The Someone That Should Not Be Living
“What happened?” Those were Naigrat’s first words after finishing the treatment. “How did your body get like this?”
“Hahaha, well, it seems I’ve gotten a lot weaker. I hadn’t held a sword in such a long time, so my body couldn’t keep up.”
“This isn’t a joke. It’s your own body, so you should properly understand what’s happening to it.”
Naigrat had a serious face on, and for some reason her eyes looked a little bloodshot. On top of that, Willem sensed her voice quivering slightly. It looked like he wouldn’t be able to laugh his way out of this one.
“To put it simply, you’re a mess. Almost all of your bones have small cracks in them that aren’t healing. Many tendons are unable to recover from their weakened state. About half of your organs aren’t functioning properly. I’m guessing your blood vessels are pretty beat up too, although that’s out of my field of specialty.”
Willem had expected most of these things. While he didn’t have much medical knowledge, he was at least aware of his own body’s poor condition.
“With this many wounds in your flesh, I think my teeth would bite right through without cutting it up with a knife first…”
He wished she didn’t say that with such a sad look on her face.
“Moreover, these wounds aren’t just from yesterday and today. Most of them are old wounds that have gotten worse. Which means you’ve been living with these heavy wounds this whole time and kept it hidden?”
“Well, I wasn’t really keeping it a secret.”
“If you act like you’re okay and don’t say anything, it’s the same thing. How have you been able to walk and move normally in this condition….” Naigrat sighed deeply. “These wounds… they’re aftereffects of turning into stone, aren’t they?”
“More accurately, they’re the damage I took in the last battle before that. Well, it was a miracle that I even lived, so I couldn’t really complain.”
“That’s not an excuse to treat your own life so lightly.”
“I guess….” Willem attempted to shrug his shoulders but was met with a sharp pain throughout his body, so he just put on a faint smile.
“Don’t push yourself so hard,” said Naigrat as she grasped his hand. Willem’s heart instinctively began to beat a little faster. “You’ll lose your flavor.”
Well, he expected something like that from her.
“You’re okay with me telling the kids about you, right?”
“Yeah, like I said, I wasn’t keeping it a secret in the first place. If you think it’s necessary, tell them all you want.”
“Alright, then I’ll go right now. You stay put and sleep for a bit. I think you already know, but you are strictly forbidden from doing anything that’ll strain your body. I don’t even know how you’re still alive.”
“Got it. Not trying to become your dinner anyways.”
“Don’t joke around. I’m being serious.”
Naigrat seemed pretty angry, despite her saying something about his flavor just a minute ago. Willem felt that was a little irrational, but decided to not provoke her further. He figured that would be best for both of them, and, more than anything, he realized that pushing aside her genuine concern with a joke might not have been very polite.
She chose the dining hall as the most appropriate place to call a meeting. With the eyes of around twenty fairy girls all concentrated on her, Naigrat sighed.
“Staring at me so expectantly won’t make what I’m going to say any more interesting…”
“We’ll be the judges of that afterwards. Right now, we want to hear the truth, interesting or not,” said Aiseia, as the other girls nodded along.
Naigrat, realizing she wouldn’t be getting out of this one, took a deep breath and started talking.
“It was spring of last year, a little before I was sent here. I was dispatched to help out a salvager group by the Orlandri Trading Company.”
A few of the fairies, their eyes seeming to sparkle, breathed sighs of admiration. The image of salvagers as heroes braving danger in pursuit of treasure and romance had gained quite a lot of popularity amongst the children of Regul Aire. Well, usually among boys, but anyway…
“That group of salvagers never had much luck. They had gone down to the land many times, but never made much of a profit. That day was no different. We were about to return home empty handed, when one member of the group suddenly took a wrong step and fell underground. There, he discovered an enormous underground frozen lake. And sunk at the bottom of that lake was the stone statue of a markless young man.”
“Just like in Icicle Coffin!” One girl blurted out the title of a fairy tale.
“Except there was a statue inside instead of a princess. One of my companions with the ability to see spell power confirmed that it was not just a statue, but a real man turned to stone by some curse. So, of course, we couldn’t just leave him be and go home.
It took a lot of work, but we managed to break the ice surrounding the statue and carry it back up to the islands. After about a month in the hospital, the stone began to lift from the man’s body and he regained consciousness.
It was a lot of trouble at first. He would freak out every time he saw a Borgle or an Orc, and he didn’t understand our language at all. We could finally talk, though, after calling a special translator from the Trading Company.
It was then that we found out. He was a genuine Emnetwyte. The last of the soldiers that had turned every other race on the land into their enemies. We didn’t know why, but he had been sleeping at the bottom of that frozen lake for hundreds of years…”
“He was down there for so long, but never got eaten by Beasts?”
“Well, probably because he was stone. I guess that was the one fortunate thing about his situation.”
Later, they found a way to deal with the language barrier problem relatively easily. Next to his ice casing, rolling around in the lake, was an ancient Talisman which gave its user the power to understand any language. With that, the young man started telling his story and began to understand the reality he faced. Naigrat would never forget the young man’s face of despair or wails of anguish.
The last survivor of the long extinct Emnetwyte. Naigrat and her companions decided to keep this special identity a secret, as he requested. She didn’t know much about what happened after that. He ended up living on the 28th Island, despite it being so unfriendly to markless, and simply worked nonstop to pay off various debts. She only heard all that from a salvager.
After that… he came here. In the six months since his arrival, he had grown taller, learned to laugh more, and showed an unexpected amount of kindness to the children. But the gloomy, black feeling of emptiness visible in his eyes alone had not changed one bit since then.
“And that’s all I know.”
Naigrat had tried to tell as much as possible while leaving out her own subjective impressions. The girls all turned to each other and whispered secretively.
“I can’t say any more. All I have left is just one request. It might be hard at first, but I don’t want anyone to be scared of or alienate him. That’s it.”
Finished with her briefing, Naigrat left the cafeteria. As she walked down the hallway, she wondered if she made a mistake. The Emnetwyte were a hated race. Although Willem might not have played a direct role, they were unmistakably the ones who released the 17 Beasts, bringing destruction upon the world.
She didn’t think the girls necessarily had the same attitude as the rest of society, but they might have a similar reaction regardless. After all, they existed as disposable weapons for the sole purpose of fighting the Beasts. The Emnetwyte would then be the ones responsible for creating that destiny. Still, if possible, she hoped the kids wouldn’t reject Willem.
He didn’t belong anywhere in this world. So she didn’t want him to break, here in what might be the only place that he could smile. Willem himself didn’t seem too concerned, seeing as how he tried to find the truth behind the fairies and even hinted at his own true identity to them. Naigrat didn’t deny that decision, which is why she just told the girls about his past. However, she still hadn’t given up on her wish. Maybe it was a selfish wish, but she wanted the children to stay by Willem’s side, just like they had been doing for the past six months.
She suddenly stopped walking. A bad feeling crept up on the back of her neck. No. Not now. Not with this timing, she thought. But at the same time, she could see it happening. They would do something like that. She quickly reversed direction and rushed to the clinic. Right as she was turning the corner…
“Willem! We heard all about you!”
“The Emnetwyte look so similar to us!”
“Very interesting. Tell us more about your generation.”
“Um… I don’t know what to say, but… feel better soon!”
Fairies had crowded into the clinic, pestering poor Willem, a patient lying on the bed with grave wounds who had just almost died, with their loud and energetic voices.
Naigrat stood by the door in shock for about ten seconds, and then took another five seconds to laugh at the ridiculousness of everything she had been thinking about just a few minutes ago. She should have easily predicted this development, yet why did she worry so much? Taking a deep breath to calm down used another seven seconds.
The girls stopped bustling about at the sound of her voice and slowly turned their necks to face the door.
“He’s very tired right now and needs rest, so please keep your voices down. Naughty children that don’t listen….” Naigrat slowly spread her lips into a wide smile. “You know what happens to them, right?”
Within ten seconds, the girls had all scrambled out of the door and sprinted down the hallway.
“Ohh, that did the trick,” said Aiseia, walking up from behind.
“If you’re going to be loud, I’ll chase you out too, you know?”
“Hahaha, I wouldn’t want that,” Aiseia responded with a laugh, then put on an ambiguous expression. Whether that was a joking face or a serious face, Naigrat couldn’t tell. “But, I wanted to quickly confirm something with that Mr. Almost Died over there. Will ya permit just that?”
“… what do you want to ask?”
Before Naigrat could say anything, Willem himself answered. At this point, she couldn’t interfere. Aiseia sneaked into the room with her usual smile on and pulled up a chair beside the bed.
“First, just to make sure. You’re an Emnetwyte, yes?”
“Mhm, I guess they started to be called that sometime. When I lived down there, we didn’t have a special name for ourselves. Just saying ‘people’ referred to us, and any other race was basically equivalent to the Monstrous in our eyes.”
“Pretty savage, huh?”
“Well, I won’t deny that… anyways, what was your main question?”
Aiseia suddenly changed her smile into a serious look, then, in a low voice, asked, “Why does an Emnetwyte care about us so much? I’m thankful for what you’ve done, Second Enchanted Weapons Technician. But now that I know who you really are, I can’t understand the reason why you try so hard. Like how you fought Kutori with that beaten up body. You knew you were risking your life, didn’t you? Going that far without any real reason… it’s kinda weird, ya know?”
“Being nice to girls is common sense.”
“… simple, huh?” Aiseia brightened her face a little and started scratching her cheek. “Well, I guess the biologists do say that males being kind to females is the default.”
The Leprechaun race has no male members, or at least none have ever been found so far. Because they multiply by naturally appearing, as opposed to sexual reproduction, not having any guys around presents no risk to survival. But, since they effectively have no sense of gender separation, Aiseia might not understand what Willem was getting at.
“Hmm, oh. Do you like kittens?”
“Ahh… as much as anyone else does.”
“Do you feel like you want to protect one when you see it?”
“I guess… as much as anyone else does.”
“It’s basically the same thing as that.”
“Still don’t get it…”
Willem thought for a moment.
“Well, this is something I heard a long time ago. Things with cute appearances don’t just randomly appear out of nowhere. They acquire that feature because of their instinct or need to be protected and loved. That’s why children are always cute, whether they be humans or beasts. They have a desperate wish to be taken care of… or something like that.”
“…. so you’re saying we’re like that too?”
“If you guys’ true form is just a ‘soul’, then that should be able to take any form it wants, right? But it just so happens to take shape as a child, and moreover a female child. Makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“So our race is like a bunch of babies wanting to be spoiled… if you add the fact that you’re into little girls, then I guess it makes sense.”
“How did you get to that conclusion!?”
The pair laughed cheerfully.
Watching them, Naigrat began to feel a bit pitiful for worrying so much earlier. In the end, it turned out that neither the fairies nor Willem thought about things as deeply as she expected. They all simply followed their own reasoning or instincts. Or, in other words, they were a group of idiots. And, of course, idiots are idiots because they can’t grow wiser so easily. They were idiots because they could laugh and laugh so freely.
Ahh… I love you all. Whenever Naigrat said that out loud, for some reason everyone would always look frightened, so she could only scream it out inside her head.