"...... Yeah, to tell the truth, I'll probably leave for a number of nights starting now. I swear I'm not just playing around or doing anything bad. Akiha will probably end up hating me, but I can't stop now."
"I swear it's not bad, I'm just playing around with this woman... shit, let me start over. Alright, so there's this girl I killed... fuck."
Yeah. The vampire is still somewhere in town preying on victims.
As a person who lives here, I just can't pretend like I didn't see it.
"---I know it's a burden to you, Hisui, but please overlook it. I don't know what time I'll be back, so please just leave the gate unlocked."
"Shiki-sama, are you saying you will not tell us why?"
"...... Yeah, sorry Hisui. You can think I'm totally irresponsible, but please don't ask. I, don't want to have to lie."
"...... No. You are my master. A servant does not despise her master like that."
She speaks plainly and without any expression.
The conversation ends and I go up to return to my room.
"Yeah----that helps, so if you can, please do so."
"Then please use the rear entrance tonight. The front entrance will be locked, but if you have the key and use the servant's entrance, you can come and leave undetected."
"Oh? There's a servant's entrance? No wonder I never saw you leave through the gate."
"No, the only one who uses that is Nee-san. She has the key, so I will get it to you later."
"Well then", she says, after which she bows and disappears.
Help just came from an unexpected source.
With this, it seems I can keep my promise with Arcueid without worrying Akiha.
It would've been quieter if you didn't just announce out loud that you're leaving.
Music: play track 9
Yeah, something about unexplained, mysterious murders really keeps people inside at night.
"Yeah, sorry. I left before ten o'clock, but it took some time trying to leave the mansion without Akiha noticing.
I'll definitely be on time the next time, so please forgive me."
"---Geez. You don't seem to realize we are going to go killing."
Arcueid practically pouts.
Don't tell me, she was waiting long before the promised time?
"Arcueid. Since what time were you waiting for me?"
"Me? I came here as soon as I woke up, so----"
"Hmm," Arcueid thinks this over.
"----Probably since seven o'clock."
"Seven? You were waiting for more than three hours?"
What in the world was she thinking, coming three hours early?
"I... don't know why either. It somehow was fun and while I was thinking it was nice waiting for you, it was already ten o'clock."
"? Fun? Why?"
"Who knows. Didn't I say I didn't understand it myself? ...... Maybe because you killed me. At that time, something broke that couldn't be healed. I think it's strange myself, but I can't understand what's broken inside me."
Having her say that is very troubling.
Having sliced her into seventeen pieces, if she says there's something wrong, all I can do is to apologize.
Shiki, you idiot...
"---It's okay. We don't have much time, so we can't waste time talking about pointless things, Shiki."
Yeah, saying that really helps me out.
"But, if you're ever late again, I'll just have to go to your house and pick you up. You're the one who couldn't keep the promise, so you have no complaints, right?"
"Stu---no way! I'll keep it, but random unfortunate circumstances like today could happen at any time. If I'm late, that'd be the last thing you should do!
Look, don't come to my house even if it's a mistake. --What's more, Akiha doesn't know about all this, so please don't make things more complicated than it is!"
"Hmm? ...... Akiha? Your sister that doesn't look at all like you?"
"You've said a little too much, but yes."
You'd best not be dissing his sister, it's a touchy subject. In more ways than one.
She's so damned HAPPY that Shiki is mean to her.
"...... You're always dense. That was an insult, not a compliment."
"Not at all. To you, I'm an exception, right? How could I not like that?"
She smiles again.
A child's smile, bright and carefree.
If I keep seeing that, I'll lose all my venom.
"---I'm tired all of a sudden.
Let's start looking for the vampire, Arcueid."
"Yes, it's about time. Then we'll start walking around town---"
"Shiki. I want you to take off your glasses, but is that alright?"
"Take off my glasses? ...... Why?"
"It's hard to notice them with just me.
I can sense the presence of humans and non-humans, but that won't help me find the vampire.
All I can sense is the presence, but with your eyes, you can quickly tell between living and dead things. So it's a waste if we don't use what we have, right?"
...... Certainly I can understand what she's saying.
But, taking off my glasses means---
"I know. Even I could feel your eyes getting stronger these past few days. And if you keep doing this, it may not be good for your health.
I'm still saying despite that. But, the choice lies up to you, so I'm not going to force you. If you think it's alright to do so, take your glasses off and follow me."
...... Take off my glasses and walk around town?
I haven't done that since I received these glasses eight years ago.
In the first place, the things I see without my glasses give me such a headache, it'd be easy to imagine what would happen if I walked around town.
Just like Arcueid who keeps going even though her wound hasn't healed, Tohno Shiki should do the same and pay back his debt----
---I'm fine, isn't it just a headache?
Compared to the pain her body must be feeling, this is nothing.
"It's fine, I can take off my glasses. It's a small price to pay to make our search easier."
"---I see. Then let's go, Shiki."
Arcueid turns around and starts walking.
I take off my glasses as I follow her.
Before, I thought they were just lines that were easy to cut along.
But now I know they are the "death" of things.
That's why I feel disgust first.
It's not that those figures of people scribbled over with lines are disgusting.
Just seeing---that humans are an existence so close to death makes me feel like throwing up.
"Shiki, you can put your glasses back on. It seems like no matter how much we search tonight, it'll be useless."
Arcueid concludes with a sigh.
Music: play track 1
I put my glasses back on.
My vision returns back to normal and I relax.
"Useless? Is it okay to just decide that all of a sudden? We've only looked everywhere once, right?"
"No, just once is enough. The presence of The Dead tends to linger around a place. I haven't sensed any of them around at all, so there aren't any that are active."
Always thinking of Shiki. She's so sweet.
"--Well, I don't really mind. If you're that dissatisfied, I don't mind going out to look again. Maybe if I concentrate more we can find something."
"That's no good. I can't strain you any more."
"Strain? I'm not really straining."
"You are. You might not realize it, but if you abuse your brain anymore, you might end up disabled."
"......? Disabled? Who?"
"You. ---That's right, you don't exactly know how your eyes work."
"Okay? You said yourself it was easier to see the death of living things than non-living things, right?
Basically, it's a problem of the circuitry of your brain.
The death of things. Being able to see that cause and effect, it's closer to reading than seeing."
Why do I have the feeling that we're about to be subjected to a confusing explanation?
"...... Everything has a main reason, the one source. Um, it's the same thing that a German scientist called the Akashic Record.
In other words, in the core of all phenomenon, there is something that "records all things". It's less of a record than an "existence", so it isn't information. It just exists. It doesn't have any purpose in and of itself, or any direction.
It's like a root swirl from which flows out all reasons."
"The source of all things, the record that records the beginning and the end of all things. Being connected to that means knowing the end of all things.
Originally the brain has the ability to control reception and transmission, but most humans close off all of these circuits except for themselves.
But, there are those people who have their circuits open latently. Without a single use of Magic Circuits, there are humans who, despite not being a transcendental race, have the potential to create transcendent phenomenon.
"Magi classify them as being psychics. While still human, they are mutants who are born with Magic Circuits.
---Such as, without any learning of the occult, someone who can see the 'death of things'."
...... Um, I'm sorry, Arcueid.
It appears I can't understand this kind of conversation at all.
"Useless---you mean, these eyes won't be able to perceive death anymore?"
"---Of course not. Hey Shiki, what happens to an engine that blows up from overload?"
"It goes to the junk yard. Once an engine breaks, you can't use it agai----"
Oh, that's it.
In other words, the headache I get from seeing death is like the screaming of an engine that is working too fast.
"You really have to thank the magus who gave you those glasses. Most psychics use their abilities without realizing how dangerous they are and end up disabling themselves.
...... Well, those kinds of people are often incompatible with society, so maybe that's just for the best."
"Oh yeah! Tons of people kill themselves that way all the time! Oh, but they're sociopaths, so it's ok."
---It seems like that's the reason I'm here.
I'll let you go back to living the life you had before.
Sensei said that, and gave me these glasses.
...... I have so much to thank her for, my chest tightens.
That person, in so many ways, really did save me---
Not understanding, I place my hand inside my shirt.
Something is sticking to my chest, like ink.
"What is this...... something's, wet?"
I pull out my hand from my shirt.
On my open palms,
is bright red blood.
Another strange sensation.
It takes me a horribly long time to understand that it's coming from the old scar on my chest.
Arcueid stares dumbfounded at my hand.
No, more accurately,
she stares at the red blood coating my hand.
Arcueid doesn't respond.
She just, starts to breathe heavier.
Pant, pant. As if she is trying to withstand pain.
"Hey, Arcueid......! What's wrong? Does your wound hurt......!?"
I grab her shoulders.
she jumps back as if she was trying to escape.
"What's wrong? You're acting strange. You still haven't recovered yet?"
"...... Perhaps. It seems I pushed myself too hard. So, I'll go back now."
"----Ah, yeah. I guess we'll call it a night."
"...... Yeah. I'll be waiting here tomorrow."
Not looking me in the eye, Arcueid leaves quickly.
Shiki's stupidity really is crucial to the plot. Any normal person would be like, "fuck this, I'm outta here," but not our Shiki!
What is that?
It feels like there's someone lurking in the shadows not illuminated by the streetlights.
My heart stops my breath.
My blood rushes through my body, this sensation----
Certainly, there's someone standing there.
The figure gets closer and closer.
The sound of dry footsteps reaches my ears.
I have a bad feeling about this.
Chills race up my spine.
You're entering a world of pain... whoever you are.
The instant I start to say "are you?",
The clouds part for a brief moment and illuminates the dark figure.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the creepy factor of this game scores a 17.
The bandaged man goes to attack me again.
I quickly ready my knife and stop it.
Two slivers of light shoot towards each other.
I can't, think calmly.
The fact that I'm being attacked causes my mind to panic.
Clang! Clang! Sparks fly from our clashing knives and scatter into the darkness.
I still can't calm down.
It's not because I'm being attacked.
I swing my knife to cancel out the one attacking me from every angle.
What's surprising is that,
my body is completely stopping all the attacks in this darkness without a pause.
----I can win......!
I don't know who he is, but there's no doubt.
I'm overwhelming him.
My blood rages forth from my advantage.
I'll win. I'm, stronger than him.
Because I'm stronger. Because he's trying to kill me, aren't I just returning the favor----!?
The sound of ringing metal echoes in the air and I force him back towards the mansion wall.
I pull my knife back before completion.
---What, am I--I'm, trying to kill someone, why---
My head hurts.
My legs wobble and I stagger backwards.
As I do so,
I empty the contents of my stomach.
My chest starts to itch.
My head hurts, the old wound on my chest burns.
My eyes, feel like they're going to burst out of my sockets----
I can't stop throwing up.
The vomit splatters all over the asphalt.
the bandaged man comes after me with his knife.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Despite not being able to see his knife due to its speed, I somehow manage to block it over and over.
The reason I can defend myself is simple.
Because, where he's aiming are the "lines" on my body.
So I know where he is aiming at and I understand more than anyone that having them cut would mean instant death, so I have to defend it.
...... Aiming---for my lines?
It's the exact opposite of before.
don't tell me, he.
The bandaged man smiles in the darkness.
---Th, um, p.
My heart rate goes out of control.
Feeling some unnameable fear, I stumble backwards.
He doesn't pursue me. He just smiles.
His blood-shot eyes seems to be saying "So you've finally realized it?" as he sneers at me.
"You can----see them?"
He also, can see the "lines"----
He can, also kill with one blow---
---I can't grasp the situation.
The bandaged man was suddenly pierced by three spear-like pipes.
Not just pierced, but stuck onto the wall.
Like an insect pinned in a bug collection.
"---YOU'RE IN MY WAY."
His voice grates awfully.
At the same time---the three spears alight like candles and engulf him in flames.
An anguished voice in the whirlpool of flames.
In the darkness, that scene seems less cruel, and almost beautiful.
You mean to tell me that the bandaged man thrice impaled, lit on fire, and screaming in anguish... is beautiful?
The bandaged man---no, the bandages are burned already, his skin is showing.
Wrapped in the flames, the man stares at me.
His blood-shot eyes filled only with murder.
His black eyes like a weapon bent on cursing Tohno Shiki.
Stunned, I can only watch.
He runs off into the distance, still engulfed in flames.
This plot just potentially got a whole lot more interesting.
Robes like a priest from another country.
Clenched in her hand, large, nail-like swords.
Emotionless, pale eyes. Blue, sky-blue eyes.
"...... Sen...... pai?"
Under the moonlight, I can only make out the silhouette.
But, she seems to resemble Senpai.