The girl had once committed a certain crime.
But her sin was covered up in secrecy, regardless of her own will.
And the girl lived on in peace.
She never once considered seeking out happiness for herself.
Yet she had not resolved to repent for her crimes.
She was just wandering aimlessly, not knowing what to do.
That is why I reached out a hand towards her, without even knowing what lay in the future--blind even to the steep cliff that awaited before us.
2003, Italy. The city of Lotto Valentino.
The young man's discovery of the box could have been nothing less than a coincidence.
He was a young wanderer in his twenties. His parents had perished in an accident several years ago, leaving him to squander his inheritance on his travels around the world.
The young man had finally returned to his hometown of Lotto Valentino because his reserves of cash were running low. He was looking for things he could pawn off for profit.
Lotto Valentino was a small city that lay northwest of Naples.
It had a rather long history in its own right. The ports that had been built in the days of the city's founding still existed to serve tourists and businesses.
This city of streets was filled with tiny alleyways, almost like a labyrinth. The azure skies that sprawled out over the tiny roads that were surrounded by white stone walls was practically a tourist attraction in and of itself.
Lotto Valentino boasted one of the highest library counts in Italy. The historical and artistic values of these archives sometimes drew in television crews from overseas. But otherwise, it was a peaceful and nondescript port town.
At least, this was what the young man thought of his hometown.
His house was located on the edges of the city.
One day, he had found a mysterious jewelry case in the attic.
Actually, the box was rather big to be called a jewelry case. If it was more lavishly ornamented, he would have no qualms about calling it a treasure chest.
It was about the size of a small bathtub, and it was the first time that the young man had laid eyes on it.
In the corner of the attic was a precariously stacked pile of old things.
He had noticed a hidden space in this run-down corner of the wall. The young man had broken it down completely and discovered the chest.
He looked upon this concealed chest with great expectations.
It was said that his ancestor was a rather famous poet from this very city. The ancestor had also written several plays, copies of which were kept in some of the libraries in Lotto Valentino.
Perhaps the chest contained artworks or treasures passed down from this ancestor.
The young man, an avid traveler, found his heart racing--not out of greed, but out of the sheer sense of adventure this sealed box offered.
He soon opened the lock. He lifted the lid. His face fell.
Inside the chest were hundreds of thousands of pieces of parchment.
It certainly didn't look like it would fetch a large sum.
However, the young man considered the possibility that the scraps of parchment bore some poems or writings by his ancestor. It occurred to him that he might be able to sell them to museums and the like.
'If the poems are any good, maybe they'll become famous?'
The young man, having shamelessly considered using his ancestor's name to make profits, quickly began to read through the words written on the parchment.
It was written in an archaic style from about three hundred years ago. However, the young man had been fond of reading classics during his student life, and as such was able to barely understand the words on the parchment.
There were some difficult passages here and there, but he could reference one of the many libraries in town for help. It was fortunate that the man in charge of the local library was particularly well-versed in this field.
Thanks to these overlapping coincidences, the young man was able to decipher the extensive passages written upon the parchment.
He ended up reading them.
He ended up reading this bundle of aged writings.
The story that took place over several years in Lotto Valentino, intentionally written on parchment in an era when paper was readily available.
The Accounts of Jean-Pierre Accardo
[Here I record some of my personal testimony--some things that must be told, yet cannot be said.
Where to begin?
When I convey my thoughts to those I have yet to meet, I usually do so in poetry. But I wonder if it would be appropriate to do the same when I am doing nothing but recounting my own memories.
I even find myself thinking I would prefer that this bundle of parchments--which I do not doubt will be a large one--will never be discovered by anyone.
But what can I do, when things have already come to this? The fact that you are reading these words means that this letter has been discovered.
Or perhaps you are some translator, decoding these words for a discoverer who cannot read them on his own.
In any event, that is of no concern to me.
I will never know who you are--you who are reading these accounts of mine.
This does not mean I am committing suicide. Once I finish writing, I plan to hide this account somewhere where it will not be discovered for fifty to a hundred years.
I say this again: I have no intention of committing suicide.
The act of taking one's own life is a foolish thing that goes against the will of God. I write this again for emphasis.
My name is Jean-Pierre Accardo.
I am a man who writes poetry and prose for meagre pay, but I am unused to writing something like this. That is why I ask this of the reader. It may be somewhat difficult a read, but please finish
If you find this a difficult read, then I ask that you immediately put these accounts back where you found them and forget about them altogether.
You may even burn them if you so wish.
I am only writing these words in order to ease my own conscience.
If you have decided to accept all this and continue reading, there is something I want you to know about.
I want you to know about the unbelievable things I had seen.
The many alchemists who had gotten their hands on eternal life.
You, my reader, might see these words and dismiss them as foolishness.
Or perhaps you are living in a world where immortality is part of the mundane.
However, in the era in which I live, it is a mere fantasy--a dream that all know is impossible but pursue nonetheless.
And yet I had seen it in the flesh.
I had seen an undying man.
The things I record from this point on are part of the true history of Lotto Valentino.
Not all of them are first-hand accounts. Some of my accounts come from hearsay.
But first, I will have to explain the "Immortals" I had been witness to.
I first witnessed the "regeneration" in the year 1707.
I had been invited to a party hosted by a prominent aristocratic family of the city, the Avaro family.]
Continued in Chapter 1.