So recently I kinda got in the mood to go back to Dies a little bit. This scene in particular is the final conversation between Lotus and Reinhard at the end of the game, and it’s probably no exaggeration to say that it’s one of the most important scenes in the entire VN. It’s always been one of my favorites so I really wanted to try my hand at it, even if it did contain some quotes that are kinda hard to express well in English (so obviously I’m not claiming I managed to pull it off perfectly or anything). I also made note of what background music plays during which part, so you can listen to them if you so desire. Oh, and I believe it goes without saying that this will contain giga-mega spoilers. Anyway, I was gonna do the pub scene as well (I started its first few lines basically) but after realizing how bloody long it was, I decided to just leave it for another day, maybe. This scene already took long enough to get through and I need a break.
(Btw yes, the Sievers in this bit is the same Sievers from Muramasa, haha.)
BGM: Sol lucet omnibus
1939, December 25. Berlin, Germany. 0:27AM.
By the time I realized, the night had already marched past midnight. And so, I lifted my gaze from the book I was holding.
The same year that may end up being remembered by future generations as a period of incessant turmoil was now steadily edging towards its closing days. With it, the new year was preparing for its graceful entry, promising thrice the turmoil. Albeit, “chaos” would be far more fitting a name for what is surely to come, truth be told.
Four months have come and gone since the invasion of Poland. Four months since the United Kingdom and France issued a declaration of war against Germany, as dictated by their treaty of alliance and mutual assistance. Though I may in part be recalling the days of my youth, when each day went hand in hand with hunger and starvation, the thought of another grand-scale war breaking out nonetheless filled my heart with gloom.
In truth, those elderly veterans that fought on the front lines and experienced the bitter taste of defeat first-hand would no doubt feel it tenfold. So why did we plunge head-first into a new war?
I realize the importance of possessing land, resources and food. I really do. You’ll find plenty who hunger for honor and glory. Even more who wish for victory to wash our nation’s reputation clean of the taint of defeat. Should the events from two decades ago be recorded in history as the only World War fought by men, Germany and its people would forever be remembered as a nation of the defeated.
Either way, this was a choice very much made with the future in mind. And to that end, the present is now being sacrificed.
I realize this might be but the hollow, infantile grumbling of one who’s seen precious little of life. Yet to me, this was a grave matter.
My comfortable equilibrium of the “here and now” was being torn to shreds.
Stop it. Leave it be.
I know how selfish and arrogant that may sound, yet it is how I truly feel. In fact, it would make me particularly sad to miss the sequel to the very book I had just finished reading a moment before. I mean, I want this author to be able to publish more and more works in the future.
Even I’m amazed by how foolish this train of thought is.
I heard the sound of approaching footsteps from behind.
What’s this now? Gods, I have a terrible feeling about this. Or so my gut tells me. And to my misfortune, these hunches of mine rarely ever miss the mark. I knew I should’ve retreated to my own chambers for reading. Sitting in the middle of a bench in a hall as large as this leaves me with nary a chance to hide. I know this person did not come here to meet me in particular, yet I can’t help but feel a tingle of unease trailing up the back of my neck. Though I’m not sure who it may be, ignoring his presence might be the best route to take here.
Reinhard: Excuse me.
And so, even when he stopped right next to where I was sitting and uttered a brief word, I hanged my head and refused to look up to meet his gaze.
He went on.
Reinhard: Is Director Sievers available?
A low, yet refined voice — even without looking him in the eye, I could tell that it belonged to a man of considerable power. His soothing tone was contrasted by an echo of confidence, as well as a definite coldness lurking behind it.
He was a soldier. Although, at present, I could say the same thing about myself, a man like me paled in comparison to a high-ranking official.
In other words… he was not the type of man I would wish to ever associate with.
Reinhard: Did you not hear me? Is the Director–
Lotus: A-Ah, right. Sorry, but he’s out.
I crudely waved my arm as I gave him an answer.
Frankly, I want for him to be gone as soon as possible, but if he ends up introducing himself, decorum would force me to politely oblige him. It would just needlessly complicate things. In fact, it would be better for everyone if I never heard his name. Let him think of me as some boorish whelp who knows not how to speak in front of a commanding officer. That would make things easier. At any rate, it’s not like he’s going to shoot me dead on the spot.
Reinhard: I see. Understandable; I did fail to notify him in advance of my visit, after all.
Lotus: Yeah, well, in any case, door’s that way if you’re done.
I lifted a thumb to point to the back of the hall without turning to face him.
Lotus: He’s been meeting with these doctor types a lot as of late. I heard them muttering something about measuring skulls and whatnot.
Reinhard: Ah, that must be a plastometer — a device capable of determining Aryan heredity.
Lotus: Yeah, that’s the one. He’s attending a dinner party with a group of researchers from Strasbourg… although it’s a bit late to be having dinner at this hour, if you ask me. If you still insist on catching him, you might want to head over there.
“And that’s the end of our conversation, so goodbye.” I meant to drive him away with that masked implication, but the man, oddly enough, refused to move an inch. On the contrary, I could practically feel his gaze piercing my skin from above, fixating in on me. I was starting to feel sick.
Lotus: Look, sir…
Reinhard: Ah, never mind the Director. I shall ask you instead. Raise your head.
I’m really starting to hate this big mouth of mine.
Reinhard: Raise your head.
Unable to deny his pressing tone, I reluctantly raised my head to look him in the eye.
I was taken aback. I figured he wouldn’t be an ordinary soldier, but his looks alone were enough to leave anyone speechless.
This may sound odd coming from another man, but I’d never seen anyone so handsome before. He must’ve been roughly a decade my senior, yet displayed an uncanny balance of youth and mature dignity.
Someone with my child-like complexion — an attribute both myself and my peers can attest to — could spend thirty years trying in vain to reach his level.
Reinhard: Is something the matter?
In any event, just maintaining eye contact with him is wearing me down. I’m not exactly doing all this out of the kindness in my heart, but if he has a question, I’ll give him his answer; after that, he’d better be on his way.
Lotus: Nothing. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, can I help you?
Reinhard: Ah, yes. Do you happen to know a man by the name of Karl Kraft?
Lotus: Karl Kraft?
His question came so unexpectedly that I could do nothing but repeat the name he had uttered. Karl Kraft… if I’m not mistaken, he’s–
Reinhard: A veritable con man, I assure you. He joined the Ministry of Propaganda just the other day. He makes his living through fortune telling, conjuring up predictions for the future that reflect positively on the nation. All things considered, while I do understand the reasons behind his actions, the fact remains that his profession is rooted in trickery and fake miracles.
Reinhard: Do you not find it absurd?
I couldn’t quite follow his train of thought. Noticing my distress, he flashed a bitter smile.
Reinhard: Worry not. Seeing how you are no acquaintance of his, my question is not one you could have answered. I do have another one for you, however. Did anyone working here happen to visit the church tonight to receive a certain package?
Lotus: The church…?
Being at a loss for words, I once again parroted back his. I may look the complete fool now, but considering that I genuinely had no idea what he was talking about, there wasn’t much I could do about it.
Reinhard: This is the Bureau for the Study of Ancestral Heritage — the Deutsche Ahnenerbe. Your duties consist of the collection of such artifacts, do they not? If you have even the tiniest morsel of information to share regarding the matter I had just brought up, I would very much appreciate your co-operation.
Reinhard: You are sworn to confidentiality, I take it? I see. Ill luck on my part, then.
Lotus: No, it’s just that… I genuinely don’t know.
At the very least, no such matter has ever reached my ears, that much I can say with certainty.
Lotus: But why would you be interested in such a thing?
Reinhard: Ah, if only I knew. It’s a mystery even to myself. I merely… felt something in my bones, so to speak.
The man shrugged, an air of self-derision lingering about him as the words left his lips. Yet his tone was pregnant not with lighthearted jest, but palpable sincerity.
Lotus: Well, aren’t you the peculiar one.
Reinhard: Aye, this I cannot deny.
Reinhard: From time to time, I find myself assaulted by certain… sensations. Albeit, I confess it has only been a month. I would encounter events I had never seen before, ideas I had never heard before — couldn’t have heard before –, and think to myself: I know of this. I know this has already happened.
Reinhard: At other times, I would think: no, this is not the man I ought to be. Do you, perchance, have an inkling as to what I speak of?
I couldn’t quite find it in myself to say yes. I mean, judging by his description, this must be the effect of some severe personal delusion of his. Frankly, I was this close to telling him to just go see a doctor.
The man shook his head, no doubt having sensed my feelings.
Reinhard: I assure you, I do consider myself sane. Or should I say… that is what I wish to believe, desperately, with all my heart. A pitiful state of mind, truly.
Lotus: I believe…
What was I going to tell him? He is exactly the sort of man I wanted nothing to do with. In fact, even now, I still desperately wished to avoid any and all unnecessary communication with him. And yet…
Something in me drove me to action. A sense of duty, if you will. A feeling that this is something I, and I alone, could do.
There he stood still, strikingly handsome, his locks golden. I looked him in the eye–
Lotus: You *are* sane.
…and uttered those words. Curtly, and with emphasis.
Lotus: We all live in the real world. And while life gives us plenty to cherish, it offers its fair share of misfortune just the same; we march on, hungering after dreams we keep locked up in our hearts, forever unfulfilled.
The transience of the here and now, that fleeting moment I so adore — I would long to make its miracle eternal. A childish notion, true, but one I cannot discard; yet knowing it’s a dream never to be fulfilled, my thirst for it refuses to ever fade.
And so we live, ever discontent, haunted by doubts, frail on our feet…
Lotus: But isn’t that exactly what makes us human?
I’m content to be such a man.
Lotus: Our lives are but petals in the wind; moments lost in the annals of time. No matter how fiercely we struggle to make it ours, eternity will always elude us.
In other words…
Reinhard: Live your life to its fullest, with your head held high. Indeed, your words do ring true.
Reinhard: Man must hunger and lust and crave for as long as his heart beats in his chest. No matter where life takes him, no matter what nourishment fate offers him, his thirst fades not. And yet, that is how it should be. If there existed any being who failed to share in this sentiment… all that would await him is ruination.
Lotus: If there really was anyone like that, I think his very birth would be an error of nature.
We looked each other in the eye, uttering those words without really comprehending who they were aimed at; almost as if to reproach ourselves, claiming that things were fine this way, that this is how it ought to be.
And so, my next question followed naturally.
Lotus: What’s your name?
Reinhard: Heydrich. Reinhard Heydrich.
I’d be lying if I said the name didn’t surprise me. The man I’ve suddenly gotten all friendly with was none other than the revered beast of gold, in the flesh. It would be small wonder to see him have my head right this instant.
Reinhard: I am hardly a man of any consequence, really.
Yet he continued on with a smile, insisting — sincerely, not out of mere humbleness — that he was no beast, but a man.
Reinhard: Strip him of his status, and a man becomes no different from any other of his fellow humans. That is about all there is to it — no, that is indeed how it must be. We fall when struck; we die when shot. That is how man ought to be: living his life till death’s hour is struck, and he inevitably returns to the dust from whence he came.
Reinhard: I believe… I believe I merely wanted someone to tell me. And for that, you have my gratitude.
Reinhard: Eternity eludes us… I see.
He then turned around and began to make his exit.
And so ended our chance encounter. Whatever fate may have in store for us, I knew we would never meet again.
Reinhard: Death is the inevitable fate of all that lives. I am no exception. And so shall I vow to live and die as a man; as a soldier out of many who merely carries out his sworn duty.
I once again closed my book to see him off with an answer. The story has come to an end, and I must now return to reality. No matter what color the world turns, this is where I was born, and where I will live. We must never once forget that; should we do so, we will be haunted by our dreams forever, longing after eternity.
Reinhard: I bid you farewell. Pray tell me your name before I depart.
Though I wasn’t too fond of the name itself, uttering it was my way of accepting reality.
Lotus: Lotus Reichhart. I’m in the same business as yourself, overseeing executions. Well, just the leftovers, really.
Reinhard: I see…
Naturally, Reinhard was aware of what that name signified. As it turns out, my family produced quite a number of famed executioners in the past, so to someone like Reinhard, I must’ve felt like a distant, yet beloved relative.
Reinhard: This explains a lot. I do have to say, though, albeit the world considers Johann the most prominent practitioner of your profession, I would nonetheless deem you a more fitting candidate.
Reinhard: The lotus… an opium that cripples the mind and makes it forget all the world’s hardships. Had it not been for Odysseus, they would have repeated their folly for all eternity.
Lotus: Which is why… I’ll become that Odysseus.
I will break free from that cycle. Like the runaway son, who leaves his past home to find a new cycle to fit into, one defined by his own terms. I realize the sheer contradiction of that theory, but in the end, I think it fits me just fine, all things considered.
Although, I am no hero. I’ll be the first to admit that.
Lotus: I feel… that there may be something for me to accomplish beyond that horizon. Or… something I may have already accomplished. Either way, I plan to live my life with that in mind.
Lotus: Goodbye, Lieutenant General. Sieg Heil.
Reinhard: Sieg Heil.
However, just as he was about to close the door behind him–
Reinhard: I now feel fulfilled and desire nothing more. I will continue to live my life, not knowing what the future may hold. For that is what I have decided.
–he said something I couldn’t quite comprehend.
…or could I? A whirlpool of uncanny emotions rushed into my heart, forcing me to say, well-nigh unconsciously–
Lotus: So, how are you liking the Goddess’ embrace? Not too shabby, is it?
Lotus: And no more trickery, you hear me? I won, remember?
Reinhard: I do… I do indeed.
Somehow, an image I had never once seen before briefly flashed before my eyes. Yet I still felt our exchange as natural as it could ever be, for reasons I couldn’t explain. Reinhard must’ve felt the same.
Reinhard: Frohe Weihnachten. Aye, it is pleasant… I can feel it so. No doubt, this has to be that very same “truth” you once spoke of.
And so the golden Lieutenant made his exit, a hint of relief lingering in his tone as he vanished from sight.
As for me…
For some reason, my heart began to feel heavy with emotion as I uttered that name. The conversation I had just finished jolted something alive in my mind, and I began to remember.
Rather, it’s almost like I had never forgotten — the place I need return to, as well as the people awaiting me there…
I have my life, my reality right here. However, the girl waiting for me there was no illusion, either.
My two realities. My two selves. If both of them are the real me… what am I to do then? Naturally, I had my answer, clear as day. I had but one belief to adhere to, one creed to protect.
Lotus: Live in the now; for this is all part of that fleeting moment I so cherish.
Lotus: I’m content with this. Sorry for causing you all this trouble right until the very end… but don’t worry, I’ll be fine now. Would you humor this daydreaming fool for just a while longer…?
I was not merely talking to myself as I rose from my seat; my words of mixed apology and gratitude were aimed at her — the one we came to know as the Goddess.
Lotus: I vow to live in this world, this reality, and see it through to the end. Just like he did. I’m certain that, in a way, that is my given duty.
Following in Reinhard’s trail, I, too, slipped outside and onto the midnight streets.
I felt light on my feet.
For Lotus Reichhart now embarked upon his journey to see with his own eyes that fleeting moment he cherished with every fiber of his being…
…knowing that the darkest night has all but ended.