Both of them ignored Maria when she called their names.
After all, this was part of the training.
It would be pointless if they gave Maria a good look here.
「Well, it's been a while. I have to start preparing dinner」
「Sorry, Riko. I didn't mean to drag you into this」
「It's okay. I'm doing this because I want to」
Chihiro exhaled as he watched Riko walk away with a wave of his hand.
Looking back at Maria, he saw that she had gone rigid with her mouth tied shut.
Either she had given up, or she had changed her mind.
...Either way, it doesn't matter.
After that, he sent an email to Aika and Hana to report the situation.
It wasn't until about 30 minutes later that Aika and the others arrived at the apartment. Unusually, they were together.
「Did you meet someone?」
Chihiro asked Hana as she set down her school bag.
「Yeah. I was afraid that if I came here too early, I might want to interrupt you, even if I knew in my head that I shouldn't. So, I waited for Takatsuki-san to finish her business and came with her」
Then, as she unbuttoned her uniform and undid the ribbon, she asked, "What happened to Maria-chan?".
Chihiro, without saying a word, pointed at Maria, who was tied to a chair.
Then Hana raised her voice and walked up to Maria, touching her forehead with her right palm.
「It's strange, this object」
She tried to remain extremely calm.
The words that came out of her mouth were probably the most damaging thing she'd ever said.
The woman who had shown such extraordinary attachment to Maria until now, stopped recognizing her as Maria.
「It's true. It's a bit bad taste」
And Aika nods with a faint hint of malice in her voice, which must have been even more devastating to Maria's exhausted spirit.
Maria's closed lips opened and a moan escaped from it.
「So, Nishizaki-san, do you need any help?」
「Uh, yeah. Can you help me with the bath? We'll have to take turns」
Hana doesn't look back at Maria's call and she still discusses with Riko.
「Chihiro-kun, did you finish your homework? I made some progress during my lunch break, but there's something I don't understand」
Aika interrupted Maria's call.
And even Chihiro and his friends had finished their bath and dinner without delay, they still treat the girl, Fukami Maria, as if she were not there.
On the other hand, Maria, who had raised her voice several times, stopped speaking and it became difficult for everyone to know whether she was awake or asleep.
Then after the dishes were done and each of them had done their homework, it was time for the real night.
「Well. Chihiro, do you want to do it?」
「Oh, Riko-chan, that's not fair」
Riko cheerfully invites Chihiro to play, and Aika protests with a pout on her lips.
「I don't know if I should call Takatsuki-san cheating. ...But, of course, if you want to do it alone, I can do it afterwards」
Riko replied easily, and Hana responded to her.
「Oh, I see. If you want to do it, you have to tell me you want to do it. I understand」
「Geez. Chihiro-kun, the two of them are teasing me」
The exchange is the same as usual.
Even without Maria, it's the same exchange.
「So, do you want to do it, Aika?」
「Yes, I do, I do. Is that okay?」
Riko and Hana giggle.
It was right after that.
A thick, sludgy voice was heard.
The four of them stop talking and turn around.
Maria had opened her mouth wide and was moaning, saliva dripping down her face.
「Ahh, ah, ahhhhhh――――――!」
Until her throat ran dry - or rather, as if she didn't care even if her throat ran dry, her full-throated scream echoed through the living room and the room at the far end of the first floor.
She didn't care about bothering the other residents.
For almost a minute, the voice continued as if it were that of an animal, not a human being.
But none of them, even Chihiro, stopped Maria.
Chihiro and Aika held hands, not taking their eyes off the screaming Maria.
...For a few seconds after the screams subsided.
Chihiro softly called out to Maria, whose mouth was still slightly open.
There was no reply.
This time, however, it seemed more like she didn't know what to do than she didn't have the energy to answer.
Aika looked at Chihiro as she called out to Maria.
Then, nodding at Aika, Chihiro rushed over to the chair to untie the rope. But when he tried to help, Hana stopped him by pulling his arm.
「Please let Takatsuki-san do it」
In the end, it took Aika nearly twenty minutes to untie the rope.
She also took off the eye mask, turned the chair around, and squatted down beside her to look into her face.
When Maria tried to turn away, Aika blocked her with both hands.
「Tell me again why you did what you did」
Eventually, the conversation comes back to that.
The reason why Maria became a member of the Executive Committee without telling Chihiro or Aika.
They want to hear from Maria herself why she didn't even give a reason and why she lied about it.
In other words, it is just that...
Although it is difficult to understand because of her slave-oriented behavior, Maria has always been very proud.
However, unlike other "strong-minded" girls such as Yuse Shuka and Lucille Orwell, her pride is what one might call "slave pride”.
She has no resistance to being degraded.
She understands that she is a person with a nature far different from that of the general public.
However, on top of that, she dislikes to the utmost extent any damage to the relationship she has established with the person she acknowledges as her master.
The only exception is when she deems it necessary for her master's sake.
That's why - Maria herself, of all people, would never allow others to shake her position as a slave.
Besides, as a mere woman, she cannot say or admit that she was jealous of Aika.
So, in order to make her say it, and to make her admit it, Chihiro blamed Maria.
He restrained her, neglected her, gave her inorganic pleasures, treated her like a mere object, and made her reaffirm her position as a slave and an aspect of slave existence.
As long as she remained a slave, not only did Chihiro have the right to hold her, but even the right to kill her.
With Maria's theory, he confronted her with the fact that she could not complain about how Chihiro treated Aika and the other slaves.
He wanted her to break out of the shell she had created for herself.
If that resulted in a denial of the methods, so be it.
After all, he had done everything in his power to convince her that she must have nothing to hide, and if she thought that Chihiro was not worthy of being her master, he had no choice but to apologize.
What Maria actually chose to do was to remain silent.
Why does she have to be so silent?
Holding back the urge to scream, Chihiro said in a very matter-of-fact tone.
「All right. Then let's train her for the last time. This is really the last time」
Maria's fatigue was reaching its limit.
If she continues to be so stubborn...
Chihiro decided that if Maria continued to be so stubborn, he would really have to terminate his relationship with her.