Pelulu scurried out from under and crawled her way next to Filecia and said, “W-what the hell was it...?” Filecia went down into a kneeling position and showed Pelulu the heart-shaped brooch-like thing she removed from the chair.
“It’s the Magic Marionette Heart...,” answered Filecia.
“Magic Marionette... Heart?? What is it?” inquired Pelulu while staring closely at the thing Filecia passed to her. Filecia pinched it from Pelulu’s hand and gripped it. She then took a step and explained, “When you attach a Magic Marionette Heart to something, they become mobile just like living things... This chair did not come with such a thing originally. In the first place, there was not a single Magic Marionette Heart in the mansion. Perhaps, somebody sneaked in and attached it to the chair... But who in the world did that? And what for...?”
While lifting Balsette who finally regained his consciousness, “Well, since we found out what made the chair move like crazy, the mystery is solved right? said Pelulu next to Filecia who was deeply absorbed in thought. “Then I’ll head back to the palace... what about you, Mr. Vagabond?” she added.
“Wait!” Filecia stopped Pelulu who started walking out by grabbing her arm. “This is not the only mystery in this mansion. Did you forget what I told King Elbano?”
“Hah? W-was there more? I was not really listening as I was lost in deep despair...” said Pelulu while scratching her head. Filecia placed her arm firmly around Pelulu’s shoulder and suggested, “Spend one night at my house and you’ll know. Let’s get going...!”
Since Filecia was going to go back to the mansion, Pelulu panicked, “H-hey, hey, Mr. Vagabond! Do something!!” she turned to Balsette for help. He grinned and asked Filecia, “May I also stay for the night? I’m stuck too as I don’t have a place to sleep. Of course, I’ll help with the investigation of the mysterious phenomena.”
“Hey! Mr. Vagabond!! Are you planning to betray me?!”
While gazing at clamoring Pelulu out of the corner of her eye, “Yes, you may. It won’t be a problem if that could help solve the mystery faster. Well then, shall we?” said Filecia. She carried Pelulu under her arm and headed back to the mansion with Balsette. “Hey, wait! I hate scary things in general!! Nooo, let me go!” Pelulu was kicking and struggling under Filecia’s arm. Her whining echoed throughout El Scaro at dusk...
“Groarghhrrr?” Pelulu got woken up by the sound of her own snoring. She looked around and found herself sleeping in a deluxe bed. She then recalled the huge fuss over removing the Magic Marionette Heart attached to the moving furniture in this mansion last night... She also remembered and wondered why she was the only one getting approached, ridiculed and chased. She was completely worn out and her entire body hurt. Thanks to that she was able to sleep well. After all her thoughts, she glanced at the clock and realized that it was almost noon. She noticed no one came to get her for breakfast. Suspecting that she might have slept through, she tilted her head to the side while she got changed. She opened the door as soon as she finished, but she bumped into Filecia who burst in.
“Ahhh! Oh, Pelulu, I was just about to get you... Please come with me, it’s crucial!!”
“Hah? What... u-uwaaaaa!!”
Filecia carried Pelulu under her arm to the grand hall at the far end of the mansion. Balsette was seen standing by the entrance.
“Yo, morning! I was wondering if the meal is ready, that’s why I came here, but looks like it’s not the time for that...,” he pointed inside the hall. “I have no idea what you’re talking about as I just got here with Filecia,” responded Pelulu after Filecia put her down. She peeked inside, “What actually hap...,” her words stopped right there, and she gasped. The servants of the mansion collapsed and lay on top of one another on the floor.
“Oh, Lord?! No no no no no... Everyone collapsed... t-t-this is not good!” Pelulu wanted to burst in, but was hindered by Balsette. “Hey, relax. Look carefully...”
He looked into the room attentively. As Pelulu began to observe with him, snores and snorts coming from the collapsed individuals could be heard. “Are they... sleeping?!” said Pelulu spontaneously much to her surprise. “Seems to me they’re not simply sleeping... just look.” Told by Balsette, she looked more closely inside and could see anguish and cold sweat glistening in their faces. “Hmm...?? Are they having bad dreams?”
“Yeah. At least they don’t seem to be dreaming about holidays to me...” Balsette too paid meticulous attention to the situation as he nodded at Pelulu’s words. Filecia who was hesitant to look, also drew near to them and said, “The same thing has happened before, but this is the first time so many people collapsed at the same time. Oh, god. What should we... anyway, we’ve got to help them!” She got rid of Balsette’s hands that were preventing them from entering and she darted into the hall. “No, don’t! Don’t be reckless...” She fainted the second she stepped in and soon she started having a bad dream with her face in agony.
“Perhaps... there’s some trick used to put anyone approaching it to sleep somewhere around here... We have to find it...” After hearing what Balsette said,
Pelulu folded her arms and thought for a moment, then she quipped, “But we’ll fall asleep as soon as we enter the room, right? What should we do about it?”
Balsette also folded his arms and began to think. Shortly after that, an idea seemed to have struck him. “I’ve got a good idea. Would you listen?”
A few minutes later, the two of them could be seen roaming in the hall looking everywhere for clues. After a while, Pelulu who began to lose her balance almost fell and Balsette smacked her hard on the head. She didn’t look very happy, but she had the sleep slapped out of her. A few more moments passed and as she looked around, this time she noticed that Balsette was about to doze off while standing. Without any hesitation, she threw a spin kick in his shin which brought him to his senses. He jumped around in pain while clasping his hands around his shin.
“Since it was your idea, I knew it was gonna be absurd, but don’t you have a better idea?” Looking at Pelulu who was complaining about his idea, he seemed perfectly cool about it. “What’s so wrong with it? Since there are two of us here, the one who is awake shall wake the one who falls asleep up, doesn’t it make sense? What are you still complaining about?” argued Balsette with a laugh. His optimism prompted Pelulu to stamp her feet, “Your idea is full of flaws!! It only works when only one of us gets drowsy. What if we get drowsy at the same time?” she rebutted. “Who’s gonna wake us... hhoamm...,” she added as she drooped. “Pelulu?... No no no! Don’t fall asleep!!” Taken aback by Balsette’s voice, she lost her balance and hit her head against the wall behind her. Pieces of debris and dust soared into the air along with a loud bang.
“Pelulu!! Are you all right?!” Balsette yelled. To respond to him, Pelulu later appeared from behind the cloud of dust hanging in the air while coughing violently. “*cough cough* What’s your problem? Oh... really? I almost fell asleep? Huh!!” Soon after the dust settled, a large hole was seen in the wall.
“Oops... oh my god, how much do I have to pay for busting such a big hole in this fine wall...” Pelulu who was gaping at the wall looked around and when she saw that Filecia and the rest were still asleep, “Balsette! Let’s go before they wake up, c’mon!!”
However, “Wait, look here,” said Balsette as he stared at the hole, “This hole has always been here. Someone cut it open... You can’t really tell when you just look at it, but the material that has been used to cover it is cheap and different from the original. Hm...? What’s that in the wall...,” he slipped past the wall and took something out. Pelulu stepped closer to him to look at it. It was an eerie colored crystal emitting somewhat evil aura. As soon as she saw it, her eyelids got heavy. “Uh-oh...! No no no! I almost fell a sleep! Hey, I think this is the thing that put everyone to sleep. What do you think?”
“Well, let’s just ask Filecia first if she has a clue about it!” said Balsette as he nodded at Pelulu’s opinion. He held Filecia who was sleeping nearby in his arms and slapped her gently on the face.
“O-oh? What’s goin...”
Pelulu stifled the big gaping yawn caused by the crystal found inside the wall and brought it to Filecia who did not quite understand the circumstances then. “Hhoamm... ergh... here, we found it inside the wall over there. Any clue?” inquired Pelulu. Exposed to the crystal right in front of her, Filecia opened her eyes wide. “Isn’t it Nightmare Crystal?!”
“Nightmare Crystal?” asked Pelulu with her head tilted to the side. Filecia whispered and cast a magic spell on the crystal. Soon it stopped emitting evil aura. “The person who held the nightmare crystal will be having nightmares for sure,” explained Filecia to Pelulu whose eyes practically popped out of her head. “So, this is why the servants collapsed... It was in the wall? Why would it...,” she continued to murmur. “Before you go further, isn’t it wiser for us to check whether there are more of it in the mansion? I don’t believe this thing could put so many people in this mansion to sleep on its own.” Balsette interrupted Filecia who was about to go deep into her thoughts.
“We didn’t know it at first, but since the hole was simply covered with some cheap material, we may be able to spot the rest easily.” Hearing Pelulu’s words, Filecia stood up and said, “Right, we may as well find out the culprit who set up the crystal and caused so much damage to this mansion... Fine, let’s search every corner of this mansion!” The three of them nodded at one another and started to search around the mansion.
“Whooo! It’s here! Dang, how many crystals the culprit actually set up?!” Pelulu’s voice that sounded half shocked reverberated. Roughly one hour had elapsed since the search commenced, and the nightmare crystals found in the wall or on the floor heaped up high.
“I was assuming there must be more than one crystal, but I did not expect it to be this many...” Balsette was amazed at the innumerable amount of the crystals. “Well, I have stopped the crystals from emitting the evil aura that causes one to have nightmares, so we should be fine for the time being. But just in case, shall we take them out to the patio?” proposed Filecia while incapacitating the crystals with her magic.
Pelulu reacted to the proposal by quickly gathering up the crystals into her arms. She had Balsette carry them too and tried to carry them out as expeditiously as possible. “Aight! The patio, right? How do we get there?” she asked.
“Just exit through that door.” Pelulu opened the door as per Filecia’s instruction. As she was about to step out, “Whaaa!!” she got swept away and buried in an avalanche of something from the other side of the door. Balsette quickly dug through it in a panic-stricken way to recover her.
“Are you okay?! C’mon! What the hell are they...?! Are they also... crystals?! Filecia!!”
Smaller than the nightmare crystal, the things that surged in were a huge mass of blackish-red crystals. Summoned, Filecia ran toward Balsette and when she saw the crystal, “P-parasite Crystal?!” she was petrified with a look of complete shock on her face.
Later, Pelulu came to herself and she looked outside. “Whaaa?! What the heck!!” The reflection in her pupils revealed the whole surface of the patio being blanketed with crystals that were also beginning to invade the room. It did not stop there - the crystals began to multiply in rapid succession and were flooding the room.
“We need to stop this!! Filecia! Could you also incapacitate these crystals?”
“Ah... a-alright!! answered Filecia who began to chant some spells in susurration. The blackish-red crystals in the room instantly ceased to proliferate as she waved her hands around. “Parasite crystals will not be able to multiply when shattered. Please break them now!!”
“Alright! Let’s wreck them! Pelulu, please help too!!”
“I can’t even if you told me to. I haven’t got any weapons!!” Looking at Pelulu who was in a fluster, Filecia muttered some spells and a hammer came flying from somewhere in the mansion and landed right in Pelulu’s right palm.
“How about that? Could you use it?” questioned Filecia.
“It’s not too heavy and its long handle makes it easy to wield. Alright, let’s get this show on the road!” She held the hammer with both hands and with it at ready position, “Well, first... let me try it out! Baaaam!” Not long after, the crystals that were all over the room gradually became pulverized. Seeing and realizing the spirit Pelulu once lost slowly coming back to her, Balsette cracked a smile.
They finished crushing all the crystals in the hall in a fraction of a second. They leapt out dancing to the patio and for a while, the sound of them wrecking the crystal outside the mansion continued to resound......
“Ch ch ch (brushing)... That’s all I guess?”
Three hours after the battle with the crystals that began with Filecia using her magic to stop the parasite crystals from multiplying, along with Pelulu and Balsette who pulverized them, they managed to crush all of them. Not only Pelulu, but also Balsette and Filecia who were slightly apart from her, were out of breath and completely weary. “Hhhu hhha hhhu... I guess so... Fiuh, this is so energy-consuming... by the way, what do we do with this?” inquired Balsette while wiping his sweat off. Filecia who was resting on the floor looked around and saw a large pile of crystal shards.
“Haaa... right! Crushing them only turned them into shards. The amount doesn’t change... they are taking up too much space and will end up ruining the beauty of this mansion if we just leave them like this...,” said Filecia while pondering the solution with her palms on her cheeks.
Pelulu who finally got up drew near to Filecia. “Although they won’t build up after we crushed them, we never know what may happen. We shouldn’t keep them here. I say we dump them somewhere as far as possible from the city. That’s the only choice we have, right?” said Pelulu standing with her arms akimbo.
Balsette also got up and approached Filecia. “Alright, then. Shall we begin by gathering the shards in one place? Make sure you gather everything from every corner of the mansion including the areas behind things in the room,” he reminded.
The three of them split up and collected the crystal shards scattering all over the mansion. A few hours later, they stuffed the shards into several dozens of cloth sacks and load them onto a few carts.
They got the servants of the mansion to pull the carts and while sitting on one of them, “Okay, so we’ll borrow your servants and the carts. We’ll go back straight to the city once we are done getting rid of these crystals,” said Pelulu. “Oh, right. I nearly forgot. I’ll return this to you,” she added as she passed the hammer she used to break the crystals. However, Filecia turned her head from side to side a couple times. “That’s for you Miss Pelulu. I hope it would be useful for your journey onward... I guess it would be better off if you keep it... Well then, please be careful!”
Seen off by Filecia, the carts left the mansion and they got to a big street leading out of the city. Pelulu later noticed a woman that was standing on the street and looking at the carts. As the carts got closer, it became clear that she was glaring at them with a grim expression on her face. Then as the carts went past her, she heard some words coming out of the woman’s mouth. She couldn’t believe her ears, “Tsk! Ibrin... that stupid hick!!” she looked back involuntarily, but that woman had disappeared just like smoke...
“What?! You’re gonna continue your journey straightaway? Mr. Vagabond... that’s way too sudden...,” Pelulu involuntarily protested in a shrill voice since she was surprised to hear what Balsette said as soon as they finished disposing of the crystals in the obscure part of Wanderer’s Plains.
“I only promised to help solve the phenomena occurring in Filecia’s mansion. Come to think of it, we’ve been through a lot. But I guess everything’s all right now...,” said Balsette. The next second, he patted Pelulu’s head with her cap on, “Moreover, it seems you’ve got almost all of your spirit back, that means my duty is over, right?” he jested.
“Ugh!! Don’t just decide things on your own... wait what?!” Pelulu fixed her cap and by the time she looked around, Balsette was already waving his hand from quite far away. “He did things his own way till the very end. *sigh* But well, thanks...”
Balsette acted as though he didn’t hear what Pelulu said last, so he asked her to repeat it once more. She stuck her tongue out at him, signing him to go away. He turned his back while smiling and began to walk away. The vagabond’s figure gradually became more distant and eventually became just a faraway dot fading into the plains...
After bidding farewell to Filecia’s servants who returned to the mansion by the carts, the sky had turned pitch black by the time Pelulu got back to the palace in El Scaro by herself.
Arriving at the palace, the sentry let her through without detention. Shortly thereafter, in front of the king’s chamber she was. She was about to enter, but then she heard someone talking and she hurriedly knocked.
“Who is it?” King Elbano’s dignified voice echoed.
“It’s mee, Pelulu. I came back because I’ve solved all the mysteries in Filecia’s mansion,” Pelulu reported in a louder voice. Soon after that, King Elbano opened the door by himself and welcomed her.
“Ooh, you’re back! I have also heard it from Filecia, but I’ve been feeling anxious all the time since I learnt you went to dispose of the crystals that had been the source of the disturbances. Well, come in.” Once in the chamber, a familiar man and woman were in sight. “Heyy?! Aren’t you Triel and Balft!!” Startled by the spontaneous yell coming from Pelulu, Triel and Balft turned around reflexively.
“Oh, you are the girl who kept following the adventurer... hmm... oh, right, you’re Pelulu, aren’t you?? I’ve heard about what happened to the adventurer... I’m...”
Pelulu unintentionally frowned at Triel who cast her eyes down in sorrow, but soon her face split into a wide smile. “What are you talking about! I’m so glad that I’m finally free from those days when I would normally get pushed around a lot by the adventurer. More importantly, what are you two traveling knights doing here in the palace? Do you happen to need the king’s help?”
“Err... n-no, it’s not that we can’t solve it on our own... right, Triel?” Balft seemed to tremble slightly at Pelulu’s question. On the other hand, Triel remained calm and explained, “Right, we were about to request that the king take some measures with regard to the incident we heard from the city residents...”
While staring at Triel’s smiling face, Pelulu realized whenever she met them, she could feel that they were hiding some secrets. However, she was not able to confront them as King Elbano broached a new subject.
“The mystery in Filecia’s mansion was already quite unusual, but according to their report, wooden dolls have been appearing and eerily dancing in ecstasy in the middle of the night in various parts of the city. Thanks to that, many people have been troubled and coming up one after another complaining that they couldn’t sleep... I know you just came back and I’m sorry to say this, but since it’s close to midnight now, could you go with Triel and Balft to solve this incident?”
“W-wait a minute. This time it should be fine with just Balft and Triel, right?! Besides... I just can’t deal with scary things like the dancing dolls...” Even though pleaded by King Elbano, she remained unshakable when it comes to ghosts or demons and the like. She recoiled and declined it.
“What are you talking about?? You just solved one mysterious case, did you? One or two cases won’t make any difference, you’re coming with us!” Balft suddenly grabbed Pelulu by her collar, carried her under his arm and exited the king’s chamber. Taken aback, she succumbed momentarily before she quickly came to her senses. “Nooo, let go of me!” she resisted but in vain. She was forcefully taken out to the night street of El Scaro without further negotiation...