With a trembling body after being shaken, I was pulled from the edge of sleep.
Judging from the sensation I had, shutting my eyes and sinking into the sea which was the futon as my awareness was nearly on the brink of slipping away, I was then pulled out with a net, that was how it felt like.
The owner of the hand that rudely shook a person’s shoulder – was Shade’s.
Surprised by the invasion of an unwanted visitor while getting up from bed, it was considerably clear that I awakened in an instant.
「W-what on earth?」
Shade was standing next to the bed I slept on, adjusting his heavy breathing.
The reason that I did not poke fun at him by saying things like “Are you a pervert?!”, was because no matter how I looked at it, that situation was not natural. The white face that the faint light on my bedside illuminated was, to an extent, ghostly pale.
「Did something happen?」
「What about Uncle Narcissus?」
Shade, who had an unprecedented frantic look on his face, caught my attention.
「My eyes, he told me to hand it over」
These were Shade’s excessively outlandish words.
But I felt like I’ve heard it somewhere before.
Inside the game.
『When I was a child, my father said “hand over your eyes”, and chased after me』
This matter was never further explained; whether it was a joke or it wasn’t, it was depicted in such a way that even the user and even the heroine really didn’t grasp it.
However, I’ve already experienced a glimpse of it in this reality. Through Uncle’s obsession with regards to the『Red of the Duke Lilia Family』
「Don’t tell me… right now – you’re being chased by Uncle?」
I only managed to ask that, when Shade nodded his head several times.
A knock resounded across the room.
I dragged Shade under the futon, just finishing to haul up the quilt.
My personal cloth covered the bedside’s magical lamp to turn the light off.
The sound of a knock – continued on.
「Y-yes. Who is it?」
While praying from the bottom of my heart wishing I was with Wolf, I clasped my two trembling hands together.
「Lycoris. It’s me. It’s Narcissus. I’m sorry since it’s late, but did Shade happen to come in?」
「He didn’t come in」
I regretted it right after it was said. It was way too unnatural for a person who had just awoken to respond with an answer. ‘What’s wrong?’, or something of the likes should have been what I asked in returned.
「I’m coming in」
Without waiting for even an acknowledgement, Uncle entered the room as if he owned the place.
Inside the room, was pitch dark.
As Uncle continued his approach, I waited while suppressing my nerves until he was at the side of the bed, then – I hurled the pillow I’d been gripping towards him.
Having thrown it with the force of my whole body, it was very fortunate that it hit him on the face, breaking my bewildered Uncle’s stance. I took Shade’s hand and ran towards the door.
Although escaping to Wolf’s room had also crossed my mind, his room was on the opposite direction from the stairs. Rather than involving Wolf, I deemed the matter of letting Shade escape be settled first. (1)
「Let’s escape outside!」
Shade and I ran down the stairs, towards the door that was connected to the outside.
But, the locking of the big door was, even from the inside, something that us children couldn’t do anything about. Naturally, there was no time to look for the key.
I asked Shade if he happened to know a place that led outside, but he shook his head while taking in a painful-looking breath. Even for me, though I’d played around this mansion before, a way to go out from this place, with the exception of the door, was a matter that I’d never considered.
For instance, there was such a method of leaping out of a raised window in a room somewhere in order to escape. But right now, we didn’t have the courage to leap into any of the lined up rooms at the side of the hallway. That is, our group of shorties was in a situation where a window would be an unusable form to move in or out, possibly, owing to the form of the key, we’d be in a state where we’d be imprisoned at a dead-end.
While we didn’t find the best plan, the sound of footsteps coming closer as it continued to descend, urged us to run towards a different staircase. Then, through the direction of the upper floors, we headed to the attic room. In there was the only place I knew in this Rankgerüste mansion where holing ourselves was possible.
We rushed up the stairs as fast as we could, and leaped into the attic room. Collaborating with Shade, we piled up absolutely every bit of items within the vicinity in front of the door to use as a barricade. Then, I gave the instruction to Shade in order to climb up the ladder at the corner of the room.
This attic room’s structure was two stories. Generally, the room entered from the door was the first story. From there, climbing ahead through a simple ladder was the second story.
After Shade had ascended, I followed as well, if we pulled in the ladder from the top, it’s expected that no one else would think of climbing up. Sitting in that place, our heavy pants were cut off by violent coughing induced by the increasingly bad atmosphere.
Although we quickly opened the window, there was no wind so it didn’t offer much ventilation; at the side of the window with Shade, our two sitting forms settled down.
「That guy – do you think he’ll go as far as to come here?」
「…most likely. The other party has the territorial advantage. And our whereabouts will probably be exposed. Even with the barricade, since it’s only made on the spot, I think something like that wouldn’t hold him off. For the time being, once he breaks through the barricade, let’s just throw any of the stuff here at him」
Indeed, since this place is used as the usual storage room, there are a lot of items placed here.
For example, apart from Uncle preparing a ladder in order to climb up, it will probably buy us some time while causing hindrances.
「What on earth happened for it to turn out like this?」
Once the front of his face came into view again, Shade’s complexion seemed even more terrible. I just realized it now, but under the illumination of the moonlight, his pale skin had a small injury that appeared to be a scratch. It was a different injury than what I had caused during the day.
Although my wariness towards Shade hadn’t disappeared, all the same, in this situation his overall acting probably deserved praise now.
「After I was handed over to that man from your hands, I was imprisoned in my room alone. But, once night fell, that guy came to my room. He said he wanted to properly talk with me」
“At long last” probably, and it seems like I wasn’t the only one who had that thought.
「I thought why was it only now, you know. I had already had my feigned friendliness almost peeled off anyway, so since I considered it was finally the right opportunity, I spat out the resentments I’d been bottling up」
「You’ve been spoken ill of for your incompetency. You’re simply not someone I can respect as a father. Do you truly believe that I’m your son? If I inherited your blood then I should be more of a moron…. of course, in truth, the words I said were even more vulgar than that though」
「Eh? You… were you not related to Uncle by blood?」
「No. While it’s unfortunate, I probably am that man’s son」
In other words, his depression piled up to the extent that if he didn’t say “you’re not my father”, he wouldn’t be able to calm down. Somehow I understood.
「And then… he said『hand over your eyes』?」
「Yeah. He said “hand over your eyes, then leave this house”. That was the first time I heard that guy’s angry voice straight up」
An unpleasant sweat ran down my spine. The sweat might probably be partly because it was getting colder, but it felt like nothing could be done about the unpleasant coldness.
Then in that timing, the door connected to the corridor made a clattering sound.
Ga-tan, ga-tan, a dreadful sound continued to reverberate.
「Lycoris. You’re in there, aren’t you? Come out. I’m not angry with you. You’ve done nothing bad, right?」
Of course, I absolutely didn’t come out and just remained silent.
I desperately removed my presence and even went as far as to shorten my breathing. Nevertheless, the barricade was not as strong as my determination.
Ga-tan. Ga-tan. Ga-tan. Ga-tan.
Just a little bit each time, it carried along the door, after the gap of the door and the barricade was approximately ten centimeters from opening up, it became insubstantial.
Uncle placed his foot into the attic room.
At the moment, Uncle was searching around the attic leaving a huge shadow of a luggage while calling out in a soft, coaxing voice.
「Shade, if you’ve reflected, come out right now and I’ll forgive you. Then, you and Lycoris can be married and make children. Children having red eyes. No doubt they’ll be born possessing magnificent abilities. Grandmother, the one who’ll grant your dearest wish, is not your precious Kaffir! It’s the one you looked down on, the one you shunned – ME!」
His voice had become louder in his excitement, after that, it suddenly became silent.
「Aah, I see. Didn’t I tell you it’s dangerous for children to climb up to such a place」
In the past, I wonder whether Uncle said such a thing.
Rather, in more detail, matters like that were things that left Aunt’s mouth, Uncle should’ve been completely uninterested with how much we played around or anything of the like.
That’s right. Since long ago, Uncle, didn’t have any interest in us.
Be it Crinum, or Aunt, they were never a target of Uncle’s interest.
Even Shade, his existence was not what pulled Uncle’s interest in the truest sense.
From above, we were supposed to throw things at Uncle or something and gloat about it, but I wasn’t able to move from the side of the window. Just like me, no – even more than me, curling up his frightened body was Shade. No matter how arrogant an aspect of him was, he was still a younger kid than me.
The two of us, possessing no courage to peek from the gaping wide open square hole to the room below out of the reaches of the moonlight, merely nestled close to each other quivering. If I peered below, “wouldn’t a monster having a completely different appearance from Uncle be there?”, was what I truly thought.
Whatever was happening down below, it was making a clattering sound.
I was increasingly petrified. Even without preparing a ladder, if it was an adult, they’d be able to come here by climbing up if there was a slightly tall stool, was what dawned on me.
A long time ago, when the young Crinum and I took refuge here, I realized now that the reason we were left alone was because of Aunt and Uncle’s compassion.
I shut my eyes tightly and continued to block my ears, huddling up my body in order to cover Shade. Most likely, with a squeezed out voice, I called out for someone to save us.
Gan. Ba-tan. A loud thud sounded from below.
It was a sound that reached even my blocked ears.
Then a voice.
「Don’t treat the children as your toys! Especially not my daughter!!」
With my father’s strong words, tears spilled over from my eyes.
(1) At first, I considered using “top priority”, but the meaning I understood is that, as long as Shade escapes, Lycoris and Wolf won’t be harmed. So she wants to let Shade escape, before she gets Wolf involved to settle the matter. It kinda sounded like she wanted to involve Wolf in the mess, which I don’t think so…