“…I see. Soul Transfer allows a person to continue on existing without the body, but that also means to say that if the memories aren’t also copied onto the soul, one’s ego won’t necessarily be retained. Moreover, once the soul begins to degrade, even that will reach its limit, and the recollection of trivial things would prove impossible.”
That was the issue that plagued Johann now. Not only was Soul Transfer difficult, the immortality achieved through it was also defective for it possessed a fatal flaw, especially so for someone like him who treasured his daughter to the point of depravity.
“I know, I know! But even then, it should have lasted for sixty years. I was certain that with that much time, I would have been able to find a way, and yet…”
“Fool. How many people do you think have aspired to bring back the dead? If achieving it in such a short period were feasible, then it wouldn’t have been something that even the gods themselves deemed futile.”
Was he overly confident, or did he merely underestimate the difficulty of the task at hand? Regardless, Shinichi dismissed his efforts.
“I suppose that too is simply another example of human foolishness. Well, in a world where the idea of cloning is barely there, I do have to hand it to you for being able to create a genetically similar body even with your half-assed efforts… Well, that’s all you managed to accomplish, though.”
“Cloning… You mean a perfect replica? Ah, so that’s why Johann attacked us? He needed a woman that has inherited the royal blood to prepare a suitable body for Grand Aunt… Wait!”
“Don’t tell me!”
As Lilisha muttered to herself, she suddenly looked at the maids. Some of them were puzzled, while others were nervously looking at Shinichi.
She had known those faces for as long as she could remember, but when she looked at them again with a certain suspicion, a chill ran up her back.
—There was an impossible familiarity in those faces.
“Why would you even want to resurrect the princess?”
Meanwhile, Shinichi wasn’t done trashing the old man just yet. With a look of exasperation, he cast a disdainful look at him, as if to imply that he didn’t even have the right to desire such a thing.
“What was that?”
“Let’s say you do manage to bring her back to life now… Don’t you realize how pitiful she would be? Her brothers and friends have already passed, while her beloved father has fallen into depravity, a criminal that has caused so much trouble for his descendants, and on top of that, the man himself has no idea how many laws he’s broken. Worst of all, he doesn’t even remember her anymore. Then after knowing all that, she learns that the reason all of that happened was because she died. That’s basically t*rture.”
Until now, Johann had been too taken with shock from being unable to remember his daughter, but when Shinichi pointed that out, a different kind of shock filled his face.
That was not because he didn’t understand what he was saying but because he didn’t want to understand.
Shinichi scoffed and mocked him with a derisive snort.
“You’ve been yapping on and on about your beloved daughter, but this whole time you’ve actually been trying to put her into a situation where she’d just kill herself. Did you really think that your daughter was going to look at you lovingly and say, ‘thank you, father,’ even after hurting her so much? How dare you call yourself her father while hurting her so much!”
“No! That’s not true!”
“Shut up! Don’t speak of her, you selfish fake of a parent! Your daughter left this world with words of gratitude, and yet you sullied all of that! You mistook your own selfish desires for love and brought pain upon your child. No one told you to do that! You did it all on your own, so don’t you dare push your sins onto your own child!”
With an intensity that allowed no room for rebuttals or excuses, Shinichi unleashed a storm that criticized him for deceiving himself. It was only natural for a parent who has lost a loved one to feel despair, but the way Shinichi spoke with such strong emotions was just like that of a child, and to a parent, nothing could be more unbearably painful.
This was not blame through logical reasoning, not a search for amusement through torment or exposure, and neither was it an attempt to corner him to uncover something, the boy before him was simply and purely angry as a child in a similar position.
“Look… She’s angry too.”
Shinichi forced Johann to look into a certain direction, and at the same time, illusion magic activated, but Johann failed to notice it.
A fearful cry escaped from his lips, and he looked at the girl at the end of his sight as though to seek forgiveness, but the girl just looked at him with exasperation.
“…Shinichi is even more merciless than usual, huh.”
“All he did was get her to let down her hair and change her appearance a little, and yet…”
No one said it out loud, but Johann had clearly mistaken Stella for Princess Filia. That was made clear by his eyes, expression, voice, and above all else, his words.
“No, it’s not true! Please, don’t look at me like that! I… I just wanted for you to… Ahh… Please don’t look at me like that… Smile for me as you always do… I beg you… At least just once more… Don’t look at me like that… Forgive me, please… Forgive me…”
Johann’s eyes trembled, his complexion turning paler than white, and with a trembling voice, he pleaded and sobbed fearfully. It was actually enough to pity the old fool.
The Princess Filia before him did not resemble one bit that of a daughter looking at her father.
“Hey, Stella, won’t you at least smile at him once?” Lilisha said.
“I refuse,” Stella said.
It was unclear why she refused, but rather than smile at Johann, she looked at him with displeasure. That was an unusual expression for her to make given that her face was often void of expressions.
However, that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how much this man had brought her and her sisters suffering.
But for Johann, who saw her as Filia, the result of such an expression was all too easy to imagine, and in the next moment, a cry that sounded as though the world had ended filled the place.
Johann collapsed with a limp, his eyes vacant as he repeated begged for forgiveness from his daughter.
Shinichi watched all of that in silence as he looked down on him with cold eyes.