Chapter 15: Acting Like A Child
When the ceremony finished and I was allowed to leave, I immediately collapsed onto Kamil’s arm. What’s this, said the earl in an incomplete sentence as he met my eyes. As I saw my reflection in his quiet eyes, I forced a sound out of my throat.
“Since I’m still young, this ceremony really tired me out. I’m going to get some good rest.”
From behind me, Faris’s laughter seemed to catch up to my back and chase me. I felt an uncanny sense of fear, and even though I knew it was unseemly, I clung tightly to Kamil.
The left dish of the scales represented my “sins.” That piece of parchment had listed the names of the 72 people in my domain that had died after I was born. And, the leaves of that poisonous hemlock. The people that I had let down, and my own parents and siblings. If that’s my sin, I fully understand.
Since I had told them I wasn’t feeling well, Kamil bid them goodbye for me, and set a quick course back to the mansion in order to get me some rest as soon as possible. I didn’t the ability right now to think of anything, and I clenched onto him so tightly that my hands hurt. My fingertips were turning pale from a lack of blood circulation, and my nails that I had injured yesterday from clawing the dirt were beginning to hurt.
“Charlie, calm down.”
As if he could see something was wrong with me, Kamil tapped me gently on the back. That prodded me to loosen my grip on him. I should stop hurting my own body in vain just because I was in a state of confusion, but I was still filled with unpleasant feelings.
“……I don’t know what Charlie’s sins are, but your sins have been forgiven, and I’ve ascertained that you’ve properly received the blessings. Come on, take a deep breath.”
Alright, it’s fine, as Kamil shook my hand gently, giving some relief to the bitter taste in my mouth that had been spreading. Simply seeing me as a mere child and protecting me, his sweetness at this time made me think maybe he wasn’t such a terrible fellow after all.
Even though my sins are rather unforgivable, that priest had said that my sins were compensated for. The church is in charge of the justice system in this country, meaning my crime would not be called into question after what happened just now. However, there had been nothing related to repenting for my sins on the scales earlier. The atonement for my sins might not be over yet. Since I was clenching my teeth too hard and the grinding was beginning to hurt, it jolted me out of this train of thought. Kamil kept tapping my back to help me take large, deep breaths, and I changed my line of thinking.
So the crime that I’m responsible for committing is now known, but it’s unbecoming that you’ve become so unsettled over this, Eliza Kaldia.
By scolding myself, I calmed myself down, and went over everything in my mind that had frightened me.
The ice coldness I had felt during the ceremony wasn’t that strange, it was my brain sending orders to cool down my body as my blood was beginning to boil.
It doesn’t matter who that priest is.
The problem is whether or not that priest intends to do something against me.
Nor does it matter if everything about me had been exposed.
No matter how much they know, it should be fine if I just act like a child and pretend to know nothing.
“Kamil, let me down.”
My voice sounded ice cold when I spoke. Kamil who was just about to enter the vicinity of the mansion stopped his movements.
“Let me down. I’ll walk by myself.”
I looked at the shocked-seeming Kamil directly, and as if he was flinching from me, he slowly let me down from his arms.
“Thank you for your trouble in helping me. Sorry for showing you such an ungraceful appearance.”
I looked at Kamil whose eyes were wide open and mouth was silent. Amongst the greenery, his red eyes seemed jarringly unnatural, and were glimmering with a color almost like blood.
I suddenly woke up, and rose up in bed. The water clock indicated that the time was about midnight. I have no recollections of having changed into my nightclothes. In the end, the priest Faris’s horse-drawn carriage had brought me back to the mansion, and I had been so fatigued that I probably fell asleep then and there.
The side table by my bed had a silver pitcher of water and a plate of fruit placed on it. I only drank the water, and got down from my bedsheets. Even though my floor is carpeted, the cold still started transmitting from my bare feet. Night in springtime is quite cold.
I put on an appropriate jacket and left my room. I headed straight for the basement dungeon. Why I was going there, I didn’t even know myself.
The chilly stone prison was just like a coffin. While my father had been alive, this had truly been a place for the dead.
I had a sudden urge to destroy this dungeon, but I somehow managed to calm myself down. Even though there’s probably no need for such an overly large dungeon, and it might be better to get rid of it, right now I need to cooly evaluate my actions and not give in to impulses.
The child was in the back of the same jail cell as yesterday, and was sleeping in a thick and old blanket. How relaxed even though he might die tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. After thinking so, I was finally able to smile a bit.
“Whenever I come speak with you, I’ve gotten into the habit of becoming overly prideful.”
I could take a high-handed attitude against the child that’s been imprisoned by me, but I could only escape with my tail between my legs when my secret was discovered by the adults, my own shallowness and foolishness made me angry. My smile that had appeared changed to self-deriding laughter.
I gripped the cold iron bars so tightly that it hurt, and listened to the child’s sounds of sleeping for a bit.
– The poisonous hemlock had been placed on both the left and right sides of the scales. On the same level as the sin of killing my entire family, having removed my wicked family was also recognized as a virtue. Even though my oldest sister had only been twelve years old, it’s pathetic that people wanted her dead already. And now, when I’m only half as old as she was, people are wishing me dead in the same way, I feel like that’s pathetic as well – my self-derision now changed into self-disdain after thinking about it.
And then, I thought about the withered flower that had almost been hidden. The priest had picked a flower that was used for graves, what a terrible person.
How rude to have toyed with my emotions like that. Having such an important evidence placed in front of me, I’d gotten distraught. What were the goals of the priest who toyed with my mind, and the earl who had allowed it? In the cold, dark dungeon, my head remained cool.
Nobody other than myself knows about what I’ve done, so that means they have some way of revealing past sins, does this means I have no way of escaping from the atonement? – Well, if that’s what they want.
I thought over the events in the church again in detail. Thinking about it now, it really wasn’t something to have gotten so shaken up over. I felt angry, embarrassed, and disappointed about how distraught I’d been.
The earl was probably disappointed in me as well. The fact that the list of 72 people that had died was there, was definite proof that he had provided that piece of evidence. At thinking so, my shoulders involuntarily dropped in frustration.
“I’ve found you!”
A voice suddenly spoke up from behind me, shocking me and causing me to tense up. By reflex, I reached for the sword in my waist. Oh, this voice was Kamil’s.
When I squinted towards the dark entrance to the dungeons, in the dull light provided by the candles was the person I had expected.
“I mean, Charlie. Such a childish thing like running about outside your room at this time of night, if you were going to do it, couldn’t you have started at an earlier age? It’s suspicious because you’re long past that age now.”
Contrary to his words, his tone of voice was rather gentle.
“……You seem to be confused, since I am a child?”
“A regular kid you know, should have ran around, laughed, and cried more. You never say anything, you’re very observant, always obedient, and the fact that you can suppress your own feelings is incredible.”
Kamil didn’t hide his own incredulous attitude as he kept approaching me. Am I going to be brought back? I instinctively gripped the iron bars of the jail cell even tighter. I still wanted to think about various things here for a little longer.
But contrary to what I expected, Kamil stopped once he reached in front of me and simply put something on my shoulder. It was a slightly heavy woolen cloak that worked well during the winter. My clothes alone hadn’t been enough to keep out the cold, but with this the cold air could no longer permeate through the clothing and reach my skin.
“If I’m bothering you, I’ll wait outside.”
Kamil suddenly chuckled. Why is it that, my throat suddenly hurt so badly.
“……No, you don’t have to leave, won’t you stay here with me for a little while?”
I had to squeeze those words out of my throat, but when they came out they sounded so soft and faint.