I wonder if the flower will bloom soon, Celiastina said.
Yeah! I hope it blooms soon. A little girl smiled and replied with that.
A harmless conversation exchanged around a small bud in the backyard of the orphanage. Even now Celiastina could remember it distinctly; the clear smile of the young girl at that time too.
Everything may have started from that moment.
Celiastina’s extraordinarily steep journey began from a meagre but warm and sweet “memory of happiness”. It may have been because the days following after that were so painful that those memories alone shone so vividly in the back of her eyelids.
Everything came quite far from such a place, Celiastina thought absently. And then, even though everything came from such a long distance, right now she was about to return to the “beginning” once again–.
Fate was such a strange thing.
Unexpectedly, a strong wind blew in from the window. Celiastina, who had been dozing beside the window with her eyes closed, was returned to herself at that instant. Her mind still a little hazy, she raised her body that was leaning against the back of the chair and looked outside of the tower from her small window.
The sunlight in the morning was gentle but still dazzling. Squinting her eyes, when she looked towards the royal palace, she could see officials coming and going from buildings in a rush in the morning. A single day to them was also beginning today.
(And a day for me as well.)
This may have been the first time she couldn’t wait for a day to start this much.
Because she had always just endured time passing while suffering.
(Aah, but this year was different.)
The year that Yuna had spent in this royal palace in her stead were irreplaceable days to Celiastina, who had watched over her from right beside her. She cried with Yuna, she felt pain with Yuna, she confronted her own life with Yuna, and it was a short but long one year.
(Although the beginning was truly painful.)
Gazing outside the window, Celiastina let her thoughts run absently.
The strange sensation when she surrended her body to Yuna still permeated her body even now. Though it should be her own body, there was a slow feeling as if it would not move as she wished. Inside a consciousness that was sluggish, like she just woke up from a dream, every day the things reflected in Yuna’s eyes were reflected in her own eyes like that and the things that entered Yuna’s ears entered her ears like that.
Yuna always did things with her utmost effort. No matter how unreasonable and unfair it was she never gave up. In the first place, after being hit by a carriage, being granted a life with a deadline as the substitute of the saint itself should have been an unjust matter beyond anything else to her. And yet, why was it that she did not break? Why was she able to work so very hard for the sake of another person’s life?
Even as she asked that Celiastina felt like she already had the answer.
For that one year period she had passed that time closer to Yuna than anyone else. Celiastina personally knew best that Yuna didn’t move in self-interest and loss and gains.
(But that was precisely why I was in pain.)
Celiastina closed her eyes once again.
(I felt like she had rudely stepped into my life. From the time we were young, I saw Yuna’s straightforward smile but I thought it meant that she didn’t know about the underside of society. I went ahead and thought there was no way she should understand…)
But Yuna understood it properly. On the contrary, she had even found Celiastina herself who Celiastina personally couldn’t find. That Celiastina was able to confront herself was surely because of that girl.
(Thank you, Yuna. And I’m sorry.)
The words she wanted to tell most to Yuna. And the words that hadn’t come true yet.
If the two of them hadn’t met at the orphanage that day, Yuna would have gone on a completely different life. At least, she wouldn’t have been hit by a carriage and made into Celiastina’s substitute. And what if Yuna didn’t wake like this and stopped breathing– ah, such a thing would never be allowed. Celiastina closed her eyes and drew her brows together strongly. She had involved Yuna but she didn’t want to steal Yuna’s future as well.
(I will wake you for certain with my power.)
This determination, which had already been repeated countless times, was just now confirmed once more. The power to draw out the life force of those she connected with– she wondered why she couldn’t have realized her own power earlier. If she had woken it properly during her time in the orphanage then maybe the future after that would have become completely different.
(I’m certain I used my power with Noie too.)
Noie. The beloved daughter of the former director of the orphanage. A young girl who fell down from a hill and lost her life. Was it not because Celiastina’s powers tried to unconsciously save that girl that she lived for a while in a comatose state after the accident? In the end, she hadn’t been saved but if Celiastina had engaged with her powers well perhaps she could have saved Noie.
(If only I understood this power.)
However, nothing would change no matter how much she regretted. Everything was nothing more than hindsight. And she also knew that, but…
(But how was I able to learn about the real power of a saint?)
Celiastina cracked open her closed eyes a little.
To begin with, she was not fully sure as to how her correct ability was woken. During the one year she was together with Yuna, she was certainly nestled close to Yuna’s soul. However, at the same time, she felt like her own soul was somewhere much farther away. A strange place where the spread of its space, the flow of time, and everything was indistinct– that was surely the place it began. That white world where Celiastina and Yuna faced each other for a brief moment.
And then didn’t someone tell her?
How to use her own power. And that she was able to save Yuna.
No matter how she tried to remember, her mind did not work well as if there was a mist covering it. Even though inside the white world, a light– she remembered a brilliant light shining on her.
(But that is fine, even if I cannot remember. As long as this power is certain.)
And Celiastina had a strong confidence that it was certain. Right now, the warmth that was held in the depths of her heart was her binding with Yuna and her miraculous power as a saint.
“Celia, are your preparations in order?”
Abruptly, a voice called out from the other side of the door.
Celiastina breathed in lightly and then stood up.
“Yes, I’m ready– Linus.”
Receiving a response, Linus opened the door and walked up to Celiastina with his long robes fluttering. And then, finding her expression slightly stiff, the corners of his lips lifted a little.
“Oh my, is that an uncharacteristic nervousness? You?”
“Yes, that’s right. That may be the case.”
Because today was a special day.
For Celiastina and surely for everyone else too.
From this moment, they were going to hold a ceremony to wake Yuna.
Celiastina’s confinement by Roblin had already been lifted.
Because she was locked up by his own judgment in the end at the same time he lost his position Celiastina was once again allowed to be free. If she so wished, it was even possible for her to return to her own room in the royal palace but– in the end, Celiastina did not do that.
That is why, ever since she was brought to this tower in the first place, it was her first time leaving it.
And surely this would be the last time.
Asyut had brought Yuna to the royal palace, as he said he would. Therefore, this time it was Celiastina’s turn to fulfill her promise.
For Celiastina right now, who could no longer share a consciousness with Yuna, the view she could see from the tower’s window was everything of the world. Because of that, she didn’t know how much trouble Asyut went through to bring Yuna to the royal palace, but she thought it wouldn’t have been an ordinary effort.
(I have an obligation to respond to him.)
And it wasn’t just to Asyut. She wished to tell everyone who Yuna had spent time with in this royal palace, and touched, for the past year that Yuna’s existence was not a dream and that she had certainly been here.
She would get her back.
“Still, are you really agreeable to having this be a public ceremony?”
Linus asked that while stroking Celiastina’s windblown hair with his fingers.
“I believe it is fine for you not to bother exposing yourself personally to people’s eyes.”
“I want to do that, Linus.”
Celiastina shook her head slowly.
“I want to tell everyone everything.”
“You don’t need to hurt yourself any further than this.”
“I’m not hurting myself. I am “reclaiming” myself.”
Smiling, Celiastina stared at the scenery outside the window.
“I will live bearing sins that cannot be forgiven for the rest of my life. I am going to put myself together once more, confronting my sins. And even if it is accompanied with pain, it is not accompanied with despair. I think it is a step in order to move forward.”
She would reveal her entire life, without covering anything up.
Celiastina’s resolution had already been made.
The present Celiastina was made alive by Yuna.
Her once broken heart was healed and she now felt like she was reborn. However, it wasn’t that she was truly reborn. She could not compensate for her past mistakes with anything, much less act as if it did not happen. Everything was connected to her present self.
And that was why she first had to talk.
It wasn’t that she wanted anyone’s sympathy. It wasn’t that she wanted someone to accept her.
Only, she prayed that they would never again let a saint who would make mistakes like her appear.
Celiastina looked up at Linus who stood beside her.
Linus remained silent for a while, receiving her gaze, but then he dropped a kiss to the hair he was playing with in his hand and showed a faint smile.
Celiastina, brought by Linus, began to descend the stairs of the tower.
Every step she took gradually made her recall the atmosphere in the royal palace she passed time at. In this past year, the feelings at the time she was supported by Yuna and the sensations of that time were brought back in her before her eyes.
When she exited the tower, the breeze was calm and the air was brimming over with a kindness that enveloped everything.
Like that, she started walking straight forward without any hesitation.
It was said that Yuna was still sleeping in the divine service hall right now.
–However, before she went there.
There was not a single change before the balcony of the royal palace, which she was visiting for the first time in a long time.
It was a place she had been to a countless number of times. The Ceremony of Display; it was such a nostalgic sound. A ceremony where she showed a smile and waved her hand before many people who rushed in from the city. Celiastina had attended this ceremony many times as “herself personally”. For her it had been nothing but pain, however did Yuna look forward to it very much because it was the only place she could interact with the common people?
–To think that she would stand in this place again like this as Celiastina.
Celiastina looked around slightly before the entrance that connected to the balcony.
Waiting at the side, in addition to the high officials of the country, was Yodel, Linus, her bodyguards Aeneas and Neisan, and then Asyut…
Her gaze suddenly overlapped with Asyut’s.
He kept his lips pressed tight and his expression didn’t change. Only, he gave a small nod.
When her gaze moved to Linus after that, he looked at Celiastina with his usual smile. She drew in a breath. And then, breathing it out completely, Celiastina took a step again.
Onto the balcony.
What a beautiful sight could be seen from there.
She had an unbroken view of the blue sky that continued to the horizon. It was a sight that made her realize once again just how wide the sky was. When she dropped her eyes abruptly, the plaza below was packed with many people. The moment they noticed Celiastina’s entry the noise up to then disappeared all at once and the only occasional sound that could be heard was someone swallowing.
Celiastina slowly checked the people in the place once more.
The people she had been together with in the royal palace were there. Nobles, knights, scholars, servants, cleaners, and everyone was crammed into that place. Every one of them was gathered here like this in order to hear Celiastina’s words. Amongst them– ah, there was also the figure of the maid, Nasha, and Mislee of the infirmary. When was the last time she exchanged words with them? Nasha was looking up at her with a face that was about to burst into tears. Celiastina wanted to run to her side right now to hug her and thank her. Also, at the edges of the plaza the members of the former anti-saint faction were assembled. Her heart was filled with apologies to the complex feelings that were reflected on their expressions. In reality, the one to come to grips with them should have been her, not Yuna. The anger, sadness, and hate that swirled in their hearts would never melt and disappear, would it.
And she was able to find Yuna’s parents who were leaning against each other.
Surprise and uneasiness painted their eyes, but even still they stared at Celiastina without averting their eyes. Celiastina was suddenly struck with an urge to cry. It was like her heart had returned to the time she was Cella. To those young days where everything began.
“–Everyone, thank you very much for gathering.”
Celiastina began to talk in a voice that carried, as if shaking herself free from sentimentality.
The clinging gazes of the people became a single stake that strongly pinned Celiastina to that spot.
“There is a reason I have appeared before everyone like this for the first time in a long while. Today, I wished to tell everyone about everything and decided to stand here in this spot. I want you all to know everything about my life up to this point. I am not doing this because I wish for something from everyone. It is to put a division between my existence and the existence of a saint. That is what I want to talk to everyone about.
From the start, I was raised in an orphanage as a child with no relatives. It was a very normal and small orphanage. The people who took care of us orphans were all gentle and kind. Even if I did not know the affection of blood relatives, I remember we were treated well, to the extent where we were not sad.
Of course, at that time, the Holy Mark – the proof of a saint – was already engraved on my neck. Although it should have been there since I was born it seemed to have been overlooked for a while. However, the time when the Holy Mark was noticed came. The director of the orphanage was the first to notice it and from that day on he treated me like a special being. Right around that time, the director’s beloved daughter passed away in an accident and, perhaps because of those circumstances, the way he poured his affection towards me could already be called abnormal. I didn’t know how to thrust him away. I just thought that I should bear it and that way no one would be hurt. Surely, the director’s heart would also be saved. That is what I thought.
However, my heart was eroded little by little. I won’t say it was all because of the director. There were various other things that piled on top and, gradually, I became a timid and scared child. It was around that time… when a terrible phenomenon began to swoop down on my surroundings.
A friend I was close to suddenly died. The cause was a fall from the stairs. Before long, yet another friend died. They fell into a pond and drowned. Even an orphanage teacher, who treated me specially, died around the same time. Her reason of death was… unknown to me. From that time on, my memories are all unclear, even if someone died by my side. Only the vague impression of precious people disappearing remains. However, I understood clearly only that it was my fault. I believe the others guessed the same thing. People suddenly disappeared from around me. The only person who remained by my side was the director.
It was a while after that when I was summoned to the royal palace. Other things happened but, in any case, I was brought to the royal palace. No, perhaps I was rescued. At the beginning, I didn’t know how I should interact with people and passed days where I was only frightened, but still I think I gradually became accustomed to my surroundings.
However, the terrifying “curse” was not removed yet. In my surroundings, an important person, and then another, began to die. It seemed that everyone in the royal palace did not immediately notice as to why that happened, but I knew right away. At last, I understood it clearly. Everything was due to my ability as the saint. I– held the power to direct people I connected with towards “death”.
I was driven to despair. I wondered just how many people died because of me? How much did their families and friends suffer? I didn’t know what I was to do anymore. At the same time, I remember trembling in fear at the future of not trusting anyone and having to live the rest of my life alone. I– went completely mad.
From that time on, I began to hurt people by my own will and kill them. Whether I was insane or not, it was certainly by my will. I ordered it. By my orders, I harmed many people in the royal palace and it is impossible to escape from those sins for the rest of my life. Even if a person could be reborn, I am carrying sins deep enough to the point where they can not be forgiven, no matter how many generations I am reborn.
But, ultimately, I couldn’t even live while remaining insane. No, even now I regret that I should have become like that much sooner.
One night, I wandered deep into the forest alone, and threw myself into a valley.
And there I should have certainly died. When I regained consciousness again, I stood alone in an unfamiliar white world. Realizing that, I remember I was relieved that everything was finally over. However– apparently, it seemed like I couldn’t disappear like that. A ball of light, with unknown origins, appeared and told me that as a saint I was not allowed to end my own life. That my body, which should have been dead, would have the soul of another girl enter in order to connect me to the thread of life. That was the soul of the girl called Yuna.
Yuna was my childhood friend from the time I lived at the orphanage. At that time, she was a very compassionate child, filled with warmth. She was a precious, precious friend to me. I was separated from her before this abominable ability killed her, but I thought that was good. Even so, after more than ten years had passed, in the end I also involved her. Yes, it was my ability in the end that made her soul transfer to my body. At the same time I threw my body into the valley, she was hit by a carriage in town and collapsed. It was not a coincidence. I unconsciously used my twisted power and tried to leave this world, dragging her with me. Her soul was “chosen”.
A period of one year was given. During this year, Yuna would live as the saint in my body. I became only a soul and watched her way of life with my own eyes, nestled close… And like that Yuna was forced to walk another person’s life in another person’s body, but she hadn’t changed at all from the person I trusted when I was young. She always worked hard, was kind to everyone, and honest. That figure was dazzling. What it is to live, she taught me that with her own life. Many of you who have gathered at this balcony now are very familiar with the figure of the saint in this past year. That girl, Yuna, was the one that everyone saw and felt. Like many of you, whose hearts were touched, I also trembled at her beliefs and energy.
Yuna knew from the beginning that was she was just given one year. She accepted the fact that, once a year passed, she would be called to the heavens. No, of course, I felt her conflict in those days. Yuna suffered a lot. What was the meaning in running at full speed to the end of the road? Even though if she reached the end of it, there would be nothing any longer. But still, Yuna accepted her year of life together with her conflict. She was not only kind, but also a very strong person. My heart was saved by her figure.
The promised year has passed and I have returned like this… and Yuna has disappeared. I, personally, cannot find the value of me, and not her, remaining in this world. However, I will no longer take my own life again. I will confront my own sins and I wish to spend my remaining years devoting prayers to all those who I harmed with these hands. –On my twentieth birthday, which is soon to come, I will marry to God. I will not be together with the First Holy Knight, Lord Asyut. There is one more saint, much more suitable than me, to be close to him.
I apologize sincerely for this long story. But I wished for everyone to know everything. About what the being called a saint is, who the human called Celiastina is, and what the girl called Yuna brought about. I think this will be the last time I appear before everyone like this. I am sorry that from the beginning to the end I was unable to do anything saintly. I am thankful, from the bottom of my heart, for Lord Asyut who will continue to support everyone for the both of us.
I am a very weak– human being. I could not become a “saint”. Far from that, I even twisted the power bestowed to me by God and am nothing more than a foolish human. However, at this very last moment, I will believe in my own power and I wish to make a miracle happen. I mentioned earlier that my ability was the power which directed the people I connected with towards “death”. But, in truth, that is wrong. It was my weakness that caused that but, originally, I had the power to call forth wonderful miracles. The power to nurture the “life” of those I connected with– that is my true ability. With this power, I wish to call back Yuna, who is sleeping now in a far away place. Yuna saved me. That is why, this time, it is my turn to save her. Please, I beg for everyone to accept her when she returns. She is the person who should be blessed by God and by everyone from the bottom of their hearts.
–This has truly become long. Nonetheless, there must be many who cannot accept this no matter how much I talk. I am aware I will never be forgiven, but I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for all the trouble I have caused. I wish for everyone and this country’s future to be shining. I will pray for this with the rest of my life.”