SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 19
Chapter 19 – Walk and Fall on the Path of Pride
What exactly is a path you can be proud of? I spent countless hours dwelling on this dilemma, the weight of the wills I inherited oppressing my shoulders.
Even the answer I reached after all that, however, was not perfectly clear.
Those were the words spoken to me by my mother, before dying to protect me. Her sobs grazed my ears. The unpleasant smell of burning flesh stung my nostrils. Time and again, they attacked my senses together with the memories of that day.
That was my punishment, for always being protected by others, unable to do the same in turn.
…she told me to live.
So I thought I should.
I swore that I would go on living as long as I could, to not bring shame to the mother who died for me.
That was the beginning.
— If you go on living, you will find your answer.
A swordsman with a deathwish taught me how to survive. He was the only person who empathized with my way of thinking.
…despite the immense debt of gratitude I owed him, however, I could not repay him.
During training, he said “try and kill me”, and he meant it. The best way to repay my debts to such a person was to put him out of his misery myself, or so I thought. However, he went to fight against the “Black Peddler”. He thanked me for giving him a proper reason to die, before he died protecting me against the black sun.
So I decided to live in a way he would be proud of at the very least. I swore to live together with the blade he — my mentor — taught me. Until I reached my limit.
— There’s nothing my sword can’t cut.
A bizarre man had half forced me to use those words as my motto. He liked smoking his pipe: he often said it was very convenient for his bloodline ability, which allowed him to use illusions in battle.
After he — Traum — died, my mentor told me that the pipe contained a special drug that boosted the smoker’s bloodline abilities in exchange for reducing life expectancy.
In a battle long ago, in which he had lost some of his organs, his right arm and right leg, he met my mentor, who gave him the pipe. He used his illusion techniques to forcefully recreate his limbs and managed to escape death.
I learned after his death that the lethal wounds he bore in that battle were due to his lack of confidence: and that was the reason why he so persistently told me to be more confident in myself.
I thus decided to make “There is nothing my “Spada” cannot cut” as my mantra.
I engraved into my heart that the sword honed together with them would never be defeated, and trained with even more intensity. I swore that I would not lose to anyone other than my mentor and companions.
— I want the future generations to know what happened here!!!
He was a noisy guy, obsessed with history. A man that could breathe life into objects, with a ridiculous ability called “Esperanto”.
A messed up world like this can’t be allowed to exist.
An eccentric guy who never missed a chance to refute the world we lived in. Nothing would change even if he shouted and beat his chest: yet he refused to accept it all his life. He was an idiot through and through, who ended up dying for my sake.
A man who killed thousands of “Abominations” by himself — Rudolf fought them until his last breath. He died spitting blood.
Shizuki can’t be allowed to die, no matter what.
His last words still resounded vividly in my mind.
So I swore to exterminate every single one of them.
No matter if I am Shizuki or not, as long as I am “me”, I will kill every last “Abomination”. Nothing would change my resolve.
— whatever you do, don’t become like me.
There was a man who lost all emotion after excessive use of his bloodline ability. He — Rezenoir was not able to even cry or laugh anymore. He would often say these words to me:
“Without strength, you cannot save anyone.”
Words spoken by someone who wanted to save everyone and everything, “Abominations” included. Words of absolute weight and truth.
I didn’t have enough strength, so I couldn’t save anyone. I couldn’t help anyone.
I resolved to become stronger.
Strong enough to not lose anyone anymore. Strong enough to be the one that protects this time. So I swore to myself.
When I made that oath, however…
There was no one left at my side anymore.
— Shizuki, you’re weak, so let me protect you.
There was a girl who, after telling me that, really died while protecting me. Not one day passed without a fight, but before I realized it we became very close. We became friends. We both started studying under the same teacher.
That girl was once told that “losers aren’t allowed to choose how they die”, she was forced to go through a living hell, yet was spared in the end. She gave her life to protect me too. She died with the broadest smile on her face, as if she didn’t have even an ounce of regret.
I couldn’t forget her smile, no matter how much time passed.
I hoped I could smile as I died, like the girl — like Tiara did. I hated, resented my weakness. My life had been saved by her, so I swore I would die with a smile as broad as hers on my face.
In reality, though, I stabbed my throat with my “Spada”.
…at that time, there was no smile on my lips. I died while apologizing, with tears streaming from my eyes.
— You should live as you please, that’s what I think. Your life is yours alone after all.
Rudolf called that oath of mine pitiful, while my mentor said it sounded very much like me. Only one person sighed at how helpless I was.
Your life is yours alone, so there’s no need to let others influence it. She was a woman as free as her words suggested. She was also the person who helped me get back on my feet, after I lost my mother. I owed her a lot.
She too was a denizen of that hellish world however.
She eventually took her own sight, saying that there were too many horrible things to see. In the end, she killed herself too.
It was thanks to her — thanks to Anna — that I could blend in with my mentor and his group.
『What’s important is what you do with the present, never what you do with the past.』
If you find living to be painful, just end your life.
With the world in a state like this, no one would blame you.
She thus taught me how to live in that world. In the end, as to embody her teachings, she took her own life. I thought it was very much like her though.
Since I was saved by such a person, I thought I should live freely too.
I swore that I would be the one to decide my fate from then on.
…in the end, I chose to carry all of my past inside me, so nothing really changed, but I thought that was fine too. Anna would laugh and say it was just like me to do that. Or so I felt.
— We’re all hungry for some kindness here.
There was a one-armed man who loved using difficult words. That man — Lantis often preached to me about his way of life.
At that time, I only thought that I couldn’t understand what he was talking about, but now I can. From the bottom of my heart.
I finally began to comprehend what he meant.
So I swore again, this time as Fay Hanse Diestburg.
I swore that I would live free, just like Anna.
That was the reason why now…I was looking after a person probably hungry for some kindness.
“These are all techniques of my old companions. They’re this strong even as imitations. Pretty amazing, right?”
I looked at Grimnaught Izak — his massive body ravaged with wounds.
He used his ice to seal the wounds as soon as I inflicted them though, so no blood was running from them. His ragged breathing could be heard, but nothing more.
“I became able to do something like this without even realizing it…probably an effect of never letting go of the past. I’m not telling you to walk the same path I did though.”
My words were aimed not at Grimnaught — but at the woman behind me, Elena.
“You’re now alive because other people saved you…you should go on living in a way they would be proud of at least. They gave their lives for you, if you don’t repay them it would all be in vain, no?”
I was just pushing my way of thinking on her, nothing more.
But I felt I had to say it. I had to show it, no matter what.
I was sure that she wasn’t in the right state of mind to realize it now, but she surely was entrusted something by those who protected her.
“If you’re absolutely sure that running away from life right now would give you no regrets, I won’t talk anymore. But that is not the case, is it?”
Elena was very similar to me.
She dreamed, longed, starved for days long gone.
She foolishly believed in a fairytale like “Time Magic”, like a puppet held together by flimsy threads of hope.
“I know how you feel, so much that it hurts…but don’t let yourself go like that. You can run away from everything to die anytime you want…you can do it when you realize there are no answers left for you to find.”
A life of regrets.
I thought that was fine too.
I had lived until the end, my own way.
I exterminated the “Abominations” in that world. I became stronger.
This time, I could die with a smile on my face. I was sure that was my own belief, unaffected by anyone else’s influence.
Surviving also helped reduce my regrets. Thinking that *they* would be at least proud of me now, I felt the weight on my shoulders become much lighter.
“You wouldn’t want to die with your eyes swollen like that, would you?”
Living is nothing but suffering.
That was true too.
The life I lived as Shizuki was filled with pain. I knew that well.
“Did you know this, Elena? If you keep on living, you’ll find your answer.”
I told her the words I had once heard from my mentor.
I didn’t think I had found my answer.
But it was just a misconception on my part.
I had surely found it already.
That answer my mentor spoke of.
My new life as Fay Hanse Diestburg was what I reached after surviving until the end.
That was probably the answer.