Chapter 19:

The labyrinth of sins ( 2/2 )

Chaos' Game


Note: It is very highly recommended to listen meanwhile to "Pandora Hearts - Lacie" as a soundtrack for this chapter, link in the first comment.


Though she was breathless, her heart racing and pounding wouldn't allow her to pause. Soon, her runaway was hastened by a disturbing song that was diffused in the labyrinth. It was a music box, playing a childish yet melancholic music. To this were added baby's cries. Along the walls, sceneries of Lucy Merlish with her baby. It was her holding dearly her child in her arms while the little one was raising her tiny arms to Lucy's face. It was her laughing to the grimaces she made.

“Stop it…, stop it…, stop it now!!!” she shouted trying to close her eyes, running with no brakes.

     Unfortunately, Merlish eventually fell headlong into the ground, shifting beneath her feet. She abruptly collapsed onto it, cringing while flattening out. She found herself in a square area with hallways from all sides. In the middle of the labyrinth, a human shape, her golden smooth hair waving in the air.

     Rotating her face to observe her, Marnie advanced in her direction, step after step. She remained silent.

“That face… You are one of them, right? You came with them on the Great Founder's Day.” the mayor asked, squinting her eyes.

     She seemed to be recovering back lost pieces. Even Haru's face slowly came back to her mind. Step by step, as in synchronization with the little girl's walk, she realized what she was doing here.

     At that moment, Marnie grabbed a chain around her own neck and put out of her dress a silver key, swinging on it.

“Asperia's key…” Lucy Merlish widened her eyes.

“This is what you want, right? Should I give it back to you? You've been a nice naughty girl, after all. What will they all think of you now? But… There's a last thing I want to now.”

     And Marnie immobilized. She exchanged a long glare with her enemy. Her eyes filled with vain curiosity, whilst Merlish's were filled with exhaustion and mistrust.

“That child you gave birth to, long ago. That one who died from sickness in her first year of life.” her gaze became insanely penetrating. “Is she really dead?”

     Lucy's pupils obviously retracted as she was half-opening her mouth, incapable of formulating any single word.

     As Marnie took a step closer, the ghastly woman drew back, on the floor. Resting against her hands, she fumbled aback.

“She… She is. Obviously she is!”

     Scarcely louder than murmurs, the words difficultly passed through her delicate lips.

“Ah so… Then let me share with you a strange discovery I made. I am an orphan you see, and the night I escaped the orphanage, I went to the directress's office. I wanted to take with me the only thing that the person who abandoned me leaved there. A waiver she signed the day she came with me. The name, though, was intentionally erased. However… The signature remained.”

     Accompanying her words, she drew out of her pocket the identity card she kept inside, and held it in front of her.

“That is the same one as yours.”

     Time seemed to be suspended for a while. Marnie came to a standstill in front of the golden-haired woman, any more word happening to be enunciated. Only the music proceeded. Until Merlish broke the silence, chuckling. A mad grin on her face, her head lowered so strands of hair veiled her eyes.

“Indeed… At last that is what I thought. I would have done better to kill you when I had the opportunity.”

     Marnie had no reaction to that statement. Nor she had when Lucy Merlish briskly raised on her two eyes as cold as ice and leaping forward extended her abraded hands to clutch her neck. A psychotic gaze on her face, she tightened and tightened her grasp, strangulating the child.

     Despite this, Marnie merely stared at Merlish like an empty shell. Although,.. maybe there was a slight emotion deep in her forest-green eyes. A touch of deception. How could it even be possible while she already abandoned faith in humanity despite her age?

***

“No… Not this… Don't- Don't do this… Why… Sh- She…”

     Unable to enunciate a correct sentence as brief as it may be, Kiseki Idonosoko stared at the screen displaying the sinister scene in front of his hospital bed. Deathly pale, he held his breath from the moment Marnie disclosed her identity.

     Kazuya, next to him, didn't dare to speak. He couldn't believe what he had just heard. Lucy and Kiseki's daughter was supposed to be dead by almost eight years. And now, in front of their eyes, she was about to be assassinated by her-

“LET HER GO!!”

     Furiously screaming, his expression misshapen by abhorrence, he moved forward to creep on his bed. Waving his hands in direction of the screen, his fingers desperately trying to grab the murderous hands through the hologram, he only managed to disrupt the pixels' structure.

     Helpless facing his son's reaction, Kazuya tried clumsily to hold him back.

***

Unable to inhale air, the feeling of life leaving her little by little was … kind of soothing after all. She was enough with that cursed life. Come to think of that, the sole time that she felt secure somewhere, it was after joining the Players. A gang of criminals. She got so accustomed to them that she ended by frequently calling them brothers and sister (she never dared with Ling). Even Marnie found all of it somewhat ludicrous. Maybe that would be better indeed if it simply ended there? If her entire existence was a crime…

     So the woman in front of her, about to break her neck, was her mother. How interesting. She never especially wished to meet her, yet life didn't spare her that wonderful meeting.

At least, Haru's plan worked perfectly. I doubt… I doubt that Asperian people would keep on trusting her…”

     Beginning to feel dizzy, Marnie slowly closed her eyes.

     However, at this moment, the grip round her neck vanished and she heavily fell on the ground.

     When she managed to unclose slightly her eyes, she distinguished a man with long colourless tied hair next to her.

“Marnie? Marnie!” a voice called.

     Numerous footfalls enclosing their position, followed by echoes of voices. Nevertheless the lassie didn't answer.

“We have to leave.” the voice repeated. “Marnie! Marnie! Let's return home.”

     Home? That wasn't false. After all, she had a home. At least, a place she could return to. A place not really suitable, nor were its inhabitants. But at least, they cared about her. Not because they were family, relatives or whatever. The Players weren't moral, they didn't have any rule to follow. That is why they didn't either fear traitors, as anyone did what he desired, what he found amusing. They all shared this conception of things, that's why living together was also part of their willing choices. Yes, now she remembered it clearly.

     As the police officers began to shoot at Haru leaning upon Marnie, she opened her eyes and hugged him at once.

“Stealthy Shadow!”

     A Stygian dusty layer appeared, diffusing all along her chest from the middle, along her face, her arms, her legs… Mingling with her whole body before covering Haru's as well. Turning into shadows, she sank into the ground along with the young fellow.

***

Hours later, in the hospital room occupied by the Idonosoko family, the suspended inspector had enough time to cool down. Seating on the side of his bed, he was about to leave.

     Kazuya was leaning on an adjacent wall.

“What do you plan to do presently?” he questioned in a grave tone, opening his eyes to look at Kiseki.

“Isn't it obvious? I am going to get back my daughter.”

     Pausing for a few seconds after that resolute assertion, he added with a slight spark in his look.

“And, by the way, beat all whose shitty Players.”

“I recall you that you don't possess your inspector's rights anymore. Are you aware this is not any longer within your means?”

“I am, and don't care. I will take responsibility for my acts afterwards and achieve it all by myself if necessary.”

     Without sparing any place for doubt, inspector Idonosoko defied his father by a fierce glance. The latter responded with a mere smirk, before lifting from the wall.

“That's the first time in so many years I see that look. In that case, Kiseki, I have a proposition for you.”

“A proposition?” he frowned.

     Making a few steps towards the inspector, he offered his right hand to him, sharing a glare with Kiseki.

“Let's join forces and fight them at their own game. We won't confront them as representing justice, but our own convictions.”

     For a while, the inspector considered the offer. Then he readjusted his glasses on his thin nose, and stretched his own right hand to take Kazuya's. Hence the latter supported him to stand up.

     They had reach a deal, but now time had come for Kiseki to elucidate and clarify what happened earlier.

“You know far more than me about what really occurred with that child, don't you? Tell me the truth.”

Haru Yumera
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