Part 145: Ushiromiya Ange
It wasn't white. It was a gold color as bright as can be.
However, the flowers on the roses were all gold. The nectar was also gold-colored. The butterflies gathered there were gold as well.
This is... the Golden Land... The promised land that the witches of Mariage Sorcière had finally been guided to... There, all wishes are granted, and all magic and dreams are born.
I appeared as an uninvited guest, making that atmosphere tremble with unrest. What was to them a wind of misfortune shook the golden roses. The incredibly beautiful scene formed by the golden rose petals scattered by the wind... was clearly something not of this world...
The two who had been taking a walk on a path of golden roses noticed me and were surprised.
"...How did you get here...? Leave us alone. I shall no longer invite anyone here."
Beato spoke coldly. She seemed like a completely different person from the boldly sneering woman she had once been. She had closed off her heart... and shut herself up in a world where she was alone with Maria onee-chan. A world where she could always be alone with a friendly Maria onee-chan, lecturing about magic while drinking tea. With no one to hurry them... and nothing to hold them back. A world where not a single person who might hurt them existed.
Yes, to the two of them, it was a small, perfect universe...
"...Sorry. I can't have you shutting yourself up in here. We can't continue the game unless you come back."
"I said I stopped because I'd tired of it. I will not return to the game again."
"...Beato will always be here with me. Here, we'll drink tea together and think of lots of ways to play...! You can play with us too, Ange."
"...MARIA, I believe I said that mustn't happen. I am satisfied as long as I have you alone."
"Say that you too are satisfied as long as you have me."
"...Yeah... Thank you. The only person who needs me that much is you, Beato. So, I'll be with you. Just us is enough."
"...MARIA, thanks... I am grateful..."
Beato held Maria tight, even creating a small, warm universe between their joined arms... It was probably the birth of the smallest universe in the world. The smallest universe in the world, which a pair who needed each other could give birth to... No matter how small it was, it was a complete world.
...But, I had to tear it apart...
"...Why... are you going to break... my world...? A-Are you saying that this world is causing anyone other than Maria and me trouble...?!"
"You've left Onii-chan waiting all this time... in a game you started and then abandoned without finishing! If you don't return to your seat, the contest won't end for all eternity...!!"
"...Hahahahaha, ha...! There is no longer a single player in that game. Battler vanished, and I did as well, coming here. That game is already over."
"It isn't over! You started the game, right?!! Take responsibility and see it through to the very end! Will you defeat Battler and give birth to the world you truly wished for?! Or will you be defeated and everything swallowed up by your magic released?!! Take responsibility until the very end!!"
"...Don't, Ange. Beato will spend her time in this world, alone with me for eternity. And I don't need anything else, as long as I have Beato. Here, all wishes are granted. Everything is here."
...This Golden Land is made up of nothing more than the crystallization of Beatrice's and Maria onee-chan's thoughts. To drag Beato out of this world, I'm going to have to... destroy it... I will destroy this Golden Land, which must be a final, peaceful world in Beatrice's eyes...
"Onee-chan, that's wrong. This Golden Land is a liar. It won't grant the one wish you truly want granted."
"...That's not true!! Anything can be granted here! Look, there's even a nice Mama here!!"
After smiling sweetly at me, it became golden petals and crumbled.
"Here, anything can be created. Even Ange, even Battler, even George onii-chan, even Jessica onee-chan...!!"
"You can summon as many as you want, and everyone is nice...!! You come too, Ange, and let's play together...!!"
Upon hearing Sakutarou's name, Onee-chan looked like she was choking.
"Stop it... Do not speak that name..."
Beato's expression changed as well. And she hugged Maria, guarding her shoulders. Sakutarou's name was still taboo for Onee-chan.
"Why can't I say it? It's the name of Maria onee-chan's best friend."
"Why won't you invite that close friend to this wonderful Golden Land? Why, in this Golden Land where any wish can be granted, is Sakutarou the only one you cannot summon?"
"Th-That is... It's all right, MARIA. You don't have to remember Sakutarou-"
Maria onee-chan flew into a rage with a terrible expression on her face. Surprised by that voice, the butterflies throughout the garden flew up, blowing around like a typhoon of flower petals.
"Yes, I know. Aunt Rosa... took your precious stuffed animal, Sakutarou, and tore him apart...!!"
Maria's scream became a storm that violently scattered the golden petals and leaves. It truly was a storm of gold.
"Stop...!! Stop stop stop...!!! Why are you trying to reopen the wound in MARIA's heart...?! Don't defile the sleep of this precious friend to both Maria and myself...!!"
"In that case, why don't you revive that precious friend for her with your magic?"
"I'd do it if I could...!! But that stuffed animal was an article Rosa created herself! The magical meaning of that individual object being torn apart is-"
"Don't try to fool anyone. Why can't you revive Sakutarou? There's only one answer. It's because you aren't a real witch!"
"...I can revive him...!! With my magic, I can revive him as often as I want, like this!! I could even bury this garden in Sakutarous...!!"
"Yeah, I'll bet you could, with your magic! But Onee-chan definitely wouldn't be able to see the Sakutarous you create!"
"...You know why, right? I'll say it again. It's because you aren't a real witch...!!"
"Stop iiiiiiiiiit!! Why do you keep saying such mean things, Ange...?! Beato can use a lot of magic...! She's a wonderful witch...!! She couldn't revive just Sakutaro, but she can do absolutely anything else...!! So, I can at least... do without... Sakutaro..."
"No, Onee-chan, that's wrong. There's nothing a witch can't do. As soon as she couldn't do that, it was clear that Beatrice wasn't a real witch."
"Th-That's wrong...!! It's because Sakutaro's stuffed animal vessel was something Mama made specially herself, and-"
"And that's why she can't revive him? Is Beatrice's... your magic so inconvenient?"
"Gah, i-in that case, are you saying you can revive Sakutarou?! Are you saying you can do that with your magic?!"
"Maria onee-chan!! I'll show you some real magic. I'll revive Sakutarou for you!!"
"...R-Really...? Even Beatrice couldn't do it, right...? R-Really...?!"
"Yes, I can! In exchange, promise me. Once I've revived Sakutarou..."
"...Leave this Golden Land."
"I-I will not permit that...!! This world is MARIA's and mine!! If MARIA leaves, it will break...!!"
To drag out the witch shut away in the Golden Land, I'll have to destroy this world...!
"...Yes, that's the proof that you aren't a witch. A real witch can create a universe alone."
"The Mariage Sorcière Alliance of Witches! The very existence of this alliance proves that you aren't a witch...!!"
"N-No...!! I won't hand MARIA over...!! I hate you, leave right now...!! Get out of heeeeeeeeeeeere!!"
"Dragging everyone into a game of your own accord, then getting bored and chasing them out when your mood changes!! How selfish can you be?"
"Take a look, Beatrice!! And you, Maria onee-chan!! This... is true magic...!!!"
"...W-Will you really revive Sakutaro...?!"
"There's no way you can!! This is a Golden Land for Maria and me alone...! There is not a single spell that an outsider like you could use! As you are now, you couldn't even create a single butterfly!!"
"Be quiet, Beato!! Don't get in Ange's way...!!"
...The scene, as a massive number of golden petals that had been blown upwards quietly drifted down, was fantastical, as though a golden snow was falling... Maria, thinking about this unlikely, if-only miracle, had unconsciously joined her hands together as though praying.
Beato watched Maria do this, her heart racing. If the extremely unlikely were to happen, Maria would... this world would... But... it's unthinkable...!
Absolutely impossible... That stuffed animal, which had been the only one in the world, was torn apart and thrown away, and not a thread remained. Reviving it was certainly and absolutely impossible...!!
"...I-If you think you can do it, let's see what you've got, Ushiromiya Angeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!"
At Beato's scream-like cry, the world lost its sound. I slowly... recited the incantation... for true magic...
BGM: Soul of Soul
"Huh, ah, ah..."
...Expressions of shock rose to both of their faces. Then, pushing Beato's elbow aside, Maria dashed forward...
Then, she clung to us both.
"...It's all right. Sakutarou... isn't going to disappear..."
'Uryu. Maria, I'm home.'
"Sakutaro... Sakutaro... uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuu!! Sakutarooooooo, I wanted to see you... so much..."
It was, without a doubt, that stuffed animal lion... Sakutarou. Its softness, its texture, its stitches, its everything, Maria had forgotten. But, the instant she hugged that stuffed animal, it all came back to her vividly...
"Sakutaro, Sakutaro...!! Is your body all right? Does it hurt anywhere? Even though... something so horrible was done to you, are you all okay...?!"
'Uryu...! Ange revived me with magic, so I'm perfectly fine...!'
"Thank goodness, thank goodness... Welcome back, Sakutaro... Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!"
'From now on, I'll always be with you, Maria. Together for eternity. So, don't let go of me, okay...?'
"Yeah, won't let go... for all eternity..."
Then, still hugging Sakutarou, she looked up at me with tear-filled eyes...
"...Thank you, Ange...! Ange's magic is amazing... How? How can you revive Sakutarou?! When Beato couldn't do it...!"
"...How? How can a human other than me use magic in my Golden Land?!?! This is... completely impossible...!"
"What are you so flustered about, Beatrice? This is... magic, right?"
"There's no way it could!! That is a special stuffed animal! Made by Rosa for her daughter's birthday, and in the entire world, the only-"
"...Ah, nngg, aaah..."
"Nnngg, ooh, aah, aaahhh, aaaaaaaahhh..."
With this miracle that she couldn't possibly accept, Beato... understood all of my magic... She looked at Maria and Sakutarou innocently frolicking around, looked at me, and then... fell to her knees, with even her hands pressed to the ground... and cried.
"Beatrice...! This really is magic, right...?! It's magic, right?! Beatrice...!!!"
"...Indeed... It is magic... This is... real... magic..."
"Why can Ange use a magic that even Beato couldn't?! Why?! Why?! Ange's amazing, Ange's an amazing witch! A real witch who's much, much more amazing than me...!!!"
"Yeah, that's right, Onee-chan. I am the Witch of Resurrection, ANGE. There's nothing that can't be revived by me."
"Amazing, incredible!! Even Beato said that the magic of resurrection was the hardest!! ANGE's incredible!! A really real Great Witch...!!!"
As the two became a golden wind and swirled together, they left for some other peaceful place, not here. Beato had, as promised, banished Maria from the Golden Land.
"...Goodbye, Maria onee-chan. And... be happy forever. Don't worry, you definitely exist in Onee-chan's world too. But that isn't you."
"...Good for you, Maria... As your close friend... I celebrate this reunion... from the bottom of my heart..."
On Beato's face... was a mixture of what was probably every expression a human could muster. It was joy, anger, and sadness.
The ground shook. An earthquake. It gradually summoned greater and greater fissures... and began to tear Beatrice's final paradise apart. Golden butterflies fluttered about, trying to escape, but there was nowhere to escape to.
...And... Beatrice was the same. The Golden Land began to crumble away. The earth crumbled downwards like a floor falling through, and Beatrice was sucked into the depths of a jet-black darkness. Then, she was mercilessly slammed against a jet-black floor.
There was no door to exit by, and while there was a window, it let no light... into Beatrice's shadowy smoking room. Even though Beato was moaning from the pain of being slammed against that cold, hard floor, she shakily rose to her feet...
There was a seat there... And the game table, still just as it had been when she'd left it. The game board also remained in the same state that Beato had left it in.