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 at least it didn't seem to be the Ushiromiya family mansion.
She could see a room that looked like a parlor.
......And there was some tea that had been prepared.
It had probably been prepared for her.
In the center of the room, a glittering gold leaf danced, it was very fantastical.
...Eventually, she realized that they were gold butterflies, and they seemed to stick out even more.
There was someone across from her.
......Female. ......A woman.
.........The portrait's, ...witch.
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...
"......Anything is fine. If there is anything you want, I'll give you it all. You can think of it as my reward for your good luck, and as a proper trade for my demands."
"It probably isn't that big a thing for you at all. However, that is the only meaningful transaction as far as I am concerned."
............What is she, ...talking about.
...I don't know, ...I don't know.
"It's just that, ......I am very much a witch. I think it would be wise to ask for something that only a witch can grant."
"Isn't this a rare chance. You can actually receive a favor from me, Beatrice the Golden. *cackle*cackle*!"
Finally, Rosa started to feel the blood flowing through her body.
...Her movements were still sluggish, and she couldn't even voice the words she was thinking.
"I am commonly called the Golden Witch. Bestowing a mountain of gold, like I gave to Kinzo, is no problem for me. ......In any event, you can convert all pleasures of the human world into money. Therefore, gold is equal to all the pleasures of the human world."
"Can you imagine? A mountain of gold that you couldn't use up as long as you lived."
As the witch blew on her pipe, seven colors of smoke wrapped around the surroundings.
When she did, the inside of the parlor, ...had suddenly become filled with stacks of gold ingots.
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 that number.
"......However, the human world is difficult. I know that there are some things that cannot be satisfied no matter how high into the sky you pile up gold. I know that there are cracks that can't 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 that only I can give. You should be very happy."
"......You don't have to say it out loud. I can understand it 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 speak well, and was so helpless that it was difficult for her even to move a finger, she couldn't do anything but listen.
"How far must the deep wounds in your heart recede before they can be healed? .........This is, .........deep, deep. ......Sometimes, wounds close up while a fragment of something is still inside. ...Even when those wounds appear to have healed, they will continue to throb for all eternity. Sometimes you have to open the wound once to completely heal it."
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, is being stuck with a fate from the time you were born. ...How heart-breaking. ...You don't have to say it. I understand. ......I understand......"
Then, Rosa was once again sucked into the witch's eyes.
Then, the world grew dark, spinning round and round as she was sucked in...
Why are you such an idiot?
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.
It had seemed like I was being punished for something bad I'd done, but I hadn't 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.
Why are you such an idiot?
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 time.
It had seemed like I was stupid, and she said it was only natural for stupid people to be swindled by those better 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.
Why are you such an idiot?
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 was friendly with Krauss nii-san.
When Eva nee-san was around, he was friendly with Eva nee-san.
...And when Krauss nii-san wasn't around, he was violent like Krauss nii-san, and when Eva nee-san wasn't around he played 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.
......Oh, but this is my memory from when I was a kid.
A large amount of unreasonable things happened when I was a kid.
And that couldn't be dragged out forever.
With time, those memories were buried away, and forgetting those bit by bit was supposed to be part of growing up and becoming an adult.
So becoming an adult is the same thing as separating yourself from all of those memories.
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 that.
And she smiled, saying that she could heal that pain herself.
"......How could I heal you? It's possible, but not easy. ...I could even rewind time, and give you a world where you have no older siblings."
"But that way, your 'memories of being hurt by your older siblings' wouldn't remain, and in that sense, while you could call it a gift, you wouldn't be able to accept it."
"If starvation is healed, that person is satisfied. Even if you erase starvation itself, no one 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 that I never had older siblings, the pain wouldn't be removed, maybe that's what she's saying.
Strictly speaking, it's different.
Healing isn't the same thing as removing pain.
It's the pleasure earned from withstanding pain.
Therefore, removing the pain isn't healing.
To know the joy of healing, you have to know the pain.
"In that case, ......there is joy as a reward for your pain. You can boast of the suffering in your past. Because you are qualified to know a kind of pleasure that those who have not known suffering cannot taste. ...Those that have known this pleasure, cannot help but give the same joy to other people... *cackle*cackle*..."
When the witch snapped her fingers, even though the room was still filled with a mountain of gold and had already lost all semblance of reality, a fabulous tablecloth appeared on top of the table, and wonderful cooking was laid out, almost as though it was the opening of a banquet in a castle from some fairy tale.
For an instant, Rosa felt a pleasurable surprise at how fabulous it was, ...but at the same time, she felt a bit of anticlimax.
Because she thought that being bullied by her siblings wouldn't be wiped away by just one meal, no matter how delicious.
"Food contains many of the human pleasures. You must eat like a pig as long as you live."
"If one meal isn't enough, then 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 food 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 could 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."
"If I had to give it a name, I'd call it a Bloody Krauss. Soaked with just a golden drop of your brother's blood that was squeezed out of a compressor."
"You know a lot about black tea, so you should know what it means, right? 'Golden drop' refers to the last drop. 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. It's squeezed with that."
As the witch snapped her fingers, a bright red veil that had been set up before something large was removed.
......The solemn and massive machine there was just like a coffin for a large-sized person, with many large bulb-like things stuck to it, and it looked like a sinister torture device.
By its unnerving shape, she could tell that with a human's strength, it could 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. It is also easy to revive a person."
When the witch snapped her fingers, suddenly, the human compressor began to shake.
...No, she could also hear a groan.
......It looked almost as though, someone had been sleeping in that man-sized coffin, had woken up, and was now struggling to get out.
But that was wrong.
What was inside had definitely beensqueezed dregs・・・・・・・・
Using her magic, the witch had once again revived the squeezed dregs to how they had 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 the inside of the coffin.
...Rosa thought she knew the owner of that voice.
"It is fitting for cooking to be done in the kitchen. That is enough, stand back."
"......Do you understand how precious a golden drop is? To have it
stained this crimson requires thatseveral dozen people's worth・・・・・・・・・・・・・
The witch had 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 release.
"Do you need me to say it in a different way? Have you forgotten the day this man hit you, and 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*!!"
Once again, the goat head servants tilted a deep red glass against her mouth.
...Rosa tried resisting by closing her lips, but the deep red liquid was relentlessly poured into her mouth, which was hanging open with shock, and the inside of her mouth was filled with a ghastly sweetness...
It was definitely 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. It wasn't as though the crimson-stained wine wasn't 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.
"That is a double-tongued salad made from vegetables in season. ...As you hoped you could one day chew to bits on your 9th birthday, here is that salad you desired, made from Eva's tongue."
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.
"How does your double-tongued sister taste? It must be quite soft and enchanting, right? *cackle*cackle*!"
Maybe it was quite sweet, soft and enchanting in her mouth.
After all, Eva's lies were always sweet, and young Rosa had always listened to them.
...So you could say that the taste of the stimulating pepper seasoning that was added expressed the details of 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 steal more than one out of one tongue. But I can steal it over and over. *cackle*cackle*!!"
As Rosa's tears dripped down, she resisted, half-crazed.
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 violated Rosa's mouth...
"Does it please you...? There's still much more food. Sea bass pie wrapped in the skin of Rudolf's face. Soup with boiled brains, liver pate. And look forward to dessert, *cackle*cackle*!! It's not just your siblings, see? I have lavishly arranged all of those who you have trusted and yet betrayed you. Why don't we continue this banquet for all eternity, until your heart is satisfied. For all eternity.
......You're happy, right, Ushiromiya Rosaaaa? Don't pretend that you hate it, I know that you're really happy, alright? If you want to laugh, then you can laugh, if you won't feel better until you've heard a raw performance of your annoying older sibling's screams, then I'll let you hear them as often as you want. It's alright that you are so unwilling. That's your personality, right? You're actually so happy that your skin is crawling all over. And yet, on the outside, you're just pretending to act like you're in pain?
It's alright. 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 be-st banquet, Ushiromiya Rosaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa???"
".........st, .........please, ......stop......, ...*cough*, *hack*!! eeeeh..."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I kept the dessert a secret to surprise you, but let me reveal it anyways. If I reveal it, maybe that will be enough incentive for you to eat up the full course."
"The dessert is that beloved daughter that you had to keep pretending to love, oven-baked Maria and apples. Doesn't that sound yummy?"
"If 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.
".........Mama.........Was Maria, ......a burden......?"
"...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 Mama, ...thinks Maria is a burden, ......it's fine if Maria is eaten."
".........After all, Maria always does horrible things to Mama. Even when Mama brings a man over, Maria can't stay quiet. When Mama stayed over with a man, Maria got lonely and unruly and made a mess of the room. When Maria went to search by herself, she got lost, the police picked her up and Mama was shamed. Mama, who cried after Maria didn't come home for several days, who had to be consoled by the neighbors, was shamed."
"Because Maria's like this, she's an annoyance to Mama. Sorry for being born. So Maria will become delicious oven-baked apples for Mama's sake."
"And then, maybe Mama will be happy Maria exists for the first time. Maybe she'll eat Maria and think she's delicious. 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."
"Wait!! Wait, Maria, that's wrong!! Stop it already, stop it already, nooooooooooooooooooooooo!! I didn't want something like this! Please stop, please forgive me!! No, stop it already, don't put it, in my mouth..., uuuuulg, geeeeeeeeeeee!!"
"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'!!"
"......I accept it!! U, Ushiromiya Rosa, ......accepts that, ......Beatrice is a witch!! So give Maria back!! Release meeeeeeeeeeeeee!!"
"*cackle*cackle*, hahahahahahahahahahahahah-hah-hah-hah-hah-ha!! I finally made you accept 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!! Ku hahahahahahahahakya-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HA!! Come, bring Maria, prepare a delicious oven roast for Rosa!!"
"Looks delicious. Slice up your cow tits and make me a sandwich."
"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 group of gold butterflies, and reformed into her body a short distance away.
"Ba........., Battler?!?! Y, ......you bastard, ...you should have surrendered so that even your soul was furniture!!"
"I had planned to, ...but while I was listening to that gross recipe, I started to get a little hungry."
"Now I feel like eating a whole roast witch!!"
"And Maria. It's ten years too early for you to talk about having someone eat you. But in ten years, you'll have to say that to me. Promise."
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Rosa oba-san. I had forgotten. This was a one-on-one fight between me and this woman. I definitely can't give in. ......Thanks to Rosa oba-san's persistence, I've regained my will to fight!!"
......Th, ...this person, he gave up in the depths of his soul, and supposedly surrendered to me...
......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...!
"Fu, fuhahahahahahahahaha, how vigorous, I like it! 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'll stand back up even after crawling in the mud!! I've never had the experience of being invincible in a fight. I lost many times. But I'll definitely crawl in the mud and stand up again. 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!!"
"Don't think I'm out just because you took a shot at me. Entertain me, Beatriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!!"
"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. What other evasive quibbles will you show me now?!! The lock to the chapel, the lock to Jessica's room, the lock to the servants' 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!!"
"Aaah, it's useless, it's all useleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeess!!!"