Alice in the Massacre - Chapter 32
Philrain stared at Jack with a sorrowful expression on her face briefly. Then he offered the medicine box to her and she shook her head.
“There are enough tablets for me. You’ve caught the collapse disease yourself, and eventually, you’ll have to take several of those tablets a day or your body will disappear.”
“No problem. I’m as good as dead anyway.” Jack sighed, replying simply. “I’ll be able to see the Nightmare now?”
“In a few hours, you should start to experience the effects. It won’t hurt, though it will be harsh.”
Replying in silence to Philrain, Jack tucked the medicine box into his pocket. Then he picked up his cup of cocoa. The surface of the water was black and wavering.
“… Many priestesses lost their lives in the Nightmare attack just now. Even the vigilante too…”
“I see…” Jack sipped his cocoa and let out a small sigh. “It’s a shame…”
Philrain walked up next to Jack and looked at Iberis and Alice through the glass.
“The reason Lady Iberis lost her leg was to protect us priestesses.”
“When the White Queen invaded our shelter, Lady Iberis battled alone for three days and three nights. We were nothing but a lump of meat that had to be… killed to slow her down. Consequently…”
She cast her head down and muttered. “Lady Iberis had both her legs shredded to save the hostages. I believe it is impossible to measure her regret.”
Jack fell silent for a moment, then turned to Philrain and asked. “Is the… elder, no the… bishop, safe?”
“It was confirmed earlier that she is safe. It was quite a close call, but thanks to… that, the shelter is still able to function. Is that a blessing or a curse…?”
“I can’t say one way or the other at this point…”
Replying to the silence, Philrain said to Jack in a whisper after a considerable time. “The enemy that Master Alice defeated is the White Knight… a spire of the White Queen who rules this land. Eventually, I expect that whoever has the White Knight slain will storm this place in a fit of fury.”
“So, it’s not over yet…”
“The assault may be upon us before Master Alice and Lady Iberis awaken. We must be braced for it.” Philrain looked up at Jack and continued. “Master Jack, after you have rested for a while, please come to the bishop’s room. Raffi is calling for you.”
“Raffi… you mean the black cat?”
“Yes. We will have a meeting there to prepare for the raid of the White Queen.”
Philrain nodded and reached out to touch Jack’s broad hand.
“I’m sorry… I got you involved.”
The small murmur was drowned out by the sound of the air conditioning.
A couple of hours later, Jack entered the bishop’s room, not through the busted elevator, but via the fire escape. The massive hole and slash marks that gouged out a section of the room, as well as the cracks in the central pillar and wall, attested to the ferocity of the battle that had just taken place. As though she had been merely relocated, the bishop was floating in a container that resembled another huge test tube. When Jack stepped out, the assembled men and the surviving girls gave him a gloomy look.
“Sorry, looks like I have kept you waiting a while.”
Jack said, and the bishop’s voice poured out of the speakers.
“No, it’s okay. How are you feeling?”
“I don’t know at the moment. I don’t see any changes…”
“Is that so? You still can’t see me?”
Then a voice approached him from his feet, and Jack shifted his gaze in that direction. He wondered when he had appeared, a black cat was sitting beside him.
“Are you… Raffi…?” He asked, and the men who had gathered exchanged glances. The priestesses seemed relieved.
“That’s right, there is a Nightmare there, accompanied by Master Alice. Raffi… he was the one who suggested that you should be afflicted with the collapse disease.”
“So this is a… Nightmare…” Jack reached out towards Raffi, but he shushed him and pulled back. “I will be counting on you, Raffi… I’ve been informed that you’ve been protecting Alice for some time now.”
“I’ve been watching you closely since the time from the Hatter period. I hope you can lend your strength.”
Raffi then approached the massive hole that Alice had made. Then he looked back at Jack and spoke up.
“Look in the hole.”
When told to do so, Jack approached the hole and peered in. At the bottom, there was something sticking out, but nothing else.
“Alice’s attack did indeed finish off the White Knight. But right before he died, he apparently returned to the White Queen.”
“He was dying, and yet he could still move…!”
“But it was a fatal wound. Presumably, he’s beyond saving. The problem is that thing.”
When Raffi told him to look carefully, he noticed what appeared to be a huge, double-edged long sword… stuck in the bottom.
“The White Knight possessed a Nightmare, the Dáinsleif. Although it’s a Nightmare, it has no life. In other words, it’s a tool used by Nightmares.”
“Are you suggesting that I use it…?”
“You guessed it. I tried to get the priestesses to wield it, but it was too weighty for them. In any case, it’s reckless to challenge a nightmare in the flesh. The more weapons you have, the greater the chance of success.”
Nodding to Raffi, Jack climbed down the ladder that had been placed over the hole. He then withdrew the Dáinsleif that was impaled in it and lifted it up. It was quite heavy, but the sword had a solid weight to it.
“I am being… touched by the Nightmare…”
“It’s because you suffered from the collapse disease. Be careful when handling it. The White Knight said that the sword can sever everything.”
With a bewildered nod, Jack ascended the ladder with the Dáinsleif in his hand. The pain in his injured leg was beginning to subside. Even if it hadn’t, there was no time to be giving up. The bishop observed Jack gasping for breath as he stabbed Dáinsleif into the floor before speaking.
“We will now begin the meeting to counter the White Queen’s invasion. May I have your attention, please?”
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