I suddenly woke up in bed and got up.
The water clock indicated that it was midnight. I have no recollections of having changed into my pyjamas. Did I fall asleep from fatigue after the ceremony? There was a silver water pitcher and a plate of fruits on the side table next to my bed. I drank the water and took my feet out from the sheets. The floor was covered in carpet, but I can feel the cold transmitting from my toes. The temperature dropped at night in spring.
I put on a coat and left my room. I headed to the dungeon. I don’t even know why I was going there.
The chilly stone prison was just like a coffin. When my father was alive, this was just a place for the dead. All the more reason to destroy this dungeon; a calm and destructive urge rose to my head. This overly large dungeon wasn’t normally needed, and it might be better to get rid of it; I calmly reasoned to support my urge. It was only packed with distasteful toys left by my father, and half of them couldn’t be sold anyway.
Radka was sleeping at the back of the same prison cell as yesterday and was wrapped in a thick, but old, blanket. How carefree even though he might die tomorrow or the day after. After thinking so, I was finally able to smile a little.
“Whenever I face you, I always become overly prideful.”
I acted oppressive against a child who had his freedom taken away from him, but I become frightened and can only escape with my tail between my legs when an adult found out my secret. My foolishness made me angry. My smile suddenly changed into a sneer. I pressed my palm against the cold iron bars which hurt, and listened to the sounds of the child sleeping for a while.
――― The poisonous leaf had been placed on both the left and right scales. On the same level as the sin of killing my entire family, having removed my wicked family was also recognised as a virtue. It was pitiful that even my older brother, who was 11 years older than me, and my sister were wanted dead by everyone. It was also pitiful that I, who had turned half their age, was also wanted dead in the same way… Although I thought of myself in scorn, I didn’t feel that way.
Then, I recalled the withered flower that was hidden on the scale. There were also horrible priests who picked up flowers offered to graves. How did they find out? There shouldn’t have been any clues except for that they were poisoned.
How rude to have toyed with my emotions like that. I was upset because such important evidence was placed in front of me. What are the intentions of the priest Faris who toyed with my mind, and the Earl who had allowed this to happen? The cold and dark dungeon cooled my mind. They informed me that other people knew of my crime, and made sure that I had no way of escaping from atonement… Is that the will of God?
I thought over the events at the church again in detail. Thinking about it now, I shouldn’t have been so emotional. I felt angry, embarrassed and disappointed at how distraught I’d been. Earl Thelesia must have been disappointed by how I was acting. Having the list of the deceased that he held there on the scales was proof that he was condemning me. When I thought about that, my shoulders dropped in shame.
The child suddenly groaned, and my shoulders jumped. It didn’t seem like he was going to wake up.
“I’ll kill you… nobles…”
He dangerously proclaimed in his sleep before going quiet again. What kind of nightmare was he having? His voice was full of hatred and resentment, even though he was sleeping.
The stones which were added to both plates at the end of the ceremony. I’m sure that was representing what had happened with Radka. “I’ll kill you,” his shout resounded at the back of my ears. That alone made me feel cold as if my heart had been frozen.
“Unfortunately, I can’t be killed by anyone. I was allowed to live. That’s why I have to live.”
I grumbled and bit down on my lips until it hurt.
“I’ve found you. So, you were here.”
A voice suddenly spoke to me from behind, and I tensed up from the shock. I reflexively reached for the sword on my waist, but rethought and grasped my hand. The voice just now, Kamil? I looked at the dark entrance, and the dim light provided by the candles showed me who I had expected to see.
“You know, Tsar. Such a childish thing like sneaking out of your room at this time of the night, shouldn’t you have started doing that at a younger age? It’s suspicious to do something that’s appropriate for your age now.”
His tone was gentle, contrary to his words. I felt as if my wish of wanting to warm up my cold heart was apparent on my face… That made my heart more obstinate.
“… I’m definitely a child.”
I spat out mockingly, but this didn’t seem to have ruined Kamil’s mood, and he shook his head softly and denied it.
“You know, normal children cry, laugh and run around more. They don’t keep silent, assume things in their mind, behave themselves or suppress their emotions.”
Kamil shrugged in amazement as he joked around. Then, he approached me. Is he going to take me back to my room? I instinctively gripped the iron bars tightly. I still want to think more here. But contrary to my expectations, Kamil stopped in front of me and hung something over my shoulders. It was the slightly heaven woollen cloak that I used a lot during winter. The piercing cold air that I couldn’t guard against with just my clothes disappeared as soon as I wore the cloak.
“I’ll wait outside if I’m bothering you.”
Kamil suddenly laughed. Why did the back of my throat suddenly twitch painfully at that?
“… It’s alright. Won’t you stay with me for a bit if you can?”
The words that I had squeezed out from my throat was strangely faint and soft.
“Alright. I’ll listen if you want to talk.”
“… I don’t.”
“If you don’t, then you don’t have to say it. Since you don’t ask me anything either, Tsar.”
Kamil laughed as if a sigh was going to escape from his lips. He sounded happy, and I remembered something when he pointed that out. Is he talking about the cold and perfect smile he had when we first met? ‘If you’re feeling anxious, then why don’t you kill him?’ Or the radical remark that he had uttered as he pointed at the tiny Rashiok. Or perhaps, he was referring to his sword skills when he had stabbed the Lisol, and I overlooked his lie.
I sighed and relaxed.
“You didn’t want to be asked, right? There’ll be no end to it if I go out of my way to expose every little thing that people want to hide.”
“Yup. That’s what I like about you, Tsar.”
He chirped, and I had trouble breathing for a moment. I thought I would never hear the word ‘like’ in my whole life. I am someone to be hated, not liked.
“… Ah, that’s right.”
I suddenly felt as if my vision had become darker. Was that a hallucination induced by my own feelings? The back of my chest felt restless, and my head grew colder.
What did I misunderstand? I’m someone who is hated, I misunderstood and thought people liked me; the fief soldiers, Kamil… and the Earl. No matter what I do, or how I appear in their eyes, I’m a sinner, and it was correct for them to hate and scorn at me.
“I’ll have you listen to something this time. It’s about… my sister.”
I said because I thought it was fine to show him one of my taints. My heart once again filled with the cold feeling from before; it was the same feeling that I felt on that winter day; the feeling of recklessness, and despair.
Kamil and I are together often, but we’ve never revealed ourselves in detail. What kind of life did we live before we met? Who did we spend time with? How did we think? I don’t know about Kamil, but I have no intention of my revealing my past, which was stained with sin.
But just one. Why don’t I tell him about this one thing? If anything, this thought wasn’t hope, but self-destruction. I am telling him with the intention of exposing my dirty side to him, to push him away and destroying this relationship.
“About your sister?”
Kamil suddenly blinked. I can see the hesitation on his face. I’m sure he understood my intentions and was at a loss about whether to listen or not.
“To the public, I only had one sister. But I had a sister who was 13 years older than me.”
I selfishly began to talk regardless of his hesitation.
“My sister’s name was Elizawelte. My young father and mother indulged themselves in sex during their engagement.”
“Hmm… Well, it does happen.”
“Then, how what about that girl being raped by her father and giving birth to a baby girl? Does that also happen?”
I sneered. I felt Kamil pull back from behind.
“That’s right. I’m talking about my biological mother.”
I spat out. My dirty background.
“It’s no wonder the people hate me, right? Most of my blood belongs to my father. It’s also obvious that I would resemble him. I heard that Elizawelte also looked like a copy of my father.”
With that, I couldn’t speak anymore. Before I knew it, I had put too much strength into gripping the iron bars, and my fingers lost all blood and became pale. I shivered since I was going numb from the cold. The finger which my nail peeled from swelled and my flesh was exposed.
Kamil remained silent even though I had finished talking. He breathed several times and tried to speak many times, but in the end, he sighed and vanished from the dungeon.
He could have just said it clearly, ‘Fucking filthy origin’.
Even if I hadn’t killed my family, and the citizens hadn’t been killed in that year, I was an existence that should naturally be avoided.
――― How much time had passed until Kamil timidly touched my back as I looked down?
Kamil’s hand, which was gently comforting my back, was cold and trembling.
He didn’t hurl abuse at me, nor did he comfort me. Nothing came out of his mouth until the end.