Part 8: Sandy Beach
October 4th, 1986, 3:00 PM
There was a notebook inside the handbag Maria was always carrying around, and Beatrice's epitaph was copied onto it. Thanks to that, we were all able to challenge the puzzle of the epitaph while walking down this beach. Jessica and the rest had already tried to solve it several times, and had already gotten bored with it. However, since this was a first for me, I was so excited that I couldn't stop. It really tickled my man's sense of romance!
"Let's start with the first line. My beloved hometown, the sweetfish river running through it. Where was Grandfather's hometown again?"
"I heard that, before the war, the Ushiromiya family had a mansion near Odawara. So, that said, anyone would want to know about the sweetfish river that flows through Odawara, right?"
"Because that river would be the starting place. Anyone searching for the golden land would head down that and search for the key. What's the name of the river in Odawara? Does it have sweetfish swimming in it?"
"For sweetfish in Odawara, it'd be Hayakawa. It's famous for its mountain stream fishing."
"Uu-. Maria hates fi-sh."
"Ihihi, Maria, you'll understand when you get o~lder! Licklicklick salty roasted sweetfish! Yummy~! Even though we just ate, I'm getting hungry again."
"...Umm, shall I bring you a biscuit?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry. That's not what I meant, don't mind it!"
To the contrary, it seemed she was having fun joining in on the conversation with people of a similar age. When I asked, I heard that she was a live-in worker. So normally, the only person close in age to her was Jessica. I get it, that must be pretty wearisome.
"All right, so I get that the sweetfish-filled river near Odawara is Hayakawa. In that case, we have to go down it! Don't you find anything if you head down Hayakawa river?"
"Ummm, if you follow it downstream, you'll arrive in the ocean."
"Of course, you'd reach the mouth of the river! And then the third line of the epitaph was 'If you follow the river downstream, you will find a village.' By the way, since long ago, the mouths of rivers have been key points in transportation, and large cities tend to be built there. That would be the next checkpoint."
"Hmmmmmm. That's a pretty good theory. Just like you imagined, in ancient times, there was a very prosperous old city there. That's where Odawara castle is."
"Ah, I think I might have gone to Odawara castle on a field trip once. It really was a wonderful castle."
"Yes, I also went to Odawara castle. Even though I live in a western-style house, it sure is true that Japanese people feel calmer with Japanese style!"
"Uu-. To Maria, castle is bo-ring. Amusement parks are better. Uu-!"
"I see, I see. Alright, alright! If we find the gold, the great Battler-sama will generously reserve a whole theme park for a day and let you play in it~! Still, Odawara castle. The hidden gold of Odawara castle... Oho?! That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?!"
"Hahahahaha! Well, two years ago, we figured out that much. The village down the river where the sweetfish swim in Odawara. We figured that it was probably somewhere near Odawara castle. The problem is the next line. Alright, let's see where Battler's strange reasoning can take him."
Jessica grinned broadly. It was like she was saying that, if the puzzle could be solved so easily, she would have found it long ago.
...Damn it, I'll definitely find it and keep it all for myself!
"Huh?! Wow, you sure know a lot! So~, what does that mean? Shannon-chan, are you also after the gold, and trying to solve the riddle~? That makes us rivals!"
"I, it's not like I'm interested in gold... It's just that... George-sama told me about it before..."
"That's because we reached the same conclusion two years ago. We even went to the trouble of laying out a map and looking it up!"
"It was about five kilometers to the north of Odawara. We definitely found a place called Sogakishi there... However, after that, we don't know. The fifth line doesn't say where the key is hidden in that place. Maria-chan, could you read it for us?"
"...Uu-...There sleeps the... key to the Golden Land. Uu-! I could read it!"
"Sogakishi is probably large, and there wasn't ever any house built there by the Ushiromiya family. There are no hints as to where the key is hidden in this huge area, so this is where we give up."
"You're right... And without the key, we can't advance to the next line. George-aniki, what kind of place is Sogakishi?"
"Let's see... I've never been there, so I don't really know, but according to the map, it's in the mountains. I'm pretty sure it was at the base of Asama mountain."
"...Hmmmm. That's a little annoying. Couldn't a puzzle for the hiding place of a treasure be a little more exact? Anyways, I get the feeling that Sogakishi is definitely the right place."
"Well, I doubt it's Sogakishi. It could be talking about some house that Grandfather lived in when he was a kid that we don't know about. After all, the first line mentioned his beloved hometown. Shannon, you've fed a lot of sake to Grandfather, haven't you? Hasn't he ever told you about his hometown?"
"...The Master almost never speaks of his past. ...However, he speaks of the Great Kanto earthquake as though it was someone else's story, so he may have been living far away from the Kanto area."
"The Ushiromiya family may have been living in Odawara, but the branch family was not limited to that. Grandfather often called himself part of a branch of the branch family, the least connected to the successor."
"So that's what you mean! The beloved hometown might not even be Odawara at all..."
"I've never even asked about Grandfather's hometown. I doubt that I'd get an honest answer if I did."
"If the so-called beloved hometown isn't referring to the Ushiromiya family's roots, then the Odawara theory is wrong from the beginning. Of course, this doesn't remove any possibility that it was Sogakishi. For example, he could have lived in Odawara when he was very young, but then moved far away later."
"Uu-... I don't get what you're talking about. Uu-."
Maria had been completly left out of the conversation, and she now sat puffing out her cheeks in boredom.
"Ooh... I hadn't thought of that. Oh well, we're just wasting time anyway. Let's hear the rest of Battler's reasoning!"
"...But in the next part it quickly becomes disturbing..."
Shannon-chan frowned slightly. After looking back at Maria's notebook to recall what was written there... alright, I agree.
"At the first twilight, you shall lift up as sacrifice the six chosen by the key... It sure does get horrible quickly."
"At the second twilight, it says to tear apart the two who are close. Does that mean to make them break off their loving relationship? Or does it mean to literally tear them apart? I don't know, but either way, it's pretty disgusting."
"Even if we ignore the meaning of that second line, at the first twilight it's six people, and at the fourth through eighth twilights it's five people, so at least 11 people must become sacrifices."
"Uu-. Sacrifices to revive Beatrice!"
"...I see, sacrifices to restore the witch... That's what it would mean. As a result, the witch will be revived at the ninth twilight... That last part is guaranteed."
"...At the ninth twilight, the witch shall be revived and none shall be left alive. So, everyone will die in the end."
"And with that, the following tenth night becomes the goal. If everyone's dead, it'd be pretty hard to reach the Golden Land."
"...I'm not sure whether or not the traveler who holds the key would be included in the 'none shall be left to live' part."
"But at the end, something pretty interesting is written. The lines about how, after reaching the goal, the four treasures will be given by the witch. One shall be all the gold. The problem is the next one. It says the resurrection of the souls of all the dead, right? Doesn't it seem like this refers to everyone that died in the earlier lines?"
"...If you put it like that, the next one, the resurrection of the lost love part might be referring to the pair torn apart at the second twilight."
"That's right. And the fourth one refers to the ninth twilight. The fourth treasure is putting the witch, revived at the ninth twilight, to sleep."
"If we interpret that favorably, it'll be hectic with people dying and breaking up, but it will all be made well in the end. The awakened witch will once again sleep, and all that will be left is plenty of left-over gold."
"The witch must be busy killing, reviving, breaking up, and reuniting people."
"Not to mention waking up and sleeping. Hahahahaha."
"Oh well, just when the tale of the hidden gold was getting interesting, as soon as the witch's story is tied in, it quickly gets pretty shady."
"Too true. Ahahahahahaha!"
"Uu-! The witch is awesome! She can do anything with magic! Even kill. Even bring back to life. Even give love, even take it.Can fly in the sky, can become invisible, can even make gold and bread out of nothing! Uu-! Uu-! Uu-uu-uu-!!"
"Erk, oh no... My bad...it's just a joke!"
Jessica apologized, sticking out her tongue, but Maria didn't accept it. She grabbed her notebook back out of my hands and, opening to the other pages, tried to prove that the witch existed. Those pages had colored illustrations of witches drawn on them, and conveyed the fantastical image Maria had of witches well.
It was not the normal sinister image of a crooked-nose hag flying around on a broom, but a dreamlike person with unnatural powers that could do anything and wore a beautiful dress. It was just what you would expect from an imaginative young girl. Dancing in the sky, crossing a rainbow, dancing around all night with a teacup and a teapot that would never get empty no matter how much you poured out of it. With a flourish of her staff, the stars in the sky would become candy and pour down, and flowers that produced sweets would bud by the roadside.
...To Maria, a witch was a unique concept, an embodiment of the magical dream that so captivated her. As she grew up, this was the last thing that gave richness to her dull and plain everyday life.
That is why Maria believed in witches.
"To Maria-chan, this is not something that points to the hiding place of the gold, but magic to revive the witch."
So it was the single link between Maria and the witch. Maria was very angry and clung onto George-aniki. Jessica and I scratched our heads and apologized.
...It might not be possible to smooth things over again like the time she got mad in front of the portrait. Maria didn't want to be easily consoled. Unlike Jessica and I, who hung our heads wondering what we had done, Shannon-chan timidly opened her mouth.
"Umm... Maria-sama, did you know...? There is a ghost story about Beatrice that has been passed down amongst the servants."
"A, ah, yeah, that's right! Shannon, tell us about it. I don't really know, but it's apparently pretty famous amongst the servants."
"What is this? A ghost story?"
"Yes. It seems it's a story from before we were born. I also heard it from my mother."
"...Yes. It has been passed down since the mansion was built on this island. The servants of that time whispered that the mansion had two Masters, one of the Day and one of the Night."
The tale that Shannon told was just like a typical campfire ghost story. If there was a forest with a witch living inside it, then there's no reason the witch couldn't pay the mansion a visit. At some point, this ghost story naturally sprouted up between the servants.
"Uu-! See, she exists! Beatrice exists!!"
"Yeah, she exists. I remember often being unable to find my shoes before heading to school..."
Maria puffed out her chest with an 'uu-uu-' as though this was the final proof that the witch existed. If I opened my mouth, Maria would probably be hurt again, so I didn't. I mean, you hear that kind of story everywhere. Depending on the place, it might be blamed on a dwarf or an elf. It's just that, on this island, they call it the witch.
"In addition, some servants have also seen will‐o'‐the‐wisps and glittering butterflies dancing around. Kanon-kun also saw something like that when he went patrolling one night. And recently, the servants have been talking about strange footsteps inside the mansion near midnight. We have whispered together that the Beatrice-sama from the portrait sometimes makes herself invisible and walks through the mansion. It happened a long time ago, but I have also heard those kinds of footsteps while patrolling at night."
"...Whew. That's scary..."
"Ah, but, there's nothing to be afraid of, right? Beatrice-sama is another ruler of this mansion separate from the Master. Therefore, don't be strangely afraid. If you respect her, she won't do anything bad."
"However, it would be dreadful if you didn't respect her, right?"
"...Yes. I heard that, just before I began working, someone who spoke badly about Beatrice-sama fell down the stairs and quit after receiving a large injury to their back. Because of that, there was a rumor between the servants that Beatrice-sama's anger had been brought down upon this person..."
"Uu-... Anger will definitely be brought down on Battler and Jessica... Uu-..."
"I, I, I'm sorry! I don't want her anger brought down upon me! I apologize, Maria. Of course, I also apologize to the witch. I'm sorry, Beatrice-sama. Please forgive an outsider's nonsense."
"I'll apologize as well. I'm sorry, Beatrice-sama... Will the witch be able to forgive us now?"
"...Uu-. Don't know. The witch is fickle, so she forgives when she forgives, and doesn't forgive when she doesn't forgive. Uu-!"
"That's no good... Maria-chan, isn't there some kind of good luck charm that could prevent Battler-kun and Jessica-chan from having Beatrice-sama's anger brought down upon them? Some kind of amulet or something?"
By relying on Maria, who was proud at knowing the most about witches, George was able to revive her self-esteem. I was once again forced to admire his ability to comfort children.
Maria, seriously pondering and crossing her arms, began flipping through the pages of her handbook as if there were obviously some charm capable of protecting Jessica and myself from the witch's wrath. I had thought it was just a simple scribbled diary, but it turned out that there were also several pages that looked like they had come from a book on black magic. In the midst of those, several of what looked like magical circles had been copied and seriously compared to each other. In any case, it looks like that black magic hobby wasn't limited to Grandfather alone.
When she finally found what she was looking for, she vigorously closed the notebook with a snap and threw it into her handbag. She then began fishing through that bag's contents.
It seemed that various jumbled up things were in there. After a while, she took out various pieces of junk - although they were probably important magical items to Maria - and repeatedly threw them back in, saying they were wrong. It was all a little humorous, just like when Dora*mon took out the wrong tool.
Finally, it seemed that she had discovered what she was looking for. With a face unimaginably clearer than the difficult expression she had worn until now, she stuck 'them' out to Jessica and me.
I mean, you often find cheap accessories that correspond to the constellations. It felt like a gift that you might win in the crane game at an arcade. It really looked like something like that.
There were two. Probably one for me and one for Jessica. However, considering the odd fact that there were two of them, they looked like cheap manufactured goods, and it was quite hard to think of them as magical items.
I had inflamed Maria again because I said too much... Maria took out her notebook again, and while pointing out various pages, went on and on about how the scorpion had holy power, and that it had been drawn in magic-repelling magical circles since ancient times.
"...Ah, I've heard about that from some of the other young servants. Something about how the scorpion is drawn as a magic repelling symbol in sorcery..."
"Uu-! The scorpion protects against bad magic and misfortune. And emerald brings peace to the heart. Therefore, the effect is double! Uu-!"
"It's true. The scorpion wraps around the emerald and protects it. I see, that seems very useful."
I really wanted to make fun of this worthless looking charm, but as I watched Maria explaining the charm with all of her heart, and realized that she had prepared them out of consideration for us, it felt as though, even if it were just a prize from a game center, it would still be beneficial. The material quality of the charm wasn't important. The strength of her feelings was. Even I wouldn't plan on ruining everything by making fun of it.
"Okay, thank you. I apologized to Beatrice-sama, but, even in the worst case where I'm cursed, I'll be safe now thanks to Maria's charm. Right, Jessica?"
"Ah, that's right! Thank you, Maria."
"Uu-! Wear it on your arm when you want a peaceful heart. If you put it in your wallet, your money won't decrease! If you hang it from a doorknob, bad things can't get in! It's a really convenient charm!"
"What an incredible effect. If Maria-sama is confident in this charm and recommends it, I am sure it will be reliable."
As Shannon-chan clapped her hands together, Maria stuck out her chest. She was completely vigorous again. If it would keep her in this good of a mood, it would probably be worth it to let Maria lead the discussion for a while longer.
When you think about it, she hadn't shared in our excitement when we talked about the gold's hidden location, so I think she had gotten a little bored. While eating the cookies Kumasawa-san had baked, Jessica and I asked Maria this and that about black magic. Maria happily chatted away in response to our questions. For each one, George-aniki and Shannon-chan would act surprised and agree with everything she said.
The color of the clouds in the sky grew progressively heavier, but the cousins really enjoyed communicating freely after one year of separation...
As George-aniki rubbed his forehead, he looked up at the sky. Considering the color of the sky and the dampness of the air, it wouldn't have been odd for a raindrop to fall down. It also seemed like the wind had gotten a little stronger.
"Uu-? Maria didn't feel a drop. Only Maria didn't. Uu-!"
"Calm down, neither did I. Anyways, I'm sure that it'll rain so much tonight that everyone will get the same amount of raindrops."
"That's right. Maybe we should head back soon...?"
Shannon-chan looked down at her watch. It was already well into the evening.
"Is it already time for you to return to your work?"
"Yes. For allowing me to enjoy some time together with everyone, thank you very much."
"Tell Kumasawa-san thanks for the cookies. Alright everyone, help out with the cleanup."
Shannon-chan declined our help, saying that this was a servant's job, but picking up a dropped fork before the waitress has to is like my purpose in life. We folded up the blanket, gathered up the trash, and helped clean everything up.
"Uu-! The trash is getting awa-y! Uu-uu-!!"
"I won't let it get away. I'll take it before Maria does!"
"Uu-!! Maria will pick it up! Uu-uu-uu-!"
"Maria-! Don't get your shoes wet, you'll get in trouble-!"
To Maria, chasing after some trash that the strong winds had sent flying was just like another game. When we finished cleaning up, the wind had started blowing very strongly. It looked like a good chance to head back.
"Genji-san is very rigorous about time. If you aren't at the right place at the right time, he can be very strict."
"We'll see you later. Do your best with your work."
"Ye, yes! ...Then if you will excuse me."
After making a respectful bow, Shannon-chan ran over towards the rose garden.
"Okay, let's head back to the guesthouse. We can watch television or something and relax a little."
"Uu-! Watch TV! Watch TV, uu-!"
"Then it's decided. Let's head back and everyone can watch television together."
The wind had become very strong, and roses shook throughout the garden like ripples on the water. This might be our last chance to see these beautiful roses... Tonight's typhoon was sure to ruin them...
"These roses might be done in by tonight's winds."
"You're right. Don't you think the roses were lucky? After all, they got to welcome all of you before the typhoon."
"A flower will always lose its petals at some point. However, because of that, we can admire them even more when they are in bloom."
"That's right. Maria, burn this image into your eyes. At this moment, they are the best roses of the year."
"Uu-. Burned into eyes."
Right then, Maria suddenly clapped her hands. It looked like she had remembered something.
It seemed that Maria remembered where the rose was. She ran at full speed. The rest of us followed her.
"Where was that again...? I'm sure it was somewhere around here."
We searched everywhere around that area, but, after all, it was only a single flower amongst all of these roses. Even though we knew it was somewhere close by, we weren't able to find it. The winds that made up the front lines of the typhoon were making the roses throughout the garden undulate. It was almost like it was teasing us by making the location of Maria's rose impossible to find...
"Maybe it wasn't here... Let's try spreading out a bit in our search."
"Sounds good. Let's go for strength in numbers. Hm? What's up, Maria."
As we made to split up and search, Maria tugged on my jacket with an unhappy face. It felt like her intention was to stop us from going to another place.
"What is it, what happened?"
"...Uu-. Maria's rose is here. It's here...!"
"But it's actually not, is it...? Maybe it was on the other side of the flower bed. If we all look, we'll find it fast, right?"
...She had pointed out this spot and said it was definitely here, but it actually wasn't.
Having said that, Maria got mad when we went to go search elsewhere. We couldn't help but be puzzled. For a while, we would have to stay with Maria, and pretend to search through this rose thicket.
"...Uu-. Uu-...! Not here. Not here! Not here! Uuu--!!"
Maybe she's saying that it should be here but isn't. Maria became increasingly ill-tempered...
"...Oh man, Maria is really losing her temper."
"Maria sometimes starts to really care about really pointless things. If she gets what she wants, that's alright, but..."
"You can't find something that isn't there... That's not good..."
Just when we were at a loss as to what was going on, Maria raised a loud voice.
Video: The Missing Rose
Rosa: Ami Koshimizu.
In the direction she was waving her hand, aunt Rosa's figure was visible. Maybe she wanted to look at the garden one more time before the typhoon came, or maybe she had some business at the guesthouse. Aunt Rosa was coming from the mansion. She quickly noticed her daughter's voice and came over.
"We found an unhealthy rose around here and marked it."
"We wrapped a candy wrapper around it. But Maria, if I remember correctly, it was growing right in front and really stood out, didn't it? Unless it grew legs and ran off somewhere, it must have been somewhere else. Did Maria remember it wrong?"
"Uu-!! It is here!! It--is--here!! Battler doesn't believe! Uu-uu-!!"
"How many times do I have to tell you to stop saying 'uu-uu-' before you will understand! Mama will look for it, so stay quiet!!"
I was a little surprised to see aunt Rosa, who I had only ever seen as gentle, get angry. Aunt Rosa began searching as well, so we went along with her for the time being, but we were already more than sure that it wasn't around here. Therefore, aunt Rosa also soon realized that it wasn't here.
"The rose isn't here. Did you mistake this place for somewhere else? There are so many roses around,"
"Uu-!! Uuuu---!!! That's wrong!! It is here!! Mama doesn't believe! Uu-uu-uu-!!!"
"Didn't I believe you and look hard for it?! But it isn't here!"
"Uu-uu-!! But it is here!! It is here but it isn't!! Uu-uu-uu-!!"
"Then someone must have pulled it out! Anyways, stop saying that 'uu-uu'!!"
"Uu-uu-uu-!! Who pulled out Maria's rose, who did!! Give it back, give it back!! Uu-uu-!! Uu-uu-uu-uu-!!!"
"How should I know!! Stop it, stop saying 'uu-uu-'!!"
In that instant, Maria was shocked into silence. Of course, it was only for an instant. When Maria realized that her wish was being rejected before it could be fulfilled, she started yelling with an increasingly louder voice.
"Uu-uu-!! Uu-uu-uu-!! Maria's rose! Maria's rose!! Uu-uu-uu-uu-uu-uu-uu-!!!"
"Didn't I tell you to stop that weird habit!! That's why all of the kids in your class make fun of you!! Cut it out!!"
Once again, her palm slapped Maria's cheek. This time she didn't go silent. She choked as she started crying, and began to bawl in an increasingly louder voice... Aunt Rosa was clearly irritated, and lifted her hand once more to try and shut her daughter up...
I tried to cut in with a bitter smile, rubbing my hands together, but aunt Rosa threatened me with a serious face which told me not to butt in.
"I'm sorry, would Battler-kun and the rest of you return to your room? I need to have a little talk with Maria."
"Uu-uu-uu-!! Nobody believes in Maria's rose!! Even though it was here!! Uu-uu-!! Look for it!! Look--for--it!! Here, it was here!! Uu-uu-uu-uu-!!!"
"But it's not here!! Then did you confuse it with somewhere else?!"
"Uu-uu-uu-uu-!! It is here!! It is definitely here!! Uu-uu-uu-!!"
"Then it has disappeared!! Give it up!!"
"Why?! Why did it disappear? Why, why?! Uu-uu-uu-!!!"
"I don't know that!! So stop saying 'uu-uu-'!!
Aunt Rosa once again raised her hand and, overrun by emotions, slapped Maria's cheek. It was so strong, it knocked Maria over.
"H, hey... aunt Rosa, even if she is your daughter, you shouldn't be violent like that..."
I stepped between them to protect Maria, who was still on the ground, crying 'uu-uu-'. I knew that problems between parent and child were none of my business as an outsider. But I wasn't brought up to just silently observe something like this...
"Don't you think it's weird, Battler-kun? Do you have any girls at your school that mutter 'uu-uu-'?"
"Well, I am in high school... But for an elementary schooler, I think saying 'uu-uu-' is pretty cute..."
"Cute? Saying 'uu-uu-' is cute? Cute?!"
It seemed that my reckless words had brought aunt Rosa's wrath down upon me. She grabbed my collar with a terrifying expression...
"I told you, stop saying 'uu-uu-'!!! Didn't I tell you to stop it!!"
Aunt Rosa struck Maria's quivering head from which an increasingly unsatisfied voice was rising. I tried to stop it, but she thrust me away...
My back hit George-aniki.
"...A long time ago, Rosa-san also thought of it as nothing more than one of Maria-chan's baby words... but she is now midway through elementary school, and the fact that it hasn't been fixed has bothered her a lot recently..."
"It's not like it matters what kind of words she uses..."
"You can't grow up to be like that. Therefore, even though it's not a pleasant scene to watch... this is a problem between parent and child."
"...Well, I also often get in trouble from my mother about how I speak."
If you look at it that way, maybe an outsider shouldn't interfere with this even though it's painful to watch...
"Battler-kun, didn't you ever have any bad habits as a kid that you couldn't fix and got you in trouble?"
"...Well, one or two. On Parent's Day, I always got in trouble in front of everyone, and it was so embarrassing, I couldn't stand it."
"Well then, you can understand Maria-chan's feelings right now. I'm sure she doesn't want us to be here now. Do you understand as well, Jessica-chan?"
"...I don't think anyone likes to be seen when they're being punished."
"Let's go. Let's return to the guesthouse. Then, after Maria-chan comes back, let's welcome her as if nothing happened. That's probably for the best, isn't it?"
Jessica and I nodded at George-aniki, and we all left. We called towards Maria that we were going to head to the guesthouse, but since it didn't seem to reach her ears, we also had shamelessly guilty consciences...
Maria probably viewed that as a cold gesture meant to injure. But from Rosa's perspective, that was not her intention. It was because the hand which she had so emotionally struck Maria's cheek with was still numb. It was because, if she stayed there screaming, she might again be taken over by her emotions and continue slapping her daughter's cheek over and over.
After Rosa left, only Maria was left alone in the rose garden. The wind began to blow stronger and stronger, and every once in a while, a raindrop would fall on her forehead. However, Maria couldn't leave that place. Not until she found that poor, withering rose. It had definitely been there. Even so, it wasn't. Even though she knew the place and even though it had been there, it wasn't.
Maria, while bitterly staring at the place it was supposed to be, thought frantically. Maybe the angle I'm looking from is wrong. Maybe the height I'm looking from is wrong. While gazing at a single point, Maria repeatedly stood up, changed her position and continued to stare.
Kinzo, as if being summoned by the sound of the rain, approached the window. The sound of the rain is a sound of silence. That sound feels quieter than any silence and makes humans remember that, in the end, they are alone from when they are born to when they die.
BGM: Witch in Gold
"...So, shall we start? Let us begin banquet of miracles of ours. Even now this island has been cut off from the world. Now there is no one who can interrupt my ceremony. There are many fitting sacrifices for you. Four of my children. Three of their companions. Four of my grandchildren. Me and my guests and my servants! You may eat up as many as you please. The key of fate will obey the roulette of demons and choose the sacrifices. If that roulette chooses me, even I will become your sacrifice. However, because of that... because I will bet on that madness, I will definitely create a grand miracle."
As Kinzo violently opened the window, he ripped off a golden ring stuck to his finger and forcefully threw it away. At that time, thunder resounded, giving the illusion that the lightning had accepted the ring.