The Faceless Girl
What am I? Kutori thought to herself.
Kutori Nota Seniolis. A fully grown fairy soldier. User of Dug Weapon Seniolis. One who met Willem, learned much, and was given hope.
She called over Aiseia in the middle of the night.
“Brr it’s pretty cold, huh? Shoulda worn another layer.”
The two of them stood on top of a small hill next to the harbor district. The wind was always strong here. The view was also good, so they would easily be able to spot anyone coming.
“Sorry. I’ll keep this short, so bear with me.”
“… hm?” Aiseia looked at Kutori questioningly as she shivered. “If you brought me all the way out here for a short talk, I’m guessing it’s something you really don’t anyone else to hear.”
“Yeah, something like that. Well, you can probably already guess what it’s about.”
“No no. I just know a few more facts and listen more closely than the average person. I’m not some god that knows everything, ya know?” Aiseia said as she put her lantern on the ground and sat down. “So there’s actually something I wanted to ask you too. Mind if I go first?”
“… that’s fine. What is it?”
“Who are you?”
Aiseia asked that question in such a nonchalant manner, almost as if she were simply asking for tonight’s menu. Kutori’s breathing froze for a split second.
“Kutori Nota Seniolis,” she said slowly, as if deeply reflecting upon each individual word.
“Do I look like someone else?”
The wind played with Kutori’s hair as it whistled by. The sky blue melded into the surrounding darkness of night, becoming nearly indistinguishable. The red, however, could clearly be seen dancing about in midair.
“Well then that’s all from me. What did you want to talk about?”
“Nn.” Kutori gazed up at the sky. Black clouds which looked like nothing more than shadows glided rapidly over their heads. Beyond them lay a slightly blurred starry sky and a slightly dimmed gold tinted moon. “I thought for a long time about how to talk about this, but given your question I assume you’ve already figured it all out?”
“Not really. That just now was a good old technician style guess. There’s only one thing I know with certainty: the encroachment from your previous life hasn’t gone away or paused. Kutori Nota Seniolis’ memory and personality are being hijacked as we speak, am I right?”
“Mhm. That’s what it looks like.” Kutori grabbed her wildly out of control hair and held it close to her chest. “Encroachment itself is a rare occurrence, and encroachment before twenty is a rare case among rare cases, was it? When your encroachment happened, was it like this too?”
“Yep. Or at least, I think so. I myself don’t remember a thing about it, and the exact process might have been a bit different than in your case.” Aiseia smiled, but Kutori knew it was only a mask. She always made that face whenever she wanted to hide her true emotions. “You’ve known me for a long time. So you knew the old Aiseia too, right? Cheerful, always meddling in other people’s business, not honest with herself at all… her hobby was writing fiction, she never missed a single day in her diary… Aiseia Myse Valgalis was that kind of girl. I first came to know all that after I read through her diary.”
Ah, back then, Kutori thought. That was around two years ago. Aiseia, who had just become a fully grown fairy soldier, suddenly said she caught a cold and holed up in her room for days. She must have been desperately scouring all those diary entries that whole time. Looking back on it, Kutori felt like Aiseia’s personality changed just a little bit after those few days… or maybe not. It was hard to tell. They weren’t very close back then.
“Was it rough?”
“You bet. I thought I was going to go crazy. A few times I even wanted to die. But doing that wouldn’t bring back the owner of this body… the real Aiseia. The only way I could pay for my sins was to take on the life I had erased… to carry on the existence of Aiseia Myse Valgalis without anyone noticing. Or anyways, that’s what I told myself, and somehow I’ve made it this far.”
“So we were tricked this whole time?”
“That’s right. Are you mad?”
Am I mad? Kutori asked herself. She could feel no anger. She felt no bewilderment either. The truth simply sunk in quietly, as if she had merely learned a new piece of trivia.
“A diary, huh?” she took a seat next to Aiseia. “Maybe I should keep one too.”
“Well in your case, it might be a bit hard to go unnoticed. Unlike with me, your whole appearance and everything is changing.”
Ah. The red mixed in with Kutori’s hair would most likely completely take over the blue sooner or later. Such a noticeable transformation would indeed be quite difficult to hide from everyone.
“Would you even want someone to take on your life though? Not that I’m trying to tell you what to do or anything, but do you really want someone else going to the places where you always wanted to go or being where you always longed to be?”
Ah. That did sound rather unpleasant.
“Any feelings of wanting to go someplace or wishes of wanting to be somewhere will probably disappear anyways, right? So there’s nothing to really be upset about.” Kutori hugged her knees tightly. “… or maybe it would be better to die now, while I still remember things.”
“That might be one viable option. Seriously. Right now there are a few things remaining in your heart to cling onto, things that help you live on. But soon they’ll be gone. It’ll probably be even more painful than you think.”
“That’s true…” She buried her head in between her knees. The girl sitting next to her placed an arm around Kutori’s shoulder. “Aiseia?”
“It’s pretty windy and cold, ya know? My body temperature’s not high like Nephren’s, but I hope it’ll do.”
“… aha.” A small laugh escaped Kutori’s lips. “Thanks. You’re pretty warm.”
“Well that’s good. Life was worth living after all, huh?”
It wasn’t clear whether it was simply the result of coincidence piled on top of coincidence or if it was an outcome caused by someone’s intentional actions, but the encroachment from her previous life was certainly occurring, and it was certainly a real threat.
It devoured the very essence that made her herself, destroyed her heart, chipped away at her memories, murdered her soul… and then, through the process of remembering, the revived spirit of her predecessor gradually hijacked the remainder of her physical body. The process all occurred automatically, regardless of the will of the owner of her previous life.
No miracle of love saved her.
Or perhaps one did, but time was almost up.
The girl named Kutori Nota Seniolis would soon disappear for good.
“Are you keeping it a secret from Mr. Technician?”
“Yeah. If he knew, he would be worried.”
“What’s wrong with that? I think you have the privilege to have him worrying about you.”
Kutori had thought of that before. But if she told him, she would only be able to see his desperate, worrisome face for the rest of her remaining time. She wanted him to think about her. But she didn’t want him to cry over her. She didn’t want him to see her as some tragic heroine.
“I want us both to be happy for just a little longer… I guess.”
Aiseia didn’t look very impressed. “Saying lines that sound like they’re straight of a cheesy romance… at least we know you’re definitely still Kutori.”
The two looked at each other and smiled bittersweetly.
“Well at the very least, no more Venom, okay?” Aiseia said faintly. “Of course, I’m me, and you’re you. We’re both fairies, but in the end all that means is that we’re both lost souls of children that died too young or whatever. We’re family, but at the same time we’re completely different. There’s no guarantee that what’s happening to you is working the same way as what happened to me. But still, at least listen to that piece of advice.”
“Mm.” Kutori nodded.
“Obviously, that also means no touching Dug Weapons. That’s the least you can do if you want to remain here as long as you can.”
“Mm… understood. Thanks, Aiseia.”
“By the way, you’re not gonna ask, huh? What my real name is or where I’m from or any of that?”
Kutori failed to see the importance of those questions. “You’re Aiseia too. Cheerful, always meddling in other people’s business, not honest with yourself at all.” She lightly poked Aiseia on the tip of her nose. “Our precious comrade, and, above all, friend. You don’t look like anyone else to me.”
“Hahaha. Well then I’m glad.”
She could never trust that smile of Aiseia’s. Everyone in the fairy warehouse agreed on that point. After all, who would trust someone that keeps on smiling regardless of whether they’re happy, sad, angry, or confused?
Despite that, just now, it occurred to Kutori that maybe, just maybe, she could trust it sometimes.
On the rim of Aiseia’ eye, illuminated by the faint, shaky light of the lantern beside them, a single tear glistened.