Before he matured, he could hear the unspoken voices of his mother, brother, and those around him, voices that were filled with much kindness and love.
At that moment, he made up his mind, never to fawn around. That might be the cause of all this.
His father died soon after conscription, and shortly thereafter, his mother was called to the battlefield. Ever since then, Shinn was together with his brother, living in a Church in the corner of a Concentration Camp, raised by a priest.
The Concentration Camp Shinn lived in was a rebuilt village, and the priest was a villager there. An Adularia, the priest was strongly opposed to the directive to detain the Eighty Sixers, and refused to leave the Church and evacuate to the Eighty Five districts, remaining alone in the Concentration Camp that was barricaded by metal fences.
As he was an Alba, he was shunned by the Eighty Sixers, yet he was on good terms with Shinn’s parents. When the latter were sent to the battlefield, the priest took care of the brothers, and did his best to raise them.
If not for his actions, Shinn and his brother would not have survived the Concentration Camp. There was lots of outrage against the Albas who decided to forcibly contain them, the Empire that started the war, and the cruel fates that were bound to them, so without the priest’s protection, the duo, filled with a significant level of the Empire royalty’s noble blood, would easily be a target of rage.
On the night before Shinn turned eight, they received news that their mother had died in battle.
Back then, Shinn was still young, and unable to properly understand the fact that their parents were killed in battle.
Though his parents were not with him, he could clearly sense their “voices.” Suddenly, one day, that “voice” vanished, replaced by a piece of paper. While someone else informed him that the paper stated that his parents were dead, the empty words seemed so surreal to him. They did not die as lingering silhouettes or skeletons, their “deaths” instead only expressed with a mere few sentences. For the child, who did not know what death was, just the concept of it was insufficient to convey the meaning of an eternal farewell, and the disappointment and regrets of being unable to recoup anything.
More than disappointment and regret, he felt confused. Even though others told him he would not see his parents again, that they would never return again, he did not understand what it meant.
Just obey what the priest and your brother say, and be a good boy. So Shinn’s mother said on the morning she departed, patting him on the head. Why isn’t she coming back? He could not understand.
So, he went to ask his brother.
His brother Rei was ten years older than he was, and he knew everything, and could do anything. He would risk everything to protect his little brother, and doted on him more than anyone else.
Thus, if he was to ask his older brother, he would surely answer.
There was no light in the room. As the clear moonlight shone in, Rei stood alone. Shinn saw the back of his massive silhouette facing the door, and said,
Rei slowly turned around. His black eyes were reddened as he was rubbing his tears, his anguish and sadness breaking out like a flood from a dam. However, the eyes looked extremely distant, unlike his usual cavalier demeanor, and that terrified Shinn.
“Brother, where’s mom?”
The black eyes seemed to show a crack.
Shinn saw the eyes of his brother and heard the sigh, but he asked,
“Is mom not coming back? Why? …Why did mom die?”
The silence was like the darkness in the room with the lights shut, and something broke.
The ice-encased black eyes immediately shattered, revealing the magma-like madness within. The next moment, Shinn was choked with an astounding amount of force, slammed to the floor.
The lungs exhaled due to the pressure, and he was choked mercilessly with a vicious grip, shutting his windpipe down. His vision was blurred due to a lack of oxygen. With all the weight and arm strength bearing down on him, his head was practically ripped off.
Rei’s black eyes were inches from him, giving off an extreme amount of agitation and malice.
“—It’s all your fault.”
The murmur escaped through the gaps between his gritted teeth.
“It’s because of your presence that mom went to the battlefield. Mom died because of you. You killed mom!”
It’s all because of you.
He could hear the “voice” of his brother. The inner voice was louder than the thundering growl he was giving. That hellfire of a voice, that blood-stained blade of a voice, the consciousness behind it exposed upon him.
It would have been good if you didn’t have that ability. Someone like you should not have been born. Get out from this world right now.
“Sin. Your name. How fitting. It’s all your fault. Everything is all your fault! Mom’s death, my inevitable death, it’s going to be all your fault!”
His brother’s growl, his brother’s “voice,” they were extremely scary.
However, he could not move at all. Even though he tried shutting his ears, he could still hear that “voice.”
So Shinn chose to escape from there. He escaped deep into his consciousness, to the depths of his soul, until he could no longer see his parents.
And without knowing, he lost consciousness, and everything dispersed in the darkness.
He opened his eyes and found himself lying on the bed in the room, with only the priest next to him, his brother nowhere to be seen.
“It’s fine,” the priest told him. His brother was probably in the room, but he never saw his brother again.
Rei quickly finished the procedures for conscription and, a few days later, left the church. Shinn hid behind the priest as the latter led him to send his brother off.
His brother never said a single thing, nor looked back at him. His sidelong face still appeared to be filled with fury. Shinn was scared that if he was to speak up, he would be scolded, and never said anything to the very end.
His brother’s “voice,” which had always been by his ears, could no longer be heard. Several times, he summoned his courage and called out, but his brother never responded. Finally, he had to understand that his brother never forgave him… and never would, for eternity.
The scars on his neck never vanished, and would forever accompany him. It was then that he could hear something amazing in the distance.
He could not hear what the voice was saying; he could only understand that it was trying its best to tell him something.
Finally, that voice started seeping into the words of humans, but he could not determine what it was. It was not anything like a broken recorder that kept replaying the same contents, but something that yearned for something different.
Nobody, not even the priest, could hear that voice. Naturally, Shinn understood what that was.
It was likely that, on that night, he might have been killed by his brother. Killed, and perished.
He died, but never vanished, only to remain on this world. That was why he could hear the voices of the ghosts, who were the same as him.
On a certain day, his brother’s voice rang in his ears.
His brother died, but kept calling for him from the distance.
It was on that day that Shinn did the paperwork, and joined the army.