|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3387 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1708 words|
The Elder of the Tower of Saints, Mira’s rival, Artesia. After having a miscarriage in the past, she became extremely indulgent and fond of children, and from what Mira remembered, she would go as far as building an orphanage for children forced to live in the streets. Adding to that the fact that she is very powerful in this world, as one of the Nine Elders, she could obviously take it upon herself to rear the lives of ten or twenty children.
「Would you look at that, you just told me something really useful.」
「It’s really nothing much, I’m just glad I was of help.」
Mira thanked him for telling her such valuable information and in reply, Emilio began plucking on the lute strings again, his heart pounding at the fact that someone had liked a story that had left such a strong impression in him. His plucking turned into a song and soon a cheerful piece that seemed to show his actual feelings filled the wagon.
The song was rather pleasant and Mira began letting her mind wander with it as well, relaxing her shoulders and letting her body sink deeper into her seat. At one point her gaze suddenly met Rihanna’s. There was still some of that cloudiness left from when they met, but she was also smiling slightly, like a night-blooming cereus. She enjoyed Emilio’s song, so she inadvertently let the moon shine on her lips.
Rihanna’s hand was also tapping the rhythm on her thigh and if the two of them were seen from a distance, they might look like a married couple that had been together for a long time.
As the music kept warming her mind, like a recently lit fireplace, Mira began pondering more about Rihanna’s gaze. It was empty. It almost looked like her eyes had been simply placed there, not to see anything, but simply to face one way or another.
(Could this person be…)
Mira began observing her eyes more closely, then waved her hand to see if there would be any reaction, but Rihanna showed none, simply keeping on with the rhythm of the lute. An uncomfortable feeling began creeping into her mind as Mira turned her gaze back to Emilio.
Emilio noticed Mira’s questioning eyes switching to him from Rihanna, and guessed what she was thinking.
Bringing an end to the lighthearted music from his lute, he nodded slightly.
「Yes, as you’ve noticed, Rihanna’s eyes can’t see.」
As he said that, he gently took hold of Rihanna’s hand. Rihanna took his hand and nestled her shoulder against him.
「So that truly was the case.」
「It’s the aftermath of an illness she fought.」
「That must’ve been hard…」
Mira’s heart constricted after realizing the painful truth behind the darkness hidden in Rihanna’s smile.
A rare disease had been the source of it. Getting it treated meant that she also lost her sight and afterwards, her spirit crumbled and everyone would only speak to her out of pity. But there was just one person who spoke to her of other things.
That person was Emilio. He was her childhood friend and had become a troubadour following his father’s lead. He would sit beside the depressed Rihanna, playing his lute and singing adventurous ballads day in and day out.
As the days passed, Rihanna began reacting from time to time. She would say things like 「You’re off-tune.」 or 「You’re fumbling your words.」 They were all rather sharp remarks, but he would keep repeating the same part until it sounded good.
Things continued like that until Emilio had sung about all the stories he knew.
「I want to make my own songs now. So I’m going to travel.」
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When he said that, Rihanna just turned around and said 「Do whatever you want.」 But when she heard his next sentence, she turned around and pointed her unseeing eyes at him. Emilio had said 「I want you to come with me.」
「You’re always hearing my half-baked songs and point out any mistakes straight away. My songs will never be complete without you.」
At first Rihanna shook her head refusing, but Emilio kept insisting until he succeeded in taking her with him. After that they traveled in the train wherever they could and made that time into songs. That was how they met Mira as well.
「But thanks to that, I get to touch Rihanna like this without any consequence.」
Saying that in a playful manner, Emilio stretched an arm and wrapped it around Rihanna’s shoulder, then began moving his hand as if he was trying to take something off her. Rihanna said nothing, only pinching his hand in return.
「Ouch ouch ouchhh.」
「I guess you reap what you sow.」
Having his flesh twisted like that, Emilio cried in pain, single-handedly sedimenting the aura of a married couple they already had. The effect was translated to the lute as well, which began ringing in dissonant tones.
「Anyway, let me play something to commemorate our meeting.」
Recovering in an instant as if nothing happened, Emilio began plucking at the strings once again with one hand while holding Rihanna’s hand with the other. This time it was not in the playful manner from earlier, but it was like a ceremony of sorts, as if he was transmitting his feelings directly to her.
As the lute produced those warm melodies, Emilio joined in with his clear voice and sang together with it. The song he played so lovingly was truly celebrating their meeting, as well as laying the bittersweet path the two of them would be leading in the future.
It was a song about the times Emilio and Rihanna spent when they were young, the story of a small adventure the two had before Rihanna fell ill when they both could see everything in the same colors.
Their childish and slightly mischievous tale ended and the lute’s notes began fading out before ending the song with a high pitched note from a single string. At the same time Mira began clapping and other people scattered throughout the wagon who were also listening joined in with more claps.
「That was a good song. It reminded me of the time when I was still small.」
「Err… thank you very much.」
Emilio was befuddled as to what Mira could mean with 「When I was still small」, but he still appreciated the sentiment.
「Hey Rihanna, what happened just now?」
Looking a bit to the side, Mira saw Rihanna hanging her head low trying to hide her eyes. Her shoulder was shaking slightly as if trying to resist something without lifting her face at all.
Then finally, a tear fell onto her lap and hands. She was crying. The tears fell without stopping, assembling on the back of her hand. Emilio put his hand over hers, grasping it tightly as if protecting it from the tears.
「What is it Rihanna? I’m sorry if you disliked that song.」
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He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and gently spoke to her, almost in murmurs. Mira was rather confused seeing the sudden tears coming from her.
「I’ve changed. I’m not the same as back then, I can’t see the same world as you. Not even that, nowadays I’m nothing but a burden on you. If I wasn’t with you, you’d easily be able to go see even more of the world. I don’t want to be a bother to you anymore.」
That was Rihanna’s confession. After one year of traveling together, Emilio had always been escorting her. Not even that, it was almost to the point of taking care and protecting her from everything, it was just really exhausting work.
Emilio had a dream, to travel through the entire world and then make a masterpiece that would be sung everywhere. He always spoke about it and it still held true to this day. But Rihanna felt like she was just hindering him from achieving that goal. As long as he had to watch over her, he would be unable to travel everywhere he wanted. But Emilio would never cast her aside, she was fully aware of his kindness since she knew him since they were small. That was why she gave in to his suggestion, but giving in also slowly began piling up guilt like mud in a corner of her heart.
And now that mud was overflowing.
「Now I can’t do anything if you’re not with me and there are even times when I hate how you keep talking about a world that I can’t see anymore. But in the end, I feel the worst about myself for thinking that way in the first place. If I stay with you, I’ll definitely become a horrible person」
「That’s why…you don’t have to worry about me anymore.」
Tightly closing her eyes, accepting the fact that she might become hated, Rihanna listed all her regrets one after another.
But what she heard next, after resolving herself and stiffening her body, was the sound of the lute. At first it was lone notes that seemed to be trying to prepare a speech, but the melody slowly grew more complicated, then Emilio joined with his voice.
The song was about the days he had spent with Rihanna.
How the days they spent without doing anything special were happy times for him, how being with her made him happy, telling her that being at her side was enough for him. It was the type of song that the listener might get embarrassed hearing, but Emilio just continued with it.
When the song was over, only the last notes remained ringing in the air. Before they completely faded out, Emilio slipped into them and muttered something.
「Back in the day I never understood what a love song was, but now I do. And that’s thanks to you. Because you were with me, my horizons have broadened.」
Large tears that seemed about to break apart fell from her eyes. Emilio hugged her shoulder and tightly grasped her hand.
(For a moment I thought that would turn into a fight… but it seems she’s calmed down now.)