5 – 11
The food that Alois had been eating, as well as the dish it was prepared upon, had been destroyed in the maelstrom of rampant magical energy.
But, by the next morning, it seems like the maids had cleaned up the shattered remains of the dish, as well as everything else that had been destroyed in the storeroom.
The same was true of the office where he had first ingested the poison. The cracked plate had been cleared away, as well as the food that had been thrown to the floor with it.
But, it really was quite the disturbance. It was difficult to clean up properly after such a thing. There were still some errant pieces of the countless amount of debris hidden in the shadows of the room or under the shelves. But, Alois didn’t have any intention of chastising anyone for it.
That turbulent night had eventually passed into the next day. As Alois sat in his office that morning, brightened by the sun’s rays, he began to think to himself.
Perhaps it was because of that awful display last night? For some reason, his head felt clearer than it had in a long time. Even though the last of his father’s plates were used to serve him his breakfast this morning, he didn’t feel anything when he looked at it. It was as if the shades of his father and mother, that had burrowed themselves away in his heart, really had faded into nothing.
On the other hand, Alois felt the magical power that had long since lay dormant in him begin to awake. The magical power that he had sealed away with his own feelings of guilt and despair began to flow through his veins. But, it wasn’t something he couldn’t control. Soon enough, it would feel like just another part of his body.
He was still slightly anxious about what ‘change’ might really mean. He had no doubts that there would be fierce resistance. But, now that his mind was clear, he was determined to take steps forward, no matter what stood in his way. And for sure, he had Camilla to thank for that.
The first thing he had to do was consider the most pressing problem he was facing straight away.
That was, the poison that had been intended to take Alois’ life.
“Lord Alois! I was worried when I didn’t see you in your room, and now I find you here!?”
When Camilla found Alois sitting behind his desk, she scolded him straight away. Camilla didn’t knock and wait for Alois to allow her to enter his office, she simply stepped straight through the doors and began speaking as soon as she laid eyes on him.
“Are you really feeling better enough to walk around? What’s more, to be working at a time like this!?”
Why wasn’t he taking his rest? She had come to check on him in his room, but as she did she ran into the doctor from the day before who told her that Alois had already gotten out of bed early that morning, and here he was. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing and double checked his room only to find an empty bed. If anything, she felt like a fool for having been so worried in the first place.
“I even heard that you’ve eaten breakfast!? How can you eat something like that now!?”
The type of breakfast that Alois was served on a daily basis was absolutely not something that should be served to someone recovering from poisoning and needing their rest. As per usual, it was a veritable mountain of sugary and salty food, awash in a sea of oil and fat. It’s really abnormal that he was even able to take a single bite in his condition.
Alois, though, just smiled. As he stood up, he thought of a good excuse as he opened his mouth.
But, whatever he was going to say, the words never left his lips.
“Lord Alois, please step aside from that woman at once!”
It was because, before he could say anything, a senior maid rushed into the room, her face stern and thunderous.
Behind that senior maid, a few other maids waited. As they stepped into the office, Alois noticed that they were a mix of senior and new maids, and the same could be said for the manservants who walked behind them as if they were guards.
But, all of those maids looked angry. And all of the cold hostility in their eyes were directed straight at Camilla.
‘That woman’… there was no doubt in Alois’ mind who they were talking about. Even the manservants standing behind looked warily at Camilla.
“What is it?”
Not remembering the face of the maid, Camilla spoke out brusquely. But, she barely paid Camilla a glance. Turning once again to Alois, she appealed to him desperately.
“That woman is the one who poisoned you! She was plotting for you to die so that she could take over the Montchat family! She really is just as despicable as all the rumours said!”
“…What is the meaning of this?”
Alois frowned deeply as he stared back at her. The maid nodded, misunderstanding his reaction.
“We’ve discovered evidence! Conclusive proof that this woman was the one who added poison to your meal!”
As she said so, the senior maid brought out a small white box from her breast side pocket. When she saw it, Camilla suddenly raised her voice.
It was a tiny and delicate looking box, that fit perfectly in the palm of her hand. There was no way she’d mistake it for anything else. She had been looking for it for days.
“That… that is mine!”
The present that Klaus had given her. A small box full of candied white Sehnsucht flowers. She had wondered if she would ever see it again, but here it was, in that maid’s hand.
“That’s right. See, she even confesses to it? That this box is hers!”
“It is mine, but… what do you mean by confessing?”
“Can you tell me what’s in this box?”
“What’s inside…? They’re just candied flowers.”
As Camilla answered like that, the maids suddenly exchanged glances with each other. It seems as if that was the answer they expected. There wasn’t any surprise in their eyes, just steely seriousness.
“…Last night, I brought Alois’ his meal.”
Then, the senior maid began to speak.
“The dishes prepared in the kitchen are further seasoned by a group of servants. When that was done, I brought the food and drink up to Alois’ room with the assistance of two other maids. Isn’t that right?”
As she looked behind her, two of the maids nodded.
Both of them were younger girls. They weren’t the kind of maids who could directly serve Alois. Thinking that, Camilla frowned at them, sending a chill up the two young girls’ spines as they shivered at the heavy atmosphere.
“Tell everyone what the dish consisted of.”
At the senior maid’s words, the two younger maids looked at each other. Even though both of them were obviously frightened, the slightly taller one stepped forward.
“…It was a meat dish. The dish consisted of meat, vegetables and it was garnished with flowers. The flowers were sunken into the fa… I mean, into the soup. They seemed faded, like the colour had been drained out of them… they looked pale and white to me.”
“That’s right. Flowers.”
Listening to the maid’s testimony, the senior maid nodded. Then, she turned to look at one of the senior manservants.
“When were the flowers added to the dish? Tell us.”
This time, it was a middle aged attendant who spoke. Unlike the maid, he spoke without a single tremor in his voice.
“By the time I came to season it, the dish had already been garnished with those flowers. I am absolutely certain of this. I rearranged the flower garnish on the plate and seasoned the dish to the Master’s tastes. After that, I gave it over to the maids.”
“…Why are you constantly talking about the flowers?”
Camilla was beginning to get irritated. The way the senior maid was talking around the point instead of getting straight to it was frustrating her. Just come out with it, why are you bringing up these flowers? And in the first place, just why were the candied flowers Camilla had been given even added to Alois’ food at all?
“How can you still be so shameless!?”
But, in response to Camilla’s words, the senior maid spat venomously. There had to be something that was giving her such confidence, to talk like this even in the presence of Alois.
“Look at this!”
The maid raised her voice, and opened the box in her hand. Then, she pressed it forward, so that both Alois and Camilla could see.
“These flowers are toxic! When they were soaked into the soup, they turned that dish into a horrible poison!”
The white candied flowers that Camilla knew weren’t in that box.
The only way they resembled the Sehnsucht was their shape. But, they weren’t white, instead, their colour was a deep and vibrant shade of crimson.
Poisonous flowers, that resembled drops of blood.