I wasn’t sure what had woken me, but when I sat up, I saw that I was alone in the bed except for Mokona. “Umi-chan?” I said, looking around the room. “Fuu-chan? Where did they go?”
Feeling somewhat restless now that I was awake, I carefully got out of the bed. My feet had just touched the floor when I was startled by a loud “Puu!” from Mokona and I cried out in surprise. When I turned to look at Mokona, however, he was still sleeping soundly. “That surprised me,” I said as I started to get dressed. “He was just talking in his sleep.”
When I had finished dressing, I opened the door and started to leave the room, but paused when Mokona gave a soft “Pu”. Turning around, I said “Good night” to him and wished him sweet dreams, taking advantage of my pause to tie the bow on my shirt’s collar. Then I stepped out into the hall and closed the door behind me.
As I wandered the halls of the castle, I considered the situation this country was in. Cephiro… I thought. A land supported by a Pillar. If a new Pillar can’t be found, this world might just disappear. But… If a new Pillar is found…
My mind wandered back to what Princess Emeraude had told us during that last, desperate battle her divided self had waged. “The Pillar cannot commit suicide. And no one from Cephiro can harm the Pillar either. The world itself would fall to ruin if something happened to that Pillar which supports Cephiro. So the Pillar has a summoning spell that no one else can use. A spell to bring Knights from another world…ones that are not from Cephiro…to kill the Pillar. Please… Kill me…and save Cephiro.”
Save… I thought. Was it really salvation for the world to become a wasteland until a new Pillar was found? Will that sad legend repeat itself? I wondered. Everything in Cephiro is determined by the heart. Even this castle is built from willpower. Clef said that it was created by combining everyone’s powers. If that’s true… Could it be possible for the entire country to be maintained that way?
Then all of my thoughts were derailed as I wandered through a doorway into a lush paradise of greenery. Gasping in surprise, I looked around the huge indoor garden with awe. It was gorgeous. I hadn’t imagined anything like this could be found in the current Cephiro. The sound of running water drew my attention to the large fountain in the center of the garden and I noticed someone dressed all in black sitting on the fountain’s rim. As I came closer to the fountain, I recognized who it was. That’s…Zagato’s brother… Lantis.
Without conscious thought, my feet slowed as I approached him until I ground to a halt a few feet away from him. He looked up at me as I stopped and I couldn’t help flinching when he did. I felt like I should say something, but I wasn’t sure what. “Um…” I started, clasping my hands in front of me. What could I say to the younger brother of the man we had killed? “So…” I said hesitantly, “they told me…you’re Soru Zagato’s younger brother…?” My hands were trembling as I spoke.
When he didn’t reply, I started trembling all over. What was he thinking? Then he said, “That’s right,” and I knew what I had to say. He looked like he’d rather not deal with me, turning his head away as he spoke, but I had to say it anyway.
“I…” I started. “Your brother… I was the one who-” I broke off and swallowed hard. Oh, this was hard to say, but I had to say it. I knew how I’d feel if I met someone who had killed even one of my brothers—I’d be incredibly upset. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to forgive that person. And Lantis had lost his only brother, so it was even less likely that he could forgive us for Zagato’s death. “You can hit me if you want!” I cried. “I mean, I know hitting me can’t compare or be enough… Just…please don’t hurt Umi-chan and Fuu-chan!” I’d take whatever punishment he wanted to give if he’d just leave them alone.
“I know I’m pressing my luck saying this,” I said. “But… Umi-chan and Fuu-chan weren’t themselves when we got back to Tokyo. I was feeling depressed and they tried to cheer me up, but…I know they cried when they were alone. So… If you have to beat someone up, just hit me!” I felt ready to cry when I finished, but I did my best not to show it. I didn’t know what I’d do if he refused to leave Umi-chan and Fuu-chan alone. Bracing myself, I waited for the first blow.
“I don’t want to hit you,” he said, closing his eyes.
“Huh?” How could he possibly not want to?
He opened his eyes and looked at me steadily. “You were a Magic Knight,” he said, “brought here from another world. I can’t blame you for what was forced on you.”
“But… I…” I stammered. He couldn’t really mean that, could he? How could he forgive us so easily?
“I imagine you also cried when you were alone, didn’t you?” he said.
I really had to fight back tears then. I had not even imagined that he might go beyond simple forgiveness to sympathize with me.
“You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself,” he said, closing his eyes again. “If anything is to blame here, it’s Cephiro.”
Hearing those words from him, a final confirmation that he really didn’t blame us, seemed to soothe something within me that had been aching ever since our return to Tokyo. I didn’t know if I was ready to forgive myself, but knowing he had was comforting.