4 (3) – 15
Of course, Camilla knew nothing about Alois and Klaus’ adventures as she was busy dealing with the fallout.
After Verrat gave in, Camilla left the despondent girl with Finne before going to try and cool down the situation between the vigilantes with Victor and the other boys. She meant to do it literally and, conveniently, there was the water which flowed into a fountain in the plaza. After a few buckets full of water, enough of them regained their senses a little bit.
It goes without saying some of them didn’t take kindly to it, but she wasn’t alone anymore. Victor, Dieter and Otto were much more reliable when it came to muscle, compared to a certain dainty nobleman she knew.
There were also quite a few who had been knocked out in the fighting. After sprinkling a little water on their faces too, they managed to regain consciousness.
That’s why, by the time the culprits Alois and Klaus finally left that back alleyway, the uproar on the main street had settled down somewhat.
When he saw just what a state the boulevard was in, Alois was lost for words. Klaus, meanwhile, didn’t break from that characteristic careless expression of his.
Sitting in the middle of the square, Camilla was exhausted. The same could be said for Victor and his friends, who had been helping her trying to settle everyone down. Once the noise had died away and there was some element of peace again, that exhaustion had finally caught up with them.
There was barely a soul on the boulevard anymore. To tend to some of the injured, only a few of the young vigilantes had stayed behind. After the festival had been trampled underfoot by the chaos, only ruined stands and a broken stage lay in its wake. The only musical instrument that had survived was Victor’s violin as well.
The band members were full of grief and the young vigilantes looked on with a deep sense of guilt. Verrat sat quietly in a corner of the square, head in hands, and not even the usually stout Camilla had anything to say.
Alois held his breath as he looked at the despondent scene in the plaza.
After running up to Camilla, Alois struggled to find what words to say to her.
But, no matter how hard he thought, he couldn’t think of an excuse. To solve the issue of the Lörrich succession, he had chosen to sacrifice all this.
Instead of the perfect words that he wished would come to mind, Alois could only sigh instead.
Because of their strategy, he knew that there was going to be a disturbance on the main street.
Of course, it wasn’t Alois’ aim to have that uproar grow out of control. He knew just how much Victor and the others had been preparing leading up to the big day, and just how much Camilla had been looking forward to it. That’s why he was hoping against hope that at least the physical damage would be minimal.
But, in the end, things ended up going according to his worst-case scenario.
Or rather, it was actually worse than Alois ever imagined it could get.
“…That things ended up this way, it’s all my responsibility.”
Alois decided to tell her the truth, as unsavoury as it was.
“I knew that something like this would happen from the beginning. Despite knowing that, I intentionally overlooked it. Camilla… I’m the one who ruined this for you.”
“I suppose that’s about right.”
Camilla answered him quietly. Not really understanding Camilla’s words, Alois tried to catch a glimpse of her expression.
Camilla looked down. Her fists were firmly clenched. Her shoulders trembling, just slightly.
“Um… This is all my fault. You know about the issue with the successorship to House Lörrich? To solve that, I used this festival.”
“I suppose that’s about right…!”
Her voice shaking with anger, Camilla raised her head. Seeing Camilla’s strong glare, Alois jumped a little in surprise.
“I thought there might have been something like that going on! Because you were always always always always always whispering in some dark corner with Klaus! Constantly!”
“…So you noticed us?”
Alois’ eyes widened a little as he looked down at Camilla. As she shook with anger, Camilla’s cheeks were bright red. A deep frown creased between her eyes as she bit her lips, but that figure that Alois mistook for only reflecting Camilla’s anger and regret also belied her deep sorrow.
“I just didn’t know what it was you were plotting! I only thought that it was going to be something strange again! Besides, I knew there would be people who just couldn’t let others enjoy the festival on the day! That’s why…!”
Camilla glared straight into Alois’ eyes as she spoke. That voice full of passion with which Camilla yelled seemed directed almost as much at herself as it was at Alois.
“That’s why, at the very least, when you came back, I wanted you to be able to join everyone without having to worry!”
So that everyone didn’t blame Alois. So that Alois didn’t blame himself. Everyone who worked so hard would be rewarded, and people could have fun. She wanted to protect that time when even he could enjoy himself.
Yet, Camilla couldn’t.
Yet, it all ended in misery.
Perhaps if it had been Klaus instead, he could have done better.
Perhaps if it had been Alois, he might have had a plan.
“But, in the end, I couldn’t do anything. That’s why I hate this, I hate it so much I could die…!”
Camilla felt powerless. Despite knowing there would be trouble at the festival, there was nothing she could do alone.
She had some hard feelings for Alois and Klaus, who had a hand in orchestrating all this. But, more importantly, she was furious at herself for not even being able to fulfil her wish of ‘making the festival succeed’.
Alois was surprised as he looked down at Camilla’s trembling form. He didn’t quite understand the meaning behind Camilla’s words right away. But, caught up in her momentum, he lost his words.
In front of his eyes, Camilla was hurting. Taking the energy that would usually have a person burst into tears, she instead glared at Alois. But that sad figure only made Alois shrink away more.
Exhaling roughly, Alois managed to stay standing. He looked down at Camilla for a while.
Finally, he understood Camilla’s passion.
“I’ve… done something quite terrible, haven’t I?”
His face loosening slightly, Alois rubbed his head. Camilla still looked down.
On the ground beneath her, she could see the remains of flowers that had been trampled and torn apart by boots. Not being able to see Camilla’s face, Alois shook his head.
“To make up for… No, in the future…”
Even if they held another festival in this spot, it wouldn’t make up for Camilla’s feelings. What Camilla had wanted to cherish and protect was what was going to be held that day specifically.
Alois looked around the plaza, hoping desperately to see some clue. A desolate square. Weary and exhausted people. Band members who had lost everything they had poured their passions into. Camilla, as well as Nicole who anxiously stood by her.
When Alois called out to him, Klaus answered with as irreverent a smirk as ever. Seeing just how appealing Alois’ eyes were, though, it soon turned into a wry grimace.
“Jeez, you sure are a needy Lord, ain’t ya? Just as payment for seeing that sad face of yours, guess I’ll have to lend you a hand. Entrust everything to this charming man, alright?”
Klaus seemed to be pleased seeing a typically unseen side of Alois. Despite the situation, his voice had a song like tone for it.
“In the first place, this festival was supposed to be for my sake, don’t you think~?”
Then, Klaus began to slowly walk. Moving past Camilla and the others, he stepped up onto the stage, glancing at the broken musical instruments.
The flute, the oboe and the drums. But, he couldn’t see the violin. Klaus didn’t know this, but because it was the only one that hadn’t been damaged, it had been put back in its case.
Not particularly bothered by the absence of the violin, Klaus picked up one of the fallen drumsticks. Sitting on top a broken drum, with the other drumstick smashed inside of it, he tapped the rim of the drum to get everyone’s attention and then raised his voice.
“Little girl, get up here!”
When Klaus beckoned to her, Nicole’s eyes suddenly widened. She turned to Camilla, confused, but she didn’t find any help there. Although bashful and puzzled, Nicole climbed onto the stage, looking suspiciously at Klaus.
The snapped drumstick. The broken drum. A pot that had rolled into the plaza. A slightly larger plank of wood that was supposed to have been to set up the stalls.
“What are you planning to do?”
Nicole asked Klaus that, as he started lining up all that junk. Nicole had no idea what this man was thinking, though that wasn’t truly anything new for her. Even though that man had said ‘leave it to me’, just what exactly was he planning?
“You need music for a party, right?”
Saying that, Klaus beat all the junk in front of him with his drumstick. As he smacked each one in turn, he grinned as he looked up at Nicole.
“Alright, little girl. Sing.”
“You’ve always been practicing back in the cellar. You can sing the wedding hymn, can’t you?”
Nicole blinked. She rolled over Klaus’ incomprehensible words for a moment in her head, then her face reddened as she shook her head furiously.
“I-I-I can’t! I can’t sing! Especially not in front of everyone like this!”
“It’s alright, it’s alright. If you’re that nervous, I’ll sing with you.”
“That’s not the issue here! In the first place, why does it have to be me!? It should be Miss Verra-…”
No. Verrat, who was still hunched over in the corner, hadn’t responded to anyone since.
“Ummm… Still, it shouldn’t be me, maybe Mister Victor or Mister Dieter…?”
“Who wants to hear a guy’s voice?”
“But, then, the other women are…”
Camilla or Finne or Mia. Klaus shrugged as Nicole timidly looked at each of the other women in the square.
“There’s no one else, besides you. Remember what I said? You’ve got a good voice. I like that singing voice of yours.”
Nicole bit her lip at his all too casual words. Without watching Nicole’s reaction, he smacked the rubbish in front of him once again. With each strike, an irregular but unmistakeable light rhythm echoed out into the square.
“Well, if you really hate the thought of it, then it can’t be helped. But if you don’t, then let me hear your voice, Nicole.”
Klaus was truly the world’s most selfish man.
As he just said whatever he pleased with a smile, he began to sing as he tapped away at that junk. His voice was slightly high for a man’s and wonderfully cheery… But, singing alone, it had a lonely tinge to it. Because it was a song that should have been sung at the head of five people.
“Guh,” Nicole balled her hands into fists. That hymn she had sung so many times was like an invitation all its own. She remembered the days she had spent in that cellar, practicing alongside Verrat. Klaus’ bright and cheery singing was almost goading out Nicole’s own voice.
“Uuu…. M-Mistress! This is only for my Mistress’ sake!”
Alois had entrusted it to Klaus. Even this song she didn’t understand well, it had to have some sort of meaning. Something that would cheer Camilla up. So if she lent a hand to Klaus, it was still only for Camilla’s sake. Truly.
It wasn’t because she liked to sing, or because she enjoyed raising up her voice. Honestly.
“For my Mistress’ sake, I’ll sing!”
Her cheeks flushed with colour, Nicole’s voice that Klaus thought so highly of echoed through the square.
Klaus, who watched that smile slowly creep into her face, only had one thing on his mind… It was a smile like a flower finally coming into bloom.
The voices of Nicole and Klaus echoed down from the stage.
– To sing that even now…
Camilla, who heard the song float through the square, bit her lip. She didn’t know what Klaus’ intentions were, but how could a single song salvage everything now?
Rather, the only thing those two cheerful voices were doing were highlighting just how dreary the surroundings were by comparison.
– Stop thinking like that! Even though Nicole is putting so much effort into singing as well!
Camilla shook her head to dispel those dark feelings creeping through her. Those two were singing to try and do something. Camilla knew it wouldn’t do any good to sit there alone and gloomily like that.
She raised her head, hoping to try and put on a smile.
But it was then that she saw her.
Had she been drawn in by the singing voices? Camilla noticed a single girl looking at the square from the shattered main street.