Our Sacrificial Waltz To Everlasting Memory

Chapter 1

"How dare you mock my achievements!"

"You were wrong about me, I worked harder than anyone else!"

"And yet… you still ridicule me!?"

"I'll make you respect me… I'll make sure you… and EVERYONE else… suffer."

"I'll make sure you burn in a hell I've personally created!"

Devil's Horn

(Part 2)

'W-What in the world is Omen doing here?!'

Prince hadn't known what to expect when walking into to investigate the weapon's room… but seeing Omen was definitely at the bottom of the list of what he wanted to see. 'Hagoromo said he was in the ballroom… she even raced against him to distract him… so why is he here?!'

Smothered by such an oppressive atmosphere, Prince scurried behind Uta as if on instinct. Realistically, it was the only thing he could do in the face of such a threat, one that he didn't want to risk another round with. To his relief, Uta stood protectively in front of him, the swordsman's piercing gaze mimicking that of a blizzard ready to bury anything that came across his path.

In contrast, Omen's fiery gaze looked beyond irritated, his blazing anger flickering between Uta and Prince. "Great, even more brats to bother me! These two dimwits walk in right after I was dealing with this punk!? It's never-ending with ya morons!"

The punk, Albion supposedly, didn't appreciate the comment. "Morons? Big talk for some servant who can't even do their job right. Aren't you supposed to be polishing the shoes of that wack job you work under? It's a better use of your time that's for sure."

"Shut it, you know-it-all!" Omen snapped, his bony sockets narrowing with fury. "And you two over there!" He glared at Uta and Prince. "I'm in the middle of somethin'! Scram or I'll tear ya to pieces!"

"...and if we don't?" Uta narrowed his eyes, hovering his gloved hand over the handle of his sword. How Uta could act so defiantly against the crazy warrior, Prince had no idea, personally, he was half ready to bolt out the door.

And for good reason as Omen's empty sockets blazed sadistically at this. "Then I'll just have to force ya, won't I?"

Prince scrambled now for words to calm the situation. But considering it was Omen he was trying to calm down… his mind went blank at solutions.

Thankfully, Albion beat him to the punch and spoke up for the duelists. "Don't bother wasting your blade on this moron, Uta." He shockingly smirked, an action which rattled Omen. "He's just making a big fuss over nothing, but what else is new? Anyway, I had it under control."

"Under control?" Uta didn't sound like he believed that at all. "Then tell me why the Enforcer is in the weapon's room?"

"Why don't you tell me why Prince is here?" The sudden attention to Prince, paired with Albion's annoyed voice caused the boy to freeze. "I already have enough problems with this troll here, now you break the one rule we established?"

Being put on the same boat as Omen felt almost comical, if in a bad… degrading way.

At least the Enforcer sputtered in shock at this, his usual bravado faltering at the conversation shifting away from him. "Hey! Don't ignore me! I-I'm not some troll, I'm a warrior, the best one at that!"

"So?" Albion waved off.

Omen snapped. "So? SO?! So… ya better take that back or I'll clobber ya! That's SO!"

Albion gifted the samurai a dismissive laugh. "What? Are you frustrated over looking like a total fool? Well unless we break a rule, you can't do jack, right? And I don't think a single one's been broken today."

"Grrr! M-Maybe not… but-!" Omen seemed to be racking his brain for some sort of response, but he came up empty and grumbled as he put his kanabo away. "Whatever, it's not like we're done here! I still have to have a word with ya!"

"A-A word over what…?" Prince managed to speak up now that the tension had deflated a little. Though he kept behind Uta for safety. "W-What's been going on… um… exactly…?"

"Ya wanna know that badly?!" Omen growled. "I came across these scumbags little scheme over locking up this room, and I ain't happy about it!"

Albion only rolled his eyes at the reaction. "Yeah, it's something everyone knows… and won't stop complaining about, including you for some reason."

"Because this room is for the game, duh!" Omen's skull-like face contorted in annoyance. "Do ya schmucks need a reminder? Yer supposed to KILL each other! How are any of ya dumb-dumb's gonna do that if this room's locked up, eh?"

"Well… we wouldn't be a-able to, that's the point." Prince shyly tried to speak up.

"And that's the problem!" Omen growled, his hulking figure electrifying the air with a puff of his armored chest. "I wanna see bodies get hacked! I wanna see heads get carved in! Heck, I'll even take somethin' lame like someone gettin' shot with an arrow… or having a throat slit… or even seein' some eyes gouged out! The point of this game is to sacrifice each other, and yer gettin' in the way of that! One of ya brats gotta kick the bucket eventually, it's only a matter of time!"

There was a mad, almost demonic look to Omen's large form, his skull-like face twitching with mad glee at the gory description. Instead of a chilling cold, there was a blazing fire present in the room that stirred uncomfortably given what was being said… a fire that caused Prince to shrink in fear.

And yet that raging inferno came to a halt as Omen shamefully gulped, a bitter frown forming on his skull. "B-But anyway none of that can happen if ya morons are hoardin' the weapons room, it's against the rules of the game! It's unfair!"

Despite Omen's barking, Albion was far more relaxed than before, crossing his big arms with pride. "Nah, I don't think so. It's as I was telling you before Uta and Prince barged in… the only rule this room's involved in is that it's an exception to the nighttime rule… which means we can stay here as long as we want to make sure everything you just spat out doesn't happen."

"B-But…!" Strangely the samurai looked defeated at that as he struggled to come up with a retort. "But you're damaging property to do it!"

"And is anything broken?" Uta stepped up this time and gestured around the room.

The place appeared the same as before to Prince personally, a large mat in the center, walls made of wood and bamboo, and racks that could hold all the weapons stationed around the room. Nothing really out of place… which was bad news for Omen's case.

The large samurai realized this and grumbled, "but it's for the game! I can't just let ya do this! I order ya to leave this room alone!"

Uta and Albion didn't even bother to respond to that… but given Prince's earlier vote of confidence from the others he nervously stepped up. "Did… Alexander o-order you to come to check on this room?"

Omen glared at him. "E-Eh?! Why are you speaking up!?"

Prince flinched at the aggressive threat but tried to remain steady. "I'm just s-saying that unless Alexander deliberately told you to kick Uta and Albion out of this room… I don't think you have jurisdiction to… y-you know… do what you want here. If anything y-you could make him more mad."

Omen went silent, which seemed far worse than him screaming at the trio as he gripped the handle of his kanabo and slammed it's massive frame onto one of the training dummies, splitting it across the room as a red aura-like energy surrounded him. "Grrr… you're lucky I follow my orders to a tee. I'll just go and ask boss if this is allowed and if he says I get to shut it down, I'll be back with a vengeance!"

The intense heat and power from the act made Prince cling to Uta, while the swordsman only sighed at the antics. "Doesn't that count as you destroying your own property? Way to set an example as a rule enforcer."

"Puh-lease!" Omen chuckled, his bones glowing after the act. "This is a training room for the weapons, where the strongest warriors go to TRAIN. And guess what, I'm the damn strongest warrior here!"

"That logic makes no sense," Uta muttered.

Omen cackled. "What doesn't make sense? That I'm the strongest? Do you need a reminder?"

"I-I don't think we do-!" Prince butted in before anything could start up, this time his nerves pushing him to action at the very least.

"Whatever it doesn't matter, 'cause what I said earlier still applies ya brats. I always follow my orders to a tee so ya better watch it from now on!" Omen looked so proud for a second, before instantly getting the smirk wiped off him. "O-Oh crud, the crown! I had to guard it after I finished with the ballroom!"

With that, Omen scrambled out of the weapon's room, the door almost breaking on his way. His exit was just as concerning as his entrance, not that Prince didn't feel relieved the muscle head was gone. He let out a huge sigh of relief, being able to at least relax around Albion and Uta. "T-That was amazing, you guys sent him running…"

Prince managed to smile, but Albion didn't reciprocate the look. In fact, he realized he might want to retract his statement of feeling 'relaxed' as Albion intensely studied him.

"…yo Uta." Albion suddenly sighed, somehow taking a page from Tadatake's book for speaking. "You still got that pest behind you."

Prince blushed nervously at this. "Are y-you talking about me?"

"No, I'm talking to the training dummies in the room," Albion muttered. THIS time the sarcasm hit Prince right in the face considering their destroyed state. "Uta, I thought we agreed no one would come in here."

"As did I," Uta replied with an equally bothered tone. "I recall leaving the room in your care while I dealt with Xiuying. Care to explain how that… Enforcer… got in here?"

"Y-You two didn't see or hear him enter?" Prince murmured nervously. Such a thing for a behemoth that size should've been impossible.

Albion probably wanted his questions answered first, but given the rapid-fire counter, he stifled a grumble. "Your guess is as good as mine as to how the creep got in. One second I'm cleaning up the place and the next he's behind me whining about our plan. I can't stand that clown."

"H-He doesn't seem so hard to deal with…" Prince tried to speak up. "I don't know how he's g-getting around, but Hagoromo raced him earlier… and she seemed okay."

"Well that girl's crazy, I expect that." Albion shrugged, though it seemed like a shudder. Maybe he was uncomfortable around Momo? "Anyway, at least he's off our backs, now you gotta explain yourself, Uta."

"Prince came to investigate." Uta's reminder snapped Prince back into focus. He couldn't believe he forgot his main purpose was to investigate the room for Xiuying.

"You're gonna let him investigate?" Albion chuckled as if amused by the idea. "And what if he takes something in here, Einstein?"

Uta paused, appearing especially offended. "I hope you don't think I'm so incompetent as to not account for Prince potentially stealing something. Try and use the muscle… left… in your brain to think for a moment. Can this child handle any of these weapons or steal one under my eye? I wouldn't dare let him even walk near one."

Albion raised his brow at this. "Really? That's your only case?"

"Of course." Uta shrugged. "He's a baby that needs a sitter, and I'll keep him on a tight leash at all times as he explores."

"I-I don't think that's how babysitters operate," Prince gulped.

"It's how I operate," Uta deadpanned. Prince added that to the long list of reasons not to let Uta care for kids.

But at least the point both helped Prince case… and also felt like an insult. Okay no it was an insult. But he took the insult in stride. "Y-Yeah, I wouldn't wanna take any of these weapons anyway. I was just investigating for Xiuying's sake… and a-also everyone else."

"Hmph, nice save," Albion smirked almost as he crossed his arms. "If you really were just here for Xiuying I'd kick you out myself, but since everyone's been so damn annoying about Uta and I organizing this place then knock yourself out."

With a shy nod, Prince wearily looked around the room. There was only one entrance and exit, the door Uta and Prince came out of earlier. The bamboo walls stood tall, harboring small frames of weapons and armor. The training dummies… minus the destroyed one… had collected dust from their lack of use. The lanterns in the room acted as natural light as opposed to the electricity everywhere else… giving off an ancient look to the quiet weapon room.

The only thing he hadn't noticed before that seemed out of place was a traditionally painted frame hanging on the wall… which showcased a battlefield filled with warriors and samurai fighting in front of a burning palace. It only caught his attention considering it was the only artwork in the room.

All in all though, everything did look just like it did last time… although the idea that this place was meant for the killing game shook Prince's core. Omen made sure to etch that little thought into their memories. But that led Prince to wonder how the samurai even got in here with only one exit and entrance… one that Uta was guarding... and how Omen even got from the ballroom to here at all.

Either the sacrificial magic was at play or Omen was really sneaky. Prince couldn't fathom the latter, so he only shivered as he let the former sink into his mind as he tried to speak to the boys.

"I-It looks like you guys didn't mess with anything…" He said in relief, flickering his attention back to the duo. "It's pretty empty as is."

"Obviously, we're not stupid enough to not investigate this place," Albion muttered. "I combed damn near everything. Walls, ceiling, corners. This place didn't produce squat, it's basically useless aside from the weapons. I'd almost consider it an armory if the weapons weren't total shams."

Prince nervously looked over the holders of weaponry that were considered 'shams' by the blacksmith. Looking closer, there were not only swords, but spears, katanas, axes as said earlier, daggers, throwing knives, maces, hammers, spiked chain balls, some oddly designed num-chuks, staffs…

Seriously, what was all this? Prince didn't even know the name of the rest of the bizarrely shaped weapons.

"Crude design yeah?" Albion appeared taken in by Prince's bewildered look as he smirked proudly, "half the crap in here doesn't compare at all to MY creations. Look at the craftsmanship on some of these, it's like an amateur made them!"

"I-I can't tell the difference…" Prince shook, not like he would know what a good weapon is anyway. "Besides Omen said these were f-for the game so they must be… d-decent right?"

"You think we don't know that sherlock?" Albion frowned. "Obviously a weapon this bad is still dangerous in anyone with a single brain cell, but just watch. This blade ain't gonna cut anyone any time soon."

In a flash, Albion struck one of the training dummies with a sword nearby. Just as predicted, it wasn't cut into. If anything the sword only got in a shallow slice before bouncing off.

"See, it barely cuts into the thing." Albion scoffed. He seemed confident the weapons were useless… although Prince was more worried if hitting the dummy counted toward the "damaging property" rule .

Considering Omen hadn't rampaged into the room over it… Prince figured it was… fine. Besides he destroyed the other one well enough, maybe these dummies were meant to be destroyed?

"T-That was a strong swing…" Prince eventually stuttered in surprise, noting Albion's use of his muscles and arms to really put in his full force behind it. "If even that strength can't h-hurt a dummy… then are all the weapons actually weak?"

"It's no small matter, every weapon here is still dangerous in the wrong hands." Uta suddenly remarked, crossing his arms tightly as he tugged at his red gloves. "Besides… strength isn't everything… Albion's stance and intention were off, hence the shallow cut to the dummy. There was no intent to actually do damage, unlike that enforcer from earlier."

His cold gesture made the blacksmith sour. "Always a critic aren't you?" Albion muttered. "Obviously it was just a demonstration to show how bad these weapons are. Now as for MY weapons, surely the dummy-"

"-would've been cut down easily, I get it." Uta shrugged, looking indifferent. "But hand even the crudest blade to someone desperate and they'll figure out a use, it's only natural."

Was it really that natural? Prince couldn't even imagine holding up any of these swords… both out of principle… and because his twig arms probably would shake so much the sword wouldn't do any damage.

With a roll of his pink eyes, Albion went back to fixing up the weapons on the wall, moving Prince aside. "Considering you and Lukas are the only ones with decent weaponry in here, you don't get to talk about what having a crude blade is like."

"I just do what you do," Uta explained coldly, "don't take it to heart, it's unlike you."

"Psh, it's unlike you to actually talk at all given all that brooding you do." Albion fired back.

"Funny." But Uta wasn't laughing. "You talk too much for my taste personally."

Despite the trade of insults… Prince didn't sense any hostility between the two. Was this how friendships formed? He had no idea.

"Ignoring Mr. Smiles over there." Albion waved away Uta, who wasn't smiling, "I obviously know this crap's dangerous. I'm not claiming these five-year-old run around with what are essentially toy swords. That's why I got tabs on every single weapon… if even one goes missing, no one will get past me."

Finally back on topic, Prince nervously shook his head as he glanced at all the weapons. "S-So it seems that way. You guys really are trying to protect this place."

"Not protect, more like safeguard from potential idiots," Uta deadpanned over the comment. "As for everyone's issue with our plan, it was to catch people off guard in case they tried to enter the room without knowing we were in here."

"Exactly, and now everybody and their mom know what we're doing because of that french chick." Albion scoffed, his hand angrily hovering over his bandaged cheek. "I didn't see anybody else volunteering to act though, this is just to slow down the killing game, which clearly is working if Omen made a fuss over it."

"Oh yeah…" Prince murmured as he thought back. "H-He was pretty mad about your guys' idea."

"Because he knows it'll work." Albion grinned proudly. "No access to the weapons room… means no stupid morons killing each other. I mean, it doesn't matter what anyone says about killing or not killing, we gotta be serious about this even if no one kicks the bucket. There's crazies with trigger fingers everywhere."

All this talk about the game was really getting to Prince's ears. On one hand, he understood the fear, but he didn't want to succumb to something like that so quickly. He was already worried people didn't like him, let alone trust him, but he wasn't going to make the effort to be distrustful too.

So with a heavy breath, Prince spoke wearily to the swordsman, "guys… have a little faith, I'm sure nobody is going to hurt a-anyone for now. I mean, taking a life… that's just not something a person could do on a dime. Even if we're stuck here, w-why would we resort to hurting the people in the same situation as us? That just seems-"

"Pointless?" Uta interrupted with words that cut deep, "outside of this manor, I'd be inclined to agree with you. A common person couldn't just kill someone without reason. But we're not common people, we're Grand Students. We have more to lose should we be stuck here."

Hearing that, silence entered the room. All that boasting Albion did earlier went away, replaced with a serious expression on his hardened face at the thought. Uta himself, while still looking as calm as always, carried an intensity in his voice that shook Prince's core over the comment.

"W-What does that mean…?" Prince murmured, trying to slow down his heart.

Uta didn't say anything after, his eyes glazing cold… but Albion's fiery voice carried over to fill in the blanks. "It's obvious you wouldn't understand, you have no idea what Grandview's like." Albion seemed irritated but continued to speak. "That place is the crown jewel of the world. People would tear you limb from limb to get a spot there. This group were some of the lucky few to actually get in by the skin of their teeth."

"Grandview's… that type of school?" When Machi talked about it, Prince hadn't expected it to be that competitive.

"It's selective to be sure…" Albion muttered. "You don't get in by some lottery ticket… you have to work. So although Uta's annoying, he's got a point… most everyone here isn't some doormat, we're all talented in something. You've seen that yourself firsthand, yeah?"

Prince nodded wearily at this… compared to himself, everyone was better than him in most areas. "S-So then… why is that bad? If everyone is talented and strong then… e-everyone should work together."

Albion gripped his apron as he stared down Prince, "it's cause one way or another, we all got something to prove outside of this who says otherwise is lying. Which is why… it's smarter to prepare for bloodshed, rather than just hoping it won't happen."

Even though Albion spoke bitterly, his voice carried a hint of truth… a truth that Prince didn't want to keep thinking about. He had no idea what Grandview was like or how hard everyone worked, but he knew that everyone was indeed talented, and that someone could… kill for that talent.

But… would they? Given not only Albion's word… but Omen and Empress's… it seemed like it could happen.

"But even after everything I said," Albion suddenly continued, "I'm not gonna fall for a game I'm forced to play. If these lunatics think I'm just gonna keel down and submit, they obviously don't know me very well."

"They might not give us a choice." Uta replied to Albion with a dark look, before turning to Prince. "But Prince… if your unfound confidence can make you sleep better at night, by all means feed those delusions."

Prince went quiet. It might've been a delusion, and he might've been scared, but… he had to speak. "I've been doing some thinking and I don't want to be naïve but I also want to trust people… and h-have them trust me still. I… I just want everyone… to be okay."

At this, Uta paused, his grip tightening on his red cloak as he turned his back on Prince. "...I'll offer you this one piece of advice. Choose who you trust carefully… because blind trust will get you killed here. My eye is a very lesson for that…"

Prince nervously stared at Uta's eyepatch. Out of everyone, only a few had injuries. Albion had his bandaged cheek… Tadatake had a band aid on his chin… and Lukas was recovering from the fight with Omen. It was mostly small stuff though…

…Uta's eyepatch on the other hand unnerved Prince, showcasing a far worse wound than anyone else in here. How did something like that happen…? With what Uta was implying… Prince had a sinking feeling the event wasn't anything but terrible and painful.

"Now then, I believe you've seen everything you've wanted." Uta declared. "Don't come back here."

"Yeah and tell everybody to stop getting in a twist over this nonsense." Albion butted in, rolling his eyes. "Unless someone plans to steal a weapon from here we don't have any problems, got it?"

"O-Okay…" Prince nodded and finished his investigation in the weapon's room, looking nervously at the two boys. "W-What are you going to do if Omen comes back?"

"He'll be dealt with." That was all Uta said. He sounded pretty assured nothing would happen.

Albion appeared the same as he smirked. "Isn't he dealing with some sort of stupid crown thing…? That's what he said. Whatever that's about… we won't be seeing him for a long while, good riddance."

Having that crown brought up again made Prince's stomach churn, but he managed to keep it to himself as he turned to leave. He took two steps toward the door however before Aimi's promise suddenly snapped back in his head. "O-Oh wait, will I see you two at dinner… at least later?"

Neither of them replied, getting back to work to secure the space. He assumed that was a "maybe" on their end.

He didn't find much… heck he didn't really discover anything… but as he turned away to leave he both felt uneasy… and a little relieved that the weapon room was under the care of the blacksmith, swordsman, and knight (who wasn't present right now.)

Stepping outside wearily, Prince took a moment to reflect on the large manor he still was in. Not only did the Angel Room and Weapon Room provide more worry for the boy, if anything he felt a tinge of uncertainty regarding their purposes. Both the magic and weapons around really did mean to serve the killing game… a thought that he still wanted to get rid of from his mind.

But as he tried to do so, Alexander's words still kept popping up… as too did Empress's… and now onto the pile was Omen's. And once again that nightmare plagued his mind. Despite his attempt to block it out with investigating… the distraction offered him no favors. He nervously stumbled about… clutching his head wearily as he tried to ignore the pain he felt.

'Ugh… my head is killing me from everything I've done so far today… how long until dinner?' Prince wearily stared at his watch, seeing that the time for dinner was soon approaching.

So much for investigating the rest of the manor… his head would make sure he'd visit a doctor sooner than anything else.

'Oh snap…' Prince froze, remembering he promised Kanon he'd visit her later in the day for at least a check up.

Guess he was going to the doctor after all! Maybe Kanon could give him a cure over all these insane thoughts going on in his head.

Prince finally made his way over to the living quarters, his eyes flickering to the magical lights floating above the area. Their colors had changed since last time, now being darker orange. Possibly signaling the day coming to a close.

Thinking of the magic briefly, he wondered what it could mean if the magic here really was a sacrifice. How could all of this be possible… was something done before this game to ensure it all went to plan? He couldn't tell… but he did know he didn't want to look any longer at the floating lights because of it.

He sheepishly made his way over to the first floor to Kanon's door. Seeing all the girl's rooms were on the first floor he didn't have to walk far… but interestingly he saw some interesting faces around the area. Notably… Kanna and Amelie were standing outside the doctor's door… the perfumer grumbling while the assistant nervously shuffled around.

"Quelle barbe…" Amelie sighed heavily as she touched up her golden hair. "What is taking that doctor so long? If I'd known any better it would seem she's trying to steal my precious knight away from me."

She was speaking to no one in particular… even with Kanna listening uneasily right next to her… but Prince made the unfortunate choice to speak to her anyway. He was going to cross her path regardless, might as well try to be friendly. Plus, Kanna actually was friendly so maybe the two of them could talk instead.

"H-Hey Amelie…" Prince awkwardly greeted, noting the perfumer's instant lack of interest when he approached. "Hello Kanna!"

"Prince, it's good to see you again!" Kanna perked up at his name being called, his pink eyes widening with notice. "D-Did you come for your doctor's appointment? Kanon is currently meeting with Lukas so y-you'll have to wait until his inspection is done."

"Ah I see… I guess I took too long." Prince wondered how Lukas was holding up in there. He looked mostly fine, but that was with the armor on. Come to think of it, Prince hadn't seen what Lukas looked like under the armor… he only knew the knight was physically big, strong, very tall… the total opposite of Prince himself.

Prince tried to imagine what the knight looked like then under the mask before Amelie's words snapped him out of the fantasy. "Excuse me? Are you not even going to formally greet moi? How impolite of you, hmph!"

"But… I did greet y-you." Prince nervously said.

Amelie scoffed, not believing it. "I would hardly be able to tell with how meek your… hm… everything is." She gestured a hand over Prince's body language… which took a blow to his self esteem naturally. "Quand même, this is perfect timing! I need you to go in and interrupt whatever that mad doctor is doing… she's locked me out of the room."

'I can imagine why…' But Prince only ever kept those thoughts to himself as he chuckled wearily, "uh… why did she lock y-you out?"

Kanna spoke up for her with a squeak, "s-she uh… suggested that Lukas skip the treatment so they wouldn't be split up."

"Arrête tes bêtises!" Amelie aggressively spoke, her sharp blue eyes narrowing. "I do want him to get better, naturally, I'm not some mad woman who derives pleasure from someone in pain. But he's supposed to be by my side twenty-four seven, and that… idiote doctor… says she needs total concentration without me in the room… and yet she has one of her friends in there!"

"Someone else besides Lukas is in there?" Prince asked quietly, his eyes curiously looking at the door. "W-Who is it"

However, Amelie had resorted to her aggravated french ramblings.

So Kanna had to fill in the blanks. "M-Machi Amemori is helping Dr. Kanda. That's who is in there right n-now!" He looked very happy to report that information.

Prince was happy to receive it. So Machi was helping Kanon there, he wondered how that came to pass. Perhaps it would at least make this visit more enjoyable, so he smiled gratefully at Kanna. "Thanks for letting me know! I-I suppose I'll wait out here then for Lukas to finish."

"You don't have to wait, I am done now." Right at that moment, the door to Kanon's room opened and Lukas stepped out. His armor was on, so Prince didn't really see any change physically… but it appeared the knight was standing taller. "It is good to see you again Sir Prince."

Prince smiled faintly at the warm greeting… but before he could say anything Amelie shoved him out of the way.

"Finally!" Amelie lit up and clung to Lukas by the arm, her sour attitude doing a total 180. "Tell me, my knight, did that mad doctor do anything in there? What medication did she prescribe? Was she bad mouthing me?"

Lukas was flooded with questions all around, to the point where even Prince's head was spinning from the voices, but the knight stood as still as a rock to it all, not seeming to mind. However, Prince still felt a bit worried for him. Should he try and fish Lukas out of that conversation?

Thankfully, a different kind of knight in shining armor came to Lukas's rescue… or rather an exhausted teen in doctor's robes.

"Would you calm down?" Suddenly Kanon stormed out, her eyes dark and annoyed… with even worse eyebags than the last time Prince saw her. "You can't even wait five seconds before smothering yourself all over your personal bodyguard. I just did a routine checkup… Lukas is fine."

Amelie barely looked convinced as she chuckled in disbelief. "As if I would take you for your word on that. Whose to say you didn't poison my guard, or try other tricks? I would be wise to hear it from my chevalier himself. Tell me, what's your condition?"

"I'm fine."

"You're fine? That's it?" Amelie narrowed her eyes. Lukas gave a firm nod, which caused the perfumer to let out a satisfied huff. "Well, I suppose that makes sense. You're very strong so you possibly didn't even need a check up in the first place."

Kanon looked less than enthused. "So you'll take Lukas's word for it and not a licensed doctor..."

"Licensed? Or did you possibly buy a piece of paper off the market and call it a day?" Amelie retorted, irking Kanon a little. "Regardless, you've outlived your usefulness for now. Let us go, my knight and assistant. We have a dinner to attend."

"D-Dinner?" Prince perked up at the mention of that, given Amaya was planning the small event. "You guys are attending?"

"Why of course, that event needs someone as grand as moi to attend!" Amelie declared, smirking proudly. "And in other… lesser… news, my assistant foolishly promised his aid earlier with the setting up, so I must drop him off to prepare everything for me." And with a click of her heels Amelie whirled around to leave, gesturing for Lukas and Kanna to follow.

Kanon looked… dumbfounded by the comment. "She's making it sound like she's his mother or something, dropping her kid off at daycare."

"I-It's alright!" Kanna perked up happily, "a-as long as I'm of use, I don't mind! I-I hope you all will attend the dinner!" In that instance Prince noticed Kanna clutched some sort of photo, hidden from view so he couldn't see the contents as the assistant scurried after her, waving bye. "S-See you all at dinner! I'll be helping with the food!"

Lukas was about to join them without much effort, though he did hesitate and bow to Kanon. "Thank you for checking up on me, I will be more careful in the future." And with that he gave a slight nod of goodbye to Prince before following the two.

Prince waved goodbye softly. "I hope he'll be alright. H-He's doing everything he can to protect us…"

"He's a lost cause." Kanon somehow said that without any trouble and rolled her eyes. "But as long as he doesn't get into any more fights he should be fine. Now let's focus on YOU."

Her eyes pointed toward Prince, which caused him to gulp. "I-I'm sorry for being la-"

"Can it, we've wasted too much time already." Kanon suddenly patted Prince down, which made him blush hard before she pulled away. "Alright, no weapons, now come on."

"W-Weapons? Why would I have weapons?" Prince stammered as he shuffled behind. Kanon didn't even give him an answer as the door closed behind them.

Prince's heart raced as he stepped inside Kanon's room. It would be the first time he entered a living space that wasn't his own… although technically the entire manor counted as a place he didn't belong in.

Trying to ignore the anxiety he had, he stepped inside and observed Kanon's room. To Prince's surprise it actually looked quiet different from his own. The style of the room was designed to be reminiscent of a doctor's office. Bright colors filled the space… mostly creamy pinks and whites. The wooden floor shined and almost looked like tiles… and there were medical symbols everywhere.

The main thing that caught his eye though was the makeshift doctor's office in the corner of Kanon's room. If his room was a standard guest room… than Kanon's room could be attributed to an actual hospital wing… although Prince noticed how cutesy and fake everything looked.

In the doctor's area were stylish white counters holding medical devices… all of them were toys Prince noticed. There was a sink and glove station, along with cabinets made of glass to show more standard healing items like Band-Aids. Other medical equipment like the heart monitor and surgery tools all were done in cheap material, giving Prince some nervousness over their existence. There was a hanger in the office that had a white doctor's coat on it, looking way too big for Kanon despite it having a copy of her ID on it. Motivational posters of animals hung above a large hospital bed, and next to the bed was a black desk chair that could roll around.

And on the black desk chair was Machi, who actually was in the room like Kanna said. The mediator lit up seeing Prince, but resisted the temptation to hug him right away given Kanon was in her way. "Prince! You made it for the annual checkup! Ready to tell us your symptoms today? Any dry cough? Fever? Do you think you've been stabbed?" She joked around.

Prince appreciated the jokes and light hearted tone as he waved back. "H-Hey Machi. I've been fine today, haha… but I'm here for just a quick check, nothing to serious."

"What is this? Improv comedy?" Kanon muttered, already over the shenanigans. "If I wanted to laugh, I'd just watch Tadatake embarrass himself for the next hour"

"Aw come on Kan! That guy's got heart at least!" Machi beamed brightly and swirled around in the desk chair, her red crimson hair flying around her. "You should give him a chance some time."

"Right… like how I gave you a chance and I'm instantly regretting it." Kanon facepalmed with an exhausted look. "Just try not to get in the way, you're only here because Jun thought you'd be good help for some reason. I'll make a mental note later to not take stock in his opinions."

As the two squabbled, or more like Kanon squabbled and Machi took it with a laugh, Prince awkwardly stood nearby with his hands in his pockets. "S-So uh… Machi… why are you here exactly? A-Are you actually helping Kanon?"

Machi smiled. "That's the plan!"

"And it's a horrible one so far," Kanon added.

"Don't mind her! The all-nighter she pulled really cached up… so she needed someone to help keep things under control as she worked… so ta-da! Here I am learning from the best." Machi spoke in an accomplished tone, now sitting professionally on the desk chair. "If you have any non-medical related questions… I'm your girl."

"I wanted Kanna to help me… but he's wrapped under Amelie and Xiuying's finger…" Kanon rubbed her forehead, her brown eyes tired looking. "Seriously I don't know how those two suddenly roped both Lukas and Kanna into their rich girl clique but what do I know? Anyway… it's time to get serious."

"Oh… r-right." Prince sheepishly stepped up, trying to hide his nerves over being checked up on for the first time. "So how does this w-work? I've never been to the doctor before… or well… not a doctor that I-I can remember."

"Yes because of the memory loss…" Kanon sighed at this, and even Machi straightened up over the topic. "Usually how this works is that you have a primary doctor that you check up with annually or periodically with. Check in's would have your parents sign some forms, then you'd go in, discuss health related topics like your diet and then the actual process would involve some physical test. Usually checking your blood pressure or weight. It varies depending on if there's complications prior to the visit. Are you following so far?"

"...to be honest… n-no…" Prince mumbled, having NOT followed along to any of that.

Kanon grumbled but managed to keep her cool. "Whatever, for the purpose of this visit what I said doesn't really matter. What does matter is that your under the care of the BEST doctor ever, so you honestly don't need to worry. I'm just going to check if anything… hurts essentially. You got banged up in the crossfire with Omen so be prepared to tell me if there's any stiffness or pains you feel."

And with that, Kanon set to work. Her posture suddenly changed from one of annoyance to one of great focus, her tired brown eyes blazing with intense scrutiny as she checked up on Prince. He stood at the mercy of her fiery gaze, frozen like a deer as he occasionally listened to her instructions. He pulled the sleeves of his sweater so she could check his frail looking arms… then he pulled up his pant leg to his knees so she could check that to. Occasionally she patted around him firmly to assess if anything hurt.

All the while Machi sat in the back encouragingly, giving Prince a thumbs up as he followed Kanon's orders. It felt… strangely exciting for Prince to watch Kanon focus on her job. She had none of her usual equipment… and yet she worked with skillful enough hands and knowledge that she didn't need it to finally come up with a diagnostic. At the end of the check up… Prince finally realized why she was called the Grand Doctor.

"Alright then…" Kanon murmured as she wrote something on a board. "So from what I've gathered… you suffered major bruising on most of the skin, but considering there isn't any signs of discomfort or pain from you… it's mostly harmless. Bruises are a surface injury, so you'd only really want to call me if there's any signs of swelling or pain. Since there isn't… it'll fade in a few days."

"S-So I'm fine?" Prince let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, relieved at the inspection came without any concerns.

"Looks like it! Congrats!" Machi giggled and handed over a jar filled with lollipops inside, taking out a crimson red one for him. "This is for being such a good patient today!"

He took it and let the cherry flavor melt in his tongue, much to his delight. "It's r-really good…"

"I know right?" Machi giggled as she took a blue lollipop herself. "Imagine having an infinite supply of sweets at your disposal!" She took a green one for Kanon. "And this is for an exceptional treatment doctor!"

To Prince's surprise, Kanon actually took the lollipop and plopped it in her mouth, but she still looked concerned about something. This caused the celebration to die down as both Machi and Prince glanced at each other.

Machi eventually nudged the doctor and peered at her board. "Heya Kanon, what are you writing?"

"Quit goofing around, I'm trying to think of something." Kanon turned to Prince then and sighed. "Prince, when you got knocked out by Omen… how would you describe the event? Was it brutal? Or do you think you didn't take to much damage?"

Prince uneasily thought back to the moment, unsure of where Kanon was going with the idea. "W-Well… it was pretty scary. I didn't really get knocked out by O-Omen… more like Omen hit Lukas and then… Lukas slammed into me by accident."

"So Lukas, with metal armor that makes him around two hundred pounds… slammed into you?" Kanon waited for Prince to nod and then muttered something. "Interesting. Prince you should know before you came in here, that Lukas experienced some mild discomfort from the bruising he had. Which means that despite his larger size than you… and his experience in combat… his injuries were worse than yours."

Prince's heart skipped a beat. Lukas sustained worse injuries than he thought? But then, how was he acting perfectly fine about it? And furthermore… what did this mean for Prince?

"But Lukas was fighting Omen for an extended period of time, so that's natural yeah?" Machi pointed out, rubbing her neck wearily. "If he's actively fighting someone like Omen, he's gonna take more damage than Prince who was knocked out at the start."

"That's true…" Kanon confirmed, but her concern didn't go away. "However, take into account that Prince is much smaller and weaker than Lukas… so theoretically his injuries should still be worse in comparison to Lukas. Not to mention that Prince was knocked out. Losing consciousness like that is dangerous, and it's even more severe if it's longer than a few seconds. That could lead to a serious brain injury. So that's why I'm concerned… how could Prince, who not only is weaker than Lukas… but not experienced in combat… shrug off such intense injuries… while a trained knight actually had a bit of discomfort from them?"

The room grew quiet at the question. If Prince didn't feel like he was anymore of an outcast before, this really sealed the deal for him. The bruises on his body… even though felt dull in pain… didn't bother him too much, and even throughout the day he had been walking around as if it was business as usual. How was that possible?

Prince didn't want to think about it… but Kanon seemed determined to at least address it… at least she did until Machi stepped in with a comforting look.

"Hey well that doesn't change to much yeah?" Machi asked quietly, staring at Prince with a reassuring smile. "Both Lukas and Prince still got attacked, and they came out alright… enough… but still alright!"

Kanon didn't seem to appreciate the mediator butting in. "Not alright Machi, they have bruises showcasing otherwise. In fact they honestly should've gotten worse injuries… but Lukas I can understand walking it off considering the background of his talent. With no talent or basis for how Prince could walk it off, well it's hard to believe that-"

"D-Do you distrust me…?" Prince spoke the words without even realizing he had thought that.

"P-Prince?" Machi blinked.

Prince regretted even opening his mouth at all, but there was no taking it back. He just stared at Kanon and repeated the question. "I-It's… okay if you do," he lied. It wasn't okay. "I know I'm not really… like the rest of you."

Kanon kept things honest as she wrote on her board. "Can you blame me for being a little suspicious considering all these abnormal circumstances around you? The memory loss is one thing… but this as well, I mean… I'm just not sure that's all."

Prince's heart sank as his head followed to. "S-Sorry…" The idea of trusting Luna's words earlier seemed a bit harder now.

But to his surprise, Kanon suddenly grumbled and put her board down, looking conflicted. "Ugh… stop, it's fine. You don't have to apologize…" Kanon stayed quiet for a moment longer, her face struggling to stay cold before suddenly, "if anything… it's my fault. I… jump to quickly into these ideas I get."

"Really now?" Machi tilted her head as she tried to lighten up the mood. "But you always seemed so logical and level headed! Like a cool cat… or better yet, a cool panther!"

"Why are you comparing me to animals?" Kanon scoffed, but then turned to look at Prince. "Whatever, listen. I'm still suspicious, but I shouldn't have worded it so openly like that, especially in this environment. There's not much to be gained speaking outwardly like that… and Jun has been bugging me about getting closer to other people… so… if I get to know some of the weirdos here, the better I can get them to actually listen to me, because no offense, everyone believing in this magic crap is driving me insane."

At the word of "magic" Prince quieted down. He wondered how Kanon and Machi would take the revelation that to use it you'd need to "sacrifice" something… not that she'd try it or still believe it. Heck even Prince was having some doubts now.

But even as those doubts crept into his mind, Prince continued. "W-Well. It's okay to view this situation however you want… as long as it helps comfort you. I know that I've also been… sort of keeping some things to myself."

"Like what…?" Kanon murmured, narrowing her eyes.

"Like… hiding a-a nightmare that I had today," Prince confessed. "Or… the fact that… I'm worried my memory loss will make everyone distrust me." He paused as he thought of Alexander's words and sighed. "I'm just nervous, like you… and everyone else. But I don't wanna hide things or put on an 'act'. I wanna be honest without being scrutinized."

"Prince…" Machi's demeanor turned completely gentle as she reassuringly held Prince's shoulder. "You don't have to prove anything to us, we're all on the same team. So, let's cheer up and work together! That's what we all plan to do, yeah Kanon?"

Kanon was silent, her eyes… almost softening. "Right… I'm sure you're confused on a lot of things, and as the world's best doctor, it's my job to help those in need. So don't think this is courtesy or anything like that, I'm just going to go back to doing what I do best."

"A-And what's that…?" Prince was a bit more hopeful now as he lit up.

"Do you even have to ask?" Kanon grumbled, still getting a faint shot back at Prince, "I'm going to keep my oath and save people as the best doctor this world has ever seen. That's what… I was born to do." There was heaviness to her words as she said that, which seemed to seep with a determined tone to Prince.

It was a tone that Prince wanted to carry now to… a honest, true feeling that could allow him to be trusted in.

"That's the spirit gang!" Machi looked relieved at the shared resolve around her as she clapped. "Let's chalk this up to an amazing bonding moment, eh?"

Kanon's expression turned back to exasperated as she crossed her arms. "You always find a way to kill the mood. Please stop talking."

"Aw, don't shut me down so soon!" Machi whined as she twirled her brilliant red hair. "Besides, it's almost dinner time!"

"D-Dinner time?" Prince stared at the clock. The day was coming to an end. But… it felt like so long ago since he woke up! "When did that happen?"

"The check up probably lasted longer than I thought." Kanon commented with a groan, "you guys enjoy dinner and everything, I'm probably going to close up shop here."

"Oh no no no Kan!" Machi teasingly held to Kanon's arms, something that the doctor shot a glare at her for. "You have to come to dinner with us! Jun's gonna be there! Plus, I'm also going so you can sit next to me ! Isn't that fun!"

"And lose some brain cells from your conversations?" Kanon's usual cold demeanor did return, but it at least seemed she was entertaining the banter as she sighed. "Sure, let's have a blast at seeing the eventual food fight Tadatake will come up with."

"You cannot leave that guy alone, haha!" Machi's pleasant laugh warmed Prince's soul again. Perhaps his problems could at least wait until after dinner… that way, he could enjoy this peace… a little while longer.

"W-Well if dinner is gonna start, let's get ready…" Prince smiled, joining Kanon and Machi as he nervously left the room with them.

Stepping closer to the dining room with Machi and Kanon in front, Prince noted the fading sunlight outside the frosted windows. The day seemed to have ended far to fast for his liking. Had he really investigated for that long? Or was he just bad at telling the time? Probably a combination of both, which made him a tad bit embarrassed.

It didn't matter to much though as dinner with everyone was fast approaching. He had psyched himself for the moment of reuniting with most of the group together… and yet he was still a bit nervous. So much had happened with Alexander… Omen… his nightmare… and Empress's talk. It was all concerning.

But why was he hesitating so hard to tell everyone his troubles? He managed to talk briefly to Kanon and Machi… but even then… nothing.

Prince tried desperately to quell his concerns as Machi took the lead to opening the door to the dining room where people could be heard mingling inside.

"So exciting! I wonder if everyone decided to join!" Machi beamed. Her voice managed to help Prince calm down, if only for a moment.

"It's only been one day, it's not plausible after the announcement that everybody would just hold hands and show up." Kanon shrugged, looking over the idea of attending this dinner. "But it does sound like the usual loud mouths are inside."

Sure enough, Tadatake and Hagoromo's voice were the first things that Prince could hear… "Seems like y-you're right about that," he chuckled at the doctor's comment. "But it'd be nice if everyone did arrive…."

He had asked as many people as he could… for Aimi's sake at least. Koji. Anata. Xiuying. Uta. Albion. He hoped they'd attend… if only to just keep everyone else's mind at ease. So, with their faces in his mind, Prince ventured into the dining room, silently wishing to spot them.

The dining room was filled with familiar faces. At the table itself, waiting patiently was Amelie, a smirk on her face as she rambled to Xiuying who actually attended. The perfumer looked rather pleased over something, but although Xiuying was listening, she didn't seem interested in the slightest.

As expected Lukas stood near Amelie… but he actively was listening to Albion who made an appearance too. The blacksmith looked rather irritated at something… perhaps the servitude that Lukas found himself in with the perfumer… not that the knight seemed to mind as he kept watch for everyone in the side.

Hagoromo was also in the dining room, with Stefano unsurprisingly. The demonologist was laughing with Tadatake, who was holding some plates. Seems he was still setting up for dinner itself as he placed them casually on the table, but Kanna walked beside him and nervously cleaned up the plates to be symmetrical with the utensils.

But that was it. Out of everyone he asked, only Albion and Xiuying showed up. Prince deflated a bit. So Anata, Koji, Hania, and Uta didn't attend after all. Even more surprising… Some people like Fudo, Aimi, Luna, Amaya, and Jun weren't even there. But Prince assumed they were nearby…

…most likely behind the door that might've led to a kitchen given the sounds of clanging pots and pans.

"My precious dolls have finally arrived~!" Hagoromo snapped Prince out of his disappointment as she waved frantically. "The pleasure is all mine to host this dinner tonight! Please find a seat, mingle amongst your peers!"

She was sipping a fake wine glass and pretending to twirl a mustache. Was she… exaggerating being a formal host? Prince couldn't tell.

"Please don't mind her." Stefano drew attention off her with a smile. "Welcome. It's good to see more people in attendance. Everything is almost set up."

Prince tried to lighten up at that. "That's good to h-hear. Where is um… everyone else?"

"In the kitchen!" Tadatake grinned, shrugging his broad shoulders, "they're cooking up something fierce I bet! Jun was rambling about making a whole feast and Shortcake was trying to make her signature cupcakes!"

"Sounds like Jun to do that," Kanon deadpanned.

"Aimi's making cupcakes?" Machi beamed, "hehe all this talk about food makes it feel like a fancy dinner almost! Makes up for the weird feast/announcement we had yesterday, yeah?"

"Did you have to bring that up?" Albion rolled his eyes. "Wasn't the point of this dinner to forget about that?"

"Oh right, my bad!" Machi sheepishly rubbed her neck, probably realizing it was a bad time to recall that memory. "But now you caught my attention. Albion is that why you're here? To finally enjoy dinner with us?!""

Albion just murmured and glanced away. "Just making sure no one tries anything here. You guys need security."

"I believed I as the security…?" Lukas spoke up, bewildered.

"You're MY security," Amelie sparkled.

"Case in point…" Albion grumbled, "that leaves me as everyone else's security while Uta protects the weapons room."

Prince nodded to his explanation. Even if his reason was related to the game… Albion still showed up, which was nice. "I'm glad you s-showed," Prince nodded as he glanced around the room, "and this dining room looks amazing. The d-decorations are kind of cute."

"You can thank Kanna for that!" Tadatake called out as he managed to stop messing around. "He's been working the hardest outta all of us to set them up! Give it up for the little guy!"

Kanna tried to hide the joy he felt from hearing that, with great failure as his cheeks turned dark red. "T-Thank you! I just wanted the atmosphere to feel warm and… nice! So I hope it helps with the dinner itself."

"Hmph, it's all… adéquate," Amelie critiqued, "I would much prefer if we could go for a french palace look, but with the limited resources and the… impaire… attendance list, I understand we can't acquire the best. Next time, I won't let such a thing slide."

"These decorations weren't with you in mind you know…" Suddenly, Hania's voice entered the dining room. Or more accurately, she was standing behind Prince, so he didn't see her at first.

So she did show up! "H-Hania!" Prince smiled slightly. "You're here…"

"I was dragged…" Hania spoke, appearing defeated as she pointed to Hagoromo.

Hagormo smirked. "Oh my precious doll, the more folks means a merrier time, right?! We want everyone to come!"

"Against her will?" Lukas deadpanned, sounding concerned. "Although I suppose it is nice having more attendants, she should choose if she wishes to stay."

"I agree." Xiuying nodded, not looking pleased at the demonologists work as she glanced at Hania. "If she wants to leave she should be allowed to. A setting such as this is just begging to be a train wreck."

"No, it's fine…" Hania relented. "I have to relay my findings at the Angel Room… anyway. So I'll just stay…"

"Are you sure?" Xiuying asked, in a much quieter tone then Prince expected her to. "There's no trouble really-"

"What a pointless discussion," Amelie scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Just have her sit somewhere so we can dine, I'm famished."

"Oh someone wants to talk about pointless?" Albion gave an exhausted look toward Amelie. "Here comes the rich chick ranting again instead of contributing."

"Why you-!" Amelie bickered with Albion, the two shooting insults each other's way.

"Uh oh… duty calls!" Machi gave a thumbs up to Prince and Kanon before running over to put a stop to them. Thankfully Lukas was also there to ensure his sword brother and perfume princess didn't kill each other.

Meanwhile Hagoromo just kept tugging on Hania's sleeve, "if she needs a place to sit, might I do the honors of having her be my seat partner? I promise to treat you right doll~"

"By blathering about your insane behavior?" Xiuying's appeared utter exasperated over the whole thing as she sighed. "Hania, if you so choose you may sit near me for now. Honestly the diversity in the company might do me some good."

Hania breathed in relief as she hurried away from Hagoromo with a firm nod, not seeming to care how dismissive she came off to the demonologist who pretended to sulk.

"Boohoo!" Hagoromo faked cried, "why am I so aloneeeeee!"

"Momo… please stop." Stefano deadpanned.

"Y-You should all find a place to sit before the room fills up!" Kanna suggested despite the antics nearby. "Pick somewhere n-nice! I'll do what I can to help make the environment more comfortable!"

"I'll probably do just that…" Kanon yawned.

"You're not gonna see J-Jun?" Prince raised an eyebrow. He had figured she'd at least check him out in the kitchen. "Maybe you could ask him to make you something n-nice… personally."

"Excuse me?" Kanon did not look impressed. "Listen, we're not joined at the hip or anything. I was forced here so I'm gonna do my own thing… and I have better things to do then see what he's cooking… although maybe I should go in there to make sure nothing is being poisoned."

"P-Please don't say that!" Prince regretted even bringing the topic up. "Y-You're right… maybe you should sit down. You've been working hard treating me and Lukas after all…"

"Oh right… I suppose I have," Kanon shrugged, "but I'm not going to rest while this game goes on. I'll just be… sitting down for a moment. And I'll be keeping an eye on everyone's meals… very closely. With that in mind just… uh… don't choke because I'll be pissed if you do."

With her signature cold look Kanon stormed off, although her movements were sluggish and tired. Perhaps checking up on everyone really was doing a toll to her.

With everyone situated, it looked to be a lively showing soon. To see everyone rambling together filled Prince's heart with warmth in a good way… but also he felt a little isolating. Everyone was getting together now… it was easy for Prince to get lost in the shuffle in such a scene.

He just needed to find a place to sit… maybe then he'd feel better.

"Where do you think you're going?" Xiuying then sudden popped up, staring at Prince with a look half filled with confusion and annoyance. "Don't think you forgot your promise to me to check out the weapons room."

'Ohhhhh… I forgot to do that…' With a sheepish smile Prince turned to Xiuying, "a-ah you're right about that, I forgot to tell you… I didn't find anything suspicious with Albion and Uta's plan in the weapon room."

"It turned out alright?" Xiuying raised a brow, as if not quite believing Prince as she tapped her chin. "They weren't hogging any weapons for later use? They really were just locking down the room?"

"Y-Yep!" Prince gave a firm nod. "And I don't think they'd try to use those weapons anyway… U-Uta has his own s-sword… not that he'd use it I think!" He had to frantically add the last bit at the end. "But from what I gathered… Albion and Uta really are just safeguarding the weapons from anyone using them… s-so that's good for our safety… right?"

Xiuying thought long and hard as she wearily grumbled. "Such matters as important as the security of the weapons can't be trusted with those two buffoons who would ogle around swords all day…"

Then… Xiuying paused and sighed, "but… again this game is an utter joke… so perhaps I shouldn't care. Only an idiot would go through with taking dangerous items from that room."

"Right…" Prince murmured. He would hope no one ever even attempted to steal from that room. "At least… Uta and Albion's plan is protecting everyone. It e-even ticked off Omen…"

"Omen? Who is that?" Xiuying narrowed her eyes.

"T-The Enforcer…?" Prince awkwardly reminded.

Xiuying scrunched her eyes before she realized. "Oh… that blubbering idiot. Forgive me, I just forgot about that creature's pathetic existence."

Somewhere Omen was fuming in anger.

"Anyway," Xiuying continued, "if it irritated one of the workers for this killing game, perhaps they are doing something right. The only thing we can all agree on here is seeing the ones who trapped us here suffer I would imagine."

There was a deadly air of vengeful formality to Xiuying's tone as she scoffed. It was as clear as day her hatred for the ones keeping her here… and Prince could at the very least understand the sentiment. He was just thankful her vengeful tone wasn't directed to anyone in the group.

"Well then… I guess that will be all." Xiuying elegantly clapped. "If you'll excuse me… Hania's information has piqued my interest."

Although she appeared unsatisfied with Prince's investigation, the discussion was dropped with little argument. It was a bit surprising how quickly Xiuying turned back to Hania to hear of the Angel Room, but Prince had no complaints.

All that was left now… FINALLY… was to look for a place to sit. Again.

"Prince!" That plan was halted as Jun came out of the kitchen room with a large smile. "You made it! Tell me, how's everyone doing! Did Kanon show?"

Before Prince could answer, Tadatake hollered for Jun, "she's over here dude-! O-OW!" Kanon had stomped on his foot.

"Nice!" Jun smiled and waved at Kanon who rolled her eyes, "what about Uta? Did he show?"

"A-Ah no…" Prince felt terrible dropping that news on him but Jun recovered quick enough.

"Ah that's fine, he'll show up later I bet," Jun smirked, "I can go drag him here later for all he cares. I actually need your help on something important! It's about the dishes we're preparing!"

"M-Me? Help with f-food?" Prince couldn't believe what he was hearing. "W-Wouldn't Kanna be better f-for that- W-WAH-!"

To late, Jun was dragging Prince into the kitchen. So much for finding a place to sit, Jun just looked far to excited to show him something. How could Prince refuse? Besides he just realized he hadn't seen the kitchen yet so this was a good chance to also investigate a little.

The preparation for dinner seemed to be a hectic affair as the second Prince arrived with Jun he was bombarded with voices that overwhelmed his fears… and a delicious smell that flowed around.

They had entered a rather large kitchen, with beautiful wooden counters atop white tiled floors. There were ovens, sinks, and dishwashers all situated about. Nearby there was an area for glasses and plates. Hanging on some racks were dish towels. Nearby was a stand for kitchen knifes with one missing… since it was being used by Jun and the others for their meals.

Speaking of the others, Aimi, Amaya, Luna, and Fudo were all in the room, working at various stations. What Prince assumed was Jun's station was bursting with sparkling dishes all bunched together… while Aimi's station was a colorful wonderland paved with sweet desserts. Amaya, Luna and Fudo were helping the two out, though it seemed they were sort of lost from the smell of wonder in the air.

Amaya noted the duo first once they came in as she bowed. "Brother Jun! It's good to see you brought help! The dishes are all accounted for at the moment!"

"Of course! You kept a good eye on the dishes Amaya, thanks!" Jun gave a friendly wink as he returned to his station. Prince felt obligated to tag along as he gave a small wave to Amaya.

Amaya waved back and continued to speak, "and Brother Prince? I take it you're feeling better since our last talk?"

"Y-Yeah," Prince managed to nod. Maybe not better but… at least he wasn't thinking those gloomy thoughts anymore. "It's really hectic here. Are you helping with these dishes?"

"But of course! I'm helping with… such beautiful dishes…" Amaya, who was at Jun's station, looked close to tears somehow. "Ah the aroma is already giving me quite the feast. Brother Jun, this meal will be simply divine for our dinner tonight! You have my utmost gratitude… and you also have my stomach yearning for a bite!"

"Aw, you flatter me." It wasn't the first time Jun's cooking won over someone's heart, but it was the first time Prince had noticed Jun actually blush over the compliment. "I just want to do my part to ensure this dinner is satisfying. That's all there is to it. If anything you deserve more credit for coming up with the idea. You're really bringing us all together with this."

A small smile formed on Amaya's face as she made her puppet mimic the gesture of a bow ."But it wouldn't have been possible without all our brothers and sisters' hard work. For that I'm extremely grateful-"

"PLEASE ONE BITE!" Fudo interrupted Amaya's heartfelt speech as he struggled to NOT eat one of Aimi's pastries. "Come on, I can be the taste tester! It looks so GOOD!"

"I w-want them to be perfect though!" Aimi tried to reason. She looked extremely flustered at the attention. "P-Please give me a moment!"

Jun was able to step in before any treats were devoured, "woah there, let's wait until this desserts are out onto the table itself Fudo."

"But I want something sweet!" Fudo beamed, his mouth drooling a bit. Even Mimi looked ready to dive into the treats. "Please? If you won't let me taste it, at least teach me how to cook something like that so I can eat it later? Pretty pleaseeee!"

Fudo really was acting like a kid again… and Aimi… who was a similar age, giggled just as childishly as she gave the boy the stirring spoon dripping with icing once she was done.

"I would… really like to do that with you!" Aimi looked very happy at the interest he took with her cooking. "But maybe I'm not the b-best teacher for that. L-Luna might be better! She knows how to explain things b-better then me."

"But it would turn into a history lesson about that god she worships..." Fudo deadpanned, having no shame in saying that in front of her.

"That god is The Eternal One," Luna reminded as she softly stirred for the cupcakes.

"There's no way that's its real name," Fudo frowned, unimpressed.

"Hm… you're right, it's not," Luna revealed, "but my masters true name consist entirely of vowels and is seventeen syllables long. Would you like me to help you practice saying it-?"

"I'm NOT doing that," Fudo yelped, "Aimi, please be the one to teach me. I'm about to be indoctrinated into a cult if I learn from her!"

Aimi blushed a bit and finally relented, "o-okay… I'll help you learn to prepare anything y-you want. Just um… please don't expect too much… I'm not the best teacher."

"Hm…. I think you'd make a good teacher," Luna mumbled happily as she helped Aimi bake, "you have the patience of a saint."

"Is that a jab at me somehow?" Fudo grumbled before he smirked, "but Loonie's right! I think you'll be a great teacher Aimi!"

Aimi couldn't help but smile sheepishly as she soaked in Fudo's praise. Meanwhile, Luna blinked at his comment.

"Loonie? Is that… a jab at me…?" Luna mumbled.

Seeing the group in such good spirits helped calm Prince down some as he smiled back at them. "It's good to see everyone working. Um… was there something I needed to do here like check the dishes…?"

"Oh right!" Jun beamed and presented the spread of food that would be put out for the meal. All of it was beautifully well done… the type you'd probably see in a restaurant almost. "So how's it looking so far? I got Amaya's seal of approval but how about you Prince? …Prince…?"

Prince's mouth was watering just looking at it all, he had almost forgotten what Jun had asked of him. "A-A plus… that's what I give these dishes…" he automatically said as he reached out to grab one.

"Prince you're acting just like Fudo!" Jun flustered and managed to snap him out of the trance.

"S-Sorry!" Prince felt even more embarrassed. "It just looks so good. You and Aimi really outdid yourselves here."

Jun smiled genuinely as he rubbed his neck, "well this dinner is to try and have everyone come together and get to know one another so I oughta put my best foot forward with my work you know? Same with Aimi! She's doing an excellent job!"

"I-It's nothing…" Aimi tried to downplay as she blushed, "I… I just wanted to make something sweet for everyone who attended. Everyone i-is in the dining room, right?" She asked the Prince with an expected look.

Prince avoided the gaze as the reality that not everyone was there. "We have a few… latecomers but I'm sure they'll… um… a-arrive soon." He tried to say hopefully for Aimi's sake since she did ask him to invite others.

"Oh… that's fine." Aimi's smile faded for a moment.

"Now now… I believe we still have quite the showing Aimi," Luna reassured as she prayed, "and the work you've put into your baking is well worth the wait for us. I'm sure those who are here will enjoy it and come together as one big family for this meal."

"Yeah that's right," Jun agreed, "what's important is that we're giving hope to those who are here so let's do our best!"

"Y-Yes… okay!" Aimi's bright look returned nervously as she pumped her fist in determination.

"That's it Aimi!" Fudo grinned as Minnie gave an extra cheer.

Prince watched them solidify their hopes together. Such a thing ached his heart as he thought back to what Alexander said. Just how much longer was Prince going to actually put stock into that madman's words?

And how much longer was he going to lie about seeing him with everyone?

He had to ignore those thoughts, he had to try and aid with the hopeful atmosphere. "Jun… Aimi… how did you manage to make all these? They look amazing."

"Oh?" Jun perked up, "well we got the ingredients from the back closet in the kitchen. And then-"

Prince blushed and waved his hand. "N-No, sorry I meant… how did you guys… learn to make all these?"

"I'm also curious…" Amaya thoughtfully mused, "your skills are quite extraordinary. I would love to know how you got into the trade of cooking."

Jun blinked before sharing a nostalgic look with his dishes, "well it's a long story but someone… special taught me how to cook. You could say a family member of mine. I wouldn't be nearly as good without her help."

"A family member?" Fudo piqued, entering the conversation, "when you say 'her'… do you mean like… your Ma?"

"Heh, I suppose," Jun's eyes grew fond as he spoke, "she's more like a caretaker… but she took me under her wing eventually and… yeah… no you're right, she's basically my mom. My… um… mother. Hana. She taught me everything and sacrificed so much for me… making sure I was fed, loved. She… actually still does so much… her kindness means everything to me."

Jun quieted down… and fondly spoke. "It's funny, I was dreaming about her last night… and now she's being brought up again. No matter where I am… I guess she's always on my mind." It seemed Jun wanted more to add, but he kept quiet.

"Sounds like a wonderful dream if your mother was in it," Luna nodded softly.

"Yeah, she sounds like a mom to me," Fudo's eyes sparkled, "mine is like that to! She's kinda tough on me but she really wants the best for me! She basically helped give me everything! Even Minnie!"

"Your mother gave you Minnie?" Jun curiously focused on the mouse.

"Ha… well more like she let me keep here when I found Minnie," Fudo smiled while Minnie nodded in agreement, "my Ma… and my Pa encouraged me to do magic actually when no one else believed me. They didn't laugh at my shows or… say I couldn't do it. My Ma especially. She… loved seeing me do magic."

Fudo's eyes squinted with hope as he seemed to cherish the memory of his parents and smiled, "what about you Aimi? Did you learn cooking from your mom? Or do you have a mom?"

Aimi looked flustered being put on the spot, but notably softened at the question, "y-yes. My mom taught me how to bake. I mean i-it was a given since both my parents owned a pastry shop, so I was sort of around bakers my entire life, and I would've naturally picked up some sets of the t-trade. Hehe… but my mom was always there for me… my dad to! They were always willing to sacrifice their time to help me with any trouble I had with cooking."

Aimi eyes grew distant with nostalgia. "J-Just like Jun… I actually dreamed of my parents to last night. I think remembering them… made me want to try harder for the group. I mean… if it wasn't for their belief i-in my baking, perhaps I wouldn't h-have been invited to G-Grandview. So… I owe a lot to them."

"That's wonderful to hear," Amaya nodded, listening intently to Jun and Aimi, "family is always so important. I know I cherish mine well… given everything they've done for me."

"...yes, I suppose that's true," Luna nodded as she gazed off to the side. Prince remembered his conversation with her… how she talked about her group… the 'Bearers Of Infinity' being like her family. Perhaps that's what she was thinking of now.

"Sounds like we're all of the same opinion then," Jun smiled, "I know some parents out there aren't the best, but for the few that really try… you can't help but appreciate them. And for my case… I appreciate her a lot."

"Yeah, I LOVE my Ma!" Fudo jumped, "maybe all our parents can be friends, and then we can hang out all the time, especially at Aimi's parents shop!"

"W-Well… we'd have to schedule Fudo!" Aimi blushed.

Prince felt that nostalgia hitting him like a truck. First Luna, then Stefano, Jun, Fudo, and now Aimi. Hearing about their dreams… and families was both nice to hear about…

…but somewhat painful for Prince.

He almost wanted them to stop talking about it, but who was he to get in the way of sharing their wonderful dreams.

He shouldn't have felt so selfish at hearing their stories.

He… shouldn't be feeling so alone. He had so many people supporting him .

But Alexander… Empress… even Omen. Everything they kept saying to him tore through his head. The game. His lack of memory. Why…? Why was he like this? Why… did he not have a family to call his own?

"Brother Prince?" Naturally Amaya was the first to draw attention to Prince's pained state as she carefully approached, "is everything-?"

"I-I'm fine," Prince readily spoke, hoping to ease her worries, "it just… felt nice hearing about everyone's passions for a moment. It seems… everyone is passionate here."

Not just passionate… talented… smart… brave. Everything he wasn't.

Amaya appeared unconvinced, and shared a glance at Luna nearby. Some exchange seemed to happen between their gaze, as with a firm nod Luna suddenly spoke.

"Aimi… for your cupcakes, do you need cupcake wrappers for the second batch?" Luna mused, "I believe there are some in the back closet in the kitchen for you treats."

"H-Huh? Oh, yes!" Aimi blushed, "b-but the shelves are so tall in there, I barely got the first batch without your help Luna…"

Amaya chimes in right away to aid, "then I shall help retrieve those wrappers!" Amaya stepped toward Prince in reassurance. "If it's alright Brother Prince, do you mind helping me with this?"

"M-Me…?" There was a nervous pause as Prince coughed, "I mean… didn't Jun pulled me aside for different reasons?"

"It's fine!" Jun reassured, "I just needed my dishes to go through a second opinion. You can take him! Aimi and I will focus on cooking!"

"I will aid you Jun," Luna nodded, "as well as you Aimi…"

"Don't hog Aimi from me Loonie!" Fudo protectively said as he clung to Aimi's arms.

"P-Please Fudo calm yourself!" Aimi squeaked, "you're the one hogging me!"

With the four occupied, it just left a flustered Prince with Amaya, who gently took his hand. "This way Brother, let us gather the remaining supplies in the back of the closet."

Prince nodded sheepishly and followed Amaya there. Although her gaze appeared determined. What was she thinking of exactly?

The kitchen was connected to a back closet that was VERY cluttered. When Prince walked inside with Amaya, he noted that everything seemed to be kind of a mess. Ingredients were strewn across most of the shelves, and some kitchen supplies had been laid carelessly out.

"Wow… it's uh… very c-colorful in here," Prince mumbled as he stared at the shelves much taller than him. "Why are these s-shelves so high? I don't even think I could reach half this stuff:"

"Yes… is quite strange!" Amaya murmured as she gazed at the shelves, "perhaps this room is for much taller folks such as… hmm… that Enforcer?"

"I can't i-imagine Omen cooking for us, though," Prince deadpanned, his eyes flat and unamused, "do you think Alexander made it that high to spite us?"

By 'us', Prince figured only the shortest of the group, which included him.

"Alexander is many things… but I do not believe we should give him any attention," Amaya spoke kindly as she prayed, "instead, we should focus on the dinner at hand! We are down to the last finishing touches of the meals… so we really just need the cupcake wrappers for Aimi!"

Prince glanced around in understanding as he tries to locate the wrappers. Sure enough he found them quickly… but instantly slumped. Where else would those cupcake wrappers be beside the tallest point of the shelves… just like Aimi said.

"This h-has to be a cruel joke," Prince sighed as he stared at his short legs.

"It was… a concern for Aimi to at first," Amaya wearily spoke as she tried to be positive, "all the cupcake ingredients were at the top shelf. It took Luna's aid to help gather what she needed. But bear not Brother, I shall help this time! I simply would need to boost you up!"

"O-Oh you don't need to do T-THAAAAT-!?" Prince was too late, Amaya had helped him up to her shoulders as Prince wobbled with uncertainty. He'd expect this type of behavior from Tadatake, not Amaya! "W-Wait now I'm to high up! Amaya stop!"

"It's alright brother!" Amaya tries to reassure, but Prince could hear her giggling a tiny bit, "just reach for the wrappers quickly. My shoulders can handle it."

"B-But I don't know if my fear of heights can handle i-it…" Prince gulped and frantically grabbed the wrappers. Once he got a good amount for the cupcakes Amaya helped lower him down.

"What a rush… haha," Amaya beamed, "I forgot of my own strength these days. It was refreshing to be of service."

"Either you're really strong or I'm w-weaker than I thought…" Prince tiredly sighed. He was already pretty light but still!

"You are not weak!" Amaya reassured.

"I r-really feel like I am…" Prince sighed. But he was serious this time. He… really was weak compared to the others as he clutched the cupcake wrappers. "Anyway… we got what we wanted for Aimi, right? I guess we can go back."

But Amaya's amused look vanished into one of concern. Something about the way she gazed at Prince made him stop in his tracks. Why did she stare at him with such worried eyes? Was something on his face?

Or… was she still concerned about him from this morning? Maybe even longer than that…?

Amaya breathed in deeply, seeming to mull something over before she spoke, "Brother Prince… may I ask you if you are alright once more? I know you said that you are fine… but truthfully I wish to look out for you and your feelings. If you have something disturbing you… I would be willing to listen and bear that burden as well."

Prince's heart ached for a moment. She was worried about him. He thought he had done a good job today letting go of his fears… but… ever since Alexander… Empress… and Omen…

…all there words to him we're just making him anxious. "A-Amaya I promise I'm okay."

"Are you certain?" Amaya asked once more.

"I-I am…" Prince couldn't keep her gaze. He just had to hold in his troubles. He just had to…

…and then Amaya softly intertwined her fingers into Prince's hands and held them gently, her eyes shimmering in the light of the closet. "Brother Prince… please. I know you are going through something."

"E-Eh?" Prince gulped, realizing how Amaya wasn't going to let this go. "Amaya… why?"

"Because… I can sense it," Amaya revealed as she planted her marionette doll in Prince's hand, "there was a great cloud over you since this morning… and both Sister Luna and I sensed it. We both… wanted to make sure you were okay."

Prince's eyes widened. So that's why Luna took more of an interest in him today. She was trying to look out for Prince… for Amaya's sake. "You b-both… were l-looking out for me?"

"Yes… we wanted to…" Amaya nodded, "so if you really are worried about something, tell me. I do not wish you to carry more heartache in your soul. If you truly do not wish to speak of your concerns to me… then look me in the eye and say… 'you are fine'… and I promise you I will back off. But if you can't do that… I will continue to look over you, patiently waiting for you to confide in me."

Prince stared at Amaya for a long time after she said that. She really meant every word didn't she? She wasn't going to drop it unless he stared into her eyes and said he was okay. But no matter how easy the task could've been… maintaining eye contact was impossible for Prince…

The worry in Amaya's eyes… that's what got him. No matter how much he tries to bubble it in today… he just was worrying her. How ironic that he was giving talks about trusting others and yet he was too scared to tell Amaya about his own nightmare… much less his talk with Alexander. A laugh almost escaped Prince if it wasn't for that fact it was utterly humiliating for him… bottling all that up.

It didn't matter though. What he felt wasn't important. He had to say he was fine… he just… had to…

'"I mean... to not even remember who you are... is a nightmarish situation for a game built on trust, don't you agree?"'

He couldn't let them know… he didn't want to be distrusted by everyone yet… he didn't…

…and then he heard an echo of Amaya's words from earlier.

"It's perfectly acceptable to be frightened and frustrated for the coming days, and I'm not asking you to make yourselves uncomfortable by sticking with the group, but just know even if we feel disjointed now… we're all weaved together by the same threat of fate.

We share this fear, but we can also share hope. I will also do what I can to help, I want to be able to work with all of you, no matter what…" she said fondly, "...so please… let us believe in each other… to not fall for this game, and I swear to you by doing that, will we not fall into corruption ourselves."

Amaya's words earlier in the morning came back to him. He had said he agreed with her sentiment… but did he really? Wasn't he just going against that very notion by not confiding in her…

What… could he do…?

"Whatever those things are… I do hope you still are able to open up to a few people here, especially people like Stefano and Amaya." Luna seemed genuine in her suggestion as she looked on with a faint look of appreciation. "Both of them sincerely have an open view of the world… Amaya especially. Not just because I'm close with her… but it seems you are as well. Cherish that bond during your time here, and perhaps… you won't be so scared during this game."

…even Luna's words… they were… getting to him.

Prince felt his heart start to crack as the words spilled out. He stared at Amaya's eyes… with one breath sealing his fate. "I'm… I'm not okay…"

"Brother Prince…" Amaya appeared fully attentive as she gripped his hands gently, grounding them both.

Prince held on as he nervously spoke… his eyes stinging with potential tears as he wearily recounted his experience. "I… I'm so sorry. I… I just didn't want you to worry. I've… been trying so hard to work with everyone today. But no matter what I do, I feel like… I'm not a part of your group. I just feel like an outsider… who might ruin a good thing with the trust you're building. This dinner was your idea for us and… and I didn't want to tell you something shady before it…"

Prince bit his lip, his heart aching as he continued, "I… I had a dream… like you and Luna… and everyone else did. But it was a nightmare… where someone killed me. I… I was terrified by it. That nightmare… felt so real. I haven't even told Luna or Stefano about what it was like… just… that it was bad. And t-then…" Prince really had to steady his shaking heart for this one as he regretfully spoke. "…and then Alexander visited me…"

"Alexander…?" Amaya's eyes widened slightly. "When did he…?"

"This m-morning…" Prince stammered, "he wanted to give me a gift or something but… I swear I don't know what it is! And I d-don't want it but he wants to give it anyway! And… I was worried if I said that it would make m-me look shady or s-something! But I swear I'm n-not working with him! I don't know anything-! I cant… remember!"

Princes eyes started to tear up. "And I… I hate it… not knowing. I know the others are trying to help me… but I think… I'm finally feeling the weight of not remembering anything! I don't have family to t-talk about… or memories… or dreams to share. I don't even know what Grandview is like… It's… s-so painful."

There was something so terrifying about saying that.

"...I… I just don't want to be distrusted. I…I just want to work with you guys…"

Now Prince was standing totally bare for Amaya's judgment. He had spoken words he couldn't ever take back… and now he was truly at her mercy. Would she distrust him…? Find him suspicious? Would she… leave?

…no. Prince knew she wouldn't do any of that. In fact… that's the only reason he spoke to her so openly so fast, because he knew Amaya's eyes would never hardened or coldly dismiss him.

Instead, Amaya lowered herself to Prince's level, her eyes gleaming with such gentleness it matched that of the soothing rays of the moon. "You should never be ashamed for expressing your concern of the game, ever."

Prince sniffled a bit, allowing his heart to loosen at the sweet words. "R-Really?"

"Yes, really. It's to much to expect everyone to be vulnerable after the announcement. That's just unfair. With how your saying this now… I believe you didn't tell anyone of what happened because you were afraid they'd judge you… afraid they'd turn on you. But you told Luna and Stefano… and neither of them judged your nightmare. And I don't judge you for keeping the encounter with Alexander to yourself. It's a stressful situation… and I know you kept it to your chest… because you didn't want to worry us… or be afraid we'd disown you."

"But Brother Prince… all of our brothers and sisters are facing this game in their own way… because… they aren't as strong as they present themselves to be. Everything you've seen today is proof of that. Koji and Anata broke from the group because they are naturally scared. Albion and Uta are guarding the weapons room because they are scared someone might cause harm. Even me… I'm not as strong as you may think."

"Y-You're not?" Prince asked softly. Out of everyone, he saw Amaya as by far the strongest.

"No, I'm not..." Amaya breathed in deeply. "To be truthful I also had a dream… a wondrous one of the people I cherished most in this world. And it reminded me… how scary the situation is… knowing I can't return to them yet. Despite the many talented people around me... I felt alone."

Amaya quieted for a second, her eyes grave before gently lighting up. "But even though I'm scared… I know this all has been especially troubling for you. With your memory… and everyone's status as a Grand Student, you may feel like an outcast. But that's not what you are. We're in this together… I want you to believe that."


Prince was in this together with everyone. It wasn't just him going through this. The more things he kept hidden… the more he'd worry the others. He only truly realized that as he saw the weight of concern in Amaya's eyes.

And that concern… freed Prince from his nightmare… from Alexander… and from his doubt.

"A-Amaya…" Prince teared up briefly. He didn't know why he was but… the anxiety he had felt the entire day drifted away until a strange feeling of peace overcame him.

"It's alright Brother Prince…" Amaya continued softly. "It's alright if you still are afraid of things, that's natural. And if you are concerned people may judge you for your visit of Alexander then you may wait as long as you need to tell them. But if you're worried that they will judge you… just know I won't let that happen. That's my promise to you… because I trust you Brother Prince."


That's all Prince get rushing through his body as he weakly smiled. Relief was flooding through his fragile heart. He was silly to think Amaya would judge him… or anyone for that matter. He… He was trusted by her. And that's all that mattered.

That's all… that mattered here.

"Amaya… thank you…"

Amaya seemed surprised by the utter relief Prince went through… but the sight made her smile back as she held his hand.

"Of course Brother Prince… It's my pleasure to help you."

With Prince's troubles eased by Amaya, the two returned to hand the necessary things for Aimi, who looked really happy at the sight of it all. Fudo and Luna helped her whip up the last cupcakes… or more like Luna helped… and Fudo watched with a hungry stomach. Meanwhile, Jun finished the last touches on his dishes, which simply looked divine with their glimmering appearance.

At last, dinner was served, and no one looked happier to see the food all done than Fudo. "It looks… AMAZING!"

"F-Fudo please this is for everyone!" Aimi squeaked

"But it does look delicious," Luna nodded with a dreamlike gaze, "I have no doubt your pastries would be a hit at my cults bake sales."

"Guess everyone wants a taste of this stuff," Jun chuckled nervously, "but now we can actually serve it! Please, allow me to-!"

"I can help!" Suddenly, Kanna popped out of nowhere to help carry some of the dishes. Where he came from, Prince had no idea as he yelped, but Kanna was too focused to notice. "P-Please leave the dishes to me! I'll make sure they get there safely!"

Prince watched the antics with a fresh perspective as he sighed. They might've been strangers but… they were all coming around, and Amaya helped him realize that. He glanced at the marionette maker who gave a soft smile. And he returned it gratefully.

"L-Lets go eat with everyone… yeah?" Prince decided to speak first, extending a hand to Amaya.

"Of course!" Amaya looked proud to see Prince take the lead and followed him close.

Together the group entered the dining room with the plates in hand. Almost instantly whatever commotion was happening in the room paused in awe at the sight of the dishes being carried out by Kanna and the others.

Jun smiled happily as he helped the assistant present the food, "everyone, the dishes are-!"

"FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDDD!" Hagoromo and Tadatake both gave a battle cry and almost lunged at the dishes.

"Momo, DOWN! DOWN I SAID!" Stefano ordered.

"T-Tadatake PLEASE!" Aimi joined in and tried to calm the big guy down.

"Can we go two seconds without someone acting like a rabid animal here?" Xiuying deadpanned as she glanced at the chaos around her.

"Nope!" Tadatake grinned. "Cause these dishes are calling to me and I wanna dig in already!"

"You said that… so confidently…" Hania murmured, looking shocked. "How are you not embarrassed…?"

"Enfin!" Amelie muttered, "the wait was taking so long I had contemplated sending Lukas in the kitchen and demand you work faster!"

Lukas looked awkward at the idea. "I… wouldn't have done that, I assure you."

"But it's finally done so no need to stress!" Jun reassured as he looked over all the dishes, "but before we eat we gotta make sure this is everyone… right?"

Prince glanced around. Mostly everyone was there… except for Uta, Koji, and Anata. Only seventeen people arrived. Still quite a showing… but noticeable in those three's absence. And after inviting them as well for Aimi's sake…

"Koji and Anata didn't show up.." Kanna quieted down, looking concerned.

Jun frowned as well. "And Uta isn't present either…"

"That's because he's still guarding the weapon room," Albion explained begrudgingly, "if Anata and Koji are lurking outside the main group… we can't take a chance that they won't go in there for any weapons."

Prince felt a small sting at the reminder of the game, but… for once he managed to hold strong again, "neither… of them would do that."

"You sure?" Albion narrowed his eyes. "They're shifty so they can't be trusted obviously."

"They are indeed shifty, especially that rat boy," Xiuying muttered, "I have no doubt he'd probably fall for this game first."

Prince thought back to Koji, and then sternly shook his head. "No, they absolutely wouldn't. They're just concerned like everyone else. So… d-don't peg them to be like that, please."

Albion raised his brows for the brief backbone Prince showed, but then shrugged. Xiuying also looked annoyed.

But Amaya looked proud, "that's right, we simply must believe they are keeping to themselves and remaining safe. Although it would be nice if they attended… we should-"

"Keep to themselves, hm?"

Prince whirled around suddenly at the sound of someone else in the room. His eyes widened in shock when he saw it was Uta of all people standing in the door, his eye studying everyone.

"Sword guy!" Hagoromo clapped.

"Uta!" Both Albion and Jun said his name simultaneously. However Jun looked more overjoyed to see him.

Albion however, looked pissed. "What do you think you're doing here? You're leaving the weapon room unattended!"

"For a brief period," Uta rolled his eyes, "because I caught this one lurking outside the dining room spying on all of you."

Suddenly Uta revealed he wasn't alone, because in his grip was a flustered Koji who didn't look happy at all to be there.

"Koji?" Hania blinked.

"Rat boy…" Xiuying muttered.

"McCoffin!" Tadatake grinned. "So you wanted to attend after all!"

"D-Don't call me that…" Koji looked overwhelmed at the amount of names he was being called and sighed. "I… I was only… investigating nearby."

"Investigating?" Prince tilted his head. "B-But didn't you say to me earlier you were going straight to your room? Why would you be investigating nearby unless…?"

"Quiet Prince," Koji's serious look faded into an embarrassed frown. "I didn't actually w-want to attend this dinner. But now that I'm being forced to stay here, I might as well grace you with my presence."

But Prince felt a sense of fulfillment seeing at least Koji here. Even if he was denying it… he was there with everyone, and there was enough as the group welcomed him with open arms.

"Well if you're being forced to stay, take a seat next to me!" Machi invited as she smiled.

"No one is being forced to stay," Amaya chuckled wearily, "please, Brother Koji… if you choose to stay, we'd be more than welcome to feast with you."

"Amaya's right, the choice is yours," Luna gestured openly as well, "sit wherever you want."

Koji thought for a second, then eyed Prince, and then finally sighed. "Only because you all need the company."

"Dude, we have pretty much everyone here…" Tadatake grinned, "you sure it isn't you needing the company?" This earned him a grumble from Koji.

He wasn't the only one grumbling, as Albion still looked unamused of Uta being there. "Well, now you had your fun playing sheriff Uta, back to work at the weapon room."

"H-Hold on!" Jun suddenly stepped forward and gestured a hand to Uta. "Care to share at least one meal with us? We could use the extra security here."

"Is my security not enough?" Lukas questioned. He sounded… almost disappointed.

"You shouldn't even be doing security detail with your injuries," Kanon sighed, "but Jun, newsflash, we need to keep that room locked down."

"You're agreeing with them?" Jun questioned, surprised.

"If it keeps the room safe then yeah, it's the best course of action," Kanon muttered.

"Finally someone here gets it," Albion rolled his eyes, "you heard the girl Uta, just get back to your post."

Uta raised a brow, but stood motionless at the suggestion. "As much as Albion's words are irritating, he is right that I have to patrol the room to make sure-"

"-that Anata doesn't steal anything, right?" Jun finished, "but she's the only one not here… so if something WAS missing in the room… then you'd know she took it, meaning she'd be easy to single out and apprehend which would be bad for her. Plus, I don't think Anata would steal anything, right?"

The logical argument seemed to almost convince Uta, but he still showed hesitation as he coldly spoke, "I can't take that chance. I'm going back. Do what you please with your meal." With that, Uta left swiftly, not even bothering to look back.

Jun deflated a tad. "So much for getting everyone to eat together."

"As if I need that man for security," Amelie huffed, "I already have a capable bodyguard here."

"Lukas… seriously, dump the girl," Albion flatly spoke. Lukas only sighed.

"So sword guy left," Hagoromo grinned, "bummer. We could've played with the knives here and did a little battle!"

"That sounds… d-dangerous?" Koji jumped, already looking to regret being stuck here. "Look, this is a dinner right? Why aren't we eating? Isn't that the number one requirement?"

"Yeah lemme dig in already!" Fudo could barely wait as he and Minnie jumped around in their seats.

"But hold on a moment everyone!" Amaya spoke as she raised her glass, "I figure a toast is in order with most of us together-!"

"LETS CHOW DOWN!" Tadatake just randomly announced. Amaya sighed as whatever toast she had in mind was drowned out by everyone instantly chowing down on their meal.

"I would like to hear your toast Amaya," Luna softly smiled, gazing at the marionette maker patiently.

"M-Me too…" Prince joined in. It was the least he could do for her… after everything.

Amaya blinked, then widened into a grateful smile as she raised her glace elegantly. "I know this isn't exactly the most ideal circumstance for our meeting, but I am grateful to have met with all of you. I am grateful for Brother Jun and Sister Aimi for creating these wonderful meals. And… I'm grateful for us all coming together like this. May Father Unsei grant us good fortune in the coming days…"

Amaya glanced at Luna and Prince, gesturing for them to say their peace too. Luna nodded and spoke her thanks, "...may the Eternal One watch over our dreams and grant restful sleep."

And then it was Prince's turn. He pondered how to finish the toast as he stared at his peers.

Machi was rambling to Kanon who tuned in and out of her conversation with a passive nod. Jun was tending to both of their meals, fully attentive to Machi's words. Fudo and Minnie meanwhile were utterly tearing into the cupcakes Aimi made despite that being for dessert. Tadatake joined in the dessert craze, munching away with a grin as he patted Aimi on the back for such amazing treats. She blushed at that and thanked them both for enjoying it.

Xiuying drank peacefully to herself as Amelie ranted a storm over Albion trying to take Lukas away from her. Lukas was being pulled by the blacksmith, the knight accepting his fate in the crossfire. Hania watched the chaos with a bewildered look, clearly regretting to have come to the dinner. She didn't look as regretful as Koji though, who cringed sitting next to Stefano as he witnessed the exorcist trying to stop Hagoromo from playing with the kitchen knives like they were swords. Meanwhile, Kanna was racing back and forth to ensure everyone was getting their meals, but he looked so happy while tending to everyone.

Prince stared at this group… and softened.

Although he hadn't told everyone his burdens yet… he had told Amaya… and confided in Luna. And that was enough…

…that was enough.

"...even if things are scary… may we keep believing each other." Prince toasted for the group… and himself. "... cheers."

The dinner was a success and the food was gone in an instant.

"So… full…" Fudo groaned as he clutched his magician's hat, "maybe I shouldn't have eaten that last cupcake."

"T-That's all you ate the entire dinner?" Kanna asked nervously, "you could get sick with that much sugar!"

Kanon frowned. "Jeez… I guess come to my office if that's the case."

"You got room for one more patient?" Tadatake groaned as he hugged his belly wearily, "I might've… ate a little too much of that good stuff Jun made."

Kanon deadpanned. "You're banned from my office actually."

"L-Let's not be rash Kanon," Jun tried to step in for the hockey player. "I take it that the groans and complaints from the full bellies around means the dinner was a success?"

With the amount of content smiles Prince saw, that seemed to be the case! "It looks l-like it," Prince relaxed at the sight. "I-I'm really glad I showed up for this… and that we got so many people."

"Me too!" Machi giggled, "I wasn't expecting some of the faces to show up!" She coughed and glanced at Koji, Hania, and Xiuying.

"I was forced-!" Koji tried to prove one last time before sighing, "n-never mind."

"It wasn't… the worst," Hania shrugged.

"The food met my expectations," Xiuying shrugged.

"I-Is that good or bad?" Jun sweat. But all in all, he looked pleased at the satisfied smiles in the room.

However, the amount of dishes that were left behind… proved troublesome. Kanna was the first to comment on it wearily, "u-um… we might've forgot someone would need to clean all these up… again."

"Well this has been utterly exhausting, but the dinner was fine!" Amelie suddenly stood up and was rushing out of the room. "I bid you all adieu!"

"You're leaving so you don't have to touch the dishes, aren't you?" Fudo called out. Amelie didn't answer as she gave a backward finger wave from the door. Fudo just rolled his eyes. "So much from expecting anything from her."

"Are you surprised?" Koji mumbled. "But I uh… also have to go. I've stayed long enough."

Prince watched Koji leave and managed to share one last glance at him. Prince hoped Koji could see how grateful he was for his attendance. The undertaker just glanced wearily down and walked off.

"Guess we'll start heading out to!" Hagoromo grinned, "right Stefano?"

"Um… no, I'm staying to clean," Stefano sighed, "I don't want this place to be dirty when we wake up for breakfast tomorrow. Anyone care to join?"

"You go do that," Albion grumbled, "I gotta go meet up with Uta for a weapon room check. Gotta make sure no one took anything."

"I'll stay and clean up," Amaya smiled.

"I will as w-well!" Kanna looked all to eager to pitch in. "W-Who else wants to help!?"

Luna, Jun, and Aimi raised their hands to help. Prince raised his hand as well… even though the fatigue of sleep and all that food was really weighing him down.

But before the clean up crew could even get started… a familiar announcement came on and ruined the vibe.

{ Nighttime Announcement }

"My dear and beloved guests~" Alexander started with a gleeful tone, "the sun has tucked its sleepy head and the stars have come out to play! Therefore, it is now officially nighttime! Please do remember that some of the areas will temporarily be off-limits during this time, so proceed with caution if you intend to explore the manor-"

"If y-ya don't, then I'll clobber ya good and proper, got that…?" Omen muttered. He looked more anxious than yesterday. Perhaps racing Hagoromo and shouting at Albion and Uta earlier did a number on him.

Empress spoke up to distract from his anxious words. "Furthermore… the Angel Room… is closed today. For those who visited… I hope you gathered… some knowledge on… the magic here."

"I'm certain they did!" Alexander chuckled as he waved at the camera. "But as for them learning actual spells... that's for another day. sweet dreams!"

Then the video went dark.

"O-Oh…" Kanna sighed, "so… I guess we have to finish cleaning tomorrow?"

"E-Eh? W-Wait… why?" Aimi blinked.

"Because Rule #3 states the dining room is off limits at night," Jun reminded wearily as he rubbed his arm, "which means… we need to get out of here, like now."

"That means leaving the dishes to smell," Stefano wrinkled his nose in disgust, looking annoyed he couldn't finish the job now.

Amaya also looked sad. "It's… a shame all the dishes and silver wear will be messy by the time we wake up, but we simply will get it done first thing in the morning!"

"Sounds like a plan," Luna nodded, "let us all go to our rooms."

"R-Right…" Prince mumbled, witnessing the shared disappointment. Although they couldn't clean up… the dinner was still a success, so he figured it would work itself out.

Prince left the dining room with a lighter weight on his shoulders than during this morning. He had some issues to resolve, and he still needed to tell the group about Alexander... but so far everyone was getting along… for the first day anyway. Even the briefest hope in cooperation was all Prince needed to keep moving. Just like Amaya said... he had to believe in everyone if they wanted to escape.

So he'd do that. He'd believe with his whole heart that they could make it out together. And then Alexander would be proven utterly wrong. And then this stupid game would never have to happen.

And then… maybe Prince could finally experience that outside world he heard so much about from everyone else. The possibilities of what he could see were so vast Prince couldn't help but be excited about it.

But as he tried to hold onto that hope… something else replaced his feelings… a sense of anxiety and a strong… almost painful tugging sensation at his heart and head.

"H-Huh?" Prince gulped. He had felt such a thing before, back at the Art Gallery when he was being physically pulled into the room.

But that predicament led to a lack of answers.

Now… he was being pulled into his room with a clear view of what was causing the sensation. A wooden box… just inside his room with a magic seal of the trifecta he had come to know. There was a small paper written on it… done in disturbing red ink.

A gift as grand as your wondrous capacity to hope. Please… do wear it with care… - Alexander

Prince's heart stopped. The box… it had to be the gift Alexander talked about this morning. But what could it be? Only choice to find out… was to open it.

Everything in Prince was screaming at him not to.

But it was impossible to resist. He had to open it.

With a shaking hand, Prince opened the wooden box, causing the magic symbol to fade away atop it. His eyes scanned the contents inside.

…and his breath stopped.

His heart was threatening to split in two. The strange pull he had felt grew even stronger as his hands trembled to reach out to it… as if attracted somehow to the glimmering item in front of him.

…for inside the box was the brilliant crown from the gallery.

End Of Day 1

Author's Note

Yeah... canonically... it's still one day in gold house... I'm so sorry... I just be hopping in and out of existence at this rate.

I was not going to be publishing another Sanctuary chapter before this story so... please enjoy this gold house chapter guys. It took awhile to set up and its still bloated... long. But it reminds me that I really like these characters and I want to actually finish chapter 1. So I'm still going to be trying very very hard to get this done! I am so sorry for the sporadic and downright insane wait times between chapters. I'm going to force myself to try and buckle down and just get more out.

If you like some scenes let me know! Weather it be Amaya's scene, Jun's scene, Amelie, Kanon, Albion or Uta's... just uh... please let me know!

Take Care