Himitsu – Kuro no Chikai - novelonlinefull.com
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Chapter 4, Part 2 – The Price of Betrayal
The winters in the Tard Region were long. Unlike Velcant, where there was warm weather all year round, the atmosphere of all four seasons in this region was very beautiful.
I had acquired information that Rin was here in the small and remote country of Calmonde, which resided in the wide Tard Region that was under Gaku’s direct control and management.
About a year had pa.s.sed since Rin’s whereabouts had become unknown. For angels, one year was not a terribly long time. But even so, to disappear without any explanation was unusual.
Normally, angels recognize things by relying on the holy energy within all life forms. That was why, no matter where she was in the world, she could have been easily located if I had tracked her holy energy. However, since about one year ago, all traces of her holy energy had vanished. No matter how much I searched, I had been unable to sense her soul anywhere.
I had hurriedly searched the area in which she had battled with a demon previously, the human residence when she had gone incognito, and had my unit search all of Velcant, but I had not found a single clue. I had considered that possibility that her soul itself had vanished, but Meiko’s report had overruled that theory. She had told us that Rin’s soul had not yet vanished. There was no mistake in her report, as a caretaker of the Tree of Life. At around that same time, I had acquired a piece of information.
Rin was here in the human world.
In a corner of the quiet country town was a desolate bar. Although the night was still very young, the humans were already drinking and making much noise. The Gaudente Bar was the only tavern in this town, and seemed to grow crowded with both young and old people alike as they all gathered here on the weekends.
I didn’t dislike the hustle and bustle, but with the state my heart was in currently, the noise was a bit harsh on my ears. Hiding my wings and making the rest of myself visible to even human eyes, I entered the tavern to wait. Sitting down at the counter, this would be the first time that I’d drink alcohol paid for with human currency. Felle va Dous, a drink made by distilling apples from this region, had a rather fine taste for something from the human world. After a while, the bell above the entrance rang. A youth was standing in the doorway. In human years, he looked to be the age of one who had finally reached drinking age. Looking at his face, one that was etched into my memory so deeply it hurt, I realized it. I really had been naïve, after all.
The youth caught sight of me, and slowly, he smiled with a fleeting smile that seemed like it would vanish at any moment.
That smile reminded me of another colleague I had once lost, making my heart stir slightly.
“This drink is delicious, isn’t it?”
After telling the shopkeeper that we had confidential matters to discuss, we moved to a private room on the second floor. The youth had ordered the same Felle va Dous as I, and drank it one gulp with an accustomed manner. When he said it was “delicious,” I could see from his expression that he truly enjoyed this “human refreshment.”
“…… It’s not bad.”
“The quality of the apples this year is particularly great. That’s why the alcohol is delicious, too.”
“I went to the farm to help out for this season’s harvest, since they were shorthanded because it was a really abundant harvest this year.”
“Is that your job?”
“Yeah… It’s not much, but I manage the land around here. And, what about you…..?”
“….. Well, within this year, the demon faith has been spreading at a rapid pace. I was sent here, to the Tard Region, to investigate the damage caused by Honest. They’re shorthanded in Heaven, as well…. As you know, this region is under Gaku’s control, however…. The damage here is even greater than in Velcant, and so they ordered that I come to a.s.sist.”
“I see…. As usual, things sound hectic.”
The meandering conversation continued. Between angels, there shouldn’t have been any need to worry, even if they hadn’t talked for a year; that amount of time was barely anything at all to us, after all.
“….. Since I thought I wouldn’t be able to say it well once I saw your face….”
The boy who sat beside me took out a single letter from his pocket. I accepted the letter, which was beautifully sealed.
“I’m…. not going back to Heaven anymore.”
“But… I’m sure you knew that, with the way I look now….”
“Even though… you came all this way…. I’m really, truly…..”
Before he could finish his apology, I pulled him towards me, pressing his face against my chest. I didn’t want to hear those words yet. There should be many ways in which I could still save her. I just had to think. There was still time.
“…. Do you think I came all the way to the countryside to hear something like this?”
I felt my chest become cold and damp. He was crying without making a sound.
“Unlike the guy that’s in charge of this countryside place, I don’t have that much time to waste. You should know that.”
“I don’t have so much free time that I’d give up my vacation simply to come down to the human world and look for just one, clumsy subordinate.”
“…. Uu, Kaito……”
“So that’s why… Don’t you dare do anything troublesome, like disposing of that thing I spent my precious time looking for… Don’t you dare.”
“I will find a way to save you, without fail. …. I don’t mind if you stay in this form, so that’s why…..”
I swallowed the words I meant to say next. An emotion that I was never meant to know. Burying it in the depths of my heart, something that I had to pretend not to know, just as I was doing now, forever—
She, who had become a boy, cried silently into my chest. Angels had no definite gender. Even though her appearance had changed, her soul remained the same.
I most likely wouldn’t be opening the letter that I had received from her. I merely wanted to avert my eyes from my heart, and from hers.
* * *
I woke up in the morning to the sound of quiet snow.
As the snow piled up, it made a faint sound. Still drowsy, I turned on the lamp on the bedside table. In the still-dim room that was illuminated in a slight orange color, she was nowhere to be seen. She must have woken up early to make preparations.
The moment my feet touched the cold floor, a chill pa.s.sed through my entire body, making me shiver. It seemed that it had gotten even colder today. Putting on a thick gown, I moved in front of the dressing table to get dressed. Perhaps because of all the drinks I’d had yesterday, I could see in the mirror that my complexion was terrible.
A name that I hadn’t been called in a long time. In the mirror was someone that looked a lot like myself—another me. It was obvious, but ever since I’d become Len, I hadn’t heard that name again even once. Miku had forgotten that Rin had ever existed. Lily worried for Miku ever since coming here, but she never talked about Rin—about the time we had spent together in Velcant, either. Even Kaito, who I’d met for the first time in a while, had not called me by that name.
On the morning of my birthday, I had received a letter. The only thing written in it had been, “On the evening one week from now, I will be waiting at Gaudente Bar.” There had been no name or address, but the moment I saw the neat handwriting, I figured that it must have been Kaito who had sent the letter.
Even I didn’t understand what I’d been feeling at that time. I had been conflicted between feeling despair that those from Heaven had finally found me, and also happiness at the fact that Kaito hadn’t forgotten about me…. about Rin, and had been searching so desperately up until now. Even though I had committed treason and thrown away everything for the sake of my own greed, the self that I’d been sure that I’d thrown away was still breathing quietly within me. I hadn’t been hoping to be found, but somehow, I’d had a feeling that things would turn out like this. In the end, I hadn’t been able to say what I’d wanted to say, and left after handing the letter over to Kaito. I had written my honest feelings in that letter.
“I’m sorry….. Rin.”
It felt strange somehow, to be apologizing to myself. Rin was my past self, not a completely different person. Even now, this soul was Rin’s soul.
The only thing that had changed was my body.
Even since I’d become human, I had experienced many changes. When it was nighttime, I would feel like sleeping. I would get hungry, and eat until I was full. I felt moved at the changes in the seasons. Time pa.s.sed slowly now. I felt lonely when I was alone…. and I felt so happy that I was loved by the person dear to me.
“Rin….. I don’t regret any of this. I’m glad that I became Len…. I’m glad to be loved by Miku. I’m happy right now.”
From an outsider’s point of view, it must have looked humorous so see how I was talking to my reflection in the mirror.
This was a decision I had made.
For myself. For those that I had betrayed, and for her.
I patted my cheeks lightly to get rid of my low spirits. I had much to do today. Since the snow must had piled up a lot overnight, I had to help out the maids with the snow shoveling. After that, I’d eat the freshly baked break that Miku had made for me, let Lily dress me up with her new work…. and then head out into town for some errands…..
As I thought about today’s agenda, my moods lifted a bit. It seemed that my ability to quickly change my mood and think positively hadn’t changed from when I’d been an angel.
I hoped that today would be a good day. I got dressed quickly, and went to say good morning to her.