Grimgal Of Ashes And Illusion / Grimgal of Ashes and Illusion Vol 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 5: This Sorry Mess
(translated by NanoDesu. Also please see note  at the bottom!)
What time was it? Haruhiro knew it was in the dead of night, but he had no grasp on what time it was exactly.
But, they had already been here for quite a long while.
They were in Northern Altana, on Flower Park Road.  Why was it called Flower Park Road? Haruhiro had no idea. Maybe far in the past, at some point there had been a field of flowers here. Or something like that?
Flower Park Road extended all the way from the city marketplace, and there were inns lined up on both sides of the road as well as its side road. Near the road’s entrance point, there were many tasteful inns meant for temporary dwellers. As you moved away from the marketplace along the road, you could see more and more big buildings spring up; expensive-looking inns that imprinted their proud majesty on their surroundings. But once you passed those, you would see more average looking inns, and then more so-so looking inns, until you got to the district outskirts and were treated to the sight of worn-down crumbling dwellings.
Haruhiro’s group had just turned off Flower Park onto its side road, and were standing in front of a so-so looking inn.
At first, he had been standing, but at this point he was slumped down and leaning against the inn’s outer wall. Haruhiro was, that is.
But she was still standing.
They were both completely silent. How long had it been since someone had said something? Haruhiro felt like it was quite a while back. He couldn’t even remember what had been said back then. Neither she nor Haruhiro were really the type to start blabbing on and on in the midst of silence. Both of them were just too reserved for that, he supposed, or maybe too introverted.
Haruhiro was huddled over and holding one knee in his arms as he began to think. Were the two of them really so incompatible? Neither Haruhiro nor the other person gave each other any push nor pull. Nothing happened. Conversation was a moot point.
This was way too awkward. Haruhiro wished the other person would just say something. Anything, really. Whatever she said, he would try hard to follow up and maybe they could get a conversation going. But maybe she was thinking the exact same thing? Why was she just so silent this entire time? Maybe she really was waiting for him to say something?
Okay. Got it. I’ll do it. I’ll do this for you. Yeah, what’s the harm in just giving it a go?
“Umm… hey, Shihoru?”
“How you holding up?”
“… I’m alright.”
And that was that.
That was the end of the spark of conversation Haruhiro had exhausted so much effort to strike up.
What the hell was that? Give me a break. Come on, let’s try a bit harder please. Communication is important. Really important, right?
Why was he here alone with Shihoru in the first place? Well, it wasn’t technically a reason, but Haruhiro could recount the course of events that led to this. First, they needed to get in touch with Mary to settle all accounts and divvy up the spoils from the last operation. Ranta had somehow eaten too much and was rendered immobile (pigs must be flying today), while Yume was too funya-funya to be of much use (whatever that meant). Meanwhile, Shihoru seemed to be in decent health and also knew where Mary was staying, so they had left the inn together. Also, if memory served, Mary should be staying in a woman-only establishment, so it would be weird if Haruhiro just went to visit himself. Because of that, Haruhiro was definitely grateful that Shihoru had offered to tag along. But that was the only thing he was grateful for.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like Shihoru. But he would be lying to say she was his first choice to be alone with.
They just didn’t make a great combo. They didn’t mesh with each other. That was all. In other words, they weren’t compatible.
Shihoru was probably feeling this just as much as Haruhiro was. And it wasn’t like Haruhiro wanted this state of affairs to continue just because their personalities weren’t very compatible, but Shihoru wasn’t really trying to do much to lighten the atmosphere either. They had come to Mary’s place, realized she wasn’t there, gone to check at Sherry’s Tavern, realized she wasn’t there either, and then come back here to wait… this entire time, Shihoru had barely talked. Even when Haruhiro asked her something, she would respond with only a word or two. That was all. What kind of game was she playing exactly?
Sigh… Haruhiro heard a rush of breath.
Was she also feeling frustrated with all this? But later, Haruhiro would think that perhaps the frustration was what let her break the silence.
“I…” Shihoru began to speak in a quiet voice.
Haruhiro looked up at her. She was gripping her shoulders, trembling lightly.
“I… you know… I thought if I said this… you all would think I’m a horrible person… but I’m feeling just fine.”
“Just fine…?” repeated Haruhiro.
“I’m… not feeling like all the others. I’m not… in as much shock as all of you, I guess…”
“Is that… so…?”
“It’s awful, right? I’m sure you think it’s awful… I think it is too. I guess for me… I’m less in shock that Mogzo died… but more in shock that I’m just not that sad about it… it’s depressing. Makes me think I’m a bad person…”
That’s not true, he wanted to counter, but could he really? Mogzo had died, but she wasn’t shocked? That was impossible. They were all companions, after all. They had stuck with each other through thick and thin. Mogzo was a precious, precious companion, the axis around which their party spun. Why wasn’t she in shock…?
But, it seemed that Shihoru herself didn’t know what to make of this. It would be natural for her to feel such intense sadness and feeling of loss here that her chest would be bursting at the seams, but she was confused that this was not the case. And she couldn’t forgive herself for feeling this way… she was in pain over it… ahh, he understood.
It was Manato.
This was only Haruhiro’s educated guess, but Shihoru was probably feeling this way because of what had happened to Manato.
Shihoru had likely been in love with Manato. And the person she had fallen head over heels for had died. Shihoru had most likely taken his death harder than anybody else. Of course, Shihoru also felt pain at Mogzo’s passing, but it wasn’t as bad in comparison.
She had become used to pain. Even if she hadn’t wanted to become used to it, it happened naturally.
That was what she’d had to do to continue moving on.
As long as you lived, these are the experiences you would continue to go through. Again and again and again.
If you got knocked down every time something like that happened and found it hard to stand back up again, then going on with life would become very difficult.
To be honest… to be honest, even Haruhiro wasn’t as utterly dumbfounded now as he’d been right after Mogzo had died. That didn’t mean everything was going swell, but he could at least try to move forward. And he hoped everyone else was trying to do the same. Not doing that would be doing a disservice to Mogzo’s memory. If only they could use their companion’s death and change it into a renewed will to live, then…
Haruhiro was trying to live. Call him greedy or stubborn, but he wanted to keep living.
Shihoru was probably the same. Manato’s death had made her strong. And she was now using her strength to try to live onwards.
“I don’t think you’re horrible. Or a bad person. I’m really glad you came with me actually, that you’re here with me. That’s what I really think.”
Shihoru looked like she wanted to say something, but then she shut her mouth and averted her gaze. Her shoulders started trembling slightly again. She might’ve been trying to hold back tears. After a bit of time, Shihoru sniffled once.
“… I’m also really glad you’re here, Haruhiro. That’s… what I really think.”
“Oh, that’s… thanks. And I mean, how you feel about Mogzo… I mean, at least you’re not saying ‘good riddance’ or something…”
Haruhiro held his head in his hands. He felt incredibly embarrassed. And then felt a sense of guilt at how embarrassed he felt. To be honest, at this point, whenever he had a nice meal, or a good drink, or a restful night of sleep, Haruhiro felt an urge to apologize to Mogzo. Even though apologizing wouldn’t accomplish anything.
Eventually, this prickling pain in his chest would probably go away, too.
He would get used to the pain.
He wanted to live. And he would get used to the pain in order to do so.
“Mary sure is late. I wonder where she went off to,” said Haruhiro.
“… I guess in the end, I don’t know much about her either, so…”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true. But I’m a guy, so it’s not like you can expect me to get close to her…”
“… But just because we’re both girls doesn’t mean I can get close to Mary either…”
“I’m… well, the way my personality is… if I were more perky like Yume, then things might be different, but…”
“Nah. It’s not like it’s about just being perky. Well, Yume… I guess it does feel like she can get along with anyone. Anyone except Ranta, that is.”
“… Ranta might be an exception to the rule.”
“That guy is an idiot. Seriously. He ate too much? What the hell is that? Ugh.”
“… He was eating sorruz, wasn’t he?”
“This is just a guess, but… he probably was trying to eat enough for Mogzo too…”
Haruhiro idly tampered with a lock of his hair. I see. That was it. He hadn’t understood anything. Hadn’t seen anything. So that was Ranta’s own way of paying respects to the dead… Haruhiro let out a small chuckle. His chest throbbed for a moment.
“Yeah, I really don’t think you’re a bad person at all, Shihoru. I think it’s amazing how much you understand about all of us.”
Shihoru shook her head from side to side and then squatted to the floor. “Mary…” she managed to say. “I think Mary is taking this harder than anyone… since she’s the priest…”
Haruhiro nodded. He at least could infer that much himself.
After all, this was the second time this had happened.
Mary had lost companions before. Multiple companions. Since then, she had become consumed with self-blame, and was no longer the Mary she was in the past.
After she teamed up with Haruhiro and the others, Mary had begun to occasionally smile again. But then… just as that was happening, she lost a companion once again. And she was the priest of the party. In other words, she was the one who took responsibility for keeping everyone in the party alive. So it wouldn’t be out of the question for her to blame everything on herself; to believe that she was the one at fault here.
This might be a bit presumptuous for him to think, but honestly Haruhiro was worried about Mary the most.
“… I hope she’s not getting any strange ideas right now…”
The minute he said that though, he felt a heavy sense of worry.
That’s why, the minute he heard footsteps, and looked up to see someone wearing white clothes coming towards them, he felt an intense weight lift off him.
That was all Mary said before she turned away.
“Eh…? Hey, Mary, don’t run—?!”
“H-Haruhiro, we have to chase her!”
Haruhiro thanked the heavens that Mary wasn’t moving very fast. Actually… she didn’t seem very steady at all, and rather than running it was more that she was wobbling back and forth while somehow still moving forward.
When Haruhiro caught up to her and clapped a hand on her shoulder, Mary shook the hand off but no longer tried to run. Even if she did, she probably wouldn’t be able to get away. Mary turned her back towards Haruhiro and Shihoru and almost toppled to the ground.
“… What? What do you want?”
“There were… a few things. But uhh… Mary, have you been drinking…?”
“Problem with that?”
“Ah, not really, but…”
“… Leave me alone. Just go.”
“We… can’t leave you alone,” said Shihoru, squatting next to Mary. “… That’s… we definitely can’t do that.”
“We’re worried about you… seeing you like this… we can’t just watch that happen and look the other way.”
“… I had no wish to be seen. Not in a place like this. Why are you here?”
“We… we came here to see you.”
“I… desired no such thing.”
“But we want to see you.”
“… I desired absolutely none of this!”
Mary was still fairly articulate, but it was clear she was quite drunk. She probably didn’t want to be seen in that state. And who would? Haruhiro didn’t want to see Mary like this either. Maybe they shouldn’t have come. But it was too late to go back. They couldn’t unsee what was already seen.
“… What do you want?”
“Could you meet us in front of the North Gate at eight tomorrow morning? If you’re feeling up for it, I mean… with yourself like this.”
Haruhiro waited a bit. But Mary didn’t respond. Didn’t utter a single word. Instead, she stood up and began to walk. It seemed like she wanted to go back to her inn.
Shihoru began to chase after Mary, but Haruhiro stopped her and called out at Mary’s shrinking form.
“We’re not done yet. You can stand still for a moment if you want, but we have no choice but to move forward.”
Mary didn’t answer as she went back into her inn.