4 (3) – 3
Finne’s lonely melody was interrupted by the voice of someone who couldn’t read the mood at all.
“…Woah, Finne!? I thought I heard something, but that was you!?”
Hearing that sudden voice, Finne stopped playing and took her mouth of the flute out of pure surprise.
Looking up, she saw a familiar young man making his way down the stairs.
Looking slightly bashful as he made his way down on nervous steps, the slender youth looked back at her. Taking off the leather bag he had strapped over his shoulder, he bounded down the rest of the steps.
Finne raised her voice in stunned disbelief. Otto looked a little embarrassed as he met Finne’s shout with a ‘hey’.
“Mister Klaus and everyone else as well? What the, I thought I would be the only one here for sure.”
Otto smiled as he went over to the corner of the cellar that had once always been his during their practices, with an equally practiced jaunt. Without any ceremony to greet that spot he hadn’t seen in a while, he took out his instrument and waited.
But, Finne didn’t lead him off like usual. For the last few days, she had been playing in the cellar all on her own.
“Otto, why? I thought that nobody was ever going to come anymore…?”
“Ha? And let you get such a big head start again!?”
Those competitive eyes glared at Finne. But after saying that, Finne just looked confused, so Otto scratched his head.
“You were the first to play a proper sound, the first to play the whole scale, you’re always ahead of us. That’s why I wanted to get back here as soon as I could sneak out. But even though I did, you even beat me here…”
Finne blinked in surprise as Otto pouted at her. She raised her hand to her mouth as she trembled a bit. It looked like she was struggling to contain her laughter.
However, before Finne burst into giggles, another voice interrupted her.
“Come on, Verrat, go inside.”
“Dieter, wait, I don’t particularly…”
A bright young man’s voice and a hesitant young woman’s. Verrat frowned as Dieter pulled her along by her arm.
Noticing Finne staring at him with her hands over her mouth, Otto scratched at his cheek as if he were suddenly a little flustered.
“Ahh… How do I say this, I saw everyone else go in before. I wanted to come in too, but I was a little afraid to go in alone, so…”
Dieter’s big body seemed to shrink a little as his cheeks flushed red. But even though his mouth struggled to get the words out, his foot lightly tapped out an impatient beat.
“I’m still worried about the vigilantes, but for some reason, I felt really restless. Before I knew it, I was hitting a bunch of things in my house to try and replicate the feeling.”
“You guys… Are all complete fools!”
Throwing off Dieter’s hand, Verrat said that as she crossed her arms. Looking at her from the side, Dieter grinned.
“Yeah, you say that Verrat, but haven’t you been hanging around here a lot? I’ve seen you constantly. I mean, I’ve been watching the place too, right?”
“Hmph!” Without denying Dieter’s words, Verrat stuck up her nose. Finne and the rest knew that even if she sounded annoyed, she just wasn’t being honest with her feelings.
Finne’s cheeks puffed up red with joy. Just how had that cold and lonely cellar become so filled with life again so suddenly?
“Oh, I was right after all, everyone’s here!”
The last voice that interrupted them from the top of the stairs was the loudest one yet.
“Victor, it’s exactly like I said!”
“Mia, w-wait a sec… Seriously?”
“Are you calling me a liar now?”
That excited voice belonged to none other than Mia, Victor’s fiancée. Looking down at the people in the cellar, she called back up the stairs happily.
“You’ll see if you get down here. At least be a little confident in front of your friends!”
As if unable to resist Mia’s request, Victor slowly and nervously began to descend the stairs. Fed up with how timidly he was walking with that large case under his arm, Mia gave him a smack on the back.
Choosing his words, Victor looked at all the people in the cellar. Finne, Verrat, Otto and Dieter, as well as Klaus and the group that came with him. On that anxious face of his, there were still numerous small cuts that hadn’t healed and the faded remains of a black eye.
“Everyone’s here… To be honest, I didn’t think I’d ever see any of you here again.”
Victor bowed his head, letting the air out of his lungs. His shoulders sagged heavily as he continued to look down.
“All of this was just for my wedding, so I can’t tell you how guilty I feel. My father scolded me, but… I have to apologize for causing all of you trouble as well.”
Seeing how serious Victor looked, Finne and the others turned to each other in surprise.
Victor continued, cutting off Finne’s words. Laying the case he held down on the floor, he kneeled down.
Naturally, everyone’s attention focused on that case. That leather case, coloured an excellent shade of polished black you could imagine seeing your face in it, was unmistakably a top quality piece of work. The two buckles that held it down on either side were brilliantly shiny.
“‘If you get found out like that, you aren’t the only one who will suffer through hardship’, that’s what my father told me.”
Victor carefully undid the buckles. Then, with almost a reverent sort of showmanship, he slowly opened the case.
“‘So next time, make sure not to get caught’.”
As he lifted the lid, everyone wondered just what treasure could be inside such a magnanimous container… But, what was revealed was a well-maintained violin.
As he took the violin out of the case, Victor raised his head.
“This time, I’ll do better. I’ll make sure not to cause you all any trouble. So… Will you play with me again?”
The expression on his face was one unmistakably borne of Blume; fearless, but with a hint of mischief to it.
“Honestly… This town truly is ridiculous.”
Camilla had a wry smile on her face as she watched the six of them, including Mia, excitedly talk amongst themselves.
In the first place, the ruined diner above this cellar belonged to Victor’s parents. She thought it was strange when she heard that there were some old instruments down here even before Victor and the others decided to use it. Just where had those instruments come from, she wondered? Who had used this cellar before they had? If she thought about it, the answer was obvious.
Though, as ridiculous as this town was… she also thought it was an interesting place. It wasn’t just Victor and his group either, all of the people in this town seemed to be hiding some secret or another.
– I can begin to make sense of how Klaus came to be, seeing this town.
For better or for worse. As she thought that, Camilla looked towards Klaus, not saying a word…
But, she was a little startled when she saw the expression on his face.
Klaus looked utterly captivated as he looked towards those six.
Those usually frivolous and carefree eyes of his suddenly sparkled with some newfound passion. His cheeks were event tinged a shade of excited red. For some reason, Camilla found that sheer delight on his face a little envious.
“Honestly, I’m a little touched over here.”
Klaus said that to no one in particular.
Then, as if trying to calm himself down, he closed his eyes. It didn’t seem to do much good though, as he couldn’t suppress that smile on his face at all.
“It’d be such a waste to just hide away like this after all.”
As Camilla called out to him dubiously, Klaus took a deep breath. Then, with a big “HEY!”, he shouted out to those six.
“Since you’re all finally together, you shouldn’t be so caught up on ‘not getting caught’!”
Klaus’ voice sounded like he was really enjoying himself. But still… There was something almost dangerous lying behind those words. Just like Victor’s face had before, Klaus’ expression was a perfect mix of fearlessness and utter mischief.
“So what I was thinking was, why don’t we have a concert! That way, everyone can listen to you! In fact, let’s make it a commemoration of me becoming the successor! We’ll have a huge festival as well!!”
Essentially every single word that came out of his mouth ran contrary to Mohnton’s traditions. Even the usually mild-mannered Alois looked at Klaus with an uncharacteristically sharp eye.
Honestly, if the town was ridiculous, then this man embodied the very heights of ludicrousness.