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「ーーBeako, I have something a bit important to talk about, do you mind?」
As she’s being called in that tone, Beatrice stops what she was doing and turns around.
In her line of sight, stood a boy with short black hair and characteristic sharp sanpaku eyes. At a glance, you couldn’t not get a sharp impression from just looking at his face. But in actuality, that was most definitely not the case, his character had a softness unrelated to that sharpness.
And that very soft him, was the great spirit Beatrice’s partner, Natsuki Subaru.
He wasn’t “They” who came before Beatrice who holed herself up in the archive for four hundred years.、Choosing this gentle personーーChoosing him、was the single greatest joy of Beatrice’s spirit life.
「Beako? Heeey, you hear me?」
Doubting the unresponsive Beatrice, Subaru who was tilting his neck called her a second time. At that call「ahem」 she cleared her throat. Just now, she could feel her habitual gratitude welling up at that loveliness.
But, Beatrice deliberately constructed a stiff tightened up expression,
「I hear you, I suppose. Though Betty may not seem so, she’s very busy with many things to do, in fact. Unless it is it is a matter of great importance, I do mind, I suppose.」
Replying with a cold and unconcerned attitude, Beatrice walks over to Subaru. At Beatrice’s attitude, Subaru gives a 「Sorry sorry」while scratching his own cheek
「I know my Beako’s so pretty she’s in high demand, but I at least want me to be thought of as number one there. C’mon, that partner trait thing.」
「Good grief, in fact. Geez, it can’t be helped since if Betty wasn’t around Subaru couldn’t manage anything for himself, I suppose. I will leave those who can manage for themselves to hold on for a while, in fact.」
Giving a broad smile at the lamenting Beatrice’s response, Subaru pats down his chest with relief.
Different from their spirit and contractor relationship, Beatrice felt her heart at ease with Subaru’s relief. She wanted for Subaru to be as healthy as possible.
She could wish for nothing more than if he could continue through each day with the tranquility of a nap, without a scratch.
Nevertheless, seeing as that boy had a personality that of his own volition chose to thread through the thorny path, that wish would not come to be.
And that’s whyーー、
「Betty has to do her part as well, I suppose. Otherwise, Subaru won’t stop diving head first into bottomless swamps, in fact.」
「Why did you say something so scary all of a sudden!?」
「Just talking to myself, I suppose. Subaru, eavesdropping is bad manners, in fact」
「You say something that scary to yourself!? You shouldn’t pick up some weird habits while I’m not around you know!?」
At Subaru’s bewildered response, Beatrice’s lips slowly broke into a smile. Beatrice’s one and only partner, had a bit too much of an overprotective side for Beatrice.
In age Beatrice boasted over four hundred years, though she’s lived twenty times what the boy has, his approach towards her was almost like he was politely treating her like a frail and ephemeral dear child.
She realizes the fact that she’s being treasured, so she will never particularly blame him for it.
「And so? This conversation isn’t moving forward so I will move it forward, I suppose. Now what unreasonable problem could Subaru be bringing Betty this time, in fact.」
「With that phrasing, it makes it seem like I regularly ask Beako for nothing but the impossible right?」
「In actuality, they’re nothing but things that if Betty wasn’t around no one would hear you out on, I suppose.」
「It’s just as you say.」
With Subaru gesturing so by dropping into prostration, Beatrice pulls her chin in generously. And then, Subaru slowly bends his knees, and puts his lips close to Beatrice’s ear.
「The truth is, Anastasia got possessed by an artificial spirit, what should we do though?」
And as she’s truly being brought an impossible problem, Beatrice’s lovely face furrows into a heavy frown.
Currently, The group Beatrice and her partner Subaru belong to, are in the middle of preparations for leaving from the Watergate City of Pristella to The Roswaal estate.
Since the great crisis that struck the watergate city, the attack from the witch cultists, several days have passed. Little by little, signs of the reconstruction efforts for the city are beginning to be noticeable. However, the scars left by the terrible believers run deep, the wounds that would not heal if left to be are not few by any means.
Seeking a method to deal with those wounds, They will travel to the land of the east, with Subaru as their core member.ーーTheir goal, the tower of the 『Sage』 that resides at the easternmost edge of the world.
Foreseeing that this journey will be their most difficult one yet. literally, the members are in a situation in which they must tackle this problem together as one. ーーThat said.
「Seriously, Subaru is so troublesome, in fact」
Touching her own broad forehead, Beatrice grumbled a long, weary sigh that was uncharacteristic of her appearance.
Having heard Subaru’s shocking confessionーーthat Anastasia had been replaced by an artificial spirit, Beatrice waveringly went directly to observe in great detail Anastasia’s condition.
In all honesty, Beatrice doesn’t know what Anastasia’s usual attitude is. They don’t interact, and so she wouldn’t have anything to compare even if her behavior or actions are unnatural. Because of that, she changed what she’ll have to see.
Her actions and personality, her way of being, those will not do. She had to keep an eye on the flow of the mana surrounding her.
The result of that is, she was able to perceive a faint interference with the gate that is invisible unless consciously focused on, she proved that what Subaru said was not the result of some bad dream.
「Most likely, there’s a problem with the girl’s gate itself, I suppose. That’s why, not just Betty, but nobody else could’ve taken notice of this, in fact.」
It’s not just her trying to make excuses, this is the sensation she acquired from observing Anastasia’s condition. A gate birth-defect, the humans carrying such deficiencies are not few.
Being that it was an organ that wasn’t there to begin with, it was a defect that ultimately arose from having the Gate added afterwards. For better or for worse, it wasn’t stable, That precedent was well known by Beatrice.
「Between that girl and Roswaal, Betty can’t judge which of the two is better, I suppose.」
Being unable to use magic, or overusing it, which one would have a greater impact in one’s life?
Beatrice as a spirit was closely tied with magic by nature. To begin with, conveniently, since her birth mother was a 『Witch』, she couldn’t fathom a life divorced from magic.
Magic, had given Beatrice a bountiful life. And at the same time, it also pushed her into loneliness.
In the end of it all, how you use it, and how you take it is what it will depend on, or so she thinks butーー
「Overthinking each and every thing won’t help anything, in fact.」
「ーーOverthinking in what way?」
「Unkyaan, I suppose-!」
Right after whispering gloomily, a voice coming from right behind Beatrice made her jolt. Turning around with that momentum, standing there was a girl, staring in wonder with bluish purple eyes, Emilia.
She gave a light laugh with a 「So sorry」at Beatrice shrieking and jumping away.
「I didn’t think you would be so surprised, it suuuuper scared you.」
「It- it’s bad for the heart I suppose. It’s not like Betty would be troubled if her heart stopped though, but if you continue you’ll stop the heart of someone like Otto , in fact. Be careful, I suppose.」
「Mmh, You’re right. I’ll be careful for Otto-kun’s heart.」
Taking a breath to calm herself, Beatrice having said so gave Emilia a very serious nod. Fundamentally, she was a girl who honestly lent her ears to what others had to say. Though she also had a side that was a bit too honest.
「That’s, Nii-cha’s raising at work there, in fact. As expected of Nii-cha, I suppose……」
「So then, what were you looking at so much Beatrice? ……Ah」
Absentmindedly from above Beatrice’s head, Emilia who was peeking at the beyond raised her voice. What she saw in her line of sight, was the figure of a girl in a kimono with light purple hair.
ーーAnastasia Hoshin. Currently, a person whose flesh is being taken over by a different existence.
Beatrice, on Subaru’s advice, had gone directly to confirm the veracity of what he said. To do that, she had unexpectedly ended up taken to tailing Anastasia, butーー、
「Beatrice, why were you looking at Anastasia?」
「That’s, ummm, that, in fact. A reason taller than a mountain. deeper than the great waterfall, I suppose.」
「That response, it somehow seems suuuuper subaruish.」
With a hand to her mouth, Emilia snickered lightly. By themselves those were words of praise to Beatrice, but meeting Emilia here complicates things extremely. From the way Subaru spoke of it, it seemed like he didn’t want the situation with Anastasia to spread too much.
In the first place, for the coming journey Anastasiaーー Was to be their guide to the Pleiades watch tower in the Auguria dunes, the journey could not occur if she was missing
It would mean, that in this case, the one in charge of guiding them would not be Anastasia herself, but the artificial spirit.
Artificial spiritーーBeatrice held complicated feelings for even that title.
Of the artificial spirits that were created by the 『Witch』 Echidna, in which Beatrice is included, only 3 exist in this world. The first of which is Puck, and the last is Beatrice.
Which would mean, the one inside of Anastasia, would be the third yet unseen one.
ーーThe last of her kind, of whom her mother Echidna did not talk much about, and even Beatrice didn’t know.
Different from Puck for whom she held strong feelings of affection for since birth, strangely, the last of her kind did not elicit any feelings of fellowship or familial bonds from her.
Or perhaps, that may change if she meets them in personーーShe did not have the courage to confirm.
And Beatrice was having great difficulty coming up with an excuse for that abundance of circumstances. Of course, with Emilia a simple excuse would be easy enough to fool her with, but she didn’t really want to.
Fooling an honest, quick-to-believe girl with a lie would tug at her conscience.
「Grrrrr, in fact……」
And so, she was searching for a breakthrough while growling, howeverーー、
「ーーGeez, Beatrice you’re so obstinate.」
「Don’t frown like that. Y’know, I don’t always need to be sheltered. I’m not as unperceptive as Beatrice worries I am.」
Looking at the fretting beatrice, Emilia began to say that. While putting a hand to her chest, her bluish purple pupils were staring fixedly at Beatrice who felt shame for herself.
In this year, Emilia who struggled earnestly in pucks absence, had shown Beatrice a growth above what she had hypothesized. Particularly, when she was taken away by an archbishop, and she still didn’t give up, and eventually defeated a formidable opponent together with Subaru.
「Nii-cha’s girl, has grown this much, I suppose……」
「Fufu, that’s right. Because I am way taller than Beatrice.」
「Don’t you get carried away, in fact. Betty’s looks have just been molded by hand by Mother into a perfect appearance, I suppose. This is my final perfect form, in fact!」
「Alright alright.ーーSo then, should we go?」
And so the smiling Emilia grasped Beatrice’s hand. That happening caused Beatrice’s eyes to widen in awe, she looked up at Emilia’s clasped hand and her smile.
「……Go? Go where, I suppose?」
「Geez, don’t be stubborn. We’re going to be traveling together to a far away place, and yet you haven’t properly talked with Anastasia-san so you’re nervous right? I’ll come along with you so we gotta go get along with her.」
「You absolutely did not understand, in fact!」
It wasn’t to the point that you could call it a waste to be moved, though that she misunderstood made Beatrice irritated. However, Emilia tilted her head with a 「Is that so?」 and,
「So then, why were you looking at Anastasia-san?」
「Urgh, in fact.」
Questioned by Emilia’s round pupils, Beatrice was once again at a loss for an answer.
She couldn’t come up with a good excuse. That said, she couldn’t decline Subaru’s request. At the edge of that dilemma, Beatrice drooped her shoulders crestfallen.
「A-as expected of Emilia, I suppose…… It seems you saw right through Betty’s thoughts, in fact.」
「See, I was right. Don’t worry. Anastasia-san is a suuuper good girl.」
At the innocently smiling Emilia, Beatrice returned a smile with tense cheeks. And then, dragged by her hand, she was taken to Anastasia who she had been tailing.
「……Seriously, every single one of you would be completely useless without Betty, so bothersome, I suppose.」
While anxiously thinking about her future, Beatrice weakly muttered so.
「But really it was quite unexpected. Who woulda thought Beatrice-chan wanted ta get buddy buddy with me. You’re so stuck ta Natsuki-kun after all.」
「The thing is, Subaru also talks about it a lot. How he wants Beatrice to make more friends outside of the mansion. That he wants to see her making mud cakes.」
「Heeh, that sounds nice don’t it. But, ya know that kinda, sounds like a married couple talkin’ about their daughter don’t it.」
Anastasia nodded as if moved by Emilia’s story. The way Emilia went 「Married couple?」 at that reply that went right over her head, made Subaru’s daily efforts clear.
In contrast, Beatrice who was being treated like a daughter by the two had inscrutable emotions.
「Beatrice, you’ve made yourself so small. Are you perhaps nervous?」
「Nervous? Those words would be the words most unrelated to Betty, in fact. In the first place, in this situation Betty would have no reason at all chu feel nervoush.」
「Ya fumbled a lot there at the end didn’t ya.」
Anastasia gave a wry smile at Beatrice who was hiding behind Emilia while hugging her arm. Looking closely at that smile, Beatrice continued to keep her guard up.
While patting Beatrice’s head, Emilia gave an apology with 「I’m sorry」
「She talks a lot more usually, but she has a bit of a shy side….」
「Hmmm, Emilia really does seem like a mother don’t she.」
「Really? Is that so? Fufu, a mother. She says I’m a mother, Beatrice.」
Emilia relaxing her cheeks as she appears happy, Beatrice seeing her reaction breathes a heavy sigh.
If she was going to act like a mother, Beatrice wished she could consider her feelings more. Though, if she did, it would be an injustice to Subaru, so in the end she wished she wouldn’t after all.
And then, while Beatrice was having internal turmoil, Anastasia slowly bent her knees. Then, having met eye height with her she gave her a slight smile.
「ーーlooks like ya spoke with Natsuki-kun, but don’t doubt me that much aight?」
「nurgh, in fact……」
「Personally, I want ta get along with Beatrice-chan. We’re comrades ain’t we.」
Anastasia’s slight roundabout manner of speech, left Beatrice with her mouth gaping open. Emilia was heard giving out a 「Comrade?」 after that exchange, but she brushed it off with some appropriate words.
Taking in that feeling of being cornered in its entirety, Beatrice once again, put a hand to her brow.
「The future, is worrisome, I suppose……」
And, as she polished her forehead, she looked up to the sky.