Part 14: Revenge for 19 Years Ago
The sound of the tide surging. The noise of the sea breeze. Whenever my headache torments me, these are the sounds that fill my head...
Unable to bear a successor, I was in a very difficult position with regards to the Ushiromiya family... Whenever I heard of a drug or incense that could make you achieve pregnancy, I tried it... but nothing I tried had any effect. Until I was blessed with Jessica 18 years ago, I was ashamed to even call myself a wife.
BGM: Melody (instrumental)
"I still don't know what caused my inability to become pregnant. I even went to see noted physicians. I underwent humiliating examinations. But I was always just told that they didn't understand the reason..."
"Even though quite some time had passed since your marriage, you still couldn't bear a child. I see. It's only natural that Eva, who secretly aspired to become the next head, would start getting ideas..."
Eva tried to convince Father that I was a failure as a future head's wife. It was a time when Kinzo was also very disappointed in my husband's repeated business failures. On the other hand, Eva's husband Hideyoshi's business was growing well, completely the opposite of my husband's business. He was the only person who could bring Father good news. In that case, perhaps there could be no blame placed on Father if he decided to lend an ear to Eva's words... or even accept them completely.
It was all my fault, because I couldn't bear a child...
"You are sinless. Aren't babies of this country carried here by storks? If anyone is to be judged, it should be the stork."
"...Thank you. However, even though he was still in good health then, the head was already well past his prime, and it's not hard to imagine that he wanted to see his grandchildren's faces as soon as possible..."
"Who cares. If he wanted a grandchild, he could have just done what he wanted with that appalling amount of money he had."
"...This is Kinzo, the man who always bragged about how money could create anything. If he wanted a grandchild, why couldn't he just manage something with that money he was so proud of...?!"
"...Yes, that's right. The head... gave up on me when I couldn't bear a child... and did just that."
...Thinking it the duty of anyone in possession of large amounts of money, the head gave a lot to charities. One among these, the orphanage known as the 'Fukuin House' had been given an especially large donation, possibly because he had old ties with that place.
"Ah, the Fukuin House. Furniture came from that place quite often."
"As part of their work training and public activity, the head employed Fukuin House children with exceptional grades as servants. All of the servants in the mansion with "音" (On) in their names, such as Shannon, Kanon, Runon, Manon and Reion, came from there."
"...There were quite a lot of them, weren't there... Though most quit after just a few years."
"That's probably because a few years of wages from working here would earn them more than enough to live on their own. Experience as a servant for the Ushiromiya family would be a wonderful thing to add to their resume. I'm sure it was the head's ambition that they would gain this for themselves and then spread their wings in society."
"...I see. So, an adopted child..."
"Welcome this baby as my grandchild."
"Ohhh, there, there. There, there..."
Apparently, the baby Kumasawa was trying to soothe didn't like the air in the study at all. It kept on crying, displeased...
"M, my apologies, Father... I'm not sure what you want me..."
"Welcome this baby as my grandchild. And raise this baby to be the one who succeeds Krauss."
"...In other words, you want me to raise the baby... as me and my husband's own child...?"
"That's right. It's clear now that you cannot bear children. There must be some sort of defect in your body."
"Ooh, there, there. Ooh, there, there..."
As though she couldn't hear our discussion in the slightest, Kumasawa kept on persistently trying to cuddle the baby. This made its crying get even louder...
"I've never forgotten the bitter pain I felt that day... It's not as though I didn't want a child... However, no matter how much I prayed, I couldn't get pregnant... Thinking that something to do with my body might be the cause, I went to see several famous doctors. But even so, no matter how hard I tried... I couldn't become pregnant..."
"And in the end, this was the result. I understand."
The baby had been picked up by the Fukuin House just recently. Of course, you couldn't help but feel compassion for this child, who was so young and who had already lost its parents' affection. However, it brought me nothing but pain and sadness. It would have been another story if I had suffered to bear this child... but why did I have to hold this baby... who not only shared none of my blood, but who was not related to my husband in the slightest either...?
"...For what did you pray to angels?"
"I prayed for a miracle in my body...! If there was something wrong with my body, I could accept that. In that case, I wanted to overcome that defect and somehow be granted the miracle of being given my husband's child...!"
"...That wish was granted. The next year, you gave birth to Jessica."
"And, for what did you pray to demons?"
"I couldn't stand it, I couldn't stand it... I hated my body...! So, I hated this baby, because it made my failure so apparent...!!"
"...What did you wish for?"
...Of course, that wish was also granted... by demons. On that day, I left the baby with an older servant and went to think about the future in the rose garden.
No, that's a lie. I didn't want to think about anything. The baby's cries were annoying, so I ordered the servant to take the baby to a place where I couldn't hear. By a place where I couldn't hear, I meant somewhere far away.
Yes, I wished.
BGM: Witch in Gold (cembalo)
"I see... So, a passing demon heard your wish, Natsuhi-sama."
"And then, what happened next?"
"After that... was a bizarre accident that could only have been granted me by a demon..."
The woodland path from the rose garden to the harbor is probably well suited for a comfortable walk. It must surely feel good to occasionally leave the path and walk through a grove of trees, depending on your mood. However, wouldn't that path be fairly hard to travel on when taking a walk with a baby in your arms...?
"...There was also a fence there! Does it seem at all likely that the servant went to the trouble of walking there holding a baby, and then leaned against the fence...? The only conceivable explanation is that she was lured there by the beckoning of a demon!!"
"...She was lured there. A demon who heard your wish lured that servant there..."
"And then, the servant and the baby..."
"They died...!! They fell from the cliff, down to the rocks below...! No, they died because I wished it! That means this is-"
"It isn't your fault! There's no need to think about it any further."
"But it happened because I wished it...!!"
BGM: Black Lilliana
"You are sinless. Humans are sinless. You can even say that I killed them."
"No, I did kill them! I saw your mourning and felt pity, so I lured the servant with the baby to the cliff and guided them down it!"
"Wasn't it just an unfortunate accident? Even if you can't accept that it was an accident, blame it on us. That's why demons exist."
"...That's right. We're here for your sake. It's not like you killed them. We killed them. So you are sinless. So please, don't blame yourself, Natsuhi."
"Is that true...? Am I truly sinless...?!"
"Yeah, you are. Fuhhahahahaha!!"
"Young one who claims revenge for 19 years ago. If you're going to curse someone, curse me. However, witches have a patent on curses...! Let me take on this fight you're trying to pick with Natsuhi!!"
Gahahahahahaahahahahahahahaha!! So, you hate Natsuhi for wishing your death 19 years ago?! Let me make you remember just who it was that lured you off that cliff...!!
As the middle-aged female servant cuddled the sobbing baby, she walked on a small path through the trees... Natsuhi had told her that the baby was too loud, so she had tried to get as far from the rose garden as she could. She was completely unaware as to why she'd gone out of her way to head in this direction.
However, the sobbing baby... suddenly stopped crying. Something was reflected in its eyes, but the servant couldn't tell what. However, thinking that the baby had stopped because it had taken an interest in something, she headed in the direction of the baby's gaze...
And, on the other side of the trees, the servant could see a woman. Who? She didn't recognize this person, but it didn't look like anyone who was supposed to be here. The baby stopped crying and stared in that direction. Then, the servant's legs started to automatically carry her that way...
The woman couldn't disobey. She was completely overwhelmed by Beato's gold-glowing eyes...
She walked lightly, as though through a dream world. At some point, the scenery around her had changed, but she did not notice. She could not notice... Though this should have been Rokkenjima, at some point, it had become the garden of a mansion she had never seen before.
There stood an arbor, and a woman wearing an elegant dress beckoning her... There was a man who looked like a butler, and the tea he poured with a beautiful gesture had a very nice and enticing smell. It was as though they were telling her to join their tea party...
She couldn't disobey. She had to go to the master of this golden rose garden... and give this child as an offering...
When Gaap snapped her fingers, a pitch black hole opened at the woman's feet, and she was swallowed up along with the baby. Then, the scene of the next moment after that probably burned itself into the eyes of the woman and the baby.
Below their feet was not the earth, but a golden rose garden which stretched as far as the eye could see without any interruptions. If one could have this scene imprinted in their minds as their last memory, that would be such a merciful way to die...
Then, the woman and the baby were swallowed up by the golden sea. The *thunk* was remarkably plain, and remarkably quiet for the sound that stole the life away from the two of them. However, that was perfectly suitable for the entertainment at a tea party of witches. With the woman and the baby at the center, the rose garden was slowly swallowed up by darkness...
The sound of the wind grew stronger bit by bit. Is that TV static? What is that noise...?
The two who had fallen into the thicket of golden roses from that great height and died... were gradually wrapped up in the roar of the sea, wrapped up in the scenery of the beach below the cliff...
When I spotted the two of them on the rocks below, I went pale. Then, I dashed back to the mansion... and there was a huge uproar. They took them to a hospital in a boat as soon as possible, but from that height, it was a miracle that they had even avoided an instant death. Both the servant... and the baby... died. In less than three days from the time Father had entrusted me with the baby, I had killed it...!
My husband had been on a business trip. Rosa-san, who had still lived on the island at the time, had been traveling with her friends. Father and I were the only ones on Rokkenjima!! And before anyone except Father and I knew, a baby had appeared out of nowhere... and then disappeared again!! That's right, it was a dream... a nightmare!!
I was sure that Father would blame me. However, he seemed somehow strange...!
"How long will you struggle? How long will it be before you're mine?!! Wahahahahaahahahahahaha!! I have no interest in an empty cage! Throw it away!!"
When Father learned of the accidental death, he kept on laughing and laughing, as though there could be no greater pleasure, enough that just listening to it gave me a creepy feeling. Perhaps something had come loose in his mind...
From that day onwards... Father shut himself up inside the world of the occult even more than he ever had before...
However, he had already accepted that this would happen sooner or later. Of course, my husband had heard about the baby. However, he told me that it was surely just some whim of Father's, and to forget it. So I forgot it! It was an unfortunate accident. No, there wasn't an accident at all! I forgot everything, even that the baby had existed in the first place...!! After all, it was a twisted nightmare which lasted not even three days!
That's right, it was all a nightmare...!! I don't want to remember!! The cliff, the broken fence, the roar of the sea, and... the cry of the baby...!!!
"Of course not! I killed that baby! It no longer exists in this world!"
"...However, there is no red truth in the human world. Nothing can be trusted in the human world."
"...That's right. Beato definitely killed that baby. However, it might be made out to be alive in the human world. Whether it's really alive or not, right?"
"Are you saying, that it actually was alive?! After falling to the rocks from that height...?!"
"I don't know. But calm down. No matter how much that person hates you, the truth is that it was an accident. If he does hate you, that hatred is completely unjustified...!"
"But, but...! Even if I didn't lay a finger on him, inside my heart...!!"
"Calm down. No matter who the man from 19 years ago hates or what he yells, there's no way the sin he's after actually occurred."
"So calm down. Why don't I welcome the man from 19 years ago as my guest? *cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
"And just when the riddle was solved and I thought my job was finished. I've got to entertain this final guest of mine!! Kuhhyahyayhahyahya!!"
"It's getting interesting. Not only are you protecting Lord Goldsmith's secret, but you also have a 19th guest and a man from 19 years ago."
"...That's right, since we claim that Kinzo is alive, Erika is the 19th person. And after that 19th person, we have a man from 19 years ago? How interesting. I'm getting all excited."
"We have no lack of opponents!! And I was just thinking it a shame to have only one guest at my tea party!! Come, you fools!! Kuhhahahahaahahaha hahahaahahah!!"
Furudo Erika is Lady Bernkastel's piece. In that case, whose piece is the man from 19 years ago...?
"I, I understand. I'll sleep right now. I won't leave my room, and I won't pick up the phone...! So, let my husband and daughter...!"
Even this begging scream, which would have shaken the heart of anyone listening to it... could be listened to ruthlessly through the end of the receiver...
"As long as you keep our promise, I'll keep your secret, Mother. Don't break our promise. I'm already very close by to you. I can easily tell whether you've turned your lights off, or whether you're on the phone. If I wished to, I could even kiss your sleeping face."
"I'll keep it! I'll keep my promise!! So stop it, just stop it! Stop iiiiiiiiiiiiiiittt!!"
The receiver was set down violently. 'He' knew very well how much the way you hang up a phone can leave a nasty aftertaste for the other side...
BGM: About Face
"...That's pretty handy. You can change your voice?"
"*giggle*! Anyone can change their voice. A sweet voice when coaxing Papa? A sick-sounding voice when taking the day off school. An apologetic voice when turning down a friend that you actually hate! If you want♪, I can do~ any voice at all☆ Got i-t?!"
"...You should stop being a witch and become a voice actress."
"Heheheheheheheh! So, are all the pieces set up on both sides now?"
"...'Furudo Erika'. What a wonderful piece. She's a much more suitable piece for you than Ange was, Bern."
"The pleasure is mine."
"...She really is wonderful. Truly cute. I'd like to make her surrender to the Illusion of the Witch and see her face twist in humiliation."
"...Hear that? Don't embarrass me, okay? Show me that you're a much more useful piece than Ange was."
"Yes, leave it to me. Lady Bernkastel, my master. I'm nothing like that gloomy, dull-minded, totally uncute piece."
"*giggle*giggle*giggle*! She's right. That Ange didn't do anything useful except get turned into meat chunks to egg Battler on!"
"I have absolutely no interest in family love or sibling love! The game we want to see is more gruesome and sticky! A <grotesque>, <pop>, and <cute> murder case!!"
"...If Natsuhi is the king, then I wonder if Beato is the queen. *giggle*. The pack of witches and furniture guarding Natsuhi is less like a set of chess pieces and more like-"
"Bowling pins, right?! Kyahhahahahahahahahahaha!! Illusions of Natsuhi and Beato. Kinzo and the worthless furniture! Entertain us a bit, will you?!"
"*giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*. Both Natsuhi and Beato are like the guts of a filthy truth wrapped up in a bit of thin skin. Tearing that to bits and dragging the insides out is one of my, no, one of our few pleasures."
"Yes, you can have a lot of fun with it. Hey, are you watching? Beatrice? Look at how much fun can be had playing with your board. I'll show you. This 5th game really is fun!!"
"...It's a bit sad if we're the only ones having a pleasant chat. Why don't you let Beato talk too?"
"Hear that? I'll give you special permission to talk. What do you hope to gain from this latest game?!"
"Ahahahaha! She said nothing! That's right, that's right! You're the loser who surrendered to Battler! Leave it to me, okay? I'll put the witch side on top right away! But that means I'll have to sacrifice the piece you are!!"
"The epitaph has been easily solved before the first twilight, and Beatrice, the keeper of the gold, has lost face. *giggle*giggle*!!"
"...Isn't it great that you've been left as a piece as part of Natsuhi's illusion? Well, we're treating you as a pin now instead of a piece, okay?"
"The Golden Witch Beatrice is out of the picture now! You and your furniture have only a miniscule role in my game! A loser's role!! Resign yourself to getting blasted away and becoming Bern's and my toy!!"
"...If you don't like that, why not just tell us to stop? If you do, we'll stop."
"She's saying she doesn't mind! *giggle*giggle*!! You're totally a pin!!"
There's no need for a Golden Witch anymore. All that's needed is a sacrificial doll so that the two witches can enjoy some time playing. Die, die, disappear. Confess to your filthy past and your crimes, speak out your sob story of regret and repentance as you throw yourself off a cliff and die!! The Golden Witch will never again have her turn...!! Ahhahhahahahahaahhahhaahahahahahaahahahaha...!!
This will probably... turn out to be a nasty game. On the surface, it looks very similar to the usual tales. However, there's no respect given to the true main character of this tale.
This tale... was supposed to be one that the Golden Witch Beatrice invited Ushiromiya Battler to see. However, the host has been lost, and there are no longer any guests. The one who did the inviting and the one who was invited are no longer around in this horrible tale.
"...Ready, Battler? The second day is finally about to start. Heheheheh! Just like Beato, I hate slow story progression!"
"Just do what you want. No matter how much you mess things up, I'll definitely reach the truth of this game."
"*giggle*. It has to be that way. You've got to fight for your little sister's sake as well."
"Don't worry. Lady Lambdadelta is a far more terrifying opponent than that fool Beatrice, but I'll be giving you plenty of support, so there won't be any problems."
"Together with me, why don't you finally expose the Illusion of the Witch this time?"
"...I don't give a damn about you. I won't acknowledge anything that didn't exist in Beato's games, so I don't need you."
"Is now really the time to act tough? Oh well, let's both give it our all, okay?"
" Together, let's tear this Illusion of the Witch apart. *giggle*giggle*!"
Erika acted as though she was asking me to shake her hand. Instead of just passively ignoring this, I gave her an active and clear answer by knocking her hand aside.
"...*giggle*. Looks like he hates shaking hands. Just like Ange."
"Don't worry. I'm a far more useful piece than Ange. I'm nothing at all like shredded meat which couldn't do anything except restore Battler-san's fighting spirit."
"*giggle*...! Isn't it great that you've been blessed with such a helpful-looking ally?! In the past, it was Virgilia and Ronove. Then Ange came as well."
"And now you have Bern and Erika! There are so many pieces supporting you! So how does it feel knowing that you still can't catch on to the truth despite that? How does it feel?!"
"...It doesn't matter. This battle is between me and Beato. Everyone else besides us... doesn't matter."
"Oh, is that true? Are you finally standing on your own?! You've always had someone helping you, someone sympathetic to you, so I wonder just how far you'll get on your own! Entertain me!"
"*giggle*. Yes, that's true. This is your game. So try taking it back. Let's see how far someone like you, who couldn't even win Beato's games when she went easy on you all over the place, Can get in Lambda's completely ruthless game without any help!"