Chapter 1-4

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Wandering about in the day, Lyle and the others continued their sightseeing as they bought foodstuffs like smoked meat and spit-roasted potato.

And then, what had caught their eyes was a performance stage that involved knives and swords. That in itself was sure to attract an audience.

A man had his entire body up to his neck entirely covered in an oblong box, and his partner was stabbing sword after sword into it.

“Whoa, doesn’t that pierce straight into the centre!”

“Aren’t they doing that right in front of an audience? It should be safe.”

The master and servant pair Maria and Milla, and the surrounding spectators raised their voices in surprise upon seeing the swords piercing into the box.

“Thrusting the sword in is part of their show, isn’t it?”

“Is that so?”

“I think that that guy is a contortionist. They’d be able to perform that kind of stunt, right? When the audience sees the swords being stabbed inside, surely that would play a trick on their minds, wouldn’t it?”

Lyle explained in a serious tone.

The spectators who heard that slowly started to spread the information, and the audience gradually grew bored with the performance.

“P-Please wait a second, everyone! Since you’ve said that much, then we cannot remain silent any longer. Let us present our grand finale—”

Upon saying that, the magician pushed in a wagon that a big box was placed on.

“Now, we’ll split the body of the man inside the box into two—”

“Ah, for that, a man will already be present in the box from the start with his legs sticking out. They use a slanted mirror inside so the audience sees that it’s empty.”

The men on the stage hardened their business smiles.

The completely spoiled audience left the stage, one by one.

“L-Look at what you have done, you brat!”

The men got off the stage in a rage—while brandishing swords in their hands.

“Not good! Let’s run away!”

Maria and Milla immediately broke into a run, and Lyle followed suit in a hurry.

Shoving their way through the tides of people through the curving path, the sound of angry voices slowly receded. His hands on his knees, Lyle tried to catch his breath.

“Oh dear…… Come to think of it, it’s been a while since I’ve been chased around with Maria— ?”

Looking around, he saw neither shape nor shadow of either his copper-haired childhood friend and her maid. It looked like he had been separated from them while running away.

“I’m beat……”

Just as he was thinking of heading back to the horse carriage, he heard the same angry voices of the men from earlier. Lyle then dived at the closest tent nearby in a panic. Hiding himself behind the curtains, the passing angry men disappeared into the distance.

“—Are you a customer?”

Turning around, he saw that a man who looked like the cashier, was looking at Lyle suspiciously after he had suddenly entered the tent.

“…… How much will this be?”

He would feel embarrassed if he had just left like that. Paying the admission fee, Lyle went further into the tent.

Inside the tent, twenty or so spectators were sitting on benches. For some reason, they were practically all males. With the addition of Lyle, it seemed like the numbers were filled up. Before long, the tent was closed up.

A candlestick illuminated the stage, and with that, a man who seemed like the host appeared on the stage and bowed his head.

“A good day to you, ladies and gentlemen. Who we have on stage now is our beautiful, one-of-a-kind songstress, who will be gracing us with her heavenly voice! The moment of a transient illusion, please enjoy it!”

Aah, no wonder. Lyle now understood the reason why there was an unusual number of male customers. It looked like it was because they were drawn by the ‘beautiful songstress’.

As he was lightly regretting his choice due to the fact that it had not been his original intention to participate, the illumination in the tent was extinguished.

When the light was relit, the illumination revealed a massive birdcage in the middle of the stage. What was imprisoned inside the birdcage was no bird, but a lonesome small girl.

‘Hoo…’, went the audience, leaking out a sigh.

It had not been a lie. The girl inside the birdcage was truly, extremely lovely and beautiful.

Her pale silver hair was softly undulating as it reached down to her waist, captivating the eyes of the audience.

Because of the repeatedly overlapping thin black cloth, the wings of a bird could be seen at the hem of the dress in which her slender body was clad.

From the openings of the dress were limbs so fine that they seemed like they would break, so white they seemed like snow dissolving from the heat of a candle’s flame. It might have been because of that, that the choker and lock around her slim neck further emphasised the impression of her being imprisoned. As though it was a play depicting an imprisoned nightingale.

The girl lifted her head.

She was probably around two or three years younger than Lyle. Her features were smooth like white porcelain. A small nose and mouth, and large charming eyes that were obscured by her long eyelashes.

However, nothing could be felt from that expression of hers, which gave off an impression of being man-made, inhuman.

—Almost as though she’s a doll of excellent craftsmanship….

While he was thinking that, the girl on the stage looked towards Lyle.

Their eyes met.

Lyle’s breath was taken away at the sight of the girl’s golden eyes that were looking his way—but she immediately averted her eyes, and faced directly forward, expressionless.

The men in the audience while grinning broadly, were throwing dirty looks at the girl. Her black dress that opened up wide at the shoulders and back prominently displayed her white, ephemeral figure. Coupled with her doll-like emotionless face, in some respects that had a charm that invited perversion.

And then,

“……. Aah————————”

The moment the girl began her song, the atmosphere in the tent completely changed.

The looks of curiosity from the men, had all become expressions of astonishment and wonder.

Lyle was no exception, his eyes had widened instinctively.

What a…….

With a feeling akin to shuddering, the hairs at the back of his neck standing on ends, Lyle thought.

What a beautiful voice.

Almost as though someone was plucking the strings of the midwinter night sky—a soprano that soared higher and higher. Like a crystal reflecting the pale moonlight—was her extremely clear voice.

The girl’s voice resounded, even resonating with the air within Lyle’s lungs.

He noticed that he had been deeply moved emotionally, after the girl’s song had drawn to a close. Lyle was the first to clap his hands in applause, and the rest of the audience who seemed as though they had their souls extracted out of them followed suit simultaneously, though albeit delayed.

Without a change in her expression, the girl bowed.

Amidst the applause, the host earlier then made an appearance on the stage.

“Had it not been a treat for the ears? However, our show has not quite ended! Everyone—do you all know what a witch is?”

To the words of the man who was saying that it was a ‘secret not meant to leave this tent’, Lyle unintentionally hiccoughed. As the attention of the people focused upon him, Lyle smiled and waved his hand apologetically.

“….. Ahem. Everyone here has ought to have heard of fairy-tales. This girl does not just have a beautiful face and a heavenly voice, but is also a user of ancient magic! Have a good look at that power!”

As the man finished his speech, the girl went out of the birdcage onto the stage. Quietly opening her eyes, she slowly raised both her arms toward the sky.

“…… Oooh!”

The audience raised their voices in surprise. The two candlesticks at both ends of the stage were gently floating into the air. With the candle flames flickering, they flew around in circles above the audience’s heads.

This is…….

In the midst of the audience who were making a stir, Lyle was overcome with a wholly different kind of surprise.

It is no optical illusion, nor a trick using thread. Whilst that may be true…. I cannot see any hint of the usage of amber….

Lyle was then struck with a sudden realisation, and thrust his hand into his pocket. The amber inserted onto the cover of the pocket watch, was giving off a fleeting luminescence without <Oracio>.

It’s resonating with the magical power? ….. That’s no parlour trick. This is genuine magic!

Believing that and looking towards the stage, Lyle saw that an unusual phenomenon was happening to the girl. She was perspiring heavily at her brow, and she seemed to be slightly wincing, even as she maintained her previous emotionless expression.

“…… Uu.”

The girl moaned, and her body began to shake violently.

The candlesticks that were flying about in the air suddenly stopped momentarily,

“Ouch! It’s hot!”

Cried the spectators who suffered burns from the flames of the falling candlesticks.

The inside of the tent turned into an uproar, and the performance was ceased with immediate effect.

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