Part 45: Elimination/Impact
BGM: Rinka's Room
06/03 (SUN), Night
Today turns out to be another rare day. I keep the cafe open all day long. Leaving it closed so often has taken its toll on me. My legs feel like rubber now that my shift is over. Either way, working up a sweat from hard work feels pretty good. And getting to see all the customers relaxed and content makes it all worth it.
Right. Time for a shower and bed.
This week's election awaits. It doesn't actually matter when I decide to go to sleep, but the more sleep I get, the better I should feel in the morning.
I notice a sizeable black object in my room as soon as I enter. Ah. It's Lethe, lording over my bed as always.
In all honesty, it's reassuring to know I'm not all alone.
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
06/03 (SUN), Midnight
Good evening, my lovely little slaves to fate.
Parca's voice echoes throughout the Court of Fate. That's the prelude to this week's election.
Ho, ho. It's nice that we arrive here like clockwork. I'm so old that I forget to set my DVR to record my TV shows.
I would very much appreciate you not treating this as televised entertainment.
Oh? Has humanity's humble TV piqued even a lovely goddess' interest?
I assure you, no ethereal being is as educated regarding the trends of the mortal coil as I. Existing outwith the bounds of time can lead to extreme boredom, you see.
She smiles as she responds to Shigetsugu. There is something inherently off about hearing a being like her, who feels right at home in a fantasy setting, talking about TVs. I wonder if she observes events in the real world from here, as if watching us on TV.
I see hints of exhaustion from you all. We are nearly halfway through Divine Selection, so that's to be expected.
So can we just get on with it, then? Might as well hurry this up so we can get sole solid shut-eye.
Federico speaks up in his typical tone of jest. From what I can tell, he doesn't have any serious injuries. Yu claimed to have rendered him immobile, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Either that, or the dream world doesn't reflect our current state in the real world. Meaning, he's acting fine to cover up the fact that he's been injured.
Goodness gracious. Quite the impatient lot. Have you no sympathy for a goddess looking to stave off boredom? No matter. We have eight elections left, including tonight's I am sure you will provide me with some entertainment during that span of time.
Allow me to begin tonight's election. Revolve, O'Clock of Fate!
Things proceed as usual after that. Each participant announces whether or not they want to elect someone as the clock hand makes its revolution. Naturally, I'm up first because I'm Numeral I. I announce my intent to not elect anyone tonight. In the end, Alan is the only one to announce an election.
I elect Numeral V.
As expected, he goes straight for Shigetsugu. Shigetsugu seems satisfied with this outcome. I can only guess the meaning behind it, but I'd like to believe his story ends on a positive note. More importantly...
A sense of guilt washes over me as I hear those words get muttered.
Two people face one another in the Court of Fate's upper stratum. Alan and Shigetsugu. For Alan, this is his third time. Much like the previous two, his expression remains solid.
Well, this is something else. The dream world offers surprise after surprise.
Alan remains silent after Shigetsugu's remark. The only thing in his eyes is the reflection of an old man's decrepit smile.
You've become quite the regular visitor here, haven't you?
Alan gives no response to Parca, who appears out of nowhere, either.
Worry not. I'm aware that you are not one for words. Please select your three cards.
BGM: Fated Selection
Alan opens up his card book and produces the relevant cards. Once done, he reads them aloud.
His name is Ushizuka Shigetsugu. He died of starvation. His regret... is the family he once got along with.
Ho ho. Fortunately, I have no more regrets. I'm not sure how he pulled off his trick, but he allowed me the chance to see my family one last time.
Don't be foolish. That was no trick. It was a heartfelt gift from him, your family, to you. His efforts will be in vain if you refuse to accept that.
Ohoho, don't worry. I'm aware. It's just this old man's way of hiding his embarrassment.
I would say I'm surprised at your outburst, but that's not true. While brief, our time together was enough to understand that no one holds their family as dear as you.
Hmph. I let this drag on longer than necessary. Hurry up with the proceedings.
Oh, done chatting already?
Before Alan can respond, a bright light floods from his cards. It envelops the area in an instant.
BGM: Fall Into...
A man haunted by loneliness. On the floor in his home. As starvation whittled him away, all he could do was reflect on his past. He wished to return to those happier times. It was an unrealizable dream, and yet it was one he would cling to as his life's light gradually extinguished.
Expect no sympathy from me. Your dream did end up coming true. That's more than enough.
I admit that it is quite rare for you to be even the slightest bit sentimental.
How many times must I tell you not to concern yourself with me? Do your job.
Dull to the core... No matter. You may reveal your interesting side to me sooner than you expect.
Alan's platform begins to move as Shigetsugu's cards float in front of him. He must pick a card to keep before returning to the lower stratum. His expression remains emotionless as he chooses.
Sometime after, Alan descends by himself.
Which card would you like to obtain?
I choose Numeral IV's regret.
BGM: Do You Understand?
Something's wrong. Yu seems completely unfazed by Alan's selection. No, that's not quite right. His expression is alien compared to a few minutes ago. It sends a shiver right down my spine. His gaze remains focused on me rather than Alan.
I find it hard to believe that it's simply anger over me not electing him. This is something else. Like I'm staring into an endless abyss of rage.
My head suddenly begins to pound. But not enough to make me collapse, so I do my best to power through it.
What in the world...?
I notice Alan's bewilderment the moment he touches Yu's card. The card, which was glowing white, suddenly shatters. The fragments disperse throughout the area.
Oh, my. Oh me, oh my.
My card book begins to glow as well. Parca speaks up as soon as I notice.
Tonight's session resulted in one elimination. I bid you all farewell for now.
The seeds of dissonance have already begun to sprout. But this is just the beginning...
[END OF WEEK FIVE: DISTORTED FAMILIAL LOVE]