oneill: Pluto - Gesicht holds an umbrella in a downpour (maybe we were just naive)
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[Content Notes]

Scrapped Princess | Canzonetta of the Unforgiven | An Unwavering Bond | Part 2/3

He did not remember his father's face, nor his mother's.

Chris was not alone in this. Foundlings were gathered from all over the country, along with those children who had been sold--both figuratively and literally--by their parents. The Obstinate Arrows' SpecOps combat technicians were those who survived the selection and winnowing process.

One by one, his peers had failed out of their regimen of overtraining, which took suffering to new heights. Of course, their destination was the mass grave that had been set up at the back of the facility. In that dumping ground that was a grave in name only, there stood a single stone momument, upon which someone had chiseled, "Here lie the happy failures."

Indeed, death may well have been the happier outcome.

Day after day of nothing but following orders to immerse himself in training that put his life at stake. On those days when the face of a close friend suddenly vanished, going right back to training, without time enough to spare even for tears.

Striking down those who shared his cannibalistic environment and moving on to the next stage of his training. At times, snapping the neck of someone who had borne him nothing but goodwill, possibly while thrusting a blade into their heart.

He could not rely on anyone. No one would protect him. If he were to die, no one would even remember him. He would simply be forgotten, left behind.

It was only natural. Who on earth would protect a child that had been abandoned even by his parents? Who on earth would remember him?

". . . Are you crying?"

At these words from the girl next to him, Chris came back to himself.


Of course he wasn't crying. He had forgotten even how to cry. Because he had a mountain of other things that needed remembering. He had no need for abilities that would not raise his rank.

"Me? Come on." Chris shrugged his shoulders and laughed. "Sometimes I think it might be nice if I could, though . . . By the way, are you getting hungry?"

". . . Not really."

"No? Well, let me know if you do. I brought snacks just in case," Chris said, indicating the paper bag that sat beside him. He reached in, felt around, and produced a bun about as large as his own fist. "I had one at this bakery I visited during the day, and it was pretty good, so I got a couple extra--"

"Stop it."

Hearing Winia's exasperated voice, Chris fell silent.

"Why are you acting like a normal person? If you're a hired killer, then you should act like one!"

At that sharp, accusatory scream, Chris's face went blank.

"You're a hired killer, you're here to kill a girl who's done nothing wrong, so why . . . why do you . . ." Winia groaned. "Why do you look so sad . . . ?"

Even as she said that . . . Winia somehow understood.

Similar hearts resonate with each other. There are some expressions that can only be read by those who harbor the same thoughts and emotions.

She was certain that this boy, too . . .

"You're a funny one, Oneesan."

Smiling wryly, Chris put the bun away.

An uncomfortable silence stretched between them.

By and by . . .

". . . So, when I was ten" --Winia steeled herself . . . and spun her words in a murmur-- "I fought . . . with my friend."

". . . Where did that come from?" Chris asked, but Winia ignored him and kept on.

"He was a sickly boy, but very kind. We always played together. Since I didn't have any other friends, and he wasn't well enough to go and play with the other boys."

"You had no friends, you say?"

Those words were as sharp as blades.

Winia bit her lip for a moment before going on.

"I've got Wanderer blood in me, so . . . everyone shunned me. You couldn't say I was openly discriminated against, but since children are so cruel . . . I got picked on a lot. They called me 'mongrel kid,' you know?"

The nomadic tribe know as the "Wanderers" . . . They had now received societal acceptance, but they had been an object of scorn for decades. They were predominately members of a foreign race that had originally emigrated from the south, but there were others gathered among them as well, like criminals and people who--for one reason or another--had been driven out of town. For this reason, they had often undertaken a variety of so-called "dirty" jobs to make a living.1

The only people who had not despised them were mercenaries (whose circumstances were very similar to those of the Wanderers) and those people who had been liberated from bigoted customs by traveling the wide world.

"He was the son of a large mercantile house. His father and mother loved me like a daughter. But . . ."

For a moment, the words caught in her throat.

Just remembering it brought her pain. It was a memory she longed to forget, though she had lost all hope of doing so.

"So one day, I overheard something. Overheard what he really thought of me."

The words she had heard by chance, while she hid in the shadows.

Their Sunday school classmates had surrounded that small boy and were taunting him. The cruelty that only children possess had driven that boy into a corner . . .

. . . You like Winia, don't you?

. . . I saw you earlier, holding hands!

. . . Nasty! Won't her smell rub off on you?

. . . She stinks! Stinks! Ahahahaha.

And that was when he had said it. He had gone and said it.

. . . Y--yeah, right! That mongrel kid?

Three days later.

Worried because Winia had suddenly stopped coming over to play, the boy had come to the Big Bear, escorted by his steward.

Winia had not said a word.

She just kept silent and threw dishes. Threw any number of dishes.

All over a single betrayal.

In retrospect, she did not know whether he had spoken those words from the heart. Perhaps he had simply been embarrassed because they were teasing him, and so had said something he did not mean. But at the time, Winia had been too young and too upset to understand the vanity and embarrassment that boy had been subject to . . . the emotions that are particular to young boys.

She could no longer approach him as she had before--innocently trusting him as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

. . . What do you really think?

. . . Do you really think I'm dirty too?

She had not been able to speak those questions amid her weeping, and so she could receive no answer. The only sound that pierced the silence was the echo of ceramic shattering as it fell to the ground.

Perhaps it had also been the sound of the bond between two children shattering.

That sagacious boy seemed to realize what had brought about this change in Winia. After that, the boy had sent her letters nearly every day.

However, she had thrown them, unread, into the Big Bear's fireplace.

"And?" Chris asked, his face expressionless. "Just what is it you're trying to say, I wonder?"

". . . I don't know," Winia said in a negligent tone. "I don't really know myself."

But she had felt like she had to tell him.

She had thought that if she told this boy, then he might understand. As someone who carried the same loneliness and envy that she did.

Worn out, Winia closed her mouth.

Perhaps it had been pointless. An oppressive silence stretched between them once more.

A short silence. And then . . .

"So what happened?"

". . . Eh?"

"So what happened with that friend of yours?"

His tone sounded uninterested, as though the question had just popped into his head. And yet . . .

"In the end, we weren't able to make up," Winia said, as though ruminating on the words. Because . . . that had been her sin. "He died from illness."

". . . I see," Chris said with a small smile.

To Winia, it really did look like he was smiling through tears.

At that moment . . .

As though he had sensed something, Chris stood up.

"It seems he's arrived."

He looked back over his shoulder, and there--setting foot into the glass valley--was Shannon.

"Oniichan . . . Winia."

Her clenched fists were white.

Chasing her thoughts around so much that she came to hate her own powerlessness, Pacifica sat in one of the Big Bear's rooms and prayed . . . No, she wished. There was nothing else this girl could do but wish for their safety with all her heart.
Scrapped Princess - Pacifica Casull sits at a candlelit desk, her hands clasped in front of her and a worried expression on her face.
Even prayer was of no use. Because there was no god. At the very least, no God that would listen to the prayers of the Scrapped Princess.

There was nothing she could do.

Their lives were in danger because of her, and there was nothing Pacifica could do for them.

. . . No. There was just one thing she could do.

". . ."

As though unable to bear it anymore, she looked toward the candle spike that sat on the shelf beside her. The candle had melted almost entirely away, and the keen point of the candle spike showed through like a deadly weapon.

When she was alone, she did her very best to keep from looking at sharp objects. Because there were times when she felt the desire to impulsively stab them into her throat.

If she were to die, their problems would come to an end.

At times, that struck her as the perfect solution.

She was afraid to die. So afraid that it made her tremble. That was only natural. And yet . . . at the same time, desperately wishing for things and being unable to do anything about it was unbearably painful. The thought that someone else might die in her place frightened her so much she thought it might drive her mad. She felt like she would be robbing them of their life.

Because she was meant to have died fifteen years ago. But still . . .

"Have to . . . get dinner ready," she murmured, as though admonishing herself. She stood up.

She would trust him and wait. Sometimes that is truly more painful than fighting.

But even so . . .

"You . . . you promised, so . . ."

On the other side of the door that closed off the room.

". . ."

Quietly drawing away from the door, Raquel let out a sigh of relief.


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1) The Wanderers are likely inspired by both the Romani people and Japan's burakumin (部落民). Back

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sutepri: Scrapped Princess - Pacifica Casull beams while the sun rises in the background. Also, Shannon's shoulder. (Default)
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