1. Life Note – Introduction
If I were to summarize my life history in a book, for sure it would end in one page.
I couldn’t even finish the “Ki” part of “Kishōtenketsu”. [TN: Kishōtenketsu is a way of how the story is constructed. which is, Ki for Introduction, Sho for Development, Ten for Twist or Progress, and Ketsu for Conclusion]
My life was a repetition of sleeping and waking up.
There was just too little that I could write.
My “Life Note” would most likely be filled with nothing but blank pages.
Well, there was one thing that I could write…
It was about something that happened half a year ago.
――Six months ago, I protected a stranger girl from ruffians.
At that time, I was probably reading too many adventure stories and burning with a sense of justice. After seeing a girl taken to the back alley, I followed and stunned the ruffians by hitting them with a wooden stick from behind.
The girl bowed while saying ‘Thank you’ with her pale face, then she stood back and run away fast, even though I thought it would be okay to stay a bit longer.
…. While I was thinking about the girl, suddenly a knight with full armor grabbed me from behind.
After he had heard the story, somehow it became ‘the lord’s son was beaten (by me) and fainted’. So, I was sentenced to one year in prison for beating the lord’s son. Sure, it was a half false charge, but I didn’t have anyone to defend me, and my explanation just sounded like an excuse.
――At that moment, I realized that the ally of justice was powerless and worthless in front of authority.
Well, it wasn’t that worthless…
Thanks to that, I could write a few lines in my life notes. In a way, it was a good story.
Now, I could write more than one page of my life notes. But, my limit would be 4 pages at most. So, if one book was about 40 pages and equal to the depth of one person’s life, the depth of my life would be about one-tenth of a normal person.
After all, it was what my life was like
Or, at least, until I met that old man…
―― The sky seen from the iron-barred window looked beautiful.
The sky I usually saw when I was outside didn’t look so beautiful, but the sky I looked up from inside the prison was so beautiful.
The sky, which was also a symbol of freedom, looked as if it was shining.
Perhaps, because I saw it from a cramped place, the light seen from the shadow felt so dazzling.
“Another half a year, huh…”
There was a bookshelf, a study desk, a toilet, and two wooden chairs. And also, there were two sets of mattresses and blankets…. The scenery wouldn’t change.
It had been half a year since I was imprisoned for a boring ‘sense of justice’.
I would be released in another half a year.
When I came here, I was grateful for the environment where I could have three meals every day but, living in the same place with the same scenery every day was harder than I expected.
Got up in the same room…
Did the same things…
Slept at the same time…
It wasn’t that the prison itself was bad. The guards didn’t hurt the prisoners, and the labor and exercise here were appropriate.
I wanted something to happen that could completely erase my boredom.
I didn’t mind even if it was just a simple thing like adding some pudding to the usual breakfast menu. I really wanted a change even if it might be just a trivial matter.
I was tired of repeating the same day. Well, the same thing also happened when I was living outside, but at the very least the scenery was always different.
I’m tired of this.
And I need to keep living here for another six months… I’m going crazy.
I wonder if those who have been here for 10 or 20 years went insane or not?
I took my eyes off the bar and sneaked into the blanket.
“Are you awake? Prisoner number 089.”
My number was called. It was the voice of a familiar male guard.
I turned over on the mattress, but seeing the guard frowning in a bad mood, I hurriedly stood up and bowed.
“Thank you for your hard work. Do you need something?”
“Yeah. Actually, I’m going to put a new prisoner in this room from today.”
It was just news about a new prisoner. But in my mind, ‘Finally someone else will be here’.
The prison cell where I was in, was large, large enough for 6 adults to sleep side by side.
But for the last six months, no prisoners other than me were inside the cell. Even though all the other prisoners in the prison were saying that they weren’t alone in their cell.
“This is it. Come. Fast.”
The guard beckoned, and a weak footstep approached my cell.
What emerged from the shadow of the guard was a tall gray-haired old man.
I was a bit disappointed.
Sure, I didn’t expect a beautiful woman to come… Well, the prisons were gender-separated in principle, but at least if someone around the same age came, I could talk to him.
An old man like him couldn’t bring a ‘change’ that I had been hoping.
“I will be in your care from now on. Boy”
Prisoner number 118. He had hollow eyes as if he had given up everything.
――I never thought that from the encounter with the old man, my life notebook would be filled with many words.
If my life was a storybook, this moment was surely the “Introduction” part.
Prisoner number 118, the old man, started reading all the books in the room. He monopolized the study desk, read books, and muttered something. I wrapped up myself in the blanket, while trying not to get involved, but after ten minutes…
“Boy, What’s your name?”
The old man suddenly came near me and asked me.
“Seal? What about your family name?”
“I don’t know. I was abandoned by my parents when I was a baby. Even my name, I thought about it myself.”
I saw a faint sympathy in the old man’s eyes.
Well, it’s none of your business.
It doesn’t matter if my parents abandoned me, I’m sure there was a reason why they had to abandon me. Well, nothing will change even if I keep thinking about it. I never really think much even if my parents weren’t there, and since they weren’t there from the beginning, I never feel anything about that fact.
I’ve never been jealous of someone else family.
So, I don’t need your sympathy. And Please, Stop・seeing・me・like・that, I hate it.
“I see, then I’ll call you, Seal. Feel free to call me, Venerable Bar.”
“Go away, old man. I’m sleepy.”
“Wait, Seal, I want to hear one thing.”
“What?”, I said so with a slightly annoying tone.
The old man held up a thick book in his hand and asked me.
“If I ask the guard for a new book, will they give me?”
“Huff… Seriously? Old man… You are so narrow-minded that it disgusts me.”
I got up and pointed to a small bookshelf in the corner of the prison. A total of 20 books were stored on the bookshelf, from children’s books to books with hundreds of pages.
“Can’t you see that bookshelf? There are still books there.”
“Yes, but I’ve already read all the books on that bookshelf.”
Unconsciously, I replied, “What?”, And looked at the bookshelf again.
“The way they’re arranged have changed …”
The books on the bookshelf have only been touched by me so far. Therefore, if there was a change in the arrangement of books, I could immediately notice it. The top shelf was mostly my favorite books, the second shelf was some books for study, and the third shelf was children’s books. However, the arrangement was out of order.
“It’s been less than an hour since you came. Did you read all the books here in that short time? “
“It’s not that difficult. It’s easy to read one book in a minute if you get the hang of it.”
It might be possible if it was just a simple picture book, but there were books with hundreds of pages. So, it should be impossible to read it in a minute.
I casually picked up a book on the bookshelf… It was a book about a hero with the title “Hero Solon and the Devil Dragon” and opened on the 122nd page.
“<Hero Solon and the Devil Dragon> Chapter 3, Second Paragraph. What did Solon say to the small devil who was begging for life? “
“ ‘An emissary of pure justice will also listen to the devil’s begging for life. But I am neither an emissary of justice nor a pure good man. There is no ear to lend to the devil who has attacked, killed, and eaten people. As a mere warrior, the only thing I can give you is to help you die faster.”–The lines were written on page 122, from lines 7 to 9. “
There was no mistake at all in his word.
I put the book back on the shelf and gazed at the old man with expectation.
“Could I hear your name once again?”
“Barha Zetta. 79 years old, Male.”
“What kind of crime did you commit to being put here?”
My heart got cold at once.
However, the cold heart immediately burned with the heat of curiosity that sprung from the bottom of my abdomen.
――The boredom that I felt until now, starting to melt.
“You… Who are you? What kind of job did you have outside?”
“I did a lot, but I’m good at being a ‘Sealer’.”
Sealer?… I’ve never heard of it.
“Your face is saying, ‘I’ve never heard of it’. Well, there’s only one ‘Sealer’’ in the world… So yeah, there’s no other than me. It’s really in minority.”
I don’t care whether it’s in majority or minority.
This old man is definitely different from the normal humans I have ever met, and somehow, he has an aura that I have never felt.
――maybe I could use this to kill time.
I asked the old man while grinning.
“What does a ‘Sealer’ do?”
The old man was looking at me.
A few seconds of silence.
What? Is there something wrong with me?
The old man who had a face full of despair suddenly, his eyes lighted up with hope, and laughed.
“Are you interested?”
“Maybe? Just a little…?”
In this way, I became a disciple of the old man… Barha Zetta.
It seems I won’t be bored for the remaining six months in prison.
Seal and Barha
TN: it’s ‘封印術師’ (Fuinjutsu-shi) in raw, I can’t find a good English word for it, but in the LN it’s written as ‘Sealer’, so yeah… To be honest, I prefer to leave it in Japanese, but well…
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