Dantalian no Shoka:Volume1 Chapter2
The housekeeper who was living at the mansion was the first to notice the abnormality.
A stench could be smelled within the darkness.
The fishy stench of blood mixed with the distinct smell of an animal.
She first suspected the stray cats living around the mansion.
A crafty old black cat once sneaked into the mansion and ate one of the Lady's parrots in a grotesque manner.
The Lady's fury at that time was beyond normal. Thus, it had been a real bother for the servants. An incident that gets one fed up just by remembering.
That's why she reluctantly left her bed and went to the main wing, bathing in the moonlight.
It was still deep in the night.
The town was silent and the mansion was dark, without any lights. One could feel a strong abnormal stench in the stagnant darkness.
The housekeeper called out when she heard something while climbing the stairs.
A clanking sound resounded below her.
Glass splinters were all over the carpet. The corridor window had been wrenched open, breaking the glass.
And the landlord was lying collapsed in the bedroom in front of the shattered window.
"Are you all right, my Lord? What happened here...?"
The housekeeper was surprised and went to help him, but then stopped her movements right after she entered the room.
She took a breath out of fear.
What was lying collapsed there wasn't her master any more, but a lump of meat in a human shape.
His throat was torn up and the blood that had spurt out from it dyed the room in black.
His clothes were raked by sharp claws. His expression was frozen in a state of distress.
The young lady was also in the room. as was her mother; lying upside-down in order to guard her daughter.
The housekeeper slowly stepped backwards and unconsciously averted her gaze from the corpses.
Then she noticed. Something was moving inside the room.
The something, that had hidden itself behind the corpses, raised its upper body.
It looked like a beast and was about two heads taller than an adult man. It was big and seemed to easily weigh multiple times as much as the short-built housekeeper.
Raising its wolf-like head, it stared at her.
A body covered with black hair.
A sharp nose and a wide open mouth. Golden eyes.
Lastly, unusually strong, well developed muscles on its limbs.
The housekeeper screamed out.
Maybe the beast was surprised by her voice, maybe not. But it turned around with unbelievable agility and broke through the window to the outside.
It landed on the wall surrounding the mansion and then, for one moment, looked up to the sky with the blood on its fur sparkling.
Then the beast disappeared, melting into the dark---
Chapter 2 - Pedigree
Episode 02: Crossbreed
A pub near the rail station was currently crowded with people wanting lunch.
Dishes, of which only the portions were good, were lined up on the counter and the bearded host was busy moving around.
Almost all the guests were wearing plain clothes and seemed like workers.
Many of them looked rude and there were also ones within the mass that already reeked of alcohol.
In the corner of this pub, there was a party of two with an atmosphere different from the rest.
A young man who was about 20 years old and a little girl with long black hair.
The young man was wearing a leather frock coat and carrying a small bag.
His sincere features implied a good upbringing, but interestingly enough, he didn't seem ignorant of the ways of the world. One could feel the atmosphere of a well trained soldier in every one of his movements.
"Let's go, Dalian... It'll be time for the appointment soon."
Taking out an army-issued pocket watch, he called out to the girl.
The black-haired girl called Dalian looked expressionlessly up to him. And then said with a haughtiness that didn't fit her cute looks,
"Wait, Huey. I am still in the middle of my meal."
"In the middle of it? ...Do you still plan to eat more?"
The young man called Huey asked, a bit amazed. Lots of cleanly licked plates were already piled up in front of the girl. On the plate she was currently eating were things like fish and chips, meat pie and sugared, glossy fried bread.
Only fatty dishes which one could almost get heartburn from just by looking.
"Why do you need to ask such an obvious thing?"
However, Dalian pointed to the counter undisturbed, while biting into those dishes,
"This foolish pub offers an all-you-can-eat for their fried breads! The price is the same, thus it's overwhelmingly more profitable when I eat a lot. Are you so dense that you can't even do such simple math?"
"No, I know that much even without math..."
Huey sighed lightly. The black-haired girl looked up to him and said
"In that case, quickly bring me the next serving, you dunce."
While shaking his head, Huey stood up as ordered and walked towards the counter.
Noticing Huey's sour face, the host of the pub raised a doubtful eyebrow.
"An unfamiliar face. Are the two of you outsiders?"
"Yes. We just arrived on the previous train."
Huey smiled sociably. Looking around in the crowded pub, he added
"Quite lively in here. I expected this town to be a bit calmer."
A group of about fifteen men were yelling around all the time in the centre of the shop—a noisy bunch who seemed to be something like hunters or ex-soldiers.
The host looked at them bothered, and muttered in a soft tone, as if speaking to himself
"It is actually a calm town, you know. If it wasn't for the incident."
Huey inclined his head. The host answered while cutting the roast beef in front of him,
"The Beast of Ashwell. Didn't you come because you've also heard of this rumour?"
"No. What is it about?"
Seemingly having aroused his interest, Huey leaned forward lightly.
The host took out a newspaper from a stack of them on the ground and presented it to him. A thin tabloid sized local paper. It was the last week's issue.
"It's big on the first page. A lawyer that opened his business in this town got murdered."
While looking through the creased newspaper, Huey narrowed his eyes. Ashwell was the name of the murdered lawyer. Leonard Ashwell. Age at death; 40 years.
"Mr. Ashwell was a famous barrister in this town, you see. He accepted cases for low prices, proceeded against corrupted policemen or sued landlords that abused tenant farmers... For us common folk, he was like a hero."
"This hero... was murdered?"
"Yeah," the host answered bluntly.
"Not just the lord. His wife and daughter were all murdered, too. I tell you, it was a cruel thing."
"...what about the culprit?" asked Huey.
"Is it still unknown, who killed them? According to what you've just told me, he seemed to have many enemies."
"Ah, well yeah... Surely the bunch that shunned him wasn't all that small..."
The host said hazily. It was in a voice tired from lamenting.
"But we know who the culprit is. And there's the big problem."
"Who is it?"
"It's not a human. It's a beast."
"I've heard it's taller than your common cow and looks like a wolf."
Huey kept quiet for a while and gazed at the bearded face of the host. Then he lost his focus and breathed out,
"Err... Can you tell me more about this?"
The host sighed deeply.
"A servant of the Ashwells witnessed it. How this beast killed the whole family, and in the end, escaped through the window after it ate a bit of them."
Huey asked back, perplexed. The host nodded deeply,
"Well... The servant collapsed right after the police arrived and the thing about it being bigger than a cow probably is not true. But I also don't think it's all a lie, since there actually were corpses eroded by a beast. And there were also strands of hair and footprints."
Huey dropped his gaze to the newspaper. The contents of it were clearly substantiating the host's words.
"So the people gathered here are planning to hunt the beast?"
Huey asked, gazing at the main street, which one could see from the entrance of the pub.
There were about 4, 5 dogs, which looked like hunting dogs, fastened carelessly to the street light. And the long and narrow luggage several guests of the pub were carrying, were probably their hunting guns.
The host continued in an indifferent voice.
"Vengeance for the Lord... a lot of people got support from him, you see. Especially the townspeople involved with this damn provoking Hurston family..."
Huey inclined his head once again. This name wasn't written in the newspaper.
The host nosed displeasedly.
"Didn't you notice when you arrived? This fucking big fertilizer factory."
"If you're talking about the building I could see from the window in the train..."
"Yeah, that's it. The city council member Roy Hurston is managing this factory, but this damn greenhorn fired about 500 workers half a year ago - unilateral, just because he brought in a new machine!"
"Dismissal? But what happened to the workers...?"
Huey asked in a serious voice. The host shrugged his shoulders bluntly,
"See, there's no other industry company in this town. It was awful. When they were on the edge of hanging themselves or becoming criminals, Mr. Ashwell came and rescued them."
"It's called 'class-action'. He stirred up the press and caused an uproar with this. It seems like he even got back support of the noble and wealthy people of the capital. Thanks to this, that Hurston greenhorn got severely criticized in court. Everyone was delighted when he won the lawsuit right in the first instance."
"I see," Huey nodded. Ashwell surely could be called a hero.
"And now the former employees want to avenge him...?"
"They seem to be planning to go on a mountain hunt together with the hunters and ex-servicemen that gathered from nearby. Some of them want to strike it rich by capturing this mysterious beast alive... I was sure that you'd also belong to this bunch. I mean, you've also been a soldier, right?"
"No... I was just a pilot."
Huey shook his head with a smile.
The host looked wonderingly at Huey.
"Hmm... If you're not aiming for the beast, then why did you come to this town...?"
Huey lightly stiffened his cheeks and nodded.
"Well... I have an appointment with an acquaintance of an acquaintance. This bread, I'll be taking this with me, all right?"
Huey hurriedly wrapped up some fried bread in oil paper and walked away. The host gazed in wonder at him for a while. Huey pretended to not notice this and returned with fast steps to his table.
Dalian was already on watch for him with a bitter expression, embracing the sugar pot.
"You are late! How long does it take you to get some bread, you lame duck?"
Even before Huey could sit down, Dalian started berating him. Huey made a tired face and said,
"...let's go, Dalian."
The girl looked up, befuddled, and held out her hands covered with protectors.
"What are you talking about? I will be eating this fried bread now. Hurry up and hand it over."
"The family of your acquaintance seems to be pretty unpopular in this town... if they find out that our destination is the house of the Hurston's, then they'd probably cause quite an uproar."
Saying so, Huey started to put together their luggage. Seeing this, Dalian panicked. While standing up hurriedly, she reached out her hands and said,
"Hey Huey, why are you stowing the bread away? I've not put sugar on it yet. Huey!"
"It also seems better if we not search for a carriage nearby. It can't be helped... We'll have to walk for a bit."
"Hey! What are you doing? Let go of my hands. Where are you touching me? How lewd!"
Huey took the kicking and struggling little girl, almost like luggage, under his arms and left the shop.
Beholding the sugar pot left on the table woefully, Dalian muttered in a tearful voice,
While the Hurston Family didn't hold a peerage, they were a gentry family with equal fortune and authority. They owned land around the town and employed several tenant farmers. A lot of them also were working in important offices of the town, as judges or as committee members.
Their residence was a big mansion on a high ground with a view of the town.
There was a well maintained garden with flowers blooming in profusion and in the adjoining farm, expensive racehorses were grazing. The building itself was also impressive and let one feel the assets of the family.
There was just one thing ruining this scenery, which was a group of about 40 to 50 people encircling the front door of the mansion. It was a protest movement against the discharge of the factory employees.
Gazing at them through the window of the parlour, Huey sipped at his black tea with an uncomfortable expression. Dalian was sitting on a couch, absorbed in reading as she freely took books from a bookshelf in the mansion. She was expressionless as always, but looked amused in a way. When she could read a rare book, she was almost always in a good temper.
"Thank you for waiting."
Some time had passed, Huey's tea cup was already half-empty, when a tall man wearing an American sack suit was guided in by a butler and entered the room.
His age was likely in the midst of the twenties. He was a young man not so much older than Huey.
Seeing Huey looking back to him, the man tried to manage a vague smile. But then instantly seemed surprised and stopped.
Staring at Dalian who was wordlessly reading a book, he spoke, lightly bewildered,
"Err... are you the Black Biblioprincess?"
Dalian gradually noticed his existence and raised her face. The man smiled timidly while she scowled at him, on guard.
But his bewilderment was reasonable. This is because Dalian was a beauty that gave off the impression of a doll. Furthermore, her dress added to this with its enigma.
Cloth decorated with jet black laces. A skirt bulged up by several layers of frills. These outlines of her were enfolded by metallic protectors on the back of her hands and a rustic tasset.
Her looks made one think of the ceremonial robes of medieval knights; an odd mixture that couldn't be called dress or armour.
And finally, in place of a ribbon, she was wearing an old, metallic chest.
A big lock, tied to her with silver chains.
Even so, the man bowed politely to the black-dressed girl.
"Please forgive my rudeness. I wasn't expecting such a beautiful lady..."
The corners of Dalian's mouth twitched when she heard his words. If she was a cat, she'd surely be purring now, pleased.
For some reason Dalian gave Huey a triumphant sidelong glance and tugged at his sleeves. Then she muttered in a low voice,
"This greenhorn is quite promising. You ought to follow his example a bit."
Huey sighed amazed.
"Wasn't this a mere phrase of civility... ah..."
He got his shin kicked by Dalian's metallic boots and frowned.
The timidly smiling man beheld their giving and taking in confusion.
"Thank you for taking on this far journey... I'm relieved you arrived without problems."
Finally, he could pull himself together and said so.
He then shifted his glance in the direction of the front door of the mansion.
The workers gathered in front of the door were still hanging out banners across the street and were still raising protesting voices. There, some guts are needed in order to slip through the circle of this menacing crowd.
Huey nodded with a bitter smile.
"But I pity the carriage driver who got hit with rotten eggs."
"Is that so..."
The man sighed.
"I will provide this driver with a servant later, as an apology."
"...this group seems to consist of the workers discharged by the factory, right?"
Huey asked nonchalantly.
The man cast down his eyes sentimentally.
"Yes. The protest movement settled down a bit after the judgment at the first instance, but since a few days ago it's like this again... do you already know about the barrister Ashwell?"
"I've heard about it underway from the host of a pub we went to... a beast has attacked him?"
"W-Well yes... such rumours also seem to be in circulation..."
The man's voice trembled.
"With the death of their barrister, the judgments from now on are in the wind. I think that's also a reason why the former employees of the factory grew wild now. I just hope my brother recognizes that they do have lives and families to protect."
"By 'brother' you mean...?"
"Aah, I forgot to mention this. My name's Chez Hurston. The head of the factory is my older brother, Roy Hurston."
Again with a timid smile, the man held out his right hand.
"My name is Hugh Anthony Disward - you may call me Huey. And she's Dalian."
With these words, Huey grasped back his hand. Then suddenly, he seemed to have come upon something unexpected.
He noticed that the palm of Chez' hand was solid and trained, although he looked very timid.
Rather than the son of a rich gentry family, this seemed to be the palm of a coachman or groom, who fosters horses.
"Er... I've heard you came to meet grandfather... forgive my rudeness, but what kind of business...?"
Chez didn't notice Huey's bewilderment and asked so reluctantly.
Not Huey, but Dalian answered to this question.
"We came to hand over a book. The old Phantom Book we were entrusted with by your ancestors."
Chez inclined his head. Dalian gazed at him expressionlessly.
"I've heard it's considered to be the proof of the current head of the family."
"Is that so? ...I see. So grandfather is..."
Chez muttered, comprehending something.
It was right after this, that rude footsteps could be heard from the corridor and the door to the parlor opened violently.
"Chez...! Is Chez here?!"
A stern-looking man with sharp eyes entered the parlour.
He looked around arrogantly in the room and seemed obviously unpleased when he noticed Huey and Dalian.
Chez moaned weakly.
Huey and Dalian compared the two of them with their eyes wordlessly.
Apparently, the man, who was called 'brother' by Chez, seemed to be the city council member Roy Hurston.
His age was likely in the latter half of his twenties. He could probably be classified as a young public official. He was just about 4 or 5 years older than Chez.
However, the impressions of those brothers were quite different. The appearance of the younger brother was helpless, but polite and gentle, whilst the older brother was brimming with self-confidence and haughtiness. In a sense, their relation was obvious.
"What is this bunch outside the mansion? Didn't I tell you to drive away these riffraff?"
Roy rebuked his younger brother without restraint in front of Huey and Dalian's eyes.
Chez chewed his words,
"But look, brother. They aren't trying to do us any harm. They just seek an employment and hence wish to discuss this matter with you once again. So please..."
Roy asked him back in an arrogant voice.
"Don't make me laugh. There's nothing to discuss with those lower classes. What a waste of time."
"...isn't it this one-sided attitude of yours that makes them revolt like this?"
"Don't be absurd. Are you telling me to bow my head to those lowlifes out there?"
"What nonsense," Roy added, muttering as if to spit.
"To begin with, wasn't their incapability the reason they failed keeping a job? Why should I, Roy Hurston, bear responsibility for this? Listen Chez, the ability of us humans isn't equal. Superior people have a role appropriate to their ability and incapable people aren't allowed to hinder them."
"Even so, suddenly dismissing them is going too far! Didn't they all expend great effort for the factory up to now?"
Chez tried desperately to convince his brother.
But Roy just looked down on him with a cold gaze,
"However much effort incapable people do expend, they cannot win against a person with true ability. Aren't you, more than anyone else, aware of this fact, Chez?"
The younger brother hung his head powerlessly to the mocking words of his brother.
Chez looked down miserably, but Roy didn't care and asked him rudely,
"By the way... who are those guys?"
Roy gazed suspiciously at Huey and Dalian.
"They are our guests! The two of them came to meet grandfather... Sir Disward and Miss Dalian."
Chez said to his brother in a reproving voice.
A light astonishment skimmed over Roy's face.
"...Sir Disward? A relative of Wesley Disward?"
"Pleased to meet you."
Huey smiled uncomfortably. He stood up and greeted him politely.
When he recognized that the out-of-place looking guests were related to a noble family, Roy changed his attitude abruptly. He drew near as if they were intimate and smiled unnaturally.
"Welcome, Sir Disward! I am Roy Hurston."
"I've heard you are a member of the city council? You seem to be a very busy person!"
A bit of cynicism was mixed in Huey's words, but Roy nodded exaggeratedly.
"You see, the Hurston family is a personage in this town. So we have to do reputable work."
Then he turned around to his younger brother,
"Are you planning to lead them to grandfather's room hereafter?"
"Yes, that's what I thought..."
Chez answered in a subdued voice.
"Got it. I shall accompany you."
Roy said so, interrupting his brother.
A hoarse voice could be heard from behind Roy.
An old man escorted by servants arrived on a wheelchair with creaking metallic wheels. He looked terribly pale.
"This won't be... necessary... Roy."
Roy turned around to him surprised, while Chez rushed over to the old man hurriedly.
"Grandfather... what about your health? Please don't overdo things..."
"I'm fine, Chez..."
The old man said, in a cracking voice resembling a rusty gear.
"It is against good manners to invite the Biblioprincess to our house and then summon her to my bedroom..."
Dalian stepped up to the old man.
She elegantly spread the sleeves of her jet black dress, stopped and then proclaimed with a face as expressionless as the one of a doll. Her voice seemed lonesome in a way.
"You've gotten old... Haven't you, Boyd Hurston?"
A smile floated over the stale cheeks of the old man. He kissed her hand that was covered with a metallic protector.
"You are without change, Black Biblioprincess... I am truly grateful... that you've come to grant my wish."
Dalian nodded silently.
"Based on an old contract, I've come to hand out a book. The Phantom Book sealed by your ancestor in the distant past... 'The Pedigree of All Creation'."
Upon the words of the black-dressed girl, Roy's look became grim.
"Phantom Book...? Grandfather, what does this...?"
The old man raised his face clumsily and turned his glance towards his two grandchildren.
"It's an ancient book... the new head of the Hurston family is allowed to read it only once in his entire life. The proof of the present head of... our family."
"So that means... you've called them today because..."
"You two should be aware of this... but I won't last... so long any more. It's something... I have to pass on to the new head before I leave this world..."
When the old man spoke so far, he started to cough violently. He coughed up blood during his fit, but it didn't seem to be calming down.
Chez patted the back of the old man. In the meanwhile, a servant poured out water from a water jar and presented it to him. The old man grabbed the glass with trembling fingers.
"Tonight... come to my room before the date changes... there... I shall conduct the inheritance... is this all right for you... Black Biblioprincess?"
The old man asked, while breathing painfully.
Dalian proclaimed without a single change in her expression.
"I've heard your wish."
Huey and Dalian decided to spend the rest of the time until sunset in the garden, since the parlour was a bit noisy due to the protest movement. The garden was far more beautiful than it seemed from afar; countless roses were in fullness of bloom inside the lovely manicured flower beds.
However, Dalian didn't rejoice at this view, but instead sat down on the bench at the bower and continued to read a thick book wordlessly. Huey didn't seem to mind and, while yawning, shifted his gaze to the meadow in which a water fountain was positioned.
Chez could be seen on the meadow. He rolled around in the grass and frolicked around with several puppies. Apparently, he had let out the hunting dog puppies they were raising in the dog kennel of the mansion in order to look after them.
"Dogs... I see, so he's looking after the dogs..."
Huey murmured so, looking at Chez cheerfully frolicking around with the dogs. He had remembered the solid and trained palm of Chez's hand when they did a handshake.
It was unlikely, that this could come just from playing around with the dogs. It could be said for sure, that he was always looking after them with a lot of enthusiasm.
"The Hurston family originally earned most of their fortune by breeding hunting dogs. Even the Royal dog kennel is taking in some dogs that were raised here."
Dalian said, disinterestedly without looking up from her book.
"Aah, I see... there are quite a few dog lovers, even in noble and royal families. I guess dogs raised by a famous breeder are purchased for unbelievably high prices."
Chez seemed to have noticed Huey's glance and waved his hand, embarrassed. Then he came towards the bower together with the puppies.
Seeing this, Dalian contorted her face. She closed her book and sneaked to the back of the bench.
The puppies followed behind Chez in order and, when he stopped, they laid down as if to join up with him. It was an impressive relationship of mutual trust. One could see that this didn't just result from good training; the puppies also adored him.
"They seem pretty attached to you."
Huey said in admiration.
Chez shook his head, troubled, while blushing.
"This is because I was looking after them since I was young."
The speckled hunting dog puppies looked like stuffed toys and seemed extremely cuddlesome. He kneeled down to the puppies looking up to him and stroked their back.
"Dalian, don't you want to try touching them, too? ...Dalian?"
Huey turned around still holding a puppy in his arms and was stunned.
The black-dressed girl had hidden herself behind a post of the bower and peeked out with caution. On top of that, she held the thick book she read before in front of her like a shield.
Huey asked in a lightly amazed voice,
"...what are you doing there, Dalian?"
"Do not worry about it. I am now interested in this flower."
Dalian said so with feigned ignorance and observed forcedly the rose bed in front of her. She was clearly acting unnaturally. Huey now seemed to try to refrain from laughing,
"Don't tell me, you're afraid, of dogs?"
Dalian's smooth white cheeks blushed crimson. Then she added in an unnatural voice with no intonation,
"W-What are you saying? Why should I be afraid of such a wild beast who can't even read letters right? H-How foolish."
Huey stood up wordlessly, still holding the puppy in his arms and slowly neared Dalian. Then he let the dog down on the ground.
Dalian seemed to draw the young hunting dog's interest by her stare, so the dog wagged his tail joyfully and came running to her in full speed.
Dalian shrieked effeminately. Because she froze on the spot in fear, she couldn't even escape.
"Hey, what are you doing you pooch? Stop it. I am not tasty!"
The black-dressed girl stumbled when her legs got tangled and ended up with the book and the dog on her while she waved her hands and feet about. Dalian's face was blue and contorted, but from afar it looked like she was joyfully frolicking around.
Huey's shoulders were trembling while he tried desperately to refrain from laughing, but Chez couldn't overlook this scene and so approached Dalian and pulled the puppy apart.
"Forgive me. Are you alright?"
Chez asked caringly, upon which Dalian nodded awkwardly.
"Haa... haa... t-this will have consequences, Huey..."
She said so to him while catching her breath, looking up at him resentfully. Then, at last, Huey couldn't suppress it anymore and started to laugh out loud.
"E-Excuse me... I will now take them for a walk..."
After he bowed down several times, Chez left, taking the dogs with him.
There was, however, a person that approached them in place of him. Roy.
The eldest son of the Hurston family gave his brother, who was laughing innocently, surrounded by the dogs, a dirty look.
"Geez...! I guess he is beyond hope. Playing around with dogs in his age."
He said so with a criticizing tone.
Huey looked up to his face in profile, seemingly surprised.
"You don't assist in raising the dogs, Roy Hurston?"
Roy shrugged his shoulders with a smile.
"Of course I am assisting, too. But only in the shape of work. It doesn't suffice to just pamper them. There's also the need to cast away useless dogs with no mercy. My stupid younger brother doesn't seem to understand this. Do you know the difference between superior and inferior dogs?"
"No... what is it?"
"It's the lineage."
Roy smirked, raising the corners of his mouth.
"A dog that inherited the blood of superior parents will gain even more superior abilities. Furthermore, he will leave even more superior blood when he is mated with an excellent dog of the opposite sex. This is the foundation of breeding. A superior individual is from birth different from others. It's the same for humans."
"Humans as well?"
"Yes. To tell the truth, I'm not blood related with grandfather. The same applies for Chez."
Huey scowled upon Roy's sudden revelation. But Roy added in a proud voice,
"Grandfather looked for men and women with an excellent lineage, paired them and raised their children as his grandchildren in order to bequeath a more superior lineage to the Hurston family."
"...so you don't know your true parents?"
Huey asked reluctantly and expressionless.
"Right. But I'm thankful to grandfather! Thanks to him I was born with superior abilities than others. I'm able to achieve better results than others with the same effort and am successful in business. Grandfather's decision was correct. But then there seem to be exceptions."
Roy pointed with a scoffing and bitter smile as Huey inclined his head.
"Just look at Chez! Even when you cross breed two excellent racehorses - it's possible that a useless horse, that can't even run right, gets born. Even the most superior breeder produces failures. That's what I'm trying to say."
One could not see any hatred or ill will in the face of Roy when he spat out these sharp words. He was just stating what he considered to be facts.
"I've already heard about 'The Pedigree of All Creation' before."
Roy shot a glance at Dalian, who started to read her book again.
"A Phantom Book that covers all the characteristics to figure out which lineages to pair in order to produce excellent descendants... it's probably thanks to this book that the Hurston family succeeded in breeding. It certainly can be considered to be the proof of the present head of our family."
Huey kept silent and nodded.
Crops, gardening plants, hunting dogs, pets, racehorses - countless people are continuously conducting selective breeding or mating in order to obtain better individuals. And the profit the succeeding ones can gain is immense. Producers of superior racehorses can earn unbelievable amounts of money just with the mating fees for their horses.
However, it's about living beings.
There's no warranty that the descendants of superior parents will be superior, too. For one, there are the compatibility and 'hit or miss' issues. And it's also very well possible that the children only inherit the weaknesses of their parents.
But if there was a way to know the results of mating pairs in advance... then this could be seen as a certain wealth. It would be like a dream for people living from breeding.
At the same time, this would mean something dreadful.
Reliably producing superior tribes also means the destruction of tribes which aren't.
This was probably the reason 'The Pedigree of All Creation' has been sealed away.
As a Phantom Book containing forbidden knowledge, that should not exist in this world---
The head of the Hurston family is the only chosen one allowed to read it once in a lifetime.
"So you think you're going to inherit it?"
Huey asked Roy.
"Of course. There isn't anyone else with the qualifications."
Roy said so, without hesitation. It was no bluff. He was full of pure confidence.
He suddenly narrowed his eyes in displeasure.
Two men, looking like guests, were walking on a corridor in the mansion. Roy had noticed that. The two of them were wearing the same type of coat and radiated a kind of authority.
"Excuse me. It seems the Police have come again."
Roy said so, glancing at them with evil eyes. Huey seemed suspicious.
"To obtain information. Recently there was an incident of a lawyer's family getting massacred. There is a bunch that is slandering us with their unfounded rumours."
Huey looked at him sceptically.
"It seems the man that got murdered fought against you at court, right?"
"Right. It's a real bother. Thanks to this we're now suspected even after he was bitten to death. See, there are even absurd rumours of a giant beast at the scene of the crime..."
Roy didn't seem to care much and smirked.
"Well, we let them investigate the mansion until they've got enough. However much they search, I don't think they'll find a monster wolf of the size of a cow."
Roy left with these words and Huey gazed for a while after him silently. Then, at once, he seemed to have recalled something and turned around to the black-dressed girl.
Dalian was taking a break from reading and absent-mindedly stared at a flower bed.
The fence was decorated with lovely ornaments and the tendrils of blue roses in bloom were twined around it.
"Blue roses...? Very pretty."
Huey spoke to Dalian after having watched her admiring the roses as if it was something out of the common.
"Do you know the blue rose's meaning in the language of flowers, Huey?"
Dalian opened her mouth and said so bluntly without moving a muscle. Huey shook his head,
"No, can you tell me?"
"Unattainable goal... or attaining the impossible."
"...attaining the impossible?"
"Blue pigments do not exist in roses to begin with. Whatever cultivar you combine, it is, strictly speaking, impossible to create a blue rose."
"Impossible you say... but what's this then?"
Huey touched the roses, surprised. Admittedly the colour was unusual, but they were definitely roses. Layers of lovely petals and thorns on the tendrils.
Dalian nodded restfully.
"They are roses. However, their genes were recombined and the function of another plant was implanted that produces blue pigments. It's an artificial rose---"
"The genes...? It's possible to do this...?"
"It's impossible with the knowledge and technology of the current age. But if there is something that can grant this knowledge to mankind---"
"The Phantom Books that should not exist in this world... I guess?"
Huey sighed deeply.
"Correct. This is the forbidden knowledge the owner of 'The Pedigree of All Creation' can obtain."
Dalian murmured so, and cast down her eyes.
Huey seemed to have noticed something and raised his face.
"Dalian... if someone with this knowledge is able to produce such roses, can he also create monsters that shouldn't originally exist? For example, an improved hunting dog of the size of a cow and resembling a wolf. This would be..."
Dalian answered as quickly as a shot. Apparently, she thought the same thing.
"But who would do such a thing?"
"The only living person that has read 'The Pedigree of All Creation' is Boyd Hurston. Even if he could create such a giant monster, this old man wouldn't be able to take it to the outside or to train it. If there's one who could do the job..."
"Chez... but he doesn't have a motive to let this beast attack the barrister Ashwell."
Huey held his chin and moaned.
"The one having a motive is the older brother, Roy. But does such a busy person have the time to tame such a monster...? To begin with, how to raise a beast of a cow's size unseen? And where to hide it? Locking it up would be too conspicuous."
"So... do you think the Hurston family has nothing to do with the beast of Ashwell, Dalian?"
Huey muttered in a somehow taken aback voice.
Dalian kept silent for a while, but then answered,
"We will talk about this later, Huey."
She said so suddenly, in an urging voice.
One could see sweat appearing on her smooth doll-like face. Seemingly feeling danger, Dalian turned around, embracing her book,
"Grh... the escape route has been blocked."
She distorted her well-formed lips and moaned weakly.
Dogs were obstructing her path.
They were puppies on a level even smaller than the ones Chez took with him before. Two similar spaniels were drawing near from both sides, wagging their short tails.
The black-dressed girl backed off slowly, but tripped over the edge of the flower bed and fell face up.
The puppies seemed to misunderstand this as a signal to play and jumped joyfully towards her.
"Hey, what are you doing? Stop it... Ah! This place is no good. Don't lick there... the book, no, the book is no good! Incorrect!"
Dalian's cries resounded in the garden at evening.
Late at night. Huey and Dalian were guided to an annex of the mansion.
The building was made of old limestone and made one feel the history of the Hurston family. This dark gray building seemed to be the current residence of the present head Boyd.
"Ah, you've come..."
Boyd saw Dalian arriving and muttered so contentedly.
Other than he, only the brothers Chez and Roy were in the old man's workroom. There were no butlers, nor were there any servants.
"Thank you for waiting."
The black-dressed girl proclaimed calmly.
She was carrying an old book under her arm.
But it was not one of the books she freely took out from the mansion. A leather cover that had grown stale. The binding was splendidly decorated with gold. And then the crest engraved into the book. 'The Pedigree of All Creation' - this was its title.
"Ooh... this is exactly... like then..."
The old man reached out his bony hands but then desisted from doing so and stopped his movements.
Phantom Books grant their readers access to forbidden knowledge. But if someone is possessing one of them for a too long a time, it will bring various distortions to this world. This tendency is even more severe when someone other than the proper owner is taking it into the hands. He knows about this. The old man is not the owner of the Phantom Book any more.
"Grandfather... the inheritance of the status of the present head is all well and good, but wouldn't it be better to call a public notary? And why on earth in such a room...?"
Roy spoke in a lightly irritated voice. He was probably unpleased about not knowing his grandfather's real intention.
However, the old man ignored Roy's question,
"May you open this door, Sir Disward?"
Huey grabbed for the knob of the door inside the workroom as commanded.
The thick metallic door opened with a creaking sound. Beyond was a stairway leading to the underground.
"What is this...?!"
One could hear Roy's gasp. Also Chez was opening his eyes wide.
The stairs didn't reach so wide. The room wasn't completely underground, but rather was like a secret chamber of which one half was buried in the ground. Compared to the other rooms of the mansion, this one was about half of their size.
On one side of the windowless room, unfamiliar chemicals were tidily lined up.
The room was filled with countless experimenting utensils like test tubes and microscopes. It looked more like the laboratory of a hospital or university, than the workroom of a gentry family.
Roy groaned when he looked around in the room while walking down the stairs with an oil lamp in his hand.
"I never would have guessed that there's such an establishment under the annex... what is all this, Grandfather?"
"A room built using the knowledge granted by the 'The Pedigree of All Creation'... it's a room for forbidden secret ceremonies."
Boyd Hurston answered with a faint smile.
Chez was the one carrying the old man. He lifted his grandfather up together with the wheelchair and walked down the stairs carefully. He was stronger than he looked with his slender body.
"Nostalgic...isn't it...? Roy, Chez..."
The old man said so, cryptically. The two brothers looked at each other sceptically.
"It's the place you two were brought forth!"
"The place we were brought forth...? What do you mean, grandfather?"
Roy glared offended at the old man.
The old man cackled,
"Our family is in contact with the Royal Family through their dog kennel... you know that, right...?"
"Yes, of course. This is because the dogs raised by us are exceptional."
Roy puffed up with pride. "Mhm", the old man nodded.
"We weren't only instructed... to breed dogs..."
"...that is to say...?"
"It's about a secret contract concluded during the... epoch of the former Queen... it was right after the war at the peninsula in the last century. It has been already more than sixty years ago..."
The old man closed his eyes to follow his memory.
In the epoch of the former Queen, the kingdom sent out its army to the European continent to fight against Russia together with other countries like France or Turkey. It was known as one of the most idiotic fights in history. It cost a giant amount in war expenditures and in lives of countless soldiers, but the countries did not attain a single thing. It was indeed a foolish war.
And it's known that the troops of the Kingdom used combat dogs on the battlefield.
It's rather natural that the Royal Family contacted the Hurston family in that epoch, since they were famous as outstanding breeders.
"Her Majesty grieved... over the great loss of... this country's soldiers. The chamberlain couldn't let pass her sorrow unnoticed and... consulted me. He asked if it isn't possible to bring forth... better and better soldiers like it is with dogs... a new kind of human... with superior abilities... and who survive any battlefield however cruel..."
"Bring forth... a new kind of human...?"
Roy said in an unstrung voice. Chez' shoulders were trembling in fright.
The flame in the lamp produced a dark shadow on the face of the old man.
"When I inherited the status of the present head of the Hurston family... and learned about the existence of 'The Pedigree of All Creation'... I noticed. I noticed that I could grant the wish of the Queen... using the knowledge of this Phantom Book. That's why I... built this establishment."
Roy swallowed his saliva.
"So... in this room..."
"Using the knowledge written in the Phantom Book... I examined the genes of thousands of fellow countrymen... and produced your parents. They, who were born with superior abilities,... were adopted by the people who lost their children in the war and became splendid adults."
A mad smile floated over his face.
"So I considered them to be the first generation of the new human... and went on to produce the second one... by once more revising the genes of your already superior parents... a new kind of human that has the abilities to act as the perfect soldier... the successor of the Hurston family..."
The long monologue of the old man ended. Then,
Roy extended his arms and looked up to the ceiling. His whole body was shivering in deep emotion.
"So this is I, Roy Hurston! An improved new kind of human, born as a superior species...!"
However, the old man interrupted him with his hoarse voice.
"Oh no... Roy... it's not you."
Roy was still looking up to the ceiling, but a puzzled expression spread over his face.
"You didn't inherit... the new characteristic... I seeked for..."
Upon the cold words of his grandfather, Roy's appearance became nervous.
"What are you saying... Grandfather?! Aren't these superior abilities of mine the proof of a new kind of human?"
Roy drew nervously closer, but the old man didn't even think of answering him any more.
"The one appropriate for being the head of the Hurston family... my successor... is you... Chez."
The old man turned around. The face of the usually timidly smiling young man who pushed the wheelchair stiffened.
Roy was beside himself and pointed at his younger brother,
"How absurd... Grandfather, are you telling me I am inferior to someone like Chez?! There's no way such an absurd thing could be!"
"You're... merely a common human who's a bit clever. You aren't something along the lines of a new kind of human."
The old man spoke mercilessly.
"Roy... you're just a failed product."
Roy was dazed and stood stock still there.
"Failed work... I am... just a failed product...?!"
Roy muttered the harsh words of his grandfather and went on retreating to the wall.
Underway, his leg got caught in a rack, he fell down, got buried in test tubes and bottles of chemicals, and finally sank down to the floor. After he gazed, dumbfounded, at the old man, he started to weep.
The fact that the brother he once looked down upon, snatched away the status as head of the family, knocked him down to such an extent.
Chez averted his gaze from his brother and glared rebukingly at the old man instead.
"Please wait, Grandfather. There's no way I'm suitable for the..."
"Don't play dumb... it's futile, Chez... I know you better... than anyone other. The characteristic of the new mankind I was seeking for by crossbreeding is the ability you're trying to hide so desperately..."
Chez' back quaked heavily. Hugging his own shoulder in fright, he stepped one step back. The old man reached out his hand as if to tempt him,
"Well then, Chez... now accept the Phantom Book... and then spread your kindred over the entire country! This is your role. It's an honour granted to you by us, the Hurston family!"
Chez interrupted his excited grandfather in a timid voice.
The old man opened his mouth, surprised.
"I do not desire such things like a Phantom Book or forbidden knowledge... this is just playing with life and death!"
"What...? What are you saying, Chez? You, the one and only success..."
"Success and failure in existence...? You don't have the right to decide over that. And even more so, you don't have the right to forsake a failed work like trash."
Chez ground his teeth.
"I admit that talent isn't allotted equally to the humans. However, there's no one who's superior in every aspect compared to the others! A breed of dog that was brought forth through an array of unreasonable crossbreeding might have outstanding abilities. But they do also have at least a big weakness in another aspect."
"Wait... Chez... listen to me..."
The old man spoke in dismay. However, Chez just shook his head with a gentle smile.
"Won't we end with all this about the head of the family, Grandfather...? Like up to now, brother can take care of the factory and the mansion, and I will continue to take care of the dogs..."
The old man was persisting on his wish, and his grandchild was trying to persuade him.
Huey was wordlessly watching their fierce argument.
Dalian was looking down to the Phantom Book in her arms and seemed bored. However, suddenly, a slight disturbance could be seen in her eyes.
A faint light shone through the closed Phantom Book in the dark underground room. The Phantom Book was emitting magical power.
Noticing this abnormality, Huey turned around. Then his face contorted with surprise.
"Lie down, Dalian---!"
Taking the black-dressed girl with him, Huey tumbled down on the floor with great vigour.
Right after this, an intense intent to kill shot past over their heads.
A gunshot resounded in the underground room. Sparks scattered within the darkness and the smell of gunpowder spread out.
Chez shouted in a shrill voice.
Roy had stood up, and was swaying. He threw the oil lamp to the ground, took out the handgun he had been hiding, and aimed.
A distorted voice leaked out from Roy's mouth.
"Did you think I'd rejoice on such a conclusion, Chez...? Living on as a failed work while asking for your sympathy...?"
Chez was short before crying, but even so he desperately raised his voice,
"Please wait, brother... I didn't...!"
Roy pulled the trigger without hesitation. A white light flashed in the dark.
It was the old man on the wheelchair who collapsed forward with a suppressed moan. A darkish stain was spreading out around the spot where the chest was shot and blood flooded out of his mouth.
"HAHAHA! What a ludicrous appearance. This is the sin for calling me a failed work. Atone with your life, you old crock!"
Roy raised a bright laugh.
Chez grew pale and embraced the convulsing body of his grandfather.
"Brother... what have you done...?"
"Be quiet... this girl comes next. Phantom Book? Biblioprincess? My arse!"
After turning around, Roy pointed his gun at Dalian.
Huey protected her by standing in front of her and took out his own handgun. It was a big calibre army-issue revolver. However, Roy had already set his gun and hence was faster. Huey didn't seem to make it in time.
The moment this thought came to mind---
Chez jumped in between them. In a posture to protect Huey and Dalian, he took the bullet his brother had shot. One bullet, two bullets---
Eventually, Huey's handgun spouted fire before Roy could execute his third shot. And his bullet hit the wrist of the hand Roy was using to hold his gun, with an exact flight route.
Roy gave a shriek like an animal. His right arm started to dangle powerlessly, upon which his blood-stained handgun fell down.
"M...My arm... ghu... you mongrel... to shoot my arm...!"
"Don't move, Roy Hurston."
Huey set again his gun and warned him with sharp words. Roy's grim mien distorted on this disgrace.
Huey looked around while retaining the grip on his gun without negligence.
The fire of the lamp Roy had dropped spread its fire on the carpet and illuminated the small underground room with a bright light.
The old man had already passed away, but Chez was still breathing. With first-aid treatment, he might still make it. However, I have to first tie up Roy--- when Huey thought so and was about to walk away;
"Step back, Huey!"
Dalian shouted in a voice resembling a scream.
At the same time, an intense stench struck his nose. The spreading fire had inflamed the chemicals stored in this underground room. The moment Huey took notice of this, a bright flash followed by a terrific blast came rushing towards them, upon which their field of vision was enveloped in darkness.
It looked like Huey didn't lose consciousness for too long.
His sleep was broken due to someone slapping his cheeks roughly.
"Hey, Huey! How long do you plan to sleep? You three-toed sloth! Is losing consciousness your one and only skill? Just how incapable are you?"
While swinging her long black hair around, she continued to slap his cheeks with the palm of her hand. Although her words were rude, she sounded desperate in a sense and her eyes seemed ready to overflow with tears at any moment.
"This kinda hurts... Dalian..."
Huey caught her arms when she was about to slap him all the more and raised his body restfully. Holding his still hazy head, he went on checking the damage caused by the explosion.
The condition of the underground room was terrible.
A conflagration was somehow averted, but due to the blast wave, the pillars sustaining the ceiling collapsed and thus the room was partially destroyed.
The corpse of the old man was squashed along with his wheelchair below by the ceiling and Roy could not be seen anywhere.
It was almost odd that Huey and Dalian were still living.
Huey set his handgun reflexively.
A beast was standing in the dark.
It had golden eyes like a nocturnal carnivore. A sharp nose and sharp teeth lined his mouth.
Its body was covered by bristles, hard like armour, with strongly developed muscles— altogether, it was more than twice as big as Huey.
A beast of the size of a cow and resembling a wolf---
It was the Beast of Ashwell without a doubt. The beast that was said to be seen at the scene where the barrister was murdered.
However, it was Dalian who stepped in front of Huey's gun.
"Wait, Huey! You mustn't shoot!"
The black-dressed girl spread her arms in order to protect the beast.
Seeing this, Huey finally noticed.
The beast didn't attack Dalian. It was the opposite. The beast was sustaining the collapsed ceiling with its back and tried to save them from being buried alive.
Then, Huey saw the scraps of cloth winded round the lower half of the beast's body and distorted his face.
It was a well-tailored American sack suit. The suit Chez was wearing until right before.
"You are... Chez Hurston...? This appearance..."
Huey easefully took down his gun and Dalian turned around expressionlessly.
The giant creature, once called Chez Hurston, breathed through its split mouth.
"I've always... thought it was strange... my appearance... my body..."
The words of the creature were distorted and thus hard to understand, but it was Chez' voice without doubt. It narrowed its eyes in self derision,
"But I understood through Grandfather's explanation just now... I am an improved breed brought forth by the hands of Grandfather... by recombining human genes and by crossbreeding experiments..."
Tears overflowed the golden eyes of Chez. Huey and Dalian didn't say anything and watched him lamenting. Beasts do not sob. Only humans shed tears in sadness.
"The perfect soldier that survives any battlefield... is THIS the answer brought forth by the knowledge of this PHANTOM BOOK?! Is THIS the shape of the new mankind Grandfather sought---?!"
The creature shouted out. Fresh blood flowed out of his mouth. As Chez staggered, some of the bricks he was sustaining crumbled down.
Chez was shot by Roy. It was a deep wound; a common human would probably have died.
His body might be especially tough because of him being such a creature, but it didn't change the fact that he was sustaining a great number of bricks with this body in order to protect them. It didn't look like he could endure this for too long.
Huey bit on his lips and looked up to the bricks above him.
However, there was no gap big enough for a human to slip through. And if he moved the bricks badly, then everything could lose its balance and eventually even the small space sustained by Chez would disappear.
Chez raised his face with a gasp, seeming to have smelled something.
Huey and Dalian recognized this smell immediately as well. It was gasoline.
A blood-stained wounded man came carrying a gasoline can and poured its contents over the destroyed underground room.
It was Roy who contorted his face with hatred and poured gasoline over them.
And in his hand, he was holding a lighter. Roy was able slip out of the room one step ahead of them and was now about to set a fire above the bricks to bake them alive, buried in this room.
"Ugh... Brother... don't tell me..."
The creature gave off a voice in despair.
Roy ignited the lighter in his clumsy left hand.
The flame illuminated his terribly distorted face. When Roy was about to throw the ignited lighter---
"Huey. I grant you the right to open the gate."
Dalian proclaimed in a calm voice.
She reached her finger out for her collar and opened the dress around her chest wide.
A slender collarbone with smooth white skin was exposed. Buried in there was a lock. An unrefined old lock. It was tied by silver chains to a black leather collar and buried in the midst of the breast of the girl that was lacking roundings.
Huey raised his right hand wordlessly.
In his hand, he held a key. A golden key with a red gem embedded.
Ancient letters were engraved into it.
Huey read them aloud calmly.
Like a knight pledging allegiance to his princess. Or like a magician casting a spell---
"I ask of thee... Art thou mankind?"
Dalian answered to his call.
In a cold robotic voice, like an utensil.
『No. We art the Realm -- the Endless Realm within thine Vessel.』
It was in the same moment, that the young man inserted the gold key into the lock before her breast, and that Roy threw his lighter away.
A tremendous flash filled the underground room and flames blazed up the dark.
Roy Hurston kept guffawing while he looked down on the remains of the burned and crumbled underground room.
This laugh suddenly stopped.
He felt something behind him, turned around and then saw them.
Blue rose petals were dancing in the light of the deep crimson moon that reflected the flames.
Enveloped by these petals was a young man carrying an unfamiliar book, a black haired girl wearing an opened black dress, and finally, a beast resembling a wolf.
"This is absurd... how can you..."
Roy screamed out from the depths of his lungs.
"Why?! How did you escape?! There wasn't any hole big enough to slip through!"
"I'm sorry, but you know... Phantom Books that open the gate to another world aren't that rare."
The young man - Huey - muttered so, and closed the book he was holding silently.
There was not even any significance in Roy knowing that this was one of the Phantom Books that should not exist in this world. That this was the grimoire left behind by a magician who worshipped a god, called 'The God from the Exterior', who lives in the cracks to other dimensions.
"You are the one who killed the barrister Ashwell, aren't you? Roy Hurston."
Dalian said so in a indifferent voice while gazing at the baffled Roy.
"What are you saying at this hour...?"
Roy laughed dryly. He triumphantly glared at the creature behind the girl.
"Look at this disgusting appearance of Chez! Can't you see that this is the monster that was seen in Ashwell's mansion? This MONSTER!"
"The monster here is this twisted heart of yours."
Dalian declared coldly.
"When we talked with you in the garden, you said that Ashwell got bitten to death. But you labelled the giant beast at the scene of crime as 'absurd rumour'."
Roy was dumbfounded and opened his eyes wide. His face spoke volumes. He couldn't even now believe what he had blurted out.
"So you knew it, Roy... that not a giant beast bit the Ashwells to death, but trained combat dogs."
Huey continued Dalian's words.
"There are only few in this town who wished for Ashwell's death. And it shouldn't be hard to run across you, if one investigates about people who train combat dogs here. Chez tried to stop you. I guess he had to transform in order to sneak into the mansion... or... to cover for his brother, you..."
After he listened to Huey's explanation, his face distorted into a weird smile while crying.
The younger brother he looked down on had secretly covered for him. He noticed this fact.
"Yeah, that's right... I was the one who killed Ashwell by taking some dogs with me. Originally, I was planning to pin the murder on the stray dogs, but... I never thought this would make such a fuss."
Roy put his hand into the pocket of his coat and took out a knife he had hidden there. It was a large knife the gentry used for duels.
"And now, I'm also not able to talk my way out of the murder of Grandfather. I see, so I really was just a failed work. A disgusting beast had built its nest inside my heart."
Roy kept glaring at them and concentrated power in the hand he was holding the knife. Seeing this, Chez jumped out,
"Stop it... Brother!"
With agility beyond belief, the creature landed in front of Roy.
But Roy was faster. He put the blade on his throat and sliced it at a stroke.
Chez screamed out. Fresh blood splattered out from Roy's body, upon which he collapsed and the spreading fire went on to cover him.
The giant creature reached his hand out to the flames and was about to embrace his brother's corpse.
His back shook once.
A shrill gunshot resounded and pierced the shoulder of the creature.
Dalian stood stock still in blank amazement, while Huey bit on his lips and turned around.
Some men, wearing long coats, had taken notice of the fire, climbed over the fence and were now pointing their guns at Chez. Huey recognized them.
"The Police...?! The guys that observed Roy! Why at such a time?!"
Huey tried to stop them by shouting, but it didn't reach them in their excitement.
"Its the beast... the Beast of Ashwell appeared!"
"Mr. Hurston is being attacked! Shoot...!"
Chez got on his knees while gunshots continuously resounded. Even so, he didn't let go of the corpse of his brother. Mustering all the strength he had left, he was about to walk away dragging his feet along. Chez was trying to escape by slipping into the dark.
If Huey and Dalian kept silent, then nobody would ever get to know that the old man, now buried under countless bricks, was shot by Roy. What's left was to carry away Roy's corpse.
If there's no corpse of Roy, then all the blame goes to the "Beast of Ashwell".
The murder of the barrister, the murder of the city council, everything---
Not for the sake of the Hurston family, but to protect Roy's honour.
Chez was planning to take all the bad reputation on his own.
And Dalian called the name of this creature. The black-dressed girl presented a book to him.
The forbidden Phantom Book only the present head of the Hurston family is allowed to read.
The Pedigree of All Creation---!
"This Phantom Book has chosen you as its owner! With the knowledge written in it, it shouldn't be impossible to even return your body to that of a common human... so please... take it with you."
The black beast shook its head to her shout.
Then it smiled timidly - or so it seemed.
With an unbelievable instantaneous force, the creature climbed the wall of the mansion and went away from them. But even then, several bullets still pierced him.
Dalian, left spiritless, let loose of the book, which then fell to the ground.
The blue roses became entangled in flames and burned away.
At last, the injured giant beast melted into the dark and disappeared.
The next morning. Huey and Dalian were riding on a train to the capital.
There weren't many passengers; probably because it was still early morning. The two of them were the only ones in the their wagon.
Dalian was obviously ill tempered and was alone reading a book.
She seemed rather unenthusiastic, since her reading speed was, considering that it's her, quite slow. Even with her beloved fried bread, she ate just enough for two people.
Huey was sitting on the opposite seat and was reading the newspaper he bought at the train station. The train accelerated easefully and the morning sun shone diagonally through the window.
"It looks like Chez's corpse couldn't be found."
Huey muttered this suddenly while holding the tabloid paper.
Half of the article in the cheap local newspaper was filled with the topic of "Beast of Ashwell Appeared Again". The entire Police pursued the beast and, supported by the hunters, encircled it. Then they shot it with countless bullets, whereupon the beast fell from the cliff. The death of the beast was taken for granted, but it seemed like they didn't find the corpse although the searched for it until morning.
The remaining half of the article was about Roy Hurston who got murdered by the beast. His achievements as city council member and his capabilities were highly praised in it. Chez was only mentioned in a little column as a victim.
"...I don't want to talk about this stupid dog."
Dalian said so without raising her face in a sulky voice.
"I was about to do him a favour by lending him the book and this stupid dog chose to carry along a corpse. Because he couldn't carry the corpse together with the book... I don't know any more about this darn fool... that's why I hate dogs."
The black-dressed girl thrust up her chin, gazing out of the window at the sky. Her sulking did, somehow, seem like she was suppressing tears.
Huey smiled lightly.
"My opinion is a bit different, I guess?"
"...what should be wrong?"
Dalian seemed offended and asked so.
"It's not like Chez didn't want the Phantom Book. He didn't want to drag you into the gunfight. He didn't want to hurt you!"
"Whatever reason there is, a fool is a fool."
Dalian became even more ill tempered. She raised her eyebrows and scowled at Huey,
"And you are 100 years early to state your opinion to me, despite just being Huey."
After these harsh words, Dalian closed her book. Then she reached out for Huey's bread and bit freely into it.
"My, my" Huey shrugged his shoulders. Then he recalled something and took something out from his coat. It was a small cut flower.
Huey stretched his hand out with agility and decorated a vase for one flower with it.
It was a flower bud that was about to start to bloom with blue petals.
"You took those roses with you?"
Dalian asked, with her cheeks stuffed with bread.
"There was just one left."
Huey folded the newspaper and shifted his gaze to the outside.
And said as if speaking to himself,
"You can be at ease. If he's still living, he will come meet us for sure! To accept the book then."
Dalian watched the blue rose expressionless and shook her head.
"After all it's just an 'unattainable goal'."
Huey smiled and said lightly jokingly.
"No... it's 'attaining the impossible', right?"
The flower that was the only one of its kind was silently swaying in the morning sun.