Part 68: The Demon Wedding Ceremony IV
It was the sound of the several dozen Chiester Sisters Imperial Guards, members of the honor guard, who stood in a line across the cathedral and stamped their heels in unison. It brought about total silence even before the demons running the ceremony spoke.
"Welcome to the wedding of Lord BATTLER, territory lord and Golden Sorcerer, and Lady Erika, the Witch of Truth!!"
Zepar and Furfur had appeared in the center of the cathedral. Having them invited to host a wedding was a great honor. Though they had asked for silence, the attendants who packed the cathedral welcomed the two demons with an enormous applause.
"...Oh, it's Zepar and Furfur. Then what about Beato...?"
"She may already have snuck onto the grounds..."
They searched for Beato in the crowd of several hundred people, but they couldn't find her anywhere.
"I wonder... if Beato found a way to save Battler-kun..."
"...If she managed to gain Zepar and Furfur's power, then I'm sure she has. There is no miracle that cannot be gained after receiving their power."
"And if she didn't...?"
"...Then that goat biting its handkerchief over there is probably her. Pu ku ku..."
"Then, let us welcome the bride and groom...!!"
"Please give them a grand welcome and celebrate their departure!!"
""Come out, bride and groom!! Walk the path of the shackles called marriage, which will bind you until the grave!!""
The big doors in the back of the cathedral... slowly opened...
Arm in arm, the pair slowly... began to walk down the 'path to the grave' lined with red carpet. The Chiester honor guards stood at attention along either side of that path, raised their adorned bayonets with mechanical precision, and made sure that no evil could block the path that the pair walked down. Chiester Sister troops that weren't part of the honor guard were stationed all over the cathedral, hiding behind pillars and so on, and keeping an eye out for any intruders.
"Ceiling snipers, no irregularities nyeh."
410 and 45 could be seen on top of the massive chandelier hanging from the cathedral's ceiling. Several other sniper pairs could be seen stationed on top of the other chandeliers... This seemingly festive cathedral... was actually being heavily guarded in places that the attendants wouldn't notice...
"Currently, we are targeting 36 attendants suspected of being Lady Beatrice, as well as 131 who are located in positions suitable for a raid. Surveillance in progress."
"...Don't let your guard down. Lady Beatrice will almost certainly stage an attack on the wedding."
"That'd be so cool, breaking in to steal the bride nyeh."
"410, he's the groom, not the bride."
"But he's playing the bride's part nyeh. Nihihihihihi..."
The Chiester sniper teams on the chandeliers used super high-efficiency observers to track the movements of the several hundred attendants. If any one of them made any suspicious movements, the Chiesters were given permission to fire immediately.
The one on that chandelier is Chiester 127. That overworking monster sniper could pulverize a human target from 2 kilometers away. The one on the chandelier across from that is Chiester 20. Her firing rate is 6000 shots per minute. However, she's using a portable magazine this time, so she'll use up her shots in about two seconds. That lazy bum can barely do her job for just two seconds nyeh.
Slowly, and making a show of it, the two walked down the red carpeted path. Battler's eyes were blank. If you looked closely, you could probably tell that Erika was dragging him by the arm she held. In other words, they weren't walking together. This was a ceremony for Erika to show off to everyone that this man belonged to her...
Behind the bride and groom walked the Seven Sisters of Purgatory, who held long, ceremonial arms in the shape of the One-winged Eagle...
"...I can understand Beatrice-sama's pain... better than anyone else."
"It's all because that stupid Battler caused a logic error! Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
"...Beatrice-sama will not fall to sloth and let this wedding go on."
"Of course. Beatrice-sama is greedy. She won't let someone else take away her favorite toy. She'll definitely show up..."
"*slobber* I hear the reception's gonna have tons of delicious food...!"
"Aaah, I want to wear a wedding dress... noooooooooo~w!!"
Bernkastel and Lambdadelta were in the nobles' seating on the balcony. They were sipping some bizarre carbonated cocktails as they looked down upon the show...
"This is just the opening performance."
"That's pretty cruel. Which event do you think will be the headliner? Don't tell me that you really believe Beato will come. As you know as well, Battler's closed room is perfect. How could Beato win? Right...?"
"...You must have heard too. There's a chance that the window seal on the room next door has been torn. It seems that Dlanor has managed to seal that off for now, but she just denied the concept instead of sealing the actual window. It'll fly out the window again. This One-winged Eagle."
"On whether Beato comes?"
"...I bet she comes with certainty."
"...I bet she comes miraculously."
"Ah, this isn't going to work. *giggle*giggle*."
The Witch of Certainty and the Witch of Miracles were both sure that Beato would come. However, they were very interested in exactly how she would break the closed room and take Battler back...
"More or less. But Erika's done a hell of a job, so now even I'm stumped."
"I'm sure you've found one already. There does exist a trick that can save Battler, right?"
"...There does. But it's tough."
"And if that move is used, part of Beato's heart will be exposed. Isn't that right?"
"...Oh, so you already know."
"...Hey, wanna change our bet?"
"To whether Beato or Erika wins."
"Sure, if you're willing to bet on Erika."
"...I'll do it."
"Oh, you are betting on Erika? And why do you think you can win?"
"...If this trick is a part of Beato's heart, then Battler, the Game Master, will hesitate at exposing it. And so, they cannot win. It will probably be a draw. I'm sure they'll confuse matters and run away."
"...Battler has sworn to let Beato sleep in peace. Bern. You're being too naive..."
The bet was made. Based on the assumption of that certain miracle... that Beato would come. Virgilia, who was standing in the front row, tried to call out as soon as Battler walked by. She tried to tell him that the window seal on the next room over hadn't been confirmed, hoping that this would give him a hint. However, she had been marked perfectly. The instant she tried to lean forward, two Chiester Sisters right behind her grabbed her arms. It was a powerful force preventing her from going forward. Unable to move, she was forced to stay there and watch as Battler walked past.
"...Even now, he is fighting that closed room all by himself. However, he cannot get out of that closed room by his own power alone. Unless someone comes to save him, he cannot get out."
"Unless that child comes to save him, Battler-kun will be trapped..."
"If there is a key to that closed room, I am certain... Milady will find it..."
...Milady. I am sure you have gone through many trials in your life. But please, this is one trial that you must overcome... I am certain that you can do it. I, Ronove, do not doubt that in the slightest...
The bride and groom's procession... slowly walked down the path to the grave... and reached the altar. Though walking slowly was ceremonious and proper etiquette, it was also tiring. Erika glanced over at Battler. Of course, his eyes were blank. His heart was still inside that closed room. Once more, the sound of the Chiester honor guard stamping their heels rang out loudly.
Silence returned to the cathedral once more. Now, the wedding ceremony would finally... begin.
WARNING: If you are sensitive to scenes depicting or alluding to sexual assault, you might want to skip the rest of this update.
BGM: Grey Empty Smile
""Come now, you who love one another! Make the oath of love!!""
"In the place of the husband who cannot speak-"
"Let the wife make the oath on behalf of both of them...!"
"...Battler swears to Erika, and Erika swears to Battler to support each other, both in sickness and in health."
"...I didn't catch that, Battler-san... If you have some objection, please say it a bit more clearly, in a loud voice."
"...Da... mn... it..."
"If you have anything further to say, please get yourself out of that logic error closed room first. Don't worry. I'll support you until that day comes. *giggle*, *giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*!!"
The thunderous applause celebrated their marriage of subordination... After the oath, they would physically signify the bond. It was the exchanging of the rings. The territory lord's ring with the One-winged Eagle engraved on it that sat on Battler's finger... would become Erika's. By this, she would become the ruler of this game board... And in exchange, Battler's finger would be given a diamond ring that Erika had prepared.
...At a glance, it just looked like a ring adorned by a large diamond. However, this cursed ring would force Battler into eternal subservience and mark him as another's property...
"Yes, let the pair exchange rings...!!"
"...Since the husband's fingers cannot move, let his wife support him...!"
That was the ring Beato had entrusted him with. Erika... stole it away.
"This is the ring that woman left behind, right...? Heh... heheh... How does it feel to have that stolen away by a woman like me...?"
"Huh? I can't hear you. Please say it one more time."
"...Go... to hell..."
"Oh, that. Well, then there's no need to worry, Battler-san."
Erika pressed her lips up against Battler's earlobe as if biting it... and told him where they were.
Then, slowly, she took Beato's ring, which she had stolen from Battler, and slipped it onto her own left hand...
"And now, bride. You may give the groom your ring."
"...This one's pretty incredible. It's the shackle that'll hold him in place for all time."
"*giggle*. Yeah, it's custom made."
Even Battler's blank eyes could see the diamond ring Erika held.It was like Erika herself. On the outside, it shone beautifully, and possessed an absolute hardness that would bend to no one's will. And on the inside, it had, to symbolize never letting go of the prey it had latched onto, eight sharp thorns pointing inwards. If they had been growing out of the outer side, it would have looked like the collar of a watchdog from hell. However, who's ever heard of putting those on the inside...?
By twisting the diamond, those thorns could slide in or out. In other words, if you twisted it after thrusting the finger inside, the inward-facing thorns would bite down, never releasing until the end of time. Then, even his soul would be trapped, and his body, mind, and soul would be forced to serve Erika for all eternity.
"...Are... you... kidding me...? Who the..."
Who the hell would wear a ring like that? He couldn't even finish speaking that simple phrase. And furthermore, those awkward words were the only way he could resist... She raised Battler's left hand... and stroked his ring finger as if tasting it.
...Erika pressed the ring of subordination against the tip of his finger... If a ring is made to fit too tightly, it can hurt and be annoying if it's impossible to take off. However, this ring was never intended to be removed for life anyway, so its inner band had been mercilessly narrowed. Even without the thorns, forcing a small ring like this on would hurt...
"...I won't even let you die. You'll be endlessly defiled and humiliated by me, and every time I forget the taste of victory, I'll use your body to remind me. Over... and over again... If you think you can bite off your tongue, now's the time... Once this goes on your finger, you won't even be able to do that."
"...Ffg... ggg... kk..."
Battler didn't even have the strength to bite his tongue. Even if he had, Battler didn't want to give up until he found a way to escape the closed room. So he couldn't kill himself. However, if he accepted the ring, he would never be able to even think about escaping from the room, much less commit suicide...
"No way. Look... I'm... sticking your finger in..."
"Ghih... gyaggh... it... it huurts... gggghh... agh..."
It wasn't just the pain of having his finger forced through the tight ring. The curse of the ring... fiercely tormented Battler's body from the inside. That pain would always torment Battler. But, fortunately... The power of the ring even stole away the heart that could understand that pain... Erika kept screwing that too-small demon's ring on...
"It hurts...!! It's... impossible... There's no way... it'll fit..."
"...Don't worry. It will fit... No problem..."
With an obscene laugh... Erika let a silver thread drip from her mouth... and soaked the finger and the ring.
"...Please relax. We'll stick it in... all at once... Please don't waste your energy resisting. It'll hurt less if you don't resist, okay...? You see? Now it's sliding right on..."
Slowly... slowly... Battler's finger went deeper... deeper through the ring. He was pushed through the iron ring of pain and humiliation... which would never be removed again...
"Ooh... gah... gyhaah..."
"...It... hurts... it... hurts... guhh... Take... it... off..."
The demon's ring tightened around the finger... so much that it seemed the finger would snap off along with the bone. Could Battler's hazy expression of anguish... really describe how unbearable this filthy pain was...?
"...Okay. Now that it's on all the way, let's add the final touch, okay...? After this, you will be mine... forever..."
Erika touched the ring's diamond knob. If she twisted it, the thorns would bite in... and never let go again...
"N... no... stop... it..."
"Sure. Just say 'forgive me, Erika-sama', and I'll stop."
"'Forgive me, Erika-sama, please. I swear to spend the rest of my life as your dog, with a collar around my neck, so at least spare me that ring'. If you can say that, I won't make you wear the ring."
"...Huuuuh...? I can't really hear you...?"
"...I'll never... forgive you..."
"For making you suffer like this...?"
"No. I'll... never... forgive you... for defiling... Beato's... ring..."
Though Battler's eyes had supposedly been forced into a muddled condition, they looked strong for just an instant. However, it really was only for an instant. Battler had used up the last of his fleeting resistance... just to say those words. In his dim consciousness, he had even bitten his own tongue to stay alert... so that he could say those words of resistance until the very end...
"...Of course. It seems you aren't the kind of dog that can be tamed. But it's better that way."
Erika smiled. Then, she turned the diamond. In that instant, Battler let out a voiceless scream... and threw his head back...
"Ggh... gah... ahh... aaaahh...!!!"