Part 6: Seal, Part 6Video: Seiko
This video covers the entire update.
(This is a very long video. If you don't want to watch the entire thing, you should at least watch the first half, to hear absolutely stellar voice acting from Satomi Arai.)
Naomi, you insensitive jerk! *hic* *sob* *hic* *hic*
*sniffle* No, I shouldn't say that about her. It was my fault. Naomi was just scared. And after what she went through, I don't blame her. She's always been so cheery... *sniffle* ...and so kind... *hic* But I brought out all her pain. All her tears. And that's the one thing a friend should never do. A smile suits her face best of all.
Music: Sorry, We Meet Again
I...I feel so lost without you!
Seiko, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry... Please, forgive me, I just... I just want us...to be together forever!
Naomi... But...when I'm with you...don't I make you mad? Don't I rub you the wrong way and make things unbearable for you?
Of course you don't! That was just me being stubborn, and pouting, and behaving like a spoiled brat!
This was Seiko. Warm and alive. Soft, and smelling lovely as usual.
I'll never let you go again!
*sob* Me neither!
You'd better not!
Mm. A break sounds nice. Let's go.
Oh? Huh. I...passed out earlier, I guess. When I came to, I was lying down in this room.
I was...someplace underground, I think. With no way out. And then I...saw...a little girl, was it? For the life of me, I just couldn't remember clearly...
Hmmm. That's really odd. Maybe you have a guardian angel on your side. Or a ghost.
Come on, don't say that!
Well, remember what that spirit told us when we first got here. He said not all ghosts are bad.
Not all bad, huh? Seiko calmly opened the door and stepped into the custodian's closet. I could hardly believe this was the same person who got scared out of her mind at the first sight of a ghost a few hours before.
Hmm? Hee hee. As long as you're around, Naomi, I feel like I've got nothing at all to be scared of!
That's all well and good, but just make sure you don't let your guard down, okay?
There weren't any working lights in the custodian's closet, but it definitely felt a lot safer in here than it did out in the creepy, creaky hallways. The two of us plopped down next to one another on the tatami. For a long while, neither of us said a word. I guess we weren't sure what to talk about.
Eheh. You too, Naomi. How's the ankle? Still hurt?
I feel like...it did, really badly, for a while there...but it's totally fine at the moment.
Glad to hear it.
Did you manage to find your paper doll scrap?
No, it's still missing. Guess I must've dropped it somewhere else. And finding anything in this place is quite a feat.
Yeah, it is. I'm sorry. But when we get back, we can always ask the class rep to perform the ritual again. Then we can get you a replacement!
Mm. That's true.
For some reason, the thought of someone escaping from Heavenly Host alive and then immediately performing the Sachiko Ever After ritual again sends me into a fit of uncontrollable giggles.
So we didn't. We stayed right where we were for a really long time, just chatting endlessly with one another, casual as can be. About class, and the festival, and our sleepover the previous night. Ordinary, everyday conversation. But then I happened to look over and catch Seiko staring at me.
Huh? Ah, no, it's nothing!
It was too dark to see Seiko's features in any great detail, but something seemed amiss. It was her face. Was she...blushing?
This is hard for me to say... But, well...
What is it?
She had an uncharacteristically serious expression on her face and seemed really nervous. What was it, Seiko? What were you trying to tell me?
Oh, come on! Now my curiosity is killing me. Just spit it out already!
...Promise you won't laugh?
Mm. If you don't want me to, then I won't.
Okay. Because I'm totally serious.
My heart skipped a beat. This was the beginning. How could I have been so dense all this time?
Seiko's focus changed. Her gaze was now directed squarely at my lips. Wait... Was this...?
I want to kiss you.
As...a friend, right?
Seiko didn't say a word. She just shook her head fervently. I was dumbfounded. Was she confessing to me? I hadn't even had a boy confess to me yet!
She hung her head low, staring down at her feet. Me silence seemed almost like it was causing her physical pain. She looked like she might explode. I couldn't see her face clearly, but I was certain she must have been quivering and blushing from ear to ear.
That was the first time I'd ever heard Seiko speak so softly, or with such a stammer in her voice.
Before I knew it, I was crying. And I had no idea why.
Seiko... I'm sorry, I...
I ran out of the room and just took off down the hall.
I still couldn't tell why I was crying. It's like I was scared...or maybe I was happy...or maybe I'd just lost a friend...
Regardless of whether or not I was able to return her feelings, I owed her at least a thank-you. Seiko...must have been pretty deep in regret by that point. I needed to get back to her. I needed to let her know that I would stand by her.
I was suddenly distracted by the sound of dripping water nearby. It was as if someone had left a faucet on, but only just, and it was slowly spilling out onto the floor. But where was it? It sounded close, yet there was no sign of running water anywhere that I could see. I had a bad feeling about this... All I knew was, it was close. Like, really close. Wait... No, it couldn't be... I looked down at my feet, and I gasped.
An unpleasant-looking black fluid was running down my thighs and pooling up on the floor beneath my feet. And it wasn't stopping.
Music: Fear of the Occult (A)
Eww! What the hell? What is this?! Ulgh!
I hesitantly collected a pit of it on my finger and studied it. It wasn't blood. It was almost tar-like in consistency. Smooth and viscous. And it seemed to be faintly glowing as well. Why was something like this coming out of my body?!
I went to wipe my finger on my skirt and shift in place, only to lose my footing and fall backwards, landing hard on my rear.
I put my hands on the sides of my head, closed my eyes and screamed. I'd reached my limit. I just wanted all of this to be over. But try as I might to shut out the world, the world was determined not to be ignored. It was like heaven and earth were moving all around me.
I felt dizzy. It was like my soul and my body were separating. I became acutely aware of my own mass, and started obsessing over it. I was so heavy... My head, in particular. The human cranium weighs about 5 kilograms, and I could feel every last gram straining my neck muscles. It was hurting my back.
Wh-What's...happening? I'm...losing consciousnes... Can't...open my eyes... Rrrrrrnnnng!
All the blood in my body came rushing up to my head. Why was this happening?! I could feel the blood vessels in my face pressing against my skin. I could see blood behind my eyelids!
(It hurts! It hurts! It hurts so much!)
The blood just kept coming. It wouldn't stop! It felt as if my blood vessels, my eyes...my whole head...could burst at any moment. Somebody, please, save me! Seiko!
Just as my last vestiges of consciousness were fading, I heard a little girl's voice. But I was in pain. I was weighed down. I couldn't open my eyes.
What... What are you... saying?
The heaviness in my head grew at an alarming rate, and I heard a tearing sound behind my ears. It was the sound of a major blood vessel breaking wide open. I was certain I was going to die...but then the pain and dizziness simply vanished.
I had the sensation of a faint shimmering before my eyes. And I wondered if maybe I could open them now... Slowly and carefully, I relaxed the muscles that were so forcibly and fearfully holding my eyelids shut.
Wha... Where am I? This isn't...Heavenly Host...
Background Sound: Unpleasant Hum
I knew exactly where I was. I'd seen this image a million times before. I'd seen it just this morning, with Seiko. This was my house.
Huh? Am I...really...home? Was it...all a dream, maybe?
Something wasn't right. My field of vision was low to the ground, and everything around me looked much larger than it should. What was going on?
Naoyuki: You've always been so mature, watching the house all by yourself when we're away. Come on! Pet it!
Natsumi: Isn't she great, Naomi?
Natsumi: Now you'll have someone to keep you company.
Natsumi: Sorry we're always so late coming home from work, sweetie. It's so nice that we can trust you, though.
Naoyuki: I am really sorry. But now you won't be lonely anymore, right?
It may not have been much land, but that was her territory, and she rarely ventured outside of it. Once, I was so upset that my parents were going to be late coming home from work again that I scooped up Mei and ran away from home...for a little while.
The following scene contains dialog from a young Naomi as well as the present day Naomi. Dialog from young Naomi will be represented with her name in bold, rather than a mugshot. Young Naomi is speaking in the above screenshot.
Naomi: It's because you're here, Mei. Because you're here, Papa and Mama don't think they have to come home. It's your fault, you know!
Naomi: *sob* *sob* I'm sorry, Mei! I don't want us to be apart! I said a rally mean thing to you, Mei. I'm so sorry!
Natsumi: Now, now. It's all right, Naomi. Mei will always be there for you. She loves you, you know! She can sense exactly how you feel. And she's very understanding.
Background Sound: None
(It wasn't long after that that Mei ran away. I searched for her every day through teary eyes...but in the end, she never did come home.)
(That wasn't it.)
Natsumi: And you two were such good friends, too.
(I did this.)
Natsumi: But you'll make a new friend in no time. You just need to put this out of your mind and move on.
(It's because Mei was so understanding and kind-hearted that she disappeared from my life. If only I hadn't said what I said to her...)
Naomi: Uwaaaaaaahhh! Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh! Aaaaaaahhhhhh! Mei! Come back, please! Mei!
Natsumi: You never change, do you?
...? Mom? Mom? Where are you?
She didn't respond. But she didn't have to. This was definitely Seiko.
I can't...see you very well. Come a little closer, please. Let me see your face.
I drew in toward Seiko, who was sitting on the ground, and rested my head on her shoulder. Then I wrapped my arms around her.
...? I still couldn't see her face. I thought it might be because of the old lighting in the room. But...no, that wasn't it. Something was very wrong here. Seiko wasn't moving an inch. And that's when I realized...
Wait. Where was I? Was I at home? Or was this Heavenly Host? The last thing I remembered was frantically trying to find her again... I could smell incense from somewhere far off, and finally realized that this wasn't reality.
Background Sound: Terrible Hum
*pant* *pant* *pantpantpant*
No. This person, sitting perfectly still on the floor, not saying a word... This wasn't Seiko. So who was it?
*pant* *pant* *pant*  *pant*
Within the unyielding darkness, I knew that whoever it was waking Seiko's shape was coming toward me.
*pant* *pant* *pant* *pant* *pant* *pant*
She's here. She's right next to me. I can feel her breath. I can sense her presence.
Who are you?
I'm your friend. With the broken neck, remember?
This is the future. Where you make me die.
Why did you leave me by myself back there? After we finally managed to get back together, too...
I was so worried that I'd hurt you. So worried...and that's why things turned out this way.
No... Don't say that!
As I lay there stricken with grief, I heard the footsteps of a child approach. I looked up and saw a little girl with a red dress standing over me.
Who... What are you?
I'm the one who controls the fate of this world.
I had no clue what she meant by that. But I remembered that she'd been giving me advice this whole time. She had a different air about her than the other spirits around the school building. I felt like...maybe she was on my side.
I want to save her! Please, if there's some way to do it, tell me how!
I'll give you another chance to remember. Think hard. What you've just seen are events from your past, which is also the future through which your spirit now passes. In other words, this isn't the first time you've experienced this sequence of events. But you already knew that, didn't you?
This sort of thing doesn't happen. It should have sounded like complete nonsense to me.
Background Sound: None
But I didn't say a word. I just nodded. They were only fragments, but nonetheless, I was seeing crystal clear visions of what I can only assume was my first time experiencing these events. That sense of deja vu I'd been feeling wasn't just some crazy delusion or misidentified nerve impuse in my brain. It was real.
So now, you fight. Against this fated demise.