310 - Crime and Punishment, Life and Death
Due to Yamada-kun's statement, the fact that oni-kun had killed Natsume-kun had become clear. Since Natsume-kun wasn't amongst the reincarnators gathered at this treehouse, I think it's likely that some people had guessed why. Even so, even if they had been able to guess that Natsume-kun had died, I really doubt that any of them could have imagined that it was one of their ex-classmates who had killed him. The proof of that, is in the chilly silence that dominated the room.
The only exceptions were Tagawa-kun and the tied up Kusama-kun and Ogiwara-kun. Also, the ones who knew it beforehand, or rather saw it in front of their eyes - Ooshima-kun and Yamada-kun. Since even Kudou-san had lost the ability to speak, naturally the others had looks on their faces showing that they either couldn't properly digest Yamada-kun's words or that they were befuddled. Even for those who understood, perhaps they doubted whether it was actually true or something, as they were glancing around restlessly at the others.
Most likely, for the reincarnators who had been living inside the elf village, death was probably a distant concept. For that reason, even when they were told that an acquaintance had died it didn't feel real to them. Even more so that it was one of their ex-classmates who had done the deed. In Japan it was rare for people to die of anything except old age, and maybe that expectation had been carried over. In which case their sense of death would completely run counter to this world, where people die all the time whether they're an acquaintance or not.
On that point, Tagawa-kun and Kusama-kun who were raised outside the elf village have a proper sense of life and death in this world. Which is why they're not flustered. However, in comparison to that, why is Yamada-kun so indignant when he was also raised outside?
In the first place, Yamada-kun should have held a considerable resentment against Natsume-kun. After all, his father's death and being chased out of his birthplace is because of Natsume-kun. Furthermore, Natsume-kun even did something so cruel as to brainwash Yamada-kun's sister and friend, and set them on him. Eh? There was someone who allowed that to happen? Who might that be eh? Well, putting that aside. Even if Yamada-kun has had any thoughts of killing Natsume-kun, isn't it too strange that he would actually want to let the guy survive? I don't get it.
「Say, is what he said, true?」
The one who broke the silence, was Kudou-san. Oni-kun and Yamada-kun keep glaring at each other and don't move. When those two glanced to the side, Kudou-san turned around towards me again to repeat her question. But ehh, you're picking me!?
「If what he said was true, then does that mean that after you lot used Natsume-kun you then killed him?」
Hm, well, that's mostly correct.
「I will not deny it.」
「I'll take that as confirmation.」
In response to my answer, Kudou-san said that with a severe expression. Well, it's not actually wrong after all. In practice, what I did is probably even more unscrupulous than what Kudou-san is imagining though. But I'll refrain from saying that. I'm sure we'll both be happier that way, yep.
「I'll say this first - him being killed is simply something that would inevitably happen. Therefore, there's no problem even if I killed him.」
「There surely is a problem!」
Interceding between oni-kun and Kudou-san, Yamada-kun jumped in with a shout. It surprised me a bit that he did something out of character and he had jumped up so quickly that he knocked over his chair.
「Shun. Since you are actually the primary victim, don't you think it's strange that you are sticking up for him instead?」
「Well, that might be true. It's not like I have forgiven Natsume-kun, and I don't have any intention of sticking up for him either.」
Oh? I guess Yamada-kun wouldn't be able to forgive Natsume-kun after all huh. Well indeed, if he could forgive all that, he'd have to be some kind of incredible saint. Or rather, going that far would actually be too strange huh.
「However, despite that, isn't it strange that you're basically saying "yeah I killed him and it's over"?」
In response to Yamada-kun's words, some of the reincarnators showed signs of approval. Well...... I guess so. Since they were raised in the enclosed environment of the elf village, it's not so strange for them to have kept their sense of values from Japan. Criminals in Japan are impartially punished according to the law. The death penalty is only applied in the case of genuinely extreme crimes. There's even a movement for abolishing the death penalty. The value of a person's life is different compared to this world. That even applies to criminals.
「It was necessary for Natsume to live and atone for his crimes. He had the duty to do so. It was wrong to kill him and stop that. Once someone's dead, then it's all over, right?」
Hmm. He is certainly making a decent argument, but also, I can't help but think that he sure is naive. After all, there's tons of criminals in this world who don't show the least inclination of atoning for their crimes. Taking his words at face value that no matter what kind of criminal they are they would eventually repent, is the kind of thing that only exists in expedient stories. If someone refuses to reform themselves no matter how much you try, then you're just wasting your time with them. In such cases, I think it's much neater to nip the problem in the bud and kill them off quickly you know. Well, since I don't know what would have happened in Natsume-kun's case, this is simply just my own opinion though.
「That's true. Once someone's dead then it's all over. Killing is bad. That much is natural. It's not something forgivable.」
Oni-kun approved of Yamada-kun's words.
「In that case...」
「Then, isn't it also natural that Natsume cannot be forgiven as he has taken many lives?」
Whatever Yamada-kun was about to say, oni-kun interrupted him. Carried within oni-kun's words was a force strong enough to silence Yamada-kun.
「Listen Shun. People who have had someone close to them killed are not going to forgive the killer. No matter how much that person tries to atone for their crime, the hatred in their hearts will not vanish. It might fade. But, it will not vanish.」
Those words had a strong sense of it being something that he had experienced personally. On hearing such heavy words, it could be understood that someone close to oni-kun had been killed.
「Shun, I think what you are saying is praiseworthy. However, no matter how he struggled he was not in a situation where he could be forgiven. He had to die. That's why I gave him a mercy killing. Can't you agree with that?」
There's no way that Yamada-kun would be able to refute oni-kun's compelling argument.
「I can't agree, indeed.」
Or so I had thought. However, something powerful shined in Yamada-kun's eyes. Something unyielding was definitely there.
「Shun. Surely you can understand from seeing this world? This world is not like Japan. Life is cheap here. Even if you still carry your sense of values from Japan, can't you see that it's inevitable?」
Oni-kun asked the obstinate Yamada-kun that, trying to persuade him.
「It's inevitable? Why do you think so?」
However, that gave rise to an unexpected counterattack.
「Certainly, life is cheap in this world. People die for minor reasons. It's precisely for that reason that Julius-onii-sama also... no, never mind that now. Anyway, despite all that! Just because of that, that doesn't make it okay to take those lives away so easily, right!?」
A shout. A shout with the power to overturn my perception from just earlier that he was naive. I had thought that he was naively sticking to his sense of values from Japan still. That was wrong. His shout indicates that Yamada-kun is still persisting with those naive thoughts, despite understanding all that.
「This world is not like Japan? Sure it's not. Nothing in this world is like Japan. But, does that mean we gotta toss away our sense of values from Japan? That it's hopeless?」
At Yamada-kun's words, Ooshima-kun's shoulders started trembling. Does that reaction indicate that Ooshima-kun had also thrown away her sense of values from Japan due to her life in this world?
「Kyouya. Let me ask you this instead. You said that it was inevitable. Aren't you simply giving in and saying that it's inevitable because that's how this world is?」