As Cecile and the doctor were leaving the room, the teacher remembered something. “Kujou, do you like sparkly things? You mentioned jewels, and also…” She wore a distant look. “The flower in the flowerbed. Small, but a beautiful golden color. It will bloom again in the spring.”
When he didn’t answer, Cecile turned around to see what was wrong, and found Kazuya’s face red all the way to the ears, and it wasn’t just because of the fever. He was stirring restlessly.
“I love the color gold,” he said in a small whisper.
Cecile wondered why he was embarrassed.
“If my father and brothers found out I was saying such things, they would strip me naked, tie me up with a rope and hang me from the window. My brothers’ favorite book is a magazine called Tough Guys Monthly. But I…” His voice was incredibly faint. “I’m just a plain, unremarkable, boring guy.”
“N-No, you’re not.”
“It’s fine. It’s just that when I see something beautiful, I get captivated sometimes. Like someone’s stealing my heart. Not all the time, though. My family and friends don’t know about it, though.”
“I think gold is a really beautiful and wonderful color. We don’t have flowers of that color in my country. It left a strong impression on me. Please… don’t tell anyone.”
Kazuya’s jet-black eyes closed as he mumbled the last words. The injection seemed to have taken effect. He was breathing softly, back straight even in his current condition.
Cecile sighed in exasperation. She pulled the covers gently over him and gave him a pat.
“A golden… flower!”
As Cecile left the dormitory and strolled through the dark gardens outside, a thought came to her. The girl, golden, like a small rose. Mysterious, quiet eyes that looked straight at you from within the ruffles and laces that bloomed like petals.
Victorique de Blois.
A living golden flower, Cecile thought to herself as she walked along the path.
Winter was going to stay for a while.
Soon the gray winter passed and spring came once more.
As usual, Victorique spent her days holed up in the special dormitory and went to the conservatory of the Grand Library during the day. The class’s status quo, too, remained the same.
Kazuya Kujou, an international at St. Marguerite Academy, was having a hard time. His schoolmates had regarded him as a reaper, associating his black hair and black eyes to the story about a traveler who comes in the spring and brings death to the school.
One day, a murder occurred in the village, and Cecile found out that Kazuya somehow got involved in it.
Kazuya was brought to the infirmary, unconscious.
“Wait, Inspector! This is tyranny!”
Cecile trotted after the bold, strange police officer down the first-floor corridor of the school building. A government official was murdered this morning on the village road. The police officer with a weird hairdo was about to arrest Kazuya, who just happened to pass by, and was supposed to be a witness.
Young and handsome, the police inspector had magnificent blonde hair that had been shaped into a drill. He was flanked by his two men, both wearing rabbit-skin hunting caps, holding hands for some reason. A slightly baffling trio.
Cecile bravely defended Kazuya, but the three dragged him into a different room and interrogated him.
What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?!
Cecile panicked. She kept pacing down the hallway.
She didn’t know how to deal with a murder case. She didn’t know how to help Kazuya.
Suddenly, the memory of the bizarre ghost harp incident that happened more than half a year ago came to her.
A strange phenomenon that no one could explain. The sound of a harp echoing ominously every night. And the strange little girl who solved the mystery in the blink of an eye, just by listening to her while she smoked her pipe.
Cecile stood blankly for a while, thinking.
Then she came back to her senses. She rushed to the faculty office and took out today’s class handouts. She grabbed two sheets, scribbled down names, and bolted out of the office.
When she entered the room where Kazuya was being interrogated, she put on her best smile and gave the handouts to him.
“Here you go,” she said, her legs trembling from fear.
As expected, the inspector snapped.
“You’re interfering with our investigation!”
“With all due respect, Inspector,” Cecile protested, trying to hide the fact that her hands were shaking. “If you want to arrest him, bring a warrant first. This is abuse of police authority. On behalf of the academy, I protest.”
Kazuya thanked Cecile in the hallway.
“No problem,” she replied, and pushed the handouts to him. “Don’t forget this. To the library.”
“Yes.” Cecile nodded.
Kazuya was apparently a little bit peeved that he had to deliver handouts to a classmate in the library. As an earnest honor student, he probably couldn’t care less about someone who stayed in the library without showing up for class at all.
“Top floor of the library tower,” Cecile said. “That child likes heights.”
“I see…” He sounded sad for some reason. Then in a rare, mean-spirited kind of way, he added, “We have a saying in my country about smokes and high places.”
Cecile couldn’t help but chuckle at his pouty face. “Oh, you. Couldn’t be more wrong.” She pushed him gently from behind. “That child is a genius.”
Kazuya, holding a handout in his hand, straightened his back as usual, and walked down the hallway, his leather shoes clicking on the floor. Cecile watched him go with a smile.
Soon after, Kazuya left the school building and ambled toward the gray stone tower that stood quietly at the back of the academy’s wide campus. It was spring, and the little flower in the flowerbed that Kazuya had admired so much was once again showing its pretty, golden buds. A warm breeze blew past. A pleasant season had arrived. It was as if the winter season had never been.
Kazuya’s straight back moved further and further away from the spring garden.
To St. Marguerite’s Grand Library. To the conservatory at the very top of the tower.
A few moments later…
“Being late wasn’t enough, and now you’re skipping classes? You’re free to do what you want, of course, but at least keep your distance. I don’t want to be disturbed.”
“A-Are you Victorique, by any chance?”
Victorique, a little porcelain doll with silky golden hair hanging down from the top of the library, waiting for someone, met a boy who had travelled from a distant island nation, crossing numerous straits to become her only vassal and friend.
The boy’s name was Kazuya Kujou.
The year was 1924.
Sauville. A small country situated in a corner of Europe with a long and grand history, bordered by France, Switzerland and Italy. Tucked away in the deepest, most secret part of the country, at the foot of the Alps, stood St. Marguerite Academy, a prestigious school for the children of aristocracy, which boasted a long history as well, though not as long as the kingdom itself.
Hidden at the back of the campus, at the top of the labyrinthine stairs in the huge gray library tower, was a mysterious place.
“If you are…” Kazuya softly stepped into the tranquil and somewhat magical conservatory. “I brought a handout for you.”
Smoking her pipe, Victorique sniffed audibly.
“And who might you be?” she asked.
Kazuya winced at the girl’s strange, husky voice. Nervous at the sheer beauty and the odd way she carried herself, he answered in a trembling voice, “My name is Kujou.”
Victorique smiled a little. The girl’s expressionless face loosened ever so faintly, as if she were enjoying herself. Kazuya failed to notice it.
A warm spring breeze blew through the open skylight. A wisp of white smoke rose from the ceramic pipe. The girl and the boy stared at each other from a distance, one sitting, the other standing.
Spring of 1924.
Thus, the Golden Flower and the Grim Reaper finally found each other.
After their meeting, the truth behind the motorcycle decapitation was revealed, then came the mystery surrounding the mysterious international student Avril Bradley and the purple book on the thirteenth step. The case of the mummified knight. The master thief Ciaran, and an adventurer’s secret legacy, the Penny Black. All of which Victorique de Blois and Kazuya Kujou would tackle hand in hand.
But that is a story for another day.