ears.

A disgusting smell of burning.

The town crumbling to pieces before her eyes.

The charred remains of what were probably human beings.

A boy was screaming, hugging a woman — his mother.

There she saw several silhouettes walking nonchalantly through the hellfire. The boy saw them as the allies of the creator of this carnage.

So he felt anger, fury, welled inside him, and erupted.

He just wanted to live.

He wasn’t getting in anyone’s way.

And yet, his ordinary lifestyle was destroyed. Everything was taken away from him.

<<Hey hey, is this for real?>>

The voice was half surprised, half annoyed. The boy didn’t care: before he realized, he was screaming and running at them, fists in the air.

The boy and girl thus met for the first time.

The boy was knocked unconscious by the man he tried to punch, the man who would become his mentor. “I’m going to take care of this kid”, he said.

Her companions, her family thus acquired a new member.

An annoying brat who did nothing but whine and cry. Or that’s how Tiara saw him at first.

If she tried talking to him, he would push her away, saying “you can’t understand how it feels!”.

So Tiara hit him, over and over.

She used violence on him, to make him understand.

Tiera let her emotions take over, she screamed at him that in this world without strength you couldn’t protect anything, you couldn’t even survive.

<<…I want to keep living for the sake of the people who let someone like me survive. I don’t want to lose anyone.>>

Days like that followed. Until one day…

With swollen eyes filled with tears, he managed to talk back properly for the first time.

He was still crying, his voice interrupted by sobs, but he finally expressed a desperate plea.

<<I want to be strong>>

From that day onwards, the boy started walking again.

At first, no one would say they were on good terms.

Tiara disliked the boy, after all.

But he trained like mad every day, swung his sword, begged to be taught. Looking at him, her impression changed.

When did the boy start saying that he wanted to be able to protect everyone?

He surely didn’t think well of Tiera, but even so, he said he wanted to protect her too. That she was important. That he didn’t want to lose his family anymore. He said it to her face, so many times.

Before she realized it, the girl’s eyes were always chasing the boy.

◆◆◆

That’s the part of him that won over her.

And so she wasn’t going to openly extend a helping hand.

“To live means to stand on your own two legs.”

If you live on, you can find happiness.

You know it’s true, isn’t it? Ratifah smiled.

“Mentor told you so many times, didn’t he. Don’t you dare say you forgot. Don’t you dare.”

Ratifah provided guidance too when he was lost, just like his mentor did.

She thought about this precious family of hers, as emotions filled her words.

“So I will wait for you, no matter how long it takes…*Shizuki*.”

Ratifah put the last red spider lily in the vase and left the dark, empty room.

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