GosickS Volume 1 Prelude 9

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[9]

At last the dry, grey winter ran its course, and another spring came.

Victorique secluded herself in her villa as usual, only going out during the daytime to spend her days inside the conservatory of St. Marguerite’s Library. The rest of the students attended classes uneventfully.

Thanks to a ghost story told at St. Marguerite’s School of "the traveler who comes in spring who brings death to the school," as well as his black-haired and black-eyed visage, Kazuya’s classmates had started calling him the Grim Reaper, which brought upon him no end of troubles.

And then, one day…



A murder suddenly occurred in the village. Cécile found out the same morning that Kazuya had been involved in it, and that he had been subsequently transported to the school infirmary, unconscious.

"Inspector, wait! This is unjust!"

Cécile ran through the first story hallway of the U-shaped main building, shouting a bold rebuke at the peculiar-looking inspector. That morning, on the village road, a government employee had been murdered. Kazuya just happened to walk by at that moment, and became an eyewitness to the incident, or so Cécile thought. But this strange man, sporting a bizarre hairstyle, seemed to believe that Kazuya was the killer, and he had come to arrest him.

He was a young and handsome inspector, his gorgeous blond hair inexplicably swept forward and tapered into the shape of a drill. Two deputies in rabbit-skin hunting caps—and who were, strangely enough, holding hands—stood behind him at the ready. The three men made for a slightly incongruous sight.

The policemen disregarded Cécile’s fearless defense of Kazuya and dragged him into another room, whereupon they began to subject him to some form of questioning.

Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no! Cécile agitatedly paced back and forth down the hallway in a panic. She could think of no recourse for something as serious as a murder case, and was at a loss for how to rescue Kazuya.

But then she suddenly remembered the curious case of the ghost harp from several months ago.

No one could give an explanation for what seemed to be a supernatural phenomenon. Every night, the harp would play an ominous melody. But then a certain little girl, after merely hearing a description of the case, was able to solve the mystery in an instant, with pipe in mouth. Her existence sometimes seemed almost surreal, and yet, in that moment, she became someone tangible and true….

Cécile stood there for a minute, lost in thought.

Finally, she collected her wits, rushed to the staff room, and collected two batches of notes from today’s lessons. She scribbled a name on each of them, then ran back down the hallway.

She entered the room where Kazuya was being questioned, and handed the notes to him. "Here you go!" she said, forcing a smile to appear on her face, even though her legs were shaking in fear.

The inspector predictably flew into a rage. "Out of the way, woman! You’re obstructing the investigation!"

"If I could have a word with you, inspector." Cécile hid her quivering hands behind her back, and compelled herself to take a stand against him. "If you intend to treat him as a criminal, then please obtain an arrest warrant first. Otherwise, this is simply an abuse of your police powers. As a representative of this school, I must strongly protest!"

Kazuya followed her into the hallway, and politely thanked her. Once she saw him looking more like his usual self, Cécile thrust the stack of notes into his hands. "Don’t mention it. Make sure to take this. You’re going to the library."

"Th-the … library?"

Cécile nodded. "Right."

When she told him to take the notes to his classmate in the library, Kazuya’s face took on a slightly sulky expression. For someone as serious and studious as he was, the idea of a classmate holing up in the library and never attending lessons must have been appalling. Cécile pressed on, "Go to the very top of the library. That child loves high places."

"Is that right…." Kazuya sounded a little disheartened in his reply. Then he said, in an unusually mean-spirited tone by his standards, "There’s a saying in my homeland, that smoke and a certain you-know-what like high places."

The sight of his childish pout amused Cécile, and she couldn’t help but giggle. "Oh, Kujou, don’t say that."

She gave Kazuya’s back a firm push, and added, "Actually, that child is a genius, you know…."

With notes in hand, and posture as straight as ever, Kazuya departed down the hallway, his leather shoes tapping out a loud, even rhythm upon the floor.

She smiled after him as he left.

After exiting the building, Kazuya walked in the direction of the solid, stone-grey tower hidden deep inside the sprawling campus. It was springtime, and in one of the gardens, the little flower that Kazuya had so loved was once again beginning to sprout a delicate golden bud. From time to time a warm gust of wind would blow past him, marking the return of a blithe and comfortable season.

Cécile watched Kazuya grow steadily more distant as he walked through the gardens, his head held up high. With the coming of spring, the bleak winter felt more and more like a distant memory.

He headed toward the secret conservatory at the very top of St. Marguerite’s Library.

And then, a short time later…

"So, it wasn’t enough that you were late to class, but on top of that, decided to come play truant in the library? Of course, you may do as you wish, but at least go somewhere else so that you aren’t in my way."

"Huh? … Might you be Victorique, by any chance?"

As if waiting for someone whom she had never met, the girl Victorique, who resembled a small porcelain doll, with her golden hair dangling from the top of the library like silken thread, met the boy who had at long last arrived from his faraway island country after crossing the seven seas. He would become her one and only vassal and friend.

His name was Kazuya Kujou.

The year was 1924.

In a corner of Europe, adjacent to the French, Swiss, and Italian borders, was the kingdom of Sauvure, a small country that nonetheless prided itself on its long history. Deep in the most secluded part of the country, nestled at the foot of the Alps, stood St. Marguerite’s School, a prestigious institution that may not have been quite as old as the kingdom itself, but still boasted of a long history of educating the children of the aristocracy.

And buried deep within the campus, at the top of the labyrinthine staircase in the huge grey library, was a marvelous place…

"If you are, then…"

Kazuya slowly took a step into the tranquil, almost dreamlike conservatory on the highest floor.

"I’m supposed to give these these notes to you…."

Victorique, puffing lazily on her pipe, snorted through her small, finely-shaped nose. "By the way, who the devil are you?"

Kazuya recoiled at the sound of her unexpectedly husky voice. And then, stiffening from the sight of her intensely beautiful, and yet queer appearance, he answered in a faltering voice. "I’m … Kujou."

Victorique smiled slightly when she heard this. For just a moment, her expressionless face seemed to soften into something approaching mirth. But Kazuya did not notice this almost imperceptible change….

The warm spring breeze blew in through the opened skylights. A thin wisp of white smoke floated up to the ceiling from the ceramic pipe. The girl and boy gazed at each other, a short space between them, one sitting and one standing.

In that spring of 1924…

And so the golden flower and the Grim Reaper at last found each other.

A chain of cases would then unfold, from the motorbike decapitation case, to the mystery of the newly-arrived transfer student Avril Bradley and the book on the thirteen step, as well as the cases of the mummified knight, the great thief Cuiaran, and the explorer’s secret heirloom, the Penny Black. Victorique de Blois and Kazuya Kujou would proceed to pursue the truth behind these, hand in hand.

But that is, once again, an entirely different story….

GosickS Volume 1 Prelude 9

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GosickS Volume 1 Prelude 9 summary

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