Eminence in Shadow Volume 6 Epilogue

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Epilogue
 

The scent of trees lingered.
 

 
Among the rays of light filtering through the window, Alpha was tidying up documents.
 
Getting up and going over to the window, a large roadside tree towered outside, and beyond it the cityscape of the capital spread out.
 
It was the end of autumn. The roadside tree was brightly turning red, carrying the scent of trees along with the wind.
 
Back then, she was always wrapped in the warm scent of trees.
 
Alpha closed her eyes, reminiscing about the past.
 

 
About those days they all lived together. That nostalgic, scent of trees—
 


 
When Shadow Garden consisted only of Shadow and Alpha, Alpha lived in the forest.
 
Alone in the small cabin he built during the day.
 
The cabin was always filled with the scent of trees. He built it from scratch with timber he cut himself. Back then Alpha learned the [two-by-four] construction method.
 
At first she could only watch, but gradually she helped out, and did most of the finishing work herself.
 
That cabin built with memories of the two of them.
 
It was simple and a bit shabby, but Alpha loved that cabin filled with the scent of trees.
 
He could only come here at night. So Alpha looked forward to the arrival of night everyday.
 
During the day she trained in magic and swordsmanship, and foraged for mountain vegetables and hunted small animals with traps.
 
At night he would bring bread and meat, which Alpha would cook. Just the two of them sharing a meal, he would always tell her all kinds of stories.
 
“Steam has the power to move huge chunks of iron,”
 
He suddenly said one day while eating the stew Alpha made. Alpha stared at the steam rising from the stew for a while.
 
She could hardly believe such weak steam contained such great power within.
 
But any seemingly preposterous story he had told her so far turned out to be fact. That the world was not flat but a sphere, that it was not the sun revolving around the world but the world revolving around the sun – Alpha had initially rejected such notions as impossible, but in the end his words were proven right.
 
So this steam must also contain tremendous power hidden within.
 
“I wonder how to draw out such power from steam?”
 
He was silent for a while, seemingly pondering what he should and should not say while heartily eating Alpha’s delicious stew.
 
He always carefully considered what he ought to say, and what he ought not.
 
“Heating water turns it into steam. And that generates great power. Hints are um…piston motion and turbines I think?”
 
Saying that, he smiled meaningfully.
 
He never divulged everything. Only giving hints, as if teasing to make Alpha think.
 
“That alone isn’t enough to understand!”
 
It was harder than usual. She had planned to immediately start researching steam tomorrow, but with only this meager hint it would take far too long to arrive at the answer.
 
“With the power of steam, you can drive huge iron vehicles and ships,”
 
He said, but it was not a hint – it was an example of steam engine applications.
 
If steam could really move iron cars and ships, it would be an astounding feat. And if he said it was possible, then it surely was.
 
“In other words, steam engines are worth investing that much time into…I see…”
 
He simply smiled meaningfully. He always made Alpha think.
 
And so, imparting knowledge to her, honing her ability to think and solve problems
 
Her abilities grew exponentially, granting her many times more knowledge than her elite education in the country.
 
Strength was great power. However, intellect was an even more precious power.
 
She thought herself a clever child. No one in her hometown could match her.
 
But even so—he, her peer, stood far above Alpha.
 
There was always someone higher.
 
Alpha gazed at his profile, dazzled.
 
“Hm? What’s the matter?”
 
“….Nothing.”
 
Sharing stew together, then receiving his magical and swordsmanship tutelage, seeing him off before dawn.
 
She waved until his figure disappeared.
 
She was happy.
 


 
As seasons changed, their time alone came to an end.
 
A girl with silver hair and beauty marks, Beta, joined them.
 
Shy around strangers, she was frightened of him and always hid behind Alpha. Alpha knew of Beta since their time in the country, and Beta knew of Alpha too. They weren’t exactly friends, only exchanging greetings at social gatherings, but sharing similar circumstances, the two quickly opened up.
 
Soon after, Gamma and Delta joined, and the once lonely cabin livened up considerably.
 
Using the techniques he taught them, Alpha and the others expanded the cabin into a proper house. A warm house filled with the scent of trees.
 
One day, he cut Gamma and Delta’s lessons short and gathered everyone.
 
Delta looked smugly down on Gamma, while Gamma glared at Delta with a sullen face. A common occurrence.
 
“Delta is stronger after all!”
 
“B-But I’m older…I’m your senior…pout…”
 
“Gamma sure is cheeky.”
 
“C-Come on, stop it already…”
 
Delta pushed Gamma down and loomed over her from behind. Also an everyday scene.
 
Apparently dogs pile on top to establish their hierarchy.
 
“That’s enough you two, stop it already,”
 
Alpha pried the two apart. Delta obediently listened to Alpha. For better or worse, she was loyal to hierarchies.
 
That’s why having the weaker Gamma above her aggravated her to no end.
 
Gamma also couldn’t stand a musclehead like Delta.
 
The two were like monkey and dogs.
 
“Power isn’t the only force. Intellect has always ruled over mankind,”
 
He said, gathering everyone.
 
“Boss…?”
 
“Lord Shadow…”
 
Delta and Gamma looked up at him. Delta had a confused expression, while Gamma seemed to seek salvation in his words.
 
The scent of trees blew in with the wind.
 
“Let me teach you. The power of knowledge to exponentially multiply a single gold coin. The art of manipulating money and dominating the world’s economy…”
 
He then spoke of the unthinkable plan of banking and credit creation.
 
“Amazing…”
 
What slipped from Alpha’s mouth was a reaction befitting a young child.
 
She trembled at the scale, the dreadful intellect.
 
Beta cowered behind Alpha, shaking in fear of Shadow.
 
Delta shivered from the cold night wind as she slept.
 
And Gamma—shook with emotion.
 
Strength returned to her once dim eyes.
 
“Lord Shadow, I have…found my path forward.”
 
He simply nodded.
 
From that day, Gamma changed. She thirstily sought his knowledge, sacrificing even sleep to devote herself to research.
 
Opportunities for Alpha to discuss with Gamma increased, and Beta joined in at times, together they mapped out the future shape of their organization.
 
Eventually Epsilon joined them, then Zeta, and lastly Eta.
 
Epsilon was a confident girl brimming with self-assurance. And fittingly, she was talented too.
 
“I’ll become number one in no time!”
 
Though competitive at first, she quickly settled in and blended into the group.
 
She still competed with Beta, but that was a good relationship in its own way, she decided.
 
Zeta was a beastkin girl with a somewhat shaded aura.
 
She talked little and kept some distance from the others.
 
Knowing her circumstances, Alpha took Zeta’s hand and mediated her relationships with the other children. Bit by bit she opened up her heart.
 
She still didn’t get along well with Delta, but that’s the way it is with beastkins supposedly.
 
There are moments when they instantly perceive “this one is incompatible with me.”
 
Eta was a strange child from the start.
 
She would often cause trouble with her eccentric actions, but conversely, her inventions had helped them numerous times.
 
With Epsilon looking after the hapless Eta, and somehow Beta and Gamma becoming her guinea pigs, Delta and Zeta playing chase, before she realized it they had all become an irreplaceable family.
 
In the house filled with the scent of trees they were happy.
 


 
Since that day, Alpha ran continuously.
 
Too busy to notice the scent of trees.
 
Vermilion rays beautifully dyed the room.
 
“Lady Alpha, it’s time.”
 
Hearing a knock, Gamma entered.
 
“Remember? Talking together amidst the scent of trees…”
 
“Scent of trees…?”
 
Gamma stood by Alpha’s side, gazing up at the large roadside tree.
 
And breathed in the scent of trees carried by the wind, narrowing her eyes.
 
“How nostalgic…”
 
“The dreams we envisioned that day are taking shape…but still midway through.”
 
“Yes…you’re right.”
 
“We will stay the course of the path we believe in. Show no mercy to those who bar the way. Shall we go?”
 
“Yes ma’am!”
 
Their alone time may have decreased,
 
But the scent of trees from that day lingers deep in her heart.
 



T/N: There’s 1 chapter left


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