Why is it so difficult to keep on living, without gazing anywhere but straight ahead
A question without an absolute answer…
An asymmetrically splendid pipe organ was placed on the stage of a small concert hall.
The melody produced with grave notes was truly majestic and splendid.
It rampaged as if rupturing the hall from the inside.
In the lonely concert hall, a fantasia was played by the highly famed musical instrument.
In contrast to the giant-like organ, the instrumentalist was comically small.
She looked no older than a very young girl.
Her hair was colored white. Her dress mirrored her hair. Her doll-like skin, almost as though lifeless, was also of a pale white color. Furthermore, she wore long white gloves, made of satin and silk, that stretched to her upper arms.
Only the color of her eyes that were a unique contrast of deep gold and blood crimson, shone in the dark shade of the room.
Displaying her small delicate fingers, the cool girl was entranced by her own musical performance.
Childishness and expertise.
Extravagance and solemnity.
The melody created by the girl and the famed musical instrument perfectly harmonized these conflicting elements, sublimating them into art.
The audience seats on the first floor were all empty.
In the lonely concert hall, the girl continued her musical performance without paying attention to anything else.
Playing the keyboard of the pipe organ to her heart's content, the girl finished her glamorous musical performance.
Without sweating or taking a pause until the very end.
She closed her eyes as if being immersed in the trailing notes of the aesthetic piece she played with her instrument.
At that moment— A calm applause echoed from the ceiling of the silent hall.
The girl, startled, immediately jumped in fright.
For someone had managed to enter this building without her being able to feel anything or even detect the slightest of their presence.
She did a full body turn and pointed her gaze towards the balcony seats on the front of the second floor. Seeing the cause of the applause, she asked with an ear-tickling and fascinating tone that didn't fit her young appearance.
"Who are you Do you not know it's considered rude to spy on a lady"
"I'm not insensitive enough to make a sound during your musical performance…"
The man replied in the darkness of the balcony. He also spoke in a unique tone.
His voice felt like a whisper, but she could hear him clearly. Hence, she couldn't help but ask, intrigued that she was, for this was the first time she played for anyone other than her sisters and surrogate mother.
"I played a note. But if that is the case, may I hear what your impressions are"
"Your musical performance was as wonderful as always…"
As always, meaning it wasn't the first time he had observed her.
Her face was suddenly covered in blistering heat. Was it because she had been spied on so many times and was never aware of it, or was it because she was weak to such straightforward praise She did not know, honestly.
The man slowly moved to the handrail. Then, his appearance was revealed. He was a youthful, yet stylish person.
His facial features suggested that he was in his early 20s.
However, his facial expression was that of a person in the prime of their life wrapped in bitterness with the slightest tinge of melancholy.
The thin-frame glasses sitting on the bridge of his nose gave him an intellectual appearance, suiting his overall aura.
The three-piece suit style perfectly fitted his disposition.
Handsome was the first word that came to her mind.
Powerful, was the second word resonating in her psyche.
"May I know how to call you, my lady"
"My name is Me— No, my name is Edea."
She did not wish to lie, but she did not wish to give her name to an ambiguous stranger either, no matter how handsome and stylish he was.
A small smile formed at the corners of his lips and he eloquently muttered in his characteristic low but crystal clear voice,
"I see. Then Edea, I am enchanted to be of your acquaintance. You may not have asked, but I am named…Jupiter."
This day marked the first meeting between the witch of time and the one who would become the first king of the Lustburg Kingdom. Jupiter Luxuria, the Conqueror King.
[FORTY YEARS LATER]
"So, it has finally come to this."
Edea looked at the room that had basically become her sanctuary and was now about to become her glorified prison.
"Indeed it has come to this conclusion. I am sorry, Edea or should I call you Medea"
A bitter smile quiveringly formed on her childish face, as she looked at the man that stood outside of this caged room. Even now, his long golden hair seemed to shine with holy light.
"How many years has it been now The two of us came so far together. From a simple noble in a kingdom under the control of the elves to the king of one of the seven nations. Everything I have, everything I am, is thanks to you."
"...And yet, you will still choose to betray me."
"Indeed, I have."
"Why" She whispered, lost and distraught, "Did I not fight enough for you Did I not bleed for you!! What about our promise"
"Promise Hahaha~! Oh, my dear goddess. Are you serious Are you really that dumb Did you seriously think that we could have a completely platonic relationship Why should I torture myself with a woman I can't even touch"
Each of his words was mercilessly striking at her heart. Her whole body shivered as her tears slowly fell on the ground of her prison.
"Why… I could give up everything for you. I even refused to listen to my mother and sisters for you. I believed in you. If it's about your urge there's no problem. I do not mind you having other women. As long as you keep staying with me, as long as you keep loving me. I can accept everything. So please. Do not discard me! Please…please... "
She became an utter mess as she vented out her suffocating emotions and crumbled while bawling her eyes out, whispering, pleading to him to not discard her, to not abandon her.
This blow was simply too great. For her, who had never loved anyone before, the weight of this betrayal felt like a knife plunging deep in her heart and twisting it into a bloody mess.
The pain she was now feeling was immeasurable.
But, at this sight that would have melted even the most hardened warriors,
Jupiter simply sneered derisively in the cruelest way possible.
"I am sorry, but you are a thorn on my path. My wish is to conquer. That's why I am the Conqueror King. You can discard everything for me, but I will never do the same. Your light is simply shining too brightly, and people are doubting my power. So, you need to vanish."
His words struck Edea dumb so much so that even her incessant sobbing had stopped, she threw an incredulous look at Jupiter as she blankly asked.
"... Just because of that Just because I am outshining your light"
The light vanished from her eyes as she realized for the first time just what kind of man she had fallen in love with.
"Heh, Haha. Hahaha~! I was truly stupid. Oh so stupid and naive."
Jupiter looked at her indifferently before simply ignoring her mad laughter as he turned to leave, the door slowly closing on his parting words.
"That door will not open before at least 200 years. By then I should have conquered the other six kingdoms. Sit tight. I will free you once I reach my goal."
Edea continued to laugh hollowly without paying any attention to him. It was a burst of shrill laughter full of self-mockery and inner hatred.
She laughed at her foolishness.
She laughed at her naivety.
More than anything, she laughed at the man whose desire for conquest blinded him from the reality of this world.
From a certain point of view, Jupiter wasn't wrong. What truly helped him receive Luxuria's blessings, the assistance of Castitas' church and the independence from the elves was her existence, her identity as the student and surrogate daughter of the first and strongest witch.
Now that she wasn't at his side anymore, what would happen she wondered.
Only the inevitable, of course...
"I am sorry, mother. I was truly naive."
Once her mad laughter full of burlesque and sorrow calmed down, she kept her head lowered in shame as she murmured.
Then, from behind her, two arms mysteriously appeared, as if bending reality and appearing out of the void, before hugging Edea and gently rocking her body.
It was a woman. Her features hidden, as she held Edea deep in her chest,
"Do not worry my child. You have nothing to apologize for. A parent has to allow their children to make their own choices and assume the consequences of those choices. But no matter what, I will always always be by your side."
Fifteen years later. Jupiter Luxuria, the Conqueror King, died on the battlefield against the republic of Wratharis, home of the beast-kins.
His son, Pluto, took the throne and became the king at the tender age of ten and ushered in a new age. He would later become known as the peaceful king.
(END OF VOL 1: THE WITCH)