41 – Found (Iria Orlando)
Around the time that Yukito was annoying the woman at the tavern.
Iria and the others had just finished their strategy meeting or rally party, which was just an excuse to chat at a cafe. And so she was about to return home.
“Well, see you tomorrow then, Iria.”
“Yes. See you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it.”
Iria shook Aize’s hand, and then watched her back as she walked away.
“So it’s finally happening, Iria.”
She nodded quietly.
Tomorrow, she will fight against Aize.
A lot of unexpected things had happened. However, right now, nothing occupied Iria’s mind but Aize. It would surely be the same for Aize as well.
Right now, she could be confident of that.
When they arrived at the bus stop.
She suddenly heard the serious voice, and turned to look at the president of the student council.
“I know how much you have trained for this. Before you met Teacher Yukito, and after. All of this time.”
She stopped and chuckled awkwardly.
“At the same time, I know how hard Aize has had to fight.”
Aize had been fighting for so long. Longer than her. And Aize’s whole life was on the line.
She had not known that. Until that day, last year, when she had won at the combat technique tournament.
The sight of Aize, collapsing into tears as President Sherry held her. She was also crying.
After the prize ceremony, she had seen them from the shadows…and realized it.
Strength. It could sometimes lead to hurting people without you knowing it.
“I had always wanted to say something.”
The reason she had wanted to help Ms. Aize was very simple.
She had not wanted to hear it.
She was scared.
Of hearing the words from the President’s mouth—’Please lose.’
Because if those words came from her, then Iria would not be able to resist it. Feeling that it was the right thing to do.
“…Thank you. Iria.”
When the President said that and squeezed Iria’s hand, she felt…moved.
“For trying to help Aize. For not looking away. Thank you.”
“…No. Even if the engagement is called off, she is still…”
“Because I was not able to do anything.”
Now that she thought about it…
Surely, Sherry had also tried to help Aize many times.
And each time, she must have felt her own powerlessness.
“It’s fine. Because you offered to help… The rest is up to her. She must fight with her own power.”
Surely, it must be that way.
She said with a laugh.
“And so, Iria—please fight with everything you got. For yourself.”
“Don’t you also have a wall that you must overcome?”
She looked up at the twinkling stars in the night sky.
A wall that she must overcome. It would be very difficult.
How strong would she have to be in order to do it?
—Believe in your sword.
—And if there are times when you can’t believe in it, believe in me, who believes in your sword.
Those words suddenly resurrected in her mind.
Ah, that’s right.
The reason that those words had encouraged her so much—was because it made her feel like she wasn’t alone.
(It’s not fair…)
He doesn’t know anything.
And yet he could infiltrate her heart in such a way.
But somehow, it was comforting. It was incredibly unfair.
“…Ah, the bus is here, Iria!”
She was about to answer.
A shadow passed in front of her eyes.
A passenger getting off of the bus.
She had only seen it briefly…the butterfly tattoo on the neck.
“…Iria? If you don’t hurry—”
“I’m sorry. I just remembered something I have to do. I’ll return on my own.”
She started to walk. Quietly, quietly—so that no one would hear the pounding of her heart.
Iria could hear the president’s voice calling from behind.
But she did not answer.
All she could hear now were those words…repeating in her head.
—According to the survivors…there was a butterfly tattoo.
—I see. So it was them…
At last… Brother.