What awaited Yuna when she woke up the next morning was the tremendous tension that had been here lately.
The royal palace was soon to be attacked by the anti-saint faction. That being said, she had been told a few days ago to try and not leave her room as much as possible. At that time, there was already more than enough of an atmosphere of being heavily guarded but Nasha still came every day to her room, as usual, and she participated in general ceremonies.
However, this morning, even that ordinary day was completely lost.
First, the person who came to wake Yuna was different from usual. Usually it was Nasha, or another maid came, but this morning she saw an old man she had never met before. He placed a tray with a set of Yuna’s clothes and a water bucket to wash her face on a shelf near the entrance, without entering the room, before he withdrew in haste.
Although Yuna felt an inexplicable sense of being out of place, she washed her face, changed her clothes, opened the curtains of her room herself, and combed her hair. When she wondered what would happen with breakfast, before long the person who carried it over was a male waiter that, again, she was seeing for the first time. The man silently prepared breakfast and Yuna, who also silently watched that, could not endure the suffocating air anymore and tried talking.
“Um, this is our first time, right? Having you attend to me like this.”
“Yes. I sincerely apologize for a man like me entering your chambers.”
“Ah, no, I don’t mind that at all.”
The waiter continued while arranging the table with nimble motions.
“It is likely this will only be for today, and so I beg your pardon.”
Only for today? Yuna tilted her head at those words. What exactly did that mean.
“What’s going on outside right now?”
He didn’t answer that question, only glancing at Yuna with a troubled gaze.
“Nothing has happened– yet.”
“Then you mean something is about to happen.”
“My apologies, but I…”
He must have been warned not to say anything unnecessary. The waiter pressed his lips together tightly and did not say anything more as he poured a glass of water with careful actions. Because he had quite a tight-lipped atmosphere, it seemed pointless to try and force information out of him. Moreover, even without forcing him to open his mouth, her guess was unlikely to be wrong.
Yes, the anti-saint faction were finally going to act.
(It’s come at last.)
If this was the case, then she didn’t have time to leisurely eat her breakfast. Yuna stood up immediately.
“I’m going to check the situation outside.”
“Well, I can’t stay still in this room. The anti-saint faction’s target should be me, so I need to go.”
“It is precisely because their target is you… You understand, right?”
At that moment an admonishing voice leapt out at Yuna, who was about to run out even now. –It was not the waiter. When she looked towards the door, it was just as Linus sauntered into the room.
Yuna called out that name while feeling nervous. Linus, who was called, briefly told the waiter that he could withdraw now. After he saw off the waiter who left the room as ordered, he turned to face Yuna again.
“I’m glad I came to check on you ahead of time. Good gracious, you are a terrifying child, Yuna. For trying to throw yourself into the tiger’s cave.”
Although it was a calm voice, there was a compelling power. Yuna continued standing still on the spot and looked up at Linus, at a loss.
“A no is a no, even if you call my name like that. You cannot leave this room.”
His eyes were serious. Yuna realized that he would never bend no matter how she pleaded.
“What in the world are you able to do if you stood in front of the anti-saint faction? At best, you would be getting in everyone’s way.”
He was right. She knew that. She knew that to a painful degree, but.
“Has the anti-saint faction come to that point already?”
“Most likely. But we haven’t seen them yet.”
“… There’s really going to be a fight.”
Linus gave a shrug at Yuna’s murmur.
“The attack should have been the day after tomorrow according to the schedule at the outset, but it appears to have been quickened. This must mean they are at the limits of their endurance as well. It’s unlikely they’ve come to surrender either.”
“In the end, it doesn’t seem like she’s among the people who gave themselves up.”
As she thought, huh. The present state of affairs, remaining in its worst situation, was greeting them now at this moment. Without any paths being opened, without any hope being found–.
“I don’t understand the reason for why you suffer that much. Well, I suppose if we say this is characteristic of you then there is that. In any case, if you wish to contribute somehow to everyone, then it’s best to stay still in this room. Do you not think it would be a heartening encouragement, more than anything else, for Asyut and the people of the royal palace to have you be in a safe place.”
Certainly, it was as Linus said. It was best for everyone if she stayed quiet and obedient rather than act poorly. –She knew that, she knew that.
But, even if her head understood, Yuna couldn’t stop the aching of her feelings. Her body, and her heart, tried to break into a run without permission.
Linus called out her name with a noticeably stern voice and peered intently into Yuna’s eyes.
“Once everything is concluded, I will come pick you up again. However, until then, do not leave this room.”
–Linus, please. She opened her mouth, wanting to plead like that, but instead only a deep sigh came out. While watching him turn his back and leave in a daze, she cursed her powerlessness from the bottom of her heart.
If she had power. Yuna hugged her trembling body tightly. If she had power, then she could act following these feelings of her. And even with Linus as her opponent, she would be able to go through her ideas with a resolute attitude.
But she couldn’t do that. She didn’t even have that capability.
Yuna couldn’t do anything but watch, with crazed feelings, as the door to her room closed quietly.
–It was quiet.
It was too quiet.
How much time had passed since then.
Yuna sat in her chair, without the slightest movement, and stared motionlessly into the air.
She didn’t know what to do with these earnest feelings that should be called anger which simmered and welled up towards herself. The breakfast that had been prepared for her grew cold, and even her body gradually started to tire from holding the same posture for a long time.
She wondered what exactly was happening outside
In this room that was in the depths of the royal palace, she was isolated entirely from the outside world. Not a single sound was heard; only a terrifyingly quiet passage of time as usual.
She wondered if the anti-saint faction had finally arrived.
She wondered if they exchanged blows with the royal guards and if they were already captured.
She wondered if Asyut had faced Milifaire.
She wondered if there were people who lost their lives in this battle–.
Yuna bit her lip harder and harder.
(Am I really okay with this?)
Once more she reflected on this question that she had asked herself several dozens of times during this time. The answer that was returned from within her mind was the same fixed one of “It’s inevitable”, and that was all.
It was inevitable. The reason why was because she was just a girl without any power. Even if she acted on her feelings, she would only be a burden to everyone. Everything was properly planned and suitable people were dealing with it. It was obviously best to leave everything to them.
(But I’m sure I’ll regret it.)
A single drop fell in her chest.
(No, I’m already regretting it. I’m really– terribly regretting it.)
Towards herself who was just sitting here without doing anything.
(Because I know.)
That drop which trickled down, in the blink of an eye, created huge waves that spread in her chest.
(I know how everyone feels. Rono, Asyut, Linus, Siegcrest, the people of the royal palace, the townspeople– and the anti-saint faction too.)
Everyone was acting on the thought that “It’s inevitable”.
No one was trying to move looking forward. They turned their heads down, clenched their teeth, and walked on the “inevitable” road. They could only do that. Because there was no other way apart from that.
(I want to hold back the anti-saint faction, I don’t want them to fight with the royal palace. I don’t want Milifaire to be lost to Asyut. I don’t want anyone… anyone to die.)
There was no one who acted for that, who thought that from the bottom of their heart.
There was only her.
Yuna stared forward and slowly blinked.
Breathing in deeply, she quietly exhaled.
It was certainly a decision that could only be called reckless.
But, in the end, Yuna was unable to wait and let everything pass like this. It may already be too late. Everything might have already ended. But even still, Yuna decided to go.
She stood up straight from the chair and headed directly to the door of the room. She tried the doorknob, but of course it was locked. It didn’t seem to be a lock that could be opened from the inside. Shaking the knob with a dull sound, she realized that was pointless, and this time knocked on the door itself harshly.
“SOMEONE’S OUTSIDE, RIGHT? PLEASE, OPEN THIS!”
She knocked over and over again to the point her arms hurt. She raised a loud voice, from the depths of her body, to plead through the door to the guards who would be in the hallway, but there was no presence of anyone moving.
“OPEN THIS, I’M ASKING FOR THIS TO BE OPENED! –PLEASE!”
In this short time, she thought her throat would dry up. Even her arms had turned red. However, no matter how excessively she pounded on the sturdy door it didn’t give an inch and only looked down at Yuna heartlessly.
There was no one who received the shout she made with all her might.
Yuna glared at the door while breathing hard for a while.
And then she turned around abruptly on her heel and crossed the large room. She slammed open the doors that led to the balcony and rushed out like that.
An entire field of flower gardens on the ground floor leapt into her eyes.
Yuna felt the back of her eyes grow hot all at once at this gentle scenery, unchanged even at this time. –No, now wasn’t the time to cry.
Somehow she scolded herself and then looked around at her surroundings. If she was to slip out of her room, it could only be from this balcony. But there was only a simple white table and chairs and several flowerpots here. She couldn’t find anything that could be used.
(If I jump from here without using anything, it’s not going to end with me being uninjured, huh.)
She leaned forward over the handrails and tried peering down. This room was on the third floor. However, because each floor of this building had high ceilings, it felt even higher than that.
(Even if I try tying the curtains and hanging them down… it’s no good, is it.)
Turning back, she looked at the curtains that were swaying in the light breeze. No matter how she estimated it, she didn’t think it would reach the floor but a length that went part of the way might be better than nothing. Yuna ran over to the door and tried yanking at the curtains but, as to how it was fastened, she couldn’t remove it from its rail at all.
Giving up on the curtains she vented on, Yuna moved towards the balcony again. She hung her body out over the balcony like she did before– and this time noticed the protrusions on the wall.
Could she escape by using this small protrusion that stretched across the wall, parallel to the ground, as a foothold? If she could walk along the wall somehow, then at least she could slip out from this room.
(I wonder if it’s impossible. It might be impossible.)
The idea she came up with wasn’t one that could be called a good idea. Indeed, the width of the protrusion was enough for a person’s foot to be placed on it, but even a child would seem to understand just how dangerous of an action it was for a normal person to walk on top of that. If she missed a step, she would fall to the ground head first and probably lose her life.
However, she couldn’t find any other way.
Yuna tightly closed her mouth that had parted unconsciously.
(… I have no choice but to try.)
In the exact moment she nervously tried climb over the balcony’s handrails together with her grim decision.
A quiet male voice came down from overhead.
Yuna reflexively raised a wild voice and turned her head up. Looking up she saw the fourth floor’s balcony and someone who seemed to be examining her from there. Who in the world that was, due to the backlight she couldn’t see their face– but during the time she was thinking this, that human shape threw their body forward. Before she even had the time to think, the man’s body left the balcony and he was in the air.
She stiffened, unable to make a sound, and then the man landed in front of Yuna with a lightness that made her wonder if it was possible he had wings. As she took a long hard look at this unexpected figure, Yuna’s eyes widened.
No way, no way.
Why was he here.
Facing the figure who she hadn’t seen in a long time, Yuna’s mind went blank.
“It has been a long time.”
That even voice without emotion remained the same. Even that somewhat unreliable tall and thin body, and those eyes which had a strange color– it was the appearance she saw before.
“I came for you.”
Yes, Neisan said with a nod.
“If you so wish, I will take you… It seems it is unnecessary to test your will now.”
He, who once wandered the boundary between life and death due to the violence from the past Celiastina. After he survived, he took up the role of being Yuna’s bodyguard, but underneath he also had a connection to the anti-saint faction. And then, just when Yuna thought she fell into a predicament, he saved her from there. Neisan’s behaviour could be seen as inconsistent, but everything originated from one thought.
–Even while I hate you, I found “something” in you that wasn’t just detestable. And I want to know its true identity…
“Because I cannot understand “you” precisely yet.”
Neisan quietly answered.
Yuna looked up at Neisan with wavering eyes. This person was a really strange person. Even though he could raise a hand against Yuna whenever he wished, he did not do so and even now appeared in order to lend Yuna his strength.
“No, hold on. If you bring me out of here, you’ll be charged with a crime again, Neisan.”
Even at the best of times, the royal palace had eyes on him. In the first place, it was admirable how he came all the way to the saint’s private rooms in this state of high alert. Although last time Neisan took action according to his own personal will, no matter the circumstances, there was no way he could sacrifice his body again.
“There is no problem.”
However, Neisan said that carelessly.
“Because this is also according to King Ronbarno’s plan.”
Hearing an unexpected name from this unexpected person, Yuna’s voice cracked.
Just how many times was she supposed to be surprised. To think he was saying that Rono was getting involved.
“What do you mean? Rono… the king asked you to bring me out, Neisan?”
“It was not that I was asked. It was that it would be fine if I wished to do so. Only, I have always been acting with the king’s orders. Even during the period I concealed myself inside the anti-saint faction.”
Then he didn’t sneak into the anti-saint faction on his own decision?
“After I saw a favorable opportunity and broke out of the organization, I coordinated with another person and was assigned to gather intelligence… That gentleman is truly thoroughly prepared.”
It didn’t seem like Yuna could be surprised any more than this.
“However, as far as you are concerned, I believe the king has feelings similar to my own. He is interested in the path you are opening up.”
That is why he would like you to act on your feelings and thoughts without restraints. Neisan said that in a plain voice.
“Now, Lady Celiastina, there is no time anymore. It is about time for the anti-saint faction to arrive at the main entrance of the royal palace. –Please give me your hand.”
When we approached the gates, the angry roars of people clearly filled the area.
The sharp noise of sword clashing with sword. Rising clouds of dust– and the faint drifting odor of blood.
The battle had already begun.
Yuna covered her head with a brown cloak she borrowed from Neisan and ran through the roads at full speed. She felt like shrinking at the “battlefield” that was approaching before her very own eyes. This battle was the epitome of the anger towards the saint. She honestly felt it was terrifying. What would happen to her if she were swallowed by that rage? Actually, she wanted to run away. She wanted to wait until everything was over in her own room, holding her knees.
But she didn’t stop her running feet. She didn’t think about trying to stop.
(Because I’m certain I don’t want things to end like this.)
If the anti-saint faction were captured and executed then what exactly would be left behind after that? She knew. She knew to a horrible extent. In the end, nothing would remain– instead, only a new hatred would be born.
Yuna thought this while she ran as hard as she could.
She didn’t want the numbers of people who were hurt to increase anymore. Surely everything could be severed here.
What gave Yuna’s back a push were the days – a little less than a year – that she spent up to now as Celiastina. That night she walked into the royal palace for the first time, gazes of fear and hatred were directed to her. In those days, the royal palace was dark somewhere and enveloped in a suffocating atmosphere. And at some point, unnoticed, that was undone and smiles returned to the people little by little. Yuna saw that. No matter how low someone was pushed down, no matter how much they thought they couldn’t crawl up again, they should be able to pick a future where they could regain their smiles, as long as they didn’t give up–.
(That’s why I don’t want to stand still.)
No matter who called her reckless, she couldn’t give up.
“Hey, who is that. Someone stop them!”
A guard who questioned Yuna’s running appearance shouted that out in a sharp voice. With that as a signal, the soldiers who were related to security turned their gazes to Yuna all at once. In this situation, where the servants had already been evacuated in general, even if she was covered by a cloak, Yuna’s form was completely conspicuous. The soldiers assigned as security in the surrounding area must have thought Yuna was a messenger or something at first, but in the end they seemed to consider her appearance as being odd.
But she couldn’t be caught here. She had to go to those who were fighting, wagering their lives. And then she had to convey all her thoughts as they were. Whether it was lip service or off the top of her head, she didn’t care about that anymore. She only wanted to express her thoughts. Even if it was just the feelings of not giving up yet!
Her breaths hurt.
She ran so hard that it felt like her chest was going to collapse. Yuna, who was running, found the cloak to be a hindrance now and, knowing it would reveal her identity, she released her hand from the hem she was gripping in front of her chest. The cloak that flapped up vigorously by the wind revealed Yuna’s appearance completely to the area.
The wind coiled around her skin.
The feet that struck the ground burned. Her clenched fists were sweating.
“That person is–“
One of the guards shouted.
That voice swept out surprisingly underneath the blue sky.
First, it was the soldiers on the edge of the group who noticed that voice and turned around. And then when they received the shock of the appearance of the girl that leapt into their eyes, they froze on the spot. Their discomposure immediately became a commotion and a chaos, apart from the battle, was invited to the area. Gradually, the very air in the field changed.
–The wind stopped suddenly.
The angry roars that were enough to shake the ground gradually became smaller and smaller. Soldiers loosened their grips on the swords they had raised and began to look for the person who summoned this strange chaos. Amongst these men, Yuna continued forward single-mindedly. Everyone’s gazes naturally gathered on one point and the crowd of soldiers that seemed to surround Yuna began to shift. Eventually, everyone pulled back and a path was made in front of Yuna.
Yuna, while breathing with her entire body, proceeded even further.
For the first time she confronted all those who were of the anti-saint faction.
They stood there for certain.
Shockingly, she caught sight of many people who ranged from old to young, and even women. Even though she could only see people who lived normal lives, they carried weapons, covered their bodies in unfamiliar combat uniforms, and were fighting with their lives even now.
There were many people who were injured and collapsed. The vivid red of blood burned into Yuna’s eyes. A man who seemed to have already died was lying on the ground, limbs stretched out.
Is this what they called fighting?
But surely there had to be another way of fighting.
Yuna kneeled beside the man who had stopped breathing. In truth, this was the first time she saw a dead person. She braced her knees which felt like they were about to shake. His life ended here. But if it had still continued from here, she wondered what kind of future he had. Like Yuna herself, maybe the moment of realizing the wonderfulness of living would have come around even inside despair. But it was already too late.
Among the people who were motionless, like they were caught in a spell, Siegcrest called out that name in a shout. He dashed over to Yuna, pushing his way through the crowd.
“You! What’re you doing here! You wanna die!?”
Her arm was grabbed hard and she was forced to stand. Yuna, who twisted her body and looked up with disagreement, caught sight of the people of the anti-saint faction who looked over here dumbfounded. But in their eyes anger started to dwell instead of surprise.
“Sieg, let me go!”
“What are you thinking, there’s no way I’d let you go. Hey, someone take Celia to her room.”
“NO! I won’t return like this. I don’t want to just wait around without doing anything, and I definitely can’t act like this is inevitable and reasonable!”
Yuna screamed that out desperately. Siegcrest’s fingers were digging into her arms, but strangely she couldn’t feel that. She had a feeling that if she lost her nerve, even the slightest bit, everything would be over.
“Please, everyone stop already. Don’t fight! I don’t want anyone to spill their blood any more than this!”
“Celia, calm down. It’s useless no matter how much you shout. We’re not in that situation anymore!”
She knew that. But she didn’t want to know that. Yuna shook her head violently like a child.
A ray of light glimmered above her head.
The moment she realized that was a sharp blade, it was already after it swung down. If Siegcrest hadn’t leapt back with Yuna’s body right away then Yuna’s head would have been completely split.
A large man, who seemed to be a person of the anti-saint faction, had swung that spear down. The man, who had a big physique and sense of intimidation that was no less than Siegcrest, slammed the butt of his spear into the ground with a thud and pierced Yuna with a gaze that was sharper than his spearhead.
“To think you’d appear here personally, Celiastina.”
This was said in a low voice that seemed to crawl on the ground.
“Did you regret your own actions and come to offer up your life?”
Could a person’s rage be this visible? Yuna was horribly overwhelmed as she looked up at him, even forgetting her words. However, Siegcrest wasn’t like that. He thrust Yuna behind him, pulled out his sword, and leapt at his opponent with great force, aiming for his breast. The large man caught that with the body of his spear and a shrill noise resounded, to the point where she thought she’d see sparks.
Yuna screamed with a voice that was close to disappearing. Siegcrest and the large man, while glaring at each other, stopped their hands and froze for a brief period.
“Please, please just stop! There’s no need to fight with swords because I’m right here! Right!?”
The true objective of the anti-saint faction should be Celiastina. It was because they thought they couldn’t point a blade at the saint that they fought with the royal army instead. If that was the case, Yuna raised her voice frantically.
And, sure enough, the large man in front of her pulled back a little of his bloodthirst.
The man’s chilly gaze captured Yuna.
“Of course, that’s right. If you were thrust this sword into your chest and die on this spot, then we’ll throw away our weapons.”
He kicked a dagger that had rolled to his side to Yuna’s feet.
“Go on, do it.”
Yuna stared at the dagger for a while but raised her face and shook her head desperately.
“… I can’t do that.”
And then she stared firmly into the man’s rage-filled eyes.
“I can’t die yet. That is the only thing that’s not allowed. But the fact that I can’t die and everyone’s lives being put on the line are different problems! There must be another way. So, please, I beg of you, put away your blades!”
“Are you trying to say that, when we bet our lives here, we’re dying in vain?”
The man turned an even more severe expression at Yuna. If a voice could kill someone, then it would be a voice exactly like this. However, Yuna couldn’t withdraw. She stood up on trembling legs and, stepping on the ground firmly, she lifted her head once more.
“I didn’t say it was in vain. But I don’t think this is the best way either. Because I’ve seen it, constantly, in this past year. I’ve seen how people suffering similarly have found their own paths. I myself did the same. One year ago, I stood alone at the edge of despair. “Death” was my beginning.”
Celiastina’s death, and her own death. At the beginning she was just at a loss. Not knowing what she should do, she was only hurt by the surrounding gazes of hatred.
“But still, I managed to make it here recklessly and frantically. And then I knew. That, as long as you don’t lose the will to move forward, the road will certainly continue. I want everyone to understand that.”
“You simply don’t know what real despair is.”
“No, I don’t think so. A road will continue beyond any kind of despair– if one believes in it.”
Yuna answered that in an unwavering voice. It was certain truth she gained in this past year. Yuna looked over at the large man in front of her and the people of the anti-saint faction spread out behind him. Everyone continued to grip their weapons hard, not stepping back. However, she didn’t miss the faint hesitation in their eyes. It meant that Yuna’s voice wasn’t completely unreachable.
But it was still far. She hadn’t touched their hearts yet.
The large man’s eyes narrowed all of a sudden.
“What pretty words.”
Yuna’s eyes returned to him again at his cold voice.
“I am the one who has inherited the dying wishes of those who passed without even being granted the time to believe. And my fellow men behind me have the same thoughts. Like the dead who cannot wish for a future– we also do not wish for anything beyond this!”
The large man struck the ground hard again with his spear. That impact spread like a wave and the anti-saint faction regained their momentum. They lifted their weapons to the sky and raised their voices as if to encourage the large man.
“My name is Ghada. Once, I served as the captain of the third squad of the Order of Knights.”
Yuna was shocked and turned to look up at Siegcrest beside her. His profile, which had a sober expression, told her that those words were not lies.
“I had a brother who was younger than me by fifteen years. A younger brother who adored me and entered the Order of Knights the same as me. However, at that time, my brother made an inconsequential mistake that stopped your eyes, and he was imprisoned in that joke of a prison– the Holy Jail. I heard that my brother suffered horrible torture every day for a month. And then, when he died at last… the corpse that came back to us was such a terrible sight that it couldn’t be looked at directly.”
Ghada’s voice shook with anger.
“You will never understand how much shock my parents received when they saw my brother’s remains. Both of them passed away from the stress, as if following my younger brother. In just two years, this happened in succession… My brother and my parents. Do you know how great that regret is? Tell me, what path continues on for them. What exactly should they believe in! If you say you can preach the same lecture in front of those miserable remains, then try it!”
Yuna bit her lip, unable to refute him. Ghada’s words were certainly correct. She didn’t want to deny his feelings, or the feelings of those who came along with him. However–.
Perhaps they gained strength from the sight of Yuna looking down, but the anti-saint faction leaned forward and started to blame her.
Give back my dad!
Give back my son!
Give back my mom!
–I said stop.
Give back my husband!
These merciless shouts assaulted Yuna over and over and over again. She felt like she was about to go crazy.
It wasn’t her, she wasn’t the one who did it; that feeling happened to well up at this time. However, she threw it off immediately. If she was going to say something like it not being her fault, then from the start she wouldn’t have stood in this spot. She knew that the problem wasn’t there.
Ghada inclined his head slightly and called out to a youth who stood, unassumingly, behind him. In that instant, there was complete silence in the area.
“You say it clearly too. What happened to your younger sister.”
The named youth hunched his shoulders, looking a little terrified. With such a timid expression, he stiffened while holding a spear to his chest.
“Fel, this will be our last moment. You must have thoughts you’ve kept at the bottom of your heart all this time!”
“… I… I…”
Finally, he opened his mouth with a shaking voice. His body tensed extremely when he met eyes with Yuna but he didn’t avert that gaze. He stared at Yuna, as if biting into her, and swallowed loudly.
“I… my sister… was a servant of the royal palace. She was born an ordinary commoner, but she had pretty gold hair and purple eyes… But you couldn’t stand that.”
While he was staring at her, tears gathered in his eyes. And, in contrast to his weak voice, a strength began to dwell in his eyes.
“Because my sister had the same colored hair and eyes as the saint when she was simply a servant, her hair was recklessly shaved and her eyes crushed. My sister committed suicide from that suffering. Why… why did she have to go through something like that? My sister was so happy when she entered the royal palace too; she smiled, saying she was blessed to be born with the same colored hair and eyes as the saint.”
Yuna couldn’t move.
This stabbed her chest more than being condemned by shouts. She couldn’t find anything like words to say to him. It’s true that Yuna didn’t know. The pain of a loved one being mercilessly hurt.
“Saint Celiastina, do you remember me.”
A hoarse voice rose up. The person who stepped forward from within the anti-saint faction group, as if he were pushing his way through the crowd, was a small old man. He glared up at Yuna– without both arms.
“From the looks of it, you do not remember anything. Is it that a human like me is similar to an insect to you.”
That’s not true– but she couldn’t even shake her head.
“Once, I used to be a craftsman who made hair ornaments. I even presented a piece to you. However, it seemed you weren’t pleased with that work. You blamed my ornament for something such as causing misfortunes when you wore it, and so you sent soldiers to my workshop and destroyed all my works. When I saw my works smashed into pieces, it felt like even my soul was smashed. I protested immediately but the answer you gave me– was this.”
He shook his shoulders, displaying his flowing sleeves.
“It wasn’t just these two arms that I lost! To me those two arms were the same as my life. There is no meaning to living anymore, but I came here with the single feeling of at least retaliating against you.”
And then he showed a self-mocking smile.
“You might laugh at what a senile old man who can’t even point a sword can do, no? Certainly, the present me cannot hold a sword and cannot make hair ornaments. But, if I bite that throat with this mouth, I CAN STILL RIP YOUR THROAT!”
His spirit was terrifying. It felt even Yuna’s beliefs would be overshadowed in front of that wrath.
“P-Please listen to my story as well!”
As if rushing to deliver a final blow, a young girl raised her voice immediately to the overwhelmed Yuna.
“I’m Lutti. My father worked to deliver vegetables and fruits to the royal palace. One time, it seemed there were rotten vegetables in the goods my father carried. You happened to see that and, saying that you could not forgive rotten ingredients being brought to your mouth, you imprisoned my father. While in prison, the meals given to my father were all rotten vegetables. When my father was finally released he was horribly thin… and even now he can barely eat and is weakening day by day!”
Their heartrending voices became the trigger.
All the people of the anti-saint faction gathered on that spot started to open their mouths again, vying with one another.
What happened to themselves and what they were thinking right now. They leaned forward to convey this to Yuna with frank words. One person spoke, and then another person spoke.
Yuna could only continue to keep silent and listen to their voices. It was painful, it hurt, she wanted to run away from here. But she didn’t want to lose to that thought. She wanted to accept their thoughts properly!
How much time passed like that, she wondered.
From the bottom of her heart, deep inside the very depths, a strange feeling began to permeate.
–This was a nostalgic feeling from somewhere.
The undulation of emotions that couldn’t be controlled, and that weren’t hers.
It was an existence that she hadn’t been able to feel for a very long time.
But, now, she was indeed feeling it.
Yuna quietly pressed both hands to her chest.
(You’re truly here, aren’t you.)
She was suffering. She was sorrowful. She was at such a loss that she couldn’t even think about shedding tears.
Yuna pressed the hands against her chest harder.
Ah, their voices were really reaching Celiastina right now.
Yuna could feel her thoughts to a painful degree.
Celiastina was regretful. She didn’t want to hurt anyone any more. And, she also understood just how selfish of a wish that was.
(… Mm, I feel the same.)
She understood the thoughts of the anti-saint faction. And how they were trapped inside a suffering that was beyond imagination. However, even still, Yuna wanted them to give up on this idea. Right now, she thought this again.
No matter the words, it would surely sound like nothing but lip service to them. No, it actually was that. It might be inevitable for her words to be tossed away as the idealistic thoughts of a naive little girl who didn’t know what true despair was. But Yuna had desperately gone forward to this point, holding up these pretty words and aiming for it. In doing so, she experienced with this body that there was an open road. And, it was because Celiastina felt that too.
(Please, don’t give up on everything.)
Yes, she strongly wished that.
But that didn’t become words. It couldn’t become words. As long as their eyes were stained with hatred, no words would reach their hearts.
The anti-saint faction’s momentum was about to reach its peak.
Everyone brought up their own suffering and tried to take a step towards Yuna. In response, the royal army also readied themselves to counterattack immediately if the anti-saint faction moved again. The free-for-all fight, that had quietened temporarily by Yuna jumping in, became a difficult situation which could not be stopped any longer.
“What’s wrong, did you run out of words already?”
Ghada asked Yuna with a voice that carried well even through the tumult.
Even though it was the anti-saint faction who would have no future if they fought once again, they didn’t show any hesitation at all. The same went for this man in front of her. They didn’t forget that they were in a disadvantageous position, they knew full well, nevertheless they didn’t care.
But Ghada did not draw back. Knowing that a number of soldiers had blades directed at him, he pointed his spearhead at Yuna again.
“At last, everything will end with this. It’s finally over!”
Ghada tightened his grip on his spear to stab it out. In that instant, a thick arm stretched out to protect Yuna. It was Siegcrest. And, as if to take over for Siegcrest who was committed to protection, the surrounding soldiers showed movements to bring down Ghada.
At that time, a calm voice that was incongruous to the area broke in.
The soldiers stopped moving as if they were frozen. The tips of their swords gleamed sharply at Ghada’s chest.
Yuna slowly turned around.
This was a familiar voice. The tension left her body, and she almost collapsed to her knees on the ground.
“It is not over yet. That girl cannot accept everyone’s hatred. The reasoning being that girl is not Celiastina.”
There stood King Rono.
(T/N: I have no excuse except that this was a heavy chapter, in terms of feelings, to translate. Hopefully the next chapters will come out quicker because they’re shorter and because we’re approaching the end of Book 3! I’ve also been debating on translating the bulk of Book 4 before releasing updates, but how would everyone feel about that? A long silence and then scheduled updates or periodic updates like this whenever I finish a chapter?)