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Chapter 12 - Eclipse Atop the Hill

'Gah, what is she doing...?' echoed through Edwin's hazy, semi-conscious mind.

It sounded like Agnes was crying. Sobbing, even. She looked like she was hitting something, but she lost the advantage and was sent flying backwards. Calling it a fight would hardly be fair; Agnes didn't even stand a chance.

'She should be stronger than I am,' mused Edwin.

Her visage glowed and shone a brilliant white light, but for whatever reason, he thought the look was very natural on Agnes. His vision faded. Within his mind, the girl with the ribbon appeared before him.

'There you are, mister! Quickly, this way! Let's help Papa together!'

She embraced him in a tight hug. Her arms were thin, cold, and strong like a vise. Edwin let out an unintentional grunt when she squeezed him.

'Urgh... Hey, you!'

'Papa wants to get new powers soon. I need to be a good girl and grant Papa's wish! Come on, let's hurry!'

Edwin stared at the little girl. The longer he looked, the less he could accept the truth that she was an evil spirit living within a human facade.

'Mr. Montaigne isn't your real father, right?' said Edwin betwixt his pained grunts. He did his best to show her a strained thumbs up. 'If you want to meet your real father, I'll help you find him. After all, I'm a righteous reporter!'

'...Ed! EDDDD!!!'

'If I begin treating him immediately, he might stand a chance,' thought Agnes amongst her racing mind. 'If I could just get to him, then...!'

However, Montaigne was not about to allow her the chance to try. Agnes' body was suddenly thrown into the air by some invisible force, before careening back to the ground.

'I' I...can't even...stand...' gasped Agnes.

Tears fell from her eyes as she lay collapsed against the dirt. Kagemaru ran to her and motioned for her to run, but she was no longer able to notice his presence anymore.

'Ed, why?! He has always been there for me. I've always kept my distance from others, but Ed is the only exception. All my most cherished memories are the ones I spent with him. I've tried so hard to hide that, but...aaah! Ed! He is my one and only friend!'

'HAHAHA. Absolutely magnificent!'

Montaigne stood at the crest of the hill with the moon at his back.

'You, young lady, shall be my second. I may have gained this power by chance, but magicians really do have a certain value, don't they? By offing magicians one after another, I will obtain infinite power! In the meantime, I'll simply kill for sport!'

Montaigne roared with laughter.

'These so-called magicians can take and keep anything they desire. Theirs is a wicked power, indeed!'

The form known as Tizze stopped moving. Her face contorted as the spirit within violently writhed just beneath her skin. Finally, her flesh gave way, tore, and the spirit burst forth. The shadowy form of Montaigne's magic was unmistakable, even under the shade of night.

'Hmm, the skin has reached its limit? No matter...' muttered Montaigne. The dark energy returned to him and coiled around his body. 'Inflicting pain with this power brings me such joy, but I had planned to finish you with my own hands anyway. Now, to make bloody art of you! Let's both enjoy ourselves!'

Agnes had lost all inhibition and screamed, 'Murderer!'

The man clad in coils of shadow grew intoxicated by the power enveloping him, and he burst into laughter at her declaration.

'I'm not doing this of my own will! It's this power! It's YOUR power! You blasted magicians are to blame!' thundered Hux.

Before Agnes' eyes, the man's shadowy form grew larger and blocked out the moon as the coils approached her.

Agnes's mind stewed. 'Montaigne's right. My power, the magician's power, is a curse. Misfortune befalls anyone who gets too close to us. That's why this power's true nature must never be revealed, no matter the cost.'

'I'm sorry, Ed,' Agnes thought. 'You always wanted to be a righteous reporter, and yet I...'

Agnes solemnly closed her eyes.

第12回 丘の上の蝕




『……お兄さん、みっけ!ねえ、はやくこっちへ来て!』エドウィンの意識の中にリボンをつけた女の子が現れた。ねえ、こっちへ来て! いっしょにパパの役に立とうよ! その子の腕は細くて冷たくて、まるで万力みたいな力だ。掴まれたエドウィンは思わず「ぐげっ」と変な声を上げた。



『……モンテニューさんは、本当のパパじゃないだろ?』ぎこちなくVサインを作ってみせながら、エドウィンはそんな事を言った。本当のパパに会いたいなら、俺が調べてやるぜ? なんてったって俺は、正義の記者だからなぁ……

「――エドッ! エドーーッ……!!」すぐに手当てをすれば息を吹き返すかもしれない。アニエスはとっさにそう思った。いますぐにエドの元に行ければ!! ……けれどモンテニューの強大な力はそれを許さなかった。目に見えない丸太みたいな何かを横殴りに受けて、ついにアニエスの体は遠く吹き飛ばされ、力なくころころと転がった。

……もうだめだ、間に合わない…… もう立つ気力もなかった。そしてそう思った途端に涙が止まらなくなった。カゲマルが駆けてきて逃げようと言ったけれど、アニエスはカゲマルがいることすら気づかなかった。

──エド、どうして!! 一緒にいてくれた、たった一人の人間だった。誰とも一定の距離を置いてきた自分だったけど、エドだけは違った。エドといる時だけは心の底から楽しかった。それを必死に隠さなくちゃいけないくらいに。



「君で2人目……魔法使いとはまったく計り知れない『価値』だよ。初めは偶然得た力だが、こうして1人1人釣り上げていくだけで無限の力が手に入る……」そして暇つぶしに刈りとる命はいくらでもある! モンテニューは高らかに笑った。『魔法使い』とはよく言ったものだよ。無限の欲望を生み、またそれを無限に満たし続ける。これはまさに魔性の力に違いない!




「私にそうさせたのはこの力だぞ?これもすべて、魔法使い(き み た ち)の所業だよ!」


エド、ごめんね。正義の記者になるのが夢だったのにね…… アニエスは静かに眼を閉じた。