Asyut, who left the Priest Tower, parted with Yodel and headed to Linus with those legs.
There was no doubt that he would more or less know about Yuna’s current condition.
It was that astute man, Linus, and so once he knew that there was another person’s soul dwelling in Celiastina he must have immediately investigated their true identity. Asyut didn’t know how much information Linus had grabbed, but he didn’t think that Linus knew nothing at all.
Arriving in front of Linus’ office, Asyut took a single breath before he knocked on that door.
“Please come in.”
It was a calm voice that was returned. When he opened the door and let his gaze go around the room, there was the usual figure of Linus looking through one of the documents that were piled into a mountain with no change.
He was another man Asyut did not understand. It was a well-known fact inside the royal palace that Celiastina and Linus had an intimate relationship. Asyut had no way of knowing to what degree of intimacy that relationship was, but at any rate Linus should have been the most concerned person about the disturbance this time. And yet, to an outsider’s perspective, he showed no sign of being troubled or worried and it was strange. It could be that he was forcing himself to keep up appearances though.
“I apologize for my sudden intrusion, but I would like to request some time to talk.”
When Asyut told him this, the corner of Linus’ lips lifted up in a smile.
“No, excuse me. I was thinking how, before, Celia would often push into my room saying “I’d like to ask something” or “I’d like to request something” and get worked up.”
Please sit, Linus invited Asyut to a seat.
“I frequently remember things like this. About that girl who disappeared.”
In spite of Linus saying this, Asyut could not see his real intention. Did he genuinely miss Yuna? Or was he simply mocking Asyut who was moving about in confusion searching for her.
“I suppose it is no longer suitable to call that girl Celia. Should I call her Yuna?”
Linus put down the pen in his hand and, with a slow motion, rested his chin on his hand.
“I believe you went to the Priest Tower to meet Celiastina? Were you able to meet her successfully?”
“Yes, owing to Sister Yodel’s assistance.”
“I see, that is good then. I am also in a situation where I cannot visit Celiastina properly, you see.”
“So, Father Roblin turns a deaf ear even to you.”
“Oh, but of course. Rather, I must be an unpleasant sight to him since a long time ago. Despite being the son of a saint, I did not take up priesthood and instead follow the king’s faction as a civil official. It seems he’s always thought about wanting to separate Celiastina from me, and now that his wish is finally granted I suppose he is pleased.”
“However, it must be irritating for you, is it not. Are you not concerned about Lady Celiastina?”
Linus’ smile continued to show and his expression did not change.
“Of course I am concerned. But it is not as if her body is in imminent danger. The situation will not change even if I am impatient. On the contrary, the situation will change if the time comes without rushing. I only have to wait for that.”
“Why not act yourself and change the situation?”
“That is not my role. I believe there is a role for each and every one of us to do that is decided. You have your duties. Things that you yourself should do; that you must do.”
The thing that he himself should do–.
Linus words pricked Asyut’s chest.
“Oh well. More importantly, you came to ask about the girl named Yuna, correct?”
Asyut instantly switched his mind to this topic. He leaned forward slightly from the sofa he was lightly sitting on.
“As you have reckoned, I have already investigated the girl who possessed Celiastina. When she was still here, she personally called herself Yuna, and so I was able to grasp her true identity.”
“So you were aware.”
“Well, as Celiastina’s guardian, I could not just leave an unknown being alone. Although, because that girl did not talk about herself often, my inquiries about her became quite late.”
“Then she is truly a real person.”
“It appears so. The only daughter of a family that ran a medicine store in a rural town a little distance away from the center of the royal capital. At that time, her age was eighteen years old. About one year ago, she was hit by a carriage in the town and died. Incidentally, this day is consistent with the day Celiastina planned to commit suicide.”
Linus recited this from memory as if in a song. There Asyut interrupted.
“Allow me to correct one thing. Certainly, she was hit by a carriage but she should still be alive right now.”
He could spot a faint light in Linus’ eyes.
“How strange. In my subordinates’ investigation she should have undoubtedly died in the accident though.”
“I was told this by Lady Celiastina herself just now. That, although Yuna is in a comatose state, she is still alive.”
“It seems there is no reason, but a feeling. During this past year, while Yuna was living as Lady Celiastina, her soul was immediately beside Yuna. She spoke of how that is why she is able to feel Yuna’s existence even now. And that she would like to use her own power in order to wake Yuna who is in a coma.”
“Celiastina’s power, huh. It is not the ability to force people to death, I suppose?”
“Yes. It appears that Lady Celiastina’s original ability is to amplify the life force of those she connects with. In other words, the ability which had been active up to now has brought about the complete opposite effect of its original state.”
Linus’ complexion did not change and he received Asyut’s words with a calm expression.
“… You are not surprised.”
When Asyut murmured this unconsciously, Linus gave a faint wry smile.
“Because I had imagined to some extent that Celia’s ability up to now was expressed in a distorted form. During the time Yuna was replacing Celia, it basically turned to a conviction; because Yuna’s power to nurture plants uncommonly strong. However– I see.”
Linus slowly lowered his eyes.
“In short, after this year where Yuna served as a substitute, Celiastina regained her original ability. That ability is to nurture the life force of those she connects with. And, with that power, she’d like to try and wake Yuna up from her coma. Is that how it is.”
“And you wish to go and pick up Yuna who should be sleeping somewhere right now.”
But, Linus said as his expression suddenly clouded.
“That may be surprisingly difficult.”
“–And why is that?”
“As I said earlier, officially Yuna died. The ones who know Yuna’s location must be her parents, but even her parents moved out of their home in the royal capital and retired to the countryside in the sorrow of their deceased daughter. Right now they seemed to be living quietly in mourning at a town called Svet, which is a day and a half’s ride from here on horseback.”
Apparently, it seemed that Celiastina’s senses were on the mark. Yuna had most likely been taken by her parents and was now sleeping in Svet.
But there was one point that weighed on his mind.
“Yuna’s parents said their daughter died?”
“Yes. That seems to be what everyone around them said.”
Asyut lost his words at this unexpected situation.
It couldn’t be that Yuna was really–. No, there was no way. Did Celiastina not declare that she was alive? Even if there was no definite evidence or correct logic, Celiastina’s words were strongly supported in the miracle of this one year, in the miracle Yuna brought about.
But what sort of parents existed who would lie about their daughter being dead?
–He didn’t understand. What exactly was the truth?
“I think it is more than possible enough for her parents to lie.”
Linus turned his gaze into the empty air, as if he were sounding out something.
“Even though Yuna is really alive, they let their surroundings think her dead, and hid themselves in a rural town as a family. That may be the case.”
“What is the need for that?”
“If Celiastina’s words are the truth then Yuna has been sleeping for a year. If you think on that sensibly, it is a very strange phenomenon. It could even be said to be terrifying. Ordinarily, no one would accept such a phenomenon.”
If they were not of the same blood, Linus added.
Certainly, if the existence of their daughter who has been sleeping for a year were to be spread to their surroundings then there was a fear of being persecuted. Then it was possible that, holding those concerns, they concealed themselves.
“What will you do, Asyut.”
Asyut looked down slightly and clenched his fist.
However that was only for a short moment. He immediately raised his head and stared at Linus directly.
“I am going to meet them. Yuna’s parents.”
“Yes. I wish to ascertain the truth with my own eyes and ears. I want to save Yuna.”
“But you cannot leave the royal palace so easily. No, even if you were to leave, what would happen afterwards would be a problem.”
Asyut himself knew well enough what Linus meant. Just a few days ago, Siegcrest had pointed out the same thing.
He was the First Holy Knight. As someone who worked as a gear of the royal palace, he wasn’t permitted to break out from there on his own desires. Especially so in the present uncertain situation and those chains bound Asyut tightly all the more.
What did it mean for him to act for Yuna’s sake?
What did he intend to do after he acted? What should he do?
Inside Asyut’s mind, he recalled the words Linus had spoken.
–You have your duties. Things that you yourself should do; that you must do–
(What is it that I should do.)
He didn’t want to think that the title of First Holy Knight was a restriction. There was a part of him that, when the thought seemed to surface about wanting to be a simple human without status, shook his head and denied that. He came to this point believing that, no matter what sort of despair he was in, he could not make light of this duty only.
(Yes, even when I lost my relatives and sister, I didn’t give up on being the First Holy Knight.)
Because it was the mission he imposed upon himself and the entire meaning of his life. At the end of that time which was like hell, he did not regret his own choice of remaining in the royal palace without a change.
(But what will happen in the future from here?)
He didn’t know.
He couldn’t see anything about what would be ahead.
What Asyut was chasing was just a single thin ray of hope.
(Still, right now I will move forward.)
Even in the darkness, as long as he did not stop walking, he might reach a place that was overflowing with that light.
That place might not necessarily be a paradise to Asyut. However, if it could wake Yuna then he would not care.
(For that, I won’t hesitate even to defy the king.)
Asyut closed his eyes.
Inside his mind, that was long muddied by impatience and confusion, it was like a shore whose tide pulled back and everything cleared all of a sudden.
“–Tonight, when the royal palace has fallen asleep, I will leave.”
Opening his eyes again he told Linus this and the other man quietly held his breath.
“That is quite sudden.”
“Because I cannot be taken back. I intend to leave without telling anyone.”
“I believe you know but your position will worsen.”
“Yes. Even still.”
He was going to get back what he absolutely couldn’t lose.
Asyut nodded to Linus with a strong determination.