… The Bahnseim Kingdom, Centralle.
In a private room of the castle… or rather, a room too large to call it as such, Celes was selecting a dress. Taking her favorite dress in her hands, she prepared to receive her father who was coming to Centralle.
But on the words of the maid who entered the room, Celes froze. Celes’s mother Claire who had been selecting out a dress beside her touched both hands to her mouth in surprise.
Celes, with the dress still in both her hands.
“… What did you say? What did you just say!?”
Her favorite clothes ripped, and she took her own rapier-concealing staff from automaton Bert, who stood nearby. The Yellow Jewel buried in its hilt let off a faint light.
The maid spoke.
“B-by the reports, the Walt Army invaded Beim. But… the Walt House Head, Count Maizel was killed in action. The army has surrendered, and faced d… defeat!”
Seeing the kneeling maid, Celes’ body began to shake.
(It couldn’t be… why… I mean, father is strong. There’s no way he’d lose to leftovers like him. There’s no way that small fry could… Novem. I see, Novem did it. That damn bitch!)
Clenching her molars, the force she used to grip her staff increased. There, she heard Agrissa’s voice.
『… Poor girl. You lost your dear father? But you can’t just stay angry. Shall I guess what you’re thinking? Let’s see… Novem did it. That’s what’re on your mind.』
Celes hit the maid who delivered such detestable news away with her staff. She dragged the dresses left around the room with her, flying all the way to the wall.
While she barely survived, she was at death’s door. Celes’ breath was out of orders, her eyes open wide.
“No… Maizel was… that man can’t have…”
Seeing her mother crumbling at the knees and hiding her face with both eyes as she wept, Celes embraced her.
“Mother. I… I’m…!”
Her mother Clair clung to Celes. And the two of them shed tears. Watching over them, Bert issued orders around.
“Carry the injured off and treat her. And vacate the area.”
The maids moved just as ordered, while the quilin in the room, Rummel just stated absentmindedly at the ceiling as she sat on the floor.
Agrissa spoke to Celes.
『Unfortunately, I doubt Novem laid a hand on Maizel. While she may have been indirectly related, that thing wouldn’t lay a hand on him. In that case, the one who defeated Maizel was…』
Celes lost the light in her clear clue eyes, a wrinkle gracing her brow.
“That damn bastard. I even spared him because Novem told me to. He went and killed my father… when he’s just washed up leftover… mere kitchen waste…”
Agrissa contained her urge to laugh as she called out to Celes.
『Do you detest him, Celes? Then why not grant him all the pain of the world? But before that… you’ll have to carry out your dear father’s funeral. You need to prepare a splendid grave for your beloved father. Right… to make sure your father isn’t lonely, you should bury quite a few with him. Let’s bury ten thousand people together. If you do, your father will never be lonely.』
Hearing that statement she couldn’t think sane, Celes noticed.
“T-that’s right. I have to hold a memorial service for father. I have to keep a grip or else… mother?”
“Give me a minute, Celes. A little is enough. Let me cry for now.”
Seeing her mother like that, Celes took action that would surprise any other.
“I-I understand. I’ll wait. Celes will wait as long as you want.”
If anyone beside her parents told Celes to wait, it would become something terrible. And she felt no discomfort being told that by her mother.
… Why was that?
It was simple. The existence called Celes had a tendency to adhere to its parents. It was the same for Agrissa. But with Agrissa and Celes colored by madness, their thoughts diverged from the common man.
『… Celes, do you want to be with your mother forever?』
“Of course I do. If we’re not together forever… I, I’ll…”
Agrissa laughed in the Jewel. Her mouth warping, she spoke to Celes.
『Then just keep her by your side forever. Maizel didn’t make it in time, but as long as you collect up his corpse, there won’t be a problem. You’ve already gotten full control over, ‘that skill’. If you use it, you’ll be with your mother forever. I’m envious, Celes.』
Agrissa, who really did feel jealous, was obsessed with the thing called parents as well. It wasn’t as if Septem alone had an abnormal adherence.
Celes looked at her mother embracing her.
“… I see. Eureka! That’s right! Mother, with this, we’ll be together forever! Father will be back in no time!”
“Celes, what are you…”
Celes made sure not to cause her mother any pain as she pulled her rapier and sliced through her neck. Clinging to her mother’s head, she let the blood pouring from her neck dye her body as she made a delighted face.
“Together forever. Forever… ah, I see. We have to collect my father’s remains.”
『Then should we put the funeral on hold? No, I haven’t seen one of those in a long time. Celes, reclaiming Maizel’s remains is important, but could you proceed the preparations on the funeral for me? I… have an urge to see ten thousand humans in pain.』
Bathed in her mother’s blood, Celes tapered her mouth. She wanted to complain to Agrissa, but she was a foe Celes couldn’t go against too strongly.
“Yeah, yeah, got it. I’ll do it, jeez. Well, reclaiming a portion of father’s corpse comes first. I’d like the three of us to get together for a party soon.”
『A party, eh? I never get tired of you.』
Celes preciously held her mother’s head as she activated a Skill.
“Mother… now come back to me.”
Her mother’s head floated through the air, her own body and blood nearby recycling itself and reverting. No, it couldn’t be called a reversion. She wasn’t alive any longer.
But Clair regained her former form.
“Celes, why are you so dirty? Oh, there’s no helping you. Let’s go to the baths together and get you all cleaned up.”
There stood her mother, the same as in her life. Celes smiled.
“I’m sorry, mother. But with this, we can see father at once. I’m so relieved.”
Claire smiled as well.
“That’s right. It’s a relief, Celes.”
Agrissa let her voice out from the Jewel.
『It sure feels nice to do a good thing. I’ve a longing for some cries of death and agony, Celes. And… Lyle, was it? For him to climb up from there, as I thought, he’s got something to him.』
Celes pretended she didn’t hear Agrissa’s voice…
“Your feelings won’t change?”
In the underground dungeons of Rhuvenns castle, I faced Beil. An individual I once admired as a knight, but now he had thinned down a bit.
In his cell, he kneeled towards me with proper posture.
“… This body of mine can no longer serve you. I cannot forget anything and pretend not to know as I work under my liege. The Randbergh House pledges its devotion for life. I’m sure Baldoir will serve you well.”
It seems his resolve wouldn’t change.
He spoke of everything pertaining to Bahnseim’s internal affairs, and left loads of info with me. But when I proposed he change his name and serve me, he refused.
“Baldoir does do good work. I have considerable good will for the Randbergh House, and…”
“That’s unnecessary! And with your current position, if you don’t hand judgement to those responsible, you’ll sow seeds of discord. I cannot trouble you any further. By all means!”
Why was he so hurried to rush to his grave?
Can’t he live a little easier?
The Third let out a voice from the Jewel.
『… Good grief, the Randbergh House is way too earnest. He should live his life just a little bit easier.』
He sounded a little sadder than usual.
“… I have no grudge against you as an individual. That’s simply how great a threat Celes was. And that one is my sister. A person of the Walt House. I think you’ve only been troubled by our affairs.”
“Your words are wasted on me. I am already resolved. Whether it be torture, or an incredibly brutal execution…”
“There won’t be any torture. I’m… different from Celes.”
I’d like to think we’re different, but in the end are we the same? I always held such a question in my mind. I held it, but even so, I thought to challenge her.
“… I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. It’s my responsibility.”
It’s not as if my life was the only one twisted by Celes. Starting with Beil before my eyes, many humans were driven mad.
“I truly apologize, Lyle-sama!”
Beil let his tears flow, letting sobs leak out.
Going out to the terrace of my room, I looked up at the sky.
The morning air was cold, but right now, I wanted the pain it stung into my skin. Normally, I would’ve shivered at this temperature, but I didn’t feel anything right now.
I felt some warmth behind me. A coat had been draped over my back.
“Oh, it’s just you, Monica.”
When I said that without turning around, Monica sounded all high and mighty.
“Trying to look cool, immersed in your sentimental shit isn’t fitting of a chicken like you. For covering you up before you exposed all your bad points to the world to the extent you’d catch a cold, I don’t mind if you offer me some more words of love, you know. I love you, is enough. I’ll answer your call with all I have! This Monica will answer a Chicken dickwad’s love at full force.”
“… Shut it. It’s because you keep asking me to say I love you that I never get to say it. Why don’t you learn the subtlety that comes with that field.”
There, Monica’s twin tails swayed in the wind as she looked at me with a serious dace.
“It’s the dere. The chicken dickwad has finally shown his dere! I won! As I thought, this Monica will be the one to win in the end after all!”
Spreading her arms out wide, Monica happily raced around the terrace.
“The winner? What are you talking about?”
There, Monica acted bashful.
“Oh surely you jest. I’m talking about the chicks. Who you’ll love the most, and who’ll you’ll entrust the first chick to. The Valkyries are having a factional dispute, quite an intense quarrel over who’s going to look after them.”
The Third in the Jewel was surprised, and I covered my face with my left hand as well.
『Eh~ the automatons have faction wars as well? What a pain.』
“… Can you guys stop calling my children chicks? Or rather, why did it come to that? If I touch anyone right now, everything will take a turn for the worse.”
Monica jumped for joy as she spoke to me.
“Unfortunately, it’s a road you can’t go down by going around. Well, since I’m your number one, your first night and looking after your chicks should obviously be left to…”
Monica’s words left me staring blankly, but it truly was a road I couldn’t avoid. However, I wanted to evade the carnage. I gripped the Jewel.
It seems the Third inferred my feelings as he laughed.
『Sorry, I’ve got no advice. I finally noticed it you know… your harem’s already exceeded the maximum permissible dosage. You should see a doctor.』
… Isn’t it considerably bad that he’s only noticing that now? When I was sensing my limits long ago, it’s no joke if he’s just looking back now.
The Third spoke as if reading me.
『I opened my eyes. As I thought, rather than a harem, I’d rather love a single woman. Laying hands on numerous women is a brute’s path.』
You’re the one who pushed the harem onto me! I endured shouting that out as I calmed down my heart.
Calm down, it isn’t anything I can turn back. I can’t change this flow anymore. Innis-san told me. It’s impossible to avoid the carnage. The important thing is to make it as small as possible.
… Dangit! No matter what I do, nothing but carnage awaits, what a life!
At that moment.
I had an awfully bad premonition. This sort of… feeling of loss I felt with my father…
I didn’t feel anything as I looked around. The Skills showed no reaction either. Monica looked at me.
“What’s wrong? Ah! If you’re worried about your first night, then rest at ease. This Monica was initialized with various…”
“Don’t joke around. No, I feel this sort of sense of loss. Perhaps I’m feeling a little sad with my father’s death. I’m going to rest.”
Saying that, I returned to my room. Monica hung her head.
“… Treating me as a joke? Not lusting after me as he keeps me by his side? This is the best!”
Seeing as she was as tenacious as ever, I looked out the terrace. Exactly what was that sensation?