The night was not young. The moon hung highly in the velvet sky, shining brilliantly and innocently to all human’s suffering. Soft breeze carried faint rose fragrance from the garden below her balcony to her chamber, which Joel had prepared especially for her so that she could enjoy the scenery of the whole garden. Lying on a soft and luxurious bed, Otonashi Saya should have been in a deep and peaceful sleep. However, she tossed and she turned around on the bed, her nails gripped tightly on the blanket, her thin eyebrows knitted together and her face was wet.
She was crying in her sleep. The red queen was having a nightmare.
The scene she had seen tonight was rewound in her dream. She had heard his yearning and came to see him. The man she found was not the Haji whose everything she had carved deeply in her soul. Black coat as dark as night covered every inches of his figure. Distorted voice resembled the roar of Hell. It was no longer the calm and warm voice that wished her “sleep well” everytime she went into hibernation, no longer the voice that promised to stay by her side for all of eternity, no longer the voice that had said “I love you” at the last moment. If Haji’s voice was the gentle waves that licked the shore then this one was the tsunami that threatened to sweep out everything on its way.
She grabbed his coat in attempt to stop him from running from her. But what she obtained in her hands was the torn black coat soaked with dark sticky liquid called blood. Blood stained her white fingers and dripped down her shirt. Soon, she found out that she was standing in a pool of blood, which was slowly drowning her.
A sharp and dry cry stirred the harmony of an autumn night. Otonashi Saya had awakened from her nightmare, cold sweats dampened her pajama, chilling her to the bone with every breeze. In the dark room lit only by the moon, her face, terrorized by the nightmare, was even paler than the moonlight. It took her a few minutes to calm her raging heartbeats. As the horrible had taken away all her sleepiness, Saya sat up and walked out of her bed to the balcony.
Saya looked down to the garden below her feet, her gaze spotted a white swing. She used to have one like this at the Zoo, on which she used to sit and read a book. For a long time, no other than Joel had agreed to sit on that swing with her. And then, Haji had come to her life. As a growing boy or a young man, he had been the one to give her a swing and watched her enjoy the ride playfully like a kid. A sudden urge to feel that sensation again struck her mind, the red queen took a shortcut by leaping the balcony.
Nobody was awake at this hour and the queen let out a sigh of relief. Simply she did not want her insomnia to bother anyone in the middle of the night. Sitting on this swing had revived her pristine childhood, the time she had been enjoying her life without any sorrows or regrets, with Haji by her side. But now, the queen sat here, shivering with a chill creeping on her spine, a chill that was not created by the wind but the loneliness in her heart. Saya clutched her body tightly, fighting hard to chase away the cold sensation.
“ How about a swing, my queen ? “
The voice which had just spoken was playfully and free of ill wills. Still, it gave Saya a creep at it came from behind her back and seemed to whisper right into her ears. Her sharp instinct turned her back in swift moment, her hand reached for her sword but unfortunately, she had carried none. What her eyes saw was a man with blonde hair standing behind the swing.
“ It’s been a long time. How have you been ? “ In contrast with hers, his face was calm. The man even greeted her with a friendly smile.
“ Nathan Mahler !” Having fully known the man’s identity, Saya replied with a dark and murderous tone.
“ It’s such a great honor that the queen remembers my full name. Wait, you don’t seem very happy to see me ? “
“ Weren’t you dead thirty years ago ? “
“ My my, why people keep asking me that question when they see me ? Am I that hateful to them ? About that, I could consider myself lucky. I guess praying every nights isn’t a waste. “ The man shrugged his shoulders.
“ Quit joking around ! My blood brought death to Diva and all her Chevaliers. There’s no doubt I slashed you with my blood. “
“ Queens’ blood can only kill Chevaliers of their own generations. To put it simply I wasn’t Diva’s Chevalier ? “
“ Then who could you be ? “ The queen’s crimson irises narrowed in suspicion.
“ You knew your mother was also a queen, didn’t you ? “
“ Our mother’s Chevalier, is that what you’re trying to say ? “
“ Bingo ! “ Nathan clapped his hands applaudably.
“ What business did you have with me back then ? No, with us. “ Saya corrected. “ Why was you on Diva’s side ? “
“ In case you didn’t you, I wasn’t. I just watched over her, as well as you. “
“ Why ? “
“ That was the last promise to my queen before her demise. “ Nathan’s tone lost its humor and turned compassionate as he told her about her mother. “ Long ago, before you and Diva were born, Chiropterans and humans were mortal enemies. Our battles lasted for century after century and in the end, humans claimed the victory. Our species was almost swept out on Earth, leaving very few of us to maintain our lineage. Your mother and I were among the survivors. Even though her sister and her Chevaliers were killed, your mother had already pregnant with the next generation of queens, hoping you two would keep our lineage from extinction. But humans just couldn’t leave us the way we were. Calling us ‘demons’ and ‘monsters’, they tried to hunt down us all. Finally, my queen was killed. Before she met her end, I promised to watch over her children till my last breath. “
Hearing what Nathan had said, Saya felt her heart filled up with remorse. Up until now, she had always been regretful with her extermination of her own kinds. However, even if she could turn back time, she would have still done the same. Protecting humans was the way she repaid humans for nurturing her. Struggling constantly between both sides had thrown the queen’s heart in turmoil.
“ And you’ve doing it until now ? “
“ That’s right. “
“Why didn’t you show up until now ? Why did you have to pretend you were killed by me ? “
“ Was that your wish to eliminate all Chiropterans back then ? If I hadn’t died, you wouldn’t have stopped. Since Diva was dead and you went to hibernation, I could take a small break. I show up here because I feel something is bothering you. “
“ How could you know ? “
“ Inside our bodies flows the same blood. Because of that blood, we are all connected. Just like you could hear his yearning for you. That’s the ultimate bond between queens and Chevaliers. “
“ You met him ? Do you know where he is ? “ Saya’s voice trembled with anxiety. “ Tell me where I can find him ! “
“ If you come back to where it all began, you may find your answer. And remember that your blood flows inside his body, only you can bring back the person he was. “
“ But… “ The word was uttered but no sentence was formed. Saya found herself alone in the the garden again. Nathan had already gone. The Chevalier came and went as he pleased, like a wind.
Somewhere far away echoed the cock’s crowing. Night was almost over.
“ The place where it all began… “
“ The place where it all began ? “ Asked Kai who did not manage to hide his suspicion.
“ Yes. I suppose he was talking about the Zoo. “
“ And you believe him ? “
“ That’s my hope for now. I don’t think he has any reasons to fool me. “
“ If that is what you want, I will come with you. “
Saya nodded at her brother, silently showing her gratefulness.
Thirty years ago, she and Haji had once opened this rusty gate together to find out the truth. Thirty years later, she and Kai opened it again to the answer she was looking for.
“ Don’t run away from me, Haji ! “
Note : Anata ni aitai ( I want to see you ) is coming to the end ^^