【Episode of the End: … and her birthday, Part 2】
「*Sigh* I believe I have told you this last time we saw each other, but an idiot like you has no right to be calling himself my son.」
Mother insulted me out of the blue. She did say something like that after I met her in the dreamworld after I used 『Code Calvariae』 and lost my soul, for which I had to apologize to her, and even then all that I got was a litany of insults.
Putting that aside, she confirmed it with her own words just now.
My mother is the 「Legendary Knight」.
To be honest, right until now I had my doubts. I thought that such an amazing existence on a level where even Fujisato and Kuhoh couldn’t do anything against it simply cannot be real. But now that we’re talking about mother, then that’s an entirely different story. My mother is a being who cannot be comprehended or categorized by any normal means. She’s in a league of her own in pretty much everything, not only being an assassin. Even her appearance didn’t change much ever since I was little. That is who my mother, Sakuradamon Yuuto is. A monster above all monsters.
And the issue of the 「Legendary Knight」 being a woman? That’s easy. Without knowing who he actually was, we referred to him as 「he」 simply because 「Knight」 is a masculine noun. No one said that a woman cannot be called a knight, so that blunder is entirely on us, but that is not what’s important right now!
「Mother? But… if you’re here, then that means Aika…?」
「Safely locked away at the old fucker’s place while he’s out travelling.」
By the 「old fucker」 mother must have meant her father and our grandfather, who raised Aika while mother was making a killing machine out of me. To say that the two of them were not on friendly terms would be an understatement of the year, or at least that’s what I’ve heard.
「Is she safe?」
「Of course. You don’t have to make such oh-so-scary face, no harm came and will not come to her, I can promise you that much. And even is she was not safe, I’m sure she would have dealt with any danger that would come her way. She’s a child whom I carried under my heart and gave birth to after all, I would not expect anything less of her. And if she failed my expectations? That would simply mean that she wasn’t worth the trouble of giving birth to her, that’s all there is to it. Same goes for you, by the way.」
「How can you say something so cruel about your own children?!」
「Cruel as it may be, that’s just how it is, nothing more, nothing less. Just my honest opinion.」
How can she say something like that with a straight face?! I wanted to say something against it, but I’m afraid that as I am now she probably won’t listen to a word I say, so I can stop wasting my breath.
「Feel free to say something if you want, Jiro. Not that it’s going to change such insignificant details, but at least you might be able to save your pride as a man. Being a gentleman never suited you anyway.」
Knowing that my own mother thought of familial ties as nothing more but insignificant details was a strange, hollow feeling.
Putting that aside for now, the fact that my mother is here must mean only one thing.
「Shiinamachi-senpai, don’t tell me that you’re…」
I raised my head to finally face senpai.
Her appearance did not change at all, but the atmosphere around her was definitely different.
「As a reward for protecting me thus far, just for a little bit more… no. Until the time for us to say goodbye to each other will come, I promise to remain your beloved 「Shiinamachi-senpai」.」
My ears heard her correctly, but my brain refused to accept the information it has received as truth. All I could to was to shift my way to the side in question.
The tone of her voice changed. Now it was lower and eerily calm instead of the cheerful and soft one I used to think I knew.
「Don’t worry Jiro-kun. I always knew how you looked at me, so you don’t have to hide it anymore.」
Various images of senpai flashed before my eyes. Her smile, her happiness, her sadness, lovely smile, gentle eyes, cheerful tone, embarrassment when she was teased…
… all of the things that made her 「her」 in my mind were now being repainted, as if someone had spilled black paint on a pure-white canvas.
「So you have regained your memories, senpai.」
「Yes. I am Princess Kaguya, the Lord Above All Lords. You have my eternal gratitude for being my shield until I was able to regain my memories, Sakuradamon Jiro.」
Senpai… no, this Princess Kaguya might have the same face as senpai, but I refuse to acknowledge that they are one and the same. Nothing about her is the same as the senpai whom I love and want to protect!
There is nothing… left of her. Not a trace of my kind, shy, slightly clumsy but gentle senpai remained.
The reality of her situation hits me like a War Hammer to the gut, and my eyes get blurred by hot tears that don’t want to stop flowing once they start.
「Now I understand. It seems that you liked my temporal personality, your 「Shiinamachi-senpai」 very much. It might not mean much now, but I am truly sorry for taking her away from you.」
Seeing my face distorted with sadness, Princess Kaguya narrows her eyes.
That’s right, the feeling of loss I am experiencing right now is more painful and brutal than any physical wound that has been inflicted upon me up until now.
I just.. it’s not fair! It’s not fair that I won’t be able to see her anymore!
I don’t want to part my ways with her! Not like this! I wasn’t even able to hear her last words! I should have talked with her more! I wanted to get to know her better!
I should have cherished her more!
If only I knew today will be the last day we get to spend together, I would have made sure to be with her more!
Those bitter, painful emotions I feel right now are only growing stronger, They are rampaging within me so much that I fear they are going to tear me apart!
She’s gone! Her kind, gentle heart is no more! But she looks just the same as she always did, and that is what hurts the most!
I try to shift my glasses in an attempt to stop the tears from flowing, but it’s not working. Huh? W-What is going on? This is the first time I have experienced emotions so strong that they haven’t subsided after I used my glasses.
The owner of that familiar voice stood at my mother’s other side. The tears in my eyes made it hard to see, but I had no doubt that it belonged to the one who had killed me.
And when I looked, then sure enough, Shiki was standing there.
I looked at her while wiping my tears away. Even though she had her usual expressionless expression, but her eyes were still a little red and she looked like she was about to cry again. Or maybe that was just my imagination wanting to sympathize with her?
「Why are you going along with this, Shiki? Isn’t Shiinamachi-senpai important to you as well?!」
「She is. But I am Kaguya’s Knight first and her friend second.」
She said that without a moment of hesitation. Come to think of it, she did call senpai 「Kaguya」 ever since the first time I’ve met her. So she wasn’t doing that because of how close the two of them were.
It meant that she is a Knight of this Kaguya, not Shiinamachi-senpai! And if that’s the case…
「Answer me this, Shiki. Why… why did you recommend me to be another one of senpai’s Knights?!」
She was the one who informed Shiinamachi-senpai about me, so she must have had a reason to do so. And supposedly she was observing me from the day I first transferred to this school. I wonder why she did something like that?
「Allow me to explain, Jiro.」
In an instant, mother moved from where Shiki stood to my side without me even noticing.
「Every Lord lives a very long life, much longer than the lifespan of a typical human. Even if their bodies do not grow old, their mind and soul is another story entirely. They do grow old, until they will eventually wear out due to the repetitiveness and dullness of life in which 「everything has already been seen and done」, eventually leading to Lord’s losing the willingness to continue on with their stories. Have you ever wondered what happens with a Lord who is not able or does not want to continue her story? If not, then allow me to enlighten you: they become nothing more than mindless monsters consumed by their own Gifts. And hunting them down is the job of one of your acquaintances, the so-called 「Lord Killer」, Fujisato Yuika.」