【Prologue: Reminiscence, Part 2】
I managed to stop myself just in time.
A thought occurred to me that maybe he is aware of my gaze, and that is why he is acting in such a mundane way. If that is indeed the case, then the moment I reveal even the slightest bit of killing intent towards him he is going to notice it and our position will be compromised.
I think it is still too early for us to meet in person. I need more time to determine exactly what kind of person he is and what kinds of judgements will he make. As long as I can’t predict his actions and attitude, I absolutely cannot allow him to go anywhere near Kaguya, and not just because she is a Lord, oh no. It’s because her body and her current personality are both too attractive for her own good, drawing the all too obvious male gazes towards her. If someone like Sakuradamon Jiro, a trained killer, tried to get close to her with that particular goal in mind, then I’m afraid I’d have to off him then and there. If possible, I’d like to avoid such a scenario at all costs, but I guess it’s not for me to decide, is there?
Unfortunately for me though, I have little practical expertise in knowing what the members of the opposite sex think, and all the knowledge that I do happen to possess comes from the books I’ve read and the internet. Therefore the only reliable information I have on him is that his name is Sakuradamon Jiro, he is the same age as Kaguya and me and that he was brought up as an assassin by the 「Legendary Knight」 herself, only to be abandoned by her and entrusted into his younger sister’s care. Oh, and also he apparently has his family’s secret technique sealed up in his right arm. Not really much to go with, but it’s better than nothing I guess. And it was all passed down to be by Sakuradamon Jiro’s mother, the 「Legendary Knight」, Sakuradamon Yuuto herself. She also told me that she used every means she had on her disposal to turn him into the best hitman who ever lived, so he could become Kaguya’s strongest shield.
I also heard that his mother sealed his emotions so that they wouldn’t get in the way of his training with her. If that was really the case, then it was an amazing feat to achieve, even for someone who has achieved the status of a legend. There is no such thing as a human being without emotions, they are an imperative part of who we are, what makes us truly 「human」, even someone like me who learned to keep them in check throughout the course of an extensive and grueling training. So for someone to be able to actually block them completely, it is an achievement that requires some pretty high-level hypnotic or mind-controlling abilities. And as for the result of such mind-control… it would probably be best to say that whoever has his or her emotions sealed up in such a way would become a ruthless but methodical living machine, incapable of feeling any of what we call 「higher feelings」 but at the same time being able to deliver the most neutral and level-headed of judgements, based on nothing more than pure logic and calculative processing of every information obtained. I could certainly see why someone like that could be useful to Kaguya: the most loyal of servants, following his master’s every command without being bothered by any needless distractions like the reasoning behind said orders or their moral consequences. The perfect bodyguard indeed.
However, there was one matter which wouldn’t stop bugging me no matter how hard I tried not to think about it. Mainly: what does it mean to have no emotions, exactly?
Let’s take Sakuradamon Jiro here for an example. Right now he looks like a simple, peaceful, easygoing high school boy, most probably the result of his sister, Sakuradamon Aika’s hard-working attempts to turn him from a machine into a respectful member of society. People often say that I am 「completely emotionless」 but the truth is that I am simply 「not used to expressing myself」, which is fundamentally different from 「not having emotions at all」 or 「not showing them on purpose」. If I were to get closer to him and got to know him more, I wonder if I’d discover what it means to be truly emotionless?
… Now that I think about it, what if his emotions are really gone, and the things he perceives as emotions are only pre-programmed notions and responses he learned throughout the course of his sister’s 「education」? That would certainly be interesting.
Or maybe he hasn’t lost his emotions at all. Even though he was exposed to Yuuto-san’s training from a very young age, even though his own mother scarred him in a way that no parent should ever scar his child, maybe he still somehow managed to retain that which she tried to take away from him? So many questions, so many possibilities, so many mysteries around him that are just waiting to be unveiled…
No matter how hard I tried to think of the most probable explanation to this fascinating problem I wasn’t able to find one, but I realized that I have started to think about Sakuradamon Jiro himself more and more. How strange, this is the first time when I thin so much about people other than myself of Kaguya.
Just what kind of person is he? What he considers to be important to him? How is he going to go on with his life when his very existence has been fundamentally flawed since its very beginning?
「……stop it, you idiot.」
I chided myself as I pinched my own arm to snap myself back to reality.
You mustn’t be so interested in other people, Shiki. You mustn’t allow yourself to become distracted. If I end up getting too involved with him, there is always the possibility that Yuuto-san might take him back and tighten her grasp around him, all for the sake of keeping him in his emotionless state. After all, a tool that cannot fulfill its purpose has no right to exist. It’s sad, but this is the kind of world we live in.
So I have to keep my emotions dull and my fingers steady, so that when the time comes I’ll be able to tighten my threads around his neck without faltering.
For my own sake, I… no, 「I」…
「I 」 can’t allow myself to lose control over my desires.
「It looks like I’ll have to investigate him more thoroughly than I thought.」
Telling myself that, I decided to continue to observe him. But the thing is…
Perhaps I, Yatono Shiki, have already developed an interest in the boy named Sakuradamon Jiro that went way beyond the bounds of the mission placed upon me by my family at that time.