Originally posted on 14 August 2018
Source: Echo Night 2 Perfect Guide, page 144-145

Echo Night 2: Side Stories

Eternal Life

She was known as "the red-haired woman". She had no name. Perhaps she once did, long ago - but now, having lived for more than two millennia, it served as no more than a mere decoration, of no consequence to her. Maybe even she herself had forgotten what it was.

Long ago, born as the younger of a pair of twin girls, she lived in a village on the bank of the lake, never wanting for anything. But as her thirtieth birthday neared, she fell ill with an incurable sickness. Not only was the cause of the illness unknown, but it was a rare one that she could succumb to at any time. Her illness grew worse by the day, and anyone could clearly see that she was wasting away before their eyes. Her elder sister, with whom she was close, feeling sorry for her, even wished that she could trade places with her sister. It was then that the elder realised something: the illness was a hereditary one, and even though it was not yet active, she, too, was a carrier.

One day, a curious-looking blind man appeared in the women's village. The man visited the girl in her sickbed, took out a knife set with a red stone, and said to her: "On the night of the crimson moon, kill your sister with this stone. If you do this, you shall not die."

Naturally, the woman refused, saying that she didn't want to live badly enough to kill the kind sister who worried about her so. Hearing this, the blind man vanished, knife and all. When she awakened the following morning, however, she was confronted with an unthinkable reality. Her sister had taken her own life with the knife offered by the blind man.

Ever since that day, time for her had stood still.

For decades, centuries, the woman searched for answers, keeping constant watch over her sister and the terrible stone. Had what her sister had done for her truly been the right thing? Should she live in rebellion against her fate?

Many years passed, and eventually the village vanished, partially buried beneath the earth. In time, the fact that there had ever been such a village faded from the people's memory altogether.

House Clancy and the Red-Haired Woman

In 1915, ruins were discovered on the grounds of the residence of the Clancys, a former family of high repute who had fallen from grace. A number of items were excavated from the ruins, including a female mummy and a knife set with a red stone. These ruins were formerly the village where the red-haired woman lived long ago. The retrieval of her sister's corpse and the red stone, named the "soul stone", which she had guarded led to her once again experiencing human contact. In return for the hospitality of the Clancys, the red-haired woman told them all she knew about the ruins. Despite this, she would never talk about the "soul stone", that the female mummy was that of her sister, or anything about herself.

Some time later, Jessica - a woman who had married Albert Clancy, the next head of the Clancy family - came down with a disease of unknown origin, and was told by the doctor that each day could be her last. What cruel trick of fate was this? Jessica had been placed in the very same situation as that of the red-haired woman. In order to save Jessica's life, Albert was now prepared to do anything no matter the consequences. The woman decided to test him. If she were to give the soul stone to someone who cared deeply about a person in that situation, how would they act? This Albert reminded her of how her own sister had behaved. She decided, then, that if she watched him, she would surely find the answer. It seemed as though her heart's deepest desire was going to be fulfilled.

But the woman's calculations were turned to rubble around her by one man: Richard. In love with Jessica's twin sister, he, too, was in the same situation as she was. But rather than relying on the soul stone, Richard attempted to save his lover by his own power - and not only that, but whilst also setting free those who had been killed by Albert.

Seeing these two men try to save someone in the exact same situation as her in such completely opposite ways would surely give her the answer she sought. But the woman knew that even still, her own existence would not cease. Even if she was no longer present in this world, she must go on existing in another. This was her fate as the one kept alive by the "soul stone".