Chapter 7: Eternal Bond of Orion
I do not have much of a story to tell. My existence has been pitiful and saddening hitherto and only until recently have I met people unrelated to me that do not pity me with disgust. I have been hurt, both physically and emotionally, because of my timidity and the simple unquestionable hatred that everyone I had ever met assumes upon me. Only until recently have I understood why this is. My father died before I could remember him, leaving my sister, Hikari, with sad memories of being with him and ever since then my mother stopped talking as much. This is the span of my life, and despite the fact that I had previously given up hope, I have reason to believe that it could all change and become something better. This hope lies within one girl who refuses to be called my friend, a girl named Sabrina. Here I am, in her world—the world that she and Satoru-san came from: the Demesne of Umbrae.
"S-so w-where's S-Sabrina, sh-she's coming, right?" I attempted to ask while utterly stricken by the force just not a minute ago.
"Don't be surprised if she doesn't show up." Satoru-san said to me.
"Sh-she said she cannot be seen in this demesne." said Midori-chan, also shaken, but not as badly, it appears.
"Why is t-that?" I asked, attempting to calm myself without relaxing enough to fall down.
"It's… more or her personal information. You know the rule, only she can speak of herself." said Satoru-san.
I do find something quite odd. I was almost certain that Satoru-san and Sabrina hated each other intensely, but even though Sabrina's conversation seemed strained, and even though she ushered him out as soon as possible, they do know a lot about each other. They almost seem like old friends that broke away because of some event. I am no one to judge, though, considering I have never had any friends. Somehow, my heart ached at this thought and I had to turn to Midori-chan for reassurance.
"M-Midori-chan" I beckoned.
"What is it?" she smiled, already over her tremors.
"Are you my friend?" I felt rather odd, or perhaps embarrassed, asking something like that.
"Of course!" she grinned with the most reassuring feeling I could have hoped for.
I can no longer say that I have never had any friends. I can no longer say that no one has ever loved me, cared for me, or enjoyed being around me. Even still, I had to be sure.
"And S-Satoru-san, are you?" somehow, asking this of him lead to an obvious blush on my face.
"Definitely, as long as you pledge loyalty to Midori and I." a small smile came upon his face.
"I promise!" I exclaimed as if our friendship somehow depended on this one statement.
He laughed a bit and patted me on the shoulder again, not helping my blushing any.
Just when I had finally calmed to where I was no longer shaking uncontrollably, a large gust blew me off of my feet. With the sound of a tornado, it only lasted a second or two, but even still I was brushing the snow off of me when I turned around. Sabrina came after all!
I smiled and turned around to see her, and before me stood… a small black cat.
"Sabrina?" I called to the cat.
"You have misapprehended, my name is Noire de l'Esprit." the high pitched female voice announced.
"Do I have to call you that?" I asked her.
"We will only speak when necessary, and when we do, I demand you call me Noire," said she, in an intimidating tone.
"S-sorry—I will…" I apologized.
"Kiyomi-chan, this isn't a game, you must not mention her name." Midori-chan spoke softly but sincerely in desperation to my cooperating.
"I'm sorry…" I once again felt truly sorry for not taking it seriously enough.
We began walking to someplace else through the cold and snow. As I huddled my arms up, I looked around to see how everyone else was doing. Midori-chan and Satoru-san were trudging through the snow and Noire was hopping up and down in a very cute way to jump over the snow. I could not help but laugh at it doing so. Soon, though, it stopped hopping and jumped onto my shoulders instead. With Satoru-san in the lead, we were moving somewhere, but I could not tell just where to.
"Where are we headed?" I asked over the noise of crunching snow
"A town tormented by the meaningless wrath of Heather." said Satoru-san.
"What do you mean?" asked I, filling the distance between us.
"You'll see soon, and it's not pretty." he said, pointing at a long stone wall ahead of us.
It took many steps in snow to reach it, but eventually we came up to the stone wall. Satoru-san lead us to what looked like what would have been a large gate had it not been shredded to pieces by what looked like a bomb. Inside this wall was a large village. No, it was the sad remains of a once great, medieval looking village. It looked as if a tornado had passed through, as all the buildings were torn apart and the trees snapped in two or uprooted, bridges were collapsed, and houses blown to pieces and belongings strewn about. The snow was blown about in places, as if a tornado had come through.
"Heather did… all of this?" I asked them with great sympathy for the loss of these people.
"This is why she must be stopped and stripped of her power. In an instant, once her seal was broken, she destroyed this village with her newfangled power of wind." Satoru-san spoke, looking at the broken paradise.
"It looks like it would have been a nice town…" I said, observing the scene and imagining it just a day before now.
"It was. We need to get information on why she decided to do this, if there was any reason at all." he said, beckoning us to come along.
We walked over broken wood and around fallen trees and houses. The scene was heartbreaking. One could see a few men rebuilding their homes that they had lived in for so long until this meaningless destruction. Women and children had no place to stay as the men rebuilt, so they stood out in the cold. There were far too few men for such a large village, though, making me wonder if many were killed. This thought upset me even more.
My hopes were brought up a bit when we reached our destination. In the middle of the village, where all roads around connected, this large building stood. Hundreds of men were building on it again as some of their wives and children watched.
"This is the Main Hall of the village here, and before nightfall, these men will announce that it is shelter for all people of the village until their proper houses are reconstructed. They will cook food for the homeless and provide them a place until then. It is a much faster solution than building each home separately and risking the lives of those who do not have theirs rebuilt—a strategy I have seen a few times in this demesne." said Satoru-san informatively.
"That's very thoughtful. So this way, they can all have a place to stay…" said I, a string of hope still attached.
"They're lucky Heather did not attack near dusk; if so, they would have to sleep in the remains of their houses." he said.
"Are we here to help?" I asked, watching the men rebuild.
"No, they will handle this without our effort. What we need to do is ask the women around for the reason why Heather did this." he said, pointing to the groups of women.
"Um—this is a whole other world, do they speak Japanese?" I asked, the thought occurring just now.
"Yes," whispered the cat upon my shoulders, "the people of this demesne are much more intelligent than those of yours. They value education and many of them know two languages fluently. The early dimensional travelers brought back French, Japanese, Greek, and a few other languages. The people favored the Japanese morals and the syllabic alphabet, so almost the entirety of the world's language is Japanese. Even still, the architecture is gothic and very European-like."
"Let's face it, we just got lucky that the Penumbra was born in Japan." said Satoru-san.
"Not entirely true, but do not let us dwell on such a subject—return to your quest." said Noire.
The structure had no roof and was taller than two people, made totally of grey brick, and looked very castle-like. The women dressed in odd dresses that looked as if they were from an older period of Europe and some of them in Japanese kimono. It was odd to see the mixture of attire here and there, and even the mixing of culture dresses, something I might call Eurasian. There were blondes and brunettes mixed, but I noticed that oddly, the blondes grouped with blondes and the same for the brunettes. Was it a cultural difference thing? Satoru-san walked us over to a group of darker-haired women who looked rather well dressed, had their gowns not been tattered or dirty by the awful winds that Heather brought.
"Hello madam, may we ask what has happened to your village?" asked Satoru-san to a woman with straight-down, black hair.
"I was cooking in my house when a tornado passed in the daylight! How can it be that our Deities allow such a thing?" she complained.
"A tornado, you say?" asked Satoru-san.
"This string wind came from no storm." responded another woman behind her.
"Thank you for your time." said Satoru-san.
Satoru-san left the group and headed to another that was mainly blonde, all of them gathered by a broken fence. The fence that would have separated the main hall from the rest of the town was bent and broken in many places. The girls and women in this area looked very upset.
"Excuse me madam, may we ask what fate has befallen your town?" asked Satoru-san to a girl that looked our age with curly, blonde hair.
"I-I'm not sure, but my Grandfather, he knows! He was in the Town Hall when it happened!" she said with a face of dried tears, as she pointed to the building.
"Thank you, I will speak to him. How should I identify him?" asked Satoru-san.
"H-he will be half bald and supported by a cane. His beard is short and he may wear red scarf." she thought as she described him.
"Alright, we will be on our way," said Satoru-san as he led us to the town hall.
There was a line of men carrying bricks to build the structure with, all of them in a hurry to make the roof before nightfall, which they all shouted as they built. The line of men stopped and moved out of Satoru-san's way as he passed by, leading us to a large bench where many elderly men sat. They seemed to be drinking what looked like tea as they rambled on about the recent events. I never saw him until the last second, but Satoru-san seemed to identify him as he walked his direction.
"Good afternoon sir, may we ask what has caused your village to collapse?" asked Satoru-san.
The old man looked up and observed Satoru-san's face for a few seconds. Just then, he rose from his seat enthusiastically and began speaking his tale in the voice of a man with few teeth.
"There I was, in the Town Hall, listening to the meeting where we were to decide to spend on lumber or ore, when a girl about the size of these youngsters here busted in like a madwoman!" he exclaimed excitedly while holding his hands above his head and looking at Midori-chan with eyes of insanity, "Then she demanded we tell her where the Deity Chloris was! Chloris had been dead for years, we told her! Still, she believed someone here knew where, and threatened to blow our village to pieces if we did not tell! Of course, we laughed at her, but would you believe if you hadn't seen—she raised a mighty gale that swept through the town and busted all our buildings and houses to rubble! With all of us on our backs and luckily few of us hurt, she declared, 'I am Heather of Orion, and I am soon to be your Demigod! You will learn to respect my name or fear my wrath!' With that, she was gone in an instant! Now, they estimate five have been killed in the mess!" she old man said, moving his arms in many directions in emphasis.
Breathing heavily, he sat back down and drank his beverage. A few of the elderly men looked surprised, but a great number of them nodded in agreement.
"Thank you for this information." said Satoru-san in a calm demeanor.
As we made our way from the bench, we passed through the line of workers and past the women once more. I could not help but notice that everyone was looking at us with very odd expressions, many of them commenting on our clothes—and a few of them commenting on the cat on my shoulders. After we were away from the town hall, there were much fewer people around, so Satoru-san began to speak.
"The snow has stopped temporarily." he said to what seemed like himself.
"Could it be Chloris?" Midori-chan asked, after her usual silence.
"It would be interesting to know that she has recovered that quickly. But remember, the more spring it becomes, the more powerful she is and the more control she has over it. It has been many years in this demesne where only autumn and winter seem to pass, with only a week or two of anything they call summer. I am not sure that anyone here knows what spring is truly like. This means it will be difficult for Chloris to eve begin spring."
"And all we have to do is take down Chloris and I gain that position?" asked Midori-chan.
"In actuality," stated the cat, once no more people were near, "no one quite understands the principles of position-exchange, considering Chloris and Heather are the only two to defy these laws yet. We can assume that interference with others may result badly, so we will have to let you take her alone."
"Oh…" said Midori-chan, looking down at the snow.
"But first, the real problem is Heather. It seems she is also after the position of spring, so she must know that Chloris is revived and that she is weak right now." said Satoru-san.
"I have concluded that their seals were connected somehow. When Chloris was resuscitated, Heather also was released. This would mean that Heather may have had something to do with Chloris' disappearance." said Noire, moving around on my shoulders.
"As long as we fight together, Heather should be little problem. If she turns it dusk, she's as good as finished." said Satoru-san.
"That reminds me…" I said, looking at Satoru-san's shadow, "what exactly happened to Kamenosuke Kenji?"
"Oh that? The whole event consisted of us producing seals to keep him from running if he was a follower of Dark, and then when we noticed his pressure was beyond human capacity, that was Midori's cue. When she entered, she allowed her barrier to compress on the anachrolibrium orb, making it discharge. When the pressure from the orb was released, I shot spikes from her shadow, which were elemental and physical due to the barrier making the orb discharge. We did all of this to find out that Kenji was an illusion—a shadow with no particular form." Satoru-san explained with a sigh of relief.
"Um…" I tried to comprehend this.
The cat on my shoulders meowed and then spoke, "This would mean that either: Kamenosuke exists in this demesne and works for Dark, or Dark is an illusionist who can create physical bodies. The latter I have only seen in books on legend and myths, so the chances are not likely. When even a great illusionist creates a body, it cannot be interacted with physically."
"I thought it was nearly impossible to discharge the orb…" I said, now confused again.
"Using one's own power to discharge the orb with intent of storing the power is extremely impressive and rare to find beyond Deities. Many elemental situations can allow a weaker discharge without using the power of your own, like Midori did. She is very proficient in these types of tricks." said Noire.
"Um… so Satoru-san can make weapons out of shadows?" I asked.
"Indeed." Satoru-san said.
"Shadow puppets are high-level skills of Erebus…" mumbled Noire.
Somehow I caught what Sabrina was trying to convey. She told me to be wary around Satoru-san because she believes he has detestable power and lies about it when asked. She says here that shadow puppets are a very high level skill of Erebus? I needed to ask just what that was.
"What is a skill of Erebus?" I asked them—mainly Noire.
"When non-deities practice the arts and are granted skills, they are classified under the name of deities that own that power. As an example, if I were able to call down a meteor right now, it would be a greatly leveled skill of Asteria. Shadow puppets are one of the most difficult arts to perform because it takes more than two years to begin and there are so many ridiculous tasks involved to become more skilled, many of which are lost in time and forgotten." said Noire, whose claws were digging a bit in my shoulder when I bumped while walking.
"Oh—so shadows relate to Luna of Erebus?" I asked.
"Yes, because that is Luna's position—Deity of darkness and the moon." she said.
"So… where are we headed to?" I asked, looking around at nothing but snow and trees.
"I have a great feeling that I know where Heather is." said Satoru-san
"Where is that?" asked Midori-chan who was a bit behind in pace.
"She is at—or is soon to be at—the Palace of Spring." said Satoru-san.
"Why did she attack that village then?" I asked, confused all of the sudden.
"There were always rumors of an elder who knew the whereabouts of Chloris, and that she was always alive there. I do not believe that anyone knew where Chloris was, but that village was supposed to house the elder in its Town Hall, hidden somewhere." Satoru-san informed me.
"Oh…" when I thought about it—the destruction of the entire place was totally unnecessary.
"But wouldn't it be obvious to check the Palace first?" asked Midori-chan.
"Honestly, she is either daring and intelligent or daring and stupid," said the cat on my shoulders, again digging into them with its cold claws, "I believe that either she was that dumb and believed the rumor, or simply wanted her name to be spread just as a rumor. Either way, if she realized it or not, she wanted the fear of her name to be ubiquitous, I am certain."
Every time noire dug its claws into my shoulders, I again realized just how cold I was. I had tried not to shiver, but as we passed through more than nine inches of snow, I could not help that. I kept my arms in and every once in a while I blew into by shirt for warm air. It is no surprise that my legs were freezing as the snow began to pile up more than a foot as we stepped further.
"When will we be there?" I asked in sorrowful impatience, surprisingly not stuttering from shivering.
"Actually, we would never make it on foot." he said.
"What does that mean?" I asked, looking around us to see nothing more than the same trees and snow.
"We are going to use a transport here. Noire, will you make one?" he asked the cat.
"You were verifying that no one was watching it seems…" the cat mumbled as it hopped off of my shoulders and sunk directly into a deep part of the snow, disappearing into a hole.
"Noire, do you need help?" I asked; concerned at the cat that could no longer be seen where it jumped.
The hole where Noire was began to make a whistling noise and a hexagram appeared—and in the three or so feet of diameter that it expanded, the snow melted. The cat stood in the middle, upon bare dirt as we stood around the hole with no snow.
"We should not be seen where we teleport." said Noire, jumping back onto my shoulders.
One by one, we went through the transport-hexagram, starting with Midori-chan and ending with Satoru-san. I felt that odd feeling of transportation once again, but I seemed to be getting used to it. Where we arrived was actually much warmer in comparison. I felt a sudden chill run down my body as I enjoyed the small warmth that this new place held, though it was more the change in temperature than actually the warmth. That was before I turned to realize what stood before me. A large castle that speared the sky and heavens with its sharp pillars overlooked us, hundreds of feet above, built upon indestructible walls. No one could possible see the top of this palace; no one could possibly climb the top of this tall structure. It had to have more than one thousand windows all around, it was much wider than Tokyo Tower is tall, and went straight vertically upward in several parallel, spiked tops. It was beautiful, but intimidating in its graceful, gothic manner. Around us was the largest garden I had ever seen, much less stand in—albeit the trees and bushes mostly had no leaves.
"We are in the frontal garden of the Palace of Spring, everyone—or what is left of." said Noire.
"What shall we do now?" asked Midori-chan from behind me.
"From what I gather, Heather has not shown up here and what she wants is to gain Chloris' power. Until then, we stay and await her arrival. You may enter the palace if we hope to catch her inside." said Noire around my neck.
"Is there a possibility she already came?" I asked, looking around at the leaning bushes and trees with no leaves.
"It is winter, Shizu-chan, you can expect fallen leaves and shriveled plants." said Noire, matter-of-factly.
"Oh…" I felt dumb.
"Anyway, we're going in." said Satoru-san who was already walking the path to its entrance.
This, too, looked like it should have been very pretty if it were not for an unnecessary cause. Since Chloris overthrew Midori-chan's ancestor, she gained the position of spring. But then, something happened that made it to where they both disappeared? Or was it that Heather was sealed away and Chloris died somehow? When I hear them talk, I only get half of the information, but even still I did not understand this simple thing. I did not feel that it was in place to ask as everyone focused on the marvelous Palace that we were about to enter.
Satoru-san opened the doors of the palace and in we entered to the most stunningly large indoor place I had ever seen. The first room must have been seventy feet tall to the ceiling, and stairs curved around to other platforms. Hallways extended in every area and stairs led up to doors that one would die if fallen from half the height of. Looking around gave me shivers of fear from the distance and height of the place and my eyes blurred out of focus many times. Every seven or so feet, there was an impressive, gothic window that one could look out for miles around the place.
Our footsteps echoed as we made our long journey to the middle of the main-room, in which upon the floor was inscribed an intricate symbol resembling something like one of Sabrina's hexagrams. It was only when we reached the center that I noticed it was a ten-point-star with a leaf in the middle, surrounded by other symmetrical patterns that spanned more than fifty feet in a circle covering the entirety of the room.
"Deity palaces are… quiet." I whispered so my voice would not echo abruptly.
"Only the Palace of Spring would be this way. The others, especially winter, are accompanied year-round by different people and events. It is always noisy and alive in the others, but this one has been abandoned and cold for quite some time—not that you cannot find a few people here." Satoru-san said, looking around at the room.
"Who would be here?" I asked, seeing no one for what seemed like miles in this building.
"Chloris, for one—if she was not resuscitated in this very spot, then she is somewhere around." he said.
"She is here, but she is much too far away for us to follow." said Noire, sniffing the leaf emblem on the floor.
"So why do Deities need a palace?" I asked, just marveling the scene with questioning eyes upon everything I saw.
"It has been a tradition since folklore to create a labyrinth to protect a Deity who deals decisions and order of their position without being seen. Today, they are no longer labyrinths, but even still, guards watch the place from day to night. This palace was the same way until the Deity of Spring was overthrown—and overthrowing another Deity is no easy task: it takes planning, skill, and the right moment. Heather tricked the security somehow, which is no easy task either. So, either she is incredibly lucky and dumb or astonishingly, amazingly, sly. Doing what she did two times in a row makes me think she's quite a bit of both..." said Satoru-san, looking around the place.
"Do you see the wind out the window, Heather is approaching." announced, Noire as it began running to the other side of the long room.
"Come on: let's go to the back garden!" Satoru-san took our hands and led us to the far end of the room.
After many running steps, we finally reached the doors, which also bore the symbol of a leaf. Satoru-san threw them open without a notice of it and led us to the back garden. We stepped out and looked around at the area for Heather.
"Where is she?" Midori-chan asked as she held her hands tightly together.
"She nears…" said Noire.
Just as Noire said so, the wind began picking up. It was just a breeze, but soon became string wind. I felt myself grabbing my hair out of my eyes as I looked around to see the source of the wind. The gusts became stronger and stronger until I was almost knocked off of my feet, until Satoru-san held onto Midori-chan and I, keeping us from falling over. I could not hear anything but the sound of wind in my ears which gave me a headache. Even if I looked, I could see nothing but dust in the air and fog from snow that had been thrown in the air. I could barely breathe and covered my nose with my shirt in attempt to combat the wind. It was difficult to lift my arm in the massive gale, and it took all of my effort just to lift my shirt—and just as I accomplished that, it all stopped.
The dust blocked our view of the surrounding area and I could only see a few feet in front of me as I gasped for air, only to breathe in dust. We all held our shirts to our noses and moved our hair from our eyes—except Noire who had puffed up into a black fur ball without an effort to care. We waited for a sign of Heather, and even I looked everywhere I could without knowing what she even looked like. I noticed a shadow very close in front of us walking slowly.
"Is that—" I began, but another sharp gust of wind blew the dust out of our range of sight.
There stood a girl in front of us, about our height, sporting long, black wings on her back and a white crown on her head. She could be no older than twenty and no younger than us. Her brown hair trailed to her back and her bottom eyelids were blackened intensely. She wore short, light purple-grey robes that reached down to her knees, and her sleeves were very open and Japanese-like. Both of her legs would have been bare, had the left leg not had some sort of fully black tattoo, resembling a tree without leaves, that ran from her ankle, clad in purple-grey wooden sandals, to her knee. In her hand, she held white a cross, about two feet long at most. On each point of the cross, there was a letter: N, S, W, and E.
She folded in her shadowy wings and surveyed us with her dark-ringed eyes. Just like when Sabrina began using her power, I could feel the dense aura of her miasma resonating from her as proof of her power. She sneered a bit, and held her cross in the air. In a loud voice she announced to us her introduction.
"My name is Heather of Orion, and I am soon to be your Demigod!You will learn to respect my name or—"
"We know who you are." Satoru-san interrupted.
Heather shifted a bit as if she was in disbelief. Her density lowered for a second, much unlike Sabrina's in power or consistency. At first she looked caught off guard with nothing to say, but she quickly smirked and pointed her finger at us.
"It seems you three don't respect my name… You'll just have to fear my wrath!" she yelled with a finger pointed at Satoru-san.
Satoru-san clenched his fists and his shadow darkened beyond the border of blackness. Heather unfurled her wings rapidly and laughed maniacally while holding her tightly clenched cross in the air. Fear rushed the adrenaline through my body— I could feel the atmosphere becoming heavy…
"Satoru—she's a Deity! There's no way any of us could even touch her!" yelled Midori-chan.
The fear in Midori-chan's eyes and the malice in Satoru-san's were like nothing I had ever seen before. Midori-chan looked as if she was about to die, but Satoru-san looked as if he were prepared to die for us. I was scared as well. Deities are more powerful than Sabrina, and she could rip a hole through dimensions. Tears came to my eyes as the pressure increased. This was different from Sabrina's; this was a Deity's aura. My body was stiff from the gravity and I could only stare as Heather's eyes grew larger and her smile wider. At once, someone had made their move.
A loud swishing sound had me close my eyes and my head down. I cowered for a few seconds, shaking all over my body. I did not want to cower like this—I had to be strong. The sound of a tornado, like static on the highest volume blared in front of me. It was Heather's wind. What will happen to Satoru-san now? I raised my head shakily to see what had happened.
What I saw amazed me. Satoru-san had Heather's face clenched in his right hand as he was forcefully pushing her to the ground. From Heather's body blew a strong wind upward, making their hair and clothes fly about in the intense upward current. Heather yelled as her wind strength increased, hoping to make Satoru-san let go, but he never did. Satoru-san pushed harder as Heather resisted, but eventually he had her down. Heather's shadow was as dark as his and every inch further it became darker. Satoru-san was forcing her into her own shadow— through the ground and out of sight, despite the bellows of wind shooting upward in his face. With a mighty push, he forced her completely into her own shadow. She was now gone.
"Noire… tell Midori." Satoru-san said as he fell backward.
Just as I was about to run over and help him—perhaps catch him or come to his aid—he disappeared into his own shadow just like Heather had. What has just happened?
"Wh-what just—" I began.
"Midori, Satoru-san has sent Heather to the inside of the palace. There, he will tire enervate her and allow us to find Chloris. I am sure he will fare quite well—she may be a Deity, but she does not know yet how to control her power." said Noire, walking in a circle.
"H-How will I be able to—" almost asked Midori-chan.
"We will find a way to allow you to dethrone Chloris. They are both low level Deities."
"O-okay then…" said Midori-chan, even more uncertain than I.
Noire made a hexagram for us to teleport on. Beginning with Noire, then Midori-chan, then I, we all appeared somewhere much different than the garden. We were at the peak of this tall palace, where the spires thrust their highest and the bells aligned to be sounded only by the wind. I could feel the intense fear from height while attempting not to look downward. Although gates surrounded the top, I could not help but believe that any misstep would lead to my fallen, suicidal demise. The air became much colder at this height and the air was difficult to breathe—and I might have noticed the difference in air pressure had I not just escaped the most intense atmosphere I had ever felt.
"Chloris is near. I wonder: does she know that Heather shall come?" asked Noire to itself.
We made our way across the roof between two spires, bordered by large bells about the size of two men. As we passed more bells, they became smaller. I kept very close to myself as I felt like I could fall even past the bells. The air was cold, quiet, and hazy; I could hear not even the wind from this height. There was someone ahead of us. We approached the lonesome figure at a rather slow pace until we could see this girl through the fog. Alone, slightly leaning on one of the smaller sized bells was a well defined woman with pale hair. She looked the other direction, never moving once as if she did not notice our approach. She wore the same type of dress as Midori-chan did when we were at school. The long, white dress stood without motion as the wind never once blew.
She slowly turned around when the wind blew slightly, apparently just noticing us as her eyes grew wide. All at once, the wind blew and every bell around us rung an earsplitting tune. Back and forth, the bells rang as the young woman stared at us with wide eyes. Her pale blue eyes reflected what looked like fear. At the final chime of the smaller bells, she stood from leaning on one.
"You're…" she stuttered, somehow at a loss for words, "Haru."
Her voice was soft and gentle, unlike what I had imagined. I had imagined that Chloris, the one who overthrew the great Deity of Spring, would be much more like Heather in personality. I noticed that she did not have wings like Heather. Is that something only granted to the Deity of Wind? I figured it was for all Deities when I saw it.
"Y-you can't… Haru, how did…" she seemed to be unable to hold back her fear.
"I'm not the Haru you stole spring from… But even still, it belongs to my family line—it belongs to me" said Midori-chan, stepping forward with a mature tone even after the torment she has been put through so recently.
"Haru, you can't… It's mine, I've broken it—the unfathomable rule, you've lost. The spring is mine…" said Chloris, backing away a step each time she stuttered.
"Can you inform me," asked Noire, "what the first rule of being a Deity is?"
"To make the world beautiful by the means of your power." said Chloris, unsurely.
"And how can you tell me that this world looks as beautiful as it did when Haru had spring?" Noire interrogated.
"This beast—it can talk?" asked Chloris, as if she had not answered it once already.
"You cannot deny that you are not fit for the position." said Noire, completely ignoring Chloris' remark.
"I will—" began Chloris.
"It is much too late." said Noire, jumping a few feet ahead and standing in front of Chloris.
"With my power I will—" Chloris began once more, but was interrupted by an odd noise.
I heard a muffled crash from below me somewhere in the palace. One and another occurred and they seemed to grow louder. From another tower far from us, I watched as one window at a time was blown out from air pressure. Beginning from the bottom and the wreckage travelling to the top, once every window was blown it became silent again.
"Everyone, duck down and cover your head." ordered Noire as it kneeled down in place.
Everyone, including Chloris herself, got down to their knees waiting for whatever it was. With a strong current of air that blew pieces of the wall in every direction, Heather went flying out of the top window, uncoordinatedly flapping her wings without any synchronization at all. It seemed that it was more the air she produced than the wings that kept her in the air, although. With a twist in flight that looked very unnatural, she landed on our platform with a slam, catching herself on her knees. Just after she landed, the final shards of the wall fell all over us. When I noticed them, I covered my head with my hands, hoping not to get hit with a large one. Luckily, they were all relatively painless and small, although I believe that I have sustained bruises on my leg.
Before we even lifted our heads, we could hear the out-of-breath gasps of Heather. Noire was correct: Satoru-san did a good job of tiring her out before we could find Chloris. And just when I was wondering where he went, he crawled out of Heather's shadow grimly. He twisted his way out of the darkened shadow, grabbing Heather by the wing. By the time Heather had turned around, Satoru-san leaned and threw her by her left wing. She landed away from us, a couple of feet further than where she stood just earlier. She was collapsed on her side, tired beyond the ability to stand properly.
"You can't stand now, can you?" asked Satoru-san, crossing his arms like he was finished.
Heather moaned in aggravated and disturbed voice, a voice that scared me. She was seriously angered, and she wanted to kill him. There was no mistake, one could simply look at her eyes and tell the sudden hatred.
"You've really done it, Heather. It is because you didn't want to destroy this palace, isn't it?" asked Satoru-san another question.
Chloris ran over to where Heather was lying, attempting to help her. I could notice the pressure from Heather was greatly decreased, but something new arose in its place. Was this Chloris or Satoru-san I felt? It was new, but pushed on my mind and body in a different way.
"Back away from her…" demanded Midori-chan, taking charge
Heather breathed heavily as she struggled to stand. Chloris never minded Midori-chan and stayed by Heather's side anyway. Midori-chan stood to me left, about six yards away from Chloris who was helping Heather up.
"I'm ready, sister… Pray for me." said Midori-chan who was very calm and focused.
Noire meowed and hexagrams appeared below Satoru-san and I, but not Midori-chan. This familiar slow-spinning type was that which protected me from the blast of those orbs. Midori-chan was focused and ready to do whatever it was she planned on doing. The pressure that arose was not Satoru-san's, nor was it Heathers, or even Chloris'. This odd feeling, almost calming in nature unlike the others, was the power of Midori-chan.
With her hands, she expanded a green circle on the floor. It was not a hexagram, but simply a circle where it seemed one should be. Midori-chan clasped her hands around her head, but I could not tell if it was from some sort concentration or from pain. In that circle, a grid formed.
"Sister… You are not going to…?" said Noire in half wonder and half worry.
Heather was standing, waiting to regain her energy to attack, but could not. Chloris looked uncertain, but handed Heather her cross as if she were ready. And with an unnerving rapidity that hurt my stomach, Midori-chan expanded that circle to the entire area. Slowly, every object other than us was enveloped in a green grid. Just before Heather could hold up her cross shakily, every color other than the green grid was black. There seemed to be no space or time—only a floor of green grid. Within this desolate space was a constant mechanical note that rang endlessly, impairing my ability to think straight. I could feel Midori-chan's pressure—a smooth feeling somehow reminding me of silk.
What surprised me most was not that everything had become desolate and gridded as it was, but Midori-chan herself. I turned to see something that scared me: Midori's eyes were full of hatred and serenity. With a stare that made Heather drop the cross she was holding, Midori-chan pursued her. Chloris ran in front of Heather, covering Heather with her body. Midori-chan stopped, and just as she did so, the grid that lined the area turned blue. A circle similar to the one that appeared before this grid formed under Chloris' body. Midori-chan clasped her hands around her head again, looking more like pain this time than last. A white, mechanical-like beam shot Chloris out of Midori-chan's way, sending her all the way to where Satoru-san was. Chloris' body was limp and she did not move at all after she had rolled to her position, lying sideways and clutching her stomach. Midori-chan ignored Chloris and looked down at Heather, who was standing in a bit of panic.
Heather reared her arm back to punch Midori-chan. I closed my eyes at the sound of impact, and then the deep sound of a body hitting the ground. When I had gained the courage to look, what I saw was frightening. Midori-chan had hit Heather, whose limp body was curled in the same position as Chloris. Midori-chan grabbed Heather by her chest, putting her hand to her heart. There formed a gentle glow, a twinkle of light like a star, where her hand was. As if they were invisible the entire time, two golden chains came into view; two golden chains that connected Chloris and Heather. These binding shackles began at Chloris' heart and ended at Heather's. The entire grid lifted and wrapped around the chains, emitting a bright green light. The last thing I heard was a shattering sound, the last I saw was the shattering of the green grid, before the black diminished and the wind returned... The silence was unbearable; the peace was keeping me from looking up.
I felt like my neck was craned downward and that I could not look up away from my feet. The silence was broken by a gasp from Midori-chan, and the sound of her falling on her knees. She was crying. Satoru-san and I ran up to her, him catching her before she fell to her side. He held her in his arms as I kneeled in hopes of being some sort of help. Her sobbing whimpers sounded of pain, causing an ache in my heart and tears of my own. Satoru-san supported her head and body because it seemed she could not move any more. She coughed and sputtered, moving her face closer to Satoru-san's chest, becoming a bit quieter. My heart was beating very quickly and a few tears streamed down my face as I watched her in silence. I could do nothing for her.
I then realized something that Sabrina had probably been trying to tell me this entire time. I needed to become stronger to support Midori-chan, or even protect her somehow. Sabrina says that I will be more important than she will ever be. She did not want to revive Chloris because she knew that Midori-chan would end up like this. That is why she was reluctant to do so, and that is why Satoru-san forced an oath upon her: because there was no other way to make her do it. Was this Satoru-san's fault? He was the one that killed Noire in order to force Sabrina to make an oath to revive Chloris. Again, the recurring painful doubt in Satoru-san arose, only for me to blindly deny it for what he has done for me. I am not sure what to think about him—he seems to care, but Sabrina may insist otherwise. But even Sabrina says she is not certain. My thoughts go blank as reality comes back to me: the sight of Midori-chan curled up in Satoru-san's arms. I want to become stronger—to protect my friends, as well as to show them that I am the Penumbra that lives up to that name.
"She has overexerted herself. She will be okay if she is allowed to rest." said Satoru-san who was staring sympathetically downward at her.
He really does seem to care. If he cares so much for her now, why did he have to make her do this so soon? I could not say anything in this heavy silence; nothing I did say would matter at all. It was only when I was assured that she would be alright did I look around to notice that Noire was no longer present. I wonder where that cat has gone off to. Knowing that the cat is only an extension of Sabrina's words, it is difficult to refer to Noire as a cat and not Sabrina herself—which in itself is only made feasible by the fact that the voice is a pitch higher and the body is in fact, none other than, a cat. I was awoken from another train of thought when I noticed a standing figure ahead of us.
Although Chloris was struggling to move once again, Heather stood with an expression of stark scorn. I almost mistook her for someone else because she no longer looked anything like before. On her back, she sported no wings, her eyes were not darkened as they once were, and on her head there was no crown. In her hand was not a cross, and on her leg the black tattoo of a tree was no longer there. She looked like a normal girl, standing in gray-purple attire. I would have thought that she looked like any ordinary, innocent girl had she not the most disdainful expression inscribed into her visage.
"It's not good to keep your power on full the entire time, little sparrow." said Satoru-san calmly.
"I'm not a sparrow, I'm a raven!" she yelled, and the wind picked up a small bit.
"You're not even a magpie, you unfortunate child." said Satoru-san, handing me Midori-chan's sleeping body.
"Don't you mock me!" she bellowed, a voice amplified by her wind in our direction.
"Would you rather I call you a mockingbird?" he toyed with her.
"S-Satoru…" called Midori-chan from my arms
Satoru-san kneeled yet again, simply ignoring Heather altogether for Midori-chan.
"Sabrina was right… there are two golden…" she stopped and coughed into my chest.
"It's alright, I understand. Two bonds, huh… This is what's got you so hurt, isn't it? You tried to break one of those... I've never seen an eternal bond before. I guess this means if I kill one, there's a chance I will break it?" he asked himself.
"Y-you're going to kill her?" I asked, suddenly frightened by him.
"As odd as it sounds, I don't think she can die right now unless we kill both of them simultaneously. I might be able to break that bond by throwing one of them on the border of life and death, though. Maybe it's futile..."
"…Be careful." I told him, hugging Midori-chan tightly.
"Don't talk like I'm small fry!" Heather roared after she realized she was being totally ignored.
When Satoru-san stood again, he was faced by two girls. Chloris was also standing, waiting for something to happen. On her face was contempt, but nothing in the league of Heather's. Satoru-san turned to us and muttered something while pointing at my feet with a finger. Under us appeared a black pentagram. It was not like Sabrina's at all, it was less intricate and what spun was not a six-point star, but a normal five-point. It made me wonder which indicates more power.
"Order of Seasons: Springtide." gravely declared Chloris.
An immense amount of pressure overcame me like a wave, but before I fainted or felt the crushing atmosphere fully, the star below me spun and I could no longer feel it. Under this fabricated numbness, I could sense hints of their pressures: the jagged fluctuating one of Heather's and the rapid one emanating from Chloris. Hers reminded me of a rollercoaster—an intense excitement of adrenaline pumping and speed. Neither of them was like Midori-chan's smooth, even ambiance or Sabrina's earthly gravity. These atmospheres are the representation of power for the people of this demesne and everyone has a different feeling that resonates when they attack. And even still, I could feel nothing from Satoru-san.
Chloris had changed dramatically all of the sudden, just like Heather, except in the opposite sense. Chloris was dressed in a complex black dress—Goth Lolita—, much like one of Sabrina's, and in her hand was a spear. Atop the spear were metal vines that held the blade—a leaf. Her left hand grasped a bell about the size of the smaller, bowl sized ones that surrounded us on this platform. On her head was a magnificent green crown, adorned with leaves and in the front, a jeweled butterfly.
"So the little poltergeist was correct, it was Goth Lolita. It seems the legends were also incorrect about something else…You are still not a deity." said Satoru-san, staring at her.
"Order of Elements: Boreas." said Heather.
Heather was a tough little girl, now spurting the wings and features just as earlier. I could feel hints of her jagged pressure and could visibly see her anger. The wind picked up at least twenty miles an hour more and I could faintly feel the temperature warming. No one seemed to notice yet that their shadows were growing darker and darker by the second, probably Satoru-san's work.
"You won't lay a finger on her." said Chloris, holding her spear out in front of Heather.
"Sarah… I promised I would protect you." said Heather, pushing the spear away from her.
"I'm sorry to interrupt the love scene, but—" Satoru-san said, raiding his hands.
Needles shot from Chloris' shadow rapidly, sticking from the ground like dark, black stalagmites. I expected it to stab Chloris, but she dodged quite well, blocking a few with the point of the spear. Before the needles sunk back into the ground, Heather's cross lengthened to twice its original length and became sky blue. I held onto Midori-chan tightly, anticipating what came next. Heather grabbed Chloris and flew into the sky and with a roar bellowing from above, Heather blew a gale so strong that every bell rung and pieces of this great structure broke off. The speed of the wind increased, forcing Satoru-san to sink into his shadow. The wind must be blowing two hundred miles an hour before the bells on this structure shattered out of tension and broke off, falling into the ground that seemed miles below. I flinched as bells and shards from my right flew in my direction, but even still this dark star protected me and the now uncomfortably shifting Midori-chan. I could hear nothing but the sound like a thousand trains, a hundred tornadoes, and the bombing destruction of buildings from everywhere around me. The structure felt uneven, as of the wind had blown the rafters out of proportion.
When the wind died down, Satoru-san still was nowhere to be found. The temperature had risen quite a bit and the sun was beaming down. Heather landed with Chloris, panting deeply.
"Do you think… we blew him off the side?" panted Heather, looking around.
Satoru-san twisted silently out of Heather's shadow behind her. I watched without a blink as her shadow shrunk and in his hand formed a spear of his own—a long, black spear made of shadow. I flinched as he ran it through Chloris; I cringed at the sound of her squeal as she fell onto her stomach.
Heather shot into the air at an amazing speed of what looked like two hundred miles an hour as she grabbed Chloris along with her again. She seemed like she was struggling to fly this time, and both of their pains were visible. I could hear her voice, amplified by her wind.
"If you can hide so well… How about I make it so dark that you cannot possibly see!" she bellowed, wind increasing again.
This was it. This was the moment that Satoru-san was talking to Sabrina about. From what I know, from what I have heard—Satoru-san had already won.
Synthetic darkness grew as if a large object obscured the sun. Daylight fell and it became ever darker. At the last shimmering ray of light on Satoru-san's face, I could see him smile. It was neither a pleasant smile, nor a grimace of hatred. He knew he had won. It seems Heather's plan was to darken it so much that Satoru-san could not hide anymore, and then she would blow a final gust that would send him off the pillar. She was not aware that Satoru-san could manipulate shadows, and that apparently his strength grew with darkness. It was beyond nightfall, I could see nothing.
The wind began once more, but something else began with it. It was an odd noise like an earthquake, reminding me greatly of Sabrina's rift to this demesne, but much more hollow in comparison. The noise gave me a headache, but I was awoken to reality when the structure began to shake. Without a sound, without transition, all of the darkness had vanished at once. Eyes hurting in attempt to adjust, I saw Satoru-san standing with a smile, his arms raised out in the air. Where the girls were was just a black ball of darkness, about twenty feet in diameter and decreasing. It revolved with a noise like a tornado, shrinking in its position until it was the size of the two of them. Spikes appeared everywhere on the orb of darkness, and with a blinding light, the exploded, sending the two of them straight down at us.
They landed with a thunk, rolling several times, but as they did I could hear the jingling of chains. Even after they stopped rolling I could hear the faint sound of chains. The spinning pentagram below me faded and Midori-chan began to move once again. Both Heather and Chloris had been forced back into their original states. They were just normal girls, no wings, no darkened eyelids, and no spear. Holding Midori-chan and allowing her to love a bit as she stood up, I noticed Heather in front of me. She was staring at me without moving her limp body. Her gaze was melancholic and saddening, and even though she was trying to kill Satoru-san, I could not help but feel empathy when tears fell from her eyes. The chains of her chest became visible now, their golden tint shining in the sunlight as they wriggled back and forth with no apparent cause of the movement. These chains connected her and Chloris, but as I gazed over to her, the chains were cut off just before Chloris' chest. There was a hole in Chloris' chest where she had been run through, but it was regenerating. The wiggling of the chains looked like the chains way of attempting to reconnect with her.
I remember something… the parting of the clouds above and the heavens opening to earth—a blinding light so bright that I could not open my eyes. And just before I fainted, I saw the figure of a woman dressed absolutely in white, holding the heavens above her. Before I even saw her face, and before I even felt her pressure, I was knocked out.
I remember the Image of Heather's eyes. Deep inside of me, during my dormant state, somehow I knew… Somehow I understood why Heather had become this way. Somehow Heather was speaking to me, but was it really her? Was this merely my mind in a trance state after that woman appeared? I do not know… But all I did know was the faint sound of Heather's voice—and as I focused more and more, I was drawn into their past.
And like a dream,
At a very young age, Heather idolized Chloris. Chloris, whose name was actually Sarah, stood as her guardian because Heather's parents were always working. Chloris was six years older than Heather and they had grown up together. Heather was never allowed to go to and from her house, unless Chloris was there to guide her. Oftentimes, Chloris would take Heather into a large meadow of flowers, where the lilies of spring would bloom by the thousands. It was that day when Heather's guilt began.
That warm spring day, Chloris watched as the little Heather ran off into the field of flowers. It was common for people to pass by and laugh along with them, complimenting Heather's energy or how cute she was, but this time the company was different. Two men came up to Chloris while Heather was away in the midst of the flowers. When Heather returned, she only hid and cried while those two men robbed, beat, and raped Chloris before finally knocking her unconscious and fleeing. The entire time, Heather was too small to do anything about it, but still she promised that she would become stronger to protect Chloris—Heather promised Chloris that she would become a Deity for her, not quite old enough to understand how the Umbra government worked. Heather studied law extensively in her attempts to become a deity and one day she promised Chloris that, for her, she would break the unfathomable rule.
When Heather was old enough to work, she was accepted into a trainee program and eventually was promoted to serve the Palace of Luna. She earned enough pay to support the two of them since Chloris was never able to find a job. One day, a pandemic plagued the area and Chloris became very ill. When Chloris was home sick, she had witnessed her mother's death by the very same disease. After many years of having been forgotten, Heather's guilt reawakened and her determination to help the severely depressed girl—who had lost her virginity to a child molester and whose mother had died in front of her eyes—drove Heather to fulfill just what she had promised. She broke the unfathomable rule.
Heather overthrew Sophia, a rather weak Deity that she was serving at the time. Even though Sophia was Luna of Erebus' child, Luna never sought revenge on her, probably due to her hatred for Sophia or out of shear interest in Heather's determination and courage to break that unfathomable rule. Inspired by Heather's bravery, Chloris decided that she could not rely on Heather just as she had done for so many years after the event that scarred her life. Heather knew that it wasn't enough to be a weak Deity that could be overthrown by someone like herself, so she thought of the highest possible position that would ensure Chloris' and her safety: the Penumbra. At the time, the Penumbra was merely a child, but Heather threatened to take that child's power and use it to benefit the Deities since there was always a wide dispute about the Penumbra having too much power. With many Deities, weak and strong, on her side, Heather had forced the Castle of Umbra to divide into two to protect the Penumbra.
Somewhere within this time, a war had begun… Instead of the Deities power increasing, it decreased dramatically and divided into other forms of power. When the more powerful Deities threatened to kill the Penumbra, the positions of seasons became weak and both the King and Queen were nowhere to be found. At that point, Chloris took her stand and overthrew the position of spring, making her the Deity of Spring. Absolutely proud of Chloris, Heather attempted to devise yet another plot to help the two of them, and instead of the Penumbra's power, she reached for the stars—Asteria. In order to prove her power, Heather enraged the people and Deities by raising a two-week-long night that stayed at the darkest time of dusk. One day, Heather met Asteria atop a mountain, where she challenged Asteria to a duel. Angered, but not enraged, by Heather's persistence, Asteria asked her why she tried so hard for power.
Asteria respected Heather for her courage devoted to Chloris and did as she asked. After not even a minute, Asteria had won the duel and decided to spare Heather's life. No one had ever tried to conflict with Asteria and that alone made her respect Heather. After the two-week-long dusk, spring had returned, but this time into the hands of Chloris. She had one problem though; she had just become a Deity and did not know how to manipulate spring. Her days were uneven and she would fluctuate in and back out of winter, destroying spring crops and flowers. The people began to revolt against her, and when they heard about Heather's schemes, the other Deities planned to banish both Heather and Chloris from the country.
Saddened and regretful for all that they had caused—a war that changed everything and killed many people—they decided that they would leave the world together and come back in some other time. In tears, both Chloris and Heather understood that they had done wrong and had gone far beyond protecting their friendship. They worked on an eternal bond, a technique that only Deities could use, that linked their lives and sealed them away. They created the seal to where only someone with power far greater than one can imagine could break it—only they left one thing behind… Because the Deity of Spring was no longer existent, spring ceased to exist for many, many years to come…
And with that, I knew the history of Heather and Chloris.
I woke up from a slumber that seemed to last years. I looked around me to see that I was inside the first chamber of the Palace where the leaf was inscribed on the floor. In front of me was the shining white figure of a woman who held the heavens above her. Her pressure was so great that I could neither breathe nor move. I watched through squinted eyes as she lifted the chains and with her hands she ripped them to shreds. She turned around and looked down at me. She raised a golden-white emblem that muffled her pressure and allowed me to breathe. Slowly, I stood and realized what was under us: a ten point star. It was glowing so brightly that I held my arm in front of my face to keep my eyes from burning. I tried not to look directly at the woman because doing so was like attempting to watch the sun.
"Young girl…" her very goddess-like voice echoed through the palace.
I could say nothing; my bewilderment kept me from even speaking.
"So the Penumbra has returned…" she said before holding her arms upward.
She created a rift and hovered through it, exiting without a sound. Catching my breath, I looked around to see that Midori-chan was lying on the floor just as I was. Satoru-san came walking up behind us and put his hand on my shoulder.
"Perhaps they have learned their lesson. Those two are now sealed once again for many years to come…" Satoru-san spoke, but I was far too out of my wits to understand completely.
"Who was…?" I asked the only question on my mind with the only amount of words that would escape my mouth.
"Asteria." said Satoru-san, catching me as I fell into his arms.
Satoru-san created his black five-point star pentagram on the floor below us. It was nothing like the size of Asteria's. It was not as bright as hers either, but even still I knew not any difference in the two other than points on a star. I believe it is a safe assumption that Asteria has much more power, though.
"Satoru-san…" even at my weakened state, I wanted to know enough to force myself to ask.
"What… do the points in an emblem mean?" I asked, raising my hand shakily to point at his five-point star.
"I'm actually not completely sure about that. You might have to ask Hafren." he informed me not.
"Asteria's was ten…" I uttered from an oddly sore throat.
"It was impressive, wasn't it?" he asked.
"I couldn't see it… for long." I half-laughed through a strange cough. I really was not feeling well.
"There becomes a point when someone's power is so great that it drains all of your energy. You should feel very tired and peculiarly ill." he told me.
"Yes… I do." I groaned.
"Midori was already wiped out—poor girl. Shizuko, do you think you can step onto that transport there?" he asked.
"I can probably…" I shook and grunted, trying not to burden him with helping me, but struggle as I might, I couldn't even lift my own arms anymore.
"It's okay, I'll carry you." he said, reaching down to my legs to pick me up.
"W-what about Midori-chan?" I asked him, held up in his arms limply.
"I guess she will go next." he said, walking onto the transport.
With a feeling of being dropped a few yards, we ended up in an unusual place. It was dark. I could not see anything. I could feel him putting me onto the floor and stepping back to get onto the transport. Before I could ask any questions, I was left alone in this darkness. I waited in a bit of worry without moving until he returned, assumingly with Midori-chan in his arms like he held me. Somehow, the floor felt familiar and the scent in the air was like… books. I heard Satoru-san snap his fingers and a red light appeared near me that lit the candles.
"You can stay in here until you regain your stamina or you can follow us if you're able to. I'm not sure if Hafren wants to work with us right now, so I will be leaving." Satoru-san informed me as he walked past me to the large metal door.
On this floor I was so tired that I could not even respond, much less get up and follow. I squirmed a bit in attempt, but soon enough I accepted fate and lie motionlessly on the cold floor. Satoru-san understood that I was in no condition to follow and slammed the door open and then closed. Immobile and physically paralyzed, I could do no more than choose to stare at the flickering lights of a few candles surrounding me or stare into the infinite ceiling. After choosing to stare at the ceiling, I took advantage of the silence in this situation to retake upon my life and ask myself questions that were shoved back due to all of this frantic excitement.
Satoru-san… He came from nowhere. At our first meeting, he was attempting to find his way to the new school as a transfer student. It turned out that he had no intention of studying at Daito and was on a mission to reveal the identity of a murderer named Dark. As far as I know, Satoru-san made up the name Dark because this murderer only struck at night—a rule that was broken. Because of this, somehow we ended up going to the Demesne of Umbrae. Did we only go there because of the Heather-Chloris ordeal or because they decided that Dark cannot be in this demesne? I do not know. Satoru-san… He has the ability to manipulate shadows. Sabrina calls them 'Shadow Puppets' when he does so. How does someone even begin to do something like that anyway? Satoru-san is pretty cool. He has pretty purple eyes. He helps us out a lot, but even after all of that, Sabrina has put this suspicion in my head about him. I know I should not be blaming her, but I hate to feel this way about someone that seems to be helping me all of the time. Even after all of this time, it seems I know nothing about Satoru-san…
Midori-chan… She's a valuable friend of both Satoru-san and Sabrina… and me. Our meeting was odd: she acted as if she knew me and greeted me with a smile. Was it because I am the Penumbra or was it simply her nature? Somehow I feel that it is the latter—she has always been nice. It was only until her fight with the two pseudo-deities that I have ever seen her so angry. I do not like that face, I like to see her smile. She cares for Sabrina so much that she cried when she brought up that sometimes Sabrina hurts herself. I do wonder what she means by that—Sabrina hurts herself… Midori-chan has pretty green hair and deep, colorless eyes. If the colorless eyes were on someone like Sabrina, I would say that they look evil and penetrating, but Midori-chan's happy demeanor does not allow such. Midori-chan can draw well when she's bored. I am still uncertain of her power, but hers seems to be based off of computerized mechanics or something. Midori-chan and Satoru-san are on first name relation, so I can assume that they have known each other for a very long time or are very close… or both, really.
And finally, Sabrina… is a name that has flooded my thoughts very recently. I have hopes of some day understanding Satoru-san; I can even be his friend, but with Sabrina it seems I should have hopes of neither. She will not accept friendship from even the one closest to her—Midori-chan. they swore sisterhood of some sort in order to refrain from being called friends, it seems. I do wonder why it is necessary to do so. Sabrina is powerful enough to create a rift between dimensions and transport us between demesnes. I am not actually sure if that is amazing in her demesne, but it would seem so. I did notice that Sabrina and Asteria have similar pressures even though Asteria's was so potent that it has me lying catatonically on the floor. Sabrina has beautiful golden eyes, pale skin, and most importantly: long, violet hair that reaches even beyond the floor. It looks as if she has never cut her hair, and I am not sure if someone who looks like she is seventeen could have so much hair. That rouses the old suspicion I had of her: how old is this girl? Is it possible to be older than you look by such an amount of years? I do not know. Sabrina controls a cat—a nekomata familiar with two tails and completely black fir. She can use those cats to communicate even through the separate worlds. The cat's name is Noire de l'Esprit, which I am still not sure how to say correctly. I am sure it is French; Satoru-san said so and Sabrina reads books in that language. I wonder how long she has been living down here. Did Midori-chan find her in here when she moved in or did Sabrina just… move in? I wonder how this entire residency works without someone paying bills. Or maybe Midori-chan is… I do not know. Sabrina hates to share information regarding her past, so I may never understand why she is here and where she came from…
After about ten minutes of total dormancy, I can now move my head. Looking over to my left, I see a large pile of blankets. I might have mistaken it for just Sabrina's unmade bed stuffed with her many books or pillows had this bed not a five foot lock of hair streaming from the side of it. I felt as if I can talk now and what felt like fever just earlier is gone. Moving my back and arms slowly, I pick myself up. She is asleep. Watching her chest rise and fall and listening to her cute, small breaths I wondered about something. This girl's ability is to enter the realm of dreams. In my dreams, she promises to awaken my awareness as Penumbra. If she can enter dreams at will, then what does she dream about? Can she move around in her dreams and do whatever she wants to? Oh, not only can she move around in dreams, but she can control what happens to the finest detail, it seems. What a wonderful gift she has.
"F-Father… why?" she moaned in her sleep with a miserable tone that hurt my heart.
Sabrina's father… I wonder if he is alive. I do not know how long it has been since she has seen her father. It hurts to assume so, but maybe… Maybe her father is dead—like mine. If so, I can understand her pain. But with the way she sounds, it seems like she knew him. It is better to be born blind than to lose your sight. If I had known Father, I would be so much more miserable—just like Hikari. Somehow I feel that I can understand Sabrina a bit more this way. It is not much, but maybe this much is good for now.
I begin to wonder and worry. Should I have heard that? It was only two words, but she will definitely read me through and find out that I heard her saying that. As far as I know, she cannot read minds, so as long as I do not hint that I heard her say that, I should be okay, right? I feel so guilty right now. She seems so fragile, so vulnerable in her sleep. But I know as well as the rest of us that when she is awake, she can cause an earthquake. In fact, I think that rift earlier caused a small one. I was startled back into my senses when I heard her yawn and stretch. I looked over to see her half-dressed lazily in her robes again with a book in hand, flipping through its pages.
"I am more attentive of your existence currently…" she muttered at me without looking up from her pages.
"What do you mean?" I asked with surprising fluency for someone who was disabled just earlier.
"Your ambience is rather commendable given its previous state."
"Like… the pressure from Deities?" I asked, wondering just what this girl was implying.
"No, much different than that—but the same concept, yes; I am trying to say you gained a 'pressure' of your own." she spelled it out for me.
"How could that be? How does one go about gaining pressure?" I asked.
"Experience: it means you must have met a powerful Deity and brooked his or her power fairly well."
"I saw Asteria… But her power was so great it left me immobile for a while even after she muffled it." I informed her.
"But it did not kill you." she added grimly.
"It can kill you!" I asked in surprise.
"Most Deities prefer not to do so, which is why they pacify their ambience upon meeting a minor. Stories in many books dictate that Luna of Erebus refuses to pacify hers and by doing so she kills those imprudent enough to approach her by means of suffocation or gravity."
"What do you mean by gravity?" I asked, remembering my remark that Sabrina's pressure was like gravity.
"If puissant enough, the ambience can physically crush you like a lemon." she spoke, putting her book down and imitating the crushing of 'lemons' for some kind of demented lemonade.
"W-why would she do that?" I asked, shivering at the thought of something like that.
"It proves her governance and supremacy. Besides, it is the fault of those improvident enough to approach her." she said, picking her book back up.
"S-so are you going to do the Penumbra… thing?" I asked, at a loss for what to call it now.
"Tonight when you are asleep." she said, closing her book and crawling out from under her covers.
"But isn't it night? Do you want me to go to sleep now?" I asked.
She giggled a bit and rolled onto the floor on her side, running her pale fingers through her violet hair with an intimidating smile.
"You might want to check the time, Shizu-chan." she smiled.
"Um… okay. I'm a bit tired, so are you doing it when I am asleep?" I asked, standing up shakily.
"Now is not the time to worry with that." she stood along with me.
"Oh… then where did Noire go?" I asked, looking around for the cat after remembering that the cat disappeared halfway into the brawl earlier.
"Noire is running errands presently." she said. "Your incessant string of questions is becoming rather irksome."
"I'm sorry; I'll quit asking you so many things." I apologized
"Please leave." she said while rolling over away from me.
"Um… okay." I said, turning toward the closed metal door.
I remembered that she was unable to open it without Noire, and I did not want to ask her after being kindly asked to leave like this. I had no choice but to attempt the door myself. Grabbing the handle from the far right, I tugged as hard as I could. Trying to keep quite my heavy breathing, I put my foot on the wall and pushed. It did not even creak. I am seriously beginning to wonder how Satoru-san opens this thing!
"S-Sabrina…" I whined at last.
With my back turned, the door slammed open behind me, making me jump and squeal. With my heart beating loudly, I could see Sabrina curl into more of a ball.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—" I attempted apology shakily.
"You are loud. Please… just go away." she pleaded under the muffling of her blankets and pillows.
Was she alright? Slowly, I walked away in confusion to her sudden change. Before I turned around to walk, I heard sounds like chains. It was the sound of the door closing very slowly. As usual, no one was pushing or pulling it—but by some force of Sabrina's it can do this. I have never seen it close so slowly before, although. I wonder if she feels well.
Soon enough, I am left in this dark hallway that leads only to her room. This is the back of Midori-chan's villa. It is such a dark and eerie place that it would make most people want to rush to the front. Unfortunately, I am like most people and find myself walking pretty quickly to find a properly lit room. It seemed to take five minutes to find my way. I became lost through an unfamiliar hallway that I had not noticed the last time here. After going down the dark stairs into a room I had never seen before, one that seemed to be some sort of dining room, I found the route that led to the living room that Midori-chan usually stayed. Sabrina, before telling me to leave, suggested that I should check the time.
In the kitchen, on the great clock, I read the hands that pointed to a confusing time: five thirty two. It was too dark to mean in the afternoon, so it must be the morning. With this sudden change in time I can only wonder two things: is this clock wrong or do I have to endure another day of school in this exhausted state without a night of sleep?
Just after the thought of her, I hear Midori-chan's voice in the other room. Slowly making my way through and out the twilit kitchen, I see the back of her head as she sat upon her usual chair. She was brushing her hair, which shined out of dampness.
"Midori-chan" I called her name from behind so as not to startle her.
"Good morning, Kiyomi-chan." she replied, only reinforcing my fear that I had somehow missed night.
"Is it really morning?" I asked while sitting down on the couch.
"It didn't seem like we spent very long there, but according to Satoru-kun we both passed out, so maybe we did sleep all night…" she said with her head sideways, brushing through her emerald-colored hair.
She was wrapped in a towel, having taken a bath when I was lying on the floor I assume, which reminded me that I probably needed a bath also. Suddenly becoming conscious of my own body, I was pretty sweaty from what happened.
"You need a bath." she giggled.
"I-Is it… really okay for you to be in a towel like that?" I asked.
"It's okay because Satoru-kun is out." she said, stopping her brushing and making the room silent.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"He seemed pretty restless about something and left in a hurry saying something about checking the school files."
"Oh… I guess I'll take a shower." I said, getting up from the couch.
"Here, have this. I'll go to my room and get another." she offered, handing me her uniform.
"Will it fit?" I asked, surveying that it was probably the same size as mine.
"I think we are the same size. Towels are in the drawer." she waved while making her way to her room.
After a while of taking in my surroundings, I found myself in a large bathroom. This bathroom is the size of the living room in my house, and the mirror is probably nine feet long here. There is a separate shower and bath tub all in this one room. I take my shower in this fancy bathroom, feeling spoiled as I toyed with the expensive features. After a long shower that pleasantly woke me up for the time being, I headed back into the living room. There, I saw Midori-chan tying her shoe.
"I got your bag from upstairs. Are you ready to go?" she asked with a smile.
"Thank you; I'm ready."
And with that, we made our way the street. It was cold and early, but the snow piled up much more than I had remembered. It reminded me of the first day that I met Satoru-san. The snow crunched from under my feet and we neared the medieval-like clock that displayed our time: 6:24 in the morning. Oddly enough, as I thought of the first day this all began, I noticed that very same child playing near the snow-filled ditches. With Satoru-san not around, I really must warn him not to do it again.
"Um, where are your parents?" I asked the child, getting his attention at the very least.
He simply stared at me with an expression that I could only assume to be petrifying fear. He moved not once other than the slight twitching of his arms. I approached to help him.
"I'm sorry, did I scare you?" I asked.
"AAAAAAHH! Don't give me rabies!" he yelled in a screeching, prepubescent, earsplitting cry.
Running away from me at full speed and leaving me almost as frightened as he, the small child fled and took shelter in a nearby café. It would be a lie to say that I did not feel empty having been told that I was a rabid animal and having a small child running away from me in utter horror. I do wonder if there is something incorrect with him.
"Is he… okay?" Midori-chan asked from behind me, apparently in as much shock as I.
"I'm not sure… Let's go." I took advantage of the few minutes remaining this time.
We were late, but at least only by about two minutes. Being only my second tardy, I was still nervous to enter the school. Taking both of us to class, I was glad to feel the warm air from inside. Quietly, I opened the door of the classroom. Everyone stared at us, but not like the usual stare, it was something else. It was as if they had never seen us before. I can only assume it is Midori-chan's bright green hair, though. After we seated ourselves in our usual seats, the teacher came over to us with a smile.
"Oh…" the teacher said, finally, "There's the late runner. We've been looking forward to having you. Why don't you introduce yourself?"
Something seems a bit off. Has she simply forgotten that Midori-chan has already done so?
"Um… Haru Midori." Midori-chan stood and faced the class with the same thoughts as mine, it seems.
Everyone smiled and a few waved as usual, as if nothing had happened before now. With an odd glance at everyone, I eventually decided that they were just being nice to the forgetful teacher. Soon enough, lessons resumed. Usually when the teacher is absent, the students ask her why it was she did not arrive to teach. This never happened either; class just resumed as ordinary. But something happened that quite startled me: she was going over the very same lesson as the first day I met Satoru-san. I could not help but speak out—I have never spoken out in class before, but I could not help it.
"Um… Haven't we gone over this before?" I asked; shy of all the people staring at me.
"Shizuko, we know you study ahead but the rest of the class doesn't." the teacher remarked.
"Um sorry… Ah—so why were you out yesterday?" I persisted
"Why was I out? I haven't been absent for at least a few months. Wake up a bit, you sleep too much." she scolded me.
After that, I eventually withdrew into my shell and no longer took even a glance at the people around me. Every minute that class went on, I swore once more than I had heard all of it before. Before long, I realized something that made my heart skip more than a beat. The voices of familiar boys that I did not like…
"That new girl, whad'ya thinks about her, Takeshi?"
"Well, duh, she's hot."
"You like that green hair, Takeshi?"
"You got a problem with it, fry?"
"No, no, but she's hangin' out with that weird girl."
"Nah, she just came in with her. I'm sure she'll come an' talk to us eventually."
The two that were murdered last! Before any weird thoughts entered my head, I remembered that thing about Satoru-san using their souls. Perhaps they have been given life again? It made no sense to me, but then again so do many of the things that have happened so recently. Even still, seeing them here again gives me both relief and fright. I do wonder what has happened.
"You wanna talk to her, Takeshi?" asked the smaller one, nicknamed 'fry.'
"Yeah but… her eyes're creepin' me out."
"Whad'ya mea—oh wait they're black!" he exclaimed out to the whole class. The class became silent and a few people laughed.
"Stupid." said Takeshi to his sycophant, again making the class laugh.
When the class was divided into groups, the two delinquents attempted to join with her, but when she immediately patched onto me, they ended up quitting and joined with each other. We did the assignment, which Midori-chan seemed like an expert in, finishing in less than six minutes, and played around for the rest of the time. Midori-chan drew a few funny pictures, one involving Sabrina hugging a pineapple (no explanation necessary) and quite a few sketches of a winged girl. Embarrassingly enough, it took me more time that I would like to admit to realize that the winged girl pictures were Heather. That reminded me of my sudden realization of Heather's past. I wondered how I suddenly knew all of that, and if everyone else understood as well. Did my mind just make it up?
Eventually Midori-chan returned to her position, which was thankfully not too far from me anyway. The lunch bells rung and I looked around in realization that I had no money or lunch.
"I guess you couldn't have brought lunch, huh?" Midori-chan asked me.
"No, I left my money…" I returned her question despondently.
"It's okay, I will buy you whatever you want." she offered.
"Such an altruistic proposition is gratuitous." replied a voice behind me before I could speak.
"Noire's here!" Midori-chan gleefully stood and picked up the cat.
"Do substantiate that no person is observing us beforehand…" the cat pleaded.
Truly enough, it would look odd to see Midori-chan become excited and pick up nothing with such a smile as hers at this moment, given that no one can see Noire. Midori-chan held the cat as she sat down, rubbing its back; Noire purred cutely at this.
"So, you will buy us lunch?" asked Midori-chan.
"If you so desire." the cat spoke between purrs.
"Thank you—this should be enough." Midori-chan handed the cat some money.
"I shall return promptly." spoke the cat before hopping swiftly out of the window.
We waited not three minutes before the cat's return, which in that time we exchanged no words. Less swiftly than its departure, the cat appeared in the window closest to us, swept under the curtains, and arrived with three bags in its mouth as our lunch, two of which containing a pork sandwich and apple juice. Opening the last bag, I removed the warm contents which appeared to be the best udon noodles on the menu. I have never tasted these before for two reasons, the first being that I never wanted to spend the money for them and the second being that they were almost always gone upon my turn to order. Removing my hands from the hot noodle package, I realized just how cold I was, sitting here by the window and all.
"Is Noire going to eat?" I asked either which would respond.
"No, I shan't eat along with you in this form." replied the cat.
"Should we get some kitty food?" teased Midori-chan.
"I would prefer you not." said the cat which huddled into Midori-chan's lap comfortably.
Midori-chan took the liberty of passing out the food. In my mind, I could only think of the warm bowl of noodles and how much I wanted it no matter how many times my conscious thought threw the blatant explanation that if she takes it, being her money, I should not be disappointed. I could not help to attempt suppressing my pleasure as the bowl of noodles was slid toward me with her very hands. Risking the final decision with my manners, I chose to confirm that her motives were to hand it over to me.
"Are you sure you don't want the udon?" I asked her.
"It's yours; I'm not in a noodly mood." she giggled along with me at her use of adjectives.
"Thank you." at last, I accepted it.
After opening the fork from its package, I took my pleasure in savoring the warmth of the noodles. They really were as delicious as the many people I have heard say it was. After about a minute, Noire poked its head up to the table and meowed like an ordinary cat.
"Once the two of you have concluded your meal," said Noire as it hopped from Midori-chan's lap to the windowsill with great velocity and distance, "meet me on the roof."
After finishing another bite, I glanced at Midori-chan quizzically. Just what requires us to meet the cat on the roof? No one can hear the cat anyway. Perhaps it is not a question of someone hearing the cat, but of hearing us. That was my temporary conclusion.
"Should we hurry?" I asked my friend who was seated in front of me, facing me with her sandwich.
"Just finish the noodles and take a sandwich with you, I guess." she suggested.
And so I followed her suggestion, putting the finished contents of my noodle container away and stuffing a sandwich, wrapped in plastic, into my pocket. After both of us finished drinking our juice, we threw away the trash and left for the roof. I led Midori-chan up the stairs, although it came to my attention that she seemed to know the route about half way through. Anxiously, I opened the door to the cold outside.
We walked around a bit in attempt to spot the cat that had asked us to come out here in the first place. It did not take very long for me to become cold once again. Soon enough, we ended up finding, not a cat, but a person standing in anticipation.
"Sabrina, you're shivering!" Midori-chan quickly ran over to where the girl stood.
It was obvious that she was not clad for the winter season. With loose robes and, what at first appeared to be a scarf, her hair wrapped around her neck in imitation to one, she stood with pink cheeks and a quivering body. She also seemed to have been standing here far longer than just a few minutes. Her hair did prove to be a thick and long scarf, although.
"Regrettably, I am not arrayed for such frigidity." said Sabrina who stood in her usual attire.
"What makes you come all the way out here?" asked Midori-chan.
"I am in dire need to inform you of a recent phenomenon—no, portent." she spoke as she kept her hands in close to her body to keep warm.
"What is it?" Midori-chan asked her with concern.
"Here are all eight of the anachrolibrium orbs." said Sabrina, holding out two handfuls of shiny silver orbs.
"H-how did you get these?" asked Midori-chan in awe, taking them in two tries.
"You must have observed—it would appear that, due to a Purgatorial-equilibrium corruption… We have traveled back in time."
"What, how—is that even…" I attempted language with failure.
"I assume that Satoru apprehended the situation and fled to substantiate his hypothesis without a word of his action?" she asked us.
"Well, I think he said something… but I was too dizzy to understand." said Midori-chan.
"It shan't take him much longer to return." Sabrina said while looking at the sky.
"What should I do with these?" Midori-chan asked, holding the handful of orbs.
"We will use them to bring spring back to the Demesne of Umbrae. I cannot stay out here too much longer and I must generate enough power to bust all of these orbs, so with this we depart."
Sabrina created a transport on the floor under us. We backed away to make sure that only she teleported.
"Bye Sabrina." Midori-chan waved.
"Bye bye." I bid her as well.
She took a few steps and stood upon the spinning star. With a visible sigh, she looked up into the sky once again.
"The sky is… fascinating." and not half a second after that last word, she was no longer in front of us.
Together we stood, Midori-chan with the eight orbs in hand and I in complex silence, without a word between the two of us for over a minute. For some reason I did not question this long pause, but instead I watched Midori-chan look at the sky. Clouds passed and the light shifted, but the chill remained. I was becoming cold, but I did not mention it to Midori-chan who had not moved since Sabrina left. Without directly looking at her, I stared at her shoes as I attempted not to shiver. I became worried when four of the orbs fell from her hand and bounced loudly on the wet floor.
"S-sorry… I'll get them." Midori-chan whispered as she ducked down to grab one that had not rolled far.
I helped her out by grabbing the other orbs, turning around to Midori-chan looking at the puddle of water with a somber expression. She looked like she was about to cry.
"W-what's wrong?" I stuttered in my attempts to attain
"She's… very depressed… isn't she?" Midori-chan asked me.
"I… I don't know." her sadness began rubbing off on me.
"For me, she…" Midori-chan, "She's hurting herself again."
This time I could see the tears well up in her eyes and overflow quickly, dropping into the preexistent puddle under her. I did not yet understand the meaning of what she had muttered in assumingly my direction, but I did not hesitate to console her even without a clue of the problem.
"I… I'm sorry." that was all I could say as I drew closer to her.
"It's not your fault." she whispered as her left arm wrapped around me.
"I'm the… the Penumbra that caused all of this." I spoke to her my feelings.
This really is my fault whether or not I wish it to be so. Without me, Midori-chan would not have to bear so much pain—Sabrina as well, it seems.
"I'm just a girl…" she whimpered, "How could I ever be a Deity? I'm nothing like them…"
"Midori-chan," I smiled a bit in this small silent hope, "I feel the same way."
She looked up at me and stared for a few seconds until she realized that our fates were nearly the same. We were both just small girls in this large world, ordered to take a great task of a hero. We are not far apart, but I am smaller and my task more heroic and I think she realized that. With a silent hug, she stood back up as I fetched the two last orbs.
"I wish Satoru was here…" she said to either herself or me.
"Sabrina said he would show up soon, right?" I asked her as an attempt to keep conversation.
"I guess… I just want the four of us to have fun some time."
"Maybe we can when all of this is solved?" I asked her.
"I don't know…"
She began walking to the exit of this isolated roof. I followed her, but something had me turn around. I heard someone walking behind us. Out of a dark corner came walking Satoru-san with his hands in his pockets as he looked down at the floor with a half angered, half focused expression. He drew closer to us, each step slashing a puddle of water under him. It might be my imagination, but his eyes seemed darker than usual.
"This isn't good, girls." he told us as we both turned to face him.
"What's not?" Midori-chan asked, surprised to see him so soon.
"This whole time ordeal—you know what this means right?" he asked us.
"Um… not exactly, no; Sabrina said something about equilibrium corruption…" I said to him.
"Yeah… It means that we've run out of time." he seemed slightly angry.
"What do you mean?" I asked, becoming slightly scared or intimidated—I could not tell which.
"It's one or two things. Either Purgatoire is spilling now or Dark is just messing with us… or both at once, which would be very scary." his eyebrows were furled angrily, but not at us I could tell.
"Which do you think it is?" Midori-chan asked him.
"Hafren seems quite sure that it has to do with Purgatoire, so I'm leaning toward that… But even still that does not mean it cannot be both at once. She's very hesitant about revealing her thoughts on Dark for some reason so I don't doubt that she may suspect it. In fact, I'm a bit curious as to what she does know. I could challenge her to a game for knowledge, but I would never win. Any time that I did win was because she was toying with me… What a complicated girl she is. I understand not wanting friends, but not letting anyone understand you even five percent is just irritating." he ranted his frustration.
"You do like Sabrina, don't you?" Midori-chan smiled a bit.
"I don't know her any more than five percent, so it's difficult consider that statement, I'm afraid." he frowned.
"So where do you think Dark is?" I asked, remembering this whole ordeal was about Dark and that Midori-chan's power was merely a side-quest.
"I'm nearly certain Dark is in the other Demesne, I'm nearly certain Dark's a 'he' and I think I just figured out something…" he stopped for a second and his expression became less angry.
"Hmm, what is it?" Midori-chan asked him with a curios face.
"Rotation of the hexagram…" he spoke to more than likely himself.
He turned around and walked a few paces through the puddles of clear water, splashing his shoes and the bottom of his pants. I looked around at the scene that both he and Sabrina seemed to admire. The clear blue sky with only one or two clouds was quite intriguing. I do believe that there were far more clouds on that day I met him. I gazed around to examine Midori-chan standing beside me with her pink cheeks and colorless eyes in this cold. She had recently begun putting that orange hair bow back on her head; I had not noticed it positioned on the right side until now.
"That is precisely my judgment on this obviously incongruous portent." said a high pitched voice from behind us.
We all turned to see the cat climbing up the fence around the edge of the building. It came over to us in a maze-like path, whilst avoiding the puddles of water everywhere, and sat upon a dry location.
"So you think this has to do with Dark also?" he asked Noire.
"And it is three per cent." the cat lied down on its side, much like Sabrina herself, and wagged its tails melodiously, much unlike Sabrina herself.
"So you heard… Why is it then that you refuse to say anything about what you know?" he asked the cat.
"I only tell you what I'm certain of or what I feel is undisputable. Otherwise, we may find ourselves to be ignorant victims of Dark." said the cat, still lying on the ground, now licking its paw.
"It looks to me like we are already in that stage…" said Satoru-san, pointing to the sky for some reason.
"I do agree that we missed something, but even still I do not agree that Dark is even ahead of this all."
"How would you even come to that solution? You need to explain more." he demanded the little cat.
"It would be time consuming, but my direct acumen comes from years of studying ancient and arcane enchantments, bonds, hexes, spells, oaths, and curses—upon many other things." Noire said as it stood up on its tiny paws.
Satoru-san sighed and crossed his arms, relieving his tension with the girl—or cat right now. The great bell rang the melody that ended lunch, but there was still remaining time for us to speak as the students herd through the hallways.
"So what are we going to do about the spring situation?" he asked it.
"Unless I can find a way to avoid it… you may have to speak with Asteria about that."
"Asteria knows that a lot is about to happen now. She say the return of the Penumbra, she took care of the long-sealed duo, and now spring is about to be in order. Maybe she'll help out if we discuss peace at last…" he said.
"She'll be busy with Orion if we speak soon." said the cat, now sitting upright with its tails up as well.
"What is the Eternal Bond of Orion?" I asked the cat, taking advantage of the silence between them.
"An eternal bond is something that never should be created outside of the Great Deities if you ask me. There are oaths, and then there are bonds—the latter of which is more powerful and more severely punishable by Asteria. Oaths refer to stars and bonds to constellations, which is why mostly only bonds have names, unlike oaths which are mainly Asterial. Asteria controls oaths and bonds, but she barely takes notice of oaths anymore since they are now accessible to most anyone with power or knowledge. It is said that the stars in the sky are made from trillions of oaths, not only from the people, but from Genesis and the Deities when structuring the world. The Eternal Bond of Orion was structured out of the constellation and bound their souls unto death—not the best idea ever."
"What you haven't explained is how Heather knew the bond was of Orion…" said Satoru-san.
"Few books, memoirs, or records that I have read hazard a presumption of the deities' abilities in recognizing bonds, mainly due to the fact that few have conjured bonds as directly as the duo."
"Is that just a fancy 'yes' hidden within your typical pleonasm?" Satoru-san asked the cat.
"You suggested I explain more."
"We aren't getting anywhere…" he grunted.
"You cannot fathom to progress distance without a ground to move upon." said the cat.
"We came to your for that ground! I've not received anything but ambiguous answers yet!" he exclaimed, evidently annoyed at this point.
"You do realize that I do not know everything, no? And you comprehend that I am not a Fae whom will grant you every wish, correct?"
"You're just teasing me now, aren't you?" he sighed, looking into the sky once more.
"Do the two of you girls have any words to exchange before I depart?" the cat asked us.
Although Midori-chan shook her head, I knew that there were still a few questions that I wanted ask. I could not ask earlier because it was out of place and Sabrina wanted me out of her room.
"I do…" it was odd hearing my own voice after the long argument the two of them had.
"Please hurry then." the cat requested.
"Oh okay—um… Where did you go when Satoru was fighting the two Deities back then…?" I could not help but feel bad for asking, partially because upon this very question Sabrina asked me to leave and partially because it seemed to be her business.
"I would hardly call them Deities. Do understand that even though they held great names and were able to invoke Orders, they were nothing like Deities. Their power was miniscule; very much like a very educated and powerful scholar in that demesne—if that even. And as an answer to your inquiry, I was avoiding the actual Deity that arrived shortly after."
"Oh… do you mean Asteria? Um… do you think that you could have defeated both of them alone?" I asked Sabrina through the cat.
"I have not brawled with anyone in many years, so I shan't answer that." it began stretching cutely like a real cat, except making sure to stretch both tails.
"If I can, she can." said Satoru-san with honesty.
Noire meowed and purred slightly, giving me the impression that she appreciated Satoru-san thinking highly of her. I am not totally confident in that resolution, but it seemed apparent enough for an accurate interpretation considering I have barely heard Noire purr before.
"Oh—and if we went back in time, then does that mean that Heather and Chloris are back again?" I asked the cat who was now licking its paw.
"Albeit a notable observation, there appears to be no alteration in time within the Demesne of Umbrae. Is that all?"
"For now, I think so…" I smiled happily, bidding the cat farewell as it sprung off of its feet and onto the gate, climbing over and out of sight.
"At some points I am intrigued by her and at other I am frustrated by her byzantine multifariousness…"
"You sound like her right now." I smiled at him in attempt to ease his exasperation.
"I suppose you two should get to class…" he informed us while stretching his arms upward, relaxing after all.
"Oh, aren't you coming as well?" I asked him, noticing Midori-chan's usual silence.
"Oh, I must have been reluctant to inform you due to this distracting dispute just now…" he mumbled.
"What is it?" I asked of him, as this question caught Midori-chan's attention as well.
"It would seem that since I was already here before I transferred demesnes due to the time travel… I no longer exist." he stood and faced me seriously.
"W-what do you mean by that?" I asked, baffled by this sudden logic.
"Theoretically, since I only existed here for about a week, I have overridden my presence entirely before I had a chance to exist, so either at the end of this week, I continue being my normal self… Or I disappear from this world forever."
"F-forever…?" I stuttered with incredulity.
"It's just a theory, and since time travel hasn't been studied, no one knows. Perhaps Hafren could offer a better theory on it, but as far as I know this has never happened before."
"We should go inside now…" Midori-chan uttered behind us.
"Okay, we can talk more in class." I stated, realizing what I had said afterward.
"I cannot attend class, I no longer exist." he informed me again.
"Oh… sorry, I guess that means I won't be seeing you very much." I became disheartened at a realization I should have made earlier.
"I guess not. I'll see you later, though. You may not be able to see me, but you can communicate with me through this book. I've gotten one of my own." he said, handing me back the book he borrowed a while ago.
"Oh, thanks." I smiled, taking the book and running to class.
I made it in time, just in time, for class to start and for everyone to accept my arrival as normally as possible. People still eyed Midori-chan just as they once did, but luckily that took almost all of the attention from me. I noticed as I sat down that something squished on my side. Taking from my coat pocket a pork sandwich, I sighed with a weak smile and furtively began leaning over in my desk to nibble on it like a squirrel. Since there is a strict 'No Eating In Class' policy, I was hunched with my head facing forward, taking small bites from the sandwich every thirty seconds or so as the teacher went on about something I had obviously heard before. I looked over to see Midori-chan hunched over in the same position as I, nibbling on her sandwich. When out glances caught, her cheeks puffed out and she started snorting funny. Soon, I started also attempting to hold back laughter, looking at how ridiculous she and I both appeared as I could see the sandwich below her desk. Eventually, we both gave in and laid our heads down upon our desk, laughing with delight at our simultaneous stupidity. Every laugh I heard from her, I laughed more and more until it was audible. I was twitching in my desk trying to hold it back until… Plop
We both stopped laughing and looked down at the floor. Our stares were focused on the same thing: Midori-chan's sandwich had hit the floor near me.
"S-scoot it over here before the teacher sees it!" Midori-chan frantically whispered.
"Aaagh—ughh" I began kicking at the just out of reach pork sandwich, attempting to scoot it behind her bag.
"Ehhh, here!" she whispered, handing me a ruler.
I began swatting at it with all my strength, hitting it once. When I hit it, it knocked off the top bun, flinging it across the room. We both gaped at it with jaws dropped as it slid near the teacher.
"W-w-why did you do that?" she whispered hysterically.
"I-I dunno!" I pleaded with a quiet whimper.
"W-we need to get rid of the evidence!" she declared, pointing at the topless pork sandwich.
"H-how?" I whined, not able to reach it anymore.
"T-the window!" she declared.
"I can't—" I began before she sunk down below her desk.
She crawled along the floor below me and slowly picked up the topless pork sandwich. Scooting along the floor with dexterity, she reared back, armed with the sandwich in hand. Seemingly in slow motion, she flung the sandwich through the air; as it spun like a disc, it just barely made it out the window. She turned to me with a thumb up. Before she got up though… splat
"The first floor balcony!" she panicked.
"Haru, what are you doing down there?" asked the teacher, staring down the aisle and to Midori-chan, who I was also looking at.
"I… was just getting my pencil." she stated, holding up the pencil that she had in her pocket the whole time.
"Oh, alright, return to your seat." she said, turning back around.
Midori-chan stood up and calmly walked back to her seat. When she sat down, I gave her a thumb up as I laid my head down where the teacher could not see me giggling a bit.
"What is this—bread?" the teacher protested upfront.
Midori-chan and I both stared at each other—we had both forgotten about the bread that I flung up there already. Without a word, we both hoped that she would not suspect anything.
"It must be leftover from lunch…" the teacher muttered with the sound of something being thrown in the trash.
We both gave sighs of relief and smiled at each other. I looked down at my sandwich, noticing that it was still intact because I had taken such small bites from it. I turned to Midori-chan and underhandedly offered.
"Want half of mine?"
She nodded, taking the sandwich from my hand and skillfully splitting it in two without crumbs, then handing it back to me within ten seconds. Together, we finished our food and resumed class as usual. During later class I found myself ever drawn to the pages of a certain blank book in my bag. Giving in to temptation to talk to him, I ended up writing down a simple question.
What are you doing?
Perhaps it was too simple of a question. Should I have offered a more specific inquiry for this? Sooner than I had even imagined, an answer appeared on the line below mine.
You must specify your designated recipient, lest you intend we both acquire your written colloquy.
It took less than any time at all for me to realize that Sabrina received what I had written as well, given her rapid response, use of language, and perfect calligraphy handwriting. Although she informed me that I should specify the recipient, I did not know how.
Shizuko: I'm checking with everyone we have interacted with. You know you sent this message to Hafren as well, right? You must put the name of the person you want to send to before—like I did.
Oh, I think that clears it up just as well as asking her. Embarrassed by my mistake, I could not help but apologize.
Sabrina: Sorry, he told me how to now.
Satoru: Have you found anything interesting?
I waited for quite a bit. Compared to the time that it originally took for Sabrina to return with a response, it seemed like forever. Before she did, Satoru responded.
Shizuko: I think Hafren has. She hasn't told me anything, but I think she has. I guess you're writing to both of us now?
He still thinks that Sabrina is hiding something from us. It's inevitable that she knows things that we do not, but he seems confident that she is intentionally not telling us something.
Satoru: What do you think she isn't telling you? And I was writing to both of us, but Sabrina didn't respond…
And she still has not. Perhaps she believed that with the last of my words, it ended the conversation. Looking back, what I said does not quite provoke a response or interesting conversation. Should I say something else?
Shizuko: You must have labeled it' Sabrina.' She only implemented the usage of last names. And as for what she is hiding, I do not exactly know, but it may be something as important as who Dark is.
He thinks that Sabrina directly knows who Dark is. That is a very bold statement, but knowing that his usual assumptions turn to be true, it was enough for me to be skeptical. So I must put 'Hafren' before all of her messages, meaning that the last one was not sent. Or perhaps it was sent, but it is floating in an abyss of messages right now… How does this thing work, anyway?
Hafren: Sorry, first he told me, then I tried to send one using Sabrina instead of Hafren, so it took a while.
I felt embarrassed to have messed up twice like that. Then I felt embarrassed that I was feeling embarrassed at a book. Then I felt embarrassed because this entire situation was ridiculous. Then I felt embarrassed that I was flailing around in my desk with a blushed face over a book in this situation. It probably had not been ten seconds, but when I opened my eyes, a response from her awaited me.
Shizuko: Very well then, resume your discussion.
I took a small while to evaluate her handwriting. It was perfect; the best handwriting I had ever seen. She must have been using a different type of pen for the strokes she made and the perfectly curved lines that connected each kana to the next. Should I ask what type of pen she is using or should I take from intuition and believe that she meant t end our conversation here?
Satoru: Yeah I used Sabrina instead. I feel really dumb now. Wait, your last name is Satoru?
An interesting hole in this rule; with this information, perhaps I can find out his real name. Maybe he has been hiding his true name from me until we become close enough to call each other on first-name basis. With this, I already know that there must be another name! After this, he is no longer just Satoru-san; I will know that there is something else behind that façade.
Shizuko: I only have one name, so it's the only one you can use.
What? He only has one name? Compared to the earlier embarrassment, this one was so much worse. I just put my head down on my desk and sat for a while, letting the stupidity drain off of me. I remember him saying something like 'that's all there ever was.' Did he not know his parents and had to use the only name he was given? Or perhaps he never knew his parents to begin with… I feel really bad now. I thought of all this before, so why did I only remember now?
I just realized something. Since nothing has happened since the first day I met Satoru-san, then my mother has never met Midori-chan and to her I have never been to her house. This is probably a good thing, considering how long I spent over at that house without coming home because Sabrina said that my mother would not mind without even checking with her… Why did she say that, anyway? An irrational thought submerged to my conscious, only to be swatted down once again by my love for my new friends. Did Sabrina know that this time change would happen?
Satoru: I guess I can't come to Midori-chan's house this evening since that never happened.
I sat for a while, trying to gather everything that has not technically happened. None of the brutal deaths, no Midori-chan's house, in short nothing after that day has happened of course. Instead of it all beginning with Satoru-san and I, I began with all of my friends. Or perhaps, it began with Midori-chan also, since I cannot count Sabrina as a friend.
Shizuko: I guess not. We will figure something out.
I leaned back in my seat, only now realizing that school was almost over. The time flew by pretty quickly and I was in my last class even before I would have thought I was the class before. Luckily, I had forgotten my tiredness throughout the day and remembered that I was supposed to be awakened to my ultimate responsibility later through my dreams. I was not sure if I was supposed to feel happy that I was able to sleep or anxious that such a great thing lies ahead of me. It was much unlike me not to worry, but somehow I was able to just accept things as they came.
The great bell rang and people began to dismiss to clubs and home. I looked around, wondering if I should just go home. It was the only thing I could do without making my mother worry about me. She must not know that I have any friends at all and staying over at someone's house would make it look like I was kidnapped. I had to head home.
"Shizu-chan" said a voice behind me.
If it were not for the voice, I would have known who it was by the way I was addressed. There was the cat, standing behind me in the hallway. I merely looked at it without answering so that I would not look as if I were talking to nothing. After a few seconds, I nodded to give it the impression that I heard its voice.
"Meet me on the roof. Midori will head home." it said, before disappearing down the hallway with great velocity and distance.
I waited for a while, attempting to look ordinary as the people cleared out of the hallway. Luckily, no one questioned me and I was able to make my way to the roof while a few happy girls gossiped in the hallway. Making it up the stairs, I realized just how warm and nice it was in the school by this time of day. The temperature dropped significantly as I reached for the doorknob, taking my last breath of air over freezing temperature. What awaited me was not the usual sight of Sabrina.
"I request that I visit your mother at her dwelling." she spoke through her makeshift scarf that only allowed her half-opened eyes visible.
She was wearing the usual Osaka school uniform—as usual as the one she wore while attending class was. She did not look as cold as last time, probably due to the fact that she is not wearing those loose robes.
"Okay. I have a question though." a question that has been on my mind for a while.
She walked closer to me slowly and stood close enough to where I could see only her. I felt my body tense a bit, but after I realized she was not threatening me, I merely stood and stared back at her. Her violet hair was twisted around her head and just above her nose, and even still behind her there was a good amount still hanging. The hair seemed to pass through just as a scarf does. I mainly took notice of his because I was too shy to look her directly in her eyes. Around us, I could hear the muffled voices of people leaving and the sound of cars passing by around us. Every once in a while, the wind would blow and the clink from the chain-link fence would resonate with its metallic vibration. The horn of a train blew in the distance. We stood like this for a very long time.
"I know your question." she spoke at last, partially muted by the hair-scarf.
"Y-you do?" I asked as I began shivering for the first since I was out here.
"You would like to know why I attended your school for that day. You want to know what I know about the mystery case, you want to know why I do not want to be your friend, and you want to know about my history."
I stood, hurt from the inside that she had filtered me through just like she has. I stared into her golden eyes as mine began to water. I felt like a little kid and I was about to cry. A gust of wind blew by and Sabrina's hair dropped from her face. Under it, I could tell she was not happy at all.
"I'm sorry…" I apologized to her, almost allowing a tear to drop from my eyes.
I was shivering from the cold and now quivering from what I could only describe as the feeling of a child being caught doing wrong—fear. I feared Sabrina. I understand that at any moment she could rip me apart until I was no more, but somehow I thought that a thread of friendship kept that from happening. No, it was not friendship, it was my destiny. Seeing her angered like this reminded me that if I were not the Penumbra, I would mean nothing to her and she could very likely destroy my existence. A girl who is capable of controlling one's dreams, a girl who is capable of creating a rift between dimensions, and a girl who pledges loyalty to no one. If there were anyone that I should fear, it is her.
"What is your mother's name?" she asked me without moving.
"H-Hanashou" I stuttered.
"And your father?" she asked me directly.
"B-before I could remember him—" I attempted.
"I know he is dead. What is his name?" bluntly she tossed away the soft subject and scratched my heart.
"M-my father…" I thought aloud.
It came to my attention just then that I had no clue at all what my father's name was. I had been so afraid to ever bring up the subject about him considering it must have brought back saddening memories to my sister and especially my mother. This time, I could not help the tears that dropped from my eyes.
"I don't know…" I whined like a small child, lengthening my words in grief.
"Wipe away your tears, we must journey to your house before long." she said as she took my hand, threw her hair back over her shoulders, and walked me into the building.
I dried my tears as fast as I could before we got back in. Taking deep breaths as we made our way through the hallways, I really did feel anxious every time we passed a window with lights on. It was not because I was afraid of people seeing my crying—or perhaps it was not only because of that—but I was truly hoping no one would notice the very… different girl with hair longer than her body who was escorting me. I noticed along the way that we had passed several possible exits to the outside and that we were only progressing forth down the hallway. Does this girl know where she is going? We made a turn down a hallway that was quite familiar to me and I think now I know where we are headed. Turning to the door of the empty classroom, she knocked. After a few seconds, she entered without anyone opening the door.
"Satoru" she called to the open darkness of the room which had blinds drawn in ever which window.
"Hafren" responded Satoru whose body was half visible through the light that streamed in the doorway.
"I would like to know what you have found by now." she ordered in the silence.
"Will we discuss or is this an interrogation?" asked the shadowy Satoru standing in the far back of the room.
"I will allow a discussion this time."
"Good; come sit down for a moment." he offered.
Taking her time, she walked into the darkness of the room and sat down on a chair nearby. She let down her long hair and it fell behind the chair and piled onto the floor. I reached for the light switch to bring light to this room.
"The dark is fine." said Satoru as he sat in an opposite chair away from her.
"You must close the door." sad Sabrina.
I slowly shut the door in attempt to remember my surroundings before it was too dark to see small things. It is amazing how thick the curtains for this room are. There were only two sources of light in this shadowy room, the first being the window on the door and the second was a small crease in the curtains that made a sliver of light fall upon Sabrina's face, illuminating her eyes like a cat at dusk.
"I've searched for anything different on all of the people we have interacted with, including the teachers. I will keep an eye on the students that were murdered. So far, none of them have led any different path than the one that they did before." Satoru-san spoke.
I sat on the far end of the table between them so that I could see both of them. It was difficult to make out the features of Satoru-san, but Sabrina was much more visible.
"And what about the love letter?" she asked rather casually.
"It has been avoided." he answered.
"Shizu-chan, there was one more thing you wanted to know about, and that was my studies on time travel." she spoke as her one visible eye pointed toward me, shaded blue by the curtain.
"Y-yes, I wanted to know that." I began to feel worried about Satoru-san along with the guilt of my earlier greed.
"Very few people have studied time travel. If I were to give it a name, it would not be travel—it is simply reversal and advancement. I was very interested in time travel years ago, and for a period I thought it to be impossible. I have come to many conclusions, two of which I am certain of. One, time travel takes so much energy that no human could perform it, and two being that it is only possible through the use of Purgatoire." Sabrina lectured.
"So you're saying Dark didn't control time, huh…" said Satoru-san curiously.
"It is nearly impossible." said Sabrina.
"It's nearly impossible? So there is a chance?" he asked
"If only Dark is Genesis or God Himself." her words cut through the air and silenced befell us.
"Just who are we dealing with anyway…" he murmured.
"Probably a very, very well studied and practiced scientist." she said.
"Dark is a scientist?" I asked in confusion, now imaging Dark as a mad, old Yamanaka-hakase in his lab coat.
"It may surprise you, Shizuko, but our ambiance, our powers, and everything that differentiates the Umbrae from the Illumine is no more than highly advanced science." she said to me.
"How is it science?" I asked, still confused.
"Compared to us, you Illumine are in the stone age when it comes to the study of non-physical things. I was surprised to see that your 'science' consisted of nothing more than documents about things that already exist. To us, science was inscribed into our genetics long ago and we can further it to amazing extents. Science is taking the elements and using them as our own." she explained.
"Oh… so scientists don't wear lab coats over there?" I asked.
"The ones that extract chemicals and whatnot do…" she seemed to pity my childish question.
"Anyway, what do you know?" asked Satoru-san impatiently, "I told you what I have done, now what have you?"
"I have observed that Kenji is still in the very same room as after Tanaka's death." she stated.
"Yes, he still has that document as well." he responded.
"I want you to kill him." she said.
"H-huh—you want to kill him?" I stuttered.
"Remember, Shizu-chan, he is not even a human. He is a puppet." she explained.
"Oh, I forgot about that." I am seriously not doing too well right now.
"Do you believe that this will prevent Tanaka's death?" he asked.
"We cannot know without attempting it."
"Well then... Do you want to create the barrier?" he asked.
"There is no need; I know this type of puppet well. The strings are untraceable, but it cannot attack." she explained to him.
"Kamenosuke Kenji has strings?" I asked.
"A high level puppeteer can see the 'strings' of a puppet. The strings are simply the traces that identify who is controlling it and who made it. Satoru should be able to see them, of course." she said.
"If the puppets cannot attack, then how did the murders occur?" he asked her.
"That is what makes it a mystery, I am afraid. We know that Dark can use puppets and seems to want the Penumbra... though if Dark really wanted her, he could take her at any moment. Perhaps the killings are simply to occupy us while Dark plots a greater evil." she mumbled.
"Even still, we can't let anyone die here for no reason." Satoru-san argued.
"Dark must have set up these odd correlations to trick us. Attacking at dark and attacking those with a death in their history—Dark abandoned them both just before the time change." she argued back.
"Then… do you think he knew?" Satoru-san stopped for a second.
"Actually… I do believe so. Dark may be waiting until we awaken the Penumbra…" she admitted.
"I'll go take care of Kenji then." he said as he got up from his seat and headed for the door.
"Wait…" Sabrina called for him.
"What is it?" he asked with the door slightly open.
"I am certain that these types pose no threat… but with Dark, I am never positive. We should create a barrier in case." she said, getting up from her seat.
"How long will it take you?" he asked.
"Go on ahead… it will be finished before you arrive."
Satoru-san nodded and took his leave through the door. He shut it carefully and I could hear his footsteps as they grew quieter down the hallway. Once there was no trace of him, Sabrina began moving around. I could barely see her body, but I could hear the tapping of her feet and the sliding noise of her hair on the floor. Far to my right, she placed down a glowing blue ball of light. She ran across the room with light, tapping steps like a ballerina, and placed down a red one. Between them formed a glowing line that transitioned between the two colors and illuminated the room in an odd fashion. Sabrina sat in the very middle of those lines, which I had noticed were not etched into the floor but were stationary, yet suspended a few inches above the floor. As she sat, it would appear that the lines were no more than light as they were unaltered by her position and continued to glow as if they were going through her very body. They emitted not only a colorful light, but a small humming sound.
"What is this?" I asked at this very pretty show of colors.
"A duo-chrome barrier— I would have used more colors, but this shall suffice." she spoke softly as if she were half asleep.
I did not dare move in case it disrupted anything. I remember when Satoru-san had me stand in a dark corner in order to do whatever it was he wanted, so I stayed in this position in case the elements for this thing were the same as his. I began to wonder what I would tell my mother because I was staying so late. If Sabrina is coming over, then I could say that I was doing something with her—which would not be a lie, considering I am doing something, but what I am doing would not make much sense at all. I merely stood there for about five minutes, just trying to ignore my sleepiness. The humming of this barrier was putting me to sleep and before I knew it, my eyes were closed. I was jolted awake, although, by Satoru-san reentering the room.
"Everything seems the same as last time. I've stored enough energy from the shadows here and his disappearance went without difficulty…" stated Satoru-san.
Light entered the room and hurt my eyes as Sabrina opened the curtains. One by one, I took my time to adjust. She walked over to where I was standing, but halted in her tracks before she got close. Her eyes grew wide and she stood staring at the wall.
"It is not precise." she stated in a whisper.
I could see her eyes shifting focus as she looked around the room. She turned to Satoru-san with a glance that I could only describe as concern.
"Hafren, what is it?" he asked anxiously.
"It shifted…" she muttered—I could barely hear her voice at all.
"Hafren, what happened?" he stepped forth to usher a response.
The sky outside grew red and a bright flash blinded me for a second. After it came this terrible sound of an explosion. Out of the window I saw a several trails of smoke shooting downward like missiles into the horizon, exploding like bombs. The ground shook like an earthquake, a great tremor shook the rafters of the school. The noise, like a tornado, persisted and everything in sight was tinted red. A deadly silence tore us apart from each other. The clouds in the sky were blood red and the sky flickered by the means of some light. A tear dropped down my face and my body began to shake in fear. This definitely did not happen before—could this be an attack, or a disaster?
"W-what…" I stuttered as I watched in horror the explosions miles away from us.
"Damn, what have we done…?" said Satoru, watching in horror as his face flickered with the lights outside.
One last time, the ground shook and a deep roar exploded in the distance. The red light faded slowly and the power in the buildings far away went out. It was in another city, but I have no clue just what it was. I could see the faces of Satoru-san and Sabrina lit red and flashing from the lights outside. After a minute of watching it settle down, I collapsed from weakness and began to cry. The silence in the room was cut by the television. It was an emergency report displaying the explosion just now. The voices of two men , which were cut off half way by the lateness of the audio, were concerned and frightened.
"... Which was originally launched to aid the experimental model known to the International Space Station as 'Kibo' has, in fact, crashed."
"The system showed no signs of failure before launch. What caused the crash into Kyoto is currently unknown. It crashed between the Shiga and Fukui prefectures, and reports say the explosion can be seen from Osaka and even parts of Tokyo."
"Furukawa Satoshi, the astronaut and medical doctor that underwent the first usage of the Kibo medical records is on the scene. Furukawa-san, do you have any information on this?"
"It's… the grand supply pack for the electronic health records for those working in space stations to be sent to Earth. We may never identify the reason it crashed. Is there currently any idea on how many deaths this has caused?"
"It's practically blown most of Shiga prefecture apart... I would advise that every stay indoor while this dust settles. We have no idea about the deaths—Hisako-san, are you able to give an estimate at this time?"
"She's crying there… Hisako, are you alright?"
"My family! My family was in Shiga!"
"Oh my God…"
The television suddenly shut off and the screen went blank. I stared with large; watering eyes at the television with in my mind the repeating sound of the woman's shrill voice shrieking that her family was is Shiga. It was one of the most terrible things, her cry and this event. I did not move an inch as all of the events traumatized me all of the sudden I fell over onto my side and began to weep.
"Shizu-chan…" called Sabrina whose voice echoed in the deep silence
I merely moaned as a response, not able to think with my mind cluttered with this. I felt lightheaded and dizzy.
"We need to do this now." she added.
"You're going to revive the Penumbra's status now?" asked Satoru-san.
"We cannot waste another minute." Sabrina stated
It was amazing how they were able to hold composure like they did. Satoru-san's voice held concern and perhaps a bit of alarm, but Sabrina's held neither. She was forthright and determined in her demands. I respected them both.
Sabrina walked over to my collapsed body and sat down beside me. She picked up my trembling hand and put hers on top with a small, comforting smile. With a whisper as delicate as the wind, she sealed my fate at last.
"Sweet dreams, Kiyomi. For now you shall rest a lachrymose nonentity, but tomorrow you will awaken the Penumbra."