Part 93: New Days II
...As I gazed at the ceiling from the bed in my dorm room, I looked at my hands. I couldn't sleep. The excitement from the time those keys danced was still there in my fingers...
Is this... how Beatrice... how witches... always feel?
...I have a friend who's a witch, called Beatrice. She always used to pull pranks on me with her strange magic. Because I saw this all the time, I thought I knew what magic was. But today... She had possessed my body and used magic with it. The sensation of magic that I finally felt at that time... still held my heart entranced. It was a completely unknown pleasure. Because... By moving my fingertips, I could make the key dance as I wished. It was a strange, strange miracle of magic, something humans could not do. I still couldn't let go of that excitement...
Video: World Modification
Shannon was still awake. Shannon is always early to bed, early to rise. By getting to bed early, all of her weariness disappears by the next day. She lives a model life, one that all servants should respect and admire. If I want to become a loved, respected servant like Shannon, I'll need to act that way too. However, I wasn't confident that I could do that anymore.
"I guess... I can't become like you after all."
"...What do you mean? This is a bit abrupt."
"You were my ideal. Always."
"Everyone in the Fukuin House loves you and is kind to you. Since you always played with me, you're the only friend I've ever had. And you're also a wonderful servant, who can carry out any task in the Ushiromiya mansion both flawlessly and gracefully. You were the target I longed to reach. That's... what you were to me."
"Yeah. Let's give it our all together. As they say, perseverance prevails. Everyone will grow to acknowledge you more and more. So let's aim to become wonderful servants together."
"...I'm... gonna stop being a servant."
Starting here, Yasu's lines are finally voiced.
"Wh, what do you... mean by witch...?"
"I did... and still do... wish I could be a servant loved and relied upon by everybody. But right now, I want to be a witch... even more."
"Well, that's... ummm... huh...?"
Shannon was confused. It was hardly surprising. All this about quitting as a servant was at least understandable. But she didn't know how to answer after hearing that her roommate wanted to become a witch...
"A witch. Beatrice. You see, today, Beatrice possessed me and used my body to do magic. That unknown world felt so... thrilling. It was much more thrilling than the time I learned that I'd been selected as an Ushiromiya family servant. It was like learning about a new world. As though I'd been living in a world of darkness all my life and thought I knew what the world was like, then finally learned what light was and saw the world for the first time. It was... joy. Excitement."
At that time, Beato had only used my fingers, made a key ring dance, and turned a key into a butterfly before hiding it in a locker. But I had understood it with my body. If I had moved my fingers a different way, the ring could have flown into the air instead of just dancing, and I could have turned it into a scurrying lizard instead of a butterfly. I could have done anything. True, Beatrice's magical power was still weak. It had all happened in the little world behind the backs of the servants filled with the anti-magic toxin. However, inside that tiny, short-lived world, I could do anything at all. Beato just happened to settle on making them dance and turning the key into a butterfly. But if she wanted to, she could have done anything else!
Could it be that, along with that sensation, a fragment of that magical power might also remain...?
I can tell. It's still there. There's still just a bit of it there, along with that sensation. I can do it. I can still... do it...
BGM: L&D Circulation
When I slowly opened them, I could see a single dot that sparkled gold.
Shannon didn't know what the light meant. How could light appear from the palm of my hands? And yet, even with this miracle right in front of her, she couldn't understand what it was. She just sat there with her mouth open in disbelief. However, to me, this was just the return of that bit of sensation in my fingertips.
The golden dot... spread out... and became a small, gold butterfly. It flapped its wings and scattered gold sparks about like a cartoon fairy. To Shannon, it probably just looked as though a gold butterfly was flapping its wings. Of course, that alone was a miracle that she could hardly grasp. But to me, it was like a remote-control plane in the shape of a butterfly. I could control that gold butterfly however I wanted. Not clumsily with threads. I could make it flap, dance, play through the air as I wished. I was taking a walk through the air as that little butterfly.
The golden glint of it pierced the darkness of the small room as it danced about freely. It was an entrancing pleasure. However, that sensation in my fingers began to weaken. I could tell that the few magic butterfly scales left in my fingers were going away. Finally, the gold butterfly flashed and turned to dust like a firework run out of juice, falling down and disappearing without a trace...
"This is magic. It's really fun."
"Yeah. Magic. There was still some magic left in my fingers, so I just managed to use it. But if I became a real witch, I'd be able to use it whenever and however I wanted... to do anything. Now that I've learned how fun this can be, I don't want to go back to being human. Being a servant is just too boring. So, I'm going to become a witch."
"B, become a witch... w, wait...!"
"I've already made my decision, Shannon. It's been fun. I'll give you this room. You can use it by yourself. Later. Goodbye."
As Shannon called out repeatedly for me to wait, a massive planetarium swallowed me up. In the sea of the pitch-black starry sky, I was alone. I... we... are alone here.
BGM: Terminal Entrance
"...Hmm. Understood. In that case, what will you do?"
"Being a wonderful servant like Shannon wouldn't be bad. But now that I know how fun it is to be a witch, that feels like a boring dream. I can't go back anymore."
"What will happen to Shannon?"
"...Shannon can just be Shannon, and stay as a respected servant. She'll stay the same. But from now on, it won't be the two of us together, but her alone."
"That seems a sudden farewell. Ah, well. Being fickle makes life more entertaining. And what will you do?"
"I want to become a witch. I want to become Beato."
"But I am already Beatrice."
"You'll still be a witch and my friend. I'm modifying the world so that Beato is me."
"So, I'll be a witch who is a friend of Beatrice?"
"Pretty much. So, from now on, you're a different witch."
"I understand. Then, what will be my new name?"
"...I'll put that on hold until I can think of one. You'll be nameless for a while. Sorry about that."
"No problem, no problem. This is my precious name we're talking about. You'd better take your time and think carefully about it. *cackle*."
"You've been Beatrice's friend since she was young and couldn't use magic yet. When we first knew each other, you'd always hide my things and make fun of me."
"I see. And when Beatrice finally learns magic, I become a friend on an equal footing with her. So, I should act like a big sister sort of friend."
"Yeah, like that. What should we do about how we talk?"
"It seems that 'warawa' has become pretty much set as the way Beatrice refers to herself. Should I give that to you too?"
"Yeah. That 'warawa' will be mine."
"Hmm, very well. Then I(warawa mo)...no, it's not I(warawa wa) anymore. Then I(watashi wa) need to find a good way to sound like Beatrice's big sister-like witch friend."
"Yeah. Or should it be... very well."
"Ahahahaha. Now there's a nice, dignified voice."
" I (watashi) ...no... And what of my (warawa) appearance?"
"Good point. I've got a sort of blood-red witch look. Why not choose a different color for yourself?"
"...When Beatrice wanders the mansion at night, she is often seen dressed in white."
"Of course, ghosts are classically white."
"A witch... in a white dress... Let's try putting it all together."
I need a different look than the witch in the demon-red dress. A white, noble witch. Unlike the time with the red witch, I'm thinking about my own look now, so I'd like to make it beautiful and cute if I can. A white dress. A noble look. Like one of noble blood, but with a dark, sarcastic streak... No, she's like a tomboy princess, so her voice is a mix of formality and rudeness. Then the dress should be the exact opposite to make a nice contrast...
"Is this the form of the new Beatrice?!"
"How beautiful! Just like a noble princess!"
"Hmmm... I've taken a liking to this form. Not bad at all."
"...Looking good. That's wonderful, Beato."
"Hmm. I like it. I truly do like this form..."
"Now, if you can keep this up and give me a wonderful name, that'd be great. If I have to go around nameless for too long, I'll get all sulky."
"Fear not, I shall find you a splendid name! But first, there is something I must consider, what shall be the form of my magic?!"
"Hiding objects and transporting them instantaneously is your theme. So, I must think of my own particular theme of magic. When I use magic, gold butterflies will flit about. I'm not backing down on that part...!"
"*giggle*. Splendid. Just perfect for the Golden Witch. Then the weaknesses such as spiderwebs and the sacred mirror in the shrine will also go to you?"
"Very well. Even an all-powerful witch needs a few small weaknesses to keep things interesting. Then let us do it like so. If I touch a spiderweb, it will burn me."
Silently, a silvery spider dropped down vertically. Beato, now in her new form, lightly touched the silver spiderweb that trailed out behind it. As she did, there was a faint sound of flesh burning, and a thin burn was left across her fingers. Beatrice can't stand spiderwebs. That was one of the weaknesses of the evil spirits Kumasawa-san spoke of. Since the witch Beatrice had revived thanks to the power of those evil spirits, she also inherited their weaknesses. So, the sacred mirror is also one of her weaknesses. However, that sacred mirror in the shrine isn't too likely to appear in front of me often. That's not so fun.
"...Then, while mirrors with sacred power will obviously be a weakness, let us make mirrors themselves a weakness too."
"You often hear that mirrors have magical powers. Isn't that nice? Sounds just like a witch."
"If I look at a mirror, it feels as though my magical power is being sucked out, so I try to avoid it. Hmm, it sounds quite entertaining."
...If I really think about it, I'll be bad with mirrors whether I make that rule or not.
Mirrors, which will always force me to face my shabby reality, are something I always want to avoid. That's right. I hate mirrors. I don't want to see my pitiful self.
"You don't need to decide everything at once. It's fun to build up a world one little bit at a time."
"True. I understand. I shall enjoy life as a witch as I slowly expand my world."
"That tiny, dark room is no place for you to sleep now."
"Indeed. I am the Golden Witch! I am the ruler of Rokkenjima's night, and the nighttime mansion belongs to me. That is where I should be living, is it not?"
"A room for Beatrice? Haha, isn't it obvious?!"
"Yeah, that's right! That wonderful room on the second floor of the mansion..."
"The VIP room of the witch just has to be Beatrice's room!"
"Oh, that's right. From this evening forward, that room in the nighttime mansion shall be my dwelling place...! Why didn't I think of that myself, hahaha, hehahahahahahahaha...!!"
"Then let's go, Beato. If we're going to drink tea together, we'll need a much better room than that cramped one."
"Indeed. That room is too crude to welcome friends to and serve tea in. We shall change rooms. Let us go, my friend...!"
"...So, this is goodbye to Shannon."
When I looked at my feet, I could see my own dorm room far beneath me. I could see Shannon, who had dashed up to the bed I lay on and had been saying 'wait' at the moment time froze. She was as rigid as a doll. Looking down at it from this height, it really did look like a small dollhouse...
...I was your only close friend too, wasn't I? Please forgive me for erasing that friend so suddenly. As a parting gift, I will erase 'me' from your world. Starting now, this will not be a two-person room. It will be a single-person room, with just you in it. I hope you continue to strive for your ideal and try to become a kind, reliable servant loved by everyone. Yasu, the stupid, clumsy servant who lost things all the time, doesn't exist anymore.
So long, Shannon. When I mature as the witch Beatrice and stride through the nighttime mansion where I will, I may bump into you as you do your nighttime rounds. However, when I meet you again, it will not be a reunion. It will be our first meeting. After all, though you have heard the rumors about the witch Beatrice, you have never met her...
So long, Shannon. Let us meet again sometime and spin up some fun tale...
...What... was I doing...? Was I... talking in my sleep...?
Apparently, I had gotten out of bed, stretched my hand out towards it, and said 'wait'. This isn't the first time I've woken up to find myself saying something strange, but... I don't remember ever waking up to find myself out of bed and standing up. Could this be what they call... sleepwalking...? Am I just tired...?
...Gotta sleep. Gotta get back to sleep. I turned around to face my bed.
If I'm the only one in this room, and the only bed is the one behind me, that must mean it's my bed. That feels wrong, for some reason. The bed sheets are all disarranged, as though someone had slipped out of them. Who did...?
This is a single-person room with me in it, right? So, that there is my bed, and the traces of someone crawling out... mean that I was just sleeping there until a second ago...? But, for some reason... that bed... doesn't feel like my bed. However, though all the other kids shared rooms, I, Shannon, was given a single-person room. So, there's only one bed. And it must be mine.
I must just be half-asleep. School starts early tomorrow morning. And, when school ends, I want to go to the mansion, help out with some work, and talk to Kumasawa-san about the mystery novel I just read.
"Time to sleep. I'm probably just so worn out that I'm imagining things. Goodnight, Shannon. Just crawl in bed and close your eyes... and you won't have to think about anything complicated..."
I went back into my bed. It felt a bit uncomfortable to crawl into a bed that wasn't mine. Still, it might just be because I'm getting so sleepy, but it's starting to feel as though this is my bed after all. I'm just half-asleep...
I mess up from time to time, but I want to become a kind servant whom everyone loves...
BGM: Golden Nocturne
From this night forth, I am Beatrice! The Golden Witch Beatrice, who has lived for a thousand years! Praise me, servants. Have fear when you are chosen for the night shift! On the nighttime island, the mansion is my place, and that is my time...!
Oh, I am one yet many! Yes, let our world swallow up everything. It is like the raging seas!
Well now, let us drink the mysterious moon dry tonight, with this human book as a side dish!
Don't make me laugh! With all these holes and weak points, you call this a crime impossible for humans?! Is there no splendid closed room magic that can do my name justice? Oh, not here, not here, not there, not there either... all of them pathetic! It's enough to make one giggle, but which is the side dish, the moon or the book?! If I get tired of mystery, I can change myself into a butterfly! I can flit about the island, the mansion, the vast forest at will. I'll follow those cowardly servants as they do their nighttime rounds, and when they check to see that a window is locked, they'll see me laughing at them in the reflection on the glass!
I can be fickle, and do as I please! Pranks at night will probably be a lot of fun. Okay, I've decided. Let's play like that starting tonight! *cackle*cackle*, how pleasurable! Tonight will truly be pleasurable! In the world of witches, the only limits to your fun are the limits of your imagination! My imagination shall become the source of my magical power! So, very well, it shall be fun! I shall expand it infinitely. And let it swallow the whole island. The island's night will be all mine!! Oh, how refined and pleasant are the days of a witch!
Oh, I am one yet many! Kihahahahahahhha, hyahhaha!!