I do not own any of the creative properties used in the creation of this work of fan fiction. On the other hand, any specific author created characters I created for this fic (despite how unoriginal they may be at times) are mine. So without further ado, let's get on with the show!

The Witch-General's Warning:

Read at your own risk. Suspension of Disbelief is required. Re-edited slightly with a missing line.

Delusion Disorder Daydream

Victorian Romanesque:


A When They Cry fanfic by James "Ray" Edwards

When was the first time I met Her? the thought occurred to me then, as I swaggered through the stone tiled paths of the palatial rose garden of Purgatorio's Highever Court, a place of privilege for the powerful and the nobility.

Golden roses blossomed artfully in the crisp Autumn air under a bright noon day sun, though the novelty of such grand ostentation had worn off on me ages ago, for this occasion wasn't the first time I was perusing its majesty. Many times, I had come here, in all seasons and salutations: sometimes for tea under a verdant arbor, other times a quiet word in under the secluded eaves and arches, and rarer yet, a serene moment by the fountains winged by angels and demons. Today, though, was special, a day I would never grow tired of, no matter how many Fragments I happen across.

That's right. It was Fall when I met Her, always, in the time of the Lord's year when the boundaries of Inferno, Paradiso, and the Human world were weakest. As the kind of people who dwell almost exclusively in Purgatorio, it shouldn't have been a problem for us to meet at any time, but phantoms being phantoms, it wasn't easy for us to just leave our haunts at will. Even dust and echoes have their responsibilities in the grander scheme of things, or so I've been told time and time again by Her---well, my Teacher now, plus the last thing you want to see a tax collector from Hell or Heaven.

Both kinds are the worst, trust me, but I'm getting off track here.

"You know, off-the-record," I began the hour in an abrupt crescendo, "has anyone ever told you that you're so---Tsundora?"

My approach had been stealthy as any ninja, with a bit of magic to quiet my steps. Our dear lady did not even know I was stepping into her privacy, stewing no doubt about having been called out here all of a sudden. The missive I sent anonymously had some rather scandalizing photos on it that just couldn't be---ignored. Of course, I considered our surroundings, so she couldn't just dash over in her nightgown, for the tea party, even as tempting it would be to see Her incredulous figure in a see-through baby doll. Iihihihihi!

Beatrice bolted up the table in the arbor right at the sound of my catcall. Her chastised expression a sweet red conflagration of outrage and embarrassment from being caught offguard by the sudden presence of her interloper, and his teasing words. The atypical Beato dress she wore suited her perfectly, as always, its priceless silken folds knotted in her fingers, protesting gently at her bubbling anger. Oh, how I savored the fiery sight, like a common sleazeball, to the hilt.

"W-Why... I never!" but enough was enough, and Beatrice put her foot down with a sharp offended crack, "I demand your name, you boorish bastard!"

"Iihihihihi! I thought you'd never ask, my cute miss priss!" I laughed her off in defiance of the obvious deadly consequences, offering a mock flourish of my great cape in a bow. Being torn apart by her hand was pleasant enough, and one my simpler guilty pleasures in this long difficult journey. "Count Assam is my name, and it's my pleasure to make your acquaintance, Madame Butterfly, the cruelly fair Lady Beatrice."

The delivery was a bit more brazen than I do usually, the name chosen randomly on impetus, but what can I say, I was feeling adventurous that day. It wasn't often I got a chance to tease my cute Beatrice the Golden. See, traveling across circumstances and fates just to find her even once is an awful lot of hard work, and I find it harder still to believe that that Frederica Bernkastel, did this so naturally as if she were breathing air.

"Assam~, is it?" Beatrice smiled, her blue eyes gleaming dangerously as sharpened daggers. "Phwah! Never heard of it, and when I have my way, which I will... NO. ONE. ELSE. EVER. WILL!"

Again, I laughed, affecting that slight sly, smile I had seen Ronove wear so many times that said he knew a lot more than he let on, which was perfect for infuriating people with a hair trigger reflex. "Awww, give it a rest, Lady Beatrice. Can't we save the killing each other part until later? I mean, I don't think we're THAT in~timate yet. Besides, this is a tea party, right, Double-Oh?"

In a splash of gold that morphed into golden butterflies, my shadow for today's outing took her place at my side in the usual parade ground regalia of Pendragon's divine troops, the glorious Imperial Guard Corps. Fair-haired Siesta 00, the model of discipline, wouldn't be found less than impeccable now. Even the homely picnic basket in her charge, gained an air of dignity as befits a weapon, held at right shoulder arms, though its delicious contents was meant more to satisfy the body and soul than kill. ...at least, that's what Ronove promised me, anyhow.

"Yes, My Lord!" she greeted, squaring her heels together sharply.

Any retort sharper than that practiced movement, honed by her haughty wit, died in Beatrice's throat in a unladly-like flabbergasted splutter. The appearance of a Siesta Sister was nothing to laugh at in Purgatorio, for it marked the summoner with eminent prestige, justifying that my title wasn't just for show. I was genuine, and Beatrice fumed!

"There's nothing intimate or lovey dovey about two people killing each other!!!" she decried my impudence vainly in a decidedly high, shrill voice.

Stifling a chuckle, for what fun it was to see my Golden Witch so indignant, I nodded to Siesta 00 to hand off the basket to me and follow at my shoulder, before joining the lady inside the arbor. Like a pugnacious cat, she hissed and reared up against my intrusion from across the table, but it only made me bolder, as I made myself at home and set the table for three.

"Did you know our Double-Oh here's brilliant with the harp?" I said, reaching into the basket for my trump card, which has never failed me thus far. "I brought her long to accompany us just today's occasion."

"You do me too much honor, Battler-sama," was Siesta 00's humble reply, as she waited dutifully for Beatrice to sit first. In my own home, it would have been a different story, but since we were out in public, some appearances needed to be kept for prying eyes, just in case.

The Endless Witch paid no heed to our easy rapport, though the open invitation didn't go unnoticed by her. However, she was waiting still for my move, clearly, with some dreadful trepidation. And not one to keep her waiting, should poor Beato perish from boredom first, I unveiled my hand.

"Iihihihi, relax; relax, Lady Beatrice! I'm a firm believer in Plato, don't you know? ...at least when it comes to relationships: 'you can discover more about a person in a hour of play than in a year of conversation.'"

Chess and Red Text.

"So how about it, Beatrice the Golden? A game of chess, over black tea and snacks, against the dastardly damned scoundrel, Count Assam, who has entrapped you here? Iihihihihihi, I won't let you go~ home until you beat me~!"

Beatrice stared wordlessly. Most people would have been put ill at ease by such a seemingly out of character reaction, coming from the Endless Witch, but...

"KYAH~hahahahahahaha! You fool. You god damned bleeding fool!" my Beato howled out of the clear blue, dropping all pretense of elegance and supposed nobility. "You propose a game of chess. Against. Me? The Endless Witch, Beatrice, who toys~ with life and death on a whim? Interesting. How very interesting! Tee hee hee, hiya~hahahahahaha, it's absolutely not boring at all~!"

So, our "pleasant" game began, again...

To be continued...