SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 15
Chapter 15 – A Fool’s Lament
I was forced to face that reality time and again in my past, hence I said those words. In the end, what truly mattered was not ideals, not beliefs, definitely nothing metaphysical: it was only your own strength. I was a fool that honed his blade all his life, after being overwhelmed by this truth. That’s why I said the same thing to her.
“Strength…right. If I had enough strength, things might have been different…”
Elena looked at me, her eyes brimming with tears.
“I really envy you, Shizuki.”
“Yes. From the bottom of my heart.”
— because you’re so strong.
The moment I heard her words, a strong impulse of denial came over me.
…Feli was the same. Grerial and the people in Afillis and Rinchelle too. You too, Elena.
Most people said the same thing.
The people I met in this world said I was kind. Strong. They praised me like that.
I wasn’t kind or strong at all though.
…no, that’s not possible.
If I really was strong, no one would have disappeared from my eyes.
I wouldn’t have ended up being protected by everyone, without being able to save even one of them…I couldn’t save a single person, yet I was strong? Nonsense.
“…I’m not strong…and definitely not someone you should envy.”
Maybe because I was recalling the past…
Or maybe because Elena was so similar to the past me that I was more than surprised, almost terrified…
My voice was shaking a little.
The fool who couldn’t save even one of those important to him carried their wills forward and continued to wield his sword.
Those who died probably knew it too.
They knew that the fool wouldn’t be able to get over their deaths. That he didn’t have the strength to forget about their deaths and advance on his path of life.
So they all said the same thing to the fool.
“It’s not your fault,” they said.
They couldn’t tell him not to care about them. Not after pointing out how weak hearted the fool was all that time.
After being surrounded by their kindness for so long, the memories ingrained deep in the fool, always fresh, cruelly so. In the end, the fool’s heart was always wailing, always in pain.
“…I don’t deserve any of that.”
I despaired, regretted, cried, wailed in pain — sunk into solitude.
How could anyone envy such a jumbled mess of negative emotions?
Someone who wished to save everyone, but even now keeps regretting he couldn’t save anyone?
…someone still trapped in endless melancholy.
Raem told you to live free, didn’t he?
My feelings kept pouring out.
They wouldn’t stop.
“Even if that is true, I— ”
I was trying to dissuade her, the best way I could.
Telling her what a fool I actually was.
Yet Elena said she envied me. She looked at me with beautiful, clear eyes, the eyes of someone who never killed. I couldn’t stand the sight.
“…fine then. Listen to this.”
My tone of voice became firmer.
My lips curved hideously.
“The strength you envy so much was attained by a man who couldn’t save the people he cared about, at the end of total solitude…the strength of a weakling who couldn’t do anything to save the people he held dear! Someone who was only protected by them!! If you’re so envious, then try and walk the same path!! You’re lucky, you know? You’re pretty much in the same situation. Carry the wills of those gone before you, live for revenge and become a beast in human flesh. There, now you’re the person you wanted to be!”
I was irritated beyond measure.
If someone simply seeking more strength said the same thing to me, I probably wouldn’t have become so emotional.
…I was irritated because someone so similar to me said she envied me.
“If you want to become like me so badly that you’d even ignore the words of the person that stayed at your side until the end, then sure, I’ll show you the way.”
The damned way to become a pitiful idiot.
“…but you’re not like that, are you?!”
Aah, that’s right.
The real reason why I was so angry was that Elena, while similar in some ways, was ultimately different from me.
『I want you to live free.』
Her heart was strong enough to receive words of farewell like those.
…she was very different from someone like me, spoiled and protected until the end.
I was angry because a person capable of making choices I never could was trying to pick the most foolish option of all. I finally realized it.
“…listen to the words of those dear to you, at least.”
I was told “it’s not your fault” so many times. That and, “Sorry to make you bear this cross”.
And also — that my heart was weak. Everyone said the same thing. That’s why the path I walked was probably wrong, but for me that was not a mistake.
“That man, Raem is important to you, right…? You have to honor his words, at least.”
“Ha..haha…you’re terrible, Shizuki…”
“I mean, I lost everything, I don’t have anything left, and you tell me to keep living…you’re the worst.”
Elena laughed between her tears.
But I noticed that the sense of despair in her expression had grown dimmer.
“But you’re probably kind at heart. So kind you become a terrible person.”
“What does that even mean?”
First she says I’m terrible, then she calls me kind.
…I had no idea what she wanted to say.
“…that’s exactly what I mean.”
No matter how much I thought about it, I just couldn’t get it.
— I want you to live free.
Even if my mentor and the others had said something like that to me…
Could I have lived that way? — No, impossible. I had no doubts.
The fact that those people who knew me so well didn’t say it was proof enough — I realized, and smiled.
At a certain time, their existence filled the void formed in my heart. That was why I couldn’t forget them, why they never left me.
That was why, even if they told me to live free, I would have probably chosen the same path.
So the words directed to Elena had no effect on me. My mentor and the others knew it, so instead they told me “it’s not your fault”.
…they’re always one step ahead of me.
Once again I realized that I was never going to stand on the same level as those I admired so much. That sensation was so pleasant, so comfortable. I felt a bit thankful to Elena for making me realize it.
“Weren’t you going to take the girl out of here?”
“I told her not to follow me, but she won’t listen.”
After talking with Elena, I headed to the location where Grimnaught “Ice Coffin” Izak was waiting.
Before I left, however, she stopped me.
— take me with you, she said.
The light in her eyes when she uttered those words revealed a strong will — completely the opposite from when she begged me to kill her. That was probably why I eventually told her to do whatever she wanted.
“Well, no objections on my side. No protests if she gets hit by stray bullets though.”
“That’s not going to happen as long as she stays behind me.”
“Haha..hahaha…HAHAHAHA!! As confident as ever.”
Grimaught — who was waiting in a clearing close to the ruins, as promised — beamed a wide smile.
“Do you need this back, by the way?”
Grimnaught picked up a black blade — the “Spada” I gave Raem — and pointed it at me.
“No need. That man is…?”
“I let him through. That’s what the sword meant, I figured.”
“…that was helpful of you.”
“No need for thanks. I only listen to the strong, as I said. This is my way of showing respect, Fay Hanse Diestburg. From me to you.”
I felt a bit of nostalgia.
Just a little bit, because of Grimnaught Izak’s way of life.
In a world where strength ruled everything, respect was shown only to strength, naturally.
I had actually seen a plethora of fools just like Grimnaught.
Every time, those idiots would lecture me about the customs of battle. I had grown sick of hearing them talk about it.
“I will not be shamed.”
No matter what happened, I could not act in a shameful way here.
My mirror image, Elena.
I couldn’t act shamefully before the people who put their lives on the line for me.
I couldn’t act shamefully, also to show Elena how foolish the path I chose was.
“Listen, Grimnaught Izak. This is a teaching handed down in my family. Return respect with respect, they taught me.”
“Ooh? — in that case, I expect great things.”
“Yes, you do that.”
My lips stretched, expressing joy.
I exhaled deeply.
I breathed in and out, looking at my opponent and his feral smile.
“One slash, one kill. My heart, my body is forever a battlefield.”
I quietly uttered my motto.
“I will repay your respect with respect, Grimnaught Izak.”
I drew the “Spada” at my waist and stabbed it into the ground.
“All shadows are under my control.”
The memories of the past swirled in my head, around and around.
Those nostalgic scenes repeated themselves in a never ending cycle. I reminisced and smiled.
This was my answer, this was my way of life, I shouted in my heart.
…realizing once again that I had not changed a bit, sighing at my hopelessness, I recited—
“Tear everything to shreds — Spada!”