Makai Senki Disgaea: Returned
1: The Angel's Homecoming
Patter patter patter, tromp tromp tromp!
"Prince! Are you awake!?"
Noisy footsteps and a voice burst into the silence of the room's interior.
Shoved open with a bang, the door grimaced and complained.
"Huh? He's awake."
The girl who had come running took in the state of the room, and her voice revealed her disappointment.
Her red hair was gathered to either side in a hairstyle that gave the appearance of explosions. She dressed in black leather that exposed her navel, and on her back were black wings. Her long tail waved back and forth in disappointment.
"You know, Etna, I can't be asleep every time you come to wake me. It'd be dangerous."
In a bed which itself was a granite coffin, rather than having the shape of a coffin, sat the owner of the room, who glared at the girl.
It was a boy.
He was younger than the girl called Etna, maybe 13 or 14 years old. His dark blue hair stretched back from the front like two antennae. In shorts and a red scarf, there was no one in the Netherworld who did not know him: Overlord Laharl. His age, from a human perspective, was in actuality a hundred times that.
"Oh, no, Prince. I wouldn't do anything to you, now would I?" Etna laughed while non-chalantly moving her hand behind her.
"What are you holding behind you?"
"Eh? Oh, Prince, come on now." Etna's smile was drawn tight.
"You......" Laharl muttered, something in his temple twitching.
"What is it?"
"Stop it with the 'Prince' already!"
"What's the big deal? There's nothing to fret over."
"Yes, there is!" Laharl asserted bluntly.
"But you haven't had anything like that from the start," Etna sighed, turning her face away.
"Did you say something?"
"Nope, not really," Etna said, playing dumb.
"Your Majesty, are you awake, dood?"
Just then, the door opened on its own, and a group of stuffed penguins came running in.
"Listen! Even the prinnies have learned to call me 'Your Majesty.' You should follow their example." Impassioned, Laharl clenched a fist.
Prinnies were the lowest-ranking servants in the Netherworld. The prinnies in the castle had originally been hired as mercenaries by Etna.
"That's just because you fitted them with something weird, Prince."
"It's not something weird. It's called a conscience circuit."
"A conscience— Prince, don't you get embarrassed saying that?"
"A- a little." Laharl groaned as he said it as though he felt ill.
"And anyway I don't think demons have a conscience or anything like that."
"It's enough that it's in regards to me!"
"He's saying self-centered stuff again," Etna grumbled under her breath, gripping the hidden dagger she intended for back-stabbing. It would be trouble if the prinnies found it, so she quickly hid it and instead took out the thing she had brought. Even without that, Laharl and Etna's bickering was known as comic dialogue not between a couple but between master and servant, and it was circulated in secret in the town's papers. It wouldn't be any fun to provide them with more material.
"Well, what is it? If you were about to interrupt me from a peaceful sleep, then that means there's an incident."
"That's some attitude for a brat who just happened to wake up earlier than usual," Etna muttered under her breath, and then she offered what was in her hand. "Well, um. A letter arrived."
"It's something that trivial!? Hand it over!!"
Laharl held out his hand. But, Etna hesitated to hand over the letter, and drew back her hand.
"Ah, I'm telling you, it's bad if you take it all at once."
"What the hell are you going on about!?"
Having snatched the letter from her, Laharl's expression twisted as though he had grabbed a cloth soaked in puke.
"Uhn...... What's this pure, refreshing feeling without one bit of filth?"
As quickly as he could, he stretched his hand far out and turned his face away.
"Where did this letter come from!?"
"Why didn't you say so first!?"
"You're the one who stole it before I could tell you."
For a moment Laharl faltered on what to do, but then he remembered the prinnies waiting behind Etna.
"Well, what do you lot want?" Laharl asked them.
"Flonne-san has come to see you, dood."
"Let her in already," he ordered thoughtlessly and ill-humoredly, and all at once the prinnies ran out. The one who entered in their stead was a blonde girl wearing an enormous red ribbon. Next to her airy white clothes, the black wings on her back looked incongruous.
"Laharl-san! I have something to talk—"
The girl opened her mouth, but Laharl thrust the letter at her. "Before that, read this for me, Flonne."
"Eh? A letter? Laharl-san, weren't you able to read the characters?"
"There's a limit to how much you can make fun of me! Just read it already!!"
Flonne took the letter that Laharl held out as though he were about to throw it, and she looked in surprise at the unmarked envelope.
"Ah! It's from Lamington-sama!!"
He was the Seraph, the highest ranking angel in Celestia.
"You can tell just by looking at it?" Etna said in surprise.
"Lamington-sama's aura is unique. And it's very strong."
"Hm...... This stench certainly isn't ordinary." Laharl grimaced.
"That's terrible! What stench!?" Flonne huffed as she broke open the letter, but suddenly she cocked her head and then shook it. "Huh?"
"What is it?" Laharl asked.
"I feel a little......" Flonne took her eyes from the letter and looked up at the ceiling.
"What's wrong?" asked Etna.
"My chest feels sort of......"
Seeing Flonne seizing at her small chest, Etna clapped her hands in understanding.
"Even if you used to be an angel, you're a fallen angel now, so you've gotten weak against Celestia's aura."
"You've finally been tainted by the Netherworld," Laharl said.
Flonne took three deep breaths, and then she returned her gaze to the letter and nodded once.
"I'm all right. It's been a while since I've been affected by a pure essence, that's all."
"If you're at the stage where you can say you're 'affected' by it, isn't it already hopeless?" Etna said teasingly.
Flonne scowled at Etna, looking about to cry, and then she unfolded the letter. "I'll read it now."
She jumped into it with determination, but she stumbled over the first part. "How do you read this one?"
"Which one?" While keeping her distance, Etna peered at the letter. "It's 'Dear Sir.'1"
"You gonna be all right?" Laharl interjected.
"It was just a little hard!" Flonne said. She sucked in a breath in order to read the next part, and three lines furrowed her brow. She stopped there.
"Umm, his writing is so refined, I can't read it."
"You don't have to read every character of every sentence, so just give a decent summary of the parts you do understand," Laharl ordered easily, waving a hand.
Flonne made a troubled face as she continued to read the letter, and after 30 minutes had passed she finally lifted her face.
"Umm, I have it. To put it simply, he wrote, 'I have some business with you, so come to Celestia,'" Flonne responded, full of confidence.
Everyone in the room awaited the next part in silence, but Flonne did not continue further.
Laharl looked at the letter in Flonne's hands to confirm it. He took the opened letter from Flonne's hands to spread it at his feet, and kept it at a distance on the floor.
"Yes." Completely confident, Flonne nodded.
"It's laughable to think that he would write this with such audacity."
"Flonne-chan just turned it into that on her own."
"Even if it's wrong, she won't admit it, huh."
"Well, it seems like she's just going to stand there smiling anyway."
"Ehh, what's wrong with me smiling?" Flonne protested, puffing out her cheeks, and Laharl turned a dissatisfied glance on her.
"This's what you get from a follower......"
"Huh? Prince, are you jealous?"
"D-don't be ridiculous!" Laharl cleared his throat, and very stiffly avoided the question. "Anyway, so it's a written invitation."
"It could be a trap," Etna replied eagerly.
"What are you getting excited about?"
"Well, it'd be fun, wouldn't it?" she said, and out of nowhere she produced weapons and ammo as though to equip them right away. "The prinny squad will go anywhere you send them, you know."
"We're not invading."
"You say that, even though you really want to attack," Etna said, and elbowed Laharl in the side. "Doesn't it make your demon's blood boil?"
"Um—?" Flonne timidly broke into the dangerous conversation.
"What is it, Flonne?" Under Etna's offensive, Laharl seemed to be looking for an excuse to escape. "Right, you had some business. What is it?" he asked, looking relieved.
"Well, that is, actually I've also gotten approval to return home to Celestia for a while."
"Hmm, even though you've fallen from Celestia, you can return. That's pretty lenient," Etna said.
"Yes. It's Lamington-sama's kindness."
"In that case, we'll be going together?"
"Oi, you two, don't get ahead of yourselves!"
"Huh? Aren't you going, Prince?"
"Who said I wasn't going!?"
"Then it's decided, isn't it?"
"I'm looking forward to it." Flonne smiled broadly, just like a child going on a picnic.
As though overpowered by Flonne's smile, Laharl wound up nodding, too.
The following morning, Laharl called Etna and Flonne to the castle's hall. For the occasion, he had ordered Etna to bring along prinnies to carry their luggage.
"Flonne, you ready?" Laharl asked her.
"Yes. I've completed both my preparations for moving and the magic array."
A circle was drawn on the floor of the hall. From within, Flonne would use magic to take them to Celestia.
Just then, a cheerful voice rang out.
"I'm going, too!"
A small girl came running at top speed.
"Shas-chan, why have you come?"
Flonne's eyes widened. It was the case that this was Laharl's cousin, whom Flonne was taking care of at her own place.
"You're going out, aren't you? Take me with!"
Shas's eyes were bright with anticipation as she jumped up and down, but Laharl shook his head at her.
"Not this time. Behave and look after things in our absence."
"Eh~!? Laharl-chan, you're mean."
"I won't tolerate you setting traps in Celestia."
"I'm sorry. We'll take you along the next time we go somewhere," Flonne soothed her.
"Uu~" Shas glowered at Laharl with upturned eyes, and puffed out her cheeks.
"Once we get back, I'll play with you," Laharl said with difficulty.
"I'm the Overlord. An Overlord doesn't go back on his word."
"Got it." Seeming to understand, Shas ran out of the hall.
"Are you all right? Promising her that without thinking it through," Etna said as she watched Shas's back.
"What? If it gets to be a pain, I'll just make the prinnies play with her," Laharl said, and he shifted his gaze to the nine prinnies lined up in front of him.
"Ehh. Don't make us, dood."
"Not you. There must be another lot who's free."
Surveying the relieved prinnies in a glance, Laharl asked, "Oi, Etna. How were these guys chosen?"
"What do you mean, how?"
"The King of the Netherworld is going to pay a visit to Celestia. So as not to have anything happen to injure the dignity of the Overlord, my subordinates need to be of a standard to act accordingly."
"R-right. It's fine. I selected them appropriately," she said, but really she had just brought along arbitrarily some of the ones that had been playing in the courtyard.
Inwardly, Etna stuck out her tongue.
"But, these guys, there's no way to tell them apart by looking at them. If by chance one of them misbehaves and we don't know which, it'll be a problem."
Laharl folded his arms and thought, and then, he clapped his hands.
"There's no getting around it. For convenience, I'll number them and make it easy."
All together the prinnies raised their voices in protest.
"That's skimping, dood!"
"Don't call us by numbers, dood!"
"Shut up!" Laharl roared. "I'll number you myself right now!" he declared, and he began chanting a spell. It was Fire. He pointed his fingertip at the gathered prinnies.
With broad grins hovering on their faces, the prinnies stood as rigid as statues. Because all that was inside of them in the first place were the souls of sinners, not moving was an easy thing.
A thin flame burst from Laharl's fingertip. The flames ran to the prinnies' foreheads, and numerals emerged on their burned stuffed bodies.
Patting out the fires on their foreheads, the prinnies compared each other's marks.
"What number am I, dood?"
"Number 2, dood."
"Yes, I'm number 4!"
"That's a good number, dood. I got 7. That's unlucky, dood."
"You, so you're number 9? That's awesome,2 dood."
Seeing the prinnies, some delighted and some disappointed, Laharl ordered them, "You lot, remember your numbers well. If you like, why don't I write them on your arms, too, so you don't forget?"
"That's okay, dood!"
All together the prinnies shook their heads back and forth.
"All right, now bring the luggage," Laharl said, and then his eyes stopped on an unusually large box that appeared to be Flonne's.
"What's that huge suitcase of yours?"
"This one? Some changes of clothing and my figures."
Laharl's brow furrowed. "You mean, you're going to spread your otaku hobbies in Celestia, too?"
"Yes. But, they aren't otaku. Love, it's love."
In order to teach love to demons, Flonne had decided first to teach them to have affection for objects, and taught the assembly of figures in her own house. As could be expected with Flonne, whose nature it was to love heroes, the children seemed to be turning out the same.
"Will you do something about your Love Freak ways already? Besides, aren't all Celestians Love Freaks without you going out of your way to teach them?"
"Y-yes, well, that may be true, but—"
Flonne stumbled over her words, and Etna interjected as though she guessed what she was trying to say.
"Right, that guy, Valcan or Vulcan or something."
"Vulcanus," Etna said, and Flonne coughed to cover it up and looked everyone over.
"Well then, are we ready?" Flonne said, like a teacher taking kindergartners on a field trip, and she confirmed that everyone was inside the circle she had drawn.
"Here we go, everyone."
Flonne spread both hands and closed her eyes, and began chanting a spell.
Along the circle, a white light arose, and stretched on upwards. In one instant, it seemed to grow intense, but in the next it had vanished. It was as though nothing had happened, but the scene around them had changed entirely.
"So we've arrived," Laharl muttered, looking up at what lay before his eyes. "It's the same huge gate as before."
Towering above them was an enormous white gate as tall as a 50-story building. It stood in their way as the boundary separating the Netherworld and Celestia. Now it stood flung open, but before Laharl had become Overlord it had been shut tight, and neither side had been able to come or go.
"Now, let's go," Flonne said.
She walked out towards the gate. Laharl and Etna3 followed after her. Only the prinnies, for whom this was their first experience, stood still as though in fear.
"Oi. Are you going to let your master go ahead of you!?"
When Laharl shouted over his shoulder, the prinnies ran bustling on.
At the moment they thought themselves passing under the gate, a different scenery spread before their eyes.
Dazzling, white sunlight.
Pure, clear air.
A wind gently brushing their cheeks.
Ornamented white pillars stood to either side, and arches covered the road. The road was perfectly straight. Along the roadside were neatly-arranged flower beds, and they boasted blooming flowers of a variety of colors. A faint scent drifted from them.
"It hasn't changed much, huh," Laharl muttered disinterestedly.
"There are things the angels don't like to change," Flonne said.
"Hmm, a conservative lot," Laharl spat in disinterest.
Behind them, the prinnies talked disgustedly.
"I feel terrible, dood."
"The air is bad, dood."
"What's this smell, dood?"
Already there were prinnies who tottered on the verge of falling over.
"The clean air of Celestia might be a bit tough on the lowest ranking demons," Etna said.
"Somehow or other they'll just have to be up for it!" Laharl said unreasonably, and disregarding them he continued on rapidly. Etna, too, followed after him.
"Around here is where we fought the Celestial Host, isn't it?" Etna said.
"Once we climbed this part, we got to put a sock in Vulcanus's vulgar laugh."
"And then before that. In front of the gate, Mid-Boss was showing off."
At Etna's words, Laharl grimaced.
"That's enough about that guy."
A voiced called out to Etna and Laharl from behind as they reminisced.
"Laharl-san, please wait a moment."
"What is it, Flonne?"
"I'm going to heal the prinnies."
"Let them be. If they're dropping at this stage, then they haven't been training enough."
"But, when I was in pain, there was a prinny who helped me. I want to return that favor."
"Nn......" Laharl frowned as though he were in some kind of pain. His expression was the same as when the subject of Mid-Boss had come up.
"Do what you want," he answered curtly, and he turned to face the other way.
"Even the Prince can't turn down that request, huh."
He made no reply to Etna's muttering. In a short while, Flonne had finished casting the Heal spell on the prinnies.
"I think you'll do a little better now."
From looking as though they were about to die at any moment, the prinnies had recovered enough to look like they might live out another year. But then, prinnies could not die again. Their souls could only be cleansed or annihilated.
"Where are we going first?" Flonne asked Laharl.
"It's courtesy to visit the one who invited us."
"Eh? You're going to follow etiquette?" Etna was surprised.
"You idiot! If we don't do the basics, we can't do demonic things like outwitting him or backstabbing him later."
"I see. You're really thinking this through, Prince~"
"Of course," Laharl replied boastfully, and he walked on ahead.
"All right, we're going to Lamington's place."
With the impression that they were walking to another's house as if it were their own, they pushed on down the white road in a line.
Located on a broad hill at Celestia's highest point was Lamington's white-walled estate.
It did not give the impression of a castle or a palace. It was made of stone, but it was simply a large mansion. A pure white house in the center of an expansive garden with neither walls nor fences.
They entered from the front, and right away someone appeared to greet them.
"My, so you really came."
The one ushering them in with a smiling face was a tall young man clad in white robes. His long, silky hair stirred in the cool breeze.
Seraph Lamington—that was this person.
In the earlier turmoil which had involved the Netherworld and Celestia, as well as the Human World, he had understood the intention of the previous Overlord Krichevskoy, who had died suddenly, and carried out a reform of Celestia. As a result, Flonne had become a fallen angel and fallen to the Netherworld, while Laharl had formally become Overlord without any opposition thanks to his one-hit visit to the Seraph, though Laharl harbored dissatisfaction with that method. Flonne was strongly attached to Lamington, but he could not trust this angel when he could never be sure if that face was really smiling or not.
"It has been a while, hasn't it?"
Laharl looked up at Lamington with his hand outstretched, and replied with a sour look, "It has."
"How would you like some tea?"
"You couldn't have called me here to have a chat over tea. Despite appearances, I'm busy. Tell me your business."
"You are as short-tempered as ever."
"You have too long a fuse."
"You have me there." Lamington smiled slightly and indicated an interior room. "Well then, let us speak inside. As for your companions, please wait here in the sitting room. I will have tea poured for you."
"In that case I'm sitting down." Etna sat herself down with a plop on the sofa.
In contrast, Flonne looked at Laharl with a concerned face. "Laharl-san......"
Laharl smiled at her. "There's no need to worry. Just wait."
As though worried even then, Flonne stared at Laharl's retreating back as he went further inside.
"He said he'll be fine. Whatever happens, there's no way the Prince will lose."
Etna smiled, but Flonne still looked worried.
"Ah, I get it! You're thinking the Prince might slug him one again, aren't you?"
"I don't think he will. It's because I don't really know what Lamington-sama is thinking......"
"Huh? Don't you trust him?" Etna clearly hadn't expected this.
"I do, but......" Flonne's expression sank into unease.
Meanwhile, in Lamington's room, Laharl sank down onto the sofa. Seated on the adult-sized sofa, the diminutive Laharl looked as though he would be swallowed up.
"Well then, it is abrupt, but let us talk business."
Laharl waved a hand obligingly, prompting him to go on.
"I should have made this proposal the time that you beat me, but to my embarrassment, I had not completed preparations here. As for the Netherworld, it seems that they follow you completely."
"Beating the ruler of Celestia leant some weight."
"I am glad."
A slight smile on Lamington's face, he looked down at Laharl. Something cold shivered down Laharl's back.
No, there's no way that I would feel fear.
Laharl denied it, but he could not shake the feeling. Seemingly unaware, Lamington continued his speech.
"In Celestia there are still those who hold hostility towards the Netherworld. Only those who opposed it outright have disappeared."
"So, what do you want to do?" Still not seeing where the conversation was headed, Laharl prompted him to continue.
"I think we should make it so that there may be traffic between Celestia and the Netherworld."
"I don't like friendships," Laharl replied instantly, but Lamington retried his proposal as though he had expected this.
"Well then, to begin with, how about we exchange only the same number of authorized candidates? We might even call them exchange students."
Laharl's eyebrows raised at Lamington's suggestion. "Well, being able to observe each other's movements is a fair condition."
"Fine. I'll accept your terms. You should be grateful." Laharl grinned broadly.
"You are just the same as always, aren't you?" Lamington smiled wryly. "Shall we sign this agreement?"
"There's no need. It's been decided between myself, the ruler of he Netherworld, and the Seraph of Celestia. I won't allow anyone to oppose it."
"I understand. Well then." As he spoke, Lamington extended a hand.
"I thought I told you I don't make friends." Laharl clapped the proffered hand for only an instant and then got to his feet.
"We will exchange each other's students later."
"Understood," Laharl answered over his shoulder, and then he left the room behind him.
"Have you finished?" Flonne left her seat before anyone else and came running up. "Was there any problem?"
"Huh? No, it was nothing serious."
"Prince, what are we going to do now?" Etna asked as she stretched atop the sofa.
"It's not a pleasant place, but we did come all the way here. Let's have a look around."
"All right, dood!"
All together the prinnies flung up their arms. Only one was in low spirits. Prinny Number 9.
"Your Majesty, you're generous, dood."
"I didn't say that you lot could have fun."
"Eh!?" the reproached prinnies chorused.
"Well then, why don't you come to my house?" Flonne said.
"Yes. My parents said that they really wanted to see you."
At her innocent remark, silence fell.
"They want to see their daughter's partner, huh, dood."
One prinny's muttering broke the silence. The other prinnies hooted, raising their voices in an ohhh.
Flonne and Laharl spoke up, looked at each other's faces, and hurriedly averted their gazes. Etna glared hard at the prinny who had made the remark.
It was Number 9.
Etna made a check mark in her mind to pay special attention to that one. Somehow it had been bothering her from earlier.
"A-anyway, since they've gone to the trouble of inviting me, I'll intrude on them. All right?"
Laharl tried to hide his agitation, and he walked off following his declaration.
"This is my house."
Flonne had led them to a house located much lower than the hill where Lamington's mansion was.
The private homes in the area stood apart from each other, and from here only the roofs could be seen. All round was filled entirely with flowers.
"This place is remote, huh." Etna spoke up in admiration. "No matter what happens, I don't think anyone would know."
"Nothing is going to happen!" Flonne raised her voice at the maliciously-smiling Etna.
"So these are those flowers you like." Laharl looked over the flower garden.
"They're yuie4 flowers. I brought some to the Netherworld, but they turned out a little differently."
"A little?" Laharl murmured aloud without thinking. Around Flonne's house—the House of Love where she spread the teachings of love—he didn't think there was anything but carnivorous plants with fangs.
"When the environment changes, the plant changes. They're delicate, you know."
"I- I see."
But the word 'delicate' had entirely the wrong connotation.
He gulped down his usual response, but he couldn't grasp which words to say next.
"But, how do I put it...... This, your house, it's different from the others......"
"It is?" Flonne asked, looking puzzled.
Etna nodded. "Yep, it is, however you look at it."
Even though the other houses they had seen on their way here had been made of white stone, the house before their eyes was made from wood cut from somewhere and had the appearance of a log house. There was a deck around the outside, and it was decorated with pots overflowing with flowers.
"It's like a mountain cottage, dood. It kind of takes me back, dood." Prinny Number 3 spoke up in wonder. Perhaps in his previous life he had lived in the mountains.
"But, mountain cottages don't have that, do they?" Etna said.
"Ah, that's right, dood~"
Etna and the prinnies were staring at the sign plate in front of the entrance.
|Telle and Elle's Den of Love|
That was written on the sign plate in rounded letters. Even more, they were done with a brush, large, and red.
The moment Flonne set foot in the entrance, two people came running out from inside.
"Ahh, welcome back, honey!"
"Welcome home, Flonne!"
The couple both had golden hair and wore white clothing. They may have worn green and pink shirts beneath, because a trace of color showed through the white.
They each took turns embracing Flonne.
"Thank goodness. You haven't changed," her mother said.
"Have you been influenced by the Netherworld?" her father asked.
"Oh, that couldn't be."
"But, Flonne is so easily influenced."
Flonne and the others cheerfully enjoyed their family conversation.
"They seem like a couple who dances in the kitchen while they cook together," Etna whispered in Laharl's ear.
"Yeah, they do."
"I guess there are marriages that have a different meaning from your uncle and his wife, huh?"
"Don't mention those two." At once Laharl grew cross.
Laharl's father's brother—his uncle Vesuvio and aunt Yasurl had used the twins Shas and Kira to try to push Laharl from the throne; it was an incident still fresh in his memory. Naturally, just talking about Laharl's hated aunt and uncle made him fall into an ill humor.
As though finally noticing Laharl and the others lined up behind their daughter, Flonne's parents bowed deeply.
"I am Telle," her father said.
"I am Elle," her mother said.
"We are Flonne's parents," they said in unison and once again lowered their heads.
"Uhn...... you're lively," Laharl groaned.
The two of them still looked only in their 20s. But then, one could not rely at all on the age they appeared.
Elle stepped closer to Laharl, and a bright smile came to her face. She resembled Flonne, but her hair curled slightly to either side, elegantly.
"Are you Overlord Laharl-san?"
"Yes." Involuntarily, Laharl gave an obedient reply.
Somehow I just can't go against this type, Laharl cursed inwardly.
"Thank you for looking after Flonne all this time. After all, our daughter does all sorts of careless things, but please treat her kindly."
Elle bowed her head deeply. Drawn in by it, Laharl, too, wound up bowing.
"I- I should be saying, I'm obliged to her."
"Has she been of some help to you?"
"W-well, she's done a number of things for me."
"My, is that so? That's a relief. I was constantly worried that she would make some sort of blunder."
"Mom! What do you mean, blunder!?"
"Dear, you're a scatterbrain, so I was worried that you would mess up your spells, or jump to the wrong conclusions."
"Even yesterday, she was worrying, 'I wonder if she'll be able to make it to the gate to Celestia,'" Telle said, and Elle smiled as though she wished he hadn't.
"Jeez! I'm not a child, so I don't do those things!!" Flonne replied indignantly.
"I wonder?" Etna murmured teasingly.
"Not you, too, Etna-san." Flonne puffed out her cheeks.
"Oi, oi, how long are we going to keep our guests waiting outside?" Telle said to Elle while patting Flonne's shoulder soothingly.
"That's right, isn't it?" Smiling as brightly as a flower, Elle showed Laharl and the others into the house. "Now, please go inside. Although it isn't as large as Lamington-sama's house."
Then, a voice spoke up from the prinny troupe.
"Your Majesty, what should we do, dood?"
"You can hang around outside, I guess," Laharl said.
"I wonder if that's all right," Etna said worriedly.
"They're your subordinates, aren't they? Have a little faith."
"Eh? Prince, you've become an adult." Etna's eyes widened.
"That's what the conscience circuits are for."
"What are 'conscience circuits'?" At hearing the words for the first time, Flonne tilted her head.
"You didn't know? Wait a second," Laharl said, and beckoned to a prinny. "Oi, Number 7. Come here."
"What is it, dood?"
Not knowing what was going to happen to him, Prinny Number 7 came over innocently.
"I'm seizing your entire salary," Laharl told him cruelly.
"N-no, dood! Your Majesty's— Your Majesty's— Your— Your—"
Whatever he was trying to say, Prinny Number 7 could only open and close his beak, no sound coming out. In fact, his body began to convulse.
"That's what it is. They can't do anything like badmouth me, or get in my way or attack me."
"Like blowing the whistle, isn't it?" Flonne murmured as though something about it were very regrettable, and she turned reproachful eyes on Laharl. "But, isn't it awful?"
"To rob them of their freedom, I think it's terrible."
"You're really soft. To begin with, prinnies are made to work to atone for their sins. At their level, there is no freedom. Celestia's prinnies are made to serve in the same way, aren't they? There's not much difference."
Flonne tried to say something, but she couldn't find the words. Meanwhile, Laharl spoke to Prinny Number 7 who was frothing at the mouth and rolling around.
"I was joking. You can go have fun around town. Look, here's a tip," he said, and cheers burst out as he tossed money at the prinny. The other prinnies ran off together with Number 7 who had received the money.
"Hmm, that's generous of you, Prince."
"If they disgrace me, then I'll just confiscate the fees they've received up until now."
"Wow~ Prince, you're such a demon."
"Heh, don't flatter me."
While brushing his bangs into place, Laharl stepped into the house.
The inside of the house was more expansive than the outside indicated.
From the entrance, the kitchen and dining room were on the right, on the left was a living room, and each of them was reasonably large. Moreover, there also seemed to be several guest rooms and bedrooms.
Elle led Laharl and Etna to one of the guest rooms.
"Will this be all right, Laharl-san? I'm afraid this is the best room in our house."
Laharl was about to look at the room when Flonne addressed her mother from behind him.
"Ozonne isn't here?"
"That girl, she's still out. She's such a troublesome girl, honestly."
"Who is Ozonne?" Laharl interjected without thinking.
"Um, she's my younger sister."
Laharl and Etna were stunned. Even though a considerable number of months and years had passed since they had met, this was the first they had heard of her.
"Wow, so you have a little sister, Flonne-chan."
"Actually, I haven't seen her in a long time myself."
"How long is a long time?"
"About 400 years......"
"That's pretty intense, huh. Did something happen?"
"I don't really know. One day, she just suddenly left word 'I'm going out,' and she left. If anything happened to her, we would feel something immediately, so I'm sure she's all right, but......"
Although it had to be a serious topic, Flonne's words were on the level of saying her sister had gone out to play and would be late coming home.
"So there's a lot going on in Celestia, too," Laharl said.
"Please don't worry about it. We'll go make you some tea."
Leaving them with that, Elle and Flonne disappeared into the kitchen.
Left behind, Laharl jumped up on the sofa, and tested how it felt sitting down. "This isn't bad."
Patting the sofa and bouncing up and down, he looked just like a child.
Watching Laharl acting that way, Etna looked around the room. Suddenly her face split open into a grin of amusement.
"Hey, Prince?" Etna's smile was full of significance.
"What is it, Etna?"
"Are you going to be all right, being in here?"
On the wall Etna pointed to hung a scroll with painted characters.
|Love will save the world.|
Laharl threw his head back.
On the ceiling was pasted a poster of the family.
Smiling brilliantly, all of them making the peace sign.
The window was a divinely glittering stained glass window.
A mother with an expression of pure love, and the figure of an infant held in her arms.
Laharl was thrown flying.
"You're dying already, huh. Oh, and there's 'love' on the sofa, too."
On the sofa he had been sitting on moments ago, 'love' was written in huge letters. On top of that, the rug was woven with 'dreams' and 'hope' and the like in bright letters making up the design.
Laharl leapt up so as not to touch them, but wherever he went there were nothing but dangerous things.
"W-what is this place!?"
"'What'? It's Flonne-chan's house, isn't it?"
"I know that! I'm asking what the heck are these— these— these repulsive conditions!?"
"Like I said, it's Flonne-chan's house, so the answer should be obvious."
"Damn it. She is a Love Freak, isn't she......" he spat as he panted roughly. "But, this scene is even more......"
"If the kid is like that, it means the parents are, too, you know," Etna laughed.
"This isn't funny! Are you trying to kill me!?"
"Well, what are you going to do? Turn tail and run?"
With Etna cheerfully pressing him for an answer, Laharl swallowed down the words he desperately wanted to say.
"O-one who is Overlord can't desert under enemy fire! I'll accept this challenge!!" Laharl declared, clenching a trembling fist.
"Though I get the feeling I can see his defeat before the match even starts."
"Did you say something?"
"Nope, not a thing." Playing dumb, Etna looked off into nowhere.
Just then, Flonne came in.
"Would you like to have your tea in here?"
"I'm coming. It'll be good to get out of here even for a little while."
His words already smacking of weakness, Laharl dashed from the room.
Cautiously, Laharl peered into the living room.
Hanging on the walls were pictures that were indeed joyful and positive, and the heart-shaped table looked dangerous, but level of positive happiness was lower than in the guest room.
"Please, have a seat."
In the midst of preparations, Elle gestured to the table. From the kitchen drifted the pleasant smell of tea.
Looking carefully at the chair, Laharl confirmed that there was nothing there, and sat.
"I hope you like it."
Elle lined up cups and bowls containing tea cakes in front of Laharl and Etna.
"This is pretty good. What do you call this tea?" Laharl asked after he had raised his cup and tasted a sip.
"It's a blend called 'Hope and Friendship,'" Elle answered, smiling brightly, and Laharl spat out the tea in his mouth.
"These cookies are—"
"Ah, they're fortune cookies. And they're good luck."
Etna broke open a cookie and pulled out the fortune.
"And these cups were produced from the most famous kiln in Celestia, 'Love and Fidelity,'" Telle explained, smiling, and Laharl jumped halfway to his feet. In all the numerous battles he had fought before now, he had never felt this panic.
"Are these guys trying to kill me with my allergies!?"
"It's unfortunate, Prince. If there were any busty women here, you'd be dying for sure."
"That's not unfortunate at all!" Laharl glared at Etna.
"I'm sorry. Is it not to your taste?" Elle tilted her head, not really understanding.
"This is how we have fun in the Netherworld. Despite appearances, we're delighted," Etna replied. From her expression, she was having so much fun she could hardly stand it.
"I can't take it...... dood. Seriously, what a thoughtless lot...... dood," Prinny Number 9 spat, adding the prinnies' catchword like an afterthought.
He was alone. The other prinnies had gone rushing off in a group, and only Number 9 acted independently.
Prinnies were the temporary forms of the sinners' souls while they atoned and did their service in the Netherworld and Celestia. The period of atonement was proportionate to the weight of one's sins, and there were cases where that amounted to anywhere from 100 years to several thousand.
Among those prinnies, Number 9 was one who would have to spend quite a long time in service. His offense was the wounding and attempted assassination of the Overlord.
Before becoming a prinny, his name had been Kira.
He was Laharl's cousin.
Dead from the moment of his birth, Kira had become an evil spirit clinging to his twin sister Shas, but he had conspired with his father Vesuvio and mother Yasurl to take Laharl down, and he had attacked Laharl. However, because of Flonne he had been cleansed, and he had become a prinny.
"Hell, just the fact that an Overlord like that exists makes me feel si—"
Suddenly Prinny Number 9's body stiffened. The conscience circuit activated and sealed his mouth.
"This is annoying, dood."
Beyond having his freedom stolen, not being able to complain even a bit left him completely stressed.
"Yeah, I want to go somewhere, dood. One way or another I want to do something about Laharl, dood."
Just at that moment, a black shadow appeared on the field toward which he was headed.
No, rather than a shadow, the air became distorted and he could see through to the other side.
"A dimensional rift, dood?"
There were places in the Netherworld where it was easy to connect to another dimension. It seemed there were places like that in Celestia, too.
Prinny Number 9 cautiously went closer.
He didn't know what would appear from the other side. But, judging from the size of the distortion, he didn't think anything that big would come out.
What appeared was a tiny spaceship.
The hatch opened, and someone came out from within.
"Good. I've come out in Celestia as planned."
The one nodding to himself seemed to be human. His face could not be seen behind his helmet, but from his build he was an adult man.
"I went through a lot of trouble to get here."
Then, the man in the spacesuit lowered his gaze, and met Kira's eyes.
"Hm? A prinny," the man muttered. "So they're in this place, too."
His voice was thick with hatred.
Next Time's Preview
- ^ Flonne is having trouble reading the kanji for the opening of a formal letter. Presumably 謹啓, since Etna provides the reading kinkei.
- ^ The lucky/unlucky numbers here are the reverse of the norm. In Japanese the numbers 4 and 9 are unlucky, as they sound like death (死 shi) and suffering (苦 ku), respectively.
- ^ It actually says "Flonne" but I'm assuming this is a typo.
- ^ ユイエ - This isn't in any of my dictionaries, and Google brings up a lot of Disgaea-related results, so I don't think this is the name of an actual flower.