Violet Evergarden - Chapter 22
Translator – Dennou Translations
The Night and the Auto-Memories Doll
Everything went around.
From past to present and from present to future. The dead bodies that decayed within the soil would dissolve into the earth, and from the earth, too, would new living creatures be born. Within a few hours’ time, curtains made of stars and nightly shades would be covered over by curtains in the colors of dawn.
People went around as well.
Children would be born, muster out their voices, start walking and, once they became aware of their own selves, their stories would begin. A cycle of discovering passion, coming to know love, stopping to be children and, upon sympathizing with other families, birthing offspring just as their parents had done. A cycle of learning about the world, spreading information, teaching their knowledge to younglings without sparing any of it away and generating more such younglings. A cycle in which someone’s story was someone else’s encouragement, and those who were encouraged would conceive stories of their own.
Everything went around.
There was one cycle here. It was the story of a meager cycle that likely could happen anywhere in the world.
A man picked up a wild beast from a small island to which he had drifted. It was a beautiful beast, but it had been stocked with skills long before coming to his hands. Skills for slaughtering people with ease and seeking submission.
Their first meeting was terrible. His underling had attempted to lay his hands on the beast’s beauty. As if it were a given, the beast had killed his many subordinates, leaving only one person. That was him. Granting him both disaster and salvation at the same time, the beast had sought subservience in regards to the man.
The man fled around the island where all but himself had been murdered, but gave in and accepted the beast. The beast was useful, but also an existence that he could not handle. Be it morning, noon or night, his head was troubled with the beast, his heart unable to calm down.
Essentially, he was a man who did not want to be shackled by anything. After all, he had a past of being forced into submission by his household and parents. He had escaped from his responsibilities and his home, jumping off into the sea. The man, who had been born in a family that bore the name of a flower, had run away and gained freedom.
He yearned for it – for a freedom that no one could steal from him – more than anything. Even if he had to cast away his little brother for it. Therefore, the man had done the same in the beast’s case. The one who mattered most to him was himself. He wanted to break free from that horror. Most likely, he had cut off from himself a child in need of salvation.
Everything went around.
——O God, I want to .
A voice that sounded like bells echoed.
“Captain,” it whispered, as if to tickle the man’s ears. “Captain Dietfried Bougainvillea.”
It was evening. A time when people were returning to their homes.
“What would you like to do?”
An orange light shone from the window inlaid with stained glass. With the sunset reflected on the elaborately designed interior decoration, the place itself looked like a single work of art.
“Could it be that, because of the impact earlier, your hearing has…”
It was supposed to be. The place where the person who called out so insistently and the person who intentionally ignored her were in was an art gallery that just recently had its interior and exterior finished.
“I am relieved. Then, I would like to ask if you have a plan.”
In a place they were not supposed to be at, the two who were not supposed to be together were kneeling on the floor in resignation.
“The civilians are in a predicament.”
“Captain Dietfried Bougainvillea.”
“What would you like to do?”
“I would like to ask if you have a plan, by any chance.”
“The civilians are in a predicament.”
“If I may offer my opinion, firstly, I could act as a decoy—”
“Be quiet, monster. Don’t keep repeating the same thing over and over. Don’t breathe either. I’m thinking right now.”
Dietfried Bougainvillea, a naval captain of Leidenschaftlich, eldest son of the Bougainvillea – a household of patriotic national heroes – and the man who had picked up Violet Evergarden in the past and brought her to this country, was covering his eyes with his hands due to having too much on his plate. The little bit of silence and darkness had brought him relief, but someone’s sobbing, the voice of a man reproaching it and the sound of a person being brutally kicked and tumbling down dragged him back to reality.
He had a severe headache. Whether it was caused by his anxiety or his injury, he had no idea. He put a hand on the back of his head and examined it, but only a bit of blood had come out.
In order to somehow spit such awful mood out of his body, he took deep breaths. He felt that he had become a little better, but the unpleasant sensation returned once he opened his eyes and cast his gaze at the woman next to him. A spoon of discomfort, rejection and fear each was thrown into Dietfried’s emotional vessels, set on fire and boiled up. However, the most prominent feeling was something else.
The woman who had been talking to him so insistently until a moment ago was now quiet just and not letting out a single breath as he had told her. Violet Evergarden.
Dietfried looked fixatedly at his former servant. The woman, whose appearance had transfigured considerably in comparison to when they had first met, bore a radiantly shining cold beauty, which was even more conspicuous under such tense circumstances. She was almost like an ice sculpture, Dietfried thought.
——Even though you used to stink like a wild beast…
She now smelled of nothing but flowers.
——…you turned out just as I’d imagined.
“You’re a siren.”
“My little brother destroyed a train station just to keep you alive; you’re a siren through and through. I’m not into you, but my mental stability is wrecked right now, and I’m sensing the harmfulness and influence that your existence brings about in that. You’re unmatched when it comes to breaking things and causing problems.”
Dietfried had once told his brother that the beast could become a siren. He had meant to say so including all sorts of matters. This young woman named Violet was a creature that God had created by mistake and had not been born under a good star. When one was by her side, there were many of them.
Many problems. Even though she had not wished for it, she had been born this way. Under a star that attracted disasters.
——It goes round. All of it.
He ran and ran from her, yet they would end up meeting, thus Dietfried had started to think that it might be some sort of divine revelation at this point. Telling him to face the girl that he had thrown away.
Violet was still, hand on her brooch. He someway guessed that it was given to her by his younger brother. He felt like clicking his tongue. This girl might become the worst-ever wife whose hand his most beloved little brother was going to take.
——We can leave that for later; gotta overthrow this situation first.
Determined to fight this reality, Dietfried then turned his gaze towards the sight that spread out before his eyes. Women, men, elderly people – everyone was crouching on the floor with guns pointed at them regardless of anything. Obviously, the same applied to Dietfried and Violet.
Unexpected situations – situations in which they could not make a false move even if they were on their own, let alone in the presence of so many civilians – were responsible for this. On top of it, Dietfried was also saddled with someone that he had to protect despite not wanting to. Of course he would feel like clicking his tongue at it.
Perhaps they were thought to be lovers, as no one said anything even while they stayed close to each other.
“Hey, did you really stop breathing?”
She did not seem to be in agony, but her figure as she diligently obeyed made Dietfried feel uneasy.
“I was joking; breathe.”
Violet’s blue eyes blinked with a snap.
And then, she finally let out a breath. Dietfried hated himself for being remotely relieved that she had safely started breathing again, was what he thought.
“From now on, follow my orders. Don’t act on your own accord.”
“I’m gonna save the civilians. It’s my duty. There’s no helping it, so I’m counting you in that math too… No idea what my little brother would do if he found out I’d let you die. Even if it weren’t on purpose, if anything that could kill you happened under these circumstances, I really have no way of knowing what he’d do. He’d probably hate me.”
“No, Captain, he—”
“Have some self-awareness, Monster. My foolish younger brother blew up a train station to let you live. This fact did turn into a subject of teasing towards Gil for no matter how much time passes from now, but if you think about it on normal terms, it’s out of the ordinary. That’s the way you’ve changed him. Damn witch…”
She was the tool that he had found and that used to exist for his sake. A woman who used to be a dog with no name. An orphan whom he had picked up from a solitary island, brought back with him, attempted to get the most out of yet was unable to, and then threw away.
Asset. Girl soldier. Automatic assassination doll. Witch.
——Even if I don’t want to, for now, I gotta protect this thing and take it home.
“I’ll save you, so you save me too, Witch.”
Fate went around, adding a chance meeting as the best seasoning for a finishing touch. After all, at this very moment, Violet Evergarden and Dietfried Bougainvillea were being attacked by robbers and had weapons thrust at them.
“That’s awfully unpleasant for me, but I’ll take action by considering your life to be the top priority. Not for you. For my little brother.”
Understanding that she had received permission to talk once she had received permission to breathe, Violet gave her own opinion, “No.” She did it directly, without any restraint. “No, that is my job, Captain. Major… Lord Gilbert loves you.”
Dietfried’s eyes blinked. Those green orbs were staring fixatedly at Violet since earlier, enough to seem like they would suck her in. They were green jewels in a different shade from his younger brother’s. Those green gems, enveloped in shock, reflected Violet’s serious gaze.
“I shall guard you, no matter what happens,” Violet declared with resolution, like a knight. “I will obey your orders to the best of my abilities, but if I judge it to be dangerous, I shall take action with your safeguarding as the maximum priority.”
“I will definitely protect you and bring you to Major safely. Please do not leave my side, Captain.”
“That’s my line,” Dietfried said while nonetheless wanting to kill Violet.
For the exchange between the two to reach this stage, things had first begun when morning visited Leidenschaftlich. This might be going back much too far in time for a clarification, but it all had indeed started since daybreak.
The morning weather was overflowing with sunlight on that day – typical of Leidenschaftlich in early summer. Early rising ladies formed queues in the bakeries that opened at dawn and little birds flew about the shops’ surroundings to receive breadcrumbs. There was a café three stores away from one of the popular bakeries, famous for serving floral teas, its signboard girl preparing to open it. If one went further ahead, there was a bank, and round said bank, there was a main street lined with large-scale shops.
An art gallery arranged to open the next day had been erected on the main street. Its name was Artemisia. It bore the name of its owner, who was an artist.
The gallery Artemisia displayed the works of its proprietor, of course, but it also had works of artists from within and abroad Leidenschaftlich. There were rows of works from unknown young artists that the owner had taken interest in as well, devoted as she was to the cultivation of new talents.
The Artemisia Gallery, which was to become a place where novel forms of Leidenschaftlich’s art would be born, was scheduled to hold a pre-opening party today, attended only by the people concerned. The gallery’s staff had started cleaning its interior and the sidewalk in front of it from morning.
Around noon, a restaurant employee hired for the sake of that day had visited, bringing in wine, snacks and table sets. As for the dishes, there were two types: the ones that had already been prepared and the ones that would be made by borrowing the kitchen of the owner’s residence, which had been built on the gallery’s top floor. Since eating was not the main focus, the preparations were merely enough for the upcoming guests not to feel hungry.
As evening came, the inside of Artemisia began to speed up with haste. If there were anyone in command of such a scenery, they would likely be asserting with a baton: “hurry”, “faster”, “elegantly”.
An envelope closed with a wax seal bearing the establishment’s crest. Customers arrived one after another with the invitation taken from inside of it at hand. For a pre-opening party with a limited number of invitees, there was a large amount of people. The elect few of Artemisia’s employees were in a flurry of activity.
“Bring me a coat” here, “not enough drinks” there, a plate breaking somewhere. “Where’s the owner?”, “Got caught by the guests”. “There’s no one to give us instructions”, “Oh, well” – just like this, things descended into chaos behind the scenes.
Normally, their job was to calmly recommend artistic goods. Therefore, they were unable to hide their bewilderment at handling so many visitors at first. Nevertheless, if one looked at the guests being entertained, how were they? Appreciating the artworks, looking like they were having a blast. Upon seeing this, the employees were able to understand deep down. That “what, so things are the same as usual”. By the time that the customers were completely familiar with the gallery’s interior, the employees were able to show smiles with a little bit of ease.
Among the guests invited to Artemisia, a foreign body completely unrelated to this world was mixed in.
It was a woman. A beautiful one at that. From an appreciative viewpoint, there would be nothing to complain about if she were one of the artworks. She was clad in a ribbon-tie one-piece dress, snow-white as a flower in full bloom on a summer day. Her long, softly curved golden hair extended to her waist. Perhaps she had come straight from work, as she held a heavy-looking trolley bag on one hand. “Click, click,” knocked her cocoa-brown boots against the marble flooring each time she took a step.
She walked while observing every artwork one by one. Idyllic landscape paintings, abstract paintings that looked like silver ink spilled on pure-white paper, oil paintings in which the people seemed as if they would move at any moment. Glassworks and ceramics that one would be very afraid even to look at from nearby. At first, the exhibition was of works from artists renowned within the country, but the small hall of its latter half integrated displays from artists who were still nameless. The woman stopped in front of one such work.
A painting of whimsical fantasy. Was it a winter sea? It depicted various things falling and sinking into dark and cold water. A pocket watch, a feather, a bed, a knife, a white flower and a chair. All were worn-out and had damaged parts. At first glance, one would not know what it was expressing. Only the boy painted in the center seemed to pierce through the viewer.
He was still a teenager and his appearance could also be considered that of a girl. After staring at him for a while, the feeling that he was supposed to be saved would surface. Because the boy had a facial expression that almost looked like he was making eye contact with the viewer as he fell. But this could not come true. He was sinking in the picture. No one on this side could do anything. One would not know what to do with themselves after looking at it – it was that kind of picture.
“Excuse me; I was the one who painted this. Is there anything wrong with this painti…”
Suddenly, a voice called to the woman from behind. A rock thrown into the quiet atmosphere. A low tone that cut through the dimness of the room.
People were mostly heading towards the famous artists, so the woman had been all by herself on that spot until just now. The man who had showed up a bit late was coincidentally the creator of that fantastical painting, and found himself talking to the woman who had stopped in front of his art. That was an extremely natural encounter for a pair. If their positions, circumstances and everything else were different, something might have been born between them. It did not have to be romantic love, just something – something else that “the two of them originally had”.
“Captain Dietfried Bougainvillea.”
The moment the woman turned around, the space resounded with a loud squeak. It actually had not resounded, but at the very least, Dietfried heard the thump of his own heartbeat, which gave his whole body goosebumps. He was enveloped in a strange sensation, as if the blood inside him were flowing backwards. One of the things he had once evaded in his life was standing there.
“What’re you doing, Monster?”
Before the emerald eyes that Dietfried possessed, of a hue different from his younger brother’s, there was a young female Auto-Memories Doll. The reason why he had not recognized her from the back was likely that her golden hair was slovenly loose.
He had not had a chance to see her after she had become a grown-up ever since the incident during the Flying Letters. Only people who had great amount of interaction with each other would be able to tell such a thing just by looking at someone’s back.
“I was looking at the paintings, Captain.”
Violet was expressionless. However, her hand alone promptly searched for her emerald brooch and squeezed it.
“You, paintings? Can you understand them?”
First, a scornful laugh, and then a head start with a verbal attack. She needed to put up a defense line. After all, this girl was formerly a weapon. An automatic assassination doll.
“I cannot. It is just that… my eyes and legs stopped.”
She was the one and only woman that Dietfried feared. If he had run into anyone else, his emotions would not be so disrupted.
Dietfried was scared. This girl was terrifying.
“I caused you trouble last time.”
He knew the things she had done. He knew whom she had killed. And he also recalled how he used to treat her, telling himself that it was all right.
“I was visiting Major.”
Because she was a monster.
——O God, I want to .
These words wandered about in his head. They were words that he had prayed in his childhood to the one that he would meet at some point – probably in his dying moments. Thinking back on it now, it had been a foolish, immature and helpless wish, but he was serious about it at the time.
Looking at this girl made him remember his embarrassing past self.
“I shall see myself out. Captain, please take your time.”
Violet had decided to retreat from the place, putting it to action. She concluded that this would be a peaceful solution for both sides and that it would secure each other’s survival.
However, Dietfried still had something that he wanted to say.
At the call of restraint, Violet’s feet halted mid-step. She then gazed at Dietfried. “Why?” her eyes were asking.
Choosing to leave must have been her own way of showing respect. Considering the current and the previous relationship between two of them, it was a sound judgement. Hence, she stared at him presumptuous and mutely.
Even now, it pierced Dietfried. That quiet “why” perforated him.
Despite being the one who had told her to wait, Dietfried lost sight of his next words. He had tons of complaints. Rather, complaints were the only thing that ever came out of his mouth. Most likely, he had never presented any warm words or attitude to her. No, he had at least patted her head when they parted. But what about it? That was all he had done. Which perhaps was the reason why.
——What did you think of that painting?
Just a question like this was exceptionally challenging for him. If it were anyone else, he would surely be able to ask as easily as breathing. He could also boast that he was the one who had painted it. However, only with this woman was it so difficult.
A long silence drifted between the two. A truly long, long silence.
The mood was almost like two beasts had come across each other in the wilderness and were estimating which would attack first. Both were underdeveloped and, not matching their insides, only their appearances were actually full-fledged. Seen from the sidelines, they were a beautiful adult man and woman looking at each other, but the air flowing between them was that of a battlefield.
Dietfried was starting to sweat. As for Violet, even her breathing was becoming shallower.
Violet seemed to be thinking about something. She opened and closed her mouth, repeating it several times. What should she do in that situation? What was best? She was probably unable to decide. This was something that not just Violet but also Dietfried was thinking about, yet the degree of seriousness in behavior was surprisingly higher on Violet’s side.
She would normally not be like this.
He was the person that even Violet Evergarden, who had written so many letters, was at loss as to how to act around. That was the man called Dietfried.
Perhaps her thinking had eventually arrived to a conclusion, Violet left her baggage on the floor and put her hands behind her back. “Feel free to.”
At first, Dietfried had no idea what she was doing. Violet looked like she was offering her body.
Without hesitation, almost as if she were a tool.
“I am still. Feel free to.”
“Feel free to feast on my life,” she seemed to say. Her current self overlapped with the beast of the past.
“To do what, is what I’m asking…” Dietfried’s mouth felt sticky, giving him a hard time mustering words out. His head had been occupied mostly with how to mend the blunder that he had exposed to her, so he could not respond to Violet’s surprise attack immediately.
“Do you not remember? I used to do this whenever I had to receive reprimand or punishment.”
He could not. All of the information that had been fluttering about in Dietfried’s head until now disappeared. It vanished.
“You, what the…”
The owner of the blue eyes that stared at Dietfried as if to shoot through him always did unexpected things, tossing him about.
“I did not know how to speak back then, so in order to show that I had no intention to attack you, Captain, I would do this.”
“No matter what I say, surely… there is no atonement for me. With time, I have come to understand the things I… did. And how much terror I made you go through. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the kindliness of placing me under Lord Gilbert. I wish to pay you back somehow. If you say that it is unnecessary, at the very least, do as you please.”
For whatever reason, when those eyes asked him “why”…
“Be it with fists or with reproach, as much as you want.”
…his chest ached as if it had been stabbed.
“Feel free to.”
If that place were not a quiet art gallery, Dietfried would have yelled furiously at her, without caring about shame or his reputation. He managed to ball his fists hard enough for it to hurt and swallow down his angry voice due to his high level of self-respect.
“I hate that about you…”
This girl always made him aware that she would never act as he expected.
At the words spoken by Dietfried’s quivering tone, Violet took a step back. Her stance of offering herself did not change, but her instincts were on-guard, wondering if she was not going to be killed by this man. Seeing that, Dietfried sneered at her figure.
“You’re the one who could choke the life out of me anytime,” he seemed to say.
Dietfried suddenly felt the heat that had gone up his head cooling down. Violet had taken a step back. That became the trigger for him to regain his composure. Because he was able to reconfirm that she was but a child in the end. This innocent aspect and action that were much like what a child would show to an adult exerted a great influence on the other party. Dietfried loathed that.
For he, who despised interventions from anyone, had so much aversion to it that it make him want to vomit.
Those who were accustomed to oppression from others would very easily choose to hurt people. She was inwardly frightened of that tendency. Yet albeit frightened, she prioritized others over herself. That creature was like a mass of contradictions.
——Disgusting. Stop. Die. Don’t look at me.
He did not want to get involved with her. But he had a mountain of things to say. However, when it came to whether or not he could properly do it, even if he managed to squeeze them out, they would turn into nothing but abusive language.
There was a large lake between the two of them and all they could do was gaze at the opposite shore, unable to tell how deep it was. Their first meeting was to blame for that. It was the cause of everything.
His underlings had attacked her and she had killed all of them. She then chased and chased after him, making him into her master. Despite there being a hierarchy, Violet was the one who had a grip over his life.
One would understand, after spending time with the girl, that this was a necessity for her. She was always like that, ever since the island only the two of them knew. Whenever anything happened, she would prioritize Dietfried. After all, even as he handed her over to Gilbert, she had not resisted.
If anything could be changed, that was the moment.
The two who never mingled with each other met again countless times in a parallel line. On such occasions, they would become unable to make a move due to shouldering the truth of rejection and of the things they had done, thus running away.
What did the person who brought the two together, whom they loved most, thought of that?
——If I could change for Gilbert…
——If I could change, right here and now, for your sake…
Would it be easier for him to breathe?
Just as Dietfried was about to make a bitter decision…
…an incident occurred.
It was clearly not a hasty crime. The scream of Artemisia, the owner, echoed, and by the time that Dietfried and Violet had bolted from the quiet hall where there was just the two of them, robbers were already thrusting their weapons mostly at vulnerable women and children, having them on their knees. The course of action was far too swift.
Wide-eyed, Violet swung back her trolley bag and was about to throw it at them, yet Dietfried stopped her.
“Are you stupid?! Those aren’t all adults that can run…!”
Among the hostages, there was also a little girl held under someone’s arms, looking like she did not understand the situation.
“I will save them as fast as possible and take control of the rest.”
“They’ve got guns; what’re you gonna do if they hit someone else with a warning shot?! There’s the other artworks too… This ain’t a stage for a tactless bastard like you to brawl! Just stay put for now!”
While the two were trying to push past each other, the robbers took notice of them.
In the main hall, perhaps in order to bind people up through fear, the men were being beaten without exception, being put on their knees over the floor. Seeing that, the women naturally sat down, trembling, and began to cry.
While screams were resounding like music, one of the robbers headed towards the duo. “So there were still weeds growing here?” was the look in his eyes as he swung his firearm emotionlessly.
Dietfried would have managed to avoid it. He had done it several times until now. He could do it as easily as floating on water. If he could catch the man’s gun with one hand and pulled it just like that, he was able to picture the opponent falling over as a reaction. Once he stole the gun, he could shoot each member of the robber gang one by one in the head. And then, there would be a gunfight. He would have done that if he were alone. Yes, if he were alone.
——Why now of all times?
There was nothing more humiliating than a punch that one had to resign oneself into receiving. But he had things he had to protect above his own dignity. Thus, he accepted the attack without dodging. If he were to start a scuffle amidst the current situation, he did not think that all of the people who had become hostages would remain unharmed. He would aim for a chance. That was what he should do. He made such decision not only for his own welfare but also for that of other people.
However, the automatic assassination doll made a completely different one. When her eyes glinted like that, she quite literally moved on automatic. She came forward to take his place. In that instant, the face of Dietfried’s younger brother was the only thing crossing his mind.
It was almost as if he had readied himself to do it. That was how quickly his arm reached out. He forcefully embraced Violet and turned his back towards the robber. A violent hit struck him from head to back. He could hear Violet’s breath quietly catching while holding her in his arms.
And such was how they had arrived to the present.
Dietfried did not think that his decision to suppress Violet was a mistake. He was aware that she was the woman who had fought by herself against terrorists inside an exploding train, but it would be a problem if she did something of the sort in the Artemisia Gallery.
Right now, he felt like a pet owner containing the rampage of his mad dog.
As for the mad dog herself, she had grown quiet ever since Dietfried had been hit, as if her functions were gone. Dietfried had pushed away the hands that had attempted to give him first aid. Any false moves and the robbers might beat him again.
She, who always took upon herself to protect, wound up being protected. On top of that, she had let the other be injured. This must have caused her to fall into despondency, enough to result in service outage. However, with time, she had rebooted and was rousing herself up once more to get through this situation.
“I understand that I should refrain from the use of force in an art gallery. But should we not place human lives above the artworks?”
——Whose fault do you think it is that I got hit on the back of my head?
Because she was saying the most obvious thing with the most serious face, Dietfried grabbed the collar where her brooch resided, taking the brooch along, without thinking. The thread that fastened the ribbon-tie dress’s button let out a screech. It was not the kind of deed that a gentleman would do to a lady. But Dietfried did not loosen the strength that he put into his grip.
“You… Do you still need disciplining from me?” he said, voice filled with rage, close enough for their faces to touch. “Think of this as a place that can hardly compare to any other… This thing’s pretty important for you, isn’t it?”
After blinking with a snap, she opened her mouth once, then closed it.
Once Dietfried’s hand let go of her, she grasped the brooch as if to protect it. She was more concerned about the brooch than the crumpled bust of her dress. She stroked it over and over, making sure that it had not been damaged.
Finally, she whispered in a dazed state, “I understand.”
“As if an idiot could,” Dietfried said with a snort, yet the other was a poker-faced Auto-Memories Doll. No matter how much he hurt her, it would have no effect. That was what Dietfried had thought.
“I understood completely. I will avoid combat here as much as possible.” Alas, her voice sounded a little faint.
Dietfried stared at Violet from the corners of his eyes. The brooch was indeed important to her. She was holding it down with both hands. She did not want anyone to touch it – that was what she was indicating. The two of them were speaking in an awfully low tone, but her timbre just now was as thin as the cry of a mosquito.
Dietfried said with a somewhat softer voice, “Good that you get it. I’m indebted to the owner of this gallery. I’m gonna choose the best I can for her sake too.”
“Human lives are the priority, of course. But we’re not gonna fight in a stupid way.”
Like a child, Violet nodded repeatedly.
“You’ve only ever been doing body guarding, murders and military action, and that’s why you don’t understand. In the sea… In fleet battles, we fight to protect. Our way of thinking is different from those who fight to conquer.”
“If you can’t put brakes on them at sea, the enemies go to land. The reason why Leidenschaftlich is called a military nation ain’t just the army’s achievement. I’ve… never taught you how to fight at sea, huh… For now, forget the method of destroying and taking control of everything. Learn from my ways.”
Dietfried was inwardly surprised at the obedient reply. Rather, even more than this, he was surprised that he and the “beast” were able to have mutual comprehension.
When she was in his hands, this beautiful Auto-Memories Doll was a “wild beast” that did not know how to speak, as well as a tool. An incontrollable beast, to boot.
“Still, if that is how it is, please do not forget that your wellbeing is my top priority all the more. I shall fight to protect you, Captain. Please do not think of protecting me for Lord Gilbert’s sake. If necessity arises, I will not might if you use me as a shield. I can be replaced, but there is no substitute for you.”
If, at that time…
“This is also linked to protecting Lord Gilbert.”
…in that place…
“Bye, Monster. This guy’s your next master.”
…he had educated and guided her instead of letting her go, would she have grown up the same way?
Would she have thought like that?
“Shut up, Monster.”
He had never even thought about it.
Another side of him immediately answered “no” to the self-questioning. Surely, a Violet Evergarden raised by Dietfried Bougainvillea would not have turned out like this. He might have at least taught her how to talk. They would have trouble communicating otherwise. He would have probably given her clothes and personal belongings for daily life. Bringing her along when walking around would look bad for him.
However, when it came to whether or not he would have bestowed this girl with something that would be enveloped in her hands with utmost zeal…
——I see; so it’s the same color as Gilbert’s eyes. That brooch.
…he would undeniably have not.
——Come to think of it, she was always following me around from behind ‘cause she hated being alone.
If there was anything he could have done for her, it was to at least fill up a coffin with flowers and leave it available for her. He did not intend for anything to happen, but he might have done that much. After all, if Violet had stayed beside Dietfried Bougainvillea, she would have surely died before him, for his sake.
“We’re gonna do an act.”
——I’m always late to realize how great you are.
“That’s right. You’re the one who suggested it, so I’m gonna make you into a decoy.”
——You’ve made that filthy beast into this.
——You were able to change her like this.
“First, take this… It’s late for that, but… you got any questions about a joint struggle with me?”
As Dietfried asked, Violet responded with her neck tilted, “Why…? I do not.”
For whatever reason, his former weapon would show scraps of emotion only at times like these. Just innocently, unaware that it was merciless of her.
“Please use me correctly, Captain.” She smiled.
Why had robbers attacked the Artemisia Gallery?
There was a certain amount of history that led to such violence unfolding amidst everyday life. Firstly, it would be preferable to start with the time when a turning point happened in the life of the robbery’s main offender, but that would be rewinding too far. On to a brief explanation.
This case was a crime committed by a habitual criminal.
There were various reasons for people to rob, yet the advantage was but one. Earning compensation within a short period. Good citizens would be paid for their work, but thieves did not share this mentality. People received rewards through serving others. In order to gather a large sum, a long time and effort were necessary. Thieves abdicated from this. To achieve success, no matter in what land, a person had to be equipped with skills as a rule of thumb.
If one could stop after doing it once, why did they do it countless times? There were people here and there who thought this about criminals. It was because, if they had succeeded once, they could do it again. They were instantly able to attain things that they would have to spend a long time out of their lives to earn. This was the arrival of an opportunity to do that.
Once one got used to it, identifying opportunities was surprisingly easy.
Supposing that there was someone who excelled at predicting people’s thoughts. The other person’s personality would be determined by the movements of their eyes, the way they breathed, their voice tone, the relationships of power in their background, their social position and other such things, so one would be able to deduce what kind of conduct should be taken in order to derive the “correct answer”. It seemed like magic at first glance, but it was no more than the result of someone continuously keeping watch on another person for many years.
Since this was a strategy against individual matches, the robbers needed a slightly better ability to grasp the environment. As they were walking around the city, they incidentally found out that a new gallery was going to open. The opening date was also announced. It appeared that there would be an event only for those concerned on the day before.
No matter the establishment, dealing flawlessly with the inauguration of a new shop was difficult. Even if there were people in it who already had experience working in a gallery, but the use of their abilities to have control over such a situation and proceed with it smoothly was different. Employees would be in quite a panic on the day. If it was a members-only celebration day, there was no mistaking that the original state of the security that should be guarding the gallery would be insufficient.
And so, the robbers had thought, “Aah, if you poke this place, it’ll surely crumble down.”
They did not have any grudges in particular. They had simply judged that they could do it, thus undergoing the assault. The truth was merely that the Artemisia Gallery had been unlucky.
How many hardships the owner had gone through until she was able to open the gallery, had she lived her life bowing her head to other people? How many artists were looking forward to seeing their work exhibited in the gallery? The feelings of such people could be trampled miserably at times.
Not that many people paid any mind to weeds when walking. That was all. Except, this time, the Artemisia Gallery had been lucky about just one thing.
“No good… Hum, excuse me…! She suddenly…!”
A naval captain who loved art…
…and the woman who used to be called Leidenschaftlich’s War Maiden were amongst the hostages.
The man who had caused a commotion and pleaded to one of the robbers in a panic raised both of his hands as a display of no resistance. He was a long-haired a man. His slightly curvy dark hair went past his shoulders. Right next to him was a woman holding her stomach and trembling.
A few armed men gathered around them.
“It seems her stomach hurts.”
“Just a stomach ache? Leave it alone.”
“You’re telling us to let her go to the bathroom? We still gotta watch these people. Besides, she’s a woman. If someone takes her to the toilet… Well, how much stuff did we get?”
“We’ve piled most of the paintings in the carrier, but there’s still the ornaments. It’s still gonna take a while.”
The robbers had a choice. The option to either silently let her suffer or kindly take her to the restroom. Beating only the men was likely one of their policies. They did not hesitate to make use of violence when needed, but when it was not, it was best to have as least animosity as possible in order to get through with things unobtrusively and quickly take the treasure. It seemed gentlemanly but was a self-righteous thinking.
“What do we do? The Head is…”
“The Head got in the car first. As if we can ask him stuff like this every single time it happens.”
“Head” probably referred to the member worthy of being their chief.
As the quiet exchanges continued in front of the agonizing woman, she finally lay down on the floor while still holding onto her stomach. The man who had appealed about her bad condition shook her shoulders, telling her to “hang in there”.
As if she had received a signal, the woman raised her face slowly. Her gemstone-like blue eyes were visible through the gaps between her disheveled golden hair. She was covering her mouth, perhaps trying not to vomit. Even so, it was easy to tell that the woman’s looks were remarkably good.
“It’s gonna take a while, huh. Besides, we’re gonna need the women later.”
Her eyes locked with one of robber’s as though sucking him in. One would not understand the destructive power that having this woman look up at them from their feet with her eyes wet had, unless they witnessed it themselves.
“Then, I guess it’s okay.”
From the vulgar smile of the man who had said so, one could presume what his intentions were. As the woman was covering her mouth, the robber instructed her to stand up, pointing his gun at her, and then took her to the restroom.
After that, the woman and the robber did not return for a while. Since there were no other people who mustered out the courage to say that they wanted to use the toilet, the period of their absence passed as if it were natural. In the meantime, the gallery’s exhibits were being carried one after another to cars with roof racks parked outside the establishment. The robbers were dressed as employees who worked with the transportation of goods, so even those walking down the street did not think there was anything strange about that work scene.
Once they had finished relocating most of the merchandises, one of the cars left the gallery. The other one that remained parked was meant for the getaway of those who were keeping watch. With the artworks that had been collected for the sake of this day snatched away down to the last one, the gallery was bare. The owner, Artemisia, had all the while been suppressing her cries and shedding tears.
Apparently, those thieves were quite the habitual criminals. They had threatened everyone with armed force upon entering the establishment, robbing people of any resistance, but after that, as long as everyone stayed still, they would do nothing but coldly keep control of the hostages, not even raising their voices. If people did as told, they would not lose their lives. That hope made the hostages obedient. Even though they were robbers, this seamless way of dealing with people was like that of artisans. They did not think of humans as humans.
“Excuse me; I just… want to lend her a handkerchief. That’s all. The sleeves of her clothes are already soaked with tears. Can’t you allow just this much?”
Hearing a voice from the back, Artemisia turned around. It came from one of the artists that she had invited over for today, whom she had known for quite some time. She was shaken by a sense of guilt that she had done something terrible to him as well.
Their first meeting had started at a certain recreational facility, when she peeked from behind while he was painting a landscape. She did not know his occupation, but they kept in touch and she had him show her his art. It seemed he had always been drawing as a hobby. He told her that even most of the people who were close to him did not know he painted, and that he had truly only been doing it for himself.
The busy man had weaved his way through spare time and the work he brought had swayed Artemisia’s senses. At first, he had hesitated at her request to put it on display, but then smiled like a boy and gave her his ready consent, looking happy.
——Aah, God. Please give it back. Please give that fun time back to everyone.
Artemisia was upset and vexed at the fact that the artworks were being stolen, but more than anything, it felt like the regret towards everyone who had been looking forward to this day would split her chest open.
“Hey, he told you to use this.”
He had lent a handkerchief to Artemisia through one of the robbers. Artemisia wiped her tears and managed to lock eyes with him somehow. She then mouthed a “thank you” to him without letting out her voice.
The man smiled. But it was not the smile that Artemisia knew. He was different when he talked about art. She had shivers before she could think. His eyes were not smiling.
The man said something to Artemisia. As he had only moved his lips, Artemisia could not tell whether she had been able to read what he tried to convey. She could not, but most likely, he had said:
“It’ll be over soon.”
Eventually, the robbers started to create an atmosphere of evacuation at last.
“Let’s take one person with us until we leave the harbor. Can be a woman or kid. Which do we choose?”
“Woman it is.”
“That guy was playing around with the woman we were planning to use for that, wasn’t he? What happened to him?”
Assuming that they would finally be freed, the hostages started fidgeting. They had faced a disaster and the artworks that they had dedicated their lives to making had been stolen. This joyful day had been repainted into despair. But they were alive. That was the one and only bright side of today. They would not be able to maintain their rationality unless they comforted themselves with that. At any rate, they wanted to hurry and be liberated.
Amongst them, there was a man who merely observed the robbers’ movements in silence all the while. It was the man who had been caring for a woman that had a stomachache, looking worried. Once the woman had been taken to the restroom, he became expressionless, as if he had lost interest in everything. Occasionally, there were moments when he even yawned in secret, as if he had grown sleepy.
“Go call him. We could use that woman as hostage. She’s young, so she can come back walking if we throw her away on the street.”
Hearing these words, the man let out his voice and laughed. By the looks of it, he had not intended to laugh, but wound up doing so. He put a hand to his mouth, but then shrugged and let the robbers see it. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to make fun of you. But trying to rape that thing, huh? No matter how many lives you have, it wouldn’t be enough.”
“Hey, what’s with you…? Got a complaint or something…?”
The man kept laughing, as though to say that the robbers’ threatening figures were even more comical. With her eyes, the owner, Artemisia, begged the man provoking the robbers to restrain himself, for she could not afford to lose not only the artworks that she had collected but also a guest that she had invited, yet the man closed one eye at that and replied, “Artemisia, it’s okay.”
No one in this place knew his social status. Or his history.
In the past, Dietfried Bougainvillea used to wield a weapon that could become the world’s best. It was now away from his grasp, but it was not as if their master-servant connection had been completely severed. The beast had a high level of loyalty, so although they had met by chance after a long time, her heart recognized it. That he was the one she had been following in the past – someone worth being served by her. Therefore, the beast would attend him to exhaustion.
Only a limited number of people could handle the beast. The feeling that she had returned to his hands for now was somewhat strange.
“She runs quick.”
“That’s why it’s the end for you guys. My bad.”
“Hey, shut this dude up.”
As Dietfried had suddenly started talking, the robbers naturally had a doubtful reaction.
“She’s as fast as a deer. And this is the city’s main street, so there are hotels nearby.”
“So, what’re you saying?”
“I left my bodyguards behind to come here today. They’re probably drinking at their room’s bar. There’re also guys among them who know that thing from the time when she was still by my side. I left my hair tie with her, so she should be able to convince them with that. I could predict that you’d take the things you stole to the port. It’s pretty difficult to get away from pursuers on land when you make such a mess in the center of this city. It’s harder to be tracked using the sea route than the land route, right? But the sea route doesn’t work against me. It looks like one vehicle left a while ago, but it’s over by the point they reach the port. You’ll probably go outside now, but if you’re thinking about taking someone along as a hostage, you’d better drop it. Many of my subordinates are hot-blooded. If you rouse them up like that, they’ll probably get too excited. If that happens, you’re the ones who’ll be getting the short end of the stick. No matter how many dead bodies fall down, we can deal with it all we want in the aftermath. We’ll need to get the stories straight, but today’s hostages will surely choose to cooperate with me. Having people trample on the proof of a life that you’ve lived with all your might is painful for anyone.”
The eloquent man did not run out of breath even when speaking nonstop in such a situation. However, this majestic aspect of him was reflected in others’ eyes as dreadful and similar to madness.
The robbers abruptly realized that all the hostages were looking far behind them. They felt that there was something behind them. It was like a ghost, hiding even its flame of life, simply waiting for the orders of its lord.
Outside the windows of the gallery, they could hear the sounds of someone fighting from around the area where the car was parked. Simultaneously, they could hear a faint breathing just behind them.
The respiration of a woman who was out of breath from running loomed over their ears.
“Do it, Violet.” Dietfried raised his thumb and made a swift throat-cutting gesture.
While watching his doll render the robbers unconscious with a strength as overwhelming as a monster eating people, Dietfried reminisced to the past.
——Everything goes around.
He recalled the time when the two of them were stuck in that isolated island.
The beast had been scared when the rescue fleet arrived. So had Dietfried. He would not be able to bear it if more of his comrades were murdered. Hence, he had taken the beast’s hand and guided her to the outside world. In his perception, it was the same as taking the reins.
There were no reins anymore now. No need for him to pull her by the hand when walking, either. There was nothing between them.
Not love, passion, attachment, desire, anything.
There was nothing, but one thing was for certain.
If he called for her, this Auto-Memories Doll would most likely go to the ends of the world to save him. That was her nature.
“I have just returned. Are you unharmed?”
At that moment, the beast was well aware that he had called her name for the very first time. Her eyes were crinkling.
Just this much compensation was enough to make the beast smile.
After a little while passed, Leidenschaftlich was embraced by the gentleness of the night.
Summer constellations were decorating the jet-black sky. Just as sunny as it was during daytime, the night sky was twinkling so brightly this evening that it could be called a banquet of stars. The day was about to end in Leidenschaftlich. Today was filled with chaos ever since morning.
While being observed by gathered-up onlookers, the arrest drama that had unfolded in front of the Artemisia Gallery was already coming to a conclusion, its many procedures and processing passed over to the military police. Seeing the stolen artworks safely re-delivered to Artemisia, Dietfried took a breather. His gaze then fleetingly drifted to the side. A dirtied ceramic doll was standing there. A woman beautiful enough to look like such, who shone amidst the night, was standing there. He had to say something to her. As one would expect, he should do that at least now. But he could not think of anything.
——“You did well”. “That wasn’t too bad”. “Good work”. “I commend you”… Which one?
Inside his head, words were being conceived and then disappearing. Just like the dreams that the sleeping children all around Leidenschaftlich were surely seeing right now. They were born and then vanished.
At last, he attempted to open his mouth, “Aren’t you cold?”
“It is summer, after all.”
And ended up talking to her like a man who was unused to inviting women out.
Violet Evergarden, who had been fighting reasonably and in order to protect, was still by Dietfried’s side. It was fitting to say that she had been today’s most meritorious person. The one who had come up with the idea of the arrest operation was Dietfried, but the one who had done all the work for it was Violet.
First, she had put up the woman-with-a-stomachache act and gone with one of the robbers to the restroom. She had then quietly strangled the neck of the man who had reached a hand to her shoulder with her mechanical prosthetic arms, making him pass out.
She had broken out and escaped through the restroom’s window. Rather than going to the military police, she had gone to the hotel that Dietfried instructed her to and notified the naval soldiers, who were enjoying cigarettes and drinks in a room on the top floor, of the circumstances. One of the soldiers, who happened to know her, had been frightened at first, but upon seeing that she had been entrusted with Dietfried’s ribbon, his facial expression changed and he contacted the military police, then informed the port’s security to reinforce their inspections.
Without waiting for them to get ready, she had immediately run back to the Artemisia Gallery and infiltrated it through the same route. A few of the robbers, who had the bad luck of spotting her, fell to the ground with one kick or punch to the abdomen, and so, she had finally returned. As Violet stood behind the remaining robbers while catching her breath, the hostages stared as if she were their safety, but Dietfried was sneering as he looked at her.
Just as ordered, she had saved Dietfried without damaging a single artwork.
“About what happened…”
“It will probably be best not to tell Lord Gilbert. He would worry.”
Upon seeing the last artwork be brought in, Violet took the trolley bag that lay by her feet. She likely intended to go home by herself.
After making her do so much, something similar to guilt was now sprouting within Dietfried. He wound up acknowledging that she, too, was important to someone. That was what he thought after the battle, when he saw Violet stroking her emerald brooch as if to confirm that it was there.
Even though she used to be a wild beast whom no one would mourn if she died.
——Aah, that’s an excuse. It’ll be nothing but an excuse. If so, then I don’t wanna say it.
Back then, when she was by Dietfried’s side, every single day was filled with madness on all accounts. They used to roam around battlefields, fighting from dawn to dusk, growing too accustomed to violence. The war then ended, peace had returned, and he realized that an era in which he could even make art was arriving. That those times were abnormal and the way he felt now was the default.
“I’ll take you home.”
“No need. Your escorts must be waiting, so please, feel free to take your leave, Captain.”
“It’s fine; just this time. I’ll take you home.”
“I’ll take you. Listen up, this is an order.”
“I cannot accept your command.”
“You little… You were taking action like I instructed you to just a while ago.”
“Because it was a state of emergency… Besides, Captain Dietfried, it would be reasonable if I were to take you home, but the opposite is illogical.”
“What’re you talking about? You’re a woman, aren’t you?”
“A woman”. Finding himself asserting this with his own mouth, Dietfried regretted it even more.
The corner of Violet’s lips had a cut and blood was coming out of it. Her ribbon-tie dress was drenched in sweat. Even those who did not sweat much would be like this after such a huge scuffle during summertime.
“I’m calling a carriage. It’s all right; just wait right there. I’ll see you off until you get inside the Evergarden house. And then it’s goodbye. We’ll never see each other again. No matter what you and Gil become, we’ll never see each other again.”
What he had done today to this woman, who had become fully able to accept someone’s love, was not something that a son of the Bougainvillea should ever do to a lady.
After they had hopped into the carriage, a moment of silence went on for a while.
——Is it okay for her to keep such an open secret even though those two are a couple?
Dietfried found himself accidentally concerned about his younger brother’s love life. After all, this situation might be a betrayal to his dearest brother. Gilbert had completely forgiven Dietfried. For pushing the headship succession onto him. For not having any consideration for their family. For forcing an indescribable wild beast onto him. He had forgiven everything.
Thinking back, the only time that he attempted to push Dietfried away, saying he would not forgive him, had been when Dietfried offered Violet to him. He had called it “human trafficking”. Told Dietfried not to be violent with a child.
Most likely, those two were each other’s only exception from the very beginning. There was probably no pardoning what Dietfried had done to Violet today. Gilbert would forgive most things. Save for matters related to the one and only thing that was most important to him. Being hated by a loved one. This could cast a shadow over anyone’s heart, regardless of how old they were.
“It is all right.” The voice that cut through the silence was thrown at him as if to soothe him down. The words sounded almost as if she had perceived Dietfried’s uneasiness. “If, by any chance… word ends up reaching him through someone else about this case, I will definitely defend you, Captain Dietfried.”
“‘Defend’, you say?”
“To tell the truth, I often get involved in large-scale incidents without Major knowing. But I return without fail. To Leidenschaftlich. I will return today as well. Therefore, we are all right.”
“What do you do out there?”
“We were separated for much too long. Therefore, we have many moments that the other does not know about in the first place. Perhaps even now, too. I have work to do and so does he. We have limited time to see each other. However, I will definitely always return to Major. He knows this as well. Even when we are apart, that person is the only one who occupies my mind. I am not sure if I convey it to him properly, but that is how it is.”
Her statements were something that would normally make him burst into laughter, but Dietfried was unable to do so.
——When did you become like that?
Dietfried hated Violet. Several factors had induced his emotions to it.
——Now you can correspond to someone’s love.
He saw himself overlap with her. Her subservience to adults and the way that she herself wanted it disgusted him. He despised the wild beast that did not yearn for freedom. Despised the fact that she had been trained by someone to be this way. Despised everything. To begin with, Dietfried did not have many things that he liked.
Even the number of people who could become kind had a limit.
The truth was that, even if he wanted to be kind, it was no longer possible. He had prayed to God for it countless times in the past. However, unable to achieve this, a man named Dietfried Bougainvillea existed.
——O God, I want to, he begged a certain Someone in his mind for the first in a long time. Perhaps since his childhood.
Still, this sort of being did not give any reply to calls. Even now, he had no idea if his plea had reached Him. It was certainly impossible. His and Violet’s stars were in a position that would not radically change.
Nevertheless, for some reason, he had the overwhelming desire to ask someone for forgiveness today.
——I wanna go back.
Not even he knew where to.
——Hurry and be over, this day, today and the time I have to spend with her.
He was not annoyed.
——O God, I want to…
But painfully miserable.
The carriage ran amongst trees dyed in the darkness of the night. A cool voice echoed amidst them.
Violet was looking at the scenery outside. She was observing the moon, which chased after them, no matter how far, far apart they were.
The moon was something that would continue to exist forever. Unlike stories. Regardless of whether Dietfried concerned himself with it, everything about his story would come to a closing one day as well. Demise would arrive even to the things that he did not wish to ever be over. Even the feelings he had now would end.
“How was I today?”
“Did my work earn your satisfaction today?”
Dietfried could not read the intentions behind Violet’s question at all. She was someone whose emotions he could not read in the first place, but it was even harder to understand the meaning of that sentence.
“What do you want to say?”
“Hey, just say it straight. Don’t be dodgy with me.”
“All right,” the cool voice entered his ears once more. Such coldness resembled the night, but it never left his ears, easy as it was to catch.
Violet turned her neck and cast her gaze at him. Slowly, blue and green eyes blended with each other.
Bathed in moonlight, she was simply, purely beautiful, enough to take Dietfried’s breath away.
“When I was with you, Lord Dietfried, my work was never satisfactory. Now that I became an adult, have I finally been able to repay my debt… with my work?”
“What d’you mean by ‘debt’?”
His voice was hoarse. He suddenly felt as if this icy woman had robbed his entire body of its heat. The inside of his mouth was extremely dry.
“I mean everything. It all started when you brought me from that island. I am the way I am now because you entrusted me to Ma… to Lord Gilbert.”
“If you’d stayed with me, probably nothing good would’ve happened.”
“How would I be if I had continued to serve you?”
These words became a bullet and pierced Dietfried’s heart. He felt as if his breathing would stop at the unexpected question. Things had been like that since the distant past. Dietfried would reconfirm time and time again that she was a woman who could have become a lethal weapon for him.
“So you also imagine a hypothesis… of ‘what if’,” her exquisitely cold voice rang within the darkness. Upon being asked, “You too?”, Violet nodded.
That was his line, Dietfried thought, but Violet then sent his gemstone eyes a dream-like gaze. His existence might be devoid of realism to her.
Violet began to whisper. If only she had disobeyed that order back then. If only she had rushed to him a step faster at that time.
“Back then, if”. “Back then, if”. “Back then, if”.
She could not bring myself not to think that, if only she had had this extra step, he would not have lost that emerald eye.
“Besides, I wonder… if I had managed to protect him back then…”
She had to let go of her most beloved lord’s hand and was entrusted to someone else as if she had been thrown away.
“…I would not have had to spend that time away from Major.”
Thinking back, she had always been abandoned and then picked up by somebody. She should have been used to it. That was the star she had been born under.
She was originally a foreign body to this world and was supposed to have been eliminated. Her destiny had also flowed in this way. The reason why Violet had rebelled against her sectioned path, despite having been tamely submitting herself to it, was that the other was special.
——I also threw her away.
He had thrown his home away. Thrown away his little brother, who cried in protest. And thrown away this beast.
“I also wonder what would have happened if you had not left me with Major.”
“But all of these are akin to dreams, crossing my mind and fading away. After passing through countless ‘if’s, I…”
He had pushed this woman onto his brother and forsaken her. Looking at her made him sick. He was also scared of her. Most importantly, he would have stopped being himself. This terrified him.
“And now, I have become an Auto-Memories Doll and am spending a night with you.”
This woman possessed an element that transmuted people.
“Y’know, you’ll be alone one day. You’re the one who’s got the longer lifespan, aren’t you?”
Violet closed her eyes at those words. If she had pictured numerous “if”s, this would obviously come to mind as well.
“I do not know.”
“If that happens, what’re you gonna do?”
“I do not know. But are you not the same as me when it comes to this? You love him, right?”
“I’m… I’m the older one. I’ll be gone sooner.”
“No one knows about that. But… if, one day… I do become alone… if I am left living by myself… my order will still be valid. I will probably live on.”
If she ended up living by herself, this supposition was the cruelest of things to the beast. Just what did he want to do by making her say this now?
Thinking back, ever since they had first met, he had not known how to deal with her. Should he have protected her? Killed her? Protected? Killed? Or perhaps…
“That is why I write letters every day. Even if they do not reach him, I write letters to Major every single day.”
“Captain, what will you do?”
“Me, huh? I… let’s see. Paint, I guess.”
“A painting or Major?”
“May I go see it?”
To Dietfried Bougainvillea, this wild beast was both a woman and a monster from the very beginning. She was now as far-off as a dream.
“You’re the only one of my relatives who knows I paint. Do whatever you want.”
——O God, I want to be a good person.