Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou: Chapter 6
Chapter 6 - Seal of the King of Night
Claudius asked Mimizuku to sit on the carpet next to him. Mimizuku responded to his request without hesitation. Ever since she began to live in the castle, sitting on carpets was one of her favorite things, though she was often chided by the maids for doing so.
Here, however, there was no one to tell her off.
Sitting down directly onto the carpet, Mimizuku looked up at the boy prince, who seemed small even to her. Claudius was sitting in a chair much larger than himself, seeming to drown in its plush exterior.
"Show me your mark," Claudius said, just moving the end of his mouth.
Mimizuku obediently removed her hat and showed him her forehead.
"That's a really strange pattern..."
"Eheheh!" Mimizuku laughed.
"Show me your wrists and ankles."
Just as she was told, she extended her arms to show him her wrists, and stretched out her knees to show her ankles.
"They're really discolored."
"Orietta said they can't make it go away."
"So you were in shackles?"
"Yeah, that's right. They were rusted away, or they said something like that."
"Don't you have trouble moving?"
"Trouble? Hm... they don't hurt, so I guess they don't give me any trouble?"
"... I see."
With that, Claudius gave a light smile. It was a smile of a certain kind that Mimizuku had not seen much. Mimizuku couldn't even tell if he was smiling in the first place.
"If that's the case, then I'm even worse off."
"Aren't my arms and legs disgustingly discolored?"
Mimizuku nodded frankly. She didn't know what "ugly" meant, but they certainly were a color that she had never seen before.
"This is how I've been ever since I was born. I haven't been able to move my arms and legs, ever."
"You can't move them?"
"That's right. Even though I went so far as to take my mother's life to be born... like this, I'll surely cause grief to the kingdom."
Saying those words, Claudius averted his gaze from Mimizuku and cast his eyes downward.
"It's as if my body is cursed. Like this, I can't be seen by the citizens of the kingdom. If they say I'm crippled, everyone will get scared. Therefore, ever since my birth, I've been kept in this room, almost never leaving."
Mimizuku opened her mouth wide in amazement, causing Claudius to smile, in that same way that she couldn't tell if he was smiling or not.
"So, you would say I'm unfortunate, right?" Claudius asked.
Mimizuku slanted her head to the side.
Unfortunate is when you're unhappy. Since the prince called himself unfortunate, maybe he really is? Mimizuku thought.
But why is he asking me?
"So, how was it? You, being captured by the King of Night, I mean. Do you think you're more unfortunate than me?" Claudius said, glaring at Mimizuku with a spiteful expression on his face.
Mimizuku wasn't taken aback by Claudius's appearance.
"I'm happy? In this castle, I'm happy, I think?" she spoke absentmindedly.
Mimizuku's words seemed to stab a hole in Claudius. He opened his dull emerald eyes wide.
"I was told it's thanks to His Majesty, but I suppose you had a part in it too," Mimizuku said with a smile. Claudius looked away.
"... I don't have any authority at all."
Mimizuku, who didn't know what "authority" meant, suddenly stood up. She didn't receive permission from Claudius, but the view of the sunset from the large window was so beautiful to her.
"Wow! Incredible!" Mimizuku shouted with joy.
"Incredible, incredible! There's such a great view from here! Hey, you can even see the market!"
"Mimizuku, I'm not finished ta--!"
His words disappeared unfinished into Mimizuku's shouting.
"Hey, hey! The baked fruits in that stall over there are so delicious! Have you ever eaten them?" Mimizuku asked insouciantly. Claudius's face twisted.
"I already said...! I can't ever leave here!!"
"So you haven't? Alright then, I'll buy some for you! I'm good friends with the man there!" Mimizuku exclaimed, beaming.
Claudius opened his mouth to say something to her, but he closed it, hesitating.
"... You'll... buy me some?" he asked meekly.
"Yeah! I'll buy you some! They're really good. There are also lots of beautiful and fun things there too." Mimizuku nodded several times. She felt very content. She remembered how happy the man at the stand was when she said the fruit was delicious.
Claudius looked up at Mimizuku. It was a forlorn gaze, as if he was clinging to Mimizuku.
"Don't you commiserate me?"
Mimizuku cocked her neck like a bird.
"Wouldn't you say I'm pitiable?"
"Um... you're pitiable?"
Claudius blushed in an instant and looked away. It seemed that having his question reflected back at him caused him embarrassment.
"I've been called pitiable too, though I don't get what's so pitiable about me," Mimizuku said, smiling broadly. Claudius stared at her face timidly.
"... Hey, Mimizuku."
"Tell me about what goes on around the castle. Of what's outside, tell me what's beautiful, what's interesting, and what's wonderful," he spoke, his voice like a whisper.
Mimizuku lightly nodded her head at his request.
"Yeah, alright! I'll tell you all about it. And I'll bring you something delicious! There are lots of surprising things in the town. And then there are lots of pretty things too!"
Claudius was silent, and he hung his head far downward.
"... Will you, um..."
The ears poking out from between strands of his hair turned red.
"Will you... be my friend?"
Mimizuku grinned at his question.
"What's a friend?" she responded innocently, refreshingly.
Claudius looked up and gave an uneasy laugh. It was the first time Mimizuku had seen him laugh.
That day, when the king had finished his governmental affairs, he headed to the reception room to find Ann Duke lounging on his sofa. This was what greeted him after a day of exhausting work. He thought of lighting a fire and sticking it to the nose of Ann Duke's sleeping face, but he considered that he was up against someone who lived by the sword and thought better of it. He couldn't get careless.
"You, over there, homestayer. If you don't want to lose your job, get out of here right now," he said in a deep voice.
"Alright, alright..." the lounger said in a drowsy voice, lifting his body from the sofa. The ill-mannered Holy Knight had always found this sofa to be particularly snug.
"What are you even here for?"
"Just taking a nap."
"Yeah, sure. I was about to go home anyway. If I'm home too late, my wife gets mad, you know?" Ann Duke said in a relaxed manner while standing up. He then suddenly remembered something.
"By the way, have you heard the talk that Dia and Mimizuku are getting friendly with one another?"
"... I have."
"Hmm? So it was your suggestion?"
"Claudius is the one who said he wanted to meet the 'captured princess.'"
"Heh... he didn't get what he bargained for, as usual. Actually, nah, it's okay. I was a little surprised when I heard that they met, but I think it's a good idea too."
The king turned his cold eyes toward Ann Duke, who was stretching out like a cat.
"So, what are you trying to say?"
Ann Duke made a troubled face as if he was searching for the right words, and then slowly opened his lips.
"... Shouldn't you look after Dia a little more? Stop keeping him locked up in that place. If you stopped hesitating over suddenly exposing him to the public, he'd be in a nice boarding school somewhere by now. Do you know Remit Island? It's an island far from the border, but the schools there are supposed to be excellent."
Whether the king was listening to Ann Duke or not, he did not look at him.
Ann Duke sighed, and then continued.
"... Hey, even though Dia has a body like that... he's very smart, you know."
The king responded with silence.
Ann Duke heaved another sigh, and changed the direction of the conversation.
"How's the Demon King Mummification Plan going?"
"Ah, yes. No delays so far."
"I see... Well, that's good, I guess."
The king had lifted the sluggish paralysis of the previous conversation, changing the tone of his voice.
"What do you want to say?"
"Well, it's just... I think this whole thing is going a little too smoothly, I mean we are dealing with the demon king, after all."
He was the king that had had ruled the forest of monsters for a period of several hundred years. It was oddly unbecoming of him to fall into human hands so easily.
Even when they were subjugating him, they had felt that way.
"That is simply because this country's Magician Brigade wields a great amount of power."
The king's response was firm.
"Then that's fine, right? By the way, what do you plan on doing with the magic power that you squeeze out of the demon king anyway?" Ann Duke asked with a light tone of voice.
"... It will be put to use for the sake of the country."
Ann Duke nodded to the king's unenthusiastic response, and after a single farewell, left the reception room as he always did.
As the king listened to his footsteps grow farther away, he closed his eyes tightly and let out a small sigh.
It was a beautiful name. As he spoke it, its owner, a stunning woman, became reborn in his mind. The only portraits of her were in the reception room and the bedroom. There, smiling at him now, was the deceased queen. She was a fine woman who, even though her body was weak, loved both king and country. Rather than living for even a second more, she chose to bring forth new life. She had only one answer to those who disrupted her in childbirth.
"I want to become the one and only queen of this country."
She was dead now, and she was the only queen ever since.
The prince also had to bear the burden of the country all by himself.
"Prince! Look at this, I picked it up at the edge of the country."
"What is this?"
Claudius looked at the transparent, yellow lump that Mimizuku held out to him.
"It's a liquid that came from a tree, and then became solid. Look, that's a bug in there, isn't it?"
Claudius squinted at the lump.
"It looks kind of like honey. It thought it would be sweet, so I licked it, but it turned out to be not so tasty..."
"I wouldn't do anything like that."
"I see, I guess that's just you," Mimizuku said, chuckling. Once every three days, Mimizuku visited Claudius in his room. There were times when there were others, like teachers, already in Claudius's room, but the moment he saw Mimizuku's face, he bid them to leave.
"... Mimizuku, I will give you the honor of calling me by my own name."
"As thanks... for everything. You don't have to call me prince, Claudius is okay..."
Being told she could call him by name, Mimizuku blinked with surprise. However, she thought that Claudius's name was too long and hard to say.
She called Andy as such because Ann Duke was too hard to call him by.
"Alright, since you're Claudius, I'll call you Kuro--"
She stopped talking suddenly, and became completely still.
Something seemed to ring inside of her head.
That's wrong, someone in her head was saying.
She couldn't call him by that. Not that name.
Not that name.
"Kuro? Don't shorten my name to something seedy like that. If you want to... you can call me 'Dia' like Andy and the others do," Claudius said, his face becoming dim.
"Yes, that's right. Dia. This is... the name I received from my mother."
Claudius cast his gaze downward.
"... After having me, she died. I killed her."
"You... killed her?"
Mimizuku tilted her neck to the side.
"Yes, that's right. I killed her. My mother's body was weak. She didn't have any resistance to magic power. Her body was put under pressure by the growing magical power in this country. The truth is, her body was never fit to have a child at all."
Hmph, Mimizuku thought. How does that mean that Claudius killed her?
"But didn't she want to have you, Dia?"
"... If that was the case, then it would have been fine, I think."
Claudius's face grew deformed as he spoke.
"However, I have this kind of body. The king too, he neglects me..."
Mimizuku turned her head to the side. She didn't know the word.
"... It means he hates me, Mimizuku."
"Eh? I really don't understand, though..." Mimizuku gave a hearty smile. "Even if you're hated, I think it's still best to live. And also, I don't hate you, Dia!"
Claudius narrowed his eyes painfully at her words.
"... Mimizuku, have you been hated too?" he sighed.
Mimizuku looked down, slightly, meekly.
"I don't remember."
Claudius thought that her faced seemed to look as if she were crying.
One day, Ann Duke came into Mimizuku's room to find her with her elbows on the windowsill, engrossed in gazing up at the sky.
"Mimizuku? Is there something interesting outside?"
"I was just thinking, there's no moon," she said faintly, not turning around.
"Moon? It's still noon, you know."
"Yeah. White. I want to see it. Gold is fine too."
"Hm. You really seem to like the moon, huh Mimizuku?"
For some reason, as he said this, Mimizuku's face became gloomy.
"Yeah, sort of. It's somehow... nostalgic," she whispered as if letting out a deep breath.
"Hey Orietta, I've been thinking..."
Returning to his own mansion, Ann Duke, throwing his feet up, sat down on the sofa and began to talk.
"Yes?" Orietta replied, continuing her work in her account book.
"I've been wondering if Mimizuku is happy, not having her memories."
Orietta's hand stopped.
Ann Duke closed his eyes and continued.
"I've been wondering if it's good for someone to forget a difficult past so frivolously. For example, doesn't happiness come from seeing that sparkle rise above after tears and toil? Isn't that where human strength comes from?"
"... Hey, Andy," Orietta said in a faint voice.
When Ann Duke looked up, Orietta had stood up and was pulling a document off of the bookshelf. It appeared to be a very old transcript.
"I've been quiet about it, but I can't help myself. I tried taking a look through some of the old books in the temple."
In the temple's underground library, there were documents easily several hundred years old securely stored. They were not meant for the eyes of the general public, but Orietta, as the Maiden of the Holy Sword, had a strong influence in the matters of the temple, and was able to enter the underground library.
"What do you mean, 'took a look'...?"
"The symbol on Mimizuku's head... I tried to figure out just what kind of magic spell was cast on her."
"Did you figure it out?"
Orietta moved quietly beside Ann Duke, bending down on her knees and lowering her long eyelashes.
"It's the sign of the end of the waxing and waning of the moon."
She slowly opened the aged text. There, on the yellowed parchment, drawn out in cracked up ink, was without a doubt the symbol on Mimizuku's forehead.
"That is, the seal of memory imprisonment."
Ann Duke opened his eyes wide. He covered his mouth, disbelieving, and then his face transformed into a scowl.
"How insidious!! Those monsters captured Mimizuku, and then erased her memories!?" Ann Duke spat.
Orietta firmly denied his speculation.
"No, that's not what it is. The sequence of events is strange. Mimizuku also forgot what happened in the forest. The magic spell was invoked the moment she left the forest..."
Ann Duke suddenly remembered.
The forest had been burning. There, there was a girl cowering in the middle of it all.
There was a loud cry of pain.
She had called out for someone.
His hand covering his mouth, his eyes wandered downward as he sighed to himself.
"To the monsters... would there have been any convenience in sealing them off?"
"I wonder... We don't know the true intentions of the demon king. We only know that Mimizuku losing her memory was not of her own will..." Orietta said, closing her eyes.
"Is there any way to get her memories back?" Ann Duke asked.
"I think there's value in attempting to do so. However, I don't know if it's really for the best. Her body was malnourished, and she has those marks from the chains on her wrists and ankles... It probably wasn't the most enjoyable life for her. On top of that, we're dealing with the king of monsters... that's not something that we can oppose naturally. But if she wishes for it... then probably, it will be up to Mimizuku's will if everything works out or not."
"What do you want to do?" Ann Duke asked frankly.
Mimizuku made a confused facial expression.
Ann Duke smiled at her to relieve her hesitation.
"It's okay if you don't want to do it. This is your life, after all. Even if you've lost your memories, you can still become happy, right?"
However, Mimizuku was worried about something completely different.
"If they dispel the magic, will the pattern on my forehead disappear?" Mimizuku asked nervously. Ann Duke raised an eyebrow at her.
"No, it'll just erase the effect... Unfortunately, I don't think it'll get rid of the seal..."
"Alright then! I'll do it!" Mimizuku replied quickly. She smiled, her eyes sparkling.
"Mimizuku... do you like that symbol?"
With a pure hearted smile, Mimizuku laughed.
"Yeah! It's pretty, after all."
Ann Duke knocked the door. He received the expected "Who is it?" replying with "It's me." As usual, he immediately received permission to enter.
"Hey, it's been a while."
Ann Duke raised his hand and smiled, causing Claudius to crack a smile as well. It was difficult to say if it was befitting of someone his age or not, but it was a small token of a smile.
"You don't have any teachers this time of day?"
Claudius, who usually simply listened to what Ann Duke had to say, took hold of the conversation in a rare moment.
"How is Mii?"
Ann Duke tilted his neck for a moment, but quickly realized whom he was talking about and smiled.
"Ah, you mean Mimizuku?"
Claudius nodded, his cheeks turning slightly red.
Even this boy can make such a rich facial expression, Ann Duke mused quietly, growing a bit excited.
"It seems like you've become good friends. Did Mimizuku visit you today?"
"Yeah. She said they're trying to dispel the magic enchantment laid upon her. Will Mimizuku's memory come back?"
"... I'm not sure. At this point, Riveil and the others have been working on her for a whole day. My wife's accompanying them too."
"So you've really been getting friendly with her, huh?" Ann Duke said, unable to hold in a wide grin.
Claudius averted his gaze downward.
"That girl is so strange. She has absolutely no shame, and no pity. She's always smiling."
"... Dia. Do you want to be pitied?"
Claudius raised his head quickly to respond to Ann Duke, but it seemed like his throat was clogged with words, so he closed his mouth.
Then, the words slowly began to drip out, bit by bit.
"I don't understand. Mii says that she's in no way unhappy. When I see that, I... I..."
It seemed like he couldn't say anything more.
Ann Duke quietly drew closer, and gave Claudius a couple of gentle pats on the head.
Ann Duke, Orietta, and the gray-haired king were the only people who could lay a hand on the prince in such a way. When Ann Duke first met Claudius, he was still a baby with crimson hands. He had watched over him as he had grown. Claudius had a special significance to a couple like Ann Duke and Orietta, who had no children of their own.
"If Mimizuku's memories return..." Ann Duke said gently, "she may not be the same Mimizuku that we know now."
Claudius looked up, slightly taken aback.
"A person's memory is the one definite substance of their character. The Mimizuku whose memories have returned may be a completely different person from the Mimizuku we know now..."
"I don't want anything like that!!" Claudius shouted unthinkingly.
Ann Duke smiled as if to pacify him.
"But still, I think it would be good for you to make the new Mimizuku your friend as well. Isn't that right?"
"That is... yeah..."
Biting his lip, Claudius nodded. Ann Duke, nodding heavily, continued to talk.
"If Mimizuku's memories return, and she still wants to stay in this country with us... I think I'll make her my daughter."
Claudius's eyes grew wide at Ann Duke's words.
Ann Duke smiled somewhat shyly.
"Of course, only if Mimizuku is okay with it," he added.
"... I want to too..." Claudius looked down and muttered.
"I wish I could have been born as your and Orietta's child..." he cried out in a tiny voice, like a mosquito's buzz. Ann Duke gave him a strange look.
"You hate your father?"
"I don't hate him!" Claudius yelled. "It's not that I hate him! But for a prince like me to be born like this, I'll only bring unhappiness to the country! For someone like me, who came into this world by killing his own mother..."
Ann Duke smiled and slowly shook his head.
"Don't put your parents on a pedestal like that."
Ann Duke took a step toward the windowsill, turning his back to Claudius.
"Do you think things would be better if you could move your arms and legs?"
"... Yes. That's what I want. But no matter what this country's magicians do, there's no way they can make my arms and legs move."
"Are you certain of that?"
"Is there a way!?" Claudius asked, clinging to Ann Duke's words.
"... If we had a strong magical power... there could be..." Ann Duke said quietly without turning around.
"Where could anyone get magical power like that!?" Claudius shouted, biting his lip.
Ann Duke turned around and patted Claudius's head once more.
"I'll come again," he said softly.
Even after Ann Duke had removed his hand, Claudius continued to face downward.
"... If I could meet Mii... I'll wait for her to come... Tell her..." He spoke in fragmented sentences. He seemed like he was going to cry, but he was a boy who resisted the urge to shed tears.
After all, he couldn't wipe them away.
"I promise I'll tell her," Ann Duke nodded, exiting Claudius's room.
"Mimizuku, how are you feeling?" Orietta asked Mimizuku, who had just finished a full day of treatment for the purpose of dispelling her curse.
Ann Duke looked on from beside her.
As expected, the King of Night's seal could not be completely dispelled.
"Frankly, we just can't break through the last wall," Riveil, the head of the Magician Brigade, had said.
"However, the seal is on its last legs... From the tear we have made in it, there is a possibility that her memory will be reborn."
Buried in her bed, Mimizuku sluggishly closed her eyes.
"My head hurts..."
"Are you okay?"
With her small body, it was undoubtedly a heavy burden to bear.
"Yeah. I had a dream."
"What kind of dream?" Orietta asked.
Mimizuku opened her dry lips.
"Some one was speaking to me. Forget. Forget. I didn't want to. Don't screw around with me, idiot. Why do I have to forget?"
Seeing Mimizuku say such harsh words in monotone made Orietta smile.
"You don't seem like the usual Mimizuku."
"It's definitely me," Mimizuku answered clearly. "That was my voice."
"Don't screw around with me, idiot..." she said once more, as if to confirm it was really her.
The next day, a rare guest was summoned to Mimizuku's room in the castle.
"Ah, it's been a while. Yep, it was definitely you."
With great humility, he stepped timidly onto the castle's carpet, and couldn't help but crack a smile when he saw Mimizuku. With his plump body and simple clothes, his appearance seemed quite unnatural against the castle's white walls.
"I wonder if you remember me. You and I met in the forest."
Sitting in her bed, Mimizuku tilted her neck.
Orietta, who had brought the man with her, stepped closer to Mimizuku.
"Mr. Shiira, please tell her in detail what occurred that time."
"Yes, Lady Orietta."
The man called Shiira placed his hat upon his chest and deeply lowered his head to Orietta, then turned to Mimizuku.
"I was in trouble, lost in the forest, but then you suddenly came and spoke to me. I thought you were a monster, and I became very unnerved. But then... you called me 'Grandpa.'"
"Grandpa," Mimizuku parroted back.
Shiira smiled and nodded several times.
"That's right. You then gave me directions. 'Go straight down this river,' you said. Thanks to those words, I was able to get out of the forest."
"Straight down the river..."
"I asked, 'What about you?' But then you misunderstood and answered with your name. I asked in a sense of 'What are you going to do,' but you said 'I'm Mimizuku.'"
Something in her head rang out.
Hm? I'm Mimizuku!
That voice. Whose voice was it?
"Then I asked, 'Aren't you going to come with me?' But you were delivering a flower, so you said you couldn't. You were holding a very red flower. You gave me the stamen, saying it would ward off monsters."
As Shiira followed his memories, he carefully described the scene.
"Your hand was soaked with blood. It was an incredibly red flower, like nothing I had seen before."
Sweat began to run down Mimizuku's back. Her heart began to beat faster.
"You said something like... yes, yes, now I remember. You said you had to bring that flower to Fukurou. Mimizuku and Fukurou are associated with each other, so I remembered what you said well."
Alright! Fukurou! I'll call you Fukurou!
The night was deep.
The darkness was thick.
The moon, was beautiful.
"Mimizuku? What's wrong? Are you okay, Mimizuku?" Orietta asked from beside her. Mimizuku didn't respond, she simply muttered the name to herself over and over.
"Oh? Excuse me, but it seems like the pattern on your head has changed, hasn't it?" Shiira said, taking a closer look at Mimizuku.
"What was there before!?" Orietta asked, surprised.
"Um... when I saw it, it wasn't a pattern, but numbers. Three... 333? No, it was different. It was 332, I think..."
"I'm number three hundred thirty two!"
That was mine.
Mimizuku's eyes flew open, and she placed her hands over her ears.
Orietta called her name. However, her words never reached Mimizuku's ears.
Mimizuku shrieked in anguish, as though she were dying.
Just like she had on the day she had separated from Fukurou.
Mimizuku vomited. As she cried, she vomited until she was expelling nothing but gastric juices. Orietta held onto her back, but she continued to vomit.
As the muddy waters of her memory engulfed her, she continued to vomit.
She recalled all of her memories once more. She remembered where and when, what she felt, and what she killed.
She couldn't deny her memories. The pain, the suffering. Now, she understood. She understood how closely she had skirted death when she lived in the village. It had all come back to her again.
She couldn't turn away from it anymore. She couldn't abandon her memories any longer.
As she recalled, she searched desperately.
There had to be a time when someone was kind to me.
When was it? Surely, it was somewhere.
I was... treated kindly.
Silver. And then, gold. Moons.
The jangling sound of her shackles. The sound of Mimizuku's world.
She yelled it out into the recesses of her heart.
"How could I forget..."
Mimizuku rolled her hands into fists and screamed.
"Don't just selfishly erase people's memories like that, Fukurou! You idiooooooooot!!"
And then, beside Orietta and her pared eyes, Mimizuku lost consciousness and collapsed.
Meanwhile, underneath the castle, Fukurou, whose vitality and magical power were being squeezed out of him little by little, gave a subdued sigh.
"The idiot is you. Foolish girl..."
It was a small utterance, and no one was there to hear it.
Translator's Notes and References
- Claudius's Nickname: When written in katakana, Claudius's name is クロディアス (Kurodiasu), the first two letters of which are "ku" and "ro," thus explaining Mimizuku's choice of nickname.
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