Hey yo! Here’s the next chapter, some questions are answered, but more arise. Enjoy!
ED: eristol, xtostos
“I see. The students on the other side of the mirror, huh……”
I shared information about the students from thirty years ago with Harold.
“Can you find out more about Dolores’ circle of friends and cause of death if possible?”
“Aa. I’m on board, so I’ll take care of it.”
With that, I left Harold and opened the door that was set up as the entrance to the reference room.
It is a hexagonal study with white as the basic theme.
The floor is sparkling white crystalline limestone, with thinly carved designs of stars and snow.
In the center of the room, there is one white leather chaise lounge with golden edges and about three armchairs with the same design.
There is an empty vase on the side table next to the chaise lounge.
Each of them is old-fashioned and luxurious.
Wooden bookcases are embedded in all five walls except the one with the door.
All the bookcases have chains.
Every book seems to be specially-made with self-made white-leather strap bindings.
I pulled out one book and tried to open it, but all the pages were blank.
Even the ex libris was blank.
No way, are all the books like this?
What does this mean?
Speaking of which, the two people who should have entered earlier cannot be found.
Where are they?
I looked around and called out for those two who cannot be found.
“Klaus-sama, Auguste-sama, where are you?”
“Ah, up here.”
Auguste’s voice could be heard from above, so I looked up.
Light was falling from the ceiling like a soft white veil.
The two of them were bathed in the light.
Auguste was waving his hand from inside the light.
Klaus, who was in the air above him, had an opened large black leather book in his hand and was writing on it.
“We’re still investigating it.”
“……no way, is this also an infinitely-expanding space using spatial magic?”
“No, it’s different from that of the Infinite Corridor. This is a limited space—it also has a ceiling.”
Klaus also cast Levitation on me and I floated to where the two of them are.
The ceiling window was made of alabaster and had sun and moon reliefs.
However, even if it is a daylighting window1, this room is not connected to the open air, so that must be a magical light.
Otherwise, this white light looks out of place since it is currently evening.
“Perhaps, the books here are all blank?”
“Aa. At least the thirty books I have checked were all blank.”
Together with Auguste, we pulled out the books nearby and checked the contents.
Each one of them was also blank.
There were no stains, no marks of them being eaten by silverfishes2, only beautiful white pages spread out.
“With this, there may be only a few books with writings mixed in here somewhere, huh~”
“It is pretty malicious.”
Perhaps he had confirmed something, Klaus closed the black leather book in his hand.
“This space itself seems to have been created about a hundred years ago. This place is connected to the ley lines associated with prominent authorities of the past.” (Klaus)
“Prominent authorities from long time ago?”
“For some time, Lindis used to be jointly managed by the lords of the neighboring territories, some of their ley lines were used.” (Klaus)
“Hmm, if we’re talking about the neighboring territories, there are the County of Wynt, the County of Clochydd and the royal family of the West……” (Auguste)
I felt like I could derive the answer from Klaus and Auguste’s words.
Perhaps this place was also under the authority of the County of Wynt.
Not saying that Brad Clochydd is off the list, but Dolores Wynt is more likely to be involved.
“Ah, I knew that much. But I can’t find the magical index that girl was talking about anywhere.” (Klaus)
“Regarding that, I have pin-pointed the place. Although Dolores, who was the successor of the County of Wynt, died a long time ago—”
I told them the possibility that Dolores, who was one of the girls on the other side of the mirror, is actually Dolores Wynt and about the secret of Beatrice Glaw’s birth.
“So, how do you know where the magical index is located?”
“Because we have met a girl similar to Beatrice before.”
It’s the hanging ghost in the library.
She and Beatrice Glaw are very similar.
At first I didn’t notice because they have different characters and expressions, but they have the same face.
If I change that girl’s expression and the color of her eyes, I might mistake them as the same person.
There is no doubt about their blood relation anymore.
Beatrice’s kin, Dolores Wynt, may be involved in the index creation.
Perhaps there was a reason why the outward appearance of the index must be the appearance of Dolores Wynt.
For example, as a hint about the password.
I don’t know why the index is in another location.
Who did it and for what purpose?
However, I can think about it at a later time, such as after exposing the identity of the hanging ghost.
“Now then, shall we go to the Magic Library tonight to verify the answer one last time?”
That night, the sixth floor of the Magic Library.
I spoke to the dimly lit room of the library.
“Hey, are you there?”
The sound of a thin chain echoed.
A hanging girl appeared, lightly floating between the bookshelves.
Long dark hair and literally transparent pale skin.
Her bright blue eyes were looking down.
When she found me, the corner of her mouth raised, a smile that seemed sarcastic showed on her face and her eyes narrowed happily.
『What do you want? If it’s yet another boring thing, I’m going to be fed up.』
The look and the color of her eyes are completely different, but as I had expected, her features are just like Beatrice Glaw’s.
With her large almond-shaped eyes, the outline of her slender figure stood out and she looked even more delicate.
I exchanged looks with Klaus and Auguste and took a step forward.
“I came to ask you questions. But, before that, I would like you to hear my reply.”
『Oh my, this is a very late reply. So, what is it that you understand?』
“Your creator’s name and your role.”
I cut off my words, took a deep breath and continued.
“The magical index made by Dolores Wynt is you.”
『Oh my, you finally understood my correct usage. Good, I will answer you as much as you’d like.』
The artificial spirit, who projected the figure of the dead daughter of an Earl, appeared to be smiling nostalgically.
“First, tell me about yourself.”
『About me……I’m Dolores. I am the artificial spirit version of Dolores. I am an artificial spirit with added functionality as an index based on the personality and thought of my 14-year-old creator Dolores Wynt. I am the excellent librarian of the reference room of the 〈Association of Mysterious Story Collectors〉. It looks like this is not the reference room though.』
Saying so, Dolores the Artificial Spirit puffed up with pride.
“How do I use you?”
『How to use me……ask wisely. And I shall answer. However, questions about the collection of books will require user registration. Also, don’t ask boring questions.』
“Then, please register me right now.”
『User registration will require your name and a declaration of membership to the 〈Association of Mysterious Story Collectors〉.』
“Erica, you’re going to register……!?”
I ignored Klaus’ interjection.
It is a fact that it has 100% non-survival rate, but I have already been deeply involved in terms of blood relatives.
Right now, I want information for the sake of survival.
“I will join. My name is Erica Aurelia.”
『Welcome, Erica. To the 〈Association of Mysterious Story Collectors〉.』
Having said so, the artificial spirit smiled gently for the first time.
That gentle smile makes her look exactly like Beatrice.
“Well then, shall I join too?”
“If you guys register……it can’t be helped, I will also join.”
After that, in the order of Auguste and Klaus, they also finished their registration.
I talked to Dolores after a few moments of hesitation.
“Now then, first of all, could you tell me about the Seven Wonders of this academy?”
『About the Seven Wonders of this academy……the Ghost of the Fallen Boy, the Infinite Corridor, the Man-Eating Mirror, the Staircase to the Underworld, the Evil Spirit of All Souls Day, the Bloody Saint, and the Morgue of the Headless Prince. As long as I have recorded, there was no ghost story about a hanging girl.』
Morgue of the Headless Prince.
There’s finally a connection to the red-leather notebook.
But that leaves me some questions.
“Why did you get added to the Seven Wonders and replace the Morgue of the Headless Prince?”
『To begin with, the Morgue of the Headless Prince is not well-known. I replaced it because I was put in a more prominent place called the library.』
“Who moved you here? For what purpose?”
『I don’t know, alright? I did not even know that I was treated as some ghost story.』
Speaking of which, I recalled that at the beginning she was angry when we treated her like a girl who had hung herself.
At that time, I wish I had listened more closely.
No, no, there were no hints at that time, so it was impossible.
“Tell me more about the Morgue of the Headless Prince.”
『Detailed investigation on the Morgue of the Headless Prince—』
With a triumphant look on her face, Dolores raised her left hand to reach out to something.
But nothing happened.
……p-perhaps, because this isn’t the reference room, this would be a vain attempt?
Or, did she freeze because there are no materials about that?
After a minute or so being motionless, Dolores withdrew her hand with a nonchalant air.
『I can’t access the materials from here. But, leave this to me. There are things that I can infer from the recorded index. Because I am very excellent.』
Good, it worked.
I don’t know how I should proceed from this point on, but I guess I should put her back in her original location sooner or later.
『About the Morgue of the Headless Prince……I believe the morgue was supposed to be created only to keep one human corpse as a specimen. There is no mention of its whereabouts in the official records, but the theory is that the entrance is somewhere in the Phantom Beast Museum.』
I mean, a human specimen being kept in the museum is not a trivial matter.
Why would such a thing be stored in the Phantom Beast Museum?
Giving a sidelong glance towards me who was shocked, Auguste threw a question.
“That corpse, I mean, that prince, is that someone from Ignitia?”
『Whether the headless prince is an Ignitian……there are multiple theories. There is a theory that it is a prince of Ignitia, a theory that it is a prince from other royal families, a theory that it is just an exaggeration for the newsworthiness, a theory that it is an intentional misinformation to conceal the truth, and other theories.』
“Aside from the first two, whether it is an exaggeration or misinformation, there is no way for us to investigate that, huh~……”
Auguste shrugged his shoulders as if saying that he had given up.
Then it was Klaus’ turn to ask the artificial spirit.
“Why not a specimen room or a grave but a morgue instead?”
『The reason it is a morgue……because the corpse has not yet reached a state of complete death. It was strictly sealed to prevent catastrophe of some kind. Someday, when it can be completely killed, the headless prince will be buried. It’s a temporary storehouse until that time.』
“Not dead even though it doesn’t have a head……”
Klaus pondered about it with a serious expression and furrowed eyebrows.
It’s a rather ominous anecdote.
I wonder if it is a corpse with some serious curse.
What happened to Chloe’s older brother Claude who went to a place like that?
He should have been waiting for someone, but who was that other person and what is that person doing now?
And then, what happened there?
If it is related to the incident from seven years ago, what is its significance?
Chloe refused to involve others.
It’s better not to ask about this anymore while Klaus and Auguste are listening.
Should I go with Tirnanog later on?
『For the first time in a while, these are not bad questions. Tell me if you have anything else you want to ask.』
Dolores twirled around with a happy expression.
Now then, what should I ask?
When I turned my eyes towards Klaus and Auguste, they both nodded minutely at me.
They seem to concede this chance to me.
As a matter of fact, I’ve always had a question that I wanted to ask.
“Do you know anything about Frederica Bort?”
The girl with the same face as my mother’s friend smiled as if she had been waiting for this question.
1 Daylighting window is a window that is placed in such a way so that during the day natural light provides effective internal lighting. The practice itself called daylighting. Particular attention is given to daylighting while designing a building when the aim is to maximize visual comfort or to reduce energy use.
2 Silverfish, or Lepisma saccharina, is a small, wingless insect with silvery light grey color that moves like a fish. Silverfish consumes matter that contains polysaccharides, such as starches and dextrin in adhesives. These include book bindings, carpet, clothing, coffee, dandruff, glue, hair, some paints, paper, photos, plaster, and sugar. (source)
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