Sudden Awakening, with a Scenery of Dawn
“Seiren” ((Which is actually said with the characters for “Blue Lotus”, instead the usual straight katakana spelling.))
Hearing my name called, I turned around to see the Director standing there. I happily rushed over to see him as he gave me a congratulatory pat on the head for graduating. Oh, that’s right, I graduated from high school. Then the Director turned to me in conversation.
“You’ve made me very proud, working so hard.”
“Oh? I guess.”
However, all that hard work was in the past. From now on, in thanks for all my hard work, I was to become an adult. Even the same passage of age could be seen on the Director, not only has he been putting on weight, but as his hand settled on my shoulder the wrinkles became very apparent as he continued talking.
“Keep up the good work. We’re family, alright?”
Saying this with suddenly both hands on my shoulders, I suddenly feel like I’m falling through the floor.
For a moment I lay there in a daze, as I suddenly wake up. Opening my eyes, my view is greeted with fluffy feather pillows on a down bed ((down as in feathery, this is a very feathery bed)). It seems I slept buried in all of this pure whiteness.
“… uh, oh, yeah, right.”
As I sat up in the bed, I felt a bit of mild discomfort, still not being used to my body. Mostly with how my pyjamas felt on my chest… wait, pyjamas? This is more of a nightgown. My haziness of just waking up parted with me in the next moment as I became aware of the cause such discomfort.
“Seiran-sama, is something the matter?”
As the two maids ran in alarm to check what was wrong, I started to recall the events that transpired yesterday. I was brought back to this world, and in the process became a woman.
“… oh, I’m sorry. Alica-san, Minoa-san, I didn’t mean to trouble you like this.”
“It’s fine, were you having a nightmare?”
“Poor Seiran-sama, everything will be alright now.”
Alica-san had a wry smile as Minoa-san came to help me get up. Well, it wasn’t really my dreams that had me troubled right now.
“What sort of dream were you having… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t pry into the young lady’s thoughts.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I was just dreaming about the life I had before I came here.”
Minoa-san dismissed her own question before she finished it, but I answered anyway. Though, I worry that my answer might give them the wrong ideas. The orphanage I was at after disappearing from this world really was a good home for me, I owe a lot to it. Until yesterday, it was like the Director was my real father.
“Oh, so that was it.”
“It was probably because I was pulled from that world very suddenly. There is still a lot that I am thankful for in my time in that world.”
“Ah, I see.”
As I explained the situation with more clarity, Alica-san held a stern expression while Minoa-san nodded sympathetically. It made me wonder at how my sudden disappearance was being handled back home, I probably caused quite a commotion vanishing all of a sudden like that. … I’m so very sorry, Director.
“Well, your past life is in the past now. It would be best to keep moving forwards, as this is your life now.”
“Yes, I know. Really, I’m sorry.”
I hardly heard the small sigh from Minoa-san, as I considered what was expected of me. This chest I have now, I had no choice really but to get used to it. As I take a moment to myself, Alica-san heads over to the opposite wall. I never noticed the window there. She pulled aside the curtain, which draped across the wall down to the floor, to reveal a glass window on the other side. However, blocking the way to the glass was a set of shutters, almost like a door, which let only minimal light into the room between the gaps. That might be why the room could get so dark. ((Nothing until now said “gilded cage” quite like this yet.))
“Seiren-sama, if it might please you, come check this out. It even seems to be good weather today.”
After pulling open the shutters and glass window, clear blue sky flooded the newly revealed space. To put it in perspective, this room was on the second floor. I didn’t even notice such myself until now, because the bath I went to yesterday was also on the same floor.
I inadvertently voiced my opinion of the view before me. Far off in the distance was a mountain range, with a forest of trees layered out before it. I could see some spots of the woods had unnatural clearings, with what looked sorta like cabin roofs peeking out from the top. It was probably a village or such. Since I grew up in the city, this country-side feeling was also unfamiliar, another way it was such a different world. Seriously, looking out at this spread of crude countryside gave a convincing presentation of being a different world entirely. What else was new out there? Clearly, it wasn’t just my chest that was something to get used to around here.
“This view outside is a lot to take in all at once.”
“Oh, is this your first time seeing such?”
“Well, I spent all yesterday only checking out the inside of this mansion.”
I answered Alica-san’s question while still scanning the outdoors. This really was the first opportunity I had for such a view. In consideration of such, Alica-san offered “If you wish, I could guide you around the garden today?” It made me curious about what sort of “Garden” this place would have.
Glancing downwards from the window, I wondered if the garden could be seen from here.
As I shifted my view downwards, I noticed a young man below. He was slightly younger than me, probably around 14 or 15 years old. Trying my best to look at him, I noticed he had sleek black hair. I’m not sure exactly, as it is hard to determine from so far away, but I suspect he was around my height. The pants he wore were a darkened slate of beige, and he appeared to be working with a wooden sword. The sword looked a lot more like a western-styled sword, instead of a more familiar Japanese sword. Considering his posture and the way he was holding it, I wondered if he was enduring sword practice. While watching him attentively, I decided to call out to him.
“Good morning! How are you doing today?”
He remained silent and ever vigilante, so I decided to leave him be. I was sorta worried if I did something wrong there. I was curious, who was that guy. Turning around to Alica-san, I noticed she had her hand to her cheek, as if she was contemplating something.
“That Saryuu-sama, so early in the morning.” “Saryuu..?”
It means Alica-san knew this guy. Minoa-san took that opportunity to show up from behind us.
“… Alica, did you not yet explain? Although, for Seiren-sama to be suddenly interested in him..”
“Huh, wait, what?”
Even Alica-sama seems startled by Minoa-san’s sudden arrival. Yeah, I’m not sure what I was doing either.
“Oh, nevermind, I thought for a moment that you were the master or madam or Yuzuruha-san.”
Minoa-san shrugged in disappointment. It’s the best way I could describe how she appeared, even if it doesn’t give merit to the impression she gave. Usually, unlike Alica-san or Oriza-san, Minoa-san came across as a sort of motherly figure.
“The guy you saw outside is Saryuu Shiya, Seiren-sama’s younger brother. As I recall, he turned 14 this year.”
“… younger brother?”
Inadvertently, I was left visible shocked. I never expected to have a younger brother too. It came up completely unexpectedly, finding out that I have even more to the family I never knew I had. Then again, awkwardly enough, I was gone for 18 years, it is entirely possible to have had a brother added to the family while I was away. But in the orphanage, I got used to thinking of my peers as my siblings. This was something different completely.
“I… I have a brother?”
“Well, specifically, he’s your brother-in-law.”
Minoa-san added a couple of additional words that just made things even more complicated. Specifically, that ‘in-law’ part? ((Although, the use of ‘in-law’ here doesn’t exactly match the English cultural meaning. Basically, they are closer to cousins than siblings.))
“Oh, so he’s more like adopted?”
“Correct. Following the branches of the Shiya Family, he comes from a distant relative.”
Alica-san’s information was really convincing, considering what she saw of the guy earlier. Yes, it was something understandable of such a daimio family. It means he wasn’t exactly considered a pure noble either. He wouldn’t have inherited much sway within the family. I wonder if I was the only actual heir for the family, their daughter. And I was disappeared after only one month of being born… I amazed myself, no longer feeling strange about being brought back here as their daughter.
That’s just how things are.
“So … all things considered, that still makes me the only heir, then.”
“That may be so, but there is something else to consider.”
Minoa-san inclined her head in consideration. I considered what else could be a problem, wondering if there was an issue with the heir being gone for so long could have caused more than just parents frantic to find her. However..
“Well, consider Saryuu, and what he’s had to go through. When his parents are so worried about the daughter who is gone, no one knowing if she is alive or dead…”
Oh no. I had no idea what to say about that. I worry about what sort of impression that has left him with now. To have parents more worried about the daughter who was gone than the son who was still there, he probably felt neglected and loved less as a result. It wouldn’t have helped that he knew he wasn’t a heir either. I had to empathise with him though, considering how I grew up as an unofficial son of the Director, who still feels like my father even now. I might have came from another world, and I might be a daughter here, but there I was like a son. Still, even considering the sort of father-son relationship I had, it was never seen that way from the outside. It was an orphanage, after all. Having seen everything play out very similar back then, I was very familiar with how he might feel.
“I can understand how he might have been lonely, Saryuu. I got to see what it was like growing up as a child without complete parents myself.”
“You were lonely, then?”
“I really didn’t completely understand what it was like to be a part of a family. As a child, it was a fact which was sometimes difficult to endure.”
.. Frustratingly, I wasn’t completely satisfied with how I explained myself. I probably could have phrased that better. Well, to have found I have a brother, and that I’m a sister, though I still feel like I should be a brother instead. It’s not exactly something I have control over, though. At the very least, I want to talk with my brother and help him out. I don’t know, I had managed to stay strong until now, but it is probably likely that facing him for such might turn out to be rather scary.
With that, it was time to get dressed for the day. The bra was still difficult for me to put on, mostly the part where I had to tie the string in the back. Today’s outfit was similar to the light blue dress yesterday, but instead was a pale yellow dress. The adorned patterns of the dress made it look really cute, and somehow I’m wearing it. Minoa-san took a moment to make an additional request.
“Meanwhile, Seiren-sama, would you like to have some breakfast?”
I considered my reply. Last night, I had dinner in this very room. Minoa-san was probably already considering such herself. I considered carefully if I should eat alone again today.
“I think this time I would rather go and eat with the others, if that is alright.”
“Of course. This will surely please the master and madam.”
Nervously facing Minoa-san as I made my request, she responded laughing, to my relief.