Cutscene: The Sound and the Fury

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He saw the whole thing, of course.

He was watching it happen, though his presence could be neither seen nor felt; his eyes had been on the Nanjou Estate for some time, and he was curious to see just what the Last Battalion was up to, so he decided to see for himself. Out of sight, out of mind, the King watched for once in the full guise of a Masquerade Executive, midnight black coat, blood red ascot, and the bone white mask of King Leo covering the familiar features of Tatsuya Suou. He watched as they struggled against the Nazis, against one of the Longinus 13. He watched as the Duchess arrived, dressed in the regalia of a Nazi herself - which, the Shadow had to admit privately, looked pretty hot - and unseen, unsensed he crept closer to overhear what passed.

It gave the Shadow a certain sense of joy, of course, to see them all suffer, but under that is something else. So many things have been going wrong since Caracol - Joker betrayed them, giving up his hopes of a brighter future to become simple Jun Kurosu again. Xibalba failed to rise, with the Shrines only partially breaking through the surface. And now, now...

Now the Duchess has betrayed them as well, it seems... And she's taken one of his toys away from him in the process.

Seiichi Miyamoto bellows angrily and hurls his phone away, warning the others of Kyo Enda's complicity in the Duchess' plans. They despair, they hurt. It should give him pleasure. But he can't help but find himself, well, disappointed. He, of course, wanted Naomi for himself, and to think that particularly succulent fruit would be given to someone else...

"Oh, Duchess," Shadow Tatsuya mutters to himself as he melts back into the darkness, not bothering to confront the others in what could be their weakest moment. "I suppose I don't have any choice but to see how this game turns out, do I?" His hands ache to grasp the other Shadow by the throat, to choke the life out of her by inches; he could, of course, repay treachery with treachery... But there are larger concerns than his own enjoyment, regrettably. Without the Shrines...

So he leaves, for the moment. The sounds of despair and defiance ringing joylessly in his ears.


The room is empty.

It's not really empty, it has all the furniture you would expect, all the comforts and amenities - more, really, because the Nanjou Estate is designed to cater to the expectations of the extremely wealthy, not of the common folk - but it is nevertheless empty. No life, no light, no laughter, the room's occupant being gone.

He sits in the dark of the room, of her room, and he is perilously close to breaking. She said she wasn't going away, she wasn't going to leave him... But she did, through no choice of her own. He'd told her she was safe, that he was going to protect her... But she wasn't safe, and he couldn't protect her, and there was nothing he could've done to make any difference.

Or was there?

He's gone over what happened a hundred times in his head, more; could he have done something different when Duchess Sagittarius confronted him? If he had capitulated, if he'd been less defiant, would she not have done this? Would she not have involved that monster who walks like a man? If it was just to make sure he broke his promise to Naomi, that he would protect her no matter what... Then isn't this, and whatever happens afterwards, his fault?

His eyes, reddish-brown, roam over the darkened interior of Naomi's room at the Nanjou Estate without really seeing anything. In his hand is a strip of pictures taken inside a photo booth: Himself and Naomi, though much of the strip is dominated by what could be turned into a flipbook of the heiress trying to beat up the camera with her purse. But the comedic violence disappears in the later images, with the final one being of the two of them resting forehead to forehead.

This, a voice seems to whisper to him, is what comes from opening your heart to others. They always let you down, they always go away, they always hurt you. Unless you hurt them first. Or something else takes them away, the voice seems to continue. After all, there's always someone out there willing to destroy you just for getting in their way.

Just like Father. Just like Mother.

'You have me forever,' Naomi told him once. Her Shadow made her a liar too, it seems. His head lolls back against the wall, his eyes unseeing as they find the ceiling. By now, who knows what's happened? She might be dead, or worse, and he never... He never got to tell her...

If you give up, another voice, different from the first, seems to tell him, then they win. You have to keep moving forward, you have to keep fighting even when it hurts, because it's always going to hurt. What else is there, to lie down and die?

It's hard, he thinks to himself.

Of course it's hard, that other voice seems to reply. Anything worthwhile is. Remember what you said? You need them, just like they need you. The Masquerade, the real Masquerade, makes dreams come true. You're Defenders of Justice, remember?

His eyes move away from the ceiling, and he looks down at what he was holding in his other hand. It's a child's festival mask, twelve years old now. It's faded and scuffed in some places, from more than a decade spent hidden away in a box in the caves of Mt. Iwato. Red Hawk. He got them all back: Jun, Eikichi, Lisa, Maya-nee. Is the price to sit back and let someone else important be taken away from him?

Are you going to settle for that, the voice asks. Didn't you say 'I'm not going to lie down and quietly accept what comes'? That 'I'm going to protect my friends, I'm going to stop all of this'? Is this as far as your resolution goes, Tatsuya Suou?

No, he thinks. Something else bubbles up under the despair, the cold fury he felt earlier returning, but bringing with it none of the false bravado he showed then. It cuts through, like a blade, his expression hardening, the light returning to his eyes.

Remember what else you said, the voice reminds him. Remember, you swore it. You gave your oath. 'Anyone who gets in my way...'

"...Is going to regret it," Tatsuya finishes out loud, rising to his feet. Sometimes, he knows, just resolve isn't enough. Sometimes positive thinking isn't sufficient.

Sometimes you've just gotta get angry.


"Why are you doing this?" the young man sobs, weakly.

He can hardly be blamed for being frightened, finding himself where he does. The interior of the Leo Shrine is not for the faint of heart, guarded as it is by demons and the red-clad Leo Masks of the Masquerade, besieged from without by the forces of the Last Battalion. The architecture is terrifying at best, a mixture of 'ancient Mayan' and 'ancient Mayan horror movie', and this place in particular is the worst of it all.

The core of the Leo Shrine, one of the beating hearts of Xibalba, exists to hold the Red Skull of Fire, and its lord and high priest is King Leo. The Shadow of Tatsuya Suou crouches over the man, currently held spread-eagled on the ground, applying the finishing touches. The young man on the ground is taller than most, skinnier than most, and he's been dressed in the blue uniform of Kasugayama High School, despite being a few years too old for it, the shirt replaced with a long tunic, a black armband on his left bicep. Bracelets, rings, his nails painted black.

The Shadow hums while he works, applying a blue dye to the man's hair.

"Oh it's... It's not about you," King Leo explains, as if he only just now realised that his victim might have a problem with what he's doing. "I guess from your perspective that's not much comfort, of course, but... Well, in this world some people are important and others just aren't. At least this way you get to stand in for someone who matters, so cheer up."

The Shadow smiles brightly, his red eyes gleaming unnaturally. It doesn't help his victim cheer up in the least, which honestly the King finds a bit offensive. The temptation to just kill the man and start over howls in his thoughts, but no... No... If he does that he'll have to start all over, and that just won't do at all. So instead, he talks.

"You see, in the end everyone only thinks of themselves. That's where so many of humanity's ills come from: Treachery, cowardice, greed. They all come from a selfish heart. The person I came into this world for betrayed me, to join my 'other self'..." The Shadow's attention drifts away, to the wall where a young man of slighter build hangs, held up by almost invisible wires binding his legs and waist, his arms and shoulders, bound and stretched out; he too has been dressed in a Kasugayama High School uniform, a black wig on his head brushed over his right eye, and a flower - an orange lily - pinned to the jacket's left breast. "And my beloved turned against me for her own selfish ends, denying me my rightful prize in the process..." He looks to another figure held bound against the wall, a young woman with impossibly long, black hair, dressed in a white wedding gown of all things. She's awake, struggling to try to free herself, only to fall still when she sees his attention come towards her; her blood stains the wires she's bound with.

He smiles.

She's feisty, just like the real thing.

"So, you see, I'm going to show them all that I don't need them. And they will see, oh yes. They'll come here in due time." He finishes with the man's hair, applying next dark eyeliner. "And when they do, I'll destroy them all. One enormous sacrifice. Because, you know... They think the Game is almost over, but what they don't realise is that the Game is never over. As long as humans are stupid and selfish, as long as they call out for death while clinging desperately to life, the Game will never end. Besides," he adds, applying black lip colour to the terrified man on the floor. "You can't win if you don't know the rules."

Suddenly, abruptly, he brings his face within an inch of his victims, a huge cruel smile on his face the glow of his too-wide eyes an unsettling lurid brilliance.

"And I'm the one who made up the rules."

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