Translator(s): ShimizuA Editor(s): Sage Yomeiri TLC: N/A
Cheshire the Destroyer
The parlor at the base of the fourth squad was well lit with big windows.
That room, which approximately around 20-Jo(33.058 m² or 39.54 yards²), was furnished with various furniture that looked obviously expensive. In front of Shizuru and the others, there was someone who was sitting on a comfy sofa in the middle of the room. That person quietly puts down their teacup which looked like a valuable object as well.
“Well, please have a seat before the tea gets cold.”
The one who said that was the person who was sitting across the table from them, a woman. She seemed to be a little bit older than Richelieu, about 30 years of age. The way her wavy green hair was tied up loosely and the little girl she was embracing in her other arm gave her a gentle impression. She was a gorgeous woman who gave off an aura of elegance.
“Thank you, Cheshire.”
“… You’re welcome.”
Shizuru showed his gratitude with a warm smile, while Ludmilla lowered her head somewhat stiffly. For Mary, she was completely focused on the teacup and stuck right beside Shizuru.
The woman―― the fourth squad captain, Cheshire, didn’t mind Mary’s attitude. Instead, she smiled and narrowed her eyes.
“Oh my. I have heard the rumors, but you truly are a lovely lady, aren’t you? Your eyes look exactly like Shizuru’s.”
Cheshire’s statement made Ludmilla, who was tilting her teacup, leak a small confused voice.
It was because Shizuru had Tareme/drooping eyes, while Mary’s were Tsurime/slanted eyes. Rather, before any of that, there wasn’t any common feature between the two of them.
In the first place, it was natural if they didn’t resemble each other since they weren’t related by blood. In short, it was a matter of preconception; apparently, Cheshire really did think that Mary is Shizuru’s biological child.
“Her features look exactly like Riri’s when she was…little, right…? But…I didn’t know that your child is already this big.”
“Ahaha… No, Cheshire. Mary isn’t a child between me and Richelieu…”
“Eh? Oh my, I’m sorry… I have misunderstood. Then, I guess the mother is Casca?”
Mary glared at Cheshire with eyes that filled with irritation.
To her who didn’t know her family member aside from her mother, ‘family’ only referred to ‘mother.’ That was why she called Shizuru mother.
Therefore, she never thought of Casca or Richelieu as her mother. Even if the one who said it was a stranger that she just met, she still couldn’t stand it.
“My mom, is Shizuru. Casca, Boss, hate them.”
“My, is that so? I’m sorry… wait? Hmm, Shizuru is your mother? … Shizuru, you are a girl…?”
“I’m a genuine man. Do I look like a woman to you?”
You look normal. Even if you have a feminine appearance, it wouldn’t feel out of place for you. Ludmilla thought that while looking at Shizuru as he smiled bitterly with his androgynous face. But, she couldn’t say it.
“Shizuru, I’m sorry for the trouble earlier.”
Cheshire lowered her eyebrows apologetically while caressing the girl in her arm. She was referring to the matter with Carmilla.
“Ever since that girl read your letter…she did her best to dress up since the morning since she hasn’t met you for a long time you know?”
“… So that eerie dress was the result of that…?”
Carmilla’s dynamic entry left a strong impact that burned her figure vividly into their memories. Reminded of that scene, Ludmilla muttered that quietly while twitching her mouth.
Certainly, there wouldn’t be any style that would match Carmilla’s eccentric aura. However, her course of action was dangerously strange.
The red dress, from its shape to color, was intently ominous but when it came to the half face mask, it was unclear what she was intended. Even if Ludmilla, who could be said to be a mature girl with a suitable sense of style, was told that kind of getup was fashionable, she wouldn’t be able to honestly agree to it.
“Oboro also had been nervous ever since she knew you’re coming, Shizuru. Besides, even Alice here was looking forward to your visit. Isn’t that right, Alice?”
Cheshire asked her daughter Alice while smiling happily. After a while, she calmly gets into the main topic.
“… And so, Shizuru? I have got the gist of the situation from your letter, and there is also no particular reason for refusing to give you further assistance. But, to do it without Riri’s consent is a bit…”
The system where each squad was in charge of a district was something that Richelieu had decided. And without her acknowledgment, Cheshire can’t make decisions whether members of another squad could do some work or not in in the district under her supervision.
But, that was still within Shizuru’s expectation. Without showing any particular sign of being troubled, he let out a smile.
“Yeah, I understand that. Today we just came to show our face and greet you. In a day or two, I’ll go to Richelieu’s place to get her permission formally. I’ll tell you about the details after that.”
First, they would pay a visit to the fourth squad’s base to say hello, then they would head to the zeroth squad’s base to receive Richelieu’s approval, then head back again to the fourth squad to do the briefing for the job. Although it was unlikely that it would just take them a bit of extra mile like that, Shizuru thought that it was sometimes worth it to take the effort.
Especially in human relations, going out of your way to politely deliver your intention was the easiest way to show your sincerity to the other party and it will become easier for them to hold a favorable opinion of you. Naturally, there were limits on how well it could work, but such thing can be adjusted on the spot depending on the time and occasion.
“My, my, is that so? Then I don’t have anything more to say…so I’ll leave it at Riri’s discretion. That being said, I don’t think that she will reject your request without letting you explain your reasons.”
“Ahaha. No, I got rejected often. Like when I want to quit Black Maria.”
“Oh… my my, Shizuru, stop joking around. If you were to leave, of course, Carmilla, Oboro, Ilze, Alice, and I will be sad.”
‘That’s why, please don’t say such a sad thing even if you were joking’, continued her while caressing Alice’s check who was in her arms. Though Shizuru wasn’t joking about it, he just kept it in his mind and shrugged his shoulder slightly.
“To be missed by a beautiful woman like Cheshire, it seems I have used all my luck for this.”
“…My, what a smooth talker you’re. If you keep that up, I might eat you for real you know?”
Majority of Black Maria member have problems in their personality one way or another, so they often have a problematic relationship with other squads. However, this time, as Shizuru simply came to get the promise for their assistance, he judged that the work talk was enough for today and started a lighthearted talk with Cheshire.
Since she hasn’t met him for a long time, their conversation has grown interesting. Maybe being sleepy after a long trip, before they know it, Mary has been sleeping soundly while leaning on Shizuru.
As for Ludmilla, her gaze wandered about with no real purpose. She appeared troubled, even afraid at times when she fixed her gaze on one spot.
Reflected in her purple eyes was Cheshire’s daughter who she held in her arms. Introduced as Alice, — it was a grotesque, out of the world Bisque-doll that has lost one of its eyeballs.
“… Cheshire was one of the first members of Black Maria, you see.”
After having a chat for a while, Shizuru and the other accepted the dinner invitation from Cheshire. After she has left the parlor to prepare the food, Shizuru started his story.
In his arms was the half-broken Bisque doll — Cheshire’s daughter, Alice, which he held gently. He was asked by Cheshire to look after it during their wait.
By the way, there were only a few people that she could be entrusted with Alice in Black Maria, including Shizuru. Therefore, it was like a proof that she trusted him deeply.
“Black Maria was established ten years ago by eight members that Richelieu has gathered. Well, among them, the one who still alive now are Casca, Cheshire, and gramps… I mean Vlad; only those three.”
On the side note, Shizuru was the thirteenth member. Richelieu began to think about solidifying Black Maria regular members after he joined. In other words, most of the current members are juniors for him. Even so, this wasn’t about that.
“Well, it’s not like I want you to hear about this or anything.”
While gently stroking Mary’s hair who was asleep on his lap, Shizuru smiled bitterly. Across him, Ludmilla alternatingly sent her gaze to Alice and Shizuru who carried it with her purple eyes that were said as an ill omen by most people.
As Shizuru said, Ludmilla had another question and concern (to ask). Like why Cheshire treats a doll as her own child.
“… Around a year before Black Maria was founded, Cheshire had a daughter who just born recently. She was right at your age that time.”
The age of adulthood in the Shi-Ruvan Kingdom was 18 years old. Even if it was indeed somewhat early, having a child before 20 years old was by no means strange.
“But, it seems she didn’t have a father. I heard that he left them before Alice was born.”
Since Shizuru only heard this from the others, he didn’t know whether it was because of a divorce or death. Besides, it wasn’t really that important. Shizuru kept the intro short and proceed to the main topic.
“It was an accident. On a day when it was raining heavily, the carriage that they took rolled over, and on top of that, a big tree fell over them.”
–They were crushed.
There were also other passengers besides Cheshire. Most of them, however, died on the spot. And even though she was completely trapped, Cheshire miraculously survived with only minor injuries.
But, Her daughter–Alice was,
“That scene was just too pitiful. Seeing the baby, not even old enough to raise its head, be crushed right before her eyes. All the more so because it was her own daughter.”
Imagining that scene, Ludmilla wrinkled her eyebrows and hold her mouth. After waiting for her to calm down, Shizuru continued his story.
“… But, the misfortune didn’t end there. Or rather, that just the beginning; Cheshire finally got rescued from the site of the accident after a week… after eight days.”
Ludmilla was speechless. Her reaction was natural. She couldn’t even move, and she had to continue to look at her daughter figure that crushed by the fallen tree for eight days. The despair and agony she felt must be unimaginable.
–Suddenly, a question was raised in her mind.
“… hm? But, wait, wait a sec. If she couldn’t move for a week, how did she survive…”
In a second, Ludmilla will soon deeply regret the question she asked rashly. Shizuru just sighed and gave her an answer that resounded coldly in her ears.
“…Cheshire licked the blood that flowed from Alice to quench her thirst. She also ate her crushed flesh to sate the hunger.”
Ludmilla’s eyes opened so wide as if her eyeballs could pop out for their socket anytime. A-agh. She tried to scream but only air that came out.
“And then after nine days, the weakened Cheshire was found by Richelieu.”
At the time, Cheshire was was already almost broken. However, it was her ability that now lost its restraint that was more dreadful.
“Richelieu gave this doll to Cheshire in order to stabilize her mind by imprinted her daughter’s image on it.”
Shizuru stroke the worn-out doll’s hair, shaking its head tragically. In other words, to make Cheshire’s ability easy to handle, Richelieu conveniently reassembled her crumbling spirit.
And then, Cheshire become one of Black Maria’s assassin.
“That’s what I know about Cheshire’s past. She already doesn’t remember anything about the accident now. She hasn’t even noticed that her daughter is already dead.”
“…The hell is that….”
Ludmilla couldn’t believe what she just heard from Shizuru. It was an implausible story, something that should never exist. It was the kind of story that would make others laugh it off and say that was a bullshit.
A broken mother that lost her daughter right in front of her eyes and had to eat her flesh to keep on living, was used by Richelieu as a convenient puppet, was what Shizuru tried to say.
“What the hell… WHAT THE HELL IS THAT…!!”
“…I can fully understand your anger, Ludmilla. However, there’s already nothing we can do about Cheshire. Even if you tried to explain it to her, Richelieu will revert her back. That woman has been especially kind only to Cheshire since a long time ago.”
But, when Richelieu found Cheshire, it was already too late. The clock in her heart already run loose; there was no way to rescue her.
If she were put it back by force and made her look straight to the reality; she would recall that tragic event and goes crazy.
“I think it was around five years ago. Sometimes, Casca threw out Alice when she was in a bad mood. Cheshire almost killed her for that.”
Of course, Cheshire herself was also at the death’s door, but she able to corner that Casca into a half-dead state. That Casca who could exchange blows with a high-ranking magic beast, that equals with a natural disaster, in a one-on-one fight.
Remembering the graceful and elegant Cheshire’s face, who seems to be unlikely to head to battle, once again Ludmilla opened her eyes (in surprise). Shizuru sighed, then he stared at Ludmilla serious gaze.
“There were other people who also share the same thought. Some of them also have tried to save her. But, every one of them died. …By none other than Cheshire.”
That’s why, I won’t say anything bad, just —never try to touch Alice.
Shizuru closed the conversation with a strong tone that he rarely used.
Then, in the 10 minutes until Cheshire came to call them after she finished with the dinner preparation; there wasn’t any chatter in the parlor.
- Jo, or tatami mats, is a unit for measuring rooms area in Japan. 1 Jo is around 1.65 m².↩
- Of course in a lewd way.↩
- Unsure about this part. 彼女の中にある時計を空回りさせることでしか、救う手立ては残っていなかったのだ。↩