Poltergeist Story Extra
“Master, what exactly are you going to do with those dolls?” Frederica asked, forcing the window with stiff hinges open to let some fresh air in. Behind her, Roswaal was organizing a bookshelf.
The villa had been unearthed in order to be used as a base while traveling during the royal selection. Originally, having been the residence of previous generations of House Mathers, it was the personal workshop of Roswaal K. Mathers, who was a celebrated genius in the creation of magical tools. Despite him having passed away, magic dolls had continued to protect the residence of their previous master.
In all honesty, Frederica’s first meeting with the dolls hadn’t been the most positive. But since they both served the same Mathers household, if she thought about it from an alternative perspective, they could be called colleagues.
Going along with the one who came up with that idea—Petra—both Frederica and Ram had cooperated in order to help the dolls achieve their deepest desires.
Although he was of a separate generation, the dolls had welcomed the head of the Mathers household, and, after having finally achieved their goal, ceased all movement. The one-hundred and eleven dolls had been placed in the villa, primarily for safekeeping purposes, but—
“That doesn’t mean they should be left here forever, and it would be pitiful to put them into storage,” said Frederica. “We should bury them with respect or something along those lines.”
There exists a superstition that hollows can easily reside in dolls that are made into images of people or animals.
It wasn’t that she had chosen to believe such a thing deliberately, but the dolls were a type of magic tool, and as such needed to be inscribed with formulas that made it easy for mana to circulate within. In other words, it was the kind of thing that was likely to attract evil spirits and the like.
If they were to come alive like that, it would certainly be humiliating for the dolls themselves. “Besides… Yeah, Petra might get scared. Emilia and Beatrice could also be in for a shock when they find out… Yes, we should definitely deal with them.”
“Sorry for getting you so wooorked up, but you didn’t think I would just get rid of them, did you? In fact, I plan on reuuusing them.”
“Reusing…them?” Frederica, who had been intently focusing on the feather duster in her hands, turned around. Her green eyes widened at Roswaal’s response.
“That’s right,” he replied, tracing a line in the dust on an old book with his finger. “After all, you and the others put so much effort into tidying them up. A lot of the dolls have broken and aged parts, but if we replace those then we should be able to mend them. It might even be possible to replicate a gate in a pseudo-fashion if we can fiddle with the formula or improve the quality of the magic stone used inside them.”
“H-H-Hold on a second. When you started speaking I was like ‘Master…!’, but by the end I was like ‘Master…?!’.”
“I don’t understand what kind of change of heart you’re alluding to here.”
“Suddenly deciding to try and recreate an artificial gate is absurd!” The feather duster she had been gripping so tightly suddenly started creaking in her hand. It was, however, only natural that she was as surprised as she was.
Originally, gates were organs that were said to direct the circulation of the mana that existed inside every living thing. The quality of a gate was said to have a direct link to the abilities a magic user possessed. It was something you were born with, not something you could train.
The important point here is the fact that this was an organ that living things inherently possessed.
“Creating an artificial gate would be almost like adding a heart…”
“Of course, it won’t be comparable to an organ like the heeaart. But magic is my specialty, so this shouldn’t surpriiise you,” Roswaal replied, shrugging his shoulders.
“Even if it was half as difficult as a heart, it’s still completely implausible.”
His nonchalant response was unbelievable. Despite having the titles of Margrave and Court Mage of the Kingdom of Lugunica, he doesn’t take it as serious proof of his competency, thought Frederica. If you look at him in a positive light, he is a genius, but if you look at him in a negative light, he seems to have a sincere lack of interest in anything but himself.
“You may say it’s easy enough to do, but they’re the creations of your predecessor—a rare genius inventor… Even for you, Master, it isn’t that simple…”
“Ooh, it sounds like you’re saying my knowledge of magic tools is inferior to that of my preeedecessor. How unexpected, Frederica.”
“…A statement overflowing with confidence. How typical of you, Master.”
However, that she didn’t wave it off as a joke or a bluff was proof of Roswaal’s true potential.
Roswaal doesn’t make showy statements about himself without grounds to do so. In other words, the remark he had just made could be taken as absolute fact, and it was very possible that he could restore the magic dolls without a problem. That in itself was very pleasing. But the aforementioned surprise at his unexpected remark had not disappeared.
“They say that if you study, there is nothing you cannot achieve… And if you believe something like that, someday you’ll probably be able to make the impossibles of this world completely possible with magic…”
“…? Of course I will. That’s the true objective of magic.”
Overwhelmed, Frederica had mumbled a sort of philosophical statement that rather sounded more like resignation. Roswaal heard it, however, and answered as if to say that it was completely natural. It was very clearly the behavior of someone who had made it their purpose to ponder upon and challenge what she had muttered about time and time again.
Making every impossibility in the world possible—that was something that could be possible with magic.
“Ultimately, magic exists to fulfill one’s wishes.” Roswaal gave a childish smile, unbefitting of his age, making Frederica go silent.
She wondered to herself if that was the ideal for the use of magic that Roswaal L. Mathers had decided upon. Or rather, the ideal that those of the Mathers family, who had continued the Roswaal name for generations, had decided upon as their goal.
“That is the most important reason behind continuing our bloodline, Frederica. Distinguished families with a long history exist to pass on ideals and knowledge.”
“The reason to continue your bloodline? I don’t understand, personally…”
“That’s understandable. To you and Garfiel, the concept of passing down your bloodline might not make much sense. You may be able to understand sibling relationships, but as for parent-child ones…”
“Normally, you should hesitate a little more before starting this kind of conversation!”
Despite avoiding specific examples, Roswaal had deliberately trampled over that thoughtfulness.
“Sorry, sorry.” To Frederica’s objection, Roswaal gave a smile with a face that showed little remorse.
Sighing at his attitude, Frederica attempted to use the duster, having lost sight of the conversation. “Even if that’s the case, trying a big experiment like creating an artificial gate and trying it out on the dolls that were abandoned and forgotten is very like you, Master. I can’t tell if you are attached to them or don’t care much for them.”
“You’re hitting me where it hurts, but if I succeed, the burden on you all will be somewhat lifted, no? If I put dolls in every villa, then maintenance will be done automatically even when no one is there.”
“Maintenance. It means repairing or adjusting. It’s Subaru-speaaak,” Roswaal unapologetically explained to Frederica, who had furrowed her brows at the unfamiliar word.
Subaru-speak was a term they had coined on their own, referring to words or phrases that were unique to one of their camp members—Subaru Natsuki’s—hometown, which he used from time to time. Roswaal and Garfiel in particular seemed to enjoy it, and they were occasionally found copying him here and there. Garfiel would probably really hate it if he found out, though.
“Good heavens, I need to warn Sir Subaru. That it will be a problem if I can’t understand even more of the Master’s words…”
Frederica was thinking of complaining to Subaru, although it wasn’t his fault at all, when her breath suddenly caught in her throat after having realized something in the middle of that thought. Lifting her head, she looked over at Roswaal. “By any chance, you wouldn’t be recreating the artificial gate…for the sake of Subaru and Beatrice, would you?”
“Sir Subaru’s gate is broken, and doesn’t function properly without Miss Beatrice. The two are quite close, and I think it’s lovely that they’re always together, but…” Things are always accompanied by exceptions and unavoidable circumstances, thought Frederica. For example, it might become the worst possible scenario for the both of them if they are separated, and their separation goes on for too long. “Isn’t that why you went out of your way to look into such an unnecessary technology? Since your gate is probably the best in the whole kingdom.”
“I want to both deny and correct you on thiiiis. First, my gate is of course outstanding, but the best gate in the kingdom lies elsewhere. Also, the one who researched the unnecessary technology was not me, but the generation before last.”
“The generation before last…”
“I heard that Roswaal J. Mathers had the most inferior gate amongst my distinguished bloodline. She was probably researching it because she desired some kind of external means of doing things. She did not succeed within her lifetime, however.”
“I just continued the basics of her work from there… Of course, if it functions correctly, there’s a possibility it may work as a treatment as you descriiiibed,” Roswaal explained with a shrug of his shoulders, having delivered both the denial and correction he declared he would.
Eying his deliberate ignorance—or possible mockery—Frederica let out a long sigh.
“So for the sake of one of our own… No, with Beatrice that’s two. If you’ve secretly been taking measures for the sake of those two, then you should show us more of what you are doing.”
“It’s a shame, but I can’t get on board with your proposal, Frederica. I diiislike showing my efforts. I like to look as though I’m doing everything smartly, without any issue.”
“Smaartly?” Coming across another word she did not know, Frederica was quietly baffled.
It was Roswaal’s personal way of making amends. Having tried to bring about a rather lethal, and decisive disservice to the camp, everyone expected him to make up for his mistakes.
On the other hand, the one who couldn’t forgive Roswaal the most, was Roswaal himself.
So he didn’t want to do it in a way that would show anyone that he was doing things for the sake of the party, nor the opportunity to recover. Frederica didn’t think it would be strange at all even if Roswaal had already completed the technology for the artificial gate and given it to Subaru in some form.
The effectiveness and difficulty would most likely be incredibly different depending on whether it was amongst Subaru’s belongings, or etched into his body itself. But for Roswaal, he would not be concerned no matter how challenging.
That was just who Frederica’s master was, the kingdom’s most powerful magic user, Roswaal L. Mathers.
“…I understand, Master. I may think otherwise, but I’m just a maid at the end of the day. I have no complaints about your opinions. Although, I do wonder about them,” Frederica said, prickly.
“What a splendid way of giving an opinion. It seems I’m blessed with good servants… Far too blessed, actually,” Roswaal added with a smile, as if he was having fun.
From the tone in his voice, Roswaal seemed to be talking of the magic dolls. It was definitely convenient to keep them, but it was more likely that he wanted to repay them. Remaining in the villa after being left alone for so long, they had demonstrated invaluable loyalty; they were his precious servants.
“Please don’t be too hard on yourself,” warned Frederica. “Of course, if the dolls could move, then it would certainly be helpful just as you said. But your body is far more important.”
Frederica did not say that out of competitiveness or a sense of rivalry, but in response to the attitude of the magic dolls. While she hoped the magic dolls would have a bright future, it would be meaningless if Roswaal collapsed to make it happen.
So Frederica decided that they would work hard until the day those magic dolls could move once more…
“Ah, no need to worry. As we’ve been talking, I’ve put the formulas together inside my head. It may take time to create them, but they should be able to work as expected in two or three daaaays.”
“You’re immediately undermining my resolve and concern!”
“I thought it would be better to do things quickly. I don’t understaaand,” replied Roswaal, expressing that Frederica was being unfair by shrugging his shoulders.
It was certainly an issue to be suffering such hardship so frequently in the face of having such a substandard master. But she also considered him to be worth serving, so it had both its advantages and disadvantages.
“Regarding such things as this, both myself, Petra, and Ram, all have different opinions.”
Ram didn’t consider it a master and servant type relationship, but adored Roswaal as a man. She was devoted to him in a similar way to Frederica, but her passion was of a different kind. On the other hand, Petra saw it as a master and servant relationship, and so repressed her emotions to quite an extent. If there were no employment-based relationship, there would be nothing to stop Petra from exploding.
Frederica was different from both of them. She had made an oath of servitude to Roswaal, and her personal feelings of gratitude were strong. In a different way from Ram, she would probably go so far as to risk her own life for him.
It’s thanks to him that I can be together with Garfiel and Ryuzu, who is like a grandmother to me.
Roswaal suddenly cut into her inner thoughts. “Frederica, this may be none of my business, but…”
“…What is it?” Looking over her shoulder, Frederica raised her eyebrows in surprise. It was a rare sight to see Roswaal be hesitant.
At her response, Roswaal closed one eye—and spoke with his blue eye open. “We were just talking about the meaning of continuing one’s bloodline, right? …If you or Garfiel ever wish to look into your blood relatives, please let me know. I’ll help you.”
Frederica stared in wonder at the unexpected proposition, and after a brief silence, said, “I’ll never wish that. My family consists of only Garf, my grandmother, and my deceased mother. That’s it.”
“So, what abooout Garfiel?” Roswaal asked, the instant Frederica shook her head.
She looked disappointed for a moment, but already had an answer. “That’s something you should ask Garf, Master.”
“…Ask Garfiel directly? Is that a joke? It’d be like trampling over his heart with dirty shoes. He’d never forgive me.”
“You didn’t seem to have a problem with trampling over my heart!” Frederica snapped, flashing her sharp fangs in resentment, after figuring out that he had done it on purpose.
Of course, she knew that Roswaal didn’t propose that out of spite—he was just thinking of Frederica and Garfiel in his own way. She knew it was done out of consideration as to whether or not they were both ready to face a situation they’d been avoiding.
However, there should be both those who need it, and those who don’t.
“You don’t need to be worried, I’m okay. Plus, they say that hesitating to do a good deed is a bad deed. I’ll finish tidying the bookshelf, so you see to the dolls, Master.” Collecting herself, Frederica took over Roswaal’s work for him.
When she stretched out and snatched the book away from him, Roswaal expressed reluctance. “Can’t we just continue with the bookcaaase? There’s so much to do, and so many books to see…”
“You’re under the influence of the cleaning and tidying demon! The act of reading is like a witchbeast that steals time when you are trying to clean things. So, please go!” Clutching the book she’d snatched to her chest with one hand, she drove Roswaal away with the duster in the other. Afterwards, she realized that Petra was having an influence on her.
“My my.” Roswaal thought so too, sweeping away the dust with a sigh. “If Petra’s supporters increase any more than this, I won’t be able to act freely here… I won’t happen to create even more enemies once I revive all those dolls, will I?”
“If you don’t like the sound of that, how about correcting their personalities in the formula?”
“I see, what a great idea. Do you have a specific ex—”
“I was joking! It’s cruel to try and change the way someone is, even if they’re just dolls.” Not to mention the fact that the dolls had served the Mathers family for so long without trying to change a single thing.
As Frederica pointed this out, Roswaal waved his arms, saying, “I understand. I understand,” in a dismissive manner. “Well, I’m not sure whether you can consider them your seniors or juniors, but I’ll contribute to increasing our workforce. I’m quite the hard worker, myself.”
“That’s only something you can boast about once you can demonstrate it in front of Ram and Petra.”
Accepting his defeat, Roswaal took his leave meekly with slumped shoulders. Or so she thought, until he paused in the doorway. “Frederica,” he called. “This is my bad habit of pestering reemerging—I’ll leave it to you guys to prepare one-hundred and eleven names.”
“…Understood. I’ll prepare some wonderful names.” Placing both the duster and the book on a cabinet nearby, Frederica held her skirt and gave a curtsy.
After seeing that, he left, and Frederica gave a little sigh as she watched him go.
Roswaal was too kind for his own good, but if she found it worthwhile to support him, then she couldn’t be that different.