The Let's Play Archive

Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

by ChorpSaway

Part 58: Albert's Secret

Albert’s Secret

A footprint here, another there… I didn’t want to consider this possibility, but perhaps…

Bah! The idiots always come crawling out of the woodwork as soon as the frost melts. And by idiots I mean you.
Harsh from the get-go, as always. Come on, can’t you show me one of your happy springtime smiles? Doesn’t your young heart feel joy and gaiety at the turn of the seasons?
Why should I smile because it’s spring? You’re gibbering nonsense, as always. What am I supposed to be, the March Hare?
Anyway, what do you want? I don’t remember inviting you. And in any case, I am--
“Forbidden by father to speak to you”? Don’t worry, I know.
I’m going to be moving to college next week. I won’t be too far away, but I thought I’d drop by to let you know.

Well, you know… As your brother, I’d be really happy to have you drop by once in a while to hang out. If you feel like it, you know.
Do you mean to insult me, mongrel!?
Hardly! Of course I don’t.
Anyway, my address is on here. If you need help with anything, just let me know.
Even if I ever did, you’d be the last person I’d ask.
I like to think I come in handy in a pinch, at least.

Sharp words, oh, such sharp words…
Not that I mind. In that case, why not give me a call when you’re not in trouble?
What are you talking about? Do you think I have the time to be…
Master Sakuya.

The music stops.

Ah, Albert. What is it?

No, I shall take it now.
Pay this imbecile no mind.
Understood, sir.
Right, right! We’re brothers, no need for formality.
That is not what I meant!
…Will you be staying for tea, Master Yuuya?
Nah, I’ll pass. I’m on my way to meet someone.
Nice talking to you, Sakuya. Adieu!

Ah, there he is.
Sorry to keep you waiting.

Sit down. I’ll make this quick. The info you requested came in.
I had them do a background check on Albert--the crow working for the Le Bel family.
…That was fast. What did you turn up?
It’s just as you thought. He’s not a butler.
Had you already found something out?
No, it was just a hunch. I never feel comfortable around him.

Hardly! I’m not that childish.
You can feel the tension just by standing next to him. He doesn’t feel like a servant at all.
Is he a spy? It takes one to know one, as they say.
No, but you’re not far off.

The music stops.


Who’s he targeting? The head of the family? Or--
Calm down, youngster. He’s been with the Le Bel family for more than five years. If he was after one of them he’d have done it and been gone years ago.
But he could be waiting for a signal!
Can’t really argue with that.
Sit back down, Sakazaki.


The music stops.

Sorry. Let me know if anything else turns up.
That’s better. Know your opponent before you strike.

…Sounds like something out of an RPG.
His high success rate has earned him a reputation, but he doesn’t stick with one client long, so not many people know what he looks like. That’s where it comes from.
…To think he’d turn up now, of all times…
Have you met him before?
No, not in person. An old friend and coworker went up against him in his final mission. That’s all.
…Happens a lot, if you stick around long enough. Don’t sweat it. Just remember it.
Don’t give up on anything just because it’s him. We’ll stay cautious and investigate everyone involved with the Le Bel family.
I’m going to stake out the mansion. I’ll let you know if anything happens.

What is he up to? Every night he comes out and stands completely still right there.

Is he watching for intruders? I can’t read him at all…

Directly above him is a window. Looks like--
…A bathroom?
He wouldn’t be standing there for some sort of sick voyeurism, would he?
Bathrooms have always been good places to commit the extra messy sorts of crime. Could he be standing here because--


You think I’ll let you!?
…Master Yuuya?
I am aware that you do not like me. May I ask that you not interfere in my work all the same?
Talk, now! Who hired you? Who’s your target!?
I am not permitted to say. Forgive me.
If you won’t talk then I’ll make you!
…Unfortunately, it is time for me to go back to work. If you have some business with me then please call again.

The music stops.

They surrendered as soon as they saw my blade. I took them without injuring them, as you directed me.

I knew it was you, you reprobates! You will feel the back of the hand of justice for this! First I shall--
Get away from him, Sakuya!

The music stops.

…? What are you doing here, Sakazaki?
Albert is after your life! Get out of here!
Merry Christmas!? (What is happening!?)
You seem to have misunderstood.

Merry Christmas! (What a nice bath it is! Miru and Kaku’s favorite!)
That doesn’t mean you can just come in and use it!
But, wait… Do you know who he is…?

I saw him with a dagger!
I told him he could threaten them into submission if they resisted.
Sakuya, he’s an assassin!

The music stops.

Y-you already knew…?
W-what’s going on here…? You know who he is, but you keep him around anyway?
Yes, that’s right. Is there something wrong with that?

Of course there is! A professional assassin wouldn’t place himself in an aristocrat’s household just for fun!
He must be after you or your father. There’s no other way!

Merry Christmas! (Things are getting complicated! Miru and Kaku don’t know what to do!)
Merry Christmas! (Miru and Kaku will sit here and say nothing until you’re finished talking!)
Please do.
This will take some time. Shall I explain to Master Yuuya for you, sir?
No, it’s fine. I’ll do it.
Certainly sounds like I’m missing something here. I would love it if you clued me in.
What is an assassin doing in the Le Bel household? Who is he working for?

Wha… Have you sunk that far into the intrigues of nobility, Sakuya…!?
No! Don’t lump me in with those fools who can’t get anything done without sneaking around in the shadows!
But you employ an assassin?
That’s right.
An assassin needs a target. Who are you after, Albert…?

The music stops.

I knew it! I can’t let you live!
Good gracious, calm down before someone gets hurt.

Albert arrived just as the last leaves were falling, at the start of winter. Apparently he’d been referred by the head butler, and so he was hired.
My first impression of him was… a disturbingly elaborate apparatus. He was always businesslike, and after a while I started to doubt that he had emotions of his own at all. While he was the most capable of our servants… his cold demeanor made him hard to approach.
It was a little questionable for a butler. Even the other servants found him distasteful… I felt some respect for his capability, though.

“Good night, Master Sakuya.”
“…What about you, Albert?”
“What about me, sir?”
“Aren’t you going to sleep? You were out late on an errand for father last night, were you not?”
“That was nothing, sir. Please, do not concern yourself with me.”
In any case, he worked hard. He never missed a detail, he was strong, and he was smart. If it weren’t for his attitude he would have been the perfect butler.
He could easily handle the work of ten people. Soon the servants who had always trailed after me grew fewer, and fewer, until it was just Albert and me.
The music stops.

It was a great honor. Father had already singled me out as his favorite for the succession. It was an opportunity for me to gain some of the experience I would need as the next head of the family.

“There are some people who feel that your life places them at a disadvantage. And you’re so young, too. What a pity. But, this is my job. You’ve only your blood to blame.”

A swiping sound is heard.

But it wasn’t coming from me.

The assassin who had pinned me from behind crumpled silently to the floor.

Standing on the other side of the pool of blood was the black crow. Albert wiped the blood from his blade, and knelt to examine the corpse.
“I must thank you, Albert! If you had been a few seconds later--”
“Yes. A few seconds later and I, too, would have been unable to fulfill my contract.”
Albert was leaning over the body, and I couldn’t see his face. It was probably as blank as always, anyway…
“But… unfortunately, it would appear that my client has voided the contract anyway. This is the same paper as was given to me… I won’t be removing you now, Master Sakuya.”
Gruesome intrigues aren’t uncommon among the powerful elite. It was the first time I’d become involved in one myself, but I’d heard of people I’d met at parties or the like disappearing, being murdered, or having suspicious accidents any number of times.
But, I didn’t understand. An assassin was targeting me. Albert killed the assassin. But Albert was targeting me as well? Was this just a fight over prey?
“You… came here to kill me?”
“Yes, sir. That was my intention.”
“My client has violated the contract, so I no longer have any reason to do so.”
“I have a mountain of questions for you, Albert. You will answer them.”
“All pacts of confidentiality have been voided by the client’s violation. What do you want to know, sir?”
He remained as distant as ever while I questioned him. Apparently the circumstances were as follows.

But my step-mothers were not going to take that lying down.
The mother of my eldest brother had hired Albert to infiltrate the mansion under the guise of a butler, and wait for an opportunity to kill me.
That night, she became impatient. She hired another assassin, independent of Albert.
“You slipped in as a butler, as you were ordered. You were never liked, but you were hardly treated as a stranger. If she wanted to kill me, wouldn’t it have been more certain to just wait for you to finish me off? I cannot understand why she would bring in another assassin now, of all times.”
“I can only guess that the client became impatient. I have been with you for longer than I estimated, so perhaps she feared that her plot had been exposed. It would seem that I did not gain her complete confidence, and that I regret.”
“Do you mean to say that she was afraid that you, having grown close to me, would be unable to carry out your orders? And so she brought in an unrelated third party…?”
“I am terrible sorry that I was not able to deliver the full value to her. Had she but given the signal I would have been able to complete the contract at any time, but…”
He was as detached as ever, unconcerned that it was his very target that he was speaking to. Perhaps his black feathers really do hide a machine, with no flesh and blood at all. Strangely, his calm was infectious--it was amusing, and at the same time allowed me to remain composed while I considered my own position.
“The client contracted me to take care of you, Master Sakuya, but at the same time interfered with my work before giving me the signal to act. Had you died, I would be unable to complete the contract.”
“Well… It’s true. The only place a man can rest without fear of the assassin’s blade is in his own grave.”
“Master Sakuya must remain alive if he is to be assassinated. I took care of this gentleman here to preserve that state of affairs.”
“You mean it wasn’t out of your devotion and love for me? Hoho, you don’t mince words, Albert.”
“Indeed, sir.”

“Your usual world? …Wait, Couldn’t you be rehired and come after me again?”
“I cannot say. That would depend on who approaches me.”
I was sure, after that night’s events, of what I had suspected all along. He had probably thrown away whatever emotion he was born with long ago. He followed his own rules with the utmost perfection, and beyond that, nothing.
He would leave the mansion, and if he were hired to target me again--he would kill me without hesitation or remorse.
“Wait, Albert. I shall not allow you to leave. Stay.”
“I am not a butler, Master Sakuya. This mansion is not the place for me.”
“I will hire you.”
“If you mean as a butler, then I must refuse. If… it is an assassination you are after, then we can talk.”
If I let him out of my sight, he will surely become a threat. I have to keep him here. But I can’t hire him as a butler. A… bodyguard? No, he wouldn’t accept that, either.

The music stops.

It… does let you keep him by, provided you don’t give that signal…
Besides, Albert is excellent. If someone else in the mansion were to make an attempt on my life he would protect me with his own.
After all, he can’t kill me if I’m already dead.
Indeed, sir.
…That sounds like a pretty hair-trigger kind of relationship.
But at the same time, it’s a good way of keeping tabs on an otherwise dangerous assassin…
I dunno, Sakuya. It still bothers me.

I don’t like you, Albert. But Sakuya seems to have this sorted out.
…But if you do end up hurting him, I’ll hunt you to the ends of the earth and back. Remember that.
Understood, Master Sakuya.

The music stops.

Merry Christmas…! (We’ll make our escape while they’re distracted…! Hooray!)
Get back here, you two! I haven’t lectured you yet!
Merryyyyy Christmaaaaaaas!!!
After them, Albert! Catch them, and bring them back here!
Understood, sir.