Serra – Interlude 4

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Recollection: Riko Akasaki’s Past ②

“So, let’s start with your name.”

Saying that, Rinka picked up a slightly larger stone and wrote the name on the wall.

“You Elmeradans use the characters called ‘Alphabet’, right? These are the characters often used in the Eastern Country where I was born, called ‘Kanji’.”

Rinka said with joy, writing the letters of ‘Akasaki Rinkokoro’ 『紅崎凜心』on the wall.

Seeing this, Riko glared at the letter in front of her and said a remark.

“…… I don’t know at all.”

“But if you can’t write your own name, you’ll be in a lot of trouble.”

Riko frowned and, staring desperately at the letter in front of it, wrote its name on the floor.

It tried with great effort to write the letters “Akasaki” despite her poor handwriting, but its hand stopped.

“What’s wrong?”

“…… difficult.”

Said Riko, throwing away the stone and holding its head.

Rinka, who was watching it, laughed bitterly.

“Well, the characters of the Eastern Country are famous for being one of the most difficult in the world… but just copy it, okay?”

“It looks like a complicated picture…”

“Ahaha… But I’m in trouble. Changing the kanji will change the meaning of the name.”

When she scratched her head and was worried, Rinka uttered, “Ah.”

And, the stone was quickly rubbed against the wall, and ‘Riko’ 『リコ』was written.

“It’s called ‘katakana’. It’s a character that’s designed to make it easier to write by breaking down ‘Kanji’. Do you read ‘Riko’ with this?”

“…… yes, I can write this!”

Riko gladly ran the letters and wrote up the name of “Akasaki Riko” 『紅崎リコ』.

When Rinka saw it, she gently stroked Riko’s hair with a smile of satisfaction.

“Well then, once again. Keep up the good work, Riko.”

“Yes, Sister!”

That day.

The ‘doll’ became ‘human’.

※※※※

―――― And then.

After that, Riko learned various things from Rinka.

About the world ‘outside’ of this laboratory. Here, the Elmerado military nation. A fairy tale from a distant country. Food other than the ‘fodder’ provided every morning and night.

In particular, Riko became more interested in Rinka’s home, the Eastern Country.

It is a culture that is far from the knowledge that has been  overwritten(installed) on Riko’s brain. It was fresher and more exciting than anything else she was touching right now.

During the day, he and Rinka would ‘study’ together, and at night the prison gets cold, so the two of them wrapped themselves up in tattered blankets and talked about other trivial things together.

And from time to time, Riko is taken to Sakura for ‘observation’ and is shown her experiments.

A girl being destroyed is shown up close.

Riko cried at such a painful scene and resisted by trying to turn her eyes away, but her body is fixed by Sakura’s “Dominion” and she is not allowed to escape.

Then, it had become a daily routine that Rinka hugged and relieved the exhausted Riko.

Such a life went on for three years.

Suddenly, a turning point came to her.

※※※※

“………… Sister.”

Riko, wrapped in the futon in the form of an embrace as usual, speaks to Rinka.

Seeing that heavy atmosphere and Riko’s trembling shoulders as if frightened by something, Rinka, who thought it was not a simple matter, looked back with a serious gaze to calm her down.

At first, her eyes had difficulty opening, but before long Riko turned her eyes to Rinka and began to talk.

“…… We, Homunculi, are artificially created human beings.”

“Yes.”

“That’s why so many people died on the table by the time we were born.”

“…… it seems, what?”

“That’s not all. A lot of people are brought here and sacrificed to create our souls.”

“…………”

“Big Sister is one of them, the ‘material’ that was taken away to create us(Homunculi)…”

“――――”

Rinka was speechless at the truth revealed by Riko.

Riko sobbed her tears, as if driven by remorse at her own words.

“That’s why. I really shouldn’t have been born….! Because I was born, many people have been killed!!”

“Riko”

Rinka restrained Riko, who was crying out in a fit of emotion.

Rinka gently reached for Riko’s hair and stroked it.

And she nuzzled her cheeks to give her relief, and whispered gently in her ear.

“It’s okay. Riko can live.”

“Huh!”

Riko opened her eyes to Rinka’s words.

“I can’t forgive Sakura(that one) for doing that. But Riko is different, isn’t she? Is Riko going to take the same path as her?”

“I can’t do that!”

She strongly denies Rinka’s words

At this time, Riko rejected Sakura for the first time.

It was a moment when she was able to become a ‘human’ who had a clear will from the ‘doll’ that was only doing her bidding.

Rinka gently smiled at Riko’s reply.

“Then that’s fine. You can’t choose which parents to be born from. Maybe you have made a lot of people unhappy when you were born.”

“…………”

“But you can choose the path after you’re born.”

“!”

Riko looked up at Rinka’s face as if jumping up.

“So if someone you don’t know was really sacrificed because of you, you’ll live to atone for them. Try your best to honor them at least. And someday, laugh and say, ‘I’m glad to be alive’. You have that right, don’t you?”

“Big sister……!”

Riko’s heart is struck hard by Rinka’s words.

Even her worthless self, who killed many people and was then abandoned as a “dud” has a place. There are people who wish for her to live.

Riko was moved to tears of inexplicable joy.

“So let’s run away.”

Rinka stared into Riko’s eyes and said,

“Let’s escape from here. And live. We can’t just die in a place like this? I’ll show Riko that this world is vast and beautiful.”

“But we’ll never run away… There’s no way to deceive mother’s eyes.”

“It’s okay, leave it to me.”

Rinka winked and replied to Riko with a smile.

※※※※

“This world is useless, meaningless, worthless and cruel.”

Sakura whispered quietly.

※※※※

A proposal to escape from here.

The day after she told Riko about it, Rinka made a decision.

However, Rinka did not think of a decent strategy.

In the first place, the other party is a literal monster that can control ‘magic’ freely. No matter how much she thought about it, she was determined to see through it.

Then what do you do?

The answer is simple.

Rinka became a sacrifice.

She couldn’t think of any other way.

“Big sister!”

Riko, who was thrown out of the prison, desperately screamed.

Rinka, who was left behind in the prison, shouted while shedding blood from her head.

“Just run away! Don’t mind me!”

“But, but!!”

“Just go!!”

Rinka’s actions were simple.

On this day, Hildle, an oddly white-skinned blonde homunculus, was about to take Riko away for an ‘experiment’.

And just before Hildle took Riko away, Rinka slammed into Riko, blasted her outside, and then landed on top of Hildle, continually hitting her.

Immediately after Hildle’s counterattack, Rinka screamed at Riko, regardless of a part of her temple being torn and bleeding.

“You’ll live! Escape from here, live and be happy!”

“But then, sister!!”

“You’ll be fine without me! So quickly, run away!!”

“Eh!!”

At Rinka’s rage, Riko’s eyes teared up and bit her lips so strongly that she bled.

And just a little hesitant.

She turned her back and ran.

“I’m sorry!!”

Her vision blurred and she could only hear her footsteps.

She continued to run without looking back and as soon as she realized that she had left Rinka, Riko’s emotions exploded.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!”

Riko screamed so much that her tears were overflowing and her voice was almost dry.

Driven by the grief at parting from her sister, and her regrets and remorse, Riko continued to run without stopping.

Suddenly, “Mother” whispered in her ear.

“Where are you going?”

“Oh!?”

Immediately after, Riko felt a jolt on her back.

Feeling a burning sensation on her back, she was blown forward and rolled with great force on the ground.

Due to being hit here and there on her body, she had a lot of scratches and bruises, and her consciousness was fading.

“Gah, hii… run away, must………”

Despite moaning in pain, Riko slowly stood up and began to walk unsteadily.

Perhaps they lost interest in Riko, the sound of footsteps behind her gradually faded.

“Big sister…………”

Riko spilled tears, imagining Rinka’s face in a dimly conscious mind.

※※※※

Feet hurt.

Head fuzzy.

Body feels sick.

I’m hungry.

Rain is freezing.

Cold.

While being struck by the pouring rain, Riko continued to walk aimlessly with his heavy steps.

She was already far from Sakura’s laboratory. However, Riko did not notice such a thing, and just moved unconsciously, saying “I must escape”.

However, the pain caused by his wounds and bruises disturbed her, her physical strength was surely deprived by hunger and cold rain, and Riko, who had reached her limit, sat on the front door of a private house and crouched down.

“Big sister……”

Sorrow and regret for losing her cherished “sister” at her own fault.

Despair of having to live in this world alone.

Fear that Sakura might find her.

All negative emotions burst upon Riko, causing her to turn her face down and sob.

“What’s the matter?”

Suddenly, a voice called out to her.

With a start, Riko raised her head.

A beautiful girl with white ponytailed hair and light blue eyes was standing in front of her.

She smiled, but she couldn’t hide her exhaustion, perhaps because she had suffered.

Contrary to the calm atmosphere, there were traces of blood all over her.

―――― For some reason, that image overlapped with Sakura.

“Hii!?”

Riko was afraid of the girl in front of her, and screamed in her presence.

The girl had a frozen expression when she saw Riko’s miserable figure, but was she also sympathetic?

All of a sudden, she hugged Riko.

“Eh? Oh, aaaaaaah!”

At the moment, Riko remembered being hugged by Sakura and raged her body desperately to resist.

―――― Scared, scared, scared, scared. I hate it hate it hate hate hate Please help me sister.

A strong scream rose from her cracking heart. And, she was screaming to the extent that it would exceed the limit of Riko’s mouth.

The girl wept at Riko’s heartbreaking appearance, whispering repeatedly at the ears while rubbing her back.

“It’s okay, it’s okay.”

A gentle voice, a warm body.

Riko felt like something warm was flowing into her, even though she was confused by her negative emotions and was about to go mad with illusions of Sakura for no apparent reason.

The hand and the voice were as if it were Rinka herself.

――――Big sister……

At the end of the whisper, Riko let go of her consciousness.

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