Question Rose and Melancholy Rose Devourer - Chapter 1
Translator: MadHatter Editor: MadHatter
The Curse of the Resurrected Witch Boojum! Blooming Cannibalistic Bizarre Disease――――
The newspaper’s headline in capital letters flashed over Seth’s drowsy eyelids.
Seth shut his partially open gray eyes a second time.
“What a load of crap…”
While still half-immersed in a dream, his genuine sentiments surfaced.
Like a withering flower absorbing water, Seth’s complaint was swiftly assimilated into the sophisticated jovial dialogue that permeated the train.
The interior of the train was dominated by the leisurely music flowing from the gramophone’s trumpet horn accompanied by the laughter of the other passengers indulging in their meals.
The train to the royal capital was bustling with activity.
Seth’s destination, the royal city, Alba, lacked an airport.
The train to Alba was notorious for being highly congested due to the absence of airships, but fortunately, it was now the middle of March. The weather was still bitterly chilly and the snow had not yet thawed, which meant that there was relatively more room on the train.
The third-class compartment was conspicuously vacant, and there were a few empty seats in the first-class compartment that Seth was using.
Seth had dozed off, possibly owing to the unexpectedly relaxing environment.
In a corner of the dining car, Seth released a broad sigh. He shook his head lightly and lifted his heavy eyelids. However, that didn’t make him any less drowsy. His eyelids were on the verge of closing, but he endured it.
His body wavered slightly. The noise of the train reverberated throughout his brain, intermingling with the music.
It felt as if he was listening to a lullaby in a cradle.
Even though there was no actual sensation, his body seemed to be exhausted from the long journey.
Seth was resting his chin with his hands on a table with cabriole legs adorned with a white cloth reminiscent of the pale snowy landscape outside and an elegant single flower vase of blue roses.
The after-dinner coffee, which was poured into a delicate cup with a floral pattern and gold rim, was still releasing steam. Unfortunately, Seth’s unique taste buds can’t savor even the subtlest of coffee, but the beans used must have been of premium quality.
The steam, imbued with a mellow aroma, fluttered like a lady’s dress while she stepped on stage at a ball.
Even the soft movement of the dress induced drowsiness.
Notwithstanding the frigid night air outside, the interior of the train was invariably warm. Each corner of the dining car was illuminated by the white luminescent ore that had been installed. Despite his lowered eyelids, the luminosity of this dazzling ore, utilized as illumination, rendered his vision dimly white.
It was tempting to drift off into a dream, enveloped by the mist of milk in the coffee.
But then again, this was the dining car.
At the very least, he should return to his cabin.
“…Among the witches, the exceptionally terrifying… existence…”
Seth opened his eyes, which had naturally been closed, along with his lips.
“Such is the curse… of the witch, Boojum.”
To ward off the faint sleepiness, he read the continuation of the newspaper held by the pale man on the other side of the table, almost without moving his lips, but using only his tongue.
The newspaper was describing the witch and the curse that was now the subject of rumors around the city.
“Bizarre Disease, Cannibal Bouquet…”
Seth read the article in a daze.
It was barely audible, not even a whisper and it was swallowed up like sugar in hot tea in the whirlpool of chatter in the train.
It simply resonated inside Seth’s own head.
“…Boojum is a witch who makes other people’s bodies a nursery… of fresh blood, a blooming rose.”
Seth read aloud the deliberately disconcerting content of the text, shifting back and forth between the dream and the reality.
“The bizarre disease that causes individuals to bloom red roses that do not exist in nature is truly the curse of the 《Rose Blooming Witch》Boojum and… ah.”
Without reading the article to the end, Seth dismissed the content absentmindedly.
Even Seth had heard rumors of the bizarre disease, Cannibal Bouquet, the red rose that devours people.
One of the witches who was supposed to be exterminated by the witch hunt long ago, Boojum, the 《Rose Blooming Witch》, was resurrected and has been spreading a curse.
Boojum, a witch who can make roses bloom from her body, draws on her disastrous power to bring red roses out of people. It was reputed that a person violated by the red rose would lose their ego and transform into a misshapen creature that wanders around in search of blood.
The witch’s disease that cannot be treated even with the best use of alchemy – Cannibal Bouquet.
This rumor was making the rounds across the continent. Many of the stories, however, were imprecise and untrustworthy, such as “a friend of a friend saw it,” “a distant relative contracted it,” “a customer’s acquaintance who came to the store was struck by it,” and so on. There was little credibility to it, just as the Ripper Man and the Werewolf rumors.
The accounts were amusingly taken up by gossip articles, and it was only the people’s unnecessarily heightened fears and insecurities that were left to linger on their own.
“There’s no way the witch Boojum could be here…”
Seth was aware of this.
The witch, Boojum, has died.
The witch, Boojum, was not resurrected.
The witch, Boojum, was nowhere to be found.
After all, Seth did indeed witness the demise of the witch, Boojum.
The witch undoubtedly perished.
The infamous witch died while laughing, merrily mocking the world until the very end, on the filthy sofa where she had been fixed.
Seth was cognizant of that.
There was no way that the witch, Boojum could have brought forth the red rose.
“Boojum does not give rise to red roses.”
Seth knew better than anyone why.
Turning his eyes away from the newspaper, which was full of falsehoods, Seth scratched his habitually gray hair and straightened his back. In an effort to do something to dispel the drowsiness, he downed the coffee in one gulp, which felt like nothing more than black hot water.
Placing the empty cup back on the saucer, Seth again casually peered at the man with only his eyes.
When he folded the newspaper and set it on the table, a heavy sigh emerged from his mouth. He covered his bearded lips with his hands and crossed his fingers tightly as though in prayer.
The man’s hands quivered faintly.
His eyesight was hindered just before his face was about to shift blatantly towards the strangely pale man.
Seth jerked his eyes open and recovered consciousness. A young male crew member stood on the other side of Seth’s seat, his legs close together. As if to verify his presence, he called out his name and nodded.
The pure crewman’s smile deepened in relief. Seth wondered what was going on, and was informed that he was responsible for his luggage. Seth had been assigned a first-class compartment cabin. If so, his luggage should be delivered there. He was perplexed as to why his belongings were handed to him in the dining car. The crew member politely explained that he had been instructed to send something on to Seth when he arrived at the dining car after analyzing Seth’s expression.
What was delivered to him was a bouquet of flowers.
Seth accepted a bouquet of pure white roses.
Within the pure roses was a card. The familiar typeface was spelled out in white letters on dark green cardboard with a silver ivy motif. If someone picked up the card, they would detect a nostalgic citrus scent, distinct from the mellow rose fragrance, wafting faintly through the air like a veil in the wind.
Seth’s name was the only word plainly written on the card, and the sender’s name was absent, but Seth soon realized who it was.
The person who had sent the bouquet was without a doubt the same one who had provided Seth a first-class compartment on the train.
Seth rose from his cozy chair.
“The meal, it was divine…”
Seth turned around and walked back to his cabin after lying to the crew. With a sideways glance, he cast a look at the middle-aged man who was reading the newspaper.
The man, who appeared to be in poor health, reached for a cup with his right hand. Since his fingers slipped into it, the liquid splattered.
The accident occurred near at hand. When the cup landed at Seth’s feet, it made a disastrous noise.
The man’s purple lips slurred an apology, and the tremors in his body deteriorated. His countenance was awash with repulsive greasy perspiration, his eyeballs were wriggling restlessly, and the murky gaze of the man ― coincided with the gray eyes of Seth, whose feet had stopped dead in his tracks.
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