Part 101: Tea Party
BGM: Organ Short #600 Million in C Minor
"...I searched all over the place for a piece fitting for a game with you. I was sure you'd like it."
"What's with that piece?! Who was that person, who was it?! She didn't say her name! That's mean!! Hey, don't you think so too?!"
"...I have a general idea. Or rather, I imagine most people would've figured it out."
"Most people?! Well I don't get it, and it was that character's first appearance, wasn't it?! If she doesn't say her name, I won't understand, the players won't understand, no one will understand, right?!"
"...Beato, don't bother telling her. See? Isn't she a funny kid?"
"I-Indeed. Lady Lambdadelta's innocent airhead side is truly precious and amusing. *cackle*cackle*!"
"Come on, come on, why won't you tell only me, you meanie?!! In exchange, I'll teach you a special secret that only I know! So tell me!"
"...Hoh. A special secret, you say?! I want to hear, I want to hear...!"
"Bleah! If you want me to tell you, first tell me who that girl really was! The secret I know sure is awesome! After all, it's about as awesome as knowing that Santa-san is actually daddy! Huh? *giggle*! I said it☆ Sorry, I'll bet you're so shocked that it turned your world upside-down, right?! Ohohohohoh!"
"...So, your father was the one who came to your place, Lambda?"
"He came... wait, what do you me-an?"
"Well, Lord Santa Claus is gracious. Unless you're a reeeally bad scoundrel, he'll give you a present. After all, he even gave them to me!"
"...As you grow and your heart is hardened, he stops coming, doesn't he? How old were you, Beato, when he stopped coming?"
"Indeed. He kept coming until I was about 12. When my maiden's heart awoke, I quickly got somewhat embarrassed about Lord Santa coming."
"After I wrote 'Thanks for everything, that's enough, so make sure you splurge on the last set of presents', he stopped coming. Oooh, and I was looking forward to it too! How old were you when he stopped coming, Lady Bernkastel?"
"...I was pretty wild. It happened fairly early. I think when I was about 9. Something about that beard really irritated me, so I waited in my futon with some sewing scissors ready, trying to cut it off. What a painful age."
"So, as far back as Lady Lambdadelta can remember, Lord Santa Claus never came to see her, huh? He usually comes until the last year of elementary school or during middle school."
"...Maybe we should take her to a doctor. I hear that being too precocious can have negative side-effects on the growth of mind and body. Yeah, you can definitely see some of those. Those negative side-effects."
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*! Wahahahaha, it truly is boisterous when three witches gather!"
"...If you're talking about a secret on that level, I doubt this will be worth listening to. Can I go now? I have to get ready for the next game."
"What, hey, wait a sec! Tell me who that woman really was!!"
"...Well then, tell me this special secret of yours first. If it's good enough, then I'll tell you."
"Hohohohoh!! Okay, I'll tell you, 'cause it really is a special secret! Remember, in this game, there was a girl who found the gold and became the new witch, right?"
"Indeed. And just what kind of secret might that person have?"
"Ehheheheheh! I figured out who that girl really is. Does anyone know? *giggle*giggle*! There was a hint in the way she talked."
"She was actually... Ushiromiya Eva!! What do you think?! Are you shocked?! Ohohohohoh!!"
"Hoh...! I never noticed that! Muu, to think that there would be a hint in a place like that."
"...You're a real good sport, Beato. This kid tends to get full of herself, so try not to overdo it. See you, I'm leaving."
"Wait, wait! It's not fair if you just listen to my secret and don't tell me yours!! Tell me who she really was!!"
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh, don't say it!! I'm still playing i-t!!"
"...Ahhahahahahhahhahhahha... See you, Beato. The black tea was delicious. However, the repertoire of jam on the crackers was lacking. Add some gochujang chili paste every once in a while. It goes great with Russian tea. Later."
"Oh, I see. I shall try it. I'll call for some after preparing the next game. Until then, feel free to polish up your strategy at your leisure."
"Yes, I'll do that. This last game was pretty interesting. Later."
"He-y, wait a sec, tell me-!!!"
"...Yes, that's right. Oh, I really like you, Bernkastel. You could even say I love you. I want to gouge out your eyes so that you see no one other than me. Oh, that would be so wonderful. It'd be great to dunk them in black tea. Aha!"
"To think that you would be so entranced, Lady Lambdadelta. I have a serious responsibility. Still, this last game really was close! I was a breath away from getting Battler."
"...Beato, can I ask you something?"
"What is it? I won't tell you that girl's name. *cackle*cackle*!"
Lambdadelta threatened her with a low voice that she had never used in front of Bernkastel. It completely blew away the calm atmosphere that had been there until a moment ago.
"...You know I'm supporting you because you're supposed to be a witch who can win against Bernkastel. If you don't have the power to win against her, then I'll abandon you right away, okay...?"
"...How harsh of you. What about me dissatisfies you? As you know, my game board is perfect. Lady Bernkastel will never be able to win..."
"Yeah, that's right. Your board truly is impressive. It truly is an impressive and perfect game board that Bernkastel definitely won't be able to win in, not even after a hundred years, or even a thousand years."
"...That's why I made you a witch in exchange for letting me borrow it. If I stop being your guardian, you'll immediately go back to being a Human. Make sure you don't forget that, no matter how much incredible magical power you hold, you are nothing more than a temporary witch."
"...I-I understand. I'm grateful to you..."
"Don't speak so casually to me. I'll forgive that when Bernkastel's around, but not when she isn't. I'll bet you've started to forget how much you owe me."
"Th-That is... n-n-not so..."
"...Aah, you really are disgusting. Go ahead and talk the way you usually do. But be mindful of what you say. I have a surprisingly short temper, you see?"
"Let's get back to what we were discussing. Your game board truly is perfect. You should be able to defeat Bernkastel without any trouble... But that kid won't surrender easily. She'll challenge you over and over."
"That is no problem. It has been certified by you, Lady Lambdadelta. My game board is perfect."
"...What do you mean by that...?"
"What do I mean? That's what I want to hear. You play around a lot in your game. Sometimes, that ends up confusing Bernkastel, so at first I thought it was some special strategy of yours."
"...But I get the feeling that's not quite true. Rather than toying with the opponent in a match you can win, you don't actually care whether you win or lose, right?"
"R-Ridiculous... How could that be...?"
"You know what? Your role is to make Bernkastel surrender. In other words, that means being the victor in this game for all eternity. As long as you keep trying to become the victor 'with certainty', then I'll give you my power as the Witch of Certainty. However."
"If you fight in a way that doesn't eliminate any possibility of your loss, that's a different story."
"Of course, this is a game... Just as Lady Bernkastel will lose when I win, I will sometimes lose when she wins. The possibility of loss always exists. Therefore, I will-"
"...What's the role of a bird cage? Making certain the little bird inside never escapes. What's a bird cage worth if it has cracks that sometimes let a bird out?"
"...O-Of course, games exist for the purpose of winning. And it is impossible for me to lose. Therefore, I will continue to win... As you wish, for all eternity..."
"Good answer, that'll be fine. I'll allow you to play around and use fakes as part of your tactics. It ended up being useful during parts of this round. But you know what? If you make a move hoping for anything else other than victory, make sure you're prepared for something amazing, okay?"
"I-I will not do such a thing... I swear it...!"
"...Because originally, you weren't even a witch, and at any time, I'll remind you what a truly shabby creature you were. If you betray my expectations, that is. As soon as you do, you can look forward to a fun, fun punishment game."
"...In the world of billions of Fragments, I'll send you into the most miserable one and seal you there. You were already miserable to start with, so there's gonna be some reeeally miserable Fragments out there for the picking. *giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*."