Section 12: Inverted Position
“……W-We have to go help them!!”
The words spontaneously sprang from my mouth. I shut the book and moved to leave the library. But before I could make it to the door, Aronda-san had moved and now stood in my way.
“It’s dangerous Iris-chan.”
“I know, and Toslin, Carol, and Rose-san are in the middle of that danger right now!! It’s already been four days, and they still aren’t back…….”
“Hadion-sama…… Please tell me something. Have you fought a ruby carbuncle before……..”
Aronda-san stayed where she was to keep me from running off and called out to Saluena.
“Only once. Iris. Gentle maiden. Are you aware of the power red stones such as rubies are said to house?”
It was easy to understand that by asking me as well, Saluena was trying to get me to restrain myself.
I lost my head and was about to dive right into danger just like I did in the Swansea Forest. Back then though it was Carol who stopped me.
(I want to go help them……..right now. But……I won’t be any help if I were to go alone. No help…….)
Just like back then, I ordered myself to stay calm. Impatience kills possibility. What I should do now is calm myself down, and think. And then, find a way.
So I took a deep breath and answered.
“Red stones like amethysts and rubies……. The power they signify is…….life.¹”
The stones which we call gems are each said to carry a power within them. That power is the result of years of magic power emitted from the earth accumulating into them. And people have tried making that power their own by making and wearing jewelry out of those gems since ancient times.
“That’s right. However that is only true for the world that the Goddess envisioned. The Primordial World runs invertedly to the Goddess’s, so when a spirit takes in that energy, that power manifests in the inverted position.”
“The inverted position…….”
“The opposite of life…….is death.”
The whole room felt as if the temperature had dropped a few degrees, and a shiver ran up my spine.
“Death…..that…….what do you mean death?”
“Death is death Iris. Any carbunculus carrying within it a red gem holds the power of death itself.”
“Now that the fragment of the Grief Sphere has been stolen away, this carbuncle should be even more powerful than it was 300 years ago…….. Such a monster was sleeping in the ruins right next to Solretta Litta all this time……..”
Aronda-san pulled off her glasses and rubbed her glabella.
“Shall I send in a request to the central church to have them dispatch a contingent of priestess warriors…….”
Aronda-san nodded her head at Elzella-san’s proposal.
“Y-Yes. Let’s do it. The question is how we will survive the month it will take them to gather the necessary force…….”
“A-A month……..there’s no way we can wait that long!! Even as we speak, everyone is……”
“……I understand that. But, we don’t have any other options. We can’t recklessly send people to some ruins where an orange rank party wasn’t even able to return from.”
“Then Saluena and I will go!”
“I can’t allow that.”
“You can’t……W-Why’s that!!?”
“Have you forgotten? I, we, have been ordered to protect you. Do you think I would just sit back and watch as you run off to a place I know is fraught with danger?”
“B-But if it’s Saluena…… If she goes with me……”
“Yes, I…….with your aid Iris, I could surely strike down even a carbunculus that governs over death. However…….aren’t you forgetting something else? What happened the last time you summoned the power of the Dark Violet Knight?”
“We cannot guarantee that those three are still alive. Rather, it’s far more likely that they have already perished. If so, the battle against the carbunculus would fall to just you and me.”
After I summoned Saluena, she slew the dragon, and I lost consciousness for a few days. While I’m knocked out, Saluena would be unable to stay in this realm during which time I would be left completely alone. Saluena is taking into account the dangers of being left unconscious in the middle of some ruins where you never know when or where an enemy will attack you from.
“I know that…….but still…….”
“Talking as your knight, I cannot allow you to run off as you are now to what is almost assuredly death.”
I know I’m being selfish, but I was certain Saluena would agree with me. I thought she would follow me. But, I was wrong. Saluena took a position right next to Aronda-san, and now they were both standing in my way, trying to stop me.
Stay calm. I keep telling myself this over and over, trying to keep my composure. But, even with a calm mind no good ideas are coming to my head.
“Saluena, aren’t you…….”
So with no good thoughts coming forward, a bad one arose instead.
(aren’t you worried about Rose-san?)
My impatience gave way to anger, and I almost blurt out what I was thinking. But I covered my mouth before I could finish that thought and swallowed the words deep inside me.
“I’ll say it once more. I can’t let you go as you are right now.”
Of course she’s worried too. This stubborn, old-fashioned knight always looks like she’s having fun whenever she’s talking about Rose-san.
After coming back to the world a thousand years later, her one and only sister whom she’s formed an ancient bond with.
Of course she wants to help. She actually has the strength to make a difference, so I’m sure she wants to drop everything and start running right now even more than I do. Run right to Rose-san.
But, I’m in her way. I’m holding her back. Her options are limited because I’m not strong enough.
“Uu, Toslin…….Carol, Rose-san…….”
I, I……..what should i do? I can’t find an answer no matter how many times I ask myself. Saluena keeps calling me wise, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whenever the important moment arrives, I’m an incompetent who can only run away or crouch down on the ground and hide my head in my arms.
The proof…….isn’t just the fact that I can’t do anything here. I can feel it, deep down, when Aronda-san and Saluena stopped me from going, I was relieved.
The fact that I can’t do anything to help is just an excuse.
(The worst……..I’m the worst………)
Aronda-san and Elzella-san have gone back to talking about calling for a detachment of priestess warriors.
“Iris. Can you stand?”
Saluena tried supporting me after I crouched down and buried my face into my legs right there on the floor. But that kind of kindness just hurts all the more right now. You should be yelling at me. Yell, scream, curse me for my weakness. Maybe then some small part of this overwhelming guilt will fade away.
“It’d be best if we went home for today. As far as research goes, we’ve done all that we can for those three. We know our enemy, and it’s all thanks to you. You managed to finish the request Rosa and the others took. Be proud of that.”
Too bad it won’t be of any help to them. Because, it might already be too late. As the thought crossed my mind, I could feel my eyes grow hot…….
so I jumped into Saluena’s chest, and cried.
1. For clarification, they’re meant to signify love, passion, and a zest for life.