Part 70: Red and Blue Truth
As the goat demons partied raucously, Dlanor could be seen leaning against a pillar, trying to escape from the noise. Then, Gertrude appeared and whispered some kind of report to her.
"Allow me to speak. Aide Cornelia is currently heading towards the scene. I suggest that Lady Erika be contacted as well."
"UNDERSTOOD. I will tell HER. Gertrude, contact the head of ceremony SECURITY. Prepare for BATTLE."
"As you wish."
"I apologize for interrupting your chat. I am in charge of security for this ceremony."
"Huh? For me?! Oh, what's going on?"
"...I already said you were going too far. Champagne Tower Bowling was always a bad idea. Time for a scolding. *giggle*giggle*..."
"Hey, Beeeeeeern!! Hey, what's going on, did I do something wrong?!"
"The reception desk has received an envelope from an unknown sender addressed to Lady Lambdadelta."
"I always ignore anonymous calls and letters. Just throw it away."
"...What's that? Did you tell anyone you've received this...?"
"No, only the two Sisters at the reception desk and I know. They have already been ordered to keep silent."
The instant she saw that envelope, Lambdadelta snatched it away and lowered her voice.
...Bernkastel had walked away and was apparently making fun of Erika. Bern--and of course, Erika--were both drunk. If they were left alone, they'd probably forget about this. It's true that this envelope has no sender written on it. However, the seal done on it in gold leaf... fulfills the same purpose.
...This seal is...
Lambdadelta hid behind a pillar, ripped the envelope open, took out its contents, and read them. Her eyes instantly started to glint, and she smiled like a kid who's just thought of a nasty trick...
"...What is to be done? The sniper team is carrying red warheads. If you give your permission, I will give the order to load them."
"...What are you talking about? Do you realize how important these guests are? If a stray bullet hits one of these attendants, all the new Chiester Sisters will be sent straight from the factory to the guillotine for the next ten years."
"Understood. We will intercept with regular warheads. Shall we post lookouts around the Seven Sisters of Purgatory?"
"Why would we need those? After all, the Seven Stakes are Battler's... and now Erika's furniture. Why would we post lookouts around our allies? Just make sure security is nice and tight."
"Just now, we received a recommendation from Assistant Inquisitor Gertrude suggesting that we make preparations for battle. Her reasons are unknown."
"From Gertrude? Heheh. Then follow that recommendation. A party's more fun once you liven things up...!"
"Understood. 00 calling Chiester 17, Chiester 38, Chiester 45, Code R, be on your guards. Transmitting level 2 alert."
"It'd have been so much cooler if you'd said 'copy' nyeh."
"Ah, I just got nervous...!"
"Ah, right. 45, come over here a second."
"Wh, what is it? H, hey, we're working now...! Stop, don't play with my ears...!"
"Your ears. Better fold them down nyeh."
"Cornelia is heading there NOW. The odds of Beatrice attacking here are extremely HIGH. I recommend suspending the reception and EVACUATING."
"What's going on, Erika...? Something go wrong with the entertainment...?"
"N, no, my master...! Please continue to enjoy the reception. Hey, someone? Let's get Lady Bernkastel some more dried plum wine...!"
Erika didn't have time to hide her agitation. When Bernkastel saw this, she knew that their final, late guest had finally arrived.
"Luci-nee. I hear there's been some movement in the guesthouse."
"...The guesthouse? Who cares about the game board now?"
"Well... They're saying that Kanon-kun disappeared from the cousins' room..."
"What?! Are you a moron? The cousins' room is a perfect closed room, with the door and all the windows perfectly sealed. It's impossible for him to escape...!"
"No, I've been snooping about as well. There's no mistake. Kanon has disappeared from the cousins' room."
"...He's probably hiding somewhere in the cousins' room. Or else, he's managed to trick everyone since the beginning... and was never in that room to begin with."
"That's impossible. It's been guaranteed that 'everyone' is in the cousins' room except the specific names Lady Erika read aloud back then. It's impossible for him to trick his way out of there."
"...How did he get past the Jungfrau seal barrier...? No, first off, where on earth is Kanon? Find him at once...!"
At that moment, the cathedral suddenly went black. The surprised commotion of the guests filled the cathedral...
BGM: The First and the Last
"00 calling <All Chiesters>. Code R Alert! Chiester 17, can you repair the electrical systems?"
"Negative. Communications with the management staff have been severed."
"<All Chiesters, Code Red>! <Rock 'n' Roll>!!"
"U, understood. Ah! I mean copy!"
The sniper teams in the chandeliers all released their safeties at once. The entire security team down in the hall loaded their ammunition.
"What's dangerous?! I'm the territory lord of this world! Why should I have to run away in fear?!"
"Gertrude, set up a VIP guard BARRIER. Call Cornelia back here at ONCE."
"A barrier?! I need to be wrapped in one of your pitiful, pathetic barriers while I'm wearing a wedding dress?! How insulting!!"
This disturbance made even Battler groan, as he sat in the next seat like a doll...
Even with his soul sealed, Battler probably realized that something strange was going on...
"Totally. She sure kept us waiting."
"What was that just now? A love letter from someone...?"
"A fan letter. From the Lambda-chan Fan Club."
Lambdadelta played dumb and munched some popcorn. Then, the lights finally turned on...
It was clear that during that blackout, Beatrice had snuck in somewhere nearby, possibly even inside the cathedral itself. The whispering goat attendants all realized it as well. Whose scheme was this... and what were they doing? Though it may have been imprudent, they were looking forward to this, and an excited chatter filled the cathedral...
"G, Gaap...! They let you come back too...?!"
"Come on, putting me in a jail is meaningless."
"True! Pu ku ku ku."
"...But Riiche. Battler's closed room, the cousins' room, and even the final possibility, the next room over, have all been sealed... How are you planning to save Battler...?!"
"Let us suppose that Milady has found some trick X. If so, she would inevitably have to march in here to thrust that in Lady Erika's face..."
"But... against all of these Chiester troops... I can't believe this many of them were hiding here...! It's impossible... She'll be sewn to death...!"
Rabbit ears dashed all about the hall. Incredible that she could remain hidden and unnoticed with so many people around...
"...If she can just get close enough to challenge Erika, she should be able to get herself an even fight."
"I see, that move. However, does Milady have that item with her? She always complains, and dislikes it when I prepare them for her. My, my. She's a troublesome one to the end."
Amid the crowd, Ronove took something out and showed it. When Virgilia saw, she understood what 'that' in his hand meant... True, with 'that', it should be possible to stop the attacks from the Chiester troops...
"Well, if it doesn't work on Erika, we're through. The problem is getting her right in front of Erika, if only for a second. The Chiesters will probably prevent that with all they have. Lia, do you think you could give her that time...?"
Virgilia gave a small nod. However, the problem was the two Chiester troops standing at her back. Since that time she had tried to jump out in front of the procession, she had been marked constantly... It was possible, with Virgilia's vast magical power, to momentarily take out all of the Chiester troops in the cathedral. That would only gain a short bit of time, but it would be enough to confront Erika. The Chiester troops knew this, so they kept a close eye on Virgilia with tense faces.
Video: Return of the Golden Witch
The fragments became bright gold butterflies... which danced across the room in a beautiful blizzard of gold leaf...
That golden storm... slowly faded away... Then, at the entrance to that red-carpeted path to the grave... stood a calm, majestic figure...
"Guards, shoot to KILL...!!"
"Negative, conducting identity comparison."
Dlanor ordered the guards to shoot the intruder right away, but Chiester 00 didn't respond. Was it because she had been threatened about shooting these guests... and was afraid of the consequences of possibly shooting a drunk guest pulling some sort of prank? No. 00 was just cooly and calmly carrying out her duties.
The pair faced each other from either end of the long red carpet. However, in between them stood several dozen Chiester honor guards...
"It took you quite some time to come here, most honored guest!! You had us all quite worried! But I am glad you managed to make it to the reception at least...!!"
Beato... laughed... That chuckle... made Battler's eyes quiver slightly.
BGM: The Sin
She had an overpowering and evil presence about her, strong enough to make anyone shiver. Was it still necessary for her identity to be confirmed? Who else could possess such an overwhelming presence?
"'Let us meet again in hell' is a favorite parting line of mine, but-"
"Identity confirmed. It is the great Lady Beatrice!!"
At that moment, the two Chiester troops standing behind Virgilia slumped over and fell to the floor. Ronove had touched the bases of their big ears from behind. It was clear that he had applied some sort of magic.
"Someone find a doctor. These girls seem to be ill."
BGM: Anti-Demon Sequentia
Just an instant before the Chiester troops could fire, Virgilia raised her arms to the heavens. Her magical power, which was more than enough to remind all present what her name had been at the height of her strength, became a spirit wave and exploded throughout the cathedral. That impact made the stained glass windows shatter, and colorful glass shards poured down everywhere.
"S, spirit particle warfare defenses!! Hurry on reboot!!"
However, all of the Chiester honor guards, who didn't have spirit particle defenses, toppled over like dolls. The ceiling snipers, who were defended, were able to avoid a system down, but it would take several minutes before the system could be rebooted. That span of time... should have been enough to reach Erika... However, Erika couldn't be defeated in just a few minutes. There was no way they could carry Battler away in that time...! What should they use this precious time for?!
Beato dashed down the red carpeted path. She ran down the path to the grave, which was lined by Chiester troops lying there like corpses. She had called this place hell. In that case, running from hell to the grave was actually going backwards. Beato's figure dashing through the corpse-ridden path truly symbolized her resurrection...!
"Milady, take this...!"
As she dashed, she snatched something white from Ronove's outstretched hand. There was no longer anyone blocking her path to Erika...!! However, that instant, a golden thread came from in front of her and rapidly sewed through the red carpet towards her like a sewing machine!
"Firing radar targeted. Data link to 410!!"
410 was clever. She had predicted that Virgilia would go for a spirit particle attack... and had folded over her ears and 45's beforehand. So, they were the only ones that weren't taken out.
Once again, the golden sewing thread chased after Beato, weaving like a sewing machine. It was as though an undulating golden snake was shooting after her.
"Impudence...!! You try to delay my precious showdown with Erika...?!"
Beato jumped sideways away from the red carpet, then dashed across the long table covered with beautiful food. The gold snake chased her, sewing through the pure white tablecloth like a sewing machine and scattering dishes left and right...! The goat attendants ran about wildly, trying to escape. The cathedral was wrapped in pandemonium.
"...I can't believe some of those rabbits evaded the spirit particle attack...!"
"This is bad. If they take up that position, there's nothing we can do...!"
The pair of snipers, attacking from high above on the chandelier, were much further away than Erika was--too far for Beato to reach. Furthermore, their position landed the entire cathedral inside their range of fire!
"...Too bad nyeh, Beatrice-samaaa. The trials of love are harsh nyeh! 45, new magazine!!"
Gaap handed her the magazine. 45 always handed them over backwards, so 410 was a bit confused to have one handed to her the right way up...?!?!
"Nyeh?! Nyeh nyeh nyeh, let go, nyeh nyeh nyeh!!"
No matter how distant a position they might take, it was no problem for the elusive Gaap. Gaap twisted their long ears up, then tickled them with her thumbs. The Chiester's greatest weapon was also their greatest weakness. The two doubled over with laughter.
"...I've handled these two, but how many seconds do we have? The other Chiesters will be reactivating..."
On the other chandeliers, even more powerful Chiesters were slowly starting to move again... It would be impossible to buy any more time.
"Ah, Gaap! Thanks, I'm in your debt!!"
"Don't forget to thank these guys too."
"Beato-, good luuuuuck, hang in theeeeere!!"
"You don't have much time!!"
Beato cut through the crowd of scampering goats like Moses. Her goal was straight in front of her. The place were Erika and Battler were seated...! At that time, a red barrier was created, blocking her path. It was the VIP-guarding barrier that Gertrude had set up. She stepped forward and laid out a last line of defense to block Beato's way.
"You think a wall like that can stop meeeeeeeeeeeeee?!!"
"How long until the Chiesters REACTIVATE?"
"W, within 30 seconds..."
As the oldest of the Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Lucifer stood in waiting behind the bride and groom. She wanted to save Beato. If she could just distract Gertrude for a moment, the wall would disappear... However, the Seven Sisters were furniture. They served the territory lord. So, they couldn't move to help Beato...
Dlanor glanced over at Lucifer. There was a coercive tint to her eyes.
"...You are not allowed to move except by the orders of your MASTER."
"Who's our master...?!"
"It's Erika now, idiot...!"
"No, our master is Battler-sama!"
"True. Erika only speaks on his behalf."
"That's right, big sister! Whose furniture are we?!"
"It's just too delicious... let's eat!!"
The red, absolute barrier flickered for just an instant. Beelzebub's stake had pierced Gertrude's shoulder, and her concentration had wavered. But it didn't break. Slowly and expressionlessly, Gertrude turned to look at Lucifer.
"...By whose orders? Know that Lady Erika has made no such order."
"We do have orders. Th, the orders of our master!!"
"How can a master who cannot speak give orders...?"
"Then, it cannot be helped."
The seven stakes shot at Gertrude at once. Gertrude had chosen to take all of those direct attacks, refusing to abandon the barrier until the last moment. Though she was resilient enough to be called a literal iron maiden and received no damage at all, it was more than enough to make her flinch and lose control of the barrier.
"Good work, my furniture!!!"
Beato shot through the scattered, red fragments of the barrier, and she was finally right in front of the bride, her rival, Erika...
However, there stood the final shield protecting Erika. Death Sentence Dlanor!!
"Chiester 17, data link to <All Chiesters>. Incoming data from Archangel Satellite. Homing Format, Verdict-Model Conceptual Guidance."
"Chiester 20, reactivation complete."
"Chiester 127, reactivation complete."
"Nihhihihihihi... Time's up nyeh."
"Nihhyahahaha!! Stop that, noooooooooo!!"
"...Riiche... good luck..."
"...Keh, D, Dlanor...!!"
"Back off, Dlanor A. Knox. This isn't your fight."
"...I have received a red truth denying you from Lady Bernkastel. I'm afraid that this will become your GRAVE...!"
I don't know what Bernkastel has allowed her to say. However, I don't need to sit around and let that longsword tell me.
"I'll play with you all you want later. But for now, back off!"
There's no time. The Chiesters have already finished reactivating. I'm only living on a bit of borrowed time.
Dlanor's red longsword cut a large arc of absolute denial, which headed right for the crown of Beato's head. However, in that instant, there was *thunk*, and the curve missed slightly. Beato didn't let this good fortune go to waste. She slipped past the longsword, knocked Dlanor aside, and finally stood right in front of Erika...! This time, not a single person stood in her way!
The commotion... quieted... However, no one... shot.
...Why...? They could have shot if they had wanted to. All of the Chiester troops had completely targeted her and removed their safeties. Of course, all of them had finished reactivating. However, they hesitated to pull the trigger.
"Wh, why aren't they shooting?! Let the ceremony guards immediately...!"
"...W, WAIT. L, look at THAT..."
Dlanor's expression grew grim. Then, she quietly... put her red longsword away... After all, Erika would have to make a decision. If she decided to ignore it, they could shoot to kill. However, if Erika picked that up, they must not do so. So, they couldn't pull the triggers until Erika decided...
BGM: Grey Empty Smile
"Look closely. See what Beato just threw at Erika?"
Lambdadelta pointed, still chomping down popcorn. It was hard to see from the balcony. Beato had thrown something like a white handkerchief at Erika. It had fallen to Erika's feet. What was that white thing...?
"...She really knows, that girl. She knows what it means to be the main character."