❀ January 30th, 2013 - Takayama ❀
“Ah yes, we are here in the city!”
Standing just outside the Takayama Bus Centre, Nobuyuki stretched his whole body while the exaggeratedly big green backpack rattled with each movement he made. His hair swayed with the winter breeze, his amber eyes shining more than usual with indescribable excitement.
“Now, using my handy-dandy map I took from the Information Centre last time we were here…” He reached his right hand towards his trouser’s pocket, bringing out a map that was folded into four in order to fit. Once he opened it, I could notice how he had marked different locations. “We should cross over the station to reach the other side of the road, do some other things and we should be there in twenty-nine minutes!”
“How can you be so accurate with the time?” I dared to ask.
“Poodle Maps is a wonderful thing!” Smiling, he closed the physical one he had and proceeded to explain. “When I went to the library, they had these machines you humans call, personal computers. While learning my way with one, I was able to reach this search engine called Poodle that had maps and some other stuff, even I could see your planet from there, in Poodle Earth! I was scared for a second that you could see my homeland but then I remembered that’s impossible because it’s called Poodle Earth for a reason!”
“I am sure the name isn’t Poodle but who am I to argue, I have no idea what the most common search engine’s name is…”
And I can’t believe a guy like him knows more about PCs than me!!
“Now, now. No time to dawdle. Let’s go!” Extending his fist towards a grey, cloudy sky, Nobuyuki started what would be the pace of our small little journey around Takayama towards an unknown location. “Time to appreciate the city while we’re here. It’s totally different from where we live!”
Nodding, I followed suit.
We found ourselves walking around what seemed to be a mix between a residential and commercial area. Various houses and buildings could be seen right in front of the other, as well as small shops, dance centres (there was one that taught ballet!) and casual restaurants. Surprisingly, we walked right next to a French pastry café called “Pont-Neuf” which seemed delicious. A pleasant aroma of chocolate bread, madeleines and what seemed to be millefeuilles triggered in my mind a certain girl we met a few days ago, Ameka Hayami or, how she likes to be called when she transforms into a magical girl: Sweetch.
“I wonder if Miss Ameka has come to this place before. I’m sure she would love it!” Talking to myself, I walked right next to Nobuyuki on the pavement. “She gives me this impression of only eating the fanciest and most delicious of sweets.”
“Hm.” Was everything he said, apparently still hesitant about Miss Ameka.
He did not seem to like her at all. Almost as if she were an irregularity according to his knowledge. I would like to ask about it but… It does not seem to be the right time for it.
We kept going down the road, passing by a fire station, a few more small restaurants and the rest became an exclusive residential area with big Japanese style houses that clashed, once in a while, with occidental styled ones.
After crossing a small bridge, we walked straight for ten more minutes until we gave a right turn, just as Nobuyuki had mentioned before. His face was deeply buried into the map, me having to hold his shoulders before he nonchalantly crossed the street when the red signal was on. That was when something crossed my mind once the light became green and continued our way.
“No-bu!” he emphasized.
“I was wondering… Does the place you come from have any means of transportation as we do here?”
The people flowed like rivers, never stopping for obstacles but swirling around them. On the wide pavement, we were walking surrounded by wilted trees, their naked branches curled and froze in the winter’s chilly wind, buildings towering on each side.
“Yeah, we do.” He replied matter-of-factly. “Although they don’t leave lingering pollution like yours. It is already hard to breathe for me here, Shirakawa’s air is much cleaner, albeit there is some pollution in the air as well but in less quantity than here.”
“I see…” Nobuyuki had a point. With the details he had just revealed, I clearly imagined his land to be a clean place. “So the vehicles you use to transport are like ours or…?”
“Maybe someday you’ll see them,” smiling warmly towards me, he stopped for around five seconds before doing a left turn around a pasta restaurant.
“That would be lovely,” I replied happily, still following him.
The scenery kept repeating itself: residential area, small shops, houses, and so on. Nothing major to lose myself in visually. However, the most pleasant thing to experience was the sound.
Who knew that the sound of the birds in Takayama was so distinct? They were circling in the sky, their white bodies soaring across it. The silver linings of the clouds were being sliced by vast, beautiful wings. Their figures stood prominent in the grey above, with only small pockets of clouds to hide them. Their wings beat the air as if it took no effort at all, each movement precisely on time as it should be. They flew through that ever-developing canvas of the grey dawn, as if their wings were fine quills, drawing such hues.
Our scenery changed as further away we got from the city, elegant houses surrounding the green pastures. Going into what seemed to be an uphill path, we kept walking for around ten more minutes, until we finally reached a bit of civilization again. Finally, Nobu gave a final left turn and we had arrived at what seemed to be a giant tennis area.
It had six courts, each of them with a brand new net and right in front of the entrance, children and teenagers of all ages could be seen with their parents or friends, excited to start their lessons. Some of them had brought their own pieces of equipment, such as rackets and balls, alongside special sneakers in order to don’t damage the floor of the court. However, I looked at myself, still in my school uniform while more than ninety per cent of them were all wearing white.
“I feel out of place…” I whispered.
“Don’t you worry ‘bout a thing, I came prepared!” taking off the green backpack and dropping it into the ground with a loud thud, he began to take out stuff and throwing it into my arms. “Here is your water bottle I prepared before we left the house, gotta stay hydrated! Here is a white shirt I found and a white skirt I bought the other day for you, I hope I got your measurement right! Those sneakers you are wearing right now I found them as well… What else, what else?”
“W-Wait, Nobuyuki!” Stuttering, I caught every item he kept on throwing. “Where did you find the shirt and the sneakers? And how did you even…?”
“I was doing some cleaning today and decided to look for appropriate clothes for this sport in your room! As I told you, I read all I could about it! And about the skirt, I secretly took your measurements at night. I might know your three sizes but it’s better to be safe than sorry. What if you finally gained some weight and the skirt doesn’t fit you? I had to make sure everything was perfect to make this an amazing experience for you, my dearest!”
“I have so many things I’m angry about right now.” However, I was unable to say them. “Many things you did were so wrong on so many levels…”
I don’t feel safe while sleeping all of a sudden.
“Now, now. There is a toilet right here so go and get changed!” Pushing me towards the place he was talking about, he hurriedly locked me inside while cheering right behind the door. “I’ll be watching on the benches. Go have fun and train to your heart's content!!”
“I hope they lend rackets here…” Was the only thing I could say.
Quickly undressing and putting on the clothes magic boy had bought and found for me, I felt ready and folded my school uniform.
Once outside, I could see him sitting down in the distance, waving his hand happily towards me, which, for some reason, made me smile in return. I was already trapped in this crazy scheme of his, and I knew he did not have bad intentions at all. Putting a bit of effort from my part should not hurt, it’s not as if he hadn’t done it for my good and I truly need to build some stamina if I’m going to be fighting strange monsters like what happened with Mr Yamada last time.
While walking down the court, I noticed a lady talking in a loud voice.
“Those who have signed up for the novice course, please line up here!”
I rushed towards there, following her instructions and that was when I noticed…
I’m surrounded by children!!!
All the other students were around five to nine years old, me being the only ‘grown-up’. I found that completely astonishing. However, the lady who was arranging everything for the novice course didn’t think of it as strange. Apparently, people my age were already in the advanced courses and that made me think that perhaps they had been doing this sport since they were of a young age.
“Here’s your tennis racket!” She was suddenly in front of me, stretching a black coloured object.
“T-Thank you,” examining it, I pretended to hit a ball.
“You are welcome. Please remember to return it once the lesson is over.”
Her short, light-green hair swayed in the wind my impromptu movement generated, her swamp-deep coloured eyes shining brightly as precious stones. With white ribbons on each side of her head, the rest of her clothing was of that colour as well and I thought that, perhaps, she was going to be our teacher.
“Everyone, welcome to the novice lessons! I will be your teacher for the whole duration of this course. My name is Riaru Ninomae, it is a pleasure to meet you all. Before we start, we’ll do a small warm-up, so your bodies can become used to a certain rhythm and be ready for when we start practising.”
Certainly, she was the one who would be teaching us the basics.
“You will do laps around the court for twelve minutes! There is no need to be quick, or focus on being first. This is not a competition, just a tranquil way of warming up your body. You can run if you wish, or jog! Whatever makes you feel comfortable. Remember to breathe with your nose and not with your mouth, if not, your throat will become dry and your chest to hurt! If you become tired, walking is okay! Don’t push yourselves to the ultimate limit. Everyone is starting at the same pace, and we’re here to have fun!”
However, I was the only one truly astonished by the time since all the little kids were highly excited, raising their own and rental rackets up the grey sky.
“Now, go!” Miss Ninomae blew a black whistle she was carrying around her neck and everyone began to run.
I need to pick up the pace! If not I’ll be a huge embarrassment in front of all of these children!
The steady pound of my footsteps echoed into my ears. I felt a bead of sweat roll down my forehead and splatter to my chin. I wasn’t giving up. Adrenaline coursed through my veins, pouring everything I had into a silly warm-up routine. My breathing quickened, trying to appease my need for oxygen, forgetting I was not supposed to run with my mouth open. That caused my chest to actually hurt and lower my velocity. Watching how all the small kids passed right through me as if nothing, made me really wonder if I was actually suited for combat. If children have better stamina than me, how am I supposed to fight? That was when I realized I’m not only mentally weak but physically as well.
“That’s… depressing…” I said between ragged breaths.
And in less than three minutes in, I was in the last place, if it were an actual race of course. Most of the children were already on their fourth lap, while I was suffering to at least make it to one. That was when I took notice of another exaggerated, erratic breathing just behind me. Apparently, I actually wasn’t the last one at all.
Right behind me, there was a little girl.
Her steps were pounding in time with her heartbeat, small trails of sweat dripping through her neck while her innocent, pure cinnabar-coloured eyes shined brightly, giving her very best during her slow-paced run. Yet, I could clearly see that for her, the velocity she was going felt as hyperspeed. Her silver-grey hair was tied up in two long low twintails which were close to kissing the ground.
Suddenly, her eyelids slowly descended, her feet tangling up while her body. Her falling down was like looking at the death of a flower. Gracefully, just like petals withering during winter, her pale body was near to collapse.
Breaking my pace, I turned back to catch her before her white clothes were covered with dirt. No one else stopped, no one else seemed to care while the other kids kept on their track passing right next to us. The body of the girl was as light as a feather while I carried her towards the benches. Miss Ninomae noticed the incident, rushing to where I was leaving the girl lie down.
“What happened?” Was the first thing she asked, while the little girl breathed heavily still with her eyes closed while sweating profusely. “Did she faint?”
“I think so. I managed to catch her before she fell…” I mentioned, seeing how our teacher’s worries grew.
“She needs some water, as soon as possible.” Looking around, she found the nearest water fountain with her eyes. “I’ll go grab some for her and…”
“It’s okay, I have some right here.”
Nobuyuki was right between us, giving us the bottle drinker he had made just for me. Miss Ninomae took it after a quick thanks and told me to hold the girl carefully, trying to make her sit down and open her lips making her drink some water. After a few drinks, colour returned to her cheeks and her eyes were halfway open, looking around, clueless about what happened and why she wasn’t on the court running, with a recently met woman and an unknown teenager looking at her.
“Do you feel okay?” Miss Ninomae asked, holding the little girl’s hand. “Does anything hurt?”
“W-What happened…?” Her voice crackled up, still unable to breathe properly.
“You collapsed but Big Sis here made sure you were safe,” the light-green haired woman proceeded, holding my shoulder with her free hand. “Make sure to rest all you can right now. Big Sis and Big Bro here will take care of you.”
Miss Ninomae looked at me pleadingly.
“L-Leave it to Big Sis!” My voice came out awkwardly, not knowing why these series of events were happening.
“O-Okay…” confused, the girl nodded.
“I am sorry to impose this onto you Miss…?” Our teacher looked around the court, suddenly spotting two boys breaking on a fight while screaming about making a foul play while running to the other. “This does happen often in the novice class, I need to separate them now.”
“Samidare. Yui Samidare. Now, please, go, Miss Ninomae. I will look after the girl!”
“I appreciate your help, Miss Samidare.” Running back towards the court, she yelled at both from a distance. “Hey! No fighting!!”
I sat right next to the girl, and Nobuyuki on the opposite side. We exchanged looks, not knowing what to do about the situation at all. We were clearly worried about the girl since she seemed to not be doing well at all. However, she was slowly gaining back her energy and smiled at both of us.
“Thank you, Big Sis. Thank you, Big Bro.” An angelic smile aura invaded the place.
“Are you feeling better now?” Nobuyuki asked her, slowly shuffling her hair. “Everything will be okay with Big Bro Nobu here!”
Nodding, the girl shuffled in her seat.
“What’s your name? I’m Yui and this guy here is Nobuyuki.” I said, thinking that the best course of action was to engage in meaningless talking so she would forget about the accident she had. “How old are you?”
“No-bu!” The blue-haired boy emphasized the syllables.
“Meiyu! Meiyu Morita! My friends call me Mei though!” Regaining some of her vitality, the girl introduced herself happily. “It’s because my name can be read that way. Oh and I’m eight years old!”
“Well then, I’ll call you Mei,” Nobuyuki intervened. “Do you want more water?”
“Thanks, Big Bro Nobu!” Taking a sip, the little girl was becoming more and more energetic. She gave the yellow scarfed boy the drinker back with a sigh. “Big Sis Yui, did I faint on the court…?”
How do I even reply to her question without making her remember how it felt…?
“Yes, you did but Big Sis here saved you just in time so nothing ugly happened!” Smiling towards her, Nobuyuki held the little girl’s hand and pointed towards me with his face. “It’s alrighty, Kaai! Are you sick? You need to take care of yourself!”
Nobuyuki is good with children… I could never… Reassure her that way.
“I have asthma.” Playing with her hands, the girl I just met today admitted. “That is why mummy signed me up for lessons so I can do exercise at my own rhythm!”
“You’re a strong girl, Mei! You are trying your best, just like Big Sis Yui here. Just make sure to don’t put so much pressure on yourself next time you run, m’kay?” With a thumbs-up, Nobuyuki comforted her.
I’m not strong at all. I’m not trying my best at all. Meiyu here is stronger than me. She is fighting against a condition she’ll have for the most part of her life up until the point of exhaustion while I was… just being my gloomy self, giving up without even trying. What am I even doing? What are you doing, Yui?
We spent the rest of the lesson making Meiyu some company, Nobuyuki entertaining her to the best of his capabilities while I was deep in thought, reflecting on my immature actions and selfishness while Nobuyuki and the little girl played a small round of shiritori. Apparently, Nobuyuki was having a hard time losing a couple of rounds by using words that ended with the letter ‘n’.
That was when my phone vibrated, indicating that a message had arrived.
The whistle’s sound reverberated throughout the field, indicating the end of the lessons, making me forget about replying to my friend.
“That was quick…” I said, holding my chin.
Unconsciously, I looked into Nobuyuki’s eyes.
“?” He tilted his head, smiling, while he played a clapping game with the girl we just met today. “Time sure flies when you’re having fun, huh! Are you feeling better, Mei”
“I’m feeling all better, thank you for playing with me Big Bro.” Turning around, the silver-grey haired child scooted right next to me, bowing her head in apology. “I am sorry, Big Sis Yui for making you miss the lesson for looking after me…”
It hurts. It hurts so much. Don’t apologise. It hurts.
“It’s oka—” My voice was cut impromptu.
“Meiyu!!” Rushing towards us, a beautiful woman ran with fashionable white high heels and pink shaded sunglasses, embracing as strongly as possible the small girl and checking every part of her body. “Nǐ shòushāngle ma? Fāshēngle shénme?”
“Māmā, wǒ méishì. Dà gēgē hé dàjiě zhàogù wǒ!” She replied.
What is happening? Chinese? Why Chinese? Or is it Mandarin...? Cantonese maybe...? I feel so ignorant...
The gorgeous lady looked at both of us, examining every single aspect of Nobuyuki and me.
Is she mad?!
Her long, celadon coloured hair swayed with the sudden chilly winter breeze. Wearing a white summer hat in the middle of an untamed season, her baby blue coloured dress roared with her sole presence. Using a long, willow-shaded coat, she lowered her sunglasses, her coal eyes piercing my soul.
“Um…” I felt how I became smaller and smaller, lowering my head between my shoulders.
Nonetheless, unexpectedly, strange noises came out from Nobuyuki’s mouth. His face transformed into the exact definition of hostile, growls escaping from his lips while his teeth were slowly becoming larger and visible to everyone else.
“How could I ever thank you?” Smiling just like a bright sun, the mysterious beautiful adult patted both of our heads. “I am in your debt.”
When the black-eyed woman placed her hand on top of the yellow scarfed boy, his growls started to disappear, slowly retreating into what seemed to be an ultimate pleasure, closing his eyes in delight and his right leg moved up and down, slowly, as a reflex from his enjoyment.
He really is a dog, isn’t he!?
“There is no need!” Quickly, I lifted both of my hands in front of my face, shaking it vigorously. “I just did what I thought felt right!”
The woman stopped patting both of our heads. When she let go of his hand off of Nobuyuki’s head, I could clearly hear a whimper of disappointment.
He clearly is a dog.
“Still, thank you for taking care of my daughter.” Extending her hand towards the little girl, she stood up happily. “I’m glad she made nice friends both Big Sis and Big Bro here.”
“It was our pleasure!” Casually shaking off his sudden abnormal behaviour, the blue-haired boy came back to his human senses. “See you next week, Kaai!”
“Yup! See you Big Sis Yui, Big Bro Nobu! Bye-bye!”
Waving her free hand, the girl started to walk towards the exit while her mother bowed down, making me uncomfortable and causing me to do the same, just to hit myself with the bench I was sitting down on.
“Well, it seems that today’s lesson wasn’t a success but next week it should!” Nobuyuki casually mentioned. “Now, let’s go eat. I’m hungry and I really want to try that udon noodle restaurant down the street I saw in Poodle Maps.”
“Sure, just give me a second…” Taking my phone out of my white skirt pocket, I noticed that the message I had received was not from who I expected it would be. “Miss Ameka…?”
“Please, don’t mention her name. I really don’t like that girl.”
“No, no. I mean, she just sent me a text message…”
【From: Miss Ameka Hayami (Sweetch). Sent: 5:20 PM. Date: January 30th】
Are you free tonight? Can you come over? There is something I forgot to mention last time and I want to train up a bit. At this rate, I’ll become rusty and it’s good for you, rookie.
Let’s meet at Shiroyama Park.」
“Do you know where Shiroyama Park is?” Nobuyuki looked at me.
“No, but, we have your map so it should be okay.”
“I’m allowing this because she is mentioning something about training. I’ll let it slide this time,” crossing both of his arms, Nobuyuki seemed ticked off.
“Well, time to change and go. We’ll most likely be there when nighttime comes.”
❀ January 30th, 2013 - Takayama, Shiroyama Park ❀
The trees rustled loudly against the cool night breeze giving off an eerie feel, debris covering the trail we followed. Metal creaked in the background, making me notice the children games placed in a far off area and sending a shiver down my spine. The only lights of the park were the depressing street lamps scattered around it that barely lit up. It was as an eerie ghost town. Everything was obscure, and unknown to me as if it had been abandoned for decades. The swings slowly dazed and swished back and forth.
As the lights fade to black the deep into the park we went, the colours of the grass and leaves remain in my mind almost like a fragrance. My surroundings became more silvery between the shadows that stretched out as if yawning. The breaking of simple leaves or twigs becomes the focus of my attention, making me lean closer to Nobuyuki who was walking in front of me without a single trace of fear.
I looked up into the sky while holding onto his yellow tattered scarf.
The moon under the siege of the stars seemed to lighten the night, bringing them forth, and they shone and hung in the blackness. It consumed everything. Except for the stars, which stood out like pebbles in front of a storm, as an endless twilight ocean up above.
Nobuyuki stopped, a silhouette making its way towards us from one of the faraway swings. The lamplights illuminated her body under the quiet moonlight, bathing her in shimmering dust particles floating around her body. Wearing what seemed to be the school uniform of last time, I did not feel out of place with mine being so late into the night.
Miss Ameka stood right in front of us, both hands on her hips.
“Glad you could come.” Her voice had an unusual tone.
“Quite the fancy place to summon us,” the boy replied. “I thought you would leave us alone.”
“Nobuyuki!” Ashamed, I tried to call him out.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to do it either but I’m pissed off right now so I thought that some ‘training’ could help,” casually speaking, Miss Ameka came closer to us, her dark honey-coloured hair tied down in two twin-tails shining brightly under the stars.
“Hold on a second. You want to technically fight against Yui to just ‘cool off’?” Extending his right arm in front of me, the boy that turned my life upside-down scowled.
“C’mon. If you say it that way I’ll look like the bad girl here!” Stressed out, Miss Ameka closed her eyes while caressing her temple. “There are no HeartBit incidents, I already did my round around the whole prefecture and after knowing that the dumb celebrity is being a complete coward, I had to be reminded of something I despise by someone stupid so yeah, I’m in a really foul mood so training could help me relieve some stress and have this rookie girl here gain some more practice. It’s a win-win situation!”
“It’s a selfish win-win situation!” Pointing at her, Nobuyuki walked forward. “Yui is not a toy you can use to vent your anger into.”
“Very well then.”
In a couple of seconds, my eyes were unable to follow the succession of events.
Nobuyuki had been blasted off in supernova speed, flying across the park just to be knocked out against a far off tree. Branches collapsed, leaving him on a worrying state.
My heart rate accelerated. Fear welled deep inside of me. The world had become a loudspeaker I couldn’t turn off.
The girl was standing right in front of me, drawing with her lip a terrifying smile. She was still with her regular clothes on, meaning she hadn’t transformed. Miss Ameka released a laugh, just to send shivers down my spine and well-up anxiety in my stomach. On her right hand, she was holding what seemed to be a small handgun made of biscuit. From the tip, smoke was being released while the fancy decorations swirled around the weapon. Proud of what she had done, it seemed she was eager for more.
“Don’t worry. The mutt isn’t dead. I just strapped him down with some sugar against the tree so he won’t interrupt like last time.”
Turning around to where the attack had taken place, the smoke had cleared, my eyes barely making out a coughing yellow scarfed boy who couldn’t move his body at all. What seemed to be a white, solid thread, was holding him in his place unable to move nor speak, his whole body is covered by it. The green backpack he carried had been completely destroyed, the objects scattering all around. However, the destruction it had left behind made me realize that the weapon Miss Ameka carried was not to be underestimated, even if the attack itself had been ‘harmless’.
“Wanna know more about this?” Making the handgun go round and round with her index finger, she made it disappear with a fancy pink coloured smoke. “If you fight with me, I can tell you and teach you about it. I can even guide you to summon your own weapon… Which I suppose the mutt hasn’t told you about.”
“Can’t we just… talk about it instead?” I gave a step back, clearly afraid.
I have to help him.
“Fighting is just…”
“Fighting is just what?” Miss Ameka gave a step forward. “Useless? Nonsensical? Let me tell you a fact of life, rookie. The world isn’t going to stop just because you want to. No one is going to stop and talk everything with words because you want to. Things won’t end up peacefully because you want to. Battles will come straight up to you, with no chance to even think about it, without a way to avoid them. Sometimes, the only way to stop someone is to go up against them. You cannot avoid the inevitable.”
My heart sunk.
“That is why I am going to destroy that frail hopefulness of yours.”
The moon wailed, a storm of powdery sugar coming off from the sky, just as if the stars were pouring down their tears against my cold skin.
Miss Ameka’s transformation took place, her words escaping frantically from her lips while her body glowed, skyrocketing towards me with no intention of stopping midway. My body was numb, unable to do a single thing. Fear had taken hold of me, reminding me how useless and pathetic I actually am. Did I really believe that being a magical girl could be that easy? That I could actually help people? If it wasn’t for Nobuyuki that day, and even Miss Ameka’s interference, I wouldn’t have been able to save Miss Hazawa. Miss Ameka took charge of the HeartBit, me being just a background character, as I’ve always been.
Albeit, Nobuyuki’s voice came to me too late. Miss Sweetch was right in front of me, holding her handgun right against my forehead. Her wild mint hair complementing the starry night while her aquamarine eyes twinkled with excitement.
Even still, time stopped. Everything ceased to exist. No movement, no wind, no breaths. Washing away every last piece of my inner self, a lock was opened unleashing a massive breakthrough. The magical girl of sweets was sent towards the endless night sky, the unleashed energy from my inner screams demolishing everything in a three radius perimeter.
What did just…?
“Using magic without transforming isn’t fair, y’know!” Flying downwards, Miss Sweetch had taken a hold of herself, accelerating, right towards where I was standing.
You just did it when attacking Nobuyuki!!!
«Transform, Yui! Demystify Missing Power only works once!»
Saying the words as fast as I could, without understanding the chain of events, the crystal rose shining light enveloped my whole body, turning me into my alter ego. Into the person, I find myself reflected in. What I aspire to be, to become, to live as by. In slow-motion, my body changed drastically from the length and colour of my hair, including my chest size and eyes. This was my other self, the magical girl of dreams.
“Never-ending feast, a sweet demise! Crushing lullabies of candy-flossed desires!” Manifesting a colourful dancing ribbon, Miss Sweetch shot it, its vigorous speed making its way towards me. “Let this child embrace the denial!”
Curling up against my body, the ribbon held me tight making me unable to breathe. My head was pounding, every cell inside of me screaming for oxygen. I kept fighting until I felt like my head was about to explode, I fell further and further into the darkness until it threatened to swallow me whole.
With the last bit of strength that remained on me, the excruciating pain reached my fingertips, trying to form any kind of magic to retaliate. Exhausting myself to the brink of madness, recalling every single detail from how I did it during the battle with Mr Yamada, I poured my soul into unleashing an attack that never happened. Perhaps, that time, it had been a brink of luck, amateur luck. Right now, I was in a one-sided fight against someone much stronger and knowledgeable than I. Attacking someone just for the pure sheer of adrenaline wasn’t in me. That time, I fought to protect someone. Could it be the reason why nothing is working for me right now?
I have to think of something. If not… If not… Miss Sweetch might really end me here and now.
The rose wasn’t speaking to me either.
I can’t hope for a miracle to happen out of nowhere.
“Vibrant colours of life, let this child see the edge of the world within mortality and chaos. Like a rose, let the beauty of the moment pierce the heavens with its thorns, crystal clear as a pure soul. Love is the law, and you shall love under will is my sigil: Aurora Aurea!”
A majestic golden light emanated from the sky, lightening up in a vibrant casket of luxurious colours. Miss Sweetch loosened the grip of her dance ribbon, releasing me while I coughed up, inhaling all the air I could. I could feel my chest deeply burning, while the golden light resonated in the area. Lifting my head, I took notice that Nobuyuki was sparkling in a dazzling aura, transforming himself completely. The crystal rose in my chest stung, as if the scene were something painful to see, breaking me into a million pieces.
“What is going on with your mutt!?” Miss Sweetch’s voice broke midway, her battle determination lowering in intensity. “Speak up, Somnia!”
“I… I don’t… I don’t know either,” I gulped, unable to process how the boy broke the solidified sugar chains, rocketing himself towards where we were, his appearance completely changed. “Nobu… yuki?”
He wasn’t a human anymore.
What we had between us could be called a gigantic beast, covered in black fur standing upright, with claws as vicious as knives. He was growling, his massive jaws showing white fangs that could end with life itself in a matter of seconds, amber eyes splendidly shimmering while he let off of a contained howl.
“Hold on, what the bloody hell is wrong with him!?” Doing a backflip into the sky, the mint-haired magical girl floated in the air, planning a safe distance between us. “Is this what a familiar is…?
“As one who has Fera blood in his veins, it is my duty to protect my master.” Even if his voice was lower-pitched, my anxiety was washed away knowing it really was Nobuyuki after all. “Master, your orders. If you wish to do so, I can end up with this fake veneficae right this instant.”
“E-End up with…?” I stuttered, fear coming back.
My temperature lowered, my blood freezing.
“H-How can you even suggest t-t-that!?” I was speechless.
I couldn’t believe that the silly, happy-go-lucky magical boy had suggested something so outrageous.
“I am afraid, my master, that is the only option I can suggest at the moment. That, or distracting her for you to attack. Nonetheless, I would very much appreciate it if you chose option number one. The vermin needs to be exterminated before it expands, fake.”
“W-Why are you calling me a fake!?” Miss Sweetch was trembling, yet her courage was still burning deep inside of her. “As if you knew a thing!”
“You are an anomaly. Anomalies need to be exterminated.”
“You would rather silence someone instead than letting the truth be known?” The girl took out her handgun. “Leaving this child in a veil of ignorance?”
“What I chose to do is none of your concern, fake veneficae.” Growling even more than before, Nobuyuki’s teeth were almost like recently polished daggers ready to gnaw on the enemy.
I have to do something… if not…!
“Nobuyuki, distract her!” Pulling myself through, I couldn’t believe what I had just said. “Distract, but don’t harm. I… I will… I will fight my own fights!”
“... As you wish, my dearest.” The golden lights dimmed off, his body returning back to normal. The blue-haired boy with the yellow tattered scarf was back. “Consider this your lucky day!!!”
He pointed towards Miss Sweetch, with his tongue out.
“Are you really the same individual that just threatened me…?” Dumbfounded, the magical girl of sweets spoke.
“Believe me, I asked the same thing when I met him.” I sighed.
“Now, now, my dear! If you want to fight, you should have your own weapon just like that silly goose of a girl has. While I am distracting her, do your best to come up with something, m’kay?”
And with that said, Nobuyuki went straight towards Miss Sweetch, grabbing her from her wrist.
“Shall we fight?” The boy blinked an eye.
“This isn’t the correct way to hit on girls, you mutt!”
Right on cue, as if it were a dance, a fantastic fight was taking place right up above me. However, I had no time to lose myself in it. I had to do something. I needed something to fight with. To protect me with. Something to protect the people I cherish.
Pouring my deepest and purest of desires, my fingers caressed the crystal pink rose right in my chest. Every lost emotion was finding its way through a vein towards my undying heart. Fluttering butterflies flew all around, bell chimes echoing in the night. A circle shined below my feet, enveloping my intentions while joining them together alongside my aspirations. A dream where everyone could be happy. I don’t know what happiness is anymore. I am unable to express happiness to avoid despair. Even still, I wanted to catch those dreams and make them come true.
“Synthesis… Come forth, Fullmoon Starbow!”
What seemed to be a magical stick had made its way into my hands, growing in size. Made of what seemed to be of an ivory colour, a star was right in the middle, spinning while a bow formed as if signalizing me that I could use it to shot arrows. When the star stopped it’s endless spin, nets formed all around it from various colours with feathers. I had no idea what it could be used for, however, it was worth a test-try.
Interfering between Nobuyuki’s and Miss Sweetch’s fight, I went up above the clouds holding the newly created weapon, catching her off-guard. The nets grew in size, as if ready to catch her.
My world was enveloped in an aquamarine colour, while my senses drowned surrounded by black.
❀ ? ? ?❀
They say that dreams are the reflection of our inner self. Our fears gain life, our wishes become true and we see long-forgotten memories. Yet, at the same time, dreams can be nonsensical with apparitions, plot-thickening adventures and grim outcomes. However, what I was seeing was a pure aquamarine coloured world, just like her eyes.
Was I, perhaps, seeing the world from her point of view?
Love and weakness welled-up inside of me, while the surroundings became clearer. Just as if it were a paranormal activity, opening the doors to help me see a phenomenon I wouldn’t be able to perceive with my current self. Harmony was breaking inside the lonely bar in the early morning, everything is being prepared to open when evening struck. That was when I could clearly assume I was inside Miss Ameka Hayami.
Still, something felt wrong.
I felt I was her, yet not quite at the same time. It didn’t have anything to do with this ethereal possession, but more in a physical sense.
Suddenly, the door towards the outside world opened, a chime bell echoing.
“I’m looking for—”
“You again. I told you to never come back.”
Reflected through the winter's sun rays, a young girl had entered the bar with gleaming passion. Her short, evenly cut blue platinum hair resembled a recently lit flame, her diamond pink eyes burning with sheer determination. Both of her ears were pierced, with long, copper earrings. Wearing a black pullover with a pair of jeans, the mysterious girl seemed unpleased with the greeting.
“Please, reconsider!” Bowing in front of me, or in fact, Miss Ameka, the girl pleaded.
“How could I even expect someone so young to understand this?”
“Don’t come here anymore. This matter doesn’t concern you. You keep chasing a fantasy that is not real. Everything ended before you even knew. What you admire is already gone, with no chance of it ever piecing up again. Stop chasing this broken, path with no signals towards a deep dark, endless pit and go look for your own light.”
“You’re a coward…” With both of her fist-shaking, the pink-eyed girl confronted those painful words. “I can’t believe I admired a coward!”
“The truth is always ugly, isn’t it?”
And then, thoughts began to appear inside my—or rather, her—mind. Memories of smiles. A chain of memories filled with happiness. Music invaded my ears, mellifluous melodies ringing up to the heaven’s above with wonderful instruments and voices. Laughters came forth with a group of friends right next to a river enjoying the simple pleasures of school life.
Pleasures that shatter down when one of the friends spoke words that changed, what seemed to be, her world.
«This is the end of everything.»
I could feel Miss Ameka’s pain.
I could feel Miss Ameka’s anger.
I could feel Miss Ameka’s never-ending sorrow.
Hence, I caught them.
That way, she could have a pleasant night, without memories that caused her agony.
When I came into, I was holding the seventeen-year-old girl in my arms. Her weight was as light as a feather, all her energy crashing down just like after you passed after a sugar rush. Nobuyuki stared at me, clearly concerned.
“What happened, Yui?” He asked.
“I saw… something. I… caught… something…” Blabbering, the staff I was holding seemed to have disappeared. “What was…?”
It was so short, it almost felt like a quick vision or glimpse of the... past? Present?
“From my understanding, it seems you sent her to sleep and caught the bad things that afflicted her at the moment. That can explain why she is sleeping so peacefully right now.” With a finger under his chin, the blue-haired boy explained.
“You mean, like a dreamcatcher?” After saying it, the nets on my weapon made a lot more of sense.
“Probably.” He nodded. “C’mon. Let’s take her to her home. Today has been a long, exhausting day.”
“You’re right…” I gave one step ahead, just to pause in my tracks. “Hey… Nobuyuki… what you said to Miss Ameka…”
“Not now, Yui. You have seen how I get carried away explaining. This isn’t the right moment to tell you about it, please.”
“Promise you will tell me about it… And the reason why Miss Ameka’s Rosa Crystallum is different than mine.”
Nobuyuki froze, implying I had said something he wouldn’t be able to hide anymore, his golden eyes filled with an eternal sorrow which I knew wasn’t directed to me but, instead, to somewhere far away.
A glimmer of a faded, long-time memory he tried to forget.
I had finally seen what I could not that fateful day.
Staring at Miss Ameka’s hydrangea shaped Rosa Crystallum, I somehow knew that things would start to get out of control, unable to grasp them, leaving me in the unknown.