I would feel any great reservations about killing someone…

Well, at best, in the meantime, I shall try to make this girl feel a little bit more favorable toward me.

“―And now, Arti.
Once I have downed this, I’ll be getting ready to leave soon.
She should be here by now, time-wise.”

“…Yeah.”

Arti, formerly in a positive mood, discernibly started to feel down.
Well, I supposed that was to be expected.
Needless to say, it was Arti who was most overjoyed with the outcome this time, but considering what she herself had committed, her mind wouldn’t know how to interact with her.

“…Arti.
The other party wants you to behave as you always do.”

“I understand that, but…”

Right then, the doorbell announced the arrival of a visitor.
Speaking of the devil.
Arti was even pallid than when unannounced tests were conducted.

“Yes, come in.”

“―Excuse me.”

With a reserved voice, a girl who I was under the assumption that I would never catch a glimpse of again made her appearance.

Due to that tragedy, her hair was significantly shorter, but everything else, including her long, slit eyelashes, well-shaped ears, and cheeks that were tinged a subtle shade of vermilion, was returned to normal.

“Um, am I running a little late?”

“No, you are right on time.
I am glad you came―Eto.”

When I called out her name, Eto gave a slightly bashful smile.

“O-Oh, Eto.”

Then, as if covering up behind my back, Arti called out to her in a faltering tone.

However, Arti’s subsequent comments eluded her since she was at a loss for words.

Eto then broke into a moderately troubled smile and said…

“I am back, Arti.
Sorry I dragged you into this mess.”

…with a teasing look.

“―! Etoooooooo!!”

“Oh, stop crying alreadyー”

No, it was logical why Arti would start bawling after being told such a thing.

The sight of Arti clinging to her waist and weeping, and of Eto soothing her, uncharacteristically overcame me with a sensation of scintillating awe.
That was not to suggest, nevertheless, that I couldn’t kill them or anything.

“…Eto.
The flowers are…”

“Yes, I bought them at the flower shop on the way here.”

Eto averted her eyes, then lowered her gaze to the floor, a flow of tears trickling onto the ground.

Eto’s resurrection.
It was undeniably nothing short of a miracle, and it was only made feasible by Matthias’ usage of the Philosopher’s Stone replica at that time.

Even the Philosopher’s Stone, though, was not an unconditional miracle.
According to later research, the Philosopher’s Stone allegedly possessed the absolute principle of equivalent exchange, which precluded it from executing actions like creating something out of nothing.
Matthias’ stone, which was a replica, was likewise no exception.

That was why Matthias revived Eto in accordance with the principle of equivalent exchange.
With his own life, body, soul, and all.
I once heard the saying, “Heaven does not create one man above or below another man,” which indeed rang true.
It certainly seemed that people were all born equal.
The Philosopher’s Stone was certainly devouring all of Matthias and creating the whole of Eto.
And to the extent of even her soul before her birth.

That may be why the Eto in front of us now, strictly speaking, may not be the Eto that we were previously familiar with.
But so what? She was already Eto to us if she can smile or cry in our presence like she used to.
Who in the universe would be distressed at such things after witnessing a miracle like this?

“…Seriously, even Eto is crying.
Let’s hurry up and go visit your father’s grave.”

“…Yes.”

Before employing the Philosopher’s Stone, Matthias had several “requests” for me.
The future of Eto was one of them, as should come as no surprise.

“Please look after Eto until she gets married, even though I know you have a special interest in her.”

At a time like this, I figured he was joking, yet as expected, the look on Matthias’ face was deadly serious.
That man was still somewhat out of place.
Speaking of which, we ultimately had only ramen, which he claimed to be his least favorite dish.

“You two, let’s go out for ramen on the way home today.
Arti, as I recall, you like ramen, too, right?”

“Hiccup… ugh… like it!”

“You are making a hell of a face right now… Well, it’s settled then.
The three of us, let’s go.”

“Bieeeeeeee!!”

“How long are you going to cry!?”

“Teacher Kanaki, I heard that you are absent from school today, so I came to your house without notifying you but―What in the world are you doing bringing two schoolgirls home in the middle of the day, Teacher?”

“Fina!? No… about this, you are having a huge misunderstanding right now…”

“Teacher locked me in this house for days…! I can’t get married anymore!”

“What are you saying all of a sudden, Arti!?”

“…But indeed, Arti has been staying in this house ever since…!”

“…Teacher Kanaki.
You’ve left me disappointed.
You are under arrest here… no, you are condemned to death.”

“Eto, stop that nonsense! Come on, let’s be on our way then!”

“Oh, wait!”

Rushing out of the room, which has grown boisterously noisy as if the earlier atmosphere was a lie, I dashed to the outside.

Of course, such a normal life will be gone today, and I will resume my previous role as the sickest pleasure-seeker, prowling the dark streets while humming to myself in quest of my quarry.
This was therefore only applicable today.
Tomorrow I will be a psychopath again, so giving the impression of myself as a normal human being at least for now would not be a bad idea.

While doing so, a wry chuckle slipped out of my lips as I realized that in the corner of my mind I was contemplating where the four of us would eat our ramen tonight.

Apparently, I was a rational monster at heart, unconsciously attempting to deceive even myself―

(Act I, complete)

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