SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 26
Chapter 26 – A Second Life
— what does it mean to be born again?
I asked myself that so many times after being reborn as Fay. I thought about it time and again during the dozen years I spent in this world.
My memories were intact.
My personality was the same too.
But I wasn’t “Shizuki” anymore.
You only live once. That’s why everyone clenches their teeth, clings to whatever straw they find, and coughs blood to survive.
This cruel reality, however, came to me for a second time. I was forced to live again, a chance I couldn’t give or entrust to anyone else.
You only live once…I heard, for the second time.
“…I hated being alone.”
If a god really existed in this world, it definitely had a nasty personality.
I had so many regrets for my past life.
However, I never wished to live one more time. I just hated being alone.
The sun was setting.
Closing my eyes I sat down on the bed, the pale sunlight filtering through the window. I immersed myself in my memories.
At first, I thought I could find them somewhere.
I thought they had to be somewhere.
After dying as Shizuki, I thought I had arrived in the afterlife. I thought my mentor and the others were there too.
My small body couldn’t move properly yet, but even so I walked from dawn to dusk. I asked everyone I could: have you seen this man? Have you ever heard this name? Do you know anyone with an ability like this? I talked in as much detail as I could.
— but I couldn’t find them anywhere.
So I started thinking that my mentor and the others had gone somewhere far away.
That they were waiting for me there.
They were waiting to scold me for foolishly choosing death.
— but I couldn’t find them anywhere.
I only found my memories and facts.
The memories of the days spent with them, so fresh and vivid in my mind. The fact that they were not in this world.
…even after death, I was alone.
“All I wanted to protect slipped through my fingers…they took everything away from me. I disliked the sword, because it took everything that was precious to me. I even hated it.”
As a swordsman, I knew that the sword was a catalyst of death, a grim reaper.
My sword was the one thing that allowed me to survive, but I hated it — as it was powerless to protect those dear to me.
That is why I refused to wield it.
Because I knew that if I did — I would be alone again. Because I couldn’t erase that vision of the future from my mind.
“…memories are a troublesome burden. Even if you want to throw them away, you can’t. They just forced a second life on me.”
Whoever twisted the laws of nature stating how all creatures live once and forced a second life on me left all my past memories in my head, as if it was punishment for my sins.
I knew that it would have been so much easier to live if I forgot everything, but I couldn’t let go of those important memories: they were what allowed me to be myself.
I couldn’t erase them, forget them, or keep only the happy ones.
That reality pounded my very being like a hammer, crushing my heart to pieces.
The only option I had was to accept it.
“I thought this life was a wreck.”
I saw my life as Fay Hanse Diestburg as a bonus, something like a stepping stone. Ever since I picked up the sword again, I only thought of finding a death that could satisfy me. I only thought about how to turn it into reality.
“I thought of this life as nothing but a mess.”
And I thought I knew the reason why I was living such a mess of a life.
I was aware that due to the number of murders I had committed, I had earned a place in hell.
That was why I referred to myself as trash.
I was nothing but a bloody murderer. That was the best description possible for me.
“…but for some reason, recently, I have started to doubt these things. Even though I should know that it’s all a mess.”
My willpower started trembling, but the following words put it at ease.
…deep down, I simply felt lonely.
I was just a weakling that hated being alone.
My willpower was frail.
New bonds, new meetings, new memories. A wider circle of affections. Scenes in my mind.
…I hated being alone, so I couldn’t turn my back to them.
Various emotions swelled and bloomed, independently from my will. I tried to cut everything away, but couldn’t, no matter how much I tried.
“…aah, right. If I could take your hand and live in the ‘normal’ way, I would have been so happy. I would have definitely lived a life of happiness.”
A new choice appeared in my mind.
A choice so bright it hurt.
However…I couldn’t pick it, no matter what.
It was a choice I could only envy. A choice I could never reach, no matter how much I stretched my hands. I could never choose an option that would involve turning my back to my mentor and the others.
I couldn’t pick a choice that would fulfill only me.
“…but even if I know that it would bring me some relief…I can’t take your hand. I said that I had no intention of dying, and that was true. It was true then, now, and in the future too. But my nature can’t change so easily. It’ll never do so. So..so…”
— please, don’t look at me like that.
So I pleaded to Feli, my voice quivering.
…I told her about my past.
I told her everything, without exception.
I said everything I knew. But she didn’t say anything in return. She looked at me as if she knew everything, she understood everything. Her gaze was painful to sustain.
I wished she would insult me instead.
I wished she would spit in my face, treat me like the murderer beyond all possible salvation that I was. I would have felt so much better if she did.
“Your Highness…in the past or in the present, your heart is always the same.”
When Feli finally broke her silence, it was with a voice mixed with laughter.
“I understood, albeit a little, why you called yourself trash so much.”
Feli continued, a tinge of sadness in her voice.
“That…comes from your guilt, I suppose.”
…she was completely right.
All my actions, deep down, were dictated by the guilt I felt towards my past.
I felt guilty, so I called myself trash.
I felt guilty, so I never thought of acting in a way that would make me feel fulfilled.
“Haven’t you done that enough though?”
Feli seemed to see through my thoughts.
Her following words were heavy with meaning.
“I will not tell you to forget your past. Because those memories are part of you, Your Highness. But…I see no reason to suffer more than necessary…”
…after a little while, I understood why I hadn’t talked to Feli about my past before. I didn’t want to talk about it to her, because she was too kind. Just like my mentor and companions.
Her words were sweet, enticing. Aah…
…don’t look at me with compassion or piety.
Don’t try to help me.
Don’t try to console me.
Or my resolve will tremble.
I could lose to the sweet temptation to — please, stop it.
I could lose myself to that happiness…please, please, stop.
…in my heart I begged, I pleaded, to no avail.
Don’t show concern towards me.
Only solitude awaits at the end…just like in the past. The future was decided the moment I picked up the sword. An inevitable future.
Wielding the sword leads to solitude.
A one way path towards death.
I knew that it was obvious. I knew that it was a law of nature. And yet.
Why…why was my heart so weak?
“…Your Highness, you are not alone anymore. You are a man of Diestburg now…beyond all doubts.”
I believed that the only people I could trust were my mentor and companions.
Even if I was born again. Even if they were not in this world. I believed that was still the case.
Feli’s words, however, struck and conquered my heart.
What a pitiful traitor I was, I thought.
I said that I was going to return the gratitude I received..
I decided I had to return Feli’s gratitude, for always staying close to a living mess like me. But I would only give from my side: there was nothing I wanted.
I thought I was sure of that, but…
My feelings and hopes were going separate ways.
Their directions were completely different, they wouldn’t match at all.
“I’m sorry, please leave me alone for a while.”
My inner turmoil was probably clearly visible to Feli too. She surely saw right through me.
Feli stood up and left the room.
I was now alone — with my “Spada”, leaning against the wall.
“What am I supposed to do?”
I threw my doubts, my questions to the weapon I considered as part of me. There was no answer however.
“Can I really accept these blessings…?”
Except one thing, I had everything.
This world had everything.
Many things are too pure, too bright for me.
“Tell me, please — ‘Spada’.”
I’m going to fall into despair eventually, right? I’ll be alone again, right?
In that case, it was better to end it all now.
Don’t you think so too?
I asked my blade, my “other half” to agree with me.
That very moment, I thought the “Spada” emitted a cracking sound.
It wasn’t supposed to have a will of its own — but I had the feeling it was telling me I had to figure that out on my own.
I scratched my head haphazardly.
I then spat out a line as if to hide my embarrassment.
“…that wasn’t nice, partner.”
But it was definitely better than actually telling me something.
“Okay, yes, I’ll figure it out. I’ll think of something while I keep swinging you, ‘Spada’…even someone like me isn’t alone, after all.”
I laughed as I said those words — words that would have made me doubt my sanity, if I heard them just a few months ago.