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Episode 2: The Poison of Love / Crossroad
The Holy Raal Empire’s state-of-the-art aerial battleship Odin, also known as the “War God Battleship Odin.”
Inside one of its guest rooms, Luca and Marie were lounging on a sofa.
It was large enough to fit three adults, with soft cushions that made them feel somewhat nostalgic.
Because in these past seven years, neither one of them had sat in such a soft, comfortable sofa.
“Oneechan, are you okay?” Marie asked, peeking at Luca’s face.
“Yeah, I’ve mostly calmed down.”
Although it wasn’t Luca’s intent, she did kill someone. And the truth of that fact weighed heavily on her.
At the same time, she also felt a strong sense of terror towards that unit- the Phantom.
A machine ignored a human’s will in order to commit murder. She had never seen or heard of a Masquerade doing such a thing before.
“Oh, well that’s good. You had a look on your face like it was the end of the world……”
Since a communication channel had been left open that entire time, Marie had both seen Luca’s face and heard everything that was said.
“Did I really look that bad?”
“Yeah. Though you never were much in the way of looks to begin with.”
“M- Marie, you little…! How dare you say that!”
Luca pushed Marie onto the sofa and started tickling her.
“Kyaa! Oneechan’s attacking me!” Marie said, laughing so hard that her eyes were tearing up.
And when Luca saw this, she started laughing as well.
Luca ceased the tickling and spoke in earnest.
“Oneechan is a good person. Marie guarantees it.”
The mature little sister smiled kindly.
Sometimes it was hard to tell which one was the older sister.
Luca sat back down on the sofa and sighed.
“A good person, huh,” Luca mumbled internally.
Good people aren’t good for anything. Really, truly pointless. That’s how it had been for the past seven years.
“But I guess a real good person wouldn’t go stealing Masquerades!”
“Ah, you’re right.”
Having returned to her seat on the sofa, Marie nodded in acknowledgement.
A brief silence.
“Oneechan, is the Demon King really going to buy the Masquerade?”
“We still haven’t negotiated it yet.”
While they were brought to the War God Battleship Odin after that incident and did land there, Liese had taken a different landing hatch.
And right after disembarking from the Phantom, they were led to this room by a group of uniformed soldiers.
“Oh. Well, Marie couldn’t believe it either when the Demon King showed up back there. Once that unit was confirmed as the Weisselillie, Marie thought that we were goners for sure.”
Weisselillie was the name of the pure white Masquerade that Liese piloted. It was a beautiful machine with lily emblems adorning both shoulders.
Its beauty was almost phantasmal, but also stained with blood.
“That was definitely a shock for me too.”
Marie didn’t know that Luca and Liese were friends. And Luca was somewhat lost as to whether or not she should even tell her.
But she did decide to do so in the end. Because she didn’t want to hide anything from her.
Even if Marie herself was hiding something from Luca.
“Umm, Marie? Actually…”
In the middle of Luca’s sentence, the guest room’s door quietly slid open.
And for a moment, she mistakenly thought that Liese had arrived.
But instead, the one who entered was a young woman in a red military uniform. She didn’t seem too far in age from Luca, perhaps just a couple of years older.
She had short silver hair and cute facial features. However, her upturned eyes caused her to appear angry. And then there was her forceful expression, or rather atmosphere.
“Which one of you is Lucrene?” The silver-haired woman asked while looking at both Luca and Marie.
Even through her uniform, one could tell that this woman had a rather large chest. But she had no extraneous fat outside that region, as well as an incredibly supple figure that was likely the result of regular exercise.
Luca was a little bit, really just a tiny bit jealous.
“That would be me, but right now my name is Luca. Not Lucrene.”
Luca was skinny. Including her chest. It wasn’t as if she was forced to go days without food during these past seven years, but it also wasn’t as if she was able to eat her fill.
Though she was comfortably fed during the three months she spent on the Arianrhod as a cook, thanks to their provided meals.
“How……” Marie said.
By which she meant “How does she know the name ‘Lucrene.'”
By the way, Marie was also on the relatively thin side. While Luca had intended for her to be properly fed and clothed and be able to live like an actual human being, things didn’t go over so well.
Once you fell to the level of a rat, it was hard to climb back up. That’s just how the world was.
“Well it’s not like it matters,” the woman said. “Lieselotte-sama is calling for you, so come with me.”
The woman spun her heel.
“Could you at lest tell us your name?”
When Luca said this, the woman turned back around.
“It’s Krista. Krista, of the Royal Guard. And just so there’s no confusion, you’ll be gunned down the second I see you trying anything strange in front of Lieselotte-sama.”
Krista glared at Luca.
“I’m not gonna do anything strange.”
Luca stood up, somewhat annoyed.
Marie looked at Luca with worried eyes.
“It’s okay. I’m just going to go talk for a little while so sit tight here.”
Luca showed her a smile.
In hopes of assuaging at least some of Marie’s unease.
Lieselotte Falkenmeyer took a shower, dried her hair, and diligently combed it.
After ensuring that there wasn’t a single hair out of place, she put on her uniform. A pure white uniform, different from that of the other soldiers. As a note, normal soldiers wore dark green and the Royal Guard wore red.
Liese loved the color white.
Because it brought up memories of the pure, kind Lucrene.
That her machine was painted white, and that it was named Weisselillie –White Lily–, all of it was to remember her.
Because Liese felt that the phrase “white lily” perfectly suited Lucrene.
The throbbing in her chest refused to stop.
Lieselotte’s one and only friend. The only friend that she had in the entire world. Her friend from a decade ago who she thought had died seven years ago.
They had only actually met for a single day. But it was a memory more beautiful and precious than anything.
Again and again, Lieselotte checked to make sure that her uniform had no wrinkles.
Then she applied a little perfume and took a deep breath.
Reflected in the mirror, Lieslotte’s cheeks shamefully loosened up.
Seeing herself smile for the first time in however many years made her want to vomit.
And with her high spirits lowered, she confronted the truth.
“Am I an idiot……”
Lieselotte sat down on the floor.
“I’m not…… how I was back then…… There’s no way that Lucrene…… that she’ll accept me as I am now……”
The Demon King Lieselotte Falkenmeyer.
She was the enemy of the world, and the embodiment of evil.
An invader and a murderer.
A person so wrapped up in her hatred that she attempted to set the entire world ablaze.
“Even though we’ve been reunited…… there’s no way that she’d allow me to so much as touch her……”
It would be like trying to pick a pure white lily with hands soaked in blood.
Lieselotte’s hands were far too sullied to touch anything that was beautiful.
How many people did she kill to attain her current position?
How many people did she cast into hell while proclaiming world domination?
Within Lieselotte was enough anger, enough burning hatred to commit such acts.
But even though that was the case,
with Lucrene alive, now that she knew that Lucrene was alive,
those flames were on the verge of dying out.
Liese’s room was horribly simple. It didn’t feel lived-in at all, and was more like a doll’s room.
“Lucrene, it’s been a while.”
Wearing a white hat, Liese’s expression didn’t change at all as she spoke.
Luca entered the room alone. Krista didn’t seem happy about it, but was forced to fall back when Liese ordered her to and was currently standing outside the room.
“Yeah. Have you…… well I know that you’ve been doing alright.”
Ahaha, Luca laughed.
Because she’d occasionally seen Liese’s face on TV.
“Well, take a seat.”
Liese pointed at a simple chair. And then she sat down on the bed.
Luca did as she was told, lowering herself onto the chair. It was rather hard when compared to the sofa in the guest room. But well, she was used to that.
“I’m surprised that you survived.”
“Yeah, well we were saved thanks to Marie’s Sixth Sense.”
As well as their mother’s strongly-put statement of “I want you to live.”
“Marie? Who’s that?”
“My little sister. And I’m sorry. I really wanted to tell you that I was alive, but……”
She had no method of doing so.
“I don’t mind,” Liese replied. “I truly am happy to see you alive, Lucrene.”
Liese was like a dignified flower.
That’s the kind of impression she gave.
But it was all an act. Just like ten years ago.
The end of an endless bluff.
Luca preferred the Liese who spoke her true desire of wanting to be loved.
“Right now, I’m called Luca.”
“Luca? Isn’t that a boys’ name in Pastia?”
Liese narrowed her eyes.
The Kingdom of Pastia– now, it’s Luca’s fallen homeland. The calm, peaceful land that was lost seven years ago.
“It’s because I’ve been working as a guy for a while now. Look, I don’t even have a chest.”
Ahaha, Luca laughed.
“……how long have you been able to laugh like that?” Liese asked, wide-eyed.
“What kind of life have you been living, Lucrene!?”
“Umm…… what kind……”
Remembering the past seven years, she reflexively clenched her fist. And then that fist began to tremble.
Her vision warped.
“……they said we were rats……”
“Rats…… you say……?”
That was a discriminatory slur, primarily used against the poor and impoverished. Darkness borne from the capitalism that the United Nations promoted.
Formerly a part of the Holy Raal Empire, the Kingdom of Pastia achieved independence seven years ago and joined the United Nations. Presently, it was known as the Commonwealth of Pastia.
That forced independence that nobody wished for. Manipulated by the United Nations, a section of the extremist party sent in a massive army in the name of independence and used it to crush the Kingdom of Pastia.
They then forced democracy and capitalism onto the country and allowed it to fall to ruin.
Pastia was currently under the rule of foreign interests, and its former citizens were suffering under a brutal work environment.
“And Liese, that’s why. Lucrene is dead. The pure Lucrene who believed that the world was beautiful and never doubted anyone died. I’m Luca. Luca Bernard. I’ve done bad things in order to survive, and I even stole a Masquerade from the Arianrhod.”
“There’s no way, no possible way that that could be!” Liese jumped to her feet. “That the Lucrene who taught me what kindness was, that the Lucrene who was a Pastian Princess, could ever referred to as a rat!?”
With the words “Pastian Princess,” Luca flashed back to those times.
The glittering palace. Everyone– the royalty, its associates, and the citizens– smiled happily. And there was peace.
Lucrene used her Sixth Sense to help everyone achieve happiness, and was known as Pastia’s Flower of Love. Back then, she was able to believe that the world was a kind and just place.
But seven years ago, everything was destroyed in an instant, her father the King was scattered into the heavens, and her mother was abandoned in that burning palace.
“Thank you for getting mad for my sake, Liese,” Luca smiled. “I’ve seen the truth, and I’ve learned the truth, and I truly believe that the world we live in is wrong. This world system that I never would have learned about had I remained a Princess.”
She’d always stowed those feelings.
Because she believed that she was powerless and couldn’t do anything about it.
“Liese, I was happy when you said that you were going to conquer the world. Because I thought that if it was you, you’d actually be able to change this cruel, unfair world.”
“No, Lucrene, you’re wrong!” Liese said, sounding like a child on the verge of tears. “I just… I just wanted to destroy the whole world. The Raal Empire that failed to save Pastia, the United Nations that destroyed Pastia, I just wanted to destroy them all! I only ever spoke of world domination for the sake of my own rage and hatred! My only desire was to plunge everyone into hell!”
A bitter voice. So much so that it was as plain as day that she wasn’t lying. That her words were the truth.
“Aah, so that’s it. It was all for my sake.”
Luca was struck with a small feeling of happiness and a massive feeling of despondence.
But in that case,
“Then just change your goal, Liese. Instead of destroying it, conquer it properly. And then–”
“–hand the world over to me.”
Silence. However, it didn’t last long.
“Because I’ll definitely create a beautiful world, a love-filled world where everyone can live happily, a pure world."
The current world was wrong.
The system itself was wrong.
To its very core, far beyond the point of saving.
Especially the world where United Nations pushed its lie of “the righteous shall be rewarded.”
The people on one side concentrated all the wealth and power, and those on the other side had no choice but to work themselves ragged from the age of ten just so they could live a miserable life. They didn’t go to school, and received no governmental assistance.
And the children of the privileged derided them as rats and threw rocks at them. It was a world with that kind of side.
That was absolutely wrong.
“Lucrene, do you understand what you’re saying……”
“I understand. But since I can’t fight, I’ll use you, Liese. You can do anything, so go conquer the world.”
If the beautiful world that she believed in until seven years ago never actually existed,
if really that was the case,
then she’d just create it herself.
If this was some kind of mistake,
then Luca and Liese never would have met in the skies today to begin with.
Because Luca’s Sixth Sense was whispering to her “it’s today.” That today had to be the day that she stole the Masquerade.
“……are you serious?”
“……it’s a brutal path…… If possible, I’d wish for you to have a peaceful life. I’d prepare a house for you in a quiet area of the Raal Empire. And I’d prepare whatever money you needed as well. You’d be free to do whatever you pleased. But you still……”
“I still want the world.”
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