Chapter 6: Blessing

Around my mother’s grave, numerous servants bustled about. Most of them did not wear swords, and they were probably maids in the inner quarters. They must have been preparing for the event that would start at noon, while the warriors were gathered in the great hall.

I couldn’t talk to my mother calmly in that situation. If Gozu or Cecil were there, they would have cleared the people for me, but I was the one who left them behind. I could only smile bitterly at my own shallowness, as this was a situation that I could have predicted well enough if I had thought calmly.

Should I introduce myself as Sora Mitsurugi, the son of Shizuya, and ask them to leave me alone for a while? No, they are merely doing their jobs, and I doubt they would sacrifice their precious preparation time for a disowned son.

Even before that, there’s the possibility they won’t believe me when I claim to be his son. I don’t think that father would have notified his servants that “the son I disowned five years ago is coming today”. Apart from the guys who were in the great hall, I should assume that the other servants don’t know anything about me.

If they don’t know me, they don’t know me, and I could just have them check with Gozu or someone else, but the trial ceremony was supposed to start in half an hour. By the time I finished all the exchanges, there would be no time left for visiting the grave.

Well, what should I do? I was thinking and tilting my head when it happened.


When I heard my name being called from the side, I involuntarily shuddered and trembled. For a moment – just a moment – I thought my mother had spoken to me.

It was not so much the way she called me, but the voice that contained no malice and only affection that reminded me of my mother.

Of course, there was no way that my mother, who had died more than ten years ago, would come back to life. I turned to the direction of the voice with a creaky movement like a rusty tin doll. What I saw was a woman with glossy hair that reminded me of gold thread and a beauty that reminded me of a fairy.

Ragna’s mother, Emma Mitsurugi.

I didn’t know what to say on the spur of the moment, and I just opened and closed my mouth meaninglessly.

Unlike her son Ragna, I had no grudge against his mother. On the contrary, I felt guilty. This woman, who became the legal wife after my mother died, cared a lot about me when I was young, but I rejected all of her kindness.

I was a kid then, I know that now. But I didn’t know that then. I felt something close to resentment – no, resentment itself – towards the person who took my mother’s place, and I always glared at her with hateful eyes.

After that, she kept her distance from me, probably out of consideration for my childish feelings, but at the time I was proud that I had driven away the villain.

… Yeah, this is one of those things that makes me want to hold my head every time I remember it.

And there was another thing that made me feel even more guilty, something I heard from Claira, whom I had held hostage until recently.

When I was banished from the island five years ago, she was the only one who objected to my father.

My face felt as if it were on fire. I wanted to apologize for my past rudeness, but how could I face her with this face?

That hesitation put an invisible shackle on my actions. I barely managed to kneel and show my respect, but I couldn’t think of what to do next.

So, not that it was because of that, but I couldn’t react in time to the next action she took.

――The sound of her kicking the ground lightly. The next moment, I was hugged in her chest.


“Oh, Sora! I’m so glad, so glad you’re safe!”

She hugged me, her face alight with joy, as if overcome by emotion. A sweet fragrance of kyara incense wafted from the black kimono she had likely prepared for the death anniversary. And, through the kimono, I felt a soft sensation that made me very uneasy.1

I tried to get away in a hurry, but she consciously or unconsciously tightened her arms around me more than before.

Of course, I could easily escape if I resisted with all my strength, but I couldn’t just tear her off by force. But I was also reluctant to stay in this position. I was seriously troubled about what to do.

This wouldn’t have happened so easily if it had been someone else, but I felt guilty towards Emma, and I had no malice or hostility towards her, so my reaction was slow.

In the end, I had no choice but to stay in that position until Emma was satisfied.

She told me to get up after she let me go, and I returned to my standing position from kneeling. Then, Emma stretched out her delicate hand and touched my cheeks, narrowing her eyes with affection.

“You’ve really grown up… Hehe, I can’t reach you anymore even if I stretch myself.”

“…Yes. Thank you very much.”

“You don’t have to thank me, just let me see your face better – oh, your hair and eyes are just like Shizuya. Your face is also more masculine and sharp… That child, really…”

She slightly trembled her voice and took out a white cloth from her sleeve, and gently wiped her eyes. I could tell that she was truly happy about my growth.

As I looked at Emma up close, I felt a mix of guilt and embarrassment, and it was very frustrating.

――And besides, she was still a beautiful woman.

Her face and gestures were so beautiful that I couldn’t believe she had a son of my age, Ragna.

I suddenly remembered something from the past.

When I was a child, my mother read me a story about a mermaid princess. The mermaid princess was so beautiful that she seemed out of this world, her hair was like gold, her blue eyes were like jewels, her white skin was like snow – as my mother went on describing the beauty of the mermaid, I said one word “Emma is prettier, right?”

My mother laughed out loud when she heard that, and I remembered that because it was rare. The next day, Emma heard it from my mother and stroked my head with a very happy face. I also remembered that Ragna looked envious of me.

After that, Emma led me to my mother’s grave by the hand. Then she cleared the people around us and even left the place herself. She wanted to let me and my mother be alone, and I could only bow my head in gratitude.

――The talk with my mother after that was nothing special. I just briefly told her about the days from leaving the island to today.

I couldn’t become a person who could contribute to the world.

I couldn’t become a person who could protect someone.

I couldn’t become a worthy heir.

I couldn’t become a person like my father.

―― couldn’t reach the heights of the Sky.

Somehow, it felt more like I was confessing for five years than reporting for five years. Still, I didn’t hide anything. I didn’t look down either.

“The word empty is not always a bad thing. If you have nothing, you can become anything. From now on, fill yourself with many things and become the person you want to be. Whatever it is, I will bless the path you choose, Sora.”

I didn’t get anything I ever wanted, but that doesn’t mean that what I got has no value.

Five years since I was banished from the island. I made countless mistakes. I have regrets as big as mountains.

But still, I was the one who made the decisions. I walked the path I chose myself. I need not hide anything, nor do I need to look down.

Considering what I’ve done so far, and what I’m going to do from now on, I can’t say that I want her blessing even if my mouth splits open, but still…

“But still, this is me now, Mom.”

I said that and slowly stood up.

At that moment, the flowers placed on the grave swayed slightly. A gentle wind blew through my cheeks as if caressing them.

――Thinking that it was my mother’s answer would be too sentimental.

But still, there was a part of me that wanted to think so.

Was that something to lament, or something to rejoice? I couldn’t judge at the moment.

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  1. Kyara incense is a type of incense made from a rare and precious wood called kyara or agarwood. It has a sweet and spicy fragrance that is highly valued in Japan and other Asian countries. It is also considered to have spiritual qualities and is often used for meditation and ceremonies.