4 (2) – 4
If it were Prince Julian…
If it were Prince Julian who was here instead, he wouldn’t have given Camilla an apologetic look like that.
He wouldn’t have looked to see if Camilla had been hurt. He didn’t care about what went on inside Camilla’s heart. Even if he spoke softly with her, was there truly anything behind those words?
Prince Julian treated people on the principle of efficacy. Behind that open-hearted display of his, he coldly sorted people according to whether or not they were useful to him, calculating his warmth for those he truly wished to have on his side.
He didn’t do strange things like Alois did. He used that face of his properly. And without knowing his true face, she had fallen in love with the mask.
As Alois called out to her, Camilla looked down. She wanted to meet his gaze, to puff out her chest proudly like usual, but her body didn’t move the way she willed it.
She heard that strange hymn again in the distance. A song she didn’t want to hear, a song sung for a wedding. A song about two star-crossed lovers overcoming the odds and living happily ever after. Why was it that song seemed to reach her ears when she wanted to hear it the least?
“Camilla, shall we go back?”
If he were Prince Julian, he wouldn’t have said such kind words.
Alois stirred next to her. It was as if he had given up on surveilling Klaus, but instead gave his full attention to Camilla. As she looked down, she could see Nicole’s idle hands trembling in anxiety.
– I have to raise my head.
Tightening her hands into fists, Camilla took a deep breath.
With a jarring rumble, the ground shook.
As it did, she heard a woman’s shriek. After that, an ominous beating that sounded like a hammer being smashed on a wall and an unbearable screeching that seemed like the point of an iron nail being dragged down a sheet of metal followed suit. The thuds constantly echoed, one after another. Those horrible sounds came from the depths… And in the direction of the back of the diner they stood in front of.
Nicole cried out in terror. Was the reason she was so terrified of the rumbling from underground because of the manastone incident she had been wrapped up in some months ago?
Certainly, the sounds came from the underground and certainly, the ground rumbled slightly beneath their feet. Yet, instinctively, Camilla knew right away this wasn’t an earthquake. An earthquake didn’t sound quite this unpleasant, after all.
– In fact, this underground noise, could it be…?
Camilla suddenly forgot all of her hesitations and, raising her face, stomped into the ruined diner. Alois and Nicole were stunned at her sudden move, lagging behind her as she went.
“What’s wrong all of a sudden, Camilla!?”
Only catching up to Camilla with his long strides, Alois called out to her in confusion. But, Camilla didn’t stop to answer him, instead, she squared her shoulders and kept striding straight ahead.
“Lord Alois, the source of this infernal racket is obvious!”
Even as she said that the high pitched shrieking from underground grated on her ears. It mixed with the other unpleasant noises, creating a horribly dissonant din. Certainly, if this was happening constantly, the townspeople around here would never get a good night’s sleep.
From the underground, in the direction of the back of the diner, the horrible sound got even stronger. Klaus grimaced as he looked back at them, his expression clearly saying that he agreed with Camilla’s assessment as he clasped his hands over his ears.
As they came closer, they saw that he was standing next to a set of stone stairs behind an opened iron door, that appeared to lead down to a basement of sorts. Klaus must have been the one who opened that up, as the horrible sounds from the basement seemed to wash up the stairs.
Camilla stood at the top of the stairs to the basement, then shouted at the top of her lungs into the depths.
“I demand that you stop that awful performance this very instant!!”
Back in the royal capital, music appreciation was always in vogue.
Listening to excellent performances was one of the aristocracy’s finest privileges, therefore it was considered a mark of noble pride to be able to discern a truly good artisan of sound.
Thus, Camilla had a personal stake when it came to music. To hear a performance that gave new meaning to the word awful, she wouldn’t easily forgive those who subjected her ears to such musical violence.
The only musical instruments that society saw fit for use in Mohnton were a person’s mouth to sing hymns, as well as church organs to set the melody.
What’s more, only specially trained nuns were considered acceptable singers. The musical scores were strictly managed and maintained by the church, never to be seen by the public.
With nobody making or selling musical instruments, it had been near impossible to obtain one.
However, things changed when the market in Grenze opened up to foreign trade. As ‘forbidden’ as it was, now anyone determined enough could now likely procure an instrument.
As she stormed into the basement, the first person she noticed was the young man with the violin. Then, the girl who dropped her flute in shock. Then, two boys, the smaller one still with his lips on his oboe and the larger one mid strike on his drum. Lastly, there was one girl who didn’t have an instrument at all.
This must have been where the diner once stored its food supplies. In that basement, with shelves lining all the walls, those five young boys and girls stood in the center, still silent in shock. Their ages looked to range from the mid-to-late teens up to their early twenties. Yet although they were in an underground cellar of a ruined restaurant in a poor part of town, they weren’t dressed to match.
On some of the empty shelves were laid some other old looking musical instruments, as if in reverence. Musical sheets and scores that she had never seen before were pasted all over the shelves, with all sorts of minute notes scribbled in the margins. Not just on the shelves either, they were scattered all over the floor.
Camilla, who had charged in ahead of the rest of the group, almost fell off balance as she tried to avoid stomping on one of the sheets underneath her feet.
“Just what is the meaning of this, you are going to ruin the sheets this way! And you, what kind of musician drops their instrument in such a way!?”
As Camilla raised her voice, the young musicians all stared at her wide-eyed, whilst the flutist girl yelped in surprise as Camilla barked at her specifically. It was as if they had been suddenly frightened by the appearance of a ghost.
“You, the violinist! When was the last time you tuned your instrument!? Drummer, did no one tell you to never play your instrument on the ground like that!? It will ruin the sound! And as for you-”
“Now now, it won’t do to get so angry.”
Following after Camilla, Klaus walked leisurely down the stairs. It looked like he was still reeling from the performance, scratching at his ear awkwardly.
“Hmm, I see. So the culprit behind all this was a musical murder, huh?”
When they turned to look at Klaus, one of the young musicians shouted in shock. Their expressions changed completely as well. From astonishment to fear. The blood drained from their faces, as they turned as pale as sheets.
Alois and Nicole came down the stairs after Klaus, but the young people didn’t even look in their direction. Although Camilla had been the first one to bound down the stairs and angrily shout at them, they weren’t looking at her anymore either.
All of their eyes were fixed firmly on Klaus.
“M-Mister Klaus… W-We haven’t told anyone about this…”
Klaus looked a little puzzled at the words of the young violinist, whose voice shook terribly. He was a handsome looking young man, with neat brown hair, but right now his pale face was etched with fear.
“We will never do it again! So please, don’t tell anyone! I’m begging you!!”
Falling to his knees as he implored him, the four others put their instruments down and fell to the floor in the same way. Klaus looked truly confused at suddenly being the object of so much fear.
“Ah, no no, I wouldn’t ever do something like that. Even if you weren’t so frightened.”
“I-Is that really true? Can a member of the Lörrich family truly be expected to keep their silence!?”
Klaus crossed his arms. As he looked at the people kneeling in front of him so fearfully, he groaned a little bit.
It was true that, by tradition, music was virtually forbidden in Mohnton.
But even if they were found out, it wouldn’t cost them their lives. Sure, the instruments and musical scores that could be found would go up in smoke, but they would definitely be able to hide at least some away. What’s more, if they got them once in the first place, they could certainly find or buy more.
Were these instruments really so valuable that they would beg to spare them like this, as if they were begging for their own lives?
Just what could have driven them to such fear?
Whiplash, except starring Camilla this time.
Edited by: ApoPie