Part 44: Halloween
In that case, I want it to be the sound of blood flowing through the body. I want it to be the sound of the blood circulating throughout my body, telling me that I am still alive...
The light entering through a crack in the curtain was faint, but it at least told him that dawn had broken. Kinzo, still acting like one who has just woken up, still sitting in a chair and looking up at the ceiling..., felt the blood slowly travel throughout his body...
...Judging by the clock, it was early morning, 6:00 on the dot. No matter how tired he was, no matter how deeply he slept, he woke up at exactly this time, as though he had measured it with an hourglass. He didn't think that something like this would lead him to boast, but he instructed himself that while he could still do something like this, he was still in robust health.
"...Morning has come, which means... hmmm. In any event, it seems that I've escaped being one of the first sacrifices. Was the result of the roulette fortunate, or is this the fruit of my efforts? It is irritating that I cannot tell the difference, but I will not say that."
Kinzo was very slightly driven by a temptation to see the outside of the study door. Because he thought that maybe, he might find the traces of a vain struggle to break the door, made by something trying to select him as one of the first six sacrifices.
So he wanted to check whether there was a wretched mark on the door. ...That's what humans would do. Therefore, Kinzo did not check. He repressed things that he wanted to do because he was human.By that, Kinzo could be immersed in a feeling of sufficiency, as though he himself had become a being that surpassed humans...
He became aware of human desire, and forbade it. Things that a human wanted to do, he resisted. This eccentricity and rebellious sense had surely given him a rare genius, which must have allowed him to succeed in his exploits as he revived the Ushiromiya family in one generation...
The servants woke early.
They had to open the curtains, prepare breakfast, and complete various other tasks to welcome the guests to a new day.
During the family conference, he had been told to especially concentrate his efforts on cooking, and he had been specially exempted from several tasks that servants normally must do. It seemed that Gohda, who was a show off, had a particular feeling of supremacy about that. He left the preparations of the inside of the mansion to Genji and the rest, and worked on preparing breakfast in the kitchen.
...Last year, the family conference had continued into the early hours of the morning. It wouldn't have been odd for this year's conference to continue until the early morning. Considering the possibility that they were still having a discussion inside, she knocked. But there was no response, so she opened the door and said good morning.
"...Good morning. Is anyone there?"
The room was cold, and it seemed that the conference had ended a long time before. On top of the table, there was a tea set, from which they had probably been drinking, arranged in a way that would make it easy to clean them up. Cleaning up the tea was a servant's job. So if the family was too caring and cleaned it up themselves, the servants would lose face. Therefore, just doing this much for the servants truly was a pleasing act of kindness.
As she approached the table to clean it, she noticed something like a memo that had been left with the utensils. It had been placed together with the tea set, so naturally thinking it was a memo for the servant cleaning up, Shannon took it. Written on it was not a request, nor was it thanks for preparing the tea. There was just a single word.
Shannon looked at it blankly, and read it out loud...
It was a sound that was normally worthless and boring. If only I could stop hearing it soon, then I could quickly return to my doze, someone thought vaguely. But no matter how much time passed, the sound did not end. It repeated over and over.
Aaah, shut up. Who is it? Banging on the door the whole time.
As soon as she noticed that, she woke up. Someone was knocking. Then she noticed that there wasn't just a knock, but a voice.
"...Rosa-sama... Rosa-sama. Good morning."
It had been Genji's voice. Looking at the clock, it was still before 7:00. It was clearly too early to wake the guests... Did something happen that was bad enough to cause this? She felt her sleepiness increasingly fade thanks to this premonition of misfortune.
Because Genji had been a familiar servant to Rosa since her childhood days, even though she was slightly defenseless in her pajamas, she opened the door a crack and answered.
"Good morning. I apologize for waking you this early."
"...Did something happen?"
"Yes... Actually, at the chapel..."
Genji spoke into Rosa's ear, and told her something in a small voice.
Rosa closed her door for a second, and after changing her clothes, she immediately accompanied Genji and they headed to the mansion...
It had been built at the same time that the mansion had been constructed on Rokkenjima, so while its outside walls had been repaired many times, making it look new from the outside, it was a very old building.
Rosa dashed through the rain along with Genji. Just like the previous night, the rain was falling in earnest. Eventually, they began to see the chapel beyond a thin grove...
However, it seemed that in Kinzo's eyes, this was a very sacred place, so Rosa and her siblings had been harshly told not to approach it unnecessarily. So even though they had grown up, they would feel some guilt if they approached the chapel, no matter what the reason, and felt some fear, as though their Father would get angry and hit them in the face...
Which meant that all of the servants on the morning shift had gathered. A short while ago, Genji had spoken to Rosa, telling her what the situation was. However, without laying eyes on it directly, she really hadn't been able to understand it...
Probably, all of the servants gathered there were the same. Without seeing it with their own eyes, they couldn't understand what had happened.
BGM: Corridor of the Sands of Purgatory
"Wh... what is... this... When was it written?!"
The servants looked at each other. Gohda was the first one to open his mouth.
"...M... my apologies. We do not usually enter here, so we do not know when it was written."
"Then, who was the first person to find it?!"
"Y, yes, it was me... When I went to the dining hall to clean up the tea set, there was a memo with 'chapel' written on it..."
Shannon held out the memo with a shaking hand.
"...Whose handwriting? It isn't Nii-san's or Nee-san's handwriting. And then, you came here, and found this, right?"
"...Rosa-sama... look at this."
Kanon pointed at a single line of English written below the creepy magic circle. Until it had been pointed out to her, she had thought it was just another part of the magic circle, and hadn't noticed it.
BGM: Witch of the Painting
Happy Halloween... for Maria.
A wish for an enjoyable Halloween. For Maria.
This creepy magic circle. For Maria.
Yesterday, the only person who had said Happy Halloween to Maria... This symbol matched. The Golden Witch, Beatrice...!
"...My apologies. We just now realized that Maria-sama's name was written here. We still have not checked. Quickly-"
"What are you doing?!! I'll go check on Maria and come back! Then, I'll tell Krauss nii-san and the rest. After that, we'll follow their instructions!"
...After saying that much, Rosa finally noticed a feeling of discomfort. Her own rank of this family conference was the lowest of the four siblings.
...Even if Maria's name had popped up.
"Could it be... huh? Huh?!"
"...Y, yes. We tried to contact Krauss-sama, but could not find him..."
"And Madam was not in her room. Judging by the condition of the sheets, maybe she didn't return to her bed at all last night."
Rosa felt something creepy crawling slowly up her back...
"...D... did you try to check inside the chapel?"
"No, not yet. We tried to check inside, but..."
She didn't want to get closer to the door with the creepy magic circle if she could. Rosa readied herself and approached, and tried pushing and pulling the knob. All she felt was the resistance of the sturdy lock.
"We search to see whether there was a window through which we could enter, but...I think that, in order to check inside, we would have to break one of the windows... What do you think?"
"...There's no way I can give you approval to do that. It's Father's precious chapel, I can't do something like that."
At that time, the events of the previous day swirled around in the back of Rosa's mind...
That's right, there's no mistake, she had handed it over. When Maria tried to open it, that witch told her not to open it yet, then she surely said, "The time to open that will come soon"...
Rosa was sure. There could be no mistake. That letter which had been handed to Maria...
From the inside, she could hear the healthy snores of young people. There were four children. And Maria was there. Sleeping soundly. After feeling relieved, she entered the room with quiet footsteps.
She was after Maria's handbag, which was resting on the sofa. Maria always liked walking around with her treasures. She was probably imitating how her mother always carried her makeup with her. Of course, she was just copying her, so on the inside, it was full of junk. In Maria's case, it was full of small, creepy, occult-like items, and a notebook with things like that written on it.
Rosa hadn't been happy once to see her daughter walking around with those kinds of things, which were not girlish. However, after she tried to force Maria to stop, they had gotten into a big fight, and she had decided to let it be.
A western envelope with the crest of the gold eagle... When she tried to take it out, she realized that there was a heavy, cylindrical object inside. She could tell by its feel and its weight. There was no doubt. This was... a key.
After turning around and checking that Maria was still sound asleep, Rosa tore open the envelope, and the contents spilled out into her palm.
...It seemed that Battler noticed that sound, but after grumbling and turning over in his sleep, he started snoring again...
"Where did you... Yes, this is the key to the chapel."
Rosa approached the creepy magic circle once again, and put the key in the keyhole. There was a strong resistance. After it resisted for a short while, it stopped resisting with a clunk. Then, squeaking with a noise that hurt one's ears, it slowly, slowly began to open...
Video: Happy Halloween
Her voice reverberated throughout the massive room. Of course, there was no answer. The chapel had a high ceiling, and the air was cold. And even on this rainy, unsettling day, for some reason, it felt sacred...
The servants timidly followed after Rosa.
"...Rosa-sama, look at that."
Kanon noticed it immediately, and pointed.
In the place where normally a pastor would preach of God's love, there was a table that shouldn't have been there.
And there were people seated at the table. Three people on each side facing each other, seated in chairs.
But if someone told you that, you'd still have to go even closer and check. Because they seemed almost like dolls.
Rosa and the rest had opened the door, entered all at once with the sound of many footsteps, and called out, asking if anyone was there. And yet, there had been no reaction. Even if Rosa and the rest assumed that they were being ignored, normally you'd expect there to be some kind of reaction. And there hadn't even been that. So at first, it felt like someone had set down some dolls that looked a lot like them...
...By now, it wasn't just Rosa. Shannon and Kanon, and even Gohda. They were all fighting frantically with the creepy emotion that grasped their hearts.
As she climbed up to the altar, she called out again, but still, the others gave no reaction. Yes, by now, Rosa had accepted it. They were not dolls, she accepted that they were those very people...!
They neared the distance at which they would be able to clearly see what was on the table. Just like their first impression, it looked like a lovely banquet, reminiscent of a child's birthday party. Plates piled up with sweets, glasses with lovely drinks. Several ornaments in the shape of pumpkins...
In front of that table, they were seated, and looked like they were sleeping... It was an eerie scene, as though a small, fun-looking Halloween party had been stopped in time...
"...They're all... sleeping...?"
When she approached even closer to them, she realized that candies were scattered all over the floor. They were all candies, cookies, sodas and chocolates, with very fantasy-styled wrappings... And they were all distributed across the carpet, which was covered with blackberry and cranberry jam...
BGM: Red Dread
Rosa and the rest... finally realized what the situation was... It was, a Halloween party. A banquet for those not of this world...!
Krauss, Natsuhi, Eva, Hideyoshi, Rudolf, and Kyrie, six people in all, were seated in the chairs, dead as though they were sleeping. How could you tell that they were dead and not simply sleeping?
"K... Krauss-sama...!! Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...!"
The six of them were seated at a Halloween party, all of them with their stomachs sliced open, all of them had been killed. Was the jam that covered the floor, something that they couldn't finish eating... which had overflowed out of their stomachs...?
No!! The contents of their stomachs had been thrown out across the floor!! And that wasn't all. From their stomachs, almost as though... almost as though! As though they had poured out!! S... sweets!
What could have happened to cause this?! It was almost as though the insides of their stomachs had been stuffed full with sweets, and when their stomachs had been cut, it had all flowed out?!!
When it had been cut with a knife, from the inside, things she loved, but which she had not heard about at all... bright-red, bright-red... ketchup omelet-rice had poured out like blood-stained maggots, buwaa, dripping, slimy, pulpy, sticky!!
The trauma of her youth was revived. Rosa felt a monster raging inside her stomach, as the acid started to rise up. Unable to hold back, she threw up on the floor. Her empty stomach couldn't throw up anything but stomach acid. This scene in front of her was no longer a fun Halloween party...!
Many sweets had been stuffed in there, pulpy, squishy. Blood and guts and sweets were overflowing onto the floor... bloodstained, sticky, sticky, sloppy, pulpy, sweet candy stuck to each finger, gummy, gummy, aaah, but it's stained with their entrails, sloppy, pulpy! What was that I stepped on just now, that didn't feel like a candy or a cookie or soda or a chocolate! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, I'm scared what did I step on I can't even look at the bottom of my foot!! Aaaaaawaaaakiiiyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! What a, what a gruesome Halloween Party...!!!
From far away, it looked really beautiful, fantastical, and fun. And when you see it up close, it's really terrible, disgusting, and yet somehow beautiful...!!
Rosa's wild thoughts tried as best they could to escape her throat with a loud voice that was neither a scream nor a roar...
"...This is... horrible... horrible..."
"...A, ambulance... police...!"
"Th, that's right, police... Police, police police police police!!"
If a word tied to reality, like police, hadn't come out of Gohda's mouth, Rosa and the rest would probably still be unable to escape this nightmarish party. But that wasn't because they thought that the police might be able to do something. If they didn't say police, police out loud, it seemed that another seat would be set up at this demon's party and given to them...!! It felt like their own stomachs were getting uncomfortably filled from the inside!! Rumbling, churning... it was surely because candy was starting to overflow from their stomachs!! Rosa was again tortured by a desire to vomit, and threw up her stomach acid on the floor. And then she searched. To see whether there was any candy mixed in!!
Rosa coughed violently again, and violently spat up the stomach acid that burned her throat. She realized that by now, her whole body had been covered in filthy sweat...
"G, Genji-san, Shannon-chan, please ask Father for instructions. Gohda-san, go together with Kanon-kun and call the police. Then, have Doctor Nanjo come here..."
Why even bring Doctor Nanjo here? It's way too late for medical care...!
The servants accepted their orders and dashed outside.