The last prologue, setting up the last major (?) player in the prison part of this arc.
As you may be aware, this is not the first fan translation of this particular volume, and there are translations of the volumes after this also making the rounds. As such, people may inadvertently reveal spoilers from later scenes and arcs in the comments to this and following chapters. I'm not exactly saying "don't comment," but I thought it would only be fair to give you all fair warning. If you're not keen on getting spoiled, be careful when reading the comments.
Alice in Jails - Prison Episode
Color Pages & Epilogue I
Chapter 1 Front
Chapter 1 Back
Chapter 2 Front
Chapter 2 Back
Chapter 3 Front
Chapter 3 Back
Chapter 4 Front
Chapter 4 Back
Chapter 5 Front & Back, Connecting Chapter, Remaining Chapter
Alice in Jails - Streets Episode
Peter Pan in Chains
The thick, cloying scent of honey permeated the restaurant, for once forced to jockey for attention as the raised voices of a man and a woman also filled the air.
"And that's when I said it! Romeo, oh Romeo! Whyfor art thou, Romeo!"
"It was Romeo and Hamlet!"
"But do you know what the security guard said to us then? He told us his name was John, not Romeo. So of course, we apologized for the case of mistaken identity, turned, and left."
"What a false alarm!"
The odd couple had gathered a small audience in the middle of the room as they proudly expounded on another one of their exploits.
"What? That's it?!"
"You're tellin' me that guard was as empty-headed as you two?!"
The restaurant's patrons made their displeasure known with complaints and insults, but the couple's bright mood didn't falter in the slightest.
"Hah! Of course he came after us as we ran, but we were much faster!"
"The joy of youth!"
Most of the members of their audience were in various states of inebriation, but even then they had enough of their wits about them to find fault with their story.
"Don't you just mean you ran away?"
"That's certainly one way to put it! Isn't it amazing, Miria dear? All we did was run in one direction, but in reality we were deftly evading the long arm of the law!"
"It was natural talent! Beginner's luck!"
"...Yeah, alright. Whatever. Just pretend I never said anything. You two are really something else," one of the guests said, chuckling and shaking his head as he raised his hand, signaling one of the waitresses to bring another round of drinks. The odd couple's antics made no sense to normal people, but all the restaurant's regulars knew that there was nothing more entertaining to listen to when one was slightly tipsy.
It had already been close to a year since the Prohibition was abolished.
Public opposition to the Prohibition had intensified in the year 1929, after the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression that followed it. Voices rose in complaint across the country, accusing the government of withholding jobs from the people, and soon enough a movement was started to lobby for the revival of the manufacture and trade of liquor.
The Prohibition had had more unintended side effects than simply depriving the needy of jobs. Criminal organizations all over America took advantage of the absence of legal alcohol and the unchanging demand for it, and the mafias grew strong off the illegal sale of liquor. In a sense, the growing anti-Prohibition sentiments happened to coincide with the efforts of the nation's government to hamstring the power of its enemies.
Various other opinions also came together to bolster the movement, and finally, in the year 1933, the Prohibition was officially abolished. The speakeasies, illegal pubs and bars that had sold alcohol during the Prohibition years, finally came above ground, openly selling their wares in the light of day.
There were, of course, countless speakeasies that had only made a living thanks to the fact that normal stores and shops weren't allowed to stock alcohol. Once that arbitrary limit was repealed, those unfortunate establishments were forced to close their doors.
The Alveare, however, had come out on top of that harsh struggle for survival, and was now more or less an established part of the neighborhood. It was popular among the locals not only for its liquor, but also its food, notable for the strong, sweet taste of honey that permeated all the dishes.
Using that increase in revenue, the Alveare's owner had renovated the interior, replaced the cheap tables, and generally made it a much more respectable establishment than it had been when it was a speakeasy. Sena had also hired more staff members, and now four more waitresses ran frantically to and fro among the tables along with Lea, who'd been there since the beginning.
Another one of the Alveare's attractions was the peculiar couple who couldn't even be called regulars any more--they were more or less squatters who lived in the restaurant.
Their names were Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent.
Most of the restaurant's patrons knew their names, but the strange thing was, that was all they knew. They knew Isaac and Miria's names, and they knew that the pair were fine tellers of strange and outlandish stories, but that was all.
Even among the staff and the camorristas who gathered in the restaurant, there were few who knew of the couple's past. And those select few didn't treat them differently because of it, and instead let them be, allowing Isaac and Miria's tall tales to become one of the restaurant's staple attractions--though in quite a different way than Isaac and Miria themselves had probably intended, for most of the people who came to hear them talk were looking to laugh and be entertained.
"Well, doesn't that beat all. I wouldn't mind hearing more of your stories," a man's voice said. Isaac and Miria paused, putting down their glasses of honeyed juice and looking toward the unfamiliar voice. It belonged to a middle-aged man, an easygoing grin showing flashing white teeth beneath a bushy mustache.
"I've been coming here for the past few days, and every day it seems like you're telling a different tale of robbing another place somewhere in the country. I reckon you two must be famous with the police," he said teasingly, but Isaac and Miria seemed to take the mocking complement at face value, and puffed out their chests proudly.
"Not at all! Our costumes are absolutely impenetrable masterworks of misdirection, you see! In fact, I bet you that no law enforcement agent in the country knows who we are!"
"It's the perfect crime! We're like Edgar Allen Poe!"
Trying to make sense of their outlandish chatter would have been cause for a migraine in most people, but the man only smiled and gamely kept up with them.
"Haha. Costumes, eh? Now hold on just a second, you two. I remember an article in the papers a few years back about a pair of robbers dressed up as Egyptian mummies. That wouldn't happen to have been you, would it? If my memory serves me right, that article was about a man and a woman, all wrapped up in bandages, and I think the woman had on a dress over that. They broke into a bank and made a run for it with all the tissue boxes they could carry."
Isaac and Miria gasped dramatically and turned to each other, their eyes widening.
"Oh, no, Miria! The newspapers know about us!"
"Now I remember! There were all those people taking our pictures!"
"Incredible! I thought they were nothing but passing cameramen out for a stroll, but it seems they were actually news reporters! This is terrible, Miria. We face masters of disguise even more skilled than we are!"
"They must be expert thieves! Modern day Arsène Lupins!"
The middle-aged man paid no heed to the unfolding drama, however, and instead continued to pursue the topic of the odd couple's exploits.
"And what about the incident a few years back, when a pair of bandits broke into the Genoard Manor over in Newark and stole every single penny from the family safe..."
"Hah! Can't tell you about that one!"
"We have the right to remain silent! And the right to an attorney!"
"Hmm... Then setting aside the matter of whether or not you stole anything, what were you wearing at the time?" the man asked, still smiling.
Isaac's brow furrowed in concentration and he frowned, turning to Miria.
"Say, Miria. What were we wearing back then?"
"We were Indians! Native Americans!"
"You're absolutely right! We were Indians!"
"Following the will of Mother Earth and Father Sky!"
The pair smiled, satisfied, and so did the middle-aged man.
Well. It would be better to say that he smirked.
"And when you threw money all over the streets of New York?"
"Ah! I remember that one! I was dressed as a priest..."
"...And I was dressed as a nun!"
"Hahaha, is that so. Is that so..."
The mustachioed man continued to ask them questions for quite some time, coaxing out tale after tale from the couple. That one time they'd stolen the doors to a museum, the incident where they'd robbed all the chocolate from a chocolate store. The one where they'd stolen as many pairs of men's underwear as they could carry, and the time they'd hit home runs on the heads of the Chicago mafia, and made off with all their money. Story after story, theft after theft...
And throughout it all, the man kept his smile fixed firmly on his face.
Well. It would be better to say that he smirked.
"Amazing. I'll be damned. Absolutely incredible," he said at last, clapping admiringly. Isaac and Miria blushed and hemmed and hawed.
"Hahaha, don't be like that, mister. You're embarrassing us! Now come on, tell us a story or two too, would you?"
"It's give and take! Supply and demand!"
The man laughed, clapped his hands together once. "So it is, so it is. Tell you what. You two come over to my store and I'll tell you all the stories you want," he said, so amicably that one could have been forgiven for thinking that he and the odd couple were fast friends, and not total strangers.
"Oh ho! So you have a store of your own, my friend!"
"Shucks, now you're the ones embarrassing me. It isn't much, but I call it home. Won't you come with me and take a look?"
The conversation was subtly taking on a strange turn, but neither Isaac nor Miria seemed to notice.
However, some of the customers sitting in the vicinity, especially those who gave off a slightly different air from normal law-abiding citizens, did take notice, and they surreptitiously turned in their seats. Just enough so that the middle-aged man with the mustache happened to fall within their fields of vision.
All of this went unnoticed, however, as Isaac instead began to feel around inside his coat and frowned.
"Ah, I think I must've left behind my wallet back in the warehouse when we were helping clean up earlier today."
"Oh no! We're bankrupt?!"
"No, I think it'll still be there. Would you be a dear and go fetch it for me, Miria?"
"Of course, Isaac! I'll be right back!"
Miria jumped to her feet and ran off, disappearing behind the door at the back of the store.
The mustached man watched her go, his smile souring a little.
"You could've gone and gotten it yourself. You're lazier than you look, friend."
"Maybe," Isaac said shortly, uncharacteristically terse as he, too, stared toward where Miria had gone.
A few seconds passed in silence, and then Isaac cleared his throat and turned to the man.
"Alright, then. Let's go and see what you've got in your store."
"Hmm? What, you're not going to wait for your lady friend?" the man asked, clearly taken aback, but Isaac only grinned and amicably patted his shoulder.
"Of course not, silly. Why would I want to bring her along to the police station?"
A hush fell over the entire restaurant the moment the words passed Isaac's lips, as though the Alveare itself had gasped and fallen silent. Every gaze in the restaurant snapped to Isaac and the man who sat with him. The man froze, because he hadn't expected in his wildest dreams that Isaac could have seen through his cover. The camorra froze, because though they had figured out the undercover agent's intentions a while ago, they hadn't expected in their wildest dreams that Isaac could have done the same.
"...So you knew."
"Well, it's not my first time being interrogated by the police. Not by a long shot. Normally I'd have given you a pepper bomb to the face and made a break for it, but I don't really want to cause trouble here. It'd be a shame to repay their hospitality with a commotion, you see."
"I do see. I do indeed. Seems it wasn't just dumb luck that kept you two safe from the law. So tell me, what did send your lady friend to go and fetch? Some of those pepper bombs you mentioned? Or maybe a gun?" the man asked suspiciously, throwing away all pretense of friendliness.
Isaac looked around pensively, as though deliberating on what exactly to say. He was saved the trouble as a very fat man and a very thin man came swaggering up to him from the back of the restaurant, subtly positioning themselves so as to stand between him and the undercover cop.
"Say, Isaac. You and Miria didn't happen to have an argument, did you?"
"She just went running out the back door without even looking back."
The expletive came from a young man who'd come in alone, some time after the mustached officer. He'd been sitting at a table by himself, a fair distance away from Isaac, but it seemed that he too was a member of the police. He sprang to his feet and turned as though to pursue Miria, but his older coworker shook his head sharply and made a negative motion with his hand. The young cop sat back down, a sour look on his face.
The mustached man shared that look as he turned to Isaac, brushing roughly past Randy and Pecho to clap a pair of handcuffs onto the former thief. He, too, was just realizing that he'd vastly underestimated Isaac, and from his expression it was clear he was none too happy with being made to look the fool by someone he'd thought a mere simpleton.
The men of the camorra smiled, seeing the complex play of emotions flash across the police officer's face and easily discerning the reasons behind them.
Well. It would be better to say that they smirked.
The mustached man was no fool. He sensed the stares of the camorra on him and wisely began to hurry out of the Alveare, dragging Isaac with him as he went.
"Hmph. Your lady friend might have gotten away," he spat, "but we'll have you telling us where your hideout is soon enough."
A few minutes after the police left with Isaac in tow, Miria came in from the back, looking more puzzled than anything.
"Isaac, I couldn't find your wallet anywhere. Do you think maybe someone stole... Huh? Isaac?"
The gangsters played dumb, and the normal guests and the waitresses looked guiltily away. None of them could bring themselves to meet her gaze.
"Hey. Hey, everyone. What's wrong? Where's Isaac? Did he have to go to the bathroom?"
Miria seemed to have noticed that something was off, and she looked uncertainly back and forth around the room. The smile slowly faded from her face, replaced with a growing expression of worry.
"Isaac? Where are you, Isaac? Isaac?"
Isaac Dian was arrested that day.
He was taken in by a plain clothes cop who'd followed the rumors of a strange couple who told tall tales of being master thieves. But strangely, the news of his arrest did not make the papers in the days that followed, nor did any news of a trial reach the ears of the Martillo Family. Time passed, as it was wont to do.
His arrest came about a month before the day Firo Prochainezo was also taken in on charges of vandalism.
And so did it all begin.
Prologue IV End
Chapter 1 Front