Chapter 20: The Capital District
The 21st day of the fifth month.
“Major Kinski of the Sou Be-Il Royal Army, currently serving at the Sou Be-Il embassy, I presume?”
A man in his thirties was stopped on the sidewalk in front of the crisp store at Capital West Station in the Capital District.
The man wore a plain navy suit. He was of average height and build, with a head of short black hair and a nondescript and unmemorable face that was neither particularly handsome nor ugly.
From appearances, it was impossible to tell that he was from the West.
The nondescript man called Kinski gave his questioner a curious look.
The questioner was a stranger to him—a middle-aged man in a grey suit.
“I think you might have the wrong person,” said the man in his thirties, in perfect Roxchean.
“No,” replied the older man. “I’m afraid I am absolutely correct, Major Kinski Lut of the Sou Be-Il Royal Army.”
The sidewalk was crowded with people irritated by the men stopped in the middle. They passed by, frowning.
It was afternoon. The sky was clear.
“Good grief. You would be from the police, then?” Kinski admitted.
The police inspector nodded.
“I see. I have nothing to say, I’m afraid. I’m simply dropping by to pick up some crisps.”
“The crisps will be on me today, if you’d be willing to talk.”
“I’m afraid I must decline.”
“It’s about your predecessor. Travas.”
“…Then I suppose I could make time for a brief conversation.”
It was still afternoon when the two grown men walked side-by-side down the sidewalk, each holding a paper bag overflowing with crisps.
“I thought the rule of thumb for people like us was to do nothing suspicious, Inspector,” Kinski pointed out. He was walking on the inspector’s right.
“Then you don’t know the Capital District well enough,” replied the inspector. “Going out to pick up crisps for your coworkers but finishing them before you get back to the office is practically tradition around here. The least conspicuous thing you could do. You’d do well to remember that during your time here in the East.”
“Thank you for the lesson, Inspector,” Kinski nodded. “By the way, how long did you wait for me outside the store?”
“Only two days,” the inspector replied. “Now let me get to the point. I’m sure you and your people at the embassy have heard of what happened to Major Travas.”
“These really are delicious—and yes. Yes we do, Inspector.”
“Best crisps in town, I’d say. Makes you kind of thirsty though. But back to the Travas matter. Do you really believe what they say?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you believe Travas was in cahoots with drug cartels, and that he died in an aeroplane crash?”
“What is there to disbelieve, Inspector? It’s all fact. We received the reports. We’re too busy to be skeptical about information that is clearly accurate.”
“Even though you’ve never personally seen the scene of the crime or the body? Naive. You’ve got a long way to go before you can stand on Travas’s level, Newbie.”
Kinski said nothing.
“Cat got your tongue? Your silence is quite telling.”
“Good grief. Nothing gets past you, does it, Inspector?”
“Just don’t make that face when you meet Travas.”
“So you’re implying that Major Travas is actually still alive, and innocent of the crimes he’s been proven guilty of? Where did you get such absurd ideas, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Detective’s instinct. Don’t spies have those too?”
“We don’t move on instinct, Inspector. But we do tell ourselves to trust them.”
“If you trust them, why wouldn’t you move on them? You people make no sense.”
“What is the point you are trying to make?” Major Kinski asked, glancing.
“Nothing complicated,” the inspector replied. “People have told you things, and Major Travas will tell you things. It’s up to you which one you choose to believe. All the best, Newbie.”
Kinski remained silent.
“Quiet again, eh?”
* * *
The 25th day of the fifth month.
The month was drawing to a close.
It had been eight days since Edelmann was safely escorted out of campus, and five since the dogfight over the Lutoni.
The weather was warming up in the Capital District. After the particularly harsh winter that year, even late spring felt like midsummer to many.
The 25th was the first day of classes after the weekend. Two girls sat together in the student cafeteria at the 4th Capital Secondary School.
“What’s wrong, Lillia? Is everything all right?”
Lillia’s long brown hair was a scruffy mess, and her eyes had gone baggy. She moved languidly as though half-dead, the piece of bread in her fingers missing her mouth and hitting her face before landing on the table.
“You shouldn’t push yourself if you’re feeling sick,” said Meg. “It’s not too late to go to the nurse’s office to get some rest, Lillia. Maybe take the afternoon off?” she asked in Bezelese, looking into Lillia’s face. Meg’s slender white hand felt Lillia’s forehead. “I don’t think you have a fever, at least…”
“Oh, Meg… I…” Lillia moaned. She sounded like a world-weary old woman.
“It’s just…my mom…”
“Did something happen to her?” Meg wondered. “Is she ill?”
“No, she’s fine,” replied Lillia. “So full of energy that she wouldn’t die even if you killed her.”
“R-right. I’m glad to hear that.”
Lillia picked up her cup. The tea was cold and untouched, like the rest of her food. She drained the cup in one go and sighed.
Looking around to make sure no one was around to hear, she put on a grimace. Lillia looked like a crushed frog.
“My mom’s getting the boot.”
“What? Did I hear that right, Lillia?” Meg whispered, going pale. Lillia hung her head.
“More than 20 years of service in the Confederation Air Force…and now, a dishonorable discharge. Do you know what that means, Meg?”
“See, if a soldier gets caught doing something bad, she doesn’t get tried like a civilian. She goes to a military court. It’s called a court-martial.”
“They decide her sentence and say, ‘You’re fired!’ and kick her out. That’s what a dishonorable discharge is. And you know what happens if she leaves the military like this?”
“She can’t claim a penny from the pension she saved up in the last 20 years, and no severance pay either. She has to find a new job now, but she’s mandated to write ‘dishonorable discharge from Confederation Air Force’ on her resume for the rest of her life. So she’s not gonna have an easy time getting work. That’s not all. If she lives in the Capital District, she loses voting rights for the next 10 years too.”
Meg was stunned by the list of penalties. She gaped silently like a carp begging for food, her already-fair complexion growing paler.
Lillia looked up and smiled. The bags under her eyes seemed to get deeper.
“So now I might have to drop out of school. Not ‘might’, actually. I have to. Can’t put food on the table if I don’t work. Thanks for everything, Meg. I’ll never forget you. If I find work at a coffee shop, come by once in a while and I’ll give you a free side of sugar.”
“But—” Meg interrupted, but she could not say anything more.
“I might not have many more chances to eat at the cafeteria. Better stuff myself while I still can.”
Lillia stuck her spoon into her cold creamy chicken stew. She scooped it up and ate in slow motion.
Meg could not bear to watch. She slapped herself. “Calm down, Lillia!” she cried. “Could you tell me what happened? Allison is a great test pilot, and she went from child soldier to captain in 20 years, right?”
Lillia smiled. “True. But! Someone at the air force told me that she stole the latest aeroplane from a different base and took off with it.”
“From the Republic of Raputoa Air Force Base. For no reason. If only she had one. You know, like rescuing her daughter from a criminal or something.”
“A-and what about now? Where is Allison?”
“A military prison on some base. She’s been sentenced to 10 days. I bet she’s wearing one of those striped prison uniforms right about now, digging herself an escape tunnel…”
Ten seconds of silence filled the table.
Lillia stopped mid-spoonful and resumed her explanation.
“Her boyfriend died recently.”
“Huh? What? Wait, is that today or tomorrow?” Meg stammered, thrown into confusion.
“Didn’t I tell you, Meg?” Lillia said. “She was seeing this soldier named Travas who worked at the Sou Be-Il embassy. Apparently he was in a plane crash on his way back to the West. We heard last week.”
“Oh no… I’m so sorry to hear that.”
“Thanks. That was when Mom kind of lost it. She pulled out all the stops to go on leave the next day and went off somewhere and never came back. I don’t know what’s happening anymore…”
Meg was silent.
“And now I hear she’s been arrested. Hah hah hah… I got the call the day before yesterday. You know what? I understand that. I’m sure anyone would want to steal a fighter plane if her boyfriend suddenly died. That makes sense. It makes so much sense! Hah hah…”
“Do you want to come to the newspaper club after class today?”
“I don’t know how to help you, Lillia. But maybe the others can think of a way!” Meg exclaimed. But Lillia was not so enthused.
“I’m grateful for the offer, but…”
“Well, it’s…er… Really embarrassing. I mean, it’s true that my mom just did something really shameful.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, Lillia. I didn’t mean—”
“Don’t worry about it! Really, it’s no big deal!”
“Did you tell Treize?”
“Not yet. I feel like that’d just trouble him.”
“You don’t know that for sure! Since you told me, you should talk about it with Treize, too!” Meg cried. The silverware on the table rattled.
Lillia froze. “Oh. Er…well, yeah. I guess. Anyway, I still have a few days before Mom gets discharged…”
“Good. And one more thing!”
“You have to go to class this afternoon, okay?”
“Because we’re students, and studying is our duty! You can’t let your grades drop, just in case things work out somehow!”
A smile rose to Lillia’s tired face.
“Meg, for once you seem like you’re older than me!”
* * *
After class. The newspaper club office.
“Everyone, how much money do you have?”
That was the first thing out of Meg’s mouth when the after-school tea time began.
“Please quickly say, ‘me’!” she urged the others, all attempts at proper Roxchean left by the wayside.
Seron’s jaw dropped at the surprising new side of his fiancée.
“Oh, er… I don’t have any savings right now. Spent it all on camping and outdoor gear, and transportation money for training,” Larry admitted with easy naïveté.
“My beauty is the only asset I’ll ever need,” Natalia declared, pushing up her glasses with her pointer finger.
“Are you proposing that we begin dealing in stocks as part of our operations, Megmica? I am all for it!” Nick declared, his attention piqued by something completely different.
“What’s wrong, Megmica?” asked Jenny, the only person to give a reasonable response.
“Huh? Oh, yes! I see. I did not explain this to you yet!”
Meg thought for a moment.
“There is a person in trouble! No, let us say there is a person! The person wishes to attend the secondary school but can’t! Because the person has no money!”
The others each responded in their own ways, but all in agreement. Secondary education was not free, which meant financial difficulties kept some people out of school. It was not easy to qualify for the scholarship programs that schools offered, either.
“Because I think it will be very good if I can help someone like her. How much money will it be until she graduates? And is there any way to get my hand on that money? Can I borrow without explaining why?”
Meg finished her explanation, disclosing as much as she could without getting into the details.
“I don’t really get it, but sounds kinda hard for us. Ain’t possible,” Natalia said.
Nick picked up a crisp (the snack of the day) and agreed. “It will be difficult, even for the president. The money Jenny spends is used with permission from her family—I do not see them granting her such a large sum to send a complete stranger to school.”
Jenny snorted. “You’re right, as usual. Did you get that from a business magazine too? …Anyway, Megmica, Nick is right.”
Larry, however, seemed uncomfortable throughout the entire conversation. He finally raised his voice.
“Say…I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but if you’re really really desperate, Megmica…”
All eyes fell on Larry.
“…Maybe you should ask Seron?”
“Why? Does he have a small fortune stashed somewhere?” asked Natalia.
“Hm… Can I tell them, Seron?” Larry said, turning.
“Sure. It’s about time Meg knew.”
“All right. Okay. Seron’s got a decent fortune to his name. I can’t tell you the exact amount, but it’s about…about enough to set up a small business right now.”
Natalia’s glasses glinted. “How? Rob a bank recently, Seron?”
Nick’s eyes glinted. “Futures trading, then?”
“Why do you always go in that direction, Nick?”
Meg’s pigtails swished left and right as the others spoke. “How is this? I do not understand.”
“Well—” Larry began, but Jenny beat him to the punch.
“From your mother’s company, isn’t it? Maxwell Frozen Foods pays you incentives.”
“Whoa, Jenfie!” Larry cried, eyes widening. “How’d you guess?”
“That’s the only possibility,” Jenny said nonchalantly.
“So what’s this about, Seron?” asked Natalia. “Explain it so someone like Larry can understand.”
“Hey, I already know!”
“Did you not hear the ‘someone like’ part? Go on, Seron,” Natalia urged.
All eyes—especially Meg’s—were on Seron.
“Jenny’s got it. I’ve been receiving incentives from Mother’s company for the past few years.”
“She’s paying me for my idea, Nat. Maxwell Frozen Foods started off by selling consumer-sized packages of frozen foodstuffs that were normally sold only for industrial or retail purposes. That was Mother’s idea, from when she used to work as a waitress.”
Nick chimed in, asking a question he already knew the answer to. “But aren’t frozen meals the company’s top product? Like their pre-made stew, hamburgers, and pizza? Not frozen foodstuffs that need preparing after defrosting.”
“That is right. Our house also buys them,” said Meg.
“I see. So the meals were your idea, Seron,” Jenny said, correct again.
“Really?” “Is that so?” “Is this true?” asked Natalia, Nick, and Meg. Seron nodded.
“Mother was so busy when she first started her business that she had to hire a housekeeper to cook for Leena and me. That’s when I learned to cook and began helping out in the kitchen.”
“I see. So that’s why you’re so good,” Jenny grumbled. She was by no means a capable chef.
Seron continued. “And one day I had a thought. If we could get a professionally-made meal packaged and frozen, we wouldn’t need to spend all this time preparing and cooking meals. It would make things so convenient for everyone. That was when Mother came home from work early for once, hugging Leena in the doorway. I told her my idea right then and there.”
“Then what happened?” asked Nick.
“She took off before I could blink. Leena started crying.”
“Could you please not laugh like a barbarian, Lia?”
“Mother made use of the idea immediately. She invested a lot into R&D, and finally developed ready-made frozen meals. The new products sold really well.”
“That is no surprise. Maxwell Frozen Foods’ frozen meals are indeed very convenient. My parents are especially fond of them, as it buys them more time for research. It is thanks to your mother, Seron, that Confederation Capital University is now equipped with freezers and ovens.”
Natalia nodded. “I see. So Seron’s mother the president is paying Seron for the idea.”
“She’s thanking Seron with the money,” said Larry. “So Megmica, that’s why Seron’s probably got biggest personal bank account of us all. I don’t know what you’re going through, and I’m not going to pry, but you could talk to Seron about it sometime when the rest of us aren’t around.”
“Oh, yes! Thank you!” Meg cried, bowing.
“You’re gonna get married anyway. That means a third of his savings—or double that—90 percent of his cash is yours, Megmica.”
“Did you fail math, Lia?”
“Current laws state that half of all assets earned after marriage belong to the spouse. It will be easiest to calculate your share if you file the marriage registration papers on the 1st of the month.”
“Thanks for taking all the romance out of their relationship, Nick.”
Meg turned to Seron. She did not seem to know if it was okay to ask for his help.
“Could you give me a bit of time to think about it, Meg?” Seron asked, calm in the face of the sudden crisis.
“Oh. Yes, of course. I will tell you if I learn something again,” Meg replied with a nod.
‘Knowing Seron, he might take off to the bank the second club ends for today…’ Larry thought, but he decided not to say anything.
But he decided he would tell Seron later to not do anything rash.
* * *
The very day the newspaper club in the 4th Capital Secondary School had a lively discussion about finances, a black car was driving through Sfrestus—the Western capital that ran almost 12 hours behind Roxche’s Capital District.
Two men sat in the back of the car.
One was a man in very late middle-age—Major General Aikashia Cross.
He was a Westerner who once infiltrated Roxche as a spy and became a major in the enemy’s military.
During the cold war, he had smuggled away information on a new weapon that could have broken the uneasy balance of power and shifted the playing field to Roxche’s advantage. By bringing that information to Sou Be-Il and allowing the West to develop the same weapon, he protected the balance and became an unsung hero.
He was also Allison’s father.
The other man was Major Travas, also known as Wilhelm Schultz.
With Ladia’s help, he had traveled by aeroplane under an assumed appearance and identity for three days before finally reaching his destination.
However, he did not go to the Royal Army Headquarters. They would not be expecting a dead man—or one missing in action—to show up. But that made things easier for his purposes.
Major Travas had discreetly contacted his superior, Major General Aikashia, for a secret meeting. He reported everything that had happened and left out nothing.
And once the report was over, Major Travas explained what he intended to do next. Major General Aikashia listened to the very end.
“How shall I help you, then? Other than with the microfilm analysis, I mean?”
He meant that he would provide Travas all the help he needed.
Major Travas requested five people.
“Of course. I will be in touch with them,” Major Aikashia promised, without even having to ask who they were.
* * *
The 28th day of the fifth month.
Two men were in an office in the Sou Be-Il embassy in Roxche’s Capital District.
One was Major Kinski, wearing a navy suit instead of a uniform.
The other was a rotund man about 10 years Kinski’s senior. His face was as round as his belly, making him look more gentle and affable than his age. He wore a brown Royal Army uniform and a belt around his bulging waistline. His badge of rank identified him as a colonel.
“And you’re certain this is not a joke? This is a genuine set of orders?” the colonel asked from his desk, flipping through a set of documents.
“I was wondering the same thing myself, sir. I even took the risk of questioning the orders because they were so dubious.”
“They are genuine. I am certain of it.”
“This is ridiculous,” The colonel exclaimed, his eyes wide.
“I cannot disobey orders, Colonel,” Major Kinski said mechanically.
“Of course. Forget the Travas matter for the time being. I leave these orders in your hands. These…absurd orders concerning the security arrangements for Princess Matilda’s incognito presence at the wedding of Roxchean civilians. Who are these civilians?”
“All I learned was that the groom’s name is ‘Wil’. I cannot say if that is even his real name.”
“Either way, our mystery man has some connection to the royal family. Make sure to give him a good scolding for me. Demand to know why he didn’t hold the wedding a few months ago when the princess was here on her official visit.”
“If that is an order, sir. However—”
“I know. I’ll be there myself as well. I’ll greet the annoyance of a man and scold him in person. So the ceremony is on the 9th outside the Capital District? That puts us on duty on a weekend. I’ll have to cancel my golf plans with Roxche’s elites.”
“I’ll be praying for a rainstorm, sir.”
“I suppose that’s all we can do. …By the way, was the groom’s name the only piece of information you collected? The bride will be there, yes?”
“Yes, unless Roxcheans have a strange marriage custom I haven’t been told of.”
“What about the bride’s identity, then? Not even in the official orders?”
“Nothing on her, sir.”
“Hm… Is this really a genuine set of orders? Does the document really bear Major General Aikashia’s signature?”
“Shall I check again, Colonel? I believe the major general will be in attendance as well.”
“Never mind, then. What about local support?”
“I’ve said nothing to the Roxcheans this time, sir. We want to keep things low-profile, so the princess will only be accompanied by the major general and five bodyguards. The bodyguards are all former subordinates of Major Travas.”
“Ah, yes! The perfect men for the mission. They know the drill from the princess’s last visit. If Major Travas were here, he would’ve been assigned this mission instead of you.”
“Ah, is that a twinge of jealousy I hear, Major Kinski?”
“No, sir. And—”
“Major Travas is no longer here.”
* * *
The 2nd of the sixth month.
The owner of the Schultz family apartment made her triumphant return. It was midday, and the sun was shining brightly in the clear blue sky. The early summer air filled the grey concrete jungle of the Capital District’s residential area.
Allison was back from her 13-day departure.
In her jeans and brown outdoor jacket, she looked no different than she had when she left. But Allison was a completely changed woman.
Once a captain in the Confederation Air Force and one of its most talented female test pilots—
“Home sweet home! It was so drafty back in prison.”
—Allison was now unemployed.
She was greeted by her daughter’s scowl and clenched fists.
“Oh, is that a new greeting that’s trending around here?” Allison asked lackadaisically, tossing her bag in her room and walking down the hall.
Lillia’s eyes were no longer baggy, but she did not look uplifted in the least. She ground her teeth and glared at the back of her mother’s head.
“No! Welcome back, okay? Welcome back! There! I’m so glad you look all right!”
“Mhm! I’m doing as well as ever. Have you lost weight, Honey?”
“Yes, I have! Thanks a lot, Mom!” Lillia shot back, wearing a light blue dress in the warmer weather.
“Calm down, honey. I’ll explain everything now. —Oh! Hey there, Your Highness!” Allison called. She stepped into the living room was was greeted by the prince of Ikstova.
“Hello, Allison. Please don’t call me that.”
Treize was making lunch in a white T-shirt, khaki cargo pants, and an apron. He put a plate of hot sandwiches on the dining room table.
The sandwiches were cooked to perfection, the bread bulging and grilled a golden brown. Honey and tea were set on the side.
“Wow! Did you make enough for three? If not, could I order an extra serving?” Allison said, making demands of royalty without a care.
“You can have my portion, Allison. I’ll make more for myself, and extras if you want seconds.”
Allison washed her hands at the kitchen sink, rinsed out her mouth, and seated herself at the table. “So, were you consoling my daughter all this time, Treize?” she teased.
“No. Lillia didn’t tell me a thing until this morning,” Treize replied, to Allison’s visible disappointment.
“This morning? That’s so cold of you, Honey.”
“I agree,” Treize said with a nod, taking some ham out of the fridge.
The sandwiches were filled only with ham and cheese, which seemed deceptively bland at first glance. However, the cheese had been brought in all the way from Ikstova and could give anything in the Capital District a run for its money—Treize had discreetly cut off a chunk from the home of his two guardians. As for the ham, Treize had gotten a good deal on leftover luxury ham edges from a nearby butcher shop. That they were edges did not hurt the flavor one bit.
Treize cut the ham edges into long, thin slices for the best texture before putting them into the sandwiches. He also added a generous helping of fresh-ground pepper to offset the sweetness of the cheese.
It was one of Lillia’s favorite dishes, which she praised endlessly on her visits to Ikstova. Allison waited for her to take a seat on the other side of the table.
“All right! Thanks for the sandwiches, Treize! …Wow! It’s great! I love it!”
Allison dug in without hesitation.
Lillia soon joined her.
“…Yeah. It’s good.”
“Wow, I’m stuffed,” Allison sighed, holding a cup of tea.
“Me too. …Okay, Mother. Tell me what the heck is going on here,” Lillia said with a glare.
Allison put down her cup and placed her elbows on the table, clasping her hands before her face.
“It’s true that I’m out of work. Sorry, Sweetie.”
“You don’t really sound sorry.”
“Really? I am.”
“…All right. What now?”
“I’m asking what’s going to happen to us now.”
Mother and daughter glared at each other over the table.
“More tea, ladies? Some honey?” Treize cut in, taking the role of a server. When Allison held out her cup, he refilled it. Then he sat next to Lillia and waited.
“Okay,” Allison said nonchalantly. “First, we’ll have to move out of this place before summer break.”
“I knew it,” Lillia sighed, closing her eyes. She raised her head. “I was ready for this. Ugh.”
“Really? Great!” Allison cheered.
“Gah! Okay. What else?” Lillia demanded.
Treize watched from the sidelines, wondering if Allison was starting with the worst of the news to soften the blow of whatever she was planning to reveal next.
“It’s kind of sad for me too. I mean, this is the house your father and I got together, back when he was in school. But things happen in life, you know?”
“Too many things, in my case. My mom flies fighter planes? My childhood friend is a prince? What’s next? Nothing will surprise me anymore. I’m going to get someone to write my biography someday and sell the drama rights to a radio station.”
“That’s a great idea! I can help out, and we can halve the royalties! Just imagine what’ll happen if they decide to make a film out of—”
“Back to the point, Ex-Captain Schultz.”
“Yes, ma’am. Now that I’m out of work, I have no reason to be in the Capital District. Goodbye, traffic jams! Goodbye, concrete jungle!”
“I don’t know if you’re being optimistic or if you’re losing your mind…”
“But you still have to go to secondary school, Lillia. Gotta put up with dorm life for a few years, but that’s all right with you, right?”
Lillia’s jaw dropped. She had been ready to drop out of school.
“You’ll be living in the same building as Treize. Not the same room, of course.”
“Obviously! …Wait a second, you mean I don’t have to quit school?”
“Did you want to?”
“No! That’s not what I’m talking about! What about tuition? Secondary school is expensive. So are the dorms, especially with their crazy-luxurious meals!”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Why not? You didn’t even get a severance pay. So unless you have a massive nest egg saved up somewhere…”
“Sure! Er…well, no, I don’t. But…” Allison narrowly managed to stop herself from disclosing the existence of the massive sum she received from the Bezelese royal family. “But it’s okay!” she cried, holding her head high. Lillia looked pleasantly surprised for once.
“Did you find some other job, then? A civilian airline?”
“Huh? No, they don’t usually take people who’ve been dishonorably discharged.”
“Ugh! Then how? How did you work this witchcraft?!” Lillia howled, pulling at her own hair. Allison grinned.
Thirty seconds of silence filled the room.
The kettle began to whistle in the kitchen. Treize got up to turn off the stove, then returned to his seat.
“What? Mother, please repeat that for me one more time, in Bezelese,” Lillia demanded. Allison acquiesced.
“Sure. I’m getting remarried! Although I guess that’s not really the right term for it. I don’t think there’s a word for it in Roxchean or Bezelese.”
“…To who, though? Major Travas—”
“But he was your—”
“He’s dead. I’m marrying someone else.”
“I mean, you can’t marry a dead person, in most cases.”
“I guess I could die and go to hell to marry him there, but I’m a little young for that, don’t you think?”
“So I’m going to find happiness in this world! Got that, Sweetie?”
Treize readied himself. He would give Allison 40 seconds to explain things herself—if she did not, he would step him.
“Then who are you marrying?”
Allison jumped to her feet. “Hold on, okay? Let me show you a photo!” she cried, skipping out of the room.
Lillia remained frozen mid-scream.
Treize remained silent, still counting down as he waited to see what Allison was going to do next.
There were 10 seconds left on his countdown when Allison returned.
She was holding a small silver picture frame.
Lillia and Treize knew very well what photo the frame contained.
The photo depicted two people from the knees up, but the angle seemed wonky because it was taken from above.
One of the subjects was a girl with blond hair and blue eyes. A ladylike girl wearing a light yellow dress and a confident smile. A younger Allison.
The other was a boy with light brown hair wearing a school jacket and uniform. However, his face was a complete blur.
Seven seconds left. Allison finally revealed the truth.
“This is him! Wilhelm Schultz! I’m marrying your father, Lillia!”
Several seconds passed in silence.
“I think you need an ambulance, Mom…” Lillia finally muttered.