Part 27: Purgatory, Part 3
With a sigh and a mumble, I snapped back to reality. Glancing at the clock, I marveled at the fact that it was already past 10. I'd been in a daze for half an hour since getting home. Craziness!
Oooogh... What a day. My shoulders feel like they've got lead weights on them. I couldn't have...brought it back with me...right?
...No, there was no way! I stood up from my desk. The problem was the uniform. I couldn't really relax in it. I should know better! I just needed to change.
Yeah, that sounds good. I'll feel better once I get out of this uniform.
White subtitles against a white background. Great.
They say "I can see you.", if you can't read them.
*gasp* God, please...Is somebody there?! Please, no!
I was glad no one had seen me talking to thin air like that. There was nobody else around, of course. Nothing to be afraid of. It was just my imagination! I really, REALLY needed to get out of my uniform. So once again I started changing, when...
Definitely not my imagination this time. There was somebody screaming outside my window, running toward my house.
I seriously felt like I was going to break down. Maybe I already had! Opening the curtain slowly, I peered outside to see who it was.
I couldn't see her face clearly, being on the second floor and all, but that was Naho all right. She was crying like a madwoman. She looked awful!
What's wrong, Naho?!
Sayaka! It's Kibiki! Kibiki crossed over!
...Okay, just calm down, Naho. Tell me what happened. Where is Mr. Kibiki?
I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do! It's all my fault! If Kibiki...were to die in there...
This was the first time I'd ever seen her so incoherent. I spoke slowly and gently, trying my best to calm her down.
*pant* *pant* ...I, uh... I want you to come back with me. Right now.
Please! I'm begging you!
Tears were streaming down her face. This was a side of Naho I'd never even imagined could exist. There had to be a reason she was so desperate. I agreed to follow her back to Kibiki's house, if only out of concern for her well-being.
It's a locus of powerful energy, and the effect it's had on me thus far has been disturbing enough that I've decided to abandon my investigation.
So please, Sayaka! You're my only hope at this point. Will you come with me to Heavenly Host so I can rescue Kibiki?
I didn't really get any of what she was saying. Heavenly Host Elementary? A cursed school? And this was all to rescue Kibiki? What was in there, exactly, that he needed rescuing from?
The one thing I did understand was that I'd be accompanying Naho to some unsafe, unfamiliar spirit world. I couldn't just casually agree to go with her.
So...this place I'd be going with you...is dangerous, right? I...scare easily, you know.
And I swear I'll protect you, no matter what!
Her face was the most disheveled I'd ever seen it, and she was practically begging. I knew two sides to this girl: her cool and collected professional persona, and her cat to my master. But this panicked desperation fit neither of them.
The words I'd spoken to her following our recording session suddenly popped into my head: "I owe you one, so if there's anything I can do for you, just let me know."
*sob* Kibiki... Kibiki...!
I took one more look at Naho's tear-stained face, and just knew I couldn't turn away from her in this time of need.
A ray of hope lit up Naho's face like a flower in bloom, and I knew I'd made the right decision.
All right, then. I'm in. What are friends for, after all?
Sayaka... *sniffle* Thank you, Sayaka!
I just couldn't bear to see her cry like that. A face as cute as hers deserved to wear a smile at all times.
Okay. I'll be waiting for you here. Butt naked.
Not a good idea. You'll catch your death of cold! ...Anyway, I'll be right back.
Sayaka leaves, and Naho returns to her bedroom.
Video: Sachiko in the Everafter
Music: Breaking the Curse
Well, as long as Kibiki's over there...
The Shinozaki estate? Hmph. We don't need that place anymore. If he's going to leave me here to spread the curse for him, then fine...that's just what I'll do. No hesitation. No backing down!
Oh, almost forgot the subject line. 'Sachiko in the Everaf...' Wait, no. How about, 'Sachiko Ever After'? Perfect! Here's hoping for lots of hits... Heh...
Not wanting to worry her, I told a little white lie, suggesting that I had another recording session tonight. I'd been going to late sessions practically every night for a while now, so it seemed the perfect excuse. And sure enough, she bought it!
Sayaka's Mom: You certainly are a hard worker, Sayaka. Just make sure you keep your energy up out there. Don't get so busy you let your blood sugar drop! Here.
She handed me a small piece of 'emergency chocolate.' This was like a tradition with her. She'd always give me one when I left, to show her support. And it always reminded me that I was loved. This one, in particular, was bringing tears to my eyes. I must have been more scared than I thought.
I'll be home as soon as I can. Thanks!
Sayaka's Mom: Knock 'em dead, sweetie!
You said it twice, right? In your head?
Okay. Then it's time to pull this thing apart. Make sure you use your nails, and don't let go.
Sound Effect: Whoosh
Something impossible was happening. We performed the ritual just as Naho had instructed...and then the floor just split open and swallowed us whole! Was this a dream? Was I hallucinating? It sure felt real, though. It felt like I was being dragged to hell... My vision quickly went bright white, and my consciousness seemed to fade to black.
Video: Sachiko in the Everafter ends here.
*cough* *cough* Ugh... *gasp* *cough*
I felt dust or sand filling my mouth, and I sprang to my feet, choking.
*pant* *pant* ...! Wh-What is this? Where am I?! ...N...Naho...?
I was in a cold, dark room. It was damp and clammy, and felt very much like a cave. Was this the Heavenly Host Elementary School Naho was telling me about?
Wracked with apprehension, I tried raising my voice, but barely had one to raise. I looked around, but didn't see Naho anywhere. And there was no response.
God... This can't be real, can it?
So that was my top priority, then. I absolutely had to find Naho. I'm sure she hadn't accounted for the possibility that we'd wind up in different spots once we got here. But as long as I could track her down soon, I knew everything would work out. I stepped forward slowly and carefully, and took a closer look at my surroundings.
Music: Bomb Shelter
After one and a half chapters, we're finally back in Heavenly Host, and back to actual gameplay!
You know, Kibiki and Naho are kind of incompetent. Kibiki didn't tell Taguchi the escape plan before they performed the ritual, and Naho didn't tell Sayaka either. That seems like an important thing to share before you cross over!
We begin in a messy storage room. There's nothing of interest in here, so we head outside.
We exit the storehouse and head south, which should bring us toward the first floor, based on the first game.
What the?! It's crumbling! Aahh!
*pant* *pant* ...That was close. ...And I can't get through...
Of course, we can't proceed to the south from here. This event is optional, and adds a significant chunk to your darkening meter. (Remember that mechanic? It's been awhile.)
We proceed two spaces to the north, and are stopped by an event.
Sound Effect: Kagome Kagome
...Am I hearing things? That's...a child's voice, isn't it? Maybe this really is an elementary school after all...
Music: Bomb Shelter
We proceed to the west, stopping in this space.
The lights flickered, and I could swear I saw something up on the path ahead. Probably just my eyes playing tricks on me...right?
Umm... Is somebody there?
We proceed to the west, attempting to enter the boys' room.
But we can't, so we head west one more space and head into the girls' room instead.
I'm in like, a cave, and there's a bathroom here?!
No matter how I looked at it, nothing about this place seemed like an elementary school in any way. But there were lights on the ceiling and support beams to prevent cave-ins, so it certainly wasn't a naturally-formed cavern either. I mean, there was even indoor plumbing down here!
*sigh* No thank you.
I actually did have to go, but there's a limit to how dirty and disgusting a bathroom stall can get before I just refuse to close myself in there. Guess I'd just have to hold it!
There are skeletal remains here. It's a small child. Maybe she was hiding? There's a name tag attached to her jacket:
Mina Nishio Age: 12
Renaissance Elementary School
Neck trapped in door while trying to leave school building; died slowly over five hours' time.
Finished in the bathroom, we head out to the end of the hallway.
Sound Effect: Why? Why?!
Yet another dead end.
Music: Bomb Shelter
We head back east to the central hallway and stop on this space.
This is an easily missed name tag, because there's no reason to stop in this space ordinarily.
It's a half-decomposed body. Based on the uniform, this was almost certainly a female student -- but age is much harder to determine. Her name tag identifies her as senior high, though.
Tomomi Isomura Age: 17
Matsukaze Prefectural High School
Eternally 17 years old. Learned how to use magic.
Tomomi Isomura is a voice actress who played a character in Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient. The descriptive text may be a reference to another role she's played, but I can't say for sure.
We continue north and attempt to enter the very invitingly named Death Room.
But we cannot.
Continuing down the hall across from the death room, we're stopped in this space.
Sound Effect: Let's Play!
Music: Bomb Shelter
We continue west and stop here.
There's a recently-deceased corpse here. Based on the uniform and various accessories adorning the body, this would appear to have been a female junior high school student. Her student ID name tag is still fully visible:
Shihoko Usaki Age: 17
Karasuyama High School
Cranium bashed in with blunt object.
After picking up the name tag, we proceed to the end of the hallway.
Sound Effect: Are you ready yet?
Yet another dead end. No choice but to turn around.
We proceed north up the central hallway, and are stopped in this space.
Sound Effect: The Path of the Heavenly Host
God, what is this place? Where even am I?!
Music: Bomb Shelter
We proceed north to the Body Pool, which sounds like a super fun place to hang out with friends during the summer.
I'm noticing a common theme with doors in this place.
We proceed north two more spaces, to the far north end of the hallway.
There's a recently-deceased corpse here. Her hands are outstretched, as if she were trying desperately to dig her way through the wall. There's a student ID name tag on her uniform:
Seksi Hagiwara Age: 18
Komashiro Trade School
Died after abdomen was punctured by metal object.
We head back down the hall and proceed east.
Sound Effect: Laughing
...Among the voices, I heard the sound of a door opening nearby.
Music: Bomb Shelter
And we head north one space.
There's a foul-smelling, rotting corpse here. Based on the uniform, it was probably a male high school student in life. He seems to have died sitting down -- though he doesn't look very relaxed. There's a student ID name tag on his chest:
Yoaki Kamimizu Age: 17
Karasuyama High School
Collapsed while searching for friends; starved to death.
And to the south...
There's a fully decomposed corpse here. She's wearing a skirt, so it seems safe to assume this was a female student in life. Her name tag confirms this:
Hinako Meguri Age: 13
Shobu University Middle School
Spirited journalist who came to investigate the school. Found with a piece of paper on her person that just says, "lo-ver-ly."
Hinako Meguri was one of the scenario writers for the previous chapter, Encounter. I'm sure a lot of the name tags are staff members (and friends and family of the staff), but this is one that jumped out at me, because of the unusual descriptive text.
Done exploring the area and collecting name tags, we return to the Death Room, which appears to have unlocked...