Saturday, 25 October 2014

Lillia and Treize I(Part 2): And so the Two Left on a Trip - Extra 2

(Download the updated version in PDF/epub format here.)

This is the second side story from volume 2 of Lillia and Treize, which serves as a sort of prologue to the high school romance slice-of-life spin-off series, Meg and Seron.

This update contains spoilers for Allison, but not Lillia and Treize.

-----


Extra 2: Meg and Lillia


-----


“I’m sorry, Miss Megmica. You might be late for your first day of school.” The driver said apologetically.

“It’s all right. It’s not your fault.” I replied from the back seat.

The capital of Roxche, the Special Capital District, was crowded with apartment buildings and paved with wide eight-lane roads packed with cars.

The car I was in was also part of the traffic jam, surrounded on all sides by unmoving vehicles. Morning traffic was usually hectic, but it was very rare that things got this awful. Even the bus lane didn’t move. There must have been an accident further down the street.

The aboveground metro train sped along the rails in the middle of the street, glinting in the sun as it passed the unmoving vehicles. People on cars and buses leered as they followed it with their eyes.


My name is Meg.

My full name is Strauski Megmica. Strauski is my family name, and Megmica is my given name.

In Roxche, the given name comes first. I am from Sou Be-Il, the Allied Kingdoms of Bezel-Iltoa.

Twenty years ago, it would have been unthinkable for me to be stuck in traffic in an enemy nation like this. That’s because Sou Be-Il in the west and Roxche in the east—the two nations on either side of the world’s only continent—were at war for all of history.

But things changed completely a little while before I was born. The nations lost their reason for war.

And now, there is an unbelievable amount of trade happening between the two nations. Many people are now working Cross-River. My dad used to be one such person. Because he works for a foodstuffs company, when I was a little girl he was assigned the job of importing high-quality flour from Roxche.

He lived alone in the Capital District for a long time, until two years ago—when I was fourteen years old—he decided to bring over the entire family.

At the time, I was in my second year of middle school. Even though I would be with my family, it was painful to leave the friends I’d known since elementary school, my beloved hometown, and the nation I was born and raised in. There is no special school in Roxche for people from Sou Be-Il. Although I didn’t speak a word of Roxchean, I would have to attend a Roxchean school. Apprehensively, I boarded a ferry that crossed the North Sea alongside my mother and my two younger brothers.

I gazed at the massive mouth of the Lutoni River and tossed the bouquet I had prepared into the water. I thought of the thousands of soldiers from either side who died there and told myself that it was a wonderful thing for me to be able to go to Roxche like this.

When we arrived at the Capital District, we moved into a wonderful apartment building provided by my dad’s company.

Life in Roxche wasn’t difficult. I had my family, and my dad’s coworkers were eager to help. The climate was similar to our hometown, and the restaurant food seemed to taste even better.

I decided to not attend school for a while. That was because I decided that my Roxchean wasn’t good enough for me to keep up with classes. So we hired a tutor and I practiced as much as I possibly could.

Unlike Bezelese, which has been used for ages in the Bezel area and had a rich history, Roxchean is an artificial language developed two hundred years ago at the founding of Roxche. So it is very simple and functional. Unlike Bezelese, Roxchean has no grammatical gender or irregular conjugations and pronunciations. There are fewer characters in its script, and no special characters, either. So to my surprise, I picked it up quite quickly. I’m sure it would be very difficult to do the opposite—for someone born in Roxche to learn Bezelese.

In half a year, I could read, write, and converse to some degree. I began to attend secondary school in the Capital District.

A secondary school is a combination of Sou Be-Il’s middle and high schools. It is attended by students between the ages of twelve and eighteen, who generally want to move on to university. In Sou Be-Il, after middle school you could go to a vocational school or go to a high school to take more varied classes and move up to university or find a job. There are many options. But in Roxche, if you do not go to secondary school when you are twelve years old, you cannot advance further in academics. Then you would have to spend four years or so in vocational school before finding work. It may just be a matter of policy, but I think it is too harsh for your future to be decided when you are only twelve years old.

Secondary school was full of surprises.

Because I started school almost a year late due to how terms are scheduled, I had to start as a second-year student and redo my studies from my second year of middle school. I was a year older than my classmates, but no one in Roxche bats an eye at someone staying back a year. In Sou Be-Il, you cannot repeat a year in middle school, and though it was possible in high school it was supposed to be very embarrassing.

There is also very little deference toward senior-classmen in Roxche. In middle school and high school in Sou Be-Il, senior-classmen who are only a year older boss around the younger students. Maybe things are different because there is no aristocracy in Roxche now.

In Sou Be-Il, each class of students gets one classroom, where most of the classes take place. We gather in that classroom in the morning and leave our things there. And we say good morning and good evening to our homeroom teacher there. But in Roxche, there is no homeroom class we have to go to every morning. We leave our things in one of hundreds of lockers lining the walls, and when it is time for class we take our textbooks and head to the classroom. It means I have new classmates for every course.

Other than a few required courses, you can choose to take any subjects you want. You choose the classes you want from the curriculum to build your own timetable. Sometimes, you can take the same course as people in different years. Excellent students can take as many classes as they like, and if their grades are good enough they can move up a year or more. It is just like the university system in Sou Be-Il. It felt like I started university a few years early, although I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

There are ordinary classes like language (Roxchean), social studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and music. But there are less ordinary classes with fewer students, like foreign languages (such as Bezelese), cooking, photography, horseback riding, driving, yachting, marksmanship, archery, and swordsmanship.

In Sou Be-Il, you are expected to bring a lunch from home. But at the secondary school in Roxche, everyone eats lunch at the student cafeteria. The cafeteria is next to the central garden, and when the weather is nice, you can go out and enjoy lunch in the sun. There are no set menus—you just have to take the food you like, put it on your plate, and pay for what you get. Because the country pays for half the food, lunches are very affordable. And they are so tasty that I might gain weight if I really let myself go.

In Sou Be-Il, I attended a girls-only school. So it was unnerving at first to attend classes with boys as well. We had to take physical education classes together, and we even had mixed swimming classes in the big school pool. Although I guess that doesn’t have anything to do with Roxche itself.


The other students and I were both very conscious of me being from Sou Be-Il. I was reserved because I could not adjust to the laid-back atmosphere at the school. And the other students treated me very carefully because I was a foreigner—almost like I was a fragile doll. Our generation is not very conscious of the war in the past, but they still looked at me differently. And not because of my looks—after all, many people in Roxche have black hair and fair skin like me.

For half a year, I didn’t make any close friends, and ended up mostly hanging out with two people who were studying on a national scholarship from Sou Be-Il. It was great to be able to speak in my mother tongue, but because they were both two years older than me, they felt more like senior-classmen than friends. I could not open up to them completely. The two of them had similar problems making friends, like I did, so the three of us ended up sticking together.

And at the end of the term, they both returned to our homeland.

I don’t know how many times I wished I could go back, too. But my dad’s work was going so well, and my laid-back mom was enjoying life in Roxche—to say nothing of my brothers, who were celebrities in their classes at primary school and loved living in Roxche. Sometimes they even brought their friends home.

I knew I couldn’t sit back and wait. So I decided to join a club.

I chose the chorus club because it could help me practice my Roxchean, but more because I love singing. Back in Sou Be-Il, I was in the church choir ever since I was four years old.

Joining the chorus club turned out to be the right choice. Meeting the same people every day in the club room helped me befriend them. Of the other club members, the president, who was in her final year at the school, was the nicest. She reminded me of one of the aunties in my hometown, with her plump build and warm-heartedness. She was the first real friend I made in Roxche. So for a few months before she graduated, I had a wonderful time at school.

I sent her off with tears at the end of the year, and a new term began.

I was used to the school by then because I’d been going for a year, but I didn’t make any friends who would go to classes with me or sit next to me at the cafeteria. Everyone in Sou Be-Il used to just call me ‘Meg’, but here it was always ‘Miss Strauski Megmica from Sou Be-Il’.

I told myself that that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and began to blankly go to classes by myself and eat lunch alone, just looking forward to chorus club after classes.

That was when I met her.


A little while after the term began, we were given a choice between taking art or music class. I was always singing after classes anyway, and I wasn’t very good with instruments, so I decided to take art class.

On the first day of the class, about forty or so students gathered in the large art room. About half were boys and half were girls. As people sat together, chatting with their friends, I sat alone in a corner like I usually did.

The teacher came in and gave us a brief overview of the class. Then, for our first class, we had to pair up and draw a picture of our partners.

I hadn’t expected such a trying lesson right off the bat. Because I didn’t have any friends, I was usually one of the last people left. Although I was used to it, it was sad to always raise my hand whenever the teacher asked if anyone was still not in a group.

But this time, it was even worse.

“Megmica here moved to Roxche from Sou Be-Il. Would anyone like to volunteer to be her partner?” The teacher said out of the blue. I was taken by surprise. People were already avoiding me(or maybe were afraid of me?) because I was from Sou Be-Il.

I even began to resent the teacher for telling everyone. But then—

“I’ll be your partner.”

It was a girl’s voice. But I was probably the only one in the class who understood her. That’s because she was speaking fluent Bezelese.

As I watched in shock, a girl with beautiful brown hair came up to me. She looked lively and confident—in a word, ‘strong’.


“My name’s Lillia Schultz. And you are?” Lillia asked in Bezelese. I introduced myself to her, and she smiled and sat across from me.

Everyone paired up and began to draw portraits of their partners. The art room was quickly filled with chatter.

I chatted with Lillia, too. First, I asked her how she spoke Bezelese so well. I even wondered if she was from Sou Be-Il, as the family name ‘Schultz’ was not unheard of back home.

Lillia explained that she was born and raised in Roxche, but that she grew up speaking it at home because her mother was fluent in Bezelese.

Still, her Bezelese was excellent. One characteristic of the Bezelese language is that everyone outside Sfrestus, the capital, speaks a dialect(including me). But Lillia didn’t. She spoke ‘true’ Bezelese, the kind used by aristocrats and royalty.

The other students looked at us in awe because we spoke in a foreign language, but Lillia paid them no attention and talked with me. I did the same.

Lillia asked about me, and I explained that I moved to Roxche two years earlier because of my father’s work. Lillia seemed really jealous. She said that she wanted to visit Sou Be-Il someday, and even live there.

“I especially want to visit the village I was named after.”

I asked her what she meant, and Lillia explained. That her name had come from a village in Iltoa where her parents pledged their future together.

“My real name is actually really long. Lillianne Aikashia Corazòn Whittington Schultz. Oh, you don’t need to memorize it.”

I was surprised, for two reasons. My hand froze.

First, the name ‘Lillianne’. I assumed ‘Lillia’ was a Roxchean name, but that wasn’t the case.

Queen Lillianne is the most famous ruler in the history of Iltoa. She was a beloved queen who united the Iltoa region in the Middle Ages. The village of Lillianne at the foot of the Central Mountain Range was named in her honor.

Very few people in Sou Be-Il named their daughters ‘Lillianne’. Queen Lillianne is such a famous figure that it’s difficult to live up to her name. Lillia seemed to know that as well.

“Well, yeah. I heard about that from my mom. But this is Roxche.” She chuckled, not very concerned. I thought the name ‘Lillianne’ was a perfect fit for her.

The other reason I was surprised was her middle names. Adding in the grandparents’ and the mother’s family names as middle names is a very old custom in Sou Be-Il, where blood ties are considered very important. No one follows it anymore, though, and in my case my legal name is just Strauski Megmica.

“Huh… I think my mom named me that way so I wouldn’t forget my roots. But it’s a such a pain because there’s never enough space to write my name in official documents. So I almost never use it.”

The family names Aikashia and Corazòn are both in Sou Be-Il, too. When I pointed that out, Lillia told me about her mother. Her mother was a war orphan, she said, who grew up in an orphanage called the Future House. I didn’t know about it, but apparently the orphanage was founded by a woman who defected from Sou Be-Il many years ago. Lillia’s mother had looked up to the woman as a grandmother. That was why Lillia’s middle names came from Bezelese family names.

“I have a lot of ties to Sou Be-Il. Even though I’ve never been there.” She grinned sheepishly.

Lillia then asked me if I could speak Roxchean, so we switched to it. I still had a bit of difficulty, but I could get by in ordinary conversations. My listening was better than my speaking, so I could understand most things unless it was spoken very quickly.

Lillia stopped drawing and smiled.

“You’re really good! I thought you’d just come to Roxche this year.”

I told her that I had moved the previous year. And that I didn’t know anyone outside the chorus club, and that I didn’t have a single friend in my year.

Lillia’s hand froze.

And,

“Hm… So I guess that makes me your first Roxchean friend. It’s an honor. Can I call you ‘Meg’?”


“Ohh… I’m sorry, Meg. I’m no good at drawing.” Lillia said apologetically as she showed me her picture at the end of class.

I told her it was all right—that, in fact, it was wonderful. That I loved it.

Lillia’s drawing did need some work. But in the picture, I was smiling.


It has been six months since that day. Lillia is my best friend. We don’t take any classes together other than art, but we always sit together at lunch.

“Hm? …Huh?”

I was floored. Lillia was outside my window. She was in a motorcycle sidecar behind my car, wearing a light jacket over her uniform and just as stuck in traffic as I was. She was wearing goggles, but I recognized her.

I repeatedly turned the crank to open the window.

“Lillia!” I cried, waving my hand. The boy on the motorcycle, who wore a leather jacket, heard my voice and told Lillia.

“Meg!” Lillia replied, getting to her feet in the sidecar. She took off her goggles and handed them to the boy, grabbed her bag, and got out of the sidecar.

Leaving the boy on the motorcycle in the deadlocked road, she wove between vehicles and crossed the center of the street to get to my car.

“Hey there, Meg! Hello, Mr. Driver! Can I get a ride, please?”

I nodded.

There was a good reason Lillia wanted a ride.

Students like me, who went to school by car, could do nothing about being stuck in traffic. If the driver testified at the school gates that we were stuck in a traffic jam, we were not marked as tardy.

Lillia usually went to school by bus and metro train. She would usually be on the train on this section of the road. I didn’t know why, but this time she was on a motorcycle—and at this rate, she would be marked as tardy. But if she was with me, she could also be excused with the traffic jam.

“Man, that was close! Thank you, Meg! You’re my hero!”

“You’re welcome. Who was that boy on the motorcycle just now?”

“No one important. He’s just my servant.”

“A servant? What do you mean?”

“Just some guy who came to our house two days ago to sightsee around the Capital District. He happens to have a motorcycle, so I asked him to give me rides to and from school starting yesterday, but this happened. I would’ve been marked late for sure if you weren’t here.”

“Now you won’t break your no-late record, right?”

“It’s so nice to have friends.”

“…”

“What’s wrong, Meg?”

“Yeah. It sure is.”


The car didn’t budge. Even with the fan on, it was hot under the summer sun.

But I am very happy today.

And once more, I start a day of school in Roxche.



-Meg and Lillia end-

1 comment:

  1. I just found out that you're doing this series.

    It is one of my favourite anime! Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete