Section 5: Sisters’ Quiet Conversation Part 3
There was an unexpected incident along the way, but with my prayer finished, I started walking around Solretta alongside Sally-oneesama.
Snow peaked mountains in the distance served as a beautiful backdrop for the red brick homes with thatched roofs. I had heard this town used to mine rubies, but right now it looks as if the entire town were in fact one huge ruby vein.
I do not usually walk around without a purpose in mind, so seeing the sights like this is quite enjoyable for me.
Even moreso since I am alone with Oneesama today. It certainly is nerve-wracking having it be just the two of us, but it feels refreshing more than anything else.
We walked through shops where accessories lined the walls, glanced through outfits, and Oneesama gave her impressions for any clothes I tried on…….
I am happy for the praise and consideration, and I am deeply grateful to Iris-san for suggesting all of this in the first place.
After a quick lunch, we both went to visit the opera house Iris-san had recommended to us.
Today’s performance is The Goddess Illya and the Hero of Light.
It is a dramatic adaptation of probably the most famous story in Van Delucia and focuses on the Illyarian War.
I read the novel several times when I was little. Iris-san just so happened to be reading it at the inn in Rifront, so I borrowed it once she was finished and read it again.
The story was still fresh in my mind because of this, so I was able to easily follow along as each scene changed and could genuinely enjoy myself. Oneesama on the other hand could not keep up with the sudden developments that unfolded as each scene switched to another and had to ask me to clarify some things for her several times throughout the play.
Each time I had to offer an explanation, a question ran through my head.
What must she be thinking while watching this right now when she actually fought in the Illyarian War?
As the performance rolled to an end and the final curtain call unfolded, Sally-oneesama gave them a rounding applause and laughing towards me,
“Illya isn’t nearly that well-mannered”………is what she said.
“It seems you’re finally starting to relax.”
We headed to a cafe after leaving the theater to grab a cup of tea, and after taking a seat at our table, Sally-oneesama spoke up with a smile.
“I noticed you’ve been rather tough on yourself ever since we first met Aronda at the church.”
“…..is, that so……”
So Oneesama noticed after all.
And on top of that, she continued watching over me through it all.
“You don’t need to force yourself into a corner. While I will say it is part of your charm, narrowing your view too much can cause you to lose everything.”
“…….yes. I am keenly aware of my own immaturity.”
Back then, I did not want to have to rely on my quiet, disinterestedly speaking oneesama. So I swallowed my words just like I had done when Priestess Aronda had requested we investigate the ruins.
But now…..I think differently.
I think it is okay for me to rely on her.
The person sitting before me is my oneesama.
So I told her the truth. I confided in her just how frustrated my own immaturity makes me feel.
“When Priestess Aronda heard Sally-oneesama call yourself a traitor, she quietly listened until the end.”
Meanwhile I could not see you as anything other than a betrayer and let anger overtake me.
“Aunt Yuhanna left home when she was just fifteen, and by displaying her magical talent at the capital, she was allowed to start up her own knight order by the time she was twenty three.”
Whereas while I also left home at the age of fifteen, I entered the monastery and showed no such talent.
I was only ever able to become a priestess because the Goddess listened to my prayers and granted me the ability to conjure miracles.
“So, I have always wondered. Why did Oneesama decide to take me in as your sister?”
There are plenty of people out there better than me.
I could not bring myself to say that part of my question though.
………I would make myself feel much too miserable if I did.
“I had someone very special to me once upon a time.”
But Oneesama started talking about something else without answering my question.
“Are you referring to the previous Grimoire Master you mentioned this morning?”
“May I ask that person’s name?”
“I can’t remember.”
I blinked a couple of times unable to believe what I had heard.
She cannot remember her friend’s name? Is such a thing possible?
“Her name has been erased.”
Oneesama gave herself a self-derisive laugh, saying I was right to doubt her. But I did not laugh with her. I neglected my cooled off tea and waited for Oneesama’s next words.
“……it was before what we now call the Illyarian War began, when I was still sane. She was eaten by Osnell.”
“Devil, the evil dragon, the Primordial Dragon King. That guy had all sorts of names, but there was really only one thing we ever called him. The Suffering Thirst.”
“The Suffering, Thirst……..”
“He devours human souls and absorbs them into him. And once somebody has had their soul devoured…….their very being is erased. The world becomes as if the person had never existed.”
Sally-oneesama’s gaze dropped down and she stroked her pinky finger. A pained look came into her eyes as if she were desperately trying to hold on to a thread that was tied around her finger, but it continued to slip through her grasp.
“I have been able to hang on to a wisp and remember she used to be here……perhaps because a thread connected our fingers together.”
“…….you were sisters…….”
“Yes, and she was very kind. But, that is all I can remember. Her name, face, and everything else are already gone.”
“That…….That’s so, sad……..”
“Sad……? Yes. I suppose it is.”
Sally-oneesama’s long eyelashes shook. However her expression, rather than sad, it more looked like she had given up.
“But, as cold as it might make me seem, I have never felt sad about it. I’ve never once shed any tears over her. It’s too difficult to cry for someone you barely remember.”
Oneesama took a sip of her tea and muttered, “Bitter” underneath her breath with a scrunched up face.
“Sorry Rosa, but you could pass the……”
Pointing to the small bottle of sugar I had in my hand, Oneesama’s voice stalled in the middle of her sentence. So stunned it was like she had forgotten what she was going to say.
“Why, are you crying?”
“……because it’s sad”
Oneesama reached out her hand and clumsily wiped away my tears. But that only made my eyes grow hotter and caused even more tears to flow down my cheek.
“I will cry……in your place. For Oneesama, for Oneesama’s sake.”
“You……really are kind.”
Watching as my tears dripped down into my cup, Sally-oneesama gently brushed her hand against my cheek.
“The answer to your question from before, is because of that kindness. Rosa, when I saw you……I saw the image of the sister I lost.”
Wiping away my tears with her handkerchief, Oneesama quietly sighed. She then looked towards me with an anxious look slightly different from before.
“Are you disappointed, Rosa?”
And I shook my head.
“Something like that…….Something like that, would never happen.”
I placed my right hand over my chest and pressed down on my hot, beating heart.
“I am honored. If my presence can be of any comfort to my Oneesama, then there is no greater joy for me.”
And then I reached out my left hand, gently placing it over hers.
“…….I said it once before, but I am as fortunate to have met you as I am to have gotten to meet Iris.”
Oneesama seemed a bit bashful as she looked down at my hand.
“You’re adorable. And the way you always strive to be strong is truly admirable.”
Oneesama flipped her hand around, entwining her fingers with my own.
“But don’t be impatient. Don’t overthink things. That kind of anxiety will only cloud your judgement.”
“……yes. Oneesama. I, am no longer in a hurry. Because I know there are people close-by who are watching over me.”
It was nice getting to go out with Oneesama today. I have gotten to learn a lot about her.
However at the same time, I am shocked at how shallow my own thoughts are.
I was calling you my sister despite how ignorant I was of your feelings.
But, even if I reflect on it now, it would accomplish little other than belittling myself.
“Um, if you like…….we could go out together like this again some time?”
So instead of hanging my head, I looked up and smiled. I chose to believe her when she calls me adorable. I want to get rid of Oneesama’s sadness if only a little.
“Yes, let’s. We’re sisters, so it’s not like we need a particular reason to spend any time together.”
The entire town of Solretta sparkled like a ruby as the sun began to fall and dyed everything in a reddish hue.
Oneesama and I tightened our grasp around each other’s hands as if we were confirming the thread that tied our two pinkies together. As if we were confirming our relationship that differed from what it was the day before.