SETP Vol. 4 Chapter 7.5

【Reminiscence】Feelings and Legacy

『No matter how incredible or impossible something seems to you, if there aren’t any other answers, that’s the truth. That’s how the world gives birth to new things.』

You better pound that in your head, Shizuki.

That’s why I want to leave it for the future to see. How we were forced to kill, kill, and kill again, spilling blood everywhere, our cesspool of a past…gotta leave it all, else it’s gonna end up like “something that might have happened once”.

Even if we’ll destroy this mess of a world one day, it’s going to come back again. It’s made so many victims already, it’ll be a crock of shit if this history gets repeated, right?

Rudolf was laying his raw thoughts on me that day too.

One day, I didn’t remember when exactly, I had asked him a question.

Why did he say that to me?

If he was looking for someone to understand and cooperate with him, there were many people more fitting than me. People I couldn’t match at all, in fighting ability or anything else.

Rudolf, however, always spoke about his ideals with me.

So I asked him why.

And this is what Rudolf answered.

『What a dumb question. It’s obviously because you’re the only sane one, Shizuki.』

It didn’t make sense to me.

『I’m the only…sane?』

I was shaken. It was like he thought everyone else in the group was crazy.

Rudolf continued, without denying my words.

『Yeah, they all look insane to me. That’s why I only tell you about my ideals. Got it? Shizuki?』

『…that feels new. I’m usually the one that gets called crazy by everyone else.』

“Ha, hahaha. Right. In this case, we might be the crazy ones.”

For whatever reason, Rudolf included himself with me in the very small group he expressed as “we”.

『Listen here, Shizuki. The other day, I told Traum everything about myself. Do you know what that bastard said to me then? “Man, you’re mental”. Can you believe it!? Son of a bitch! If only my ability worked on him, I’d have kicked his ass then and there!!』

Rudolf shouted, his face twisted in anger. But it only lasted a couple of seconds.

『…see what I mean?』

Rudolf’s frothing anger quieted down in an instant.

『In this world, people like us get treated as the weird ones. But I don’t want to call that insanity. Which means that they are the crazy ones, right?』

To walk on a path of corpses, filled with loathing, steeping in filth and blood.

In a world like this, this way of life was accepted as obvious, as normal.

…or rather, it was the only way to live.

『We might be able to say all these nice things now, but we could go insane too one day. So I want to talk, while I still can…the greatest thing would be to be able to talk until the end.』

Rudolf looked down, melancholic.

But I knew how he felt. So much that it hurt.

.

— It hurts? Then why don’t you go insane too?

.

Those words were uttered by a certain person’s family.

A man who possessed a bloodline ability unlike any other, the ability to read the memories and emotions of any and all things.

Because of that ability, his own emotions were shattered, he became unable to even change his facial expressions. Uttered by him, those words acquired an incommensurable weight.

To cast away all pain, sadness, all emotions, just laugh and kill.

Embracing such insanity would definitely let you feel more at ease. Your heart would stop wailing in pain too. I knew that.

I knew that well, but I couldn’t reach that state of mind yet. I still couldn’t cast away all my doubts and resistance towards ending someone’s life with my own hands.

『 —Esperanto.』

What Rudolf blurted all of a sudden was the name of his bloodline ability.

It was the ability to breathe life into inanimate objects, if I recalled correctly.

『Everything I’ve seen and heard, I’m going to leave it all for the future to see, with my bloodline ability. If I can leave a proper answer, the same mistakes won’t be repeated. That’s what I believe.』

It was a hopeless world.

There weren’t any proper human morals anywhere. A lawless world where violence reigned supreme.

That’s the kind of world we were born in.

What turned that shitty world into something even less deserving of salvation was the “Black Peddler” and their “Abominations”. They should have never been allowed to be born.

The fatal sin that doomed the world.

『I…see.』

I honestly thought he was amazing.

So much that I found myself pitiful: “amazing” was the only word could think of to describe Rudolf’s beliefs.

『I’m sure you can do it, Rudolf.』

『Huh? Who do you think you’re talking to, Shizuki? Of course I can.』

Rudolf snorted and made fun of me for saying something so obvious.

It might have sounded like he was overconfident, but I knew he was supported by an unshakable resolve, so I couldn’t deny his words.

“Esperanto — Ideal World”.

A bloodline ability that allowed the user to pour their own lifeforce into inanimate objects.

A god-like ability that made it possible to shape life as the user willed, to create the user’s ideal world — hence the name.

Rudolf looked up and continued speaking, as if he had just grasped something very important.

『…I guess that, in the end, I just want to save this world…see what it looks like after it’s saved.』

Words fitting a warrior of justice.

It might all be hypocrisy, all to feel satisfied in himself.

The process that led Rudolf to such thoughts, however, didn’t matter to him anymore.

A world turned into a boundless, desert wasteland.

There was no “salvation” to be found anywhere. The world was wounded, ruined, filled with nothing but “despair”.

That is why Rudolf thought it was worth it.

That true “salvation” had value.

Because he wanted to be saved too, maybe more than anyone else.

『Even if I can give it my all to leave something for the future, there’s definitely no way I can see what comes of it with my own eyes. We’re talking about a future coming when I’m long gone, so it’s obvious, though.』

『Rudolf…』

『Shizuki, I know I’m saying some stupid shit. But you have to do something for me. If, by some freak chance, you are born again…you have to make sure what happened in my place.』

『Make sure…?』

『Yeah. See if all I did had some value. If there was a point in what I left. Do that for me.』

『Got it.』

I smiled wryly as I accepted his request.

It was surreal to talk of “being born again” seriously, but I couldn’t say anything else to Rudolf’s earnest gaze.

So if I was ever involved in such a supernatural occurrence, I was definitely going to grant his wish. So I swore in my heart.

『By the way, won’t you talk about it with the mentor?』

Rudolf called everyone else other than me crazy. I couldn’t classify my mentor in the category of insanity that Rudolf talked about, however.

My mentor understood my thoughts completely. I was sure he would have helped Rudolf, if given the chance.

However…

“Mentor…? Ah…Vincenz.”

After uttering my mentor’s name, Rudolf looked right and left for some reason, then shook his head.

A clear expression of resignation.

『He’s the one person I can’t talk to about this.』

『Why? I mean, my mentor— 』

Rudolf probably understood what I was going to say and interrupted me.

『Shizuki. In that man’s case, it’s not a matter of being crazy or not. Yeah, he’d listen to me for sure. But that man is *broken*. We could talk, but it would end there. Definitely.』

『……』

I couldn’t understand what Rudolf meant. So I stayed quiet and just frowned.

Rudolf noticed that I was failing to grasp the meaning of his words.

『Vincenz only cares about you and his comrades, his family. So he couldn’t care less about what happens in the future. He’d listen to me, sure, he might even help me a little. But it won’t mean anything to the realization of my wish.』

I couldn’t believe his words completely.

I couldn’t fathom how he could say my mentor was “broken”. How he could even consider such a possibility.

『He doesn’t care about future “salvation”, not one bit…no, maybe this is too harsh…but the point is the same. Vincenz is convinced that all he can do is survive, day by day. So maybe he’ll help me a little, but he’ll never, ever understand.』

『My mentor…all he can do is…survive…?』

I almost couldn’t believe my ears.

A man who always emerged unscathed from the battles with the “Abominations” really thought that all he could do was to survive?

『You can’t understand it, maybe, but for me, Vincenz is actually the most desperate one of the lot here. 』

Vincenz feared death, yet also wished for it more than anyone else. But he also sought a proper reason to die. His personality chained him to this world.

It was a way of thinking completely beyond my comprehension.

『Rud…Rudolf, why…』

Why do you say something like that? I couldn’t finish the sentence.

『Shizuki, do you know Vincenz’ bloodline ability?』

Rudolf asked an unexpected question. Why would he mention my mentor’s bloodline ability now?

『Do you, or don’t you?』

『…no, I don’t.』

『Thought so. There’s your answer.』

I couldn’t understand.

『I guess he doesn’t want you to know. It sounds like I’m teasing you, and I’m sorry, but I can’t say anything else if he doesn’t want to tell you about his bloodline ability.』

— If you knew about that calm fury of his, how twisted he is deep down, you might be able to guess, though.

Rudolf whispered to himself in a tone I could barely hear.

I couldn’t understand the meaning of those words either, though.

『Honestly, if you ask me, he’s just being selfish. That’s how pitifully narrow-minded he is.』

— He doesn’t want you to see how he’s just a husk of a man, who lost all reason to live, I bet. Because he knows more than anyone else what comes at the end of life.

I didn’t know what to say to those words and fell silent. Each of Rudolf’s words, however, engraved themselves deep into my soul.

『Haha, hahaha.』

Just then…

Rudolf laughed.

He smiled, as if he was thoroughly pleased, and looked at my face with interest.

『My desire for “salvation” was born because I was with Vincenz, you, and the others…maybe.』

All the people on Vincenz’s side were twisted in some way.

They all carried unspeakable experiences in their past.

Even if they acted like it was nothing, there were no exceptions.

…there was an illusion user, standing guard to a utopian mirage.

A paradise built to save the weak from a world filled with despair. Mirage Town, they called it.

One of the greatest illusion users of the century had created this paradise of lies with his bloodline technique, after witnessing his family turn into “Abominations” before his eyes.

All pain, suffering, and sadness were drowned in illusions. From such a ridiculous motto, that fool created a paradise, dream-like while being the farthest thing from a dream.

His name was Traum.

After finally realizing that all he created was just smoke and mirrors, Traum started traveling with Vincenz.

…a middle-aged man whose family was taken hostage, was told that he had to give up on his arm — the source of his bloodline technique — if he wanted to save them and did just that without a shred of hesitation — Lantis.

A young girl whose entire family, acquaintances, every single person in her hometown was massacred before her eyes by a maniac, who then told her “The weak aren’t allowed to choose how to die” and kept her alive for his pleasure — Tiara.

The only man in the world capable of hearing the voice of the “Abominations”, thanks to his bloodline technique. Who used it to its limits, hoping to find out a way to save the humans turned into the “Abominations”, but in the end found nothing. The man who lost all emotions in the process and finally understood that what he heard the “Abominations” plead — “Please kill me” — was the essence of their desires — Rezenoir.

Together with them, there was also — 

『Me, a guy saved seconds before he was turned into an “Abomination” as a “sacrifice on the altar of global salvation” and someone protected by his family and destined to survive until the end. You, Shizuki. We’re all messed up, huh?』

Rudolf recalled the circumstances we were in and sneered.

His smile was cruel, merciless — veiled by sadness. It was so different from a normal laugh.

『That’s why, man…I want to see a “saved world”.』

And precisely because of that…

『What you and Vincenz call “a world where you don’t have to wield a sword to live”. So — 』

— you gotta help me when the time comes. Got it, Shizuki?

~

In the ancient ruins where “Heart Scan” Cohen Socaccio led us, I recalled such distant memories while looking at the wall paintings. Remembered them with nostalgia.

“It was definitely worth it. Your actions definitely had value.”

A world sinking in insanity and hate.

Rudolf struggled until the end, engraving his earnest, admirable message. The wall paintings were his final destination.

Even without an ability like Cohen or Lychaine, I could perfectly hear his howling, raw emotions.

“…Rudolf.”

The name escaped my lips.


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