Chapter 8:


Wistful Dandelion

It's bright.

Too bright for my taste. And not only that, the heat that accompanies the light isn't showing any signs of letting up. My body is clearly showing signs of displeasure at the circumstances.

I wipe the sweat off my brow and adjust my hat, resolving to make haste towards my destination. The sooner I can get out of here, the better.

Although maybe, just maybe what awaits me at the end isn't actually better.

…No, this is no time to think about such nonsense. Remember your goal with this meeting.

But… isn't the fact that I'm thinking about goals kind of a problem?

To see a person that was once an end in itself, become the means to a solution is its own tragedy.

It wasn't always like this. The years we spent together eroded some of my previous convictions about the purpose of our relationship. I let my guard down and forgot why we were together in the first place.

It was only when that happened that I was able to fully realize the true extent of our purpose.

In a way, I guess we're both pawns in a game that neither of us were playing.

Even if we were promoted to a higher rank, we would still remain a piece on the board. An existence only worthwhile in the context of a game. Immediately and thoughtlessly discarded when no longer needed.

Though I guess in the end, everyone is beholden to some authority. An authority that cannot possibly concern itself with intangible concepts like altruism and morality. If they did, they would be immediately replaced by those were willing to discard such frivolities. All seeking to serve some agenda, without regards to the other's well-being. 

I mean, aren't the actions I'm taking just a perfect example of this?

Well, I'm just following orders…

Heading down this familiar path, I listlessly stare at the scenery ahead. The river flows softly in the same direction of travel, with a few flowers and trees already starting to bloom for the season. Pebbles align the dirt path I'm walking, giving proof to the existence of an artificial path.

But even without this path, I'm sure I'd be able to find my way through this forest area. My mind can't help but memorize the details as it encounters the same stimulus over and over again. Still, I'm glad I don't have to spare the effort of having to think about where to go. Just one foot in front of the other will take me to where I need.

And even better, there's no one I can see far ahead that is walking alongside me. It's close to an ideal environment for thought. The kind of environment conducive to reminisce and daydreaming.

I've already planned out everything I want to do so I guess I'll let my mind wander a bit more.

Let's see...

I recall the conversation with my father many, many years ago.


"…Lila. This is a very important thing that I'm asking you to do. It seems trivial now, but there will come a time when your presence will be critical to our nation's survival."

"I get that, but why him? I've known him for a bit, but he's always seemed unextraordinary. I simply don't understand why you think he's so special."

He gets up from his chair and looks out the window in thought.

"I can't get too much into the specifics, but like I said, that person will become very important for our country's future. No, maybe even for humanity itself."

"Hmm, I don't really get it, but if it's important to you then that's fine! I'll make sure to keep an eye on him."

"Thank you Lila. I wouldn't ask you to do this if I didn't trust you. Who knows, maybe you guys will even be able to be friends for a while?"

Returning his gaze, I see that he is smiling affectionately with genuine happiness in his heart. No doubt I've managed to gain his approval with this simple request.

"Hah. We'll see."


Since that conversation, I can't remember a time when he smiled as happily as he did then.

Of course, the circumstances and responsibilities piled up on his plate didn't do much to help. As a member of the Magician's Convocation, he is often pulled into conversations regarding the war effort. Conversations that no doubt take a hefty toll on his heart.

From our private conversations I can deduce that the war with Velania goes neither well, nor poorly.

Strangely enough, this is probably the worst situation as far as tensions are concerned. If our nation of Lovir were winning, we could be more relaxed and confident. Conversely if we were losing, we could consider talks of cutting losses and trying to compromise.

Instead, we get a deadlock where both sides are looking for any edge to push their momentum into an avalanche. Both sides know that a single mistake could be all it takes to disrupt the status quo.

As far as I can tell, it's been like this since I was born. Father tells me that the circumstances for the war have long been forgotten and it's almost as if the whole front is being continued due to tradition.

Indeed, if you wanted you could spend as much or as little time thinking about this war as you wanted. Neither civilization seemed to suffer the usual civilian causalities you'd see elsewhere. The distance between our nations and lack of meaningful resources in-between have led many at home to compartmentalize the war as nothing more than an ongoing event. Certainly the timelessness and unclear objective of this war helps preserve that thought.

It's even possible to think of the war as being helpful to the advancement of our society. Traveling merchants and shop keeps have certainly benefited from the increased trade and are allowed to preserve their neutrality based on the conventions of this war. At home, many of the women fill in the previously vacated roles of men in their absence during war. Everyone has a role to play and a reason to exist in this world.

And I'm no different. 

As the daughter of a prestigious family, it seems my life has already been decided for me. My role to play has been decided before birth.

Currently, I've been trying to do my best as a filial daughter to meet these expectations.

It's not all glamorous, but it's all I've ever known.

Yes, I will do all I can to excel in my current position. There's nothing more I can ask of myself than to try my best.

So Max, I will make you mine.

...but I'm sorry it had to be this way.