Part 104: The Day the Witch Revived II
"...You will go to the Master. Ready yourself."
Video: The Death of Kinzo
BGM: Bring the Fate
"Master. It is Genji."
After Genji knocked, the sound of the study's door unlocking could be heard. After a single glance telling me to wait, Genji entered alone.
Kumasawa was with us too. I thought this dress, which didn't really suit me, would lead to a lot of jokes, but she didn't laugh at me at all. On the contrary, when she saw me, her expression had turned stern, as though a long-awaited day had finally come. My heart raced. Supposedly, anyone should have been able to solve the epitaph. There shouldn't be anything strange about me solving it...
The others kept wearing meek expressions, and that, along with everything else, made this feel like some sort of grand ceremony. The suffocating silence continued. Eventually, the door opened, and Genji peeked out.
He was saying those words to me, but not to the person I had been until a short while ago.
"Go ahead, Beatrice-sama..."
Kumasawa also urged me forward with a respectful bow. Kinzo was probably waiting for me inside. What expression should I wear as I go in...? How should I greet him...? I don't have a clue...
As the two of them motioned me forward, it was all I could do to avoid tripping over my dress as I walked.
"...Kinzo-san. She is here."
Kinzo was crouched on the ground, as though kneeling before the portrait of Beatrice. At Nanjo's words, he slowly turned, still crouching...
Kinzo's eyes were already red with crying. When he saw me, he groaned with wonder.
Had he even forgotten how to stand up? He crawled over to where I was. As he called out to me with the name of the woman he had loved long ago. I was too stunned to move. Then, Kinzo grabbed the hem of my dress, gripped it tightly, then curled up and sobbed.
The words weren't directed at me. However, just standing here like this was all I needed to do. Kinzo's moment of atonement, the moment he had spent half of his life searching for, had finally come.
...A human's life is packed with sin. So, humans seek forgiveness while they still live. However, in most cases, there are none in this world capable of giving such forgiveness. It was like that for Kinzo. There was no longer anyone in this world who could forgive him. Instead, that forgiveness had been woven together by a miracle, and now, Kinzo had received it...
"Ooooooohhh, Beatrice... Beatrice... You need not forgive me... You need not say anything...! Just once... I... wanted to apologize to you...! Oooohhhhhh..."
Kinzo kept grasping the dress's hem and sobbing.
The sins of humans are not forgiven by other people. They find forgiveness through regret and repentance. I want to believe that some sin, some fault of his... has been forgiven thanks to the way I look...
Kinzo's sobbing gradually ceased, and he slowly looked up at me and rose. He staggered. Nanjo rushed forward to support him.
"...So, I see that you are alive... I'm glad..."
This time, these words weren't directed through me, but at me. I hesitated, unsure how I should respond.
"No matter. I do not fault you, Genji... Considering the sin that I committed, every single day until now has been necessary for my atonement..."
"However, there can be no doubt that today's miracle is a true one. By her own power, without anyone's help, she solved the epitaph before anyone else."
"Well done... solving such a difficult epitaph..."
"...Yes. Your voice resembles your mother's. Even your face reminds me of that mother and daughter... There can be no doubt that Beatrice's blood flows through your veins..."
"Yes. The traces of the lady of Kuwadorian in her youth are right there."
Does my face look like someone else's...?
"It's true. You have been raised as a child without parents. However, your true father is the Master. And your true mother... is Beatrice-sama."
"...Is that, umm, really..."
"Yes. You truly are a descendant of Beatrice-sama."
Is such a strange fate... really possible...?
I've dreamed about it. Dreamed about what it'd be like to be the Golden Witch, Beatrice. But that dream was for me alone. So, I'd dreamed that if the epitaph was solved and its ceremony carried out, I would revive as the true Beatrice. So, is it really conceivable... that after I solved it... Beatrice did revive after all...?
"I... truly carry... Beatrice's... blood...?"
"Yes. There is no doubt of that whatsoever."
"...It must have been hard for you to live until this day without knowing a parent's affection... And yet, look at how wonderfully you've grown..."
"...So, you all knew...? About me...?"
Genji, Kumasawa, and even Nanjo nodded wordlessly. Now that I think about it, there might have been lots of hints. I've always felt as though there was something special about me. Genji and especially Kumasawa always treated me very kindly. Then, does that mean this day is a promised day, which would eventually have come no matter what...? I don't understand anything anymore.
It's all God's miracle. The promised fate has led me to this day.
"That is the name I wanted to give you..."
"...It is your true name."
"Lion... I will now return to you everything that Beatrice gave me. I return to you the gold, as well as everything of the Ushiromiya family, which was created by it."
Kinzo stuck out a hand that looked like a rotting tree. On his finger was a ring with the One-winged Eagle crest, which was the symbol of the Ushiromiya family head. He pulled it off, grasped it tightly, and then held it out to me. I didn't know what to do. Slowly, as though they were being drawn forward, I held out my hands, palms up. After pressing his fists against my cupped hands, Kinzo slowly opened his hands and let the ring drop.
"...Lion, my child... That your fate has been toyed with is a result of my sin. Please forgive me... You will now inherit my ring, you are the new Ushiromiya family head."
"That trifling amount of gold may be nothing in comparison with the sin I committed, but even so, it should be enough to bring you some comfort."
"Th, thank... you..."
"...Lion. I have one... final request."
"Wh, what is that...?"
"Could you... call me...?"
"...Uh, sorry, what did you say...?"
"Could you... call me... Father?"
"...I understand why you are not able to... I have not been a father to you in any way. Furthermore, you have been raised without knowing anything about your father. I realize that it's not a name you can call me by. And, I realize that I have no right to ask this of you. But, taking that into account, please... If I could just hear that, I would have no further regrets..."
...After being asked like that, was it possible for me to refuse? Even if I am his child, I truly cannot acknowledge him as my father... So, it felt very strange to say it. And yet, I decided that saying it was the right thing to do.
Only God can truly forgive sins. But, though it may be temporary... People can be saved by the forgiveness of others.
That awkward word made Kinzo laugh. Drops of silver fell from both of his eyes. At that moment, the shadow that had covered his face... was wiped away...
"Thank you, Lion. My child... And Beatrice, as well. Thank you for this last chance... to ask for forgiveness... Of course, I don't believe that I have been forgiven by just this. The rest, I will do as I burn in the fires of hell. I, Ushiromiya Kinzo, have no more regrets in this life!! None at all! No regrets or things left undone!!"
"Wahaha, wahahahahahahahaahahah!! Waaahhahahahahaahahahahahaha!!!"
Looking up to the heavens, Kinzo spread his arms as though facing an applauding audience, laughing at the top of his lungs. It was the final pleasure, known only by those who have been released from all regrets of this world.
...Kinzo's laugh weakened, and when it disappeared... He dropped to his knees... like a puppet with its strings cut... and slowly... fell to the ground...
Though their master had fallen, they walked up to him slowly.
After checking Kinzo's pulse, Nanjo shook his head and stood back up.
"...It was a peaceful death. I don't think he had any regrets at all."
"It may be... that the Master died long before now. It was only his magic and tenacity that kept him here so long. And, he finally had a chance to apologize to Beatrice-sama for everything, and finished everything he had to do..."
"...Please, rest in peace. I believe that you have redeemed yourself."
BGM: Song Without a Name (instrumental)
"I hear it's worth 20 billion yen. All of your dreams in this world can now be granted with money."
"Hohohoho... It must be tough to think of what to do with this much money when it suddenly comes your way."
"...There is nothing I desire among the things money can buy. So, for the present, I would like to leave this here."
...Of course, I'm glad I have a lot of money. However, money can't heal the pain in my heart. I just... want him to come back.
"As you wish. Then it shall be left here. Also, take this key."
"...What is this?"
"It is a key to the underground VIP room. If you use this, you won't need to use the more complicated device."
She was the only one who knew the answer to the epitaph's riddle, and the only key to this place was now hers. At this point, she truly was the master of this golden VIP room.
"...We should talk about Kuwadorian too."
"That's the mansion your mother lived in. I'm sure you've heard rumors about it."
"There are two mansions on this island, one at either end. One is the mansion we know well. The other is a hidden mansion known as Kuwadorian."
"Below this island are the remains of a military base built during the war. The Master used that to travel between the two ends of the island..."
"There is an underground path in the back of this room, and if you follow it, you will reach the basement of Kuwadorian on the other end of this island. That is a secret mansion, which only the Master knew of. Of course, that mansion also now belongs to the new Head."
"...It's the mansion your mother lived in. It's probably worth taking a trip over there sometime."
I've lived alone my whole life. The only person I've ever felt like calling 'Mother' is Kumasawa-san, who always helped me out. The mansion where a mother I've never met nor seen lived...
"Ask any questions you wish. You now deserve to know everything."
"...Right now, I'm feeling very confused. I don't even know where I should start asking questions. But I'm sure... I'll think of plenty of things to ask about. When I do, please tell me..."
"As you wish."
"A, also, being treated so respectfully like that... is a bit uncomfortable. I'd be happier if you could talk to me the same way you've always done."
"If that is what you wish, then I will do so."
"Hohohoho. That's easier for me too."
"...Well now. What will we do now, Genji-san? Kinzo-san is dead."
"I will tell Krauss-sama and Madam that he has passed away. Then, we must tell them that Lion-sama is the official successor to the headship. After all, from this point forth, you are the Ushiromiya family head."
"M, me as the Head? That's... And isn't Krauss-sama the successor...?"
"The one who solves the epitaph's riddle is the successor. There exists a will specifying this much. The Master's final order was that you were to inherit everything."
"P, please wait...! I appreciate the sentiment, but I can't do the job of being the successor, and I can't accept such a big responsibility. I think it would be better for Krauss-sama to inherit that role..."
"...Are you certain?"
"Today, I have learned who I am. Everyone knows about their parents, but I didn't, since the time of my birth. And here, today, I finally learned the truth. That alone is enough for me."
If I suddenly became the Ushiromiya family head, how would Krauss-sama react? How angry would Madam be? I don't want to become the head if it means making them feel like that.
Today, I learned who I am. Who gave birth to me, how, and when? These are things I want to learn from them as time goes by. That alone is enough.
"Is that your order, as the Ushiromiya family head?"
"...As you wish, Master. Then I will make it so."
"And please, don't tell anyone about what happened tonight. I want to stay me. There's nothing I'd want to do if I had the Ushiromiya headship or the gold."
"...As you wish, Master. Everything that has happened tonight will not go beyond those present here. Kumasawa. Doctor Nanjo. That is the wish of the new Head."
"...If that's what you want, I have no objections. Kinzo-san's will entrusts everything to you. If this is what you want to do, none of us will complain."
"You say 'exactly the same as it was', but do you really mean exactly the same...? With no differences at all...?"
"Yes. We'll keep this a secret. This place and the gold will be sealed away. If I need money, I'll ask you about it then. That's enough for me."
"As you wish. The device leading to this place and the key both belong to you. And all of us swear to keep the events of this night a secret. Krauss-sama will be the successor, but in my heart, you will be the only true successor. As you have ordered, we will behave the same way we always have, but please order us whenever it suits you. You are my only master."
"...Th, thank you very much..."
A vast mountain of gold and the ring of the Ushiromiya family head. The dress of the portrait Beatrice. And, I became the true Beatrice, the Golden Witch. Right here in my very own Golden Land.
If I think about it, not much has actually changed. After all, I've always been the Golden Witch. I've just had a few more people acknowledge that.
Oh, I am one yet many. I am the Golden Witch, Beatrice. The true ruler of Rokkenjima... and the possessor of endless gold. And yet, I was in no way complete.
...As I waited for the return of the one person I loved...