… Clang, the thin chain on her wrist fell towards her arm.
Eliza stared at the tip of her outstretched left hand in the air and finally came back to her senses when the chain made that sound.
It was dark inside the bed that was separated by a cloth. That was probably why she had difficulty distinguishing between dream and reality.
She slowly raised herself up and dragged her heavy body out of bed. The moonlight shining in from outside was quite bright, and she immediately realised that it hadn’t been long since she fell asleep.
This had been happening more and more for a while now. She had a dream when she fell asleep. When the dream ends, she wakes up after a short time from her shallow sleep. The dream that she vaguely remembered always seemed the same.
――― Kamil had come with Rashiok to help her in the battle at Jugfena Fortress. Then the dream suddenly switched to the time when the nun attacked, and she was thrown into the air by Kamil. She squirmed in the air while falling and woke up.
I have to sleep. Eliza told herself. This amount of sleep is too little for a young, growing body. Her body was already exhausted from the lack of sleep and felt like lead as she slowly walked to her bed. Her stomach felt as if it was full of stones, her head ached dully, and her legs felt like jelly.
Eliza threw herself down onto the soft bed. If only there was something to catch my body in the dream, then maybe I wouldn’t wake up every time, she couldn’t help but think.
(… Or if I could just find Kamil…)
It’s like there’s a cold stone stuck at the back of my throat, she thought while touching it.
No matter how much she searched the fief, the only information she could find on the girl with the dawn coloured eyes was that she had visited the area as a nun in the past. The people who had worked with her remained completely unknown.
I’m not sure if that person who I saw for a moment covered in burn marks was really Kamil. It could have been someone who looked like him.
However, since the person looked like Kamil, Eliza couldn’t give any information on who it was, so she couldn’t search for information in her fief. If it was known that the person who was close to her may be working with a girl who has a connection to Rindarl, then it would not only jeopardise her position, but that of Earl Thelesia too.
She had to find Kamil if he was still alive.
(I have no right to hold a grudge against Kamil even if he really did betray me. His father’s death was a result of something I did. I have to accept his hatred, just like how I accept the hatred of the citizens.)
However, dealing with the collaborators of Rindarl was different. If the person who looks like Kamil is someone that disturbs the peace of Arxia, then Eliza needed to fulfil her responsibility as a noble of this kingdom ――― to protect the people of this fief.
(… You seek out the person you regret letting die, and now you want to kill him with your own hands?)
Eliza’s face was filled with contempt and pain, not even mocking herself. It’s my responsibility, my duty, ――― she whispered, reasoning with herself, but there was a crushing pain deep inside her chest that made it hard to breathe. It was as if those congeal thoughts were blocking her breathing.
Kamil might hate her. This alone could easily shatter her need to live. Slowly the heavy feeling of resignation nested itself within her.
(――― In the end, the reason why I cling to life no matter how miserable it is, is not because I think I should live, or because I respect my life. It’s just… because that one person wanted me to live. That sense of duty is the only thing that has kept me alive so far. No matter how much people want me to die, I’m alive because of the words that one person left me…)
I recalled the time when even Earl Thelesia wasn’t in this fief yet.
As soon as I had killed my family, those who fled like spiders for fear of being exposed for their crimes, and those who were freed from the control of her father, both disappeared from the Golden Hill Mansion. The only ones left at the mansion were me, who had nowhere else to go, and a skinny maid, who also had nowhere else to go.
She was a woman with no distinguishing features other than her freckles.
She was maldeveloped and had a body so thin that it looked like it would snap like a twig. Her body was smaller than that of my twelve year old sister’s. And yet, her worn and tired face that was as still as the surface of a calm lake made it impossible to tell her age just by looking at her.
She was a woman of few words. I even thought that she couldn’t speak because she never opened her mouth much.
It was only when there was no one else at the mansion that I learnt that wasn’t the case. It was only when there were only the two of them left that the woman spoke.
“You did the right thing.”
That was the first thing she said to me.
The woman took care of me uninterestedly even though it wasn’t her job anymore. I wondered again if she didn’t want to kill me or torment me. She had the right to do so, I thought. She was one of those who were tormented in this mansion because she had no relatives.
I killed my family. I let dozens of people die before I made up my mind to do so. I couldn’t stand it since it was so far removed from the ethics of my previous life, which I had used to make my decision. I was terrified of future conviction, but when it was all over, living was just a force of habit.
That was why it would have been fine even if she had killed me ――― I wanted her to kill me and end it. I thought it was fine and wondered why the woman didn’t do so.
“You were right. Your sins have been atoned for.”
That was the second thing the woman said to me.
She had lung problems. When my guardian, Earl Thelesia, arrived from the capital, she was bedridden as if she had fulfilled her task.
I went to see her every day under the watchful eyes of the nanny, but no matter how much time passed, the fear of death never crossed her face.
I spent most of my days next to the bed where she laid. It seemed like the right thing to do. I somehow knew that she didn’t have the strength to leave the room by herself. So, I decided to stay within her reach so that she could kill me if she wanted to.
I placed a knife under the woman’s pillow with my own hands. She peeled rotten apples with it.
She was getting weaker by the minute.
One day, she stopped peeling apples and I realised that she couldn’t even lift her arms anymore.
I put the knife in the woman’s hand and pushed it into my neck. She could kill me with a slight movement.
That was the first time I touched her.
She didn’t move the knife.
“Why won’t you kill me?”
It was my first and last question to her.
That was also the first and last time I spoke to her.
“――― You like me, don’t you? So much so, that you wouldn’t mind being killed by me. I like you. So much so, that I don’t want to kill you. So live. Don’t die. ――― I’m sorry.”
The woman smiled feebly.
She died with a slight smile on her face.
I found myself crying at the third sentence the woman had left behind.
… I still don’t know anything else about her.
I didn’t even know her name and cared for her as she died.
I only know that she was the first person to love me. Everything she left behind has made me who I am today and kept me alive.
I wonder if it’s right that I’ve created an existence that feels heavier than the woman who has already died.
Is it right that the pain of life has become more vivid because of it?
I’m aware I’m in a dangerous position. However, I knew that the reason why I haven’t stepped over the line was because other existences occupied my mind as well.
Even though each of them is incomparably lighter than Kamil’s existence ――― it was enough for me to understand that I shouldn’t entrust my heart to someone else.