I'm so sick of it. I've been locked in this prison for…how long now? This prison called "The World". I want to be free. Free from this torture called "colour". How do "people"- the prison wardens- actually enjoy this torture? How…do I turn this grotesque world beautiful? Or, at least, my definition of "beautiful".

I considered turning the world black, but I realised, black is still a colour, no? So even if the whole world is turned black, will I be satisfied? Or will I continue in search of colour-peace. Hm… What about a colour which isn't a colour? A mistake. Oh I know!

Let's paint the world white!

Perfect. Now, problem number two: how do we turn the world white? Paint won't last forever. Well maybe I have to use other methods. Like black- why not white?- magic. Now where do I find those of magic-blood?

I suppose it'll have to be the gypsy sisters. The rest of the village avoids them. They think magic is a waste of time. Either that or they're just to scared to consult the gypsies. But one day, I swear, magic will save the villages' big, fat-

"Oh, we're here!" I suddenly noticed.

The gypsies were triplets who each dealt with one part of a "problem"- solution, items and price. All the sisters looked exactly alike, except for one feature- their eyes. One gypsy had purple eyes, the other gypsy amber…and the other red. Blood red.

Just their eye colour tells you which aspect of the problem they handle. Purple- solution, amber- items, price- blood red. Gypsies, nowadays , don't ask for anything to do with personal gain for a price. They want someone else's loss. Their pain. Bunch of sadists, they are.

"Let us begin, Valerine."

I do not ask how the solution-finding gypsy knew my name. It's probably the norm. "First, solution. You want to turn the world white. So here's how: kill the heart of the village. Stab the heart with the black sword we'll give you," the purple-eyed gypsy said.

'Kill the heart of the village? What's this "heart"? Well the gypsies always speak in confusing ways like that so whatever. Figure it out later. But why a black sword to turn the world white?'

The amber-eyed gypsy muttered some words I didn't understand and a black sword materialised on the cold floor. I bent down to reach for the sword… I froze. Literally. My body couldn't move. At all. " Ah, ah, ah! You have to pay first."

I felt blood red eyes turn to look at me, though I was still frozen in place, my face staring at the sword. I had a feeling I wasn't gonna like what I was gonna hear next. I was right. " Here's the price: you must take the life of your dearest friend, Akane."

Silence. I wasn't sure if I was ready to pay such a price. Only Akane knew what I wanted. She agreed with me. But she couldn't come with me- her parents kept her in the house. As I looked back up to the gypsies, I noticed that the purple-eyed sister had disappeared.

"Oh, her!" the amber-eyed gypsy said, "She'll be back in about 5,4,3,2…"

The solution-finding gypsy appeared almost immediately. She seemed to stare past me as she said, "I have arranged for you to meet Akane at the alley behind your house. Now."

The alley was dark and deserted. The perfect setting for a murder. "Val? Is that you?" I heard Akane's soft voice ask.

"Yeah, it's me."

"Arye told me everything," she said. Arye? My face must've said it all because she continued. "The purple-eyed gypsy. Seriously, Val, would it kill you to find their names out?"

I shrugged. I couldn't care less what their names were. They were, afterall, trying to get me to kill Akane. "Do it," Akane whispered, pressing a knife into my hand. And when Akane wants something, she'll do everything to get it.

I dragged Akane's lifeless body back to the gypsies, attracting unwanted attention. No one says anything though- afterall, I have a bloodied knife in my hand. Besides, the police in this village are pretty much useless. They're too busy drinking anyway.

I threw Akane's limp body in front of the gypsy sisters. They rushed forward, tearing apart all the exposed skin on Akane's body with their razor-sharp nails. They ripped Akane's chest open and fought each other for her unmoving heart. I was more than slightly disturbed.

I think the sisters just remembered that I was still there as the red-eyed one got up and looked at me. The black sword levitated from behind them and floated towards me. For a minute, I thought I would be stabbed but it merely fell at my feet. As I picked it up, I could hear the gypsies' arguement over who has custody over the heart.

I ignored them. I have another problem to worry about. What is this "heart of the village"? The only way to find out was to ask the sisters, but I doubted that they'd tell me. Unless…

I laughed silently to myself. While the sisters were busy tearing each other's hair out- literally, may I add, they unwittingly left the heart abandoned about a metre away from me on the fine gravel floor. I tip-toed over, without being noticed, and swiped the heart from the ground. Bits of gravel stubbornly clung onto Akane's heart. 'Huh, for gypsies not to notice something as obvious as this… they must be pretty occupied.'

I inched away carefully before shouting, "Yo, gypsies! Forget something?"

I held in my laughter as their wide-eyes darted repeatedly from where the heart was originally to the heart in my left hand and back to where the heart was. The three of then glared at me and I swear one was trying to hex me.

Smirking, I squeezed the heart, daring the sisters to come closer. Brownish-red blood oozed from the it and slowly dripped to the gound. " Fine, what do you want?" the purple-eyed gypsy sighed in defeat.

"What is this 'heart of the village'? And no riddles or whatever. Speak like a normal person," I demanded.

"Even if -just if- we wanted to tell you, we can't. It is forbiden. We are only permitted to speak in riddles, should we have to answer questions. We, like you humans, are bound by our laws. So, about your question, I can only tell you this: without it, the village will be dead."

Without saying anything, I flung the heart to them, took my sword and left, not wanting to see or hear any more of them. I sat on a bench in the village park, needing time to think. What is something the village can't live without? Is it…money? No, I can't possibly go and stab every hint of cash in the world, right? Property? No, somehow, that seems completely out of question. I continue thinking until…Oh, I know!

Is it, perhaps, people?

Ah, here comes the first of the possible victims. I didn't think I would run into anybody as it was still early. Standing up, I face my victim. 'So this thirty-year-old will be the first to contribute to my lovely cause…' I swung the sword at him before he has time to react. Suprisingly, the sword was rather light and easy to control.

In one swift blow, the battle ends. His bloodied head rolled across the path, his shaggy hair making his head look like a ball of fluff. His blank eyes seemed to stare at me. For good measure, I take my sword and slit his chest open, yanking his heart out. "Your contribution is greatly appreciated," I whispered, and stabbed the heart.

I grinned as the sickly brown heart turned white. The rest of the corpse also turned a pure, beautiful white. And I swore my black sword turn one shade lighter. My grin faded as quickly as it came. 'That's it…? Even if I kill everybody, it's just the dead bodies which are white. What about the buildings?'

I've tried slashing the buildings but nothing happened.

Why does this pathetic world insist on retaining it's one main flaw, colour? This world is so incomplete. But why does everything oppose to me completeing it? I do not understand. 'No time to think about that. I have a more important question. So if the heart of the village isn't people, then what is it?'

Then I wondered, "What if… I don't complete this mission?"

But I must continue. I don't want Akane to die in vain. Not when she was the only person who accepted me. I want her to die for a reason. I will not sacrifice her life only to give up now. So, in her name, I shall colour the world white.

"Hello there, Valerine Renelva."

The voice was so scary…so dark… And it was right behind me. I turned, only to find myself staring into her empty eyes. Her once sky blue eyes were now a dull grey. Akane's expression…the look on her pale face…was so plastic. Although she was standing right before me, I could not feel the warm, happy aura that once surrounded her.

"The gypsies sent me. And yes, I'm still dead. They are getting impatient, so they sent me help you out. Gypsies aren't the most patient of people. What you seek is at the village graveyard. Section A, row 1," Akane said and slowly dissolved into a greyish mist.

"Good luck." I could hear her soft voice.

The graveyard seemed even darker than usual. Or maybe it was just me. Section A of the graveyard was already rather empty, but row 1 had only one grave. Then I knew what I was looking for.

Immediately, I was pulled backwards. The hands which grabbed me were like iron –unbreakable. All of them came from a dark rectangular hole in the soil. A grave. The branch-like hands kept dragging me backwards. Backwards towards the grave. I struggle. I scream. But no one comes to help me. Now that I think about it, why would they?

The darkness of the grave envelops me, and I slowly sink into the haunting abyss. Something was thrown onto my face. Ugh… As I tried to scrape it off, my nails were caked with soil. I was struck by a sinking realisation.

I was being buried alive.

I looked to my hands, only to find that my sword has been prised from it long ago. I had to get out fast. I was running out of oxygen. I struggled to get out. But I couldn't. I kept sinking…sinking…sinking… My body stopped moving. I could barely breathe. My eyes closed. And I feared they would never open again.

Has it been minutes? Hours? Days? I don't know. How long have I walked the land of the half-living-half-dead? Would I ever leave? Maybe, maybe not. I could almost feel my eyes darken as I realised how easily my quest ended…in failure.

"There's still hope…"

I heard Akane's voive in my head. She seemed so close…as if she was right beside me. She wasn't, sadly. But her voice alone was enough to comfort me, telling me not to give up.

Even in the my own mind, Akane held a torchlight for me. The path of light seemed to lead the way out of the ocean of darkness I was drowning in. As I tried to follow the beam of light, I foud that I was, in a way, stuck. Something held me in place. Some invisible sandy wall.

Akane stood at te end of the beam, as if beckoning me to follow her. I struggled to get to her, scratching of bits and pieces of the invisible sand-wall. I took a lot of effort but getting to Akane seemed like my first priority now.

And I got to her.

I could no longer feel the invisible wall around my head and felt, in a way, more alive. Immediately, everything started fading away. I could only catch a small last glimpse at Akane's smiling face.

I opened my eyes. Where…where was I? The scent of death fills my nose and I remember everything. Graveyard. I was at the graveyard. Looking for the heart of the village. And I was dragged into the grave.

My head, shoulders and arms were sticking out of the soil. The rest, buried. My face and arms were completely covered in soil, especiallymy hands. I must've dug my way out subconsciously.

It took a while, but I managed to get myself out of the grave. My sword just happened to get snagged on a bare bush-shrub-thing. I grabbed it (pausing shortly to dust soil off myself) and headed straight for the grave with a statue on it.

The statue was nicely polished, contrasting with the dark, gloomy, dusty graveyard. The statue smiled at me, as if it knew something I didn't. It only took one hit, and the statue broke into pieces. Bunt the mouth remained intact. Still smiling that smile…

And then I began to dig.

Soil started flying everywhere- not that I cared. My goal was the only thing on my mind. I was too close to completing it to think of anything else. Digging. Digging. Digging…

"CLUNK!"

My nails scratched against something rough. Wood. I had found my buried treasure. The wood creaked in protest as I yanked the coffin open. A psychotic laugh rang through the air. My laugh.

The skeleton stared blankly upwards. This was the skeleton of Kaon Reile. Our founder. In his ribcage lay a fist-size blood red stone. His heart. The heart of the village.

Withought it, the village will be dead. It will not exist.

The stone felt so light in my soil-covered hands. The sword started gleaming. So did the heart. I sighed, "How nice~" So… This is it. My quest is nearing a dramatic finish. 'I hope Akane is proud of me~'I thought as the sword plunged downwards.

And the heart shattered to pieces.

I don't know how to explain what happened next. White seemed to swallow everything in one gulp. Things originally white- like the statue- remained as they were. I could make out four still-in-colour advancing figures. The gypsy sisters. And Akane.

The sisters stood before me, nodded in approval, then started to fade away, as if they were disappearing until another time. Akane looked at me and smiled, "Congrats, Val."

I smiled at her use of my old nickname as Akane turned to ash and was blown away. My mission is finally complete. That's when I noticed my sword had turned many shades lighter. It was one shade darker than white.

It's been a couple of days since then, but I can't seem to shake off the feeling that I've missed something. Something important. As I stroll past white buildings, sword in hand, and look into their glass windows- they had no real colour so they were left unchanged, I realised what is missing.

I see my blank violet eyes. I see my long black hair fly about messily in the strong wind. I see my short blue dress covered in brown soil. I see so much colour. I see so much imperfection.

This mission, it had one fatal flaw. Well everyone had to make sacrifices for this quest. Akane, the gypsies, that guy on the street… so I guess I should return the favour. I drew my sword and point it at my heart. I smiled softly and whispered, "Akane, I'll be joing you soon~" as the sword plunged through my chest.

The last thing I saw was my sword turn a beautiful, pure white.

-0-0-0-

Maschinka blinked her eyes and groaned, seeing herself covered entirely in white paint- maybe a prank? She walked about the pure white world, finding a pure white sword nearby. She picked it up and sighed.

"This world is so monochrome…How can I make it colourful~?"