While having a light coughing fit, she opened the door to the now unused room.
It had already been a month since its owner had disappeared, but the inside was kept the same as the day he left.
The jacket hung on the chair, the leather armour and training sword leaning against the wall, the quill left lying atop the table, the worn shoes by the side of the bed. It was a waste to even clean the mud from the boots, so she left them as they were.
When she came here, it felt like she could meet him whenever she wanted.
“Utaseyu.” It felt like he would call her name like that, before gently embracing her.
It felt like he would tell her silly jokes to make her laugh.
Utaseyu approached the bed, and softly sat down.
“I’m too big, so I’m scared that I’ll crush you when I sleep.” he had once told her, so they slept in separate rooms.
Although she felt it a little lonely, Utaseyu agreed as well.
It wouldn’t have done to wake him up with her coughing in the middle of the night, so she was very grateful for the idea.
Utaseyu lay down atop the mattress, before pushing her face into the pillow.
She had placed a few bags of hahanero around so that she wouldn’t need to wash it, but his scent had long disappeared.
Finding it sad, Utaseyu let out a sigh.
How long had she been doing that?
Recalling the reason for her visit her, Utaseyu raised her sluggish body.
She stood by the window and tied the blinds up.
When she reached her arm out, she coughed again.
The reason it hurt less than usual was probably due to the rain that fell last night.
Small panes of glass were held in the wooden lattice frame of the window, which was an item specially ordered from the Capital. It’s clarity was high, and you could see the outside scenery without distortion.
He had ordered them from a workshop in the Capital for their future children. Even at the cost of putting off replacements for his worn boots and saddle.
She undid the lock and placed her hands against the window frame. And although she hadn’t even pushed, the window opened.
Utaseyu was lost for words.
Even though the outside greenery had been beyond the window until a moment ago, standing there right now was a woman she had never seen before.
She had honey-coloured skin, and glossy black hair that gleamed like like a croshinshu. Looking carefully, even her eyes were black.
Recalling a black-eyed demon from a picture book she read as a child, Utaseyu flinched.
But she immediately regained her senses, and smiled.
Ahh, so it’s time.
“I have been waiting for you, Angel.”
The angel stared with her mouth hanging.
“You were? For me?”
It seems that the angel was surprised. “Well this is new.” she muttered.
She supposed that not everybody was prepared when the angel came calling.
“I have been prepared for a long time now.”
“Eh? For what?”
Utaseyu stared at the angel’s black eyes for a while.
The angel was looking back at her too.
“Um, did you not come here to pick me up?”
“Pick you up? Me?”
Their conversation was mismatched.
Utaseyu stared hard at the angel.
She had black eyes and hair that Utaseyu had never seen before, and was wearing an outfit of mysterious material.
Utaseyu could see what was behind the angel; she had thought for sure that the smooth yellow wall was a wall of heavenly judgement that only those allowed into heaven through, but perhaps she was wrong.
The angel frowned.
“Sorry. Because the weather was good, I opened the window to ventilate, so it seems that I’m not the person you’ve been waiting for.”
“My, was that how it was.”
Utaseyu’s shoulders slumped.
The news of him splendidly completing his mission had reached her.
As promised, he rose to the position of Knight Captain for the knight brigade in the Capital.
That’s why she had thought that it would be fine to leave whenever, but…
Now that he had become a hero, he would probably be courted by plenty of the refined ladies in the Capital.
She had wanted to depart before she heard news of him picking somebody.
The tears that she thought had dried up began to fill the brim of her eyes.
And then a drop ran down her cheek.
“Eh? Um, w-, what’s wrong?”
The angel frowned in bewilderment.
“I apologise for showing an unsightly… Guh-!”
When Utaseyu tried to wipe her tears, the moment she covered her eyes, a dull pain shot through her chest, and the taste of blood filled her mouth.
She tightly gripped the clothing by her chest, and crouched.
She couldn’t breathe, and sweat gathered at her forehead.
This pain that felt like a mortar grinding her insides was something that she had experienced many times already.
“Hey, are you okay!?”
The angel leant forward from the gate to heaven.
She felt like she was choking. The sweat ran into her eyes and blurred her vision.
And then, something raw smelling was thrust before her eyes.
“Here, drink this! It smells bad enough to kill, but anyway, just drink it!”
With her consciousness starting to blur, she reached out her hand to the thing offered by the angel. But her hands were shaking, and she couldn’t grasp it.
“Sorry if it spills!”
Perhaps panicking, the angel forced something to Utaseyu’s mouth.
A thick, warm liquid spread through her mouth. It certainly did taste dreadful.
It spilled from the corners of her mouth to her throat, before dripping down to her clothing.
A smell like rotten tamanekki boiled with ninik assaulted her nose, and Utaseyu gagged.
“Ghho-, goho-, u-”
Feeling sick, she quickly covered her mouth.
After somehow managing to force it back down her throat, Utaseyu looked at the angel.
“Uu-, ggho-, geho-,”
The angel seemed nauseated too.
“What was that just now?”
After waiting for the angel’s nausea to settle, Utaseyu questioned the angel.
The angel twisted a white knob, and water came flowing from a silver pipe. While washing her hands, the angel answered exhaustedly.
Utaseyu’s eyes widened.
“Why do you have trangorn blood?”
“Somebody gave it to me. A person in armour. Or more like, he forced it onto me, and this is what I had left…”
After the blood came off her hands, the angel smelt her palms before grimacing.
“The smell isn’t coming off… Hey, I think you should hurry and change too.”
“Um, the name of the person in armour was…?”
It couldn’t be. she thought. But Utaseyu’s heart was trembling from expectation.
After tilting her head, the vigorously stood up.
“I didn’t ask for his name! Aaah, I’ve done it now. Even if I meet his wife now I won’t even know!”
No less vigorously than the angel, Utaseyu got up as well.
“Angel. Could you please wait a moment? I will return immediately!”
“As long as it isn’t for an hour and a half, sure?”
Looking at Utaseyu, startled, the angel sat down on a small yellow chair.
Utaseyu ran. She vigorously took the portrait in the guest room into her hands, and returned to the room where the angel was waiting.
Although it had been a few years since she had run this much, oddly her chest wasn’t hurting, and she wasn’t short of breath at all.
“Angel! This person! Was it this person that you met!?”
It was a picture of him in knight clothing―――a picture of the man who had been Utaseyu’s husband.
Blonde hair and blue eyes like a deep lake. His fearless and prudent countenance had won not only her heart, but the admiration and longing of all members of his knight brigade.
“Ah, right right. It was him.”
The angel gave a light nod.
Seeing the portrait, her black eyes widened.
“Hey, could it be that you’re his wife!?”
Utaseyu smiled. A little sadly.
The angel reached out her arms from the gate, and took both of Utaseyu’s hands.
“I wanted to meet you!”
Utaseyu fell into confusion.
The angel said that she hadn’t come to meet her.
But the angel said that she had wanted to meet her.
“So you really have come to pick me up?”
“Umm, for a while now, what have you been saying about picking you up? …It couldn’t be that you thought I was here to bring a dead person to heaven, right?”
Utaseyu nodded. The church had taught that it was the angels’ job to detach the souls of the dead from this world.
“Am I a shinigami…?”
The angel gave a tired sigh.
After releasing Utaseyu’s hands from her fingers, the angel corrected her posture.
“Listen carefully, okay? I met the person in the portrait by chance, and heard a lot of things from him. He said he wanted to celebrate the slaying of the trangorn with you. He told me that living together with you was important to him. He really regrets it, you know. And umm, hey, about, you know…”
The angel’s eyes swam as she found something difficult to say.
“About how he went to a brothel?”
“Y-, Yeah. About how he was sleeping naked in a brothel. That might be how things ended up, but it seems that it wasn’t his intention. The messenger from the king made him drink until he was drunk, so I think he was completely unconscious, you know.”
“I knew that he had gone to a brothel, but I didn’t know that he slept there naked.”
The angel wordlessly held her forehead.
“But I know that nothing happened.”
The angel suddenly raised her face.
Utaseyu gave a small chuckle.
“After all, when he gets drunk, he becomes ‘useless’ after all.”
After saying so, Utaseyu’s cheeks flushed red. What a thing to have said to a pure angel.
Hahaha, laughed the angel as she scratched her cheek.
“I’m sorry. What a thing to talk to an angel about.”
“No, it’s fine, but umm, hmmm, was it unforgivable to you that he stepped into a brothel?”
Utaseyu shook her head.
“No, after all, a messenger from the King isn’t somebody that you can refuse a drink from. I knew that he had been tricked somehow.”
Then why…? the angel seemed to frown in confusion.
Utaseyu brought her hand to her chest.
“I don’t have long to live. Right after we got married, I had my first attack when he was out subjugating monsters. At the time, the doctor had told this to me. That I probably wouldn’t last another year. He would laugh and say that he wanted children, so I couldn’t tell him. And then the messenger from the Capital came and said that after subjugating the trangorn, he would be promoted to Captain of the Capital’s knights. But he refused. For my sake…”
Tears had begun to flow down her cheeks before she had noticed.
She felt pathetic for doing nothing but holding him back. She felt resentment towards the body that wouldn’t do as she wanted.
“He’s amazing, you know. No matter what the monster, he would defeat it in one blow. Did you see him wield his sword? Wasn’t it beautiful? He isn’t somebody who should spend his life hidden in the countryside like this. But despite that, he was going to refuse… Even though I was going to die soon.”
When Utaseyu happened to raise her head, she found that the angel was watching her with a sour expression.
When Utaseyu called out to her, the angel suddenly returned to her senses.
Seeing Utaseyu with her head tilted in confusion, the angel gave Utaseyu a difficult smile.
“How do I say this. I think maybe you two should have talked to each other a little more.”
Is that so? But if I spoke to him, then he definitely would have stayed here.
When she thought about how much he would grieve after her death, Utaseyu just couldn’t bear it.
“Also, you’re probably fine now.”
Utaseyu tilted her head in confusion. what was fine now?
“It was trangorn blood. A panacea. All it did was cure my hangover, but your husband said that it healed his burns. And from what I can see, it looks like your attacks have stopped too, but, how do you feel? Doesn’t your body feel lighter?”
Utaseyu looked down at her body in shock.
She wasn’t struggling to breathe at all. The dull pain that had always plagued her, as well as the feeling of being grinded was gone as well.
“Am I, healed?”
“Am I, not going to die anymore?”
“No, the illness you had is healed, but I think everybody is going to die someday… For me as well; once I drank again, I got another hangover after all.
“Am I going to be able to bear his child?”
“Ummm, were you listening to me? But well, yeah, I guess you probably can.”
The feeling of new tears filling her eyes was a terribly comfortable one.
Utaseyu sobbed in happiness.
“Umm, well then, that’s how it is, so, I think it’d be best for you to hurry to the capital. I’m sure the armoured man is waiting for you.”
The angel put her hand against the door.
Utaseyu suddenly came back to her senses and took the angel’s hand.
“Please wait. Please, please let me thank you.”
The angel tilted her head, looking troubled.
“Um, I was beginning to think that it was about time that I don’t get anything left behind, but…”
“Please. Won’t you allow me to thank you somehow?”
With Utaseyu almost clinging to her arm, the angel muttered “like husband, like wife, huh”.
The angel looked around the room.
“I’ve been wondering for a while now, but what are those round cloths on top of your mattress?”
Utaseyu picked up a hahanero bag that she had created by sewing a number of hahaneros into a brightly coloured cloth.
“Yeah, yeah. what’s a hahanero? Why do you have them spread out on top of your bed?”
“They’re a very hot spice, but when you grind them up and put them inside a cloth like this, they become insect repellants that prevent moulding.”
“Incidentally, they can be used as beanbags for children as well, you see.” she said, and the angel’s eyes sparkled.
“They prevent moulding!? That! I want that.”
“Are you fine with something like this? Then please take them all.”
To think that there would be mould in heaven.
Utaseyu felt just a little dejected.
It was apparently quite a different place than in the church’s teachings.