Part 61: Tea Party
Rosa awoke from her doze. It must have been a very deep sleep. Her mind was hazy, and she wasn't thinking clearly.
Where is this...? It felt like some mansion, but it didn't seem to be the Ushiromiya mansion. She could see a room that looked like a parlor... And there was some tea that had been prepared. It had probably been made for her.
When she eventually realized that they were gold butterflies, it further strengthened that impression.
There was someone across from her. A woman. A lady.
She seemed to be having a one-sided conversation. She was probably talking to Rosa, but Rosa, whose mind was clouded up by a deep fog, didn't have a clue what was being said...
"...Choose whatever you please. If there is anything you want, I'll give it all to you. You can think of it as a reward for your good luck, or else as proper compensation for how you've answered to my demands."
"It may have been a truly trivial matter from your perspective. However, the deal was important enough to me to be deserving of this reward."
...What is she... talking about? I don't know... I don't know.
"It's just that... I am very much a witch. Perhaps you'd best ask for something only a witch can give you."
"What a rare chance this is. To actually receive the favor of Beatrice the Golden, me. *cackle*cackle*!"
"I am commonly called the Golden Witch. Bestowing a mountain of gold, like the one I gave Kinzo, is trivial to me. After all, you can measure all the pleasures of the human world with money. Therefore, gold is no more or less than the manifestation of the human world's pleasures."
"Can you imagine it? A mountain of gold that you couldn't use up as long as you lived."
As the witch blew on her pipe, multi-colored smoke enshrouded their surroundings.
It looked like a shining gold-colored wall. If each ingot was worth several ten million yen, how much would all of this be worth? It seemed sinful to even think of such a number.
"...However, the human world is difficult. I know there are some things that cannot be settled, no matter how high into the sky you pile up gold. I know there are cracks that cannot be filled. I won't make light of that, which is why this is a gift that only a witch such as I can give."
"...Why don't I fill those cracks in for you? Yes, how about this. It's something only I can give. You should be very happy."
"...No need to thank me out loud. I can tell right away. It's written on your face and in the corners of your heart, *cackle*cackle*!"
Rosa felt a touch of discomfort at this witch, who kept on talking even though Rosa hadn't uttered a single word, but since she still couldn't manage to speak...and was so helpless that it was difficult to even move a finger, she couldn't do anything but listen.
"...This is... deep... quite deep indeed. Sometimes, wounds close up while a fragment of foreign matter remains inside. Even when such wounds appear to have healed, they continue to throb for all eternity. Sometimes, you have to open the wound once more in order to heal it completely."
As the witch spoke, she stared deep into Rosa's eyes. What in the world... was she peering at? Rosa felt uncomfortable, but she couldn't look away.
"...So, your pain was already fated by the time of your birth. How heart-breaking. You don't have to say it. I understand. I understand..."
Rosa was gradually being sucked into the witch's eyes. Then, the world grew dark, spinning round and round as she was sucked in...
BGM: Daydream's End
Oh, that's Krauss nii-san's voice.
Krauss nii-san is a real adult, so he's very smart. So he hated the stupid kid, Rosa. He was a very scary person. I was often hit, and my toys were taken from me and broken. I was apparently being punished for something bad I'd done, but I never really understood what it was, or why I was being punished. I was always punished suddenly and then later told what the punishment was for, in a forced manner, but it was always something I didn't remember doing.
...So I really hated Krauss nii-san.
Oh, that's Eva nee-san's voice.
Eva nee-san is a real adult, so she's very smart. So she hated the stupid kid, Rosa. She was always a very sly person, and she often lied to me, tricked me, bullied me all the time. Apparently I was stupid, and she said it was only natural for stupid people to be swindled by those smarter than them. So I wanted to become a wise person like Eva nee-san, and listened to what she said, but when I obeyed her, for some reason, someone always got really mad at me.
...So I really hated Eva nee-san.
Oh, that's Rudolf nii-san's voice.
Rudolf nii-san really knows how to get things done. So he hated the stupid kid, Rosa. When Krauss nii-san was around, he would be friendly with Krauss nii-san. When Eva nee-san was around, he would be friendly with Eva nee-san. And when Krauss nii-san wasn't around, he would be violent like Krauss nii-san, and when Eva nee-san wasn't around, he would play dirty like Eva nee-san. And even though he was also bullied most of the time, when Krauss nii-san and Eva nee-san weren't around, he gave me two people's worth of bullying.
...So I really hated Rudolf nii-san.
It's common for unfair things to happen between kids. And you mustn't hold onto grudges for such things forever. With time, those memories get buried away, and forgetting them bit by bit is supposed to be part of growing up and becoming an adult. So becoming an adult is the same as separating yourself from all those memories.
And because of that. No matter how much time passed, Rosa couldn't become an adult.
Even though she had been blessed with a daughter called Maria and was called a mother, she didn't at all feel like she had become an adult. The witch pitied her for that. And she smiled, saying that she could heal that pain herself.
"But that way, your 'memories of being hurt by your older siblings' wouldn't remain, and in that sense, while you might call it a gift, you wouldn't be able to accept it."
"A person is only satisfied when their starvation is healed. But if you make it so they never starved in the first place, none of them will thank you. Just like how there are no young people who give thanks for their daily gluttony. Understand?"
I think she's telling me something really complicated. In short, even if she makes it so I never had older siblings, that wouldn't remove my pain... Maybe that's what she's saying.
Strictly speaking, that's not quite right. Healing isn't the same thing as removing pain. It's the pleasure we earn as compensation for withstanding pain. Therefore, removing the pain isn't healing. To know the joy of healing, you have to know the pain.
"Which means... you must know joy, in order to compensate you for your pain. You should be proud of your past sufferings. After all, they are what make it possible for you to know pleasure that those without pain will never experience. Those who experience this pleasure... cannot help but pass on the same joy to others... *cackle*cackle*"
For an instant, Rosa truly did feel a pleasurable surprise at how fabulous it was... but at the same time, she felt a bit of anticlimax. After all, she didn't think being bullied by her siblings could be wiped away by just one meal, no matter how delicious.
"Food is the source of many human pleasures. You simply must eat like a pig as long as you live."
"If one meal isn't enough, then have as many as you want. Until the pain of your heart is healed, why not continue this gourmet banquet? Begin it, furniture."
As the witch clapped twice, there were suddenly two goat head servants there, and they began to prepare the meal. From the beautiful dishes adorning the table, they efficiently took some food and began to pile it up on Rosa's plate. It really did look delicious, but Rosa's body still felt as heavy as lead, and there was no way she'd be able to eat. Maybe they also understood that.
The goat head servants tied a napkin around Rosa's collar... and gallantly brought a glass of before-dinner alcohol to her mouth, tilting it for her. She remembered an old servant who had once carried rice porridge to her mouth when she was laid up with a high fever. She couldn't drink it well, and it dripped down from her mouth, but she felt the fragrant sweetness spread throughout her mouth.
"It's a sweet aperitif of noble rot German-made wine. A wine cocktail of white wine mixed with a crimson golden drop."
Video: The Banquet
Rosa coughed violently. And the bright red that stained her face made it look as though she had coughed up blood.
"You know a lot about black tea, so you should know what it means, right? 'Golden drop' refers to the last drop in a drink. It is called the most precious drop in black tea."
"...So a golden drop of blood is the same. The last and most precious drop of blood squeezed out of a human. We squeeze it using that."
As the witch snapped her fingers, a bright red veil that had been set up before something large was removed.
BGM: Black Lilliana
By its unnerving shape, she could tell that with a human's strength, it could be used to tighten and compress something. And it seemed that there were still some squeezed dregs remaining, because of the bright red remains that stained it.
"But you can't take more than one golden drop at once. No matter what kind of human you take it from, you can't get more than one drop. But I am a witch. Reviving a person is easy for me."
When the witch snapped her fingers, the human compressor suddenly began to shake. No, she could also hear a groan. It looked almost as though... someone sleeping in that man-sized coffin... had woken up, and was now struggling to get out. But that was wrong. What was inside definitely had been squeezed dregs. Using her magic, the witch had once again revived the squeezed dregs to how they'd been before they were squeezed.
Three goat head servants with muscular physiques approached the compressor... and forcefully started tightening the large bulb. As they did, an unearthly moan came from inside the coffin. Rosa thought she knew the owner of that voice.
"It is fitting for cooking to be done in the kitchen. Enough, stand back."
The witch definitely said that only one golden drop could be taken from a single human. And yet, she had dozens of people's worth of golden drops from a single human. Only a witch could do this. The Golden Witch Beatrice could kill a single human 'endlessly'. In other words, before Beatrice, even death did not mean freedom.
"Do you need me to put it a different way? Have you forgotten the day this man hit you, when you swallowed the blood that ran into your mouth?"
"That's right, remember that taste. Remember the taste of the tears that you spilled until you were dry. I believe this aperitif will be sufficient to heal that regrettable memory. *cackle*cackle*!!"
...Rosa tried resisting by closing her lips, but the deep red liquid was relentlessly poured into her mouth, which hung open with shock, and the inside of her mouth was filled with a ghastly sweetness... It definitely was a fragrant sweetness. The living blood of her brother, who had given her such hateful thoughts and made her soak her pillow so many times, had been collected from his death, repeated dozens of times. How could the crimson-stained wine not be sweet?
But Rosa tried to spit it out. Because of that, the deep red wine that spilled out of Rosa's mouth looked just like a bloodstain. Now that she knew that this ghastly substance wasn't a simple aperitif, Rosa couldn't help but feel uncomfortable about what would happen if this banquet continued.
When Rosa heard the true nature of the pink-colored meat piled up in the salad, she had a sudden impulse to vomit her guts out. Furthermore, the goat servants stuck a fork in it... and carried it to Rosa's mouth.
It probably would be quite sweet, soft and enchanting in her mouth. After all, Eva's lies were always sweet, and young Rosa had always listened to them. And, you might say the stimulating pepper seasoning expressed the truth behind those lies well.
As the tongue salad that kept being pushed into Rosa's mouth was covered with saliva, she spat it out. But the goat head servants carefully returned it to the plate and carried it to Rosa's mouth over and over again.
"It goes without saying, but I made this salad liberally using five of Eva's tongues. You can't get more than one tongue out of a person. But I can get them over and over. *cackle*cackle*!!"
As Rosa's tears dripped down, she resisted frantically. However, the only way she could resist was by refusing to swallow. Even if she didn't swallow it, the taste of the french dressing increasingly permeated Rosa's mouth...
"And look forward to dessert, *cackle*cackle*!! It's not just your siblings, see? I have lavishly assembled all of those whom you have trusted and yet by whom you were betrayed. Why don't we continue this banquet for all eternity, until your heart is satisfied? For all eternity."
"Fear not, your reluctance doesn't trouble me. That's just your personality, right? On the inside, you're actually so happy that your skin is crawling all over. And yet, on the outside, you're merely pretending that all this causes you pain, yes? It's all right. Here, there is no need to worry about honor or your public image or anything, so laugh as much as you want and chew it to bits. Isn't this the beeest banquet, Ushiromiya Rosaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa???"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I wanted to leave dessert as a surprise, but let me reveal it now anyways. Maybe that will be enough incentive for you to eat up the full course."
"Your dessert is that beloved daughter that you had to keep pretending to love, oven-baked Maria with apples. Doesn't that sound yummy?"
"Once you eat this, you will be released from everything. Freedom, you see, freedom! Finally, Rosa will gain freedom as an individual person, aren't you happyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? You should be happy, drool is hanging from your mouth, just try looking in a mirroooooooooooooooooor, hyahahaaahaahaahaha!!"
Suddenly, a muscular goat cook was holding Maria under his arm. And Maria gazed at Rosa with a face that was only slightly sad.
"...Nnnnnnn! You aren't a burden!! Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!"
As Rosa spat out the food that was continually being carried to her mouth, as she was covered with filth and saliva and blood, she resisted filthily and screamed.
"...If you... think I'm a burden... I don't mind if you eat me."
"...After all, I'm always doing horrible things to you. Even when you bring a man over, I can't stay quiet. When you spend the night out with a man, I get lonely and unruly and make a mess of my room. When I go to search by myself, I get lost, the police pick me up, and you're shamed. When you don't come home for several days and I cry and have to be consoled by the neighbors, you're shamed."
"Because I'm like this, I'm a burden to Mama. Sorry for being born. So, I'll become delicious oven-baked apples for Mama's sake."
"Isn't it delicioooooooooooooooous? Be choked up with tears of gratitude, your daughter is saying this much for you, riiiiiiiiiiiight? Oven-baked apples and your beloved daughter make for the best dessert! You've managed to raise such delicious ingredients, aren't you the best mother, Ushiromiya Rosaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa???"
"...Mama, thanks for everything. Bye bye."
"Have you been satisfied with my hospitality...? Then I'll have you accept it. That I am a witch. Proclaim it. 'Ushiromiya Rosa accepts that Beatrice is a witch'!!"
"*cackle*cackle*, hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! I finally made you acknowledge it!! That crafty Battler has already surrendered, and I made Rosa, the fool who denied me even after being invited to the Golden Land, accept it!! Perfect!! <It's perfect!!>"
"I've accomplished my perfect victory!! Hehahahahahahahahakya-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HA!! Come, bring Maria, prepare a delicious oven roast for Rosa!!"
BGM: Dread of the Grave
"Wha... th-that voice!! Ooof?!"
An arm grabbed the back of the witch's head and smashed her face into the table. As it did, the witch broke to pieces, turned into a cloud of gold butterflies, and reformed into her body a short distance away.
"...B-Battler?!?! Y-You bastard... I thought you'd surrendered so far that even your soul was furniture!!"
"Me too, but while I was listening to that gross recipe, I started to get a little hungry."
"And Maria. It's ten years too early for you to talk about having someone eat you up. But in ten years, you'd better say that to me. Promise."
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Aunt Rosa. I'd forgotten. This is a one-on-one fight between me and this woman. It's totally wrong for me to give in. Thanks to you hanging in there, I've gotten my will to fight back!!"
...I see, he doesn't know when to give up, just what I'd expect from Ushiromiya Kinzo's grandchild...! So the chick of a phoenix is a phoenix after all...!
"Heh, hehahahahahahahahaha, how dashing, how amusing! I wouldn't have it any other way!! I wouldn't have you any other way, Battler!! Try to deny me, I'll completely and thoroughly smash you to bits! Let me make you surrender over and over again. I'll teach you, one who has licked my shoes, the taste of defeat over and over again!!"
"No problem, I'll teach you that I, Ushiromiya Battler, am a man who can stand back up even after crawling through the mud!!"
"I've never been invincible in a fight. I've lost loads of times."
"But I'll definitely crawl through the mud and stand up again. And then I'll finish this!! In a man's fight, you don't lose until you accept defeat, no matter how much you get beat up!!"
"I'll accept your challenge, Ushiromiya Battler!! Furniture, begin preparations for the next game!!"
"While we're waiting, why don't you tell me all about it? There were a lot of closed rooms in this game. Using red, I've smashed to bits most of the methods by which you tried to talk yourself out of them. What other evasive quibbles will you show me now?!! The lock to the chapel, the lock to Jessica's room, the lock to the servant room, the lock to Natsuhi's room, the lock to the parlor!! Use your bizarre specialty, those delusions, rantings, daydreams, and bluffs, all slanted with ridiculous, incredible turns of events, and show how you can thoroughly deny meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!"