Chapter 59 Part 1. Sweet fruit for a thirsty woman

 

*****

 

Leaving the sleepy Mary to Beth, Shizuru came to the room reserved for Ludmila.

 

He knocked quietly on the door.

 

“Ludmila, are you in there?”

 

He asked through the door and waited for a while, but there was no answer.

 

However, if he held his breath lightly, he could tell there was someone inside the room.

 

“I’m coming in….”

 

After some hesitation, Shizuru slowly twisted the doorknob.The door was unlocked, although Cheshire had given him the master key. On the other side of the door, which opened without any resistance, was completely dark and unlit.

 

“Ludmila….?”

 

Shizuru looked from side to side, using the light that shone into the room through the open door.

 

A suit, soaked in blood, with the buttons torn off, had been aimlessly thrown on the floor.

 

“…What?”

 

A few moments later, from her bed in the darkened room, her muffled voice echoed weakly, as she buried her face in her knees. There was Ludmila, hugging her knees, her long hair scattered towards all directions on the bed sheet.

 

“If you don’t need anything, leave me alone….”

 

As Shizuru stared at her for a while, words without intonation were thrown at her. His voice sounded like a ghost on the verge of disappearing.

 

“I’ll turn on the light….”

 

Shizuru did not leave, but instead lit the lamp and closed the door. He then walked slowly up to the bed and sat down beside Ludmila.

 

“….”

 

He heard the sound of teeth grinding together, but there was no clear rejection. He wasn’t sure whether she really wanted to be alone, or she didn’t have the energy to kick him out. And Shizuru didn’t try to do anything more. He didn’t talk to her nor did he touch her. He just sat there in silence.

 

“…Hey…”

 

Neither of them moved, and the slightest movement or sound of breathing could be heard very clearly. The silence lasted for quite a long time before Ludmila spoke to Shizuru with her face sunk into her knees.

 

“Have you ever wanted to …… kill someone with all your heart?”

 

She sounded shaky as if she was trying not to cry. After a moment’s thought, Shizuru replied.

 

“Maybe not. At least not in my memory, and if I have ever wanted to kill someone and I can’t even remember it, it’s not very heartfelt, is it?”

 

“….Yes.”

 

Shizuru lacked the emotion that corresponds to ‘anger’ in the joy, anger, sorrow and pleasure.

 

Anger, hatred, hostility, harm, murder, jealousy. These aggressive feelings didn’t exist in his heart. He never had the desire to kill anyone as far as he could remember.

 

“I have. I’ve always wanted to kill the noblemen who killed my mother and father, I’ve always wanted to eradicate them all.”

 

Born between royalty and a commoner, Ludmila never had any positive feelings towards the nobility that treated her so poorly from the start. After the murder of her parents, her feelings took a turn for the worse. She began to hate all the nobles with a strong and powerful hatred.

 

——-But.

 

“But …… I hadn’t thought about it. I didn’t think …… that they had families, too.”

 

Those were people who hated Ludmila with all their hearts.

 

She didn’t realise. She hadn’t even imagined it.

 

She only saw them as hateful, ugly beasts.

 

Earl Garland’s son saw me kill him.”

 

Ludmila heard a slight gasp from Shizuru who sat beside her as she said this. 

 

The trembling in her voice gradually increased.

 

“He was about five years old. I was making silly noises, so he noticed me, came in and found his father dead. He was crying and screaming.”

 

She remembered how she had found the buttons of her father’s clothes in the ashes of the fire.

 

What’s the difference, she asked herself, when the scene the boy saw looked so much like what she once saw.

 

“Where’s the boy?”

 

“I killed him. I had no choice but to kill him.”

 

Clinging to the corpse of his father, Ludmila shot an arrow into the cervical vertebrae of the sobbing boy.

 

It was a semi-reflex action. Before she could think or worry, she found herself killing the boy.

 

She was scared. She was afraid that the boy would look back at her and see the hatred in her eyes.

 

She was afraid that he would look at her the same way she looked at the nobles.

 

——Eventually, Ludmila slowly lifted her face, which had sunk to her knees.

 

“Hey, Shizuru. Tell me.”

 

Her eyes were cold and wet with tears. They were trembling like a lost child’s.

 

“Me, what’s the difference?”

 

Ludmila reached towards Shizuru and grabbed the collar of his suit tightly.

 

“They took my mother and father away from me.”

 

She pushed him down, as if to take it out on him.

 

“You’re the one who took his father away from him.”

 

Until now, the killings had been in the name of substitution. There was an excuse that she did it to avenge others’ resentment.

 

 

But this time, it was different.

 

“What is it?”

 

“It was like a form of  request. He was a real scumbag, someone who deserved to die.”

 

“What’s the difference? But he was family to that boy. And I killed him because of my personal grudge. There was no such thing as an exemption.”

 

“So?” Ludmila asked, “What’s the difference between me and 

them…..?”

 

She straddled Shizuru.

 

Ludmila asked a question that no matter how many times she asked herself, she couldn’t find an answer.

 

 

–No. The answer was already there in her mind. But she didn’t want to admit it, she denied it, and she struggled pointlessly with it.

 

She was sure Shizuru must have felt it, that was why he did not make any resistance and just looked up at Ludmila sadly.

 

“Nothing will change.” A single sigh, followed by a note of sadness in his voice.

 

His answer was the same to the one Ludmila had given herself.

 

He said it slowly, but clearly.

 

“No matter what the reason is, it’s wrong for a person to kill someone.”

 

Looking up at Ludmila, Shizuru continued in a quiet tone. Except for the three tiny moles lined under his right eye, there were no stains or scratches on his skin. His eyes, which gently repelled the light of the lamp, were shaking mysteriously.

 

“Revenge or no revenge, it’s still murder and it’s still a crime.”

 

Ludmila could not take her eyes off Shizuru’s eyes. The words that were spoken while she was looking into those eyes easily penetrated deep into her heart.

 

“You’re evil. You don’t deserve to be saved.”

 

The words whispered softly pierced her heart. The tears that she had barely been able to hold back were dripping down. Her hand, which was gripping Shizuru’s shoulder, trembled with sobs.

 

Then, Ludmila’s cheek was stroked gently.

 

“Poor Ludmila.”

 

“Ha…..?

 

Shizuru’s narrowed eyes blinked, and his body temperature rose. The temperature of his body fluctuated, which meant that his emotions fluctuated. With tears streaming down his eyes, he felt a deep sense of pity for Ludmila.

 

“You are too kind. I wish I didn’t care about right and wrong, I could live with being crazy. Truly kind people suffer from being evil all the time.”

 

If only she had been ruthless, Ludmila would have been able to take her revenge without looking aside. She could have laughed at her own evil and accepted it. But she couldn’t get rid of it even if she wanted to. For her, it wasn’t something she could throw away.

 

“I’m a bit jealous of you, though. I may feel guilty for a moment, but it will disappear after a night. That’s the extent of my remorse for killing.”

 

Crying quietly, Shizuru continued to stroke Ludmila’s cheek. Each and every one of those gestures were so kind. It became entangled in Ludmila’s heart, which was weakened by facing a reality she didn’t realize.

 

“You are strong, Ludmila. That’s why I feel so sorry for you.”

 

Anguish and pain that will disappear if they are distorted, bent or broken like the others who belong to Black Maria.

 

“I can accept evil. But you can’t. You can endure it, but that’s all.”

 

She wanted to avenge her parents. It was this single-minded reason that enabled Ludmila to endure the misdeeds she had committed.

 

But now she was beginning to waver. She had come to understand that revenge is an act of inflicting the same suffering on someone else.

 

But she couldn’t give up her revenge now. She hated them. She hated him, and it was not a shallow feeling that she could reason with. It was a toss up between vengeance and remorse. If she continues this way, she will continue to wear out her mind and become a cripple. This was the reason why Shizuru repeated the same words.

 

“You poor thing….”

 

With a painful expression on her face and tears in her eyes, Ludmila looked down at Shizuru, who was stroking her cheek as minimum consolation.

 

****

 

Notes

N/A

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