Well, my trip had more free time than expected and I finished this in time. So you get to read this chapter, enjoy!
ED: eristol, xtostos
『Frederica Bort……I have a reference room-independent record of Frederica Bort. Dolores, who created me, had assumed that I would be separated from the reference room. And, that someone close to Bort would approach me.』
Dolores cut off her words and turned away from us.
『Frederica Bort was born to a fallen Baron. She lost her parents in an alchemy related accident at a young age and her older brother Oswald acted as a substitute for their parents. Her older brother, too, died before she entered the magic academy. Frederica Bort became all alone in this world, without any living relative.』
Since our family structure is similar, unintentionally, I thought about it and compared my situation with hers.
My older brother and father are still alive, but losing either of them would be very painful for me.
『She needed assets and a backer. That’s why she approached Eléonore Ignitia and was trying to be employed in the army after graduation. Bort had a fatal deficiency as an alchemist, but she possessed an unprecedented rare talent if she worked in the army.』
For some reason, I can guess her deficiency and talent.
It was probably similar to mine.
『With some kind of goal in mind, Bort created 〈Association of Mysterious Story Collectors〉 together with Eléonore. Eléonore and Dolores seemed to have been aware of her goal, but they pretended not to know, and I also have no record of it.』
My mother’s aim.
Since it was told this way, I don’t think she created the association just for fun.
However, there is no one who knows about her goal anymore.
『Bort, from Dolores Wynt’s perspective……was someone who was good at taking advantage of others. Good at deceiving others. Good at treating others kindly. But, she wasn’t very good at spoiling herself. Not good at lying to herself. Not good at taking care of herself. She was that kind of girl.』
The image of a girl who was excellent and lively on the outside but clumsy on the inside came to my mind.
For a moment, that image overlapped with the girl on the other side of the mirror who had a detached atmosphere.
『For example, she said this to me—to Dolores Wynt.』
Dolores paused at that point, then she gently descended before my eyes and piled her hand on top of mine.
『You are the only close friend I have. I cannot confide in anybody else. That’s why I’m begging you, please don’t betray me. You are the only one for me.』
Having said so, the ghost, with teary blue eyes, stared at me for a moment with desperate expression before backing away once more.
『Can you believe it!? She said the same thing to four or five more women besides me!』
That sounds like a marriage fraud, but I swallowed the words I almost ended up saying somehow.
No, I guess it’s more correct to say friendship fraud, huh.
Either way it feels rather shoddy.
“I, I’m very sorry to hear that……”
『It’s fine since I thought her attitude was a lie from the very beginning. But, to be able to say such a thing no matter who her partner was, don’t you think that she was very shameless? Doesn’t that make me—Dolores, who still did her a favor even while knowing that was a lie, a fool!?』
“Your anger is justifiable……”
What should I do, the image of my late mother suddenly turned into the image of a shady marriage scammer.
Even if she’s my own mother, just what exactly was she thinking?
No, wait a second. Please don’t tell me she buttered up my father using this kind of method.
“Um, did she also say that to my father……I mean, Ernst Aurelia?”
『Ernst? Aah, when that boy asked for her hand in marriage, it was the best. That was the first time I’ve seen Bort that flustered.』
“Eh, Otou-sama was the one who proposed?”
『For that incorrigible Bort to be defeated by that boy’s passionate and pure marriage proposal, truly, it serves her right……well, it seems both of them were happy, so I guess everything turned out fine.』
I’m glad that my parents’ start of romance was quite normal.
But, is there no more information available?
If this situation continues as it is, there would only be grumbles about my mother coming out of her mouth.
“What were the good points of Frederica Bort?”
『Bort’s good points……?』
Dolores opened her mouth after thinking hard about it for a long time.
I feel like it would be better to change the topic.
I decided to throw another question at her.
“By the way, why did Dolores Wynt disappear?”
『The reason why Dolores Wynt went missing……of course, I know about it. To begin with, my very existence also acts as Dolores Wynt’s will.』
What does it mean?
Since we’re talking about wills, does that mean Dolores Wynt already knew about her own death?
『Yes, a will. However, this will require me to explain the premise, if that is alright with you.』
“I don’t mind.”
As a preparation for her own death, did she incorporate her will into an artificial spirit?
I was puzzled about the intention of Dolores Wynt, who was no longer here.
『The Wynt family is a lineage with clairvoyance ability; they are rare mages who are too gifted in past vision and future vision. They tribute their life for the victory and survival of their motherland, Hafan. And Dolores only did the same thing.』
Born in the family of sages, she had to die in an attempt to prevent a dangerous future that would put the country in a pinch, or something like that.
“Why wasn’t it the head of family, but a young woman who did it instead?”
『Because of her insatiable spirit of inquiry for the past and future vision. But the direct cause was that she couldn’t forgive the death of her friend. Dolores found a threat in the past and saw despair in all seven futures.』
The order in which those four died is the First Princess, Dolores, Bort, and then Sigríður.
If we’re talking about one who died before Dolores, is it the First Princess?
However, even if it was said ‘threat’ or ‘despair’, those words are too vague for me to understand.
“Can’t you give a more specific explanation about this said threat and despair……?”
『It’s confidential and I’ll keep my mouth shut about this matter.』
No, it’s only a matter of course.
An artificial spirit that can speak fluently like this wouldn’t be put inside this academy if it has an ordinary sensibility.
『And finally, in order to break the deadlock situation, Dolores Wynt found herself meddling with a great ancient magic that interferes with the world. She bet her life to satisfy her spirit of inquiry and for the survival of the people of her country. Not for the sake of her awful friends¹, but for her own sake. That is the end of the will of the foolish and shallow Dolores Wynt.』
The message that Dolores Wynt wanted to leave is, in short, 「I died for the sake of my duty to my own country, and because I acted as I please.」
But, who was this testimony for?
Or, is it a message for a friend that says 「don’t blame yourself for my death」?
Why did she expressly describe herself as ‘foolish and shallow’?
Why was Dolores Wynt trying to take on the responsibility alone?
“Why would Dolores Wynt be willing to go that far? Why did she make a will like that? Who was it for?”
『I wonder? I don’t know anything more than this.』
With so much to consider now, I no longer know what would be good to ask.
The cursed corpse and Chloe’s older brother.
Those four girls, tragically dead.
Being close to some realization, a thicket of lies faced me.
“Can I also ask you a question?”
Klaus, who had been listening quietly to Dolores’ conversation with me until now, finally opened his mouth.
『Yes. As long as I know the answer, it’s fine.』
“If the interference with the world mentioned earlier used the forbidden Pattern2, isn’t there a possibility that woman was transferred to another dimension, to another world?”
『Yes, that’s right. But, since she isn’t in this world, she is as good as dead, is that not so?』
Hafan’s forbidden arts are ones that interfere with time and space.
But, I mean, for her to transfer to a different world, just what exactly was Dolores trying to do?
Not interfering with the past nor the future, but transferring to a different world, why is that?
“Tell me, what magic did she use?”
『Sorry. That’s confidential. Isn’t that a matter of course? Since you are the kin of the King of the East, you should understand well about the dangers, right?』
Klaus scowled at Dolores as if annoyed but fell silent.
“So, can I also ask then?”
Auguste stepped forward and asked Dolores a question.
『Yes, go ahead. Ask away.』
“The dead friend mentioned earlier, is it Princess Eléonore?”
『Yes, that’s correct.』
The mysterious Ignitian princess who was rumored to have either gone missing or abducted.
“How much do you know about the princess’ cause of death? And how many people had you speak of this matter?”
『For all your questions, the answer is none. The details were deleted because they were confidential to the royal family. You can rest assured.』
As one would expect, there is no way she would talk about royal family matters carelessly.
Auguste continued to ask questions.
“Oh, one more thing. Do you know what Dolores Wynt saw in the future vision?”
『That is, of course, confidential.』
“Aah~ that, just who exactly gets to set whether the information is confidential or not?”
『The one who registered the information, or have administrator rights. Hey, it can’t be helped, alright?』
“Well then, I want to know about all past members of the 〈Association of Mysterious Story Collectors〉. If possible, the administrator. How about that?”
『Good question. But unfortunately, that’s also confidential.』
Auguste’s questions were on-point, but because of that very reason, the information is highly classified.
Dolores gently floated higher with a happy expression on her face.
『Is that all?』
“Hmm……there are a lot of things I want to know, but with you currently not located in the reference room, I can’t ask them now.”
“Me too, I guess I have to find out a little bit more about Eléonore-obasama, huh~”
As Klaus and Auguste said so, they glanced towards my direction.
As for me, I also want to organize the information I got and my feelings first.
I should take some time to think it over.
I nodded at them in return and decided to end the questioning here.
“That is all for today. Thank you, Dolores.”
When I thanked her, Dolores curtsied gracefully.
『I enjoyed my job for the first time in a while. Please come back again. Think seriously about what you want to ask me, alright? However, since you asked about confidential matters more than three times in one day, I won’t activate again for about a month.』
At the same time, the figure of Dolores the Artificial Spirit becomes more and more transparent.
She wouldn’t activate for one month?
What a system with low usability.
After giving us only this kind of information, she expects us to wait for a month?
I want her to at least warn me next time.
『Well then, see you again in a month, okay?』
Only our farewells echoed in the room where the shadow or the shape of the hanging girl could no longer be seen.
¹ 悪友: bad friends/partners-in-crime in the endearing yet ironic sense of closest friends
2 Pattern here is something that was inspired from Roger Zelazny’s work: Chronicles of Amber. The Pattern, according to the series, is a single, intertwined curve, laid out in a spiderweb-like shape. Members of the Royal Family of Amber can walk along the Pattern to its center in order to gain the power to walk among shadows — alternate worlds. Once a walker sets foot upon the Pattern, he must continue following its labyrinthine course to the center; stopping for too long, or leaving the pathway of the Pattern, results in a terrible death. (Chronicles of Amber, The Pattern)
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