That extraordinary nightmare is always the same, too cruel to be declared just my imagination or just a coincidence. Hearing that unceasing crying voice makes me feel like I’ll be imprisoned in that dream just like that. Somehow, it feels like it’s approaching closer to me too, so I feel even more depressed. What kind of horror is this?
Well now, even though I said I’d look for ‘some way to deal with this’, I can’t deny that the truth is I have absolutely no idea where to start or what to do. At times like this, consulting a professional is best. But the closest professional to me currently, that man…… My dear husband, is the one I especially don’t want to tell about this.
Since there’s no point arguing over that, I reject that option. It may end up becoming a huge pain for me in the future if he finds out, ‘why didn’t you tell me?’ but it’ll be alright if he doesn’t find out. If he doesn’t find out.
Since that’s out of the question, what about my father-in-law Lancent who’s also a wizard, or my father who’s the Governor of Magical Books, or my brother? My father-in-law is an excellent wizard. I’m sure he’d give me good advice. But if I ask him about it, the possibility of it being leaked to that man is extremely high.
Then what about my father or brother? The two of them usually dealt with great numbers of magical books, so they would gladly share some of their knowledge one way or another.
However, the two of them are very overprotective and doting of me. If I told them, there’s a chance they might take the opportunity to tell me to come home. My young brother might especially flare up at that man, saying, 「What did you do to her when you were together?」 So I must dismiss that possibility as well. Which means.
「Looks like I really can’t do anything except to do some research myself……」
Saying that in a half-sigh, I put on the dress coat I’d taken out from the closet in my room. Then, not escorted by anyone, I left the mansion alone and boarded a shared carriage on the main street.
That man relies on a carriage from the association every morning that comes to our mansion. However, I don’t go outside everyday. So leaving for the main street and searching for a carriage was just like getting a taxi or bus if you compare it to『before』.
It wouldn’t be strange for us aristocrats to have our own exclusive carriage in the first place. However, our estate doesn’t have it for the same reason we don’t have any servants. Under normal circumstances, everyone would be raising their hands to work as an exclusive carriage driver for a great hero. But in that man’s case, that didn’t happen.
He is one of the heroes of the saved world. But if you ask whether the fear and hatred towards the color 『black』 has completely been cleared off, the answer is no. The perception towards 『black』 has already been deeply ingrained in this world, and I’ve already realized that nothing can be done about it.
Everyone reacts to the color black, more or less. Of course, there are exceptions, but they’re still a small minority. Even I don’t know how things would have turned out between us if the 『past』 『me』 didn’t exist.
——If the 『past』 me didn’t exist.
Would I have been afraid of that man then? Would I have loathed him? But right now, all that I am is just because of the past 『me』, so this is nothing more than a ‘what if’.
The carriage shook and clattered for a little while, but before long, it stopped in front of a certain building. I looked up to see the white palace, stretching across my entire vision. This is the place where all the royals live, where the leaders and officials that manage this country, the magicians and knights that protect it all gather. The city center of our country.
The place I was heading to was the national library, open to even the general public, located in a corner of the palace. It boasts of having the greatest collection of books in the country, and it’s a place I’ve stepped foot in countless times, taken here by my father at an early age.
I stand in front of the large door that had already turned amber, with its beautiful delicate carving. In place of my identification documents, I present the magical jewel bracelet that man gave me, and enter like usual. Right as I did, the unique library scent of paper and ink wafted to my nose. No matter what time it is, this place is always full of the unchanging silence.
Muttering that quiet enough to not disturb the silence, I immediately head towards the bookshelves where magical books were lined up. Hanging my dress coat on a nearby chair, I begin rummaging through the bookshelf right away.
Near the bookshelves are people who are clearly magicians, people that seem to be spell teachers, and people who are probably studying to get in the Academy of Magic. They are of various genders and ages, but they all have just one common feature. Which is that their hair is all close to black……
For example, there are those with grey hair, hair like silver ink, silver hair with a tinge of black mixed in it, and dark grey hair. Some have hair with just a little part of it black or close to black mixed with their hair, some have hair where just the tips or roots are those colors. Thanks to that, this section of the library gives off an unusually black impression.
Looking at them all gathered here, I can say that my father-in-law Lancent and that man’s disciple both have hair colors rather close to black. Then, that man’s hair, closer to black – or, rather, black itself, really is so rare. Thinking about that, I let my eyes glide to the spines of the books lined up in front of me.
Like the others, I pick out several books and head towards the seating area. Taking my dress coat from the chair, I settle down at a small tablespace near the window. The area is big enough for a few people to sit and read. Even though it’s by the window, it barely gets any sunlight. The dimly lit seat seems to seldom be used.
At least it’s almost always empty whenever I go here, which is very convenient. Since it’s in a secluded space surrounded by bookshelves, it’s far away from the public eye, so it really is just perfect. While being thankful that the seat is luckily empty today as usual, I take one of the books in my hand.
——Magicians certainly have a side that is feared, but more than that, they have a side that is closely connected to daily life.
Those that know about the incident that happened once with the scars on my back all try to keep me away from magic. But whenever there’s something kept away and hidden from them, humans do end up excessively thinking about it and being curious about it. I mean, it’s magic. It’s the magic I longed for.
That longing itself was what caused that incident, so I myself think I should give up already and learn my lesson. But I am lost to the curiosity that welled up within me during the days I spent so obediently. Actually, I’m proud to be a loser. That’s a story that happened just a few months ago.
Just a little time after the marriage ceremony, I found myself with far too much free time than I knew what to do with. I had too much time on my hands that I would easily make more than 10 embroidered handkerchiefs in a day. I had no particular responsibilities except the housework.
At that time, I was struck by an idea and since then, I’ve been spending my days coming to the library like this without telling anyone, absorbed in magical books. The magical books I haven’t touched in around 10 years are formidable opponents, but they certainly are interesting, exciting my curiosity.
That’s right. In other words, I’ve been coming to the national library and reading magical books long before I fell into this situation of being tormented by a nightmare. That’s why I could come here and easily choose books with a goal in mind. Although, since I’ve been seeing that nightmare I just can’t bring myself to travel much, so I’ve been neglecting to come here too.
This is a secret. This is a closely-guarded, top secret. Thankfully, no one from my family has found out until now. At the same time as I visit the library, I go to that man’s room in the Black Lotus Court to deliver him something he forgot at home. Usually, he’s receiving that day’s herbs to use in food from the medicinal plants garden he controls, both as a hobby and for practical use. The garden is well managed by the gardener girl.
I myself initially had my doubts whether an ordinary person could so easily enter the center of the country, let alone visit the royal palace’s head wizard. But that man gave me the aforementioned bracelet as identification, saying, 「Use it when you need to.」 Whenever I show it, everyone quietly makes way for me, so I end up getting a little carried away.
The magic jewel is in the center of the bracelet, the same color as the magic jewel on that man’s cane……Namely, the color of his eyes, the sunrise. Inside that magic jewel is a lotus flower in full bloom. The bracelet has more authority than I initially assumed.
At first I thought he was finally giving me an ornament now, even though he had never given me one before. Then it started to seem like an outrageous thing – was that just my imagination? Well, I’m not in any position to say that anyway as I always keep that bracelet close to me with great care.
At any rate, my husband generally returns home late as I mentioned before. Thanks to that, I can read freely to my heart’s content. The vital point is to leave after he leaves, and return before he returns, so it’s simple. Whenever he comes home he says, 「Did anything happen today?」 I’ve gotten used to smiling and saying, 「No, nothing.」 Don’t you dare make light of how bold we mentally [redacted]-year-olds are.[1. TL Note: That’s not a mistake — Filmina doesn’t say her age but ‘censors’ it in the text herself. However, she is most probably in her mid-50’s by now.]
That man’s disciple also shows up often to borrow magical books, so I’ve been startled by that at times. But he’s usually always in a big hurry, and the books he needs are ones that the general public is restrained from even reading, let alone borrowing. So as of now, I’ve never ran into him.
And my father, the Governor of Magical Books, also works in this national library. There is a risk of bumping into him as well. But I hear that his workplace is actually deep inside the library. Even at home, I’ve known since I was a child that he works from morning to evening shut up in the same spot.
So I’m safe for now, or I’m supposed to be safe for now. Since he really hasn’t found me yet. So I’m probably safe, yes.
Because they’re all thinking about me, they all try to keep me away from magic. However, I’m going against their good wishes, so it’s not like my own conscience doesn’t feel bad. There’s nothing more troublesome than doing something that you know is forbidden, if I do say so myself.
Well then——what was I talking about? Ah, that’s right, books, books. I was talking about the magical books.
Looking down at the magical book open in front of me (an introductory manual of the basics), I run my fingertip across its table of contents. Maybe I’ll be able to find a way to deal with the nightmare to some extent if I add together my childhood memories as well as the hasty knowledge I’ve learnt in the past few months. With that faint hope in me, I silently pursued the magical language.
The word 『magic』, it is actually quite complex. The word 『magic』 can be used in a broad meaning, but there is also『magic』 that uses your own magical power.
There is also the kind where you borrow the power of spirits, called 『spirit magic』, the kind where you borrow the gods’ power, 『light magic』, and then there’s the kind where you borrow the power of demons, 『black magic』. They say each of them has their own aptitude and talent necessary; you have to be born with the power to master certain types of magic.
I thought about this before too, but it really is the typical fantasy trope. Back then, 『I』 thought it was a worn-out joke. Basically, it’s hopeless to use that man as an example to show how each of them differ. In his case, he was born with endless magical power, so no matter what kind of magic he does, he can do it easily. So he’s not really a good reference.
He did it even that time when we were 9 years old. He calmly and easily succeeded at summoning a high-class spirit, that fire demon. Normally, one would have to first gain the proper knowledge to summon, then go through the proper procedure with no mistake, and only then can carry out a ritual. I only have a little knowledge from my dabbling in reading, yet I still understand that.
Which means, it really had to be my fault…… No, I mustn’t. I lost my train of thought again. And in a bad direction, on top of that.
Despite how much I want to do something by myself, my heart just keeps being timid and weak. Is it because I haven’t been able to sleep? I feel like I can hear that crying voice once again, slowly, slowly getting closer. My ears aren’t meant to be trembling. It passes through my eardrums, to my head, and echoes in my heart. Why do I feel dizzy? My vision, filled with letters, starts going warped. I feel like I’ll fall asleep like this. But if I fall asleep, I’ll see it……
「Thought you looked familiar, is it you, Suzette?」