North x Northwest - Chapter 147
Volume 5 Chapter 147
Translators – Pru and Formidable
“You thought he would’ve come clean if you poked him a few times. Because you know how much it hurts. But how did you feel when nothing came out? You must’ve thought, ‘a little more… just a little more’. How much more pain did you think you should’ve inflicted for the truth to come out of his mouth? You of all people know how painful it is. But in the end, you didn’t even get your truth. Did you honestly believe there even was one? Did you think that when you cracked open his head, you’d find your truth in there?”
“So, did you succeed?”
Courant froze, shocked at her words. Lil knew why.
‘It must’ve been a painful experience for him as well. The madness that had possessed him was completely unfamiliar and he fears it even now.’
Lil understood it all, but she could hardly calm down. She felt that if she would ever go mad due anger, it would be right now.
“Snap out of it, Courant, you’re still not sure what’s true, aren’t you? You’re just trying to justify your murder… If you keep going down this path, you’ll only commit to a life of butchery, thinking moment by moment about how to hack a person more brutally.”
“No, no. He’s in the Navy! They’re definitely here to kill us!”
“I also wonder why Ed did that. I really want to know, that’s why I’m investigating him.”
“Did he really come to kill us or did he have some other purpose? This is what people call an investigation. When any questions arise in the process, we interrogate the prisoners. But you can’t know the truth just by fanning a prisoner. You have to move the prisoner’s mind.”
“No, Captain. He’s the Navy… he’s the devil. He’ll soon come with a fleet and cut us to pieces, cut off our noses and ears… Like my mother, like my father! I had to find out before that!”
“No, you know better than that. Ed isn’t the devil you fear so much. He was a mere human who bled when you tore his flesh. Ed wasn’t part of the bastards you mentioned earlier, and Ed wasn’t the one who killed your parents. Don’t you understand now? He wasn’t the Navy, he was just Ed. You were never interested in the truth. You just took your personal grudge out on him…”
“Human?.. Oh, no… No, they’re all devils…”
The heavy trembling of Courant’s shoulders withheld him from completing his sentence. Before long, his face including his lips were getting wet with tears and he was panting so hard that not only his shoulders moved up and down, but his entire body started to shake, signalling that he was losing his mind. Lil locked her gaze on the boy, who kept rambling that the devil was coming to kill them.
“Were you unfamiliar with the way you killed Ed? Or was that exactly how you wanted it to be? If you like the life of practising how to brutally kill an Imperial Navy, go for it. If you don’t admit your fault here now, I’m afraid that’s the kind of life you’re going to live for the rest of your life.”
“Why can’t I? They kill us at random and torture us… Why am I the one being scolded? Nobody tried to stop them!”
“The Empire’s pioneering squadron was a horrible group. They’ve done things that humans should never do. I hate them, too. But when you fix your mind into hating them, you’ll learn their ways and act like their thoughts. Who knows, you might even end up having a lot of respect for the Empire. To imitate their actions is to admit that the Imperial Navy’s methods were equally effective. You used the same methods that brought you down to bring Ed down. You must never give in to it. The more you do the same things as them, the stronger the Empire’s method of forcefully slaughtering the South becomes. You’re just a blind follower now.”
Courant rubbed his face with his sleeve and turned.
– Drreukk –
Lil’s chair scratched the floor. Till the very end, he showed no sign of remorse or apology. Courant walked toward the doorway without saying anything else.
The footsteps stopped. Lil squeezed out her voice.
“Admit it. No more excuses. Admit you’ve done a terrible thing and swear you’ll never do it again. I don’t want to hate you.”
But Courant left the captain’s room without answering.
Lil quietly held her breath as her body slumped down on her seat. She felt terrible for herself. This was because Lil would be the first person who would lose herself in a world without Ed.
‘These tragedies wouldn’t have happened if I had trusted Ed a little more. Ed died because I couldn’t. I couldn’t handle the simple truth, so I passed it on to Cesar and took it out on Courant… I was horribly pathetic. I’m not suited to be a Captain or a judge. Even sitting in this Captain’s room makes me feel shameless…’
It wasn’t until a while later that Lil opened Ed’s notebook again.
She had ordered Jericho to get Ed’s stuff, so her desk was full of notebooks and books both large and small. In the end, this was the only thing that she could do, so Lil clung to the proof of Ed’s existence and lost track of time, not knowing the day versus the night. She wanted to get rid of the stigma on Ed as soon as possible. No one would know about it, and Ed wouldn’t come back because of it, but doing this was very important to her.
The first notebook was in bad shape and from around the time Ed boarded the Bell Rock. It held no evidence in Ed’s favour. A few pages, presumably the most recent ones, had been ripped out, so there was nothing to look at.
Lil bitterly picked up another notebook. It was a fairly thick sketching album, about the size of two palms. It was full of detailed descriptions rather than short captions.
‘These seem to be about herbalism and medicine, judging by the drawings of trees, grasses, and bodies.’
Occasionally, sketches of animals with bizarrely long noses and abnormally large ears appeared. Lil had often seen Ed sketching, so she turned the page without surprise.
‘But the more I looked at it, the less he looks like a deserter. He shouldn’t have been able to afford the luxury of time to pack all of this, right? It’s strange that he clung onto his belongings if he was truly on the run. If all his belongings disappeared from his ship, it meant that he had planned his escape. It also meant he destroyed the opportunity to disguise his disappearance as an accidental death… In addition, these aren’t the belongings of a spy.’
Among Ed’s belongings were some expensive clothes and hats.
‘And why would a spy carry such a conspicuous object?’
Lil grabbed a strange wooden sculpture from his bag.
‘Why did he carry around such a sculpture of an unknown minority? The things he brought with him have been unpredictable. The intermittent collections are also of the highest quality, made from unparalleled luxurious materials.
If he isn’t a spy nor a deserter, then what was this ex-navy up to? These pieces of evidence tell me he didn’t board the Bell Rock due to accommodation or income problems. I think he could’ve easily survived a few months just by selling his fancy clothes. These are valuable items, so he could’ve sold these, but he didn’t. I also can’t shake the feeling that he brought all the clothes, hats, and accessories at random.
Who the hell is Ed and what the hell was he doing on the Bell Rock?’
Her hand turning the pages suddenly stopped. The next sketch looked a little different. It looked like an unfinished drawing of a coast at night. The moon was high, and the beach and the sea were low. It looked like something round was lying in the sand by the coast, but the abstract painting-like drawing wasn’t particularly detailed. From the point of view of an observer, descriptive sketches and works of art were distinctly different. If this sketch was a work of art, it didn’t leave a strong impression.
When Lil turned to the next page, she almost screamed. A mermaid was roaring toward her. Bellus’ razor-sharp teeth and ferocious face were so vivid that they appeared to tear right through the paper. As if she were being chased, Lil flipped through the pages quickly. Bellus was sketched on several more sheets, followed by a group of stingrays, a coral colony on the seafloor, and a whale shark. Next to them was always a lot of text in an unfamiliar language.
‘Is this Goe?‘
She felt strange looking at it.
Lil continued to flick through it with her hand until she reached some empty pages. Then there was nothing else but Goe for a while.
She concluded that it was an archaic language rather than ciphertext or semantic evidence because at first glance it appeared to be a very suspicious way of writing and without a password that anyone could look into. Furthermore, traces of uncertainties, including parts that were thinly drawn and erased, were common.
There was another sketch on the last page. This time, it was a woman who was not at all suitable for a sketching album that was intended for research. Lil was a little taken aback and looked at the woman who appeared out of nowhere…
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