"It felt like we were never supposed to be together… it felt like an endless dream… a dream… where we both didn't belong to…"

*sigh*…

My name is Aiko. Currently 19 years old. I live in a dreadful house near Okinawa… our city is normal just like many other cities out there. But my family isn't…

My father WAS a successful engineer 10 years ago. 10 years and 234 days…

The day when my life became a nightmare…

There was an economic problem suffering the whole Japan, our city was no exception. My father became jobless not long after that. We were very poor back then, my mother refused to live with a man who can't take responsibility on his own family.

My father became very violent. It was like he forgot how everyone respected him for his genuine way of treating people. He had a HUGE violent fight with my mother that day and locked her up in basement.

I didn't know how and when my mother leaved us. But from that day onwards, we became motherless… a family without mother never seemed like a family at all…

He soon became drunkard, and a gambler without a single luck.

I FORCED my father to let me go to a boarding school to leave this miserable life. He hardly agreed.

I soon got to the boarding school out of town. There weren't too many people there. Only a few students who suffered the same life as me…

I was a successful student. Everyone adored me. I never left at summer. Nearly no one did… since their houses were FAR FAR away from school.

I was there for five years, but after that, I had to graduate to go to a high school.

I never wanted to do that… but I made myself to go home… which I wish I didn't…

It only made our relationship even worst. He was not violent anymore but he was so careless. SO careless… it was like he forgot he had a daughter once…

I tried my best to find an average high school… father didn't even help…

After a long search I finally found a school to apply to. Who gladly accepted me.

I joined the volleyball club there… hoping it would make a difference in my life.

It sort of did. I made way to school championships. The matches were hold in a big stadium where almost everyone in city came… which we lost…

I met a boy named Ikarus there. And before I realized we became lovers… which I don'y know how…

I don't even know why I accepted to be with him at the first place… he never appealed to me…

…until that day we were happy… like careless kids without a clue about world around them. We really were! Even though I never liked him as my future partner I had quite fun time with him. He was happy and his happiness effected on me; I couldn't care less than that about my father.

I was still a successful student at high school. Even though I never ever wanted to go to university; everyone told me to do so. Even Ikarus did.

Even I was starting to believe I'm going to go to university but until that day…

January 25th of year 2008; the day an unbelievable incident happened.

All 6 trains which were coming from both Okinawa and our city crashed together; all of the people inside died.

…including Ikarus and my father…

It looked like the person in charge of railways overslept or something.

I've never felt a single sadness. Although I was shocked but I wasn't sad at all.

I never liked Ikarus and father at first place. Not as someone very close…

Eventually I gave up on university which shocked both my friends and teachers.

It was soon two years after that incident. When I was 18.

I was being bullied by some guys; it was the worst moment of my life.

A dark wind appeared out of nowhere and everything I know was an empty space; an empty space filling the distance between my body and soul… it was as if they weren't connected anymore.

And then it was the first title of every single newspaper.

"Town bullies disappeared in a flash! No more bullying!"

"Bullies were caught off by eternal power threatening their last ally"

"Safeness returns back to city once more!"

Although everyone was happy hearing about this news; I felt very guilty. VERY guilty.

I became an antisocial after that incident; I was never the smart and happy kid from before. I was never the genius again. I was never that pressured…

And some day a miracle happened. Someone in my dream said that they'll save me from my miserable fate if I'll join them; he'll come to get me the next day… if I want to go that's it…

I had no other choice. I must've gone there.

A mysterious hooded figure came to take me next day, to a place above the mountains and seas, a place where I met Lin, Kai, Seto, Saki and Adam.

The place where I learned- or rather even believed more how you cannot trust people so easily; and how things are beautiful from afar, and how we should avoid our feelings. And more importantly… how we should keep secrets from the people we trust the most…

HOWEVER… I never knew… I never knew that how your past can affect your future… and how present can also affect your past… and how you became a human… and a monster…

Day 7. May 9th

It has been a week ever since I got here, everyone around seems pretty strict… but on the other hand they also seem friendly.

Although they aren't too many people around in here, it's always so noisy. Everyone got their own rooms. Something I kind of disliked…

These rooms are very huge. I bat a whole family can live at them!

Although other people seem to enjoy it pretty well… I'm not the one to count.

So far I've only managed to communicate with Saki. She's an energetic girl ready for almost everything.

She was the one who wanted to know more about me when I arrived. Everyone else just seemed so… careless… not that I'm not used to this situation anyway.

She said that everyone around here protects a special element. Some of them actually protects a sigh. SOMETHING like a sigh…

Lin, Seto and Adam are protecting elements. Lin's is Fire. No wonder she's so strict… ready to burn at any time… as much as Saki says so :P

Seto protects Earth. Strange. He never seemed like a workaholic to me.

Adam's is Water. She says he's normally an outgoing person. He's probably just getting used to having me around. He'll come eventually.

She and Kai are signs though.

Her sign is Star. She's just like a shining star bringing a single light to the darkest moments whenever she's around! Just like a star! …or she says so…

Kai protects intelligence. He's full of culture and grace. He may be shy but he's also someone pretty bossy and strict.

The schedule here in Echos –the castle's name- is that the person gets to live here for 9 days. If they can simply interact with the world around them, they'll get to a test which reveals their sign. Or element.

Seems like kind of a lame rule to me but… whatever.

She also told me about the castle background. It seems that a very rich scientist build it a long time ago. It wasn't even for that purpose at first but something happened after he died. His son gave up on owning this terrifying castle and sold it to someone and he made this place for people like us. She doesn't know why.

Saki talks rather too much. Too much for my testes at least. I told her I needed to go somewhere and quickly ran away from there… or she'll probably talk again…

I found a diary not long after that. It's written in some ancient language. Seems like bunch of useless shapes to me. I was never the one to understand these anyway.

It looks like getting out of here is impossible.

Every single door is tightly shut; and there is a very hard security system here.

To be honest… I feel more like a lab rat here. It seems like it was better if I've stayed home but… *sigh* whatever is done is done.

I feel like something's following me everywhere I go. But it's probably because of this… WEIRD security system…

So here I am. All alone in a HUGE room. No clocks, no windows, all doors shut. It's almost as if you'd die here if it weren't a few people around. I wonder how they breathe here…

The phones don't seem to work here at all. No antenna.

What do people do here all the time? The food is delivered right to your room; but there must be a kitchen around here. The doors are automatically shut at night. You can't go outta your room after 12 o' clock at midnight…

There is a small radio here.

Hmm… strange… I've never noticed that before.

I try to open the radio a little. It seems pretty old and rusty.

*Freaky background music*

Nope… it's all just that freaky background music… and nothing…

I just give up then. There are a lot of things to do outside this room and all I'm doing is listening to that god knows who made freaky music. Though I also kinda get the feeling I've heard that music before…

Oh well. I can forget about that.

I head out of room slowly. It feels like a crime just to get out of room here…

I can't help but walk on my toes. That doesn't help fading the voice though…

*sigh*

I finally give up. It's going to be the same either way.

I can see someone on my way… a guy… no… a girl…

That's Lin! I remember Saki saying something about her being all fired up and stuff…

Uh-oh… and no one here is really friendly at all…

I try to walk past by her. She probably wouldn't care anyway.

Much to my surprise she actually calls out to me…

"Aiko-san. That is you right?"

I change my head to her and smile awkwardly: yes… that's right. Lin-san.

She smiles soundly then: you already know me then.

Then she quickly cuts her words.

"Aiko-san; you do know English right? I feel more comfortable talking in my mother language."

Sooooooo… Lin is a Yankee huh?

"But of course." I say back in English.

She gives me back a polite smile.

"It feels more comfortable like that. Anyway… I heard that you've came here a week ago. Sorry for my late gratings. No one around here is so sociable at all, except…Saki…"

She says with a sigh; she has British accent… ah… I've always enjoyed their tune of voice.

"Anyway. That was not what I was going to say to you. You do know that after 2 days you're going to be put at a test right?"

This makes me feel dizzy, what's gonna happen anyway?

"Yea… sure. Why?"

"No reason. I was thinking about giving you a tour lately. I hope you don't mind at all?"

She asks with her –somewhat usual- polite smile.

I was thinking about sneaking around a little anyway… I've got a partner to blame. Why not?

"Sure. How nice of you to give me a tour."

"Oh forgive me for my impolite first impression. Can I make it out to you by giving you out a few secrets?"

She asks playfully.

"Always up for some gossip. Maybe we should name it unnecessary information?"

I said laughingly.

"Well… these are somewhat necessary actually but… whatever you'd like to name it." She shrugs.

Maybe I shouldn't really fool around with –just-met- people…

"Would you follow me please?"

She asked.

Like hell I got any other option…

I slowly follow after her. She seems pretty young; everyone around here must be at their 20s or something; though… she got a pretty weird voice. It seems like a 60 years old lady's.

She slowly begins to talk after a little walk.

"Aiko- I can call you Aiko right?"

I nod as approval. No one really added a respective noun to the end of my name anyway…

She slightly smiles: Aiko… such a pretty name.

"Anyway, so… Aiko… I suppose you're still not familiar with here are you?"

I nod.

"I kind of figured. Oh well. That's why I'm here to tell you."

She smiles and before I can tell anything she quickly adds: Oh. Is my voice bothering you? I kind of got… a problem with it… it'll probably fix out soon.

…she read my mind… I'm getting a bad impression of people around here. They all seem to have… bizarre qualifications…

"Don't look so surprised dear! After all, everyone can have some problems right? Anyway. To the main purpose. People around here don't really take well to strangers. Don't get it wrong though! You're not a stranger. Just... a… forming butterfly! I figured I should take a step ahead though. There are 4 floors here. We're only allowed until third floor though. No one really knows and WANTS to know why. All the rooms are in Third floor. You might have already noticed there are lots of rooms here. Most people brought here end up without an Element or Sign. They get eliminated soon after that. There were like… 20 people eliminated out of here. Hopes you're not a one!"

…she said that in a little freaky way…

"Don't think I'm looking down on you though! There's still two days to go."

…she's really freaking me out too… it looks like she's reading y mind every time…

"Oh anyway. We were talking about floors. So the second floor's full of… useless rooms. Mostly rooms that a large castle will have. A large kitchen, playroom –for kids that lived here a long time ago-, study, closet, common room. Everything you can think of! First floor is the foyer. You know… someone for security. Mostly useless stuff is kept at there. This place is really like your house. You can feel pretty comfortable. Though… since you know the reason why we're all here… we all have this supernatural power that'll… freak some people out… so we're all kept here that no one will bother us and we will bother no one. Though they might… have us show our powers for proposal reasons. By which "proposal" I mean good and bad things…you'll just have to get used to it. It won't take long time I promise."

I don't know if her words are real or not… but they seem pretty terrifying. Like what "bad" purpose they might use us on? Our powers I mean… and I'm most defiantly not sure if I have the power too… maybe I don't…?

"Oh dear, don't think a lot about these stuff. Think of why we were given that power? This world is unfair Aiko. No one gets the same luck. Some of us are unlucky, while others are very lucky. This is not our fault. But, think of what we've gotten instead? A mythical power; something no one can ever dream of! In the same time, this is also a bad luck for us. What if the government founds out about us? What if they use us for their own BAD purposes? I don't know you dear, but any other person; including me; would rather stay here than go out to the unfair world. Everyone out there deserves a lesson, a DREADFUL lesson. But, we've got no right to do that. Because SOMEONE does it all… *sigh* forgive me Aiko. I talked too much."

"Anyway… would you like to tell me about personal life? If that's okay… I mean…" she adds.

"Oh. Of course. That's alright." I said.

"I assume you're Japanese huh?"

"Actually… I'm half Japanese… my mother's German. In fact, I was born in Germany; Hamburg."

"Oh! How fascinating! So you're kinda German? Do you know German as well?"

"No… we moved back to Japan when I was only 4 mounts."

"Oh… I see."

"You see… my father was an engineer. We had a happy life. I was a successful student at school. Everyone adored me; though… there was this HUGE economic problem in Japan… my father became jobless after that incident. We became VERY poor. My father simply refused to work anymore. My mother also didn't want to live with such a man. They fought almost every day. My father ended up locking my mother up in basement. I don't know when she escaped outta there. I can't blame her, everyone could have done the same. I got enrolled to a boarding school after that. Since my father became so violent; it wasn't really safe to stay around him; and there were also other kids like me back in there. We could understand each other. And then I had to go to a high school. Many schools gladly accepted me but because of our financial condition I had none other choice than an average graded school. I got to volleyball club too. I didn't like it; but I figured I have quite some talent, and maybe it'll be a change of pace. There we got to championship matches; which we lost… I met a boy there named Ikarus. I didn't like him. Not as a lover anyway. But we grew closer and closer; he encouraged me to sign up to a university. I was thinking about doing so… but then there was this terrible incident…"

"Oh yeah! I remember that incident… it wasn't long ago right? 1 year or something. Six trains crashed at the same time…"

"That's right. Ikarus and my father were on one of those trains… and they died."

"Oh…! Must have been sad huh?"

"Nah. I didn't really liked him. Never really did. Something just kept pushing me to him… dunno what OR why…"

"I-I see…"

"And my father also died. I don't know. Maybe deep down I felt bad for losing him but overall… I didn't really care; and you know the rest. What about you?"

"Me? well… I guess you can say I'm British by now? I sort of got here on a tour… I got kidnapped afterwards . when I had too much I felt like I was on fire; and before I can do anything everything was gone… everyone was gone… don't get me wrong though. Those bastards got whatever they deserved. And I was brought here. That's pretty much the story you can find around here."

"Ahh… I see. Forgive me for asking but… your Kanji; it's pretty good considering you're only here as tourist? Have you studied before?"

"But of course! Silly Aiko. How else would I know that much?"

"Well… why don't you talk Kanji too? I'm sure it's more understandable for me."

"I just feel it's better for me to talk English. You speak English quite fluently too. Why bother?"

She sticks her tongue out for me before I can say anything.

I notice her attention is quickly lost though…

"Look, Aiko. I should go. See you soon."

And then she quickly goes away; as I was about to call her someone out of nowhere appears in front of me.

"Were you talking to Lin just now? Listen; kid. Don't mess around her. For your own sake."

Then a LOUD scream is heard from afar.

And then he quickly disappears again.

Wow… so much weird things are going on this… WEIRD castle…

I quickly gave up on the thought to search this ultra weird castle; Lin's words and that weird man's sudden appearance kind of gave a dizzy feeling to me.

I guess staying at your room for this time is the best to do…

As I was walking rather quickly to my room I heard two people's voice.

"Blech. Are you an idiot Adam? I told you that was the creepiest trap you could think of. What did you thought she'd do? Unleash her –never-been-a-problem- power?"

"That was your fault. I asked if you had a better idea."

"Wha-? You asshole! I told you to do the trick on someone else! I hope that freaky Kai is not after us…"

One of the voices seemed rather familiar…

And then the two figures appeared at the end of the hall…

Right… it was Saki… and… a boy?

As they saw me from afar Saki ran to me: A-I-K-O! THE FIRST PERSON I WANTED TO SEE!

And she jumps at me.

"Calm down Saki. What's wrong?" I said in troubled voice.

"Come on! You must be our crime- err… fun partner!"

"Fun" partner…? This seems rather troubling… and disgusting…

"Noooooooooooou… sorry…"

"Oh boo. Tell to my ass."

She says in a "usual" way…

"Oh! Btw1 this is Adam. Adam, this is Aiko."

She introduces us to each other.

I raise my hand forward to shake but instead I was presented with a tissue…

"…What's this…?" I ask slowly.

And suddenly they both laugh like crazy.

"I can't believe she actually fell for that!"

"I told you I have someone really stupid around!"

…this is getting pretty annoying…

"Uhh… guys… I should really go now…" I say VERY slowly…

"Wut? We can't hear ya at all!"

"Aww… don't mess with the kid Saki. Do you know about the fourth floor? We heard it's PRETTY up there. Pretty weird I mean… and that's up to us to discover what's there. If you want, you can be part of us too."

Adam says back while facing Saki.

Hmm… now that they mention 4th floor… maybe I can… I was the one curious at first place… still…

"Forget about her Adam. I knew she wasn't the one to ask. Let's just go ourselves…" Saki says in nostalgic voice…

No… I can't let my chances go away…! At least; we'll have 3 people to blame. That's a crime lower.

"Okay… I'll do it…" I said in troubled voice.

As soon as I hear Saki's voice they disappear…

Again the same person who threatened me appeared again: Are you deaf? I told you not to mess around trouble kid. You did it again. Don't cross your nose outta your business.

As he was about to disappear again I hold his shoulder as tightly as I can.

He remains there unable to teleport again…

He gives me a dirty look before I start my conversation.

"Who the hell are you? Why do you keep running to me? I did nothing wrong! We've barely met and that's what you do? I'm making no trouble for YOU. Actually, I think you're the one who's crossing your nose outta your business. And I'm no kid! You barely look older than me!"

I try to take the creepiest face I can ever have… I was never the best at making faces…

Suddenly the boy's hands turn to fist and he's teeth are pressuring each other…

Such creepy face; I've never noticed but he was wearing glasses the whole time… a part of his glass seems to break soundly; a LARGE azure colored eye is looking directly at me…

"So you think I AM the one who's causing trouble for you! Do you know what's good for you and what's not? Do you have a single idea what-"

As he was saying he's HARSH words he suddenly covers he's BIG azure eye.

"YOU-! We'll meet again!"

And he quickly disappears again. That was VERY weird… VERY weird for a first encounter. Well, maybe for second…

Oh dear… I guess it's really not my place to talk high in this castle.

*sigh* I knew it was wrong to come here from the very beginning. But… what's done is done. Whatever…

I find myself unreasonably tired. I'd better head back to my room; too much for a day. I'm not sure if that's a day at all…? After all, there's no clock or window here to decide what time it is?

My inner clock is not working either… *sigh* I guess that lives no chance then; up to the room.

I walk slowly towards my room as I laugh at the thought.

Me… an extraordinary person… all cooped up in a breathless castle. I wonder if it's my destiny. To die in a HUGE and timeless castle, in some… weird way.

Oh well. I guess it won't happen before long.

I need to get familiar with this place before moving any further though; I can't just rely on others every time.

*yawn* I guess I'm too tired to think.

Time to move on.

To be continued…