Violet Evergaden: Chapter 10
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Translator Note: Here’s a warning beforehand to avoid confusion – this chapter was written with POV switch for some reason. The narration swings from first to third person within every one or two chapter intervals. I honestly thought about translating it all in third person, but that felt like lying to the readers, so I left it as it is in the original work.
The Demigod and the Auto-Memories Doll
On that day, the sky was overcast since morning, white clouds blending with pitch darkness. Rain struck the land as the Sun set, thunders rumbling, in a weather stormy enough to shake even windows protected by iron bars.
“It’s become cold, hasn’t it?”
Although it was the beginning of autumn, the temperature had still been warm as of late. Perhaps due to it abruptly going down, the nun whom I had been reading scriptures aloud with stood up and started preparing the fireplace that had been unused since spring.
I dropped my gaze to the scriptures we were halfway through with, and then scanned the room. A bed with a canopy. A gold-frame painting of mythological gods. An antique mirror stand. A deep shadow was cast over all of them. The atmosphere was somewhat grim.
“Hey…” As staying silent was dreadful, I tried calling out to the nun, yet was interrupted by a booming thunder. The sound was deafening enough to crack the soil. It sent chills through my entire body from within the silk robes I wore.
The navy-blue fabrics with golden embroidery of said robes were suitable for the austerity of a god’s child, but did not match me. The same went for the circlet of the Sun being enveloped by the Moon that rested on my head, that room, everything…
I stood up from my chair and walked to the nun’s side.
“Everything is fine, Lady Lux. This region has always been often hit by lightning, so there are lightning rods installed around the Utopia. Besides, even if it were to strike us, nothing would happen to you, Lady Lux. Your honorable body will be safe until the Day of Guidance four days from now.”
At the words that came with a light smile, I could only laugh bitterly. That was because I was unable to deem them either good or bad, as they were simply neutral words of comfort.
“Excuse me.” the voice of another nun came from outside the room. It was most likely the one in charge of the administrative management and security of the Utopia.
“Is anything the matter, Lisbon?”
“This rain caused the nearby river to flood. Crossing the bridge over to the harbor side in these circumstances is unmanageable…”
“We have stored enough supplies to survive through even the winter. There should be no issues, right?”
“No, it is not that… Since the crossing has become impossible, a traveler who was wandering this land has come seeking shelter in this Utopia. She asked if she could stay until the storm calmed… There is no way we could treat a lost child with disdain. It was all right to welcome her into the gates, but… that traveler…”
Seeing as the eyes of the reporting nun shone in delight, I concluded that something had happened. “Is she a ‘demigod’ like me?” after asking, my heart started racing from fear mixed with joy and sorrow mixed with anticipation, so violently that it ached.
“We have not conducted any probation, so I cannot affirm it, but… her figure is the splitting image of the goddess of combat, Garnet Spear. She is exactly as described in the scriptures.”
“Rainy days are ominous, so isn’t someone that comes by in times like these a mere human instead of a ‘demigod’? I believe I should recommend she departs to the lower world immediately after the tempest settles.”
My voice might have been stiff. Although I was praised and worshipped as a ‘demigod’ in that utopia, I did not have communication skills. However, I thought I had to do what I could for the sake of that traveler.
The two nuns looked at one another.
“Either way, let’s welcome the traveler. She must be freezing in this rain.”
“I-I want to meet this person as well.”
“We’ll let you greet her after you arrange yourself. Please, Lady Lux, be at ease.”
With that, the nuns left me in the room and took their leave in a haste. As the door was latched, it did not budge even as I pushed it.
“Hey, open up. Isn’t there anyone here?”
I could not hear the sounds of people in the corridors. I sighed grievously. As I had nothing else to do, I took a peek at the window. I did not have a panoramic view due to the window bars, but I could perfectly see the front gates.
“Ah.” My eyes reflected the figure of a traveler standing outside without any rain gear.
There was a fair distance from the room I was in to the ground. I kept observing her warily while believing that there was no way she would perceive my stare, yet she promptly moved her neck to look straight at me. It seemed my breathing would stop. The fact that my gaze had been noticed was frightening, but more than anything, the reason was that I could tell, even from far away, that the beauty of that traveler was a gift from God.
That was the first meeting between I, Lux Sibyl, and Violet Evergarden.
That isolated island contained something mysterious. The name of said island surrounded by sea and separated from other continents was Chevalier. There were about a hundred islanders in it.
As it was, the island was blessed with natural resources, and there was no contact with the outside world except for passing ships. The main characteristics of Chevalier were the waterfalls and ponds found throughout its territory. And among them, the most prominent was the great waterfall on the peak of an abysmal mountain in the center of the island. The maximum drop distance was of about a hundred meters, and there was no one who could float up if swallowed by the plunge basin.
Aside from the great waterfall, there was one more peculiarity in the island of water and greenery named Chevalier: a bizarre fortress erected by stacking irregular stones on top of one another. It was said that such spire devoid of uniformity, which artistic architecture had been created with the intention of not being labeled as either Oriental or Occidental, had suddenly started being built by a lunatic. In reality, no one knew whether that was true or not. Until a few decades before, it was a secretive building, left untouched as it was. One day, after a group that had purchased a corner of the island suddenly migrated to it at once, the community already living in that island started calling them “Cult House”, while the fortress’s inhabitants themselves called it “Utopia”.
Sister Lisbon, who had received the task of guiding the traveler that had wandered into the Utopia, was fixatedly staring at the entrance of a spacious porch that served as the Utopia’s front gate. What she was observing was not the state of the storm outside but the female traveler as she undid her slovenly hair. Its golden strands were glossy from absorbing rainwater. Her complex braids delated its real length.
In her hands covered by black gloves was a heavy-looking trolley bag. Under the Prussian-blue jacket that she took off was a snow-white ribbon-tie dress. Perhaps due to being so wet, it stuck to her bodyline perfectly, and even those of the same sex would have trouble averting their eyes from the sight.
The woman was a beautiful person with a somber gaze, and her figure, softly wet from the rain, happened to look as pure and lustrous as a fairy. However, she was enveloped in a somewhat outlandish atmosphere. Despite her fragile appearance, a bottomless, raw strength was present somewhere within her.
“I will be in your care.” Although the woman’s voice was by no means loud, in such a quiet place, it resounded more exquisitely than it usually would.
Lisbon led the woman to a room used whenever there were visitors. She sat on said room’s sofa by a marble table. Maybe because of the current season, or because building was made of stones, the air in the room felt cold.
“I am the administrator of the management of this ‘Utopia’. My name is Lisbon. We of Utopia welcome you, who were once lost.”
The outer corner of her eyes full of wrinkles and creases, Lisbon was clad in black robes along with a white wimple, which was what everyone of that place used as hood. It was a default nun outfit that often could be found anywhere in the world. Except the clothing of the Utopia’s nuns had the crest of a serpent being skewed by a large sword embroidered in the chest area.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Violet Evergarden. I am grateful for this favor. As soon as crossing the bridge becomes possible, I shall take my leave.”
Although Violet had not said the word ‘cold’ even once, her skin was clearly blue. Being considerate, Lisbon put more firewood into the fireplace.
“Thank you very much. May I dry my bag?”
There were probably very important things in it for her to prioritize it over her own clothes. When opening the bag, Violet took out a book wrapped in several cloths and handkerchiefs. Upon a closer look, it seemed to be a book-shaped accessory case. There were letters inside it. A sigh leaked from Violet’s lips.
“Are these important letters?” Lisbon asked, and Violet choppily spoke about her circumstances.
She was an Auto-Memories Doll, and had come to the island on request. The work had already been done. Along with writing the customer’s letter, she had also accepted to deliver it, and though all she had to do was meet with the postman to entrust the letter to him, she had been caught by the storm.
“So you are from a postal agency. Our Utopia is an ally of people, no matter who they are. Now, it is all right for you to dry your bag, but should you not warm up your body as well?”
As a white towel that had been prepared for her was placed over her head, Violet looked like a bride with a veil. Once she was given nun clothes as a replacement and finished changing into them, she was finally soothed into a state of being able to talk in detail.
Lisbon resumed the conversation simply, “Since we have become acquainted, let me talk about us as well. We of Utopia are an organization that reverences every God whose name is cited in worldwide mythology.”
The vigor of the rain outside seemed to increase, and a thunder could be heard in the distance.
“The main purpose of Utopia’s activities is to further the diffusion and worshipping of worldwide mythology, and what we dedicate most of our strength to is the preservation of ‘demigods’. Miss Violet, do you know about demigods?”
Violet mutely shook her head.
For a second, as if cutting the room in half, a flash of lightning filled it with white brightness and soon disappeared. At the intensity of the noise, Lisbon wound up putting herself on guard a little, but the Auto-Memories Doll in front of her merely directed her eyes towards the window as if not seeing anything out of ordinary. As seen from the side, her orbs twinkled. Lisbon coughed, making her gaze return to where it was before.
“A demigod is a child born between deity and a human. In our scriptures, there’s a famous legend about a demigod. Love happened between a god and a person… look here.” Lisbon opened a huge, old and familiar book that had been left on the table. It seemed to be one with many religious paintings. Turning over countless pages, she stopped at half of its length. “Let’s read the first section… ‘The goddess of knowledge, Roses, descended from the Heavens to watch over the development of people’s civilization, and slipped onto the Earth in the form of a young human woman. She could not afford to let her identity ever be discovered. However, when Roses was changing from her human form to her goddess one in order to go back to the skies, she was seen by a traveler. The man swore not to reveal it to anyone, but asked to spend a night with Roses in return. Roses accepted that wish and returned to the Heavens at dawn, yet not even a year passed before she reappeared in front of the man. It was because their child, a demigod, had been born. Roses had a husband back in Heaven, and fearing his jealousy, she entrusted the child to the man. The demigod left behind inherited Roses’s rare intellectual power, but was murdered after earning the envy of people who drowned in self-conceit and carried pomp to the extreme. Earnestly, Roses simply awaited for her child to pass by the gates that led to both Heaven and the Underworld…’” Lisbon’s pale finger showed the illustration on that page. “These heterochromatic eyes. One side is red, the other is golden… and long, lavender-grey hair, as if a single drop of purple had been poured onto silver. This is the remarkable appearance of the goddess of knowledge, Roses. She’s said to have taught words to humanity when it had just been born.”
“Is that the beginning of demigods?”
“It’s not just this. Worldwide mythology is true, and demigods are real as well. The greatest proof is the demigod of goddess Roses, Lady Lux, who lives in this Utopia.”
By her own experience, Lisbon was used to rebuff and sneers when saying such things, but Violet did neither.
“Why couldn’t Roses let humans know that she was a goddess?” she simply asked a genuine question that had come to her.
Lisbon smiled satisfactorily. “Good point. Since the past, gods and beings that possessed the gift of preeminence were glorified by people and their existences were feared, but at the same time, they were objects of reliability. Moreover, the power of being glorified attracts envy. That was the case of Roses’s child. Other than in this legend, she left behind several other children of men.” After saying that, Lisbon turned the pages again. “However, the eventual results of that were not positive… In reality, Roses was not supposed to let go of her children. Demigods are unique both in the Heavens and on Earth. However, in the world of humans, the power they inherit from the gods stands out. For their sake, it’s better for them to dwell in the Heavens. That is why, when we find a demigod, we hide and protect them from society. Until it comes the day of returning them to Heaven… This is off-topic, but Miss Violet, was your name taken from the flower goddess Violet?”
“Yes, it seems so.” Perhaps because she recalled memories of the parent who had named her, Violet averted her eyes.
“Still, as I thought… you really do keenly resemble the goddess of combat, Garnet Spear.” With a gentle scraping sound, Lisbon pushed the scripture in front of Violet and opened it.
Displayed there was a goddess in white armor holding a sword. With her golden hair flowing free, she was staring into the distance. Her eyes were blue and stunning. She definitely was very similar to Violet.
“This illustration is a religious portrait made by a famous painter, and it is said to be his best masterpiece. Garnet Spear is loved by many sorts of artists, and her image was given numerous forms. Here in Utopia, there’s a room decorated with artworks of worldwide mythology gods; allow me to take you there tomorrow. I will tell you the anecdote of Garnet Spear later as well. Miss Violet. There are other things I want to tell and ask you about. That’s right, if you please, shall I give you a cameo of Garnet Spear as a sign of our closure?” Standing up from her seat once, Lisbon pulled something out of the room’s chest and soon came back. “I believe it is suitable for you to have this. It’s a cameo brooch made of white agate by one of the Utopia’s nuns. This is a selling item exported to the continent to pay for the expenses of our activities.” Fitting in the palm of her hand was an oval-shaped object with the figure of the goddess sculpted on a white agate stone.
Grasping the emerald brooch attached to her robe, Violet said, “I… already have this.”
“Even if you don’t put it on, you can leave it at hand.”
“No. I do not wish to have any brooches besides this one.”
Her attitude could be considered stubborn. Lisbon retained her smile, but inwardly clicked her tongue.
——No need to hurry. First, show affection, preach our teachings and let it sink in.
Lisbon’s gaze had become not that of a nun who served the gods, but that of a hunter.
One day passed after that person appeared before my eyes during a thunderstorm. The rain continued intensely pouring outside, so going outdoors seemed very unlikely. After morning prayer had ended, as I was told that I was supposed to eat at the indoor garden instead of my imprisonment room, I had to think a bit about what to do. That was because I had exchanged conversations with other demigod candidates up until then.
——Just the usual scheme.
The demeanor of a demigod living in a utopia was something wanted from me.
“Lady Lux, this is Miss Violet, who works for a postal company. Because of this bad weather, she is relying on the Utopia.”
The one whom I had observed amidst those lightning bolts was far more fine-looking as seen in person at close range. Violet Evergarden. She had a quiet beauty that did not disappoint.
There was no fountain in the indoor garden, but the grass and flowers arranged in bowls were put close together so as to stage a small forest, creating a pure atmosphere. The place was often used for entertaining people who came from the outside world to the Utopia. It was open and cozy, making the Utopia naturally more comfortable.
“This is the demigod whom we are currently protecting in this Utopia, Lady Lux Sibyl. We found Lady Lux about seven years ago… When we heard rumors about her appearance and went to where she was, we saw that she was the splitting image of the goddess of knowledge, Roses, as you can tell. On top of that, Lady Lux was an orphan and did not know her origins… she did not know her father, either. Most likely, she fell to the Earth after being birthed by the goddess Roses for some reason. It’s unfortunate…”
“She really… has the same looks as the illustration.”
“You, too, are similar to Garnet Spear.” I replied, and Violet just nodded expressionlessly, seeming neither happy nor upset.
Both of us resembled gods.
“This is truly a wonderful thing, you two.”
The place was mostly a collection of fake plants. We had breakfast together on the seats set in the garden and had a harmless and inoffensive chitchat. I nonchalantly talked about how life in the Utopia was superb. Violet seemed not to be interested. Her attitude implied that she was more concerned about the sounds of the heavy rain outside.
I did not know much about the work of Auto-Memories Dolls, so I was surprised to hear that it consisted of women traveling alone around the world as amanuenses. They had to care for the letters of their clients above anything. I came to understand that as she always had her bag with her.
——Incredible. I can’t… do the same at all.
I could not set a single foot out of the Utopia.
At first, I did not intend to take the conversation too far, but upon second thought, it had been a long time since I had last chatted with a woman close to my age, so the pace of the talk wound up accidentally quickening on my end.
“Miss Violet, what do you do on holidays?”
“I stay on standby. I wait for the next job.”
“You surely live in a big city, right? I admire those who are able to see various shops. You go outside often, so do you like staying home better after all?”
“I do not particularly like or dislike it. If I have a goal, I go outside.”
“Such as hanging out with a friend?”
It was strange. The more we talked, the more I wanted to know about her.
“I do not have friends.”
“Is that so?”
Her manner of speech was curt, but I contrastingly got a good feeling from it. Saying things honestly was always better than hiding lies and keeping up a caring façade.
“Hum, but I also don’t have any, so it’s okay.”
“Is this something that must be confirmed?”
“You said that it was ‘okay’…”
“R-Right. It’s weird to say that it’s okay, isn’t it?”
Pondering on whether I had spoiled the mood, I was feeling regretful, but Violet denied that. “No. That is not it. I had been wondering if this was not actually the case. To tell the truth, my superior was also worried about it…” Violet nodded with a serious face, as if there was something she really had to think about.
“Is that so?”
“Yes, he said something similar to your question, Lady Lux. It seems it is ‘normal’ to have friends. I do not understand the concept of ‘normal’ very well… I am not troubled by not having any, and I do not know how to make one.”
“Do you have meals with people from your workplace or stuff like that?”
“How about starting from there? For instance, having a talk like this one…”
“Will we become friends if we talk?”
“This is very difficult.”
“Yes, things that others… do naturally are very difficult for me.”
“I totally understand.”
Violet started slowly but surely asking me questions as well, about what I did during the day, if I could see colors the same way with both of my eyes even with them being heterochromatic, and what I did on holidays, just as I had asked her. I answered those only in the way I could.
“Lady Lux, do you not go outside?”
“So you are always here?”
“Yes, until now, and from now on.”
“Is that the mission bestowed upon you, Lady Lux?”
“It might be better like this. After all, demigods are not supposed to descend to human lands.”
“I was… told a little about the mythology. It is because you might become involved with unfortunate happenings.”
“Lady Lux, were you unfortunate when you were outside?”
“I was poor and alone… it’s true that I needed protection.”
“This is not a land of humans but there are many humans here. Even so, is there anything preventing the effects of misfortune?”
The breathing of the people in the place – myself and the nuns serving us – halted seamlessly. Her way of inquiring did not seem to be that of someone who was digging for some sort of information.
“You do not know?” A simple question. An innocent line of thought.
“No, that… that… Miss Violet. Why… do you… ask?”
Sometimes, things like that were the beginning of a turmoil that would cast discord over peaceful moments.
“No, I apologize if it is something challenging to answer. I was merely thinking that you did not have to force yourself to stay here if you were ill-fated here as well.”
It was a situation that I, who only spent my days thinking about when scary times would be over, just as I was waiting for that storm to end, could not cope with.
“Am… I… forcing… myself?” while speaking, I could not help but be curious about the stare of the nun by my side. I could feel a pressure from her gaze that threateningly seemed to order me to “not say anything unnecessary”.
“I was told you could not leave here for the rest of your life. But you talked about your admiration for cities…”
“That’s right… I indeed said that. However… in any case, it’s impossible.”
“I cannot leave this place.”
“It’s not allowed. Since I’m a demigod…”
“Not allowed by whom?”
“Who does not allow it?”
——Aah, no good.
“Lady Lux is a worshipped demigod. Is there anyone above you here?”
——Don’t expose it.
“The fact that I can’t go out even though I want to is… because…”
——Don’t say any more than that.
The sound of palms clapping ensued. I looked at the nun in fear. Having forcefully stopped our conversation, she had a cheerful smile on.
“Lady Lux, Miss Violet, it has become cold here. Shall we move to somewhere else?”
As the talk was interrupted, Violet’s lips suggested she had something to say, but she silently complied. It was because I was begging with my eyes. She was gradually realizing that place’s ambiguity.
——Hurry and escape. Once the nun turned around, I said so without voicing it. I wondered if she understood. I hoped so. If it was now, she could still make it.
Yes, I was confined in that place.
I proposed to the nun, “Sister, can’t we show her the premises…? Like, the room with the images of the gods, and other things. She must be bored only waiting for the weather to clear up.”
“That… is not open to the public.”
“Still, I want to show it to her. I want to see it as well. See, since I don’t have much time…”
The nun’s mouth seemed to be about to muster rejection, yet she wound up giving permission, “That’s right. You will only stay on Earth for a little while longer. Surely, there are other nuns who wish to see Lady Lux. Miss Violet was summoned to see Lisbon after we are done, so she will have to take her leave halfway, but until then…”
I knew that nun had a soft side to her. She had always taken care of me ever since I had been brought there. She probably had a bit of affection towards me. I was grateful for that, but at the same time, extremely afraid of it.
“When I think about how the time we have to talk like this is coming to an end, I feel very lonely.”
Afraid of how much all the people there valued me.
“Well, then, shall I show you around without further ado?”
Led by the nun, the four of us went around the Utopia. Its management mostly consisted of support from an investor whom we called the ‘owner’. I never met them, but they were clearly filthy rich.
All kinds of religious paintings and busts of gods adorned the corridors. We had an indoor church where luxuriously colorful stained glass shone overhead, a library crammed with old and new books, and a large public bath made of marble.
The amount of working nuns was not only a dozen. Just everyone being able to eat every day already cost money. Given the maintenance cost of the building, our budget likely escalated.
“Here is the last stop. We invited an artisan to make these. It’s the room of the gods’ sculptures.”
A serene world awaited beyond the heavy door that was opened. I had only visited it in a few occasions, but no matter how many times I looked at it, I had a feeling of heaviness. A variety of statues were placed disorderly in the room, and water murmurings could be heard as a number of small waterways ran through the ground. Glittering glass beads spread beautifully inside them. From the ceiling, plants called ‘dark vines’, which were said to grow well even where the sunlight did not hit, extended their branches around the walls and the ground, creating a fantastic atmosphere.
“My, so the preparations have been completed? Lady Lux, I will excuse myself for a little bit.” The nun beckoned another member of the Utopia’s personnel from the entrance in-between the statues of the gods and left our side.
——Now’s the time. I thought as I grasped Violet’s arm and pulled it.
“Lady Lux, hum… what were you trying to say earlier?”
“This way. I will show you Garnet Spear’s sculpture.” While saying so, I had a different objective. As we walked towards the statue of Garnet Spear fighting against a giant snake, I asked, “Miss Violet, have the Utopia’s Sisters asked you anything?”
Her line of sight shifted from me to the statue as she answered, “Yes, I was questioned about my origins… and upbringing. I have been told to not talk much about myself, so I did not say anything other than that I was an orphan… and an ex-soldier.”
I frowned. What a situation. That gorgeous girl who resembled Garnet Spear did not have parents. She was the exact kind of ‘demigod’ that the Utopia sought.
“Miss Violet. Listen well. The Sisters say this Utopia’s goal is to protect and venerate demigods, but that is wrong. It’s true… that I was saved from being raised in an orphanage and from poverty after being taken in by them… but at the same time, my life is being targeted.”
Perhaps because my tone was hard to hear, Violet finally peeled her eyes off the sculpture. “What do you mean? Please tell me about this in detail.”
That was when I heard the nun calling for us. Hiding in-between the statues, I resumed the discussion, “The Utopia’s objective is the safeguarding of demigods. But the main goal is returning them to the Heavens, where the gods reside. Most demigod legends end with them being destroyed in the land of men because of their powers. The Utopia resents this and attempts to guide them to the Heavens… but the method for that is murder. This is a facility of a homicidal group in which people tainted with a twisted form of thinking gather.”
Violet blinked piercingly. “In summary, Lady Lux is fated to be killed?”
“It’s been decided that I will be returned to Heaven on the morning of the next day of full moon, three days from now. It will be my birthday. The demigods kept here are raised waiting for the day they become fourteen years old. In general, it is said in the continent that fourteen-year-olds are adults, so the Utopia’s ideal is that our childhood should be lived in the human world, and our adulthood in the Heavens. However, if a demigod who is older than fourteen is taken in, they are killed within no more than ten days. Up until now, I have seen several adult demigod candidates, who either were brought here, lost or visiting, be slaughtered by them. You are in danger too. The Utopia is targeting you as a demigod as well.”
“I told you that the Utopia was a group of people with twisted thinking, didn’t I? To tell the truth, we don’t need to have some sort of amazing power; just having the looks is enough. I myself am not that smart. I don’t know why I was born with an appearance like this, but I’ve heard that there is an ethnic group with the same hair and eyes in a country far from here. I’m sure that’s my ancestry. Also, one more thing that is essential to decide if someone is a demigod is if they either are orphans or don’t have one parent. It’s because that makes it easy to pretend they’re from the demigod legends. On top of that, Miss Violet, not only do you resemble Garnet Spear, but you are also a former soldier. From the Utopia’s viewpoint, this is like saying ‘please kill me’.” I went on hastily, as though to stir up the sense of dread.
Still, perhaps not having any fear at all towards the Utopia’s truth, Violet dispassionately interjected, “Is that so?”
“Miss Violet, don’t ‘is that so’ me and just run away. You said Sister Lisbon had called you, right? You must not go. They will most certainly give you some medicine to restrain your body.”
“How would they kill me?” she carefreely asked about the method of her own murder.
“You’d be put on a small boat that would sail along the course of Chevalier’s biggest waterfall and drop down from it. Right now, there are plenty of openings for you to escape. Please run away.” As if appealing, I shook her arms. A mechanical creak resounded from them.
She was a person with automated parts and as charming as a doll. I really could think of someone like her as a demigod. For an instant, I was almost similar to the people of Utopia for having that sort of reasoning, and became afraid of myself.
As I slowly let go of Violet’s arms, she firmly held my hands. “Thank you for your kindness. I will do as you warned and leave this place as soon as possible. Lady Lux, allow me to assist you with your own escape as well.”
Did she really understand what sort of circumstances she was currently in? I could not read her as she was expressionless, but at any rate, she seemed willing to flee. As I was relieved, I could not assent with my head to the help she had offered me.
I stopped moving halfway to a smile. I was unable to properly muster my voice out of my throat. My blood pressure rapidly lowered and the muscles of my back went cold. That was a creeping sensation of alarm one would feel when committing an enormous failure. It began to take over my body. What was I so scared of? Being saved by someone was a dream I had had for many years.
——What’s wrong with me?
Even so, I was unable to grab onto the hand stretched towards me.
——I have to say it. I have to say, “please do that”.
If I stayed there, I would die a painful underwater death within three days. That was a definite truth. The nuns that treated me so gently now, too, would forget about me once I was gone and find a new demigod to worship. After all, theirs was a false affection. In reality, I was not loved by anyone. I was not cherished by anyone. There was nothing good in that place. I could not trust anybody. Everything was scary. Still…
“Lady Lux, do you not wish to leave here?”
——I… I… just realized that I’m scared of venturing into the outside world.
“That… that’s not it…”
No, I had actually realized it a long time before.
“Do you not wish to run away?”
I knew. I knew.
“Are people… supposed to fear death?”
That was it. I did not want to die. But…
“I don’t want to… die.”
…but to me, living was as frightening as dying. Yes, frightening.
Ever since I had been brought there from the orphanage when I was seven years old, I was always a caged bird. I received education, but I only knew what was in the scriptures. I also could not craft like the nuns. If I went into the outside world just like that, how was I supposed to live? Other girls my age surely knew all kinds of things, and had family, friends and a place to belong. Yet I had nothing. I was no more than a cowardly child continuously immersed in despair within the darkness I was confined, who had been watching other people die without being able to intervene. No, I could not even be considered a child anymore. I was nothing. Once someone as useless as me stepped outside, what should I do? Was it not clear that I would die a dog’s death? If that was the case, then the invitation of demise given to me by that forced fate…
——…would be much better. As I thought so, my voice did not come out.
“Lady Lux!” Upon being called stridently, my body shook in surprise.
The nun was observing us from the side of Garnet Spear’s statue. It might be that she had heard our exchange. No, she definitely had. Actual rage and scorn were now seeping out of her usually placid face.
I swiftly pushed the nun away. “Run!”
As I shouted, Violet reached her arm out to me again. “Lady Lux, your hand.”
Her figure was just like that of a knight. I had always, always imagined such a scene. A handsome, noble prince – someone that magnificent would come to save me from the Utopia of hopelessness.
Nevertheless, while suppressing the nun, I shook my head. “Please go! I… I cannot live in the outside world! Please! Hurry and go!”
Violet attempted to hold onto me and take me by force, but I shook her off.
——I really… can’t.
I chose death in the last minute.
——I’m scared. Living is… scarier.
I was stupid. It was a stupid choice. However, being alive was especially arduous for me.
——I have always been shallowly breathing right beside death.
That environment had already allowed me to cogitate dying, and I had grown used to it. All I could think about was that I could hardly wait for the day to come.
——Living is… scarier.
It was much harsher to live in the world of humans, being used, lied to, and accumulating sad memories.
“I will die here! That’s what I want to do! I can’t live… in the outside world at this point! I’ll die like this… in this place… so go!”
It could be that I had become insane. While I had said that the people of Utopia were crazy, it might be that the craziest and most broken one was myself.
After standing on the spot for a few seconds, Violet turned her back to me. And then, suddenly, she destroyed the stained glass window between the statues with one arm. She certainly planned to escape from there. Rain and wind, along with a large amount of leaves and flowers that had been ripped off the trees burst in.
“Don’t run away! You’re a demigod! Under our control…!” the nun yelled.
Now I was the one being pushed. But even so, I did not lose to her. I grabbed her foot with one hand and clung to it. “Run!” I desperately endured being kicked.
Violet stood by the window frame, strongly holding her bag to her side. The height from there to the ground was one that could ensure an escape if one did not fail in landing.
I thought she would surely not turn back. However, her neck snapped towards my direction, and she offered her hand once more. “Lady Lux.” It was as if her eyes said “come, let’s escape this place together”.
If I took that hand, maybe I could have a future.
——Aah, this storm, her, death, everything.
I was sorry for the person with those strong eyes that made me think of these things.
——They’re all mixing up in my head and are too noisy; I don’t want them.
Since I was tired of even so much as thinking.
“Go.” I whispered that single word.
“If you ever need help, call my name.” Saying nothing but that, she jumped out of the window.
The nun let out a sharp scream. After being cussed by her as she got up, I was hit on the cheek and fell on the spot. Looking at her distorted face, I scoffed.
——See, the world really is terrifying.
That was why dying was easier.
The morning after the downpour had stopped was beautiful. Trees and grass covered in dew left a characteristic after-rain odor. The Sun enclosed the world with a light unlike that of the sunset. That very morning Sun caused the continuous drizzle to sparkle. The birthday and funeral of a girl, who was worshiped by a certain religious organization of a certain isolated island, was greeted with such a fine day.
“Lady Lux, please go soundly.”
With a gun pointed at her, Lux had her wrists tied and was put on a small boat filled with flowers. The “soundly” that Lisbon had said was not directed at the one who was about to die. Lux’s face had clear evidence that she had received beating. Her mouth was swollen purple, the corner of her eye injured. Perhaps because she had not been granted any rest, her head staggered and her vision was out of focus.
As Lux remained silent even with such an exhausted face, Lisbon laughed. “Lady Lux, you were the most easily manageable and submissive demigod I’ve ever seen. We have not forgiven you for helping that Auto-Memories Doll escape, but… we will stop blaming you, as you are about to go on a journey to the Heavens. Any last words?”
Lux looked up at Lisbon blankly. That world had such a stunning scenery, so how come the people living in it were so ugly? As if sensing Lux’s feelings, a distorted smile appeared on Lisbon’s lips.
“How long will you continue doing this?”
“Always. For… ever.”
“What’s the meaning of it?”
“You are asking that now?” Lisbon snorted as if making fun of her. “We wish to protect this world, which the gods have created. You’ve listened to the legends of demigods several times, right? They are disparate both in Heavens and on Earth. You are disparate. An existence like that is… strange. It’s strange, right?”
Even while being questioned, Lux could not respond to being labeled with the word “strange”.
“Your existence itself is strange. What’s with those eyes and hair? They’re not ‘normal’. If disparate ones are not disposed of, they might cause trouble.”
“I haven’t… done… anything.”
“Even if you haven’t done anything yet, you eventually might. Your existence is a bother. To put it simply, we are… afraid of those like you. That is why we worship, respect and kill you.”
They could not stand those who were not like them, who were not similar to them.
Lux finally understood the reason why the people of that organization assembled. Self-love that had gone too far. Not identifying with another person made them uneasy. Therefore, they would kill them. It was a perverse belief, but for them, that was overlooked as ‘normal’.
——And the craziest one here is me, for thinking that being killed by these people was best.
The gun was aimed at the circlet on Lux’s head.
“You were actually supposed to die by drowning, but the Sister who used to take care of you begged for mercy. We shall let you die with a gunshot. Because dying suffocated… is terrible. Then, farewell, Lady Lux. We deliver this to you in your last moments: the chorus number 320.” Lisbon gave a signal behind her back.
As she did so, the other nuns, who were lined up and had been watching the two of them, begun to sing a requiem. Even though they were attempting a collective murder, their singing voices were beautiful.
“Our Gods in Heaven…”
She would be killed once the song was over.
In order to dilute her fear of death, Lux muttered the words that she had been made to memorize over and over from the scriptures, “I am your child, I am you flesh and blood, I am your tears…”
The sound of the water echoing from under the boat was the sound of the tomb that she would soon flow into.
“Have pity, have pity, have pity on me.” The roots of her teeth trembled unevenly. “Pity me, God.” Hers was a crying voice. Lux steadily shed tears at the fear of her unstoppable journey towards death.
Although she had chosen death, the fact that it was frightening to welcome it did not change. Although living was scarier, the agony awaiting her was unbearable.
“God… God… Lady Roses…”
Lux’s body would probably be carried by the river and drop from the great waterfall. Her corpse would float along with the flowers, fall into the basin and be swallowed by it. Her whole being would be invaded by water and sink. Just by imagining it, she felt like fainting. Rather, it would be wonderful if she could faint now.
“God… Lady Roses… Lady Roses…” Lux repeatedly called for the name of the goddess that was said to be her mother. “Lady Roses… Lady Roses…” Many times, instead of reciting spells to eliminate her fear. “Lady Roses… Lady Roses… Lady Roses…”
——Mom, you gave birth to and abandoned me only to act like you have anything to do with it afterwards?
——What even was my life?
“Lady… Roses… ugh… uh, ah, ugh…”
——When I was little, even though I was poor, even though I was an orphan, I wouldn’t have chosen death by my own will. Why did things turn out like this?
“Lady… Roses… uuh…” She called for her even while hiccupping. “Uuh… uh… Rose…” That was how she was spending her last moments. “Uah—aaah… uuugh…” With her mouth still open. “Vi…” With the will of someone who still earned for air. “Vi… o…” She called for her god of salvation, who set apart her fears. “Vi… o… let…!” Lux shouted naturally.
“If you ever need help, call my name.”
The name of the only person who had ever truly attempted to save her in her life.
“Violet! Violet, Violet! Help me! I don’t want to die!”
Was that wish a trigger for something? A scream rose during the requiem. Lisbon suddenly fell down. Lux’s eyes could see someone strike Lisbon from behind. As she was hit on the head, Lisbon wound up letting go of the cords that kept the small boat in place, and so it begun to be carried by the current. Yet the cords were immediately held back and the boat stopped.
The nun who had committed such misconduct stood flat-faced.
Holding onto the cords of the boat, the nun stretched her arms towards Lux to forcibly pull her back to land. She pushed Lux behind her back protectively, and the small boat was carried by the stream as if it were nobody’s business.
Everyone was stunned. Their mouths were agape to a ludicrous extent.
“I have been…”
For the one who had destroyed the ritual to appear from that place’s interior was something unconceivable. It was impossible.
“…waiting for you…”
Yet she who had done so…
“…to call my name, Lady Lux.”
…exposed her face as she took off her white wimple.
It was the only person who had risked herself to truly help Lux in her life. She was an odd Auto-Memories Doll.
Before anyone realized it, Violet was holding the gun that had been in Lisbon’s hands. With no mercy, she shot at the nuns’ feet. Earth flew up as if exploding.
“Open the path. If anyone intends to interfere, I warn that you will not come out of this with only a bruise.”
Without moving from the spot, the nuns looked at each other.
“Fight back, my fellows who serve the gods!” Lying on the ground and enduring the pain, Lisbon yelled.
The nuns gathered together and responded to her brave call. They all took knives and pistols from within their robes and headed towards the two.
“Forgive me, but I will have to treat you a little roughly.” Violet took Lux into her arms. With the possible difficulty of handling her, Violet put Lux under her arm and broke into run.
The nuns came in their direction as though to clash with them. With the impulse she earned from the run, Violet leaped and kicked several of them as if toppling domino pieces.
Being treated as luggage, Lux let out an offbeat scream. Violet thrust her to the end of the path she had opened, turning again towards the enemies. With a broad swing, she threw the gun that had run out of ammo at an opponent who held Lux at gunpoint, hitting her on the face and causing her to pass out. She then dashed upwards by kicking the stomach of someone who rushed towards her with a knife, performing a somersault. Stealing two guns from a fallen foe, and while shooting with both, she took control of the surroundings. In spite of the overwhelming disadvantage of one person versus many, Violet had the upper hand in that unfolding battlefield.
Shuddering, Lux shrank back. Violet, who noticed an enemy attempting to attack Lux again, immediately jumped. Coiling her body around the nun like a snake, she tangled her legs around the other’s neck and applied weight to them, turning her over. She then downed her fist onto the nun’s face.
Lux’s eyes were glued to the way she fought.
Violet declared uncharacteristically loudly to the fallen nuns staring at her, “My arms are prosthetics of Estark Inc. They can easily crush your bodies. Those who are ready for it, please do step forth.” Her courageous figure as she opened one hand before her chest, then balled a fist with her palm letting out a screech, was the one of a beautiful fighter.
The nuns ogled her frame as if seeing the goddess of combat, Garnet Spear, whom they had revered no small amount of times.
As she was able to get up somehow despite her bleeding head, Lisbon shouted, “What are you doing? Seize her! You can return her to the Heavens right here… I will allow it. We cannot let such a monster loose on this land.”
“Are demigods monsters?”
She promptly answered Violet’s question, “That’s right. Monsters like you… aren’t supposed to be on Earth. Halves who are neither people nor gods… your powers will surely bring us tragedy! You… you are a great example! Where did you… learn to fight like this?! Just how many people have you killed…? The likes of you were not supposed to be born. You heretics!” Lisbon’s eyes were bloodshot, and saliva bubbled from her lips, which used to form a gentle smile.
There were nuns with shocked expressions at her utterances, but the ones who agreed with and nodded at her strongly gripped their weapons again.
Violet simply retorted Lisbon’s curses, “I see. I might really be a demigod, by the looks of it. If that is the case, I can confirm many of these things.” With her tone that had a sweet ring to it becoming icy, she continued, “Indeed, there might be no helping it if an imitation of human being such as myself were killed with the pretense of being returned to Heaven. But Lady Lux is different. She is… merely a girl who went through frightening experiences.” There was no hesitation in her actions or words. “You might be satisfied if I said ‘please take me’. However, I am now a domesticated monster. I cannot afford to be killed so easily. I am forbidden to fight unnecessary battles, but… my Lord once told me” she removed her black gloves, displaying her artificial arms, “to ‘live’.” Violet instantly rushed towards Lisbon, this time throwing a punch at her stomach.
Lisbon flew a long distance. Her body fell into the river and the other nuns went for her aid in an extreme hurry, as it seemed she would be carried away by the current.
Just a swing from one of her fists was enough to send someone soaring through the air like a doll. Upon witnessing that fact, those who had taken back their weapons let go of them at once.
“Challengers, come forward. I, Violet Evergarden, shall take you on.” The beautiful woman standing calmly amidst of so much violence was lurid and bewitching.
In the end, no one attempted to go against her after that, and so, Lux and Violet walked their way out of the place.
“That was scary… that was scary…”
“You were scared? But now, you are safe.”
Somewhere away from the river, as Lux’s restraints were removed, she burst into tears. The horror she had gone through just a little while before suddenly reoccurred to her.
Halfway crossing the woods that went in the direction of the island’s harbor on Violet’s lead, they stopped to take Violet’s precious bag, which had been very carefully suspended on a tree branch. Did she have confidence that they would be able to come so far, Lux asked herself while crying.
“Hadn’t you run away?”
“In the end, the rain did not stop, so I was camping in a cave I had found. I was… thinking all the while in there… about what Lady Lux had said.”
“That you… could not live in the outside world.”
She had indeed said so.
“I will die here! That’s what I want to do! I can’t live… in the outside world at this point! I’ll die like this… in this place… so go!”
It had been one truth from the peak of her limits.
“Although I am a little different, I, too… had always been living in only one world. I was used by a certain person and did not know any other way of life besides it. That world had its circumstances, and we were set apart… so I became separated from my Lord. Even though a kind person attempted to teach me a new lifestyle, at first, I resisted it. If I ceased to be myself… no, if I ceased to be an ‘asset’, I thought that the person who had needed me until then would no longer want me.”
The two girls walked. The path ahead was testing. It was coated in mud, damp with grass condensation, and all they could count on were their own feet. However, they went on without ever turning back.
“I believed that Lady Lux was the same as me. That if you chose a new path, you would be troubled as to what you should do at that point, in that different trajectory…? Perhaps you were thinking, ‘Am I wanted in that place? If I am not, it is not worth anything’. Or ‘If I am not wanted there, I must be an unnecessary existence’. That is… extremely…” She was probably at loss on what term to use. Her pronunciation was that of someone who was borrowing the words of another, “It is extremely… ‘scary’.”
It was incredibly strange for that young woman to be scared of something, Lux thought.
——I mean, she’s so strong and pretty. She seems… invincible.
Yet she was the same as Lux herself. She was slightly afraid of living.
“But, Miss Violet, you did not stop, right?”
She was afraid, but had chosen to live.
“Yes, I was ordered to live, and… I felt I had many things to reflect on. There was truly so much I did not know. The many words that person had taught me… and said to me, such as ‘I lo’…” she trailed off. Violet grabbed the emerald brooch on her chest to ease her hammering heartbeats. “I started to think… that I… wanted to learn about and understand the words I had been told, of a feeling that is foreign to me. So, Lady Lux, your way of thinking might change. You can… die anytime. When the time you wish to do so comes, no one can stop you. That is why, I was wondering if it was not all right… for you to know a little more about the outside world until then… and so I meddled. I apologize. I will take the responsibility. We can still cross over in this condition. Lady Lux, if you do not have a destination, please just come with me. I will not do anything harmful.” Violet stretched her hand out to Lux, who walked a few steps behind her.
This time, Lux did not hesitate. The mechanical arm was cold and hard, but for some reason, it felt warm to her.
Violet’s robes were covered in dirt and her hair was disheveled. There was nothing in her that made her seem like she was wearing a knight in shiny armor, but to Lux, her figure overlapped with Garnet Spear’s.
“I am forever indebted to you for rushing to my aid.”
As Lux spoke with a runny nose, Violet asked back, “What are you saying? Lady Lux, were you not the one who saved me first? I am grateful to you for having courage and warning me.”
As Lux was both shocked and happy to have someone’s gratitude despite being how she was, she cried once again.
——I guess will… live a little more after all.
She immediately fixed her way of thinking right then.
What happened afterwards was that I was taken by Violet to her workplace, the CH Postal Service, and started living there. At first, I was only in charge of phone calls, but within a year, I simultaneously became the president’s personal secretary, leading a restless everyday life.
President Hodgins was someone I could respect, for he kindly – and sometimes strictly – took care of a girl like me, of unknown background and who had come from an obscure religious organization. However, I came to understand that he was a person with a quirk or two.
The only things that changed in me ever since I arrived there were that I got a haircut and replaced my circlet for a berretta. And I became a little closer to Violet, to the point we became able to talk to each other without honorifics.
She continued on rushing about as a stardom of Auto-Memories Dolls. Her appearance did not change much. Maybe all that was different was the frilly umbrella added to her standard outfit?
Being able to meet with the much-requested Violet was quite difficult, but she returned regularly to the office, and during those times, I would invite her for tea. Seated at the terrace of a nearby café facing the city’s main street, we would report our recent situations to one another while observing the traffic. My stories were mostly about our unprecedented boss, but Violet would talk about the various countries she had dragged her feet around and the people she had met in them. The feelings of a writer who lived surrounded by beautiful mountains towards his beloved daughter. The letters to the future from a mother who lived in an old-fashioned household on a slightly elevated hill. The sad last moments of a youth who was returned to his hometown in the countryside. The passionate determination of a young astronomer whom she had met in a city of starry skies.
Swinging from joy to sorrow at her narrations, I would sometimes cry, sometimes laugh. We surely looked like just two female friends when chatting so peacefully. No one should be able to tell that we were the former live sacrifice of a religious organization and an ex-soldier.
It was not as if I had forgotten my past, but I had no intention of continuing to engage in it. After all, the me who was a demigod of Roses had died back then, and the current me was an employee of a postal company.
Those who die do not come back. Physical bodies, time and values can never be retrieved. My feelings of embracing the thirst for death remained firmly rooted within me, but they had fallen to the bottom of a deep, deep sleep. “Don’t wake up yet”, I would tell them every morning.
There were days when I would think that living really was hard, but during those times, I would close my eyes and strongly reminisce to that instant in which my minimum and maximum intermingled. That I was going to perish in a small boat meant as a coffin, decorated with flowers. That I had cried in it about how I did not want to die. That someone had saved me. That her artificial arm had reached out to me.
Violet Evergarden, the friend that I was proud of having.