Language Switcher

当サイト「椿の庭」は、広告収入、「OFUSE」からの投げ銭を収入源として運営されています。

Cocytus novel

"Cocytus -Ballerina Under the Moonlight" Episode3

"Cocytus. A river in the underworld of Greek mythology. A frozen hell that spares no traitors."

 

The sound of heels echoed crisply in the quiet space.

It was a two-story Western-style mansion where a wealthy individual had purchased and retired in a villa once inhabited by Italian nobility.

They had opened up two rooms on the second floor and turned them into a 'gallery.'

The interior was dimly lit, yet the beauty of the paintings and sculptures remained undiminished. Rather, they shone like stars against the darkness.

A large painting adorned the entire wall.

It depicted Dante and Beatrice arriving at Paradiso.

A world filled with light. Yet shadows were felt.

It should have been a work filled with joy, yet it felt melancholic.

Why was that?

However, it was different from what was auctioned off. Both were so magnificent that they were hard to let go of.

Syunka had received a message from Francesca and had come to this mansion.

She heard that a Japanese art buyer was visiting the wealthy owner, so she contacted him.

"My father went to war."

It was World War II.

Syunka looked at him as if her throat was being grasped.

Now elderly, he looked at the paintings as if reminiscing about distant days.

"What did you feel at that time? It's been talked about countless times in textbooks, movies, and the like. I won't speak of it now. But there was something he had suffered from for a long time. 'Abandoning a friend.' We knew it was about the Japanese. Because he had cherished a Japanese-patterned scrap of cloth for so long. It was an order, so there was no helping it—everyone said so. But it wasn't something that could be settled like that, was it?"

His wrinkled finger pointed at the painting.

"I knew that non-believers couldn't go to Paradiso. That's why my father... look here."

Where his finger pointed, something resembling a torii gate was depicted. Syunka widened her eyes.

"He prayed so that they could at least return to their homeland."

"...Such consideration?"

"Yeah. But maybe it wasn't enough to atone for his sins. Hearing that a Japanese art buyer was coming this time, I really wanted to show this. I thought it would be best if my father's painting was announced in Japan."

Syunka stepped back and surveyed the whole.

Majestic yet lonely, it should have been happy but felt melancholic. Yet it was filled with something that enveloped everything.

Was it pity? No, it was different. This was...

"...'The road to heaven begins in hell.' My father returned to life and made a fortune in his work, then abandoned everything and came here. We thought he had gone mad, but when we understood that this is what he wanted to paint, we accepted it. He tried to escape from the hell of guilt on earth."

"...I'm not a party to this. So I can never blame what happened at that time. And I don't think Italy was wrong? I don't think so."

"Is that so?"

"...Wasn't everyone a victim at that time?"

"And everyone was an offender, whether they had the will or not. That's what my father said. Miss, does Japan think poorly of Italy? What about America?"

"That's... I was born in peacetime. I respect the people I'm currently associated with, regardless of country. My grandparents were people during the war, but I never saw them blame Italy or America. They're dead now, so I don't know their true intentions... But if my father suffered from guilt, I'm sure he wouldn't be happy."

"Yeah. It's pointless to blame others for their sins and punishment and ruin the basics. And it's often said that those who criticize others are actually criticizing themselves. Didn't Christ say, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone'?"

"Yes. And I'm sure if my grandfather saw this painting, he felt something that couldn't be expressed in words like joy or happiness. A torii gate being depicted means... that's to say..."

"It's love."

When it was clearly spoken, it was embarrassing in the Japanese sense.

"...Yes, that's right. I feel love. That should have been enough."

"That's right. Love envelops everything and frees us from guilt and suffering. There's nothing lacking there. Fame or anything else doesn't matter. With love, it's paradise on earth."

He was indeed an Italian man. Romantic words flowed smoothly, and Syunka vaguely relaxed her cheeks.

Yes, it was a painting filled with love.

It sought to envelop everything in the light called love, regardless of religion or borders.

"It's very beautiful."

"Yeah. 'Beauty awakens the soul to act.' Miss, we men can never match up to women in such things. How about some wine? I feel as if I've been awakened by beauty named you and Francesca."

"Huh?"

 

He said the payment for the painting wasn't necessary. He laughed heartily, saying he'd probably be scolded by his father for it.
He was completely satisfied with the unexpected encounter.
Francesca's next job, and he saw her off to the nearby bus stop.
It was about twenty minutes after that.
The sound of an engine roaring on a road with few cars.
Syunka looked around, but there was no apparent shadow.
As she looked down the road, wondering if it was another street, a shadow jumped out from the bushes with the sound of an engine.

"!"
In a sudden gasp, she remembered the past accident, her left leg losing strength and her knee buckling, almost falling.

"If this continues, I'll be crushed—" At that moment, someone grabbed her and she collapsed onto the sidewalk.

"Tch." After clicking their tongue, the motorcycle roared away.

Syunka clung to the person holding her, tightly closing her eyes.

Breathing became difficult.

"Syunka, Syunka?"

Her name was called, but she didn't even notice that.

 

Finally remembering to breathe, she lifted her face. She wasn't sure how long it had been, but Nathan held Syunka's shoulders firmly, looking at her intently. Amber eyes gradually widened as her pupils dilated.

"Thank goodness, we made it in time."

"What... what happened?"

"It was a pickpocket. Are you injured?"

"I don't think so..."

But her legs felt weak. She gripped his clothes, her fingertips trembling so much they lost their color.

"Anyway, let's move."

The driver's side door was left open, and the car's body was dented against the sidewalk curb. Nathan scooped her up in his arms and put her in the car.

"Nathan..."

"Yeah?"

"Um, what... happened?"

"It was a pickpocket. They targeted an unusual female customer. What about you? Are you really not hurt?"

"I... I'm okay."

"To the hospital."

"I'm fine, really."

"What about your left leg? Did you twist it?"

Syunka had been stroking her left leg all this time.

"No, it's not twisted."

"Is there somewhere you'd feel more comfortable?"

"Yeah."

Nathan brought Syunka to Spiaggia del Bianchini, spreading out in front of the Hotel Paradiso. She believed she would be safe here.

The fine sand underfoot felt smooth and didn't hurt even without shoes. The wind picked up slightly, prompting Nathan to adjust his position upwind.

"...I was in an accident."

"An accident?"

"Yeah. When I was 21... I fractured my left leg... and had to quit ballet. It was a motorcycle accident then too."

"...It must have been tough to quit because of an accident."

"I wonder... At that time, my mind was a mess. There was a part of me that felt relieved somewhere..."

No need to step onto the stage anymore. Along with the sense of liberation came a rushing void. What was that all about?

"...Anyway, I changed careers because of that. I was lucky to be picked up despite not having proper business training. It was like doing odd jobs and translating at the same time."

She sighed heavily, feeling a weight on her chest. What would telling Nathan accomplish? But she also felt a desire for him to know.

Glancing at him, she saw him looking straight at her. His amber eyes resembled the setting sun—somewhere fragile, like light that seemed to dissolve.

"Nathan... um..."

"I've said it before, but connections with people aren't just luck. They're something that draws us together, don't you think?"

"Well... I'm not sure..."

"Do you believe in me?"

"Huh? Um, yes, I do."

"Do you believe in yourself?"

"Huh...?"

With those words, it felt like he had grabbed her by the collar.

"When you have subordinates, do you call them 'odd jobs'? I don't see you as that kind of person."

"Well, that's... I'd prefer not to use that term."

"If you respect her, doesn't calling yourself that insult your superior?"

"..."

"If you respect her, you need to believe in yourself more. Failure... it's not easy to overcome, but it's a waste to shut yourself off from the present because of it. 'Heaven wheels above you, displaying eternal glory, yet you keep your eyes turned downward.' I'm not very familiar with Dante, but those are good words. Syunka, you're beautiful. I like your eyes. There's no falsehood in them."

"..."

Her cheeks flushed with warmth. Her vision inexplicably blurred.

(What is this feeling?)

If this was a dream, she didn't want to wake up from it now.

"I don't know your past self, but I'm glad we met like this. Your past made you who you are now."

Saying this, Nathan gently touched Syunka near her collarbone.

 

As night fell, the scent of gardenias grew stronger. Syunka savored the light-headed feeling while taking a bath.

At this rate, I'll end up feeling like a drunk.

She understood. It wasn't a confession of love, but rather a connection as human beings. Still, she felt genuinely happy to have been told there was affection as a person.

She submerged her face in the water once more, watching her hair float around her.

"Oh no! I won't be able to sleep tonight!"

Syunka, still in high spirits, hadn't noticed.

Why was Nathan there, anyway?

 

The next day, Nathan insisted on chauffeuring Syunka. The motorcycle driver from before—apparently the thief—had been promptly arrested, but Nathan didn't nod in reassurance.

To be honest, it was reassuring.

In a world where thefts happen daily, that was certain. Above all, she was relieved.

"Do you love him?"

Izumi asked, but she couldn't answer clearly.

There seemed to be a big obstacle.

Nathan's car had already been repaired.

It was only yesterday, but what happened?

"Well, I have connections. If it's for work, it's better to do it sooner rather than later, thanks to their kindness. They're not the type of customers to be shaken up by minor incidents."

"Is that so?"

"They'll find it more interesting as a topic of conversation. They'll enjoy hearing about it... But yesterday's incident can't be brought up as a topic. He was arrested, but how about you? Have you calmed down a bit?"

"I'm okay. Thank you."

"Good, but don't push yourself. Also, be careful of robbers. Hotel Paradiso has good security, but be cautious. How about the art pieces?"

"I plan to send them to Japan soon. They're still in the room because I wanted to check the artworks before sending them..."

"Send them as soon as possible."

Nathan emphasized.

"Yeah."

"The stay is..."

"Until the end of May."

"So, just over two weeks left..."

Two weeks.

After that, would she say goodbye to Nathan?

Syunka felt a little deflated.

"Shall we go?"

She was called and put on a smile.

"Yeah."

She spoke with the artists and exchanged business cards.

Many artists were not good at talking. Some stuttered and blushed while explaining, while others were blunt.

They were all just not used to it, with no ill intentions.

But their works spoke well for them.

Delicate glasswork, colorful paintings, pottery that even made demons look cute.

All of them were charming.

Ayaka also participated via Zoom and decided to exhibit several pieces.

Unfortunately, those not selected were told, "Next time," with Ayaka offering a splendid smile.

"If you respect her, you need to believe in yourself more."

Recalling Nathan's words, Syunka faced them with determination.

She and those days she trained for ballet were together.

Even if she missed the prize, there would be another chance.

Another chance... What does that mean?

The judges' eyes were strict. They were pleased with evaluation and upset without it.

But was that really important?

 

In the evening, Nathan came to pick her up.

She didn't know much about Maseratis, but it suited him well. Nathan stepped out of the car.

He wore a sharp suit, an unfamiliar sight. He seemed like a stranger to her.

He loosened his tie, placed it in the back seat, and motioned for Syunka to sit in the passenger seat.

Once inside Nathan's car, a deep calm washed over her.

His presence made her feel as though she was being protected by something greater. His voice resonated softly, soothing her spirits.

Regardless of his attire, he was still himself. She felt relieved by this realization.

"How did it go?"

"Ms. Ohara... my boss. I feel like I understand why she's amazing. She believes in people's potential. Her critiques aren't meant to belittle others; she just points out areas for improvement. That's why everyone can aim for the next step with peace of mind."

"I see. That's good advice. 'Show a good vision,' they often say."

"A vision?"

"An ideal future image... goals. Showing that to your subordinates. That's how you achieve rapid growth."

"Is that so?"

"You too, right? During rehearsals, what were you told?"

"To be mindful of the performance."

"That's what it means."

"But... I can't articulate it well. Forget what I just said."

"To move people emotionally, right?"

"... "

Syunka swallowed her words and looked at Nathan.

"Was I wrong?"

"... No."

"I, too, was taught by my superior in the past. What are you working for... he said. The answer is always within yourself. It's the same with clients. Their ideal aspirations should be the answer."

"...?"

"Oh, sorry. By the way, I got an invitation from a client."

"Invitation? For what?"

"A party at the hotel. It's a networking event where acquaintances from different industries are invited. They do it occasionally. And I'm invited."

"That sounds like it'll be a grand party. A different world, right?"

"You should come too."

"Huh?"

Syunka blinked in surprise. She was a complete stranger and hadn't been invited.

"It's normal to have a companion. Mostly they're married. I'm... not, so..."

"Why not?"

"I'm a troublesome guy, you see. Look, you're dodging again."

"I'm not dodging."

Syunka glared up at him with raised eyebrows.

"So, will it be a 'yes' or a 'sure'?"

"... I don't have a dress suitable for a party at a hotel."

"You can borrow one."

"And pumps too?"

"Yeah."

"... And underwear?"

"Heh."

Nathan chuckled unusually.

"It's lewd of you to react to underwear."

"You're the one who said it. Fine, I'll prepare underwear too."

"You're kidding!"

"What?"

"Are you serious?"

"Do I need to lie? If you don't have them, I'll prepare them. It's a gesture of thanks for taking your time. Sorry if it's just essentials. So, what's your answer?"

Syunka bit her lower lip.

There was something embarrassing about it.

Nathan's gaze through his sunglasses turned towards her. It felt like he was peering into her expression.

Her collarbone, touched yesterday, pulsed.

"You already know..."

"I'm dense. If you don't tell me, I might misread it."

"... I'll go."

As she answered, Nathan let out a satisfied breath.

"Thank you."

At that moment, her chest warmed gently.

 

"To be continued"→"Cocytus -Ballerina Under the Moonlight" Episode 4 ※Contains sexual scenes.

 

 

ありがとう!当サイトはあなたの応援で成り立っています。

クリックしていきなり課金というわけではないので、そこはご安心くださいませ。

OFUSEで応援する! 無料コメントもお待ちしております!お気軽にどうぞ。

OFUSE is a tool for fans to support their favorite creators with tips.

運営者:深月 カメリア

-Cocytus, novel
-, , , ,

© 2024 ーThe Camellia Gardenー Powered by AFFINGER5