【Interlude: Her Darkness, Part 1】
I was dreaming of drifting alone through the murky darkness.
I often see this exact scenery when I’m asleep or extremely tired, but more than anything else in this world there is one particular condition that makes have this kind of waking dream and I have to say that after seeing this endless sea of darkness for a few times already, I can’t say that I’m surprised to see it once more.
Yes, that’s right. apparently I have died once more, or at least I am balancing on the brink of life and death again. I tried to recall any of the events that happened right before I’ve woken up here, but no recollection came to my mind no matter how hard I tried to look for one. I just couldn’t remember anything. Maybe someone has tampered with my memory, or maybe it was my own brain that purposefully chose to forget those events, I don’t really know, but there is also a third possibility: that I went to bed as I always do and someone has killed me in my sleep.
Looking around, there was no one else here besides myself. Just an endless black, unmoving canvas.
I could not understand why was I here no matter how hard I tried thinking about it.
The first time I ended up here was when I used the hidden power of my clan that was sealed in my right arm, 『Code Calvariae』. There I have met my mother who gave me quite a scolding for throwing my soul away so easily and then told me that I should live.
If this is the place where people go after death then I’ve violated her order quite a lot. Even if it was not entirely my fault or something that had to be done no matter the consequences I feel like I owe my mother both an apology and an explanation next time I’ll meet her. Though to be honest her being here again would be scary as heck. I’d rather have another meeting with an older Asagao again.
Yahata Asagao, a girl who lost her physical body and was stuck here in this space in the form of a spiritual representation of her mind. Last two times I was here I actually had very meaningful conversations with her and I made a promise with her: to one day come back for her and bring her back to the real world.
Even though she went through so much sadness in her short life, she was always friendly, cheerful and bright. With all the unfairness of life she experienced, she still had it in her to care for her little sister’s wellbeing more than she did about her own. If that is not the strength of will then I don’t know what is. Seeing her like that made me want to encourage and cheer for her, but also, I think that deep down inside I felt jealous of her…. Man, to think that all of that happened during our short stay at the Yatono family’s summer villa.
As a result both sisters were able to tell each other how they truly felt about the situation they found themselves in and they even acquired a brand-new younger sister, Yorugao, so the two of them will never be alone again. Next time we pay them a visit, we definitely have to do something to bring Asagao back.
Anyway, those were the most recent examples of me visiting this strange space. And if my hunch about the pattern of my visits here is correct then it is more than likely that I’ll be meeting someone here. I wonder who will it be this time? I tried to look around to see if there was anyone in here and then…
My younger sister, Aika, stood there, just as shocked as I was.
「Aika? What are you doing here?」
Could it be that Aika was also inhabiting the boundary between life and death, just like Asagao and I? Just that thought alone was enough to make my feel sick with worries. I want Aika to have a safe, normal life. I don’t want to put her in any kind of danger that might ruin her ordinary but happy lifestyle.
She’s the only family I have left and I’m the only family she has left. If something were to happen to her I would never forgive myself for it.
「Don’t tell me you died or got seriously injured?! Are you all right?! If something has happened to you, then I…!」
「Please calm yourself down, brother. Everything’s fine with me and I’m not hurt anywhere.」
「Really? Are you really sure you’re not injured?」
「Yes brother, I am absolutely sure that I’m fine. Moreover, I am fit as a fiddle, and never felt better in my entire life. Happy now?」
Annoyed at my overprotectiveness Aika close her eyes and placed her hand on her forehead, but I could clearly see that her eyelids were twitching. Now that I took a closer look at her, she really doesn’t look like she’s hurt anywhere. I know that I am probably being too forceful with her right now, but can you really blame me? Knowing what this place really is, I bet any older brother would show concern if he found his little sister in such a place. And if not, then he’s really a heartless monster!
「Knowing that you’re concerned about my well-being so much warms my heart, but instead of worrying about others, brother, you should be more worried about yourself.」
「Now that you’ve actually said it, I think you’re right.」
All right, so instead of seeing my mother or Asagao, I’m seeing my sister now. Yep, that’s totally fine with me, nothing weird about it. At least I think that rules out the possibility of me being simply asleep.
「Yes, you’re right, so if at all possible, I would like you to remain calm. Otherwise I’m afraid the real meaning of me coming here will just go over your head.」
It might be due to the fact that Aika has been my long-time counselor, but when she told me to calm down my head stopped wandering all over the place and the feeling of restlessness I had when I saw her here disappeared without a trace. I took a few deep breaths just to stabilize myself. Maybe now that she’s here with me I will finally be able to grasp what the hell is going on in here. If this is not a dream, then what happened to make me and up here? It would be really great if I was able to remember anything at all, but I truly had not a single memory that might have shed some light on this confusing matter. One thing is for sure though: whatever happened to me, it was probably nothing nice.
「So Aika, you said you came here specifically to meet with me?」
「That’s right. Because I learned that you can enter this dream-like space whenever your life balances between life and death.」
「But how is it possible for you to be here? I thought this is a place that is unique to me, and even I can’t come here whenever I feel like it?」
So this place is indeed within a dream. So I guess meeting Asagao here would be impossible to do even if I wanted to do so. The first time I got here I met my monstrously strong mother, probably because I subconsciously wanted to meet her at that time when I thought I was done for. But no matter how strong my mother was, it should be impossible for her to invade other peoples dreams. Then again, she was a kind of a monster when it came to the abilities she possessed as an assassin, so her coming into my dream on a whim and then disappearing as if nothing had happened was not all that improbable.
Aika, however, was not our mother. In fact, she is the very opposite of our mother, a fact that she took great pride in. Unlike mother and I, she was a normal human with no supernatural abilities to speak of. Therefore it should literally be impossible for her to be here now, unless she really was not the real Aika, but an image of her created by my mind.
「Oh, so you think I’m nothing more than a creation of your dreaming mind?」
「No, I don’t think there is anything wrong with you in particular. It’s just that I thought that it was impossible to appear here of your own accord.」
Even in this crazy situation I had no reasons to distrust Aika’s words. Because my feelings towards her and my faith in her will never waver, even in this dreamworld.
「Hmm, what can I do to convince you tat I am one hundred percent your loving little sister, the one and only Sakuradamon Aika?」
Aika puts a finger on her chin and appears to be deep in thought as she stares at me. That was indeed a pose she would make whenever she thought about a solution to one of my many problems connected to living as an ordinary person. Well, if she really found a way to access this place for my sake then that would make me immeasurably happy.
「How about this then? I will tell you about a memory that you have forgotten, and what happens after that.」
「What happens after?」