Hills of Silver Ruins

Chapter 4

13-4 The maidservants were getting ready for bed when one of them asked Shouwa, “Is there something we’re doing wrong?

Shouwa wasn’t sure what to make of the question. She wasn’t entirely satisfied with the conduct of her staff, but nothing about them rose to the level of demanding pointed criticism. She had to wonder what exactly the maid was getting at, but going into the fine details would be a pain.

So she simply said, “No.”

“Perhaps you’re just worn out?”

“No—” Shouwa started to say again.

She stopped and pressed her hands against her temples. Her head had come to feel like it was filled with lead of late. She felt exhausted even first thing in the morning, and that sense of listlessness persisted throughout the day. She worried less about it while she was working, but now that they brought up the subject, there might be something wrong with her physically.

Though she hadn’t thought that should be a factor since she was listed on the Registry of Wizards.

Shouwa smiled and said reassuringly, “You know, I probably am just tired.”

The maidservant said in obvious relief, “Maybe you should take tomorrow off and recuperate.”

p. 46

Shouwa politely agreed, though this was no time to go on vacation. With Heichuu absent, she was the only one Taiki had to depend on. Keitou had been appointed provincial prime minister. He’d promised to recruit more personnel for Nightingale Villa, so the staffing levels should increase any day now. But they hadn’t yet.

Shouwa sighed. All that aside, she had to keep a close eye on Taiki’s condition. That was her primary duty and the only one she could fulfill.

Why had Heichuu been transferred to the Rokushin on such short notice?

As far as Shouwa knew, the Rokushin was a haunted castle where people wandered around like ghosts. When she thought about his reassignment, however it constituted a promotion, she didn’t envy him in the least. She had no desire to join him and become another one of those creepy functionaries wandering the halls

Speaking of which, she hadn’t seen the doctor, Tokuyuu, around either. Had he gotten fed up with his job? He too had often struck her as depressed and awfully tired.

Recalling the always weary Tokuyuu, she felt a jolt of recognition. It’d been the same with Heichuu. He’d spoken less and less and moped around as if overcome with melancholy and lost in a fog of depression that never lifted. The same way she felt now.

Shouwa shook her head.

No, that couldn’t be the case with her. She was simply tired. And cold. And weighed down by her duties. The mission given her by Risshou only added to her burdens.

p. 47

“It’s because I can’t get any sleep at night.”

The dove nesting in the eaves was a noisy bother. Not a constant one, but that singsong voice haphazardly falling on her ears left her nerves on edge.

“That is definitely the reason why.”

A voice echoed softly within the gloom.

“South of the castle we fought—”

A single light illuminated the surrounding night. Someone was singing far away in the darkness.

“North of the walls we died—”

A motionless silhouette painted a blacker shadow on the ground. Only the song issuing from its lips proved the shadow was not a statue but a living human being.

“Perished like dogs at the side of the road and ended up food for the crows.”

The enervated voice picked up a strange amount of cheer as it meandered through the dusk. Reaching the wall, that seemed to stretch out and seize the shadow, it faintly echoed in return.

Please tell the crows on our behalf
To spare a moment before gobbling us down
And shed a tear like they truly care
Weathered and worn and without even a grave

p. 48

The silhouette wrapped his arms around one knee. He buried his face in his arms and stifled his voice. But his own derisive laughter interrupted the song.

The faint glow flickered. The shadows stirred. The man glanced at the light. Confirming that the flame had quieted down, he again buried his face between his arms.

There seemed no end to this weariness, to this eternal ennui.

How in the world might our rotten meat
Flee from the tip of your pointed beak?

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