OmaeGotoki: Volume 3 018 - The Capital In Turmoil
After arriving back in the Capital, Gadio parts ways with Flum and the others.
By the time he makes it back home it’s already evening. He passes through the gate, walks up the stone path through the garden but stops as soon as he sees the figure hunched over on the doorstep.
Hearing his footsteps, she looks up at him with a smile. Her lips tremble, tears building in her eyes, filled with a hundred things she knows she has to tell him but at a complete loss for words.
In the end, all she can manage is:
Her clumsy words drive a stake through Gadio’s heart.
After I abandoned her, after killing Tia and only having my feelings for her grow stronger... I don’t have any right to this.
As he stands silently in his regret, however, Kereina’s expression grows increasingly uneasy.
If he’s going to be ending everything soon, it might be better to cut ties with her now.
He can’t bring himself to do that, however.
“I’m home, Kereina.”
He gives her a gentle smile.
She stands up, walking towards him with unsteady feet before burying her face in his chest.
“Welcome home… welcome home, Gadio…!”
Gadio wordlessly strokes her hair as she cries into him.
His expression seems almost pained somehow.
“Finally, we’re back!”
As soon as Flum walks in the door, she spreads her arms wide and shouts to noone in particular.
“Fufu, the air here really is quite relaxing, isn’t it?”
Milkit lets out a sigh of relief as she watches Flum, full of energy once more.
“It feels like home now.”
“It really, really does!”
All four of them finally relax, the battles and the hardships finally at an end.
After a light dinner and baths, they head off to their respective rooms for some hard-earned rest---
As soon as Ink returns to her room, she finds herself seated on the edge of the bed while Eterna embraces her from behind, and for some reason Eterna has her face buried in Ink’s hair again.
“...What’re you doing, Eterna?”
“So you ARE a pervert!”
“It’s rude to call people that.”
“I get the feeling we had this conversation just a little while ago…”
“Can’t be helped. This is habit-forming.”
“Stop it now while you can!”
Ink doesn’t make any move to resist, however. She knows full well that resistance is futile; Eterna’s deceptively strong. She insists that she’s nothing compared to Flum, but she’s worlds apart from a normal little girl like Ink.
“You get like this whenever I let my guard down even a little… keep it up and I might not wanna ever leave you, y’know?”
“A welcome result. It’ll be an all-I-can-smell paradise.”
“Stop it with the smell stuff already!”
“No! Stoppit, you sixty-year-old baby! Old maid! Pervert!”
“Gh… A lethal combination attack...”
“You deserve it!”
“...This is what happens to cocky little girls like you.”
Eterna wraps a watery tentacle around Ink, spinning her around so Eterna can hug her from the front.
“Uu… this is really embarrassing…!”
“Nn. It really is.”
“Why’d you do it, then!?”
Eterna doesn’t respond. She simply squeezes Ink’s tiny body closer to her own.
Ink gives Eterna a comforting pat on the head.
“You were really sad, huh? I guess that’s normal, since you had to kill your mom and dad…”
“I told myself I wouldn’t be. When I killed them, even during the fighting, I didn’t feel a thing.”
“So it was after you came back here?”
“This house is filled with memories for me.”
The thought of their faces in that last moment and her memories together start squeezing Eterna’s heart --- squeezing, constricting, threatening to force tears to start spilling out.
“I want to overwrite them.”
“With memories with me? But I thought you had a lot of happy memories here, too?”
“Not those. My memories of Sheol.”
“You sure you want me for that, though? I’m really weak and I can’t even see… I don’t think I’d be able to give you anything good.”
“You’re wrong. Just being with you is fun. Almost too fun.”
Her monotone doesn’t seem to convey any of that pleasure, but Ink hears it loud and clear.
“I guess I’ll just hafta spoil you until you’re feeling all better, then!”
That’s one thing that Ink definitely can do to repay Eterna for all she’s done.
“Thanks. I’ll start by getting my fill of your scent.”
“Why does it always come back to that!?”
Ink tries to squirm free, but Eterna only hugs her more tightly.
Eterna’s days of being spoiled by a little girl show no sign of ending anytime soon.
Milkit’s bandages rustle as they fall to the bed, and Flum extends her hand towards Milkit’s blushing cheeks as though she’d forgotten what they feel like. Milkit’s warm, soft hand comes to rest over Flum’s, and for a while they sit there gazing into each other’s eyes as they always do.
“Uh… So Milkit. I kinda get the feeling you said something pretty unbelievable during that fight with Satils…”
Milkit gives her a blank look.
“Y-Y’know, when you said you… l-loved me…”
Flum’s face turns red, though the reason is completely lost on Milkit.
“Ah, that’s what you’re referring to. It’s the answer I’ve finally found as to what our bond really is.”
“So we’re not partners?”
“I’m plenty happy with that, but I wanted something a little more concrete to describe us.” For the first time, Flum realizes just how subject to interpretation the term ‘partners’ can be.
“After everything that happened in Sheol, however, I finally arrived at my conclusion. Since we were mid-combat at the time, do you mind if I tell you my feelings again now?”
“Eh!? Ah, uh, umm…”
Milkit gives her a look like a kicked puppy. Flum can’t possibly say no to a face like that.
“F-Fine, go ahead! I’m ready!”
“Good. Well, then…”
Milkit takes Flum’s hand off her cheek and redirects it to her chest. Flum can feel her heartbeat through her supple breast.
She then looks deep into Flum’s eyes.
Milkit’s eyes are just as beautiful as when they first met, but since then she’s regained that delicate silver sheen to her hair, her healthy, clean complexion, and she’s even started to fill out a more distinctly feminine figure. Looking at Milkit in full, Flum is struck completely speechless.
Then, Milkit’s soft cherry lips part.
“Master… I love you.”
After being confessed to with such an adorable, beaming smile, Flum’s mind goes completely blank.
She loves me.
Wait, so… love?
Doesn’t that kinda mean not partners in the platonic sense, but… married-couple-type ‘partners’...?
“Wa, wawawa, wa, wa! Wa!!”
Flum turns beet red a moment later.
“Wait, wait just a second, Milkit! T-T-This is a little too sudden for your master to follow…!”
Flum puts her hands to her cheeks in an attempt to cool them down, but all she succeeds in doing is warming her hands. At an utter loss, Flum buries her face in the nearest pillow.
A sweet scent tickles her nostrils, a smell that isn’t hers.
This smells sooo good, but for some reason my heart’s beating all outta control… wait, this is Milkit’s pillow!?
Her temperature skyrockets, her heart beating violently. Hot blood flows through to every corner of her body.
Finally prying her face away from the pillow with a strange cry, she buries her face in the mattress this time.
“Um… Did I say something strange?”
“N-No, not really, j-just hearing you say l-l-l-l-love all of a s-sudden was a l-little bit of a shock...”
“A shock? But no matter what, I can’t imagine what this feeling could possibly be except love…”
Flum casts a glance up at Milkit, face still buried in the mattress.
Milkit still seems perfectly composed and natural, not embarrassed at all.
Wait… what if Milkit didn’t mean that kinda love…?
“Uh, Milkit… This is just a guess, but…”
“W-What is it?”
“You didn’t mean love in the ‘let’s be lovers’ kinda sense, right…?”
This time Milkit blushes, her cheeks turning strawberry pink --- no, the blush even reaches so far as her ears and down to the collar of her maid outfit.
“W-Where did that come from, all of a sudden…!?”
“I-I mean, ‘I love you’ typically refers to that kinda thing, so…”
“Really!? No, um… I-I suppose… you’re right…”
Her voice rapidly grows quieter. After her voice has shrunk to a whisper, she tips to the side, flopping to the bed with her face in her hands.
“I didn’t mean… No, I mean, I really do love you, Master, there’s no doubt, but… ahh, I don’t know how else I should phrase it, though…!”
“T-There’s all sorts of different kinds of love! Like, y’know, the family kinda love or the friend kinda love! If we’re talking about stuff like that, then, um…”
I can’t just let Milkit embarrass herself alone!
With newfound determination, Flum sits up, plants her ball fists on her thighs, and with an expression that can’t quite hide her embarrassment:
“I l-love you, too…?”
Flum’s love definitely isn’t in the familial sense, however, and she gets the strong feeling that it isn’t the friend type of love, either.
J-Just what kinda ‘love’ is this…?
“T-Thank you, Master, but… b-being confessed to is quite embarrassing, isn’t it?”
“I-I’d say they’re both plenty embarrassing…”
“I’m so sorry for making you go through all that, Master. I’m afraid I’m at a bit of a loss, though… I don’t know how else to convey my feelings for you.”
She thought she’d finally found her answer.
Milkit just doesn’t know any other way to express herself yet.
Flum crawls closer to her on all fours, gently touching the hands that cover Milkit’s face.
Milkit peeks at her face through a gap in her fingers. Flum’s face is still quite red, but she seems a lot more composed than she did before.
Flum smiles at her.
“I like you, Milkit.”
Milkit’s heart suddenly starts beating faster, but at the same time as though it’s being gripped tightly. It’s not unpleasant, however --- far from it.
“Yeah, ‘like’ feels about right, don’t you think? ‘Love’ is a little too heavy…”
It’s still not something they’d be able to say without blushing, but it’s light enough that they can get by without putting too much thought into it.
Milkit’s still blushing more than Flum is, but determined to return her master’s feelings she meets Flum’s gaze.
“Um… in that case… I like you, Master.”
Flum nods a little bashfully, simply happy that they’re seeing heart-to-heart.
Milkit smiles in the same way, then repeats herself.
“I really, really like you, Master.”
Flum wraps her arms tightly around her. Simply exchanging that word makes them so happy they don’t know what they’ll do with themselves.
It’s not something one says to family.
It’s not something one feels for a friend.
It’s warm and fills their hearts, a puzzling feeling they just can’t describe, flowing throughout their bodies her round, soft, and comforting.
It’s Flum’s first real, irreplaceable treasure since meeting Milkit, a seed that’ll surely bloom into something beautiful, growing every time she reaches out to touch it.
I still don’t know what to call this feeling, but… I guess that’s fine for now.
Flum and her friends aren’t the only ones who’ve returned to the Capital. Nekt arrives at the underground base of the Children a little before the others reach the Capital.
She was out longer this time than ever before, but she’s confident that Mother couldn’t care less either way. She’s hoping that one of the other Second Generation kids might reply, but the room is totally empty --- or rather, the entire base seems quiet.
“Hey, where is everyone? If you’re all playing hide-and-seek, then who’s supposed to be ‘it’?”
She steps into the next room. As a storage room for books unrelated to research and a variety of toys, Fwiss and Mute spend a lot of time there, but---
“What the hell…!?”
The bookshelves are toppled, the toys crushed and scattered all over. A layer of something red and sticky covers the floor.
Getting the feeling that something’s very wrong, Nekt rushes into Mother’s laboratory. The research equipment lies shattered and crushed, colourful doodles in blood covering the wall. Unlike the storage room, the walls and floors are twisted and warped.
“There was a fight here? But who the hell could fight the Children toe-to-toe like this? Flum-oneesan and the others just got back from Sheol, so---”
A shadow trembles.
Nekt, noticing it, is immediately ready to fight.
A monster that looks a lot like a werewolf emerges --- though Nekt can feel that what’s inside it is something else entirely.
“Chimaera… The Church’s getting rid of us along with Necromancy, is that it!? If only I’d gotten back a little sooner…!”
Having returned from Sheol with a wealth of information, Welthy publishes her article in the Capital’s newspapers the very next morning. In it, she exposes the Church’s human experimentation to bring back the dead --- it sounds more worthy of a tabloid than anything else, but given the evidence from both Satils’ secret room and Sheol and even the testimonies of the incident’s survivors, it’s more than convincing.
The Church immediately moves to cover it up, but the common peoples’ discontent explodes far more quickly than anyone could’ve expected, resulting in the anti-Church proponents organizing a protest outside the Grand Cathedral before the Church can even blink. Even in the other quarters of the Capital protests and demonstrations break out, discordantly speaking out against the Church. The unreasonable price hikes on healing must’ve pushed the people to the point where this latest reveal is the last straw.
While the priests and priestesses try frantically to keep the madness under control, the pope and cardinals hold a meeting in the Grand Cathedral.
“It would appear that Necromancy has been crushed.”
Pope Fedro Maximus is the first to speak. He sits above them on his throne, clad in gold-laden white robes and a matching mitre. His hair is long and white, his deathy pale skin suggesting he hasn’t been outside in years. Just like his skin, his soft voice and his gentle smile have an utterly inhuman quality to them.
“What a pity. We had high hopes for Daffyd-kun.”
His expression and tone don’t change --- if anything, he seems pleased.
“Human life only exists to be snuffed out, after all.”
One of the cardinals, Toizzo, replies.
“By perishing, he has fulfilled his duty as one of Origin-sama’s devout.”
Tarch continues in the exact same tone.
“He is but a martyr. He may have been a poor adherent to the will of Origin-sama, but death has made him complete.”
Slowanach’s tone, words, expressions, everything is identical to his peers. It’s almost as though a single person is speaking with a number of different voices.
“I believe we have seen his true worth, however. What say you, Saturchy Ranagarchy?”
The fourth cardinal, Falmo, narrows his eyes at Saturchy as the bearded man stares down at the table in front of him. He raises his face, turns to face Fedro, and speaks his mind without a care for the room’s oppressive atmosphere.
“I believe that even without my opinion, the verdict is clear.”
As he speaks, he turns to face the woman standing in the corner. Their eyes meet, and she --- Echidna Ipeira --- puts a hand to her mouth and giggles.
“You flatter me, Saturchy-samaaaa. I don’t know a thing yet, I sweeeear.”
She twists and turns her body with an all-knowing smile as she speaks.
“We called her here today with a certain announcement in mind. We have long sought for the best means of utilizing the power that Origin-sama has bestowed upon us --- and finally, the time has come to declare the victor of this competition.”
Having long awaited that moment, Echidna’s breathing grows heavy and seductive with anticipation.
“We hereby declare Chimaera to be the most fitting spear for our holy war.”
The cardinals start clapping politely, all in perfect sync. Echidna lets out a pleased squeal of “Haaaaahn!♡” in response.
“Please inform Mike-kun that the Children project is to end immediately.”
“It shall be done.”
Falmo, overseer of the Children, readily agrees.
“Please wait, Your Holiness. I’m afraid the chances that man will reject your decision are second to none.”
Saturchy voices his objection, but Echidna follows him up.
“If you wiiiish, I would be more than happy to dispose of the Chiiiildren for you. I daaaaresay it’ll serve as proof of our poooower as well --- two birds with one stoooone.”
“You would use Chimaera inside the Capital!?”
“I’ve compleeeetely perfected Chimaera, don’t worry. Within the Capital, I’d even be able to give veeeery specific orders, and without orders they won’t move a muuuuscle. There’s no chance of losing control whatsoeeeever.”
“Maybe so, but I heard that your mole was caught before he could hand you the key to replicating the Central Core.”
Echidna looks at Saturchy with disgust for only an instant before smoothly replying.
“I don’t know what you’re taaaalking about, but even without that my Chimaera’s production rates and power faaaar outstrip Necromancy and the Children put togeeeether. Isn’t that enoooough to decide which of us is the winner of this little gaaaame?”
She might have a lot of other things going for her, but she doesn’t even try to deny that the Chimaera Central Core is incomplete.
“Saturchy-kun, that’s enough. Cease your squabbling.”
The pope doesn’t seem to care, however, having already decided Chimaera as their champion. All Saturchy can do is hold his tongue in irritation.
“Echidna-kun, we trust you will handle the Children after negotiations break down.”
“It would be an honour, You Hooooliness. If you’ll excuse me, I have some preparaaaations to make.”
They don’t even consider the possibility that Mike Smithy --- or rather, Mother --- might acquiesce. There’s likely no avoiding the Children being wiped out by Chimaera.
Saturchy isn’t worried about that, however.
It’s said that that cornered rat will bite the cat, but the Children aren’t weak enough to be called rats. If they decide to resist, then there’s no telling how much damage the Capital will incur. The pope and the other cardinals know that full well, but they don’t even care enough to think of any countermeasures.
Those inhuman fiends…!
Saturchy can barely repress his indignation.
The Church is filled with such monsters, Echidna herself being one of them. She wouldn’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets in her way, knowing no restraint. She doesn’t only have no morals, however --- she’s incredibly cunning. He wouldn’t be surprised if she’s already started her attack on the Children, having anticipated the results of the meeting.
It’s practically a miracle that Saturchy was able to rise to the rank of Cardinal with such fiends for company. Perhaps it’s the very inhumanity of the organization, however, that prompted what few decent people are left to lend Saturchy the support he needed.
“As an aside, is it not rather raucous outside the Cathedral today?”
Finally, Fedro touches on the massive protest being held on their doorstep.
“I would appear as though news of the events of Sheol has made it out into the masses.”
“How unfortunate. Might anyone have a plan for silencing the rabble?”
“I have an idea.”
Tarch steps forward with a plan.
“Since both Falmo and I will no longer be needed, what if we were to present them our heads?”
Tarch and Falmo supervised Necromancy and the Children, respectively. Since they’ve already decided to go ahead with Chimaera, they’ve both outlived their usefulness.
“What a splendid idea! As the paradise Origin-sama envisions has no room for humans, it shall also contribute towards the fumigation of this infested land of ours.”
Falmo’s words are brimming with delight as he accepts his own death.
“Well then, Huyghe-kun, we leave the rest to you.”
With only a few short words the execution of two cardinals, normally a massive ordeal, is decided and to be acted upon. Only Saturchy seems to notice the air of insanity filling the room, but all he can do is powerlessly ball his fists beneath the table. As one of the cardinals and a ‘devout follower of Origin’, he mustn’t openly speak against them.
“Justice Arts: Scotch Maiden.”
Huyghe swings his sword, and from across the room Tarch’s and Falmo’s heads fly from their shoulders. Their heads thud against the floor, their bodies slumping out of their chairs as fresh blood rapidly pools on the floor.
“Your hand is as splendid as always, Huyghe-kun.”
“You flatter me, Your Holiness.”
Huyghe is eerily calm and collected for having just killed a pair of cardinals.
“Ah, yes, we had nearly forgotten. You may proceed with the plan we discussed the other day, Huyghe-kun. Dian-kun has already given his consent.”
The pope refers to King Dian so casually, as if he were only another subordinate.
Huyghe’s eyes glow with glee.
“Yes --- from today forth, the Royal Army will be fully absorbed into the Paladins.”
Fedro makes his declaration with a calm and quiet demeanor, as though he were only commenting on the weather.
“Oneesama, terrible news!”
Otilier bursts into Anriete’s office without knocking, her face pale.
“The heads of cardinals Tarch and Falmo have been displayed outside the Grand Cathedral!”
“That would explain why the protesters have quieted down so much…”
Anriette looks down at the mob gathered in the Palace Square from her office window.
“Yes, I would imagine they’re attempting to silence the people with this.”
The mob likely weren’t expecting the ready execution of two cardinals. Rather than being content with that outcome, however, they’re likely terrified by the Church’s swift and brutal methods.
“As the Royal Army, we can’t possibly condone such barbarism! Oneesama, we can’t possibly remain silent---”
“No, I’m afraid that’s all we can do. We don’t have the power to resist them.”
Her words are weak, completely unlike the dauntless Anriette Otilier knows.
As she stands there in confusion, Anriette suddenly turns around, closes the distance between them in an instant --- and wordlessly envelops her in a tight embrace.
“Ha… eh? O-O-O-O-O-O-Onee, sama…!? Y-You can’t suddenly show me such passion like this…!”
“I need you to calm yourself and listen closely, Otilier.”
“B-But I can’t possibly! Your scent, your body… ahh, your chest… m-my chest…! It’s no use, my mind is brimming with all manner of unsavory thoughts…!”
“I need you to quit the Military, and as soon as possible.”
“Q-Quit the Military… Eh? You wish for me to quit?”
Otilier’s fever subsides almost instantly.
“Why, Oneesama? Why must I leave your side!? I swore to remain by your side for all eternity --- in life, in death, even in life beyond death!”
“You haven’t changed a bit from back then, have you? It was those same emotions that drove you to enter the Military in my stead, correct? It’s precisely because of those feelings of trust that I know I can rely on you.”
“If you’re so willing to rely on me, then let me stay by your side! Even if it means becoming your slave or your chamberpot, I swear I shan’t disappoint you!”
“No, you’re my trusted friend and colleague --- my equal, the only one I can truly trust to defend the Kingdom at my side. I have no interest in serving a King who abandons his people, however.”
“You don’t mean to tell me… The King has decided to go through with the merger between the Paladins and the Royal Army!?”
“Not a merger --- a complete buyout. I’m no longer Major General, nor do I know what fate awaits me at their hands.”
Military might is the one thing that can keep a country’s land in check. A king without an army could never hope to defend his realm from even ambitious nobles within his own kingdom.
In turning all military power over to the Church, the King is unconditionally handing the Pope the keys to the Kingdom.
“At most only one person could escape before we’re handed over to the Church. Werner and Herman may resent me, but I choose you, Otilier.”
“I… I never wished for this…!”
“I’m sorry. You’re the only one I can truly trust to fight alongside the Chosen.”
“What a truly unfair way to phrase it… You know I couldn’t possibly refuse a request from you, Oneesama.”
Anriette simply gives her a lonely smile.
“I have only one thing I wish to ask in return.”
“What is it?”
“If we succeed in thwarting the Church’s plots and I return to your side once more… c-could we possibly have s-se… n-no, that would be far too sudden. How about a kissh… uuu… um… C-Could you embrace me like this again!?”
There’s such a thing as being too reserved.
Anriette could simply agree with her request, but instead she goes a step further.
“If you return to my side alive, Otilier, I’ll do anything and everything your heart desires --- be it kissing or beyond.”
“Ahh, Oneesama…! It’s a promise, I promise I’ll return to you…!”
Just like when they were children, they exchange a pinky swear with their vows.
With that, the Royal Army is disbanded, its soldiers adopted into the Paladins --- and their very first joint venture is a thorough ‘screening’ of the new recruits. The ‘useless’ soldiers are brought in front of their peers and mercilessly executed. Over a hundred of them are slaughtered, delivering to the survivors the clear message that they belong not the King but Origin now. The especially rebellious soldiers are ‘cleansed’ through an intensive program of torture and brainwashing. As everything happens behind closed doors, of course, only rumours reach the ears of the common people, but one lone truth escapes: Those who used to lead the Military are gone, having vanished without a trace.
The morning after the cardinals’ execution, a certain man walks into the West Quarter guild seeking answers.
Flum and Gadio have yet to arrive. Only Ila, having arrived a little earlier than normal, is sitting there at the counter with her chin propped up on the counter.
As soon as she lays eyes on that tall, green-haired man, however, her eyes snap open. He’s a famous adventurer, after all.
He flashes her a pearly white smile and she almost faints on the spot. She has her duty as a receptionist, however, so she manages to stay sitting up.
“Hey. Do you know where I can find Gadio? I heard he’s been coming here lately.”
“I’m afraid the guildmaster hasn’t arrived yet.”
In front of a man who’s just her type, Ila is all smiles.
“I’m too early, aren’t I…? Why’s he suddenly playing guildmaster now, though? They just kinda forced it on him, and he’s been ignoring it until now… ”
He’d just returned from the Demon Realm the night before, and hearing about all that’s happened in the past few days is dizzying. That’s why he decided to ask Gadio, since chances are he would know something about what’s really going on.
“It might have something to do with Flum Apricot being here.”
“Huh? Why the hell would Flum-chan be in a place like this?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know the details, but judging from the salve mark on her face I’d say she caught herself up in something unpleasant.”
Linus’ expression suddenly turns severe.
Ila’s heart skips a beat at his serious face, but he doesn’t even notice.
He thought it was a little weird that Flum would’ve decided to go back home so suddenly.
Finally, everything makes sense.
He wordlessly turns on his heel and heads for the door.
“Ah, you don’t want to meet the guildmaster?”
“Tell him I dropped by. There’s something more important I’ve got to do right now.”
Linus leaves the guild.
“That asshole --- now he’s really done it!!”
He starts running, fast enough that passersby can barely even see him.
His destination --- that assholeJean Inteige’s room in the Palace, where even now he’s too absorbed in his research to care about anything else.
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