Tales of the Abyss Short Story: Jadeby Takumi Miyajima
It was noisy inside the palace.
Jade showed no expression on his face, but he felt at loss about the situation as he watched the ruckus going on inside the magnificent residence.
The Grand Chokmah palace was known to be a calm, quiet place since the reign of Carl V, where people would hesitate to even cough. But now, it had become a place filled with the sounds of rappigs. The current emperor, Peony IX, kept six rappigs in the splendid palace. And while this fact alone could baffle people with its silliness, it appeared that five of those six rappigs have now run off, hiding in various parts of the palace. It was a blessing amidst this misfortune that they hadn’t escaped into the city instead. It would be best if the public remained in the dark about Emperor Peony’s true hobbies, after all.
“Eeh, so we have Jade, Aslan, Gelda, and Nephry here. There’s only one more left, right?”
Luke, after having caught Peony’s rappigs, spoke with a tired voice. Of all things, that fool of an emperor had requested the help of the enemy nation’s royalty in searching for his runaway pets. Luke and friends, being the good people they are, had obliged, and it was because of that decision that Jade himself had agreed to partake in this silly hunt. It was in times like these that he regretted the fact that he and the emperor were longtime friends.
“But really though, he’s got one hell of a naming sense there. Do people even name their pets after their friends like that?”
What a sense indeed, Jade thought to himself. The fact that this man was really the ruler of the Malkuth Empire, whose domains stretched across roughly half of the map, felt like proof that the world had something wrong with it.
When the previous emperor passed away and it was decided that Peony would inherit the throne, he had called Jade to his private residence and said to him:
“Look at this good news! I’m going to be crowned the emperor of Malkuth soon. After this, I’ll leave all the troublesome things to you. Work on without valuing your resting hours for your close friend here, alright?”
Jade had no idea how much of that Peony had said in seriousness, but it remained the truth that he was known as the emperor’s right hand man, and continued to be trusted with jobs that had nothing to do with the military. Or perhaps, Peony had thought of making Jade so busy, he wouldn’t ever stray into strange paths again. It was one silly logic, but very much like Peony.
Jade did not mind if Peony didn’t trust him to take care of himself, but he found that the emperor’s way of dealing with him, which felt as though it was dragging on their childhood relationship, was the gloomiest thing. Peony’s sentimentality showed in what Luke had judged to be proof that he had “one hell of a naming sense”–the rappigs’ names. Out of the six rappigs, four of them were actually named after people who Peony, as well as Jade, had connections to in their childhood. Jade was, of course, Jade; Nephry was Jade’s younger sister; Gelda was the name of the teacher back at the tuition they used to go to when they were children. If this was not sentimentality, what else should it be called?
Every time that name came up, Jade felt a bitter feeling well up inside of him.
Gelda Nebilim was the first person to show Jade that there was someone who was even more skilled than he was. She had been the only adult who could handle a conversation at or above his level back then, and had the ability to control the Seventh Fonon, which he himself had not been able to use. She was a presence that he couldn’t help but respect as superior to himself. However, the Jade of those days had felt something that was not mere adoration, and he could not accept it.
Because he had not been able to accept that feeling, his mind had adhered to it, struggled with it, and in the end, it had led to Nebilim’s death. And after that, averting his eyes from the fact that he had killed her, refusing to accept that he had made a mistake, he desperately developed “fomicry”, an immoral technique to revive the dead. No one knew how many lives he’d taken when he went astray, or how much he’d tampered with fate. The price he had to pay for it was horribly heavy.
With all that had happened, there was a time when Jade suspected that Peony had named one of his rappigs after Nebilim to jab at him–as a symbol so that he’d never be able to look away from his misdeeds, and in doing so never repeat the same mistake again.
However, lately, Jade began to rethink his assumption.
A human being is a creature that is fixated on memories of the past.
It didn’t matter if those memories were happy or painful.
Even if they had lost that past, or even if they had no past that they lost to begin with.
Memory itself was originally nothing more than a vague term, and yet people embrace memories and illusions, and treat them as proof that they had lived through them.
If he sees it that way, Peony may have simply connected the happy memories of his childhood to the names of the people he held dearly, and that was all there was to it. This perhaps was true sentimentality. He had sealed those broken childhood ties inside the rappigs’ names, and took care of them tenderly. Jade found that it was a story that didn’t resonate with him, but there were people like that in this world. At the very least, compared to the path his childhood self had taken, which had led him to use twisted methods to try bring back the old days, Peony’s way of dealing with it was much more decent. Or perhaps Peony was just telling him to be satisfied with this now. It could be an act of kindness, which would be very much like him, or it may also have been a snide remark directed at Jade.
“…The last one’s Saphir, wasn’t it?”
Looking like he couldn’t recall the last rappig’s name very well, Luke turned to look at Jade.
This was the red-haired replica who’d been the first thing to change Jade’s way of thinking.
A victim of “fomicry”, the twisted technique Jade had used to try revive a broken world.
His encounter with the boy had changed him.
It was probably because he knew this that Peony, that fool of an emperor, named the new sixth rappig “Luke”. The tender world that Peony had created with the rappigs always featured the names of people who were closely connected to Jade.
“Ah, yes. I believe that was its name.”
Jade carefully answered Luke, taking care to avoid saying his other childhood friend’s name out loud.
‘Saphir’ was the name of the foolish childhood friend he used to have, who had once tried to bring Nebilim back into this world with him with the same intentions. That his fixation on Nebilim had rooted in his desire to do it for Jade was something that Jade himself unfortunately knew painfully well. Whether it be Peony or Saphir, for some reason, they kept taking unnecessary troubles for his sake. For better or worse, Jade appeared to have been blessed with friends during his early days–haunted by them, even.
To be honest, though, I despise getting along closely with other people…
However, he had also been the one who had allowed it to happen. Human beings are utterly absurd, unreasonable creatures.
“Alright then–let’s go find that last rappig.”
In the world of tender memories that the foolish emperor had created, they set out to bring back the old friend who had turned into an enemy. With his hands in his pockets as is his usual posture, Jade began to walk.
Translated by Eirlys-Tylluan and proofread by DimensionSlip