Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Luca’s pupils began to waver when our eyes met.
Before telling him what I was thinking, I took my hooded mantle off. Using my tentacles, I put it around Luca’s stiff body. This way, since it was a cold-and-heat-resistant mantle, he wouldn’t get cold.
I also took off my turban and wrapped it loosely around his neck.
With my head covering gone, the cool wind brushed against my black hair. Until I met Luca, this hair had never been exposed to the sun.
I turned my gaze away from the confused Luca, back towards the city in the distance.
That was where we were going. It was the same as all the cities until now – a lively place where many people lived. In contrast to my previous life, there were people with many different hair colours walking about and that alone made the streets colourful.
However, over there, no purple-haired people could be seen… No one that had the dark attribute.
“I’ve… always been running. Running from the fact that I have this attribute. Even though I was wrongly oppressed, I accepted it as inevitable because of hundreds of years of history and I secluded myself in the Great Forest, doing nothing. All this strength and I did nothing with it.”
I was born blessed. I may have been isolated, but my father protected me. Many people with the dark attribute, however, were killed as soon as they were born.
I could have saved some of those small, fleeting lives. I could have found those souls that had just been born, detected their dark mana, if only I had kept walking around the town.
Of course, I knew that by taking away an infant, I would face even more challenges. Especially as I had no experience raising a child.
Still, like the original Zagan, I should have contacted the Dark Organisation. I could have left the children I saved in their care. Taking care of the children might have prevented them from killing those with other attributes.
In the eyes of the public the Dark Organisation was a group of murderers, but for those whose lives were saved by them, they undoubtedly symbolised justice.
These people had almost been consumed by the malice that was pointed at them, yet they encouraged each other and desperately worked together in order to live. And, after enduring for hundreds of years, they have finally started a revolution in an attempt to change this country.
Compared to them, the words of someone like me… who has done nothing but flee to the Great Forest, living in seclusion, were probably flimsier than paper. It was only natural that they wouldn’t listen no matter how many times I tried to persuade them not to resurrect the Evil God.
Now that I’ve realised this, what was it that I needed to do? What did I need to do so that dark attribute users wouldn’t be persecuted? What did I need to do to be with Luca as a dark attribute user? What effort did I need to make in order to protect him?
“Luca, from now on… I’m going to live my life without hiding this black hair of mine,” I told Luca, looking into his trembling blue eyes.
Perhaps because it wasn’t as momentous of a declaration as he was expecting, Luca froze for a couple of seconds. His eyes then gradually opened wide. His mouth opened as well but no discernible words came out.
Giving him a sidelong glance, I continued talking.
“If I expose my hair, a lot of people will look at me, right? People who will shrink away and avert their eyes. I’m sure many of those people who look at with with loathing will have negative feelings towards me… but even then, I’ll stand tall and continue walking. No matter what attacks come my way, no matter what words are thrown at me, I will hold my head high and continue walking.”
They could call me a murderer and treat me with hostility however much they wanted. I was clearly a dark attribute user and thus evil in the mind of this country. They could hate me as much as they wanted and try to kill me because no matter what they do, I won’t die.
And then, if I continue walking, little by little, there will be people who will feel guilt and remorse. Those couples who had given birth to a baby with the dark attribute. People who were afraid that their child would be born with that attribute. And those that thought that their lives should be taken.
If peoples’ perceptions could change, a tiny bit at a time… this change will eventually turn into a large wave.
“I’m going to stop the discrimination in Soleil kingdom, so that Luca, who said he wanted to be with me, won’t be badmouthed. So you won’t be scorned as foolish for having a lover with the dark attribute. So that from now on your heart that loves me will be at peace, unhurt by anyone. I’m going to do it in my own way.”
“Zagan…” Luca murmured my name, looking like he was about to cry.
I tilted my head, not knowing why he was making such a sad expression and he hugged me tightly.
“So we can’t be together until the discrimination ends? I don’t want that.”
“? You’re not going to be by my side?”
When I asked him that question, Luca nervously peeked at my face.
“Um, aren’t you contradicting yourself? You say you don’t want people to badmouth me, but if I’m next to you with your hair exposed, I think that’s what’s going to happen.”
Now that he mentioned it, it did sound contradictory.
If it became known that Luca’s lover was a dark attribute user, he’ll be reproached no matter what. But wouldn’t exposing my hair lessen the amount of criticism against Luca? If we walked together when my hair was uncovered, most peoples’ eyes would be on me.
And then, if there was a lot of ill-will towards me, if Luca was by my side… I thought that the hatred towards dark attribute users would lessen if there was a prince by my side.
With Luca supporting me, I could get through anything. No matter what kind of attack comes our way, the two of us together could deal with it.
Luca told me – “I will protect you from any hurdles that come our way.”
Thinking about it rationally though, did he not want to protect a capricious human who would purposefully expose himself to the ill-will of others?
Of course, the hurdles that Luca was talking about didn’t include things that were done out of my own foolishness. I misunderstood thinking that he’d be by my side no matter the situation.
And it wasn’t just Luca. Noel and the others too. If people see us together… I mistakenly thought that if people knew that other attribute users could be friends with a dark attribute user, then the discrimination would end even quicker. Because I didn’t want to let go of these fun days even after our journey ended. But that was nothing. It was just a wish. Reality wasn’t that kind. The discrimination that had lasted for hundreds of years wouldn’t be solved that easily.
“Sorry, Luca. Forget what I just said. I’ll do this on my own. It might take years to happen so you don’t have to wait for me, but, on the day when there will no longer be discrimination, please let me–”
Come back to you. I wasn’t able to get those last words out because Luca kissed me, blocking my lips. And several seconds later, when he let my lips go, he pulled me back inside our tent.
We collapsed onto the mattress on the ground and he wrapped his arms around me, stroking my back.
“Sorry. I’m sorry, Zagan. Sorry for hurting you. I’ll apologise again and again if that’s what you want, so please don’t say anymore. Don’t close your heart off.”
I didn’t really understand what was going on. My heart was right here.
“I’m the one who said it — that I want us to always be together. That’s why you were talking under the assumption that I’ll be by your side. I’m the worst, not noticing this and saying something to deny my promise. I’m really sorry.”
He peppered me with kisses. On my forehead, on my cheeks, on the corners of my eyes. I could hear the sound of his kisses, but strangely I felt nothing.
“Hey, Zagan, forgive me somehow. I want to feel your presence. I’m hugging you abd I can see that you’re here, but, but… it’s like you’re not. It’s lonely. Your warmth has disappeared. Even though you have so much mana, I can’t feel even a speck of it. Even though you’re right here.”
Speaking of which, I couldn’t really feel the sensation of his palm stroking my back. Nor any of Luca’s warmth despite him hugging me.
“Thank you for accepting all my words. I will use all of my status and authority to protect Zagan. I’ll do my best to be able to keep you by my side. I’ll devote my entire body and soul to doing so.”
Luca looked like he was about to cry. He was desperately appealing to me. I needed to… answer.
“I also wanted to put in the effort so that we could be together. To be protected by you while also protecting you… I thought I’d do my best for the two of us. I meant to tell you how I was going to do that.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry for not noticing. Let’s do our best together from now on.”
Kisses rained down on me as if he were trying to soothe me. As they did, I became able to feel the sensation of Luca’s touch again. A gentle and kind sensation.
“I’m glad. I can feel your presence again. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for trusting me with all of your heart. I’m sorry that despite that trust, I said something that sounded like I was betraying you. I love you, Zagan.”
Luca rubbed his cheek against my head and then kissed me again. Many many times. Especially on my eyes.
He inspected my face in between the kisses.
“Have the tears stopped now?”
Tears? Why would I be crying? I didn’t know, so I looked at Luca in question and he smiled gently in return.
“Should we take off everything that we’re wearing? It’s okay; it’s still early in the morning so we have some time to touch each other. I just want to feel you, Zagan.”
He put his hand on my armour and urged me to take it off. Nude, we crawled under the covers and Luca hugged me again. At some point, he’d stripped off his clothes as well and our bodies clung to each other. From chest to abdomen, penises and legs. An arm was wrapped around my back, gently stroking it. It felt really good.
“We’ll always be together because I’d be lonely otherwise. I’ll never let you be alone. Let’s build a future free of discrimination where we can be happy together.”
I nodded. I hoped we could actually make that future come true. No, with Luca and the others, we should be able to do it after several years.
“We’ve decided that we’re going to save the Goddess Lune. I don’t know how we’re going to do it yet, but it probably won’t be easy. However, if we save her, then the whole country will come to know that the Evil God is not evil. They’ll come to understand that dark attribute users aren’t evil.”
However, the discrimination that had taken root over hundreds of years wouldn’t just go away all of a sudden, even if people witness the goddess’s overwhelming strength. There is also no denying the fact that dark attribute users had killed others.
“Still, when someone gives birth to a baby with the dark attribute, if they saw Luca and I walking together, if they saw Noel and the others with me, they are more likely to hesitate before deciding to kill that child. They would be able to envision a future where their child could get along with others.”
“That’s right. If we start taking action now, then there’s a chance that fewer of those born with the dark attribute would lose their lives. Fufu, let’s do our best together, yeah?”
I was relieved – Luca was laughing with true happiness. I was glad he accepted my opinions. Surely dreaming of a wonderful future wasn’t a bad thing. I mustn’t forget, however, that there was another possible outcome.
Luca immediately noticed me staring at him and returned my gaze. I was a little hesitant, but still, it was something I needed to properly tell him.
“If… if no matter how much effort we put in and the discrimination remains. If despite being censured, blamed, and having your spirit broken, you still wish to be with me… let me kidnap you. I’ll take you deep into the Great Forest where there are no people around.”
To a place where we could live together without others meddling.
Luca didn’t reply right away, so I kept staring at him when all of a sudden he crushed me with a hug. It was a bit painful.
“Please wait a bit, I think I’m going to cry.”
“I see… I’ll comfort you as much as you like.”
“Ahh, I can’t. Zagan is too cool. I’m going to fall for you all over again.”
Luca rubbed his head against my shoulder. It was ticklish and a giggle unintentionally slipped out of my mouth. At the same time, for some strange reason, a tear also escaped. One tear fell and then another one.
Luca lifted his head all of a sudden, and while I was still confused about what was going on, he exhaled in relief and kissed the corner of my eye.
The tears kept falling down.
“Finally, Zagan is back. I’m sorry, Zagan. I made you very sad, didn’t I? It’s okay to cry a lot. I like you, Zagan. I love you.”
“Mn. Me too… I love Luca.”
Together with my love, my chest grew warm and my tears overflowed.
“Of course we don’t mind. We’ll be by your side, Zagan, no matter where you go.”
“Since it’s a request from my drinking buddy, I can at least do something as simple as walking next to you. I’ll send any ill-will that comes your way flying!”
“As for me! Um… because w-we’re friends! I’ll try to support the future that Zagan-san sees!”
Camilla, Miranda and Bennett answered right away when I told them I wanted to be together with my hair uncovered. It made me feel relieved.
“What should I do? Everyone’s so cool; I feel depressed.”
Luca, who was clinging to my back, hung his head in dejection and buried his face in my shoulder.
That’s right, I didn’t think I would get such a promising answer from them either.
Camilla sighed at Luca’s dejected state.
“So you of all people didn’t immediately agree to Zagan’s idea, huh? Or did you question his deliberately thought out plan? Good grief, I did think something happened when Zagan’s presence completely disappeared all of a sudden.”
“I-I’m glad… that the two of you made up. I was very worried that something was wrong… uuuu.”
It seemed that Camilla and Bennett had been outside at that time. And if Bennett had seen us talking? She must have been surprised. My sincerest apologies.
“Haa– really, how lame. As a man, you should say yes to your lover without arguing about it.”
I thought I heard a very irrational statement, but it was probably just my imagination. Probably.
Luca started to say all kinds of things so I unwrapped his arms from around me and pushed him towards Miranda and the others.
I moved my gaze slightly to face Noel, who had been looking at me this whole time, head on.
Nina was standing snugly next to my sister and Cindy stood a little farther away.
“You’re probably thinking why? Why did I come to this decision after rejecting your wish to be together.”
“Because… Luca was the one who asked for it?”
“No. It’s because this is something that I’ve decided for myself and not by the request of anybody else. Because it’s a problem that I, as a dark attribute user, must face. That’s why Noel won’t have to take responsibility for it. No matter how much ill-will I receive, you won’t need to feel responsible for it and suffer because of it.”
It was easy to lose heart when it was somebody else’s wish. That was why I made Noel give up.
“I won’t hide. With this black hair, I’ll stand next to Luca the prince and next to you. It’s okay, Noel. I won’t break, no matter how many people try to get rid of me. I won’t let them do that.”
“Still, if you want to do something for me, even if it’s just a little thing… stay by my side and smile. That’s enough to keep me going.”
It was okay if she supported me a bit without taking full responsibility. That was more than enough.
Noel’s eyes opened wide, but even as tears gradually welled up in her eyes, she answered yes. I reached my hand out to her and gently patted her head. As I did, the tears began to fall.
Nina promptly patted her face with a handkerchief. Noel was sobbing, but still let her do it.
The two of them really got along well. As her brother, I was happy that Noel managed to make such a wonderful friend.
“Oh yeah, you can’t call me brother when we’re in public. Be careful, okay?”
“Yes, Nii… Zagan-dono!”
Will it be okay? I was kind of worried.
Anyway, I’ve managed to persuade Noel. Now…
“Ufufu. I’ll tag along with the two of you anywhere. I believe that if it’s Luca-kun and Zagan-kun, you’ll bring about a wonderful future.”
“M-me too. I’ll protect onii-san together with Noel.”
Cindy was smiling as always and Nina declared that while clinging to Noel’s arm.1
With that, I got everybody’s approval.
I turned back around to where Luca and the others were being noisy, and as soon as I did, Luca came up and hugged me.
“Help me, Zagan, they’re bullying me.”
“Bullying, you say? What a cruel accusation. We’re just lecturing you a bit.” (Camilla)
“Hey, Luca! Don’t immediately run to Zagan for help! Zagan too, don’t spoil him so much!” (Miranda)
Miranda even got angry at me because I was patting Luca’s back. What should I do? Noel and the others were laughing at us as well.
A sigh escaped his lips, but Luca quickly changed gears and lifted his face to look at everybody.
“Alright, everyone, shall we head out soon? Let’s get on the carriage.”
“My my, so we finally get to have breakfast?” (Camilla)
“Do you have any pizza, Bennett-chan? This onee-san wants to cut it up and share it with everybody.” (Cindy)
“Yes, I do have some. What would you like to drink with it?” (Bennett)
“If it’s pizza, beer is the best choice, but it’s still early in the morning, huh?” (Miranda)
“The other day you started drinking as soon as it was noon. It’s not that big of a differ…. Owowow.” (Nina)
As I looked at the lively scene from the side, there was a tap on my back.
“It’s fun, isn’t it? Nii-sama.”
Seeing my sister so happy as she talked to me with a bright and cute smile, I couldn’t help but smile as well.
TN: This chappie is scheduled to come out (for the general public) in proximity to my birthday so I’m adding a drawing!
I’m low-key mad at Luca though so had to fix it (Camilla, you tell him how it be girl!)
E/N: May I just say it is absolutely refreshing that Luca and Zagan actually talk to each other when something is bothering them? Even Zagan clearing things up with Noel was wonderful. Not enough stories involve people communicating with each other.