Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly ~ Best End ~

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(This post will contain the rest of the common route all the way to the Best End, and so it has tons of spoilers. You’re going to need to read this to understand the rest of the true ends, but after you read this please please PLEASE don’t spoil this game for people who haven’t played it yet because the reveals are FANTASTIC when you have no idea what’s coming.)

This starts when Beniyuri is in the study and looking at the strange book. Instead of choosing to touch it, she decides not to touch it. Everything is the same up to this point, so please look at the previous posts in the Psychedelica series!

*** CHAPTER FOUR ***

Beniyuri wonders what this book is and notes that it seems to have pictures. The front cover is strange looking. And so, with these feelings she:

  • Takes it in hand
  • Averts her eyes

She inadvertently averts her eyes. She has the feeling that she isn’t supposed to see these. Her heart is hammering painfully inside her chest and so she moves her gaze to something else. But the entire room is gloomy and it’s hard for her eyes to make anything out. Beniyuri notices something glittering in the darkness though. On the desk, close to the wall, is an old scrap piece of paper.

On it is a drawn picture of a black butterfly and white butterfly. It looked like a piece of aesthetic art but, upon taking another look, she changes her mind. The edges of the paper are fluffy, as if the entire thing had been forcibly ripped. It looks like some sort of cloth picture… like it was torn from a decoration somewhere? She brings her face closer and looks at it from different angles.

Two drawn butterflies. A black butterfly floating up from the ground and a white butterfly descending from the sky. Even though they’re not moving, she gets the sense that the two are playfully dancing. It’s happy drawing and almost looks like the two are dancing a waltz in the sky. Beniyuri turns around and calls out to Hikage excitedly to come and look at this beautiful drawing.

But her voice rises in confusion when she turns to look behind her and sees him standing elsewhere. What is he doing over there? Hikage is standing apart from her and close to a bookshelf, staring at it intently. She approaches him and asks him if something is there, only to gasp when she sees the old photo that he’s looking at. All the faces of the people in there are blotted out in black.

Beniyuri stutters and asks what this is because it’s creepy. In the photo, the people are wearing kimonos. Taisho? Meiji? It looks to be around those ages. MEIJI IS 1868 TO 1912 AND THEN TAISHO IS 1912 TO 1926. She notices a colored photo that is bare though and picks it up. This photo looks new and has children in it. She tries to ask Hikage for his opinion but is interrupted by a loud roar.

Hikage immediately notes that it came from outside but close to this place. In the time it takes for her to blink, Hikage has manifested his gun. He tests his grip before looking at her eyes and asking if she’ll come. She reassures him that she will and then nods, pocketing the photo and manifesting her gun at the same time. And then the two of them return back to the hall where danger awaits them.

Scene skip! Beniyuri and Hikage return back to the refuge where Beniyuri reports that they’ve collected another fragment. Monshiro calls out her name excitedly while Kagiha welcomes them back and thanks them for their hard work. Hikage asks for the status of the kaleidoscope. Karasuba points out the kaleidoscope and tells him to go ahead and use it. Beniyuri steps closer to the kaleidoscope, with Monshiro coming close to her side. Her eyes are always caught by how beautiful of an antique it is.

At any rate, she tells them that she’ll place it in now. Kagiha leaves it to her. And so she slides the fragment in her hand off onto the plate. As always, the kaleidoscope reflects a vivid pattern onto the wall. Karasuba thinks the pattern is getting clearer. It’s not his imagination, right? Kagiha agrees and thinks it’s more vivid compared to their first time. Hikage is smiling as he notes that it’s getting closer to completion, moment by moment.

Beniyuri wonders how much more they still have to go though. Everyone is staring at the kaleidoscope. She wonders how long it’s been since they arrived in this interval; has it been a month? This gets her mind thinking about the real world and, if the flow of time in this world is the same as the real world, months may have passed in the real world. She was told that they were “almost dead” which means that they could be in comas.

How long could their families have been worried? Even a week away from school could result in large changes; classes would have advanced. What would she do if she lost her place to belong? It’d be nice if she could remember the faces of her good friends at the least. Beniyuri thinks on how she’d like a photo of her friends as well, instead of just her family. She complains in her heart towards the master whom they’ve never seen.

But then she is reminded of the curious picture that she placed in her pocket. She calls out to Hikage and explains that this is a photo she found just a while ago. Hikage is puzzled. Karasuba looks interested at what she may have discovered. Beniyuri explains that it was left on the shelf and this was the only one that looked new. She admits that she hasn’t taken a close look at it yet, and so takes it out of her pocket before placing it on the table.

At the same time, everyone’s eyes fall onto the photo. Hikage is stunned. In the photo, with a background of verdant trees, is a group of children. Each child has a grin on their face like they’re expecting something good. Everyone is wearing clothes as if they were going to a camp. Beniyuri notes that everyone looks like they’re having fun. Is this an elementary trip? Kagiha suddenly gasps at this photo and Beniyuri asks him what the matter is.

Kagiha asks if they don’t see it. Everyone in here is–! Karasuba latches onto his train of thought but suddenly winces in pain. Hikage also grits his teeth. Beniyuri is confused as to why everyone is holding their head. What is it about this photo…? Her eyes fall onto the photo again and she stares at it intently, trying to read something out of it. She looks closely at each face and soon… she realizes. She recognizes the small boys and small girl who are smiling.

Flashback! Takuya sighs loudly at having to take an anniversary picture for this camp; it’s not even a big event. Kazuya tells Takuya that he couldn’t sleep last night since he was so excited. OH MY GOD THIS IS CLEARLY HIKAGE BUT… HE DOESN’T SOUND LIKE HIM AT ALL. HIS VOICE IS SO SOFT AND SLOW… ALMOST LIKE MONSHIRO. Takuya freezes before retorting that it wasn’t excitement that caused his lack of sleep; he was too hot! He opened the windows but there was no wind.

Aki sighs and complains about it being too hot. He doesn’t want them to shout so loudly and to just line up quietly. Takuya tells Aki that he can hear him and his hearing is extremely good. Maybe if Aki’s ears were larger then he could hear better too. Aki yelps in pain and asks Takuya not to pull his ears like that.

Natsuki tells them not to fight and that if they want to play earlier then they should line up as they are told. He thinks Ai should be at the front since she’s a girl, and so he tells her not to be reserved and to come over. Ai thanks him. The cameraman warns them all that he’s going to be taking a shot and asks them what one plus one is. They all answer two and the photo is taken.

Present! Beniyuri comes back to the present after a moment’s shock, and then the scenes flow into her head in leaps and bounds. It’s all tinged in a sense of reality as if having happened to another person. Are these… memories of her childhood? Karasuba thinks so and he can recall this camp now. Hikage asks if they all remembered the same thing. Kagiha is silent. But all of them slowly look at each other’s faces.

Beniyuri recalls that this was a summer camp for all the children in the area. She participated in a camp that was close to a lake and the moment they left the bus they immediately took an anniversary picture. But why did she find this picture in such a place? No, the thing she’s more curious about is… she murmurs the name “Aki-chan”. Karasuba stiffens. Beniyuri catches that and exclaims that he’s the Aki that she knows, right?

He gives her a small smile and calls her Ai. Beniyuri realizes that this means “Na-chan” and “Kazuya-kun” are… Kagiha nods. Hikage also confirms it. This also means that Yamato is Takuya. She wonders why she didn’t notice this sooner since everyone was close to her. They weren’t forced to get to know one another… they used to be friends, no, companions! Her feels are both a mix of delight and confusion.

Everyone must be feeling the same thing because no one says anything for a while. Kagiha suddenly laughs and admits that it’s a bit strange, because he’s introduced himself like they had all met for the first time but now he’s not sure how to act. Is it fitting to use their real names now? Karasuba thinks it’s fine to continue using the names they’ve been using before though… it feels like it’s already so late. Beniyuri also thinks she’s used to calling them by these names.

She also thinks that they should make it a goal to return to the real world to use their real names. This’ll make them work harder to collect the fragments! Karasuba nods. Hikage is silent. Beniyuri is confused when she notices that no one looks happy. She asks them what’s wrong since they all received happy memories, right? Karasuba blinks and asks her if she doesn’t have memories of what happened at the camp.

Beniyuri is still confused and explains that she does; she remembers the bus, going to the camp site, and getting their photo taken… Karasuba asks about after that. She looks at him strangely and starts to say that they played around like norma– eh? What did they do? Hikage notes that her memories are incomplete. She nods and realizes that she can only recall them heading out to a nearby forest to play…

Her memories are fragmented and she can’t fully remember everything that happened in the past. Beniyuri asks what happened because her memories of that area haven’t returned. Besides, it also happened when they were in elementary school and so she doesn’t know if she’d even remember it in the real world…

Kagiha averts his eyes and murmurs 「そう・・・なの・・・?・・・そっか。君はまだ・・・そこまでは・・・。」(Is… that so…?… I see. So you haven’t… remembered that yet…). WELL THAT’S JUST SUSPICIOUS. Karasuba calls out Kagiha’s real name, but stops halfway through and murmurs Kagiha’s temporary name. He shakes his head as if he’s talking about something in a roundabout way.

The happiness that was welling in her heart quietly dies down. Why does she feel like the distance that should have closed between them is suddenly separated in one moment. Hikage changes the subject and comments on how it looks like everyone here knows each other, including Yamato who isn’t here. There is only one person who is the exception. Beniyuri startles at that, but Hikage has already called out Monshiro.

She realizes that he’s right. Why is Monshiro the only one who isn’t in this photo? She hesitantly calls out his name, but Monshiro only keeps his mouth closed and lowers his head. Hikage states flatly that he finally knows why he couldn’t trust Monshiro. He’s the only abnormal one, different from the rest of them. Beniyuri tries to protest at his use of words, but Hikage says that he’s only stating the facts of the situation. She doesn’t have any memories of Monshiro, right?

Beniyuri can’t deny that. Hikage continues on to say that it’s not strange for there to be other people here, if this is the interval between life and death. In truth, they’ve met countless people who were wearing masks but… Monshiro is clearly different from them; he has a resolute personality and has a weapon to defend himself. What is he? What is his reason for getting close to them?

Monshiro tries to say something but Hikage cuts him off and asks how he get Beniyuri. Did he lead her astray with some strange spell? If so, then Beniyuri might be manipulated by him right now. Beniyuri snaps at him to stop and asks him why he’s accusing Monshiro like that. She’s not being controlled! Hikage thinks her act of defending him is proof that she’s being controlled.

This makes Monshiro straighten up and state that Beniyuri didn’t do anything. Beniyuri isn’t in the wrong. Hikage coldly says that with him here, they have no choice but to doubt Beniyuri. That’s all. Monshiro is silenced by this harsh statement. Beniyuri realizes that she can’t leave it like this and so points out that Monshiro saved them and he’s been living with them. Even if they just met him here, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s their companion!

Hikage repeats her words and then asks her if she’s placing them in the same group as this man that she just met? She replies that she can’t place them in ranks and then asks why he’s being so cruel to Monshiro. Hikage retorts that their harmony is being disrupted with him here. Beniyuri snaps back that this isn’t Monshiro’s problem! It’s their hearts! She looks to Karasuba and Kagiha for support.

But Kagiha only mumurs her name while Karasuba narrows his eyes. She asks them why they’re silent. Hikage points out that it’s because they can’t accept Monshiro, no? At the least, he has no intentions of doing so. Beniyuri gapes at him and then tries to ask him why he’s being like this. But she’s cut off when she feels a pull on her sleeve. She says his name questioningly, but he only asks them not to fight and then apologizes to her.

Beniyuri calls out his name in alarm when he drops his shoulders and leaves to his own room. But he only apologizes again. What should she do? His voice was sad. She was so happy at everyone being childhood friends that she didn’t think about Monshiro’s feelings. A silence descends on them. Everyone continues to keep their mouths closed in this bad atmosphere.

Later, after she returned to her room and slipped under her covers, she thought about her memories while worrying over Monshiro. Memories of her lifetime. She, Natsuki, Aki, and the brothers, Takuya and Kazuya, lived close to each other and were around the same ages, and so they played together every day. They played ball, tag, and hide-and-seek. They played together day after day without ever growing tired.

On a summer day. They went to a summer camp, which was an event for the city’s children. There was a camp at the end of a long bus ride, that was hard for children like them to bear. After they had their photo taken the moment they got off the bus, they left to explore the nearby forest. And then…

Beniyuri wonders what happened after that. Her thread of memory is snapped there and she can’t recall what happened. From everyone else’s reaction back there, it seems like something happened. All she knows is that there seems to be an unhappy source for why they aren’t happy at the reunion. She has a bad feeling. She wants to know but she’s also afraid of being unable to return to how they were after knowing. She has the feeling that her relationship with everyone may change.

But doing so would mean that she alone is running away from the important thing that happened to be carefree. Is it okay being like this? She… wonders if it’s okay not to forcibly try and remember something that she can’t remember. There may be a reason as to why her mind won’t let her remember this. So saying this, she releases the thread of memory in her mind. She’s a little disgusted at her own cowardice.

Moreover, she can’t sleep. Her feelings are a bit agitated and so she can’t seem to feel drowsy. Her throat is dry too and so she decides to get something to drink. Beniyuri descends the stairs into the living room and can hear the faraway sound of rain. How many times has she heard this rain that indicates night since coming here? While thinking that, she approaches the table. She notices Karasuba is there.

He’s quietly looking down at the kaleidoscope on the table. His expression is unthinkably serious for someone who is usually carefree. For a moment, she feels like she’s looking at a stranger. Karasuba notices her and pastes a smile on his face as he asks her what she’s doing there. Beniyuri shakes her head and explains that she’s thirsty. It’s his usual smile and voice but normally two or three words follow after he opens his mouth; however, tonight isn’t like that. She feels like something is different.

Beniyuri starts to ask him what the matter is but accidentally uses his real name. He averts his eyes. She quickly corrects herself and asks him, using his temporary name, what he’s doing. He smiles at her and replies that he hasn’t done anything yet but he was thinking… about breaking the kaleidoscope. She nonchalantly nods before his words register on her mind. Beniyuri looks at him with wide eyes. What?! Break the kaleidoscope?!

The kaleidoscope is motionless beneath his eyes, unknowing of its own danger. Beniyuri asks him quickly what he’s saying because if he does that then they won’t be able to return! Ah, she knows now. He’s joking right? He tried to surprise her. Karasuba doesn’t say anything and just looks at her. She realizes that he’s not joking and stares at his calm eyes in confusion. Both the person who said those dangerous words and has those eyes are the same person.

Karasuba finally tells her that he’s not joking… but he’s not serious either; that’s how he always is, a person who does things halfway. She echoes his words but then he continues on to say that he thought about breaking it but he doesn’t have the courage. It’s that kind of thing and he hates it. Seeming to lose interest, he walks away from the kaleidoscope and sits down on the sofa beside the table.

Beniyuri asks if he doesn’t want to return to the real world? She stares at him as he ignores her question and pats the space beside him. She takes it as a sign of him wanting her to sit beside him and so she lowers herself into a seat beside him. Karasuba looks forward with blank eyes, as if seeing something in the distance. Beniyuri opens her mouth to ask him a question but he cuts her off and tells her to treat what he’s saying right now as him talking to himself, so he just wants her to listen.

He doesn’t want to remember anything before coming here. In his childhood, unhappy things happened and he was always desperate to forget them. But the memories clinging onto him refused to disappear and his efforts at being positive and carefree were fruitless. He wished desperately to forget everything and restart it all over though. Karasuba’s lips twist with self-deprecation. And then… his wish was granted when he didn’t even know it.

Karasuba woke up in this mansion having completely lost all his memories. He was happy when he had forgotten everything, so why did he remember it. He laughs wryly as he comments on how he hasn’t had a good life… or, well, he’s already dead now. She can hear the insecurity in his voice. She asks him if the unhappy event was something that happened during the summer camp?

She noticed that when everyone looked at the photo and regained their memories they all started acting strangely. Is it because of that? He reminds her that he’s talking to himself and so he won’t answer that. Beniyuri gapes at him and then points out that he just answered her cheekily right now, didn’t he?! Karasuba turns away as if pretending not to notice her comment and starts to fiddle with the cushion beside him.

Beniyuri pouts and, while feigning anger, has started to slowly realize that something happened during the camp; and this event still lingers in everyone’s hearts. She’s the only one who doesn’t remember. In contrast to her, who doesn’t know anything, Karasuba is speaking openly. He notes that she doesn’t remember it all, right? Their school? What they last spoke about? She cautiously asks him if he’s still talking to himself. He replies that he’s done that already.

She rolls her eyes at his whimsical mood before replying that she only remembers bits and pieces about her family and them. But she doesn’t know much about their school yet. Was she in the same school as him? He nods and murmurs that she still doesn’t know, huh. Once again, he’s avoided her question. And then he relaxes his body and rests his head against her shoulder. Her mouth parts in surprise before she asks him what he’s doing all of a sudden.

Karasuba hums thoughtfully before replying that it’s nothing and so it should be fine, right? It’s not anything terrible and so she doesn’t need to be so stingy. In her mind, she doesn’t think that’s the problem and if they’re close together like this then she…! Her heart starts to pound at the feeling of his weight and warmth. And then Karasuba asks her if she would believe him if he said that he was her lover?

Beniyuri’s eyes widen and she hesitantly says that she… He prompts her. She replies that she wouldn’t believe him. He asks her why not? She retorts that if they had really been dating then he wouldn’t ask her in such a searching way. She feels like he just chose her at random and it feels unfair. He tsks and then praises her for having good intuition. And then he tells her that she’s right, they weren’t lovers. Their relationship was something that was more than a friend but less than a lover though.

She echoes his words about being more than friends? He admits nonchalantly that this may have just been him though. She notes his light tone and wonders if this is all true or… Karasuba laughs and points out that she looks skeptical. He thinks this is just right since, in the past, she used to lack any caution.

Beniyuri thinks on the “Aki” of her memories and how he doesn’t match Karasuba. Aki was never such a slippery, evasive, and skillful man. And she says this out loud, about how Aki has changed and is completely different from the one in the past. He’s more… Karasuba interrupts her though and tells her not to call him by that name; they decided not to use their real names here, right? She intuitively asks if this is because he doesn’t want to remember the previous world. He comments on how sharp she is… and it might be that reason.

She asks him if he won’t want to return still even if they complete the kaleidoscope and can return to life? He doesn’t answer. She tells him that she wants to return. She wants to see her family and she wants to remember everyone. She doesn’t want to remain here forever. He murmurs her name. But this is the reason that she wants to work hard with everyone having the same purpose. She’d be sad if their steps became disordered here.

Karasuba suddenly tells her 「言っとくけど。・・・全部思い出して傷づくのはキミだよ。」(I’m just going to say this but… the one who will get hurt from remembering everything is you). She makes a noise of confusion but he only continues on to say that it’s best if she remains here without remembering anything. She’ll be happier that way. Beniyuri doesn’t think that’s possible.

But he just says that these are her thoughts now. The present her and the past her are the same person but there’s still a fundamental difference. He suddenly holds up his palm in front of her. Just as she wonders what he’s doing, he suddenly tells her that she isn’t Ai. She’s Beniyuri right now. And he isn’t the weak and unreliable Akira of the past. Right now he’s Karasuba, who will protect her.

He goes on to say 「ねえ・・・この世界で全部やり直そーよ。つらい現実じゃなくて、幸せな夢を見よう?・・・ね?」(Hey… let’s redo this entire world. And instead of looking at a painful reality, let’s see a happy dream, okay?). It’s a coaxing and sweet-like invitation. She… just what did she forget? If she takes this hand, she might be able to save something inside of him. But is there something else that she can do?

She, who is conflicted, lowers his hand. NARROWLY AVOIDED ANOTHER DEATH LOL. WE’LL REVISIT THIS SCENE LATER ON KARASUBA’S ROUTE. Beniyuri tells him that they can’t… and she won’t take his hand. His voice is surprised as he asks her why? She replies that her real name isn’t Beniyuri and it’s Minato Ai. Her father and mother who gave her this name… and her little sister who calls her this name… all these important people are in the real world. She won’t and can’t throw them away.

Karasuba starts to frown but she points out that he’s the same, right? He doesn’t respond and only looks at her. She reveals to him that, just a while ago, she had been a bit scared about her memories returning. She doesn’t want to know about painful or sad things. But after talking to him she’s changed her mind and thinks she should face them. He’s surprised that this happened while she was talking to him.

Beniyuri points out that without her memories then, just like what he did before, she won’t know the truth or not if someone calls themselves her lover. If she doesn’t know herself then she can’t convey her feelings to the person she likes. And isn’t that a sad thing? He can only reluctantly agree. She continues on to say that a painful event might have happened in the past but she wouldn’t want something even worse to happen because she turned a blind eye to the previous event.

She wants her memories to return. She wants to return to the real world. She wants to return to a place where she can once again call him Aki. Everyone should return together, right? She looks straight into his eyes in order to convey her feelings. And, after a short silence, he gives her a small smile. He looks away and complains lightly about how he wanted to escape from reality with her, but who knew that he’d receive a lecture.

Beniyuri apologizes but she– He interrupts again and breathes out that he really hates that. But 「・・・思い通りになってくんないのに、オレ、やっぱキミが好きみたい。・・・今も昔も。」(… Even though you never do what I want… it looks like I really do like you… now and in the past). Beniyuri startles and feels her heart skip a beat at his quiet confession. Is he joking as usual? But…

Karasuba suddenly yawns and decides that it’s a good time to sleep now. She blinks in surprise at the abrupt change but then nods. He thanks her for lending him her shoulder since he feels refreshed from it. She shakes her head in bewilderment. He then stands up and heads to the upper floors after giving the kaleidoscope on the table one more glance. She doesn’t move from her spot though and only stares at his disappearing back blankly.

*** CHAPTER FIVE ***

She had thought everyone was strangers but it turns out that they were childhood friends. That was the farthest thought from her mind. Now that she’s regained her memories, it’s strange how she could have forgotten that. At any rate, the intimacy and friendship between all of them deepened naturally. Meanwhile Monshiro, who was the only one unconnected to any of them, rarely left his room and she wasn’t able to see his face. From time to time she’s felt him leave alone to visit Yamato, but she’s unable to catch his appearance.

Countless days continue to pass without her being able to see Monshiro. She’s worried about him. Of course, she’s also worried about Yamato who is alone in the greenhouse. But, without Monshiro, she’s unable to leave her room in the middle of the night. Every day her thoughts revolve around these two who she hasn’t seen.

And then one day Usagi, who hasn’t visited them in a long time, drops by and raises her voice in surprise upon seeing the kaleidoscope. She compliments them for being able to restore the kaleidoscope to this point. One could say that it’s basically complete. Beniyuri becomes excited upon hearing this. Almost complete?! Usagi confirms that they only need one or two more fragments and then, before long, the master will come to speak with them.

Beniyuri can still hardly believe that they’ve come this far. Hikage can though because the brightness of the kaleidoscope has become much more vivid when compared to how it was at the start. Kagiha also comments on how they’re really close now. Beniyuri nods excitedly and thinks on how they’ll be able to return to the original world soon! She’ll be able to see her father and Haruka!

Her heart is bouncing and she keeps rubbing her hands. Her blood is racing and she can’t keep calm. Her only wish is about to be granted! But then she notices that, among the faces lined up, there’s one person who is apart from them and sitting on the sofa. She calls out to Karasuba and asks him what the matter is. He blinks at her. She tells him that the kaleidoscope is almost complete. Did he hear Usagi’s words?

He nods listlessly and answers that he did. She notices immediately that his reply is vacant though. Why is he acting strange…? Did he catch a cold? UH… YOU HAD A CONVERSATION WITH HIM ABOUT THIS BEFORE?? I MEAN IT’S BEEN A COUPLE OF DAYS BUT STILL. She approaches him and bends down to look at his face. But then he returns her look with a cheeky one and tells her that if she continues to stare at him like that, he’ll have to kiss her.

Beniyuri startles and immediately takes a step back. He pouts at her retreat and tells her that his glass heart has been shattered. She apologizes and continues to retreat while biting her lip. He is still pouting though and demands that he doesn’t want words for an apology but a kiss. Or something more would be fine too… Beniyuri retorts that she won’t! Geez, she was worried for him too and would appreciate it if he didn’t joke around like that.

Karasuba laughs and comments on what a shame it is. He should have acted more sad then and that’s regrettable. He suddenly gets up and starts to walk away, which makes her ask him where he’s going. He answers that he’s going a trip to nurse his broken heart, kidding. He’s returning to his room because he feels sleepy. He grins wickedly at her and tells her that she’s always welcome to sleep beside him or sneak into his room to make love to him though. He wishes everyone good night in a light tone before parting.

Beniyuri can’t help but feel like his footsteps are heavy though. She wonders out loud what is wrong with Karasuba. It might be her imagination but he seems falsely energetic. Hikage thinks he’s just tired and he’s the same as always. She seems skeptical about that. Kagiha thinks that a good night’s sleep will cure him and they should let him do that. She nods.

The next day, while she’s making the covers of her bed, someone knocks on her door. She calls out and asks who it is. Kagiha responds that it’s him and asks if she has some time. Beniyuri opens the door while thinking on how strange this is. Upon opening the door, she sees Kagiha with a stiff expression and wonders if something happened. She asks him what the matter is. He hesitates before asking her if she knows where Karasuba is.

She blinks in surprise and answers that he didn’t come to this room; in fact, she just woke up. His expression falls at her answer. She starts to feel uneasy upon seeing the lack of a bright smile on Kagiha’s face. She asks what the matter is with Karasuba and if he isn’t in his room? Kagiha nods and reports that he isn’t in the living room or kitchen either… they also can’t find him in any of the empty rooms. It looks like he went somewhere.

Beniyuri can’t believe it and wonders why… this is the first time since someone has disappeared from the refuge. Kagiha hesitantly points out that if something happened to Karasuba like what happened to Yamato then… Her heart skips a beat and she feels a bad premonition. Because she doesn’t know Karasuba’s condition yet, uneasiness begins to run rampant through her body. She states that they need to find him!

She runs down into the living room and calls out to Hikage, confirming that Karasuba is gone? Hikage confirms it and says that he’s checked every spot he can think of in the refuge but Karasuba is nowhere to be found. Beniyuri stiffens because then that means… Hikage finishes her sentence by saying that the only place they haven’t checked yet is outside. Kagiha wonders where he could have possibly gone outside though?

Naturally, her eyes move to the entrance. Did Karasuba open that door and go out by himself? What happened with Yamato surfaces in her head. When Yamato had disappeared, they had found him on the other side of that door. His appearance had been hair-raising as he had been covered in shadows. Could it be that Karasuba also…? Hikage opens the door and reports that he isn’t in front of this room either…

Beniyuri finds herself exhaling in both disappointment and relief upon not seeing a human shape on the other side of the door connecting them to the mansion. So, Karasuba is not in his room. Neither is he getting some air outside in front of the door. In other words… Beniyuri asks out loud if he’s in a distant place.

Hikage thinks she’s right. She also recalls that he’s been acting strangely and he shouldn’t be alone. They need to find him! Kagiha agrees but how and where should they find him? Hikage points out that the mansion is large and they can’t conduct a thorough search… it looks like they have no choice but to split up.

Beniyuri finds herself in the entrance hall calling out his name while running around and searching. Because of this emergency, they’ve all become scattered in their search for Karasuba. She hasn’t walked around alone in this mansion since the time she met Monshiro. She’s uneasy but she’s even more afraid of something happening to Karasuba. If they continue to be unable to find him then…

She shakes her head to dismiss her terrible imagination. Now isn’t the time for her to be caught in her anxiety. She needs to believe in hope and to keep moving forward. This makes her recall Yamato and how maybe he can help too! She looks up the central staircase as she thinks this. Right now there’s no one here and so she can go to Yamato without anyone seeing her! She looks around discreetly and then takes a step onto the staircase.

At the greenhouse, Yamato exclaims in surprise that Karasuba is gone!? She nods and tells him that he disappeared when they woke up this morning. Surprisingly, she managed to find her way to the greenhouse without much difficulty. Maybe because, after how many time she came here, the route is vaguely in her mind. Yamato had been surprised to see her at first but he calmed down and welcomed her.

Beniyuri asks if he knows where Karasuba went, or if he saw him during the night or anything? Yamato answers that he didn’t see him and he was here all of yesterday. She asks about any loud noises outside. He apologizes but doesn’t remember. She nods and feels her hope sinking at his answer. She feels like she crushed her hopes or clues with her own hand. Yamato asks her if something happened in the refuge and if Karasuba quarreled with someone or something?

She tells him that she doesn’t think it was a fight. Yesterday, he returned immediately to his room and didn’t speak with anyone. But his attitude was odd and he was strangely vacant, so she became worried. She thinks she should have talked to him more at that time. Yamato points out that if she asked him then he would have given her the slip, and he’s always been like that in the past. She tries to protest but then pauses.

Beniyuri repeats his words curiously. “He’s always been like that in the past”? Yamato freezes. She asks him quickly if his memories returned. Does he remember Aki!? Yamato’s eyes widen before he points out that she remembers too then!? She nods and then explains to him how their memories returned after seeing a group photo that she found in the study. And then it looks like Yamato also remembered that they were childhood friends. It’s something to be a bit happy about.

Yamato grins and tells her that he had planned to keep quiet about it if they still hadn’t regained their memories but it looks like they remember. She nods and then teases about how it looks like she had been bullied a lot by Takuya. He hurriedly denies that before cutting himself off and pointing out that these are childhood stories! She snickers and then apologizes. There’s a lot to talk about. And there’s a lot that she wants to talk about. But right now…

He becomes serious again as he points out that, more importantly, they need to find Karasuba… no, the weak-hearted Aki. She nods. He smirks and thinks that Karasuba is crying somewhere about something meaningless, like he always did in the past. And that’s why they need to hurry and find him.

How much time has passed? How much time has passed since she parted from Yamato, who is cooperating with them. She continued to run throughout the mansion and search for Karasuba despite exhaustion in her body and pain in her feet. But she couldn’t find him. No matter where she looked, she couldn’t find Karasuba. Whenever they played hide-and-seek, he would always come out with a put-upon face after their calls for him became desperate.

Just where did he go? Her uneasiness only prompts more uneasiness, and it’s a vicious circle. She calls out his name but there’s no answer. Instead, the sound of rain reaches her ears. Pitter patter pitter patter. The light sound of rain as it falls sounds as if it is laughing at her. With her hair sticking to her cheeks due to her sweat, perhaps she does look ridiculous to an outsider. But she doesn’t care and, regardless of appearances, her heart will break if she’s not frantic.

She doesn’t want to lose anyone. She’ll find Karasuba. She’ll definitely find him. She continues to run on the hard ground so as to not be swallowed by her anxiety. Hikage suddenly calls out to her and asks how things are on her end. She stops and turns around to see him breathing hard. She can only breathe out his name and he notes, from her appearance, that it looks like she hasn’t found him yet either. She nods and then asks if there’s nothing on his end too?

Hikage only sighs heavily and then wonders where Karasuba could have possibly gone? His voice is pained and tired. For them not to have found Karasuba yet means that he’s gone somewhere where they can’t reach. Or, he’s hiding himself somewhere. As she thinks on all these possibilities, they disappear along with her sigh. Hikage notes that it’s almost night and thinks that they should stop for today and return to the refuge.

Beniyuri calls for him to wait though because she hasn’t searched the other side yet. Hikage sharply points out that there’s no end to her words; the mansion is large and if she goes too far then even she won’t be able to return. She tries to protest but her thoughts are slow, as if her body is protesting its limits. She has the feeling that if they stop now then she won’t ever see Karasuba again. And then once again everyone’s feelings will become tattered and they’ll break. She can’t help but feel that…

But Karasuba might have returned to the refuge. That seems like an optimistic thought though. Beniyuri doesn’t understand why… she’s scared and uneasy. What is she so frightened of? And then suddenly the sound of a gun shot splits the cold air of the night. Hikage exclaims that the sound right now… Beniyuri points out that it came from that room! They exchange a look and then turn towards the sound.

There’s an open door that they peek into. The room is cluttered with the shapes of many items and a thick darkness covers it all. There are many blind spots in the room and it’s hard to understand the shapes inside but… this smell? Somewhere, there is the smell of blood along with gunpowder. Goosebumps raise on her skin. Faintly, there is the sound of rough breathing. It’s also where the smell of blood seems to be coming. They approach it cautiously and soon the entire picture grows clear.

Beniyuri suddenly calls out Karasuba’s name in shock. There, right in front of them, is Karasuba with his arm torn open and bleeding. He is breathing roughly. How long has he been bleeding? She comes up to him and helps him up, but her hand become sticky and damp with blood. She asks him what happened and why he’s wounded like this. He laughs weakly and says that he may have dropped his guard.

As she repeats his words in shock, he explains that he was taken by surprise while thinking. Speaking of surprises, he would have been much more happier if it had been her. Those monsters sure are lacking in refinement. LOL JOKING AT THIS TIME… She rolls up his sleeve in silence and sees his skin gaping open, as if torn by sharp claws. These are claw marks from a monster, right? He was attacked here?

Karasuba continues to joke weakly 「・・・紅百合ちゃんの、えっち・・・。オレが脱がして、どうするつもり・・・?」(… Beniyuri-chan, you pervert… Just what are you intending to do… by stripping me?). She snaps back at him not to joke around at a time like this. She’s trying to ascertain how deep his wound is. He only laughs at how pathetic he is and how he wanted to be more manly and cool… yet he’s only seen by her when he’s unsightly.

Beniyuri shakes her head and then asks him if he only has this one wound? How is the pain? Can he feel anything in his hand? Why did he go out alone!? Whether he heard her or not, his eyes become narrower. He murmurs that he’s a weakling and even though he hates that about himself he hasn’t changed… at all. It’s so pathetic. His breath stutters as if he’s laughing or in pain and then he says nothing more.

She calls his name worriedly because she’s terrified at the bleeding that won’t stop. But the living warmth that she can feel confirms that he’s here and somewhere in her heart she’s relieved. Hikage points out that they need to treat his wound, but there’s no bandages or disinfectant here and so they’ll need to return to the refuge. Hikage approaches her with his usual calm attitude and lowers himself onto a knee.

He asks Karasuba if he can stand. Karasuba stares blankly at him. Hikage asks him if he’s listening and then states that he’ll lend a shoulder if he can’t move. He orders Karasuba to hold on. But Karasuba just stares at him and then murmurs that it wasn’t just Beniyuri… huh. He averts his eyes and then stands up. Beniyuri asks him in concern if he can move. She tries to point out that it’d be better to borrow a shoulder–

But Karasuba cuts her off and tells her that he can walk by himself. He starts to stagger over to the entrance. Beniyuri can’t help but feel like he’s acting strange still. What happened? She follows after Karasuba who is moving ahead and they walk on the route to return to the refuge. She’s filled with worry as she watches from behind as he walks on unsteadily and with trembling shoulders. It looks like he’s conscious though.

A wounded animal. She has that feeling about him, as if there’s an air around him that prevents people from coming close. She wonders quietly if Karasuba is okay and he hasn’t spoken at all… what happened? Hikage thinks there’s personal circumstances involved and it’s best to leave him for now. She wonders if this is the best option. Hikage points out that the first thing they need to do is return and treat his wound. Until they do that, they shouldn’t interfere with him unnecessarily.

She nods and gives up on calling out to Karasuba, as according to Hikage’s words. Step by step, they watch over Karasuba as he staggers forward. But even though they keep moving, their surroundings don’t change. Detailed decorations on the pillars. Dusty curtains on the window. The patterned floor continues to the point where she loses the sensation of time.

Ever since arriving here, she’s relied on her sense of sight to get around but she still frequently gets lost. She remembers going around the corner starting from the entrance hall but then she just ran around wildly after that. Whether that was true for Karasuba or not, he only continued to move forward unsteadily towards the refuge. And then after some time of walking to their goal they can hear the voices of people talking nearby.

THE SPEECH HERE IS REALLY BROKEN UP SO I CAN’T TRANSLATE. MONSHIRO IS TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING NOT BEING THERE. KAGIHA IS RESPONDING THAT “EVEN SO” SOMETHING. These voices are… it sounds like there is a commotion ahead of them and soon they are taken by surprise by the sight that met them. Beniyuri gasps out Monshiro’s name and, for a second, she doesn’t understand what she’s seeing.

One; there is light glinting off of something. It took some time for her to understand that she was looking at the mouth of a gun. Why is Monshiro aiming his gun at Kagiha?! What is going on here?! Even though she’s pressed by all these questions, she can’t understand anything. Hikage snarls out Monshiro’s name with accusation. Karasuba stops in surprise.

She’s brought back to the present by Hikage’s angry voice and leaps into action, shouting at Monshiro to stop. Kagiha exclaims her name in surprise when she leaps in front of him to defend him and flinches. Beniyuri asks Monshiro why he is doing this. He doesn’t respond. Kagiha tells Beniyuri to step back because it’s dangerous. She tells him that she won’t and then once again asks Monshiro why he’s doing this. Her mouth trembles. Her voice is trembling. She still can’t believe what’s happening in front of her eyes. ME TOO EVERYONE IS GOING CRAZY OMG.

Monshiro finally tells her that it’s because Natsuki has turned into a monster. Beniyuri freezes. What? Monshiro repeats that Natsuki has become something like a monster. Kagiha has no reply to that. Beniyuri is surprised to hear the name “Natsuki” come out from Monshiro. But he just continues on to say that it’s not good. And because it’s not allowed, they became like this. It is an explanation lacking in words and resounding with the logic of a child.

Because she’s trying to reach him impatiently, her tone becomes rough. Beniyuri tells Monshiro that he’s the one in the wrong and he can’t point his gun at his companions. What happened? She pleads with him to explain in a way that she can understand. Monshiro murmurs her name but still refuses to lower his gun. This stalemate continues and her forehead becomes dotted with sweat.

She is afraid that one step will break this moment and propel them into a situation that can’t be returned from and so she can only stiffen her body. And then suddenly, from behind them she can hear someone laughing lightly and out of character. She turns around to see that Karasuba has taken out his gun. Karasuba laughs again and then comments on how this place is filled with hopeless people. But the most useless one of them all is him, huh.

He goes on about how even though he had decided to change he’s still sputtering here. He points his gun at Monshiro. Beniyuri shouts out Karasuba’s name and tries to get him to stop, but the sound of a gun going off interrupts her. She calls out Monshiro’s name worriedly and turns to look at him but he’s still standing there with his gun pointed at Kagiha. Eh? What was shot right now? It wasn’t Monshiro?

And then, at that moment, the sound of something shattering enters her ears and the edge of the fox mask splits. The broken mask falls to the floor. The bare face of the person that she had always wanted to see is right there. Monshiro is silent. Beniyuri is stunned when she realizes that he has the same face as Hikage. What is the meaning of this? HOLY SHIT. Karasuba states that he knew it… Monshiro is Kazuya, huh. H O L Y SHIT.

Monshiro murmurs Karasuba’s name and then tries to cover his face with his hand, turning away from Karasuba’s gaze. Beniyuri is bewildered. Monshiro is Kazuya? Then Hikage is…? Karasuba declares that Hikage is the fake. Karasuba switches his gun from Monshiro to Hikage. Hikage, who was watching this development, receives everyone’s look with cold eyes. Beniyuri asks what this means.

Hikage takes a step back. Beniyuri calls out his name questioningly and repeats the word “fake”? Hikage isn’t Kazuya? Hikage looks away and crosses his arms. She turns to Kagiha and asks him if he knows anything. Kagiha avoids her eyes. She angrily asks why everyone is silent. Did everyone know? Was she the only one who didn’t know? She shouts out loudly that this was cruel! Her shoulders heave with her breathing and in the moment that she tries to organize her thoughts…

With the corner of his lips curled into a faint smile, Hikage steps forward. And then starts to laugh loudly and scornfully. At the same time, there is a strong wind blowing in deep from the mansion. From somewhere, black butterflies appear around him and an abnormal atmosphere spreads. Kagiha calls out Hikage’s name warily. They raise their hand to block against the wind and retreat two to three steps before looking at the man in front of them smiling cruelly.

Who is this person? She doesn’t know this sneering person. Hikage comments lightly 「君の叫びが面白かったからね。つい、笑いを堪えることが出来なかったよ。」(Your yelling was so interesting that I just couldn’t hold back my laughter anymore). (゚Д゚;≡;゚Д゚) I… DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. I FEEL SO BETRAYED. He goes on about how the betrayal of a companion, distrust, and the straying of souls… has such a nice ring to it. FUCK ME I EVEN POINTED OUT HOW KAZUYA SOUNDED LIKE MONSHIRO AT THE FLASHBACK OMG.

He laughs again 「ふはっ、『ひどい』・・・ねぇ。一体どちらのほうがひどいんだか。」(Hah, “cruel”… huh? Except I wonder who exactly the cruel one is here?). Beniyuri chokes out his name. But he only gives her, who can’t swallow the situation, a glance before facing Karasuba. He admits that he’s surprised by him. Just where did his cowardice go? Karasuba answers lightly that it’s still in him but he’s put it away deep inside of him. In the end, he couldn’t continue to accept this and wouldn’t be able to forgive his weak self.

Hikage hums thoughtfully and takes a few steps away before saying flatly that it’s annoying… and he shouldn’t have overlooked him. And then he takes out his gun and aims it at Karasuba. The simple sound of a gun discharging. Karasuba inhales sharply. Hikage grins widely and asks him if he was surprised. Just a little bit more and he would have broken the bones in his shoulder, so he was surprised, huh.

Karasuba spits out Hikage’s name but Hikage only continues to smile and points out that Karasuba was the one who pointed a gun at him first, so he should have no complaints. Moreover, his terrified face suits him. It makes him want to show him with a mirror. Karasuba grits his teeth and says that, as he thought, Hikage has a bad personality. Karasuba’s right side is slanted and the butterflies that Hikage had shot are sucked into his accessory.

He raises his hand and licks at his accessory. Ah, it’s delicious. The taste of despair. SIDE-EYEING YOU SO HARD RIGHT NOW. Beniyuri is stunned because even though his voice and face is exactly like Hikage’s… he’s completely different. His abnormal atmosphere makes all the hairs rise on her body. Feelings of rejection. That is surely what she is feeling right now towards him.

Hikage chuckles and then notes that they don’t know about this thing they have with them, huh? Beniyuri echoes his words faintly. Hikage explains that their accessories absorb black butterflies, in other words the souls and energy of those lost. It protects the wearer. He has absorbed every single soul of those who have fallen in this mansion. Look, it’s glimmering so darkly. Such a beautiful color, no?

Beniyuri asks him why he knows that… but in her mind she knows why without asking. But she can’t leave it unconfirmed. He tilts his head and asks her if she doesn’t know? Or more like is she acting as if she doesn’t know? It’s obvious. He’s the master of the mansion. Beniyuri gasps and her legs are trembling so hard that it’s strange how she’s still standing while being assaulted by these feelings.

Hikage is the master of the mansion? But Hikage is Kazuya… no? Karasuba corrects her and tells her that Kazuya is Monshiro. Beniyuri asks why, if Monshiro is Kazuya, he was pointing a gun at Kagiha– no, Natsuki, then? Monshiro stutters but is unable to answer. Kagiha is also silent. Beniyuri blurts out that she doesn’t understand anything anymore.

Then the Hikage right now is not the Hikage that she knew? She turns to look at him for an answer. He returns her look with his blazing eyes and then a ghastly and shining smile spreads across his face as he answers 「僕は僕だ。君が緋影と呼ぶ人間だしーー。弱くて臆病な君にだってなれる。」(I am me. I am the person you call Hikage– but I can be the weak and cowardly you).

Beniyuri flinches upon hearing his voice change to hers. Hikage adds that he’s also the person who is dishonest and with no self-confidence; he sounds like Karasuba. He can also be the stubbornly persistent one; he sounds like Kagiha. Ah yes, this person too; he sounds like Yamato. He returns to his original form and tells them that this world is one that changes with their thoughts and they can have any appearance they wish.

As he repeats his transformations, she is struck by how everything she believed in up to now was a deception. She asks him if he was pretending to be a companion? Was it like that from the very beginning? He replies curtly that she’s right. She points out that he was injured protecting her though, right? When she complained, he encouraged her, right? He worried for them, right? Or was that also all… a lie?

Hikage’s smirk twists as he praises that expression; that twisted expression of despair when one’s beliefs collapse. He can hardly bear it. He’s endured so much up to now. THIS GUY NEEDS A NEW HOBBY. I CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S THE POSTER BOY OMFG. His face is ecstatic. His words are without any mercy. Karasuba snarls and calls him a pervert.

Beniyuri is still stuck on how everything was a lie and asks if it was all for the kaleidoscope? For that sake, he deceived them all…? She can’t understand him. He doesn’t answer. She yells out his name and asks him why. The ecstasy fades from his expression and irritation starts to appear. He breathes out that she’s annoying and then asks if she can be silent for a moment. She freezes when he points his gun at her heart.

Kagiha yells out Hikage’s name and Hikage straightens from his position, recalling that he promised not to raise a hand against her. Ah well, so long as he can get the last fragment. And with this he says his goodbyes to Beniyuri personally. She closes her eyes as a flash of sparks shoots out from the gun and prepares herself for an impact. She was shot! Is what she thought but… she doesn’t feel any pain in her body no matter how long she stands there.

She cracks open her eyes and, in her blurry view, she can see what happened. Even though nothing should have changed in one moment, everyone is still standing in their same positions and looking at her. Except for one person. Beniyuri shouts out Kagiha’s name in shock. Kagiha, who looked like he had defended her, is thrown to the ground and a low groan leaks out from his throat.

Beniyuri can’t believe this. Why is Kagiha…? Kagiha asks her brokenly if she’s unhurt. She blurts out that she’s fine but…! As she approaches him and tries to raise him up, blood pours out of his side. Hikage tilts his head and asks if he’s going to die? That’s a problem especially when he had been the audience. She yells at him not to come close to Kagiha. He points out that even though she’s acting like they’re friends, it’s her fault that Kagiha is hurt.

For the sake of protecting her. For the sake of saving her. This compassionate man is always– Kagiha stiffens and gasps out at him not to say it. It’s best if he doesn’t say anything. Hikage snorts. But Kagiha begs him not to say anything. Beniyuri asks desperately what they’re talking about. What happened to Kagiha when he protected her? She asks why everyone has that look on their face and why they’re all remaining silent.

Karasuba averts his eyes as he haltingly says that it’s because… Monshiro apologizes to Beniyuri. She sobs out that she doesn’t understand… she doesn’t understand anything anymore. Only the blood that is pouring out is clear and vivid. It’s the only thing that is keeping her gripped in this reality instead of her dissociation. Hikage sighs at how troublesome this all is and then asks if she can just die.

He walks closer before aiming the gun at her once again, this time with killing intent. Suddenly, Yamato snarls out an insult and yells at Hikage not to touch her. He slashes at Hikage with his sharp claws. Hikage, in the pause, covers his wound with a hand. Between his fingers, blood wells up and travels down his arm before dripping onto the floor. Yamato isn’t surprised that in the end it was Hikage… no, the master of the mansion.

And then he asks Hikage what he wants to do. Is he going to fight while wounded? Hikage grits his teeth and then steals Kagiha from Beniyuri’s hands and retreats while holding a gun to Kagiha’s head. He doesn’t want any of them moving from that place. One step and he’ll shoot Kagiha. Kagiha, who is half-conscious, has his hands pressed against his side as he’s dragged along.

Beniyuri shouts at him to wait and asks where he’s taking Kagiha though. She doesn’t want him to do anything cruel to him! Karasuba grabs her and tells her that it’s best not to chase. She tries to protest but Hikage just reminds them to stay quiet and obedient. She whispers Kagiha and Hikage’s name as she is unable to do anything but grit her teeth and watch as they disappear into the darkness; her shoulder is being gripped.

*** SUMMER CAMP ***

In the park, after school, there is the sound of childrens’ delighted voices as they run around. They are playing tag, playing on the equipment, and catching balls. In that park, the usual members are gathered together; Takuya and Kazuya, and then Ai, Natsuki, and Akira. Even though they should have decided on what to play immediately, there is no decision among their voices. Today, again, there are two groups arguing.

Ai calls out rock-paper-scissors. Both her and Takuya throw out their hands at the same time; she with paper and he with scissors. In the instant that he realized he won, Takuya throws up both fists into the air. He won and so this place is going to be used for soccer. Ai complains that he’s being unfair and he waited to see what she did before acting. Takuya denies that and points out that her hand was slow too!

Hearing that, Ai glares at him and claims that she didn’t wait. Takuya points out that accusing him of waiting to see her move first means that she does it often, no? Ai denies that and suggests they ask everyone else. She asks Kazuya about how she didn’t wait to see Takuya’s move, right? Kazuya agrees. Ai declares that she’s innocent, see? Takuya scowls and asks Kazuya why he’s supporting Ai. Doesn’t he want to play soccer?

Kazuya answers quietly that this isn’t the case and he just answered because he was asked. Takuya calls him a traitor! Ai points out that he just answered honestly, so why is he a traitor? Takuya tells her to shut up since it has nothing to do with her. Natsuki steps in between them to mediate when he sees that the argument won’t end. He doesn’t want them to fight and they’re wasting time to play. Aki agrees.

Takuya turns his glare onto Natsuki and Aki. He calls them out on being Ai’s underlings just because they’re men. Are they okay with that?! Aki denies being an underling. Natsuki sighs at how Takuya is accusing them of that again and then suggests redoing the rock-paper-scissors game to decide on what to play. Ai immediately agrees with that, but Takuya claims that she wants to redo it only because she lost!

Natsuki interrupts again and tells them all to forget what just happened and to redo it. Takuya glares. Natsuki suggests that they play three games then and whoever wins twice can decide, since their current argument can’t be helped. Takuya gives an exaggeratedly loud sigh at that suggestion but agrees. Ai agrees too. Natsuki tells them to take their stances then. Under his direction, both of them take up their stances and their voices ring out through the park as they play rock-paper-scissors again.

In the evening, the group of them are sitting on a bench after tiring themselves out with their games. Each person’s hand is gripping a juice box that they bought from a vending machine. Ai exclaims about how tired she is. Takuya points out that it’s because she wanted to play on the playground equipment. She replies that she loves it though! Kazuya agrees and it feels like a hidden base. THEY USE THE SAME WORD FOR THE “REFUGE” IN THE GAME.

Takuya accuses Kazuya of supporting the girl again. Aki stutters out that he likes it too though. Natsuki too. Takuya glares at them all for gathering like that. Ai sings out that everyone else likes it too see, so it’s not just her. Takuya asks them if it isn’t embarrassing to like the same thing as a girl. Kazuya replies that it can’t be helped since they like what they like. As if feeling that he was being attacked, Takuya takes a drink out of his cola.

Ai changes the subject to how hot it is even though it’s the evening. Aki comments on how it used to be dark around this time too but it’s summer now. Takuya hesitantly brings up how it’s going to be the summer camp soon… is she going? He faces Ai directly.

The summer camp is an event for the children in the area to do things in the summer. Led by adults, they would get on a bus and stay one to two nights at a camp. All the children in the area are looking forward to it. Ai answers that she will, and then asks about Takuya and the others. Kazuya answers that he and Takuya have plans to. Takuya angrily asks Kazuya why he inserted himself in their conversation.

Kazuya blinks in surprise and answers that he heard “Takuya and the others” and so thought she was asking about them both. Takuya points out loudly that he and Ai were talking right now, so Kazuya needs to learn to read the atmosphere. HE’S SUCH A TSUN BABY LOL. Ai asks him why he’s so angry. Takuya asks her to shut up since it’s not related to her. This time he’s raising his voice to her and Ai can only feel exasperated since she doesn’t even know why he’s angry at her.

Natsuki asks Takuya to calm down because it’s not fun to be angry all the time, right? More importantly, he wants to talk about the summer camp and how they were assigned tents. Aki reveals that he received those assignments too and they’re all in the same tent. Ai recalls that she’s with Aki and Natsuki. Takuya hums at that but looks as if he wants to say something. Seeing that, Natsuki has a teasing smile. He asks if Takuya is jealous.

Takuya splutters before asking him what he’s saying?! It’s not like he wants to sleep in the same tent as a girl! Kazuya points out that Takuya’s face is red. Takuya grits his teeth and spits out that Kazuya really likes to talk about unnecessary things. Kazuya replies that it’s because everything is written on Takuya’s face. Takuya replies stubbornly that it’s not needed.

Aki comments on how Takuya and Kazuya are perfectly in sync, as expected of twins. But this just makes Takuya deny that loudly and ask him not to talk as if he knows everything, just because he’s a princess. Aki stiffens and apologizes. He didn’t mean that… Ai snaps at Takuya and reminds him how it’s forbidden to call Aki a “princess” and how many times have they said this? Takuya tells her to be quiet and it can’t be helped since it slipped out of his mouth on its own!

He turns around in a bad mood and refuses to face them. Natsuki sighs and asks them not to argue because they might not be brought along to the summer camp if they fight. Takuya winces because he doesn’t want that. Anyway, Natsuki comments on how it looks like they won’t be having curry this year at the camp like usual and will instead have a barbecue. Ai thinks that sounds fun. Takuya wants to eat meat and would like things to be on skewers!

Kazuya reminds him that he can’t not eat vegetables and their mother is always getting angry at him; she tells him not to leave his green peppers and carrots. Aki is amused at how childish Takuya is for not liking green peppers and carrots. Takuya stutters out that those things don’t matter. And then he rounds on Kazuya again for saying unnecessary things. Aki points out that he won’t grow big if he has these likes and dislikes. Takuya tells him to shut up and he doesn’t want to hear that from a squirt like him!

Natsuki wonders if he’ll hear it from someone who is big then? In that case, he’ll say it and he tells Takuya not to be picky about his food. Takuya can only frown against Natsuki’s gentle rebuke. And then he blurts out that he doesn’t want to talk about the camp anymore and their break is over! Next they’re going to play soccer and he calls for them to join him! Aki can’t believe they’re still playing though because he’s tired. Kazuya is agreeable to being the referee.

Takuya asks him what he’s saying and claims Kazuya for his team. He orders everyone to get up. Ai sighs but it can’t be helped. Natsuki warns them about how it’s almost time to go home so they can only play for a little bit. Takuya replies that he knows and then everyone stands up and chases after Takuya. After everything is said and done, Ai likes it best when all five of them are playing like this. What will they play at the summer camp? She wants to do a lot of things they normally don’t do.

If they’re at a camp for one to two nights, then they won’t need to return home when it’s dinner time. They can play freely without worrying about time and at night they can talk secretly. They’ll always and always be together. This is the summer camp; just what kind of excitements are waiting for them this year? It would be nice if it was already tomorrow for the day of the summer camp, that is what Ai thought.

Soon, it was the day of the summer camp. In the morning Ai, who was unable to sleep yesterday from being too excited, confirmed her preparations while rubbing at her sleepy eyes. But, after arriving at the meeting place, in the moment she saw everyone’s face her sleepiness blew away. After their leading adult, an old man, did the roll-call he guided them onto the bus in order. Ai, Natsuki, Takuya, Kazuya, and Aki were all in the same bus and they sat near each other.

Inside the bus, they exchanged and ate their snacks and played word games. Around an hour on the road, which passed by in the blink of an eye, they arrived at the camp. The adult explains to them that they’ll arrive at the camp soon and once they descend from it they will all gather for a group photo. After that, they can do whatever they want until it’s dinner but he warns them not to stray too far.

He informs them that a lake is nearby but it’s dangerous to be near the water and so he doesn’t want them to go there. His explanation came from a sheet that he reads from every year, and so it’s really boring. Everyone, apart from the kids who were attending this for the first time, looked bored and were suppressing their yawns. Ai and the others were the latter. Aki, who is beside Ai, asks her quickly what they want to play when they arrive.

Ai wonders about that too but hasn’t thought of anything yet. Takuya, who is sitting behind her, pops his face up and asks what they’re whispering about. Ai explains that they’re talking about what they want to do… she wants to explore! Aki repeats her words questioningly. Ai points out that there’s a forest around the camp, right? This means there will be unusual flowers blooming or strange bugs and she wants to see them. Aki thinks that’s interesting and asks if he can come along. Ai agrees.

Takuya is annoyed at how they’re continuing the conversations by themselves. Aki wonders why they need to seek permission from him, unless he wants to explore too? Takuya stutters out that he doesn’t particularly… Kazuya interrupts though and says he does. Natsuki asks what they’re talking about. These two join the conversation from their seats in the front and back. Takuya loudly tells them not to jump into people’s conversations.

But then the adult hears them and shouts at him to be silent. Even though they intended to talk quietly, somehow their voices became loud and it looks like they angered the adult. Ai and the others lower their head with apologetic looks on their faces.

At any rate, after they finish taking their picture, Ai and the others quickly head off to explore. Takuya thinks that if they’re going to explore then they should have a name, like the “Kemurin Exploration Group” or something. He suddenly brings this up while they’re all walking on a small path. Aki asks him if he’s talking about the hero on television when he’s saying “Kemurin Exploration Group”? Takuya confirms that he’s talking about that cool guy.

Kazuya thinks it’s a good idea to have a name but he thinks the name “Kemurin Exploration Group” sounds stupid. LOL. Takuya tells him to shut up and says it was just an example. He puts Kazuya on the spot and asks him what name he’d choose then. Kazuya suggests “Exciting Exploration Group”. Takuya thinks it’s stupid. But Ai thinks it’s good and wants to use it. Natsuki also thinks it’s a fun name. Aki is fine if everyone else thinks it’s fine.

Even though he disagreed with his entire being, everyone else has agreed and so Takuya can say nothing more. He complains about how no one has any sense to stick with such a lame name. He sulks and speeds up. Natsuki tells him that he can’t go too far alone though. Takuya tells him to shut up and continues forward though, forcing everyone to catch up to him. Ai calls out and asks him to wait because it’s really dangerous. Aki agrees. Kazuya points out that the leading adult will get angry.

Everyone is calling out to Takuya and quickly walking but Kazuya, who is last, has his foot caught by the roots of a tree. He trips and falls to the ground. Ai immediately turns around and asks if he’s okay. Everyone hurriedly goes over to the fallen Kazuya. Takuya asks him if he can get up and helps him up. Kazuya’s knees are dirty with dirt and one has a light but bleeding wound.

Natsuki is alarmed and says that they need to disinfect it. Aki tells everyone that he has wet tissues. Ai asks for them since she’ll do the treating. She takes them with a familiar hand and then wipes Kazuya’s knees. Aki is amazed at how good she is. Ai laughs sheepishly and explains that she does this whenever Haruka is hurt. She points out that they need to cover the wound with something; they can place a handkerchief on it but she’d like to bind it with something…

She searches in her pockets but she can’t find anything to use for a bandage. Natsuki, Aki, and Takuya also look at the things they have but they don’t have anything to use as medical care. Ai wonders what to do but Kazuya tells her that it’s fine and the bleeding will stop even if they leave it. Ai disagrees since it’ll be bad if germs get into it. Ah, she know! DOESN’T SHE HAVE A RIBBON… OH MY GOD MONSHIRO’S RIBBON?!

Ai unravels the ribbon around her wrist and binds it over the handkerchief on Kazuya’s knee. It’s barely suitable but it seems to manage its job! Aki hesitantly points out that her ribbon is precious, isn’t it? Ai is fine with it since it’s more important to treat Kazuya’s wound. Takuya scoffs at their exaggeration over just a ribbon. Aki hurries over to where he’s standing apart from them though and whispers into his ear.

He scolds Takuya for saying such a thing because that’s the precious ribbon that Ai’s late mother gave her. Takuya freezes and shuts his mouth. He timidly looks over in Ai’s direction but her back is to him as she treats Kazuya’s wound and so he can’t see her expression. All he can see is Kazuya looking embarrassed and somewhat elated. Kazuya quietly asks if it’s alright for him to have such a precious thing.

Ai reassures him that it’s fine and not to worry. Kazuya promises to return it to her; he’ll wash it until it’s beautiful and return it. He’s looking straight into her eyes as he says this. Takuya lowers his head and bites his lip upon seeing Kazuya talk straight and honestly to Ai.

Anyway, after they treat Kazuya’s wound they continue walking again in a line. It’s Ai’s “Exciting Exploration Group”! Because its her first time, her heart is dancing at this unknown place. No matter how far they go the trees continue on and on. And then, at the time where they start to feel bored and wonder if they should head back… In front of her eyes, a beautiful butterfly that she’s never seen before crosses.

Ai points out that the butterfly is beautiful. Aki agrees and he’s never seen it before either. Natsuki wonders if it’s a new species that doesn’t live here. IT’S A SOUL OMG. The butterfly glimmers, as if it’s exuding light, and then flies deeper into the forest. Ai is sad that it’s disappearing but Takuya exclaims that they should chase after it, capture it, and bring it back to show everyone. Kazuya points out hat they don’t have a bug net or cage, so won’t it be hard?

Takuya thinks they’ll come up with something and they need to hurry before they lose sight of it. With Takuya at the head, everyone chases after it. The butterfly doesn’t fly very far from them but neither is it close enough for them to catch. It just continues to flap its wings and fly elegantly… almost as if it were guiding them. They continue to run after it until they are almost out of breath. And then suddenly their view opens up.

Ai gasps upon seeing the lake. The waters glimmer and reflect the light of the sun, and above the water is an old building. In actuality, there is a small island in the center of the lake but to Ai and the others it was like a mansion on the water. It’s a mansion that looks like it came from a foreign film and so Ai is entranced. Ai suggests going to the mansion. Aki agrees but then wonders if it’s okay for them to do that.

Takuya thinks it’s fine and suggests they go; he’s excited because they’re finally exploring something. Kazuya also wants to see what’s inside the mansion. Ai and the others have a delighted face, but only Natsuki doesn’t look happy. Ai asks him what the matter is. Natsuki recalls that the adult warned them about going to the lake. He thinks they shouldn’t go and that it’ll be a disaster if something happened.

Ai thinks that it’ll be fine as long as they’re brief about it and they’ll return immediately! Natsuki is skeptical though and thinks it’s really dangerous, which is why they were warned beforehand. Ai points out that it’s really pretty and looks like a castle though, no? She would really like to see it. CLEVER, SHE’S USING SUCH A WISTFUL TONE. Natsuki is conflicted. Ai continues on and tells him that they’ll just look inside for a little bit and then immediately leave. So, won’t he come with them?

Natsuki breaks down and agrees. Takuya complains about how Natsuki worries too much and it’ll be fine. He hurries everyone along and Ai delightedly exclaims that they’re setting off! Ai takes the lead and leads them on a road to the mansion. Takuya, Kazuya, Aki, and then Natsuki follow along behind her. They enter the mansion after walking on a small road that crosses to the island and find that the inside is a ruin. OH GOD IT’S THE MANSION THEY’RE IN.

There are vines and vegetation growing on the staircase and the floor tiles are cracked. The windows, which had been decorated, are destroyed by the vegetation and it’s as if they have become a part of the mansion. Aki thinks it’s like a haunted house and it’s kind of creepy. But Ai tells them to look and points up to the ceiling with glittering eyes. There are holes in the ceiling and light is streaming through into the dark mansion like spotlights.

As if drawn by the light, the same type of butterflies they had been chasing before are floating around inside. The sight is so magical that she becomes absorbed in watching them. It’s so pretty like a fairy tale. Takuya snorts at how she’s taken in by fairy tales when she’s at this age. Is she a child? Kazuya disagrees though because he also finds it really pretty. Aki thinks it’s a strange play, like they’re lost in another world. CAN WE STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS AND INVITING DISASTER?

Natsuki wonders who lives here and if it’s a foreigner. Everyone looks at the broken stained glass and chandelier with deep interest. Even though it’s strange, everyone is drawn in by this mansion wrapped in mystery. Ai suggests they look around at other places. Kazuya agrees and thinks there might be other interesting things. Aki agrees. Takuya thinks there might be treasure! Even Natsuki who had opposed going into the mansion is tickled by the spirit of exploration. He wants to go too. Everyone nods and then they set off into the mansion together.

But Natsuki, who is last, suddenly stops. Aki asks him what’s wrong. Natsuki says that something was flashing. He bends down and picks up a glass fragment that was on the floor. Ai gasps at how it glimmers with light and how pretty it is. She continues to stare at this fragment on Natsuki’s palm. And then Natsuki bends down again as if telling Ai a secret; he asks her to hold out her hand.

She blinks in confusion and then timidly extends her hand, only for him to drop the glimmering fragment into her palm. Ai is stunned and asks if he really wants to give this to her? Natsuki nods and says he wants to give it to her because it’s so pretty. Ai thanks him and says she’ll treasure it! He nods and says he’d be happy if she does. Ai promises him that she will and this will be her treasure! She wraps her hand happily around the fragment.

Aki, who is standing apart from them, sadly looks at Ai and Natsuki who are smiling. Kazuya tells Aki that there is a fragment over here too. He pulls on Aki’s jacket and points to the floor. When they look carefully, there are glimmering fragments scattered here and there on the floor. Aki counts out four of them. Ai points out that she already has one so… Kazuya suggests that they all take one back then. Natsuki decides to pick one up then.

And so all of them crouch down and pick up a fragment. This can be counted as the spoils of their exploration, right? What kind of fragment is it? It’s so pretty. The fragment glitters with the colors of a rainbow. Ai happily changes its angle and enjoys the transformation of colors. Natsuki hands one to Takuya as well, though Takuya receives it with a snort. He thinks it’s just broken glass and they can find that anywhere.

Ai thinks that may be so but it’s pretty, everyone found it, and there’s enough for them all to match. Takuya thinks it’s worthless and it’ll soon be something they don’t want. Kazuya, who notices Ai lower her eyes sadly, puts himself between them. He tells Takuya not to talk like that and these fragments are nice mementos. Takuya asks Kazuya why he’s pretending to be nice. Ai tells Kazuya that he doesn’t need to say anything further since Takuya won’t understand.

Kazuya protests but Ai just thanks him for defending her and it made her happy. She comments on how he’s kind, huh. Takuya, seeing Ai give Kazuya a smile, only becomes more irritated. He doesn’t understand Ai and is annoyed. Ever since the time she wrapped her precious ribbon around Kazuya’s knee, which had been injured when he fell, a black haze coiled inside of him. OH MY GOD. PLEASE NO. REMEMBER TAKUYA THINKS HE KILLED KAZUYA… WELL…

Young Takuya, not being able to understand the true form of that irritation, is unable to deal with it easily. With nowhere to turn his anger, he can only suppress it and pile it up high in his chest. Natsuki calls out and asks Takuya what he’s standing there vacantly for? They’re heading upstairs. Takuya returns to himself and grunts out that he’s coming. As he follows them, his eyes fall to Kazuya’s legs as he walks in front of him.

The ribbon wrapped around Kazuya’s knee has loosened and seems to be unraveling. Takuya calls out for Kazuya to wait. Kazuya stops and turns around with a suspicious look, but Takuya just approaches him and crouches to point at the ribbon. He tells him that it’s coming undone and so he’ll tighten it again. Kazuya notices that it is and he didn’t notice. Takuya unravels it and then reties it but tightly so that it won’t come undone again. He pauses though.

Kazuya asks him what the matter is but Takuya just shakes his head and says that it’s nothing. He tightens the ribbon and tells Kazuya that he’s done. Kazuya thanks him and gives him a smile. Takuya stutters out that he’s blowing it out of proportion and it wasn’t that important. He lowers his head to avoid looking straight at Kazuya’s smile.

Before they notice it, the area around them has become dark and they can hear the sound of rain striking the roof and windows. Aki notices that it’s raining and Ai points out that it’s quite strong. It had been sunny just a while ago too but it looks like they didn’t notice because they were too engrossed in exploring. Natsuki notes that the weather changes easily in the mountains and they should return to the camp before it gets any darker. Everyone nods at his words and run out of the mansion. DON’T LEAVE ME AT A CLIFFHANGER!

*** CHAPTER SIX ***

The crimson of the carpet… just how much blood did it absorb? After the many events that happened with terrifying force, she sinks down onto the blood-soaked floor, finding all her strength thoroughly robbed. The kaleidoscope was almost complete and everyone should have returned to their original world. Just what is the meaning of this? In the end, Monshiro was Kazuya. Hikage, who she believed had been Kazuya, was the master of the mansion. Hikage had deceived them.

He had never thought of them as companions and had easily pointed a gun in their direction. Is Kagiha, who had been shot, okay? Because he was defending her he had… Despair and confusion coils around her. Sadness. Helplessness. Anger. Nothingness. A variety of feelings run rampant through her and hurt her chest. She feels like if she opened her mouth, even just a little, then all of this will flow out and so she bites her lip and hugs her shoulders, enduring it.

Naturally, a silence follows after a storm. As if rejecting the flow of time, her pain doesn’t pass. In that case, it’d be best if time stopped. If her heart and body stopped moving, how happy would she be if she also could not think of anything. But her wish isn’t granted. She can’t believe that Hikage is the master of the mansion. But he spent an absurd time with them and even gave himself a name. Every day they spent together, was it all a lie? Were they just dancing in his hand?

Suddenly, she’s pulled out of her thoughts by Monshiro asking her if she’s okay. His shape wavers in front of her but he’s looking at her with innocent eyes. She calls out his name but then stops and corrects herself to say his true name, Kazuya. He smiles and answers 「・・・うん。・・・そう。本当の名前は、神田和也。」(… Un… It is. My real name is Kanda Kazuya). He apologizes for keeping silent about it. Pure eyes, bordered by long eyelashes. Well-shaped shoulders and a high nose bridge. Slightly parted but dry lips. Hidden under that mask was a face that she knew well.

Flashback! Takuya complains about having an anniversary photo taken after arriving at the camp. It’s not even a big event. Kazuya reveals that last night Takuya couldn’t sleep because he was too excited. Takuya splutters out that he couldn’t sleep because it was too hot! Not because he was excited. He opened the window but there was no wind. Kazuya states that he’s lying since yesterday was as cool as usual.

Beniyuri recalls how Kazuya was, contrary to Takuya who was always angry, quiet and observant of his surroundings. He was sharp to the point of surprising people with one word. It’s true that he has the same face as Hikage but when she looks at them again… the Monshiro in front of her today is… She sees now that he’s the real Kazuya and doesn’t know why she was unable to realize it.

Even though he was so close to them… even though she talked to him, heard his voice, and was within touching distance. She apologizes for not noticing it and not understanding. Monshiro apologizes as well for not saying anything up to now. Karasuba also asks why he remained silent. Was he scared of Hikage? Or was he threatened? Kazuya shakes his head to deny it and then says that he just…

Yamato calls out his name though upon seeing his younger brother at a loss for words. He draws back the hand he reaches out but then hesitantly extends it again. After repeating this a few times, he finally sighs. Yamato points out that this isn’t the place for them to do this and it’s dangerous; they need to move. Karasuba agrees but then asks them where they are to go? Their refuge is known by Hikage and so isn’t it dangerous no matter where they go?

And then he notes with a smirk that Yamato was actually alive? Where and how? Also, are those claws real? Yamato snaps at him not to stare at him like that and not to touch him! He doesn’t have this body because he likes it. Karasuba just says that he’s curious. Yamato grumbles before revealing that there is a greenhouse at the top of this mansion and he’s been staying there all this time. It doesn’t have anything and everything like the refuge but he’s spent his time safely there.

Monshiro suddenly repeats the word “greenhouse”. Yamato realizes that they can find shelter there for now. Karasuba asks them to lead the way to the greenhouse then and then calls out to Beniyuri, only to pause. WHEN THEY LINE UP LIKE THIS YOU REALIZE HOW MESSED UP THE GROUP IS LOL. Yamato approaches her and asks if she can stand, before extending a hand and asking her to give him hers.

She gets pulled up strongly and then thanks him before reassuring him that she’s fine. But her eyes move once again to the hall. Natsuki… Kagiha, who had been shot protecting her, surfaces in her mind again with a lifeless expression. His clothes were stained with blood… completely red. Even though they needed to immediately treat it… if anything happened… It’s her fault. It’s because he defended her that Natsuki was…

Beniyuri starts to shake and in her mind she keeps screaming that she doesn’t want this. She doesn’t want him to go! Yamato calls her out of her thoughts and, at the same time she raises her head, he drops a hand on her shoulder. He tells her not to think about anything unnecessary and right now they need to rally their feelings. He tells her to think about Kagiha later, okay? She murmurs his name and then weakly agrees. She leaves that place with painful reluctance.

At the greenhouse, Karasuba is surprised such a place exists. He teases Yamato for having a great intuition on living in the wilds to find a hidden door. Yamato asks him if that’s a compliment or an insult, but either way when he talks it’s annoying. Karasuba laughs at how he’s irritated with just this; it means he has a short temper and as expected of a simple-minded person. Yamato smirks and comments on how he’s noisy as usual.

She doesn’t know if they’re happy at reuniting or if they’re trying to liven the dark atmosphere a bit, but Karasuba is teasing Yamato more than necessary. Beniyuri wonders if this place is safe for now. The greenhouse hasn’t changed. Countless flowers are blooming and each one is filled with life. It’s like the flowers are accepting them warmly. Monshiro points out that this place has white butterflies and so it’s safe.

Beniyuri nods and admits that, at least, they can calm down. Once again, she looks at everyone’s faces. Yamato, Karasuba, and Monshiro. Takuya, Aki, and Kazuya. She places her memories of them over the top of their current selves so that she won’t mistake them ever again. There isn’t any sense of discomfort and the more she looks at them the more she feels nostalgic. Yamato asks Monshiro if he’s Kazuya. Monshiro confirms with a nod and they look at each other quietly.

Yamato notes how he currently sounds but understands that he is truly Kazuya. Monshiro smiles without restraint and says Takuya’s name. But Yamato then asks him why he was silent about himself being Kazuya and why he hid his face. Monshiro hesitates. Yamato presses on and asks if he had a reason and if something happened with Hikage? Why didn’t he say anything until now!?

Beniyuri calls out to him to calm down and if he doesn’t ask slowly then Monshiro can’t answer. After her light rebuke, he watches over the hesitant Monshiro. And then, after some time, Monshiro starts his story falteringly. He says that he couldn’t say. Yamato asks why. Monshiro explains that if he said anything then everything would break. Karasuba asks what would break?

Monshiro points out that when he went to where Beniyuri was, at that time, everyone was friends. Hikage was with everyone and… they seemed to be having fun. Beniyuri points out that it was because they trusted Hikage and thought he was a companion with the same goal. Monshiro repeats again that this is why he didn’t say anything. If he said anything unnecessary, then everyone’s relationship would break.

He didn’t want to break everyone’s enjoyable time. He was scared. Yamato points out that it couldn’t have continued like that forever and if Monshiro knew Hikage’s true form then it could have broken at any time. Monshiro states that he couldn’t say because if he introduced himself and they realized Hikage’s lie… then everyone would have been torn apart. He would have been alone again and he doesn’t want to be alone. It’s lonely being alone.

Beniyuri can’t understand it because he would have been silently watching someone impersonate him. It would have been painful and sad… Monshiro replies in a shaking voice that it’s fine; he can endure pain and sadness but he doesn’t want to be alone. His name, his face, he’ll give whatever they want. He’ll give anything so long as he’s not alone. OH WOW… THIS IS SO SAD. Monshiro grabs Beniyuri and Yamato’s arms beside him as his voice trembles.

There are no tears running down his face but she can tell that he’s crying. Yamato realizes that he’s been alone all this time… ever since that time. Karasuba recalls that ten years has passed since that time. He averts his eyes. Yamato touches Monshiro’s head with faintly trembling fingers. He pets him clumsily and apologizes. Monshiro replies that it’s fine… it was his fault to begin with. Yamato angrily refutes that and says that he’s the one who–!

Beniyuri wonders what everyone is talking about. Slowly, the conversation has gone to a place that she can’t see. “Sorry”. “Ten years has passed”. “It’s my fault”. She quotes their words about “that time”? Yamato turns to her in surprise. She rushes on to ask if they’re talking about the time at camp? As she thought, something happened then, right? Yamato asks if her memories haven’t returned? SOMEONE JUST TELL ME JFC.

She shakes her head and answers that not all of it has returned; there are fragments here and there that she doesn’t have. Monshiro also seems shocked to hear that. The three men exchange looks and then fall silent. Yamato then apologizes and says that it’s nothing she needs to concern herself about. As if by consensus, the talk stops there. Beniyuri doesn’t believe that it’s nothing and this is the same as last time, where everyone knew something that she didn’t.

No one would answer then too. She asks them why they’re tricking her? Yamato retorts that they’re not tricking her. Beniyuri tries to protest, but then Karasuba suddenly grabs his arm and screws his face up. He recalls out loud that he was wounded. So much happened that he forgot, but right now the pain is… he winces. NO SHUT UP. TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED. Beniyuri startles and asks him if he’s alright. She apologizes for being preoccupied with other things.

Karasuba tells her that it looks like the bleeding has stopped and nature is amazing. She’s glad for that but they can’t be inattentive. She tells him that she’ll treat him over at the fountain. Karasuba nods since it’ll be bad if it gets worse. And then he asks Yamato to come with him. Yamato blinks. Karasuba states that he’s telling Yamato to treat his wound. Yamato and Beniyuri blinks in surprise. Eh? Karasuba asks them what their reaction is and if they can’t listen to the requests of an injured person.

What a curious turn of events. Normally, Karasuba wouldn’t request such a thing but he’s looking straight at Yamato. Beniyuri stutters out his name and then says that she can be the one to treat him… but Karasuba asks her if she wants to see his bare skin. Does she have an interest? Is she actually a closet pervert? She asks him why he’s moving the talk in that direction. Karasuba states that he just doesn’t want a girl to see him when he’s lame. Can she understand?

At any rate, he’s leaving her to care for the person who is afraid of being alone, Monshiro. He calls for Yamato and Yamato replies that he understands already. And then, as if by implicit understanding, the two move deeper than is needed into the gardens. Beniyuri knows that normally she’d be asked to treat him so why… Could it be that they’re avoiding her? Monshiro reassures her and tells her that the wound isn’t that deep, so she doesn’t need to worry. Beniyuri is startled out of her thoughts and then nods. It’ll heal quickly. But while she returns his warm smile, a dark uneasiness spreads in her chest.

Some time passes. She asks Monshiro why he was doing what he did to Kagiha? He frowns and replies that they were arguing. She asks him why they argued. He shrugs. The two of them are sitting down beside each other before she thinks to ask about what happened a while ago. But the situation isn’t cleared and there is sediment in her heart. Is he hiding something? She knows that he’s not the type of person to hurt someone without reason. But not knowing the reason is irritating.

And it isn’t just Monshiro. ONCE AGAIN I CAN’T TRANSLATE THEIR BROKEN WORDS. Even after treating his wound, Karasuba and Yamato are whispering together with strained expressions. Because they’re so far away she can barely hear their conversation. But because she can feel their glances from time to time she knows that they’re being aware of her. Is it because she can’t be trusted? She unintentionally thinks that since there’s “something” that is stubbornly being kept from her.

It’s always been like that ever since she came here. Even when she asks, no one tells her. If she asks then she’s given the slip. Even though they should be companions, but maybe she’s the only one who thinks that. She’s the only one left behind. What is she… to everyone? In the moment she meets Yamato’s eyes, he looks away. SHE’S GOING TO TURN INTO A MONSTER AT THIS RATE WITH ALL THESE NEGATIVE FEELINGS LMAO.

Standing alone, her store of patience has run out. Beniyuri stomps up to them and angrily asks them what they’re whispering about and to say it clearly if there’s anything. She’s really curious about their confidential talk. Yamato tries to deflect but she turns on Karasuba and snaps out that it doesn’t take that long to treat his wound! What are they talking about with such conflicted faces? Karasuba laughs awkwardly and says that it’s nothing important just friendship between males–

Beniyuri cuts him off though and claims that she’s fed up with being tricked! Why won’t they tell her anything? What are they hiding? If they won’t tell her the secret then at least they can give their reason for not telling her! Her voice is rough and the two of them fall silent before looking away. Right after she says that, they look like they want to run away and an anger stabs at her from deep inside.

Monshiro asks her not to blame them. He had followed after her and is grabbing her sleeve now. She tries to protest but he tells her that it’s because they’re thinking about her that there are things they can’t say. She repeats his words in confusion. In her head she can understand that this is one of their reasons but that’s still not fair. If they protect her unilaterally then they’re not being companions… and instead she’s just baggage. She knows that this anger is making her feel miserable.

And then Monshiro states that, if they are to meet Hikage again, there are memories that are best not to remember. She asks him what he means. Monshiro slowly reveals that he came to this interval earlier before everyone else and met Hikage. Hikage is something inhuman that has lived in this interval since a long time ago. Because he’s been here for such a long time, he is skilled at manipulating thoughts and taking advantage of people’s hearts. If they have memories then he can lead them astray in various ways and that’s why it’s best not to remember.

She echoes his words before asking him if he’s saying that it’s best not to think about anything then? He nods. She angrily asks him if he’s saying that she shouldn’t worry about Kagiha or think on why everyone’s troubled and just become empty in the head?! He apologizes and, upon seeing his apologetic face, she can’t seem to follow up with more words. She looks away to search for an outlet for her emotions and sees the same guilty and awful expressions on the other two.

Even though she’s together with everyone, in her heart she is alone. Even though she should feel protected, her chest hurts with a chafing pain. She lowers her head, assaulted by a helpless loneliness. She doesn’t understand. If she’s trusted… then there should be no secrets. Yamato asks her cautiously if she’s okay. Karasuba adds that she’s not cut off from her companions and so she doesn’t need to be so depressed.

She’s being talked to in a careful voice. She knows that if she continues to press on everyone then she’ll just be thought of as someone who can’t be relied on even more. She… Beniyuri nods and says she understands before reassuring them that she’s okay. She apologizes for troubling them but she was just a bit disordered. WHAT NO. SCREW THIS. I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH. She laughs sheepishly and says that she might be lucky not to have all her memories back then. She panics immediately and is bad at thinking on difficult things so…

Beniyuri doesn’t know what she “understands” but she pastes on an understanding smile. She abandons this discussion and says an insincere lie. Even though these are people that should have been her companions, and even though she should have been everyone’s companion. If Kagiha was here, what would he say?

Morning and night repeats, and days continue to pass. At first, they were vigilant in case anything were to happen again. But contrary to their expectations, every day continues to be calm and they start to feel impatient for the next event. After seven days or so pass, Karasuba’s wound has closed cleanly. Taking advantage of that, they start to head outside. What is Hikage doing right now? Is Kagiha safe?

Seeking answers, they return to their original refuge and peek in but there’s no one. She doesn’t know what to do with these unchanging days. Yes, nothing has changed. On the contrary… as usual, when she is sleeping and they are keeping watch, it looks like the three men seem to talk about something. Every night, she can hear voices that are stifled. The sounds that faintly enter her ears are as unpleasant as the sound of a bug flying. And she, while feeling her chest wrapped by a constant feeling of loneliness, falls into sleep as if running away.

And then suddenly, their ordinary days ring with the end. Usagi notes that it’s been a long time and greets them. She’s glad that everyone seems lively. At some time, this small messenger has come into the center of the greenhouse and bows while lowering her head. Yamato is shocked to see her and asks if she’s known about this place? Usagi answers that this world is the master’s garden and no matter where they are he can reach them.

Yamato tsks but he thought this was the case. Usagi comes up to their circle and looks at each and everyone of them, for a second her eyes rest on Monshiro, but then she shifts her look. Karasuba asks what business she has but thinks it’s going to be worthless. Usagi answers that she received orders from the master and so came here. Monshiro repeats her words slowly. But Usagi just takes a single step and looks up at Beniyuri.

Beniyuri murmurs her name. Usagi tells her that she’ll get to the main issue. Thanks to everyone’s cooperation, the kaleidoscope is roughly complete. She wants to extend to them gratitude in place of her master. Now, there is only one remaining fragment. She is to ask the holder of the last fragment whether they will be taken to the master. Karasuba echoes her words questioningly.

Usagi explains that it is her; Beniyuri. The master would like to invite her, the holder of the last fragment. Beniyuri is startled and confused. Usagi tells her that it is her hair ornament. Beniyuri takes off the accessory and places it in her palm, where it releases a captivating light. She points out that it’s just a regular hairpin though… Usagi tells her to look carefully, and so she brings it closer to her eyes.

Under the strangely colored glass, she can see the familiar shape of the fragment. This is the last fragment? How? Why is it inside? Usagi doesn’t know either. Once again Beniyuri drops her eyes onto the hairpin and leans it against hand, seeing it glitter with suspicious captivation. She notices something odd though. Maybe it’s the light but it feels like the color is darker than before. She recalls out loud that Hikage said this thing absorbed despair.

Usagi explains that this thing works as protection for things that have a connection to the real world in this world. This thing receives the negative life force and unhappiness of its holder in exchange of the holder. In other words, in Beniyuri’s place. Beniyuri raises her head and looks at everyone. Yamato’s choker. Karasuba’s piercing. Monshiro’s pendant. She notices that everyone’s is also darker than before.

Karasuba points out in alarm that Monshiro’s is considerably dark! Yamato hesitantly asks if this is okay. Usagi takes a look and shakes her head. Because he’s spent such a long time here, there were many instances where he was touched by taint, right? It’s strange that he’s been safe up until now. Yamato hurriedly asks in simpler terms if it’ll be okay to leave it alone like this. If something were to happen to Monshiro like it did to him at that time…

Monshiro reassures him that he’s fine and it’ll be fine, so he doesn’t need to worry. Yamato steps into his space and angrily tells him that he has no basis to say that he’s okay and not to worry about it! Usagi startles and steps away before continuing on to advise Monshiro not to come into contact with any monsters to the best of his ability. And he should continue to keep as calm as he can.

And then she turns back to stare straight at Beniyuri before asking if she will come to where the master is and bring the last fragment. HM AFTER HE CACKLED IN OUR FACES AND SHOT KAGIHA? UNLESS YOU’RE HOLDING HIM HOSTAGE. Beniyuri asks to confirm that this is for completing the kaleidoscope, right? Usagi nods. Beniyuri asks if Hikage will use the completed kaleidoscope to return them to their original world?

To begin with, what is the reason for Hikage’s obsession with the kaleidoscope? Usagi tells her to ask the master this herself as she can only obey her orders. Karasuba narrows his eyes and tells Usagi to wait before asking if they are invited as well, naturally right? Monshiro has a serious expression as he declares that they’ll definitely go together. Yamato also adds that there’s no way they’d let Beniyuri go alone. Beniyuri is touched by everyone’s words.

Usagi confirms that the master doesn’t care if they all come, and in fact has had preparations made. There are signposts placed for the journey and she welcomes them once they have prepared themselves. Beniyuri repeats her words curiously. Usagi tells them that they will understand once they step outside. With that, she bows deeply to them and then disappears.

Yamato sighs and grumbles about how their safe zone was found out in the end. So, what are they going to do? Karasuba gapes at him and asks him what he means by that? He’s not going to thoughtlessly go, is he? It’s obviously a trap! Beniyuri points out that they can’t return to the original world without the kaleidoscope though… Monshiro states that Hikage has the kaleidoscope. Yamato realizes that either way, if they want to return, they’re going to have to face Hikage.

Everyone is sitting on the lawn as they talk. Of course, they’re all talking about the topic that Usagi left them with. Hikage is calling for her; her who holds the last fragment of the kaleidoscope. Why does her hairpin have the fragment inside to begin with though? Thinking about it just leads to endless questions though. Yamato wonders if they can surprise attack him. Monshiro is startled to hear that. Karasuba has a similar thought though.

Beniyuri looks questioningly at him. Yamato explains that, while Hikage is talking to her, they can seize an opportunity to steal the kaleidoscope. Even if he’s always carrying it on his body, against multiple opponents there will be some kind of opportunity. Beniyuri gapes at him because stealing it is dangerous. Monshiro doesn’t think they have any other options. She can’t believe that even Monshiro agrees.

She wonders if it is possible to resolve this through discussion though and Hikage used to be their companion. Maybe he has reasons they don’t know about… Yamato asks her disbelievingly if she thinks Hikage is someone she can talk to. HE DID TRY TO SHOOT YOU GIRL. TWICE. Beniyuri admits that it might be difficult but she doesn’t want to give up before any actions are taken. They might be able to reach an understanding and for that sake she’ll talk–

Karasuba laughs loudly and tells her that she’s too sweet, like cotton candy. He reminds her that Hikage pointed a gun at her and was someone who tried to kill her. And then, in exchange, Kagiha became stained in blood. She plans to challenge him with a frontal attack like that? She tries to protest but Karasuba cuts her off and says that she’s cute because she’s a good girl but she needs to stop averting her eyes from reality.

Yamato tells Karasuba to stop there. Beniyuri is silent. Monshiro adds that Hikage can’t be believed. Yamato orders Beniyuri to just distract Hikage and the rest of them will do something. She tries to protest but Yamato reassures her that it’ll be fine. He had dealt a blow to Hikage earlier too so just leave it to him. He smiles reassuringly at her.

But that… that was painful to her. Saying that they’ll do something. Saying that she shouldn’t turn her eyes from reality. Even though everyone refuses to tell her anything. Once again, she’s not in the same place that everyone else is. Staring vacantly at the three of them who have started to discuss the details, she feels a sense of alienation. Only she doesn’t know anything. Only she is of no help. Inside the cage of kindness, her loneliness grows larger.

Yamato concludes that the person being called is Beniyuri, and so she can decide on the time to meet him. Karasuba thinks there’s a point in making the other impatient too. Monshiro asks her what she wants to do? She answers that she doesn’t want to take this slow and wants to go immediately. Yamato asks her if she’s really okay with that. She nods and points out that nothing will change if they stay here and she’s worried about Kagiha.

Karasuba sees that she has a point. She can see that everyone in front of her has worried expressions. She loudly tells them all that it’ll be okay since they have the trump card of having the last fragment with them. Nothing crazy will happen. BUT HE TRIED TO KILL YOU FOR IT? She suggests they meet Hikage tomorrow. PLEASE DON’T SNEAK OUT.

The discussions after this were to confirm what kind of things she should say to Hikage first. Can they return safely to their original world? Is the kaleidoscope really the way? In the middle of everyone talking seriously, she slowly starts to feel her mind go hazy. She wants to return to the original world. But she had set her heart on this sense of accomplishment at being achieved through the cooperation of everyone as companions.

Even though it’s sad and painful, neither words nor tears come out. The patter of rain starts to resound. Having decided on tomorrow’s plans, everyone makes their bed to hurry and rest their bodies.

*** CHAPTER SEVEN ***

This night… may be the last night they spend in this world. She stares up vacantly at the ceiling on the grass bed. On the opposite side of the roof, which is just glass stretched around, is nothing but fog. Tomorrow, if the kaleidoscope is completed, can they return to a world where the stars are spread widely? Is what she dreamed. She is pressed by both uncertainty and hope. Because it is this kind of night, she can hear the low voices of everyone else. It’s natural for them to make plans on their oncoming conflict with the master of this mansion, the person called Hikage though. But it is painful for her to be the only one excluded from this secretive talk after they ended the first meeting.

Her sigh is mixed with a long breath. Even though she knows tomorrow is important, her heart is stolen by a slow dejection. At the start, everyone had no memories and couldn’t distinguish left from right. Then there were a series of strange things and she had found every day to be frightening but she took strength in the fact that she wasn’t alone. But now it’s different. She’s the only one whose memories haven’t returned.

Even though she can remember a lot more things than she did at the beginning, right now she’s constantly insecure and lonely… Suddenly, she murmurs Kagiha’s name, the name of a person that she tried not to think about. Kagiha, who had received a serious injury defending her. Even though he suffered a serious wound, he still worried for her and smiled. When she recalls that gentle smile, she’s struck by nostalgia and sadness. Other feelings start to be brought back, and then she feels like crying. And then she recalls something she was told.

Flashback! Kagiha tells her that if she doesn’t cry when she wants to cry then she won’t be able to create a smile. And then, when she is unable to make a smile then she’ll forget how to smile and her feelings will sink. And so… she doesn’t need to hold back.

Back in the present, Beniyuri recalls how Kagiha would always be the one to comfort her at this time. But right now… Even though she’s overcome with emotions and her nose feels sharp, strangely the tears won’t come. Maybe because, due to her prolonged loneliness, her heart has dried up. She wonders what Kagiha is doing. She wants to meet him… Natsuki. She turns her body to the side and closes her eyes.

Unable to sleep immediately, in the darkness her five senses sharpen. The sensation of the lawn. The cold and chilly night air. The surrounding floating and fresh scent of flowers. Amongst all of these sensations, there is one that she is particularly curious about. And that is…

Beniyuri cracks her eyes open and then blinks multiple times. She is greeted by the same unchanged view. But she feels like there was something indistinct at the entrance. What is it? She gets up and heads towards the faint light. She quietly slips out of the greenhouse. It doesn’t seem like anyone realized that she left, since no one chases after her. What is that light? Is there something happening right outside? GURL. GUUUUURL.

Maybe it’s the white butterflies, but it doesn’t look like anything changed. Finding nothing, she prepares to turn and head back up the long staircase to the greenhouse. At that time, she feels someone’s presence and turns around. Right there is the calm face of someone who she had wanted to see. I… OKAY THAT’S A PRETTY GOOD REASON TO SNEAK OUT. She hesitantly calls out Kagiha’s name.

He nods. She can’t seem to say anything. Her mouth just hangs open and her tongue refuses to move. She just stares at this person in front of her with dumbfounded eyes. Is this an illusion? Why is Kagiha here? No, this isn’t an illusion… she… she walks towards him unsteadily and stretches out her hand. And then… Beniyuri calls out his temporary name and real name. Kagiha! Natsuki!

She unintentionally clings onto him. She wants to be closer to him. She wants to feel his warmth. She grips tightly onto his clothes and presses her cheeks against it. Kagiha… it’s Kagiha! She clings onto him desperately to the point of wrinkling his clothes, and he returns her embrace while bringing her hand up to his cheek. She tries to say something but Kagiha tells her quietly not to say anything, since it’s being conveyed through her hug. He wanted to meet her.

Beniyuri immediately returns that she wanted to meet him too! She was so anxious. Kagiha knows that she was scared and uneasy; he apologizes for leaving her alone. He apologizes for making her cry like this. He apologizes for hurting her. She shakes her head and tells him that it’s okay… she… Her tears and words start to flow against his warm body.

Maybe it was because she had been holding this back. Being told that she didn’t need to do anything… being gently protected. But on the other hand, it was so cold. Even though she wanted to cry, she couldn’t. With her lie to her companions about “understanding” she stole her own place to belong. Her petrified feelings and everything begins to dissolve. In her mind, she asks him not to go anywhere anymore. For a while, both of them remain silent and just continue to hold each other tightly.

Kagiha continues to hold her for a while. And then, after she regains her composure, she separates from him a little. She is embarrassed but, more than that, she can’t see his face in this position. She takes his hand and lifts her head, seeing her smiling face reflected in his eyes. She notes that he’s unharmed. He nods. She asks him if he ran from Hikage? He nods. She asks him about his injury, since it was deep. Is it okay for him to move? He nods.

His words are few and he repeats the same answer, but it’s soft and gentle. She comments on how, even though it hadn’t been that long, it felt like they had never met. He nods and agrees. She asks him if something is the matter since he’s just been repeating the same answer. A fleeting smile appears on his face. IF THIS IS HIKAGE I’M NOT GOING TO BE IMPRESSED. And then Kagiha tells her that he has one request for her.

She repeats his words curiously. He continues on to say that he came here tonight for that reason. A request? He reaches out a hand and touches her cheek and then whispers 「君の大事なものがほしい。それを・・・僕にくれないかな?」(I want what is precious to you. Won’t you… give it to me?). She repeats his words in confusion. Precious thing? He nods and repeats those words. UHH…

Beniyuri doesn’t know what to say to that. Kagiha lists her purple ribbon for an example. Beniyuri is confused about how Kagiha knows about the ribbon that Monshiro gave her though. He asks if she won’t give it? She explains that it was given to her by Monshiro so… He quietly tells her that if she has that then they won’t be able to return back to life. Beniyuri gasps.

He continues on to say 「思い入れや執着のあるものは、魂をこの世界に引き留めてしまうんだって。」(It is said that things one clings to or has an emotional attachment with will restrain your soul to this world). SEE I’D BELIEVE YOU… IF YOU DIDN’T TALK IN SUCH A CREEPY VOICE. HE SOUNDS LIKE HE’S TRYING TO SEDUCE HER GUYS. He whispers that he wants to return with her together to their original world and that’s why it can’t stay with her. She wants to return to the real world, right?

She nods quietly. He coaxes her to give it to him then. THIS IS SO CREEPY. HIS VOICE IS SO SOFT. With his fingers, his voice, and his words, they tickle her ears gently and sweetly. After this sensation, she feels her thoughts loosen and start to flow. Like sweet hypnotism, her mind starts to become vacant. This is something that Monshiro considers precious and gave to her though but…

They won’t be able to return to their original world…? They finally met and once again they will have to separate…? She doesn’t want that. Kagiha asks her sweetly if she doesn’t want to return to how they were originally. She’ll give him the ribbon, right? She nods slowly. He thanks her and says that he’s happy. She takes out the ribbon in her pocket and presents it to Kagiha. She took it out, wrapped around her hand, and it feels as if it doesn’t want to part from her skin.

Kagiha takes it though and it separates from her hand easily. In her heart, a small doubt rests though. Kagiha once again claims that he’s glad and, upon seeing that relieved expression, she feels her doubt melt away. He takes a step back and she already starts to miss the ribbon. She confirms again that with that ribbon they won’t be able to return? He nods. She asks if they’ll really be able to return without it then? Without lacking anyone… all of them together…?

He nods and says that they’ll surely be able to return back to life… it’ll surely be okay. Somewhere there is sadness in his eyes and he lowers them for an instant before looking straight at her again. And then he apologizes but he needs to leave now. She blinks and asks him where he’s going. He’s not going to stay together with them? He apologizes but then says that they’ll be able to meet again soon so…

And so he’d like her to keep it a secret from everyone that he came here. HOW IS THIS NOT SUSPICIOUS. BENIYURI PLEASE. She tries to ask him why, but he just pleads. She finally nods and promises to keep this a secret from everyone. He laughs softly and comments on how she’s honestly a good girl. He pats her on the head and then stares at her intently, as if trying to burn her into his mind. And then he turns around and leaves.

In the corridor where there is no one but her, the sound of rain soon sounds loud. The strange rain that falls only when it is night. This will also surely be the last today… Tomorrow they will complete the kaleidoscope and they will return to the original world. She’s glad… because that ribbon was something she couldn’t hold. With this, they can return now. With this everything can return to as it was before… They can return to how they were before. J F C THIS CG. NARROWLY AVOIDED DEATH AGAIN THOUGH.

Somehow, she returned. By the time she realized it, her body was lying on the ground of the greenhouse. Sluggishly, she gets up and feels as if she had overslept in the morning. Is it because she had sprawled here in the evening and fell asleep immediately? Was it just a dream that she met Kagiha? What was that…?

At any rate, in the corridor Yamato suggests that they head out. Is that okay with everyone? Monshiro confirms that he’s fine. Karasuba notes that they’re finally going to say goodbye to this world. Yamato snaps at him not to treat this as the end since that’s still to come. Beniyuri nods because she understands. After meeting everyone’s faces, they set off on their journey. Their goal is the unknown headquarters of the master of the mansion.

Just as Usagi said, along the corridor there are black butterflies. They immediately understood that these were the signposts that led to “him”. Beniyuri notes that it’s quiet, to the point where she can hear her own heartbeat. Usually they can hear roars in the distance. In the nest, they hunch their shoulders as if waiting for a storm, but nothing that sounds like a voice reaches their ears. They only continue down the long carpet without saying anything.

Soon, they arrive in front of a room. This is… the corridor shouldn’t end. Up to now, the same scenery continued on no matter how far they went and they didn’t retrace their steps. And yet, right now in front of them is the “end”. On the other side of the door, “he” is there. Yamato notes that they’ve arrived. Karasuba nods. Monshiro stiffens. Silence builds up on silence. Everyone knows what they are supposed to do. Once they open this door and step inside, they will have to confront the source of everything.

Even though there’s nothing to be lost about… no one reaches out to grab the massive door handle. They would have continued to be frozen in place there when suddenly– they hear voices from inside.

Someone asks if the other will really protect his promise? The other sighs at how persistent the first is and then asks if he can do anything about that personality. But then the first man tells the other not to change the subject though and he’s only obeyed him for that one reason. The second man dismissively says that he understands and tells the former to relax, he’s made preparations for their elaborate plan.

Beniyuri can hear two voices. One of them is the person who has betrayed them. The other is the gentle and nostalgic voice of someone she can’t mistake. Why are the two of them talking as if they are old acquaintances of one another? And then the second man comments on how they’ve appeared. Beniyuri only has time to gasp before the door is opened and a white light spills out. In the next instant, a strong wind slams the door open and their vision increases greatly.

Yamato is stunned by this room. Karasuba also finds it repulsive but he feels limp, like he’s drunk. Monshiro glares at the two who are inside. What enters her vision is a dazzling and bright color that burns her eyes. The halo illuminating from the entire glass window is as ominous as the light of the sun, or as vivid as the light of the moon. Even though it should be white, the marble-covered floor is glittering with dazzling colors.

Beniyuri is speechless. Just what is “this”? She is terrified of the warped sky and even though it is a spectacle that she wants to run away from, her eyes won’t leave it and she can’t move. This place feels both divine and eerie and, while feeling dizzy, she barely manages to keep her sanity. Feeling as if she had stepped into a poisonous flower garden, she keeps her eyes to the front and calls out Kagiha and Hikage’s name.

In the center, Hikage is there with an air of composure while beside him Kagiha is standing with a surprised look. Hikage comments on how the eavesdropper was the ill-mannered woman, huh. Kagiha blurts out her name in shock. He rounds on Hikage and points out that it shouldn’t be time yet, right!? Beniyuri asks him slowly what he means. In her mind, she wonders why he’s here together with Hikage? AS IF WE DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING A MILE AWAY.

Kagiha is silent with a distressed expression. Hikage snorts and admits that he wanted to see that look on Kagiha’s face; he had noticed them immediately but wanted some entertainment. Karasuba sighs at how he has terrible interests, as usual. Yamato snarls out their names. Hikage greets them as incompetent watchdogs. It’s been a while and he’s happy to meet them. Yamato retorts that he didn’t particularly want to see him again though.

Karasuba points out that he’s only happy because the last fragment is over here, right? Hikage admits it completely. Monshiro’s eyes widen as he points out that the kaleidoscope is…! It’s right beside Hikage. On top of the throne, in a place where they could almost reach out and touch it, the kaleidoscope is releasing a strong light that it never has before. But right now, the thing she is most concerned about is…

Beniyuri asks Kagiha what is going on and why he’s together with Hikage. Kagiha can only say her name. She continues on and asks him what kind of relationship he has with Hikage. Hikage chuckles and offers to explain in his place since he finds it hard to say. Kagiha snaps at him not to because she–

She quietly tells them that she’s done. Why isn’t she told anything? Why isn’t anyone surprised that Kagiha is here? What is Hikage? And why are they acting like they’re friends? Why. Why. Why. Her feelings, which had nowhere to go, spit out of her mouth. She intended to talk more calmly. This is the showdown with the master of the mansion. She needs to be calm and more logical. But the dark feelings in her continue to spill out and won’t stop.

Hikage repeats her words before telling her that it’s obvious; it was to collect the fragments. In order to lead the sheep, it was easiest to join them. And the more trust that he gained, the more they would despair when he betrayed them. He tells them 「破壊。これを繰る返し続けて僕は生きてきた。これまでも、そしてこれからも。」(Destruction. I have lived from the repetition of this. Up to now… and from now).

Beniyuri asks him what his wish is. What does he want the kaleidoscope to grant? Hikage snarls out that it’s not related to her. She points out that it’s a wish that has made him turn them all into this, right? She asks him not to hurt her like this. He repeats her words and then bursts into laughter. She stiffens and asks him what’s funny. Hikage’s smile changes to something scornful. He points out that it’s interesting!

He can’t believe that she’s saying this; she, who stowed away her inconvenient memories deep in her heart and treats everyone lukewarmly as “companions”. She stares at him in confusion. He continues on about how he wants to ask her if she’s never hurt anyone. What about the thing that was done because of her and can never be recovered from? He asks her softly if she is in any place to criticize him.

She asks him what he means. He grins and decides to tell her a fairy tale. It’s the best story. SERIOUSLY YOU’D THINK THEY’D HAVE TOLD HER THE MEMORY SO SHE DOESN’T FREAK OUT HERE FROM MR. I LOVE THE TASTE OF DESPAIR LMFAO. She tries to ask him what he’s going on about, but he starts to tell the story.

Once upon a time, there was a small girl. She was friends with four boys and they always played together. One summer day, they were taken by adults to a lake in the middle of nowhere. In the lush trees and clear air, they went against the adults’ words. Yamato stiffens. Karasuba shouts at him to stop because there’s no need for that! Hikage, whose words were interrupted, points his gun up to the ceiling and shoots.

He complains about how they have no manners and it’s not nice to interrupt the middle of a conversation. He points out that Beniyuri is quietly listening, isn’t she? She asks him if that is her memory? He answers clearly that it is and she wants to remember it, but she also doesn’t want to remember it. She realizes that it’s the thing that happened during summer camp. Hikage only smiles coldly and walks towards her.

Monshiro snarls at him not to come close to Beniyuri. But Hikage denies it and says that the one who wants to come close isn’t him, but her. He takes a few steps, to Monshiro’s confusion, and then addresses Beniyuri by asking if she wants to come close to the truth. But she’s already arrived, no? She repeats his words quietly. His own voice lowers as he tells her 「そうだ。君はわかっているはず。ほら、思い出してごらん――アイ?」(Yes. You must know it by now. Come, remember it– Ai).

That alluring whisper loosens the small box resting inside of her. Even though it should have been closed solidly and firmly. Almost as if that was a lie, the lid opens. Bursting out from inside of her are memories after memories. “Points” become “lines” and “she” is restored to “herself”.

Flashback! Before they realize it, the area around them has grown dark and there is the sound of rain striking the roof and windows. They can hear it here and there. Aki notices that it’s raining. Ai agrees and it seems quite strong. Even though the light had just started to dim a while ago, but they were so engrossed in their exploration they must not have noticed. Natsuki points out that the weather changes easily in the mountains and they should return to the camp before it gets darker. Everyone nods at his words and rush out of the mansion.

Takuya, who is the first to step out, shouts out and asks what this is. It looks like it’s raining harder than they thought when they had been in the mansion. The small road they came on is covered in water. It looks like the rain increased the water and the road has sunk into the lake. Ai wonders what to do and if they don’t hurry then they won’t be able to cross. Aki is worried about how safe it is though.

Natsuki reassures them that it’ll be fine so long as they don’t become overly scared. They just need to keep calm and cross. It’ll be a problem if they slip. Following the direction he pointed, they slowly walk on the road. In order to watch over everyone, Natsuki goes last. Each step she takes makes the water flow into her shoes and it’s unpleasant, but there’s no time to concern herself with that.

Takuya sighs at how they seem to have returned. Aki and Takuya raise their voices in relief when they reach the bank. Next is Kazuya, who steps on the bank. But he gasps and then stops. Ai asks him what the matter is. Kazuya states that the ribbon is gone. He’s become pale as he points at his knee and they can see that his scraped wound is now visible. It looks like somehow, while they were walking, the ribbon that Ai tied has become undone and fell.

Natsuki notes that it doesn’t seem like it fell while they were on this road and so it must have come undone in the mansion. Kazuya declares that he’s going to get it. Aki disagrees immediately because it’s dangerous. Natsuki agrees and asks him what he’s going to do if this road disappears by the time he comes back? Takuya is silent. OH… NO… DID HE LOOSEN IT INSTEAD?? Ai agrees with everyone else and doesn’t care about the ribbon.

But even though everyone tries to persuade him, Kazuya stubbornly shakes his head. He promised that he would return it definitely. And so, he needs to get it. He tells them to go back first. Takuya yells out Kazuya’s name but Kazuya shakes off his restraint and runs on the sunken road. Ai tells them that she’ll go with Kazuya and they’ll come back soon! Natsuki also states that he’ll go since he’s worried about the both of them. He orders Aki and Takuya to wait here. Aki gapes at them and asks them to wait but, in the falling rain, the backs of the three people become distant. Aki and Takuya can only uneasily look at their small backs.

Soaking wet, Ai and the others run into the mansion. Kazuya knows they need to find it quickly but where could it be? Ai thought they would find it immediately since they only walked around this area. Natsuki thinks they may find it quicker if they split up. Under his instructions, the three of them separate in different directions to search for the ribbon. With wide eyes, they continue to search.

Kazuya is the one who finds the familiar purple-colored ribbon on the floor. He’s relieved and calls out that he’s found it! Turning at his unfamiliarly loud voice, Ai and Natsuki are shown the ribbon. Ai is glad that they found it so quickly. Kazuya explains that he wanted to return this to her no matter what because it’s precious to her. Kazuya grips onto the ribbon and Ai shyly takes his hand. She tells him to return it later but they need to leave this place right now.

Natsuki also suggests heading out of the mansion now that they’ve found the ribbon. The rain seems to be getting stronger and Takuya and Aki are also waiting. They follow his lead and run out of the mansion. Outside, the rain has grown stronger. The water, which they could just barely walk through before, is deep to the point of reaching Ai’s knees now. She can’t believe it and asks what to do. Even Natsuki thinks this is bad.

In the distance, Takuya is yelling and asks if they can hear him. Aki shouts out that they’ll call for an adult and asks the three of them to wait there. Ai yells back and asks what they’re saying because she can’t hear them. Even though she shouted back in an equally loud voice, they can’t hear each other in the falling rain. Ai thinks they need to cross quickly. Natsuki thinks that’s dangerous and they shouldn’t do it.

Kazuya apologizes since this is his fault. Ai reassures him that it’s not and it’ll be fine; they can surely cross still! Kazuya is hesitant though. Ai points out to Natsuki that they won’t be able to go home if they don’t go now so… Natsuki is silent before he finally assents. It’s dangerous but they’ll try. In the strong wind and pounding rain, the three of them fix their sight on the opposite bank. Natsuki notes that the rain seems to have weakened slightly so they should go now!

During this timing with the weakened rain, Natsuki, Ai, and Kazuya quickly walk on the road. They can’t move forward very well against the resistance of the water but even so they need to cross somehow. Ai whimpers out that they can’t move forward at all. What do they do? Natsuki suggests paddling the water to make it easier.

The three of them cross on road while in dire distress. And then, at the moment that they manage to see their goal, Kazuya’s leg is taken by the water and his body falls into the lake. Ai stretches out a hand to Kazuya who is in the water. She yells at him to take her hand. Kazuya tries to reach her hand somehow. But with Kazuya’s water-logged clothes and his weight, her small body is unable to support him. Ai is also pulled into the water.

Ai screams out for help. Natsuki tells her not to move and he’ll save her immediately! Natsuki jumps into the water immediately and grabs her from the back. She gasps out his name. He reassures her that it’s okay. While treading the water, he pushes her up from her back. Ai, whose body is thrown onto the small road again, breathes roughly. Next, Natsuki raises the upper half of his body to cling onto the road. UHH, WE’RE STILL MISSING ONE?!

He’s glad that she’s saved. She thanks him with gasping breaths. Natsuki tells her to wait because he needs to save Kazuya too. He tells her not to worry because he’ll return immediately. Natsuki, who is soaking wet, smiles at Ai with a kind and warm smile. She calls out his name and then asks him to wait, but his body has sunk into the water and she can’t see him. She had wanted to stretch out her hand but she is limited to shouting.

Everything in front of her suddenly seems to fade into white, and she can’t see anything. It feels like water is stuck in her throat, and she can’t say anything. She weakly gasps out Natsuki’s name. And then Aki shouts her and Natsuki’s name. Takuya shouts out her and Kazuya’s name. The adult who was leading this trip finds them and orders people to hurry and pull them out. The white haze soon becomes black. Ai’s memory ends here.

Ai is wearing black clothes and sitting there vacantly. In front of her eyes, there is a black frame that is decorated. It has Natsuki’s picture. W H A T. I’VE BEEN FOCUSING ON KAZUYA ALL THIS TIME. He’s facing the camera with a happy smile. That is surely a picture taken from the previous year’s summer camp. They had gone fishing together in the river. It was fun. Natsuki was great at fishing. He fished up a lot and everyone grilled them and ate them.

While staring at the picture, Ai thinks about this hollowly. Why is she here? Just what had taken place? Everything is soft like a dream and it doesn’t feel like reality. A woman, attending the funeral, comments on how they had been playing around like children. Another lady recalls that a storm suddenly came and they fell into the lake. The first woman notes that Natsuki had gone to save them, huh.

The second woman reveals that Kazuya still hasn’t regained consciousness. The first lady thinks it’s all so sad. Takuya and Aki moved during summer break and soon Ai became alone. She quietly tells the frame that everyone is gone; Aki and Takuya. She asks where Kazuya and Natsuki went. Did they move too, like the other two? If they did then one day they’ll meet again, right? But would it be good if they met?

Present! She–! She is knocked down by the torrent of her bursting memories. She collapses onto the cold floor with no strength in her body. Beniyuri opens her mouth soundlessly. Hikage cackles and notes that she seems to have remembered. Yes, that is “her”. That is the “her” that she had wanted to forget. He asks her how she feels now that her memories have returned. Happy? Or sad?

Hikage comments lightly on how she can’t possibly be happy though since she, with her own selfishness, caused her precious person to DIE! Beniyuri brokenly repeats that it was… her fault? She caused Natsuki to die? The fact that Kazuya won’t wake up… and how everyone became broken to pieces… is because of her? Karasuba shouts out that she’s wrong and it was an accident! But Beniyuri rushes on to say that it was because she said she wanted to go to the mansion at that time and because she didn’t listen to Natsuki’s warnings. WAIT OH MY GOD YAMATO’S END MAKES MUCH MORE SENSE. THEY ARE “BOUND BY THEIR CRIMES” OH.

Yamato yells at her to keep it together. She realizes that Natsuki and Kazuya have always been here… in this sunless and dark world… all because of her. Monshiro murmurs her name and Kagiha echoes it too. Her strong feelings about not wanting to lose anyone was always in her heart. Losing her place of belonging. Losing her precious people. If she had just thought on it a little bit, her heart would hurt to the point of raising a scream.

The excessive uneasiness related to loss is something she thought was because of the inexplicable things happening in front of her eyes in this world. It was her fault… But this feeling was much more deep-rooted and more sinful… She can’t put this to order by calling it feelings of guilt. But these feelings, which could only be called that, remained inside of her despite her amnesiac state. One by one, every thing continues to blame her.

Hikage grins and agrees that yes, everything was her fault; the death of her beloved Natsuki. The splitting of the twins. Causing her companions to wander aimlessly in this interval. Everything and everything and everything is her fault. Only she didn’t realize it. Only she was passing her time in a carefree state. So much sin, right? She’s so apologetic, right? But no matter how many times she apologizes it’ll never be enough, right?

He tilts his head and then asks her calmly if it wouldn’t be better if she just disappeared? Beniyuri’s breath stops at his words hitting a mark in her heart. Yamato snarls at him to shut up and to stop saying whatever he wants. Karasuba warns her not to listen to him! But Beniyuri is already thinking about how if she hadn’t existed…

Around her forehead, “something” seems to have shattered. This black “something” falls to the floor at the same time her hair falls down. It’s completely black in front of her eyes. It’d be better if she didn’t exist. She should just disappear. OH MY GOD IT’S KATAKANA MONSTER SPEECH HERE. Disappear. Disappear. Disappear. Beniyuri screams. In her chest, a black soul starts to stir. A seething heat seems to rush around her body, she feels like she’s burning, and her reason is robbed. She continues to sob.

She doesn’t want to think about anything. She doesn’t understand anything. She doesn’t want to remember anything! Her entire body feels hot enough to be flames, breathing is hard, but she continues to scream. Her breathing becomes rough as if she doesn’t have enough oxygen. But her lungs don’t ease up and instead it feels like she’s swallowed something heavy like mud.

Yamato yells at her to calm down. Karasuba shouts out that she belongs right here! Black butterflies start to rise up from her body. Like a fire, the bodies of the two who try to save her, become scorched and the scent of something burning fills the area. Karasuba snarls out that that he doesn’t want to be… weak anymore! Yamato promises to save her! Beniyuri continues to gasp.

Gradually, her vision becomes cloudy. The sensation of being human begins to dull. In the middle of that, the one thing she knows clearly is… the “thing” that fell from her a while ago is picked up by Hikage, who has a pleased smile. Ah, he finally has it. The last fragment. It would have been nice if he stole it sooner but leaving this entertainment for last makes it taste better. The fragment that he is holding between his thumb and index finger is washed in light and glitters.

Kagiha is stunned and then rounds on Hikage, pointing out that he should have saved just her. So why is this…! Hikage looks at him in amusement and asks if he wasn’t entertained by this side show? Kagiha echoes his words before snapping out that Hikage had promised to save just her, which is why he cooperated. And yet…!

Monshiro realizes in horror and anger that Kagiha took the ribbon from Ai!? That was a protective charm… it was something to protect her! Kagiha retorts that with it she couldn’t be brought to life and so that’s why…! AND YOU TRUST WHATEVER HIKAGE TELLS YOU? LOL. Hikage starts to laugh again as he walks to the throne with the fragment in his hand. Kagiha turns to him. Hikage comments on how Kagiha really is interesting. Did he really believe those words?

Kagiha realizes immediately that he was tricked, huh. Hikage denies it. It was Kagiha who acted like he was tricked. From the beginning, did he trust him? That’s not true, right? He had thought it was strange and never intended to obey him, right? Kagiha grits his teeth. Hikage reveals that he knew his true character from watching him when he was close. But Kagiha just didn’t want to see things that weren’t convenient to him, right?

Hikage states 「本当に、お前は欲深くて弱くて卑怯な人間だ。裏切者のくせに光に憧れ、希望を手に入れようとする。」(Really, you’re just a greedy, weak, and cowardly human. Even though I’m a traitor, you long for the light and grasp at hope). He points out that Kagiha wants to return to the original world no matter what and to live with her. So as to not lose that faint wish, he continued to serve Hikage in blind devotion and in the end… Beniyuri is now standing in the abyss of despair.

Kagiha says that even still… he… but, contrary to his words, he collapses onto his knees. Hikage comments on how they’re all very pathetic and even while thinking about each other, they cause each other the same pain. He had hurt his heart in playing around with their souls glimmering in companionship; he couldn’t endure it. But soon, they will be able to taste this deep pleasure. Now then…

Hikage moves to the kaleidoscope. It’s finally time. His hand leans against the top of the kaleidoscope. And as he is about to return the fragment– killing intent. A bullet is fired at Hikage’s hand. Monshiro states that he won’t let Hikage use the kaleidoscope. It is for Ai and the others to return to their original world. Hikage narrows his eyes and notes that Monshiro missed on purpose, huh. He wonders lightly on what will happen if Monshiro were to shoot him without the ribbon. It is easy to imagine. He doesn’t want to become like this, right?

And then, all of a sudden, Hikage points towards them with a light sneer. Monshiro stiffens and then angrily asks where the ribbon went. Who has it!? Kagiha is silent. In her mind, Beniyuri thinks on how she wants this all to stop. Just… stop already. She thinks on this with a head that won’t function well. She grits her teeth in pain. Karasuba and Yamato are also in agony, as if poisoned by her body.

But still, the welling darkness desperately clings to her body. In her mind, she wishes not to hurt anyone anymore. The two of them, who can barely stand, are slowly torn away. Yamato murmurs her name. She lifts her head and there is the sound of inflamed skin twisting. Kagiha brokenly murmurs that he… would do anything… with her… She looks at Kagiha, who is sitting far away. She staggers over to him. One step, and then another step. TAKE THE RIBBON BACK AND DUMP HIM.

She continues to walk with feet as heavy as lead. She whispers out that she… she… Kagiha murmurs her name and, inside those eyes like jade, she can see her terrible shape reflected. Ah, this is her heart. She… she is terrible. She’s weak, cowardly, and unfair. Even though she knew that about herself, she acted like she didn’t see it. Everything is blurry in her vision, like there’s a film of water.

Beniyuri apologizes brokenly because she wanted to be friends with everyone. She thought if she remembered everything then it would all break. Takuya, Kazuya, Aki, and Natsuki… she loved everyone. Because he was there, because everyone was there, it was always fun and friendly… even though it was all an illusion, even though they couldn’t remain like that, even though they couldn’t move forward… She was weak. She ran away from the past. She apologizes for running away from his death. She’s sorry.

She continues to apologize over and over and over again. Her tears well up and flow down her cheeks. As if she were a child who didn’t know any word but that, she continues to raise her voice. Kagiha murmurs her name and then closes his eyes. He’s the same. He didn’t want to end their time and so he’s also weak. He thought it was best that her memory didn’t return and continued to hide the fact that he’s a dead human.

He had no intentions of being honest with her. He wanted her future to have him in it. He didn’t want the past to have happened. He doesn’t regret or hate how he lost his live in saving them. But if he had a wish… he wants to return to life by her side. Once again, he wants to walk beside her under the light of the sun with their shoulders touching. He wanted to be able to even think of a future like that with her.

Kagiha apologizes since she’s like this because of him. He will stop binding them. Beniyuri’s eyes widen because she knows this silky sensation sliding around her neck. In the instant she notices that it’s the ribbon, the heat raging in her body pulls away. He thanks her for seeing him. He thanks her for coming here. He thanks her for their time as children and for the present. He loves her. She whispers his name.

Suddenly, surprised by the sound of a gun, she turns in that direction and calls out Monshiro’s name in alarm. Just slightly away from them, Monshiro is down on one knee and pressing a hand against his side. Hikage is angry and talks about how normally Monshiro is vacant but he can’t take his eyes away from him right now, huh. If there’s an opportunity then Monshiro will steal his kaleidoscope, right? Monshiro snaps at him to shut up but then collapses.

Hikage snorts and declares that he’s had enough entertainment. The time to complete the kaleidoscope is awaiting him. He also notes that Yamato and Karasuba cant move either. Then he turns to Beniyuri and Kagiha and orders them not to do anything reckless and to just quietly watch this amazing moment. Kagiha is silent. Beniyuri murmurs his name. Yamato curses but falls to the ground. Karasuba also collapses after calling out Hikage’s terrible personality.

He gives them a glance and then carries on towards the kaleidoscope on the throne. He almost seems to be viewing it with an intoxicated expression. He murmurs about how beautiful it is and how long has he waited for this moment? He places the last fragment on it and addresses the beautiful kaleidoscope to answer his will. The kaleidoscope swallows the last fragment and emits a stronger-than-ever light. Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.

Different from the sickening brightness in the large space, the kaleidoscope emits a pure rainbow light. Hikage is trembling as he states that his wish will finally be granted… the dearest wish that he’s had for years. He can release all his pain into the world. He starts to laugh brokenly. His shoulders are shaking with his smothered delight. That crazed laughter is nothing but eerie.

Kagiha whispers to Ai that he wants to return her to the original world. She looks at him in confusion. He only smiles warmly though and confirms that she wants to return to the original world, right? In response to his quiet question, she answers quietly that she does but the kaleidoscope is moving already and Natsuki is… But Natsuki sends a calm smile her way to melt her uneasiness.

Once again he repeats that he just has one request for her. Will she listen to him? She echoes his words. He reassures her that she can do it… no, more like she’s the only one who can do it. He suddenly grabs her hand and tells her that, at his sign, he wants her to shoot Hikage. He wants her to save them at this last moment. He squeezes her hand tightly like it’s a sign. Along with that gentle warmth, in the instant her resolution merges with her will, he disappears from her side.

She yells at Natsuki’s name and Hikage, who notices Natsuki running towards him, turns to face him with a gun. But, in an instant, a bullet strikes the ground near Hikage’s feet. Karasuba snickers at how he’s getting scared now, how lame. Yamato also insults him and says that he’s not the only one to have reactions. The two of them enter her vision and she sees that Yamato, propped up by Karasuba, used the striking bullet to create an opportunity that is more than enough.

Natsuki gets behind Hikage and binds his arms behind his back, making it so that he can’t move. He shouts at Ai to do it now. He orders her to do it quickly while he’s got Hikage pinned. She protests that if she does then Natsuki will also…! Hikage also snarls at him to let go because if he’s shot right now then both of them will know what will happen. Kagiha grunts out that he knows well enough.

Hikage tries to struggle but is trapped by a surprising force. Kagiha declares that he had wanted to return to life no matter what happened or what had to be sacrificed. Also, with his own hands, he wanted to bring happiness to the girl that he liked. But that’s no longer his duty and they should all return to the place they belong. That’s why… he’s not scared of anything, Ai. She gasps out his name and meets his eyes. Shoot me, is what they’re saying.

Beniyuri… can’t do that though. At the moment that she lowers her eyes slightly, she hears a strong voice. Monshiro tells her to look forward. Ai and the others are still living and they need to live. Kagiha agrees and says that she can do it. No, she needs to do it. She needs to end this. Beniyuri grits her teeth. Yamato and Karasuba murmur Natsuki’s name. She manifests her gun and assumes the stance, but her finger shakes on the trigger.

In the corner of her eyes, she can see everyone’s appearance reflected on the broken floor. What… should she do!? Kagiha smiles and then tells her that it is his hope that she can smile happily under the bright light of the sun. She’s taken aback by his warm smile. Kagiha continues on to say that this is his first and last selfish request. He wants her to smile.

She… with teary eyes gives him a clumsy smile. Hikage’s eyes widen. And then she pulls on the trigger with all her strength. Even though the bullet only has to move a few meters, the time in between feels strangely long.

In the next instant, butterflies start to fly all at once. Both the white and black butterflies fly towards the heavens. Looking up at the ceiling, it is as if both day and night are existing at the same time. In between the cracks of the dancing butterflies she can see various colors and lights flickering. A lively light dancing. A flood of color. Beniyuri collapses to the ground and, while looking at this magical light, she cries.

The place where all the butterflies were born… there is no one. He, who had called her name gently up to now, is no where to be seen. She screams out Natsuki’s name and continues to sit there while crying. Her tears continue to overflow one after another with no end. Her cheeks are wet. And then suddenly, there is a warm wind against her cheeks. A nostalgic and gentle voice whispers against her ears.

It tells her goodbye and wishes for her to be happy. The wind wipes her tears and then blows away up towards the ceiling. She murmurs Natsuki’s name. Did he go to heaven? She thinks that must be the case. The voice which had reached her ears was completely calm. And… she needs to see him off. At the very end. Because it was the end, she needs to give him the smiling face that he wished. Beniyuri raises her face and once again creates a clumsy smile. Looking up, she continues to gaze long at him. Always and forever.

Yamato asks her if she’s okay. Monshiro also asks if she’s conscious. Karasuba jokes about how they’re the ones who aren’t okay. Beniyuri comes back to the present to see the three of them standing in front of her in tattered and weary appearances. Yamato snorts at her idiotic look and how she looks terrible. Monshiro scolds him for being rude to a woman. Beniyuri hesitantly calls them by their real names; Takuya, Aki, and Kazuya.

Karasuba smiles and thinks it’s about time they all returned to their original names. Beniyuri asks him what he means, but Yamato is the one to point it out to her. Her eyes follow his direction to the center of the room. On the throne, which had lost its master, the kaleidoscope emits a brilliant light. Monshiro confirms that it looks like the kaleidoscope is completed since the last fragment has been gathered and the light has slowly been growing stronger.

During their talk, the light continues to spread. At the same time, she can feel a strange presence come closer. This is… even though they haven’t moved even a bit from their spot, it feels like “something” is drawing closer to them. That “something” is overwhelming and nostalgic. Oh, this is the world. This is their original world.

In an instant, everything around them disappears except for them. There is no wind or sound, just pure white. Yamato asks if they can really return with this. Karasuba is confused because they haven’t wished for anything. Beniyuri feels like something is getting closer though. Even though no one has told her, she can feel it fundamentally… that they are returning to their original world now.

Monshiro is silent and tense, and so Beniyuri asks him what’s wrong. He wonders if he can return. Yamato tells him that he can and, even if he can’t, he’ll drag him back. He goes on about how their father and mother will be surprised about how Kazuya, who had always been sleeping, will wake up. Karasuba thinks they should worry about their own circumstance too because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen from here on.

Yamato thinks dismissively that they’ll do something, and even if they can’t they’ll think of something at that time. Karasuba acts shocked about his carefree attitude and this is expected of a simple-minded person. Yamato can’t believe he’s saying that even at this time. Beniyuri tells them not to fight and also thinks it’ll be fine. And then she asks to hold everyone’s hand. That way, even if they lose the road on their journey, they’ll be fine and won’t get lost.

Karasuba agrees. Yamato just extends a hand and she takes it, feeling his warmth. They are returning… to their original world. The light around them grows brighter. Even with her eyes open, she can’t see anything. But strangely enough, she doesn’t feel uneasy. Even if she can’t see, she knows everyone is here. Even if the shape of the hands holding hers changes, there is a ribbon of light connecting their hearts.

No matter how many times they get lost, they can confirm with the line of light connecting their hearts. These are their bonds. Even though one can’t see it, one can feel it. Ah, she suddenly senses the exit. Because there’s no place to walk, her body floats towards it. Floating. Like a dancing butterfly, it’s a strangely playful feeling. For a moment, she feels like she’s drowning. But then she changes her mind because she won’t be washed away anymore, nor will she be lost. She’s going to live vigorously.

Looking up, she can see the exit – the surface of water – glimmering. She takes a step into that space and jumps, stretching out her hand. And then… her fingers break the surface. Ahead of that is the sun of hope.

*** EPILOGUE ***

Minato Ai cracks her eyes open. The first thing she sees is a white ceiling. This place is… she muttered this out loud but it doesn’t look like anyone is around. No one answers and so she moves her head slightly. Outside of the window is a blue sky that stretches on forever. The sun is shining down on the ground and in the distance she can see the glimmering green trees. She’s returned… to the world that they are alive in. They returned.

After that, a nurse noticed that she was awake and called her family. After their tearful reunion, she remembered during their conversation why she is here. On a summer day, during Natsuki’s tenth year death anniversary, she and Takuya and Aki went to the lake. Natsuki, who had died in the accident, was never found and his body continues to be at the bottom of the lake. They were going to hold a memorial service.

And so they climbed into a bus that was heading to the mountains, planning to go to the lake. But it looks like, on the way there, the bus tipped over and they were all thrown into the lake. Fortunately, they were rescued immediately but they had lost their consciousness and fell into comas. She asks about Takuya and Aki, but her father has a strained expression. However, just at that time, a flustered nurse comes into their room.

The two men who had also been hospitalized at the same hospital… and even Kazuya, who had been in a coma for ten years, have all awakened. Ai realizes that everyone returned properly. The adults were overjoyed and called this a miracle. But only they knew. That their long and continuing exploration from that one summer’s day has finally ended.

Time skip! Kanda Takuya is huffing as he asks if they haven’t reached it yet. Kanda Kazuya answers that they just have a little further to go. Ai points out that Takuya is sweating greatly and maybe they should take a break? Takuya refuses since he’ll just be more tired if they take a break midway. The sound of insects echo their the forest and summer woods. In the middle of being oppressed by the heat, they continue to walk.

Himeno Akari comments on how they have no physical strength. He teases Takuya, asking if his outward appearance is just for show. Takuya snaps at him to shut up and it’s his fault that his body is like this. And then he looks up at Kazuya, who is on his back, and asks him if their direction is correct. Kazuya nods and says that it’s this way, if the map is correct. Takuya points out that the road seems to be getting steeper though.

Kazuya suggests another route then. Takuya gapes at him and asks him what he means by that. Is he reading the map correctly?! Kazuya hesitates before nodding. Takuya calls him out on his long pause. Kazuya furrows his brows and compares the map to the road in front of them. Aki points out that they have a lot of time though, so they can be carefree. And if he has complaints, then Takuya can look at the map.

Takuya snarls out that he can’t do that if he’s carrying Kazuya, or else he would have done that at the beginning. Ai laughs sheepishly and points out that they can’t use the wheelchair on this rough terrain. Since he’s been sleeping for ten years, it must be hard on Kazuya’s body to move. But it’s good that he can be so energetic outside, right? Kazuya nods. She asks him if he’s feeling okay. He reassures that he’s fine. But Takuya interrupts and tells her that the one she should console is him. He’s not doing okay! Aki comments on how it’s pathetic to see a man’s jealousy.

It’s been one year since they were discharged from the hospital. At Aki’s suggestion, they wanted to redo Natsuki’s ten year death anniversary. Early in the morning, she apologized to her worrying father and left the house to the terminal. After a long bus ride, they arrive safely at the camp. But they haven’t cleared the forest to the lake. They probably didn’t realize it when they were exploring as children but, looking at map, the lake is quite far.

How much longer will they need to walk until they reach it? Passing through the long vegetation of the trees, they continue forward one step at a time. Soon, their vision broadens. A lake glittering and reflecting the sun’s light. In the center of the beautiful lake, there is a small island… covered in deep trees, it looks like a scene from a painting. Ai declares that they’ve finally arrived and here is…

Aki asks if it should be called a mansion or ruins. Kazuya notes that it’s been destroyed. Takuya agrees; there’s nothing now… just a floating island. Struck by a strange feeling, she can only stand there in silence. Here they fought, cried, and struggled… to survive. After a short while, Takuya is the first to open his mouth. He notes that looking at it now the island seems quite small, even though “that mansion” had seemed huge.

But Aki claims “that mansion” was actually huge. Even larger than the “ruins” they explored as children. Kazuya adds that there was no exit no matter where they looked and no matter how long they walked there was no “end”. Ai agrees with all of them but, looking in from the outside, it was quite small. All of them are silent.

And then Kazuya says that he’s getting down. Takuya asks if he can stand. Kazuya reassures that he can for a while. He lowers himself from Takuya’s back with both hands on his shoulders. And then the four of them stand there, looking at the island quietly. Ai wonders when “that mansion” had been destroyed. Aki answers that it was destroyed right after the accident ten years ago. Takuya and Kazuya are surprised that he knows.

Aki reveals that he heard this from his mother, since they have staff in the region. They were still connected to the event at that time, and so he heard a few things. Even if he didn’t ask, he was told. Ai asks him what kind of things. Aki answers that, in the past, this lake had many strange drowning accidents and the locals treat this as a place with spirits. And so, no one came close to it, and then they came here to play during the camp and had another accident.

For the sake of protecting children, they demolished basically everything but there are still debris around. Ai realizes that if the ruins had continued to be there then people would want to go see them. Aki nods. Ai recalls the wondrous and magical image of the mansion in her mind, drawing children closer. Like a butterfly drawn to a flower, there might have been many people who went to explore the ruined mansion. And then, all the people lured there also…

Kazuya prompts Ai and she startles before crouching and placing the flowers on the surface of the water. She addresses Natsuki and told him that they all come. Will he take these flowers? The funeral flowers, floating on the water, are blown by the wind and gently flow to nirvana.

For a long time, the whereabouts of Natsuki’s remains were unknown. But, on the same day they all awoke, it floated up from somewhere. His grave, which had remained empty, was now filled and she heard it from a woman who was a relative of an aunt. But… she hasn’t gone to his grave yet. She thought to come here to this lake first to mourn Natsuki’s soul which had flown to that mansion.

Ai murmurs his name and closes her eyes in recollection. When she was a child, he was a gentle person who gave her courage. Her… first love. Once in a while, she still thinks on what it would be like if fate had been slightly different. If Natsuki still lived and was still by her side… she might have had a different future. Many possibilities appear in her mind and disappear. A different future… huh.

But she is already starting to live in the “present”. In each and every possibility there us just one “present” and if in front of that is the “future” then she can do nothing but move forward. Ai tells him that she’s moving forward. She’ll continue forward with the courage that everyone and Natsuki gave her.

Ai stands up and everyone opens their closed eyes. They exchange wordless looks and once again turn to look at the floating island. Right now, it’s not there… the mansion above the lake. Ai asks what that mansion was, in the end. Did Aki hear anything from his mother? Aki shrugs since that was the only thing he didn’t hear. Takuya reveals that he investigated it but all he has are rumors. Kazuya wants to know.

Takuya has a distant look in his eyes as he tells them. This place used to be the mansion of a rich trader. It might be more correct to say it was a secondary residence. It was used to invite foreign customers. And then that man, or maybe one of his family members, secluded themselves here and did strange research. Ai repeats his words curiously. Takuya answers that it was research to return the dead to life. WOW THAT NEVER GOES WELL.

Kazuya gapes at that and says that’s a bit… Takuya wryly points out that they have some knowledge of that, since they came back from the interval of life and death. Anyway, the person living here didn’t have success in their research and committed suicide… in the lake. And then strange accidents started to increase. Aki realizes that this connects it to the rumors about this place being connected to spirits. He feels like everything, up to the point where they woke up, is the doing of “that person”.

Takuya thinks Aki isn’t altogether wrong, but there’s no way for them to confirm. Aki muses on that; a way to connect the real world and the world of the dead. Kazuya and Ai are silent. She sweeps her eyes over the expanse of the lake. The surface of the lake is like a giant mirror, reflecting the clear blue sky. Looking up and looking down, all one can see is the blue sky. Like there’s a boundary between worlds.

A lively wind blows small waves onto the surface and makes her purple ribbon sway. The gentle wind turns their faces up to the sky. That sky continues on forever. The past and future continue on without an end. Like their unforgettable past. Every soul has a past that were the wings to life. Their feelings hasten to join with those souls. Once again they, who are living, move on from here. They continue to walk forward. Life scatters like the wings of an insect, and until that time–

6 thoughts on “Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly ~ Best End ~

    Allison said:
    August 21, 2016 at 01:50

    Me, whenever Karasuba says anything: “This is fine. :’) ”

    Characters/decisions like that are always really difficult for me ;;; I want REALLY badly to be like, “Okay, you got it. We’ll run away together.” because I love them and don’t want them to suffer (and frankly, I don’t want to think about whatever we’re running from either) but it’s really not a good decision… :(

    Monshiro’s reasoning for not saying anything feels a bit surprising to me…I understand the, “I don’t want to be alone.”, but if it were me I probably would have just been like, “…oh.” and gone back to wherever I was before _(:3」∠)_ (I guess similar to, “You can’t fire me, I quit.” logic??) I might try harder to make Beniyuri and Yamato understand, but then if they’re happy with the replacement /o\;; (I guess knowing about the Master changes things a little too…it’s one thing to say, “Oh no, this is the first time we’ve met…” and another to say, “Yep, I’m the Master.”) (Though…if you don’t know what the Master wants, I guess…) I always thought that his reasoning for not saying anything would be that he had some kind of deal with Hikage like Kagiha did, or maybe was threatened.

    As far as Hikage being poster boy, I feel like I can only praise their design decisions…I don’t know if there’s some deeper reason for it that you see later, but it’s a good way to gain everyone’s trust right at the start. If anything, the poster boy is usually someone who looks shady and isn’t…

    P.S. I didn’t want to reply to your other post because it felt too much like a tangent, but yeah /o\;; Not allowed to have anything like that because it would interfere with studies and…whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing now. (Settling down? Becoming a socialite?) JP games are slightly acceptable because, “She’s learning a language.”, but console games are banned and other PC/mobile games get the, “You’re too old for this, why do you waste your time on these stupid games?” lecture. (They do let us borrow things if we’re over at somebody’s house or something, but I don’t have anyone I could borrow a PSV from either, so…)

      Ilinox responded:
      August 22, 2016 at 00:27

      Ahaha, I know what you mean. It sucks to have to hurt someone you like/love but sometimes it’s the only way for them to move on and heal, which brings me back to how much I really love the theme of this game and how the different characters represent ways to deal with grief and move on.

      I think Monshiro was just too scared ;w; he’s always felt like an outsider and didn’t want to cause trouble or split up the group again. I think he also wanted to spare Beniyuri from experiencing the pain of having someone betray her but… it is kind of silly because ??? did he think Hikage would continue to keep that charade up forever? I know what you mean with that “I quit” logic though |D;; hurt others before they hurt you or act like whatever they did doesn’t affect you.

      I WAS COMPLETELY TRICKED BY THE POSTER BOY DESIGN. AHHHH!! I will try not to say anything so as to not to spoil his route still but :’)) doesn’t it feel like Kagiha might be “canon” instead? Knowing what you do now of everyone’s actual past and everything.

      Oh ;3; have you graduated yet? I recall that you were studying marine biology and looking into jobs, right? (Don’t worry about it being off tangent |D we’re still talking about the game at the same time too–). Ack, I’m guessing that was one of the factors as to why you deleted your blog too? ;;; It’s important to have some hobbies to relax with though!!

        Allison said:
        August 22, 2016 at 01:58

        Yeah, IDK if anything special happens with the others but since Kagiha does have a childhood promise with her…and influences some of her other actions a little…

        It would have been just this thing before though! And yeah, I graduated last December. I just didn’t want to say anything about it (except in my year-end post) because rather than being happy, I was more like, “But I’m two years late……” _(:3」∠)_ I wanted to do marine biology for ~18 years but after Conservation Biology it’s like, “Oh……ecology is nice too…” so I’m conflicted now /o\ (I just like everything except Cell Bio w) And yeah, a little bit! Mostly it was more like…the culmination of my bad habits?…though. /o\ (Refuse to share problems or ask for help–>make tiny mistake–>feel extremely guilty about it–>have to do some drastic thing to make up for it [like the equivalent of setting your wardrobe on fire because you spilled coffee on your shirt…yeah, you don’t have to worry about that problem anymore, but…]) (<–This doesn't happen with everything though, only if I've been sitting on the problem for a really long time)

    Leafさんの夢が。。。 said:
    September 23, 2015 at 17:51

    Definitely coming back to read this! Had to like this since you do AN AMAZING JOB!!! Sorry I’ve not been to active lately (school loves to torment me) but I do like reading what you put out! :D

      Ilinox responded:
      October 3, 2015 at 07:55

      Aw, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy the read when you get around to it! IMO it’s best to read all the Psychedelica posts in order since I tried my best to keep things organized and from the least revealing route to the most revealing route but… the game makes you jump around too much.

      Take your time <3 I definitely understand about real life taking a priority, haha, and these posts will always be here!

        Leafさんの夢が。。。 said:
        October 3, 2015 at 18:10

        Haha yeah I have to go back to read the rest but I really am glad with how you definitely take your time to record everything. It really helps and I truly enjoy it. You put a lot of time into this and I want you to know that it’s very much appreciated! XD

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