Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
The next morning I got up early to see off that man, who was going to investigate the ruins together with the Governor. Officially, we came to the Isles on our honeymoon and to do some sightseeing, but none of the servants seem suspicious of us here. It seems like the fear of the Black Wizard was more than enough to keep the people from prying into our business. For that, I could be nothing but grateful. But whether or not that was making me happy, it was a whole other thing.
「Are you sure you want to go alone, Agedilus-dono?」
The man quietly nodded to the Governor’s question. He held his beloved staff in his hands as he spoke in a quiet voice.
「I’m sorry for that, but there is a possibility that we might encounter something dangerous inside of the ruins or end up getting separated. The more people, the more danger, so I would like to avoid that no matter what.」
「I see. Well, if this is the will of Agedilus-dono, the Court Wizard himself, I guess I have no choice but to accept that. As you wish.」
「Thank you for understanding. Well then, I’m going to head out.」
As he said that he turned around and started to walk away, we could only watch him walk further and further away, until he completely vanished in the distance. It wasn’t the first time that he just walked away like that to work, so I was pretty calm about it, but the Governor still seemed to be worried and not very convinced that he would be fine on his own.
「 Leticiela-sama, please rest assured. He’s going to be fine. Besides, today it is nothing more than basic surveillance of the ruins.」
「R-right, sorry about that. It’s only a given that someone who can use teleportation magic with ease will be alright during a little investigation like that.」
For a moment out there the Governor seemed to be confused, but then she smiled brightly and regained her usual composure. She then leaned towards me.
「So, what are you going to do today?」
「Probably the same thing as yesterday. After all, I promised our guide that I would see more of the island if he has the time to show me around.」
「I see. Then I’ll have the carriage prepared for you. It’s a wonderful day today as well, so you should enjoy it as much as possible.」
I smile back at the Governor and then I lift the hem of my skirt while making a small yet distinguished bow.
「Thank you so much. May the Goddess smile upon you, Leticiela-sama.」
I was then taken by carriage into town and I arrived at the corner of the main street, the same place that we parted ways yesterday. When I got off the carriage, that boy Juri was already waiting for me. The moment he saw me, he rushed to my side. His young eyes were shining like jewels for some reason.
「Good morning, big sister!」
Seeing his happy face, I naturally smiled as well. I opened my parasol and greeted him as well.
「Good morning, Juri-kun. I leave myself in your care again today.」
「Leave this to me! I thought we might go and take a look at this today. Please have a seat and take a look at these.」
When I leaned over to have a look, Juri-kun presented me with a pair of ticket-like papers. As I blinked a few times, Juri-kun just giggled happily, his eyes sparkling.
「Those are the tickets to the local theater. Usually there are a whole lot of artists and troupes that come here to perform, but today there is going to be play based on the local legends. I thought it might be perfect for you, since you are a tourist and probably don’t know the legends.」
「Legends? What kind of…」
「I can promise you that it will be fun to watch. From what I heard it is a proper play and it is rather popular around these parts. I got us the seats right in the middle of the room. What do you want to do, big sister?」
Juri-kun was all smiles while he was saying that. I see, so that’s how it is.
「These tickets are for tonight, right? And you already paid for them? Were you going to sell them to some other tourist if I were to refuse?」
「Hehe, you seem to have it all figured out, huh?」
「You’re a shrewd one, I give you that. But since you already have the tickets, sure thing. I can go.」
After I said that, I went back to the carriage together with Juri-kun. He directed the driver towards the largest open-air theatre in the city. I was really curious to see what that legend was like.
When we arrived at the theatre, it was already packed full of people. Not only were tourists present here, but also quite a few of the local people with their unique hairstyles. Just as he promised, Juri-kun guided me to the middle of the seating area and into the first row of the seats. While I was genuinely impressed that he managed to obtain seats like that, he suggested that we take a seat and wait for the play to start, even though we apparently still had some time left.
The seats were all starting to gradually fill up, and when the house was full the magic stones in the corners of the stage began to glow with a bright white light. Iin the middle of the stage, there was an old man standing, wearing a tailcoat and a top hat. “That’s the master of this troupe” said Juri-kun while whispering into my ear, and before long the troupe master started to speak.
「Hear ye, hear ye, everyone! This is the story that happened almost three hundred years ago on this very lovely Isle! This is a story based on the legend of Elizabell, a terrifying Witch with long dark hair that once plagued these lands!」
Upon hearing the troupe master’s words I reflexively held my breath. The name of the “Dark Witch” surely attracted a whole lot of attention towards the stage. Then, from the backstage a single woman in plain clothes came out, looking towards the audience. Then, once she reached the center of the stage she suddenly fell onto the ground, as if she was severely exhausted. You could hear small sighs of pity coming from the mouths of people throughout the audience. That was because when the woman fell, her headpiece came off and threads of long and black hair slipped out from underneath. Her hair wasn’t as spending as that of that man, but they sure were more than enough to instill fear in the audience.
The audience started to get restless now. After staring at the fallen woman for a moment, the troupe master, who also seemed to be the play’s narrator, opened his mouth and spoke again.
「Where does she come from? How did she come to be? There is no one in this world that knows the answers to those questions anymore. From the beginning, people were afraid of her, and chased her out of her hometown. Ever since then, she lived on the road. This is where our story begins.」
The troupe master continues to tell his tale, of how Elizabell was wandering from place to place, until finally she arrived at Nibbiellata Isle, where the people were supposed to be more tolerant than anywhere else. Sadly, it wasn’t true at all.
On top of the stage, the actors playing the islanders were throwing stones at Elizabell, as she was running away from them. Then the background was changed from that of a cityscape to the deep forest. Elizabell was running through the forest, until she eventually collapsed from exhaustion. Then, while sitting on the ground, she took her hand from underneath her cloak and started to trace her finger in the air, as if she was writing something. At the same time the background began to move once more, this time showing an unfinished hut in the middle of the forest. Elizabell walked inside of the hut while swaying from side to side.
The troupe master narrated that out of fear, the townspeople drove Elizabell out of the town, forcing her to live in solitude in the middle of the forest, where no one ever dared to enter. But then the troupe master paused once more and a smile rose to his lips.
That smile of his looked as though he was not the narrator, but more like one of the actors taking part in the actual events that were happening on the stage. Because of that I had been basically speechless ever since the play began.
「But on a certain day, Elizabell’s whole life was turned around.」
The troupe master turned towards the audience and raised his hands. Then a young boy who was about ten years old entered the stage, his eyes shining just like Juri’s. Then the story on the stage started to progress, with me unable to take my eyes off of the various new characters that were making their appearance. The boy was staggering as if his leg was injured, and basically rammed himself onto the door leading to Elizabell’s hut.
「Please, I beg of you, please save me!」
He shouted, and after a period of brief silence the door opened slowly. When Elizabell appeared in front of the door, the boy went silent for a moment, saying nothing more.
Finally, he made his choice. “Please, please save me!” he said.
「What is this? Don’t you know who I am?」
The actors delivered their lines with such skill, but they also looked as if it was something completely natural for them. He continued to say that he was out in the forest to look for medicinal herbs for his brother, who accidentally ate something that was poisoned.
「My little brother is sick! Please! You have to help me!」
「Sickness? I see. What kind of herbs do you need?」
「Umm, that is… I don’t actually know.」
「You came all the way into the forest without knowing what you are looking for? What a stupid child you are.」
To Elizabell’s words, the boy clenches his small fists as tears begin to fall down his cheeks. It was just as she said, the boys’ actions were nothing but foolish. It was but a story, but it was very real –– pretty much anyone would rush off to somewhere where medicinal plants would be, knowing that the life of someone dear to you was in danger. No one would be able to think about such a matter calmly or to weigh one’s options. What was it again that Juri-kun said? That the play was very realistic? For a play based on an almost three hundred year old legend, it surely was realistic and rich in details.
I concentrate on the stage again. There, Elizabell removed her hood, showing her beautiful black hair to the boy.
「Go back home. I don’t have time for foolish little children such as yourself.」
「But… All the doctors in the city said the same thing to me! I have nowhere else to go to!」
Taking Elizabell’s hand in his own, the boy desperately bows down his head. Elizabell looked down on the boy, looking pretty surprised, as if she didn’t expect that there would be someone out there who would be willing to touch her without hesitation like that. While I was admiring the young actors’ prowess, the actress playing Elizabell let out a deep sigh.
「Please wait here for a moment.」