62. Escaping the Shadows
The city of Filas Fila was originally designed to serve as a castle with a fortified city. Therefore, although it is organized by districts and utilizes the concept of sections, its layout is complicated. At first glance, it could be judged as an organized city. In truth, it is a labyrinth of alleyways and dead ends. Invading it is anything but simple without a firm grasp to how it is arranged. Ancient traps, alleyways that end with and without houses, aqueducts, and a countless number of hazards remain.
The city’s troublesome layout frustrates not just visiting humans, but also those living within all the same. It is surrounded by towering ramparts with gates at the north and south. Furthermore, not only are strict limitations are in place in regards to entering and leaving at night, military police are stationed at each section. It can be called a prison if looked at from a different perspective.
Such is how it is for her who was forced into an unending escape.
—Just how long has passed since, I first wore this black robe over my head, to conceal myself from the residents of the imperial capital?
Due to the circulation of the suspect’s wanted poster, Liliana has been continuing to run day and night through Filas Fila without reprieve anywhere. Her inability to properly rest has lead to her passing each day worrying about how much of her magical power remains.
The city’s maze like layout requires her to select each alleyway she takes with careful consideration. Furthermore, she cannot carelessly use the main road. Not only are the military police and a segment of the military mobilized, all of the city’s residents are speaking about her. Everyone is vigilant.
Throughout the streets, her ears can clearly hear everyone condemning her with phrases like, “The human weapon is responsible for the comas,” “She’s at large within the imperial capital,” and “She might be rampaging within the city.” She hears those words everywhere she goes.
Furthermore, as her characteristics are well known, she can’t even hide herself using just that robe.
Liliana reflects as she looks up at the clouds drifting across the sky. She attacked the aristocrats aiming to overthrow Rouge, battled against Suimei Yakagi, and on that night, abided by the words spoken by the taller shadow.
A thought floats across her mind.
…was doing that, really the right choice? Because of my fear of being caught, and my concern of not accomplishing my goal, I shook away Suimei Yakagi’s gentle hand and ran away.
I absolutely had a reason to do what I did. For the sake of my important person, to remove what threatened him. Except, if I confessed that I committed a crime there, abandoned dark magic, if I could have made friends with him, maybe I could have returned to the proper path.
That night, the person trying to free me from this path, asked me if I was fine with, continuing to use dark magic. Even though we didn’t exchange many words, he reached out to the me who was always rejected, and I struck him with dark magic. Thinking about it, hasn’t there never been anyone like that until now? Even when the power of darkness ran out of control, he saved me without consideration to his own body, and smiled in relief.
That, might have been the last time. I might not receive, anymore kindness from now on.
She doesn’t know why she spoke his name. Yet by doing so, perhaps I truly do, wish for him to come.
She regrets that her desire came too late. Regardless, please, one more time—
—fight, Liliana. Through that, you are needed.
The accusations of the tall shadow torment her heart. One day, he began to tell her, “Fight,” “Only by doing so will you have a place to belong,” “No one needs you,” “Only by hurting others does your life have meaning,” and “Be powerful.”
She can’t shake away that voice. While leaning against the stone wall of a building, she crouches down and eventually regains control of her shaking heart. Soon after, both the yearning and wrenching pain within her chest vanish.
“I, for the… Colonel’s, sake.”
“You have to fight.” As only she has the power of darkness, no one else can do as the shadow says.
That’s right. I’ve been, unwanted ever since I was born. It wasn’t just the people of the village I lived in, but also my father and mother too, who would look at me with disgust.
And that, stayed the same when I came to the imperial capital. When I walk down the street, I’m stared at with hatred.
So, he too, Suimei Yakagi undoubtably does too. When I lost control, I threw back the hand he reached out. Afterall, he’s, working to, capture the culprit behind the coma incidents. Therefore, I’ve no choice but to fight. To protect Rouge, my most precious person.
……The tall shadow, still hasn’t contacted me. After telling me to run, not once have I been reached out to. Have I been discarded?
Such a concern flashes across Liliana’s mind. Regardless, while it may be the case, I can’t stop here.
Liliana’s shoulder jolts while she’s immersed within such thoughts.
It is an alarm developed by her body out of her fear towards other people. There is a presence behind her. Not good, I’ll be found. She hurries to hide her body.
After a while, neither is a voice directed towards her nor is there a presence. I wasn’t discovered?
Liliana hesitantly pokes out her head to take a look. She sees neither the military police nor military personnel.
“Otou-san, okaa-san, hurry up~!”
Reflected within her eyes is a happy family of three out on a walk. She sees a father, a mother, and a very young boy. The father hurries towards the boy at his urgings. He takes his hand as he passes him, saying, “All right, all right.”
The mother watches them with a warm gaze as she says, “That’s dangerous. Pay attention to where you’re going.”
Smiles are spread across their faces. Despite the crisis within the imperial capital, they all wear pleasant smiles.
—Yuusha-sama’s parade will start soon. Where should we go today? There’s a performance on the main street. Such can be heard.
“Nee, nee, otou-san, I want to eat candy.”
“Didn’t you just eat not too long ago…?”
“I want to eat—”
“Hey, don’t talk selfishly like that.”
“Looks like there’s no choice. Let’s see what we can find along the road.”
Delight spreads across the boy’s face at his father’s words. He throws up his hands as high as he can saying, “Hurray!” The mother sighs out as she watches, but not once does her expression twist with displeasure.
Liliana finds herself running away. That’s how it should be. The me right, now is too different from them. She couldn’t endure being there any longer.
The heartwarming voices of the family chase after her and stir her heart
She wants to leave that place as fast as she can. If she doesn’t, the sight of that normal family will evoke something dark that’s been building within her.
Liliana runs away with all her might, only to find herself out on the main road. Despite her precautions, she became careless. However, she is able to regain peace within her heart.
She breathes out in relief. That family, is no longer here. The bright voice of the boy, the joyous voice of the father who was touched by it, and the gentle laughter of the mother as she watched over them. She cannot hear them over the various footsteps of the crowd.
Peace has returned to Liliana’s heart, but it doesn’t last long.
“—Hey, the block robe over there.”
She turns towards the harsh voice to find a group of military police.
…I’ve been found.
As she groans out in her heart, the commanding officer of that unit steps towards her.
“The city is currently in high alert. Your physical stature resembles a person of concern. Remove your hood.”
“What’s wrong? Are you refusing? …Hold it!”
The military police approach Liliana at her refusal to obey and she steps back. The commanding officer interprets her action as fleeing and issues an order.
“Seize this person!!”
A magic whistle rings out in sync with those words. Not long later, patrolling military police soldiers can be heard gathering onto the road from here and there. They will surround, the area in moments.
The surrounding crowd of people begin to clamor as the military police corral the area and remove the on lookers.
The military police hesitate to approach her out of caution against magical retaliation. Yet regardless of how long they wait, no magic is used against them. They thus brandish their batons and spring forward.
Liliana avoids them with light footwork. I need to be careful with my spells. Little magic power remains, I can’t be wasteful. Still, my options will be limited, if I continue like this, and I’ll make a mistake.
Impatience heats up from within Liliana’s body. This is bad.
Due to being distracted by such thoughts, a military police soldier hits her with a swing of his baton.
She leaps back and her hood slides off her head. The military police gasp upon seeing her exposed face.
As the commanding officer makes that claim, a commotion stirs as people outside of the military police enclosure see Liliana between the gaps. Fearful voices such as, “Hey, isn’t that the culprit…?”, “That’s the human weapon…”, and “The criminal behind all those incidents…” can be heard. Even the surrounding military police soldiers stare at her as though she’s something like a mazoku or a mamono.
Regardless of where Liliana looks, eyes are staring at her.
……Why does everyone always look at me like that? With those eyes full of disgust? Even though I never did anything. Even though I don’t even like this power I was born with. Even though I never wished for anyone to suffer.
The complexions of all the surrounding people do an about face at that frightened cry. What happened? They’re all terrified. As she wonders that transformation, the answer leaks out from the surroundings.
“What is that, her eye…”
“Mo-Monster! The eye of a monster!”
Screams rings out. It’s then that Liliana notices the eye patch which covered her right eye has fallen to the ground.
The impact from that baton, must have snapped the string. Because of that, the transformation brought to her eye by the power of darkness has been exposed.
She reflexively looks around. Everyone who sees her eye is shocked and frightened.
—Just like back then, the same sea of terrified eyes, as those villagers who shunned me in fear for being a calamity. Those same black eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes— —
From the depths of Liliana’s chest, traumatic memories long pushed into the depths of the past overflow. They’re memories of a time she never again wanted to remember, of the malice from a time she was unilaterally declared to be the source of all human misery.
“Don’t let her escape!”
Liliana is running. Sharp voices call out to her from behind. Countless footsteps chase after her. Due to her right eye being exposed to the public, she’s able to get past the fence and cut through the crowd of people. Without stopping, she plunges into an ally and runs as hard as she can.
She doesn’t even know how she escaped them. She ran through the alleyways until she couldn’t run anymore and is now catching her breath.
……I’ve lost them? No, someone is still, here……
There is a presence behind her. Has someone from the military police caught up to me? Yet, contrary to her expectations, the presence is faint. Such skillful technique isn’t possessed by the military police.
Liliana turns around. A black silhouette spreads across the shadow of a building. It creeps forward and makes its way out of the shadow to reveal itself.
“— —So you’re here, Liliana?”
Rouge Zandyke, Liliana’s adoptive father and superior. Her chest grows hot at his appearance. Did he, come searching for me when I didn’t return home?
Then, why, did he draw his sword?
“Liliana, have you resolved yourself?”
What does he mean? I don’t understand.
“Please, wait. Resolved… what do, you mean?”
For what? Just what sort of resolution, is needed to be welcomed home? Even though he came to assist me, why is his expression so tense? Liliana asks a question, then a second, but no answer comes forth. Instead, his cold firm footsteps draw closer.
“Colon… el… what…”
“It’s already been decided. I will, I’ve accepted responsibility. For your crimes, I will punish you.”
“That’s… Colonel, that’s…”
Liliana wants to ask, “Why?” Even though her deeds were wicked, all of her efforts were for the sake of protecting the man before her eyes, Rouge. Yet despite that, why do I have to receive punishment?
“Colonel! I acted, for the Colonel’s sake!”
“I do not want to hear your excuses. If you too are a member of the Empire’s military personnel, be aware of your responsibilities.”
“N-no… that’s… Colonel…”
The drawn sword moves closer to Liliana as she steps back. Its tip swings down at her.
I’m going to be killed?
As the thought flashes across her mind, her body moves on its own.
—I don’t want to die.
That attachment to life pushes her body to act. By the time she realizes what’s happening, she has already avoided Rouge’s sword.
She turns at Rouge’s muttering of her name, but she is unable make out his expression from the shadows. No, I don’t want to see it. If she were to also see disgust on his face, her heart would shatter.
Rouge’s collected movement appears slow to Liliana’s eyes. However, the light reflecting off his sword flashes. Afterwards, the tip thrusts forward.
…Just like this, I’ll be killed? By the man, I call Colonel, who I love as a father? By my most important, person in this world?
Rouge’s thrust pierces the wall right beside Liliana. In that gap that can’t be considered a gap, she once again begins running.
T/N: Here’s another chapter, yay??