Time flows on, and few days later.
Not including Dorothy; Me, Maria, and Lily are at the Bilderberg hotel, located in Oosterbeek, Netherland, a popular resort for tourists.
I asked Maria as to why Dorothy wasn’t here with us, to which she replied with “This event does not concern her”. As we near out destination, I know fully well that the idle time I could spend like this was nothing short of luxury.
This is clearly my problem to solve.
Maybe my head’s been gone a little funny under this intense pressure. Someone said it's human nature to lose rational judgement when they’re driven into a corner; I think they were talking about me.
It was someone who hired a bunch of armed terrorists to dispose of us, like it was nothing. Thankfully the situation concluded as an “attempted” hijacking.
Another “Blackhazel” that I’ve never seen before, other than Maria and Dorothy.
I can assume for myself what this ‘hatred of Blackhazel’ symbolizes. And this fear I feel when I think that this ‘hatred’ is directed straight at me. Judging by how Maria and Dorothy’s been acting, I think I can figure out that much.
‘I really don’t want these guys as enemies.’ That’s what I’m feeling right now.
And from what Maria has told me, they’re clearly bearing their fangs right at me. Like a raging brute.
“Are you nervous, Onii-sama?”
Maria, seated next to me, looks to my side with a worried look on her face.
“Ah? Er, well, just a bit.”
“Are you afraid of them?”
It’s all because of you, geez.
The person who made me realize what ‘fear of Blackhazel’ symbolized.
“I, I guess so? Probably.”
Maria immerses herself in her thoughts momentarily.
And suddenly, she reaches forward and grabs my hand. Maria urges me in a gentle and calm voice, catching me surprised by the skinship I didn’t expect.
“I can understand the worries that are going through your head right now.”
I awkwardly scratch the back of my head.
“But remember. This girl will always be right beside you, by Onii-sama’s side.”
“Yes. Even if the whole world turns against you, just remember that I will always be on Onii-sama’s side – please never forget that.”
It does sound promising.
“I am Maria Lunalady Blackhazel. The one and only master of the Blackhazel family, in possession of all the wealth there is to exist in this world. I myself will protect Onii-sama with all of my strength. There is nothing to fear.”
No matter how rancorous the Blackhazel family can be towards me, baring their fangs, Maria is the one and only master of the Blackhazel family. She is on the apex of hierarchy.
What she said is definitely giving me some strength.
Maria then reaches into her pockets, fumbling for something.
“But before that, Onii-sama, I have something to show you.”
Embraced within her grasp is a single photograph.
On the photograph is a boy and a girl, no more than four or five years old. Judging by the dazzling heterochromatic eyes of azure and gold, the girl is Maria.
Smiling like a child, Maria has a balloon in her hand.
The boy is hugging her from behind, laughing away mischievously.
Then this boy is…
“Do you remember? It’s a picture of me and Onii-sama, from when we were young.”
This boy is... me?
A boy like this, hugging and laughing with Maria like it’s nothing, is really me?
“It feels strange.”
Maria smiles upon me, while I laugh awkwardly.
“Do you understand now? This girl will continue to make more and more fond memories with Onii-sama, like we have before.”
Call it a defiant willpower? Well, I’m not sure if there’s a way to describe what I’m feeling from her right now.
“To sum it up…. This girl will never, ever give up on Onii-sama.”
In a situation like this, I really don’t know how I should respond to her.
“Whether it’s the other Blackhazel family member or an omnipotent, omniscient god…”
“God, you say.”
“Nothing in this world can tear apart this feeling I hold for my Onii-sama.”
Realizing the truth embedded inside her words, I could take a brief glimpse inside the feeling she held towards me.
I’m positively sure there’s not many people that can even dare to go up against Maria’s willpower straight on.
Even If they can, I’m not betting that they’ll come out in one piece.
Even if that person really is god itself.
This girl is dependable to the point where it starts to feel uncomfortable. In a sense, you could say that I’m worrying and fussing too much about it.
And no matter what happens, I always have my capable bodyguard Lily beside me.
It’s not like I’m walking into the gates of hell or anything, it’s just a ‘family meeting’ to discuss about matters and suggestions here and there.
Let them come. I can take ‘em.
◇ ◆ ◇
Travelling past the Dutch border, we arrive at the Hotel de Bilderberg’s heliport, located on the roof of the hotel.
“We have been waiting for you, Master.”
There awaits a group of men dressed in suits to greet us. They somewhat lacked the soft humanistic quality most of us have, but rather, an air of professional coldness could be felt around these men in black.
“There is no need for formalities. Please, escort us to the conference room.”
Maria, in turn, replies back in an monotonous voice devoid of emotion. Talk about simple: she’s cutting all the useless formalities aside and skipping right to the issue. It’s simple to the point of being cruelly efficient.
But as soon as we move our feet to proceed to the room, one of the men steps forward to stop us.
Facing Maria, who seems to be confused as to what is going on, the man explains.
“Carrying weapons inside the conference is forbidden. I would ask you to leave the weapons that child over there carries with us for the time being.”
Aha, so it was something like that.
But contrary to my expectation, Maria narrows her eyes to a slit in suspicion, and replies back in protest.
“How rude. Just who do you think I am?”
“We’re only following the rules, ma’am.”
“You speak as if I will massacre everyone inside the conference hall.”
“There’s no telling if you will.”
These men wearing straight poker face aren’t too bad with their words, either.
“You, how dare…!”
Maria is the first to show her emotional side and display her rage. But moments later, she regains her composure, and hold out a gesture for Lily.
Lily nods in dull silence, and steps forward to the man in suit.
“First, the violin case.”
Lily quietly hands over the violin case.
But as soon as the man in suit take a hold of the violin case:
He collapses on the spot, unable to take the weight of the case.
At the same time, Lily dashes forward and dives into the chest of a different man, and let loose two consecutive jabs. Perhaps he was underestimating the power of her jabs: the man falls to his knees, clutching his chest in pain, clearly suffering from a formidable impact.
And the men take on a formation around Lily, a situation that is all too familiar.
But even these poker face men in black, skilled as they are, can’t possibly go up against Lily. In a sense, think of Lily as an anonymous Swordmaster so-and-so (19, former high school student) shouting off to the enemy grunts, “The reason you can’t win against me is because you guys use shields!” Ever thought about why the protagonist, who wears less armor than a regular soldier, can survive through anything?
Approaching the man, Lily grabs his arm and twists it 180 degrees. She approaches a different man nearby, and unleashes a jab on his face.
Teeth shatter, and noses break. You guys really are progressive when it comes to receiving injuries. Well, let’s say Lily is progressive when it comes to inflicting injuries.
And so, the situation draws to a finale.
“Hmph. Lily, never hand it over…”
All this happened before the man who received the violin case had the time to get up and regain his posture.
Call it split-second, lighting-fast, but the point is that it happened in a blink of an eye.
But really, all you had to do was hand the weapons over, was there really a need to brandish violence idiotically like this?
Maria, who seems to have read the thoughts going through my head, adds on her explanation as to what happened.
“If Lily really did hand over her weapons, then these men would have shot us down where we were standing.”
“These men are fake.”
While I try to piece together what Maria has told me, a disdainful smile appears on her face as she gazes at me.
“The real guards that’s supposed to be here should be sinking to the bottom of the lake somewhere.”
With that, Maria waltzes inside the hotel entrance without a moment’s delay, with an air of coolness.
I said in a sense, you could say that I’m worrying and fussing too much about it.
It’s not like I’m walking into the gates of hell or anything, it’s just a ‘family meeting’ to discuss about matters and suggestions here and there.
Oh my God.
It wasn’t as simple as that!
◇ ◆ ◇
Coming down a floor from the hotel roof, we board the elevator at the 40th floor.
The conference room is right below the hotel penthouse, a second penthouse in hiding, if you will. Since it’s different from the regular penthouse open to the public, According to Maria, it’s impossible to enter by conventional means, nor is its existence known. You could only enter the room by swiping a special premium card in the elevator.
So, normally the floor itself wouldn’t even be marked. With that, the hotel ‘penthouse’ would be located at the 41st floor, and the real 40th floor existed just for this secretive conference to take place in.
After the card was swiped into the elevator, the elevator heads to the Secret Floor: 40, and stops on it.
As the door opens, a dull light shines on the Greek-style marble exterior and the Renaissance-esque paintings inside. The floor of the lobby is covered in undeniably exquisite carpet. It feels like I’m entering the hideout of a sinister league of evil somewhere.
“I have few things to ask of you.”
Maria opens her mouth to speak, just before we try to step inside the lobby.
“To get you started, those that await us inside are nothing but a mass of greed in human skin.”
Within Maria’s voice, I could sense an unimaginable hatred of deepest rancor, imbued with her every words.
“No matter what taunt or threat they may use, Onii-sama must never react nor reply to it at any cost.”
“I got it.”
“And no matter what, do not look them in the eyes. Keep your sight straight, but please look to the wall behind them if you must.”
Pretty detailed command she’s giving out.
“If you cross eyes with them by coincidence, do not look away or do anything that is considered submissive. Just smile lightly, give a little nod, and look away gently.”
I think I can understand where she’s getting at.
Do not be seen submissive. Keep your formalities, but keep your pride up, act like a Blackhazel would act against another Blackhazel, befitting of your heritage.
“I understand where you’re getting at.”
“And finally, another thing.”
“…There’s still some left?”
“Yes. This is the one most important thing you absolutely must keep in mind.”
Like what she’s asking of me now isn’t enough.
But contrary to my pessimistic expectations running rampant, Maria does nothing but hold my hand tightly and give off a gentle smile.
“Remember. I will always be on Onii-sama’s side.”
She’s really got a talent for making me feel needlessly uneasy.
But the words she’s saying do sound promising.
“Okay, shall we get going then?”
Maria lessens her grip on my hands. Me and Lily once again continues our walk, our steps matching that of Maria.
Towards the other Blackhazels.
◇ ◆ ◇
They are the nameless conquerors.
The incidents they have plotted and schemed from the shadows dot the pages of history. Their wealth are divided up to funds, loans, gold, or priceless artworks; it takes on many forms, and they are present in underground factions everywhere.
The Swiss Bank, FRB (Federal Reserve Board), IMF, and many other secretive systems and services control and manage the wealth this world has.
Wars and revolutions, depressions, civil movements…
While numerous countries and governments have gone through the ups and downs with the flow of time, the kingdom they have erected has never experienced a shake in their foundation.
Authority is as fragile as a candle is to a gust of wind, but wealth is a matter of solid trust, never failing to materialize.
In their kingdom, there are no citizens, nor are there territories.
There exists only a solitary emperor, its sole citizen and deputy.
Therein lies the empire, dubbed with the name ‘Blackhazel’.
Bounded by the shackles of blood, the chains that wound shut, forbidding escape from anyone inside.
They are the dark hands that guide forth the world’s economy, hiding behind veils of shadow.
“You are late, Master Maria.”
Opening the door, I could see about five to six men and women waiting inside.
They were sitting around the circular table and their vivid rancor could be felt from their gaze headed towards my way, to the end of the table.
“It has been a long time, elders of the Blackhazel family.”
“There;s no need for useless greetings. Let's get right to the point.”
A man of age, with a long beard and tall posture, opens his mouth to reply.
That’s that, but cutting right to the point seems to be the characteristics of this family I’m in.
“You seemed to have prepared a fun little trick for me, uncle.”
When you say ‘fun little trick’, then is she talking about the…
“Hmph. I never expected you to get swindled by those uneducated fools in the first place. Think of it as a little play.”
And this person who regards something horrifying like that as a play isn’t going to be easy to deal with, either.
“’Play', you say.”
Maria snaps her finger as a gesture for Lily.
And at the same time, Lily pulls out a pistol from underneath her coat and fires a shot towards her uncle.
“Something like that can’t even be considered a play, at best.”
But the bullet whizzes past his head and lodges itself in the wall behind him.
This person called Maria’s uncle must’ve seen this coming; he only sat there with a cold smile, chuckling slightly.
Nothing here is normal.
Even if she did miss. How many people in this world could just sit there and not even blink their eyes, with a bullet whizzing right past you?
It’s a façade I can’t even begin to imagine.
Call it unflinching? It’s a façade that normal people can’t even begin to recreate.
Not only that, but no one inside the conference room seemed to have found it startling. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that everyone in this room was deaf.
“With this, we are even.”
“Do you understand just what you are doing right now?”
“I am only repaying what I have received.”
“I am not referring to that. I am referring to that disgusting yellow monkey standing right over there.”
Her uncle raises his voice and points to my way. But I stand unwavering. Like Maria said beforehand. I only gaze at the wall behind him, like a tombstone.
“Yellow monkey, how rude. This person is my Onii-sama.”
“So you dare defile the noble Blackhazel heritage with the pitiful blood of Asian race!?”
“Half the blood that flows through him is of rightful Blackhazel line. His blood is not that thin to be defiled by the pitiful Asian race.”
Mmhmm. So she doesn’t deny the fact that half my blood is pitiful.
Not that I’m in any position to complain about it now here, of all place.
“I need not hear about such nonsensical excuses!”
“Master Maria. Will you defile the Blackhazel bloodline with a pitiful Asian blood, starting with the Decayed Blood (劣化の血)?”
What the hell are they talking about now?
“Until when will you stop letting such trivial traditions get in the way?”
In response to Maria shaking her shoulders and half-mocking the company, one of the family rises up to complain.
“How dare you call it trivial traditions! Just what do you take the Blackhazel bloodline for? It’s a heritage born from emperors, a position that’s destined to reign and dominate over plebeians!”
“Don’t make me laugh, a heritage for emperors?”
Maria ridicules softly, and continues her words.
“Get over your delusions. What has made Blackhazel the way it is now is not due to bloodline. It has been forged by accomplishments our forefathers have created as past masters.”
“Creating the ‘Bandersnatch’ to how it is now, from the military industries in the two World Wars, and using that opportunity to gain funding and financial cooperation around the world. What established our family Konzern is due to the works and efforts of my grandfather ‘Melbourne Reviere Blackhazel’ and my father ‘Donovan Sanchez Blackhazel.’”
“So what you are saying, Master Maria, is that you are choosing to ignore the rest of the family tradition that has been established?”
Contrary to the aura of negativity ticking away in the conference room, Maria remains in her silence in response.
After a while, the woman on the very right looking to be in her late 20’s opens her mouth to break the silence.
“I understand what you mean, Maria-san. However, that does not give the monkey over there any right to join us as a member of the family.”
A beauty speaks, retaining her tranquillity with a serene smile on her face.
A flowing ponytail behind her, hair blazing with red, and wearing a dress evoking a sense of sophistication. She has eyes like an eagle, like a predator about to strike. The image she gives out seems to resemble an office secretary at a glance.
“And this is the second time Maria-san’s been ‘stubborn’ about something, I’m sure you’re aware of that~.”
Chuckling rather mischievously, she speaks as if she’s merely joking with her words. But even so, I could sense potent venom and sharp daggers inside her eyes.
Judging by odd apprehension running through Maria’s face, I could sense that the power this woman’s words held was greater than any of the family member here.
In terms of intimidation, an absolute first, excluding Maria.
“The reason why we called out Maria-san for this ‘family meeting’ is because of question for this matter on hand… but more importantly, it’s to discuss about Maria-san marriage that’s about to take place in the near future. ♪”
“As I say, the earlier they’re established, the better relationships turn out to be. Don’t you agree, Heimlich-kun?”
“It’s true, Izabel-oneechan.”
Beside the red-haired lady called ‘Izabel’, is a man of similar age to her. With recognizable blond hair covering his head, he fitted the description for a typical handsome man. But the somewhat arrogant air around him didn’t give a good impression of him.
This guy, Heimlich, is he Maria's fiancé or something…?
Maria glares at them sharply, as if she’s discomforted.
But after a deep breath, she gradually regains her composure, and continues on in her clairvoyant voice.
“I’m sorry about the matter of marriage, but there was already a prior engagement for me, before Heimlich.”
“What are you talking about?”
With Maria’s declaration, a murmur breaks out around the room, full of curiosity and suspicion.
“This girl has already decided to give her heart to someone else.”
Someone she decided to give her heart to?
Maria is willing to devote her feelings to someone?
I don’t know who the lucky guy is, but I can’t really think of who it is, looking at Maria. Not that I particularly want to think about who it is.
Because in the end, matters about marriage should be left up to the persons involved.
“Yes, I, Maria Lunalady Blackhazel, have decided from the beginning to conceive the child of my dear Onii-sama right there.”
But isn’t she talking about me now?!
“W, wait a sec! Maria?!”
She did tell me to not speak a word and listen, but there’s no way I can stay quiet after hearing that.”
“Master Maria, so you really are planning to go that far against Blackhazel’s…”
“I cannot approve of this suggestion!”
“Since it has come this far to your decision, I…”
Complaints burst from everywhere, all stating their confusion and disapproval.
Well, it’s understandable. It’s not unjustified complaints. I’d do the same thing if it was up to me. If some outsider hick just waltz by and suddenly decides to marry the family master all of a sudden, no idiot’s just going to sit there and just let that happen.
But Maria silences the opposition, with a roar of her overpowering intimidation etched in her voice.
“It is not up to any of you to make the decision. That responsibility is up to me, master of the Blackhazel family, Maria.”
“Even if you are the master, I cannot understand a decision as ludicrous as this!”
The family members give up on rational rebuttals, and resort to volume to yell out their disapprovals.
“’For the sake of purity of blood, Blackhazel members may marry a relative related to their birthparents to preserve the authenticity of the bloodline.’ And so, I have not violated any ‘Blackhazel laws’ here.
“You really think an excuse as ridiculous as that will work here?”
“I wonder, has any of you ever heard of a story called ‘To call a deer a horse (指鹿爲馬)’?”
Ignoring the family member’s responses that demanded explanation from her, Maria continued on her story serenely.
“According to the records from the early Chu–Han Contention, a prime minister by the name of Zhao Gao, of Qin dynasty, presented a deer to the Qin emperor as a present. He added on, 'This is a horse.' , to which the emperor replied 'You are mistaken, prime minister. Why do you call a deer a horse?'”
Maybe, is Maria talking about the proverb “To call a deer a horse” I’m thinking of?
Thinking about that proverb I learned in my Kanji class, I mutter to myself inside.
“The emperor’s followers’ answers were split into three. Ignoring those that stayed silent, there was more people agreeing with Zhao Gao, stating 'That really is a horse.', compared to the minority who stated 'That is not a horse.', and disagreed with Zhao Gao.”
She’s driving me mad here.
“Here’s a question now. What do you think happened to those that disagreed with Zhao Gao, and did not pretend that the deer was a horse?”
Maria smiles coldly, and made a gesture of slitting her throat with her hand.
“No one ever saw them afterward.”
Her voice was accompanied by a warm smile, something that didn’t fit her words at all.
This was the true fear Maria was capable of causing.
You would argue back and forth, bickering here and then, and suddenly, you would find the discussion drifting toward Maria before you were even aware of it.
Heimlich shoots up in his seat, unable to listen anymore.
Looking at him glowing blue and red with anger with veins popping up on the side of his head, I’m assuming he’s not the best-behaved knife in the drawer.
But even in situations like this, Izabel doesn’t lose herself. Izabel laughs softly to herself. She knew from the beginning that it was all a part of Maria’s plan to taunt them out.
The only exception to ‘them’.
“I see now that bloods do not betray their expectations. Really, you remind me of that person.”
“Dammit, Izabel-oneechan! This isn’t the time to laugh!”
Heimlich complains to her, in a matter most perplexing.
Looking at that, I can see how these two are supposed to be like. A relationship between a spoiled brother and a kind sister that grants his every wish, something like that.
“Don’t make me laugh, Maria! No matter what anyone says, you’re mine! I have no intention of letting that dammed monkey over there take you away!”
Look at this guy talking now.
“Please don’t act so spoiled, Heimlich. It is a sight most unpleasant.”
“Eh? Spoiled?! Goddamn it, wasn’t it you who ignored the family law and went ahead to choose this damned monkey for yourself?”
“That is so. The person that I have chosen is Onii-sama, not you, Heimlich.”
“I won’t accept it! I’ll never accept it! Hey, Onee-chan, do something about this screwed-up situation!”
He really is spoiled, this guy.
But his sister, so Izabel, only observes the racket, laughing quietly to herself. As if she found this whole thing to be rather entertaining.
It’s obvious that I’m the one on the edge here.
It feels like I’m on the unfavourable end here.
“Maria-san? When I look at Maria-san, I can’t help but think that you’re a splitting image of that person♪“
Maria is still not quick to lower her guard just yet.
The opponent is neither her uncle nor Heimlich. It’s that red-haired lady, Izabel. Not only is she not falling into any of the traps Maria has thought of, she’s even quick to think on her feet in response, while retaining her sense of humour.
“Yes, it seems that it’s time for us to take a step back.”
“A wise choice.”
While they both greet each other with an understandable smile, I’m sure they’re busy inside trying to get one step ahead of each other.
“Izabel! So you plan to agree to Master Maria’s senseless proposition once again?”
“Yes! Even for me, I cannot understand her suggestions at all!”
“Dammit, don’t just lump me up in this whole situation, Onee-chan!”
I think there was someone being useless at the end. Oh well, fine by me.
Izabel pacifies the oppositions with a lofty wave of her hands.
“But it cannot be helped, can it? The fact that we cannot simply overpower the family master’s decision has been proven long ago by our masters past.”
“But even so!”
“Or Johannes, do you have any other course of action for us to take at the time?”
“T, that is…”
I guess no one does.
“In that case, I guess that this conference draws to a close here.”
The conversation between these two is short and concise.
As if the root of their words are but gently colliding with each other.
“But by the way, I would like to ask you to keep this in mind.”
“What are you referring to?”
“We could never overpower the family master’s decision. But what took the lives of our two masters before was…”
“Their stubbornness, I am referring to.”
With Izabel’s words, Maria unleashes her angers, like a displeased cat.
Izabel was smiling.
She was oddly twisting the corners of her mouth, covering her face in a dark aura, and was smiling like a beauty from a fairy tale.
A smile that somehow made me shiver.
I realize then.
What Maria had truly meant when she referred to them as “a mass of greed in a human skin”.
Maria no longer restrains her animosity. Only killing intent could be felt from her gaze. Dunning such eyes, Maria snapped her fingers in gesture.
In response, Izabel also snapped her finger in signal.
In a moment, Lily draws the Tokarev pistol from her violin case and aims it.
And on Izabel’s side, an unknown man reveals himself from behind to protect his master.
No, I said protect, but his opponent were bullets fired from Lily’s 7.62mm Tokarev pistol.
There is no way he could do anything, even if he was Steven Seagal himself.
When I was thinking that:
I close my eyes to shut out the horrible aftermath, but there was nothing of the sort.
It seems Izabel was expecting this to happen; not even a trace of apprehension nor panic could be found on her face.
While I was busy working out just what had happened here…
A piece of metal, scrunched and shattered, of unidentifiable origin was rolling around on the floor.
No, wait, if what I’m seeing right now is correct, then perhaps….
Two gunshots. No aftermath whatsoever. A piece of metal rolling around, with their fronts knocked off, in the shape of an M.
Just how is this situation progressing. Is there some supernatural light novel battle being written here I’m not aware about?!
With that ridiculous idea inside my head, I turn my head to observe the man shielding Izabel in front of her.
There stood a man donned in a thick leather jacket and a casual pair of jeans, holding an automatic pistol in his hand. He looked to be someone of Indonesia, or of Thailand origin.
And with this unexpected flow of events, a look of astonishment could be seen on both Maria and Lily’s face. Maria’s unfittingly calm poker face could be seen trembling slightly.
“How interesting. Perhaps this was a part of your ‘play’, as well?”
Izabel shakes her hands at Maria, putting on an air of exaggeration.
“Do excuse me. Perhaps this kind of play was too much for some of our elders.”
Maria takes a step back, laughing awkwardly.
“Ah, but I am not! I am at heart, a 17 year old girl, just like you, Maria-san! I am not so aged that I become out of breath just because of a play of this level!”
With that, Izabel elevates the situation further.
“If that is the case… Shall we enjoy the rest of this play?”
Hearing Izabel’s words, the south-Asian man steps forward from where he was standing. His gaze resembled eyes of a predator on the hunt, calmly approaching his prey.
And so, the stage made way for the second act.
◇ ◆ ◇
The unidentified man called ‘Stingray’ jumps onto the table from where he was standing and uses the tension to dash right to Lily.
In his hand was a tactical knife, emitting a dull glow as it emerged from his jackets.
Letting loose waves of destruction, the blade ran through thin air to reach the obstacle present in front.
By ‘obstacle’, it was clear that it referred to nothing else but Lily’s white neck, cleanly exposed for the knife to prey on.
The tactical knife was pressed against Lily’s neck. Moving it even just a few centimeters further would be enough to cut through her throat, rend through her flesh, and sever her artery.
But for reason, the blade was poised still, not moving from where it was at. In a situation where finishing the job would only take the smallest effort.
Was he going easy on her?
If that was the case, then this guy – he was capable of overpowering and suppressing Lily in just a fraction of a second; perhaps he was showing off his superiority.
“That is not so.”
The first to realize what was going on was none other than Maria. Though I was left wondering as to why Maria was smiling, but I could catch on as to what move Lily had made.
It’s the same here, a knife.
Gripped within Lily’s other hand was her very own tactical knife, poised to strike its deadly fangs right into where Ray’s heart was.
In a sense, the situation ended in a tie.
“As expected from the ‘Ladies in Black’, strongest agents that Bandersnatch take pride in.”
Chiming in third place, Izabel laughs in an entertained tone.
“Ray, it’s really hard to find anyone who can go toe-to-toe against that child.”
After a moment, Maria mutters to herself, realizing something from listening to Izabel.
“Infiltrating the Thailand Prime Minister’s office single-handedly. A nameless killer responsible for eliminating several top-grade National Security officers and the assassination of the prime minister.”
“Aha, so you have heard of information about Ray?”
“He’s someone we Bandersnatch searched four corners of the earth to recruit as an agent. By the time we found out which prison he was incarcerated in, someone had already made a move on him.”
“Ahh~ how unfortunate. I wonder who it was?”
Izabel shakes her shoulders sarcastically. Maria pays her no attention, and continues her talk.
“Our play will have to stop here for now.”
“Are you perhaps afraid of losing, Maria-san?”
But of course, Maria isn’t the kind of person to fall to trivial taunts such as that.
“A play is only a play when the audience is separated from the participants. If the two were to duel in this cramped space, this girl cannot foretell the consequences.”
A valid reasoning.
Izabel does not deny Maria’s statement; she nods approvingly in response.
“I suppose it is true.”
It’s only us that’s going to be at unfavourable odds if we waste any more time here, seemed to be what Maria was thinking.
“In that case, this family meeting will draw to a close here.”
As if the commotion from earlier was only a dream, Maria adds on in a dull voice.
“Those that are opposed, please raise your hand. Of course, I will not put your opinion into consideration.”
It’s somewhat of a witty ending to her sentence.
“W, wait right there! Letting Maria go like this?! I can’t understand this at all!”
Rampaging around no clue as to how the situation was unfolding, Heimlich was the only one that disagreed with Maria.
“There’s time for action, and there’s time for biding and perseverance, Heimlich-kun.”
Wiping her devilish smile from her face, Izabel was once again donning her serene smile to cuddle her brother.
“I said I will not put your opinion into consideration.”
“D, dammit! I’ll make you regret for not choosing me someday!”
“Think however you like.”
Whew, even I wouldn’t get tricked with a feeble taunt like that. This guy really is an amateur. It makes me doubtful about the fact that he’s a Blackhazel just like Maria just by thinking about it.
Silently, Maria turns around and leaves the conference room.
I hastily follow Maria in her exit, but I take the time to throw a glace behind me to the mess of a conference room that looked like it’s been swarmed with hundred beagles let loose.
“Haha, what a disaster.”
Muttering away while clutching my nose, I sincerely hope that no one paid attention to what I was saying.
1. TL: This proverb roughly translates into “To trick and ridicule someone. ↩