(TL Note: I had some real problems with this chapter so sorry for being a bit late.)
The only people who understand the loneliness that comes from solitude are people who aren’t alone.
After 5 years, I have come to understand this.
Through hard times, sad times and happy…times.
I, who had no memory from before wondered why I was in this place called the slum district. All I did was live day to day as an empty shell.
There was one person who was with me.
I don’t know that person’s name.
She was an old woman who was very up in age, and as I think on it now she was looked like a ghostly apparition.
That’s how the old woman looked to me.
With a wrinkled face she was always cursing the world, and she was always staring at something no one could see while spitting insults. But when I brought her scraps of food she would have a warm smile on her face and she would tell me many stories.
The tales of the saint in service of God.
The tales of the hero who battled evil.
And then, the simple everyday tales of people living their lives.
To me, who was truly empty inside, I looked up to all of the characters in those stories equally.
But at the same time, they made me question many things.
——The saint who served God.
The person who in the end was betrayed by the people and was executed for a crime they didn’t commit. At the very end they were able to pray to god with a calm expression.
Why was the saint able to serve God to that extent?
Why was the saint able to think of others to such a fervent extent?
I could not understand this.
——The hero who battled evil.
The hero who fought the demon king, who can be said to be the origin of all calamity, lost many of that person’s comrades in the battle.
Taking up the thoughts of his comrades who were cut down, that hero splendidly won the fight.
Why did the hero and their comrades take part in such a dangerous battle?
Then even if the hero took up the feelings of their fallen comrades, how did the hero feel after winning a battle that took the their comrades dying to accomplish it?
I could not understand this.
—— And at last, the simple everyday tales of people living their lives.
People who spend their days laughing and arguing in a warm household, or gathering food while working together with their neighbors strengthening their bonds.
Exactly what is a warm household?
Exactly what is family?
Laughing and arguing, what kind of actions are these?
I could not understand this.
Of course, at that time I was unable to think and question my surroundings in such clear words.
Instead of questioning, my feelings of admiration were probably stronger.
But even then, there is no mistake that my past-self had accumulated many questions in my heart.
Since I didn’t understand anything, I flooded the old woman with questions.
Why? Why? Why? There were times when the old woman was able to answer my flood of questions, there were times when I became angry, there were times I even became violent.
——But at that time, my own “simple everyday life” certainly gave me something.
After 2 years of living in the slums, I clearly remember that time.
This happened in the summer around 6 months before the cold winter night I met my master.
It’s easy to survive in the summer.
At any rate, since its warm, grass grows well and there are a lot of bugs.
It rains often so it’s easy to get drinking water, and you can wash yourself.
Tee hee, well this is why the summer is comfortable.
The people who lived in the main streets bathed in sunlight always made a face and left whenever they met eyes with me. As I stretched out my hand to pick up food scraps the people would yell “Filthy, get out of here” and shoo me away.
Yet I didn’t resent them.
To me, who was empty inside and didn’t know anything, they were like the characters of the stories I loved. So of course, there would be incredibly cold to me.
Maybe I felt guilty for entering such a pretty place even if it’s in order to get food.
Even though I’m talking about myself, I was too ignorant at that time.
At that time, I should have lived with my head held high. After being taught every day by my master who is independent and allows no one to get in his way. This is what I thought.
Haha, I seem to have gone off track.
Well it can be helped. Even I have times where I want to talk about my past.
Anyway, during one summer that was supposed to be easy to survive, that incident happened.
As usual, I went and got food for myself and the old lady, as I was heading back to the dilapidated house without a roof that the old lady was always in. I discovered some black birds flying in the direction I was heading to.
——I had a bad feeling.
Underneath where those black birds fly, there is always someone who for any number of reasons has died.
The old man who only once gave me a piece of sweet fruit.
The one-handed boy who once in a while I passed by in the street.
The woman who whenever I saw her would constantly circle the base tall pillars.
All of them, where pecked at by those birds after they…..
As my past-self thought this, I looked up to the sky and closed my eyes then I opened them.
Then, I, who never tries to waste my stamina, started running and made my way to the dilapidated house.
——As I arrived I saw a squirming black mass.
Actually, everything past that I don’t really remember.
But I sure not much time passed, then for some reason the birds scattered and flew away. And fortunately, in front of me laid the surprisingly clean corpse of the old woman.
Yes, it was truly fortunate.
Because now I can put the clean old woman in a grave just like how it was in the stories.
As I felt relieved while thinking this. I felt an itch as something passed under my eyes then my cheek and finally reached my chin.
What is this?
Just as I thought this, I placed my hand on my face. It was water.
Was it raining? I honestly didn’t understand what this meant, so I looked up to the sky.
The weather was good. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky above the broken home.
As I tilted my head, this my throat began to shake.
Behind my weirdly calm conscience there was someone crying.
That is when I began to realize.
Oh, am I possibly crying? Is this what you call sadness?
When I realized this I finally started to honestly cry my eyes out.
That right. I started to think that maybe this is what the hero from the story felt.
——From then on, I truly became an empty shell.
Even though I was also as it may, and even if the old woman didn’t even recognize me as a person.
Even so I was with someone, and when that person was gone I learned of “loneliness”.
Even though I lost the will to live and yet did not have the courage to die, all I did was aimlessly passed the time until that cold winter night when I met my master.
[—— To you, o’ young child that has been completely abandoned by this world. To you, o’ lost child who no one ones how many more nights more you will see. Take my hand. Offer me your body and become of use to me. —— If you do this, I shall offer you modest salvation.] Granite
There stood a magician who wore a black cape and held a staff with a skull attached to it.
Honestly speaking, even appearing suddenly in front of me I didn’t think the person was scary… at all.
But the word’s that person said, shook my feeling after such a long time.
I was truly surprised at that person who put their hand to me who was filthy.
Even though it’s the first time we’ve met his words were like he could suddenly see through me.
Unlike the other people from outside the slums he held out his hand to me even though I’m dirty.
It was as if he was an evil magician that had come out of a story. But to me who has no connections in this world, “He sought and reached out his hand to someone like me.” this alone made me feel good.
It doesn’t matter what he does to me.
It doesn’t matter if I met some terrible end just like the characters in the stories.
It doesn’t matter if I’m killed.
――Even so, at that point it felt right to give him everything I could.
As I took his hand, the magician had a disturbing smile as he thought of something.
However, the magician was nice to me.
He adjusted the length of his black cape that was still warm and wrapped me in it.
He saw that I was walking barefoot, and he ripped his hood into two and wrapped my feet.
As we made our way to our destination he made sure to match his steps with mine and slowly walked with me.
Of course, this was just him being considerate so his important “material” won’t be damaged.
Since I still had a child’s mind this is the first time someone has shown me good will and not since losing the old women I felt my feelings coming back after such a long, long time.
(TL Note: Basically, Shar here thinks that she will be used in some weird experiment and that is why she talks about herself as a some sort of material.)
We passed some people who looked like they were doing something scary. We then finally reached the magician’s house.
He waved at me to come inside and,
“Ah. Of course, this is what will happen to me”
At that moment I gave up.
All over the room, there were bones that could be seen as coming from a child scattered about.
Inside of the large pot there were human bones floating.
The magician slowly lit a fire underneath that pot.
―― Yeah. From the slums to now I have indeed received enough “salvation”.
In that case, it’s now my turn to give.
As I thought this, I felt refreshed as I made my way to the magician who had turned toward me.
…. No, that was a lie.
Even though I was so scared my body could shake, running from here and I would lose my last connection to anyone then dying all alone was much scarier to me. That’s why I was able to move forward.
As I stood there the magician said finally said his last words to me.
[You will be taught alchemy by ――] Granite
I will have you become a sacrifice, so I can become even greater! Or something like that….
As I was almost brought to tears from the fear I was feeling, I remembered the story of the saint and wanted to be dignified to the end, so I stiffened my face.
But what came next almost knocked me off of my feet.
[You will be taught alchemy by —-. …Ugh…this smell and filth…this is bad…] Granite
Well it’s because I was in a place where I couldn’t afford such luxuries.
Even though I went to the trouble of coming to terms with what was going to happen, I have to be honest and say that me at that time was somewhat annoyed.
This might be the first emotion I remember having.
If you’re going to sacrifice me then hurry about and do it! Even though I’m scared don’t insult me in such a weird way!
I started to have such idiotic thoughts.
From then on since I was too scared, and it was impossible to say this. [My feelings, let them reach the magician!!] as I thought this I stared at the magician’s eyes, he then started to speak.
[First let’s wash your body. Wait a bit.] Granite
I nodded with a stern expression.
As the magician turned his back to me and made his way to a pot in the corner of the room, he returned with something semi-transparent that was squirming and attached to his arm.
I was confused by the disgusting object I’ve seen for the first time. The magician said this.
[Now, please use this. When you become clean you will feel good.] Granite
Use what? That thing? Huh? How?
He said wash? What?
As I opened my eyes wide and started to panic, as the magician pushed the horrifying object toward me as he grinned and said.
[What, you can speak? There is no need to hold back. After having Pochi eat the dirt off of you, the refreshed feeling you will experience is something you can’t get anywhere else. Come now.] Granite
Even as my heart screamed out my body would no longer move as I wished.
As the slimy object entered the black cloak that the magician had given me, even though I had clothes on underneath it started to cling to all the parts of my body except my face. It started to crawl all over my body like a work and suck on my skin.
Without thinking I squatted down and started to scream.
The magician completely ignored me and moved to a different shelf and started rummaging around.
Oh, I don’t care anymore just hurry up and sacrifice me already!!
As I started to want to cry I started to say this, but all the came out of my mouth was the screams from having my skin rubbed and sucked on.