Part 49: Zepar and Furfur II
The silence that followed was not interrupted even by the sound of wind and rain outside that had once been present. Both Jessica... and George... timidly opened their eyes...
...Where in the world... is this...? It was a strange room that they had never seen before. It looked like a western smoking room. Its furnishings were stylish and expensive. It felt as though a dignified person must own this room. Preparations for black tea were set on the table, and so was a chessboard, which seemed to be halfway through a game.
However, there was something strangely out of place. The black and white checkerboard pattern made it feel like chess, but it looked like a very similar yet totally different game that no one knew of. In the same way that it both looked like chess and not like chess... The furnishings of this room... no, the room itself... Though it first seemed like a western smoking room, it also felt like something completely different...
"...Jessica-chan and Kanon-kun... And Shannon? Where's Shannon...?!"
"I'm right here, George-sama."
"And I am here. Milady, George-sama. We apologize for bringing you to a place like this."
"...What on Earth is going on? Just when Shannon took out something that looked like a butterfly wing and it started shining..."
"Th, the same thing happened to me...! Kanon-kun took out this golden butterfly brooch thing, it started to sparkle, and..."
BGM: Witch in Gold (cembalo)
"Test us...? Do you mean... that trial you were just talking about... that we had to overcome if we wanted to be together? Is that it?"
"A... a trial?"
"...I haven't explained it to you yet, Milady. My apologies."
"...But please, if your words just a second ago were the truth, please lend me your strength. I will give it everything I've got, so please..."
"...I... I don't understand a thing that's been happening... Do you know something, George nii-san?"
"A bit. I'm just as surprised as you about what's happening now. But if they say that this is an unavoidable trial and that we are essential for it, I intend to take on whatever may come."
"Kanon-kun. The brooch."
The two of them brought the halves of the broken golden butterfly brooch closer to each other. As they grew closer, the strength of their bright yellow radiance increased.
"Wh, what do you mean...?! I don't have a clue! What the hell's going on...?!"
"It's a trial. A test for a pair of lovers."
George spoke these awkward-seeming words quickly and easily. It was such an embarrassing line that Jessica couldn't help turning red, but the expression on George's face, which was so serious that it was almost grim, forced her to tense up as well...
Shannon and Kanon were just as serious. With a glow in their eyes, as though they were taking part in a sacred duel, the pair of them brought the two gold butterfly wings together. Then, the wings they held became a single brooch... and regained their magical power. An even more intense light filled the room... and the scene was burnt into the retinas of all present... as the brooch shattered and two shining things flew out of it...
Video: Demons of Love
BGM: Kina no Kaori
Suddenly, the voices of two people they had never heard before rang out. What was it? Who were they...? George and Jessica nervously opened their eyes...
"Ooh, that's weird, Furfur...!! Why are we in a place like this?!"
"It really is strange, Zepar...!! There's no one but humans and furniture! Where is the witch? Where is the witch capable of summoning us?!"
"Yes, we remember the name of the witch of the contract really well, don't we? Let's try calling it out, Furfur!"
"Yes, you're right, Zepar!! We know the name of the witch of the contract, the Golden Witch!"
"Then let's try calling her!"
Considering their exaggerated manner, like a theater play, and their slightly humorous style of talking, it would probably be hard, at this moment, to comprehend the great power these demons possessed. When the two demons called Beatrice's name, a cyclone of gold butterflies picked up throughout the room.
"Ooh, there are two Beatrices...!"
"Well, there are two of us as well. Why shouldn't there be two Beatrices every now and then?"
"This is my double and my little sister. We two are the same and as a single person."
"P, pleased to meet you."
"It has been a long time, Beatrice-sama..."
"...I feel the same. Still, it's too early to get dumbfounded."
Unlike Jessica, George had maintained his composure even during this bizarre scene. After all, Shannon had already told him what would happen next.
"Demons of the contract, it has been too long...! Zepar. And you too, Furfur."
"Ah, long time no see! You seem to be in high spirits as always!"
"But look at your cute little sister here! Those juicy eyes must have the taste of white peaches when they grow teary...!"
"Uh, ah, well, I wonder..."
Zepar and Furfur latched onto Beato from either side, wearing strange smiles. Each movement they made was exaggerated yet polished, as though they were acting out a play.
"The last time...?"
"The brooch, our vessel, has already been destroyed!"
"Eheheheheh, in other words, our role is finished after this! Ah, yes, it has been fun, Beatrice!"
"However, it was decided when the contract was made. It was decided that we must lend our power one more time before our final farewell."
"So, this is truly the final miracle!"
"Once is enough for the miracle of love! After all, eternal love will never be needed a second time!"
"...There you have it. Lovers! Those gathered here are ones cursed to have unsuccessful love unless a miracle occurs. The power of the golden butterfly brooch, which can grant this miracle, is your last chance, and like it or not, this chance is limited to this evening! This miracle can be given only to a single pair!"
BGM: Fishy Aroma
"Yeah. Let's both give it our all."
Shannon and Kanon exchanged a serious gaze. Both had already readied themselves to fight for the sake of their love's success.
"I, I don't really get it, but I don't wanna borrow the power of some strange demon...!"
Jessica was finally starting to figure this place out. These demons... were probably planning to pit her and Kanon against George and Shannon.
"Let me be clear: this is none of your business! Kanon and I can handle our relationship by ourselves. I'm not obligated to put myself in the debt of some bizarre demons!"
"...Milady, please listen. If we don't overcome this trial, we cannot be together..."
"Jessica. Accept it. This is the only trial that can be imposed on upstart furniture wishing to be joined with a human."
"More of this stuff about furniture and humans! Don't butt in... This has nothing to do with us!!"
"You still haven't told Milady...?"
"...I didn't know... how I should explain it."
"Kanon-kun, Shannon, and you, George nii-san! Why are you listening to these creeps?! No one can stand in the way of a person's love! Why do we have to please these demons?! It's none of their business!!"
"Well, it seems we have quite a troublesome blockhead among us. We could begin the game like this, but that would hardly be fair."
"C, couldn't you explain it for her? I don't understand that well myself. Is there some kind of problem with the love between Jessica-san and Kanon-san...?"
"Oh my! It seems you understand nothing at all!"
"With our blessing, the pair can cultivate their love at their leisure! No need to worry about suspicious demons!"
"However, without our blessing, your love will vanish, disappear, wither and decay."
"How the hell're you so sure?!!"
"...Oh, what happens if you choose not to resist it...?"
"That love will end. Well, an abstract explanation isn't so convincing. Well now, how could one explain the dead end fate you're in..."
"Ushiromiya Jessica, the future you two share is far more grim than you realize."
"If you don't gain the miracle of magic, disaster will most certainly befall you."
"Then it will cover you, fester within, and split the two of you apart."
"...Even I will not be so boorish as to describe the details of that process. However, if you will not believe, Jessica, I will tell you how it ends. Kanon will stop being a servant and will leave the island. For all eternity."
"You will probably leave the island yourself in search of the one you love, but such a venture will doubtless be in vain!"
"Yes, and then you will mourn and hate!"
With a dramatic gesture, the two of them pointed at Jessica. They were saying that, if she left, the person left with regrets would be Jessica herself.
"Wh, what the hell are you... saying..."
"When you have lost the one you love, you will realize. You will realize how much you hate the person you were when you ran away from the trial to complete that love!"
"Yes, we're messengers from the 'you' of the future! Please, at this very moment, take your love seriously and fight!"
"And if you don't listen to the message of the 'you' from the future?!"
"The foolish snake eating its own tail will keep on gulping!"
"The endless cycle of suffering will swallow you up... and you will simply vanish."
"What the... hell are you talking about...?!!"
Jessica's confusion showed up on her face as anger. However, a memory of what she had heard a long time ago welled up in the back of her mind.
After just a few years, or possibly... If Nee-san ever decides to stop working here, I think I'll stop working too...
"If you give up on the miracle of magic and leave it to Shannon and George, they will be joined and leave the island. After that, Kanon will leave the island as well. That is an unavoidable fate."
"Th, then what if they can obtain the miracle of magic...?"
"Of course, Kanon will remain on the island, by Jessica's side for all time. He will probably start learning music with Jessica as she wished for. How their relationship will progress afterwards is a matter for the two lovers. They may deepen their relationship slowly all by themselves, as Jessica wanted..."
"...However, if that happens, George-san and I will not be joined."
"...We must fight this fate, by betting our futures and our happiness."
"A, are you kidding me...?! What the hell...?! So if we are joined, the other pair will split apart?! What kind of demon's game is this?!!"
BGM: The Candles Dance
"A, and who the hell decided that?!!"
"It is due to your sin of falling in love with furniture, which is not allowed to love. Didn't Kanon clearly reject you, saying that furniture was not qualified to love?! Knowing that, you chose Kanon as the one you loved. I won't let you get away with saying you didn't know...!"
Though she couldn't accept any of it, Jessica was unable to argue back. Then, George spoke up with that soft tone that he always used to smooth things over. However, his expression was still ruthlessly serious.
"...Jessica-chan, can't you think of it this way?"
"Think of it... what way...?"
"W, well, I'm not so weak that I'd lose heart over most things..."
"Yes. That's it exactly. Right now, we are being tested. Tested to see who can display the strength of our feelings more strongly."
"...Are you actually... satisfied with this insanity...?"
"There's no need to be satisfied. When I gave Shannon that engagement ring, I swore to fight all trials and barriers that stand in my way. No matter how unreasonable or incomprehensible these trials might be, I cannot choose to avoid them."
George spoke clearly, then looked at Jessica with a cold gaze. By now, Jessica almost understood. If she kept on grumbling and avoiding this demons' trial, the game between the two groups would automatically end with her defeat by default. In other words, George and Shannon would win. Then they would gain the miracle of magic, their love would be completed, and Jessica and Kanon would split apart, with Kanon eventually leaving the island and never seeing her again.
"...Nothing would, make me happier than to see you step out of this trial. That way, I wouldn't have to fight you. And that would show the limits of your feelings for Kanon-kun."
It seemed as though George spoke ruthlessly, but he was actually being exceptionally fair. If it came to a loss by default, Jessica would never be able to clear away her lingering regrets. That would leave a bad aftertaste even for George.
"...Hmph. George's determination is quite impressive."
"After hearing that-"
"Are you still going to run away?"
The two demons giggled and challenged her. Of course, George didn't laugh, but he still challenged her with cold eyes.
"...Please forgive me, Milady. I am determined not to flinch in my resolve."
"...Even if I know... that sticking to my feelings... means ending your loving relationship, Milady."
Shannon had never before spoken to Jessica with such serious and solemn words. Jessica realized what a strong will had dwelt within her usually weak and clumsy friend, and was surprised.
"I... want to start a new life with you, Milady."
...Even if that life... means crushing Nee-san's happiness... I will not falter..."
Kanon was also doing all he could to restrain himself. Yes. All of them... were being serious and frank... and abandoning any naivety they might have possessed. All this about golden butterfly brooches and miracles of magic... And the trial that the demons were giving them... none of it mattered. Only one thing was being tested. Whether or not they possessed the strong will to make their love come true.
Jessica clenched her fists, and hung her head, shaking, while biting her lower lip. She was silent, but she would probably gain an unswerving will of steel before too long. She just needed a little time first. The two demons who taunted people with dramatic gestures... did not violate this silence that Jessica needed to resolve herself. Love brings about conflict, and this conflict gives rise to determination. As the demons of love, they could understand more fully than any others how noble that determination was...
"Furthermore, this magical miracle is something that can be received by you as well."
"By me too...? Wh, what... do you mean...?"
She had thought this had been about two pairs of lovers. Beato was surprised to suddenly hear that this had something to do with her as well...
"With the miracle of the golden butterfly brooch, even your wish, your wish that your affection for Battler will be acknowledged, can be granted easily. And without a miracle, you also can never be bound to him."
"It means you're no outsider to this either."
"To cut across the marshes of love! That is your wish, is it not?!"
"We will not make light of your wish!"
"...Even your relationship with Battler will eventually fester and rot. No matter how much of a positive outlook you take, you know that this fate will eventually come to pass, barring some kind of miracle."
Beato hung her head sadly. She hadn't wanted to lose heart from that cookie incident. However, it would have been a massive lie to say that it hadn't hurt her...
The more she tried to get close to Battler, the more she hurt him. However, she had been born in order to get close to Battler. She was like a hedgehog freezing in the cold and bunching together for warmth. She had approached him because of love, and had been hurt for it...
BGM: Kina no Kaori
"Oh, of course!"
"Welcome, second Beatrice...! We were planning on including you from the very beginning!"
""After all, we are Zepar and Furfur! The demons of love!!""
"...M, may I... join in as well...?"
"If you want to, I don't see a problem. I won't prevent anyone from entering. We'll win against all hindrances and make everyone celebrate our union."
"...Of course, it's the same the other way around. If you succeed in love by defeating us at our best, then both Shannon and I promise to sincerely support the pair that wins. Right, Shannon?"
"Yes. We will not lose. And even if we did, we would cheer you on from the bottom of our hearts."
"...I feel the same. I will not lose."
"...Well, if there's no way out of this fight, let's show 'em what we've got. No matter what! Kanon-kun and I don't plan on losing."
"You feel the same, do you not?"
"Y, yes... If there is even a small chance that Father... ah... no... that Battler-san will acknowledge me, I'm willing to put myself on the line."
"Well said. Good going, little sister. Zepar, Furfur! The actors have gathered!"
"Then let's begin, Furfur!"
"Yes, let us begin, Zepar!"