What has happened so far: The New Year's celebration in Kapellen Castle ended in tragedy. Not only was the Imperial Territory Leader killed, but the group around Claire completely disbanded before the chaos; Karoline and Stephan left the festivities and even Léonard - seemingly successful in his mission, abandoned Claire and Emma.
In this chapter we take a look at Claire and Emma's future, a detour to Benedikt, Claire's father and also a look at Léonard returning to where he lives.
The murder of Imperial Territory Leader Joachim J. von Mallmünde (57) is the most devastating attack on a government figure since the failed assassinations of chancellor Baron von Federstein by the notorious Anti-Sagauvela Group (ASG).
The annual New Year's gala at the famous Kapellen Castle, organised by Count Otto L. von Karolsfelde ended in a terrible tragedy for the Sagauvelish people. Ambiguities continue to exist in the HePo.
Just before the speech of the count, a woman manages to get into the banqueting hall undetected. There she executes the Imperial Territory Leader of New Enalit while the guests enjoy a carefree celebration until then.
As quickly as the perpetrator appeared, she also disappeared. Her motive is unclear so far. The HePo cannot yet say whether it is against the entire Greater Sagauvelian Government or an act of revenge.
Mr von Mallmünde's wife is still in shock. The population is warned; the perpetrator might have planned further victims. It is also unclear whether she is acting alone or in a group. One is still waiting for an announcement from a hostile organisation in this regard. Commissioner of the Territory, Eduard Felix Werner, personally takes care of the case and has immediately set up a special commission (Imperial Territory Leader murder case).
Chancellor Baron von Federstein has cancelled his trip abroad to the Derutachitai's colonies to speak publicly. A speech and burial at the Mallmünde cemetery (Palatinate Diekathedral) will take place in three days in the closest family circle.
Commissioner Werner warns the Sagauvelian population against taking the law into their own hands and acting stubbornly if the suspect is recognised. One should immediately go to the nearest HePo station (or SG unit) and put one's statement on record.
For more information, precise details, and testimonials from guests, see pages 2 to 8.
Two days had passed.
Most of the soldiers had gone back to the front. Kapellengarten seemed deserted. It was like the end of a big celebration; the music was now silent. Few people were seen on the street, most of them were locals.
The tiny post office at the end of Guildhall Street was decent and friendly inexperienced. Especially when it came to sending letters. In the beginning, the apprentice had no idea how to handle the letter, and when he forgot to put a stamp on it, the branch manager burst his collar and accidentally bent the item. The whole thing was done in an appropriate tone, the bald branch manager suddenly seemed like a tomato just before someone would crush it with a hammer. The stamp cost Claire nothing.
Claire left the office after reading the first page of all the newspapers on the kiosk next to the post office.
With an embarrassed and uncomfortable gut feeling, she thought of the text. Last night flew by. While Emma slept in her bed, she sat in front of her desk in the dim light.
The letter addressed to her father, was supposed to promise her a new phase in her life. In it, she explained everything that had happened. The disappearance from Regenschloss, the (probably) unanswered calls and her anger towards him. She had not thought it would be possible to find words for everything, she could feel satisfied to have immortalised her worries on paper. On the side, she scribbled on a letter for her aunt. With a clear conscience, she wanted to close the old chapter. She did not want to end up like Léonard.
She strutted past the neat houses in shallow steps until she recognised Poppy square. Emma had chosen a place in a café to think for a while. Being so far away from every one, without any guardians didn't happen that often.
Moreover, fate had taken a turn for the better. It was a coincidence that Claire unpacked her suitcase the same evening after her return from Kapellen Castle and her aunt's savings account fell on her feet. She hadn't thought about it once since she left Regenschloss and with that moment everything seemed void. Claire had three thousand Kronen from one second to the next. All her thoughts flowed around this deed she had in front of her, saving her from the mental abyss. Claire saw in it the voucher to get away from Léonard and her family.
Léonard's departure was an unforeseeable fate.
Emma was betrayed by him a second time. If he should show up again sometime, she would beat him to death, Emma had said angrily. This time there were no excuses for him. This situation was entirely different. Claire, on the other hand, did not believe he would return. Neither he nor Karoline nor Stephan were ever to see her. There was no real relationship between them, the only thing that connected them was Léonard. Claire had never really considered them friends, much more hoteliers or people who ran an inn. All of them were gone when Claire and Emma came back. Their rooms were empty.
There was the next problem.
They had to leave their room if they did not renew. With the bags they had been carrying since their trip from Regenschloss, they looked for a new, cheaper place to stay. It certainly wasn't easy to get something cheap on New Year's Day. Fortunately, they found an unfamiliar hotel in Beekeeper Alley. There Claire, already despairing, found the savings account.
Claire told herself on New Year that there was no point in phoning to Weymouth. Léonard was certainly not there. Emma then became even angrier and wrote her anger on some sheets of paper.
The next day was spent gathering information. The murder of the Imperial Territory Leader brought a gaping wound to the government. Increased HePo were on the streets. There were rumours of conspirators sneaking from the south to the north.
Certainly, it remained easier for Claire to get through life than for her friend. As a Greater Sagauvelian citizen of the Empire, she had all the immunities and advantages in an occupied country. She was more likely to get work and was equipped for emergencies, should there be aerial bombs.
What little savings Emma had, was enough to pay for the train journey back to Regenschloss. She found that out yesterday. Claire fought this with all her might. She didn't want to see Regenschloss again for a while.
There were years between then and now. Léonard. The du Murnaux family. Weymouth. Pfalzburg. Kapellen Castle. They seemed like flashes of memory, moments in her life that she might have experienced in an afternoon. And yet three weeks had passed since then, three weeks that had Claire decided from one day to the next that would change her. It was a decision she would not have made had it not been for Léonard. It happened so quickly and surprisingly...
There was no right term to describe him. Emma had lost all hope of seeing him again, let alone going with him. She was sure she would not let him get away scot-free this time.
The brain does not forget.
His lies were reflected in Claire's mind's eye. It was his fantasy. Or in other words; had he lost his sense of reality? Had he become an adventurer tired of real life? Did he have to build a fantasy world to get through highs to lows? Was he just like her, retreating into her world, seeming more extroverted in the process?
When Claire devoted herself to making music, it brought joyful thoughts.
A world without negative feelings. No matter what tune was played. So too when she was upset or provoked. Nervousness turned her into a loud woman. She would then talk to herself. Imagined a positive, optimistic scenario where everyone could live in peace. But her dreams were nothing compared to the collective reality. She was not allowed to escape so easily. Claire is not Léonard.
She had transferred this accumulated anger towards him to her father, who was ultimately the greatest mystery and sole culprit for her actions. Claire managed to relieve the pressure by writing, thinking several times about how she could elegantly explain to him that she didn't like him, and he was to blame for everything since Léonard's arrival.
Remembering and longing for her violin, she entered the café. Only a few minutes had passed since the walk from the post office and yet it seemed like years to Claire. Emma sat alone at a table. The fact that she had endured it all alone was mainly because there were no soldiers left to harass her in any way.
"Did everything work out?"
"Yes. The letter will probably arrive at the end of the week," Claire explained and sat down.
An awkward moment of silence occurred while the waiter asked for the drink.
"So... what's next?"
"I want to go to Regenschloss," Emma spoke, "It's pointless to do anything about him now. We won't see him again."
These were harsh words that she uttered. Claire could not believe her.
"And what do you plan to do when you get home?"
"Start at your aunt's restaurant. I still want to start an apprenticeship there. After all, you're starting there too. “
"There's a problem," she confessed.
The waiter brought her a cup of tea, as well as a rack of biscuits. The many goodies tempted Emma to grab them immediately and order a second coffee in the hope of receiving fresh biscuits.
"Which one?" Emma asked with her mouth full.
"I have a different direction I want to take. I want to do an apprenticeship as a train conductor."
Her friend looked at her with wide eyes.
"Not a cook anymore?"
Claire swallowed. She felt the rough stone stuck in her throat.
"You gave me the idea. I find it interesting. You know how much I like trains. Besides, I'll probably have more chances to build a life this way."
"I don't really see why it's a problem. I can still go to your aunt's."
If you keep your mouth shut, everything will be fine. But how quickly Auntie would then try to find me if she found out.
Emma won't spill the beans.
If so, what then?
"I just don't want to start in Regenschloss, I want to travel to Berlyne."
"Isn't that the big city where your father lives?"
"Something like that. There is hardly any work in Regenschloss. Believe me, even though we have the station, I would hardly have anything to do. All the war trains that run from there, crowd out the passengers. I have more hopes in a city of millions."
"That means the letter is a confirmation to your father that you will be travelling to see him soon?"
"It says he has nothing to worry about. The same for Auntie. Nothing more," she replied curtly.
"You want to leave for Berlyne right away?"
Claire looked away.
A poster for a play was being renewed. The two waiters took care to pin it to the wall as best they could.
"Emma, there are so many things I still want to say to you... but I don't know in what way..."
Emma was standing next to her. Her coffee was half drunk.
"I have to think for myself. I'm going for a walk."
"Do you want me to go with you?"
"No. I'll meet you in the room, all right?"
Claire nodded. She grabbed her friend's arm.
"Do not do anything you will regret. You still have all the switches that will take you to happiness."
Emma had rarely been so convinced that she was wrong as on that day. Not only did she have to admit to herself that Léonard was gone forever, no, she now had to leave her best friend. In the turmoil of war - was it even possible to ever meet her again? Claire no longer remembered how many beautiful moments they had together; she must even have forgotten how they had met back then.
Berlyne was too far away from Regenschloss to visit her regularly. Alone in Waltraud Silberlilie's restaurant, she would be reminded of Claire every time. Alone in this deserted town, it felt unimportant and boring. There was no one Emma could talk to.
Without a real thread, she strove for peace. That she found in the small, curious shop of Theophilus, which she had already visited yesterday. It was this olfactory exclusivity that transported her to the forest. It attracted her magically, like a dog led on a leash.
Theophilus was happy about new customers. Emma had bought a candle yesterday that she particularly liked. He stood by her side and gave her good advice on the best time to light it.
In the small, earthly paradise, she was able to feign an ideal world. As if it were a healing bath, she inspected every single shelf and remembered the wonderful time when she was a child.
Tossed around, between grandfather and mother, she could defiantly say that she spent a beautiful childhood. The past was bitter when you had to give up what you had built up over the years.
Emma did not want to lose them at all. Alone in Regenschloss, she could hardly make new friends.
Certainly, it is not getting any easier.
With age come difficulties. Emma did not want to grow older. She didn't feel grown-up. Léonard's dress was too much for her. She was made to look like a young princess when she was already happy to go out on horseback.
Her future options were limited, no matter what Claire spoke of switches. She would be met with strange looks in whatever profession. As if she were an underclass person.
Her dilemma was too much for Emma. Theophilus noticed this, watching her in front of the herbal cupboard as she fell into a deadly sad mood.
"May I help you in any way, young lady?"
"I don't know."
No one could miss her watery eyes. With a graceful smile, he came closer.
"Tell me. What is on your mind?"
It was the old man's graceful, healing voice that made Emma talk about her grief. Grief turned the fiction in her head into relieving sentences. In the end, it was he who had grief wandering around in his brain.
After a long pause that could hardly comfort her, came the presumably saving expressions. They were certainly not tirades he used, but what he had been taught when he was young.
"People listen less to the voice within," he said in succoring tones, "If you listen more to your heart, the tears will dry to joy."
Emma felt uncomfortable for a moment. But it was probably the most honest answer she could listen to.
"Wait a moment," he spoke fatherly.
He walked to the basket with the fresh apples. He handed the juiciest one to her.
"It will do you good. Eat and think about what your heart wants to say."
She ate it with dainty bites. It was a strange way to close the wounds of the soul. But it was the way out of the misery. More comfortable and in a better mood, she had listened to her heart.
With a glorious chuckle, the young lady said goodbye to the old man. His heart could sleep peacefully. This day he had done something good. Emma wanted to listen to her heart and follow Claire.
That evening Emma was in a great mood.
She could have the most fun with Claire in the room, the time was endless. She wanted to get rid of her new idea immediately. With her, she could overcome any obstacle.
Travel with her to Berlyne and start an education. Together. She no longer wanted to look back, but to experience new stories with her friend.
Emma immediately decided to go to Sehlingen first to talk to her grandfather about it. The next day she called her grandfather from the post office. They wanted to use the little money they had left after paying for the ticket to Lödingen as a start for Berlyne.
Claire was thrilled and could finally express her happiness. It had been a long time since she had flapped her wings as hard as she did that evening. The happiest girls in the world can be found right in Kapellengarten, Theophilus said to himself as he closed up the shop for the evening.