SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 6

 

Chapter 6 – Turning Back Time

 

The atmosphere was tense, volatile.

Cohen’s words, however, softened it to a degree.

“…don’t glare at me like that now. I am a historian, but I’m not so clueless that I would make an enemy out of someone like you. Even if I got involved, rest assured I’d properly gauge the risks and returns.”

I didn’t want him to get involved too easily, so that was enough for the time being.

“…in any case. I see, so this is a warning.”

Cohen’s expression suggested he was convinced.

“That explains why I couldn’t read it well.”

His nickname was “Heart Scan”.

It came from his ability to read deep into the “heart” of not only humans, but also objects.

The hate and loathing overflowing from the wall paintings probably prevented his ability from working to the fullest.

Cohen looked serene, as if a doubt that plagued him for years was finally dispelled.

“Wa…wait.”

Another person, however, stopped us with a shaking voice.

— Elena.

“Then, where is the ‘Time Magic’….?”

“I never heard of magic like that, at least.”

So I replied, then continued.

“I doubt you’ll find any clues in these ruins either.”

If my guess was correct, only Rudolf and Traum were involved with building these ruins.

I knew their bloodline techniques well: they were both completely unrelated to the manipulation of time.

“I don’t know where you heard that from, but…I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any single recollection of that sort of magic.”

“…no, no, wait…wait…I…”

I came here expecting to find “Time Magic”.

I could easily imagine what she wanted to say.

I had talked to Elena once about the concept of turning back time. I knew how much she staked on it.

Her heart and her former life were probably both mercilessly shattered by the “Abominations”. If there was a chance, she would obviously want to go back. I understood her feelings, so much that it hurt.

“That was pretty strict of you. The former princess here is your acquaintance too, isn’t she?”

Elena was holding her head in her hands, a hollow look in her eyes, mumbling to herself. Looking at her, Cohen said those words to me.

“That’s the reason why.”

— Keep on living and you’ll find the “answer”.

So I was told, and I lived while clinging on those words. But in the end I could not find any “answer”.

Only despair.

My heart was consumed, spent, broken beyond repair. I ended that life by my own hand.

Because of the past I lived through, I refused to say words that would give empty hopes.

“Who can be saved by believing in a mirage? It’s more cruel to continue feeding illusions like that.”

It’s only possible to get drunk with ideals until you face reality. If you keep getting drunk, choose to escape again, what awaits is only harsher reality.

Which outcome was more cruel, then?

“I…I…I have to change it. Change it all…go back to that…time and…change…!”

A desperate plea, carried by a feeble voice.

“If..if I can’t…then I don’t know why…why I was even born… anymore.”

They let me live, so I couldn’t die.

Elena carried such emotions in her heart as she continued to earnestly live on. It resembled my situation so closely, that I almost thought I was looking into a mirror.

She looked so terribly, hopelessly small.

 

◆◆◆

 

Around the same time as Fay decided on his own to follow Cohen Socaccio in the ruins…

Two silhouettes left the inn and followed closely the path he had walked on earlier. 

“Ratifah.”

“Yes, what is it, head maid?”

“If you could turn back time…would you?”

“What a strange question. It’s very unlike you.”

The brown-haired girl called Ratifah was surprised for a moment by the question asked by the head maid — Feli, but she quickly regained her usual attitude and smiled.

“His Highness asked me the same question this morning. In the end he did not tell me why, though. Why would he ask something like that…”

“I see. In that case, I must retract my words. That question was very much like you.”

To think so deeply about a question casually asked her master, trying to discover the meaning hidden behind it. Ratifah found such clumsiness to be very much like the head maid, she thought as she continued smiling.

She was a bit bothered that Feli still used “Your Highness” even after they decided to use the fake name “Shizuki”, but there was no one around them at the moment, so she chose to say nothing.

“Well, honestly, I think I’d like to turn back time.”

Even if it would mean to turn her back to the pride she had upheld, the oaths she swore, her memories.

That is, *if it was really possible to change things*.

Ratifah whispered this last sentence in her heart and her expression stiffened a bit.

“There’s no way something so convenient really exists, though.”

Feli slightly furrowed her brow at Ratifah’s absolute confidence that something like that could not exist.

“There are all sorts of magic in this world. If we look hard enough, we might find something similar to ‘Time Magic’. Everything has its defects, though.”

“Defects, you say?”

“Yes. For example, Prince Stenn’s incredible amount of magic power took its toll on his body. Prince Grerial’s magic needs him to touch the target in order to work. Your spirit magic, Shizuki’s sword, everything has its defects.”

Feli looked at Ratifah, wide-eyed.

It wasn’t strange for her to know about Stenn or Grerial. But how did she know about Feli herself or Fay?

Feli couldn’t hide her surprise at Ratifah possessing information that was supposed to be secret.

“Even if magic capable of turning back time existed, it would have its share of defects too. Maybe it’s because I see it like this that I can’t just say something vague like ‘it might exist’.”

— Especially.

So continued Ratifah.

“Especially because I know a sad story about turning back time. So I can’t find it in me to answer that question in a positive way.”

“…a sad story?”

“I read it when I was little. I can’t remember the characters’ names…it was about a boy, a girl and their pitiful teacher, who had the ability to turn back time. Just three characters.”

In the story a certain event happened, but out of those three the boy did not know about it, until the end.

“I forgot the name of the boy, but I think the girl’s name was — Tiara.”

.

— Life is full of irrational misfortune. There’s mountains of it everywhere, especially in a world like this one.

.

Ratifah blinked, slowly, while recalling the words she was once told, then smiled.

“…why was the teacher ‘pitiful’?”

So asked Feli.

How could he be pitiful, with an incredible ability like turning back time?

“It’s simple, head maid. He couldn’t save anyone, even with that ability. That’s why he was pitiful.”

The ability to transport himself back in time.

Ratifah heard he had such a bloodline ability.

The holder of this ability, a teacher, had tried many times to change the past. But in the end he could not succeed. That was the one defect of the ability to turn back time.

“The only ability he had was to go back in time. No matter how much he struggled, the results never changed.”

Everyone said it, not only the boy.

I cannot think of anyone capable of beating him.

Of course they couldn’t.

*That man* had returned to the past thousands of times, trying to change it for the better each time, after all.

He surely tried to gain more strength in the process.

The experience he had was incomparable. Of course no one could win against him.

“He could only change the process, never the result…his heart couldn’t stand it anymore and he gave up on trying. It was the story of the second most pitiful man in the world.”

Even if something like “time magic” existed, the conclusion would probably be the same as the “story”.

Ratifah was completely sure of this, so she told the story to Feli.

“The most pitiful was the boy, who inherited everything from the teacher, except that ability.”

The boy met the teacher after the latter’s heart had been broken completely.

So the teachings received by the boy were broken also.

Thus Ratifah found him pitiful too.

“…by the way, how does that story end?”

“I didn’t read it till the end, actually. Things happened, and I couldn’t.”

But.

“It was a sad story, though, so I think the ending must be sad too. That’s the feeling I get.”

“…really.”

“Anyway, I’m sure it’s 100% better to live the present to the fullest rather than cling to a magical fantasy of turning back the hands of time.”

Even if something convenient like that really existed, it would definitely have its defects, after all.

So the best thing to do was to rely on other options, concluded Ratifah.

“It’s not easy to do in a world full of absurdity, though. So people end up clinging to religion or other weird stuff, I guess.”

It’s a real problem…said Ratifah as she sighed and closed her eyes.

It only lasted a moment, though.

“But rather than that! I’m pretty surprised that Shizuki would ask something so romantic as ‘would you like to turn back time?’. Hehe.”

Ratifah produced a — fairly on the nose — self-satisfied expression.

It probably tickled Feli the right way, though, as she blew air from her nose.

“Now that I think about it, a question like that isn’t like His Highness at all…he said he talked with someone, maybe he heard the question from them.”

“Hmm, very interesting…that person must be a very strange one, to be able to interact with Prince Sloth…”

“He said it was someone kind of like you, Ratifah.”

“…………..”

All emotion abandoned Ratifah’s face.

A few seconds later, the veins on her forehead were twitching.

“I-I am truly glad he encountered such a generous and wonderful person!”

She corrected herself, awkwardly.


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