My consciousness was awakened upon hearing a shrill cry.
The voice was filled with unending sorrow, a cry full of melancholy. Before hearing the voice, my consciousness was fuzzy, like I was in a dream. My mind was in a haze, a place with no pain and no suffering, then everything began with a single intense emotion. …Wait, did it really only just begin?
Did I truly not feel this same despair once before? As soon as that voice snapped me out of my stupor, I felt like I’d forgotten all manner of things and became confused.
Where was this place, who was I――.
“Acht, what’s wrong?”
A black-haired boy came running into the room.
Aah, that’s right. He was Claude, though I always called him Clau; he was kind of like my older brother. And I was Acht.
“Acht, are you okay? Hang in there! Acht!!”
Clau grabbed my shoulders and shook me, then the sorrowful scream stopped. …No, that’s not it. The source of the scream was me. It didn’t just stop, I stopped.
Sudden tears came, distorting Clau’s face.
I’d been living in a world free of pain and suffering before, but now that seemed to be all there was. Unable to deal with the sudden onslaught of emotions, I could only cling to Clau’s small frame. If I didn’t, I felt like I would break apart.
“When did you learn to say my name… No wait, what’s wrong? You’re crying so much…”
I didn’t know.
I was just sad, so incredibly sad. In my small panic attack, all I could do was cry.
“Where did Noel-san go? And right when Acht’s not feeling good.”
I suddenly understood that to be the name of my mother. At the same time I wondered why it made me sad. I should have been lost in sleep, then came to a sudden realization.
“Clau… She’s gone. Mama’s gone.”
I didn’t mean that she had abandoned me. She had literally disappeared from this world. I instinctively knew I would never see her again.
Pain, sadness, and loneliness. I clung to Clau as he rubbed my back until I was unable to shed another tear.
Thus, in exchange for my mother’s death, I was awakened in this world.