The Show Must Go On! – Part 05

“What an odd thing to say,” the blond man said. “You appear to be Asian. Worried about a Gray Wolf?” He jerked his chin toward Victorique. “Do you even know how terrifying a creature she is? Trust me. You don’t need to worry about her.”

“I know what Victorique is. But I worry about her as a friend. Because no matter how fearsome she is…” Kazuya walked cautiously, positioning himself between Victorique and the men. “She’s so tiny! Ouch!”

“Don’t you ever call me tiny again.”

“Now, look here. This isn’t the time to get angry about small things! Just keep quiet. This man was just about to kill you. I thought they were acting strange, so I followed them, and they were eavesdropping on you guys from the shadows the whole time. And then, as soon as you were alone, they made their move.” Kazuya turned to the man.

The man stared back at the boy with blue eyes that gleamed like jewels.

The applause from the audience never stopped. It was as if it would go on forever.

A momentary eternity known as glory. A glorious memory that would be remembered forever.

A light that would illuminate days of gloom.

Kazuya glowered at the man. “You’re His Majesty—”

“Not another word, Kujou.”


“Don’t ever mention that man’s name.”

“Why not? It’s obvious who he is.”

“Because it’s dangerous.” Victorique shook her head.

The men glared hatefully at the tiny figure.

Victorique smoked her pipe. “For now, let’s just address him as ‘he’.”


“Now, then. As a matter of fact, I wanted to have a word with you two gentlemen. You honor me with your presence. Kujou said that you were listening while I was explaining the mystery to my father. That makes things easier. I’m sure you’re well aware.”

Victorique paused. A wisp of white smoke wafted from the pipe.

The men, tight-faced, listened quietly.

“That I left a few things out earlier.”


“Two, in fact.” Victorique’s lips curved faintly into what seemed to be a smile. “One: the identity of the culprit behind the murder of Coco Rose in 1900 and Nicole Leroux in 1914. Two: how the culprit killed Nicole in the royal palace and made her head vanish.”

“You told your father you didn’t know,” the blond man said.

This time Victorique flashed a clear smile. Then, her expression turned icy cold. Her smile was haughty and chilling, unlike the somewhat fragile one she showed to Kazuya.

“There is nothing I do not know,” she said.

“You jest.”

“I’ve unraveled the whole mystery, of course. I just didn’t tell Father, the Ministry of the Occult, the whole truth.”


“I can’t mention his name, but he—that is, the culprit—committed the first murder in the year 1900. On impulse, if I had to guess. He must have seen the first child that Queen Coco gave birth to, the child that would have been heir to the throne if it was a boy.”

The man’s face twisted bitterly. “How much do you know?”

“Everything.” Victorique’s voice was level. “The child was demonspawn, with glossy dark skin. It was not his child. The queen had given birth to a child of adultery. Either with a black man, or a Moor. Who the father was exactly was unknown, but he was not from the kingdom. An unpardonable sin.”


“In a fit of rage, he stabbed the queen.”


“Did he regret it afterwards or not? Did he love the queen from the bottom of his heart, or did he never love her at all? I don’t know. But the queen is dead. That much is certain.”

“How did you know?” the man demanded.

“I found Queen Coco’s will,” Victorique answered calmly. “From her body, hidden in Nicole Leroux’s grave. It was hidden inside a cameo brooch.”


“He then ordered his trusted men—people from the Academy of Science whom he had strengthened his ties with—to clean up the mess. They found a lookalike, made her officially dead, and buried Queen Coco in her grave. Fourteen years passed without incident. But just before the Great War, an envoy from France wished to see Queen Coco. Fearing that she would be exposed as an impostor, he committed another murder. He killed the queen’s double as well.”

“But how did he do it?” the man asked grimly. “There was only one door to the room where the fake Queen Coco was. A servant entered, talked with the queen, and then left. The king entered next, then went out. She was still alive at that time. And when the envoys came in, they found her decapitated. The servant, the king, and the envoys were all empty-handed. How and where the head disappeared to was unknown. Then the head appeared in the country house. Who could solve this mystery?”

“He killed her,” Victorique declared. “This morning, a white dove appeared from a silk hat.” It sounded like a monologue. “Next, Cecile appeared from a suitcase. I thought it was a sign that something was going to appear from somewhere. I didn’t expect that to actually be the case.”

She shook her head, then glanced toward the stage.

The long curtain call seemed to be over.

The curtain fell heavily this time. The actors shuffled back offstage with flushed faces; they still hadn’t woken up from the dream of acting on stage. They passed in front of and behind Victorique and the others like they couldn’t see them, as though they were invisible ghosts.

At that moment, a strange atmosphere blanketed the area. Was Victorique and the men the invisible ghosts? Or were the actors apparitions from long past that used to perform in this theater?

Victorique closed her eyes.

A moment passed.

And she opened them slowly.

Like a ripple on water, the actors’ presence drifted away into the corridor.

On an old wooden desk sat a bright crown that the actor who played the role of His Majesty Rupert had left behind. Victorique blinked, then gently took it. It was glittering.

She examined the inside, and found that it was made of paper. Only the exterior looked luxurious.

“He was wearing a large hat,” Victorique resumed. “Like this one.”


“It fit perfectly on his head, though.”

She put on the crown. It covered her tiny head completely from the neck up, blocking her vision. The same thing happened when Ginger Pie put the crown on her head before the play began.

Victorique tried to remove the crown. She flailed about, using both hands, but she couldn’t get it off. Kazuya came close and removed it for her. Her crimson face appeared from within.

“He probably hid the head inside the hat like this.”

The man grunted.

“There is no other way he could’ve done it. Neither the servant nor the French envoys could’ve killed the woman and taken her head outside. Only he could’ve done it, the mightiest in the kingdom. It was possible for him to hide another head, that is, the head of the woman he had killed, on top of his own head, and leave the room.” Victorique stood up. “Only he could’ve done it!”

The subordinate, Jupiter Roget, charged forward from behind the blond man, His Majesty Rupert de Gilet. He raised his fist, rushing toward Victorique like a black bullet.

Kazuya swiftly blocked his path. He picked up Victorique, leaped to the side, and pushed her under the desk for safety. He then greeted Roget. The grown man’s fist dug into his chest. Kazuya’s vision turned blank, his breath pushed out of his lungs.

Holding on through sheer force of will, Kazuya swept Roget’s leg, sending him crashing to the floor. He then mounted the man and pinned his neck down with both hands.

Roget’s fists struck Kazuya repeatedly. He flinched, and Roget immediately pushed him back, sending him rolling.

The two leaped away from each other like beasts.

Kazuya stood in front of the desk, protecting Victorique. Roget, on the other hand, was standing in front of His Majesty Rupert, glowering at the boy. The king’s eyes held a similar ruthless gleam.

Kazuya stood tall. Roget’s wound looked worse. He was breathing heavily with his hands on his neck.

“Roget!” Victorique groaned from under the desk.

It sounded like a beast’s growl. The king shuddered. It was instinctive fear. Under the desk was supposed to be a tiny, helpless girl in an extravagant dress, but there was something in her voice that sounded ferocious, almost like a wonder of nature.

“My brethren,” she said.

Roget turned pale.

The king looked curious. “What is she talking about, Roget?” he asked.

Victorique’s green eyes glowed eerily under the desk. A beast’s eyes blinking from the depths of its pitch-black den, watching its prey.

“I don’t see the problem with leaving the village to find a new way of life. My mother, Cordelia Gallo, did the same. So did my mother’s companion, the red-haired Brian Roscoe. And Ambrose, the young man who escaped with us from the burning Gray Wolf village.”


“That reminds me, my mother has the memento box. She’s keeping it for her and Brian’s safety. Your Achilles Heel. Your past. As long as they keep it hidden, they won’t have to worry about getting killed.”


“And we too—that is, me and Kujou—have our own safety device.”

Victorique slowly crawled out from under the desk.

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