Part 83: Coronation
October 5th, 1986, 10:00 AM
My heart leapt. Because there, gaping wide, was an opened mouth in the eerie darkness.
"...Wh-What's this...? What is this...?!"
When I strained my eyes, peering into the darkness, I saw something that looked like a light switch. In addition, there was a switch with 'open' and 'close' written on it.
Eerily enough, it looked even more gloomy with the lights turned on. Near the light switch was that 'open and close' switch. It would probably open or close this, but if the open part happened to be broken, I might be shut away in this creepy underground area for all eternity... So for the time being, I didn't touch that switch, and as I readied my gun again, I slowly went down the stairs.
The ceiling was very high, so it didn't feel cramped. On the contrary, it felt as though a cool breeze was blowing upwards, and that creepiness seemed to form a sort of aura... As I readied my gun and carefully stared forwards, I descended the stairs...
The walls, the stairs, the lights... all of them were very old-fashioned. It was easy to suspect that this had been built back when the mansion had been constructed on this island. There were cracks in the ceiling, and water clung to the walls, constantly dripping down. That water fell into a gutter that had been set up alongside the stairs, then quickly and silently flowed into the underground darkness. As though it was telling me to go faster...
The staircase kept turning back on itself. I don't know how far down I've gone, but I think it's much deeper than one floor.
And there, characters had been written in a dark red paint. ...They had probably been written a long time ago.
My heart, which was already about to explode, jumped about even more as soon as I recognized those deep-red characters... There's no mistake... This is the last stop. Father's... Golden Land...!!
I calmed my throbbing heart, somehow regained my composure, and readied my gun again. But since, in the end, I couldn't open the door with my gun held in both hands... I lowered the gun, carefully hid my breathing, and opened the door...
My first impression when I saw the room... was that it might be linked to one of the rooms in the mansion. That's right, it had exactly the same atmosphere about it as the sealed VIP room on the second floor. But this was underground, so there were no windows. There was only the solemn light of a grand chandelier.
But even though it was dimly lit by the faint light, the quality of the interior was more than enough to take your breath away. A bed with a canopy, and a rocking chair that looked like it would be comfortable to sit in. An extravagant sofa and carpet. The room was like a dream every girl yearns for at least once... And yet, since it was an underground hidden room with no windows, it felt more like the hidden house of a witch.
I'd never swallowed the legend of Beatrice, witch of the forest. However, after being shown this room, it certainly became hard to doubt that she actually had existed... and had lived in this room.
Even though I was completely shocked by this room, I carefully...no, timidly searched the interior with my gun raised.
And... at the back of the room, I found it.
My gasp came out strangely, like a bunny being choked. After all, after finding something like this, no one would be able to stop that kind of stupid voice from leaking out...
BGM: Happiness of Marionette - Omake
On the opposite side of the canopy bed, it was piled up in a massive heap... It was a mountain, a mountain of gold ingots!! Of course, they weren't piled up carelessly in a way that would damage the dignity of this room. A beautiful scarlet satin weave was laid on the mountain of gold, creating a beautiful three-colored mix between the red, the gold and the black of the deep darkness... It was as though, when the witch slept on this bed, the gold would be a respectful chamberlain waiting on her. Nobly, refinedly, gracefully, beautifully. It was attentively piled there with an imposing air...
When I tried to grab a single gold ingot, I was surprised at its weight. It was probably about 10 kilograms. Just this ingot would probably be worth more than 10 million. The Ushiromiya family crest, the One-Winged Eagle, was lightly imprinted on it. It was hard to tell whether it had worn away, or whether the impression had been made carelessly in the first place, but it was certainly the crest of the One-Winged Eagle.
Just how many ingots were piled up there? By doing a quick count here and there and judging by the height, there had to be a few hundred at least. My mind's already gone blank, so I can't do the math well. Even a moderate guess would put it above several billion yen.
In front of the mountain of gold, I spread my arms and looked up at the ceiling. A laugh without a trace of dignity flowed out from my entire body. I had no intention of laughing in a weird way, but... but, I couldn't hold back the happy feeling that was flowing through me. My older brother probably wouldn't accept his loss just because I found this gold. But from now on, there would be no changing the fact that I had been the one to find it...!
To steal away the Headship of the family, some more subtle bargaining would probably still be required. But after everything I've gone through until now, that's a completely trivial problem. Even if I lose out on the Ushiromiya Family Headship... I already have 20 billion yen worth of gold!!
"...But now I see that's just a lie! Just an excuse that the have-nots make for themselves!! In front of this mountain of gold, I've finally realized something so obvious...!! By using this money, I can give birth to all the happiness in this world! With this money, my husband's company is already saved. We will always be happy as a family. And I can even leave a vast sum of money to George...!! The rest of the relatives will eventually be ruined and disappear. At that time, George will use this gold, and just like Grandfather did, he will revive the Ushiromiya family's lost honor. George is the true successor to the Ushiromiya family!!"
It happened!!! My wish was granted!! That dream I have wished for ever since I was born into this world as Ushiromiya Eva... has been granted completely at this very moment...!! My husband and I will be happy for all eternity. And I can also give my only son, George, eternal happiness!! There's no way I'll waste it on foolish pleasures!! My older brother has chewed the Ushiromiya family to bits, but George and I will revive it! And that means I truly have succeeded the Ushiromiya Family Headship!!
That's right, after this, never again will we be smothered by sad nights. Congratulations, me. Congratulations, Ushiromiya Eva. Right here, right now, the sad half of our life will have its heart's desire granted.
"It's all thanks to you... I was given this chance because of your magic. Because of that chance, I was able to make it here...!"
So, it isn't just the power of my magic. This is our victory. Because of that, congratulations, 'us'.
"Thank you, me... Thank you, Ushiromiya Eva... I'm glad I didn't give in before now. I'm glad that I didn't drown in sorrow and forget to keep struggling...
...She saw a creepy, swaying human shadow blocking her path, and her dreamlike state was blown away.
For an instant, she believed that the true master of this room, the real Beatrice, had appeared. It seemed that the other person was also holding a gun. The two of them were pointing guns at each other.
And eventually, they each realized who the other was...
BGM: Black Lilliana
"That's my line. What business do you have in such a place?"
"...I shouldn't have given you that hint, Nee-san. If I hadn't, I definitely would have been the first to reach this place. Too bad."
It seemed that Rosa knew where this staircase went... and what was waiting ahead of her.
"You should talk. Even though I reached this place before you."
"...I worried too much about the sweetfish river. The sweetfish part didn't really matter that much at all, did it?"
"That isn't true. It was an excellent hint, wasn't it? Well, of course, maybe there was no need for it to be sweetfish. But when I heard that sweetfish are fish that go out into the sea, I was able to figure it out."
"Why not see with your own eyes? It definitely won't betray your expectations."
"...Are you serious?"
"Of course. I'm the outsider of the Ushiromiya siblings. Even if Father had named me as the next Head, there's no way Nii-san would accept it. I try not to have such naive dreams."
"Let me see too, Nee-san. This proof of your victory. As long as I receive the proper portion that the siblings agreed upon, I plan to proactively acknowledge you as the true victor in this 'game'."
"...If you shoot me, then you'll have this gold all to yourself, won't you?"
"The same goes for you. If you shoot me, this gold will all be yours."
...Eva removed her finger from the trigger and held the gun upside-down. It was a position that she couldn't quickly shoot from. When she saw that, Rosa held hers the same way.
"...That's right. That plan of shooting the other and having all the gold to ourselves is attractive for both of us. But if one of us suddenly disappeared on this island while it's isolated by the typhoon, there would be a huge uproar. If we hid the corpse here, it probably wouldn't be found easily, but we couldn't be sure."
"...No matter how many billion yen worth of gold is on the line, it isn't worth the risk of committing murder. On the contrary, that would give Krauss nii-san and the others ammunition to wring us for all we're worth."
"I agree. It may have been a blessing in disguise that you're the one who showed up... instead of Nii-san or Rudolf. You're the sibling I trust most."
"...Thank you. And you're the sibling I trust most, Nee-san."
"...I want to see the gold too."
"Wanna have a peek? Now I feel like seeing it again too. Even though I saw it with my own eyes, it still doesn't feel real. Unless I see it together with you and confirm once more that it actually exists, it feels like the gold will turn to fog and disappear."
Eva started descending the staircase once more. However, she didn't carelessly expose her back to Rosa. Even though, at a glance, it looked like Rosa had lowered her guard, she definitely didn't show any signs of carelessness.