Book 2 Chapter 21.2

Book 2 Chapter 21.2 - Can You Hear My Heart Beating?

Madeline placed the mask on the chair’s armrest and then slowly sat down. “Pepe, how old are you now?”

This was quite an abrupt question, leaving Peperus a bit stunned. Wasn’t all of her information recorded in the files? With the highest level of authority in the Trials Division’s computer system ‘lightshadow’, there was no way Madeline didn’t have access to this information. However, since she asked, Peperus obediently replied, “24.”

“How did you spend your childhood?” Madeline asked her another question. From her tone of speaking, it was as if she was chatting with an intimate childhood friend. 

However, what Peperus felt was naturally a different story. She did her best to maintain a calm tone and replied, “Your distinguished self knows that I was born in the wilderness. Everything I still remember starts from when I was four or five years old, everything before that I have already forgotten. The only memory I have of my youth is coldness, hunger, and pain. What came after I became a bit older were all different types of men. My first man was when I was seven years old, and because he was my father, I remember it quite clearly. The three years after that involved hunting, work, and sex to obtain food. When I was ten, I was fancied by an arbitrator of the Trails Division and was brought into the Black Dragonriders. Then, at the age of thirteen, I killed him and became an on-the-job arbitrator.”

“Quite a normal experience.” This was the evaluation Madeline gave her past. In the wilderness, this was truly quite a common way of life. However, the question she asked afterwards immediately left Peperus in a stupor. “Do you know how I spent my childhood?”

Fine droplets of sweat continuously seeped out from Peperus’s forehead and slid down her delicate face. Her fiery red hair appeared disordered and messy, and its color seemed a bit blinding. Just as she felt like she truly didn’t know what to do, Madeline didn’t wait for her answer and said on her own accord, “My childhood, right, based on the childhood you all experienced was quite strange. Before the age of eight, all of my memories were warm, safe, and full of hope. Back then, the wilderness was full of sunlight. Even though the clouds full of radiance blocked the sunlight from high in the sky, I could still see and sense its warmth.”

Peperus had never heard Madeline speak in such a soft and warm tone, let alone hear about her past. However, based on the Trials Division’s logic, warmth, generosity, and kindness were not things that belong to this world of darkness. When it did appear, it would signify even greater terror. When it came from Madeline, this way of thinking would immediately be raised to its peak. 

“Based on this world’s way of speaking, I am almost sixteen already. Sixteen is an age where one has just barely entered adulthood and became a woman, as well as even more so an age to be shown contempt by others. I know that many people are guessing my age and emphasizing this point in their hearts to increase their own confidence. They might be afraid of my strength, but they will always use my age as an excuse to see me as a fool. There are quite a few people like this, am I wrong?” Madeline didn’t turn around, nor did she look at Peperus. 

The last bit of strength in Peperus’ body seemed to have disappeared. She didn’t even have the strength to show a reaction. There was one thing that Madeline was not wrong on, and that was that Peperus was always thinking about her age. 

“From the day I was born, everything I saw, heard, and sensed is still clear in my memories.” Even though Madeline’s voice was soft, it resounded through Peperus’ ear like the rumbling of thunder!

Madeline opened the instrument case. The inside of the dark black, unpolished metal case was covered in dark red fabric. What laid inside was a cello that was full of history, its wine red surface polished to a shine. It was unknown just how many great masters’ hands it passed to. 

Peperus had seen this instrument case before; it was precisely the only other piece of luggage Madeline brought into the Town of Trials other than the primitively shaped Death Prison. She also knew that what rested inside was a cello, but she had never heard Madeline play anything on it before. 

Madeline rested the cello against her body and plucked it a few times. Armor still covered her body, but when the sharp point of the armor covering her fingers made contact with the cello, it instead sounded incomparably gentle and soft. 

When the bow moved horizontally, the first sound the cello released rumbled like thunder across boundless plains, but also like an endless cry. The deep, bold, and sorrowful sound immediately covered the mountain. Not even an erupting volcano could suppress this long and drawn out sound. 

The sound of the cello was like a sea. Crazy winds and great waves surged above the ocean surface, and underneath this sea, undercurrents rushed fiercely. The sky was dark, and the low hanging clouds seemed to make contact with the tip of the ocean waves. Between the sky and sea was endless thunder. 

Peperus could not understand, nor could she bear the sadness contained within this cello sound. It was too complex, too ferocious, and changing too quickly. It was even more heavy and vast, and just this slight test made Peperus’ will feel as if it was splitting apart! However, the deep sea of emotions similarly left her heart in awe!

She struggled and wished to break free, but she found with shock that it was already too late. The beating of her heart and the music had already merged together, following the melody above the clouds and immediately back into the depths of the ocean floor, all the way until she herself even began to doubt whether or not her chest might explode!

When Peperus was about to collapse, the cello sound came to a sudden stop!

Madeline stood up. With a toss, the priceless cello flipped about into the sky. As she watched the smear of wine red color fly into the dark gray sky, Madeline softly sighed and said, “Peperus, if it was a day ago, I would have killed you and used three days to do so.”

Peperus didn’t dare speak and instead sighed quietly. Her spirit and physical strength were weakened to their limit. After making contact with Madeline’s world of souls, Peperus never again thought of this person who was covered in armor year-round as a killing machine without emotions, loved ones, or friends.

Madeline faced the biting cold mountain winds, her eyes narrowed like crescent moons. She pointed towards the cello that was crazily moving about and made a motion similar to pulling a trigger. 

The cello immediately exploded like a blossoming flower, ending its life in a beautiful fashion. 

Death Prison jumped out from the tundra rocks and jumped into her hand that was just holding the cello. Madeline dragged Death Prison behind her. After putting on her mask, she said, “Pepe, why don’t you come with me.”

“Where?” Peperus raised her head. 

“Sunset Castle, the place that gave you the courage to betray me.”

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