Part 63: PrologueGood morning.
This is a surprise, that even you do not surrender.
The Golden Witch has exceedingly high expectations of you.
Have you perhaps come to realize the structure of this world?
There can be no victory without knowing the rules.
Please enjoy a hearty game with the Witch.
The difficulty level is fair.
Fair for you, and fair for the Witch.
BGM: White Shadow
Even as young as I was, it still forced me to take a deep breath when I witnessed its beauty. Of course, it was a member of Grandfather's favorite collection. So that I didn't accidentally destroy its fragile beauty, I was always given strict orders never to touch it.
...But that just made me want to touch it. It looked light... and yet so elegant that just glancing at it gave it an indescribable sense of dignity. I wanted to see what it felt like to touch a vase like that.
However... just as Grandfather had said, it was a thing that shouldn't be touched. Something this beautiful should never be touched. Such beauty can only dwell in something so easily broken. Because of that, just the brush of a finger by someone like me would...
I realized that, because of my own foolish curiosity, I had done something that couldn't be taken back. No matter how much I regretted it, no matter how much I apologized... The broken vase would not be returned to its original form... Grandfather will probably scold me. Probably very harshly. I ended up breaking into tears and sobbing, frightened...
As I did, I noticed something... beautiful. Lightly dancing golden butterflies...were coming towards me. As mysteriously glowing golden dots shone in the air, the butterflies began to gather, one at a time.
Oh, it's Beatrice. Beatrice, that reliable Golden Witch, had arrived.
She was always there for me. Whenever I was in trouble, she'd always appear and save me.
"Good day to you, princess."
"Beatrice! Waaaah, hic, hic...!"
"Oh, my... Why are you crying so, and on a day so well-suited for a tea party...?"
"...I broke Grandfather's precious vase... Waah, Grandfather's gonna get mad at me. I don't know what to do... Hic..."
"I see, that is worrying. The Master really treasured this particular vase, didn't he? Hohohoho, imagining how he'll punish you scares even me, Beatrice."
Grandfather was a very frightening person. And when you failed to follow something he said even once, he would become so mad, with a rage that would make even the fallen angels in hell quiver. Since I knew that down to my bones, I couldn't do anything but tremble and cry...
"I possess no magic that can scoop up your fallen tears, princess, but if you need magic that will prevent the Master from scolding you, I might be able to manage something."
"...I-I believe... I believe in your power, Beatrice. So please, fix this vase. Please...!"
"If that is what you want, princess. Then leave it to me, Beatrice."
But even that was enough to give me a small glimpse at Beatrice's wonderful and awesome magic power. She pointed her cane at the broken vase, and, just like a child's lullaby, she began speaking the magic words...
Were they words, or was it a song? No, it had to be magic. After all, can't you see? The pieces of the vase are rapidly gathering together, gently returning to the place where they'd been on display... reassembling into their original form.
"See? Now it's back to normal. This way, you won't have to get yelled at by the Master."
"That's not true. Returning something broken to its original form is a very, very difficult thing to do. My magic can only make it remember what it once was for a short time."
"...? But the vase really turned back to the way it was, right...?"
"Correct. But that doesn't mean the vase has avoided its fate of being broken. All I did was temporarily get the broken vase to remember its form before it broke. I have not yet attained the high levels of magical power that might be used to restore a broken fate to its original form."
I noticed that several of the servants had gathered... and were cleaning up the remains of the broken vase. From what they said, it seemed a black cat had sneaked in from somewhere and had climbed up on the vase, causing it to break.
I understood the meaning of Beatrice's words. At the moment I broke the vase, 'the vase was broken'. Beatrice let me see the vase being restored, but that was a temporary thing. It didn't mean she'd changed the fate of 'the vase being broken'. And so, the vase remembered its true fate and 'broke'. However, the one who broke it wasn't me, but a cat that had snuck in...
That's right. Beatrice never said 'Let's fix the vase'. She said she'd prevent the Master from scolding me. The fate of the vase breaking hasn't changed, but the fact that I broke it certainly has... Beatrice cleverly saved me from danger with that magic...
"...Then, is fixing stuff really hard...?"
"It is. It's so hard that you broke down crying, unsure of what to do."
"...Does that mean magic is easier to use when doing terrifying things? That breaking... and killing is really easy, but fixing and reviving things is really hard...?"
"...That's right. With magic, it is far easier to break and kill. That's why weak witches lose to temptation and become intoxicated with gathering easy power for themselves, neglecting their true magical training. Real magic is the power to repair, to revive. To summon happiness that has disappeared, to summon love that has grown cold. And, it can even summon a smile to the face of a princess who has forgotten how."
"Then... Beatrice, since you managed to fix that vase, does that mean you're an incredible witch?"
"So, if it kept breaking and breaking, she'd be able to fix it over and over again...?"
"Yes. When one reaches that level, they are considered to be an Endless Witch. That is the endless level that all witches ought to reach. We offer the utmost respect to those witches and call them by that title."
"An Endless Witch..."
"That's right. To witches with the power to mend things endlessly, the concept of breaking doesn't even exist. They are released from all the sadness caused by losing things and are promised eternal bliss."
Certainly, the human world is full of sadness caused by separation and loss. To escape that sadness, people pray to gods and ask for the power to withstand their sadness, believing it to be a test... In other words, a human's life is a journey, searching for a way to withstand sadness. In that case, a witch who could revive all things would be freed from all sadness in the world. Simply put, that would mean eternal bliss...
"You, princess...? Hohohoh. It is a long, long, difficult path, you see?"
"I want to become a witch. ...I want to find happiness. Beatrice, I want to become your disciple."
"...Do you have even a trace of doubt in that feeling?"
"No. I want to become a witch too."
"...I understand. Then, until you get tired of me, I will make you my disciple. Will you call me Master?"
"That's a good answer. Then from now on, learn the depths of magic along with me. I am also in training. Let us both learn the proper use of magic, doing our best to reach that blissful level."
BGM: The Candles Dance
An Endless Witch, was it? That rank I'd yearned for in the past as the highest possible achievement... was now just another one of my titles. No, you might even call it my name.
"...Every once in a while, being called that can be quite satisfying. I trained so many days to achieve that rank."
"...It'd be a bit of a waste if I never got a chance to appreciate it. *cackle*cackle*cackle*."
She shook her head lightly. If it's the highest possible level, that means there's nothing higher. An eternal dead end, the beginning of eternal boredom.
"I remember what Teacher told me. When one is released from all sadness, it is the same as eternal bliss. That's what makes me think... that Teacher couldn't ever have reached that level."
But it all depends on how you look at it. Eternal boredom is the same as a sketchbook that doesn't run out of pages. It means you can draw whatever you want, can try to have as much fun as you want. Boredom is the worst sort of poison, which kills all witches. Even those Great Witches who are given the title 'Lady' fear it. It's the eternal poison that tortures them because of the eternal bliss they've reached...
"Now that I've earned the name of Endless Witch, I truly wish I could speak with Teacher again. Is 'happiness' really what lay at the end of our training? And just what is 'happiness'? I wish I could talk with her about that now."
'Training has no end. When you think you've reached the eternal level, that's exactly the time to bemoan your own immaturity.' I recalled those words as though she'd answered me directly.
"*cackle*cackle*, hahhahahahahahahahaha... I see, so I'm immature, am I?! How amusing, how truly amusing. *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
The sound of painfully shrill laughter rang out. It was coming from my furniture. What, did they break their toy again?
BGM: Golden Sneer
"And I haven't had nearly enough fun yet. What a pathetic man."
"But I haven't gotten a chance to play at all yet! Let me play, let me plaaay!"
"Be silent, filth! If you keep devouring him like starving dogs, of course he'll keep breaking right away, no matter how well Beatrice-sama fixes him up."
"You broke him the most, Satan-nee. You just don't know what holding back means."
"My apologies, Beatrice-sama. Please forgive my stupid little sisters."
"Fix him quicklyyy! I'm next, I'm neeext!"
A single yell was all it took to make the noisy Sisters of the Seven Stakes vanish. All they do is mess around, having as much fun as they want breaking him. They only come to me to clean up afterwards. Truly, this furniture never leaves me bored.
Once the furniture hid themselves, all that remained was a sloppy mess, the last remnants of a broken toy. It had no form anymore.
"...It's hard even for me to remember its original form in this state. Better to make it remember for itself, perhaps. Oh, well."
I waved my golden pipe. Then I spoke. I chanted. I made it remember.
"I've no idea which part is your arm and which is your leg. Unless you remember, I won't even be able to recall your face. *cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
By the power of magic, the pitiful pieces of meat began to remember what their form had been. Which part should go with which part, and where should join with where? That's right, just like that. No, no, you should be a finger on the left hand. That's the right hand. That's it, good, good, *cackle*.
"...Good morning. Have you woken up, Ushiromiya Battler? How ironic, that your true nightmare begins after you awaken."
"If you would just accept that I am a witch, you'll quickly wake up from this nightmare, and I'll send you to heaven. I am the king of Mount Purgatory. There's no escape from this hell without my approval."
"Heh... hehehehe. You call this hell? That's just no good. Aah, it's no goddamn good at all."
"I'm impressed you can still talk like that, after experiencing the pain of death not once, like any normal human, but more times than I could count with all of my fingers. *cackle* This is why I never get bored. I never get bored of you."
"Yeah, no boredom problem here. After all, I get my pick of those busty babes with the dazzling asses in my harem. Thanks to that, I'm not likely to get bored for a while now."
"*cackle*cackle*, *cackle*cackle*cackle*! That's splendid. Otherwise I would get bored too. So, my furniture, I've fixed him, so you can play as much as you want."
"Thank you very much! Kyaha, all mine!"
"I told you, your turn's over, I'm next! Get away from him, waaah!"
"Heheheheheh. Wonderful, isn't it, Battler-kuuun? Look how popular you are."
"Popular guys have it rough. Get in line, freaks."
"If you just stayed obedient instead of acting tough, this would go much easier."
"Nah, he's good like this. His screams feel so much better."
"Okay, let's not break him so quickly this time. Did you all hear me?!"
"You aren't running this show!"
"...Well, maybe... That's it, they used a fishing line or something, sending just the key into the room through the crack of the door..."
"So naive. Of all of the doors that exist on Rokkenjima, none has a crack through which a key can slip."
"He was wrong, right, right? Okay, this time it's me, my turn! Wheeere should I strike?!"
"Me, back of the hand!"
"No faaair! Okay, then I've got the back of his other hand!"
"I'll take the tip of his nose!"
"Why, why? Let me do it too, let me strike too! Waaah!!"
"Don't be so slow, Levia-nee! We've always done first come, first serve! Okay, I'll take the top of his foot!"
"Waaah!! Me too, me too! I'll take his shoulder, okay?!"
"...I can't believe you're still resisting. Why haven't you realized that your false courage actually gets us fired up?"
"Sorry, but... false courage and being stubborn are my specialties. No matter how you all try to confuse the issues, I definitely won't accept witches and magic...!"
"Even though you can't explain anything with human tricks? Are you stupid?! Know your place!"
"It's okay, we don't have to force him to accept it. Soon, he'll wanna accept it so hard he'll start crying. Even now, he really wants to kneel down on the ground pitifully and beg our forgiveness!"
"Aaaah, he's broken already! Beatrice-sama!"
"...Ah, well. Since they know I can revive him over and over, my furniture won't even hesitate to break him. Good grief."
Giving eternal rebirth and eternal death at will. Before the Endless Witch Beatrice, all death and life has no meaning. Even death can't become the key to escape from my cage.
"Come, Battler. Remember your original form again. I'll toy with you to my heart's content, understand?"
"I see, I see, how truly pleasant to have a toy to play with for all eternity. Ah, could this be the endless bliss witches gain at the endless level?"
"I see, I see. Yes, this bliss certainly is amusing. *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*! Wahhahahahahahahahahahaha!! I'll revive you over and over, kill you over and over!"
Same as in EP2.
LET'S PLAY UMINEKO NO NAKU KORO NI, EPISODE 3: BANQUET OF THE GOLDEN WITCH