CV: Ishikawa Kaito (石川 界人)
Hikage comes off as a very serious and reliable person. He’s the first person that the heroine meets in this mansion and he saves her life. Despite being emotionally stunted, Hikage seems to do his best in assuming a leadership position among the group and is concentrated on their survival and in getting out of this mansion. He can be rude and blunt but his words seem to come from a place of concern.
It’s actually recommended to leave Hikage as close to last as possible but I was too impatient, oops. Major spoilers in his route.
*** PROLOGUE ***
Beniyuri wakes up in a strange mansion with no memories. She meets up with Hikage and they are both saved from the monsters by Monshiro. Kagiha appears and leads them to a refuge. But then they hear a scream and so Beniyuri runs out to save Karasuba and Yamato. The team gives themselves names from the plates on the door and also find out that they are all amnesiac and that the master of the mansion wants them to complete this item called the “kaleidoscope”. They can also manifest guns through the power of their thoughts to fight the monsters.
*** CHAPTER ONE ***
The team explores the mansion and finds the pieces of the kaleidoscope to complete it. They are then told by a messenger, called Usagi, that they need to collect fragments to complete the kaleidoscope. The fragments are held by monsters and so they need to exterminate them. As a reward for completing the kaleidoscope, everyone is also given back their childhood memories. Beniyuri has a small scene where she breaks down due to the stress of this terrifying environment but she’s comforted by Kagiha.
*** CHAPTER TWO ***
Everyone trains themselves to manifest and use their guns. Beniyuri is taught personally by Yamato, and is the last to pick this skill up. Anyway, they go on their monster hunting expedition with Beniyuri choosing who she wants to explore the mansion with:
Beniyuri decides that it’s best to stick with someone who she’s already defeated a monster with. She tells everyone that she wants to be with Hikage… if that’s okay. Upon hearing his name, Hikage’s eyebrow rises in surprise. Beniyuri thinks he doesn’t want that. She winces and asks him if he considers her a burden? Hikage merely replies that he was the one who suggested that they move with other people, so he’ll take responsibility.
She hears a “but” in his words though. Hikage averts his eyes and mutters that it’d have been nice to have a more reliable person. Beniyuri asks him if he said something, since she didn’t catch that. Hikage shakes his head and says he’s looking forward to working with her, but she finds his reply curious. At any rate, the two of them make their preparations and then set off into the dark mansion.
The two of them continue down a hall while looking around. It feels like the moment they stepped out of the refuge, many eyes are tracking their movements and it’s uncomfortable. Beniyuri thinks on how, previously, they went out with the goal of exploring this place but today is different; they’re going out to fight a monster. Just thinking that strikes her with a wave of uneasiness.
She’s scared. Hikage seems to be fine but is he really…? As she looks at his profile, she recalls his lukewarm answer moments ago when she asked to go with him. He had a reluctant expression. Beniyuri thinks on how she’s always causing him trouble and wonders if he hates her. Just as she sighs quietly, the back in front of her comes to a stop. Hikage looks back at her and asks what she wants, since he felt her stare.
Beniyuri stutters and so Hikage tells her that if she has something to say then she should say it with her mouth and not her eyes, otherwise it’s inconvenient. She can’t avoid this topic since he’s demanding it from her straight on. Beniyuri decides that since they’re going to be companions working together from now on it’d be best not to have ill feelings between them, and so she tells him that she wants to ask him something… about before.
Hikage blinks in confusion and echoes her words. Before? She points out that when she asked to go with him, he had a reluctant look on his face. She confesses that she was wondering about that and wondering if he… hates her? Hikage’s eyes widen, as if she said something unexpected. And then his expression returns to normal and he gives her a half-lidded and exasperated look. He thinks she has a persecution complex and he doesn’t recall saying anything like that.
Beniyuri agrees that she didn’t hear anything directly but… Is she thinking too much about it? But she’s curious. Hikage admits that he didn’t want to move together and that’s the truth. She winces and murmurs that she was right then. He corrects her and says that this isn’t because he hates her though, it’s because she’s unreliable. Beniyuri flinches at his direct words.
But Hikage comments on how calling her unreliable is probably creating more misunderstandings though, huh. He explains that, it’s not limited to her, and he sees girls as unreliable and weak things. And so he’s uneasy about protecting her by himself. She gapes at him. He isn’t built like Yamato, clever like Karasuba, nor can he care about her like Kagiha does.
He tells her 「冷静に考えて、君はほかの相手を選ぶべきだと思った。・・・そのほうが君のためだと。」(Logically speaking, I think you should have chosen someone else… for your own sake). *SQUINTS EYES* Beniyuri murmurs his name as she finally understands his thoughts. She’s relieved that he doesn’t hate her though. He looks away and huffs as she places a hand on her chest in relief upon hearing his true thoughts. Whatever that had sunk deep into her heart now disappears without a trace.
Moreover, she’s happy to hear that he wants to “protect” her but… Beniyuri tells him that if anything happens then he can run away and not think about protecting her. Hikage turns back to her in confusion. She explains that there’s no meaning in both of them dying and she’ll try her best but if there’s no chance of succeeding against a monster then… Hikage narrows his eyes and tells her tiredly that he hates that side of her.
He hates how she thinks self-sacrifice is a virtue and tells her that she may have accepted her fate in passing but the people who are left behind will feel regret and guilt. If she truly cares about her companions then she won’t give up until the very end. One’s own life isn’t something to give up on. She’s stunned by his words because he usually talks in a sarcastic and cutting tone but… she can feel the force and heat behind his words.
But she sees his point and though she hates getting someone involved because of something she’s done… she can’t just tell them to run away. She nods and apologizes before agreeing that they can’t give up until the very end. Beniyuri states firmly that she’ll work hard until everyone is safely out of this mansion. Hikage’s eyes soften with kindness as he watches her without moving. He tells her quietly that her honesty is a virtue.
And then the two of them walk to the staircase in the entryway and head to the second floor. As she steps over the last step, her breath catches unintentionally at the sight that greets her. What are these!? The walls of the hallway are covered with extravagant and exotic masks. It’s not just one or two but an endless amount that decorates the hallway.
Beniyuri asks Hikage what he thinks these are. He shrugs and replies that it must be possessions of the master of the mansion. She wonders if it’s a mask collection and then remarks on how they look like severed heads and it’s creepy. Feeling like her body is under countless gazes, she continues down the hall. But no matter how long they walk, it’s just faces and faces and faces. Looking out of the corner of her eyes, she meets the gaze of a faintly smiling mask and feels a chill down her spine.
Hikage suddenly hisses out her name and she startles, having been distracted by the decorations on the wall, before turning around and asking him what the matter is. Hikage tells her that someone is over there. She follows his eyes to see that he’s right and there’s a young boy standing in the hallway just a little bit ahead of them. She can only see the back of his school uniform from here and she can’t see his face.
Beniyuri wonders what to do because they can retreat right now but… when she looks to her side, she sees that Hikage, who has already summoned his gun, has stepped forward. She realizes that there’s no meaning to running. She summons her own gun and follows after him. Although they’re approaching the young boy cautiously, he turns around seeming to sense their presence and asks them who they are. Beniyuri gasps when she sees that he’s wearing a mask too!
The young boy looks out at them from a cat mask which is concealing his expressions, but he doesn’t seem to have any hostile intent. Once again, he asks who they are. Beniyuri is surprised that he understands words. The young boy retorts that it’s obvious he does and is she making fun of him!? She hurriedly denies that and recalls in her mind that Usagi can speak too.
Hikage sternly asks the boy who he is and what his name is. The masked boy shrugs and replies that he doesn’t remember. Hikage continues on and asks if he remembers anything like his address, age, or relatives? The masked boy doesn’t remember anything though he has the feeling that he used to remember this. Beniyuri realizes that the boy is the same as them. She tells him that it’s dangerous here since there are monsters.
The boy tilts his head in confusion. Monsters? Hikage explains that they look like a mass of shadows and has he seen any around? The masked boy tells them that there’s one right there. Beniyuri startles and asks him to point it out. They take a few steps in the direction of his finger and then Hikage gasps when they see something black bubbling at the corner of a pillar. Hikage snaps out that it’s come!
Beniyuri tells him with alarm that they need to take the boy to safety first, only to gasp when she turns around and sees that he’s disappeared. Eh? Where did the boy from now go? Hikage glances back and angrily asks why she’s hesitating. They need to act now! Beniyuri nods shakily.
The monster that they’ve shot to death turns to a flock of black butterflies that splits into two streams and become sucked into their accessories. Beniyuri collapses to the ground after that and breathes heavily. Her entire body feels exhausted and she can barely catch her breath. Hikage asks her if she’s okay, to which she replies that she is… somehow. She asks him how he’s doing. He replies that, fortunately, he’s not experiencing anything like her.
Hikage picks up the fragment that fell to the ground and presents it to her. It looks like this is a fragment of the kaleidoscope and it looks exactly like what she had picked up on their first day in this mansion. Beniyuri nods and states that it looks like the monsters are holding them. She’s glad that they can retrieve them. The fragment shines with strange colors. She can see her face reflected multiple times on the facets.
Meanwhile, Hikage wonders if she’s tired from using her power or because of the black butterflies. At any rate, if she becomes this exhausted then it looks like they won’t be able to hunt many of these down in one day. Beniyuri immediately apologizes for dragging him down. But he replies that being tired is proof that she’s used her energy so she doesn’t need to apologize immediately like that.
She protests though because if she had more endurance then… She notices that his breathing isn’t rough at all and wonders why it’s just her…? Hikage crosses his arms and wonders where her strong points went. She blinks in confusion. He tells her calmly that right now he was complimenting her hard work, so she should just be honest and accept his words. She stares at him with wide eyes, having been thrown by his words. But her heart starts to warm at his fundamental kindness.
Beniyuri understands now that Hikage is this kind of person. He can be abusive with his language and bothersome but… Hikage suddenly asks her why she’s smiling. She quickly shakes her head and simply tells him that he’s just so much like himself. He narrows his eyes in confusion. Beniyuri also recalls how Yamato told her that he was taught how to summon his gun from Hikage and she indirectly benefited from that too.
Hikage has told her not to apologize but she can thank him, right? And so Beniyuri thanks him sincerely… for a lot of things. Hikage only looks at her with even more confusion. He doesn’t understand her at all. But she just grins and tells him that he doesn’t need to understand it. If he knew what she was talking about then he’d probably come up with a retort. She can’t stop her grin when she sees the tilt in his head.
At any rate, Hikage changes the subject and notes that they should return to the refuge since they have a fragment. It’s almost time for everyone else to return too. Beniyuri nods and is helped up by him before they return to the refuge, although she is still concerned about the young boy who disappeared.
Everyone returns to the refuge with the fragments they collected and then they are given another reward by the master of the mansion in the form of Usagi delivering food to them. Everyone has dinner around a table and Beniyuri feels that everyone is getting closer together. She also manages to see Usagi’s face.
*** CHAPTER THREE ***
Yamato has been irritable lately and so Beniyuri visits him with hot chocolate. They have a talk about their families and lives before Yamato reveals that he has a younger twin brother who has been in a coma for ten years. Yamato is impatient to get out of this mansion because he’s the only one who’s been talking constantly to his brother, and the doctors say that this gives his brother the best chance to wake up.
Beniyuri comforts Yamato but runs out of his room when he tries to touch her, for some reason. In her room, the master of the mansion suddenly asks if she wants to know more about Yamato or not:
- She is scared to know
- She wants to know more about Yamato
Beniyuri wants to know more about Yamato. Besides, the master of the mansion might know something about his younger twin.
She startles when her phone beeps again with another message notification. She opens it to see a picture of two children, one who looks like Hikage and one who looks like Yamato. Could it be that they’re twins?!
Just then everyone is woken up by Yamato screaming and rushes out of the refuge to see him transform into a monster in their face. Yamato runs off before they can do anything. After this event, Usagi visits them and reveals to them that this world is the interspace between life and death. Meaning, everyone here is almost dead and the only way for them to return to life is to complete kaleidoscope, since it’ll grant the user a wish. And then Beniyuri reveals to everyone the photo of the twins that the master of the mansion sent to her. Hikage realizes that he’s Yamato’s little brother and staggers off to be alone in his room. Everyone is shocked and a bit broken from the sudden loss of one of their members.
In her room at night, Beniyuri thinks on the events that have happened:
- She wants to talk to someone
- Can they return Yamato to normal?
- She wants to solve the mysteries of this mansion
- It’d be nice if everything was a dream
- Why did they arrive here?
Beniyuri wants to solve the mysteries of this mansion. Usagi told them that this place was the threshold between life and death, but the entire concept hasn’t settled into her head yet. Why does the master of the mansion want to restore the kaleidoscope? In the first place, what kind of person is the master of the mansion? Are they human? It seems like they know about her and her companions but just what exactly does that mean…?
No matter how much she thinks about it, nothing is uncovered. She also wonders if she made the right decision in showing Hikage the photo that the master of the mansion sent. He saw his actual brother, Yamato, become a monster and now they don’t know his whereabouts… the shock must be great. BENIYURI… YOU HAVE NO IDEA. She’s concerned about Hikage’s wellbeing.
And so she steps out of her room and knocks on Hikage’s door. When he asks who it is, she tells him that it’s her and apologizes for how late it is. It take a while after she gives Hikage her name before he opens the door. He comments on how she’s still awake at this time and asks if she has any business. She hesitantly tells him that she didn’t exactly come to him for that… but she’s afraid that telling him she came to check up on him will be irritating. He did tell them not to worry about him earlier.
Beniyuri struggles for something to say before landing on the topic of the photo! Even though their cellphones don’t have a signal, she thinks that they can transfer the photo if they just switch the cards inside their phone. Hikage stares at her blankly. She points out that he should like to have a photo of his family… right? If she takes out her cellphone card and moves it over to his–
But she runs into complications when she realizes that her cellphone doesn’t seem to have a flap. She asks Hikage to wait as she tries to pry out the memory card in her phone. Hikage’s gaze cools as he continues to watch her flip her cellphone around until, finally, he sighs and asks her to come inside his room because their conversation will echo in the hall. Beniyuri realizes that it’d be impolite to wake everyone up and quietly excuses herself into his room.
Hikage’s room is decorated similarly as to hers and Yamato’s and the same scenery spreads across her vision. The glow of the antique lamp shows a clean room and the sheets spread across his bed are devoid of any wrinkles. Hikage sits down on his bed and sighs with a look of deep thought on his face. Beniyuri, upon seeing that serious look on his face, finds it hard to think of something to say.
She starts to stutter out his name, wanting to break the silence, but he interrupts in a tone that wants to omit the small talk and tells her to drop the preface. He can guess that, since it’s her, she came to check on his wellbeing, right? He thinks it’s annoying but he has to appreciate how predictable it makes her. He’s amazed at how her actions are so very characteristic of her.
Beniyuri is silent. He’s being sarcastic and she can’t find it in herself to say anything. But she thinks this is a sign of him being dispirited and it’s natural since the incident with Yamato happened just earlier… Seeing her remaining silent and just looking back at him, Hikage crosses his arms and sighs again. He admits that he was thinking about Yamato; he wonders how he forgot about his own brother and how, even though they’re fraternal twins, he was so cruel…
She reminds him that they had no memories when they arrived at this mansion… and Usagi explained that to them. Hikage snaps back that if he had remembered earlier then he could have spoken to Yamato but in the end he… Beniyuri tells him softly that someone who thinks like that isn’t cold-hearted. Hikage averts his eyes and purses his lips, not seeming to want to accept her consolation.
Beniyuri asks him how much of his memories have returned. Does he remember his family other than Yamato? He shakes his head and replies that he only remembers Yamato and everything else is still foggy, no matter how much he tries to force it. She recalls that he’s supposed to have been hospitalized for a long time but he just woke up recently in this mansion, right? He nods.
She thinks on how this means that, ten years ago, he didn’t arrive at this mansion the moment he fell into a coma. Or is it that something happened to Hikage, who was sleeping in the hospital? At any rate, Hikage thinks they need to focus on the kaleidoscope and once that’s complete then maybe they can do something about Yamato. Because whoever holds the kaleidoscope can have any of their wishes granted.
Beniyuri pauses. Something is strange. She asks him if he believes everything that Usagi said. It’s a bit unusual of him when he’s usually so realistic and she thought he’d be more suspicious about it. Hikage replies that he hasn’t swallowed every single thing she’s said. It’s just that, whether they’re in a dream or in the threshold between life and death, to him the world they’re currently in is reality.
He can’t find any solution to the problem they’re in other than Usagi’s words and so he has no choice but to use her words as a foundation and continue from there. The key to everything is the kaleidoscope. Beniyuri is stunned by how strong he is. The truth is still unknown and they still don’t even know who they are. Yamato, who is Hikage’s only memory and brother, turned into a monster in front of him. Just remembering that scene makes her hands shake.
Right now, everyone has fallen into despair. She didn’t notice the change in Yamato’s heart. Regret, pain, and sadness. Hikage, who is related to Yamato, must be feeling these even more than she is. And yet, Hikage is still pressing forward from the only things they know for certain. But, because of that, she’s even more concerned about his true self forced down underneath all that strength.
He’s always like this. Hikage doesn’t recognize his feelings and will quietly assess a situation and state the best plan. Does she even know anything about him? Suddenly, Hikage asks her what the matter is. When she blinks back into the present, he narrows his eyes and asks if she’s sleepy. If she is then she should return back to her own room and hurry up and sleep. She shakes her head and tells him that she was just thinking about things. Hikage blinks and then asks about what:
- About the kaleidoscope.
- About Hikage.
(The second option leads Beniyuri to telling him that she’s been thinking of how to support him. Hikage stutters cutely and asks her to repeat herself. She tells him that she wants to support him and ends up saying that he’s like the leader of the group and she thinks that’s a heavy burden, which is why she wants to help. Hikage gets angry and tells her to to improve herself first before thinking about helping him and lists her faults like how she has no sense of vigilance, sticks her neck into things, etc.
She argues that she’s given these things some thought! He points out that she’s mistaken since she’s come into a man’s room at night. She thinks she’s safe since it’s Hikage, but he’s not impressed with her excuses and proceeds to give her a long lecture. She’s happy though since he was very solemn before but is now energetic. He thinks she’s weird to be so happy when she’s being scolded.
Anyway, they realize they still need to collect more fragments. Beniyuri wonders who the master of the mansion is and what his wish is. Hikage doesn’t know since he’s never met the master and they have no choice but to continue forward. The game continues directly into Chapter 4 from here).
*** HIKAGE END ***
She tells him that she was thinking about the kaleidoscope. She wonders what the reason is for the master of the mansion to want the completion of the kaleidoscope. Do they have a wish that they can’t use their own powers to achieve? He narrows his eyes and thinks she must be correct. She wonders if it can be granted though…
And then she tells him that it sounds like a lamp from a fairytale or something. She wonders how selfish a wish can be while still being safe. Hikage stares at her in confusion. Beniyuri wonders if a wish like chocolate chip ice cream for life can be granted. I BET HIKAGE IS INWARDLY SCREAMING HERE LMAO. Hikage gives her an unimpressed look. She continues on to say that if the above wishes can’t be granted then she’d like a mille-feuille full of strawberries. Hikage is even more unimpressed.
Beniyuri wonders if it would also be alright to wish for a body that won’t become fat from eating all these sweets. Hikage, lost for words, can only sigh. He finally says that she… is terrible at encouraging people. She gives him a confused look. He points out that she came to cheer him up because she thought he would be thinking too hard on things, right? He also asks if she doesn’t have any other topics to talk about, although talking about food is characteristic of her.
Inwardly, Beniyuri winces at being found out though she was having fun. She admits that she doesn’t know any other way and then asks how he would cheer up someone who was depressed. Hikage smiles wryly and asks why he’s the one who needs to give a lecture now on how to cheer people up. She pleads with him to participate though, please? He sighs again before deciding that it can’t be helped.
He rubs his chin deep in thought. He thinks one could try placing their hand on the other person’s shoulder and smiling. She nods understandingly before pausing and thinking that even though he’s teaching her this carefully… is he the type of person to do that? Smile? THAT’S SO RUDE LMAO. Hikage continues on to say that the person would then continue on by saying “It’ll be okay” in a gentle voice. Beniyuri bursts out laughing.
Hikage’s eyes widen and he asks her why she’s laughing. He didn’t say anything weird! She manages to get out, between laughs, that she can’t imagine him doing that. It also seems extremely cliché. He averts his eyes with a faint flush and retorts that his is better than hers at least! Her way of cheering people up is hard to digest. She apologizes and then calms down before commenting on how strange it is.
He looks exasperated as he asks her what it is now. But she tells him seriously that when he says it’s going to be okay, she really feels like it’ll be okay. He stares at her in surprise before sighing and smiling weakly at the absurdity; when he’s with her he feels like nothing matters. She tilts her head in confusion. He changes the subject to tell her that he’s accepting her consideration though and thanks her for it.
At his gentle smile, she feels her heart leap unexpectedly. Why is her heart beating like this? Especially when she was the one trying to cheer him up… But… she unintentionally remarks out loud on how even he can smile like that too, huh. Hikage narrows his eyes and tells her not to treat him like a rare animal. There are times when even he smiles. She notices that now he’s sulking. She feels like he’s slowly letting her see more and more of his expressions.
She calls out his name and when he looks at her she tells him that she might not be reliable but… if there’s anything she can do for him, she’d like him to tell her. She’s always being saved but she wants to support him too. She was just telling him her honest feelings but Hikage is surprised along with “something else”. She calls out his name in confusion.
He murmurs with a small smile 「・・・君は無邪気だな。・・・と似ている・・・。」(… You’re so innocent… just like her…). She doesn’t catch his words though and asks him what he just said. Hikage startles before shaking his head and telling her that it’s nothing. She tilts her head in dubiousness but he keeps his face blank. At any rate, Hikage returns their conversation to the kaleidoscope. He’s concerned about Yamato but they need to continue their search. She nods and promises to work hard.
The kaleidoscope, Yamato, this world, and if she can become useful… What can she do to learn more about these? It’d be nice if she could meet Usagi again and talk some more. That’s it! Beniyuri decides that she’ll search for a way to meet with Usagi.
She’s the one who decided on her own that meeting Usagi again might help her understand something. And so, because of that, she didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up, especially Hikage. The next day, without letting anyone realize, she quietly searches for Usagi’s form while walking through the mansion. Except there’s no other way for her to do that except try every door down the never-ending hallways. It was very hard trying to find the young girl whose location was unknown.
It looks like it might be too difficult for them to make contact with Usagi. Just as she started to feel like she was going to give up, she noticed something left in the corner of the refuge. It was the woven basket with food that Usagi carried here periodically; the only connection to Usagi. Maybe if she placed a letter in that empty basket then Usagi would read it. Thinking that, Beniyuri sneaks a letter into the empty basket. All she wrote was “Where are you?”.
In the following days, she confirmed that there was new food added in the basket and that the letter was gone. But there was no response. Beniyuri realized that she could communicate with this though and every day left a letter. “I want to meet you”. “There are things I want to know”. “Please reply”. One morning, as she continued these messages patiently, she looked into the basket without any hope and–
Beniyuri returns to her room quickly and as she catches her breathe she looks down at the long-awaited letter that she had been waiting for from the girl. This is… a reply, right? She’s finally gotten a reply from Usagi and her heart is kind of pounding. The message tells her to come to a location alone and without anyone noticing. The writing is small and tidy.
She reads the directions out loud: she needs to exit the refuge, take a right, and continue around two corners. It’s very close to the refuge and she wonders if this is where Usagi lives. Beniyuri wonders what to do though because going alone means she has to wait for everyone to be asleep. But she’s heard that monsters appear at night. Beniyuri nods with determination.
Night. Beniyuri leaves her bed and sneaks down into the living room. She confirms that there’s no one here and if she leaves now then no one will notice. She cracks open the door and the cold air licks at her skin. It’s the first time that she’s walked around at this time… and alone too. She can hear the sounds of monsters in the distance and feels her hair rise. But she shakes her head and reminds herself that she’s the one who asked for a meeting and there are a lot of things she wants to ask.
She reassures herself that the place isn’t too far from the refuge and she’ll return immediately! She wants to become strong. And even though there might be another way that isn’t as dangerous as this… when she thinks about it, this opportunity only comes once and she doesn’t want to waste it. While glancing around at her surroundings she continues down the dark and eerie hallway. She takes a few corners and follows the complicated path before arriving soon at her destination.
The map said that this was the area but none of the doors are opening… It’d be nice if there was some sort of sign. Beniyuri suddenly hears something and turns her head towards the noise. And there she sees Usagi, who she’s been looking for. Usagi tells her quietly that she’s been waiting. Beniyuri is startled and asks her when she was there. She’s sure that there had been no one there a moment ago.
Usagi apologizes for startling her and then shows that she came from this place. Beniyuri’s eyes widen as she sees Usagi press something on the wall, which makes the entire thing rotate. On the other side is a staircase which goes down. Usagi explains that this mansion has a lot of entrances like these and gestures at Beniyuri to go ahead. The stairs look as if they’re connected to the darkness because the end can’t be seen.
Looking at it makes her senses uneasy and she feels her body shrinking away. Usagi asks her if she’s alright. Beniyuri reassures her that she’s fine, but in her mind she wonders what is down there. But it looks like she has no choice but to go. Beniyuri asks if Usagi will guide her and Usagi nods before advising her to watch her footing, because if she misses a step then there won’t be any turning back.
Following Usagi, Beniyuri sends her body into darkness. There is no light, not even the slightest, only true darkness. From the sound of her shoes and the sensation, she can tell that she’s stepping on stone stairs. But other than that there is nothing else that is certain and the deeper down she goes the more uneasy she feels. Beniyuri asks how long will it be until they arrive at the end? Usagi tells her just a little more. Beniyuri asks how long that means. Usagi replies that just a little more means just a little more.
Beniyuri is unsatisfied but realizes that they don’t have a watch so there’s no other answer than that, huh. Under Usagi’s encouragement, she continues down a countless number of stairs. Soon, after she starts to feel tired and her breathing quickens, they reach the end. Usagi opens an underground door and a compact room appears. It is a room covered by a soft-looking cloth. The furniture has delicate patterns and there’s a round table set. Beside that is a flat bed with a velvet canopy and splendid drapes.
It’s like a room prepared for a small princess. Beniyuri exclaims that it’s a cute room and then notices familiar white butterflies floating in the four corners of the room. What exactly is this place…? Usagi answers her murmured question and says that it’s her room. She apologizes for the mess. Beniyuri quickly shakes her head and says that it’s very feminine and cute! Usagi thanks her with a stutter.
But Beniyuri is still surprised at how there was such a wonderful place underground and she wouldn’t have thought of this at all! She asks Usagi why she brought her here though. Hasn’t Usagi hid herself away up until now? Usagi admits that she hasn’t told anyone about this place and she was hesitant about it but… Beniyuri wrote a lot of letters asking for a meeting and it seemed like she wanted to talk.
Beniyuri realizes that Usagi has been watching them all this time… under the master of the mansion’s orders. She opens her mouth to ask something, but then Usagi blurts out loudly that she must be tired from all those stairs and gestures at her to take a seat. She needs to provide hospitality! Usagi tells Beniyuri that she’s going to pour tea and asks her to wait. Beniyuri blinks in confusion as she’s led to a seat at the table and Usagi disappears off into a corner. Hospitality?
After a long silence, she can hear the sounds of plates and water boiling. Soon, Usagi reappears with a tea set. She encourages Beniyuri to drink it while it’s hot. Beniyuri tries to interrupt but Usagi continues on to present her biscuits from a foreign country too; she baked them and there’s a lot of honey inside and so she believes it’ll be delicious. She tells Beniyuri to eat as much as she wants.
Beniyuri doesn’t know how to respond. It’s a bit anticlimactic to be welcomed like this since she came here to ask about the master of the mansion… Usagi is acting cheerfully to a point she wouldn’t have imagined and had never seen before when she interacted with them before. Beniyuri can’t see Usagi’s face behind the mask but seeing her try her hardest to welcome Beniyuri makes her confused but also nostalgic.
It’s either Usagi’s age or atmosphere but she resembles… Haruka, her younger sister. Usagi cautiously asks if none of these are to her liking. Beniyuri hurriedly shakes her head and apologizes for spacing out. She takes a sip of the tea and a mellow taste spreads in her mouth; it’s delicious and makes her feel relaxed. Usagi is glad about that since she was worried about whether she brewed it well or not.
Beniyuri asks her if she’s not going to drink, though she can only see one cup. Usagi hesitates before replying that she has this on… and touches her mask. Beniyuri asks slowly if she can’t take it off? Usagi stills. Beniyuri decides to be direct and asks why she has a mask on. But then she shakes her head and amends her question because it’s not just Usagi, everyone in this mansion has a mask. Usagi hesitantly opens her mouth… and then starts to talk.
Usagi recalls that she explained to them previously how this place was the interspace between life and death and those who have died come here. She explained to them that people who die in the real world come here and lose their memories, their face, and then finally their bodies. Soon, when they become nothing but souls, they pass on to the afterlife.
Beniyuri remembers and those who have their memories returned to them can’t go to the afterlife but they also can’t leave the interspace. Usagi nods and then explains that Beniyuri and the others have some of their memories which is why they also have the face and body they had in the real world. But those who are on the brink of having their memories have an incomplete body and face and remain in the interspace. Beniyuri repeats her words and asks her to elaborate.
Usagi tells her that they have no face… in a sense, they’re just featureless. If they think hard enough about their previous appearance then they can regain their shape but… normally it’s very difficult for ordinary people who have lost their faces to regain them and so they wander the mansion without any memories and are drawn to the masks.
Beniyuri realizes that she’s talking about the second floor. Usagi goes on to say that the mask acts as a temporary face and everyone who sees that uses it to replace their face. Their face… Usagi shakes her head and realizes that it’s more proper to call them masks are why everyone covers their face. Beniyuri nods as she realizes that those people are people who have lost their faces… wait.
She notices something. Beniyuri recalls that Usagi has a face though and she saw it the last time Usagi brought them food. If Usagi has a face then isn’t it fine for her not to wear a mask like them? Usagi hesitates and then lowers her face and fidgets. She finally answers that she’s a special case and there are circumstances which is why she normally needs to hide her face. Beniyuri echoes her words. Circumstances? Usagi hesitates.
Beniyuri wonders if she has a secret and, if she does, if it would be better for her not to pry. But that’s the reason she came here for and impatience runs through her chest. She directly asks if Usagi can’t have her face be seen and if that’s an order from the master of the mansion. Why does Usagi obey that person? Usagi stutters. But once a question has come out of Beniyuri’s mouth it is like a dam that has burst and more words come flying out.
She wants to know what the wish is that the master of the mansion wants the kaleidoscope for? Also, could they return Yamato back to being a human with that? Why can’t she answer? Usagi starts to tremble and apologizes weakly. Beniyuri freezes when she notices how faint Usagi’s voice is and how much her body is shaking. Once again she sees an image of her younger sister being scolded overlapping onto this moment.
Beniyuri relaxes her tense shoulders and starts to feel guilty for making Usagi scared. Inwardly, she calls herself an idiot and realizes she won’t be able to have a conversation like this. She apologizes to Usagi. She tells Usagi that there are people she wants to help and, in this situation, she wants to be able to do something which is why she came here. She was too forward with her feelings and thinking that so long as she met Usagi then she’d be able to understand something or anything. Instead, she just troubled Usagi, huh. Beniyuri apologizes again.
In the silence, Beniyuri stares at the cold tea in her hands. Suddenly, she hears the sound of ribbons being undone. Beniyuri looks up in surprise only to see Usagi reply that she can look like this… but only with Beniyuri. Beniyuri is stunned by her appearance and then exclaims that she’s super cute! Her eyes are large like a doll and her skin is very pale too! Usagi turns bright red and feels embarrassed. Beniyuri calls her cute again and then thanks her.
Usagi smiles back and then asks if she can drink tea with Beniyuri too. Beniyuri nods excitedly and then suggests that they eat the biscuits together too! Beniyuri thinks on how looking at Usagi like this she just looks like a normal girl and without the mask she feels like the distance between them has shrunk.
There’s still time and so she feels like they can take their time in getting to know one another. But why did she suddenly remove her mask? Suddenly, Usagi giggles and points out that Beniyuri has biscuit crumbs on her cheek. Beniyuri asks where. Right? Left? Usagi tries to direct her finger up. No, now down!
There’s a cute child’s room deep underground. There the two girls enjoyed their midnight tea time.
Since then, Beniyuri and Usagi exchanged communication. Although what they wrote wasn’t very important. They talked about their recent circumstances, their favorite foods, the dreams they had in bed, and just whatever came to mind. When she left a letter in the basket, a reply would definitely come the following morning. No one caught onto their letters.
Sometimes, Beniyuri would sneak out while everyone was sleeping and head to Usagi’s room to play. During the first time she visited, when she had been about to return Usagi had asked her to keep her visits a secret. Beniyuri didn’t know the reason for that. Usagi never talked a lot about herself. But she didn’t seem to hate conversations either and would listen attentively to Beniyuri’s words with a wide smile.
At the start, Beniyuri had been wary; after all Usagi was a messenger for the master of the mansion, who held all the cards. It was something that couldn’t be helped. But whenever Beniyuri visited her she would be welcomed and looked up to just like her little sister. Beniyuri didn’t think she had any ill intentions at all. The distance between Usagi and her slowly closed.
The days passed indifferently like that. Yamato’s whereabouts were still unknown and the remaining four of them continued to restore the kaleidoscope. Beniyuri had heard from Usagi that the monsters used to be human and for a moment she hesitated whenever she fought them but… whenever she was faced with those fangs her desire to return home alive was stronger. The fragments, which had been obtained easily at first, become harder and harder to find.
According to Usagi that meant that they were approaching the completion of the kaleidoscope and it was almost “that time”. Not really feeling that, they continue to search for the last few fragments every day throughout the mansion.
On that day. Beniyuri and Hikage set out on an expedition together. At the beginning when she arrived here she was terrified of every small noise whenever she stepped out into the hall. But, at some time, that feeling has weakened and now she can walk with a straight back. Beniyuri wonders out loud how long it’s been since they arrived here and how many more fragments they need. Hikage doesn’t have the slightest idea or guess.
Beniyuri continues on to wonder if they’ll really be able to return to the real world after completing the kaleidoscope… together with Yamato… and safely with everyone. Hikage reminds her that they have no choice but to believe in that and they’ve come to this point for that. She agrees but… inwardly, she notes that he’s as curt as ever but she’s grown used to it now. Although it’d be nice if he acted a bit cuter…
The two of them continue down the hall while exchanging words from time to time. Suddenly, a young girl appears and embraces Hikage with both arms while calling him her older brother! She’s found him and now she begs him not to go anywhere and not to leave her alone. Hikage hesitantly asks her who she is and places his hand on her shoulder. Beniyuri thinks they might be acquainted but she can see that he’s just confused along with having no recollection.
Beniyuri suddenly notices something about the girl’s body too…! Her body becomes slightly transparent and emits a faint light. Hikage asks if she’s mistaken him for someone else because he doesn’t remember her. She looks up in confusion and timidly reaches out her hands to touch his face. She’s wrong? He’s not her brother? Hikage closes his eyes.
The masked girl realizes that she’s wrong because her brother is smaller and his age is different too. She winces, causing Beniyuri to worriedly ask her if she’s alright. The young girl explains that she became lost from her brother and now she can’t find him. Her father and mother died too and she has no one but her brother. She’s all alone. She doesn’t have a face or a name… what should she do…
Beniyuri realizes that this girl is at the point where she’s forgetting everything and about to move on. Just as Beniyuri opens her mouth though Hikage states firmly that it’ll be okay. Beniyuri glances at him in surprise, but he’s looking at the little girl as he tells her that she’ll eventually meet her brother again. The little girl blinks in confusion.
Hikage continues on to tell her that if she remains here then she won’t be able to meet him though. The masked girl asks what she should do. Hikage crouches, making it so that he can meet her eyes, and smiles gently. He tells her that ahead of them is a place where flowers are blooming and butterflies are floating around prettily. He believes her brother is there waiting. She asks if she can meet her brother if she goes there. Hikage tells her that she might be the one who needs to wait too.
She asks him desperately where this place is. Further down the hall? Hikage shakes his head and tells her that she might already know how to get there. He encourages her to close her eyes. She listens to him and closes her eyes. And then Beniyuri is startled to see that the little girl’s body is even more transparent than before. White particles wrap around the faint girl and Hikage extends a hand to gently stroke her head.
The masked girl knows now. All she needs to do is go there, right? But… she’s afraid of going to such a far away place alone. Hikage tells her firmly that there’s nothing to be worried about and she just needs to continue straight without mistaking her path. The girl murmurs quietly for her brother and then nods. In the next moment, a bell-like voice thanks them as her body becomes a flock of white butterflies which disappear.
Beniyuri remarks on how she’s disappeared and then asks Hikage if they shouldn’t have held her back? They might have been able to bring her back to life… Hikage reminds her that both her parents seem to have died. Even if the girl could return to live, wouldn’t the reality that awaits her be nothing but cruelty? Beniyuri argues that there may be reliable relatives! Hikage snaps back that a child can’t live.
It looks like he is coldly suppressing his emotions. Beniyuri finds that she can’t bring herself to say anything else. Hikage sighs. Beniyuri quietly says that it would be nice if that young girl was able to safely leave the mansion. Hikage quietly stands up and stares at the place where the girl had been. Beniyuri finds herself asking if he had a little sister. He turns around to stare at her in surprise.
She tells him that he has the air of being an older brother. She knows that his older brother is Yamato, but Hikage was very gentle there. Hikage is at a loss for words. Beniyuri continues on to pout about how it’s unfair that he lectured her about not being vigilant only to do this though!
Hikage is still unsettled and can’t believe that she finds him… kind. She wonders if she said something weird? Hikage shakes his head and changes the subject. They need to continue on. She nods in confusion and watches as Hikage’s personality does a turn and he quickly walks away.
At night, in Usagi’s room, Beniyuri thinks on how she still doesn’t know Hikage very well. Just as she thought he was smiling gently, he immediately becomes sullen. He doesn’t seem to be a moody person, so what was that? It was her first time seeing Hikage with such a kind expression. As she thinks about Hikage, she swirls her tea spoon in her cup. In her reddish tea, the sugar she placed in it doesn’t feel like it’s spread evenly enough and she accidentally puts more strength into her spoon.
Usagi cautiously tells her that if she swirls it around like that the tea will spill. Beniyuri looks up absently only to squeak when the tea spills. Usagi asks her worriedly if she’s okay. Beniyuri reassures her that she’s fine and she spilled a little bit, but it doesn’t look like the table is dirtied. She sets the damp spoon down and feels embarrassed at having been so engrossed in her thoughts. Usagi asks Beniyuri if something happened since she seemed deep in thought.
Beniyuri apologizes again, especially since she was invited here by Usagi. Usagi doesn’t mind though and just wants to know if something happened. As Usagi stares at her with her large eyes, Beniyuri feels strange. It’s not like she has anything to hide, right? She tells Usagi that it’s nothing serious and she’s just curious about Hikage. Usagi repeats Hikage’s name slowly and then asks her what she’s curious about. Beniyuri takes a moment to remember everything that he’s done from the moment they met to now, every small thing.
She wonders what he’s thinking. Hikage is always blunt, verbally abusive, and nagging. Usagi repeats the last word in confusion. Beniyuri becomes fired up and tells her that he is! Today, he complained about her putting potatoes into the pot that’s used for miso soup. He also told her that she peeled too much from the potatoes and she must be someone who eats little. Usagi giggles.
But Beniyuri admits that he drank all of the soup though… She also recalls how, when they’re exploring, he walks fast to the point where she feels like she’ll be left behind and he’s very spartan. But he notices immediately when she’s feeling tired or bad and worries. Beniyuri pouts and says that he’s not cute though because he’s too guarded. Usagi tilts her head and points out that he’s the leader of the group though, so isn’t it best that he’s guarded?
Beniyuri feels like he’s overworking himself though. Usagi’s eyes widen. Beniyuri continues on to say that Hikage is always guarded, strong, and reliable in front of them but… the gentleness that was in him today when he smiled at that girl made him feel uncertain and tender. She kind of wants to know, or is curious about, why he felt like that. Usagi looks down in thought, which piques Beniyuri’s curiosity.
And then, after a moment of silence, Usagi faces her directly and tells her that she’s… in love! I JUST SPEWED MY WATER. Beniyuri blinks… before exclaiming in surprise. Love?! Usagi points out that Beniyuri wonders why he acts like that and what he’s thinking about, right? Beniyuri quickly places out her hands and asks Usagi to stop, but Usagi presses forward and asks if she wants to know more about Hikage. Does she want to become closer to him?
Beniyuri hesitantly answers that she does… It’s true that she’s curious on what he’s thinking about and she wants to be closer to him but… Usagi’s eyes are shining as she grasps Beniyuri’s hand. She knows that Beniyuri must want to have a tacit understanding of him, right? She’ll cheer them on despite having poor abilities. Beniyuri panics and wonders what to do because Usagi is really cheering her on.
She asks Usagi to hold on because she doesn’t know if she likes him or not. Now’s not the time for love either… Usagi points out that she’s curious about him though, right? Beniyuri stutters. She was thinking about Hikage to the point where she unintentionally spilt her tea, right? Beniyuri hesitantly thinks that Usagi’s words are an exaggeration. Usagi admits that she doesn’t know if this is romantic love but she’s heard that the start of love is like this.
Usagi thinks that Beniyuri is at a standstill there. Beniyuri can’t believe she’s being instructed on love by a girl younger than her. It’s really embarrassing! Usagi tells her that Hikage looks kind of scary but he’s really kind. So, if she falls in love, Usagi is sure that… Beniyuri calls out her name, curious at the pause. In an instant, Usagi’s eyes waver and she shakes her head. At any rate, she thinks Beniyuri needs to work hard and they need a strategy!
Beniyuri gapes. A plan!? Usagi, holding onto both her hands, tightens her grip. How did it come to this? And so, until the morning, Beniyuri received instructions about love. OH MY GOD IS SHE GOING TO SEDUCE HIM LMAO.
The next day. Beniyuri takes a look at the instructions on love that Usagi sent to her. First, she has to create time for the two of them every day. Second, they need to talk while holding eye contact. Third, they need to get to know one another. And then there were many methods listed for closing the distance between her and Hikage. In the end, she feels like she has unreciprocated feelings and is just curious about him. Now’s not the time for love.
But Usagi, who was roused, wouldn’t hear of her denial and the fact that the situation didn’t allow for this. Before Beniyuri knew it, these splendid instructions were made. Putting aside whether it was love or not, Beniyuri admits that she does want to get to know him. And can she use this as an occasion to get closer to him? She looks over the letter once more and then decides to approach Hikage.
In the early morning, while everyone else is still asleep, she greets Hikage and asks if he has some time. Hikage, who always wakes up early and alone, is reading. He’s surprised to see her up earlier than usual and then asks if something happened. She shakes her head before saying that she just has something to ask. Hikage is even more puzzled but is willing to try and answer, so long as it’s something he has knowledge on.
Hikage turns his book over and lowers it before encouraging her to continue with a serious look. Beniyuri tells him that she’d like for him to answer this without dodging the question. He nods. She opens her mouth and asks… what his favorite food is. THE ATMOSPHERE WAS SO SERIOUS LMAO. Hikage furrows his brows, as if trying to search out her true intention for that question. What?
Beniyuri repeats that she wants to know his favorite food. He gives her another distrustful look before opening his mouth… Japanese-style meals. She nods excitedly and then asks if he has any particular favorites inside that group. He continues to look at her suspiciously as he answers that he likes boiled or stewed plants. She agrees that those are delicious before commenting on how wild plants are also nice on soba.
She looks down on the questionnaire that Usagi made and fills in this answer. ARE YOU… DOING THIS RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM LMAO. In her mind, she notes that this clears the first day but there are still 99 questions left. It looks like this will go on for a while. At any rate, she thanks him formally for cooperating and then tells him that she’ll ask him another question tomorrow. Beniyuri bows to him and then heads up to her own room. Hikage stares at her with a nonplussed expression. What was that just now?
The next day. Beniyuri calls out to Hikage and tells him that she has something to ask today too! He sighs in exasperation and then asks what it is now. She asks if he has a favorite type of girl. He stares at her in amazement. What? I LOVE ISHIKAWA’S VOICE HERE SO MUCH I’M CRYING. HE’S SO MUCH LIKE “WTF??”. Beniyuri falters before repeating her question slower. Does he have a… favorite type? Hikage is still shocked speechless.
Beniyuri elaborates and asks if he likes long hair, for example, or someone short. Apart from appearances, does he have any favorite personalities? Hikage answers curtly that he doesn’t. She tilts her head. Really? Not even a little? He tells her that he hasn’t even thought about that to begin with. Beniyuri wonders where to proceed from here only to get an idea! She remarks out loud that the person he likes must become his type then, right?
Hikage chokes before trying to deny that, but she pushes on and thanks him for helping her understand. She also apologizes for interrupting him while he was reading. Hikage sighs loudly. She fills his answer into the list and then leaves. As she leaves she confirms that they were properly alone and she met his eyes while they spoke. She just started doing what Usagi told her to do but she’s finding herself gradually having fun. But for Hikage to have his type be the person he likes… what kind of person would he like? She’s curious.
From then on, she continues to ask him questions. Hikage, Hikage! Does he like strained bean paste or mashed bean paste? He doesn’t care. Hikage, Hikage! What does he think of her– Beniyuri halts mid-sentence in shock. Hikage asks her to repeat what she just said. She quickly shakes her head and tells him that it’s nothing. Inwardly, she scolds Usagi and asks why she mixed in a question like that!
Hikage, Hikage! Hikage grinds his teeth. Beniyuri tells him not to feign sleep. Hikage, Hikage, Hikage! Hikage blurts out that this is strange. She blinks at him in confusion. He goes on to say that lately things have become too noisy around him. Just what is going on… this is the question he posed to her when he saw her running towards him as usual in the morning. He’s just going to be frank and ask her if she favors him. She hesitates.
He narrows his eyes and points out that this can be the only reason for her sticking so close to him every day, no? She unintentionally becomes flustered upon being the recipient of his direct stare. Since she was having fun she might have become proactive but she really is curious about him. She stutters out that rather than calling it favor she’s more like trying to ascertain whether or not she feels something.
Beniyuri admits that if asked directly whether she likes him then she does but, for the moment, the question is still pending on whether she likes him in a romantic way. At any rate, she just wants to know more about him. Hikage asks her what for. She answers quietly that she wants to be closer to him. Upon her honest answer, he gives her a searching look and she finds her face heating up in embarrassment.
Finally, Hikage tells her that if she’s confessing to him with that meaning then even he’s going to become conscious. If she wants to find out, then he’ll also act in that way. For example… he lifts up a strand of her hair and kisses it. Beniyuri squeaks out his name and asks him what he’s doing all of a sudden! Hikage only murmurs 「この狭間では、一体どこまで出来るんだろうな。」(In this interspace, I wonder just how far we can go). WHAT.
Beniyuri hesitantly asks him what he’s talking about. He elaborates 「現世で死んでいて、肉体を失っているかもしれないこの状況で男女の関係になれるのか、と思ってね。ー試してみる？」(In the real world, where we’ve died and may have lost our bodies, I’m wondering if we can have a relationship between a man and woman. Do you want to test it?). HOW DID HIKAGE BECOME SO SMOOTH. HE HAS THIS SMIRK TOO.
She can only parrot his words in a high voice. Hikage’s voice lowers as he remarks on how she understands his meaning, doesn’t she? She weakly says that it’s not that she doesn’t understand but… Hikage blinks and comments on how he thought she’d be pleased to receive that offer from him but maybe he was mistaken? Or is she implying that she wants him to be more aggressive, and being forcible isn’t unpleasant for him. The corner of his mouth lifts as he plays with her hair.
Under those sweetly smiling eyes, Beniyuri feels her heart race. Hikage is different from usual… or more like why is he teasing her like this? She asks him this out loud. She doesn’t think Hikage is the type of person to force someone, nor is he the type to play around. He retorts that those are her desires. What does she know about him? She counters that she wants to know about him because she doesn’t know!
Hikage huffs and then steps away before commenting on how she sticks her neck into things even though she’s scared and a coward. She’s always like that. Beniyuri sulks and tells him that she herself knows that she’s a coward but she really wants to get to know everyone. Even though this Hikage, who tests her, should be the same as the gentle Hikage, she somehow feels like she doesn’t know anything.
Beniyuri tells him that she wants to know the true Hikage. YOU’RE GOING TO REGRET THAT. Hikage repeats her words slowly. She nods. He stares at her without averting his eyes. A long silence occurs before, suddenly, Hikage lowers his eyes and breaks the stare. He only answers 「・・・僕は僕だ。」(… I am me). She calls out his name cautiously. But he just tells her curtly that he went too far and, like she said, it was a joke. She shouldn’t take his words seriously.
He wipes any expression off his face and releases the lock of hair that he was holding. He tells her that she’s proactive and a coward and someone he doesn’t understand. She hesitantly asks if she was a bother lately since she called out to him a lot. He looks away 「別に。ただ、君がいると調子が狂う。・・・それだけだ。・・・君の言う、『本当の僕』が乱されるような気がしているよ。」(Not particularly. It’s just that whenever you’re around I lose my composure… that’s all. I feel like your words about the “real me” unsettle me).
Beniyuri notes that even though he said she wasn’t a bother, his face looks troubled. Looking at him makes her feel like something is squeezing her heart. She wants to know more about him but right now… Beniyuri asks him brightly if they should have stew for breakfast. Hikage blinks and asks her what she’s going on about now. She shakes her head and tells him that she just suddenly wants to eat vegetable stew.
Hikage smiles wryly at how characteristic it is of her to have such a strong appetite. His words are as sarcastic and amazed as usual. But his tone is surprisingly soft and it feels like he’s slowly opening his heart up. She’s unbelievably happy about that. This isn’t the place for love… which is why she’s going to conceal that feeling in her heart. She’ll treasure it so that it doesn’t break.
Later, Karasuba mentions out loud how Hikage and Beniyuri seem to be close recently. Beniyuri blinks in surprise. Kagiha explains that he and Karasuba were talking about how she’s been around Hikage lately and they’re wondering when the two of them became so intimate. She asks them embarrassedly if they can see that. Karasuba gapes at her reaction and asks if she’s really in love with Hikage.
She hurriedly denies it and explains that she’s just wondering if the two of them really are seen to be close. Hikage snorts and tells the two other men that they’re experiencing a terrible hallucination and it’s too bad there aren’t any optometrists here. Beniyuri winces at his wording. On that day, everyone’s cleaning and Hikage is coolly replying to them while bringing out things from his room. Beniyuri adds on that they’re the same as usual.
Kagiha admits that nothing has really changed. But if he had to pinpoint a change then he thinks it’s with Hikage, whose attitude seems to have softened. Hikage stiffens. Beniyuri feels the same way and notes that everyone else can see it too. Karasuba grins and says that it’s fine if they’re close as friends but he doesn’t want them to go any further. He doesn’t want him and Hikage to descend into mayhem and a fight since Hikage uses unfair methods.
Beniyuri can’t believe he’s bringing up that joke again, but Hikage huffs and and declares that Karasuba is more likely to use devious methods than him. Karasuba denies it and says he loses in deviousness to Hikage. Hikage only snorts and leaves the room. Karasuba watches him leave and shakes his head at how he doesn’t join the; it’d be nice if he were cuter. Beniyuri repeats Karasuba’s words thoughtfully in her mind but she never once thought Hikage would be unsettled to have their relationship pointed out by the others.
Anyway, Kagiha informs them that he’s going to start cleaning his room. Karasuba is going to do that as well and requests Kagiha’s help when he’s done, because his room is so messy that he needs another pair of hands. Kagiha sighs but agrees since it can’t be helped; he’ll show up there when he’s done. Karasuba cheers and comments on how he’s as kind as always. He’s going to call him “Kagiha-sama” just for today! Kagiha laughs and tells Karasuba that he won’t get anything out of his compliments. The two of them go up the stairs and into their own rooms.
Beniyuri’s room had few things and so she was done cleaning in an instant. She wonders what to do. Maybe she’ll organize the bookshelf? She moves a chair to the large bookshelf in the living room and slowly takes out books one by one to wipe their covers. She carefully wipes a slightly damp cover and looks into it to see that it’s very old. The degraded paper releases a sweet and old scent.
If this is the place between life and death then where did these books come from? Someone didn’t write them here, right? As her eyes passes the books she cleans, she catches sight of a beautiful cover. The gold flecks on the cover reflect the light and it looks like silk. There are a lot of illustrations in here. Is it a picture book? Or maybe a children’s book? Beniyuri winces when she realizes it’s in English but there aren’t many words and so maybe she can use a dictionary to read it?
Due to her curiosity, she ends up pulling out a dictionary and tries to decipher the English words. The story inside is like this:
Once upon a time, in a far away land, there were two white butterflies. The two were very close. They flew over there and flew over here. They always flew around together and soon fell in love.
One day, a terrible storm came and the lovers were caught in it. It poured, it howled, and it thundered. Both butterflies hid together underneath a leaf and desperately tried to endure the storm. But…
How could this happen? One of the butterflies lost to the cold rain and died like that. The remaining butterfly cried. It cried and cried, to the point where its tears dried up. Just as it started to drown in its pond of tears, a traveler who was passing by saved it.
The traveler asked the butterfly. “Why were you crying?”.
The butterfly answered. “I’m sad because I lost my precious other half”.
“In that case, you should go to Psychedelica”.
This is what the traveler told the butterfly after hearing the story.
“At the end of this road is a paradise called Psychedelica. It is place where the dead are living happily. If what you desire is there then–“
The butterfly wants to meet their other half again. If they can meet them again then…
There was no hesitation in the butterfly. The butterfly gave its farewells to the traveler and started a journey to Psychedelica.
But the path was rugged. Hindered by an opposing wind, the butterfly was thrown to the ground countless of times. Its white wings, which had been its pride, soon became covered in mud. Everyone laughed at the butterfly who had become black. But even so, the black butterfly did not give up. Morning, afternoon, and night.
It continued to fly towards its goal, Psychedelica. And so time passed, to a time where even the butterfly’s heart became tattered and it couldn’t move a single bit. At last, the black butterfly could see the entrance.
Beniyuri sighs in pleasure. It seems to be a happy ending? UHM… I GUESS IF YOU WANT TO CALL THAT ONE. But she doesn’t think this picture book is one for children since it’s kind of sad. But then she is puzzled to note that the next page seems to have been torn out. She won’t be able to find out the conclusion to the two butterflies like this.
Suddenly, Hikage appears and asks her what she’s doing. Wasn’t she organizing the bookshelf? In which case, he doesn’t see any progress at all. Beniyuri apologizes for getting curious in the books she was opening and she became engrossed. He comments on how unexpected it is to see her have an interest in Western fiction. She laughs before pointing out that it’s a picture book though.
Hikage smirks and remarks on how that makes much more sense. Inwardly, she feels a bit annoyed at that kind of acceptance from him. Beniyuri brings up how this story stops in the middle though and she doesn’t know how it ends. She shows him how the book is torn at the last page. Hikage comes to stand beside her so that he can look over her shoulder. Her heart suddenly races at this casual distance between them but she tries to feign calm.
He’s close! Up to now she’s been fine but just earlier Karasuba said weird things and so… Unable to withstand it, she hands over the book to him to show him. Hikage takes the book and flips through the pages. He murmurs unconcernedly that if it’s this book then… Beniyuri asks him excitedly if he knows this picture book and, if so, could he tell her the end? He warns her that he doesn’t think it ends like she expects it to end but if she still wants to hear then he doesn’t mind.
Hikage closes the book and starts to talk:
Searching for its pair, the white butterfly, the black butterfly sets on a journey. Even while being laughed at by everyone, the butterfly who continued to fly day after day after day… collapsed to the ground exhausted but, at last, saw the entrance of Psychedelica, the green paradise.
Beniyuri nods and inwardly confirms that this is the contents of what she just read, but what happens afterwards?
But the black butterfly retraced its path. It turned its back on the paradise that it had sought and had become tattered for and soon came to rest on top of a dune in the desert. As its breath became feeble, it opened its eyes and saw the white butterfly in a mirage. The black butterfly, while feeling happiness at the illusion of the white butterfly, crumbled into dust alone in the desert.
Beniyuri is speechless. Hikage tells her that’s the end of the story. WHAT THE FUCK. LMAO. I WAS EXPECTING PSYCHEDELICA TO BE THE METAPHOR FOR DEATH AND THE BLACK BUTTERFLY MEETS THE WHITE BUTTERFLY THERE. Beniyuri desperately asks if the two butterflies weren’t able to meet in the end? Hikage reminds her that he told her this wasn’t going to be the ending she wished for. She asks if he read this when he was young.
Hikage answers that he doesn’t remember but he feels like that might have been the case… a long time ago… somewhere… with someone. His words come out slowly as he stares at the closed cover.
And then he suddenly asks 「君はサイケデリカがあるとしたら、どうする？紅百合。・・・死んでしまった大事な人と会えるとしたら？」(What would you do if there were a Psychedelica? Beniyuri… what if you could meet someone precious who died?). Her eyes widen. A person who died. Someone who she thought she’d never meet.
She answers slowly that if she could meet them then she… For some reason, at those words a sleeping memory, deep in the depths of her mind, is brought forth. If she could meet them again then– Beniyuri answers firmly that she’d want to meet them. She doesn’t understand why the black butterfly turned back at the very end. Hikage tells her that he does.
At her look of confusion, he explains that the road to Psychedelica was steep. The butterfly, which had previously been white, turned black before it knew it and looking back it realized it became tattered and hideous. With that appearance, how could it expose itself and call to its partner who remained beautiful? Its appearance had changed so much that it might not have been recognizable. Or if it was recognized, then its dirtied and unsightly body might be hated. And so the black butterfly, while longing for paradise, turned back.
Beniyuri notices something odd with Hikage. She tells him to wait and points out that those words are strange. He blinks and asks what part of it is? She points out that the white butterfly’s feelings aren’t written anywhere. Hikage parrots her words slowly in surprise. Beniyuri admits that she doesn’t know all the details but if she was the white butterfly then she wouldn’t hate the other person. Instead, she might tell them to stop being stupid.
If the black butterfly saw the white butterfly as its “hope” then she’s sure the white butterfly also treasured the black butterfly. Even if its appearance had changed, it’s still the other half of the butterfly! The white butterflies feelings of wanting to meet it would be there whether the other one was beautiful or tattered. Beniyuri is taken aback by how serious she is about this.
Hikage is also nonplussed and points out that its an uncharacteristic answer from her. She’s not sure about that but she thinks it’s weird for the black butterfly to run away to an illusion. Hikage’s eyes widen before he realizes out loud that it’s not characteristic of her who is weak and a coward… which means she’s strong. She blinks in surprise.
He smiles as he notes that the white butterfly’s feelings… she’s able to believe in the hearts of people who he can’t believe in. She wouldn’t be caught in an illusion nor run away to the desert. She’s… stronger than him. Beniyuri’s face flushes as she hears those words come from him without any hidden meaning and along with a direct look. He ends the moment by mentioning that he thinks she could do with a little more suspicion towards others though.
Still flustered, she nods. It’s rare to be complimented by Hikage and she feels embarrassed. At any rate, Hikage is impressed that she managed to find this book here. She answers that she has nothing else to do and so she thought to clean the covers and arrange them by their titles. But that picture book doesn’t seem to have a title. Hikage tells her that he remembers the translation and it’s 『黒蝶のサイケデリカ』(Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly). OOH CLAP FOR THE NAME DROP.
Beniyuri repeats the name curiously, but suddenly Hikage directs a sharp look to the book he’s holding. She’s surprised by his reaction and wonders if there’s something he’s curious about. Just as she calls out to him and asks him what’s wrong, Karasuba comes down yawning at how tired he is and that he’s not used to cleaning. Kagiha tells him that if he cleans every day then it’ll feel easy.
Karasuba grunts out uninterestedly that he’ll remember that, and then blinks in surprise at the sight of Beniyuri and Hikage. What are they doing over there? Organizing the bookshelf? Karasuba and Kagiha come down from the second floor and approach them. Hikage blurts out that it’s nothing, which leaves Beniyuri confused. He quickly turns around and disappears onto the second floor. Karasuba complains about how he’s lacking in civility as usual. Beniyuri remains silent.
A few days later, in the middle of the night, Beniyuri has woken up and her throat is dry. Slipping out of her light sleep, she heads to the kitchen to find something to drink. She casts her sleepy eyes across the living room and sees something unexpected. There’s a foot hanging out from the sofa. As she moves her eyes up, she sees a tense chest, angular shoulder, a slender profile, and a straight nose. Hikage has fallen asleep defenselessly here.
She also sees the picture book from a few days ago on top of the table. Could he have fallen asleep in the middle of reading it? Pausing, she takes a look at his face. Unusually, he doesn’t move an inch when she approaches despite how sensitive he is to presences. She’s entranced by the look of his sleeping face. She giggles because she thought he might have wrinkles from his constant scowling but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
He has a beautiful sleeping face. Beniyuri recalls how she was scared of him at first but he protected her from a monster. Is the wound on his arm fine now? She feels like she’s seen various sides of him, spoke to him, and is much closer to him now than before but… what does he think of her? She reflects on Usagi’s words about this being love and how, at that time, she felt a different and more heartrendingly sweet feeling.
Right now, what’s dancing in her heart isn’t a strange feeling but she wonders when it will bloom. She murmurs quietly that, in the end, she… towards Hikage… Hikage suddenly groans in his sleep and she startles, thinking she woke him up. But, in an instant, his expression twists. She wonders what’s wrong and he seems to be in pain. Is he having a nightmare? She calls out his name but he only groans inaudibly.
Hikage grips his head in his sleep and repeats his words again. What is he saying? Beniyuri calls out his name in alarm when he starts to scream and, before she can touch his shoulder and wake him up, he leaps up. He’s heaving as he questions what he’s doing here. Beniyuri asks him if he’s alright. Hikage lowers his eyes and wonders why he’s having this memory right now.
She looks at him worriedly. Hikage seems to be unnaturally troubled. This is her first time seeing him like this and right now he said something about a memory but… She directly asks him if he remembered something? He only continues to breathe heavily. She tells him that he looked to be in pain. Suddenly, he asks why she’s here beside him. Beniyuri blinks before apologizing and explaining that she saw him as she was passing by. She can’t tell him that she became entranced with his sleeping face though.
But Hikage asks her why she’s getting close to him. She blinks in confusion. He’s talking to himself as he wonders what her reason is. If she was just by his side then that would be fine. If she proved no harm, then he needn’t pay attention to her. But he left her alone and she became spoiled; she’s come onto his grounds and broken in. Beniyuri cautiously asks him what’s wrong. I FEEL LIKE HIS WORDS HAVE TWO MEANINGS. LITERALLY SHE’S COME INTO HIS MANSION CAUSE *COUGH* HIS TRUE IDENTITY IS…
His eyes widen. She isn’t aware? Of course she isn’t, since she’s always causing him trouble and being careless. He repeats her words about wanting to become closer to him before spitting out that she’s brazen and with that innocence she’s disturbed everything! Especially when she’s the one who brought out this book! She’s startled by his vehemence and wonders if he’s disheveled because this picture book brought back memories.
Beniyuri pleads with him to calm down. She tries to place a hand on his shoulder to calm him down from his roused emotions due to his acquired memories, but Hikage shouts at her not to touch him. He tells her roughly not to interfere. His anger and stabbing look only further confuses her. He rejected her completely and the look in his eyes declares that he won’t let her take another step.
She’s scared but even so… she touches Hikage’s shoulder. If something happened then she wants him to talk to her about it. She– Hikage snarls before deciding that he’ll tell her then! Beniyuri only has time to gasp before her mouth is covered, preventing her from saying another word. No matter how she tries to turn her head, she can’t escape the kiss that devours her.
It is a cold and hot kiss. A time that feels like an instant and eternity seems to pass. At the point where she feels like all her sensations has been robbed, the warmth that touches her lips disappears.
Hikage asks 「・・・僕が知りたい？・・・これで満足か？」(… You want to know more about me?… Are you satisfied with this?). Beniyuri weakly asks him why he did that. He reminds her that she wanted to know more about him, right? That’s why he did it. Ah, but that’s right, she’s not a woman that will yield to his power. He wants her to think of this as another opportunity to consider just exactly what she knows about him.
Beniyuri is speechless at the gradual words that Hikage has spoken. Should she be angry? Should she cry? Her feelings and thoughts are a complete mess, only her stupefied body cowers with fright. Hikage asks her what she’s doing. Is she not going to resist any longer? Or can she only imply that she hates him after all with just her actions. She doesn’t know what to say.
Hikage’s voice lowers 「望むなら、もっと応えてやろうか？ほしいなら恵んでやる。ただし、もう僕に近づくな。」(If you wish, shall I answer you more? If you want this then I’ll give it to you. But, don’t get any closer to me). HOLY SHIT HIS VOICE IS SO LOW HERE. If she wants someone to care for her then she should go to Karasuba or Kagiha.
Beniyuri grits her teeth and, managing to escape whatever binds her, slaps him. Hikage is stunned. Her eyes fill with tears as she tells him that she didn’t get close to him because she wanted someone to care for her. His expression stiffens. She shouts out that she wanted to get to know him BECAUSE he’s Hikage. She wanted to become closer to him BECAUSE he’s Hikage. And so him doing this kind of thing is cruel.
Hikage murmurs her name. The hand that she used to hit him stings but, more than that, her heart hurts. He looks away and murmurs that she’s leading him astray. The cruel one here is her. AHHHHHH. Beniyuri doesn’t know what to say.
After that, the two of them didn’t say anything more. Their explorations in the mansion continued with them pairing off with the others. But… one day they weren’t able to obtain any fragments of the kaleidoscope and a grave atmosphere fell over them. She can’t find any fragments. She won’t be able to leave the mansion. She can’t even make friends. The darkness in her heart thickens and she can’t clear it.
In Usagi’s room, Beniyuri drinks down all of her tea and wipes her wet lips with a finger. Her touch reminds her of Hikage’s kiss and her heart leaps. Since that incident, she’s always had this feeling. No matter what she does, she’ll immediately remember Hikage. Why did Hikage suddenly kiss her? No, more than that, why was he so angry? She sighs again and realizes that all her questions start with “why” and wonders if she’s troubling him just like he is to her?
Everyone is in a similar position of being uneasy with their lack of memories, but Hikage is always asking that question “why”. She tries to sigh again to get rid of the stagnant feeling in her heart but along the way it gets caught and nothing comes out of her throat. Hikage told her that she got too close to him.
Usagi finishes her story before noticing Beniyuri’s absent expression and asks if something happened. Beniyuri startles. Usagi tells her that she’s been silent all this time. Beniyuri realizes that she started thinking in the middle of Usagi’s talk again. She hurriedly tells Usagi that it’s nothing and apologizes before asking what they were talking about again. Usagi sighs and places her cup onto its saucer before fixating a clear stare at Beniyuri.
She tells Beniyuri that it’s not nothing and she’s been sighing this entire time starting a few days ago. Beniyuri apologizes but Usagi tells her quickly that she’s not looking for an apology, she’s just worried. Beniyuri is touched. Usagi recalls that this happened before and it was because Beniyuri was troubled over Hikage. Beniyuri nods. Usagi cautiously asks if something happened with Hikage.
Beniyuri hesitates and is reluctant to complain to a girl much younger than her. But the quiet stare directed towards her seems to be mature. The words seem to spill out of her mouth naturally. Beniyuri tells Usagi that she thinks Hikage hates her now. Usagi gapes at her. Beniyuri continues on to say that he was really angry and called her cruel. She confesses that she had fun talking to Hikage, learning about him, and was happy to close the distance.
But it looks like she was a bother and she didn’t realize it. She was pushed away… and told not to get close to him. Usagi says her name worriedly. Beniyuri’s voice cracks as she calls herself an idiot for thinking she and Hikage were close. She tried to talk about it with a smile so as not to worry Usagi but her voice is weak and there’s a sting in her nose. And then… Usagi notices with alarm that Beniyuri is crying.
Tear after tear runs down her cheek. The tears that she didn’t cry from facing Hikage’s anger starts to overflow one after another without stopping. She’s noticed that her precious feelings which had been rejected are now smashed. Usagi confirms softly that Beniyuri really has feelings for Hikage, huh? Beniyuri just continues crying. Usagi continues on to confirm that Beniyuri… loves him, doesn’t she? Beniyuri opens her mouth. She…
Love. The word that she’s concealed until now suddenly tastes real. It’s not a sweet, gentle, or fluffy feeling; instead, it is a word accompanied by bitterness and pain in her heart. She’s stowed it away up until now but, in the end, this feeling of hers is love. Beniyuri sobs out that she’s a real idiot to be heartbroken in the same instant that she realizes it’s love. She likes Hikage. Usagi’s expression is full of sadness as she murmurs Beniyuri’s name.
Beniyuri’s feelings for Hikage gather to the point where she can’t delude herself. Ah, she’s hopeless… worrying such a young girl. Usagi moves her chair closer and wraps her hand around Beniyuri’s hand. She looks to be on the brink of tears. Beniyuri hurriedly asks her not to cry and apologizes since it’s her fault. Usagi shakes her head and says that she has something she needs to apologize to Beniyuri for. Beniyuri parrots her words.
Usagi nods and Beniyuri can see herself reflected in Usagi’s teary eyes, which resemble crystals. Usagi asks if Beniyuri will listen to a story about her and the master of the mansion, before she apologizes. If it’s Beniyuri then she’ll tell this story and she’d like Beniyuri to hear it. Beniyuri is thrown at her words. Usagi tells her that the master of the mansion is… her brother. Beniyuri startles. Together with this shocking confession, a long story starts.
It’s an old story. Usagi used to live in this mansion with her mother. The mansion was built on the bank of a lake, far away from the town, and it was a beautiful building. There weren’t a lot of people who passed by and all one would hear would be the birds and rustling of the trees. She was pleased to live in a quiet and calm place.
But, after a few years, the mansion became noisy to a point that she wouldn’t have imagined. Her father brought guests from foreign countries. At that time, she didn’t understand the details. Her father build a fortune out of his shipping industry and this mansion was built to entertain guests. Her mother carried only her name from her side of the family and, in order to improve her family’s standing, married her father.
On this marriage that she didn’t wish for, her mother, who lurked in the background, moved to this mansion under the reason of giving birth to Usagi. In the end, she only received the guests that she was told to do so by her husband.
Foreign words, loud laughter, and spicy perfume. Usagi’s father bought things from around the world, including dazzling masks from balls that never ended. During her father’s stays, she would hear the elegant waltz every night to where she wanted to cover her ears.
She was lonely. Born with a weak body, she remained in her room and had no friends. She could only look forward to reading picture books alone. And then, one day, her father brought a boy to the mansion.
Her father told her that, from today on, this boy was to be her older brother and they should get along. When they were introduced, she noticed that he had a beautiful face like those in the picture books. But those eyes were empty and, for a second, she was terrified. But even so…
Usagi welcomes him brightly. The boy stiffened. She tilted her head and calls out to him, addressing him as her older brother. As she timidly called out to him, his eyes widened as if he was seeing something he couldn’t believe. And then… he returned her greeting along with a restrained but warm smile.
At that time, she didn’t know what an older brother was. All she knew was that this person, with the beautiful and gentle smile, was now her new family. Her heart leaped.
At the start, he seemed lost at sea, but her older brother excelled in his studies and his face and figure were even acknowledged by those around him. Usagi remembers being very happy about having such a brother to boast about and she would constantly follow him around. Her brother was knowledgeable and gentle and read a lot of picture books to her.
Her brother reads to her the story of the black butterfly not giving up. Morning, afternoon, and night. The butterfly continued to fly, aiming for Psychedelica. Usagi asks him what Psychedelica meant. He explains that it’s not written clearly but he believes it to be heaven. The black butterfly was trying to head to heaven where the dead white butterfly went. Usagi asks if the black butterfly will die too? It’s a sad story.
He nods but he also thinks that black butterfly was happy. She asks him why. He explains that, even if it was an illusion, on the verge of death the black butterfly was able to meet its precious other half. She asks if dying isn’t the end of everything? He sounds amused as he shrugs. The shape of happiness is different for each person, but he thinks the black butterfly was fulfilled. She doesn’t really understand. He laughs and points out that she might be too young still. He’ll read her a fun story next!
She shakes her head and wants him to read this story once more again. He’s surprised. Again? She nods excitedly and tells him that she wants to properly understand it. His voice is tender as he agrees. And then she asks if he’s fallen in love before? He’s startled before replying that he doesn’t know. She tells him that it’d be nice if he was able to have a lover one day like these butterflies. He only smiles wryly, maybe one day.
They were always together. One day, she didn’t feel loneliness anymore.
Some time after her brother came to this mansion, she overheard her parents fighting.
Her mother asks her father if he’s saying that he’ll give the title of heir to that child that was born from some woman somewhere. She’s already suffered the humiliation of him claiming his mistress’ child. Now he’s doing this? How cruel. Her father replies that it can’t be helped and her child is often sick; they don’t know when she might die. It’ll be good for the family to raise a healthy child. Her mother can’t believe he said that without shying.
Scared, she ran from that place. She didn’t understand the contents of their argument but she couldn’t endure her parents shouting at each other. She returned to her room and cried alone. And then, her older brother quietly held her and told her that it’ll be okay.
He knows she must be scared and uneasy, right? But he’s by her side. She doesn’t need to worry about anything. Usagi cries out that her mother and father are…! He repeats that everything is going to be okay.
Her brother, who comforted her, smiled his usual smile. But she felt like there was something different in his voice.
And so she asks him if he hurts anywhere or if he’s in pain. He doesn’t answer. She calls out to him again in worry. He tells her 「大丈夫・・・。君がいるから、強くなれる。君がいるから、僕は・・・耐えられる。」(It’s okay… Because you’re here, I can become strong. Because you’re here, I can… endure this). She’s confused but repeats back to him that everything will be okay and so he doesn’t need to cry.
At that time, she didn’t understand the reason for her brother’s anguish. Like some kind of charm, the two of them huddled together and repeated that everything will be okay.
It might have been because of the discord between her parents, which hurt her heart, but her already weak body became weaker as the days passed. She developed fevers and continued to be fatigued. She even lost consciousness in the middle of reading a book. Thanks to medicine, she was able to retain her consciousness. But to add onto her misfortunes…
One day, men suddenly arrived and searched through the mansion for something, bringing things out. Even she, who remains a spectator when banquets start, sensed the strange flurry. When she timidly asked her mother what was going on, her mother only lowered her eyes in sadness. And then their furniture disappeared. Their cutlery disappeared. Their miscellaneous goods too.
She vaguely heard about her father’s business coming to an end but for her, who was raised in confinement and without knowledge, she didn’t understand what that meant. She didn’t care if the gaudy furniture and cutlery disappeared, but she couldn’t help feeling sadness at the increased amount of time her brother was gone from the mansion. The medicine for her illness was extremely expensive. Her brother, for the sake of raising the money to buy it, sold their family assets and pestered their relatives for money.
All she wanted was to remain by her brother’s side, without knowing anything about her brother’s thoughts–
A boy is begging someone. Please save his little sister! But the male relative tells him that the result is the same no matter how much he grovels. How impudent of him to ask this of them when he’s from humble birth. Know some shame! The boy tells the man that he doesn’t care how he’s treated, but his little sister is his niece! He just needs the medicine to be delivered and he’ll return the funds somehow. Please!
The relative tsks at how annoying this is but relents to getting just the medicine. If the boy wants it so badly then he’ll give it to him. But he doesn’t want him to approach this house ever again. He can’t appear before them ever again. The boy thanks him deeply.
Her brother, who had left the house for a while to raise money, turned pale when he saw her on the verge of death. But he immediately pasted on a smile and gripped her hand, as if to give her courage.
He tells her that everything will be okay and she’ll be healthy after drinking the medicine. Their uncle has ordered it and the funds have been prepared. He’s sure the medicine will arrive in a few days. And then he’ll immediately call the doctor to see her. Just a little bit more… just a little more and their uncle will save them.
Her brother spoke these encouraging words as if to himself.
She weakly nods and believes that everything will be okay. When she’s healthy, will he read books with her again? He nods immediately. Of course. Everything will be okay… and she’ll surely be saved… She thanks him. Everything will be okay because if he says so then it will be so. She’s happiest when he’s by her side and she believes in him and will become healthy.
They continued to act as if separation was impossible. A few days after this, she quietly stopped breathing.
And then, on a rainy night without the light of the moon, her brother committed a terrifying mistake.
A gun shot. The male relative crumbles. His wife screams for someone to come. Her husband was shot! Someone needs to come immediately! A boy laughs wildly at how quickly people die! Death equally visits the pig who deceived him and the child who believed in him. He murmurs weakly that he thought something would change when he shot that person but… what did he do in the end? Is everything meaningless?!
Even though he put his face to the ground…! Even though he collected the money…! The child, who believed in him, couldn’t be saved! He clung onto that man’s words and was deceived. He let that child die… If he could meet her once again then…
From that time on, her older brother slowly became strange. With the money he raised for her medicine, he bought strange magic tools and books, and read them greedily.
The boy murmurs dazedly that he can… go to Psychedelica… and bring that child back.
Her brother was searching for a way to revive the dead. Lunatic. There were many who called him that. Her brother became immersed in his thoughts, as if possessed. Isolated from society, he hated his parents, relatives, and the world. A strong obsession and hatred ate into her brother like a curse. And then, one day, her brother heard a story about a strange kaleidoscope from a traveling old man.
This kaleidoscope could project geometric shapes onto the water surface and, used under certain conditions, would project a place that connects to the other world. Her brother searched for this kaleidoscope for years. Soon, he found it on a trading ship and obtained it with his entire fortune.
On a quiet night with the new moon, her older brother assembled the kaleidoscope like the old man said and placed it by the lake, lighting it up. Soon, extremely beautiful patterns were drawn on top of the lake. Immediately afterward, the entire lake seemed to blaze with a brilliant light. The kaleidoscope was real. At last, the entire lake glittered and the surface of the water seemed to be a road.
At that moment, she doesn’t know what her brother thought, but he brought out the revolver from his breast pocket and shot his own head. UH… Like that, her older brother sank into the faintly glimmering surface as if being sucked down. And then… he drifted ashore to this interspace.
Originally, there was no such thing as an interspace between the real world and the world of the dead. But the kaleidoscope’s strange power forcibly broke open a road to the afterlife and created this distorted world. A distorted world with the lake and the mansion on top of it.
After she died, Usagi saw everything from the world of the dead. As a matter of fact, perhaps due to her brother’s strong desire, in the moment the kaleidoscope was used she, who had been drifting in the cycle of death and rebirth, went backwards and was brought to this interspace.
A boy looks around in confusion. A girl calls out to him, addressing him as her older brother.
Their souls, which had fallen into the interspace, lost their memories. Her brother wasn’t an exception. Her brother, who fell and had no memories, looked at her face and a pained noise escaped his throat.
The boy grimaces and gasps out that he feels like he’s seen her face before. That’s right… those people… to her… The girl stiffens.
Was it best for him to have remembered? She instantly concealed her body and peeked on him from there. Before long, her calm brother had his memories returned to him slowly after meeting her. In the middle of other souls traveling to the afterlife properly, they alone, could not return nor go. They remained in the mansion. Souls with memories and strong attachments cannot ascend to heaven. She knew the reason for this interspace.
And so she hid her face with a mask, without telling anyone her origin, she and her brother – the master of the mansion – decided to live together.
Back in the present, Usagi tells Beniyuri that this is how they came to be. Beniyuri doesn’t know how to feel after hearing that long drama-like story. She listened to it with her breath held and now her head is spinning. After taking a deep breath, she finds her voice. The kaleidoscope… and the interspace… The master of the mansion is Usagi’s older brother… Usagi confirms it firmly.
Beniyuri realizes that they’ve been together forever… and then asks where Usagi’s brother is. Usagi hesitates before clearing it up in the next instant; her brother is right beside them, though he’s using a different name than the one he had when he was alive. Beniyuri parrots her words. Usagi tells her that his name is… Hikage. The Hikage that Beniyuri has feelings for is Usagi’s older brother.
She can’t understand those words. Beniyuri doesn’t believe that. Hikage is…!? He’s the master of the mansion?! Usagi apologizes. Beniyuri shakes her head before pointing out that Hikage is Yamato’s younger brother, isn’t he? Usagi shakes her head and explains that her brother is posing with Yamato’s younger brother’s face. Beniyuri parrots her words in confusion.
Usagi reminds her that they spoke previously about the faces, remember? People who arrive in this interspace lose their faces, bodies, and are just souls. Beniyuri nods. Usagi explains that her brother is the same. Her brother, who had lost his life by shooting himself in the head, arrived at this interspace and met her without a face. He was waiting for the time they would go on their journey.
But, halfway, their memories returned to them and now they can’t go anywhere. In this eternity, he realized something. In this interspace, there are different laws here than those in the real world. In this world created by the kaleidoscope it is unstable and distorted and the ego isn’t certain. The ego is, in a sense, “one’s self” or consciousness. Feelings, memories, attachments, imagination… these are all powers in this world.
Beniyuri asks her what she means. Usagi points out that Beniyuri has used a weapon to stay alive, right? Doing the same thing, like creating that weapon… if one thinks about it strongly enough, then they can bring forth anything… including changing their face. Beniyuri opens her mouth but then realizes that she can’t deny it; after all, they’ve created guns out of nothing.
Usagi goes on to say that their weapons to fight the monsters are guns probably because it was what her brother had at his time of death. Right now, in this world, the master of the mansion – her brother – has the strongest feelings and is governing it. That’s why everyone’s weapons are guns. Saying that, strong attachments and memories, or the regrets and pasts of people who have fallen here, have considerable influence in this world.
And that’s why, in this distorted mansion, new memories and old memories are mixed up and various things are here. Beniyuri realizes that their cellphones are created from their memories then. Usagi nods and points out that it’s probably because they’re normally carrying it on them. Beniyuri isn’t certain about that. Usagi thinks it might have been unconscious, but their cellphones are things they created for themselves.
Usagi also informs her that, different from that, in order to sustain and give concrete form to another person’s memories, an unusual amount of power is needed. For example, changing one’s face… Beniyuri asks if Hikage can do that then. Usagi nods and explains that her brother was driven mad by the books he obtained and read, and he was given terrifying powers that exceed the knowledge of humans.
This power that ordinary humans can’t comprehend is able to be accessed by her brother who has assimilated it during his long time in this world. Beniyuri parrots her about power that exceeds human knowledge. She apologizes but she doesn’t really understand these difficult things. Usagi explains simply that her brother’s power, in the human world, can be called something like clairvoyance. Beniyuri repeats that word.
Usagi explains that, using this power, he can read fragments of memories from the people in front of him and use those memories as a foundation. Beniyuri realizes that if he can read memories then he must have seen the face of Yamato’s younger brother from Yamato’s memories? Usagi nods and adds that he’s also seen her memories too. Beniyuri realizes that this was how she was given that photograph… because he had seen it from her memories.
But then she asks about Usagi’s memories. Can Hikage not read those? Usagi hesitantly explains that she’s different from everyone because she crossed over to the afterlife once, and so her circumstances are different. She’s not sure why her existence is preserved. Beniyuri doesn’t know what to say and so their conversation stops.
There are a lot of things she wants to know. But, above all, she can’t move on past the fact that Hikage is the master of the mansion. She asks why Hikage is with them and why he’s impersonating Yamato’s younger brother. However, Usagi shakes her head when she asks these questions. Only her brother knows the real reason, but… at the time her brother fell to this place he hated everything, was in despair, and ended his life.
Those feelings have increased and strengthened in this world and now he’s become a demon who enjoys staining people’s hope with despair. The memories that her brother has regained here are his hatred and obsession towards the kaleidoscope. She believes that he’s doing whatever he thinks is necessary to complete the kaleidoscope because of his blind belief in that it’s a magical device that can grant a wish.
Usagi curls her body inwards and clenches her hand tightly against her chest. Beniyuri murmurs her name. But then Usagi confesses that, under orders, she has used the people who have fallen into this interspace to collect the fragments and it’s an unapologetic act.
Beniyuri asks why she obeys Hikage then despite knowing all this? Usagi blurts out that it’s because 「お兄様が、妖魔になってしまっても、どんなにひどいことをしていても、それでも・・・、人の心を取り戻してくれたらと・・・紅百合さんに恋をすれば、優しいお兄様が戻ってくるんじゃないかって・・・！」(Despite turning into a demon, despite whatever cruel things he does, if he can be brought back by someone’s heart… if he falls in love with Beniyuri, he might return to being my kind brother…!).
She sobs as she continues on to say that he might stop hurting others and collecting the fragments, be fulfilled by love for other people, and then quietly pass on to the other side! She can’t throw away that hope. Usagi apologizes for having hurt Beniyuri. Large tears spill from her eyes. Beniyuri murmurs her name and thinks on how this interspace is a world born from Hikage’s love towards Usagi. Has he really forgotten Usagi and lost his human heart? But…
Beniyuri recalls how, at the beginning, Hikage told her that he thinks of women, not just her, as unreliable and weak beings. And that’s why he’s insecure about having the strength to protect her alone. She also recalls how he told her, that if she really felt for her companions, then she wouldn’t give up even at the end. One’s life isn’t something to give up on.
She recalls how he asked her what she would do if Psychedelica existed. What would she do if she could meet someone precious to her who died? Lastly, she recalls how he remembered the title of the book, “Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly”.
Beniyuri believes that inside Hikage still remains the older brother that Usagi knows. She thinks that Usagi hasn’t said anything up to now because of her feelings for Hikage, but she believes that Hikage wants to meet her, his little sister. She thinks Usagi should speak to him, not as a messenger and master of the mansion but as sister and brother. Usagi looks down and says in a trembling voice that doing that would be dangerous and Beniyuri might get involved.
But Beniyuri doesn’t mind, no, she wants to be involved! She knows now that when she was talking to Hikage about the black butterfly she wasn’t talking to the master of the mansion, but to Usagi’s older brother. She wants to make sure that the Hikage she has spent time with up until now isn’t just a lie. This isn’t just for Usagi, but for herself too. She wants to try and understand him one more time, which is why she suggests that she and Usagi meet him together. Usagi’s large eyes water and she presses her lips tightly together. But then she strengthens her resolve and nods.
Scene skip! At the entranceway Hikage asks Beniyuri why she called him out here. Even though she said she couldn’t talk about it in the room, he doesn’t believe her words will be anything but bothersome. On this night, she called out to Hikage, which she hadn’t done for a long time, and brought him out here. She knows that it’s dangerous being out in the mansion at night but she doesn’t want others to be involved in the conversation she’ll be having.
The entrance hall at this time is chillingly cold. She straightens her back out of nervousness. Hikage smirks and notes that even though he rejected her thoroughly she’s still clinging onto him; he has to respect that. She murmurs his name and notices his cold eyes. Is this Hikage…? Or the master of the mansion…? At that moment, a small shape appeared without a sound from the shadows of a nearby pillar.
Usagi greets him as her master. Hikage raises an eyebrow. Beniyuri is relieved that she came. Usagi hesitantly replies that she made a promise. After their greeting, Usagi and Beniyuri stand beside each other and face Hikage. His eyes were clear and shone with a light that was like a winter star, making her unintentionally flinch. Hikage remarks on how he understands now; recently, Beniyuri has been acting strange and it was because of Usagi, huh. Usagi tenses.
Hikage crosses his arms and admits that he never trusted her and he was scornful of the thought that they were of similar mind in wanting to complete the kaleidoscope. To think that she’d align herself with Beniyuri. He talks as if he’s realized all the details in an instant. Usagi grabs onto Beniyuri’s sleeves and hides behind her back. Beniyuri glances at Usagi before telling Hikage that she heard from Usagi that he’s the master of the mansion.
She asks if their first meeting, the time he saved her from the monster, whenever she was sad, whenever he cheered her up, and whenever he laughed… were those all lies? Hikage answers curtly that she’s right and they were all lies. It was convenient for him to act as one of their companions and because he wanted to be close to see the completion of the kaleidoscope. Everything was a lie for the kaleidoscope. She’s gullible for only noticing now.
Beniyuri sucks in a breath and feels her heart hurt at how he isn’t showing the slightest bit of guilt. It’s exactly like what Usagi said but it hurts still. Hikage contemplates out loud on how he might have played around too long though and because he wanted to see them hurt he was slow in putting an end to everything. And for this to happen during that time… everything is spoiled now.
She asks him why he’s fixated with the kaleidoscope. What wish does he want granted? He echoes her words before telling her that he has a wish, of course. She tries to ask what it is and Hikage informs her that he’ll tell her as a reward for being correct about the mastermind behind everything. He declares 「僕の望みは――破壊だ。」(My wish is… destruction).
The words were so unexpected that she can only blankly repeat them. As if satisfied by her reaction, Hikage chuckles and elaborates that he wants to destroy this world and commence the despair. He’s going to use the kaleidoscope’s powers to smash this interspace into pieces like the fragments of the kaleidoscope. Beniyuri asks what he means by that.
Hikage tells her 「僕はね、狂いそうになるほど長い年月を生きてきた。何千、何万回と繰り返される苦痛の日々。終わることのない、恨み、憎しみ、痛み・・・記憶もないのに、苦痛の感情だけが押し寄せてくる。」(You know, I’ve lived so long to the point of madness. Thousands, tens of thousands of these repeating days of agony. There is no end… to this grudge, this hate, this pain… even though I have no memories, I’m inundated with feelings of pain).
At one point, he even thought about dying. It might be strange since he’s already died once, but he thought even falling into hell might grant him more peace than this life without an end. At the moment he vaguely thought about ending everything, his thoughts became distorted. Why is he the only one who has to have these feelings? Why do all the other souls get to move on peacefully? WHY?
He wants to taint the purity of those souls who know nothing. He wants to tear their hearts apart with the same pain that he tastes. He wants to paint this interspace black! More, more, more!! He wants to distort everything. If he destroys this world that is filled with pain, collapsing the bridge between life and death, then wouldn’t all this despair overflow? Hikage continues on in a trance.
When he imagines everyone tormented by his same pain, he becomes excessively amused. He feels ecstatic. His black and white days were given light and colors were born. It was his first sensation since arriving at this interspace! That’s right, that’s why he’s going to try breaking this world into pieces. All this trouble will be inherited by the people who come next and he wants to live in the middle of those screams.
There’s nothing else that he wants to wish with the kaleidoscope. Beniyuri can’t believe it. But Hikage lowers his eyes and murmurs that there is nothing else… there SHOULD be nothing else and yet… Beniyuri calls out his name and notices that he looks a bit strange. Abruptly, his tone drops and his eyes dart around in confusion. Could he be hesitating? Usagi suddenly speaks up and asks him to stop, addressing him as her big brother.
Hikage raises his eyes and asks what she said. Usagi continues on to say that his actions are meaningless. Usagi, who is hiding behind Beniyuri, manages to say this courageously. Hikage asks what she means. Hikage growls out that from the start he’s hated how she seems to know so much. What does she know about him? Why should he listen to her? Moreover, what did she just call him right now?
Usagi, whose drive has been overwhelmed, starts to tremble. Beniyuri knows that she’s scared but… she reaches out and strongly grips Usagi’s hand. Usagi, who seems to want to cry, calls her name questioningly. Beniyuri whispers to her that it’ll be okay and steps in between Hikage and Usagi. She tells him directly to remember. He parrots her words. Remember?
Beniyuri reminds him of the young girl who they met before that disappeared from the mansion. He smiled gently at her. Why? Hikage tenses. She continues on to point out that he must have remembered his little sister, right? No, it might not even have been his memory but there is something lying in his heart. Hikage repeats the word “little sister” and his eyes start to waver, looking shaken. She nods and asks if he remembers his sister?
Hikage winces and his face twists with suppressed pain. Beniyuri recalls that this happened before and at that time… Hikage, who had been breathing heavily, wondered why that memory came at this time. She had asked him what he remembered since he seemed to be in pain. But he never answered. Back in the present, Beniyuri realizes that the picture book Hikage saw was the one he read to Usagi back in the past.
Could it be that his memories haven’t returned? Hikage inhales sharply. Beniyuri realizes that she’s right. She can’t see Usagi’s expression due to her wearing a mask, but Usagi is watching them with shallow breaths. Beniyuri tells him desperately that he has a little sister who was mature due to her sickness, but extremely cute. She tells him that, despite them not being related by blood, he treasured her and they were always together and he read her books in her room. He was a kind older brother.
Hikage asks her to stop. He doesn’t want to remember any more. Flustered, he takes half a step back. Beniyuri notes that right now it’s not the master of the mansion but Usagi’s brother. She continues on to say that his sister was very precious… which is why he couldn’t accept it when she died. He wanted to meet her again which is why he searched for the kaleidoscope that could connect the real world and the afterlife, and this was how he arrived here.
She’s certain that, even now, his search for the kaleidoscope isn’t because he desires destruction and despair. Isn’t it because he’s still searching for his sister? Hikage screams at her to shut up and this has nothing to do with her!! Beniyuri shouts back that it does! He might say that it doesn’t but she thinks of him as a… companion. Beniyuri shakes her head and adds on that he’s not just a companion but also someone precious to her.
Hikage spits out how foolish that is but Beniyuri’s voice is firm as she says his name. She tells him that the kaleidoscope doesn’t have the power to grant wishes, it only has the power to connect this world and the afterlife. He won’t be able to destroy the world and nothing will change. Hikage flinches. Beniyuri tells him that she doesn’t know how they can be happy in this interspace; she also doesn’t understand the pain he’s suffered.
But she does know that he won’t find happiness in the middle of screams. She wants to take him back to the warmth and she wants him to be happy! That’s why she’s pleading with him to remember Usagi… his little sister…! Usagi murmurs her name. Hikage grits his teeth and covers his face with both hands, shaking his head left and right. He snarls out that she’s wrong and he doesn’t have a little sister! He doesn’t have any companions!
He starts to laugh crazily as he realizes out loud that they must be spitting out lies to steal the kaleidoscope from him! She’s conspiring against him with Usagi. Beniyuri shouts back that he’s mistaken and pleads with him to remember again. But Hikage just laughs and calls her an outrageous cheat. Even though she looks weak, she’s actually a strong monster who can trick someone like him. But she won’t reach him with that hand and he won’t hand over the kaleidoscope!
Beniyuri shouts out his name, but he snarls at her not to get close to him. She begs him to remember. He repeats in a snarl for her not to come close. But she takes another step and calls out his name desperately. Hikage screams at her not to come any closer to him.
A gun shot. There is a pistol facing in her direction. The moment the muzzle flashed, her world becomes pure white. She can’t see anything. She can’t hear anything. Just what exactly happened?
Usagi weakly calls out her name. Beniyuri is returned to the present through a weak voice. She timidly calls out to Usagi, who only cries out in pain and collapses. Beniyuri calls out her name in terror and asks why she did that! The bullet pierced through Usagi’s small body. The young girl who defended her is bleeding from her side and her clothes becomes damp with bright red blood. Beniyuri tells her to hold on and panics. What should she do? The blood won’t stop! She needs something to stop the bleeding!
She moves Usagi so that she’s lying face up and tries to stop the bleeding while crying. But the blood pours forth like a spring and it won’t stop. Usagi asks Beniyuri to remove something. Beniyuri stares at her, stunned. Usagi pleads and, with trembling fingers, touches her own cheek. Understanding the sign, Beniyuri takes the cover off of her face. Usagi smiles weakly.
Beniyuri begs her to hold on and then asks why she defended her? Hikage might have remembered her with a little more time. Usagi tells her quietly that she wanted to help Beniyuri and she’s done with everything. She thanks Beniyuri because, thanks to her, she finally met her big brother. Beniyuri calls out her name.
Hikage, facing Usagi who is slowly becoming transparent and releasing a faint light, staggers closer. Usagi apologizes to him for having hidden her face all this time. She was afraid what would happen to him if his memories returned and of how their relationship might change. She didn’t reveal her identity due to those thoughts. Hikage can only stare at her stunned 「お前は・・・、いや・・・君は・・・。」(You’re… no, you are…).
I WANTED TO WRITE THIS DOWN BECAUSE IT’S SO BEAUTIFULLY SUBTLE BUT IT DOESN’T TRANSLATE WELL (IF AT ALL) IN ENGLISH. HIS FIRST WORD “OMAE” IS A VERY CASUAL, ALMOST RUDE WAY TO ADDRESS SOMEONE. IT’S IMPLIED HE REALIZES WHO SHE IS BECAUSE HE THEN SWITCHES TO “KIMI” WHICH CAN BE USED AS AN AFFECTIONATE ADDRESS. IT’S ALSO POLITER THAN “OMAE”.
Usagi’s large eyes slide from Hikage to Beniyuri. She tells Beniyuri that she’s glad she got to meet her. She’s sure that if it weren’t for Beniyuri then she would have stayed like this for an eternity and been unable to confront her precious person. She’s grateful. Beniyuri shakes her head, crying. Usagi murmurs weakly that it looks like it’s her time now and this time she’ll be able to move on.
Hikage can only repeat his earlier words. Usagi tells him that no matter what form he takes she loves him. In the instant when Usagi smiles broadly at them a strong light wraps around her body and, with a farewell, she dissolves into white butterflies. Beniyuri cries out at this turn of events. Hikage repeats Usagi’s name and then collapses to his knees beside where she used to be, his memories coming back to him. He screams.
With his entire body trembling, he gropes at the floor as if trying to find the faint warmth she left behind. He’s terribly painful to look at. It’s heartrending. Painful. Nothing could be done. Beniyuri quietly calls out to him and tells him to take something. Hikage accepts the rabbit mask from her hands and then clings to her arms. He… to that girl…! Once again he let that girl die! Why… why…?!
Beniyuri can only say his name quietly. Hikage sobs out that she was so close and yet he killed her again! He sobs, and groans, before screaming again. Beniyuri cries. She embraces Hikage who is choking with tears over the mask in his hands. She realizes that she can give him no consolation. But she also couldn’t do nothing there.
The lamenting Hikage is like a butterfly whose wings have been burnt. YEAH I’M NOT TOO SURE ABOUT THIS METAPHOR MYSELF. He feels hot to the point where she feels like she might burn herself. But she only holds him more firmly, being sure not to extinguish that heat.
She doesn’t know how much time has gone by. In the wide space, the quiet returns like a tide that has receded. A sensation that there is only the two of them in this world falls over them. Hikage quietly separates from her and starts to talk while looking down. He’s always lived a lie. She blinks at him in confusion. He explains that he’s not talking about his arrival at the mansion but even his previous life; he’s lived a life coated in a lie.
He recalls that she said she wanted to know more about him… that she wanted to know the “real him”. Does she still want to hear? Beniyuri nods and tells him that she wants to know. Hikage says that he’s going to tell a story then. He starts to talk haltingly and with a faint smile that mocks himself. He tells her that he was given birth into this world by a poor woman. It was an unwanted pregnancy and his mother treated him badly whenever she lost her temper.
And then, one day, some nouveau riche man claiming to be his father exchanged some money to take him to another world. The place he was taken to was a house with bad taste and extravagance. A woman who was like a female fox became his new mother. Beniyuri wonders if he’s talking about Usagi’s mother. Hikage tells her that this bitch was even worse than his actual mother and would place bugs into his three meals, no, even receiving a meal would have been better.
She would tear his clothes to pieces and throw away his books. She thoroughly bullied him. HOLY SHIT. It couldn’t be helped that she hated the child born from a mistress, right? But his younger self was desperate for approval and found a way to live through civility. Beniyuri thinks on his words about finding a way to live and learning civility… is this the “lie” he wrapped around himself?
Hikage continues on to tell her that, after some time, his father introduced him to a girl. Beniyuri realizes that it’s– Hikage smiles and answers that it was the young girl she called Usagi, his sister born from a different mother. The moment the word sister leaves his mouth a faint light returns to his eyes. He closes his eyes and his face softens with nostalgia. She called him her big brother and immediately became attached to him.
At first, he was lost, but he came to treasure his little sister who had no selfishness and simply adored him. He hated his father and his father’s legal wife, but for he sake of his sister he suppressed those feelings. He continued to act as a “good brother” and “good son”. Before long, he lied as easy as it was to breathe. Yes, he felt no resistance when lying and forgot who the “real him” was.
After a few years of being at the mansion, his little sister whose body was already weak became bedridden. He continued to tell her that everything was going to be okay and that he’ll definitely save her. Before he noticed it, that lie might have become something to give him courage in his situation. He continued to tell himself that everything was going to be okay. “Everything will be okay” became a word that could not be a “lie”.
Soon, for the sake of his sister’s medicine, he began to pester his relatives every day for money. After his father lost his fortune, they changed their attitude quickly and ignored him. Even if he was insulted and spat on, he would do anything so that his sister wouldn’t die. And then he finally prepared the money and was given the promise that medicine would be obtained. But…
The medicine didn’t arrive despite passing the promised day. Like that, his sister quickly died. At that moment, he finally realized that he was deceived and they never had the medicine prepared at all. Beniyuri can’t believe it. Hikage continues on to say that he could hear the sound of himself crumbling. Because of his sister, he had managed to act like a good person. But he lost that sister.
Everything was a lie. He felt like this might have been a punishment for all the lies he’s told. And so he… in his life coated in lies, wished for just one truth. She parrots his words. Truth? Hikage explains that the lie he told his sister, about how everything was going to be okay, he wanted to make that a reality. Beniyuri tries to understand what he means. Hikage continues his words.
He had told his bedridden sister that everything was going to be fine and that he’ll definitely save her. Beniyuri nods slowly. Hikage explains that this is why he wanted to save her and bring her back to life. Beniyuri points out that doing such a thing is… Hikage nods and admits that it’s something impossible. But his sister died and to him, who was partially unhinged, it became his reason to live.
Hikage tells her that he read books from all times and places, he spent his money freely on tools of sorcery, and soon he obtained the kaleidoscope to connect this world and the world of the dead. She asks him if he’s talking about THE kaleidoscope. He quietly nods. He explains that the kaleidoscope’s patterns on a water’s surface will create an entrance to the afterlife. At last, he arrived at the entrance to the other world… to Psychedelica.
Psychedelica. Beniyuri realizes that he repeated the word from the book they both had read. Hikage recalls how his wish was granted and he was overjoyed. But, at the same time, he was terribly afraid. She asks him if he was afraid to die? Hikage shakes his head; he was scared to meet his sister. After his sister died, a frighteningly long amount of time passed, and the him that was reflected in the water wasn’t the him that his sister would know.
Like the white butterfly who became black, he changed in his search for Psychedelica and was afraid of being rejected. Seized with fear, he smashed the kaleidoscope in the middle of its display. Beniyuri gapes at him. Hikage smiles weakly and points out that this is probably why the fragments became scattered. It was the height of foolishness. Just one more step and his fears would have disappeared.
His dearest wish to revive his little sister wasn’t granted and he, in despair and not knowing that the kaleidoscope’s power had worked incompletely, shot himself in the head. And then he arrived at this interspace, far away from Psychedelica. Having lost his memories, he met Usagi who he had no idea was his sister.
Hikage tells her that this is the truth that she wanted, although he supposes she heard most of it from Usagi already. She nods. Hikage spits out that he’s a person who is coated in lies in life and death. He’s a weak person who couldn’t accomplish anything. That’s the “real him”. Hikage, who had finished speaking, feels like he could disappear at any moment.
Beniyuri tells him quietly that he’s mistaken. He blinks and asks her what she means. She tells him that he said he was telling a lie when he said everything was going to be fine, but that wasn’t a lie. She’s sure that was his wish. He parrots her words. She nods and points out that he wanted to save his sister. He wanted her not to die. This was his one and only earnest wish. This mansion was born from his pure wish of wanting to meet his little sister one more time.
She tells him that he met his sister and so his wish is half-granted. Hikage stares at her. Beniyuri tells him that it might have been a long detour, with mistakes made along the way, but he’s come back to himself. He’s a little bit of a coward but even still he’s a kind person who felt for his little sister. That’s the “real Hikage”. She tells him firmly that the person in front of her isn’t a lie and it’s the “real him” that he wished for.
Hikage’s eyes widen and her name slips out of his mouth before he sighs gently. He tells her that she really is meddlesome. She noses around people, stirs them up, and continues to do the same idiotic things despite warnings. She really is… Beniyuri tilts her head at his pause.
He closes his eyes, breathes out weakly, and then slowly continues. He states that he continued to tell lies for his sister’s sake, lied to himself, and lived in a suffocating way. This dark world underneath the water fits his previous life perfectly. But the times that he was with her here… just for a little bit… just a little… he felt like he was living and that he could breathe.
Hikage murmurs 「・・・もし君が、僕たちの生きていた時代にいたら・・・」(… Maybe, if you were there during the period when we were alive then…). Beniyuri blinks in confusion. He stares at her directly and then smiles calmly. It was very gentle. He finishes with 「出来れば・・・現世で君と会いたかった。」(If I could… I would have wanted to meet you in the real world). I’M NOT CRYING. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.
Beniyuri’s eyes widen. Hikage looks away and tells her that if she, who only knows how to concern herself with others, were by his side in his previous life then… surely she would have exposed all of his lies and made him be honest with himself. If she had been by his side then… Beniyuri stills as he reaches out a hand and touches her cheek. Without breaking their stare, she can only stand still without moving as his face slowly comes closer.
A light sound reaches her ear. Hikage steps back and chuckles at how she’s daydreaming as usual and what was she expecting? DON’T JOKE WITH MY HEART LIKE THAT MISTER CRIES. Beniyuri becomes flustered and tries to ask him what he did. She’s sure he isn’t teasing her so what did he… While laughing, Hikage places something in her palm. Beniyuri sees that it’s her hairpin. He tells her that it’s the last fragment of the kaleidoscope.
Beniyuri repeats his words in shock. She holds it up with her fingers and stares at it before seeing that there seems to be something like a fragment buried in the decorative glass. She asks why it’s in such a place. Hikage tells her that he would like to know that too and she really is unpredictable. She didn’t notice this fragment at all. But then she recalls his words and asks him what he means by the last…
Hikage asks if she hasn’t noticed that the only remaining fragment is that one. And so he wants her to complete the kaleidoscope with that and return to the real world. She fixates on his words though. By her, does he mean…? Hikage slowly stands up and starts to walk off to somewhere. She calls out to him and asks him where he’s going. Hikage pauses but doesn’t respond. She calls for him to wait and then asks what he intends to do.
A faint uneasiness suddenly starts to swell inside her. Hikage doesn’t turn around though and starts to ascend the staircase. He tells her loudly that when she raises her voice like that she really is noisy. Hikage, who turns back to look at her, stands on the staircase so that the stained glass with the butterfly wings frames his back. He is holding a gun in his hand. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.
Hikage tells her that his body has already rotted and it’s not possible for him to return to the real world anymore. Beniyuri is struck with terror and yells at him to stop. But as she dashes towards him in a rush, she trips on the staircase. She tries to hurriedly get up but her legs won’t cooperate and she can’t move. She raises her face. But that small distance doesn’t shrink at all.
He reminds her that the butterfly, whose wings were dirtied black, collapsed in the desert. It is a fitting end for him and the sins he’s wrought. But he’s seen Psychedelica. This interspace was his Psychedelica. Beniyuri can only call out his name in alarm. Hikage places the gun against his temple and his finger on the trigger moves. Both his eyes are glittering with bliss and his lips draw an arc.
Hikage says one last thing 「さようなら。紅百合・・・。君は、僕の――。」(Farewell. Beniyuri… you are my–).
A gun shot rings.
Beniyuri screams. In front of her eyes, Hikage’s body slowly collapses. Its outline slowly disappears and becomes a flock of white and black butterflies mixed together. In her mind she calls out to him and can’t believe he did this. This is cruel. Even as her vision is distorted by tears, she looks up at the butterflies ascending into the sky.
Where are those butterflies heading? Will those butterflies arrive at a calm place? She doesn’t know. She also doesn’t know what word he was going to say at the very end. All she knows is…
Beniyuri cries and sobs out his name.
His words were erased by the gunshot but… his feelings reached her heart clearly.
After that, the next thing she knew was that she was lying in a hospital bed. According to what she was told, she got into an accident on the bus that was going to the lake in the suburbs and, for a while, she was stuck between life and death. The moment that she awoke, she cried a lot and confused her family who was beside her greatly.
Haruka asks her why she’s crying. Ai shakes her head and tries to tell her it’s nothing.
She was asked the reason for her tears, but she couldn’t answer. How can she tell them about her tragic love?
Since then, months have passed, and she’s come alone to that lake. Her heart has continued to remain with that mansion. One day, guided by something, she gets on a bus that is heading to the suburbs. Ai notes that the mansion has disappeared. Arriving at the lake island, she stands still at the unimaginable scenery. She asks the nearby fishing people and learns that the mansion had been demolished a long time ago.
This area used to have a lot of accidents and was labeled as a spot for spirits. But that was years in the past and now there’s a boardwalk surrounding the lake. It’s become a spot loved by the locals. Ai thinks out loud about how, in the end, she wasn’t able to tell him that she loved him. She murmurs this as she places a single flower on the water’s surface. She tells Hikage that he’s a tease and only let himself say those words. He passed on before even hearing her feelings. How unfair…
Even now there is a sweet and bitter sentiment in her heart. Her strange experience in the mansion is a memory that won’t fade and is carved into her. She recalls Hikage’s words about how, if possible, he would want to meet her in the real world. He whispered that while touching her cheek. Touching her cheek in the same way, she feels like Hikage’s warmth is still there. Meeting in the real world, huh…
If those two were reborn, she wonders where and how they’re spending their time. She hopes they’re living happily together as siblings. Finishing her visit, she turns back to the road from which she came. In the middle, a group of energetic children run past her. Ai recalls how, just like these children, she ran around every day with everyone.
But then she shakes her head and scolds herself for constantly turning to the past. She decided to move forward and so she needs to think about her future. Taking a step forward with her new decision, a single butterfly floats by in front of her. Those wings receive the sunlight and glitter with the color of a rainbow. She’s taken in by its beauty.
Suddenly, a little girl exclaims that there’s a pretty butterfly! She tells her big brother to look at it and how there’s a butterfly there! This young girl had ran past her earlier but has now turned around and is shouting with a large voice. Ai blinks upon hearing the word “big brother”. On the other side of the road, a young man is walking slowly. Shading his eyes from the sun, he looks in the direction the girl is pointing.
The young man agrees with the little girl about how beautiful the butterflies are.