Ooh, not just ONE ominously named chapter, but the 'I' suggests there's at least a 'II'.
I am now imagining Shiki making the same noise my cat makes when he's about to make a mess out of the carpet.
What was that just now?
A dream. It was a dream. But, what was that?
It's different than what I saw two days ago.
The feeling of walking the streets at night.
The smell of blood lingering in my nose.
The sound of dragging that girl who was close to my age.
---All of it is fresh in my memory.
Was that something you could call pleasure?
It was pure excitement condensed like a bullet, fired straight into my head.
My breathing stops just thinking about it.
Then... perhaps that impact could be something called "pleasure".
---What, you too?
---This is the first time I've seen another killer besides myself.
...... That's right. I did have that conversation.
---The same city doesn't need two killers.
I'll give you this place.
...... But, when was that?
"...... Why, can't I remember----?"
Certainly, I feel like I had that conversation with someone.
But I just can't remember.
Was it real, or was it just an empty dream?
I just remember that the killer said I was the same as him.
That dream still remains the creepiest in the entire game, in my opinion.
"---That's strange. ...... Why is it...... all mixed up in my head----"
I earnestly try hard to remember about last night's dream.
My head pounds.
I can't, remember.
When I try to remember about yesterday, I feel the urge to vomit.
Somebody's a little paranoid.
Music: Play Track 2
"Please excuse me," Hisui says as she enters the room.
It's just a normal morning scene.
Is it because she is acting so naturally?
My pounding heart instantly calms down.
"Good morning, Shiki-sama."
"......... Hisu, i?"
"Yes, it is time, so I have prepared your change of clothes already. ...... Um, Shiki-sama? Are you not feeling well?"
"No, that's not it. I feel fine. There's nothing wrong."
I get up from bed, as if to prove my words.
"Morning, Hisui. I'll go to the sitting room after I change, so please go ahead of me."
"Yes. Well then, please excuse me."
Hisui quietly closes the door and leaves.
After watching her go, I take a deep breath.
"Why am I feeling down like this?"
Probably because I found out about my old man's illness yesterday.
Just because my symptoms are similar to his, maybe I'm being too paranoid.
"...... Yeah. Ever since I came back, I've been so tired. I shouldn't think about that dream."
That's the Shiki we know. Quiet. Complacent. Ignorant. Unpredictably psychotic.
It's almost seven.
Like yesterday, I should be able to enjoy the morning.
Akiha, Hisui, and Kohaku-san are in the sitting room.
Everything seems just like normal, but after what happened yesterday, I'm sure it'll be really awkward.
Akiha and Kohaku-san seemed to have reached an understanding, but I haven't spoken with Akiha yet.
Thinking how Akiha acted yesterday, I'm pretty sure Akiha's still mad at me.
My mind freezes at such an unexpected event.
Akiha still has a big smile as I just stand there.
Akiha is way too cheerful and it makes me think she is planning something.
For anybody else, it would be asinine to doubt a good mood. When it's Akiha, though, all bets are off.
"Shiki-sama, would you care to sit down?"
"Ah...... yeah, if you want me to sit, I will."
I fearfully look at Akiha as I sit down across from her.
"Okay, okay, I'll sit... please don't hit me!"
"Morning, Akiha. You seem to be in a good mood today."
"Is that so? Certainly I feel much better, so I probably look less pale than before."
...... No, it is far beyond not looking pale.
"Anyway, first I have to thank you. I really wanted to thank you yesterday, but I was feeling rather ill and did not have an opportunity."
Akiha looks directly at me.
There isn't even a trace of yesterday's coldness.
...... It also seems that the air of danger has disappeared.
"Thank me? I didn't really do anything to deserve that."
"That's not true. You took care of me when I was sick, right?
Because you embraced me, I was determined. I was extremely happy that night."
She says something that catches me totally off guard.
I feel incredibly heavy pressure against my back.
I know that look. That look says, "Did you fuck your sister again?"
"---Akiha. Don't say things that might give people the wrong impression. You were in so much pain, I just supported you, that's all."
"No I did not! I got that out of my system on the other path, so I have no interest in- ...I mean, of course not! That's sick!"
"Oh? I suppose wrapping your arms around me is just supporting me?"
Akiha giggles softly.
Staring. They're staring at me.
The stares of the two behind me get even heavier.
"He really does want to fuck his sister, huh?" "Undoubtedly."
"---Now look. You're acting odd. Are you enjoying making fun of me?"
"Yes, a lot. Looking at your troubled face is fun."
This is just too weird. Is this really Akiha's personality?
"You have some strange hobbies. Bothering me in the morning and lecturing me last night.
...... Well, I thought so at first, but you really must have something against me."
I end with a sigh.
All of a sudden, Akiha averts her gaze.
"...... I'm very sorry. What I did yesterday was stupid. There was something wrong with me, and I've already apologized to Kohaku---"
"You apologized to Kohaku-san!?"
I blurt this out in surprise. Not only did she apologize, but she apologized to Kohaku-san.
"---Hey. Nii-san, just what kind of person do you think I am? I was at fault, so it is only natural that I apologized to Kohaku, right?"
...... When she says that, I get a vague mental image of her acting as a strict mistress.
I got that image yesterday and it was not a happy thing
"The bulge in your pants gave it away. I will go out and buy a suit of leather, then."
"Shiki-san, I hate to ruin your fun, but would you like some breakfast? It is almost time, so I thought I should make some."
"Oh, I forgot. ...... I'm not so much hungry as I am thirsty though."
"Oh, that won't do, Shiki-san. You collapsed yesterday so you need to eat to regain your strength.
Even if you don't feel like eating, you should have some food."
What she says is true, but I just don't feel like it right now.
After seeing that dream, I can't bring myself to eat.
If three people all stood around me in a circle and stared at me, I wouldn't feel well either.
"---To tell the truth, I do feel a little under the weather. I can eat, but could you make it something I don't need to chew? I feel pretty bad, and I can't really taste anything."
After telling the truth, Kohaku-san says "Oh, I see," and looks a little downcast.
...... As the one in charge of cooking, she probably feels something about what I said.
She feels that a doll is especially suited to prepare a tasteless meal.
"...... Um, Shiki-sama? I think you are not feeling well because there was a change in your environment.
So, if the mansion is not suitable for you, maybe you should go back and live with the Arima family for a while......?"
Hisui's opinion is driven by a sincere concern about my health.
...... Ever since I came back, my life has been strange.
Since that promise from eight years ago has apparently been forgotten; maybe it's better for my health if I go back and live at the Arimas.
"Oh, that will not do, Nii-san. You finally came back, so please do not leave again.
If you say you are going to leave one more time, I will kill you, Nii-san."
Akiha smiles as she says that joke and disappears towards the lobby.
"Hisui-chan. It's time for Akiha-sama to go to school, please accompany her to the door. I'll be taking care of Shiki-san's breakfast."
With a simple "yes", Hisui walks after Akiha.
"Well then, I'll make you something easy for you to eat. Please wait just a moment."
Kohaku-san walks quickly toward the kitchen.
I sit on the sofa, dumbstruck.
---I will kill you, Nii-san.
...... Those words won't leave my head.
It's probably because even though it was a joke, it didn't sound like a joke to me.
Also as usual, a certain somebody is never far from Shiki's mind.
"......? Is it the television screen?"
I gape at the large television mounted on the wall at the end of the cafeteria.
At my school, they record the morning news and replay it at lunch.
I just stare dumbfounded at the news broadcast that is several hours late.
Music: Play Track 4
I watch the news in amazed horror.
Shown in the television is the alley that I saw last night in my dream.
The newscaster is talking.
On the screen, the words "Vampire Serial Killer's New Victim" appears in bloody lettering.
...... It appears that the girl was saved.
The girl is in the hospital recovering from having her blood drained.
She is still unconscious. Chances of recovery are unknown.
...... The identity of who attacked and stole her blood is also unknown.
The picture of the girl on the television is unmistakably that girl from last night.
---That means there's one thing that isn't unknown.
The criminal who attacked her is, without a doubt----
"Arihiko, how could you!?" ...that's not it, huh?
Yes, I killed.
Just like the time when I killed Yumizuka.
While breathing hard, last night, that woman I've never met---
Taken out of context, that last sentence fragment changes meaning entirely.
What are you talking about?
You're more of a killer than I am.
Resisting the urge to throw up, I get up from my seat.
I can't go back to class.
I find myself running into the city.
Even if I stay here longer, the cops will only stare at me.
...... I can't go back to school now, so I guess I'll go back to the mansion.
I think being stared at is Shiki's greatest fear. Ancient vampires, twisted classmates, and psychotic maids are all a piece of cake to him... but being stared at? "Shit, I gotta get out of here."
Before me, my vision goes black.
"No----! I'm not the same as my old man............!!!"
Desperately fending off the dizziness, I try to stay upright.
"------My old man."
I can go to my old man's room, and I can find out about his illness.
If I do that, I can confirm that I'm not the same. If I am the same----there might be a way to help myself.
Shiki appreciates how many of you voted Makihisa's room last time, so he's decided to oblige.
...... His room is on the first floor in the western part of the mansion, next to Kohaku-san's room.
It was fortunate that I left school early.
At this time, no one else is around.
I pull out my knife and take off my glasses.
I try to cut the "line" of the door's lock and put my glasses back on.
The room was not locked.
This isn't time to be fooling around.
Taking off my glasses, I look at the "lines".
Using my knife, I cut the "lines" on the drawer.
Inside, there appears to be some old documents bundled together and what seems to be a journal.
First, I look at the old documents.
"...... This is, my family tree?"
Right after Tohno MAKIHISA is written Tohno SHIKI and Tohno AKIHA.
And right after that, the word "Nanaya" is written there.
Nanaya: the other son.
"Eh...... my old man, he adopted a son ten years ago? ...... Ah, but he passed away shortly thereafter."
Ten years ago, that would mean I was just in elementary school.
That long ago, it's only natural that I wouldn't remember.
"Let's see...... the heads of the household have had pretty short lifespans. My old man died before he was fifty, and before that, before thirty in an accident... before that, eighteen years of age, with suicide---"
----No, wait a second.
No matter how you look at it, this is strange.
Music: Play Track 6
This entire document is filled with horrible fates.
Even worse, most of the causes of death are madness.
Most of these ended up taking their own lives.
"That's strange---all of this is strange."
But I can't exactly place my finger on it.
"...... Next is...... my old man's journal."
I pick up the journal which has a relatively new binding.
My heart starts to pound.
My heart seems to understand that I shouldn't be opening this.
But I can't turn back now.
Swallowing hard, I open my old man's journal.
------There is a demon lurking inside the Tohno bloodline.
The opening statement is in those lines.
Those with strong Tohno blood are born with special powers.
It could be a body that is resistant to death,
it could be an ability to move things without touching them,
or it could be fangs used to take bodily fluids from other people.
When this blood ( ) becomes too strong, the members of the Tohno family start to gradually lose their sanity.
The majority of those become demons that feed on human flesh.
So, the head of the Tohno household carries the responsibility of punishing those who have turned into such a monster.
It's messed up.
My old man, what was he trying to say? Writing so seriously about something that's more like a fairy tale.
-----The journal turns more into the old man's rant.
The date is roughly nine years ago.
The handwriting starts to get erratic.
...... It is terrifying.
When I come to, I find that I can't even remember half of the day.
During that time, I'm forcing my inversion impulse on that child.
If this keeps up,
it is only a matter of time before I completely lose my sanity and turn into a beast.
I don't even know how much time I have left to remain as myself.
No. If that child is here, then I can probably last for a few more years.
But that child will not be able to bear that. After that child breaks, I will have to take my own life.
It was still pretty obvious what this meant last time we read it, but now that we know exactly how Kohaku 'broke', it's so, so much worse.
...... It is incredibly ironic.
I eliminated so many things in order to preserve myself, but in the end, I will probably have to commit suicide.
Or maybe this is the curse of the Nanayas.
Nanaya: Don't let death stop you from vengeance!
I end up adopting his son, but I guess I could not lift their grudge with such a thing.
But, I can't make up for the events of the past. If death is waiting for me, then I must accept it when the time comes.
But until then---I must protect my children.
Akiha's blood is weak. Unless she wishes it herself, she does not have to suffer the same fate.
The problem is SHIKI. That child is incredibly close to me. More than anything else, I do not want that child to suffer my fate.
...... If the Tohno blood is unnatural, I need to distance him as much as possible from the Tohno name and see how he will fare----
But, that isn't what concerns me.
He writes SHIKI and AKIHA strangely.
Looking back to the family tree, I see that he writes "Akiha" using the Chinese characters for "Autumn Leaves", while "SHIKI" is written using the characters for "Four Seasons".
"The characters for 'Four Seasons' can certainly be pronounced as 'SHIKI', but the characters in my name are 'Intention' and 'Esteemed'."
Yes, THIS is what I mentioned so long ago. The entire time he's been reading SHIKI, it hasn't actually been his name... yet still he's convinced it is Remember the names scribbled on the walls? Yeah, they were different then, too.
I have a feeling that thinking too hard about that will be bad, but my train of thought does not stop.
"...... What are these 'Synchronizers'? Maybe the adopted child?"
But, I feel that's wrong too.
Anyway, I've only read half-way through all of this.
If I read through it completely, I might come up with a solution.
But---do I really want to find out?
------I feel like vomiting.
I can't stay standing.
I must hurry back to my room and sleep; it feels like there is something wrong with my head.
But still, I decide to go back reading the journal.
---The rest of it seems to be a record of some sort.
The date starts in the summer of eight years ago, and about a month after that.
I don't understand it yet, but I continue to look through it.
Nanaya: Who needs synchronization when you've got killin'?
The Tohno blood is stronger in SHIKI than in AKIHA.
Talking about potential, I feel an older origin in Akiha's blood, but SHIKI's Tohno blood runs much stronger.
I assume that is why SHIKI inverted before he became an adult.
SHIKI's powers are "immortality" and "fusion".
SHIKI could not manage the awakened powers and as a result, killed the adopted Nanaya child, taking his life.
Nanaya: Substitute for family members in case of psychotic rage. Store in a cool, dry place.
I have to say it was a superb job for using his powers for the first time.
~ Month x Day
Both SHIKI and the adopted son managed to escape death.
~ Month ~ Day
The problem of maintaining appearances to normal society still remains.
SHIKI has killed the adopted Nanaya child.
Nanaya: Avoid contact with eyes.
I have covered up the incident, but SHIKI cannot be shown to the public. The wound I gave him hasn't healed and his figure has transformed.
He is not in a condition to be brought in front of others as Tohno SHIKI...... he cannot be called a human either.
The Nanaya child still lives.
Nanaya: Do not continue use after death. Upon first death, discard immediately.
As long as he lives, I've decided to use him.
If there are any disagreements, I would like to hear them.
I need to start doing this. I'm going to keep a paper journal and whenever I want to do something I know people won't like, I'll ask to hear disagreements in it. Then when people complain later I will show them the journal and ask why they didn't speak up earlier.
Nanaya: May be harmful if stabbed.
~ Month x Day
...... The Tohno blood that has awakened within SHIKI.
Maybe it is because he was so close to death, but he has regained his sanity like before.
But I don't know if something will cause him to invert again.
Even though it tears me apart, I cannot allow SHIKI near the Tohno mansion either.
I place him in the care of a trusted servant.
~ Month x Day
I put my adopted son from the Nanaya family into the care of another branch of our family.
Nanaya: Family owned and operated killers since 1897.
AKIHA hates me.
AKIHA has lost both of her brothers at the same time, so I suppose it is only natural.
~ Month X Day
I start to raise Akiha as the next head of the household.
AKIHA has more than enough talent to carry out her duties as the head of the household.
SHIKI may have the ability of "Immortality",
but Akiha has the power to "plunder."
(As siblings, both of them have the ability to share and take life energy.)
It is regretful. If only she had been born ten years ago, I would have been able to eliminate the Nanayas without the help from the Kishimas.
Nanaya: Not recommended for use by fewer than 2 families.
~ Month X Day
AKIHA tried to visit the Arima residence.
I cannot let her and my adopted son see each other.
I placed her in a boarding school so that her freedom is limited.
~ Month X Day
Recently, my condition has been getting worse.
It seems like the daughter of the Synchronizers is not enough now.
~ Month X Day
...... For the first time in a long time, I've come back to my self.
How many months has it been since I last picked up this pen? There probably will not be a next time. I will have to finish writing here.
I gave instructions for this to be given to my daughter AKIHA after my death.
I don't know if AKIHA will ever read this, but if she does read it, it is to be destroyed.
That is my only request for my daughter to fulfill.
Nausea wells within me.
I feel sick.
That memory that I had forgotten until now runs through my head.
...... I understand.
Everything has been written down, so I have to accept it.
Besides, everything falls into place.
The reason I was adopted by the Arimas.
The reason I was disinherited as the eldest son.
In other words, I---Shiki was only a replacement for the one named SHIKI.
"---What is, this?"
Cursing myself, I toss the journal to the side.
...... There's no need for me to investigate any further.
Staying here any longer is just a waste of my time.
Nanaya: Why settle for just quality or quantity when you can have both?
I don't have any blood ties to Tohno Makihisa.
In other words, those dreams of murder have to be my own.
If that is the case, there's only one thing left to do.
----I hear voices coming from the lobby.
"...... I wonder if Akiha is back."
I get up from bed.
I want to hear the truth from Akiha.
That look on her face is just so... predatory
"Yes, what is it Nii-san?"
Akiha appears to be looking forward to a fun conversation.
Gritting my teeth, I look her seriously in the eye.
"Please tell me about the Nanaya family. I think I have a right to know."
Nanaya: Because you have a right to know.
What, is it a home pregnancy test now?
In that instant, Akiha freezes like a puppet whose strings were cut.
Music: Play Track 8
Akiha wordlessly stares at me.
"If you won't answer, then I'll rephrase my question.
My old man---Tohno Makihisa had two personalities, right? And not just him. Almost all members of the Tohno family have some sort of illness. ...... I used to think that's what I had.
But, that's wrong. My anemia came from that incident eight years ago. Because I..."
"I know. You were adopted by the Tohno family, right?"
she smiles for some reason.
Akiha slowly and elegantly walks to the window as if she was in a play.
The curtains billow in the breeze.
Placing her hand on the window, she turns around.
She said four things.
"...... Akiha. That----"
"It is okay. It was only a matter of time, and I did not like hiding it. Now that you know, there is no need.
...... No, maybe there never was a need. Then there's no need to put up with any of this."
"Is that not right, Nii-san?"
Akiha says this with her voice full of confidence.
"We are not related. So now you understand... it is okay for us to have sex. I bought the suit of leather."
"Akiha. So like I thought, I---"
"Yes. You are the one Father adopted ten years ago, but you do not remember it.
Do you remember the SHIKI who used to play with us?"
"------No. I don't."
"That's right. It is because Father hypnotized you."
"...... SHIKI was someone who could not resist his Tohno blood. You may not remember it, but that day eight years ago, you protected me from SHIKI. You sacrificed yourself to protect me from the bloodthirsty SHIKI.
That is how you were killed by SHIKI and SHIKI was killed by Father. It is the duty of the head of the Tohno household to dispose of those who are no longer human."
"...... I see. Then, that's enough. If you understand, then there is no more need to talk.
I'm not a member of the Tohno family, right?
Then, you don't---have to force yourself to call me brother."
Soon I, an outsider, should leave this place.
"...... Don't get me wrong, Nii-san.
I do not call you Nii-san for the sake of society.
Do you not remember? Even before you were killed by SHIKI, I called you Nii-san. It had nothing to do with you being adopted.
I knew from the very beginning you were not my true brother.
And you accepted that too.
So---no matter what you think, you are Tohno Shiki. So please stay here in this mansion."
"The sex can wait if it needs to. I'll still call you Nii-san, though."
Because she wants to jump your bones.
"---Why? I'm not even your real brother."
"...... Goodness, after I have said all this, you still do not understand?
You are the only one I will call Nii-san. Even if you do not wish it, I just want you by my side.
Because, I love you, Nii-san."
Akiha says something totally unbelievable.
I'm happy that she likes me as her brother.
But, as long as this situation remains----I can't be here.
"...... No, I'm not the kind of person you think I am. You see SHIKI as a killer, but I---I'm just a killer like him."
"A killer, what do you mean?"
I can't keep it a secret any longer.
Everything I did up until now----the dream I had last night, the bloodstains I can not explain, and that dream where Akiha killed me.
Nanaya: Live every day under the suspense of not knowing what you're going to do next.
"Wha, what's so funny? This isn't a joke. ...... You may not believe me, but I really have dreams of sucking people's blood......!"
Akiha is still giggling.
...... What is this?
She makes me look stupid, worrying about all of this.
It's not hard.
"Yeah, it is funny. See, you can't be a vampire. Because you are from the Nanaya family, your blood is only human.
Nanaya: Kills so much like a demon, you won't be able to tell the difference!
Besides, the Nanayas are not killers.
Nanaya: Only 1 out of 6 eligible females disagree about its killing potential.
...... Certainly from Father's point of view, they are, but the only ones that the Nanaya feel a homicidal impulse towards are nonhumans.
Nanaya: Homicidal impulse when you need it most.
So what you saw had to be just dreams. And even those dreams are probably SHIKI transmitting to you, so it isn't that you want to see them."
...... SHIKI transmitted them?
Come to think of it, my old man did write something about that.
SHIKI stole some of my life, so there is like a link between us.
"...... SHIKI is still alive......?"
Akiha, who was just giggling until now, becomes serious.
"Akiha. In my old man's journal, he wrote that SHIKI was still alive. In other words---"
Akiha tilts her head, curious.
"My old man wrote that SHIKI and I were connected. Then maybe what I saw were really his dreams."
...... No, it's more likely what he's actually doing.
"...... That may be a possibility. Father's death was suspicious, and it did seem like someone was being raised in the underground cell."
"...... Wait a minute, Akiha. Do we have such a thing like an underground cell here?"
"Oh, of course. There are a lot of members of the Tohno family who lose their sanity, so it is only natural to lock them away before they can hurt the outside world, right?
Well, that isn't all it is used for. When I got in trouble, Father would lock me up down there."
Now eat your vegetables or it's back to the dungeon with you!
For some reason, Akiha sounds like she is having fun.
...... A chill runs down my spine.
"Wha----Akiha, what are you saying? He's killing people, but he is your brother. He has to pay for his crime, but still---"
"...... Goodness, Nii-san. You are really too nice of a person."
Taking a breath, she brushes her hair back.
"You are my only relative. I do not care about SHIKI, so you do not have to worry about him."
"No, we can't just do that. Do you think the police can catch him so easily? And before then, there will be more victims!"
"I will not do anything. That is, not our responsibility."
She says this and looks me directly in the eye.
"Hey, let's not speak of these matters any longer. Talking about murder and killers is boring, isn't it?"
Yes, it's just so utterly plebeian.
I try to tell her that it has to do with our family, but I can't.
...... Her eyes pierce into me deeply.
Staring at me like that, her eyes seem to take away my resolution.
I go to leave her room.
----And all of a sudden,
from behind me, a voice tells me to stop.
"...... What is it? Aren't we done talking Akiha?"
Akiha stares at me silently.
"---Nii-san. You are the most important thing to me. If I had lost my memories of you over these eight years, I would not be who I am.
...... Because you were here, I was able to be myself. You are more important to me than myself, so I wanted you to like me, always."
Akiha looks at me like I'm the only thing she sees.
Any normal person would be glad to let her just continue to live in her little fantasy world.
" ...... That's right. I came back because I could not leave you alone here. But now, I'm beginning to think I was wrong."
Shiki, on the other hand, cannot wait for the leather suit.
I did come back because I wanted to watch over her.
But, she's wrong.
Her eyes are so sincere that I can't lie.
"But, Akiha. That isn't the only reason why I came back. I---"
I came back for the sake of the child I made a promise with.
That is something that's even more precious than my feelings towards Akiha, and something I can't lie about.
"Stop it. I do not want to hear it. You came back, so that is that.
So anything else---such as your feelings, I do not need."
"Oh, did you think I cared how you felt? I just want sex."
She looks away.
Akiha looking down like that just---for no real reason, seems very dangerous.
The night wears on, and it's almost midnight.
It's already way past the time I would usually go to sleep.
I lie down and look up at the moon through the window.
The night goes by without me sleeping.
It isn't that I'm scared of seeing another dream of murder.
The killer SHIKI wandering the streets.
The somehow dangerous looking Akiha.
Thinking of that, I cannot sleep and just look up at the moon.
"............ I'm so thirsty."
The last time I drank anything was about four hours ago at dinner.
I don't want to endure it, so I go to the kitchen to get something to drink.
"I having the most wonderful dream about Arihiko and he--" "Enough!"
"Hm......? Someone's coming."
I can hear the footsteps coming closer.
Soft, small footsteps that barely echo in the deep night.
"...... Shiki-sama? What are you doing this late at night?"
"Hisui? I was just thirsty so I thought I'd get something to drink."
"Shiki-sama. If that is the case, please call for me. At night, you should be resting in your room. ...... Walking around here at night is not good."
Hisui speaks plainly.
There's something wrong with her words.
Telling me it's not good to walk around at night means she's telling me not to get out of my room at night.
...... No, more than that.
Hisui and Kohaku-san have worked here since they were very young.
So---it would not be strange for them to know that I was adopted.
Music: Play Track 1
Countdown to Hisui looking positively unthrilled. 3...
I take a deep breath.
If she doesn't know, then asking her will be revealing a secret.
But, I don't intend to hide it anyway.
"I'll make it short. Did you know that I was adopted?"
Her shoulder shakes.
...... That tells me that she did know.
"...... I am so very sorry. Even if you are adopted, there is no doubt that you are the eldest son of the Tohno family. Akiha-sama accepts you as her relative and you are mine and Nee-san's master."
"...... Thanks. If you say that, then I believe that I can stay here."
"Shiki-sama...... Please do not say things like that. This really is your true home."
"I know. That's what I think too. Even though it was for a short while, what happened here when I was a child is very important to me. I can't throw it away."
Hisui looks visibly relieved.
"...... But I still want to know.
Before I came here, um...... it was Nanaya...? If you know, could you tell me what kind of child I was?"
Nanaya: All you need to stay in your room until she says you can **** her.
"...... I am sorry. Other than that you were the eldest son of the Nanaya line, I do not know. Makihisa-sama completely destroyed all the records."
Nanaya: Banned in 22 countries, but going strong in the 23rd!
...... I see. Well, if he made me act as Tohno Shiki, then all the records of me as Nanaya Shiki probably were destroyed.
Nanaya: So good, you'll stop at nothing to claim it as your own.
Come to think of it, Kohaku-san did say that she was Makihisa's servant.
But I thought that was just to take care of his condition once in a while. ...... I didn't realize she was his servant from that young of an age.
"...... That Kohaku-san? ...... Since she played with us everyday, I just can't picture her being near my old man all the time------"
...... To be honest, Hisui seems like she was more suited for that.
Always looking down at me, Akiha, and Kohaku-san from the inside of the mansion.
"...... Is that true? But that's odd. Why would my old man tell Kohaku-san all the things he would not even tell Akiha?"
"No, I do not think he told her directly. Since Nee-san was always near Makihisa-sama's room in the mansion, I believe she had many chances to overhear Makihisa-sama thinking out loud."
"-------Always near my old man?"
But that's what Hisui, who stayed in the mansion all the time, did---
"Wait. Kohaku-san was always with my old man as a child?"
Hisui looks down.
---Something just went wrong here.
The feeling of inconsistency comes back and everything falls back into place.
Kohaku-san knew about the promise that only Hisui should know about.
Hisui forgot about the promise made eight years ago.
But it might just be...
That I just reversed their roles in my memory.
If that's true then----
"...... Hisui. I'll ask one more time, but do you remember about eight years ago?"
"---Yes. About how I gave you that ribbon, right?"
"...... That's right. After I left my room, you stopped me by the entrance and gave me a ribbon. Do you remember what color it was?"
"It was white, but what about it?"
There is nothing wrong with her answer.
But, she is already wrong.
The power drains from my legs and I collapse onto the chair.
Music: Play Track 9
How could I have been so wrong up until now?
I've got a few ideas.
"---That's wrong Hisui. I was given the ribbon under that tree in the garden. Not by the entrance."
Hisui gasps and falls into silence.
"If she finds out that I knew you two changed places?"
She silently nods.
"...... Then it was you who played with us, and Kohaku-san---was the one in the mansion, right?"
She silently nods.
"...... It started eight years ago. After you were adopted by the Arima family, I think I just became calmer than before.
Nee-san tried to cheer me up by acting very happy, and then, we gradually traded our roles."
"But why...... why did it happen......? Hisui...... you were always so energetic."
"...... That is not true. I am naturally not active. But when you were there, I tried to follow you as hard as I could."
The lessened impact of this scene is one of the major reasons I like the Hisui path better.
"...... Really? I think you would be cheerful even if I wasn't there. That was your character. Trust me since I, the one who followed after you, am saying this."
"...... Yes. Those days were very fun. I think those were the best two years of my life."
"But something crumbled after you left, Shiki-sama.
Akiha-sama started to hate Makihisa-sama, and Makihisa-sama became very strict with Nee-san.
The happy days were then over. I gradually became very quiet and could not even work anymore."
"So Nee-san took over for me.
Smiling like I always used to, running around like I used to. In turn, I took over Nee-san's old role.
...... That was the easiest for me. At the same time, it fulfilled Nee-san's only wish."
"Hisui. What do you mean by her wish?"
"...... Nee-san always wanted to be like me. But for my sake, she held back.
I think it is just an act for her to work in my place.
She pretends to be me and kills her own will. She is just a doll that only acts like a 'Hisui from the past'."
That's so fucking creepy and yet at the same time it's just so
"...... I was scared of that Nee-san. Nee-san lost her identity and I realized that she was just living by acting out someone's role.
...... I think that if I go back to my old self, Nee-san will return to her old, true self.
...... Nee-san said this when we first traded places."
"----I was scared of those words and I thought that I should return to my self right away.
...... But then, by accident, I saw her walking around happily in the garden.
...... Nee-san really looked happy. ...... I did not know I looked that way back then, but she really was happy. And all she was doing was walking by herself."
"Nee-san was only pretending to be 'Hisui'. Even still, she looked so happy.
So---Nee-san just does not realize it, but I understood that Nee-san always wanted to be like that.
I just could not destroy that."
...... Biting her lip, Hisui holds back her tears in silence.
"...... Shiki-sama. Please let Nee-san stay the way she is. ...... If you do not, she will lose her place."
...... I can only nod to her words.
But that definitely is not the correct choice.
Kohaku-san has to pretend to be the Hisui from the past, and Hisui has to pretend to be the Kohaku-san from the past to protect that.
"Shiki-sama. Please promise me that you will not say anything to Nee-san."
"...... Fine. But, Hisui, are you okay with this?"
Hisui doesn't answer.
...... Full of conflicting emotions, I get up from the chair.
All I can do is leave the downcast Hisui behind in the kitchen.
This would be the second half of the choices in this path. Vote wisely, this is all you get!