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The weather today was ideal for a departure.
Yuna finished her one ceremony in the morning and walked hurriedly down the corridor.
Her quick footsteps and leaping breath overlapped and the usual quiet atmosphere was transformed just in this moment. As if to soothe Yuna, who was impatient, gentle sunshine shone in from the window and created a loose shadow behind Yuna.
Following behind that shadow was her bodyguard, Aeneas. It didn’t seem like he was in as much of a hurry as her, but there was a little bit of a bewildered air about him.
“Lady Celiastina, I do not believe you need to be in such a hurry.”
“But there’s no time already.”
Yuna answered briefly and ran up the stairs. Aeneas followed after in the same way.
“We can see the gate from the terrace over there, right?”
“Yes, you should be able to.”
“Then, if we hurry we might be able to make it.”
Please, let me make it in time.
Instead of saying those words, Yuna leapt up the stairs as fast as she could and rushed out onto the landing. The flat floor, as if surprised, caught Yuna’s body. As she climbed up even more stairs, the corridor that opened up was completely devoid of people. The entrance to the terrace waited at the end of this corridor.
The gate that could be seen from the terrace was often used by aristocrats for going outside anonymously. In this quiet place where few people come, even within the royal palace, the inconspicuously small gate was built as if it was part of the wall of an elaborate building. It was certainly perfect for those who wanted to leave unseen.
This time was no exception and the gate was about to be opened as if it were for an aristocrat to head out incognito. No, this traveler could not be put together with the likes of an aristocrat. In actuality, it was a person from a priest family that held more power than that and, at this time, was organizing their preparations for a journey in front of the gate.
I hope the flower blooms soon, a young girl said.
Yeah! I hope it blooms soon. Yuna answered with a smile.
In a quiet garden surrounded by tall walls, flowers that weren’t planted or bought swayed in the wind. In there, Yuna and the other girl surrounded a small sprout and exchanged grins. It was a baby plant, smaller than even their palms. It wasn’t unusual to Yuna, whose family ran a herbal store, but when she looked at the other girl who stroked its leaves sweetly, her own face naturally smiled. I hope it blooms soon, Yuna thought from the bottom of her heart.
A little tired from crouching for so long, Yuna stood up and stretched. When she closed her eyes and raised both arms to the sky to stretch, a groan slipped out. Her body felt refreshed and lighter– but at the same time she felt something disquieting, and so Yuna opened her eyes with a snap.
Do not worry, and look forward.
If done, the “feelings” you have nurtured up to now without giving up,
even if they are released from your hands, will steadily rise up,
and you will notice that you have started to walk.
It is difficult to change things.
No matter how hard you work, the fruit of your efforts will not appear immediately.
But, even if you cannot see it, a change has certainly “started”.
That is why you should believe.
You should walk on the path you believe in.
As long as the flickering light beyond the road’s end is within sight.
(T/N: I’ve updated the page list with the second book’s summary and index!)
Here are the character pages for the first volume of this series! They actually appear at the front of the book, but I decided to show them at the end because they spoil who you’ll be seeing in the book, so… Anyway, I’ve included the way character names are spelled in Japanese too so you can make fun of my romanization (LOL) and so that you can match the names with the images.
EDIT: I should probably put a warning that seeing the pictures may destroy the picture you already created in your head for these characters, oops.
This was Asyut’s first time going to this jail.
Originally, this place was nothing more than a temporary detention facility for those who caused trouble in the royal palace. Normally it was a forgotten space where no one entered or exited. Even when there was the occasional imprisoned person, they would be properly transferred within a few days. Duo was probably the first person to have stayed in this jail for several weeks.
And that Duo… what was his emotional state as time passed?
When he thought about that, Asyut felt like he could understand a little bit of the emotional whirlpool in Duo. The sorrow of losing a loved one, and the pain of being unable to save them. No, it was surely more than that– it must have been a deep and violent feeling of self-condemnation that tormented him, as if he had done it with his own hands. He must be thinking he could never get up again–.
(Duo also hasn’t thought about wanting to be saved, huh.)
People have said that because there are people who wanted to live more but couldn’t, one mustn’t treat their lives poorly. That living itself was something to be rejoiced. But those words only suited one’s own convenience. Why did they not think about the suffering of those people who want to die but can’t? Why did they have to compare themselves with people who stood in exact opposite positions? It was not always possible for people who were facing the past and forced to face the future to take one step forward.
There was almost no possibility for someone, who was hurt in the heart enough to wish for death, to find hope in themselves. If such a person were able to stand up again……
Nagamine Tamaki (永峰 環)
CV: Nakazawa Masatomo (中澤 まさとも)
(I’ve decided on a new Valentines tradition. From now on, I’m going to translate my favorite drama CDs :’) especially now that I’ve finally listened to some fantastic ones that have planted themselves at the top of my list for GOLD STAR content. WARNING: This is R18 so proceed with caution.)
EDIT 2017/05/26: Added the animate and stellaworth tokutens. You’re welcome ;).
Yodel was the only remaining one.
Finally she attained Asyut and Linus’ cooperation. She was scared to face Yodel for many reasons but there was no way she could run away at this point. Feelings of wanting to hurry and see her but also of wanting to let this pass by and not see her fought against each other inside of Yuna.
Asyut was the one to arrange a face-to-face meeting between her and Yodel. The meeting was inside the tower where Yodel lived, and it seemed like Asyut was going to guide her there. Her meeting was going to happen in a short time.
“Lady Celiastina, excuse my intrusion.”
Yuna, who had been looking over the signature list on the sofa, raised her head at Nasha’s voice. Nasha entered the room shyly while pulling a small cart along.
“Um, I am very sorry knowing that you just had breakfast but, if you do not mind, would you like to try this?”
What was revealed was a delicious-looking fruit mousse.
Looking up at the high blue sky, Yuna breathed out.
For some time she had been raising her voice and, as one would expect, she wasn’t able to hide her fatigue now.
“Shall we take a short rest, Lady Celiastina?”
Beside her Aeneas looked at Yuna’s state with concern.
Yuna and the others had been running about the next day, and thereafter, collecting signatures. Right now, they had even stretched out to the vicinity of the entrance to the gates of the royal palace and soliciting help from the people who passed by in order to release Duo. Signatures were being collected smoothly and in these few days they had actually exceeded 100 names from twenty percent of the people going in and out of the royal palace.
“I’m okay, let’s continue on a bit more. We’ll have to return soon anyway.”
It was an unexpected person who moved in this stalemate.
“Lady Celiastina, it looks like Lady Yodel is making a move to save Duo!”
One afternoon, after several days had passed, Nasha, who came to prepare tea, reported this to Yuna excitedly. Nasha knew about the situation with Duo. Rather, this matter spread throughout the royal palace in the blink of an eye, to the point where there was likely no one who didn’t know about it already. Many sympathized with Duo’s position, but the fact that he pointed a blade at the saint meant that the majority’s view was that there was no choice but to execute him. And so, why Duo hadn’t been executed yet was making everyone suspicious.
It was most likely that not many knew about how the saint was thinking about ways to free him somehow. But, due to Nasha having spent a long time with Yuna, she could sense those feelings. It seemed like she was hoping this information she brought would be able to cheer up Yuna, who had been depressed lately.
“By Yodel, do you mean that priestess?”
“Yes! The lady who gave me the pendant I talked about before.”
Yuna was genuinely surprised. Ever since she had been severely rebuked that one time, she hadn’t seen Yodel again but it looked like she had been making her own moves. –And it was to save Duo.
“I hear that she is gathering signatures from those who want Duo to be released. The subject of the movement being what it is seems to make it so they can’t act too publicly, but it seems like she is centered on requesting signatures slowly from the servants and even the nobility.”
Everything that happened after that passed by in an instant.
The silhouette of the tanned man suddenly became larger. He lifted his right hand up with great force and, the moment she realized that, he swung it down. She could hear the sharp sound of the passing wind by her ears. And then, roughly at the same time, a dull shock impacted against her. Yuna was completely confused. In that moment, her entire body had judged that she was going to be attacked by that unfamiliar man. But the coldness of the ground striking her cheek brought Yuna’s consciousness back to reality.
Right now, Yuna was lying on the ground. The one who had pushed her and thrown himself on top to cover her was– Asyut.
By the time Yuna managed to raise her upper body, Asyut had already brought himself up to a knee and was guarding her against their opponent.
The person who assaulted her was someone who was around the same age as Asyut. He gripped a dagger in his right hand. And he was looking down at Asyut and Yuna with hatred burning in his eyes. There was an unthinkable strength that poured out of him, despite his haggard appearance, but Yuna trembled with fear just from his appearance.
“–Don’t get in my way!”
Shouting, the man leapt at them again. Asyut placed a hand on the handle of his sword, but he didn’t move and simply glared at the other person. As the distance shrank, Yuna was unable to bear it and gave a small scream. Right at that moment, a thick arm stretched out from behind the man and twisted the right hand of the man strongly. Like that, the man’s body was thrown into the air and then immediately hit the ground.
The endlessly wide starry sky wrapped around this world equally.
Were her friends and parents – people she could no longer see – staring up at the same moon? While thinking that, Yuna looked up at the night sky, alone. She liked the unique smell of night. The slight moisture that was mixed in with the air made her recall a sense of nostalgia for some reason. It wasn’t a bad thing. Rather, feeling comfortable, Yuna closed her eyes softly. There must be flowing water nearby because the gentle sound of water running passed through her ears faintly and she concentrated on it. –Even though the afternoon was just as quiet, when it became night it was like the world changed and she noticed various things that she hadn’t noticed under the sun.
(How long can I remain here like this?)
Leaning against the balcony, Yuna did nothing but continue to look at the scenery. When she thought about how this scenery would be something she wouldn’t be able to look at soon, it became all the more harder for her to avert her eyes. By nature, she had a personality where it wasn’t a pain to stand still in once place for a long time. And this night too, she looked up at the stars and moon for a long time.
(–I want to meet them, my mom and dad.)
Afterwards, Linus immediately came to retrieve her and, as stated, Yuna spent several days in her room.
The large room was as wearisome as usual, but thanks to Linus’ consideration there were several new things inside the tasteless room. There were various books, ranging from religious texts to the popular, arranged on her bookshelves, and a complete set of lacework placed casually on the table. Most of the books were difficult for Yuna and hard to read, and the lacework too was unmanageable for her since she didn’t have experience in the aristocratic arts. Even so, she was grateful for Linus’ thoughtfulness and expressed her thanks in her heart.
The room was provided with a private bathroom and, as long as food was brought in, she could live inside her room without any inconvenience. On this, she was grateful.
Yuna, who had been excused from every ceremony, quickly became bored though and looked around the room. After wandering around the room aimlessly, she looked at the mountain of books. Just looking at the spines made her feel overwhelmed but she managed to pull herself together and pull out one book.
It was a book on the history of this country and the saints. It wasn’t something that was impossible to read but it would take a lot of time to decipher the words and it was a bothersome history book to understand for Yuna. However, it was precisely because of this that it was something she could use to pass the time, and she also wanted to know more about the relation between the saints and this country, so it was like killing two birds with one stone. She was lacking in too much knowledge.
(Ever since the long gone time of myths, there has always been the existence of a saint.)
By the time Yuna, who was carefully reading each page, sighed and reached a point in the book where the events were only 1000 years ago, the maids had brought in candles for light. While lifting a cup of brewed tea to her mouth, she found herself unexpectedly astonished at the “deep-rooted” history of the saints.
Rap, rap, rap.
At the sudden sound of unreserved knocks, Linus raised his eyes from his book.
Who was the idiot who was violently knocking on his door this late at night? When he went to open the door with an unhappy expression, there stood Celiastina with an even more complicated and sullen expression than him. Behind her was a blond-haired young man that he had the memory of seeing somewhere before.
“Is something the matter? Coming here at this time…”
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t think of anyone else to ask help from.”
The young girl in front of him appeared to be even more worked up than the time he spoke to her this morning.
“It’s about the Holy Jail.”
For generations in this world’s only country, Sibelius, it was tradition for the saint, always a maiden, to serve the royal family. There was only ever one of these in the world, an extremely beautiful girl with the Holy Mark on her neck. This was the only proof needed for a saint; it didn’t matter whether one was born as a noble or as a peasant, so long as one had that mark then they were acknowledged by the royal palace and welcomed in. In other words, without the holy mark then one would never be acknowledged as a saint.
Whenever the previous saint drew her last breath, it was a given that the following year a new saint would be born. It was a rule of the country that the saint had to be discovered before she reached her 15th year and welcomed into the royal palace; and, as she entered the royal palace, it was necessary for her to be joined with the young man awarded the position of the First Holy Knight in an engagement ceremony. If this wasn’t done, then it was said that a disaster would befall the kingdom. In the long history of Sibelius, there were only three instances where a saint had not been welcomed into the palace. During the first time, the people underwent a great flood and 40% of the population died; during the second time, the three most powerful forces in the kingdom clashed and all three powers were destroyed in the civil war; during the third, an epidemic had spread and it was reported that 40% of the population had died. Because of these, the entrance of the saint into the royal palace was not just an issue limited to the powers of the country, but a serious event all of the people in the country looked forward to.