OmaeGotoki: Volume 3 010 - Past Memories

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“He went to see his ‘dead’ wife. That’s all I know.”

Kereina spits the words at Flum when she visits Gadio’s mansion.

Hallom, clinging onto Kereina’s clothes from behind, looks up at Flum worriedly.

“He didn’t say a thing to me before he left. All I found was a note saying ‘I’m going to be with Tia now’. Haha, it sounds like a suicide note, doesn’t it?”

“Tia-san came here yesterday, didn’t she? Did you see her?”

“Yeah… It was really her, no doubt about it. I’ve known her for a long time, and Gadio seemed to believe it, too.”

Just like Eterna said, it seems as though the people Necromancy brings back are completely identical to as they were in life.

“He’s been mourning her death and blaming himself for six years. I guess I should be happy for him now that it’s finally come to something, but...”

Kereina gives Flum a small, surrendering smile.

“Hey, oneechan?”

“Hm? What is it, Hallom-chan?”

Flum crouches down to meet Hallom eye-to-eye. Her large, watery eyes are pleading.

“Papa’s coming home, right? Papa’s didn’t forget Mama and Hallom, right?”

“Of course he didn’t. I’m sure he’ll be right back.”

She affectionately tousles Hallom’s hair, but her unease doesn’t fade.

“Don’t say things like that, Hallom. We don’t want to bother her.”

“But, but… Hallom doesn’t like it. Hallom wants Papa back! Papa’s Hallom’s Papa! He doesn’t belong to that scary lady!”

“Hallom…”

Tears finally start spilling from Hallom’s trembling eyes, running tracks down her cheeks.

She doesn’t remember her real father’s face. From the time she was born, Gadio was always right there for her. He’s not like a father to her --- he is her father.

“Hey, Hallom-chan? Gadio-san’s really nice, and you know he loves you, right?”

“...Yeah.”

“Try to trust him, then. He’ll be back.”

“...If you see Papa and he says he doesn’t wanna come home, then tell him he needs a time-out for making Hallom sad, okay?”

“Ahaha… Got it, I’ll bring him back here for a time-out even if I have to drag him every step of the way. Okay?”

Greatly relieved to hear that, Hallom’s tears slowly start to dry.


◇◇◇


Not long after that, Flum and Milkit say their goodbyes and leave the mansion.

“I’m glad Hallom-chan started feeling better.”

“She’s just a really cheerful little girl at heart, after all.”

Milkit had never met her before and she didn’t talk much, but when they were leaving Hallom had told her “Bye-bye, bandaged oneechan!” with a big grin.

“Wanna come with me and play with us the next time I visit?”

“Yes, definitely! But before that, we need to figure out where Gadio-san went. It’s a little early, but do you think we should head to the meeting point now?”

“Nah, there’s one more place I’d like to visit first.”

Leaving the East Quarter and entering the Central Quarter, Flum and Milkit head for the Royal Army’s barracks.

As soon as the soldiers on duty spot Flum they bow deeply.

“I’d like to see Otilier-san. Can I go in?”

“But of course, Flum-sama. I believe Otilier-sama is presently in her chambers.”

Laughing to herself bitterly about how differently they treat her now compared to the last time she visited, she steps inside.

Near the entrance she runs into a tall, slender man clad in the same sort of military uniform as Otilier.

“Yo. Yer Flum Apricot, am I right? Otilier’s told me a lot about ya.”

“And you are…?”

“Eh? Don’t know me? The name’s Werner. Jeez, I thought bein’ a Lieutenant General would’ve gotten my name out there…”

“Really? Sorry I didn’t recognize you.”

“Nah, it’s fine. I don’t stick out much, not like Otilier and Herman do. Nobody knows me, really.”

Werner Apeirun, the last of the three Lieutenant Generals alongside Otilier and Herman, is a specialist at fighting with clawed gauntlets. His reflexes are as sharp as his wit and he’s quite adept at operations of a more covert nature.

“Come here ta see Otilier, did ya? Lemme show ya in, then. She should be up to her usual… well, ya’ll see soon enough. Trust me, yer gonna love this.”

“Her usual what…?”

Completely clueless, Flum and Milkit follow him through the barrack’s corridors. Werner stops outside the linen room, however, instead of Otilier’s room.

“Go on, take a peek.”

Whispering, he jerks a thumb behind him into the room.

Flum and Milkit take a stealthy look inside.

There, they find Otilier with her face buried in some sheets.

“Aaaaaaaahh… Oneesama’s scent… Oneesama’s scent is all around me, enveloping me…! Nhahh… I simply cannot get enough…! So bittersweet, like love itself! Why, why, Oneesama!? Why does your very scent feel so sinful…!?”

“U-Uwahh…”

Even Milkit looks repulsed at the sight.

OmaeGotoki 03-Ch10 1.png

“Great, ain’t it?”

“I knew she really looked up to Anriette-san, but… Eh, don’t tell me she does this all the time?”

“‘Course she does.”

Werner gives her a thumbs-up. Flum inches away from him.

“Nfuuuuuuhn, so perfect… what a perfect scent… oohhh, Oneesamaa, Oneesamaaaahn!! Aahhh, being wrapped in Oneesama’s sheets makes me feel as though I’m in her arms --- no, as though I’m inside Oneesama herself~! I’m her child! I’m Oneechan’s little baby~~! Goo goo, gaa-gaaahn!”

“Otilier-san… Why… Whyyy…!?”

Flum grasps her head and moans as Milkit reassuringly rubs her back.

“So ya didn’t know, huh? This’s her true form, so ta speak, so ya better get used ta it.”

As Werner starts laughing, Otilier seems to finally notice them.

“Well, if it isn’t Flum and Milkit. Good day… suu, hahh…”

She walks right up to them, not even trying to hide the sheet still in her hands.

“Wow, you’re not even trying to hide it…”

“There’s no point in concealing it now. To begin with, my love for Oneesama is so utterly pure and untainted I have no intention of hiding it whatsoever!”

“...So yeah, this’s what the rest of us hafta put up with.”

Flum is left at an utter loss.

Deciding to forget everything she just saw, she gets right to the point.

“Uhh… We were hoping to have a word with you about the Church, but…”

“Eh, really?”

“That is the only reason they would come all this way to have a word with me, after all. Don’t tell me you lead them here without even knowing that, Werner?”

“I heard ya guys were friends, so I kinda assumed they just came ta visit.”

Listening at their exchange, Flum quickly realizes they know nothing about Necromancy’s recent actions.

“I guess ya should go see Anriette then, huh.”

“I’m afraid Oneesama’s meeting with Saturchy-sama at the moment.”

“Saturchy? As in, the cardinal?”

“Yeah, Saturchy Ranagarchy. He’s a ‘great’ guy, tryin’ ta patch things up between the Military an’ the Paladins an’ all.”

Why would a cardinal try to make friends with the Military now?

Flum can’t shake a sense of something being amiss, and since they don’t seem to know about Necromancy she’s about to head home when---

“...Oh? It would seem the door to Oneesama’s room just opened. They must have finished their meeting. Well then, shall we go?”

Unable to repress her eagerness to see her Oneesama as soon as possible, she turns and starts leading the way with a spring in her step.

“Ehh!? There wasn’t any sound just now, was there…?”

Milkit is clearly perturbed, but Flum just decides to not think about it.


◇◇◇


As Anriette’s room comes into view, they can see a man and a woman talking just outside. The woman is undeniably Anriette, but the broad-chested man with strong facial features and a big, bushy beard is…

“So that’s Cardinal Saturchy Ranagarchy…”

As Flum mutters to herself the man seems to notice her. He gives her a bold smile.

A shiver runs down Flum’s spine.

“Well, if it isn’t the Chosen! I’d heard that you’d left the Party, but I never thought I’d meet you in a place like this.”

“N-Nice to meet you, too…”

He should be of about the same status as Anriette, but for some reason he feels so much more intimidating.

“Don’t be scared, now. I have high hopes for you.”

“For me?”

He walks up to her and puts a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sure it didn’t take any courage for you, but future generations won’t take notice. History records only the results.”

“O-Okay…?”

“I’m sorry, you don’t understand a word I’m saying as you are now, do you? I know this is selfish of me, but I’ve got to say it. You have my deepest respect. I’m just one of the people that saved, after all.”

“That? Wait, what?”

Flum can’t hide her confusion.

Regardless, Satruchy continues, as if we were purposefully trying to confuse her.

“Thanks to you, Project Reversal was a success. You’re living proof of that. That’s why I’m so happy to have met you face-to-face, you see. I’ll make sure to pass this on to Chatney, too.”

“Project…? Chat… ney…?”

---fssssh.

Static flares through her head.

Something cuts through her memories, an unknown face crawling out from within.

[Project Reversal... study of... ... tablish...]

---fssssssssssshhh.

The static brings with it a powerful headache.

I’m afraid this is necessary if you’re to ‘return’, but you’ll have to be careful to not hurt yourself too badly. It will likely manifest itself directly within your brain as pain. Think of it as an extreme case of growing pains, if you will.

“Ugh… w-what…!?”

---fShSHshsHshSHSh.

The static dominates even her vision, robbing her of all sense of reality.

She doesn’t even know if what’s standing there is Flum Apricot or not.

If she had to say one way or the other, she’s [Flum] but not ‘Flum’.

[Soon, my life will come to an---]

---FSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHH.

As I thought, the pain is just too great for you. The human mind wasn’t designed for this, after all. It’s not supposed to ‘return’. Even so, that she is even trying is proof that she is special. To this world and to Flum Apricot, she is indeed an irreplaceable component, and yet she --- no, THEY are as of yet incomplete. If I had to guess as to whether that incompleteness could bring those two happiness, however, I’m afraid I lack conclusive---

“Hah… agh, ghuu…!!”

Her mind is buried in a flood of nonsensical images and voices. Suddenly having all that information bombarding her senses leaves her completely clueless as to what it is and what it means.

“Master!?”

Her Belt should be dulling her pain, but even then it’s enough that she can’t stay standing. If Milkit wasn’t there to support her she would’ve collapsed.

“Ho? A flashback? I didn’t expect there to be anything left. You never cease to amaze me! Hahaha…!”

Having said his part, Saturchy simply walks away laughing.

There’s no end to what she wants to ask him, what just happened, but her mind’s still too fuzzy to even form words properly.

“Did Saturchy-sama say anything peculiar to you? If you’re feeling unwell it might be best to rest in the infirmary for a spell…”

Otilier worriedly supports her body from the other side. Flum’s face is deathly pale and cold sweat dribbles from her chin to the floor.

“No… no, I’m fine. I just felt a little dizzy is all… ahaha, maybe I’m just not in top shape after all that’s been happening recently…”

She tries to laugh a little, but she can’t put any strength into her strength or expression.

“Are you sure you’re quite alright?”

Anriette looks her in the eyes, a very grim look on her face. Flum gets the feeling that she’s asking about something very different, something at the heart of everything, but Flum can’t even begin to understand what that is.

She simply shakes her head.

“...I don’t know. Really, I know nothing.”

“Dammit, leavin’ a girl half-passed out on the floor… How can he just strut out like that? I guess when ya get ta cardinal ya just naturally look down on everyone else, huh?”

“Come now, Werner, you can’t say what you please about him behind his back. I’ll inform him you said such things about him if I must.”

“Uegh, seriously, not that. I don’t wanna hafta explain myself ta the paladins…”

Flum didn’t feel as though Saturchy was looking down on her though. It wasn’t a scoff or degrading laugh, but rather he was simply happy, deeply content.

What WAS that just now? As soon as I heard about the ‘Project’ thing and Chatney all those weird images started flowing through… no, more like they started flowing out of my head…

Putting a hand to her head, Flum steals a glance at Milkit beside her.

And was it just me, or was there someone in there who looked a lot like…? Ahh, dammit. I can’t remember anything now. Whatever, I’ll just forget this ever happened. Yeah, that’s for the best. I’ve got to focus on asking Anriette-san what we need to know now!

Shaking her head again, she takes a deep breath and stops thinking about what she shouldn’t be thinking about.

They head into Anriette’s office to start on the topic at hand. Just like last time, Flum and Milkit sit opposite of Anriette on the guest sofas. Otilier sits right beside Anriette, resting her cheek on her shoulder.

“So you mentioned having something you’d like to ask us about the Church, but I’m afraid we’ve been terribly busy as of late. We can’t tell you much of anything.”

“I got the feeling that was the case. Is something wrong?”

“Yes --- we’ve received word that the Royal Army is to be officially absorbed into the Paladins.”

“Wha… If that happens, then the King really won’t have any authority left!”

“That’s precisely what they’re after, it would seem. That being said, the King has been a zealous follower of the Church for some time now. I don’t imagine he’s anything more than a figurehead even now.”

“If they stop even pretending and step into the open like that, there’s no telling what they’ll do! Everyone’s already suffering because of how expensive it is to get healing…”

Anriette nods deeply, muttering “Precisely” with a dark expression.

“I’ll buy as much time as I possibly can, but I’m afraid I have my hands full with just the Paladins right now. I won’t be able to help you as much as I’d like.”

“No, just knowing you’re fighting the Church is enough.”

“I’d appreciate it if you’d tell us what you know, however. I might be able to provide you with a little information, at least.”

Trusting in Anriette, they tell her everything they know about Necromancy. She nods seriously as she listens to Flum’s every word.

“Tia Ruskett… That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long while.”

“You know her?”

“We’d fought together a good many times in joint guild-Military operations. I’d heard that everyone in Gadio’s party perished except him, but I never expected that was the work of the Church…”

“Can you tell us anything about Satils?”

“I’ve heard she’s quite the miser. Her businesses themselves aside, she loans money to nobles outside the Capital at exorbitant interest rates and forces them to pay her in raw goods when they fail to keep up.”

“That sounds just like her…”

“She does have talent as a merchant, however. Francoise Enterprises would’ve never grown to its current size otherwise.”

They ask Anriette a few more questions, but nothing else that seems relevant to Necromancy comes up. They’ll just have to hope Eterna was able to get some useful information out of Welthy.

After bidding each other farewell, Flum and Milkit leave the barracks as Anriette watches from her window. As soon as they pass out of sight, she turns to face her subordinates.

“Otilier, Werner. I need you to follow those two and keep them out of harm’s way. Take ten soldiers with you; I should be able to make an excuse for that many.”

She wants to help them, even if only a little. Thanks to Saturchy, she should be able to provide them with at least a little extra firepower.

“Of course, Oneesama! I, Otilier, humbly swear to answer your affections in full!”

“Yeah, sorry, I’m gonna pass… but I guess I can’t, huh? Can’t ya get Herman ta do it?”

“He’s not exactly the most indiscreet man I’ve ever met. You’re far better suited for this.”

“Oneesama’s word is law, Werner. We’d best prepare ourselves.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m goin’, I’m goin’...”

Otilier bursting with energy and Werner letting out an exaggeratedly heavy sigh, they leave Anriette’s office. As soon as Anriette can no longer hear their footsteps, she starts muttering to noone in particular.

“The legacy of the ancients, cloning personalities, anti-spiral matter, the City of the Ark… This is well beyond my power to handle.”

Everything that Saturchy told her was almost impossible to believe --- but then again, so is everything else that’s been happening in the Capital recently.

She didn’t enter the Military for money or power. All she wanted to do was protect her country and her loved ones. It would seem, however, that her motivations are a little too honest and simple.

“I’ll have to do what I can. There are things I’ve got to protect.”

Donning her coat, she leaves her office.

Once again, she goes to face the festering evils and their fanatics who dwell in the Grand Cathedral.


◇◇◇


Flum and Milkit arrive at the park in the East Quarter to find Eterna, Ink, and Welthy waiting there for her.

“Sorry we’re late.”

“Don’t worry about it! We just got here ourselves.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I wasn’t expecting to meet you here, Welthy-san.”

Instead of replying to Milkit immediately, Welthy laughs smugly. She triumphantly holds up a stack of papers.

“Wanna guess what this is?”

“It’s a lead-jer full of people who borrowed money from Satils!”

“Hey, I wanted to say that, Ink-chan!”

Welthy pulls on Ink’s ear and in a moment the two of them are fooling around like old friends. They’d apparently grown rather close while they were waiting.

“...Anyhow, yeah, one of the other journalists brought in this ledger just earlier today.”

It was brought in right while Eterna and Ink were talking to Welthy, in fact. The timing was absolutely perfect, as if the information was waiting until just the right moment to finally come to light.

“We were just talking to the Major General, and---”

“Uwah, you know the Major General!?”

“Well, kinda. Anyhow, she told us about how Satils has people repay her in goods, not cash. Do you think they’re related?”

“Nn. She got the whole forest north of the Capital from one of her debtors.”

“Yeah, a super creepy overgrown forest! Doncha think that sounds preeeeeetty suspicious?”

“Weren’t the goods Satils was sending the Church also headed north, Master? In that case…”

“Yeah… Necromancy’s main facility is probably in those woods.”

Daffyd came to the Capital just yesterday, returned to the lab, then was in the Capital again the next morning. If he’s able to go to and from his facility so frequently, then it must be only a few hours away at most.

“If you want, I can get a company carriage ready.”

“Yeah, that’d be great.”

“Okay! Ah, but it’s a bit too late to go today. By the time I’ve gotten everything in order it’ll be dark out.”

“Forests at night aren’t good. Especially if there’s a research facility nearby.”

There’s no point rushing into things and getting themselves hurt.

I wish we could leave right now, but I guess that’s a bad idea…

“So early tomorrow morning it is, then?”

“Right, I’ll have everything ready by then! Oh, and I’m coming with you, of course!”

“Really? I can’t promise you’ll make it out in one piece.”

“Ahh, don’t worry about it! I’m really good at running away!”

Welthy gives Flum an overconfident wink, which somehow leaves Flum feeling only more nervous.


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