Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume13 Bottled Letter For You
Bottled Letter for You
He held a document on that day. The document that had arrived in his hand later than its delivery time had given him a huge shock. Not that because it arrived late. Under the inconvenience of letter deliverance between cities, it wasn't possible to guarantee timely delivery of anything. Hence, one would be more lenient to this mishap.
He had deliberately printed out the data from the terminal because he could better feel what he was reading on paper rather than on the screen.
"......... But why?" he muttered after a short moment of confusion.
Rather than joy, doubt first surfaced in his mind. The person in the rough photo on the document looked to have grown a lot, but he had lost his sensitivities. He looked like an ordinary boy. It was hard to believe he had once brought him so much impact. But there was no question to the city he came from, and his name was the same as before.
The person in the photo still left traces in his mind. This happened five years ago. The childish air in the boy was disappearing, but some part of it remained. The trace of youth. People always viewed the traces of the young as their potential in the future. Though he shouldn't be considering this as he was only twenty years of age, but the trace of youth could fade with growth. The choices in one's life reduced through time. In the end, only one road was possible. However, this explanation was for the general populace.
He was different.
As a Military Artist, he was born to fight. He had no other choice, and his talent had farther paved the road for him. For him to come to an Academy City filled with immature students, it was unbelievable.
......... But this was the reality.
"Have to do my best," he murmured.
Karian Loss. This was his name. He was the Student President of the Academy City Zuellni. This was where he was now.
That thing was in every post office near any roaming bus station of any city. In a box beside the counter held letters placed in a mess. Karian tried all he could to take out one of the letters. The roaming bus driver, wearing a somewhat dirty uniform, had stuffed a few letters into that box and had then taken new packages from the post office and left. Though the letter wasn't eye-catching, it had strongly attracted Karian's attention.
It was a letter without an address for its addressee, a letter not specifically written for anyone or any organization. It was sent to anyone, any city no matter what that city was, as long as it was sent to someone living in a world different from the sender's own. A letter without an address. In Karian's memory, these letters weren't happily received by the post office. However, for some reason, these letters were increasing in number. The post office had also taken a countermeasure against it.
At that time, Karian was only ten years old. He lived in the Trade City Santoburug. Since the beginning of the year, his vision had deteriorated drastically. He had to wear glasses now. The uncomfortable feeling on his ears and nose made him square his glasses.
The letter in his hand was quite new. Except for the rough edges of the four corners, he couldn't find any traces of damage on it. It had probably taken in all the luck of the roaming bus. Karian studied the envelope and put it in his bag. Though there was no rule that said one couldn't take the letter home, he still wanted it to be safe.
What was he expecting? Perhaps expecting a change to his routine life. He wanted to breathe in the outside air.
The present Karian could not recall what he was thinking back at that time. Either way, he remembered he had taken the letter home.
His family life was very content. He lived in a huge mansion. He had a strict and serious father, a gentle mother and a young sister....... No matter how he looked at it, it was a good family. Karian himself did not have anything to be dissatisfied about. Not that he would complain. As the child of a rich family, he worked hard for his grades and people could easily find any shortcomings on the surface. His parents loved him. No one would be more fortunate than him in this world. He was content.
But, for sure..........
The door opened after a knock. Karian's sister walked in with a servant, carrying a heavy book in her arms. Hair the same color as Karian's waved behind her as she delivered the book to him. He had lent her the book a few days ago.
"You've finished reading it?"
"Um," she nodded with a face that carried an immature air.
"Did you pull an all-nighter?"
This thick book wasn't one that a child could finish reading in so short a period of time. He studied her and did not see traces of tiredness in her eyes.
"Lend me the next one," she said without answering him and pushed the book to him. Karian took it with a sour smile and caressed her head. His hand felt the warmth that was unique to a child's, proof of her exhaustion.
"I'll prepare it and lend it to you tomorrow."
She pouted at the gentle instruction but she immediately agreed. She was probably losing to sleep. It was extraordinary that she could concentrate and finish reading such a thick book at her age.
The servant took her hand and led her out of the door. Her footsteps were not stable. She would probably fall asleep before she arrived in her room. This was his younger sister, Felli Loss. Out of all normal members of the Loss family, she was a special child with the power of Psychokinesis.
That was Felli.
Kei – was a special power that supported the strength of a Military Artist. A Psychokinesist made a further change with it. A Psychokinesist's body strength was the same as a normal person's, but she possessed strong brain cells that could release the Kei of Psychokinesis, turn it into atoms and use it to gather information and to communicate.
Karian returned the book to the bookshelf, feeling the weight of the book through his wrist. Felli could read and write at the age of six, and she could read professional books of this thickness, all thanks to her ability of Psychokinesis. Though the words she used were still a child's words, her knowledge far exceeded Karian's.
Incredible. Though Karian had met Military Artists and Psychokinesists, all of them were adults. Were they that incredible too when they were young? Did such a huge distance exist between them and the normal people? Felli had so easily crossed over the four years that separated them. His sadness probably rose from his psychology.
He was jealous of his sister.
At his age, he was beginning to use his knowledge to his advantage. That was what made him sad. The gloomy atmosphere in his room intensified.
He returned to the desk and without any mood to study, leaned on the chair. A sense of failure and inferiority mixed together and created a feeling that he couldn't describe with words. He couldn't think of a way to let it out, yet he didn't want to be troubled about it on his own. Not that he couldn't imagine it. It was just revolting to even think about it.
His hesitation stayed with him and only became worse and worse. The negative feeling stuck to every part of his body like glue. While finding a way to escape it, he found the letter in his bag.
The door to the Student President's room had been blocked. A tray of sandwiches that replaced dinner, prepared by the Student Council members, sat on the table. Karian was sipping tea after dinner.
The person who walked into the room was Felli. She had just entered her first year. The feeling of wearing the General Studies uniform was nostalgic. Perhaps he wasn't used to her growth in these four years since he left her. She was twelve back then. He had only recently gotten used to the difference between the present Felli and the Felli in his memory. Once more, he could only sigh at the speed of the growth of an adolescent.
The emotionless face of a pschokinesist had not changed, but currently, Felli's cheeks were pale red, her breathing irregular. She must have run from her room to here.
In her irregular breathing, she had changed her greeting.
".... What is it?"
She held a new uniform in a plastic bag.
"What is the meaning of this?" she looked at him angrily.
He squared his glasses and spread his hands. His face showed the icy expression he used during work.
"As you can see, I'm transferring you to Military Arts."
"If possible, I want you to live freer, but the city's current circumstances do not allow it. You should also know of the Academy City's situation."
"What has that got to do with me? I know Zuellni would lose all its selenium mines if it lost in the next Military Arts Competition. But we'll leave this city one day. In that case, why.........."
He understood her and he held the same feeling, but he still stopped her.
"That's rude to all the students who come here to search their path."
"Then I just need to go to another Academy City......."
"Do you think our parents would consent to that?"
Felli lowered her head, biting her lips. Everyone back in Santoburug had high expectation of her as a genius in Psychokinesis. Originally, she had no choice but to live in her home city for her entire life. However, influenced by their daughter's thinking, the parents had allowed Felli to leave the city for a limited time. The condition was that she must go to Zuellni, where her brother Karian was. The Loss family was rich through its information trading, and it had used its huge influence to persuade the government to allow Felli to leave. On the surface, Felli had appeared to leave for Zuellni to further her studies. The department of a Psychokinesist like Felli was that important a thing for the city.
"...... I didn't want to be a Psychokinesist."
"I also didn't want to be a normal person. If I had a power equal to yours, I wouldn't have done this. Since people cannot just obtain what the power they want, unfairness also clings to you all the time."
Though it was an opinion hard to accept, Felli's head was lowered and she did not argue. She just kept her head down, not moving an inch.
"From tomorrow, you're a Military Arts student. Your classes are the same; no changes would interfere with your lessons. I'll let you know later of other procedures."
The room echoed his dry voice. His sister staggered out of the room. Alone in the room, Karian leaned back on the chair. His body felt heavy, as if he was feeling all his exhaustion at once. He recalled her figure leaving the room with her head lowered. It was a nostalgic feeling, proof of the fact that the many years of separation between them had not changed them.
Perhaps it was the same for Felli.
Karian opened the envelope. The letter, having traveled a long journey, had obtained different kinds of smell. It also retained a faint aroma of the flowers, a smell of the outside. The smell of a place that Karian could not contact with. The air of some place that disallowed him from stepping foot in. The letter had allowed him to temporarily overlap with a different place. He seemed to understand why this kind of letter was always mailed out.
The words on the letter weren't typed up. They were hand-written in neat handwriting, as if the writer was imitating some kind of writing. It looked to have come from a female's hand. Karian tossed away his worries and began to read.
"Hello, stranger. My name is Sharon Marcel. I really hope this letter won't be sent back to my home city. I wonder what will happen to it?"
What will happen to it? That troubled Karian. Sharon Marcel had not mentioned the name of her city, but from the content of the letter, she must have left the city already. Karian found that amazing. Though he knew many people could change from one roaming bus to another, it did not feel that real to him as his level of knowledge was still not enough. He wanted to know why she left her home city, but he'd probably only find out after he read the entire letter. He kept reading.
"Perhaps it's strange for me to send a letter like this after leaving a city, but it wouldn't be surprising if you think about it closely. I only know the sceneries of two cities. Though the roaming bus has stopped in many cities, I could only look in from the outside. No matter which city it is, I can't move freely as I'm not a citizen of that city. I understand from the journey that there are so many more people and cities than I can imagine. Back in my home city, what I heard was just a small part of everything. This world is really vast! But as for cities that are related to my life, there are only two."
She publicly announced her wish in this letter, saying that she wanted to understand the world more. It wasn't just for knowledge. She wanted to have experienced it and write down the wish of the world where numerous Regios drifted.
And she also understood that it was an impossible wish.
Karian was disappointed. He never expected it was such a boring letter. Though one could only write about oneself in a letter not addressed to anyone, but how could she hope to gain the goodwill of the reader by writing a negative letter? This person seemed to be older than Karian. This side of her was worse than him.
Karian was angry that the letter had failed his expectation. Of course, one reason was that he held too much expectation. Normally, he'd just laugh it off, but not today.
Yes, he should write back. This sudden thought fascinated him. The other person was female. She probably wrote the letter, hoping to meet somebody. In that case, the person who received the letter must be a brilliant male. A male who could understand her, respect her and comfort her. Yes, that's right. Karian pondered in his foul interest, pondering how to reply as his pen ran on the white page. He knew this was boring and meaningless and was tempted to stop writing. But he wrote to the end and folded the letter, wrote the address on the envelope and took it to the post office. He did all that without hesitation.
When he put the letter in the mailbox, all he had was a feeling of self-hatred. He hated he was only a ten year old kid. Perhaps he could manage to suppress his impulse when he grew older?
"That's why I'm sending you this letter, to you whom I know nothing but your name. If possible, I hope you live in a city that I know nothing about. But in a world that contains numerous cities like stars, I think it won't be that bad for the letter to be sent back to my home city.
I want to listen to your story. I also want to hear the story of your city."
Trade city Santoburug. A city that specialized in information trading. Its system was the same as a normal city's. Every few years, it participated in an intercity match. Mostly, it fought against the cities in its vicinity – Ronderia and Karamarina. One was a manufacturing city. The other was an agricultural city. Don't know whose joke it was to fight against these two good business partners. Since Santoburug's relationship with these two cities had worsened, it could only obtain information from faraway cities. And the information was what Ronderia and Karamarina desired. In the end, the hostile relationship between the three cities evolved into that of a natural information trade.
An Academy City was the best target in terms of information trade. It gathered immature people, but that meant it had also stored up talents from different cities. It was a city of mixed values. The city chased after flexibility. It was able to use its potential on research and invention. An Academy City's research was valued highly by others. Other cities all used the result of these researches to make other inventions and employ them in use.
According to Sharon's request, Karian had explained the situation of his own city. But when he thought closely, he didn't think there was anything special he wanted to let off.
The outside world. It must have all kinds of things that differed from here. Each sealed off city had its own culture, but the specialty of Santoburug had averaged out the difference between culture and civilization. The trade of information seemed to have smoothed out all the ripples in the sand.
In so prosperous a city like Santoburug that was the average of all cities, didn't that mean it doesn't have anything sellable and unique? As Karian had thought, it mattered not where one was.
Time passed in such thoughts. As he waited for a response, anticipation and uneasiness greeted him every morning. But because the time of delivery between cities was much longer than he had imagined, he had gradually forgotten it.
It was after three months that he received the letter.
Karian examined all the documents sent over, and began processing the letter of notification.
If they had such a strong Military Artist as him, they would win the next Military Arts Competition. Everyone would hold the same conclusion in the face of this person's strength. But an excellent Psychokinesist was necessary to allow this Military Artist to utilize his full potential. If information could be provided to this Military Artist in a large scale, his strength could be used more easily. As such, Felli was necessary.
Karian looked at the document in his hand again. This person had chosen to enroll in General Studies. In reality, a Military Artist of his level could learn nothing by entering the Military Arts course. Felli was probably the same. The government shouldn't have given this person permission to leave his city.
Something must have happened.
Karian must find out the reason to it. He had to transfer this person to Military Arts when he entered the Academy City, because the year of his entry was the year in which the Military Arts Competition was to be held. Karian's gaze landed on the vase in the room as he thought of how to obtain that information. The red flowers blossomed happily in front of him.
"....... Am I going overboard?" he asked the flowers.
But the aroma drifting through the air was different from that in his memory.
Karian was skeptical of the letter that the manager of the house had taken to him. Once he saw the name of the sender, he recalled what he did three months ago. Extreme self-hatred and embarrassment made him want to tear apart the unopened letter, but he wanted to find out what she had to say. In the end, he chose to open the letter.
"Yo, hello. Thanks for your reply. In truth, I've sent out ten similar letters. You're the third to reply....... And no one had written as badly as you."
As if he had received a head wound, the impact was heavy for him.
"You understood my intention and my feelings, but you still played with me like I'm an idiot. You deliberately messed around with me, who is so far from you. It's rare for such long distance communication."
A chill ran up Karian's back. Large beads of sweat ran down his face. He had been seen through. This woman had seen through his horrible taste by just reading the letter. He felt deeply the wound made by the hidden crawls of this person whom he held in contempt. Though this atmosphere made him feel dizzy, he kept on reading.
"But I like you the most of the three. You described your city in details, but unfortunately, I can't give you a pass. Though I want to understand a city's history and uniqueness, that's not only it. There's also the scenery. You might only think the city is only used to gather information, but that's not it. I want to understand how you feel about the city. Perhaps you don't understand with such an abstract explanation. Ah yes. You said in the letter you're 22. But in truth, how old are you? If you still want to say more, then send me a letter. I hope you'd say something more meaningful next time."
He had lost completely........
After reading the letter, Karian looked at the ceiling. He never thought the prank he played back then would suffer such defeat.
"How can this happen?"
He was still doubtful after reading. Was that address not the sender's address? Was this woman actually in Santaburug, someone that Karian knew? Who was she? Karian had no clues. His parents...... But his dad was busy all day, and her mother was busy helping her husband. They wouldn't have the time.
This person might not be in Santoburug. In that case......
"Did she really leave her city?"
His sense of defeat did not fade, but he couldn't suppress his curiosity. He quickly found a piece of blank paper and began moving the pen without hesitation. Say something. What should he say?
Karian never thought he could be so happy in his confusion.
The person who came in after knocking at the door was a young Military Artist with a stiff expression on her face. Vance, standing beside Karian, looked at the gloomy girl.
"Excuse me. I'm in Military Arts second year, Nina Antalk. I heard you want to talk to me?"
"Yes, I've been looking for you," Karian nodded and looked at the document beside his hand. An application form to create a platoon.
"You want to form the 17th platoon?"
"According to the document, you don't have enough members. You can't form a platoon just with a piece of paper."
Karian's words did not scare her. Keeping her stiff expression, she nodded.
"As you said, there's only me and Sharnid Elipton. There's also a Dite technician from the Alchemy course, but Sharnid was once active in the 10th platoon."
"You entered the 14th platoon in your first year. Sharnid was the same. He's young and can do much. If there are enough members, I'd really anticipate the forming of this platoon."
"Karian," Vance cut in a low voice. He meant to stop Nina from forming a team. Nina and Sharnid were both excellent Military Artists, but Vance had doubt on whether Nina had the quality to act as captain. Nina was in her second year. The first priority they should consider was her experience.
Vance was right.
"........ I want to know why you want to form a platoon? What are you not satisfied with in the 14th platoon?"
"Nothing. I think the 14th platoon is excellent."
"I admit it's my willfulness. But I want to try a fighting style that can reflect myself."
"You can't do that in the 14th platoon?"
"The 14th platoon is excellent, but time is needed to do things my way. I'm doubtful of whether Zuellni has the time for that now."
"What honest opinion."
Nina's personality dazzled Karian. So honest that she was stupid. This was shown in her handing in the application form even without enough members. It was easy to reject her with the reason of her being young and impatient. Though Nina needed Karian's permission to form a platoon, Vance's vote could reject her in this situation.
But he did not. This meant Vance was also moved by Nina's honesty.
"I understand your passion," Karian said. His words cleared up Nina's confusion. However, Vance's muttering made her control her emotions.
"But it's not possible to properly acknowledge the team when you don't have enough members. Besides, it's not permissible to find any Military Artists to fill the number. If one can easily become a platoon member, it would affect the air of Military Artists."
Nina's relaxed expression turned stiff again. She was alert for the bitterness to come.
"How about this. I'll give you temporary permission. If you don't have enough members by the deadline, then I'll take back the permission. As for the limit..... yes, let's make it the month after the opening ceremony. Both you and Sharnid are excellent Military Artists. Even though the 17th platoon might not be formed in the end, I don't want you two to have nothing to do. Besides, it takes about the same time to enter another platoon."
"That won't happen."
"I hope so."
Nina's gaze pressed onto Karian's in response to the provocation in his words. A chill ran up Karian's back at the Military Artist's hostility, but his expression remained the same. Bad Military Artists would be exiled from an Academy City, but he knew Nina wasn't that kind of person.
"I very much anticipate your performance, oh yes......"
Pretending he had suddenly thought of it, Karian said the things he already had in mind.
"I have someone to introduce to you."
"A Psychokinesist. And I'm not boasting. She really is talented."
Nina's eyes shone. For among Military Artists, those who held special powers to evolve into Psychokinesists were few. In addition, this was a talented Psychokinesist. This was what Nina needed.
"Please introduce her to me," Nina said with her head lowered.
Karian's smile was faint. He had planned this from the beginning. Since hearing of Nina from Vance, Nina was enough to make him interested in her. And her stubbornness far exceeded Karian's prediction. What was more important was that this level was not enough to form a new platoon. On retrospect, this environment suited that person. He might not be able to make use of his potential in an old platoon. On the other hand, the new stage that awaited his coming and the adaptability to him were worth anticipating. No. Even if others were to match his strength, Felli was enough for that. Even if the team was to disband afterwards, the hurt caused by it could be alleviated.
"What are you thinking?"
Vance's gloomy face watched Nina leave the Student President's room with elation.
"I got beaten by her passion."
Karian didn't know whether Vance understood his meanings. All he thought of was next year, the time of his arrival. Besides, it hadn't been confirmed whether he was to arrive at Zuellni.
After Karian received that letter, he had communicated with her three times. One time, the letter took three months to arrive. The other two letters took one month and two weeks respectively. This probably was due to the number of roaming buses and their different routes. But the difference was comical. Though the route wasn't that different subjectively speaking, but on closer inspection, all cities were constantly on the move. Even though one didn't know how long a distance existed between two cities, the route must be continuously changing.
Perhaps, the vast world was in fact very small. The movements of the cities and the wilderness conquered by filth monsters made people feel the distance was long.
Karian received the fourth letter after six months. He was now eleven years old. This was his first time understanding the meaning behind his age increase. A few more years, he'd be of age to request to leave the city. Fortunately, the Loss family specialized in information trade. Though father had already settled down in Santoburug and had his own employees, information had it that he used to travel between cities before his marriage. He would probably agree with Karian's thinking. Once he graduated from junior high......
But there was one thing he was concerned about. No, one thing that he regretted.
"Your mind really does not match your age. You're not cute at all. But you're right. A safe route changes according to the changes of a city's location. Normally, even cities near each other spend a lot of time moving, so much more than that moving in a straight line. I heard of this from friends who live in the Traffic City. Speaking of which, aren't all roaming buses, as the key of communication between cities, under the control of the Electronic Fairy in Joeldem. It might be a bit ominous, but what would happen if filth monsters destroyed Joeldem?
Normally, I'd have to wait for a long time to hear your thoughts, so this time, allow me to share my opinion. Uh, though I don't know how Electronic Fairies came to this world, they have formed different characteristics of the cities, creating the survival system for us humans. If the city's consciousness is defined as a body, then we're acknowledging them as living beings like us. Does that mean instead of Electronic Fairies living as individuals, they are social beings who each work different parts?"
That was the Sharon Karian couldn't see. She was in Academy City. Even if Karian went over to her city, she would've graduated when he enrolled.
Karian had only recently noticed the simple thing mentioned in the letter. As he read the letter, his admiration for Sharon's theory grew. He was both surprised and afraid of the truth.
"Did I leave the city to see her?"
The roaming bus and this letter caused his knowledge of the distance between cities to fade. Though it wasn't impossible, there did exist a faint sense of distance and danger. Most important was, she had never mentioned her home city, nor did she mention her plan after graduation.
Should he ask? Would she tell him after he asked? What would happen after he asked? Would he follow her and go to her home city? And afterward? In fact, Karian already knew how to express his wish to leave. He just hadn't prepared himself mentally. That wish had only stayed on the level of knowledge. But the knowledge he obtained from early maturity and his own thinking had made him comprehend the growth of a young man. Like the etching of a mark, this was his first time seeing the other as a female. He hadn't yet seen her, but he was attracted by the personality and knowledge brought out by the words. Thinking how this was just like his style, he began mocking himself to calm down.
But true peace and calmness did not come to him.
Yet, he could not ask her face to face.
The possibility of Karian and Sharon meeting randomly in so many cities was zero. Even if Karian was to inherit his father's information trade and traveled between cities like his father in his youth, he could only raise that possibility by very little. Was his feeling for her to end when he hadn't even seen her? This thinking and his bitterness made his hands shake.
He couldn't end it like that. He had decided. Nothing would happen if he waited. Waiting for her to come to Santoburug was the same as waiting for a miracle. He must act. Of course, he wasn't planning anything exaggerated. Immediately leaving for the Academy City she was in was not realistic. It would be strange for a kid of his age to handle the administrative papers for a roaming bus ride. At this stage, it was possible for him to see her. Besides, what could a child do once he saw her? Nothing was advantageous for him.
He could only do one thing. Though it was an insignificant action, Karian knew he must resist falling into the sprouting of this confused feeling. He held his pen, as if he was resisting the resistance in himself.
Everywhere else was dark. No matter how dazzling sunlight bathed the ground, the ground had no connection to the world beneath it. It was as if darkness had filled a ditch. Karian grasped his own collar.
"The usual failure to attack the fake nervous system. The simple reaction really isn't satisfactory."
If he could let things go by not looking at the exhausted face of the Head of Alchemy, it would have been good. Faint light floated before the two of them. The darkness was most dense around the light, as if it was sucked into that light only to be pushed aside.
"I've always been thinking, do you want it to wake?"
"It was originally born from the Guardian Beast plan. It separated from what cannot be analyzed. Through a long period of time, changes had occurred to it. And we can no longer understand the original body it came from."
Karian could tell the passion in his words. The Head of Alchemy was no longer answering the question. He couldn't see his expression in the dark. Of course, not that he wanted to see his face, fascinated as if possessed by a devil. Beneath the sunlight, the Head of Alchemy was a proper researcher, but he had changed since entering here. Was this his true nature? Or did the darkness turn him into another him?
"No one knows what would happen if it wakes."
"No one knows how much power it has, but it must be enormous. If it can be gathered and processed, it could solve the current problem."
"That's just an optimistic speculation."
That wasn't it. Karian hadn't been listening since the middle of the conversation. This man was like the sinking darkness, possessed by that existence. The city's crisis had just given him one more excuse.
The scenery hidden within Zuellni. Only after becoming the Student President could he see this scenery. It was the greatness brought about by a certain reason, or it was just randomness. No matter what, Karian couldn't have seen this in Santoburug.
At the same time, it reminded him of something worrying.
(Is this what you've seen?)
Sharon. For you, who have once lived here, you should have seen this too.
He returned to his room. Only the icy cold air greeted him. His sister was in her own room. He hadn't seen her for days. That couldn't be helped, but he was worried. He had wanted to acknowledge the way of life she wanted. In fact, before he knew she was to enroll, he had thought he would let her live the way she wanted if Zuellni were to lose in the next Military Arts Competition.
He had given up until that time came.
A miracle had happened. No, it was about to happen. If a miracle appeared, anyone would naturally consider how to make it more effective, even if he was to sacrifice his sister...... It didn't matter that she would hate him after that.
It was deep into the night. Karian changed into his pajamas and walked carefully to the kitchen. He made himself a cup of tea and returned to the living room.
Karian tasted the tea under a lamp. In the dim room, only the aroma drifting from the table stimulated his feeling. Smell. First, he only smelled the aroma that was left on the letter. The aroma of another city. Attracted by that aroma, he had decided to come to Zuellni.
Because Sharon was here at that time.
Karian's gaze moved to the door at the sound. Felli appeared under the dim light. Though he couldn't read her expression, the atmosphere surrounding her was rejecting him. She walked past the sofa behind him and headed for the kitchen. He could hear the sound of water running from the tap. Felli came back out. It seemed she only came to get some water.
"Felli," he called.
"After the end of next year's Military Arts Competition, I'd let you live the way you like. No matter what, I'll be graduating then. No one can bind you anymore."
"....... Do you think it'll go that smoothly?"
Felli wasn't at all happy with his words. She was smart. But unlike Karian, Felli's cleverness came from the experiences as a Psychokinesist.
"Do you think people who know of my Psychokinesis would let me switch back to General Studies? Even though you're returning to the city, the next Student President might process my transfer. The promise of someone who is about to leave is meaningless."
He couldn't defend. If he admitted her point, he would only anger her more.
"I can only......." She didn't say anymore. Her words disappeared in the dim darkness. She could only not do her best. That was probably the content of her missing words.
"Why do you want to protect this city so badly?"
She didn't wait for his answer as she closed the door and left.
"....... It's harder to persuade one person than a crowd."
He had been in Zuellni for five years now. Though he had learned how to operate a city in the Student Council that Sharon was once in, his way of interacting with individuals had not changed.
Karian sighed and quickly drained the tea that had gone cold.
He returned to his bed and caught a glance of the vase sitting by the window. The flowers seemed to understand him as they wilted in the dark.
He would put the flowers somewhere else tomorrow.
This thought accompanied him as he sank into sleep.
He had written the letter. Though he didn't know whether it worked, the uneasiness of waiting for the reply and the regret of wondering whether the content was appropriate were speedily destroying the feelings he had laid bare in the letter.
Every day was long. The heavy pressure pressing on his chest failed to leave him with the passing of time. The first month seemed to have stolen his consciousness. The second month was like forever. But time continued to pass day by day. At last, he received the letter at the end of the third month.
"In truth, I'm surprised. You do know what you're saying? I'm sorry, but I thought you were joking. It's unbelievable that you feel like this when we're so far away. But my dream is very solid. Ahah, I really am a girl.
Of course, I'm happy, since I'm a girl. Can you understand that delicate difference?
But, sorry. I can't return your feelings. This isn't a problem of age and distance. I already have someone I like. I'm helpless with him. He's the same age as me but he's playful. Yet, sometimes, he can be serious. What a strange guy. True to say, with my serious personality, I don't think I'm suited with that type of person. But this can't be helped. Maybe, this feeling would not be realized. Even so, that can't be helped. This explanation is spoiled, but I think you'd understand. Even if I could tidy up my feelings, you cannot come to my city. I can't return to Santoburug. I have my own reasons."
The letter hadn't ended, but he could no longer read the rest of the letter that he had been waiting for, for so long.
The conclusion was out. As Sharon said, this wasn't possible. Even so, he couldn't help himself and had written her the letter, pouring all his emotions out in it. He didn't cry. Only his throat felt bad.
Had it ended?
The second day, Karian bought flowers with the spare time he had from his work at the Student Council. Not only did the flowers at home wilt, the flowers in the Student President's room had lost their vitality. In order to buy new flowers, he had come to walk on the road of the shopping street.
A girl had appeared in a corner of an alley that did not connect to the shopping street, holding a bunch of flowers. Judging from the apron she wore, she must be working in some restaurant. The flowers were probably decoration for the shop.
After seeing Karian, the girl was slightly surprised. She nodded an apology and was about to leave. Karian smiled as he walked past her.
The aroma of flowers drifted to his nostrils.
"...... Can you wait a second?" he quickly turned around and called to her. He stood before the nervous girl and looked at the flowers before her chest.
A bunch of small flowers in faint yellow.
He had never seen this type. He had come to many florists in Zuellni, but he had never seen this flower. No, he had never smelled this aroma.
"Excuse me......... Where did you buy these flowers?"
The girl answered in suspicion. After thanking her, he walked straight into the alley. The alley was very narrow and it branched off. He kept walking between the two buildings. The end was a space that seemed to draw a perfect square. Tall buildings filled the four corners. A random space had appeared here. Who knew whether it was planned? In the space was a greenhouse. It looked like a simple house made to store equipment. It probably hadn't been repaired. Karian could see it was originally a fine house.
Though the plastic sheets covering the greenhouse weren't that transparent, he could barely see a figure moving in the house. The closer he walked, the stronger the smell of the flowers.
"Excuse me," he said. The person in the greenhouse answered him. It was a female's voice.
"As I thought, it was lonely to end this relationship with you. Though I was lonely, that can't be helped. I still think of you. I know I'm willful. A relationship on paper feels somewhat special. It's simple, but the other person cannot accept it. Because you must be very serious.
But how long can this feeling last? Forever? Can't be. I'm sorry. To me, swearing for a love that has no result is just a lie. Because that's the same as ignoring other means of obtaining happiness. That would become someone else's unhappiness. Only you? If that's the case, those words reflect you. But can I just sit and watch unhappiness befall you? Perhaps you would say yes. But I don't want you to be unhappy because of me. I wish for you to end this feeling for me. I don't want you to be unhappy. I don't want any students to be unhappy in the Academy City. At the same time, I don't want you to be unhappy.
You knew of this city because of me. You're my most important person who hadn't changed in those six years. You're closely connected to the Academy City that I deeply love.
I've decided not to write to you anymore. I'd welcome your letters if you were to write back. I think when that time comes; you'd have begun tidying your emotions.
If possible, I really want you to see that little space I made. For you who can't appreciate scenery, I wonder what expression you'd make after seeing it. How anticipating.
If you really did come to Zuellni, then try to find it. If you're lucky, perhaps you'd stay there."
The door to the greenhouse opened. The rich aroma inside it enveloped Karian.
It was here.
That must be it.
Sharon's letters always carried the aroma of another city. The aroma came from these flowers.
"Is there anything you want?"
The female student wiped the sweat on her forehead as she looked at him. She was suspicious of the Student President coming here alone.
"Aa, sorry. Could you sell me some flowers?"
"Ah, I'm sorry. These flowers aren't for sale. The conditions to nurture them are very harsh, so not many flowers are grown. Sometimes when they're ready, I give them out to people I know."
"The outside base of the Flower Appreciation Research Club."
Karian looked around.
"Yes. The conditions here are suited to growing these flowers. The senpais in the past negotiated and built this greenhouse."
"In the past. How long ago?"
"I heard it was ten years ago."
It really is here.
"Can I look around?"
She gave him permission and he entered the greenhouse. Cute little yellow flowers spread in the house. Though they were small, the aroma they gave off was rich. Not rich in a way that made him feel uncomfortable. He felt refreshed.
So it's here. It's the scenery that Sharon wants me to see. The place she had put lots of effort into creating is this place. Flowers are blossoming in between buildings, in a place that had disappeared amidst data. This must be the scenery she had mentioned.