Part 54: The Fate of Those Who Do Not Fight
October 5th, 1985, 12:12 AM
It seemed that the relatives all wanted to be alone now that they had dispersed for a short break. Since everyone avoided the parlor, the one place where people would normally gather, Rosa was able to have this relaxing and comforting room all to herself...
That didn't mean she looked relaxed. Her expression was heavy with gloom and weariness. The cup of red tea that she had brought from the dining hall had gone cold...
...A pleasant silence. Now that no one was in sight, Rosa's heart finally awoke. She was always treated like a kid in the conferences with her three siblings. She had no influence at all. But, possibly because of that, she was apparently considered to be a neutral party. The siblings would often ask for her agreement, sometimes even treating her like a referee or a judge.
"...I have to make use of that, and turn the discussion in the direction I want."
I have to find almost a hundred million yen by March. That was supposed to be my great commitment, a burden I bore to help support 'that man's' business. Now, I'm not sure anymore. If I can pay off my debt, will he call me again?
BGM: Worldend (solo)
...But still, you are Maria's father, aren't you...? Please come and see her, if only just once...
"Huh?! Wh, who...?"
Though no one should have been in the parlor, someone suddenly spoke to Rosa and she jumped.
Even considering that she had been deep in thought... to think that she hadn't noticed him at all...
"...You scared me. Sorry, I guess I was thinking so hard that I didn't notice you. Need something?"
"No. The reason you are currently in pain is because of love, Rosa-sama. Am I wrong?"
"Th, that's sudden. I'm not sure what you're talking about."
"...Maria-sama's father wanted you to be the co-signer on a loan, and you accepted, Rosa-sama."
"...What a troublesome kid. You were listening to Krauss nii-san from the hallway, weren't you...?"
...True, earlier this day, in this very room, Krauss had seen through to the fact that Rosa was bearing a massive debt because she had become a co-signer on a loan. However, he hadn't said that her partner had been Maria's father... Why... did Kanon know so much...?
"...I hadn't yet moved to his family register, but I thought of the man I would soon marry as my partner. If he couldn't borrow the money without my name, I figured that helping him out was my responsibility as his future wife."
"...And did that future ever come?"
No, it hadn't. So afterwards... Rosa was always alone. And Maria... never had a father.
However, time moved on. Maria, who should have been a symbol of their union, just kept growing, almost like a living hourglass measuring the length of the hell Rosa had crawled through... Because of that, Maria's growth... hurt.
"...It's ironic. I tried to forget that man several times. But you know, forgetting him doesn't get rid of that debt."
It was only natural. That's why she had to forget her love and do all she could to pay that money back.
"But you know, I also think of it this way. If I can manage to pay everything off, it'll mean that I've passed the trial of love that he gave me. If I have to pay off my debt anyway, how can I abandon my reward, the love I'll gain as a result, before it's over...? Don't you think I could put off thinking about that until after I've paid it all back...?"
It may have been a trick of words that only those who have suffered through love could understand. Even Rosa vaguely realized that she might have been deceived. However, if she was able to succeed in paying back the loan, he might acknowledge her usefulness as a wife... When that happened, she might be able to regain that love. And if she abandoned that love? This debt, this 'trial that he had given her', would become completely meaningless...
Yes, for her, the debt itself appeared to be a trial of love. In fact, the very fact that she looked at it that way might have been her blindness due to love, as well as proof that she still hadn't rid herself of her affection and firm belief in the past... And that pain still continued within her... At the very least, until she paid back the massive loan, and let a good deal of time pass after that, until she could finally lay her feelings for him to rest...
"...Could this be... that hell Kyrie-sama spoke of?"
"...Probably. Though I'm not sure what you're talking about. There's no doubt that my world has been a total hell."
"And how can that be put to an end...?"
"...Who knows? If anyone did, no one would ever be crushed by the disease of love."
That disease is a serious one. It sometimes eats into a person for their entire life, spreading to and hurting the people closest to them. That disease was torturing her now as much as it ever had...
BGM: Witch in Gold (cembalo)
Though she had her man stolen from her, she persevered for 18 years. She never fell to despair, and instead continued to support Rudolf, hiding and waiting for a miracle...
"Maria is still nine years old. I've only waited for the first half of Kyrie's 18 years. If I gave up after just this, she would laugh at me."
"...Do you think that a miracle will occur within nine years?"
"...If I doubt that, it's all over."
"In a sense, I'm a ghost. I am already dead. I'm just living on without noticing."
"...A ghost waiting for eternity for a person who will never come..."
"That's right. That day, when I naively said that I wanted to support his dream, I was probably already dead. I guess that really was a regretful day, in the end. 'I have dreams. I want to go overseas. I'll fly out of this tiny country, make it big, and come back to you'. That takes me back..."
...At that time, I thought of lovers as a pair of people willing to acknowledge the other's radical dreams. That's why he would always talk happily about how I'd become a successful designer and release new items in Paris while being jostled by the press.
When I think about it, I really had my head in the clouds during that strange time. We both lifted the other up, as though we were drifting about in the air. So, when he said that he wanted to get out of Japan, I applauded him and promised to support him. Acknowledging each other's great dreams is a standard sort of pillow talk for lovers. However, when it comes to actually carrying them out, you need to be more serious and calculating.
"...But you still regret it."
"...That's right. If I had sobbed and told him to stop on that day, I might not have fallen into hell. Seeing him off with a smile was my victory? Of course not. It's as though I lost by default by refusing to fight when the time came. I only glorified that loss, saw him off with a smile as he went to take on the world overseas, and became intoxicated with the illusion that I was some brave woman waiting patiently for her man's return with her daughter. Even though, without a single call from him, mail sent to the address he had given me came back 'forwarding address unknown'..."
"...This is hell. In this hell, I'll regret not fighting when I should have until the day I die. I've even dragged my daughter into it. I wish someone would just kill me. I want to be told that I've already been killed, that I'm a ghost."
"...In love, if you do not fight, you fall into hell."
"Will you win and gain, or lose and die?"
"But please, have no fear of death."
"After all, it is a peaceful sleep."
""The truly terrifying thing is... the hell into which falls the unsleeping ghosts who cannot win yet cannot die.""
"...That hell has no end..."
"The battle of love is cruelest... to those who do not fight yet cannot die."
"...So in love, you've got to give it a shot and put it all on the line. Dying in battle... is better than the alternative."
"They say the most torturous toxin for humans is made from rotting love. The suffering it brings... exceeds the tortures of the most twisted hells."
She used this knowledge to try and embolden her double and little sister, encouraging her to take on any trial no matter how fierce...
After all, when my desire to have Battler-san accept me one day wells up in my chest, I can feel the seed that resides there.
"...It is up to me to kill that seed or make it bud. However, if I let it rot here in my chest, that poison will surely torment me forever..."
"And that... is the most fearsome torture in the world, even for us thousand year old witches..."
"See what happens to those who make light of love! This hell of Rosa's-"
"Is what happens to those who do not possess the courage to make the seed of love bud, and instead allow it to rot."
""One cannot end that pain by their own hands.""
...Huh? Just now... was that a red light...?
Just now... I thought... I saw something strange. I wonder if I'm tired... It's probably just my imagination.
Rosa picked up her cup of cold tea. When she did, she saw a small... red rose petal float to the surface.
BGM: Worldend (solo)
It... wasn't a rose petal. It was... a drop of blood... that had fallen from Rosa's eyes. In an instant, Kanon had beautifully and precisely... cut just a single thread of Rosa's life...
There was no wound on Rosa's body. However, several drops of blood... dripped down from her eyes. Her pain, her uncertainties, and her worries... were all gone now. Slowly, she fell down onto her side on the sofa. This had been the happiest thing she had done during the happiest time of her life...
"Sleep well, Rosa-sama. Your hell... has ended."
Kanon took a blanket out of a cupboard... and gently covered Rosa with it... To anyone, it would have looked just as though Rosa was sleeping peacefully...
...Those demons had not exaggerated when calling this trial a battle of love. It was at least accurate on this cruel but unassailable fact: that those who have their love shattered meet with death...
"...Now my part is complete. Did you see, demons?"
BGM: Fake Red Shoes
Video: Kanon VS MARIA
One of the two great witches of Mariage Sorciere, MARIA. Though she was just an apprentice, the power sleeping within her had impressed even Beatrice at the height of her strength. In MARIA's eyes, though Rosa was the black witch, she was also the vessel of the mother she couldn't help but love. Her anger at having that stolen from her was near madness.
"How could you... Mama, Mama, Mama!! Nngggyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!"
MARIA's attack was too emotional. Because of this, she didn't notice that Kanon had vanished for several heartbeats... and she released her barrage at what had become empty space. In the meantime, Kanon jumped from wall to wall, around to MARIA's back...
"...I don't want to kill past my quota. But I will defend myself...!!"
"Wh, what are.. you-"
"...Diplomatic immunity! I won't let you target MARIA or me...!"
The red locus blade extending from Kanon's hand vanished in an instant. He managed to make it reappear, but when he tried to use it on Maria and Sakutarou again, it vanished once more. Because of Sakutarou's power, he was unable to make either of them the target of his attacks.
"...There you are. Since when have you been there...?"
"Uryuu... I won't let anyone bully MARIA."
MARIA finally noticed where Kanon was, and she slowly turned around... Kanon made his sword materialize yet again, but no matter how often he tried, it kept fading out, like a flashlight with a bad battery...
"I won't let you get away now... I won't forgive you... for the sin of stealing my Mama away... I'll kill you."
"Just like Mama killed the others, I'll kill you without mercy!!!"
As MARIA howled, the entire parlor was surrounded by a cube of red, magic barriers. It was a closed room symbolizing a barrier that Kanon could never escape.
"...D, dammiiiiiit...!! Not... here...!"
Kanon cursed his bad luck. Even though he had fulfilled his goal in the demons' trial, if he was killed here, he'd be dragged off of the game board...!
"...MARIA. Take it easy."
"Yeah, take it easy. I'll be a little more gentle than Mama was. Kuhihihihihihihhi, hahahahahaah hahaahahahahahahyahahaaaaaaaaaahh!!!"
BGM: Solitary Deep Sea Fish
"Uryu, who is it?!"
"Shannon, don't get... in my waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy!!"
"It's pointless, Shannon. I won't let anyone target MARIA...!"
"Yes. I don't intend to target her in any way. I will simply protect myself."
A cylindrical red magical barrier surrounded Shannon as she stood in the center of the parlor. She made its brightness and thickness grow, and its radius suddenly expanded, filling up the room. It wasn't targeting MARIA. This power was being wielded to protect Shannon's body. So, Sakutarou's power didn't make it disappear.
"Would you let your feelings for Milady collapse in a situation like this? Get ahold of yourself...!"
"Ugh, ghgh, gghh...!!"
By now, the shield with Shannon at the center had covered up the entire room. Its power crushed MARIA and Sakutarou into the corner of the room. Ironically, they were perfectly wedged between Shannon's barrier and the closed room barrier MARIA had set up to prevent Kanon from escaping.
"...No... good... Can't... escape..."
"...*cackle*cackle*, kuhihihihihihiihihihihhihihiihi!! That's right, this is a closed room... Kihihihihihihihihihihi! This might be just perfect for that wannabe detective who's trying to deny Beato's magic."
"...Checkmate, Maria-sama. Is that acceptable?"
"Yeah, it's fine!! Crush me! Kihhihhihhihhihhihhihhii!!"
"Then here it comes...!"
The entire room was filled with the red light of the shield, and the output and pressure were raised to their limits. Then, crushed between the shield and their own closed room barrier, MARIA and Sakutarou lost their forms, scattered into a golden splash, and disappeared...
"If you lost in a place like this, you wouldn't be able to give up."
"...Yeah. I wouldn't give up if I lost in a place like this."
BGM: Waltz Op. 34
"Then shall we finish with Beatrice's turn...? Oh, where did she go?"
"To the victim she has chosen, of course."