“I see… So we couldn’t save your father…”
“No…but it is nothing for you to be sad about. Father was shielding me…”
When I heard that the bandits that we had desperately killed had murdered Marie Elle’s father, I wondered why we could not have come sooner. We might have made it in time if we rushed through the forest…
“…Asagi, you are regretting that we did not travel faster, are you not?”
“Ah, I am…”
“Are you that much of a stupid bastard? We did not know that there were bandits until we were out of the forest. There is no point in having regrets because of what we only know now. Yes, it is painful that we could not help him. But you must move on. This is not something that we should have to bear.”
Daniela’s words felt like thorns in my flesh. It was true… It really was no use… But, still…
“But, it doesn’t change that this is sad… I can’t help but wish that I had been able to help.”
“Yes… I could have worded that differently. You are not wrong to grieve… We should mourn the dead.”
I nod and quickly stand up. My legs are now firmly planted in the blood-stained dirt. I’m reminded of just how much blood I was soaked in. The beautiful silver and green fabrics were dyed red, the silver armor glistened under the blood. It wasn’t mine, none of it was.
“…I want to bury the bandits as well. Not out of sympathy. But so I can move on from this…to put it completely behind me.”
“…Aye, I understand. Are you fine with that, Marie Elle?”
“Yes… I do hate them… But if it will help Asagi going forward, I would like to do it.”
“Thank you…Marie Elle. I’m so sorry, for being selfish.”
“No, it is fine. You helped me…”
With Marie Elle’s understanding, we decided to bury them. Perhaps there might have been one who didn’t want to become a bandit… I couldn’t help but feel that with one wrong step, I could have gone down a similar path. Oh, with said, I was not sympathizing with them. But as always, I was a hopeless wreck. I shook my head to disperse the conflicting emotions.
“Ah, Daniela…do you need any proof of hunting bandits?”
“Yes…normally it would be their heads.”
“So they can identify them, I suppose…”
“Aye, they would have to confirm that they are wanted…”
In all honesty, I would rather not start cutting off heads. I was already feeling the weight of what I had done, and to have to take their heads on top of it…
“Could it just be the leader’s head?”
“Yes, we could hardly take all of them. But are you sure? I can do it.”
“No. I think that I should do it now, instead of dragging this around with me.”
In fact, I felt quite strongly about this. Would I really be able to move on by just burying them? I asked myself. And the answer was that it would be ‘difficult.’ Burying them didn’t change anything. I needed meaning for what I did. Marie Elle had lived. But not only that…I wanted proof. Something to prove to a third party that what I had done was right
“Which one is the leader?”
“Likely the one that I killed… His equipment is the most decent. And the leader is always the best dressed.”
That was true. On closer inspection, what had likely been fine clothing was now covered in blood after Daniela’s blade had gone through his heart and neck.
I unsheath Ashikirimaru and look at the blade. ‘Ashikiri’ meant to ‘cut legs’, but its first use would be to take off someone’s head…
“Marie Elle. You should move away.”
Daniela led Marie Elle behind the wagon. After a minute, Daniela returned. She nodded at me to indicate that Marie Elle was waiting a short distance away.
I was ready. I straddled the leader’s back and placed the blade at his neck. And with a deep breath, I pulled Ashikirimaru to the side… I did something that I didn’t want to have memories of.