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Publication Celebration side-story #2.
A Story About Eliza and a Violin
This extra was posted on March 11th, 2017.
This is to celebrate the publication of the second volume of Akuyaku Tensei, and is a thank you to everyone who has supported it.
As with the previous extra, it has been inserted here to fit in with the timeline.
There were musical instruments in this world that resembled violins. And it was right after I had returned from the barracks, that one such instrument was given to me as part of my education.
“Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of crazy noises coming from your room.”
The lecture had ended, and I and Kamil were drinking some tea that he had poured as we took a break, when he suddenly brought it up.
His gaze was clearly looking past me, and towards the violin case that was now being kept in this room.
“Hey, it’s that noise that needs to stop. What is it? It sounds like the scream of some monster.”
“…I’ve only just started practicing.”
Kamil’s teasing caused my eyebrows to furrow and my good mood to plummet. And yet, for some reason, the corners of his mouth were raised happily.
“Try playing something.”
He said while grinning ear to ear. What? I, on the other hand, became tense.
“I said that I’m still practicing.”
“Yeah, yeah. But just try it a little.”
No. Please. No. Please do it, Charlie.
I rejected his sudden request several times, but it soon became too bothersome to continue. And so I was ultimately forced into taking the violin out of its case.
Apparently, there was no concept of instruments for children here, and so the adult-sized violin was visibly too large for me. It was difficult to even hold, which made Kamil burst into laughter. I gave him my hardest glare in return.
You’re the one who told me to play it, why are you laughing?
“So-sorry. I just…kkk…hehe.”
Even now he was trying to hold it back, and so I glared at him once again before returning my gaze to my hands and slid the bow across the strings.
Screeeeeech. My still awkward hand movements were accompanied by a sound that indeed was like the scream of a monster.
It was apparent that I did not have enough muscle strength to make the bow slide smoothly. It wasn’t even a matter of skill at this point.
I pouted. He knew very well that this is what would happen when he asked me to play. Was this not a little cruel?
…However, once I had started to play the instrument, the sounds of Kamil trying to hold back his laughter had stopped. I looked up at him in surprise. No matter how you looked at it, the sounds I was making were not pleasant, and yet he was looking at me with a warm smile.
It was like the affectionate stare of an older brother, almost as if he were seeing something nostalgic.
That’s when an especially hideous screech emitted from the violin. Perhaps it was because my concentration had drifted away from my hands.
Kamil immediately fell over onto the desk in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. I calmly put the violin down and went forward to punch him in his shaking stomach.
No matter what, Ratoka could not like the instrument that screeched annoyingly in his ears.
He was aware that if played properly, the instrument was capable of sounding very beautiful.
But even after two whole months of practice, this was the result. It seemed that he had not improved at all. He didn’t think that he would ever hear the beautiful and graceful sound that was almost like a singing voice, from when his teacher had played.
Musical instruments had always been a part of a noble’s education, but according to the understanding of Eliza and Earl Terejia, who had decided that Ratoka must have an education, it was something that could be pushed back in favor of other subjects and practices, such as swordplay. Usually, his musical education should have started when he was seven, but it would not actually start until four years after he came to live with Eliza.
“I will ensure that he will be able to play it competently by the time Lady Eliza enters school.” Mrs. Marshan had declared one day. And from then on, Ratoka continued to make jarring, screeching sounds that could hardly be considered music for every single day.
(…Ahhh, ugh. This was so unnecessary for the education of a noble. Do I really need to know how to dance or to play a musical instrument? Also, I remember hearing that there was a difference between the kind of lessons boys and girls had. But which were they giving me now? )
He felt rather sulky and brimmed with resentment, but continued to move the bow over the strings, but the moment it screeched in a particularly unbearable sound, he lost any will he had to play and threw the violin on the floor.
But due to the sense of reason that had been instilled into him at some point, he did return the delicate instrument back into its case. But the fact that he was so accustomed to doing that now made him even more uncomfortable.
I can’t be doing this anymore. He mumbled aloud. He violently threw himself onto the bed just as he had while living at the barracks, and sighed deeply.
He had hated nobles for being people who did nothing but torment commonfolk and play, but now he was distressed over something that was normal to them.
It’s pretty ironic, he thought with a frown that was full of scorn for himself. If Eliza had known all about this when giving Ratoka the life he now had, then maybe she was the person that they talked about in the capital. A cold character with a heart of ice.
He sighed once again and then suddenly noticed with surprise that there was a faint sound echoing from somewhere.
It was a violin.
The melody it played was beautiful, it flowed like a singing voice. He could hardly believe that this sound was coming from the same instrument as the one he had been making such clumsy noises with.
But the truth was that the graceful melodies themselves, felt like an expression of nobility to Ratoka, and he felt that it did not suit him very well. That had been one of the reasons that his motivation was low.
(…Maybe, I’ll go see just a little.)
He was ordered to practice by himself every day, but the violin lessons themselves were not given in the royal capital.
He didn’t know who it was that was playing, but it had now been over ten days since his last lesson. And so he was starting to feel like he would like to see someone else play for once.
The sounds seemed to be coming from the first floor of the salon. It wouldn’t be proper for Ratoka to show himself if it was a guest, but the room’s door should be open due to reasons of security.
He thought that there surely would not be a problem if he just peeked inside. And just as he was about to look through the partially opened door to the salon, it happened.
Perhaps the person playing had changed because it was obviously different than before. There was a strength in the sound of the chords that began to play.
And as it began, he could hear slight scraping sounds of the bow’s friction, but it was as if it was integrated into the music. It was a passionate and fast-paced song that had started.
(What. What. What. What was this, this song? It was so captivating… Uh, so such music could be played with a violin? Songs like this!?)
Ratoka was born as a commoner, and for the years leading up until recently, he had been so involved with Eliza’s busy work, that he had lived completely isolated from music. Though there were times when Eliza would take him out to an evening party and he would have a chance to hear something, they were all slow songs.
This moment was the first time he had ever heard a song that was played so fast.
The sounds were so vibrant and gallant that it changed his perceptions in an instant. Without thinking, his heart began to beat faster.
Ratoka gasped aloud, and then once again attempted to look into the salon, now with a completely different mindset.
The long glossy black hair that moved together with the fierce movement of the bow entered his sight. Ratoka was struck with such a sense of shock as if being struck by lightning and nearly screamed.
How was this girl playing such a powerful song in such a powerful way? That wasn’t fair!?
How can you look like that, and play like that, while I have to wear frilly, girly clothes and make screeching noises? It’s not righttttttttttt!!”
…In the past few years, the girl who was disguised as a boy had lost the youthful chubbiness in her cheeks and had over time become a lady whose sharp and brilliant beauty gave one a feeling of excitement.
Unfortunately, he was disguised as a handmaid on the day that this entered his mind, and every night, Ratoka would lay in his bed with a sense of defeat, jealousy and many other feelings that came from his adolescent mind, that kept him tossing and turning.
…As if that was not enough, he now realized that the person who watched Eliza playing the violin with reddened cheeks was none other than Elise who had come to visit from the school. He felt dizzy as he backed away from the door and then turned to run as fast as he could back to his room to open his violin case.
He felt less reserved around Eliza now compared to a few years ago, but in regards to the resistance he still felt that was related to his pride as a man, well, that had only grown.
“I will! I will! I’ll learn how to play this instrument more powerfully than her!!!”
With a renewed resolve roused within him, Ratoka energetically waved the bow in the air with a manly gesture and then, softly and precisely touched it to the strings.