Part 57: Fleeting Resistance II
"...I sympathize with all my heart. Shannon-san, please get the key. Even though she is dead, Madam is a lady. I cannot touch her."
Shannon nodded sharply, her expression filled with a sense of duty. George, Gohda and Shannon had broken a suitable window, and were inside the chapel. Since they really hadn't wanted to break one, they had searched for another way in, just in case. But in the end, after proving once again that there was nowhere that they could slip in through, it only became more obvious that this chapel was a mysterious closed room...
Inside the chapel, time had stopped since they had left it earlier. Of course, George hadn't been able to approach this horrible Halloween party again. It was only natural. Because it made him remember again the sadness of losing both of his parents at once. And Gohda, thinking of the possibility that those corpses might have changed in some horrible way now that a half of a day had passed, didn't want to let George approach.
Shannon followed Gohda's instructions, and approached the party table...
Even though Gohda had prodigious skill, he had gotten into trouble, lost his job, and been left out in the streets, when Natsuhi had given him a new life. Even though it had just been a casual employment for Natsuhi, Gohda must have felt that it was a turning point in his fate. Those around Gohda could see that he felt a special kind of loyalty to Natsuhi. So he probably didn't want to lose that feeling, even though she was dead.
Now that half a day had passed, the bodies of Natsuhi and the rest had changed completely. Small bugs that had sniffed out the smell of death had started to gather. It really wasn't something you wanted to look at directly...
"...Madam... excuse me..."
Because of her long experience as a servant, Shannon had an idea of which pocket Natsuhi had kept the key to her room in. Probably, in this pocket...
Her guess didn't fail her. Just by touching the outside of the pocket, she was immediately able to feel it...
Shannon held the key up high, showing the others that it had been found. As George and Gohda watched her, their eyes opened wide... That wasn't the expression Shannon was expecting, so it startled her. Because Shannon hadn't noticed. George and Gohda, watching from afar, had noticed it first.
BGM: Red Dread
They were countless gold butterflies. Because it was the first time George had seen them, it might have looked like some kind of illusion. But Gohda already knew. He knew that those gold butterflies were a long way from being beautiful, and that they caused some kind of misfortune. And that gold swelled, trying to suck Shannon in...
"Sh, Shannon-san!! Run!!"
Shannon also realized that gold butterflies were trying to swallow her up. She ran unsteadily, her expression still shocked. As she did, the gold butterflies danced around Shannon at once. They grouped together. They tried to swallow her up!
"Shannonnnnn!! Damn it, what is this?! Are these... the gold butterflies you guys were talking about?!"
"Outside, quickly!! You bastards! Damn it, damn it!!"
George and Gohda rushed up to Shannon, driving off the group of butterflies. And while the butterflies were scattered, they ran towards the broken window! However, they needed a good footing to get out of the window, which was surrounded with shards of broken glass. When they had entered, there had been enough time to prepare for that, but now there was none.
"Let's go out through the door!! There's no time to look for a footing!"
"Give it to me!! Damn it, this piece of crap... nnnnnnnn!!"
"George-sama, quickly!! Damn it, don't take me lightly, uooooooooooooooohhh!!"
Gohda took off his jacket, swinging it around and scattering the group of butterflies. But he was vastly outnumbered. It was doubtful that it even bought them a short amount of time.
George struggled with the broken handle. Its age showed, and it didn't turn well. Brute force alone wouldn't do it, it needs the right angle or some trick...
"George-sama!! Damn iiiiiiiiiiiit!! You monsteeers!!"
...At that time, Gohda saw it. He was seen by it. In other words, their eyes met.
As the number of Gold butterflies decreased, he saw the figure of the laughing witch in the center of golden whirlwind.
It should have been Gohda's first meeting with her. But he knew her at a glance. Just like the other servants had said, this was certainly, certainly the witch of the portrait herself...!
BGM: Worldend Dominator
"I, it's open!!"
"Gohda-san, quickly...!! Beatrice... sama..."
"Are you sure it's good to just stand there...? If you think this place is suitable for your cemetery, then very well. *cackle*cackle*!! I'll praise your spirit for wanting to stay by your former master's side and serve him even after death!"
The golden whirlwind that wrapped around the witch burst. It was like an evil hand had literally spread its fingers and was trying to attack them! The group of gold butterflies made a 'whoosh' sound and attacked.
"Hurry!! We can't stand here!!"
George's voice brought Shannon and Gohda back to themselves. Standing here now would be the same as a frog being stared down by a snake. They had to resist. They had to fight this incarnation of the new, brutal, and frightening order that Rokkenjima had been wrapped in...!
They didn't turn around, so they didn't realize it, but because the gold butterflies apparently couldn't do as they pleased out in the rain, and they weren't able to chase the three of them well.
The three people ran from their golden pursuers, and flew into the mansion...
Video: Eternal Love
They unlocked the door, and flew into the room.
...However, there was no time to let that calm them now.
"Where is it?! You said it was in a treasure box, right...?!"
"It's just something I heard...! I never knew where it actually...!"
"...I, I think it's probably in her dresser, or in the corner by the bed!"
Shannon claimed that because of her woman's sense. But in the corner by the bed, there was only an incense burner, a half-read novel, and glasses.
"Aunt Natsuhi, sorry...!!"
He began to violently open each one of the drawers. He had to hurry. He couldn't actually hear footsteps, but he had the feeling that the witch was approaching... He had the feeling that her laugh was approaching...!!
He emptied the drawers one by one and examined their contents. Every small box for makeup looked like a treasure box, and the amount of effort it would take to inspect all of them made him feel a little dizzy.
"M, maybe it's this box... It's locked, and I can't open it...!"
At a glance, it looked slightly larger than a music box. When shaken, it rustled, as though various small objects were inside. But it was locked and didn't open!
"N, normally, you'd hide the key somewhere nearby. But maybe some people always take it with them... I don't know, I don't know...!!"
"There's no choice... let's break it! But we can't do it with force, right? We might break the mirror inside. Could there be a tool to pry it open...?! Damn it...!!"
Gohda looked all over the room, trying to see if there was some tool that they could use. And he noticed the door, which had been left open ever since they had entered. He approached the door to close it... and noticed the abominable shadows of people approaching from beyond the darkness in the hall...
No, the phrase 'shadows of people' wasn't right. Because that referred to human shadows. You can't call the shadows of beings that aren't human shadows of people!!
"...G, George-sama!!! H, hurry..."
Gohda's voice trailed off... It was the shock from seeing a procession of those not of this world.
He was a servant. So he knew all of the servants that worked for the Ushiromiya family. But he didn't know about these. However, they were definitely servants...!! They weren't servants working for Ushiromiya Kinzo or Ushiromiya Krauss. They were new servants, who worked for the new master of the mansion, the Golden Witch Beatrice, who had goat's heads and bright-red, boiled eyes of lava!!
...Of course, she was clad in the gold butterflies that were her symbol.
Gohda hurriedly closed the door and locked it! However, just as he locked it, it returned to normal, just as though a spring or something had knocked it back! Just as though some prankster on the other side of the door was creating the illusion that it was opening every time he closed it. They shouldn't have reached the other side of the door yet!! Then who, how...?!
It felt just like playing with a broken toy. *click*, *boing*. *click*, *boing*.
"U, uwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! I, it won't close!! Even if I close it, it opens! What's going on, damnitdamnitdamnitdamnit!!"
"Ku-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-ha...!! Did you think a lock would stop me? Did you think the door to that room would stop the new master of that room?!"
It was like the witch could see Gohda's frantic effort through the door. Even as their footsteps were approaching. And when not just footsteps, but their breath too could be heard, Gohda gave up on the lock and slammed into the door, locking it himself with his large body.
"George-sama, what about this?!"
"A letter opener?! That's better, let me have it! The fountain pen isn't working!"
George took it, and once again dug into the crack under the lid of the treasure box. It looks like it's working...!
"Quickly quickly!! Hiiiiiii, UOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!"
The pressure from across the door grew even stronger. Gohda screamed. It wasn't a war cry for this test of strength. He was terrified. He was simply terrified that, except for a single wooden door, he would be touching something not of this world. But he was still lucky. He wasn't touching them directly. Because they were on the other side of the door.
So it was natural that if he touched them directly, Gohda's cry would turn from something brave into a shameful and very real scream that would make glass shatter.
Gohda couldn't believe what was right before his eyes.
...It slid up his arm... to his chest... and then... his chin.
By now, Gohda's scream didn't sound like his voice. He could hear a sweet whispering voice from across the door. It wasn't coming from the witch, but judging by the sound of the voice, it was a young woman. But that didn't change the fact that it was a voice from one not of this world.
"Thanks. It's over already isn't it? *giggle*giggle*!"
That obscene arm split open. And they heard the sound of something jumping around the room at an incredible speed. They didn't know what it was. Incredibly fast, small, like steel or maybe a beetle...!
Gohda's large body shook... bent backwards... and fell over. As it did, the door opened softly, even though no one was pushing it, and the new master of this room was welcomed in. It looked almost as though the door itself had accepted her.
The goat attendants entered one after another, six of them...!! Then that witch entered, and the gold butterflies entered!! The room was wrapped in a blizzard of gold leaf, which fell and piled up, turning it into a world of gold...!!
"You don't, do you? Receiving an engagement ring from the man you fell for, and then being killed before spending your first night together, that isn't a regret at all, riiiiiiiiiiiiight??? You wanted him to hold you, didn't yooooooooooou? You wanted him to teach you a woman's joy, riiiiight? Kuhihihyahyahyahyahyahyahyahya!!"
"Ahh, no, no, Shannon, it's hanging, isn't it? Your regret is hanging from your mouth. You can see it dribbling from your moooooooouth, right, Shannonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?? Hi-hyahyahahahahahahahahahakya-kyakkyakkyakkyakkyakkya!!!"
When George turned it over, accessories, charms, various small objects that Natsuhi had treasured when she was a girl fell out. Mixed in with that, was a pouch that stood out from the rest. He picked it up, and checked it immediately. This was it.
"I found it, this is it..."
"One move short. *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!! Die!"
"...D, damn it!!"
All at once, the gold butterflies attacked George, who was impatiently trying to remove the contents of the pouch.
BGM: Scorpion Entrails
At that time, it seemed like, for just an instant, a bright red flash lit up the room... That red flash seemed to wipe out the gold butterflies that were raging around the room, as though drawing a circle with Shannon at the center... Therefore, it was a very divine scene. Almost as though a single streak of light cut through the clouds in the ceiling, in this world of gold...
George, who was curled in a ball, trying to protect himself from the group of butterflies, didn't have a clue what was going on.
"...I'd forgotten. You were also Kinzo's excellent furniture. And you've matured much more than Kanon..."
"...Kanon-kun... how could you? Not that you killed him. How could you erase his remains... and even try to disgrace his honor..."
"Come now, Shannonnnnn, does that make you mad? If you're lonely because you can't meet Kanon, just ask me, I'll bring you together any tiiiiime!!"
It was definitely a sight to make one doubt their eyes. It was definitely Kanon's face. However, in those eyes, there was none of that sincere glint of Kanon's. They were only the vague eyes of furniture that only obeyed the orders of the witch.
George couldn't understand the scene right before his eyes. And he finally understood why Gohda and the rest had been unable to talk about what they had seen in the servants' room.
"...Is it fun?"
"Yeah, it's fun. It's always fun to reunite two that have been torn apart by death. Because I get to enjoy tearing the two apart by death, reuniting them, and then tearing them apart again."
From the impostor Kanon's arm, a strangely shining trail extended. It planned to tear Shannon apart with that. Shannon, who still hadn't prepared her heart, with a single stroke...
"Stop babbling, get killed by your brother, Shannonnnnn, I'm sure you'll be able to have a good dreeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaam!!!"
As the impostor Kanon drew several purple loci, he should have attacked Shannon... But when he flew at Shannon, it felt like some kind of invisible wall had been set up in front of her.
The trails left a bright red ripple on the wall, and it repelled the impostor.
...No, it didn't repel him, it smashed him. It knocked him back, turning him into golden dust, into pieces, scattering him...!
"...George-san, please don't move from there. I don't want to shift the central axis."
"I see, so the spirit mirror is lending you power... But you don't have the preparations or the time to draw out the true power of that spirit mirror."
"I won't give you either of those. *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
The spirit mirror George gripped had let out a divine sparkle, and displayed a strength that wouldn't submit to wicked power. But that sparkle was no match for the witch's sinister nature...
"This is why furniture is frightening! That feeling, like unexpectedly hitting the corner of a cabinet with your little toe. This is why furniture is frightening!! You furniture, furniture furnituuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure!!"
"...I am not furniture. And, I think you are very pitiful right now."
"Whaat...? Hoh. I wonder, what did this furniture, who hasn't lived even a hundred years, just say to a witch of one thousand years...?"
"...You are a very pitiful person. Of course there will be regrets between two people who love each other. But there isn't even a scrap of the kind of regrets you're hoping for."
"You dare speak, furniture...!! When you say that, have you forgotten the days that you wanted to be tied to George so much that you licked my shoes?!!"
"Especially now, I think you are pitiful. How much does it mean to a loving couple when they sleep together and succeed in love on their first night?"
"...It does mean something, it definitely does. ...But it's completely different from what you're saying. It means something so sacred that one such as you has no right to speak of it wickedly."
"So I no longer have any regrets. George-san and I have sworn our love to each other. As proof, I accepted the ring. With that, our eternal vows were completed! No matter how you torture us with your wicked magic and your malice, you cannot disgrace that for all eternity!!"
The invisible column of light with Shannon at the center, started to have bright red ripples drawn all over it at once. The wall did its best to withstand the malice that eyes couldn't see as it tried to corrode in on them from all directions.
The golden windstorm that covered the room gradually began to shave the walls off the column that protected Shannon and George. The bright-red ripples frantically drew a pattern of resistance, but instead, it became a red wall of despair and began to wrap up the two of them...
"...George-san, I'm sorry... It was impossible... for me... after all..."
"...Yes, thank you. You fought for my sake. That alone makes me happy."
As the round wall that had once protected them was assaulted and covered with a locus of bright red ripples as it made something like a scream, it began to suck the two of them up instead.
"George-san, can I ask a favor?"
Shannon grasped George's hand behind her. So George hugged her shoulders just as strongly.
"What is it?"
"In the end, please let me hear you say I love you."
"...Yeah. Sayo, I will forever