City Series:Volume6c Chapter3
Chapter 3: The Requiem Runs
05/30/1942 10:11 – 11:43
So many things are trying to renew themselves
But I can’t find anything new in myself
I’m never meant to wake up
A grassy region of northwestern Germany that has connected Germany to Western Europe since ancient times. A comfortable place to live thanks to its gentle mountains, the Black Forest to the south, and the Rhine running through its center. Once belonged to the Borderson family who governed northwestern Germany and the Bordersons often provided assistance to Western Europe as Europe’s primary Buster family and as Hounds.
But the Borderson bloodline died off in ’33, so the Borderson knights, who had lived as free Kavaliers within Germany, lost their leader and lived separate lives as they individually saw fit. The knights who, in a way, had most fought against Heidengeists were left unsupervised in this land. At the same time, this land contains several villages known as “Villages of Pardons” where the Heidengeists who historically submitted to Borderson are allowed to live.
The sky was blue.
Looking down showed trees covered in the green of early summer.
Further away, the trees grew thick enough to call a thicket. Further than that, there were enough to call a forest. A green mountain rose beyond that.
This was one of the forests in the northwestern German region of Borderson.
A mountain road ran through the forest. It was an unpaved dirt road with wheel ruts and some undergrowth.
A single car drove along that road – a green Volkswagen Beetle convertible. It had originally been a military vehicle, so it had a plain, undecorated exterior.
Schweitzer sat in the Beetle’s driver’s seat, wearing a white shirt and navy slacks. Lowenzahn sat next to him, viewing a map and wearing a green men’s suit.
Schweitzer barely moved as the car shook. He kept his eyes directed forward as he asked her a question.
“Lowenzahn, which way at the fork up ahead?”
“Left. I think right would take us to the cliff above a waterfall. We’d fall right into the basin below.”
They turned left at the fork, feeling like they were slipping below the branches sticking out from the trees. A straight-line ascent came into view. Small grassy hills rose on either side and the road continued straight through the center.
The car bounced a bit as it continued on straight. Schweitzer shifted down a gear to prepare of the climb.
The roar of the engine grew louder and the car made its climb in between the grassy hills.
“What a view.”
Far in either direction, the wind blew waves through the grass in the shade of the hills and those waves continued on down past the bottom of the slope like vast, grassy carpets. The sound of splashing water sounded a bit like radio static as it faintly reached them from beyond the hill on the right.
“The waterfall must be close by.”
“Indeed,” agreed Schweitzer before turning to face the left hill.
Warm music reminiscent of a blowing bellows played from beyond that hill.
“That’s an organ. That sound really takes me back. …They’re playing the Unreif Germane.” She slowly looked around, letting the gentle music wash over her. “Six sections of the Unreif Germane are recited as poems: the 3rd Section of Daily Life, the 9th Section of the Ruling King, the 12th Section of the Soaring Dragon, the 1st Section of the Moonlight, the 6th Section of the Ending God, and the Final Section of the Wheel. This combines them all into a single song.”
“Your prophecies have included the 3rd Section of Daily Life, the 9th Section of the Ruling King, and now the 6th Section of the Ending God, correct?”
“Yes. The one that starts with ‘the party begins’ is the latest prophecy.”
Lowenzahn opened her mouth and recited the 6 sections of the Unreif Germane in order.
In the deep darkness of the Black Forest
Born from the abyss
The wheel emerges
- It whips up the wind and speaks with the dragon
- It reads the wind and weeps
- It carries power in its hand and hesitates
The one-armed youth holds the Messiah
The moonlit pair returns to the earth
The dragons gather and dance tonight
Every last thing returns home
- The wind blows, the night blows, the dragon awakes, the people move, the dragon roars
- The wind arrives from the north / A path arrives from the north
- The knight descends as a knight / The dragon soars high as a dragon
- All is a path to the north star / All is a story of an insurmountable wall
Follow the path to a familiar face
- While walking side by side
Your hand and voice might reach them
- But the moon sees it not
The gatherers begin their party
- A wall separates the pair
- As they follow the same path with the same words
The party begins and the village dances / The dragon roars and the knights gather
The bride weeps uncrowned / Her words go unsaid and he never arrives
Thus she is alone / She weeps and sleeps in this land
Urge him on and wait / If you wish for something new / All hesitation will come to an end up ahead
Complete the circle or break it / If you desire something new / Throw out all hesitation and look back
The wind is with you, he is with you / Seek out something new / All hesitation exists to tear through that wall
She held the door under her arm to fight the shaking as the car made its climb.
“The party begins and the village dances, huh? Captain, what did you think of the information Bermark sent us over the radio earlier? That the messiah has arrived in Germany with the one armed young man and as a member of the AIF this time.”
“This will be her first real battle. The rumors say it took her two years to pass their entrance exam.”
Lowenzahn nodded, brushed up her bangs, and spoke with the morning breeze on her face.
“Interesting, isn’t it? Remember what I told you three years ago? Our world is moving two years ahead of schedule.”
“But those two years have been mostly canceled out by the Messiah spending two years on an entrance exam?”
Schweitzer shifted down another gear.
The slope was getting steeper, but if they cleared this patch, they would reach the top of the hill. He stepped on the gas to accelerate.
Lowenzahn spoke in an emotionless tone while viewing only the sky out ahead.
“Someone sent P. Wagner a Verlsten Brief directing him to where the Sylphide slept underground and that sped up our world by two years. The Berlin Conflict was meant to happen in ’37 and the Sylphide Incident in August of ’39. The Sylphide Incident was meant to rouse suspicions of a Polish spy leaking information related to the Sylphide and that would have led to the invasion of Poland.”
“But it instead happened in ’37 when the military was not ready for an invasion and that opportunity was lost. In our version of the war, the invasion began in ’39 when classified documents were stolen from a German craft that crashed in Poland.”
“Yes, so hostilities still began in ’39 as before. That means events surrounding the Messiah were two years ahead of schedule, but the world as a whole remained unchanged. And by now in ’42, almost all of it has worked itself out on a global scale.”
“Has that made correcting the prophecies easier?”
“It has. And like you said, the Messiah has been so slow it has mostly canceled out the two years. Things are much easier to understand than they were back in ’37. The prophecies will not fail anymore.”
“May I ask one thing?”
Lowenzahn gave him a puzzled looked, so he asked his question.
“How was the Messiah meant to develop? Our Hazel Mirildorf was caught in the Sylphide Incident at the age of 15, but that was meant to have happened when she was 17.”
“Yes, and she was meant to quit school and join the AIF once the war broke out in ’37.”
“She joined the AIF immediately after the Sylphide Incident?”
“Yes,” stated Lowenzahn. “The original Messiah completed the entrance exam in the standard half a year and took part in the sabotage of the Gard-class’s #1 ship in late ’40. She had her first battle at 18. And she was captured in ’42.”
“So the original Messiah and our Messiah both began the entrance exam in ’37 at the age of 17…but the original one completed it in half a year and ours took two years?”
Lowenzahn faced forward.
“17,” muttered Schweitzer while gripping the steering wheel in both hands. “That’s about how old I was when I made my promise with Eryngium, Berger, and the others.”
“I think I had a lot going on at that age too. When I was all alone in that small house Graham gave me.”
The car shook, but Schweitzer said nothing and only pushed on the steering wheel.
But Lowenzahn continued regardless.
“But the defining incident for our Hazel Mirildorf was two years before that, when she was 15. I think she found herself caught in the Sylphide Incident before she was old enough to develop any real wisdom or have a good sense of herself. And even if she did want to join the AIF immediately afterwards, it didn’t exist in that form at that point.”
“So she had to wait the two years from 15 to 17. She must have thought about a lot in that time.”
“You were there at the Sylphide Incident, so you should know. Did she manage to accomplish anything there?”
“No,” said Schweitzer. “And all Berger and I managed was force her to abandon the Sylphide. Yet she still apologized to it.”
“She has such a soft heart, doesn’t she? But does the Messiah need one of those?”
Schweitzer turned toward her.
When she noticed his gaze, she looked up and frantically pointed forward.
The wheel ruts were straying to the right up ahead.
The car shook and he turned the wheel to keep it under control.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Because the Sylphide Incident happened two years early, the Messiah was forced to abandon it before she had developed more mature wisdom…which unintentionally turned her into a soft soul who can’t bring herself to abandon anyone.”
“But if the Sylphide Incident had happened when she was 17, she would have been mature enough to abandon that which was unnecessary, so she would have entered the AIF…and ultimately come to lead us as an elite?”
“But even our Messiah is having her first battle, even if it’s two years delayed. That is why I prophesied her capture now in ’42.”
Just then, their view opened up. They had reached the top of the hill.
Beyond the green hill was an even deeper green wheat field.
The top of the hill was flat and the rippling green field was visible as far as the eye could see starting with the slope down the hill. The road continued straight on down and arrived at a forest after half a mile.
“Past that forest is a Borderson ‘Village of Pardons’.”
They could hear the music – the organ playing the Unreif Germane.
Lowenzahn murmured while listening to the warm, gentle melody.
“The latest prophecy is the verse about the Messiah girl ending up alone. And she will remain in this land. Do you know what that means? The Messiah girl was originally supposed to arrive with Dog Berger as a skilled AIF member, but he sends her to Cologne ahead of him.”
She frowned and started to say more.
She heard the roar of an engine.
It came from behind them, so Lowenzahn turned her head to look. Schweitzer did the same.
Shortly thereafter, the color black fluttered as it came up alongside them on the right.
It was a green motorcycle with a sidecar. It was driven by…
Only after Schweitzer’s shout did Berger turn toward them.
He viewed Schweitzer’s face through his sunglasses and immediately accelerated.
“Yikes, there’s some weirdo out here!”
The motorcycle used its acceleration to pull out ahead of the car.
Schweitzer pursued it without thinking and Lowenzahn grabbed his hand.
“After them, after them! The Messiah was onboard! Argh, why don’t I have any Ton bullets with me!?”
Long blonde hair fluttered back behind the sidecar. That formed a stark contrast with the black of the coat fluttering behind the motorcycle itself, but it also seemed to blend into the surrounding greenery.
Schweitzer started to shift gears but stopped.
“Why aren’t you hurrying after him?” asked Lowenzahn when she noticed. “He called you a weirdo.”
“Conflict is forbidden in Borderson’s Village of Pardons. You know why Alfred declined to accompany us, don’t you?”
“Yes… He said he wasn’t sure he could control himself in a village full of Heidengeists. I thought that was just an excuse to avoid attending that Eryngium woman’s wedding, but was he serious?”
Schweitzer nodded. And he viewed the black and gold up ahead.
“We might should prepare ourselves for what is to come.” Without even looking, he removed the mic from the radio next to the wheel and handed it to Lowenzahn. “It is true the prophecy might be fulfilled today. If so, we will require more than just Lady Jeanne down there as well as some Ton bullets. Requesting that will mean-”
“You’re asking me to go public with my position? You want me to use my name to put together a Messiah capture team and position them around Borderson?”
Lowenzahn smiled and lifted her hips from her seat.
With the mic in hand, she stood up and placed her elbow on the windshield.
Her long braid danced in the wind behind her and she narrowed her eyes while switching on the mic.
Just then, there was movement in the BMW sidecar leading them by a distance of about 15 yards.
It was Hazel. She had her back to them, but she suddenly raised both arms.
“Hm!? But we’re in Borderson!”
Schweitzer immediately responded by stopping the car. He used Der Held to grab the hip of Lowenzahn’s suit and lowered her safely into her seat.
“Hey, that’s my butt!”
“We have bigger problems!”
His rebuke led her to notice the situation, so she ducked her head down.
But as she watched, Hazel kept her arms raised while Berger pushed her head down and lowered her arms.
It looked like the two of them were arguing about something as they drove away.
In the parked car’s passenger seat, Lowenzahn finally stretched her arms up to mimic Hazel.
“Was she yawning?”
Her question led Schweitzer to collapse limply onto the steering wheel. He breathed a sigh of relief and exasperation toward the car’s floor.
“Was our Messiah sleeping on this bumpy mountain road?”
“Probably so.” Lowenzahn pulled the reclining lever to tilt her seat all the way back and muttered calmly up into the blue sky. “Two years can make a lot of difference.”
The village was surrounded by an old stone wall in the forest.
The village had been created by clearing the forest alongside the road. There were areas of open field running alongside the road, houses had been built there, and areas of forest separated those houses. The entire village could not be viewed at once.
Hazel rubbed her sleepy eyes and took a look around.
The greenery spread out around her in shadowy colors. She saw the road, some modest wooden homes, and enough cleared land for some fields and gardens. Then there was the forest. Each house was a good distance apart. In some cases, it took 10 seconds by motorcycle before the next one came into view.
The road was covered in wheel ruts, making for a bumpy ride. It felt like being kicked from below, so Hazel removed the blanket draped over her and placed it below her butt.
She looked to the wooden house moving by on their right.
“Should we really enter the village without permission?”
“It’s fine. Everyone will be at the central square. For the wedding.”
“What wedding?” she looked up to see surprise on his face.
“Oh, that’s right,” he said, forcing a monotone voice. He smiled bitterly and continued like he had just remembered. “I’m the only one who knows about that thanks to that weird letter. You’re just my assistant who for some reason fell out of the ship, for some reason passed out, and for some reason didn’t wake up until now.”
“P-please stop bullying me like that.”
She heard a single peal of a bell in the distance.
Recalling what Berger had said, she realized what was happening in this village.
She put on a smile to smooth things over.
“We showed up on a joyous day, didn’t we?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty joyous all right. The bride and groom are both pretty great people.”
“Hm, so you know them. I hope it turns out to be a good celebration. We heard an organ playing before, right? So is there a church or school here too?”
“I’m sure there is. But I’m impressed you heard it. I didn’t notice it over the motorcycle.”
Hazel kept smiling as she nodded.
“I’m just used to hearing it is all. I’m studying in the education department, so we have to learn how to teach music class. I’m actually pretty good at playing the organ.”
That had also helped with her training in using Lives.
“But,” she began. “No one told me you were familiar with this village.”
“Because I’m not. I barely know anything about the place.”
Her smile vanished. She had sensed a faint chill in his voice.
But he continued before she could wonder what it was.
“All I know are the way here and…I guess I’d seen the entrance before too.”
Hazel looked up at him in something of a rush.
“Th-that’s all you know about the village?”
“Yeah, that’s right, Hazel Mirildorf.”
“Then why did you act like you knew the bridge and groom?”
…He said they were pretty great people.
She could not see his Lives.
…Is he suppressing his emotions?
He almost looked angry.
There were some things it was wrong to ask about, so she chose her words carefully.
“Did you really want to come here today?”
“That’s a silly question, Hazel. I was ordered here.”
He suddenly applied the brakes, so the motorcycle slid along the dirt a bit and the sidecar was pushed a little forward before stopping.
On that forest road, she could only hear the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves.
…Why did he stop?
She looked around and then up at him.
He took a breath, let go of the handlebars, and reached back toward the luggage rack behind him.
“Do you want to get off here and walk the rest of the way yourself, Hazel Mirildorf?”
“P-please stop being so mean.”
“Then why are you asking these weird questions?”
She was unsure how to respond.
“B-because you seem angry this time. You won’t tell me what it’s about, you won’t look me in the eye, and you’ve just been sulking this whole time. You’re angry.”
“Yeah, I’m angry all right.”
“Figure it out, Hazel. …What did I tell you when we went our separate ways three years ago? You were supposed to live a happy carefree life in America. Why the hell did you decide to join the AIF while going to college?”
“Because your Messiah power came back? Which means you can fight? Don’t be naïve, Hazel. Do you know what it means when it takes you two years to complete your training? Or when you’re still a Greenhorner when you can see Lives with an octave of nearly a million? It means you’re not cut out for this, Hazel Mirildorf.”
She fell silent, but she did not take her eyes off of him.
He looked her way and tried to say something.
But the words never came.
That was when she realized she had tears in her eyes.
She quickly wiped them away with her handkerchief. Then the sidecar shook and another tear fell.
The BMW was moving forward.
“That idiot is catching up.”
Only then did she notice the quiet roar of an engine coming from behind.
The motorcycle sped up, causing more shaking and another fallen tear.
The wind blew, its azure Lives tickling her cheek and flowing behind her.
He said nothing. Neither did she.
The forest on either side of the road came to an end far up ahead. The central square was visible past that, as were a few people.
Realizing that was their destination, Hazel put the handkerchief back in her pocket.
She recalled her mission.
…Escape from here with General Pale and arrive in Cologne by 11 PM. There, we fire the tracker onto the Gard-class, rendezvous with Corelle, and escape Germany.
She was Berger’s assistant, but she had another mission she could not get his help on.
…I have to convince him to join the AIF.
While she wondered how she could do that, she heard organ music. It was playing the Unreif Germane with a somewhat quicker and upbeat tempo.
She sang this verse to herself.
This verse’s lyrics came from the 6th Section of the Ending God, which made her smile bitterly.
…That section is about a pretty nasty rejection.
The music continued on.
As if inviting in any outside guests.
The light of late morning fell on Cologne.
The industrial city was lined with factories. Their smokestacks were constantly spewing smoke that could not be fully eliminated with filters.
The newer part of the city stretching north and south from the city center was almost entirely made up of factories and concentrated housing. That military city had been built along the western bank of the Rhine.
Across from Cologne, on the eastern side of the Rhine, were four white towers and a mountain of black metal.
The white towers had to be 150 yards tall and they formed the corners of a square.
Their slopes gave them a volcanic shape and the shimmering heat blowing from their peaks proved they were currently running.
They were Vaterland ley line acceleration reactors.
The vast mountain next to them was colored a pitch black that contrasted with the Vaterlands.
It was more than 300 yards tall, 200 yards wide, and more than half a mile long.
That was the Requiem, an Eingeweide aerial warship equipped with a Babel Kanone.
Its impressive and massive form was contained in a large dock built on the land originally set aside for an airport. It was facing north, which placed Cologne on its left and a mountain range on its right. It received a Phlogiston supply from the four Vaterlands.
The large aerial warship was stopped and unmoving, yet it still altered the atmospheric currents around it. All of its windows used polarized glass, so no one could see inside.
Some uniformed soldiers would occasionally move around on the deck of the aerial aircraft carriers forming the front of its port and starboard sides and some crafts would take off and land, but other than that, there was no sign of life.
Now, however, there were three people standing on the port flight deck overlooking the city.
Rose wore a white dress, Graham wore a black coat, and Lillie stood behind Rose with the wind whipping at the hem of her azure dress.
They looked down at the city of Cologne.
Smoke rose from the factories, cars drove along the roads, and people were everywhere.
The white things they could see all over the city were laundry. Because today’s weather…
“It’s sunny,” said Rose, viewing the city. “The Messiah has arrived just as prophesied, bigger brother. Bermark Vier sounded ecstatic, but that seems strange to me. Shouldn’t the Messiah girl inspire awe in people?”
“We have no way of knowing how the Messiah will lead the Geheimnis Agency.”
Graham’s response caused a slight change in Lillie’s expression. She frowned and lowered her head.
“The Tons of the North Sea’s currents are telling me of an unknown presence in the North Sea. I think it must be an Allied warship.”
“That is none of our concern as long as they remain outside of Germany’s seas. …Our duty is to protect this country. None of the Neue Kavalier are among the fools invading other lands.”
“Is that why you sent Sir Alfred to protect the north?” asked Rose, turning around as Lillie watched. She turned her back on the city below and spread her skinny arms. “When the Allies attack this city, they will come from the north. There have been a lot of people giving me lewd looks from the west for the past few days, but none of them are taking it seriously. If something is waiting in the North Sea like Lillie suggests, then I bet their bomber unit will attack from the north along with whatever’s out there.”
“How very wise, Rose.”
“Big brother said so, so I know it must be true. I doubt there are many people other than him with as thorough a grasp of this country’s military might – including the Kavaliers and civilian fighters – and can so rationally analyze the Allies’ actions.” Rose crossed her arms and held her own body. “Isn’t that why you left Sir Alfred with him, bigger brother? Because this place is in danger?”
Her piercing gaze turned to the side – toward Lillie.
“Lillie, you will be returning to defend the North Sea soon too, won’t you? The Allies will be here soon – either tonight or tomorrow – so we need to be ready.”
Lillie could not find the words, looked away from Rose, and finally looked to Graham.
Her expression was the same as before, but she let her hair blow in the wind as she asked a question.
“I am not sure what you are asking, Lillie Telmetz. Why what?”
“Why rush this?”
Graham gave a simple answer to that.
He ignored it.
With his Psyche Outer device, he could not provide answers based on emotion.
So Lillie’s gaze dropped and she sucked in a deep breath. It came out heavy.
Rose stepped up next to her and placed her hand on Lillie’s.
“Don’t worry. We too hope this will work out for the best.”
“Besides, while the Allies are after Cologne too, in a way they’re after me. Because they’re lewd. I don’t know what methods they will use, but – but my bigger brother will join the fight in his Silber Löwe and I have a lot of escape boats installed on me. So…I think it will be fine.”
Lillie hung her head further.
She tried to get her lips moving.
She could not get the words out. Her lip movements fell apart midway. Instead…
<The Emperor leaves his castle.>
An Erklärung rang out.
A hatch used to raise aircraft onto the deck opened and a giant white Grösse Panzer emerged.
A tall figure stood at its feet.
His long brown hair was tied back and his skinny but fit body was contained in a Geheimnis Agency army uniform. He was a sharp-eyed young man, but he nodded a bit when he spotted Lillie and the others.
“Sorry. I got delayed getting a tour of the ship from this guy.”
Graham coughed deeply before turning toward the voice.
Rose followed her brother’s gaze and smiled.
“I saw that, Sir Alfred. The ship’s interior is designed to allow Grösse Panzers to walk through it, but that still surprised everyone. None of them have been in the depths of the ship since the materials were carried in and assembled during construction.”
Alfred gave a quick bow and then quickly raised his head.
His hair whipped in the wind, he placed a hand on Rein König at his hip, and he turned just his head to the right. Lillie and the others looked that way too.
A hatch opened on the Requiem’s starboard flight deck and a large elevator raised two Grösse Panzers from below.
One was blue and held a rifle in its right hand. The other was red and held a shield in its left hand.
They were Bermark Nein’s Neue Blau and Neue Zinnober.
Once the elevator had finished its rise, the crew riding it hurried out onto the deck. Alfred and Bermark Nein belonged to an independent mobile unit. The Kaiser used autonomous flight to take off and Bermark Nein needed to fully activate the Ober Emblem that barely anyone could use anymore.
But things worked somewhat differently when taking off from a ship.
After the soldiers visually confirmed the deck’s landing equipment was not active, they circled in front of the two Panzers along with signalers carrying red and blue signal lights.
The thrust produced by a Grösse Panzer’s Ober Emblem wings was far greater than with aircraft. They created an instantaneous explosion of air, so anyone behind them on the deck could be blown away.
The wind blew through and the blue and red Panzers prepared for takeoff.
Lillie had fully raised her head again.
“Oh?” said Rose.
She turned back from starboard to view the city. Lillie did the same.
At some point, currents of color had appeared across the Rhine in the city.
The people in their homes, factories, schools, hospitals, and shopping districts came to a stop, took a break from their work, and emerged onto the streets to look up this way.
Lillie knew what they were looking at: the Kaiser to port and the Neue Blau and Neue Zinnober to starboard.
“They must be surprised to see not just Grösse Panzers but one bearing the Maldrick emblem.” Rose took a breath. “The government and military both know that if we make our presence known, it will drag this supposedly civilian-run country back to what it was before the previous war.”
“But there are military reports from all over Germany about a mystery unit or fighter saving them in a tight spot or a seemingly unstoppable aerial enemy fleet suddenly vanishing. The Allies are calling it the Foo Team or Foo Fighters.”
Lillie’s response led Rose to turn toward the two Grösse Panzers on the starboard side and then to Alfred and the Kaiser further away.
“But it is about time we showed them what we can do.”
Just then, a gust of wind blew in.
The clouds were somewhat stretched and swept away. The wind came from the west and pushed the clouds to the east.
<The Emperor travels the path of conquest.>
The Kaiser began to walk.
Instead of walking out ahead of it, Alfred walked alongside it, borrowing its majesty.
“Alfred Maldrick and two more from Geheimnis Agency Army Division 1st Division 1st Independent Mobile Grösse Panzer Unit reporting in. We are leaving to defend the northern coast.”
On Graham’s response, the Panzer and man stopped, straightened, and bowed.
“I will do my duty as a Neue Kavalier.”
He raised his head and Rose spoke to him.
“This is goodbye then, Sir Alfred.”
“Yes, for a while anyway.”
He gave her a small, innocent smile and Rose smiled back.
Lillie alone bit her lower lip.
But Alfred looked to Rose and then into the sky.
“Such a beautiful sky.”
“Sir Alfred, if you have time before traveling to the North Sea, why not visit the Village of Pardons to express your congratulations? On a beautiful day like this, I am sure they will be throwing a wonderful party for their wedding.”
Alfred responded with some surprise but then smiled bitterly.
“The bride is an old friend of mine, Lady Rose. However…” His smile grew even more bitter. “I have no right to attend her wedding. That is why I sent Schweitzer in my stead.”
“You don’t want to see the groom? Shouldn’t you at least see who she is marrying?”
“According to the letter, the two of them are already living together and the wedding is more something they tacked onto a festival being held in the village.”
“I see,” said Rose and his bitter smile vanished. He also looked up into the sky.
“So I know the man must be a good person.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“She is scarred.” Alfred placed his left hand on Rein König at his hip and his right at the base of his neck. “She has a permanent scar from here on her neck, down the center of her chest, and to her left side. …And she has no memory of her time living in Berlin – not of her family and not of her friends. But someone out there is still willing to share his life with her.” The ring on his left hand caught the sunlight and glinted red. “I think that is a good thing.”
When he looked her in the eye and smiled a little, Rose’s expression changed somewhat. Her slight smile changed to a full smile colored by relief.
“You truly are an adorable person,” she told Alfred.
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