Part 160: Tea Party
BGM: A Single Moment
The desk was covered with a scattered mountain of paper covered with writing. Words were packed onto the pages in a thin, high information density language that only the great ones could read. Each letter of this language carried the same amount of information as several books in the human world. These letters filled every inch of this huge pile of paper. Surely, she had written out every little detail of some world.
She stood up, sat down in her favorite rocking chair, and rocked peacefully for a while.
"How far must one write before they can say they've written it all? That is what has bothered me in all my years of writing. The adventures of humans can be very interesting as a tale. However, even I still don't know when that adventure stops being an adventure. My old friend, who is now gone... once said that a human's life is an adventure from beginning to end, so there is never a correct time to set down one's pen."
"...I do not agree. I think one must put away the pen at some point. I believe one should write a tale to an appropriate point, then leave the aftertaste and opinions to the minds of the spectators. In short, the tale must be put inside a cat box at the appropriate time. The cat box has been the subject of this long tale, so is it not better to refrain from writing its demise, to instead put it in the cat box and leave it there...?"
Featherine... spoke to no one inside the empty study. Of course, no one commented on her words. However, Featherine seemed to hear something. She nodded and grinned contentedly.
"Yes, I know. I will write a bit further, then lay down my pen. Then, it will be time for us to say our goodbyes."
Featherine held up a finger and spun it around, a signal that she wanted to darken the room. The lights in the study dimmed...
"Would you mind letting me rest for a while? During that time, my cat... or rather, my miko will entertain you..."
BGM: About Face
"...Shut up. If you don't want it sewn by hand, I'll use a sewing machine."
"No! No machines! I want you to do it by hand! So please, just a bit more gently... owow!"
"It'll get better if you spit on it."
"Gyah!! Don't just start licking me all of a sudden!"
"Hmm, I think this needle should be thick enough. This'll hurt like hell, so you'd better close your eyes. 5, 4, 3, 2-"
"D, don't say that right before you start!! B, Bern, st, stop, gyaaah, gyaaaaahhh!!"
But despite all this, the two of them truly were close. Though Lambdadelta had been brutally dismembered in the final fight, she had survived. But, unfortunately, she was still dismembered. So, Bernkastel was sewing her arms and head back on with a needle and thread. The left arm, which was still waiting to be reattached, walked around on the bed impatiently with its index and middle fingers. Only the arms were left to do, so it looked like this would be finished soon.
Then, Erika returned, slamming the door open.
"...Why sesame salt? You aren't planning to put it in tea, are you...?"
"It's Erika's toy. Erika, did you bring your chopsticks?"
"Yes, my master!! Great detectives have their magnifying glasses! Furudo Erika has her chopsticks."
"Are you ready? Pour out that sesame salt and use those chopsticks to separate the sesame seeds from the salt."
"Yes, my master!! Please watch my fantastic chopstick-weilding skills!!"
"Yes, good luck. When you're done, make sure you put everything back in the bag."
"...Are you still bullying her like that?"
"How rude. I'm playing with her. Ah, yes, Erika. The mailman just came by with a letter addressed to you."
"A letter?! I sense a crime calling to me. Don't tell me, I'll guess who sent it!"
"...The postmark is from Heaven. It's probably from Dlanor or someone. I'm surprised you're still in touch. Just by the presence of this postmark, see how far Bernkastel's reasoning has taken her."
"Hey!! You can't do that, my master! Van Dine's 9th! It's forbidden to have multiple detectives!"
"...Then you'd better get out. So long, Great Detective Erika."
"My master, how could you?!! I'm Erika, Witch of Truth!"
"Of course we hate each other. You're the only one I love."
"H, how could you, my master!!"
"Lady Lambdadelta! It looks like there's not enough room for the two of us!"
"Are you serious? Are you challenging the great Lambdadelta?"
Erika grinned and grabbed Lambdadelta's left arm that was walking around the bed.
"Here is Lady Lambdadelta's arm. And here is the sliced-open end of her arm."
Erika grinned and wiggled her fingers menacingly.
"Wait, you aren't thinking..."
"Let's see if my rival can handle this."
"Gyah, gyahhahahahahahaahaha, ahhhyahahahaha, stoppit that tickles!!"
...She tickled the inside of Lambdadelta's left arm. Apparently, she was extremely ticklish there.
Apparently, her body was made out of sweet candy, with a bit of spice thrown in. Put your mind at ease, as there is nothing remotely terrifying about this scene.
Erika ran around, screaming 'I've defeated Lady Lambdadelta all by myself, just like my master!'. Lambdadelta growled and hissed at her. Bernkastel kept on sewing, an exasperated look on her face. It was a very peaceful scene...
"Is there anything about how Dlanor and the others have been doing?"
"Gertrude-san has been promoted to a full Inquisitor or something. Well, good for her, yay. Ooh, in addition to her cat, she now has a meowoof too."
"...What's a meowoof...?"
"What, you don't know?! You're so out of touch! They've been all the rage lately! Even I got a female meowoof a few days back. They make awesome konpeitou too!"
"...I'm totally lost, but I'll make sure I stay far away from your homemade food in the future..."
"Well, there's all kinds of combat training. What's she doing?"
"Looks like kickboxing and Chinese Kenpo. Could that be Eva's influence?"
"...Doesn't she look like she'd fight pretty good standing on one leg?"
"Good point. A certain someone must've toughened her up by making her stand on one leg all the time."
"...I'll bet he has a hellish coach."
"His butt's probably swollen by now."
"So, what about Dlanor?"
"Well, why don't we? Crime sounds fun."
"They say crimes occur wherever the detective goes."
"Well, one of these days. If I feel like it, I might drop by to bully her. Oh, and there's also something here about the Chiester Sisters."
"...Wait. I don't want to hear it all at once. Let's hold off a bit for dramatic effect..."
"Okay, that'll do it."
"Ah, I finally grew my right arm back! Do the left one now, please!"
"Let's have some tea first. Erika, bring in a can of black tea and the pot of dried plums."
"Yes, my master!"
With this particular journey over and done with, the Voyager witches rested their wings. It was all so that they could leave on a new journey in search of the next Fragment. A short break between trips, backdropped by the pleasant scent of black tea...
"...If you go north, I'm heading south."
"Then if you go east, I'm heading west."
"...I hope we can find another charming tale like this one."
"Next time, I hope you aren't playing the villain again, Bern."
"You think so? Being the bad guy was pretty fun."
"...I wonder... what kind of tale we'll find next."
"And what kind of tale we'll next meet in."
"To a pair of lovers, the sea of Fragments is tiny."
"Children of Paradise."
"The sea of Fragments is pretty huge."
"Ghost in the Shell."
"We'll meet again. When something else cries."
"...Sounds good. Let's do that."