City Series:Volume2 Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Dark Respite
For once, the sky was actually clear.
That may have been because it was Sunday. There was no smoke from the factories and the sky was surprisingly empty. The chapter title page leading to heaven would be beyond that sky.
Of course, that was invisible. It did have a physical form, but the door leading to heaven was naturally as transparent as the sky.
If the nine chapter title pages were visible, the sunlight would not reach London even on a clear day. Monsters loved the night, but that did not mean they loved the darkness. Some of them enjoyed napping in the park on a sunny day.
The area in front of Westminster Cathedral was the same, but it was not the best place for napping with the bell and music playing every hour. Still, there were other things one could do in the sun.
An open area of grass was located in front of that cathedral with its tall red brick tower and a bazaar was customarily held there on weekends. It pulled in a fair number of mostly local customers.
Some people sold used items laid out on sheets and others sold vegetables from the outskirts of the city laid out on the lawn. Only the bigger merchants selling their inventory had stands set up.
Goods were being sold all over the area and the customers gathered around or lined up.
Among them, a single non-monster shopped undetected.
It was Moyla.
…Why am I doing this when I’m supposed to be inspecting the area for our mission?
But once the warm sun had washed over her, she had been drawn in. Not long after that, she had found herself picking up or looking at the various goods and she was now carrying around some things she had actually bought.
“My old habits are coming out.”
She left the crowds and checked on her purchases near the cathedral’s entrance. She had bought some plates, a comb, and other items. If she managed to return to her country, she would likely end up using them.
Long ago, she had worked as a maid and shopping like this had been her favorite part of the job. At the time, she had assumed that life would continue forever.
“I would ride the carriage to the market in town with Lady Melda and...”
She hesitated on the next name, shook her head, and corrected herself.
“All of them are gone now. Lady Melda is gone, Master Reichle is gone, and so is Ellis the maid who was like their little sister.”
She sat on the edge of a raised flower bed in front of the cathedral and she sighed.
“Now only Master Valeath the Swordsman and Moyla the Witch remain. …That’s all there is.”
She suddenly remembered the woman’s pendant hanging from Valeath’s neck.
She placed a hand on her forehead and spoke as if questioning herself.
“Why did you leave Master Reichle to me in the end?”
She hung her head and closed her eyes.
…If it hadn’t been for that…
She fell silent and Closed her thoughts. She closed off her entire being.
And she applied Verbal Self Control.
After a while, she gave a deep sigh.
…I made a promise to wait no matter how long it took.
She nodded, opened her eyes, and found a girl standing in front of her.
The girl had soft-looking blonde hair and she spoke to Moyla with her eyes closed.
“Um, are you okay? You don’ seem to be in a bad mood.”
Amon was inside Westminster Cathedral’s large main sanctuary located past a corridor. He was alone, drinking some coffee sold at the bazaar.
There was a giant square hole past the railing he rested his elbows on. Each side was fifteen meters long and there was no sign of the bottom. Someone who could see through the darkness would have seen the cathedral’s famous steam-powered automatic pipe organ located far, far below the ground.
Needless to say, Amon could not see in the dark. He was looking at the two giant chains that rose straight up from the darkness below.
The links of the chain were large enough for him to duck through and they led to the bell tower directly connected to the sanctuary’s ceiling.
The large bell was visible up above. The support and the head of the hammer used to strike the bell were both as tall as Amon.
The chains were connected to the back end of the hammer, so it seemed pulling on the chains caused the hammer to strike the bell. This was how the city’s hourly bell and pipe organ music worked.
…Come to think of it, I’ve never taken a good look at this before.
As soon as he thought that, the ropes formed from metal loops moved up and down. One moved up and the other down. The movement of the chains caused the hammer to strike the bell.
The bell immediately produced a low, deep, and yet clear tone. The entire sanctuary resonated with the sound and shook a little.
The very next moment, a wave of sound much like a physical blow erupted from the hole in front of Amon. Not only did the deluge of sound pass through his body, but it almost Overrode his body. The pipe organ music reverberated through the deep hole and transformed into a much greater sound than it had started as.
The paper coffee cup in his hand was overwhelmed by the sound. The vibrations crushed it. No, the great presence of the sound was too much for it and triggered a Balance Fall.
Amon grabbed onto the railing with both hands. He focused on gathering his strength and used that as a basis for his Verbal Self Control. He somehow managed to withstand the noise and avoid a Balance Fall of his own.
“Now that was something.”
By the time he muttered to himself, he could hear all the other sounds.
Half hidden by the pipe organ’s music, he heard a metallic sound like grinding gears. He guessed it was the steam devices that let the organ play automatically.
Rumor had it they were just as large as the chains. Someone had once jumped into the hole to commit suicide, their bones had jammed the gears of the steam devices, and the music had stopped. Of course, that did not happen now. The bell stopped after ringing thrice and the music finished nicely with an especially loud note.
“Three o’clock, huh?”
Amon rested his elbows on the railing as the lingering sound shook his body.
“That was three o’clock too, wasn’t it?”
He suddenly remembered what had happened that morning.
It had been three in the morning which could still be called the middle of the night.
He had woken to hear the bell and music coming from Westminster Cathedral, but that was not what had woken him.
A dream had.
He had not had his usual nightmares.
He had fallen into a strangely calm sleep, but it had been so unusual that he had uncomfortably woken.
…That’s just pathetic.
He had woken to that thought.
It had been dark, but enough light entered through the window to see across the room.
He had been sleeping on a three-person sofa. Before going to sleep, he and Klausl had argued over which one would sleep on the sofa and he had forced his way onto it.
He had felt something like a pillow below his head, but he had not had one before going to sleep. Not to mention that the only pillow had been on the bed Klausl was using.
Nevertheless, he had felt it below his head. It had been a soft, warm sensation.
He had suddenly realized the sensation was somehow familiar.
He had frantically Overridden his surroundings and the dimly-lit room had grown clearer than before.
Klausl had been sleeping by his head with a blanket pulled up to her shoulders. The pillow-like feeling had been her thigh.
He had started to get up and warn her, but he had stopped.
He had stopped because he had known what she would say when he asked why she had done it.
“Because you were having a nightmare again and I didn’t know what to do.”
He had been certain she would say that with a serious look on her face. That was just the kind of selfish and yet worrying girl she was.
Even after hearing he was Death Wish Amon, she did not fear him in the slightest and she would show any number of closed-eyed expressions whenever something happened. And she did it all seriously instead of out of pity.
…Does she trust me?
“If I said that, she’d take it the wrong way and get carried away.”
He had muttered that so he could hear and rested his head on Klausl’s lap.
Suddenly, his head had hit something hard.
It had been on the side of her hip, so he had guessed it was something in her skirt’s hidden pocket.
“What is that?”
Fully aware he probably should not have done so, he had touched whatever it was through the cloth. That had told him its general shape and that was enough to know what it was.
…A hand mirror.
He had looked up at her face in surprise.
Her blonde hair had fallen across her closed eyes as she slept, but those eyes would not open even when she woke.
…Why doesn’t she open her eyes?
He had also asked another question he had not considered before.
…What is she?
She almost looked human, but that could not be the case. No human could move about normally without opening her eyes. However, she was not a demon or a divine race, she did not have the thin shadow of a spirit, and she did not vanish below the sun like a ghost.
Given her multiplication the previous day, he had wondered if she was a relative of an amoeba or a slime.
…I just don’t know.
As soon as he had reached that conclusion, she had frowned slightly and let out a small breath that was half a sigh and half a groan.
He had quickly begun to feign sleep, but she had spoken before he could.
It had been a very, very quiet voice that only he could hear.
Hearing that, he had stopped pretending to sleep. He had simply stared at her face.
Whatever dream she was having, she had been lightly biting her lower lip.
Amon had said nothing, but after seeing her slender hand stick out from the blanket, he had reached out his own hand.
He had held her slightly tensed hand.
Her expression had changed a little. The strength had left her lower lip and her eyebrows had grown more peaceful.
Amon had sighed.
…This is to repay her.
Satisfied with that reasoning, he had closed his eyes.
When he had woken the following morning, she had already left the sofa and he had heard someone preparing breakfast in the kitchen beyond the living room door.
He recalled all of that while resting his elbows on the railing.
“I must have been half asleep to do that.”
Suddenly, he opened his right hand and looked at it.
His hand was hardened from all the fights he got into, but he could still feel her slender hand in it. He still felt the strength and warmth of her hand as she tensed up in fear of her dream.
He remembered that, but what about her?
As Moyla sat on the edge of the flower bed and spoke with Klausl, she was not her usual self. Ralf would have said she looked happy and Valeath would have said her expression had changed slightly.
She was smiling.
Meanwhile, Klausl looked sulky.
“It really is tough. Why don’t guys see a problem with a messy room?”
“What we call dirty, they think is actually pretty clean.”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. …Miss Moyla, do you have experience as a maid or something?”
“I do and I’m working a similar job now. What about you?”
“What I’m doing is similar too.”
“It is tough, isn’t it? And from what you’re saying, you must be serving a ridiculous person.”
“I don’t mind. It isn’t a job, after all.”
Moyla’s smile vanished at the words “it isn’t a job”. She hesitated before finally choosing her words carefully and asking a question.
“Then why are you with that person?”
Klausl seemed to focus on Moyla’s nearly Opened thoughts more than the question itself because she suppressed a smile and nodded.
“I would not say I am serving him. Is that not the case for you, Miss Moyla?”
Moyla was speechless and Klausl lightly stretched as she continued.
“A long time ago, my sister taught me that I should never let myself be a ‘thing’.”
“We are very good at office work and housework. If we set our minds to it, we can keep working and working like a machine…like a ‘thing’.”
Moyla fell silent and that silence seemed to push the closed-eyed girl to speak further.
“If I lived like that, people would value me and praise me. That would be wonderful, but then what happens if someone comes along who can do the job even better than me? I can’t even see, so I would probably be thrown out. …But when I think about that, I end up focusing even more on my work and becoming more and more like a machine.”
She took a breath, changed her expression, and turned toward Moyla.
“But Amon is different! He’s not the most sociable person, but he doesn’t treat me any differently because I’m blind and he will actually have a conversation with me.”
As she spoke, Klausl raised her right hand up near her face as if to show Moyla. She gently spread her nicely-shaped fingers and suddenly clenched them into a fist.
“He would get mad if he heard me say it, but he’s actually a very nice person.”
“And that’s why you’re with him?”
“Yes. The one unfortunate part is that he sometimes calls another woman’s name in his sleep.”
“That doesn’t sound good. You have your work cut out for you.”
Seeing Klausl smile at that, Moyla nodded in her heart.
…As do I.
“Good. That means you have someone like that by your side, doesn’t it?”
Moyla briefly panicked when the girl replied to her thought, but she soon realized what had happened.
“Oh, I Opened that.”
Realizing she had let her guard down due to the carefree atmosphere, she smiled bitterly.
“Yes, the person by my side really is a very nice person…but sadly, he’s forgotten that side of himself.”
“Amon is a lot like that, too. But in his case, he’s obsessed with tragedy.”
“He thinks everything is his fault and he always apologizes whenever something happens. And yet I’m not with him because I want to hear him apologize. …Right?”
Moyla agreed, but she was a little confused. She had never thought about someone being “obsessed with tragedy”.
The past she shared with Valeath was indeed a tragedy.
She frantically Closed the thought that came to her and looked back to Klausl. The girl’s eyes were still closed as she smiled calmly.
When she saw that smile, Moyla spoke without meaning to.
“I had thought we were a lot alike,” she said quietly. “But I envy you.”
“I envy you, Miss Moyla. If I was as captivating as you, maybe Amon would be more willing to look my way.”
Both of them laughed quietly.
But then they were interrupted.
Moyla sensed a presence behind her.
A very familiar and intense aura approached from the cathedral entrance to the right.
This was Valeath’s presence.
She began to turn around but stopped.
Valeath was supposed to be spending the day in the warehouse by the hotel while he fine-tuned the machine they needed for their mission. The machine was the large piece of cargo Ralf had brought in with his weapons. From what Moyla had heard, the work on it would take all afternoon.
So why was he here?
Moyla’s hesitation allowed Klausl to turn around first.
The blind girl spoke a name, but it was not “Valeath”.
Moyla alone knew that was an ominous name that would soon lead to a fight.
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