Part 60: Banquet of the Witch
October 5th, 1986, 11:59 PM
BGM: Fishy Aroma
Rosa finally arrived at the chapel. She pointed her gun around her, screaming the witch's name, but there was no way there would be an answer.
It was very heavy, but Rosa didn't mind. She wrapped that one up in a blanket, and threw it over her shoulder.
"At least... with just this one... Just this should be worth more than 10 million..."
Without letting go of her gun, Rosa also carried the gold. Her shoulders were screaming. but Rosa didn't mind.
"...Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi. It will happen very soon. ...Very soon, the door to the Golden Land... will open."
"Stop laughing with that creepy voice!! Where is Beatrice?! Yeah, you know, she's somewhere, right?! You know, right?! Where?!"
"Kihihihihihihihihihihihi. I don't kno-w. Even if you don't search for her, you can meet her in the Golden Land. Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi, ouch."
"Stop that laugh!! Aaah, it almost makes me want to laugh!! That's right, that was definitely a witch, definitely a witch!! I didn't understand, I thought it was a human calling herself a witch, I was wrong!!!"
"I told you, she'll appear very soon. The door to the Golden Land will be opened. Kihihihihihihihihihihihi..."
BGM: Scorpion Entrails
"At least call me a queen. Hoh, what a brilliant move. So your blood, no, Ushiromiya's blood is bad at giving up."
"...How pleasant! Truly an elegant night. Ku-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-ha...!!"
"...Master, Beatrice-sama. It will soon be time for the banquet."
"Already? That's fast. Every night I pass with you goes by fast, the moon falls like an apple, and the sun leaps out of the river like a small fish."
"Shall we go, it is time. Stand Battler. It is the beginning of the banquet to celebrate my revival. I'll introduce you as my new furniture... no, as my toy. To the dignitaries among witches."
The witch was relaxing elegantly, her feet thrown out from the sofa and sitting on top of a footrest.
"...Beatrice-sama, your silk dress."
"You are the guest of honor, but I am the host. I will go out first. It would have been nice if Shannon were here to help dress you, but, unfortunately, it seems that she no longer remains."
"...She's never around when I want to use her. A completely useless person. However, you did well to remain here. I'm happy, my friend."
"...I am grateful for your words."
"Good. Wait downstairs, you two. Genji, good work, set the dress down over there."
"...Certainly. Well then, Master."
"We will go first. Beatrice, I will see you later."
"...Do you know why I am not embarrassed to show myself to you naked...?"
"It's because you are furniture. Fu-rniture. Understand? Furniture, just fu-rniture! Who would feel shame at exposing their body to furniture? So there is no reason for me to feel shame because of you. *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
When the witch stood up, her jacket slipped off, just from her shoulders. After that, the jacket fell to the ground with a thump.
When the furniture respectfully approached to pick up those clothes, the witch gave it a small kick and it fell over. The furniture was afraid of what misconduct it had shown...
"Do you, as furniture, plan to force me to unbutton myself? Stand. And undo the buttons. One by one, politely. Quickly. Beautifully. With no mistakes. The guests are being kept waiting, change my clothes quickly."
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*, kakakaka, hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-ha!! Undo them politely. Those buttons are each worth more than one of your eyeballs. If you make a mistake and break them, I'll sow your eyeballs in instead... *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!!"
The gentlemen in suits and tuxedos and the ladies in dresses looked like they were having a great number of friendly chats. At a glance, it might have looked like a fabulous medieval ball. But they all had one thing in common, and that thing was exceedingly bizarre.
...Because all of them... had goat heads.
I don't know whether it was a goat mask masquerade, or whether they really had goat heads. It probably couldn't be the latter, but in this bizarre world, I really didn't know which was true...
Kinzo's greetings were more respectful than would have been expected, as though these were all honored guests. At that time, Genji's voice rang out through the hall. It was a voice calling for silence. That voice stopped the voices of idle chatter, and everyone turned to face Genji.
When Genji began to applaud, it quickly spread through the guests, and became thunderous applause. And... the Golden Witch appeared from the top of the large staircase... As she gracefully waved her hand, followed by the furniture she liked, she slowly descended the staircase...
The goat nobles offered unanimous words of celebration in some long-forgotten language. And those who were deeply intimate embraced, filled with joy at their reunion.
As the witch offered greetings of reunion, the witch's furniture followed behind her the whole time.
The chains weren't there to restrain it. The chains were a restraining device whose only purpose was to injure the furniture's dignity... He wasn't permitted to wear anything else on his body.
One of the young woman goats mixed in with the goat nobles, softly removed her goat mask as the furniture passed in front of her, and spoke with eyes that had no light in them. That face... looked like it belonged to a long-haired, young girl...
"O-h, Lady Bernkastel. Welcome. Do you like my furniture?"
After saying only that, the witch called Bernkastel once again put on her goat mask, and was sucked in by the shadows of the other tall goats...
"Ahahahahahahaha... Sore loser. She's irritated."
"You're right. *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle* *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
The young women goats giggled, and the witch once again let out a high-pitched laugh.
"Come, we will eat all night, drink all night, slurp all night, and chew to bits all night as we enjoy ourselves!! Look at the clock, it shows the time when the ending hour and the beginning hour melt together, ...come!! Let us begin the banquet of the witch!!!"
When the witch proclaimed the beginning of the banquet, the large clock pointed to 24:00, and the sound of a bell began to ring out...
"Come... now is the time!! Open the golden door...!!!"
All at once, the butterflies leafed in gold flew all around the inside of the room.
Amidst the goats' delighted voices, the mansion of the human world and the mansion of those not human overlapped... and the members of the household that praised the resurrection of the Golden Witch scattered into gold butterflies, and poured out of the depths of hell...
It was... a golden tornado. A rondo of golden demons.
Come, tonight we will put aside rank. Throw open the wine cellar, drop the snake's head into the liquor pot, throw cows and chickens into the furnace alive, drink and eat and sing and dance, sneer and kill and desecrate and degrade!!
The goat nobles were suddenly crushing in around Kinzo. Almost like they were kids demanding the signature of some famous movie star. There were two differences. First, they were witches, not kids. And second, what the witches demanded were not signatures.
The sea of goat nobles began to drown Kinzo. Only Kinzo's laughing voice echoed throughout the area.
An aroma if slurped, a rich taste if gnawed, and pleasant to tear to bits! The voice of his death throes lingered on sweetly, if you adorn melted chocolate with a golden argent, it would be a wonderful dessert! If you took the bones home, you could also use them in a soup, and the remains could even become toys for the children to play with, and they could also become good tools for fortune-telling that always gave misfortune!
That entire scene... was watched by the furniture. It was all fantastical. ...It was all demonic. Was the quaking of its heart, which should have been paralyzed... proof that it could still feel fear?
At that time, its knees buckled, and the furniture's body fell onto the center of the carpet. Because the witch had kicked those knees from behind.
The furniture let out a painful voice. Fear is the most basic emotion humans have. Was that emotion reviving his sense of self, which should already have been killed?
"...Hmph. So, you are still far from being appropriate for my furniture. Good! I will carefully finish you, to make you the kind of furniture I like, the kind appropriate only for me. Is the best you can do now simply entertaining the guests?!"
The goat nobles were surrounding the crouching furniture... It seemed that their blazing, blood-red eyes couldn't hide their ecstasy at this new young food that they had been given. And from the ugly teeth that stuck out of countless mouths, saliva, ...or maybe the traces of meat and wine that they had just eaten, dribbled down...
As the furniture let out a wild scream, it retreated, still sitting on its backside. But the circle of goat nobles was closing in... And the furniture looked at the witch's face. It had surrendered to the witch, so believing that the witch would have some compassion, it stared at her face in the end. But there was nothing but scorn on the witch's face, and she wasn't even facing the furniture anymore.
The witch went off to greet an honored guest with whom she had crossed gazes... The goat nobles looked down upon the furniture. They had truly been waiting. Just like how one must remove the cork in order to drink champagne, before bringing the offering served at the banquet to their mouths, they were waiting for just one of those. Of course, the furniture didn't know about those. But it came out of his mouth all by itself. Just like there is certainly a pop when the cork comes out, it certainly came out of his mouth.
"...G... ya... ahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!"
――A scream. It was a sign that the modest banquet at which he was to be served... had begun.
Video: Ushiromiya Rosa's Last Stand
BGM: Worldend Dominator
By now the rose garden was a garden of roses and gold. A gold-colored garden where gold butterflies, gold fairies, and gold lizards rampaged and flew about wildly.
"Maria, quickly!! Run!! Quickly quickly quickly quickly!!"
Rosa held onto the blanket wrapped around the ingot and the gun, and ran at a speed Maria couldn't catch up with, sometimes pausing to call out at Maria to run faster. Therefore, she saw it every time. She saw the golden pursuers chasing them from the mansion!
There was no need for her to strain her eyes. Because those blazing pupils told her what would happen if she was captured.
"...Mama, wait, Mama, wait... uu-uu-... ow!!"
Maria fell down. For just an instant, Rosa was ashamed by her thoughts of abandoning her daughter and running away, and at the instant her feet touched ground, she ran back.
Rosa rammed into the goat head with her shoulder, spun, bashed the back of her elbow into the goat's jaw, and buried her knee into its protruding chest!! And she thrust the barrel of the gun inside the goat head's mouth as it doubled over from the pain in its gut!
The blast from the Winchester's 45 caliber Long Colt bullet exploded inside the goat head's throat, and its medulla oblongata was instantly pulverized. The goat head hadn't understood. It had thought that women were like already opened wine bottles! It had thought that they were wine bottles, and that turning them upside down would immediately cause their deep-red contents to come out!
Maria, who had been released, hugged Rosa. But the pursuers were still coming! They could see the giant goat heads, who had given up pretending to be human, running towards them from across the rose bushes. Rosa spilled several extra bullets, which had been in the pocket of her coat, all over the place, and told Maria to pick them up.
"Y, yes...! Pick up, pick up...!!"
"Maria. If Mama falls down, run. Go to the shore. And swim, and swim, and swim! There's no place on this island that we can survive on!!"
"N, no!! Together with Mama!! Uuu--!!"
The goats ran with a violent vigor, as though they planned to crush Rosa and Maria with those massive bodies!!
"Put the bullet in!! Quickly!!"
Rosa grasped the blanket with the ingot in both hands, and she herself sprinted, pulling it along!! Without even an ounce of fear of those strange-looking giants!!
If it's to protect my daughter, I'll overcome even hell!!
Rosa's roar. The goat heads' roar.
The terribly heavy ingot, after picking up a terrible centrifugal force and speed, slammed into the head of the goat head. Rosa pulled a fountain pen from her pocket. But she held it crooked. She placed it in her palm, in the gap between her middle finger and her ring finger so that it stuck out when she made a fist, almost like it was a stinger growing out of her fist. That stinger sliced into the left eye of the goat head as it fell over. Was the goat head's roar a scream?
She pulled back her fist and slammed it into the fountain pen that was still sticking into the goat head's eye. The pointed tip was gouged into the depths of its head...!
"Mama, put bullet in!!"
When I grabbed the gun Maria had thrown, the giant finally tumbled on the ground with a thunderous crash. However, at the same time, I saw the goat head pursuers on the other side of the rose bushes increase in number. I've gained enough distance for now! I held onto the blanket wrapped around the ingot and the gun, and once again ran with Maria.
Why don't I let go with one hand and grasp Maria's hand...?!!
I can't let go of the gun that protects my body. I can't let go of the gold that protects my future. But even so, I let go of the hand of my daughter, the person who is my future...?!
She got out of the rose garden and began to run down a staircase through a grove of trees. But Rosa knew. This path through the grove turned and twisted many times, and only seemed long. She tore straight through it! She had always played here since she was a kid. So she knew!
To the beach. To the beach. To the sea, to the sea, to the sea. And after reaching the sea? Nothing to do but swim, swim, swim, if Maria can't swim, I'll carry her as I swim!! There is nothing but death on this island!
As she raced down the stairs, she took a bad step. A violent pain ran up her left ankle and her mind went completely blank.
Rosa fell down several stairs, shocked by her ankle, which was bent at an odd angle. And the blanket with the ingot wasn't there. She had let go of it the instant she fell, and it had disappeared somewhere into the darkness. Only the gun was left.
Tremors in the earth were getting closer. It was only a matter of time before the goat heads flooded in. She didn't want to imagine how many there would be, or how strange they would look.
The gold butterflies surrounded Rosa and Maria, waving and clamoring as though saying 'the prize is here, the prize is here'.
Rosa couldn't even try to get up. The violent pain from her broken ankle was so great that she couldn't ignore it, even in her last moments.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaah, what am I doing... I'd had the gold, which would have been worth several million yen. I might have been able to start over with that!! And yet I fell, lost it, and that's not all, my own life is in danger, even Maria's life is in danger?! What has my life been?!!!
I was born in an incomprehensible house! With an irritating older brother and sister since the day I was born!! What did I do?! No matter what I did or didn't do, I was always in trouble and bullied and made fun of!! What has my life been?!?!
The roar inside Rosa's heart shriveled away and disappeared. It disappeared when she listened to Maria's crying voice, as she sobbed and clung onto Rosa.
"...Maria. Mama remembered that there's something she has to do. Please go on ahead."
"No, no no no no!! Want to be with Mama!! Don't want Mama to die!!"
"Maria... even though I'm such a bad Mama... you still say you want to be with Mama?"
"Yes...! Want to be with Mama... want to be with Mama...!"
"...Are you saying... that you even want to be together with that kind of Mama...? Even though... I've been such a bad Mama...!!"
"...The Maria who's in a good mood that you want to spoil, and the Maria who's a nuisance and you don't want to be around, aren't different people. Maria is also just one Maria. So both the scary Mama and the nice Mama are together. To Maria... there is just one... Mama..."
The shadows of the goats covered the sky even more than the trees of the forest. Their roars blotted out the world with fear. Rosa, still hugging Maria, readied her gun with one hand.
"Maria, let's go together. Always together. So that Mama doesn't get lost, always together...!"
"Yes...!! Be able to meet soon. Always together...!! Be able to meet, in the Golden Land...!! And then we'll play together! Play with the 'Wolves and Sheep Puzzle'!! Mama hasn't solved more than one question, but Maria has solved them all. So Maria will be the questioner!!"
She had bought that as a birthday present, and then hadn't played it for Maria after that night.
Those eyes, sparkling like red-hot lava, looked just like a group of fireflies. They danced, closed in, and attacked.