I said before that this story uses a really weird combination of first and third person. I’ve decided to try and translate it to only first person when I can. There may be times where I have to use the third person, but the weird combination of first and third was triggering me like the English major I am.
Moonlight and Blood Ink
The sun began to fall shortly after crossing the border, and it became dark in the blink of an eye. Travel continued on throughout the night, but the speed of the carriage became moderate before it slowed down to a crawl and what was once a constant rattling became a slight vibration. If you could look outside, the scenery would surely be passing us by at a snail’s pace, but even with the light from the stars and moon, nothing but the inky night was visible outside the windows.
There is still a bit of distance to town however there are no street lights, and we might topple the carriage if we rush. That is why it is best to advance slowly, stop the carriage at a suitable spot, and have the horses and driver rest periodically.
Inside such a carriage everyone is taking turns on watch, and right now I am the only one awake. Occasionally, I look outside the window, and sometimes I talk to myself with some idle chatter. I did not feel like doing anything tonight, so I spent some time gazing at the two who were snoring away.
Alexis is sleeping soundly.
He is holding the curse I drew before he fell asleep firmly in his hand. Perhaps he has faith that it will provide him with a good night’s sleep because he is clutching it to his chest as if it were a chunk of gold.
The prince is sleeping on the basis that it is a spell that I drew, but when he says he cannot figure out what the picture is supposed to be, how can he know what the spell is supposed to do? It is obvious to any normal person what a cute kitty-cat it is, but for an oblivious man like him, I could have drawn a sad kitty-cat and had him suffer all night from my curse if I wanted to.
I looked at the slovenly appearance of Alexis and, “I should have picked a bit of a better pose…,” I muttered to myself.
I wonder why I drew up a kitty-cat with its limbs spread out….
Oh, Alexis’ thin finger is right on the crotch.
For some reason, I feel like the atmosphere was ruined somehow…. No, I myself messed it up. When I initially drew the charm, I had no idea that Alexis would cuddle it like some preschooler holding a stuffed animal. So I drew a cunning and bold kitty-cat, and Percival asked me, “A stable?”
Next to Alexis, Percival was sleeping against the wall with some cushions underneath him.
When he told me to go to sleep first, he said, “I am feeling a little tired, but since you are also probably feeling sleepy from before, I am sure you will sleep through whatever happens.” Because he looked completely serious when he said it, I beat his face in with a cushion, but he looked like he was sleeping peacefully now. Even so, occasionally I will hear a slight rustling, but it seems like the usual wrinkles between is brows are being straightened out as the night has gone on.
“…….They are both sleeping, right?”
Carefully observing the situation of the two men, I quietly removed my left gauntlet.
Tonight there was little moonlight, and the carriage reduced what little light there was to a minimum. Even if either Alexis or Percival woke up, they would not be able to immediately tell what I was doing.
It is impossible to gather one’s bearings in this darkness, such as whether a left hand is visible.
I keep telling myself this with bated breath, and I reach for my pouch that is next to me. It is not parchment that I take out, but rather just some ink and my pen. I realized that I had less ink than I thought, and I would have to replenish it soon. If it was my life in the ancient castle, then I would just postpone it and say that I could just take care of it the next time I had to draw up a spell, but that type of mentality is dangerous when on a journey.
“It would be troublesome if they saw, and those troublesome people would act even more troublesome as a result. Let’s finish this quickly.”
There is no one to hear me, but I still mutter my words out loud while dismantling the pen I love.
Next I took out a small knife that fit nicely in my hands. When I removed it from its sheath, the silver blade would pick up the light even inside the darkest carriage. Although it is small, it is as sharp as would could expect. When cutting through a piece of parchment as a test, it slid through it as if it was cutting air.
I wipe the knife’s blade once with a handkerchief, and then I press it against the forefinger of my left hand just as I did to the parchment.
I pressed the knife’s edge up against my skin, and at the same time, my brows creased underneath my helmet.
Of course it hurts. Every time I get to this point, a cold fever passes, and my chest tightens as if I had just finished a marathon. Even so, I still press down on the blade, and I deal with the pain as my skin and flesh are parted. A red line is drawn, and a ball of blood bubbles out on my finger. A steady line flowed down my finger, and I swapped the knife with my pen before the overflowing blood could spill on to the floor.
I set the tip of the pen against the flow of blood before taking a deep breathe. The bleeding stream began to flow into pen’s tip. If the bloodflow ever started to slow, I pressed down on my finger to allow more to ooze out until my finger went numb, and I switched over to a new finger.
The bubbled up blood at the tip of this finger trembled along with the vibrations coming from the carriage’s movement, but it was still easily sucked up up the pen. In no time at all, after repeating this process over and over again, more than half of my supply had been replenished. By that time, the blood flowing from my finger had slowed by that time, so I quickly wiped my finger off with a handkerchief and stopped the bleeding.
Finally, I shake together the blood and ink to complete the concoction.
And, at the moment that everything was finished, the moon came out from behind a cloud and a shimmer of silver light poured in through the carriage’s window ……… “Monette?” and a small voice came out form the darkness.
When I looked up in surprise, I saw that Alexis had partly raised himself up in his seat, and he was looking at me. His dark brown eyes were wide open with astonishment, and when I noticed his gaze was turned to my still slightly bloody finger, I hurriedly hid my left arm behind my back.
“A-Alexis, you’re up. You know it’s still too early to switch shifts…”
“Well, I was supplementing my ink reserves, but that’s done now……”
I had also shoved my backpack behind my back as well to make it unseen by Alexis.
It is a handicraft that I had woven together myself to be cheap and easy to replace, but I have had it for years now. It is easy to put on over my armor without having to really pay any attention. Although tonight I cannot really slip it on tonight because my fingers really hurt, and because my body feels stiff, and because Alexis may have saw me….
I don’t know what to do, but my breathing is becoming more and more shallow, and it is getting harder to breathe inside my helmet. My heartbeat is outpacing the carriage’s rattling wheels, and I could swear I hear it banging away at my chest plate as if it were some kind of drum.
He must have seen.
My left hand. My left hand was exposed in the moonlight….
He probably saw my ugly arm and was reminded about just how ugly I was that day.
“Oh, I…. hands…..”
“Monette, sorry, I….”
He saw it.
Alexis’ mutterings were always low and quiet, but right now he was even more so. But right now, I could not really care less about him and his confusion. My short gasps for air are echoing in my helmet, and something is strangling my neck.
He saw it.
My eyes are swimming in my head, and my line of sight is bouncing around inside my helmet. I can’t find anywhere to run to, and there is something beating on the back of my skull. Why is this carriage so damn narrow?
If I could fit, I would have already taken my armor, shoved myself out of the carriage window, and ran back to the old castle.
While all these thoughts were flurrying around inside me, Alexis roared out, “I’m sorry!”
At the same time, he reached out towards Percival who was sleeping next to him, and he vigorously pulled out the cushion that Percival was using as a pillow. The dull thud of Percival’s head smacking into the window startled me and caused my eyes to focus.
A voice echoed in the now utterly silent carriage.
Then Percival, who was moving around in a sluggish stupor, looked up appearing to be still very tired. When he blinked, his eyes remained shut tight for so long, I thought he had fallen back asleep for a second, but they eventually opened back up as he roared out “I’m still sleepy.”
Alexis turned his face away from me, and even with my shallow, rapid breathing, he was still able to notice my sharp, icy glare.
As such a scene was beginning to play out inside the heavy atmosphere of the carriage, Percival gradually rose up with his sleep deprived expression, and he placed his hand on Alexis’ shoulder. He tapped Alexis’ shoulder lightly with a *pon* *pon*. It was dark, and Alexis was not moving, so Percival was unable to see Alexis’ still open eyes.
Percival then left Alexis, and this time he approached me. For me, he would usually go in for a hug, and I would try to run away, but this time, I stayed as still as a statue while thinking peaceful thoughts.
Of course, this was in the mindset of, “I am already sleeping, so you don’t need to help me fall asleep.”
Percival seemed to buy it as he nodded satisfied before returning to his seat and entrusting his head back to the window.
Peace and quiet and darkness returned to the carriage.
Afterwards, Alexis mutters to me in a quiet voice that he would take over watch duty.
I grasped my left hand with my iron gauntlet so tightly that it hurt.
Did you really see it?
How long did you see it?
What did you think when you saw it?
I’m too scared to ask any of the questions running through my head and could only reply with a small “Yes,” before he answered, “Good night Monette.”
I took a deep breathe and tried to bury all my anxiety away, but as I lied back on the cushions and closed my eyes, I thought I could hear the word, “Misunderstood,” echo inside my helmet as I drifted off.
“I don’t know what happened last night, but please try to wake me up a little more normally next time.”
Percival was complaining to Alexis while rubbing his head. Morning had come, and the sun had risen a few hours ago. When you looked out the carriage’s window, you could see our destination, the city, off in the distance.
I did not feel like talking about last night, and when Percival started to make his complaints, I kept quiet while lying back on the carriage’s cushions as Alexis continued to apologize while not touching on any reason why.