Latifa Side Story 5
I did it.
I really did it!
Onii-chan has become a sworn friend of the Seirei no Tami.
That means Onii-chan can freely live in the village.
A few days ago, Onii-chan and I, together with a few others headed to the Great Tree.
We had the Quasi-High Spirit called Dryad-sama residing in the great tree examine the spirit lying dormant within Onii-chan.
Dryad-sama said that a Quasi-high Spirit like herself was sleeping inside Onii-chan’s body.
I simply thought Onii-chan was amazing as usual but apparently everyone else there were deeply shocked.
Even Dryad-sama was surprised.
Afterwards, I spoke briefly with Dryad-sama.
Oddly enough, Dryad took a liking to me and hugged me to the point where I was almost crushed.
When I asked whether I’d also be able to contract a spirit—
「I’m sure you will be able to contract a wonderful spirit.」
Was what she said.
It’d be great if I can.
Apart from that, as of the present, Onii-chan is the sole being to possess a spirit contract with a Quasi-High Spirit.
For the Seirei no Tami who revere spirits, there’s no way they can leave such an important person alone.
It’s decided accordingly to have Onii-chan officially become a sworn friend of the Seirei no Tami.
A grand announcement to the whole village about Onii-chan possessing a spirit contract with a Quasi-High Spirit will be done during the Spirit Festival.
Contrary to my expectations, the Spirit Festival is not a rowdy event but rather a solemn and awe-inspiring ceremony.
When the head elder, Syldra-sama, begins reciting a prayer to the spirits, Sara-Onee-chan, Oufia-Onee-chan, and Alma-Onee-chan, dressed in ceremonial garbs, also begin to dance.
My thoughts unintentionally slip out of my mouth. The Onee-chans are truly dazzling.
Onii-chan’s also sincerely watching their performance.
As the festival progresses onward, the blessings ceremony is next.
It’s a ceremony where we receive the spirits’ blessings from Dryad-sama.
It is said that those who receive Dryad-sama’s blessing will be loved by the spirits and live a healthy and long life.
Along with Bella-chan and Arslan-kun, I’m also to receive Dryad-sama’s blessing.
The children of the Seirei no Tami are called by name one at a time and given a brief introduction by the head elder. They then receive a blessing kiss from Dryad-sama.
The children’s bodies faintly shine upon receiving the kiss as proof of having received the blessing.
I’m told that the blessing increases one’s total Odo capacity and makes it easier for them to wield Spirit Arts.
I’m extremely grateful since I’ve only recently been able to use Spirit Arts.
I nervously continue spectating the ceremony.
So far, only my friends have received the blessing.
When Bella-chan’s name is called, she falls over while on the stage generating laughter from the audience.
As for Arslan-kun and the other boys, they all blushed upon receiving the kiss from Dryad-sama.
Later, when I teased them about it, they all stubbornly insisted it wasn’t like that, but it was obvious they were charmed by Dryad-sama.
Finally, it’s my turn.
I, who only recently joined the Seirei no Tami, am called last and introduced.
I’m also extremely nervous so I can’t fault Bella-chan for falling over.
With awkward steps, I ascend the stage and approach Dryad-sama.
（Uwaa, as I thought, she’s incredibly beautiful…）
Truly, Dryad-sama is a gorgeous woman, exactly like a goddess.
With this level of beauty, it’s no wonder Arslan-kun and the others blushed.
Dryad-sama’s beautiful face is reflected in my eyes as she gently kisses my forehead.
My body is enveloped in a warm, pale light.
「Congratulations, Latifa. You have now also received the spirits’ divine protection.」
Dryad-sama tells me with a gentle smile—
「Tha— Thank you very much.」
I nervously convey my gratitude.
When I descend from the stage with my head lowered, Syldra-sama begins to introduce Onii-chan.
I, in my excitement, don’t really pay attention to what he’s saying, but I know that he’s praising Onii-chan.
I feel proud that Onii-chan is noticed by everyone.
It’s also largely thanks to Onii-chan having a Quasi-High Spirit residing within him.
According to Arthura-san, if not for the Quasi-High spirit, it would be difficult for Onii-chan to become a sworn friend of the Seirei no Tami.
I get a bit angry seeing Dryad-sama kiss Onii-chan on the forehead but endure it since it’s for our benefit.
When the blessing ends, a grand applause erupts from the audience welcoming Onii-chan as a sworn friend of the Seirei no Tami.
「Now then, the ceremony has ended! Let the party, commence! Everybody, back to your preparations!」
Dominique-sama of the Elder Dwarf tribe cries out in a loud voice.
At his words, the atmosphere becomes rowdy in an instant.
When I move my eyes to over to Onii-chan, I see him talking with Syldra-sama.
I’m called out to by the Onee-chans as I’m watching Onii-chan and Syldra-sama converse.
「Ah, Onee-chans! You were all so pretty! You’re even more beautiful up close!」
I immediately praise them.
I mean, they are absolutely beautiful.
「Thank you so much. By the way Latifa, there’s something we want to consult you about…」
The Onee-chans speak to me with wistful expressions as I listen in anticipation.
Even though I consulted the Onee-chans a countless number of times before, they have never came to me for anything.
「Leave it to me!」
Therefore, I gladly agree to their request.
Listening to the Onee-chans’ story, I realize it is something I want to fulfill by all means possible.
They want to deepen their friendship with Onii-chan.
The reason is that they feel like they’re being actively avoided by Onii-chan.
I think I understand why.
Onii-chan isn’t a talkative person and neither does he go out of his way to associate himself with others.
I don’t really understand why.
Perhaps there isn’t a reason and that’s just how he is.
However, I think Onii-chan’s susceptible to the distance between himself and others.
But, I understand Onii-chan.
Onii-chan cares for others in a variety of ways and constantly pays attention to their needs.
I understand that.
Onii-chan is always ready to help those who go astray after all.
I mean, even towards myself, who initially attempted to take his life, Onii-chan accepted my request. If one gathers their courage to ask, without a doubt Onii-chan will listen.
That’s why, I agree to show the Onee-chans how they can capture Onii-chan.
The plan will be executed during the feast.
I’ve also persuaded Dominique-sama and Arthura-san over to my side beforehand.
Overhearing my plan, Dryad-sama also found it interesting and will be observing from the sidelines.
「Wi— Will this really be okay?」
「Just remembering it makes me awfully nervous…」
Recalling my plan, Sara-Onee-chan and Alma-Onee-chan mutter under their breaths.
The two seem hesitant to execute my plan in their present states.
As for Oufa-Onee-chan—
「U~n, then, why don’t you loosen up a bit with some alcohol before approaching Rio-sama?」
Oufia-Onee-chan has a dazzling smile as she voices her suggestion.
Un, among the three, Oufia-Onee-chan probably possesses the best qualities to get along with Onii-chan.
「Uuu, certainly… that’s the only way…」
Although Sara-Onee-chan’s voice falters, it seem that they finally decide to borrow the power of liquor-sama.
「Gahaha, then let’s start by exchanging a cup with me.」
Dominique-sama heads over to Onii-chan with several bottles of liquor.
Onii-chan unexpectedly turns out to be a heavy drinker. He’s taken an interest in the liquor offered to him and is eagerly chatting with Dominique-san.
In the meantime, the Onee-chans are lifting their spirits with the village’s finest and strongest liquor, Spirit Liquor.
The effects of the liquor are probably accelerated by the atmosphere.
I also drink the Spirit Liquor; the taste is far superior to any juice I’ve ever had before. I feel so happy~
「Things have finally become a bit more interesting hasn’t it? I should head over soon.」
Uttering that in a cheerful voice, Dryad-sama starts making her way towards Onii-chan.
「Ehehe, wish jyish we’ll become ewen closher with Rio-shyama1!」
Somehow, Oufia-Onee-chan has become the liquor’s first victim.
「Yosh! Then Oufia-Onee-chan will be the vanguard! Charge!」
I push Oufia-Onee-chan’s back and guide her towards Onii-chan.
Oufia-Onee-chan’s quite bold; she’s snuggling up against Onii-chan.
Nevertheless, she’s faithfully following the plan I proposed.
That’s right, the secret to befriending Onii-chan is to act spoiled before him2.
Oufia-Onee-chan switches places with Dominique-san and Dryad-san as the latter two flee from the scene.
「It seems like everything is proceeding as planned!」
I declare so while observing Oufia-Onee-chan sticking closely to Onii-chan.
「I— Is it really?」
The bewildered Sara-Onee-chan throws a retort at my confident declaration.
Good grief, Sara-Onee-chan is too shy.
「If Sara-Onee-chan doesn’t go now, the plan will fail! Now, go!」
I urge Sara-Onee-chan onto her feet and direct her towards Onii-chan.
As expected, Sara-Onee-chan accepts her fate and quickly takes a seat beside Onii-chan.
I wonder if her red face is because of the Spirit Liquor.
「We’re the only ones left! Let’s go! Alma-Onee-chan!」
「But, I’m not drunk yet…」
Taking Alma-Onee-chan along who’s a heavy drinker, we also join in on the fun.
I sneak around behind Onii-chan and hug him.
「Muu~ Oufia-Onee-chan and Sara-Onee-chan are so cunning!」
Being clung onto suddenly, Onii-chan slightly stiffens but he relaxes immediately after realising it’s me.
It’s a pleasant feeling so I cling onto Onii-chan even more firmly.
Alma-Onee-chan arrives slightly slower than I did and us five begin to drink.
The conversation livens up little by little and the Onee-chans finally confess their intention to befriend Onii-chan.
Onii-chan is a little taken aback at first, but after listening to their request, he accepts their feelings with a gentle laugh.
「Fufu, at last everybody’s become close friends!」
I proudly exclaim so while clinging onto Onii-chan.
「Gahaha. Looks like it was a success. Look, I’ve brought you guys some food and liquor. You can further deepen your friendship over these.」
Dominique-sama and Arthura-sama brings over a large amount of food and liquor to us.
The two also join us in drinking.
And then, Dominique-sama begins proposing marriage candidates to Onii-chan for some reason.
The totally wasted Sara-Onee-chan and Alma-Onee-chan don’t give any visible reactions.
On the other hand, I’m not sure if Oufia-Onee-chan’s serious about her statement3.
As for me, I want to marry Onii-chan if possible.
Indeed, I’m content with only dreaming about it but I still truly want to propose to him.
Even if I’m rejected, I still want to be together with Onii-chan forever.
Borrowing the power of liquor, I exclaim so.
Onii-chan will probably take my proclamation as a joke but I’m serious.
I never knew liquor could be this good and become helplessly drunk in no time. I can’t help but feel extremely happy.
The others have become totally wasted as well, leaving only Onii-chan and Arthura-san remaining sober.
Syldra-sama and Dominique-sama who were drinking elsewhere also join us and continue drinking with Onii-chan.
The next day, I experience a slight hangover but Onii-chan cures me using Spirit Arts. Being the first time a long time that it’s only the two of us, we decide to go for a stroll for the day.
I’m still very much affected by yesterday’s atmosphere and energetically talk about various things with Onii-chan.
「It’s already been over a year since we’ve arrived in this village, how are you finding it? Are you happy living here?」
Onii-chan, who has been attentively listening to me, suddenly asks me such a question.
「Un! It’s just like Onii-chan had said, life here is really fun and everyone’s extremely nice to me!」
There’s the Onee-chans.
There are my friends.
There are a lot of kind grown-ups.
In a place overflowing with joy and compassion, there’s no way I can’t be happy.
「I see, by the way Latifa, is it fine if we talk for a bit?」
For some reason Onii-chan’s tone becomes formal.
「E~tto, about what?」
An unpleasant premonition builds up within me.
「I intend on leaving this village soon.」
My feelings are on point—
*Twitch* My body trembles.
Those are the words I’ve been expecting for a long time and I’ve been trying my hardest to prevent them from ever being said. When Onii-chan finally became a sworn friend of the Seirei no Tami, a shred of hope that he’d remain in the village appeared—
And yet, Onii-chan still wants to leave the village.
It must be a lie, why would he want to?
Aren’t all the barriers preventing him from staying already gone?
My head becomes blank in an instant.
My beloved Onii-chan is saying something but his words don’t make it to me.
I don’t want that.
「…NO! I ABSOLUTELY DON’T WANT THAT4!」
Before I realise it, I’m screaming at the top of my lungs.
Not wanting to let the troubled looking Onii-chan go, I desperately cling onto him.
I don’t want that.
Am I going to be abandoned?
Am I going to become an unneeded child5?
「Why are you leaving!? Are you going back to the humans? Didn’t you put so much effort into becoming friends with the Onee-chans? Isn’t it fine to stay in the village!?」
Countless questions arise as the words pour out of my mouth.
「I’ll have to cross many mountains but… There are things I must do away from here.」
Things he had to do?
I don’t know.
I really don’t know.
I desperately try to think of what kind of tasks Onii-chan has to do.
But, I really have no clue.
「Why… are you leaving me…?」
The moment I say that, I realise something, although it may already be too late.
I really don’t know anything about Onii-chan.
Truly, right now, for the first time, I notice that I’ve always pushed my desires onto Onii-chan and never once took his feelings into account.
So it’s only natural that I don’t know anything about Onii-chan’s ambitions.
「Come to think of it, I never told Latifa why I was heading east.」
I fall into self-loathing as Onii-chan tells me about his reasons.
Apparently, Onii-chan’s parents passed away so he wants to erect a grave for them in their hometown.
After hearing Onii-chan’s reason, I can’t bear to listen to him any longer.
The reason is simple.
I’m horribly afraid of Onii-chan disappearing so I’m trying to derail the topic.
Even though Onii-chan’s still in front of me, it already feels like he’s in a distant place.
「Besides… what is it?」
Onii-chan starts to say something but hesitates causing me to fearfully wait for his next words.
「No, it’s nothing.」
Onii-chan discards what he’s about to say with a dry laugh.
Is it really nothing?
I want to know.
But, have I already missed my chance to ask?
For me, who’s been dodging the topic for all this time, only to ask when he’s about to disappear.
Isn’t that… a little too convenient?
If it was the me from before, I would immediately demand to hear Onii-chan’s circumstances.
However, now that I’m able to look back at my old self, a sense of guilt wells up within me.
I blindly depended on and took advantage of Onii-chan’s gentle nature without ever trying to understand him.
Aah, it was such a delicious temptation.
Until now I was comfortably immersed in his kindness so it was only natural.
But I’m irresponsible so perhaps I shouldn’t properly face Onii-chan.
No, I’d be abusing Onii-chan’s kindness. I can’t do such a shameless thing after having already heard Onii-chan’s circumstances.
I can’t bring myself to do that because I truly love Onii-chan.
Those are my thoughts.
「…I don’t really know anything about Onii-chan.」
I harbour a secret that I’ve never revealed to anybody, including Onii-chan.
I haven’t told Onii-chan so I wouldn’t have to face him.
But, I’m a coward-desu.
I only observe people’s exterior6 in fear of coming into contact with their malice.
To me, the gentle Onii-chan is my sole pillar of support.
That’s why I hesitated to tell Onii-chan.
It’s terrifying to even take a single step forward.
But, now is the time to speak.
The person in front of me is the one who’s given me the courage to do so.
「Uhm you see, there’s something I want to tell Onii-chan. It might be a bit sudden… maybe, how should I say it, Onii-chan might not believe me…」
For that reason, I will tell him.
The truth about me.
「You see, does Onii-chan believe in the existence of a previous life?」
No matter what kind of reply he gives me, I will accept it.
That’s right, I make up my mind to tell Onii-chan that I’m a reincarnator.
「You know I, I already died once. I was originally a human. And, I was reincarnated as the person I am today… Etto, I know it’s hard to believe but…」
However, because I didn’t prepare myself beforehand, I end up having difficulty conveying such an absurd story.
In the middle of my incoherent explanation—
For some reason, words I never expected come out from Onii-chan’s mouth.
It takes a few seconds before I can make sense of his words.
「Latifa originally lived in Japan right?」
And yet, Onii-chan calmly continues to speak.
I’m barely able to force out those words as my mind is in turmoil.
「That’s because I was also a Japanese you know7.」
In astonishment, those nostalgic words resounds in my ear.
「Japanese… language… Japanese… person… Onii-chan is a Japanese?」
Onii-chan is a Japanese person.
That’s what he said… right?
「That is so. Well “was” to be exact.」
In other words, he’s a reincarnator just like me.
Onii-chan was a formerly a Japanese like me…
「You knew, you knew, yet… you kept silent?」
I ask the question that arises in my head in bewilderment.
In response to my accusation, Onii-chan slowly starts explaining how he noticed I’m a reincarnator.
But, why didn’t he tell me before?
Why wouldn’t he tell me?
「W— Why!? Why didn’t you say anything!?」
I unintentionally let my anger take over.
No that’s wrong, I’m genuinely angry.
For the first time, I’m angry at Onii-chan.
「Why? Why were we reincarnated? Why have we retained our memories? I too, have long brooded over these questions. I spent a lot of time wondering why. But you know, aren’t they just memories of our former life? We’ve already become inhabitants of this world. Even if there is a way back, we no longer have a place in our former world.」
However, Onii-chan brushes off my brash attitude and calmly continues his explanation.
Onii-chan’s words “we no longer have a place in our former world” ruthlessly devastates my heart.
Even if I were to return today, to Otou-san, to Okaa-san, to Onii-san, to my friends, I’d just be a stranger.
Even if my current self is a mix between Latifa and Endou Suzune, Endou Suzune no longer exists.
The girl called Endou Suzune back on Earth has already died.
I… already understood that from the beginning.
Thinking about it carefully, maybe, if I, in my fragile state when I just met Onii-chan, was told that he was a former Japanese, I would not have been able to reflect upon myself and forever relied on Onii-chan.
I would have unleashed all the anguish I harboured against being reincarnated at Onii-chan and died a broken person.
Thankfully, Onii-chan had provided many hints about him being a reincarnator and prepared me for this moment.
Onii-chan waited for me to recover until I was comfortable enough to bring up the topic about reincarnation myself.
Furthermore, he noticed that I became overly dependent on him due to my bleak outlook on life at the time.
In the end, my view on life remained restricted until today but my heart has healed considerably.
While I’m still shocked that Onii-chan was a Japanese, thanks to that, I no longer intend on depending on Onii-chan.
Geez, for me, Onii-chan’s still Onii-chan after all.
I only chose whether to keep on depending on Onii-chan or not.
If I chose to keep on relying on Onii-chan, my heart would break once again when I’m separated from him.
I predict such a future in my mind.
I’m an idiot to have gotten angry at Onii-chan.
Still, a part of me wishes that Onii-chan had told me sooner.
I mean, even if I chose the path of remaining a broken being dependent on Onii-chan, I’m sure he’d still accept me.
However, when I’m reminded of the pain of waiting for my heart to be healed, my anger vanishes.
But, it’s unfair.
Onii-chan is purposely making himself out to be a selfish, self-centered hypocrite to make me hate him.
Onii-chan’s trying to push me away because if he continues accommodating me, I’ll remain dependent on him and my heart will deteriorate.
I think Onii-chan wants me to become independent.
Having realised Onii-chan intentions, how can I possibly remain dependent any longer?
Even if I become lonely, I want to show Onii-chan that I can become independent.
Just don’t say it.
Please don’t say you hate me just to get your point across.
You don’t need to say such a thing.
I know Onii-chan is truly a kindhearted person, that’s why although I’m a bit worried, I can become independent.
Why wasn’t I able to notice that before?
It’s because I was a coward.
To me Onii-chan is kind, gentle, uh it’s a bit vague but—
I mean Onii-chan is truly a gentle and compassionate person.
He doesn’t only worry about me on the surface, but is also conscious about my emotional well-being.
He notices and acknowledges my courage.
And yet, I became suspicious of him because I was afraid of humanity’s corrupt desires.
You could argue that I was under the collar’s control but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve killed people with these hands.
I even tried to kill Onii-chan.
Calling myself lovable would be unthinkable.
To such a dirty me—
The one who extended a hand to pull me from the ruins, was this person.
Now, I will no longer remain dependent. I will lead my own life for this person’s sake.
Therefore, let’s convey these feelings to him.
What I’m thinking, what I’m feeling, and what you gave me.
So, let’s tell him.
「Is it fine for me to continue calling you Onii-chan?」
Please, allow me to remain as your Imouto.
「…Of course, even if I leave the Seirei no Tami village, Latifa will always remain my Imouto.」
Such an answer is conveyed to me—
I thank you from the bottom of my heart.