|Volume 04, Chapter 04|
|Release date-||March 25, 2005|
|Chapter Name-||Tabitha's Secret|
Vol04Chap3-The Sailor Outfit and Louise's Jealousy
Vol04Chap5-The Strength of a Love Potion
This text is a machine translation (MTL).
Be warned that the degree of translation error may be higher than usual.
This page was created before the updated (July 19, 2015) MTL guidelines and has not been reviewed. For details, see the machine translation guidelines.
Chapter Four: Tabitha's Secret
A few hours before, in the late morning of the day Louise had been chasing Saito around.
Kirche and Tabitha sat in the horse drawn carriage. They had travelled from the southeast, from the magic academy. Kirche stretched her head out the window and gasped.
"Tabitha! Check it out! Cows! Cows! Look! There are a lot!"
The ranch was on both sides of the road and cows were grazing.
"They are grazing! Moo, Moomoo!"
However Tabitha didn't respond. She continued to read her book as usual. Feeling bored, Kirche stretched both her arms out.
"Hey, Tabitha. It is a long awaited return home from school, shouldn't you be more happy?"
Since Louise and Saito weren't here because they had been called to the royal palace, when she had come to Tabitha's room to play, she was shocked to find her packing her luggage.
"Are you going on a trip?" Kirche asked her.
Tabitha answered that she had to go back home to see her mother. Though Tabitha was reticent as always, Kirche felt something different in her voice. So Kirche and Tabitha took the trip together.
Because Tabitha's family sent a coach, they had no need to use her wind dragon. Instead, it circled above them in the sky during the trip carrying Kirche's Salamander on its back.
"Since the school had given us a formal approval for our leave, it won't be counted as an absence and we don't have to worry about having to clean the tower as punishment."
Tabitha continued to look at her book without answering. I've been her friend for more than three years, and I still don't know what she is thinking.
Kirche decided to try and spark a different conversation.
"This is the first time I learned that your motherland isn't Tristain, but Gallia. You are an exchange student?"
They were soon passing the border, Kirche had already asked Principal Osman to sign and issue papers allowing for her safe passage.
Kirche had a vague sense that Tabitha's name was a pseudonym... But she had never asked her about the origin of her name.
Tabitha. It was actually a quite common name. Even the commoners would use better names. It was the kind of name that could be given to cats.
She had always thought that Tabitha was perhaps hiding that she belonged to a distinguished aristocrat family of Tristain, but it appeared she was wrong, she actually belonged to the nobility of the ancient Kingdom of Gallia that bordered with Germania.
The land of Halkeginia was prominent to the ocean and had a gentle arc, creating a giant peninsula. Only the original people of the land knew of the words to describe it.
Gallia was located in the southeast and Germania, Kirche's home country, was in the northeast. Tristain was between the two and its size was equivalent to the Netherlands plus Belgium mentioned in Saito's world.
The territories of these two countries was around ten times the size of Tristain. The people of Tristain called their own motherland the 'small country' in self-ridicule.
On the small peninsula in the south facing the sea, countries like Germania had to fight for local hegemony. The religious country of Romalia was involved in the fight over hegemony; the office of the pope advocated the beliefs of the Founder Brimir and the gods. Incidentally Cardinal Mazarini had come from Romalia.
Towards the east of Halkeginia, there was uncivilized ground where barbarians and demons lived. Further to the east was a vast desert where Elves who could reclaim the barren ground, were protecting the Holy Lands. If we continue east, there was the unknown continent of Rub' al Khali.
Constantly floating above the ocean and the mainland of Halkeginia was the floating continent of Albion. Stricktly speaking, Albion wasn't a part of the mainland of Halkeginia.
Kirche turned to ask Tabitha,
"Why did you study abroad?"
However, Tabitha didn't reply to Kirche's words. She continued to sit and read her book as she had before. Then Kirche suddenly noticed something. The page in her book never changed, it was the same from before. Tabitha had been staring at the same identical page the entire time.
Kirche decided not to ask her again. Whatever her reasons were for studying abroad or returning home, she would wait till Tabitha told her about it by herself. She understood that at that time, when Tabitha was packing her luggage surrounded by the different atmosphere.
Even though they were of different ages they had become friends, and not just because they went to the same school.
To become friends, there are things that the two sides shall not force the other to speak of.
Tabitha who might not open her mouth very often. Kirche being concerned as a senior.
Both of them had their own reason for passing through the border and having gone to Tristain.
As they travelled, Kirche recalled the various political situations of the various countries. Although she had no interest in politics.
However with the rumors of war floating around she couldn't help but speculate within her mind.
Gallia was still neutral and was staying silent over the invasion of Tristain by Albion. Even though a threat could be felt from the political change in Albion and their new government. A proposal of alliance was made by Tristain but it was rejected. It was very likely that they were going to maintain their neutrality as long as their own territory was safe.
A rumor she had heard however hinted that Gallia was giving rise to the domestic civil strife crisis. With all these internal and external political problems it wasn't easy to imagine the headaches political rulers were facing.
She continued to accompany Tabitha to the Kingdom of Gallia. Although they were travelling as tourists, Kirche had a bad premonition that the possibility of something going wrong was strong.
As she was thinking of this she absent-mindedly stuck her head out the window of the carriage.
A line of pedestrians appeared ahead of the horse drawn carriage. Kirche's attention was grasped by this line of a little less than ten pedestrians. All of them were wearing hooded capes covering their faces.
Kirche noticed that they were all carrying magic wands, they were nobles. Upon another look, the shape of their wands seemed to indicate that they were in fact soldiers. Because it was a time of war, this sort of thing was not unusual.
The horse rushed forward to advance.
Through a gap in the hooded cape, she could see the face of one of the nobles. It was the eyes of a clearly handsome young man. She leaned her head on her hand and sighed.
"A handsome guy, in the place where I am."
After that she noticed it suddenly. I think I know him by sight.
"Where have I seen... Who is he..."
She gazed on at him while he was still in sight, her heat rising then cooling. Her enthusiasm soon left when she could no longer see him, he soon became forgotten.
Kirche moved forward and looked at Tabitha. Her limpid blue eyes hidden behind her glasses stared down at the same page of her book.
Gently putting her hand on Tabitha's shoulder, she said in her usual optimistic voice:
"It doesn't matter. No matter what happens, I will be together with you."
So they continued to travel for two more days till they reached the frontier.
At the border checkpoint the guards read their papers and allowed them to enter through. Here was Gallia. The languages and the cultures of Gallia and Tristain resembled each other. They were also known as "the twin crowns".
When they arrived at the border crossing, the guards approached demanding proof for their trip. Holding huge spears the men opened the doors upon confirming Tabitha's and Kirche's travel permits.
He looked at it and said hesitatingly:
"The road up ahead can't be used anymore, you'll have to make a detour."
"Why, what's going on?"
"Because recently the lake overflowed and several roads are already completely flooded."
The Ragdorian Lake was a big lake that stretched along the border of Gallia and Tristain. It was the place with the most beautiful scenery in Halkeginia and had a big reputation.
After advancing for a while along the road, they finally reached an open place. The road was located at the edge of a small number of gentle hills, and the widening of highways separated from the Ragdorian Lake. On the other side of the shore of the lake was Tristain.
As the guards had said, the water level of the lake seemed certainly to have gone up. Without even being able to see the border of the lake, they could witness that the water had already submerged some of the nearby hills. The flowers and the grass inundated by the water could be seen.
Tabitha closed the book and looked through the window to the outside.
"Is your home near here?"
It was the first time Tabitha had opened her mouth ever since they had gotten in the carriage. However she became silent once again.
Turning onto a mountain road, the horse drawn carriage continued to advance forward to Tabitha's family home. They entered a forest and reached a place where many big oak trees were growing. Farmers were taking a rest in the shaded glade.
Kirche noticed a farmer with a basket of apples and called for the carriage to stop. Then she yelled out to the farmer.
"Those look like some delicious apples, for how much would you sell them to me?"
The farmer took an apple from the basket and passed it to Kirche in exchange for several copper coins.
"There is enough money here to buy the entire basket!"
"Two will be enough."
Kirche took a bite into the apple as the farmer handed the second apple to her. Kirche quickly gave it to Tabitha. She went onto say:
"This apple is really good. What is this piece of land called?"
"The area around Ragdorian is a direct control territory."
"Huh? Direct control territory?"
Territory directly held and managed by the King.
"This land is under direct rule by his highness, and we are now his vassals." The farmer said smiling.
The land was truly fertile and seemed to be something out of a painting with its picturesque beauty. Why the King wanted the land was understandable.
Kirche turned to look at Tabitha.
"This territory is ruled by your family... are you..."
After about ten minutes they could finally see Tabitha's house up ahead. It was an old feudal lord mansion, splendidly built.
Kirche was looking at the carved crest that could be seen at the gate. She was breathless. The emblem was two magic wands intersecting and had the inscription "to advance"
This was the Gallian royal family crest.
However, when approaching, a crack could be seen on the crest. It was a sign of dishonor. Although it meant that this was the royal family, they were stripped of their rights.
The carriage stopped in front of the gates, and an old servant approached, bowed, and opened the door for Tabitha to come out.
"Miss, welcome back."
No other people came and it made Kirche feel as though it was deserted. She got down from the carriage while thinking this. Tabitha and Kirche arrived in the living room with guidance by the old servant.
The room was very neat, however it was strangely quiet, almost appearing spiritless. It looked like a temple preparing for a funeral.
Kirche sat herself down on the living room sofa and said:
"Can we first say hello to your father?"
However Tabitha shook her head.
She then left the living room.
Kirche sat on the sofa and looked to her right as the old servant approached with wine and dessert and set them before her. But she didn't touch them and instead asked him directly:
"This is her home, and yet it seems besides you no one else lives here."
"I'm the butler of the Orléans family, Percerin. Are you Miss Charlotte's friend?"
Kirche nodded. Charlotte d'Orléans seemed to be Tabitha's real name.
Orléans, Orléans, she kept thinking of the name, and then suddenly she thought of something. Orléans, isn't it the family name of the younger brother of the King of Gallia?
"Why is there a dishonor sign on the crest of this house?"
"It appears you are a foreigner, please forgive me, can I ask for your name?"
"I'm Germania's von Zerbst. By the way what on earth is this house? Why has Tabitha gone to study abroad using a fake name? Why when she was just a child?"
The butler listened to Kirche's questions and then sighed.
"The Miss calls herself Tabitha... I see... she has never brought a friend before. Since it's a person to whom she has opened herself, it shouldn't be a problem to tell you the story."
After that Percerin bowed deeply and then continued to talk.
"This residence is in fact a prison."
Tabitha knocked at the door of the deepest room in the residence. There was no answer. It was normal here.
Over the past five years, no one had ever opened the door when it was knocked on. At that time Tabitha was just ten years old.
Tabitha opened the door.
The inside of the room was of a different layout than the rest of the mansion. The only things in the room were a bed, the table, and a chair. Nothing else. The cool breeze flowed in through the open window. The curtains rippled as the wind pushed against them. The inside of the room wasn't disturbed by the intrusion.
Holding a doll tightly with her hands. There was a thin and tall woman. What remained of her beautiful face was now gone because of a disease. She was between thirty five and forty years old, but she looked twenty years old.
She peeped at Tabitha with terrified eyes just like a child.
"Who is it?"
Tabitha bowed deeply while approaching the woman.
"I have returned, mother."
However the woman didn't acknowledge Tabitha as her daughter. Not only that, but she also turned coldly to Tabitha and said:
"Go away, you insolent girl! Are you a spy of the royal family? You want to snatch my beautiful daughter Charlotte from my hands? I will never give Charlotte to you!"
Tabitha didn't respond and kept her head bowed.
"How horrible to even pretend that this child would one day aim for the throne...
I have had enough of dirty court life! We just want a quiet life... just leave me now!"
The mother threw the glass of water on the table at Tabitha. Tabitha didn't avoid it. It struck her head and rolled on the floor.
The mother returned to rubbing the doll's face. Part of its face was exposed and revealed the cotton underneath, most likely worn out from all the previous times the mother had rubbed it with her hand.
Tabitha revealed a sad smile, an expression she would only show in this room in front of her mother.
"Your husband has been killed, that's why you are this way; anyhow, I will be leaving now, but I will come back sooner or later. Until that day, please pray for your daughter-doll's safety."
The wind blew into the room through the open windows, shaking the curtains. Even though it was early summer, the wind that blew from the lake was chilly.
"A victim of a succession fight?" When Kirche asked it, Percerin nodded.
"Yes, it happened five years ago with the death of the King. He left behind two crown princes. The one on the throne now is the eldest son, Joseph. Miss Charlotte's father, the Duke of Orleans, was the second son."
"So she really does belong to the royal family."
"The Duke of Orleans was talented and loved by all and appeared as a qualified ruler in the eyes of the people, even though he had to meet hardships being the second son. Because of this, many people supported the Duke and wanted him to take the throne. The palace was then divided into two factions, launching into an ugly struggle for power.
Finally, the Duke of Orleans was murdered. He was struck in the chest with a poisoned arrow. A person who was nobler than anyone else in this country was killed not by magic, but by a poisoned arrow. The regret and the indignation were unimaginable. However the tragedy was far from over."
Percerin took a deep breath and continued.
"Next those who made Joseph the King started targeting the Miss. They wanted to stamp out the source of any possible future trouble. These people summoned Madame and the Miss to a banquet in their honor. However, they had poisoned the Miss' drink. Madame had realized this, and in order to protect the Miss, drank it herself. A magic which breaks one's mind had been cast on the water. Since then, Madame has been insane."
Kirche, shocked and at a loss for words, was listening to the butler's confession.
"Since then, the Miss sealed away her words and expressions. Miss Charlotte originally was lively and bright, a different person than she is now. However it is understandable. Anyone who would witness their mother going mad would become like that.
The others, knowing they had failed and in order to protect themselves, sent a royal order to Miss Charlotte. The task was extremely difficult, no one had been able to accomplish it alive.
However the Miss did complete the task and pledged her loyalty to the royal family, to protect them. But Miss Charlotte was still treated coldly by the royal family. Normally this achievement would have been enough to deserve a territory, but instead she was granted the title of Chevalier and was forced to study abroad.
The Madame stayed here at the house, in the current condition she is in."
Percerin bit his lip with regrets.
"Then...! Whenever the royal family had a difficult task to be done, they asked her to do their dirty work? Her father was killed, her mother was poisoned and driven insane, and she is led and directed by her personal enemies like a beast of burden! I never knew something could be as tragic as this, how people could be so cruel to this level."
Kirche now realized why Tabitha had remained silent. She had never known the reason why she was given the title of Chevalier was for a task that she hadn't applied for.
On their travels she had remained staring at the same page in her book.
Her runic name was 'Snowstorm'. Cold wind had been blowing inside her heart and it still hadn't ceased. This cold feeling she felt, Kirche thought, was unimaginable.
"Didn't you say that the Miss introduces herself as Tabitha?"
"Madame was a very busy person, however, the young Miss kept an open and bright disposition. The young Miss was in fact quite lonely. Madame had gone into the city and had selected a doll especially for the young Miss during her busy schedule. The Miss was very happy and treated it as though it were a sister. Now the doll is in the hands of Madame. Because of the current state of her mind, she believes the doll to be Miss Charlotte."
Kirche was startled.
"Tabitha. That is the name the young Miss gave to the doll."
Suddenly the door opened and Tabitha walked in.
The butler bowed, hiding his painful expression and handed her a letter from the royal family.
"These are the instructions from the royal family."
Tabitha removed the seal after receiving the letter and began to read it casually. When she had finished reading it she nodded lightly.
"When do you intend to begin?"
Tabitha answered as if she was just scheduling a stroll.
"Understood, I will convey this to the envoys. I wish you safety on your completion of this task."
The butler bowed solemnly and left the room. Tabitha walked over to Kirche.
Kirche shook her head.
"Sorry, I heard everything, I'm also coming."
"I can't let you go alone."
Tabitha didn't answer. However she lowered her head lightly.
That night the two slept together in the same room. As soon as Tabitha had hit the bed, she had fallen asleep. Kirche was sleepless and lay on the sofa with one hand under the pillow.
Tabitha had explained to Kirche what the task would require of her, and asked Kirche if she would indeed come.
"Although I promised... this certainly will be no ordinary task."
It was very likely that they could die attempting to complete this task. But as a noble, the risk of death had always been in the not so distant future. Compared to that, she was more worried about this child.
What incredible loneliness this child must have endured?
Tabitha was turning over in her bed. With her glasses now gone, her sleeping face was the one of an innocent young girl. ZnT04-148.jpg
It didn't show that she was shouldering unhappiness that didn't suit her age, the distinguished services that had conferred her the title of Chevalier and the difficult assignment that she had to complete.
Tabitha muttered in her sleep. Kirche's shoulders reacted to the word.
"Mom, don't drink it. Mom."Tabitha called for her mother many times while sleeping. Her forehead constantly kept sweating with more intensity after each call.
Kirche gently stood up, laid on the bed next to Tabitha, embracing her closely. Tabitha buried her head in Kirche's chest. Her heartbeat passed on to Tabitha as they lay there, it might have felt like a mother's.
Tabitha soon became calm again, her night sweat leaving her.
As for Kirche, she thought that she somehow understood the reason why Tabitha treated her as a friend. Her heart hadn't been totally frozen, some warmth still remained within it. Only that the ice wind that flowed blocked it. She might have felt that the fire inside Kirche could melt it.
Kirche, while slowly falling asleep, said in a gentle manner:
"Hey Charlotte. The 'Ardent' warms and melts everything, so you can rest at ease."
Ref from http://www.baka-tsuki.org Go to there for full translation