5 – 7
As a mountainously piled dish on a blue plate was put in front of him, his father had said that.
Alois couldn’t refuse.
That was because Alois was a good son. He was going to become a good lord. Doing this was necessary to become a good person.
If Alois couldn’t achieve that, then what value did he have? Eat all that you are given, follow all the orders that you are told. Do not argue, do not talk back. Do not disappoint his expectations… and at the same time, do not exceed them.
Progress was unnecessary. But, degeneration too must be kept at bay. Just defend this land, and maintain its ways. Become another uniform cog in the machine that was Mohnton.
Even after his parents died, nothing had changed.
His father’s will had lived on in the people around him, keeping their eyes on Alois. If he looked to be changing course, they would correct him. They would make sure that nothing would change. Make sure that the gear never malfunctioned.
Or, perhaps this was all a delusion on Alois’ part.
About his parents living on within his heart. That he had enormous guilt to bear. After meeting with Camilla, he felt like he was finally moving forward… was he giving up on all that?
Criminals should remain strangers to joy. The land of Mohnton, which shunned vice in favour of virtue, Alois was to make himself a reflection of it.
“Eat, Alois. You shall not be allowed to leave even a crumb. You are my son, this much should be simple.”
He thought that, if Camilla was there, he could change. That with her strength, he’d move on.
But, those thoughts of taking strides into the new unknown were smothered by those lingering memories of his parents.
Just a mere plate had turned him to stone, like a ruin entangled in the vines of the past. Just what would she think of a criminal like him? A coward like him? He truly feared how disappointed Camilla must be.
“That is fine.”
His father’s memory said that. He was the only son of the Montchat family. The only one worthy to rule Mohnton. There is no escape for the criminal. To wallow in this dark and marshy land, doing the same jobs their ancestors began as an atonement, that was all those tainted with sin were permitted.
“Eat, Alois. For the sake of being a worthy son.”
Dusk had come and gone, and his office had fallen into darkness. Alois sat at the desk, all alone.
Only a little while ago, that senior maid from before had come in, once more leaving a meal for him on that same blue plate. The voices he was hearing had only echoed from his own mind.
But, all the same, Alois couldn’t deny them. On that blue plate his father had used, with the navy blue and gold decorations, there was a large serving of meat, soaked in oil and fat. There was so much of it that the food seemed to shine on the plate. The vegetables served on the side and the decorative white flowers seemed like they were drowning in the fatty oils dripping down the meat’s flank.
– I have to eat.
Alois reached out to the heartburn-inducing dish. Stabbing into the meat with his fork, he brought it to his lips… and hesitated for just a moment, as he recalled where he had seen those flowers before.
In Blume, he had come across a hunched over Camilla in a field of flowers just like them. There was also the garland of white flowers that Camilla had worn like a crown as they danced together. Those pretty Sehnsucht flowers, they reminded him of Camilla.
Even though Alois was trying to avoid her, Camilla was constantly trying to reach him even now. Alois was sure that she’d be disgusted with just how timid and weak he was, but, just once more… Could they talk again, just one more time? Maybe if they talked, something really could change?
But, his thoughts faded once that fatty meat rolled onto his tongue.
It was so sweet. Covered in salt and saccharine honey. But somehow, there was also a sharp and bitter taste mixed in.
It was unlike anything else before. Shocked by the strange and vile taste that not even he could swallow down, Alois spat the food out. His mouth felt numb. Even though he spat it out straight away, he could even feel his fingertips growing numb.
He couldn’t speak as his limbs rapidly lost strength. His consciousness began to fade. If no one came to help him now…
His vision was beginning to become hazy. Strong… the poison was so strong.
As his vision blurred even more, he saw those white flowers, decorating the dish. Mustering all of his willpower and the last ebbs of his strength, Alois reached out and grabbed those flowers instinctually, as the dish smashed to the floor.
The thudding sound echoed through the quiet of the mansion’s night.
The last thing Alois remembered before the darkness overcame him was the sound of the door flying open, and someone’s footsteps rushing towards him.
That’s one way to ring in 100 chapters.