Part 2: A Strange Book
BGM: Lion House Cafe
The one responsible for waking me up is Oguma Mao, a classmate. As usual, she's got her wildly colored hair tied up nice and neat into pigtails. Beside her is Naomi, and seeing how they are still in their uniforms, I guess we just got back from school.
We're at Lion House, a cafe run by my grandmother. The first floor serves as the cafe, while the second floor serves as her home. Since I'm living with her, my room's also on the second floor. Although it's probably more accurate to say I'm living on my own right now, considering she's gone off to the countryside to help nurse an ailing relative.
You still half-asleep there, Rinny? Allow the absolute legend to wake you, then.
Mao's VA is listed as Megumi Nanase, but I couldn't find any other roles she'd been credited for under this name.
She clicks her mechanical pencil and presses it against my cheek before scribbling all over me.
Ouch! I'm awake, I'm awake! Keep the lead away!
Mao, you're a monster...
Naomi is visibly disturbed by how much Mao seemse to have enjoyed doing that. Well, it certainly has helped to wake me up. A lingering issue, however, is that I can't remember why we're here.
Sorry, but... um, what are we doing here again?
Oh, my. Did the pencil technique fail to wake you up?
I think my memory's kinda fuzzy thanks to that dream.
I can't remember what I even dreamt about. I mentioned a fire when I woke up, but I don't recall being involved in one. The fact that I can't remember is starting to annoy me.
Naomi interjects after I fire a glare at Mao.
Well, it turns out our class is opening a cafe for the culture festival next month. I was appointed as head of the committee for it.
She's making no attempt to hide the fact that she's been forced into it. Granted, she's probably the most fit for the job, considering how serious and thorough she is when it comes to this stuff.
I heard about your family running this place, so when I asked, you said it was fine for me to tag along...
Her explanation helps me grasp the situation.
Oh, that's right. I told you to come over so we could chill and hash things out.
The store's only open for the regulars right now, since my grandmother's away. Sometimes we get a first-timer or two, but I've only got simple stuff on the menu for now, so I can handle things on my own. It doesn't get really busy, so there's no issue in inviting her along.
As my gran always says, 'Lion House is everyone's second home', so there ya have it.
Yep, there ya have it. I hoped I'd hear that today.
I understand what she means... This is the first time I've been here, but I feel so welcome.
Just make sure you don't feel too at home and fall asleep.
Oh, shut it! Mind explaining what you're doing here, then?
...Uh, I was bored?
What does your class plan on doing?
Uh... Can't remember if it was a haunted house or a fortune teller.
Basically, we haven't decided.
Really?! Shouldn't you have some idea by now...?
Eh, things'll work out one way or another. I hate to say this when you're working so hard, but we don't really care about how it goes. Me and Rinny ain't the most popular gals in class, after all. The committee's making sure we don't get too involved.
Yup, although that's not the only reason I'm helping you. Just keep in mind that I'll be busy here sometimes.
Oh... Okay, thank you.
She nods, struggling to hide her concern. After hearing that, she probably thinks we're being bullied. We're used to how we're treated, though. It's not like they're going out of their way to ignore us. They'd just rather ignore us whenever possible.
It's funny, though. Mao still gets along with plenty of the girls, and I'm pretty sure no one outright dislikes me. It might be more accurate to say they try not to get too involved in our lives. They understand that we're different, so it creates a rift between us. Speaking of different, we're not the only two. Mishima Miharu- who's probably at work right now- is our comrade in that regard.
Hey, I'd like an iced latte.
We don't serve lattes. We have cafe au lait, though.
You realize you're not getting it for free, right?
Never mind. Water.
Ahh... Fine, it's on the house. Just this once. How about you, Naomi?
A-Are you sure?
C'mon, Naorin, this is Cheapskate Captain Rinka we're talking about. Better take her up on this rarest of offers.
W-Well, may I have a black coffee, please?
Sure. Comin' right up.
I make my way to the kitchen, wash my hands, and don my apron. You're a pro the moment you enter the kitchen- that's what my grandmother always tells me, and I believe it. I may be making these for friends, but that's no excuse to do it half-hearted.
Anyone who orders a black coffee gets a nice serving of full city Guatemalan beans. Full city is a roasting method used to reduce the acidic tones of the beans and make them more bitter. Beans from Guatemala are typically more acidic than others, so this kind of full roast is the perfect way to balance their acidity and bitterness.
I prepare the siphon before placing the flask on an alcohol lamp. The key here is making sure the flame's positioned just a touch to the side of the middle of the flask. Once it starts boiling, I shake it gently, and then wait for the beans to fall. Once they're all in the flask, it's just a matter of letting them sit until they become fragrant.
Here you go, Naomi.
Oh, wow! What a nice scent. I can smell it from here.
Naomi's comment makes me happy, but I've still got a long way to go. My grandmother knows how to apply different brewing methods based on the bean type, for example. All I'm doing now is applying her instructions to make things easier for me. There's still plenty to learn.
All right, next up is Mao's iced latte. You make this by preparing coffee first, and then adding plenty of ice into a glass before topping it off with some milk. This way, you get to see the coffee's black and the milk's white mix together in the glass. Once that's done, I jam a straw in it and walk it over to Mao with some syrup.
Here you go. Tell me if you need more syrup.
I make myself some coffee after that, take off my apron, wash my hands, and return to my seat.
This is so much better than what I make at home... You're incredible, Rinka!
This is a cafe, after all. But my gran is the incredible one, not me.
Speaking of which, does no one else work here?
Mao dumps half of the syrup into the cup before even giving it a taste, and then pours in the remaining half. Hearing the ice clink as she stirs it is nice and satisfying.
Well, I mean, it's a pretty small place. My gran handled the place on her own before leaving, so we don't need anyone else.
She's taking care of a relative, right?
Yup. She planned on closing the store temporarily, but I convinced her to let me keep it open whenever I'm not at school. Figured I'd be able to make coffee no problem, but it turned out to be way more difficult than I imagined. Even after a month of trying, she hadn't given me her seal of approval...
I knew we'd have to close the store at that rate, so I really went for it and managed to barely get approval right before she left.
How long have you been running it for now?
Hmm... She left near the end of March, so... about a month?
I take a sip of my own coffee after answering. Definitely smells and tastes a lot better than when I first tried to make some. I'm used to drinking her coffee, so the fact that I can answer with pride means I'm definitely getting there. Granted, I'm still a long ways from her level.
It'd be nice if we could make coffee as good as this for the culture festival, but I doubt it'd be easy, based on what you said...
Would they even be able to tell the difference? I can see most of the students dumping in milk to counter the bitterness, just like me.
I wouldn't be surprised, but that's not a problem! Plenty of parents and teachers will be there, so I'm sure they'd be pleased. I can only imagine how long it would take me to learn, considering you spent a whole month training under your grandmother... Not to mention the other people who'd be in charge of making it during the day, too.
Yeah, I doubt it'd be possible. The equipment doesn't come cheap, either.
Talk about relentless!
I figured as much... We're probably best off relying on instant coffee.
Whoa, whoa. All I said was that you wouldn't be able to make the same coffee as we brew here.
I can set you up with our bean supplier, so you can get those on the cheap. The equipment itself shouldn't exceed your budget, either. But, making it...? I'll ask my gran if there's a nice and simple method for you. I doubt you'll be able to make it taste the same way as here, but it should be good enough for the customers. Can't say I'm totally confident, but I'll teach you what I can. After that, it's on you.
I notice Mao grinning as I finish my spiel. She probably expected me to say that. Naomi is obviously taken aback, but she quickly starts to nod and then responds.
I feel bad for relying on you this much, though...
If you're willing to put the effort in, then I don't mind. Besides, being able to teach you whatever my gran comes up with should help me, too.
No worries, Naorin. People often get the wrong idea thanks to how she looks, but Rinny loves to stick her neck out for others. Especially friends and family.
No, I don't! Anyway... you game, Naomi?
There's a hint of concern in her expression, but she gives a conclusive response.
If you're willing, then... I'd love your help.
Sold. I'll call you after my gran gets back to me, then.
Guess I'll pop in every now and then when I'm bored.
Don't forget that you're paying next time.
It's called business...
With that out of the way, we spend the rest of our time together chatting. I have to help a few customers, but they don't mind me talking with Mao and Naomi so long as I get their orders out in a timely manner. In fact, some even join in the conversation. Not just because they're regulars, but because I've known plenty of them since I was a kid. They kind of feel like relatives, in a sense. Lion House has always had that homey feel to it. Both me and my grandmother consider it our second home. That's why I hope it stays that way once she gets back.
Both Mao and Naomi leave just before 7 p.m.
05/02 (WED), Night
I head up to my room on the second floor after closing and cleaning up the shop. I gotta be honest, I'm pretty excited about helping Naomi. I enjoy making coffee as it is, so it'll be nice if other people end up feeling the same. Knowing Naomi, she'll probably pick up on it easily enough... Although her clumsiness is a concern.
BGM: A Dot on a Piece of Paper
That aside, what was that dream earlier all about? I felt okay once I started talking with Mao and Naomi, but I can't shake the weird feeling from when I woke up. I've never felt like that before. I can't even say for sure if I was actually... dreami-?
Huh? What's that...?
In the middle of telling myself to forget about it and try to sleep, I notice a thick book on top of my desk. It's an auburn color, with some gold leaf decorations on it... I assume these are gears. Seems like the kind of book my grandmother would like, but I don't remember putting it here.
There aren't a lot of choices in Fatal Twelve, but all of the ones we get are vitally important when it comes to getting (or avoiding) endings From the start of the game, every choice up to a certain point requires you to make the right choice (each time), or immediately get locked into the first Bad Ending. We'll be seeing every ending in this LP, but for these choices I'll always be choosing the 'right' option for now; I'll cover what the 'wrong' options entail in a later update, when it becomes relevant.
-Let's have a look.
-Better not mess with it.
I take care when cracking it open, trying not to get it dirty.
There are no pages inside, rather, there's a rectangular gap in the middle. I close the book immediately, having more questions now than when I spied it. Might as well message gran about it tomorrow, considering it's already this late.
My phone vibrates after I turn the lights off and hop into bed. It's a message from Naomi.
Let's see, 'Thank you for offering to help. I'm looking forward to this!' She's a sincere girl, isn't she?
I send a quick emoji in response, and then place my phone beside my pillow without checking to see if she reads it or not.
BGM: The Sacred Large Hall
05/02 (WED), Midnight
I'm pretty sure I've fallen asleep, but I feel conscious. Except... I can't move my body, or even speak. Is this sleep paralysis? Or maybe it's a lucid dream.
I hear a man's voice, but I don't know to whom it belongs. A figure appears soon after, but I can't make it out all that well. It's someone slender, with a vaguely androgynous face. I can't respond, so I wait for him to continue.
I see fate has led your life to its conclusion. Hahaha. No need to get depressed, though. You've been given the rare chance to live again over the next twelve weeks. Surprising, huh? Yeah, tell me about it.
The VA for this mysterious figure is listed as Koto Nagatsuka; again, couldn't find any other roles he's been credited for under this name.
Don't get the wrong idea. There's nothing uniquely special about you; it's all down to the fate you carry.
He spouts this nonsense at me in a calm, almost rehearsed fashion.
Who am I, you ask? Also nobody special. I'm just the one who watches you from above. Under normal circumstances, I'd never meet with anyone personally, but fate has deemed that your dreams will connect you to here. Anyway, I had planned on more introductions, but I think that's enough for now.
But before the curtains rise on this play, let's kick start your memory a bit.
The man disappears as soon as he stops talking, and my consciousness fades away once more.
BGM: Sinking in Flames
Flames envelop me. Flames powerful enough to flake the skin from my bones. Flames that produce enough smoke to smother my lungs. My life turns to ash. My inability to move even my fingers tells me as much.
???: _____! _____!
I hear someone shouting. Whoever it is keeps shouting, over and over... Their calls are eventually drowned out by the roaring flames that continue to spread. By the time the voice has been entirely drowned out, my consciousness has extinguished.