Chapter 310: The Dead Snow Butterfly
The letter of Saint Matia of the Heraldic Order began with that one sentence. Ann opened her small lips as she read the letter in a familiar tone.
After all, she must have been trained to do that. The beautiful phrases spelled out in the letter sounded very estranged, but when Ann spoke in her usual tone, those phrases became quite easy to get into my ears.
Lying on the bed, I listened to the end of that letter, which stretched over two sheets of parchment. Then, I lightly chew those contents in my head. In short, what she wanted to say was…
「…In short. Saint Matia’s message says you are to return to Garoua Maria as soon as your wounds heal. Lord Hero.」
Ann put a wry smile on her cheeks and narrowed her eyes. It felt embarrassing.
Continuing her words, Ann implied that I seemed to look the same as before. While slightly raising the corners of my mouth, I shrugged my shoulders. The fabric of the bed rippled.
「You’re not the one carrying the pain on your shoulders, Ann. Hey, I’ve had a steel blade deeply stuck in my body, you know. Tell Matia to give me a little more rest. It’s no exaggeration.」
I spoke while lying down with my body wrapped in bandages. I only twisted my body slightly to one side, but it hurt so much that felt like needles were going through my bones. Somehow, a sharp pain was welling up from around the bone marrow.
It was obvious. I received the white sword of the hero Helot Stanley with my own flesh. My life almost extinguished because of that wound. In fact, it was almost a miracle that my heart was still beating here and now.
At that time, on that spot, I killed him, and then he killed me. I certainly felt that way.
Life was not something that would let one meet the end in a good way. Yet, under those circumstances, I thought it would have been a refreshing ending for me.
No, I distorted my lips. Certainly, I reached the longing of my past life with these fingers. But that didn’t mean I had settled all of it in this life.
Behind my eyelids, the image of my once childhood friend was reflected. That golden figure vanished as the Great Temple of Flimslat shattered into pieces.
「Yes, if something were to happen to Lord Lugis, it would be a loss for both of us. Please don’t overdo it, but I look forward to your early return.」
“Lord Wood and Lady Sereal are also lonely without your presence”, said Ann, wrapping the parchment with her fingers and placing it on the bedside.
No, I wouldn’t read it even if it was left beside me. Besides, things like parchments were unfamiliar to me and difficult to handle. Throwing it away would not be a problem.
Suddenly, I felt my expression becoming stiff. Ann had a smile on her face that almost seemed to grin without her noticing it.
Was she always this relaxed? She was watching me suffer with a joyous face and I wasn’t happy about it. Ann narrowed her eyes when she frowned lightly while saying the following words.
「I apologize. However, it is true that I am glad that everyone is safe. Lord Hero. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that the Great Temple of Flimslat had been destroyed.」
While hiding her mouth with her hand, Ann still showed a joyful color in her eyes while saying those words.
I heard Ann’s words and nodded in agreement. Naturally. Even I, who had seen it directly, still couldn’t swallow that spectacle. How could you easily accept what you had just heard with your ears?
I still didn’t fully understand what happened that day. What I did know was that Caria used her dark scarlet sword…a giant’s supernatural ability…to push Altius back. That’s all I knew.
That’s how the temple collapsed in the snowy mountains, and when I woke up, I was lying in a bedroom of the Lord’s mansion in the autonomous city of Philos.
I noticed that my body was full of unremembered scratches, so I must have been wounded by rocks and branches while running down the mountain without realizing it. It seemed that I didn’t even have the luxury of being conscious of such a thing.
And it wasn’t just me, it was the same for Caria, Filaret and Eldith.
It was no exaggeration to say that everyone was covered with wounds. I heard from a garrisoned soldier that no one had woken up for at least a few days in the city of Philos. Even now, everyone must be resting still.
Right now, only us and the bare minimum of Heraldic soldiers remained in this autonomous city, no, in the puppet city of Philos.
Matia, the Saint of the Heraldic Order, had to return to her home base, Garoua Maria, and Bruder and Vestaline accompanied her for Bruder’s continued treatment. The elves of Ghazalia, had no choice but to return home before the arrival of the full-scale dead snow.
Perhaps, because of that, the city of Philos had become quite quiet. It was as if dead snow swallowed the sound and erased it.
It was an unpleasant silence. I couldn’t seem to like this thing called silence now. Silence was like a disgusting claw that opened the lid of one’s thoughts one after another and made people harbor unnecessary delusions.
The longing that burned my heart and kept chasing it, I tried desperately to put it in my hands. I couldn’t take my childhood friend’s hand that I’ve been wanting since the past.
All kinds of emotions that could not be expressed in words mixed in my heart and caressed my viscera. It was like a ritual that could go on and on as long as silence lasted.
Therefore, and to be honest, I welcomed Ann as a messenger. At least, I didn’t get bored while talking to her. It allowed me to avoid thinking about strange things.
Anyway, I seemed to be quite notorious in this city of Philos, and there was no one who visited my room freely even among the soldiers of the Heraldic Order.
In the meantime, there were only a few people who knocked on the door of my room. Last time, they told me that Caria, Filaret and Eldith were still recovering.
The chat with Ann came to an end. At that time, the door of the room rang strongly. That way of producing sound felt meticulous.
It looked like someone had been waiting for a reply before entering the room. The wooden door creaked, and I welcomed the visitor.
「I’m coming in. It’s time to change your bandages, Lugis Vrilligant… 」
The one who showed up was a woman whose white eye was reflected in her monocle…the ruler of the autonomous city of Philos, Philos Trait.
For a while after the Roseau incident, she had let go of her consciousness. But now she seemed to have recovered enough to go out. On the other hand, she couldn’t immediately sit in the same chair as ruler. Her citizens were still in a precarious condition, and she herself had not healed enough to bear such anxieties as ruler.
That’s why she occasionally lent her knowledge as a ruler to the Heraldic Order, but like me, she put herself in the Lord’s mansion under the pretext of recovery. Of course, it was also meant as a surveillance under the influence of the Heraldic Order.
In any case, she was one of the few people I could talk to right now when I had a lot of silence and time to spare.
She probably didn’t know Ann was visiting me. The moment she entered my room, I saw that her white eye had moved greatly. At the same time, Ann turned around and paused for a moment.
A strange silence flowed between the three of us, including myself.
「Too bad. It would’ve been nicer if you brought me a bottle of wine. 」
The silence that was somehow born was uncomfortable, so I spoke lightly. I prayed the air that had become a little hardened would loosen up a bit.
However, despite my wishes, Ann and Philos Trait kept their lips shut and remained silent. I could see that the white eye stared at me for a moment. There was an indescribably resentful color floating inside.
No, what was that? What the hell did I do?
Leaving my perplexity behind, Philos moved her eyes to Ann with an annoyingly slow delay and said the following.
「…No, it’s nothing. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s not like that. 」
It was a voice that showed quite complex emotions.
「…Whether you want it or not, it’s true that I was able to save his life. Then, you shouldn’t show your gratitude with that kind of attitude.」
While brushing her hair, Philos Trait continued her words. She sat next to Ann on the sofa, and she looked very uncomfortable.
Philos Trait was a stubborn and sincere person. Perhaps, she helped me because of what happened with Roseau back then.
In response to Philos Trait’s words, Ann nodded lightly, looked at me, and opened her mouth.
「I won’t put my nose into what’s going on, but I think you should be a little more restrained, Lord Hero.」
It seemed that I needed to talk to Ann about what those words meant. Before the story became like a tangled thread.
Involuntarily, I let out a large sigh from the depths of my viscera. However, it was both a sigh and a smile at the same time.
In any case, I had the first raucous noise in a long time. Even so, compared to silence, this was much better. I had some thoughts about it, but it was much better than just being driven mad by anguish.
I spoke a few words with Ann, and then exchanged words with Philos Trait. After all, Philos Trait’s expression remained somewhat stiff. Well, it was natural since Ann made it that way after saying some ridiculous words.
I tried to lean over despite the pain, trying to somehow pick the bottle that had been left on my bedside.
Suddenly, the window appeared in my vision.
Beyond the window, the dead snow that still absorbed the sound still fell brilliantly, and the world was painted in white. It was as if the snow was trying to turn the world, and both humans and elves alike, into nothing.
It was a color I had seen somewhere.
Then, during the dead snow, I saw something that resembled a white butterfly. I opened my eyes wide.
It swayed as if blinking through the snow, and at some point, it disappeared into the white scenery. But it was not snow itself.
The sound of my throat swallowing saliva rang loudly in my ears. The nerves of my body were exposed, and it felt like my consciousness was reacting to even the slightest movement of the cold air.
I stared deeply at snowy scenery. I looked out the window again as if to suppress my whole body that groaned. I could no longer see the butterfly. However, what I saw earlier was certainly a foreign object that I had seen before.
…It was the figure of a dead snow butterfly that once appeared in front of people as if to announce the arrival of a great disaster.
My brain was telling me. My sure intuition beat my heart. The catastrophe that once ravaged all human species was now here.
Oh my, it rather sounds ominous…don’t you agree? I even got chicken skin…
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!