The wilderness was covered in snow, as if a bottle of milk had been smashed. The soil, the grass, and the insects were all sleeping, blanketed in the frozen season. The seal had spread to the edge of the continent and would not be lifted until spring.

The only people moving energetically under such circumstances were the humans. They were holed up in on the streets, trying to fight back against the ending season like infants who hated to sleep.

“Uuu, it’s cold, cold.”

There was a stretch of wilderness the northwestern part of Ostia. There, the more energetic bunch of humans were gathered. They were the rebels who were fighting against sleep, andinstead were trying to subjugate it.

“Achoo! I’ll catch a cold at this rate~.”

Standing there with her arms folded as she wore a thick coat was Dee Ensy. Her clothes were as thick as a rabbit’s fur, and she she buried her face in several layers of mufflers.

“…You could have hidden in a building or something.?”

Maccia Electus said as he exhaled white breath. He formed a stark contrast with Dee, and was wearing only a light jacket for mobility. He stood at where it was windy, and should be a lot colder  than Dee, but he showed no signs of it..

“I can’t welcome if I hide indoors though?”

“…Can’t you do that a little later?”

“No no no, these things are pretty important, okay?”

Dee was not the only one present, for there was the chief guard, the chief procession officer and their subordinates. There were not simply citizens gathered here, but also  Dee’s ‘personal friends’ and several brave emissaries from other countries attending this..

Clearly they were not the type to dawdle in the wilderness.

Despite this, they flocked together under the cold weather, staring westward and refusing to leave.

They shivered in the cold, wasting time for what amounted to gold, for they believed it was worth the wait.

“Speaking of which…three days passed since we were contacted, right? That is way too soon.”

Maccia said as he gazed west into the wilderness. The sun was already setting over there, though it was hard to see through the thick clouds.

“Are they really coming tonight?”

Maccia glanced at Dee,. The latter’s confident smile did not falter.

“She’ll come.”

“On what basis?”

“Actually, I’m friends with ‘her’.”

“…What did you say?”

This surprised even Maccia.

“But that’s when I was the Ghost, so I never saw her recently, and I can’t even if I want to. Since ‘she’ said she’s coming, she’ll definitely come.”

“…,You really trust her.”

“Kinda.”

Maccia only knew of a few people that could make this Ghost feel so confident, and basically, they were Ai and the few Witches. At the same time, he felt very impressed. He never met her before, but he could believe that person was worthy to be trusted.

“…Well, let’s wait and see.”

Since she was someone Dee Ensy could trust, Maccia Electus too could trust. Thinking that he had no other choice, he steeled himself for a resolve to keep waiting, paced his breathing, and exhaled. Since Dee said she would wait, he too would wait even if it took them until the next morning.

But fortunately for him, his resolve was short-lived.

“…No, it looks like that won’t be necessary.”

It happened right after the conversation ended.

“Look.”

The index finger wrapped in cowhide pointed west. But she was not pointing at the sun, but at those who arrived in place of daylight.

“Th-This is…”

“What a …”

A buzz propagated through the group. The group of seasoned diplomats were as bewildered as feeble sheep. Their bodies trembled and their eyes squinted in horror at what had crawled out of the twilight.

 

Pii raa ppii rirari, Pii ppii rirari, pii pirarii♪

 

The sound of a fluter can be heard through the wind.

 

Boom! Boom! Boomkalili! Booor! Boor! Boomkalili!

 

The vibration of the big drum struck the bodies.

 

Aaa lilasooo raa soo raa riii

 

The singing reached their ears, and although they were cheerful and joyful, they were also terrifying, and people could not help but shiver.

Dee and even Maccia were no exception..

The festival music grew louder and louder. Contrary to their leisurely movements, they ran through the wilderness at a ridiculous speed and quickly grew in size.

“Pipiraripirapipipiiilrariririrarurirurarurirura!

A man with instruments hanging all over his body played the flute as though he was playing his own. No, it was no metaphor, the flute was definitely hanging on his body.”

“Haahaa~! Paapaa~ “

The man shouted and inhaled hard, letting the air flow through his body before relaxing it as sound through the earholes.

“Paaa! Paaa! Paraliiipaaaa~!”

The accordionist beside him was no longer even in human form. Like a scale insect, he continued to play his deformed music while shrinking the bellows made of his own skin.

“Du-du-du-du-du-du-du-du-du-du-du! Don! Don! Donkalali!!”

A drummer followed. He was using his belly as a drum, and the tremors shook the pebbles off the ground..

“Ahahahaha! “

A portable shrine appeared behind them. It was made of gold and silver, jade and lapis lazuli, lacquer and enamel, it was as big as a hill, and resembled a legendary turtle walking with the world on its back.

“Oi…”

“What?”

They would arrive in a few seconds. Maccia contained his fear as he called for Dee. He felt that if he relaxed, he would run away.

“Honestly, you must be regretting a little!”

“I guess!”

Their teeth were no longer clattering because of the cold. Dee was not someone who would be scared of the Dead at this moment, but she was still terrified of certain individuals, no, a certain person amongst them.

“But there’s no turning back now!”

Ortus, the land of the Dead.

Usually, this country’s buildings would be decorated with a statue of a pretty girl, one of the ‘Idol of Murder’ that could kill the Living with just a look.

However, the figure was nowhere in sight on the portable shrine before them.

After all,

 

“Thank you for welcoming us, people of Ostia.”

 

An energetic youthful boy’s voice descended from the portable shrine before the. With so many Dead around, he was the only Living, and yet he seemed like the weirdest of them all.

 

“The Princess is grateful too.”

 

And then,.

 

The sun was taken down.

 

The music was played.

 

And eternal sleep was denied.

 

 

Ulla Euleus Hecmatika arrived.

 

+

 

The next day passed peacefully as well. Tanya, who had just said her sad goodbyes the day before, showed up before noon, looking a little awkward; Dee and the triplets too found time to visit. Julie was busy studying under a plasticator to take care of Ai, and gathered ice locks outdoors. Scar and Celica were the only ones spending their time as usual.

The snow on the streets slowly piled up, and those that had nothing to do while queuing started shoving away, while those staying at areas with heavy snowfalls built igloos and added a dormitory.

Alice had not been caught yet, and neither was Nein.

Nobody knew where those two went. Aside from Alice, there were many people looking for Nein, ‘the grantor of all wishes’ but neither could be found.

Ai, however, was not too concerned. She did not know the details, but she was certain that they would soon return, and she had an idea why they had disappeared. She decided to wait here calmly, without panicking or making a fuss.

“Hmmm. This is troubling.”

Thus, at this moment, Ai was holed up in her room writing a letter. She chatted with Tanya the previous day, and recalled that she had not been sent any letters recently. This letter was for Ulla and Kiriko, both living in Ortus, the land of the Dead. They were the first people Ai had met and the first friends she made on her journey.

The last letter was written right after she returned to this world, and perhaps it had not reached her yet. After so many things had happened, she had to write something and inform them. It would be troubling if they got angry at her later and said, “Why didn’t you tell us?”

Nevertheless,

“What shall I write …?”

Faced with a blank piece of letter paper, “Hmm” Ai grunted,.

It had already been an hour since she decided with a relaxed mood to write a letter, but she could not write anything at all. She started off writing “Hello Ulla and Mir Kiriko, are you doing well? I’m fine here.” And then she suddenly realized that I was not fine.

“Now this is really troubling…”

Most of the cliché openings were sealed off, and Ai has remained huddled in this position for a long time. The letter paper was whiter than the snowfield.

She never expected to fail from the very first sentence. It was more difficult than she might assume to announce her own death.

It was the case especially for Ulla. Ai had once approached her in what amounted to an illegal raid and revealed her secret. She did not want to do the same thing again, and had to be cautious. It would be difficult for her to write if she was to be cautious though.

“I don’t want to write something too depressing…”

Ulla was a princess of Ortus, the land of the Dead. Their people viewed Death as a second Life, where they would begin life anew again. When writing to such people, she could not write anything too negative about Death. However, it was difficult to write it casually. If it was too casual, she might be dismissed as a joke.

The letter she should write had to be serious, but not too dark, full of humor, yet straight to the point.

“Hmm, I can’t do it~”

Ai cheerfully tossed aside her pencil down and stood up. She could not come up with any good sentences at all, and her thoughts were spinning.

She hopped onto the bed, and plunged into the blanket with a soft sound, remaining still like stone. The blanket was filled with cold air, and felt a little chilly to touch.

“…”

Ai thought about Ulla, the princess of the land of the Dead, with her superpower ability to ‘unequivocally kill all Living’.

Ulla once said that Death was not a bad thing. How would she view Ai then? saw herself?

Will she feel sad?

Upon thinking so, Ai too felt sad. Over the past few days, Ai had caused sadness to many, and she was so devastated that she was tired. She felt that her view of how others grieved over her death was exceptionally rude, but everything, including such thoughts, left her worn out..

Because—and she could never say this to Julie—Ai did not regret her death at all.

Of course, it was shocking to learn that she could not eat any more food or grow any taller, and she hated it. She thought that if she had to die, she should die after she gained some weight. It was different from regret however. She believed that no matter how many times she was revived, she would have jumped in at that moment, at that place, to stop Alice and save Nein.

She would not give up for this purpose, even though she knew she would die. Even if Julie lamented, Scar grieved, and her friends shed tears, Ai would still make the same choice again. She never had any regrets about it..

But,

(“Because Ai…is already dead…)

(I have decided. I shall call this my grief)

(Waaaahhh! Aiiii!)

 

Still, it was painful to cause others sadness.

“………”

Julie and the others never blamed Ai for her choice. But they definitely would not have assumed this. They feared to discuss as to why Ai gave her life up for the two of them.

I didn’t ask to be praised, so Ai though.

But still, Ai wanted anyone, just anyone, to pat her on the head and say, ‘You did well.”. She hoped for someone to acknowledge her reason d’etre, and acknowledge who she was at that moment. Otherwis…

 

“Wow, just as I thought.”

 

(…… hmm?)

She had unwittingly fallen asleep, and for a moment, Ai did not know where she was for a moment.

She opened her eyes. She saw the exact same scene as before, her usual room..

It was quiet and still.

She laid there, pondering why she had woken up. She thought she heard someone’s voice…

Oh well.

Even the Dead would sleepwalk, and Ai felt so devoid of strength to think of anything. She fell deep into the depths of sleep, and was pampered by the soft thighs supporting her head and gentle hands caressing her face. She felt very hot recently whenever she touched people, but amazingly, those hands was cool and comforting.

“Look, Kiriko, Ai is very cute after all.”

She heard a voice she might or might not have heard before..

“Hmph, this brat might be a little cute if she doesn’t act or say anything…goodness me though, why is she sleeping when the Princess has just arrived?

“Woah, do not be angry. What can she do after all? It appears she really suffered lots…”

Who could it be?

That was the only question that stuck with Ai, and she turned her head to the ceiling. And then,

 

“Ai, you worked so hard again…”

 

Her eyes met Ulla Hecmatika’s, who was patting her on the head.

Some dream this is, Ai thought? Since Ulla was a princess who stayed for in Ortus, she could not have appeared here. After all, this was too good to be true. How could someone just appear the moment she thought of meeting that person, and even say what she wanted to hear? Ai was not so young anymore to believe in such a gentle miracle.

And speaking of which, she neither knew of Ulla’s face or voice, yet she recognized her, and bviously, it was a dream.

That was probably why Ai was able to accept her presence so easily.

“Ulla…?”

“Ah, you awake?”

Ulla was exactly as Ai had imagined. Her hair was as black as if sewn through the night, her skin was like wax wrapped in a cold, thin dress. The eyes she never got to see before were moist as freshly hardened obsidian.

Ai was somehow pleased to find her reflection in those eyes.

“…Nice to meet you for the first time.”

“Eh? It is not our first encounter…ah, I see, it is our first time seeing each other. “

“No, Ulla, I know how this pattern works. This brat’s just sleeptalking.”

Ai was really happy. There was no sadness or awkwardness at all in the Ulla before her, just simply happy to see her, and accepted her as a Dead..

“Miss Ulla.”

“What~is it?”

“Miss Ulla…”

“Hmm? So, what is it?”

“……Can you pat my head…just a little more?”

“See? She’s sleeptalking now.”

“Goodness Kiriko, be quiet.”

Even Kiriko had appeared in the dream. Ah whatever, since it was a dream, it should be a dream made of candy and milk, and all those obstructions should return to reality..

Ulla’s hands were gentle, smooth, and pleasant.

“Fufufu, it’s Miss Ulla, Miss Ulla. …”

“Wo-woah? Why is she so cute? What should I do Kiriko…”

“I don’t know, Do as you please. I shall welcome Master Celica..”

Ai put her face at Ulla’s soft belly, and gave a puffy smile..

“Miss Ulla, will you listen to my story?”

“Yes. What~is it?”

“You know…”

Ai then began to tell her story. In her dream, she talked about her past, her feelings, how her dream to ‘never give up until I give up’ finally ended in futility. She talked about whom she met, whom she bade farewell to, what she thought of, what she accomplished, and what she gained and lost.

Ulla listened like a mother or a big sister. She did not say a single thought, “You worked hard” and only commented so.

Ai felt like she was blowing bubbles. Every time she spoke, every word she said, the scent of life frothed, and the bubbles that were dyed by the dreamlike colors let out an iridescent glow.

“So pretty.”

Ulla described Ai’s life as such.

“Is that so…?”

Ai felt embarrassed. She did not think those words were a compliment..

Ah, it’s a dream, so Ai thought again. In her blissful dream, she continued to blow out more dream bubbles.

She was dreaming. She was in a dream within eternal sleep.

Suddenly, she felt an understanding in her heart. Everything was a dream. Whether awake or asleep, the Dead would continue to dream. A dream of the bottom of the water, a dream of the goldfish circling around in a bowl. A dream of Hell. A dream of Heaven. A dream of beasts. A dream of grass.

People would dream even after death.

And they would never wake up again.

Dreaming of Heaven created Hell, and dreaming of happiness created misery.

This world truly was a giant jewelry box. Dreams would collide with dreams, hurting each other. The mere existence of Heaven would have it resented by Hell. Beasts would kill plants just by living. Thorns were prickly to not get killed.

Ai wanted to ask about thorns, does your dream have any thorns?, or ask about wolves or sharks. Would they dream of claws and fangs, even at the end of sweet ideals?

People dreamed of them at least.

Even after Death, humans had to continue living, and the dreams they made were carved from claws and scars.

They clawed to ‘desire the world’. They tried to seize it like it was a beautiful stone. Basically, that was what it meant to save the world. Nobody was going to confiscate the word, but Ai just yearned for something that did not exist.

Everyone had dreams. Just as an egg would dream of what lies beyond its shell, so too would people dream within the eggs.

But both were shattered together, and the world is about to sink into silence.

Ai felt that she understood a little of Alice’s feelings. She thought of that silver boy who was trapped in emptiness and became sharp as a blade..

Once people died, they would feel everything was like a dream.

People, scenery, stars, sky, everything was a dream.

It was as if the colors had disappeared, and everything that was witnessed felt so hollow..

Ai had no regrets. It was true. She believed that no matter how many times she was reborn again, there would be no other ending.

But,

“Miss Ulla… I’m dead…”

But little by little, the fear grew.

She feared that she could not grow tall, that she could not gain weight. She was afraid of herself, that she might forget to breathe, and feared the time that would soon be passed. She feared the warmth of the Living bodies..

Ai feared that her body would be parched, that her muscles would wear out, that her body would rot, and that she would only be left with bones.

‘Hey …Miss Ulla… I’ve always been scared…”

It was a fear she could not tell anyone. Not to Julie, not to Scar, and naturally, not to Dee. If she were to say so, she would hurt them gravely. If she cried and screamed that she was really scared, Julie might actually have a mental breakdown..

Thus Ai decided not to be afraid. It was not difficult to do so.

The way to forget fear was simple. She had been doing that for years, and she knew what to do.

She simply did not have to think about it.

It was fine as long as she did not notice her anxiety and fear. It was a simple truth that everyone in the world would do every day. Was it not? If people were to think of Death all day loing, that would actually kill people.

“”I know that. I know that it’s not something I should think about.”

It felt like it was peering out from a dark hole..

Death.

Or eternity.

The thought of it caused Ai to feel sick to her stomach, her vision to turn black, and her heart to shrivel.

“But I told them that I shall think about it.”

That was why she could not think about it anymore. She was in a hole, and not thinking about it was her escape..

Still, she was scared, scared, and scared.

But at this moment..

“…Hic…”

The tears finally began broke from a dam. There was no shape, no dampness or glitter. But they were tears, sobs.

I finally cried, Ai thought. She did not cry for anyone else, but for herself, whom she felt sorry for. She cried for the thirteen-year-old Ai Astin who had died.

“Hic…of course…I don’t regret it…and I’m prepared for it…but…why…did I have to die…?”

She could not say those words to anyone else, not to Alice, not to Nein.

 

“I…wanted to live a…normal life.”

 

Nein would probably hang himself if she saw Ai in this state, while Alice would become sharper, like an empty husk. Thus, Ai could not say so, not to anyone..

There was only one person she could say this to.

“Yes, You worked hard…”

That would be this already-deceased Princess of the Dead.

“Ai, you really did your best.”

“Sniffle… really?”

“Really really, I think you are amazing.”

“…Like, really really?”

“Yes, really really really. And you are cute.”

“C-Cute has nothing to do with this…”

Ai was increasingly unable to dismiss this as a dream anymore.

She had no idea as to how or why this happened, but at any rate, Ulla appeared here in reality. Ai slowly came to understand this. Her drowsiness gradually lifted, and her thoughts became clearer. Ai wanted to stay in Ulla’s soft lap for as long as she could.

But it was no longer possible. After all, she had decided to ‘think’.

“Ah!”

Ai pulled her shiny hair back in the darkness, and hopped out of Ulla’s clutches. Her hand was on the soft bed, and she looked directly into the eyes that were of the same height..

See them and you die. The eyes that were fabled to do so had the color of night..

“It’s been a long time, Miss Ulla. “

“Yes. It has been a long while. Ai…are you awake yet?”

“Yes.”

“Thank goodness…hmmm.”

For some reason, both of them felt very awkward. Their hearts were connected, but it was their first time talking face to face with each other, and this situation left them a little awkward..

It was the first time that Ai had felt happy to be dead. Just the fact that she could talk to Ulla made her very happy..

“I’m back. I’ve brought Master Celica—wait, you finally woke up?”

At that moment, Kiriko opened the door and entered with a soundly sleeping Celica in his clutches.

“Welcome, you two, You’ve made a long trip here.”

Ai said in a firm tone, as though dividing a line between dream and reality.

“Welcome.”

 

Kiriko explained that they (along with the Deads of Ortus)  visited this town as part of a world tour.

“We originally planned to have the Princess walk outside. Otherwise, she would be trapped in Ortus.”

Apparently, the rumor the perception of the Dead has changed considerably in the past year was true, and Ortus, the pioneer of post-mortem technologies, was thus in high demand in other countries.

However, there was a strong sense of rejection within Ortus regarding the Living, who had changed their stance, and they felt that there was no benefit to cooperating with the Living..

It was Ulla who sparked the conversation. She was imprisoned based on special rights, unable to seek achievements within her country, and took a gamble to seek it externally..

She came to this town as part of it.

For Ostia, it was a mutually beneficial encounter, as it gave recognition as a a place where the ‘Princess of Death’, who had been shrouded in secrecy for decades, had visited. For Ortus, it gave them a connection to an important bastion to all of humanity in the future, and so this was a mutually beneficial interaction for both sides.

“Eh? Then you shouldn’t be here, right?”

Ai said. She was not sure of the situation, but surely they had lots of things to do..

“Well, thats correct, but it is fine as long as it is a little while.”

“Is that so?”

“Ah, the audience had already ended. We have the Living everywhere here, so there is no party for the Princess to attend. Might as well that she has time..”

Ai looked at Kiriko. He had a youthful body and soft hair resembling well-whipped cream. He was still the same naggy, thin boy.

But even so, he was different from before. Ai had no idea how to answer if she was asked this question, but she felt that he had softened considerably.

“I am exhausted.”

Ulla let out an ostentatious sigh as she rested her head on Kiriko’s belly.

“I mean, I will not kill people, right? “

“Y-Yeah.”

Ai had no idea how to answer the statement that sounded as simply as stating what she dared not to eat..

“So when I meet a living person, I have to dress in some really troublesome clothing.”

Ulla Hecmatika could kill people.

Anyone she saw or met or called for would all die.

It was the highest ranked instant death ability in this world infested with abilities..

Thus, she had to cover her eyes, skin, and voice when she met the Living. It took Ai a lot of effort just to speak to her back in Ortus..”

“I’m glad that you’re dead today, Ai.”

“Ah, I see…”

Once again, Ulla stated so plainly. Julie would have been furious to hear it, and Ai’s face froze up. Then, perhaps noticing Ai’s reaction, Kiriko said,

“Hey Ulla, this isn’t Ortu… “

“Ah, I see, am I being rude …?”

Ulla tilted her head and asked worriedly, but she probably did not understand the strangeness of what she had just asked. She looked as though she was unfamiliar with exotic customs, she would try to respect and imitate them, and was unnatural as a result.

“I-It’s all right.”

It was not a lie. Ai was shocked, yes, but this shock left her comfortable with at the moment.

Ai truly recognized that the two before her really saw Death as just another phenomenon. Death was thus nothing more than a second birth, nothing to grieve over.

There was really a group of people who thought so.

This fact really touched Ai’s heart. They were not sad about Death, and even celebreated. It was an unusual kindness, but it put Ai’s utterly abnormal mind at ease. She felt that the pressure of ‘common sense’ that had been tormenting her over the past few days were gradually eroding.

“I’m really glad to meet you, Miss Ulla.”

“Yes,” I’m very happy, too.”

“Heh heh heh.”

“Fufufu.”

Eheufueheufu. They were sitting shoulder to shoulder with each other, rubbing their cheeks together, like young kittens deepening their affection.

“Oh yeah, you’re dead too right, Miss Ulla? What happened?”

Thus Ai could simply ask this question. There was no doubt that Ulla had died.

“Ahh, this? Look.”

Without hesitation, Ulla began to peel off the front of her clothes. Her slender neck was exposed, and her modest lumps and white belly touched the night air. Regardless of how things unfolded, Ai was perplexed by the situation before her. Leaving Ai aside, Kiriko too was present. Was this fine? Was she really alirhg with them?

The two, however, remained normal. Ai was puzzled by this somewhat mature response. Erm, do they not care about such things? Or are they already used to it?

“Look.”

Ai, who no longer cared much about death or anything else, still obligingly looked at Ulla’s fingertip. There, on the left side of her chest, was a scar that could only be seen if one looked closely.

“What is this scar?”

“I was shot.”

“You were shot!?”

It happened after Ai and the others had left, Ulla and the others apparently engaged in a very radical power struggle, and it was said that during the process, she was shot and killed by one of the old men’s subordinates.

I was lucky.

“Lu-lucky!? How so?”

“Because I was shot, the people stood on my side. The timing was perfect, so it was a big help.”

So there was such a view? Ai was shocked to hear such a notion.

“Eh? But, don’t you feel sad or anything?”

“Me? No, not really. I was already 15 years old, and I felt that as the leader of Ortus, I knew I had to die soon, so I was totally fine.”

“Is-Is that so?”

“It seemed those old men did not think so, and it was a lot easier after that.”

“Huh, amazing… “

“Yes. I was really lucky..”

It was no longer a matter of disdaining Death. Ai felt a sense of respect that bordered on bewildered. She felt like a fool for having spent the last few days pondering this. Truly this was the Princess of the land of the Dead, her viewpoint and thoughts were completely different..

“… Ai, do you hate this, by any chance? “

Ulla seemed so blasé discussing her own death, yet her expression crumbled for the first time..

“Eh? How so?”

“…Actually, Kiriko told me to be careful when talking about this…because it might hurt you, Ai….”

“That’s—”

Not true. She could not deny this completely. Her current self could understand Ulla’s thoughts and resolve, but she had no confidence of doing so if she was still alive.

She felt that Ulla’s thoughts or resolve could be understood through talk. As to whether it would hurt her, surely the answer would be yes. She would have cried like Julie and Dee did, regardless of how Ulla felt about it.

Even though she knew that this might end up hurting her.

“…It’s hard to do this.” …

It occurred to Ai that perhaps the smallest actions she did might have left little scars in other people’s hearts.

For example, if she was sad about someone, and felt sorry for that person, but if that person did not think so, how would it turn out? Surely that person will then feel pitiful for the first time. In fact, while the person might not be the case, the person would be ‘sad’.

“But! I don’t care right now!”

“Kya!”

That’s why Ai hugged Ulla to break this grief, and pulled her face to the wound, headbutting it.

“I see…that’s good.…”

“Yes!”

The two were finally able to interact with each other without any hesitation.

Black in white, white in black, evil and good, positive and negative, everything has a pro and a con, and Ai felt that ‘there was some benefit to being dead’.

This was not possible in the fact. It had nothing to do with Ulla’s ability or Ai’s position, but because their hearts were not linked. Back then, they were in the deep darkness of Ortus, and the embrace they had through Kiriko was not complete, so they had only been in touch for a short time.

Surely it was the same this time. Even though they understood each other, and their hearts were as one, it might seem like a littler interaction. That was fine however, for Ai was rather looking forward to the future. Because time was truly as long as eternity.

And they embraced each other for a long, long time.

 

“Daw?”

 

And,

“Oh, Lady Celica’s awake.”

Celica Hecmatika woke up, interrupting the atmosphere and conversation.

 

+

 

Ulla and Celica, both born as princesses in the land of the Dead, walked different paths in life, and had not met for at least half a year.

“Daw?”

Celica, who was being held by Kiriko, woke up and gazed at the unfamiliar face before her. “Nnn” squeaking away. Given her expression, clearly she had forgotten who this person was, but she had an innate eye for people, and immediately judged Kiriko to be ‘harmless’.

“Woah. Sis. It’s been a while.”

Ulla stood up quickly and went over. to her. Ai was a little sad to be left alone, but it was to be expected. The sisters were reunited after a long while after all.”

“Woah owah, sis, why does it feel like you’ve grown so big?”

Ulla teetered over and sounded excited, This baby was probably the only one in this world that could cause the the princess of Ortus to behave like that.

But,

“Uu~”

“Eh…”

The baby relentlessly rejected her sister’s hand that was joyfully extended to her. Ulla tilted her head, unable to believe this fact.

“S-sis?”

“Uuu~”

The baby again rejected her. Of them all, only Ai knew this was the very attitude Celica would show whenever she refused to eat a dish she hated..

“…Maybe, she doesn’t remember me anymore…?’

Ulla’s face looked as though it was the end of the world.

“S-sis! It’s me, Ulla! Your little sister! Did you forget me!?”

“Daw!”

“Wooahhh…!”

“Miss Ulla, given the situation, I don’t think she forgot you.”

Saying that, Ai stood up and went to Kiriko. Celica seemed to assume that Ai wanted to hug her, and immediately heightened her alert, clinging onto Kiriko.

“Ah! Sis, you can’t! That’s mine! And you too Kiriko! Return my sister to me! “

“Wait wait, please calm down, Miss Ulla.”

Ai relentlessly caught Celica while the latter escaped, much to Ulla and Kiriko’s shock. Kiriko was particularly upset, saying, “How dare you treat the princess like that…,” but sometimes, when raising children, there should not be mercy..

Celica was not happy when Ai touched her and still tried to run away.

“She doesn’t seem to like the Dead.”

“Eh?”

“No, I think it’s just because the Dead is cold.”

Celica basically loved to cuddle and piggyback, and when she was in the mood, even to Ai..

However, since two days ago, she suddenly refused to be touched by Ai, which shook Ai greatly. Julie and the others tried to console her, but the answer was soon revealed. She simply hated the cold..

“So, you see, if you put on gloves and a jacket and touch her, she won’t get angry. “

Ai actually would like to keep her a little warmer, but this truly was too difficult, so the most she could do was to put on some thick mittens and gently touch her.

“Ah…”

“Uu!”

Following the advice, Ulla touched Celica through the gloves. “This is more like it” The baby let Ulla lift her up. She really did not forget, and soon showed a happy smile, one glad to be reunited with her little sister.

It was supposed to be a touching reunion, but she still reisted, saying “I hate cold things”. Ai showed a wry smile at that way of life, but at the same time, she was a little happy. Ai then remembered that one person accepted her openly from the beginning.

“Goodness…you’re too carefree, sis,….”

“Uh!”

“But it’s okay…I love you…”

There was a pair of special sisters. The younger sister was the symbol of a nation and an incarnation of the god of death. The older sister was an impossible baby who chose to abandon her position and simply live.

There was no mistake however. The younger sister was hugging her younger sister and spoiling her in a very normal way. This would have been an unacceptable scene in the past. It was a very symbolic image to Ai.

The one existing baby in this world was hugged by the little sister that had lived many more years than her. In the old world, it would have been called a crazy scene.

It was no different in this world..

Sanity was nowhere to be found. Surely in the future, there would be more hardships. The common sense and fads created by the forefathers had nothing to prove that they were correct anymore.

Everyone will have to assemble oneself like parts. Just like Ai.

No, perhaps it was the same even when she was alive. She simply might not have known. Even in the old world, everyone should choose..

To choose to llive or die.

“I kind of envy you two.”

Ai said.

“We are on the same page, aren’t we?”

Kiriko replied.

Ai slowly closed her own eyes, just as Scar had done. She licked her eyes behind her lids as if doing so for the first time in her life, shutting out the world and diving into her self consciousness.

Ai pondered. She pondered, about death, about life, about the past, about tomorrow, and about herself.

What kind of person was she?

And what kind of person did she want to be?

She had blonde hair from her mother, and the soul from her father.

Shewas born fearful and without a single ounce of courage.

 

Still, I want to be something, and I charged into the storm. I’m definitely a meteor.

 

“Ah.”

At that moment, a torrent of images struck Ai’s brain. A missing moon, a light in the darkness. It was as if she was connected with Tanya’s world. A rainbow in the night, a rainbow in the sky, shattered and scattered to become a star. She could have stayed in the safe sky, but she missed the people, and fell to the earth.

Even though she knew she would be shattered..

Yes, that’s the outcome after all..

I made it this far because I like it..

Whether it’s in the present, past—and in the future.

 

“Miss Ulla, Mr Kiriko, Miss Celica.”

 

Opening her eyes, Ai said.

 

“I have decided.”

 

She did not wait three days for an answer.

And Ai made a decision.

 

 

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