48 – If We Could Meet In A Dream
What I first noticed was that something was different.
As always, I knew that it was a dream.
However, for the first time, I wondered if I was wrong.
After finishing his training in the garden, my brother went down on one knee and patted me on the head.
His hand was large and warm.
This was the older brother that I loved.
“Brother! Teach me too!”
“You, Iria? Hmm. I don’t know…”
Why not? I puffed out my cheeks?
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t. However, when a noble swings a sword, there is a lot of weight behind it.”
“There is? Why?”
“Because they do it to protect the people of the empire.”
My brother sounded a little proud.
“It is no light matter. You cannot forget your resolve and pride.”
“…I don’t understand.”
He laughed and patted me on the head.
I smiled and laughed too.
And so did father and mother, who watched us.
I stood there, watching, but unable to stretch out my hand.
It was all so happy…and fragile.
If I touched it, it would all shatter like glass.
And then the dream changed.
My brother died, the funeral ended, and my life—did not change much.
I got up. I lived. I slept.
As the days continued, the only difference was my brother’s absence. Like a hole that was left open.
…I had not been able to accept his death yet.
Alone, I walked towards the garden.
Where he would usually have trained.
Of course, he was not there.
—Still, if I closed my eyes, I felt as if I could feel his hand on my head. And so, before I knew it, I visited this spot every day.
I suddenly turned towards the shed in the corner of the garden.
Normally, I never thought about it. However, this time, I decided to open it, for no reason in particular.
No reason—but now that I think about it, perhaps it had called me.
Inside of the shed…there was a sword.
The sword that he had always used.
Old and rusted. The one he had since he was a child.
Father kept telling him to buy a new one, but my brother liked this sword, and always used it for training.
As I wanted to know why, I asked if I could hold it. But he always refused me.
But now, I was being sucked towards it.
(I am able to touch it…)
I almost felt guilty.
I even tried to pull my fingers back…but they stroked the hilt anyway.
And then I held the sword and swung it while remembering my brother on that day.
But it was quite heavy.
It dropped from my fingers and fell to the ground.
“I can’t do it…”
That’s why I asked you to teach me.
I laughed weakly…and a tear streamed down my cheek.
“How should I swing it…”
The voice echoed in the emptiness of the shed.
And the tears dripped down and wet the floor.
“Tell me, brother…”
Why? Why aren’t you here?
I loved watching him train with this sword.
Everyone would watch and smile with me.
That would never happen again.
My vision blurred through the tears, and I clutched the hilt of the sword.
One day, I would likely forget all about him.
Just like this sword in the dusty shed.
And that happy scene would fade into nothingness.
I hate that…
I gripped the hilt tightly. My brother was dead. And so there was no one to teach me.
Even if his body has turned to ash, not everything about him, not every proof of him needed to turn into ash as well.
I would swing over and over, through the tears.
(Why had I forgotten?)
That was the beginning of it.
(…All of this time, I was afraid to dream.)
That woman who cried and asked why her son had died.
I was afraid of the voices that blamed my brother.
Her screams and wails were not wrong.
My brother had said that they wielded their swords to protect the people.
But he died without protecting anything.
…But he wasn’t wrong. I wanted to shout.
And so…I had to prove it.
That his sword really was something that could protect people.
—And yet, at some point, I had forgotten about it.
Or rather, I was looking away from it.
The stronger I came, the greater the word ‘revenge.’
Perhaps I lost something every time that I averted my eyes.
Suddenly, I heard his voice. It was just a dream. I knew it.
However, I could still feel the warmth of his hand.
I was too weak.
And yet…he laughed.
Just like he used to. And then his lips moved as if to say something…
I woke up.
But instead of the usual relief I felt from seeing my ceiling, it was sadness.
How long has it been since I last saw his face?
Will I be able to see it again if I sleep?
I could not even tell him that I was sorry.
While lying there, I turned to look at the sword that leaned against my bed.
—It was my brother’s old sword, after being remade.
It had been repaired over and over. And though it was so old, I kept it by my side.
Emotion that could not be expressed with words overwhelmed me, and I covered my eyes with my arm.
He was dead. Gone.
But still—there were things that he had left behind.
Even if the sword broke and could not be used anymore.
—Because he is inside of my sword as well.
That cannot be forgotten or fade away.
It would surely last for as long as I live.
I suddenly sat up and pulled up the blanket.
But though I looked frantically around, he was nowhere in sight.
Apparently, the voice came from the other side of the door.
“Sorry, I sensed that you were away. More importantly, the Count wants to talk with you.”
“Ye-yes. I’ll be right there.”
I said, and sighed as I felt him moving away.
Relief? Why am I relieved?
I got out of bed and sat down in front of the dressing table.
There were red marks around my neck, like frostbite.
When I looked under my clothes, there were other marks like that on my body.
(…I should be thankful that it wasn’t any worse.)
I said with a sigh, and then headed to the closet to get changed.
When I arrived at my father’s study, I saw that Mr. Yukito was there with him.
It was already dark outside. I didn’t look at the clock, but it was clearly night time.
…I wonder what happened with the tournament?
President, Aize…I’m sorry.
“Iria. I’m so glad that you are alright.”
“No, it’s enough that you are safe.”
He sighed with a tired expression. I felt bad for how much stress I must have caused him.
“Now sit down. I would like to hear about what happened.”
And so I did just that.
I told him about how I had seen the man with the butterfly tattoo at the bus stop.
How I had followed him, and then been attacked and bound.
However, I managed to free myself and fight the man. Though, I was defeated and even lost control of my magic.
But when I got to the part after chasing the man through the trees, Teacher Yukito stopped me.
When I was done, my father sighed deeply.
“Yukito. Thank you for your help.”
“No… To be honest, I was much too late.”
He muttered that he would never drink again.
“And so…that man…”
“The man you were chasing? Yukito captured him. He was handed over to the police for questioning.”
I see. I muttered.
“As for the other one…they are still searching for him.”
I suddenly remembered something important.
“Those men. They were going to take a bomb to the…”
“Yes, the police are aware of that. The man admitted to it, after all.”
However, they did not know where the bomb was, as it had disappeared with the other man.
“Aside from the police, the army will join the security guards in protecting the venue. They will ensure that the place is safe. Still, you did well. Who knows what the damage would have been if no one knew.”
“Though, the man has yet to tell them what kind of bomb it is. If it was strong enough to blow up the whole place, it must have been very powerful.”
Something about his words troubled me.
It was as if—he thought it didn’t actually exist, or wouldn’t really be used.
“There is no need to worry.”
He sounded so sure.
Teacher Yukito said in a calm voice.
I flinched and froze without thinking.
“According to the doctor, the frostbite won’t leave any scars.”
—My cheeks flushed when I heard those words.
As if he could see through the hand that I held over my neck. Well, he probably did.
“…Teacher. You lack sensitivity.”
Seeing him looking flustered like that reminded me of when we first met, and I smiled.
And then both he and father laughed.
Just then, there was a knock on the door.
“My lord, Lady Iria. I know that it is late, but there is an urgent guest…”
And then we all looked at each other.