Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
Following Elizabell’s gaze, the boy looks behind him.
From the backstage, the islanders arrive on the stage, carrying weapons and torches. They must have tailed the boy all the way here to Elizabell’s hut, and while to boy started to realize that and despair over it, the islanders got closer and pointed their weapons at smiling Elizabell. But she, clearly annoyed, just pointed her hand at the islanders, who in turn dropped their weapons and fell onto the ground, looking as though they were suffering tremendously.
「You got so agitated that you were ready to turn towards violence, I see.」
Elizabell started laughing, seeing her would-be assailants on the ground, helpless and completely at her mercy. While she laughed, the boy looked at her in silence.
「It’s alright. If they are smart enough to not do anything to me I won’t harm them… What’s the matter?」
Elizabell tried to reach out her hand towards the boy. But her hand was never able to connect. Right before she was about to do that, a single word escaped from the boy’s mouth.
The girl’s eyes open wide in shock. The boy and the islanders leave the stage as the lights grow dimmer. Now, the only person left on the stage was Elizabell, the Black Witch herself. Her lips were trembling. Her shoulders were shaking. But there was no one around to hug her and tell her that everything was going to be alright.
Had this boy’s words really cut so deep into Elizabell’s heart? Or maybe he was playing around with her all this time? As the suspicion starts to grow inside of her heart, Elizabell starts laughing. I suddenly remembered that man’s face. Up until he was taken in by the Lancet family he was isolated and did not know what love is. This story seemed to be very much the same. I just hoped that they wouldn’t have someone like that inside of it.
Even though I knew it was just a mere play, I would like for that man to never get to know the story that was behind the Black Witch. Those were my genuine feelings.
A quiet laughter, as if you were throwing small pebbles into a pond. It was coming from Elizabell’s mouth. She then put her hood back on to hide her face and hair and disappeared from the stage as the lights went out for but a moment. Then, the adult Elizabell was back on the stage, wearing the same kind of hooded robe.
It was a spectacular stage device to use, but no one around the audience was applauding or commanding them for that. Instead, the eyes of everyone present were focused solely on Elizabell, whose laughter was becoming more and more hysterical.
「AhahahaHAHA!!! I see! So it was me! I was the most stupid person out of them all!」
Then the curtain fell onto the stage and the troupe master emerged onto the stage once more, shaking his head in sadness.
「After that incident, the boy stopped visiting Elizabell’s house. The islanders would no longer get close to the part of the forest where Elizabell would live. Some time after that event, a certain incident would occur at Nibbiellata Isle. An unknown disease began to spread throughout the Isles. The rumor began to spread that it was the curse of the witch and that in order to save the Isles and their inhabitants, there was no other way but to kill the witch once and for all. There was only one person who disagreed with all the rest. The boy. That particular boy. He decided to visit Elizabell’s house one last time, dragging his sickly body with utmost hardship.」
The curtain rises again, presenting adult Elizabell and the sickly boy in front of Elizabell’s hut. Elizabell was looking down at the boy with an ice-cold stare, the coldest one yet presented since the start of the performance.
「Why did you drag yourself here? I don’t want to see your ugly face. Be gone.」
The actress playing Elizabell shows him a cold stare and an expression full of hatred and disdain, something that requires a lot of acting skill to actually pull off as natural…… I knew it was just an act, but the boy looked as though he was about to cry.
「I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry, Elizabell! I apologize, so please help the islanders! If you don’t do something about this disease, everyone on the Isles will die!」
The boy’s hand grabbed onto Elizabell’s robe. But she just shook it off with visible disgust.
「Could you give me some of the herbs you gave me the first time I came here……?」
「Are you being serious right now?」
Elizabell smiled in a cruel way while looking at the boy. Then, she started to tremble with hysterical and maniacal laughter, unlike anything I have ever heard before.
「Are you so dense that you didn’t realize it? It was me who sent that plague upon you! Fufu, it was me all along! My name is Elizabell, a Black Witch that brings about the disasters!」
「No, that’s impossible! Elizabell would never do that! The Elizabell I know wouldn’t do such a thing! It’s just weird……!!!」
「Oh, that’s awfully rich coming from someone like you. Someone who called me a monsters so eagerly.」
Elizabell keeps on laughing maniacally. But even so, her expression was brilliant and magnificent, making it so that everyone in the audience couldn’t take their eyes off of her. I was amongst those people.
「Can you really blame me? That I could no longer hold back my anger and my hatred? Everyone hates me whenever I go. So why shouldn’t I retaliate and fight back with the vapors of disease that kills everyone indiscreetly!?」
The boy shouted as though he was about to cry. Then he took a small knife out of his pocket and jumped at Elizabell with it, trying to stab her in the chest. The ladies throughout the audience shriek upon seeing that. I continued to look upon the stage as if in some kind of a trance. The boy managed to sink the knife into Elizabell’s chest, and she falls onto the ground while still laughing. Now it was the boy who was looking down on her, tears dripping down his cheeks.
「I don’t expect you to forgive me, but…… I love you, Elizabell.」
The boy then puts the knife’s blade to his own throat and slits it while the light of magic stones dances around on the blade’s surface. Then the boy falls down alongside Elizabell. The light fades again and the scenery changes from the forest back to the cityscape. We all watched as the islanders were recovering from their illness one after another.
「Speaking of which, where is that boy?」
「You don’t think that he…?」
The islander took their weapons again and marched into the forest. There, they have found the boy’s body laying on top of the tattered robes. They rushed to the boy’s side to see if he was alright, but he was already dead, with a knife still in his hand.
「Oi! He’s head! He’s dead!」
「Fuck! Where did that witch go!?」
「She’s nowhere to be found! Could this child……?」
「Yes, yes, I see…… He saved us. He saved us all.」
The islanders finally gather around the boy, tears dripping down their cheeks. At that point in time the troupe master came to the center of the stage yet again, beginning to speak.
「Thus the Witch was slain and the Isle was saved by the boy’s noble sacrifice. What a terrifying and horrible thing it was, the Black Witch……」
–––– I have reached my limit.
Although I knew it was a clear violation of manners, I stood up without hearing the troupe master all the way until the end. I left the theatre while other people were whispering to one another, clearly annoyed by my behavior. I sit on the bench right in front of the theatre.
The sky here was clear and beautiful. On the other hand, my heart was filled with dark clouds. I was glad that I was covering my face with a parasol, so no one would see my face right now. Ahh, I would like to stay just like that here, not having to move away from here at all.
I could hear the voice that could only belong to a young boy. I raised my head to look around me to locate the source of the voice. Oh my, it seems that I forgot about that child completely.
When I said his name I could see Juri-kun rushing to my side, looking clearly concerned.
「You left so suddenly, big sister, I thought that you might have felt bad or something……」
When he said that to me I was so surprised that for a moment or two I just stood there. Looking very confused while looking at his face.
「Big sister, is everything alright? You look as though you are about to cry.」
「I, do I really look like that?」
「I-I see. It might really be like that.」
I don’t understand it all that well myself, but it must have been exactly like the boy was telling me. I don’t want to cry here. Not in front of Juri-kun, when he was so concerned about me like this. However, I didn’t know what to say to him. I wanted to say something to him, but I just couldn’t find the right words to do so. “Is this sadness? Or maybe loneliness? Or maybe even regret?” It was all wrong, but at the same it all felt right for some twisted reason.
「Big sister, are you really sure that you’re alright?」
「Yes, I’m alright. It’s nothing, really.」
I said that, but the truth is that it was a lie. And that lie was so obvious to me that others would surely be able to tell that as well. In fact, Juri-kun kept on staring at me as if he was still concerned, to which I just repeated the line that I was “alright”.
For some reason, the people of this island suddenly started to seem scary to me. It was totally unreasonable, but it was the truth. I know that it was just a play based on a local legend, but still, every legend has some elements of truth in it, the ones that are based on real history. It was the same here.
If an unknown illness appeared on this Isle again, it would be a matter of life and death to the locals, since their whole economy relied so heavily upon tourism. And if there was a danger of the illness spreading outside of the Isle, they would surely become isolated from the outside world.
That is why the Black Witch is always going to be feared, as someone who might bring the illness back to the Isles. Thinking about it, the islanders must have been more afraid of the Black Witch here than the people at the capital city were afraid of the return of the Demon Lord. I also understood why the people here would revere the young boy as their hero who killed the Witch and brought peace back to the Isles. It is just a story. A legend from the past. I am an adult so I should clearly know the distinction between reality and fiction. The only thing that I couldn’t get rid of is that sense of pity towards Elizabell, whose hair was the same color as that man’s. My heart felt oddly heavy right now. I wonder? Would this story go completely different if the relationship the boy had with Elizabell was different?
It is kind of amazing that a story from almost three hundred years ago got preserved in such great detail. It was all that man’s fault I was feeling like that in the first place. I loved him so much that he was on my mind even if he wasn’t here in the flesh right now.
Raising my face, I can see Juri-kun looking at me with concern in his eyes. His eyes were deep blue, the most common eye color here on the Isles. Staring right at me, he was unable to take his eyes off of me.
「…… Juri-kun? Is there something on my face?」
While I cocked my head Juri-kun laughed cheerfully, becoming bright and cheerful again in contrast to his previously serious expression.
「Not really? It is nothing. But more importantly, what would you like to do now? We can’t really enter the theatre again, and we are starting to get a little short on time.」
「I’m sorry for that, especially after you managed to get us such nice seats. How about we eat some lunch now? Will you take me to some restaurant with delicious food again?」
「Roger that! Today I would like to introduce you to the Isle’s specialty, so let’s go! The restaurant is just a little bit further down the main road.」
As Juri-kun declares that with pride, I stand up from the bench and smile at him. I can’t stay depressed like this here, it will ruin my vacation. So let’s get back to enjoying ourselves. It was really nice to get to know the Isle’s legend, and I would be lying if I said that the play itself wasn’t stunning. I was really grateful to Juri-kun for inviting me.
I hide under my parasol again and begin to walk together with Juri-kun. Then we got into the carriage and began riding down the road, which was getting slowly illuminated by the countless lights of the magical gems.