Chapter 8:

Reprieve from a cold darkness (Part 2).

A Reverie for Another Eternity

“So, why did we have to leave exactly?”Bookmark here

The pair had been on a steady stroll from their departure and had come across a red light.Bookmark here

“It’s just my curfew, Maya looks out for me often when I get lost in time.”Bookmark here

As the wagons and carriages continued busily, Mikuta took a glance at Helena. Whether it was out of doubt or for self-affirmation, she couldn’t remember after seeing Helena’s aggrieved visage. Though it was for only a brief moment, it was a face of reluctance, so very very far out of place in front of a simple stoplight. Bookmark here

She turned around and faced Mikuta with a solemn look. Bookmark here

"Those children, they really do work hard just to live for another day. I wouldn't downplay their efforts if I were you."Bookmark here

The same cold stare previously used on Erika was now facing Mikuta, but she could care less about what Helena had to say. She only thought of what she saw, and until there was something to prove her otherwise, Mikuta was going to stay adamant about her opinion on the matter, regardless of how much her eyes plead for a mutual understanding.Bookmark here

The lights still turned green, and the pair made their way down the street and to the familiar bakery store. Helena had just finished dropping off the few baskets when suddenly, a memory of an earlier encounter arose in Mikuta’s mind.Bookmark here

“Wait wait wait hold up, weren’t we supposed to see someone today?”Bookmark here

They stopped their trekking through the less crowded streets, as the night lights flickered on. Mikuta had just now observed that the lamps weren’t conventionally powered by electricity, but rather with a ball of bright flame. Pretty interesting.Bookmark here

At that moment, Helena had realized her unfulfilled duty, giving an apologetic yet sheepish smile while holding the back of her head with one hand.Bookmark here

“O-oh yeah… we did have something like that to do on our list.”Bookmark here

She sighed with a worried look. Mikuta shared the same sentiment, though in fear of having to face Erika’s wrath instead.Bookmark here

“Guess we better run.”Bookmark here

“Excuse me?”Bookmark here

Helena quickly grabbed Mikuta’s arm and rushed off towards the very tall and white building in the distance. Taken by surprise, Mikuta was struggling to steady her long and unbalanced steps, eventually keeping her pace in line while striding alongside Helena. She then let go of her hand and began pumping her arms.Bookmark here

They quickly sped away towards a hill opposite to the dorms, the central clocktower’s tolling bells indicating that it was now six in the afternoon.Bookmark here

The impressive white cathedral was the destination, standing out with its towering height and above the various buildings that were in the way. The pair made their way through the forest of brick buildings until eventually, they came across a monstrous staircase that seemed to go on endlessly. There were even clouds that seemingly covering the top step! Bookmark here

The imposing mountain shouldn’t have been referred to as a hill, looming over them. That explained why the white cathedral stood out even when they were in the city.Bookmark here

Mikuta took a gulp in both awe and terror for their next labor.Bookmark here

“Do… Do we need to go up that?”Bookmark here

She pointed to the very obviously long stairway that was in front.Bookmark here

"Can't you just, like, use your magic or something to fly us over there?"Bookmark here

Helena just shook her head.Bookmark here

"I'm not skilled enough to do something like that, sorry!"Bookmark here

The discouraged Mikuta licked her lips in hopeless anticipation. Bookmark here

“Better late than never I suppose.”Bookmark here

The two took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. At once, they ran up the onslaught of stairs with great dexterity and vigor, the muscles in their legs straining with each lift. They rushed through the flight of stairs, covering an impressive five stairs for every step. Even when in the state of complete exhaustion by the 777th step, the pair nevertheless persevered, gritting their teeth and gulping down liters of air until eventually, they finished the 999 steps. Bookmark here

Barely breathing at this point, Mikuta dropped on the gravel pathway, panting her heart out as she looked above at the purple and blue haze brought by the setting sun. Bookmark here

“Not… So… Bad… After… All...”Bookmark here

Helena was wheezing, her hands on her knees as the church doors opened, the dimly lit entrance couldn’t be seen with the outside light.Bookmark here

“You… can… say… that… again…”Bookmark here

The pair, still slightly out of breath, approached the open doors. Bookmark here

“You first, m’lady.”Bookmark here

Mikuta gestured towards the door and bowed down sarcastically. Half an act and half a need to recuperate a little longer, the droplets of sweat meandered their way down the contours of her face, leaving a glistening trail down her neck where it then made its way into her shirt, a cold welcome for her overheated body.Bookmark here

“Oh, thanks.”Bookmark here

She followed in a few moments after Helena had done so, and as soon as they both made it to the first row of pews, the doors slammed shut.Bookmark here

“And who’s obligation did you say it was, hmm?”Bookmark here

A chill ran up the pairs’ spine. Helena didn’t dare to look back, but Mikuta did, out of sheer morbid curiosity.Bookmark here

Staring down at the two with an icy gaze, grinning from ear to ear, was the terrifying blonde sister from before. Her look of satisfaction far outweighed any other emotion she may have held at the moment and was most definitely terrifying.Bookmark here

“A-at least we got here!”Bookmark here

Helena bravely looked back as well, meeting her gaze.Bookmark here

Erika slumped her shoulders in mockery, shaking her head side to side while heaving a sigh.Bookmark here

“You have no idea how scared I was for the two of you~”Bookmark here

Instinctively, Helena piped up needlessly.Bookmark here

“There’s no way someone like you would be scared of anything, and especially for us.”Bookmark here

She continued to berate the sister, Erika casually nodding along at each passing moment. Bookmark here

“In the first place, I don’t think you’d have any trouble finding us. You’re probably - no, definitely - just too lazy to do so.” Bookmark here

A hand came down on top of Helena's head, as Erika began to squeeze down very hard.Bookmark here

“Owie owie owie owie!”Bookmark here

Helena grabbed the vice grip with two of her hands, desperately trying to fend off the attack. Bookmark here

“Let us move on, Sister Erika.”Bookmark here

A voice as light as a feather, almost a whisper, could be heard from the farthest row of pews. It seemed as if Helena and Erika had also caught notice of such a voice, as they turned their heads towards that direction.Bookmark here

“Mikuta, was it? Would you mind sitting in one of these rows next to me?”Bookmark here

In the farthest corner, there sat a hunched figure in a habit. However, her scapular was a bright red embroidered with gold sigils. A dragon and a lion surrounded what seemed to be several rubies on the top of her hunched back.Bookmark here

Oh, this is definitely an upgrade from whatever Helenas wearing.Bookmark here

“Gladly.”Bookmark here

Mikuta tiredly walked over to the very front of the aisle, dragging her feet slightly, and sat at the end, opposite to where the other, much more elderly, nun sat.Bookmark here

Taking a closer look, she could see that the hunch was probably due to years of poor posture, her wrinkly chin visible under the veil, much like her scraggly gray hair. Mikuta could’ve sworn she saw a smile, but any indication of that soon vanished under the movement of her head, the veil concealing any expressions she could’ve been making.Bookmark here

Mikuta heard the door quickly open and shut. Looking back, she saw that the two had disappeared from the inside - Helena was probably thrown out by Erika, who also proceeded to go outside. She was somewhat mildly amused at the act, smiling at the thought.Bookmark here

Suddenly, the same voice spoke in its unique and courteous manner, segueing perfectly into a conversation after the shutting of the door. The timing was flawless, and her speech was just as perfect. It was something to expect straight out of a high-class establishment.Bookmark here

“How was your day so far in the city, young lady?”Bookmark here

Mikuta hesitated for a bit before replying, unsure of what to really say to this old lady. Bookmark here

“It was fun, I guess.”Bookmark here

“Ho ho. Did Miss Patrovosky show you around town properly?”Bookmark here

Mikuta reminisced about the colorful world that she explored alongside Helena. Though it did have its cons with the slums, the city itself was a pretty wonderful sight to behold.Bookmark here

“Of course.”Bookmark here

The old lady just chuckled lightly at this response.Bookmark here

“Is your name Mikuta? It'd be alright if you'd like to be called something else.”Bookmark here

“Uhh, no that won't be necessary." She quickly looked down. "Would it be ok if I asked for yours?”Bookmark here

“Lady florentine would be alright.”Bookmark here

The pair sat in silence for a few more moments of candle flickering until Florentine spoke up again.Bookmark here

“Have you heard of the phrase ‘moral relativity'?”Bookmark here

Confused, Mikuta didn't know where the conversation was heading. Bookmark here

“It’s an interesting concept of how people would choose to abide by certain ethics in given situations. Whether it would be something small, like selling orphans to slave traders in exchange for quick monetary gain, or knowing that a better life is to be had with the death of an entire slave dynasty, their lifeblood fueling the livelihood of a city for generations to come.Bookmark here

Normally, these acts would be the most unthinkable and despicable of atrocities a normal person with goodwill would never do. But, never once has one understood the intentions of another, nor the underlying circumstances behind it. For what if I were to have told you the orphanage had lost its funding and was forced to give away the children under a government mandate? What if it was the blood of a criminal clan that would allow for the flourishing of crops and bountiful harvests at each new moon, providing relief for many hard-working people?"Bookmark here

At that point, Mikuta had thought that it was the phrasing that made all the difference, but she didn't bother correcting this crazy old lady.Bookmark here

"Considering everything, every extenuating circumstance, every extraneous detail that may have shaped an individual’s wellbeing in the past, present, and future, it is possible to calculate a bias, a prediction of their fate, in the everpresent, everflowing current of human constructs. Though it may seem disconnected from a fourth-party's viewpoint, it will eventually add up once the puzzles had fallen in place. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, an applied curse that none can avoid, in basic terms.Bookmark here

And so, would you be willing to commit what humanity deems as sins if it’s for the sake of others? For the sake of yourself?”Bookmark here

Yup, she was pretty crazy. But Mikuta had to respond somehow, and so without any solid basis for her reasoning, thought that all forms of selflessness were an overly stupid thing to do, for both the giver and the receiver. She decided to play dumb instead to see where the old lady was getting at. After all, this entire talk about moral relativity and predicting human behavior didn’t add up in the slightest.Bookmark here

“I don’t get what you mean…”Bookmark here

The old lady didn’t bother answering.Bookmark here

“Do you believe in god, young lady?”Bookmark here

Again, Mikuta was being tested. If she were to answer something as asinine as a no, then it would most likely result in her being kicked out. However, if she were to answer untruthfully without actually knowing the name of her chosen god or gods, then it would also be over for her.Bookmark here

She hesitated, swallowing down the lump of uncertainty in her throat.Bookmark here

Only one way to find out.Bookmark here

“Will answering this question kick me out of the dorms?”Bookmark here

Florentine chuckled, her fragile-looking frame wobbling from the weak laughter. Mikuta thought that she could definitely take her in a fight if it came down to it.Bookmark here

“Of course not, dear. If anything, our church is nothing but questioning the existence of god.”Bookmark here

Mikuta was confused but relented and asked another.Bookmark here

“What gods are there in this world? What good can be made in this world where our lives are dictated by such powerful existences?”Bookmark here

She began to boil down to a question that she truly wanted to ask, not one that was asked simply for word count.Bookmark here

“What exactly am I to this world?”Bookmark here

Mikuta could only recall fragments of who she was before. And with those sparse fragments, she could tell apart things that were familiar and things that weren't. Perhaps that was for the best.Bookmark here

“It is by discovering these evils and self-evident truths that we can progress through this world of ours with new understanding.”Bookmark here

That was just a bunch of baloney that didn’t make sense. Regardless, she was done hearing her out. She already had fulfilled her duty of greeting this lady anyways, her legs still wincing from the earlier workout. She definitely wasn't looking forward to going back down those steps again.Bookmark here

“May I head back now? This conversation has been… pleasant, but I think I would like to go now.”Bookmark here

Mikuta stood up and could hear a small scream from outside. Erika was probably doing something to Helena. She chuckled to herself at this thought.Bookmark here

“Now now, let me finish.”

There was a new quality to her voice, one of cold and stern darkness that compelled Mikuta to sit right back down.Bookmark here

“Perhaps you would like to take a look at the Tripitaka?”Bookmark here

Florentine gestured towards a shelf holding various parchments, books, and scrolls.Bookmark here

A Christian church with Buddhist literature? This isn’t right at all…Bookmark here

Mikuta grabbed the smallest and most dull-looking book she could find there as a form of her silent rebellion, and promptly sat back down.Bookmark here

The cover was decorated with a symbol, in which five animal figures seemingly of Buddhist origin stood around a golden cross in prayer.Bookmark here

“Now read the fourth page.”Bookmark here

Mikuta unwillingly obliged.Bookmark here

Let’s see… In this world, seven precepts govern society. One: to refrain from taking another’s life in acedia, Two: to refrain from stealing in avarice, Three: to refrain from taking intoxicants in gluttony, Four: to refrain from lying to oneself in the sake of pride, five: to refrain from lusting without love, six: to refrain from disheartening others in envy, and seven is… blank?Bookmark here

Mikuta knew that the only missing cardinal sin, for some reason disguised as a Buddhist precept, was wrath, but she didn’t know what actions led on by ‘wrath’ would cause that sin to be committed. Not like it really mattered to her, though it was a bit interesting.Bookmark here

“What seems to be the trouble, young lady?”Bookmark here

This time, that decrepit old lady asks Mikuta with a complacent tone that was fully aware of her authority. Mikuta was both annoyed at the fact that she understood Mikuta’s own powerlessness, as well as not even calling Mikuta by her name once!Bookmark here

“Mrs. Florentine, there seems to be a specific portion of the page that was intentionally made blank with…”Bookmark here

Mikuta observed the paper a little closer, the little black smudges seemingly made of soot garbling the sentence. She flipped a page forward and backward, and couldn’t help but notice that the static portion had only remained on page four of the missing precept.Bookmark here

“Some kind of smearing…”Bookmark here

“Ah. I would not worry about it.”Bookmark here

She paused, her voice lightening up.Bookmark here

“But it would be good of you to understand the world sometimes without any former… prejudices.”Bookmark here

Mikuta quickly caught onto what she was talking about - specifically about her origin. She stood up abruptly, despite the tingling sensation from earlier telling her body not to. Bookmark here

“Do you know who I am, Florentine?”Bookmark here

Without saying the honorifics, Mikuta slapped her hand over her chest, exasperated at the thought that the very unlikeable and incorrigible lady knew something that Mikuta herself doesn’t know about. She was very frustrated indeed.Bookmark here

Florentine chuckled, leaning backward as she crossed her left leg over her right, her hunch no longer appear in her fluid arch of a spine. She comfortably grabbed the top of the bench with her arms outstretched and easily hung her head back.Bookmark here

To Mikuta, this was a totally different woman from the one she was conversing with earlier. And she most definitely couldn’t take this one in a fight.Bookmark here

“I do not, and it is not my particular concern to know who you are now or were.”Bookmark here

Her voice was enriched with a velvety quality of youth, her fragile self no longer. Though aware of this change, Mikuta didn’t like her answer.Bookmark here

“Who are-”Bookmark here

“Let me finish.”Bookmark here

Once again, that dangerous nature seeped into her tone once more, Mikuta clicked her tongue in annoyance.Bookmark here

“For you to continue using the dormitory, you will have to either attend my school of choice or to take up an apprenticeship under someone willing to hire you.”Bookmark here

“Wha-”Bookmark here

“And,” the lady continued, “You must have tangible results that would prove your worth. If not, you will be evicted indefinitely.”Bookmark here

Mikuta began to sweat uncontrollably. Bookmark here

“B-but I don’t even know how to read and write??”Bookmark here

“Young lady, you must understand one thing. This isn’t a charity organization - it’s a loan that you’ve taken out and must repay soon.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t ask to be saved! Why the hell would I need to do something like that?! I-I-”Bookmark here

Once again, the old lady just gave a light shrug, completely disrespecting Mikuta’s thoughts on the matter. It was so disruptive that Mikuta had forgotten about what she wanted to say in the first place. Her fist clenched tightly, her fingers almost turning purple, Mikuta turned around and stomped her way towards the exit to get a message across. Of course, this wouldn’t do anything, and Mikuta had wished it did.Bookmark here

She wondered if landing a punch on the old lady would satiate this burning desire to hit something. Not that it would’ve done her any good. Bookmark here

From behind, the ever-present voice of Lady Florentine reverberated in her ears as another whisper could be heard, this time right next to her ear.Bookmark here

“Good luck, Mikuta.”Bookmark here

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“God, what the hell is wrong with that hag?”Bookmark here

Mikuta kicked a smooth pebble that stood right outside the church door. It went flying down the stairs, the small thumps on concrete could be heard even at where she stood.Bookmark here

Helena leaned against the side of the cathedral, rubbing her temples gingerly from the earlier harassment by Erika.Bookmark here

“She must’ve gone senile after all those years of just messing with people I bet.”Bookmark here

“Miiikuuuutaaaa, you shouldn’t speak badly about Lady Florentine…”Bookmark here

She continued to rub her temples.Bookmark here

“She’s the one in charge of this church and the dorms we live in, and if she hears you it might be the end for youuuuu…”Bookmark here

“Like I care!”Bookmark here

Mikuta loudly proclaimed to the city below the long stairway down, her foot on the top stair. She was very proud of her statement, until she looked down, her blood suddenly draining from her face.Bookmark here

Down below, a sister was smoking, a large plume of smoke drifting in the air aimlessly.Bookmark here

“Oh, and here I took you for the silent type.”Bookmark here

Erika flicked her cigarette, the ashes fading into the upward breeze that tossed it next to Mikuta’s foot. The sister got up and dusted off her tunic, turning around and looking at Mikuta.Bookmark here

Erika took a few steps up, overshadowing Mikuta despite being exactly three stairs lower than where she stood. Until now, Mikuta hadn’t noticed how freakishly tall Erika was - adding only to her already imposing figure.Bookmark here

Though the sun had disappeared over the horizon, the dimmed purple and blue skies certainly didn’t forgive Mikuta for that remark, as the faint light outlined Erika’s formidable figure, like some sort of god.Bookmark here

Maybe that should’ve been her response to Florentine's earlier question. Bookmark here

Mikuta’s stomach rumbled once more, breaking the silence. Helena laughed as she came behind Mikuta, tapping her lightly on the shoulder.Bookmark here

“You’re not you when you're hungry.”Bookmark here

“Y-yeah. I guess.”Bookmark here

An arm had wrapped itself around Mikuta’s shoulder, the same smoky and perfume fragrance filling the air in front of Mikuta. She scowled at having to breathe in the fumes.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, I totally agree with you there, Mikuta.”Bookmark here

To the right of Mikuta, Erika was slouched while continuing to smoke another cigarette. She exhaled, sending the last of the smoke out of her lungs, as she dropped the cigarette butt on the floor. Bookmark here

“Let’s go for curry tonight, yeah?”Bookmark here

Helena and Mikuta nodded compliantly, as Erika grinned.Bookmark here

“Alrighty, let’s a go!”Bookmark here

The trio merrily made their way down the tediously long steps, and back to the dorms. Though Mikuta and Helena were only putting up an act to keep Erika in a more favorable state, unbeknownst to them, Erika was already in a statement of happiness with Mikuta’s reaction towards lady florentine - finding another comrade to chastise her with.Bookmark here

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“Phew, I never thought the shower rooms were that big.”Bookmark here

Mikuta was currently drying her hair with a towel in the room just outside of the showers. She was surrounded by a bunch of sinks and bath mats benches that sat between the blue lockers.Bookmark here

Though everything was clean, orderly, and modern-looking with its beautiful paints and well-done infrastructure, she sighed silently, as Helena continued to hum in the showers next door. Bookmark here

The three had finished eating their freshly prepared curries once they arrived at an empty cafetorium. Strangely enough, it was already sitting there when the three had arrived, though it was the least of Mikuta’s worries at the time. When they had finished eating, Erika had left them once again, saying something along the lines of “I need to go do another job before I can rest properly”. The remaining two then walked down the halls once more and entered through a mundane-looking door, which surprisingly hid away an entire bathhouse that was very well maintained, even by her standards. Yet again, there was not a soul to be seen within the steamy interior. Bookmark here

Mikuta’s face flushed as she recalled the earlier quarrel that went down between her and Helena, one of which ended in a full-body wash by Helena despite Mikuta’s reluctance.Bookmark here

She could recall herself being too embarrassed to give herself a proper wash, too abashed to look at the mirrors that populated every part of the walls of the rooms. Mikuta could still feel the tickling sensations on her bosom, and judging by how well-rounded they seemed in the offender's hands, she gave a rough estimate of the size - perhaps the volume and shapeliness of coconuts.Bookmark here

“Yeah, they’re pretty huge.”Bookmark here

A voice came out from behind Mikuta as Helena had wrapped her body with a white towel just in a nick of time. To the Mikuta who still held an adolescent boy’s mind, it was a bit stimulating, and much more embarrassing. Bookmark here

Helena began wrapping another towel around her head after wiping away any remaining drops on her legs and arms.Bookmark here

“Nothing like a good soak after a long day, you know?”Bookmark here

“Of course, of course.”Bookmark here

Mikuta had begun to change, taking her assigned pajamas out of the locker. Helena had begun to do the same as well, her clothes being on the opposite side of Mikuta's. The words “thank god” were mindlessly repeated in Mikuta’s mind. Perhaps the steam had gotten to her, as well as the rough first day. Yet her morals had somehow stayed intact (applause).Bookmark here

The two, after properly drying off, brushed their teeth in the sinks. As they had finished rinsing the last of the green toothpaste, Mikuta stopped. She had remembered another crucial memory, something that definitely couldn’t be overlooked.Bookmark here

“Hey, uh, Helena?”Bookmark here

Helena wiped away the remaining water droplets on her face and looked up at Mikuta, whose face was sweating with nervousness. Bookmark here

“What’s up?”Bookmark here

“Are there spare bedsheets in the storage room or something?”Bookmark here

Mikuta wasn’t sure if there even was a storage room, but she definitely didn’t want to sleep on the rough mattress without a bedsheet. She cursed herself for not being able to hold it in earlier in the day.Bookmark here

The vivid nightmare of the crimson tide was still fresh in her mind, shuddering at the thought.Bookmark here

“Why would you - ah.”Bookmark here

Helena had realized why she had asked such a question, and in turn, chuckled.Bookmark here

‘At this hour, no. You can get a spare when morning comes though.”Bookmark here

She tapped her forehead, illuminated by the strips of light overhead. Also magically powered, maybe.Bookmark here

“Maybe there are spare rooms?”Bookmark here

“Nope.”Bookmark here

With Mikuta dejected, Helena had come up with a brilliant idea. She puffed out her chest and pointed her thumb at herself gaudily.Bookmark here

“You know, I’m more than willing to let you sleep in my bed just for tonight.”Bookmark here

Truth to be told, Mikuta was very glum about the possible prospect of having to sleep on something as hard as the floor upstairs, or to deal with a rugged mattress that would’ve scratched her supple and girlish skin. She vowed to not have malicious intentions and to not take advantage of Sister Helena’s goodwill if it did come down to sleeping next to her.Bookmark here

“That sounds nice, but you sure?”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll keep you safe.” With a beaming smile, she held Mikuta’s hands, much to her embarrassment. “Anyways, let's go now, I think my hair is just about dry.”Bookmark here

With a nod, the pair threw their clothes in the hamper, and quickly slipped on their shoes, and headed towards Helena’s room.Bookmark here

It really wasn’t as far as Mikuta was expecting it to be, being only a short turn and a few hallways away from her own.Bookmark here

She stood in front of the door as Helena headed inside first, and Mikuta trailed on from behind. Bookmark here

Mikuta surveyed the identical space that she could’ve easily mistaken for her own room, aside from the lack of windows and the clutter of books that sat atop a huge oaken desk. Bookmark here

Helena jumped backward and onto her bed, kicking her legs back and forth.Bookmark here

“Did you use the bathroom already?”Bookmark here

“I’m not a kid you know - and plus I'm supposedly older than you so shut it.”Bookmark here

Though Mikuta had proclaimed that sentence boldly, Helena snickered.Bookmark here

“And who’s the one who wet themselves AND their bed?”Bookmark here

Mikuta couldn’t bring herself to tell Helena what had actually happened - and not like it would’ve done her any service either to the smug so-called supervisor of hers. So Mikuta waited for Helena to stop, where she then rolled over next to the wall making space for Mikuta.Bookmark here

Looking back at Mikuta, Helena patted the open area of her bed with outstretched arms.Bookmark here

Sighing, Mikuta hesitantly went atop the bed and snuggled under the comfy covers which had a distinctly good smell of strawberries. Bookmark here

The two gingerly allowed each other to hoist the same cover over themselves without attempting to be rude about it, the entire situation comfortably silent.Bookmark here

And with a snap of Helena’s fingers, the fire in the lamp went out.Bookmark here

"Don't wet the bed, ok?"Bookmark here

"Oh, screw you."Bookmark here

A few minutes had passed since then, and Mikuta turned her head over to gauge Helena’s reaction. As expected, she had already begun to fall asleep, her breaths becoming more drawn out with every passing second.Bookmark here

Her warmth was comforting, and her soft breaths had a soothing effect on Mikuta’s otherwise overly anxious and fearful mind. Having considered how badly the day could’ve played out, as well as her earlier dream on the chair, Mikuta was truly grateful for the existence named Helena.Bookmark here

Tonight, she definitely would not be having a nightmare.Bookmark here

As she began to think that, a black mist had clouded Mikuta’s vision as she drifted off into a plentiful rest for the first time in her life in the other world, her face expressing a heartfelt smile of gratitude that no one in the small world of theirs would’ve known.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.