8.3 The Dream of a Picture Book and the Babelclair Dining Table
—it was a voice unbeknownst to Dia.
Dia, listening to the conversation as she emerged from her hazy dream, realized that it wasn’t a mere extension of her dream. It could be said that she was eavesdropping.
It seemed that not only had she dozed off, she had also borrowed Noin’s lap as her pillow…
…there appeared to be someone else in this room other than Dia and Noin, but she didn’t know who it was.
“—then, what happened to the knight in charge of that bow?”
“Simple. I took his content—his soul—and stripped it from inside out. Such a fitting ending isn’t it? For a man who possess a fairy crossbow, but possess no ability to handle it. Then, after collecting it, I gave it to the children. They were delighted by the good ingredient for the festival seasonal supper.”
The gentle voice, which she had never heard before, was full of brutality—which also sounded peculiar.
Beautiful and soft, yet also heart-wrenchingly impactful, as if she was watching the folk dance of the summer solstice night from afar.
…Could this person be a fairy?
Despite her doubt, Dia calmly listened to the conversation.
Apparently, these non-humans were talking about the winter hunt.
In other words, was there somebody in the forest at that time who was intentionally trying to hurt Dia?
…I see. They actually planned to injure me during the hunt. Indeed, that’s actually the best chance to make the public see it. It would make them believe that various circumstances overlap which destroyed my heart, concluding in my death…
In a way, it could be considered that Noin was on her side.
He tried to prevent the main lead of the play from kicking the bucket before the main show even started.
If Dia had been injured during the winter hunt, she might have had stepped down from the stage due to lack of motivation.
Dia was delicate—she would’ve lost all will to attend the last ball if such a severe injury grazed her body.
She didn’t know from where the custom originated, but the dress for the ball wasn’t kind enough to let her move while sustaining such injuries.
Meanwhile, Noin knew Dia well.
He seemed to have eliminated the extra hindrance so this sinful performer wouldn’t refuse to appear on stage.
The conversation between Noin and the Fairy continued. Gradually, the anxiety in her heart grew—
—so they are the kind of creatures who will turn those who pointed their bows against a defenseless girl into supper for the children of fairies.
“It makes me sick… the people of this kingdom aren’t even aware of how much we took back from their hands because of their own wrongdoings. They stay ignorant, living in the bubble of their own misguided beliefs.”
“In the first place, the people of this land won’t leave any soul fragments because they’ve been going against the magical contract. Even though this land belongs to you, it’s still the kingdom of humans. When it comes to claiming a kingdom inhabited by other living beings, other forest crystals-eating demons wouldn’t remain silent. However, if we take into consideration that this all happened as compensation to those contract-breaching humans, we might be able to attain the consent of those demons. After all, magic is still the absolute foundation of this world.”
“There’s still some places I need to visit. But, we’ve obtained agreements from all sorts of demons. I’ve also negotiated with the faction of forest crystal-eating demons, and also jewel-eating fairies. The Spirit of the Death, on the other hand… well, there were some difficulties, but in the end, they were satisfied after some conditions were suggested. More like, it would be dangerous to proceed if I didn’t obtain their permissions first…”
“…For this humble servant who serves you to hear that his Master, Your Highness the King, has gone through such length… oh?”
Suddenly, a dreadful silent fell, Dia’s breath almost stopped right there and then.
After an eternal silence, Dia’s nose was suddenly pulled—
“—y, you insolence man! I, I’m sorry!”
“Ho, you’re awake.”
“I-it’s my first meeting with a fairy, how dare you mess with this lady’s face—!? …Mu!”
Dia rushed to remove his hand from his nose, but found only Noin inside the room.
In the room where the sun had completely sunk, the magical fire lit on the candlestick sway ever so steadily.
Dia raised her eyebrows and looked down under her chair and then inside the drawer, but she didn’t find the owner of the other voice.
“…The fairy isn’t here…”
“…May I ask for what purpose you suddenly take out that box?”
“I want to catch the Fairy and keep it, but alas, it has escaped! If I fill the plate with milk, would the Fairy return?”
“The premise of your plan sure is strange—but, don’t carelessly serve food to a nonhuman. If they can make a magical contract, they will surely reap your soul.”
“…Well, so my soul will be reaped? There are so many places I want to go after my death, therefore, I mustn’t let that Fairy reap my soul!”
Dia had a lot of plans after her death, so she was utterly depressed when she heard her soul would be reaped.
For some reason, Noin became silent. After all, before him stood a human who dared to try catch a Fairy but for some reason was unwilling to part with her soul.
“…It’s about time for your family to leave the Land of the Dead and be reincarnated.”
“I see. I know that I can’t see my family. However, I’ve heard that after death, you can still return to the Earth on the Day of the Dead. That way, you’ll be able to visit various countries for the sake of purging your soul. I already have the countries I want to visit in mind.”
“…You may have forgotten, but you have a contract with me. I don’t know if your soul will remain once the payment is done.”
“…If so, would I be ‘pan-stewed’ instead? Being turned into petals doesn’t sound as sad, however, at the very least… before I die, I’d like to witness the Kingdom of Verclair’s fairy ink and embroidery… if such is the case, do I have to pay for it?”
The King of the Night muttered in an ever so small voice. The sight of his gleaming purple eyes were beautiful enough to render people speechless.
Dia swooned with a tint of innocence at the presence of this long-lived, high-ranking creature, who was grumpy, but somehow still stunning.
They probably disregarded human beings to the point they didn’t know what it meant to live as a humble, greedy, creature who derived pleasure from small things.
Even though that man was trying to derive pleasure from Dia’s death, which would happen in the near future, she wondered why she was still trying to painstakingly live until her last moment for that mean guy.
Even though there was no shard of hope, she still had to put in a lot of effort to ensure her first and also the last ever play would work out splendidly.
“Noin, all alone, I’ve worked hard already… My own self is already so ragged, I doubt I can still stay as your plaything after the next ball…”
Dia smiled and said so, which made Noin frown.
But, even if he got sullen here, the fact that Dia had worked hard remained.
Dia had been working hard, it was time for her well-deserved break.
“If you think they’ll spare your life just because you’ve relentlessly been putting in effort, you’re overestimating yourself.”
“…For them, I’m like a dirty napkin? I’m an obsolete item that you would want to throw away after your mouth has been cleaned. As such, why would they spare such a thing? …All I’m asking is for you to stay with me until the curtain falls.”
“…Back then, you said that there is one wish that you would dedicate your everything for me to grant.”
“Indeed. If he’s going to make it seem like I’ve committed suicide, Richardo will most likely use snow daffodils at the ball. Noin, I’m but a sly person, I’m full of scary emotions I can’t name—that’s why, please, arrange for there to be some time before my soul is sent to the Land of the Dead!”
She was rejected without a second thought and became angry.
Her intent was to divulge this plan at the day of the last ball. Then, she would reveal the wonderful post-mortem-traveling-around-the-world-map she had hidden in the drawer.
After all, he had pushed her to that ball, and in exchange for her to drink that poison, wasn’t that a small price to pay!? She absolutely needed his cooperation!
“As if I can abort such a wondrous plan now! In the first year, we will visit Verclair, then, to the Weim’s territory ink factory! Then, its opera house, its royal palace, its former royal palace—then as the cream on top, the marketplace!!”
“You seem to have forgotten the fact that the dead can’t eat the cuisine of the living.”
—the greatest enjoyment was shot down.
Dia wasn’t sure how to cope with that.
“That plan is no good. Think of others.”
“…b, but, my retirement plan…”
“Don’t call it a retirement plan.”
“Why, why is the dead unable to enjoy the food of the living—this world is wrong!”
Soon after the duke’s daughter had finished cursing the world, the sound of knocking on the door could be heard.
From the royal kitchen, the evening supper of Babelclair arrived at Dia’s room.
Even though she had just uttered such a heartbreaking scream, there was no sign of surprise from the person on the other side of the door—which meant, Noin had set up a sound cancelling barrier there as well.
…the food from this place isn’t delicious, though.
Her appetite vanished once she knew what was delivered.
No one in this royal palace adhered to Dia’s preference of food.
Therefore, she had no choice but to eat the sand-tasting food, and the amount she consumed dwindled down to half of what she usually ate.
Still, Dia must receive the dish.
She sighed and went there, however, she could hear a squeal coming from the other side of the door and the sound of someone receiving the dish—even though she hadn’t opened the door yet.
The only maids of her wing were out tonight.
Then, who was responding to it?
“Just leave those dishes. Don’t touch them, they are obviously poisoned. After all, they missed their chance to poison you during the winter hunt.”
“…Gyumu… then what do I eat?”
Dia looked up a little sadly. Noin threw his gaze a little farther away—
—apparently, he had originally prepared dinner for Dia.
Unexpectedly, there was a room unknown to Dia behind the wall, and when the curtains were drawn, there was a splendid table of night crystals under a small, beautiful, chandelier.
When she saw the feast of festivities arranged upon the table, Dia smiled. Unless she was full, there was no way she could resist such temptation from the spirits…
I’ve told Noin, in the end, my revenge comes down to this: for him to take me away from the people of this kingdom.
Dia closed the picture book in her memory.
Would her life ended up like the disaster that picture book depicted as mere fairy tale?
Once the kingdom killed Dia, there would be no more hindrances—the kingdom would have full access to cut down the forest, ultimately breaching the contract.
Noin himself had said it—last chance; if they breached the contract again, that would be it.
Once that kingdom was considered the good servant of the King of the Night no more—the Spirit of Death, too, would be granted full access to finally curse the kingdom.
Dia was actually relieved that the people of the Kingdom had forgotten what the Forest of Hydratarts was all about, and what kind of border was there.
In her heart, she still waited for Noin to extend his hand to her before everything ultimately came to an end.
She pushed such a miserable wish to the back of her mind, putting a lid on it.
Revenge and wishes were different.
‘Who would save you’; ‘who would kill you’—
—it all came down to that.
///Me before knowing all this/// NO DIA NOOOOOO DON’T GIVE UP ON LIVING, LIFE!!!!!! THERE MUST BE HOPE SOMEWHERE, EXTEND YOUR HAND! REACH FOR THE LIGHT–
*Dia: Btw the dead can return to the land.
*Dia: And I plan to travel around the world along with my Ch
ief of the Night Kingdom. Through death, I shall literally be free.
*me: …OMG!!!!!! U GO GIRL!!!!!!! GO, ATTAIN YOUR LIFELONG WISH!!!! LIF–eh, uh… DIE!!! THEN LIFE… YOUR DEATH, TO THE FULLEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! //snorts into handkerchief//
…y, you can’t eat, tho. But perhaps le Cheftain of the Night Kingdom can prepare some soul food for ya.