Rose is plodding through the dark underground.
The wound on her back that she had received while escaping is even now still oozing blood. Though it is not deep, it is also definitely not shallow.
She needs treatment urgently, but with pursuers on her tail, she has no time nor opportunity for that.
She is concentrating her magic on the wound as a makeshift measure, but the pain is only increasing along with the passage of time. And in inverse proportion, she is expending both magic and physical strength.
Her breathing is ragged.
Even while keeping her senses sharpened to pick up signs of pursuers, she has been thinking the entire time.
That moment, what was the truly correct choice?
What was the best choice?
This question without an answer is merely going round and round in her head.
Stabbing Doem, her fiancé, was an on-the-spot decision. But it was by no means an impulsive action. Within the limited amount of time allotted to her, she had concluded that this was the best choice. Or at least, it was supposed to be.
But her plan had failed.
Doem still lives, and she is now a fugitive.
But hindsight is 20-20. Her mistake was in mis-gauging Doem’s true strength. But that does not necessarily mean that her choice to eliminate Doem was also a mistake.
It can even be said that she had no other choice. The instant she saw her changed father…… the instant she saw the eyes of the king of Oriana Kingdom, Rose had decided to eliminate Doem. The connection between Doem and the Order and all other rumors involving the Order had instantaneously turned into confirmed truths in her mind the instant she saw the father who had lost his self and been turned into a mere puppet.
That’s why she drew her sword.
Was she impulsive at that moment?
Was she too impatient?
Was she not moving in haste and anger?
At the time, Rose had thought herself calm.
She did not want to borrow Alexia’s nor Natsume’s help. To the very end, this matter must have handled purely within Oriana. That’s what her intuition told her, and that’s what she followed.
This political intuition of hers was not wrong.
Although she ultimately failed, this is Rose’s own mistake, and a problem of Oriana Kingdom alone. The sparks have yet to spread to Midgar Kingdom. She had unconsciously avoided the worst case scenario.
But that, too, is merely a matter of time.
The words that Doem had shouted when she fled reverberate inside her mind.
“Surrender yourself before the end of the Festival of the God of War! Otherwise, I’ll make the king of Oriana Kingdom start killing VIPs!”
If the Orianan king truly kills VIPs as Doem threatened…… war will break out. Rose could not tell how serious he was, but she gets the message that the Order sees her Oriana Kingdom as no more than a mere pawn.
If that really is so……
Rose gnashes her teeth in vexation.
Her father was not a particularly enlightened monarch, and Oriana Kingdom is not that big of a country.
But he is her one and only father, and it is her one and only motherland.
And that’s why she wanted to protect them both.
That feeling was what fueled her agitation.
Rose slams a fist into the wall of the underground tunnel.
All that can be said at this moment in time is that she had let her emotions free rein and acted impulsively. If she can eliminate Doem, then all would be resolved. Such had been her misreckoning.
But after all is said and done, Doem himself is also a mere pawn. The Order has most likely spread its roots deep into Oriana Kingdom, so getting rid of Doem alone would not resolve anything whatsoever.
There should have been a different choice.
A magical choice that could have solved everything altogether……
Rose sinks into a sitting position in the damp underground tunnel.
If only she had chosen the absolute best solution, and everything had gotten resolved…… Catching herself thinking such impossibilities, Rose laughs in self-derision.
Everything is already done and in the past. She does not even know why she is fleeing.
What does she plan to do after fleeing?
What should change if she flees?
Should she not surrender?
Oh yes…… surely that would be best.
“I see…… I should just surrender.”
She still does not know what she should have done instead at that time. However, what she should do at this moment in time is clear to see.
If she surrenders, at the very least, war would be evaded.
She feels just a little bit lighter. But then she is immediately assaulted by an overwhelming sense of loss and sorrow.
Rose takes out a wrapping paper from MagRonald out of her pocket. She’s already eaten the contents, but there’s still a faint smell of bread coming from it.
Then she thinks of a certain black-haired boy. Surely he has already heard of her incident by now. What does he think about it?
Is he worried for her?
Does he believe in her?
Could it be…… that he is searching for her?
If she had successfully eliminated Doem and restored the king’s sanity…… if there had been such a future where everything is resolved perfectly…… could she had spent her entire life with him?
Surely that was merely a dream that she had wanted to see.
“I’m so sorry……”
A single tear rolls down her cheek.
The dream that she had painted has already crumbled into dust.
Rose carefully folds the MagRonald wrapping paper, then returns it to her skirt pocket. Almost as if it is the last fragment of her dream.
A sharp pain runs through Rose’s chest. She peeks into her shirt to see a pitch black patch of skin.
That is the proof of demon possession. The symptoms have appeared only recently.
At the very start, her dream was already an impossible one. Rose hangs her head and laughs.
That moment, a soft sound reaches Rose’s ears.
Is it the sound of a pursuer?
But the sound is too gentle and beautiful to be footstep. When she strains her ears, she recognizes it as the sound of a piano.
As someone well versed in music, she knows that song. This song that had been exceptional well received even in Oriana the country of arts is now coming from the tunnel in front of her.
The performance is so deep and perfect that it is as if the performer is pouring everything of his whole life into it.
Rose begins walking towards the source of the sound, as if led by moonlight.
This place is called the Royal Capital Underground Labyrinth, but Rose feels that it’s more of a historic site than a labyrinth. The ground is properly paved with stone, and there are carvings of reliefs and ancient letters on the walls.
On the way here, she’s come across several doors in the walls, but none of them could be opened. Either a key was required, or some ancient mechanism had broken down.
The sound of piano grows closer.
Then Rose turns a corner, and sees a big, broken door in front of her.
The sound is coming from beyond.
Rose ducks through the large hole in the door, and finally arrives.
The space she finds herself in is a cathedral with fantastical light shining through. The sky high stained glass depicts the three heroes and the defeated demon.
Radiant light is falling from the stained glass.
And in the middle of the light is a single grand piano.
In this long forgotten cathedral, he is here, playing Moonlight Sonata by himself.