“Uuh, Uuh! So many roses! So many rose! Uuh!!“
“Listen Maria, don't be so hasty, you'll fall!“
“Hey, Jessica-chan, Maria-chan! Let's hurry and say hello to grandfather and the others.“
“This rosegarden is so darn beautiful everytime I see't...ain't it?!“
“I liked it much better before the remodelling. You really have no sense of style at all, big brother.“
“You can't do anything else but complain, sister? Ouchouch! Not the ears, don't pull the ears!!“
“Hahaha“ “Hihihi“ “Kyahahah“
The family members, coming for the family conference, strolled around the rose garden, bickering like always.
But this year was slightly different from last year.
...because, after having been apart from the Ushiromiya household for six years, Battler had returned.
“It really has been a long time, but just as expected, the mansion and the garden are still huge...“
“Damn, after 6 years of no contact at all, the first thing you notice is how huge the sorrounding are?!“
“Hahaha, it's been pretty boring for you during those 6 years without Battler, eh, Jessica-chan?! But the area here is not the only thing that seems huge. Battler, you've grown quite a bit as well!“
“Maria doesn't grow at all, no?! I'm always the same size, uh....“
“That's alright. You will start growing quite soon, I think. That is, both upwards and forwards! Hihihihi!“
“??? Mama? Can someone grow forward?“
“Hey, Pervert Battler! Don't teach Maria such weird stuff!“
“Uwaaaah! Jessica's violent tendencies haven't changed either! Hihihihi!“
“Hey, let's go you brats! You can fool around later!“
“It's the first time they meet in 6 years. They are all pretty excited.“
“Now, everyone. I will lead you to the guesthouse. Please come along, this way...“
“Huh? What's up Battler? Is there something?“
After being called by Gohda, everyone headed towards the guesthouse. Only Battler continued to gaze at the rosegarden, calmly or maybe a little surprised...
“What's up, Battler-kun?“
“Sorry. Could you just go ahead?!“
“...Uuh? ... Battler, is something wrong?“
“I just want to feel the wind a little longer. ...Just a little.“
“What's up with you being so smug? Can't you do that as much as you want later?“
Until just now he had been carelessly fooling around with his cousins.
But now, all of a sudden, Battler's expression showed a slight hint of gloom.
His eyes did not reflect his cousins.
The only thing it reflected, was the sight of the rosepetals dancing through the rosegarden...or maybe even the grey sky at the horizon.
“...Okay. Well, let's go everyone.“
Rokkenjima after 6 years ... no, the house of Ushiromiya.
It was clear that Battler needed just a little more time to sort out his feelings.
George considered that and so he asked Maria and Jessica to accompany him ahead.
No matter what, it has been 6 years.
Just now they had been playing like they had returned to themselves 6 years ago...but no matter what, that was 6 years in the past.
After such a long time it was surely not just his height and features......it must have been his mind as well. He must have changed severely.
In that expression there surfaced something else than the Battler from 6 years ago who was just a child.
Jessica thought so as well.
“I understand......we will go ahead. See you later, Battler...!”
Maria spurted ahead hastily when she was called by Rosa. George and Jessica followed her.
After that, the only thing left in the rosegarden, among the silently blowing wind was Battler's figure.
After he had made sure that all signs of the family members had vanished into the guesthouse...Battler relaxed a little, let the tension leave his shoulders and sighed shortly.
....Battler, Battler. ....Battler-kun, Battler-kun...?
That is something which is supposed to be my name. I have been called by it many times.
...that is obvious, because it is my name.
But I and the Ushiromiya Battler I know...I'm sad to admit, they are quite different.
It was then, when a forceful wind blew through the rosegarden.
In the blink of an eye the rosepetals scattered and danced about, revealing a fantastic scenery.
But......those dancing rosepetals, as if they were frozen in time, stopped moving in midair.
This was a parallel world, where only the wind blew.
“...Battler-sama, welcome back.“
“Ronove. ...you seem well. How long has it been since we last met?“
“After Land of the golden witch, I had the privilege to be at your side during Trinity of the golden witch. ......No, if we consider that Lady Bernkastel's gameboard is supposed to be the last...“
“....well. No matter how long it has been, we still just met, haven't we?!“
The different coloured rosepetals in the garden suddenly changed their colour...
All of them were suddenly of a beautiful gold.
This was no longer the rosegarden of the Ushiromiya family.
It was the place where golden roses bloom......the golden land.
“......Because I am here right now, it might imply......that I better play out my part as myself...right?“
“Well......how shall we proceed?“
“A piece has it's duty as a piece. Once it has been placed on the gameboard, as long as it is in the boundaries of the role given to him......it can run wild on the board to it's heart's content. That is, what it's about, right ...?“
“That is correct. And that you have been invited here once more, is in accordance to that meaing as well.“
“That means......that I can make me...do anything I like, just as I like. That's correct, isn't it?“
“That is quite correct. And therefore your role is,“
“To run as wild as I want.“
But it was no delightful laughter.
It was a dry laugh, revealing his stance towards being summoned here without knowing what his purpose was......having just been burdened with such a dumbass job.
“It is my personal choice...whatever I do.”
“That is correct. Whatever you do or don't do. It is completely up to you. Though there is just one restriction.”
“'Don't ever bore us.'”
“...Pukuku. That is correct. Even I, Ronove, am overjoyed at being able to attend this time's game of joy and sorrow.”
“And I'm supposed to know what to do. ......Are you completely insane?! Hey, that's just like those variety shows where you suddenly call a young artist on stage and tell him to do something fun without any preparation.”
“Pukukuku. Now, now, that is quite a pleasent comparison...”
“......Well then. I will make them dance once again. ......I will swing the conductor's baton on this incomprehensible serial murder case. Everyone of you, .... I will raise the baton above my head, await it eagerly, I despise your diligent mannerism. ....HAHAHAHAHAHA...“
“What story might you spin this time? The preparations have all been done. ...Now, shall I lend you a hand with anything?“
“Shall it be the letter announcing the murders handed in the rosegarden? Or maybe the preparation of the stage of the tragedy? Everyone is already eagerly awaiting the opening of your piece.“
“This time......with whom shall I start. .....no. ....How shall I kill them....?“
No matter who might see this form, they will suspect nothing else than this.
Still, the expression he had was that of another person.
Was he really......Ushiromiya Battler?
He was a piece that had the same shape as Ushiromiya Battler...but it was a piece with a quite different role......
“No, that's not it. I don't want to see any killings. Not any corpses. ....What I really want to see is....that is really just that one instant. I want to witness that one instant. You know, Ronove?”
“...the most beatiful flicker is that one instant, right when a candle is blown out.”
“Yes. ...What I want to see is that most beautiful, most dreadful...... moment of scattering.”
Battler stood up as he said this, and while looking up at the dark, violet sky he spread his arms and screamed:
“I want it in front of George-Anikis eyes, when he cannot move! What colour might the tears be he is going to shed, when I am slowly strangling Shannon to death in front of his eyes? What colour might the blood that idiot father is going to bleed be, when I blow his head off in the moment he learns his son is the culprit? Aah, I want to see aunt Natsuhi's tears. I will smash Jessica to a bloody, sticky pulp and then I will pretend I would have just found her corpse. What face might aunt Natsuhi show and what tears might she shed while starting to run? With what kind of crumpled face might that beauty cry? I want to see...aaah, and I will cry along with her. And then I will press crying aunt Natsuhi to my chest, and will make her think I am crying along with her. ....and....with the face of the most horrible and worst humility, I will say without crying or laughing, aagh, ungh....uhuhu...ukukukuhahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA!! Did you see that? That is the story you all want to see right?! Hahaha, I will show it to you! I will show you the greatest form of entertainment with an “Ushiromiya Battler who can be the culprit”, Hahahahyahahahaaa!!”
Battler roared towards the sky, no, towards a full house of spectators.
And his exclamation was accompanied by a roaring thunder, just like applause.
“Truly splendid. A story truly worth seeing. Well then, Battler-sama. What will tonight's game be? How will tonight's tragedy turn out? Well, who shall be killed first?!”
“The first thing I want to visit, is an overture. ...I have just arrived here. So before even doing an overture, we have to tune the instruments.“
“No matter how splendid the sound might be, an instrument has to be tuned. But, what shall happen in that state of tuning...“
“I want to try starting, by killing you.“
“Well, that is something I had not expected.”
“......in what way has the me on this gameboard been drawn. I want to finish testing that quick and easily. ...This me...was it really written in a way to be me? If it is not a me that satisfies me...I might discard this stage without doing anything at all.”
Battler said that while looking up at the heavens.
This time his face really was filled with laughter.
Ronove returned the tea-set back into a cloud of golden butterflies to clean up. Then he revealed his neck by slightly opening his collar.
“Well then, Battler-sama. ......Please use my humble body and test to your heart's content.“
“What music will I be able to play, when I break your fingers....one by one, by one. ...I wantr to hear it.“
Battler laughed sinisterly.
But in that laugh was neither something bizarre nor something demonic.
It was purity.
The purity of a child......filled with interest.
He often laughed in a prude, composed manner......but for him to laugh such an uncomposed huge laughter, that was a first for everybody.
“I understand, Battler-sama. Well then, play on my fingers, Battler-sama. ......That is, if you really are the person who is fit to taste my humble fingers...”
“Yes. I want to test this as well. ......If I was drawn in a way that I could be able to do something like that. I want to test it. If I might actually turn out to be drawn in a way that is not „Me“, smash me Ronove, tear me into pieces!! Only such a forgery would be forgiven!! Now test me as well, if this „Me“ that has been called forth again, is a forgery worthy of the biggest laughter...!! Now, Ronove, test it...let us both test it!! Haha...AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!“
“And now, you can never serve your black tea to anyone but me ever again, for all eternity...”
“......Who's there? Is that you Beato? ....If you decide on watching, at least admit you are doing so.“
“What a joke. ......if you were drawn to express yourself so joyfully, I might become your instrument as well.“
“...that might happen. ...after I heard it once, I will never forget your sound ever again. You were the most perfect violin. That sound, it was as if it was coming from heaven itself. ...but I can wait a little longer. Because it is something really, really important. ...because this is the one sound, that I have loved a long, long time and will love for all eternity.“
“...even if you put it like that...it's horrible. ...no, it's wonderful. Ronove has not one wound at all.“
“Hey, Beato. ....Look at me.“
“Am I „Me“...?“
This was when Battler completely turned around.
On that face, showing an inhuman smile...there was a single rosepetal.
It was a red petal, in this golden land where only golden roses are supposed to bloom.
“...Hmm, I verify it. ...You are “You”. ...I am so happy to be able to meet you again. ...And through meeting you, being able to become stronger, more beautiful....and more dreadful.”
“With every forgery that is written. ......And with each story that is spun around Ushiromiya Battler being the culprit...the existence called “I” am growing in power.”
“That is truly horrible......what might those spectators who are longing for you expect from us?”
“...isn't that quite obvious? It is something that is the same for me and for you.”
“You might be right. It's the same for me and you.”
“'Never bore us! Kihyahyahahahahaha!!!'”
Their laughter was answered by a huge roaring thunder, which became the applause of the spectators.
...somehow he and they seemed to have taken a liking to this forgery.
It happened suddenly.
It started to rain in the rosegarden.
It happened earlier than ever before.
It was even earlier than that time when Maria starts crying for a rose that went missing.
The roses weren't golden anymore.
Suddenly we had returned to the rosegarden of the Ushiromiya's with it's many colours.
There, in the rainy rosegarden, Battler stood alone, stock still, looking at the sky.
“......Battler-sama. If you keep standing there you will catch a cold.”
“Yo. Kanon-kun, right?! ....it's been a while.”
“........ ......is that so? So this is your plan for tonight's nightmare?!”
“Don't look at me like that. Even you want to see it. ...How Miss Jessica is reduced to tears, both body and soul. You want to hear her say, that it doesn't matter what happens to her, as long as Kanon-kun is set free.....don't you want to see your fingers getting cut off again?”
“....You devil! ....Who in heaven's name called someone like you here?!”
“It was the unstoppably huge number of spectators who expect to see me as the culprit and those nameless conductors who bestow that dream upon me.“
“Listen. Let's go, Kanon-kun. Or else you'll catch a cold.“
“And don't forget this.“
“......I will take care of it.“
“Tonight, when the grandfather clock in the grand hall strikes midnight, you will deliver this to the family members in the dining room. You will tell them, that there was a knock at the door of the servant's room ...... and when you stepped out into the corridor this was lying on the floor.“
Again a roaring thunder. The pitchblack sky blinked violently.
Among the still falling rain, Battler once again spread his arms laughing and looked at the sky.
Still, the eternal catbox truly was in his hands. Still, the recurring nightmare was as he imagined it.
Yet still, the fantasies of the people of the future would never deplete. There would never be boredom.
And this is why......
“Well, and so the game begins once again tonight....!“
This is why this is the torture that will torment „you“ for all eternity.