Part 143: Journey's Endpoint II
The moment I grabbed at my head, my scalp was kicked by someone at a bad angle, and my head was filled with stars... The feeling of stars flickering in this gray, twisted world...was one I remembered clearly.
My life was very similar to the one Sumadera Kasumi led. After all, as the Successor to the Ushiromiya family, I was tormented constantly with various kinds of bullying... under the guise of education and training. Yes. Having the inside of my head filled with stars like this... is a feeling I know well. When being reprimanded for some error in manners I seemed to have made, the discussion always turned to whether I was fitting to be the Successor or not. On and on about the honor of the Ushiromiya family, and how deep that was.
...By the time the conversation reached that point, I'd forget what mistake I was being blamed for in the first place. No, in fact, it was the same for Aunt Eva. After all, sometimes she'd ask herself "Umm, what was it again?" But in the end, she wouldn't be able to remember, and would say something like...
...There'd be some ridiculous reasoning like that, and then she'd keep on punishing me. Yes. Aunt Eva's punishment wasn't something that would continue until I learned something, or acknowledged my mistake, or apologized. It would continue until Aunt Eva wanted to stop. So this violence was a bit nostalgic, in a way that made me want to vomit.
Right next to Kasumi, who's smoking a cigarette, I can see Aunt Eva, almost as though the two of them are laughing together.
When I think about it, even Aunt Eva's life might be a thing worthy of my sympathy. The responsibility and pressure of being a member of the Ushiromiya family, which she often mentioned to me, had probably caused her great pain. After all, people can't make insults that they've never been the targets of themselves... It was probably the same for Aunt Rosa as well. As the youngest child of the honorable Ushiromiya family, she must've gone through many tough times. So, it was just like what Aunt Eva did to me... Just like what Sumadera Kasumi is doing now...
...Aunt Rosa... must have been the same. People tend to push the pain they're burdened with onto other people. Otherwise, they can never escape from that pain. So on and on, in eternity and perpetuity, the chain of pain and sadness does not end.
With her magic, she didn't have to bear the pain caused by Aunt Rosa. The pain probably was pushed onto her. Its weight probably tormented her. But Onee-chan didn't carry that burden on her own shoulders. She purified it... and filled her world with happiness.
So I'm sure... If Maria onee-chan had had children in the future... She probably wouldn't have pushed the pain that had been forced on her onto her children. That chain of pain and sadness that stretched back for who knows how long, which she couldn't understand and which she had inherited, which had been forced onto her... Maria onee-chan cut it with her magic.
In the past, I would have snapped back. I would've met her hatred with hatred, so that they'd cancel each other out. No, nothing got cancelled out. The thing being forced on me ended up right there on my shoulders. Just like how even now, I hate her. So, now that I... know of magic, I'll look at the human called Ushiromiya Eva again.
Unable to withstand the pain of that torn heart, she was doing nothing more than howl sadly, like a lion crying in pain, like a child. Even Ushiromiya Eva was someone I should have felt compassion for. She needed someone to understand the difficulties and pain of her childhood years. Even she, who was the only survivor of the Rokkenjima crime, who was faced with the curiosity of all of society, who was publicly slandered and forced to have salt continually flung into the wound, had needed someone's compassion.
In order to let Eva forget her pain and sadness at least a little, the black witch...taught her magic, just like the times it had possessed Aunt Rosa. It was the same magic of anger and sadness...that Beatrice had taught Maria onee-chan when she was mourning for her torn-apart friend, Sakutarou. That same magic... that witch... had probably dwelled inside Aunt Rosa too. So I mustn't hate Ushiromiya Eva. Maybe... I should've become her ally, as the only person in the world who could understand her.
...What did I say to her when I was young, when she returned alive all alone...? Could it be... that I acted... as though she'd killed my family and returned on her own...?
...I can't believe it. Aunt Eva, who has never been more than a object of and a synonym for hatred throughout my life, is turning into... a human I can understand... So, I can see, right next to Aunt Eva, the form of the black witch, who taught her the black magic...
It was only natural. Not only was no one willing to understand the pain of losing her husband and son at once, but her only relative had insulted her, saying 'Give me back my Dad and Mom'. I can make the excuse that I was merciless because of my youth. However, to her at the time, it had probably been cruel enough to sever the last thread in her heart.
...In the following days, the talk shows and magazines publicly slandered her. The truth of her husband's business and character... and even her beloved son were negated. She no longer had anything left. She could do nothing but cry and howl, trying to forget the pain and sadness at least for a while. After all, she could only feel a tiny bit of release, and only during the time that she howled. And so, the black witch taught her how to howl.
The one I hated... was the black witch. Black magic can probably release one from that pain for an instant. However, it never lifts that weight from a person's shoulders. On the contrary, it forces that weight onto further victims, filling the world with hatred. If only Aunt Eva knew of white magic... and had a true witch nearby...
Didn't I learn the magic to create happiness from Maria onee-chan? If I'd taught her... with that magic, could we have... built a future with a completely different relationship?
Up until now, I've hated Aunt Eva constantly. So I didn't notice the black witch beside her. Without love, it could not be 'seen'. I didn't... have any love for her...
So now, finally... I'll glare at the black witch, the one I truly should hate.
"...I see you. The one I should've hated wasn't Aunt Eva... It's you."
"Whoa, awesome. To think that a lowly Human could 'see' a witch like me. So? Are you trying to say something with that glare? Do you hate me?"
"...Hate? Yes, I do. But... that's not quite it. I just think you're sad."
"Sad? *giggle*giggle* Ahhahahahahaha! What're you saying?! Come on, go ahead! Why not hate me as much as you waant?!"
"...I won't hate. Hating you... means I'm doing nothing more than inheriting Aunt Eva's hatred. I'll put a stop to hatred. I'll accept Aunt Eva's pain, purify it, and throw it away."
"Ahhahahahahahahaha!! What kind of epiphany do you think you've had? Is your head all right? Seriously, if only you'd just give up and diie! Kyaahhahhahahahahahaha! You guys, kick her more and more, okay? Not her face, though. 'Cause it'd be boring if her pitiful face got any better!"
"Gwurgh! Gwah!! Nngg..."
"...My, my, are you still not suffering after all that...? You keep staring right at me. Do you hate me? I'll bet you do. Same here. *giggle*giggle*giggle*..."
Kasumi sneered at me. But for some reason, I had the feeling that she was crying behind that expression. Just like me, the pain of being forced into an unreasonable life would never, ever heal. The sad lion gasping in pain from the thorn he can't get out continues to howl...
"...Don't you feel better now? You used to be standing there, but now you're on this side, right? Heheheh, isn't it great? Don't you like having the roles switched?!"
"...Yes, it really is... great... Ahhahahahaha, how can you make that kind of face, Ange...?! Go on and cry, you want to, right?!"
"Kyahhahahahahahaha!! Yes, yes, of course she wants to cry! Make her cry. Didn't someone make you cry back then? So make her cry too. *giggle* You too, Ange. If only you'd just break down and cry! Kyaaahhahhahhahhahha!!"
"...Aha, ahahahahahahaha!! Cry, Angee! I want to see your crying face! Cry, and try saying 'I'm sorry, Aunt Kasumi'...!!"
"Yes, make her say those words. Aren't those words painful? Isn't being made to apologize for something that isn't your fault... just the worst pain...? Make her feel the same way... By doing that, you can relieve your pain. Hehheheheh, yeah, that's it. Be a little more honest with yourself, okay? If only you'd just let your emotions run free more, and more, and mooooooooooore!"
...The black witch provoked Kasumi. And Kasumi began to give herself over to that dark emotion. By turning deep sadness into an evil alcohol and forcing it down, trying to forget it for just an instant, nothing would change. The words Kasumi insulted me with... were themselves... sad. And, I couldn't forgive the black witch who had imposed that sadness on Kasumi...
...I had gone limp, which seemed to have stopped the black-suits' kicking competition. Or maybe the kickers were getting tired too. Kasumi didn't order them to stop, but at some point, they did. However, I was reflected in Kasumi's eyes, and they burned me with flames of hatred. She had been tempted by the witch to do that in order to relieve her own pain.
"...I can't. I still can't forgive her with just this."
"Right? There's no way you can forgive her! Do it more! More of the flames of hatred! Nothing can warm you except the fires of hate. After being frozen in the snow fields of anger and sadness, the only flame that can warm you is hatred...!! Say it, okay? Scream it!! If only you'd just burn yourself to ashes with a roar of haaaaaaaaaate!"
"Sumadera Kasumi, look at that bundle of flowers. These flowers are for your dead family, right, Ange?"
The black witch grinned at me unpleasantly, using her chin to signal Kasumi to pick it up. Kasumi picked up the flowers I was going to offer, brought them all the way over to me, dropped them, and made a show of trampling them... Her expression was filled with hatred... and a frantic quality that couldn't be explained with hatred alone.
...She trampled them over and over again as though her sadness was reaching the bursting point. So the sound of her trampling it was just sad.
"...Oh, still not suffering yet? Then what about this? Sumadera Kasumi! Use this."
"...N-No, not that..."
Kasumi also noticed it... and picked up that book, which was heavier than it looked...
"*giggle* Why not read it? Eheheh, you might fall over laughing, okay?"
Kasumi opened the grimoire, skimmed over the contents, and snorted derisively.
Of course, my hand couldn't reach. My stomach was once again kicked by the black-suits, and I doubled over...
"See? This book's really important to Ange, right? Gotta belittle the things that are important to her, okay? That'll work better than punching or kicking for a girl like her. You know that better than anyone, don't you...?"
As though remembering something painful, Kasumi's face twisted for an instant. But that quickly disappeared, changing into a scornful smile directed at me.
"*giggle*giggle* Whew, what a creepy book. Did you write this...?"
"...Stop it, give it back..."
"*giggle*giggle*giggle*, *giggle*giggle*!! Look at that face...! Belittle it more, belittle it more...! Teach her the pain of having your dignity trampled, that's the only way to soften your own pain...!"
"Heh, heheheheh, what's with this embarrassing book...? I'll admit I did have a little interest in fortune telling as a girl."
"But isn't this going a bit too far? Magic? Ew. You're one of those, aren't you? It's like in those cartoons, where a girl says that something-somethiiiing spell and transforms into a witch, right? You like those, don't you? How pathetic. *giggle*giggle*."
Cackling, Kasumi opened to a random page and showed it to the black-suits. The black-suits looked too and guffawed. That sneer didn't wound me. But I couldn't forgive it. After all, that sneer was ridiculing Maria onee-chan.
I don't hate Kasumi. But for forcing that unhealing anger and sadness on Kasumi, I cannot forgive the black witch... That black witch ate into Aunt Eva, Sumadera Kasumi, and Aunt Rosa, tormenting them for an eternity without letting their wounds be healed. I can't forgive her... I can't forgive... the black witch...
"What's this? Sprinkle water cleansed by the sun with sugar...? Stick the magic staff in, and then an incantation, *cackle*cackle*cackle*, ahhahahahahahahahaha!! What the hell?! Ahhahahahahahahaha...!! It huuuuuuuurts!!"
The black-suits were also rolling around, guffawing. Then, grinning, the black witch whispered something into Kasumi's ear. After glaring at me with a grin, Kasumi took that page-
BGM: Thanks for Being Born
'...S-So cruel. That was... Maria's magic...'
"Oh, really? Heheh, how sad."
...It was one of the spells to summon happiness... that Maria had made with Sakutarou. Anyone knows that making sugar water, coloring it, and leaving it by the window... isn't going to make candy fall from the sky. But after repeating that every day, one time on her way home from school... She had found several pieces of candy scattered around...
How happy must that miracle have made Maria onee-chan? Didn't she treasure that candy, eating it during her night alone with Sakutarou to distract herself from her loneliness? That... magic that Onee-chan had given birth to... had been torn and thrown away... and had disappeared... The whole miracle of happiness that magic had given birth to... had been torn and thrown away...
"Tear that too. Eheheh!! If only you'd just tear it more and moooooooore!!"
With a brutal, loud laugh, the black witch made Maria onee-chan's spells get torn out one after another... Magic of happiness was... sneered at, torn, and thrown away...
"Stop it, stop it...!! Don't... defile Lady MARIA's magic...!! Don't defile it... with your filthy toxin...!!"
Mammon cried and yelled, but she had no way of reaching Kasumi.
"Come on, why not defile it?! Miracles of magic? Magic to bring happiness? No way, nothing like that exists! Don't you know that you can't heal pain and sadness without pushing it onto someone else? Hey, you also had those magic friend things, right?"
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*! Sumadera Kasumi, open to that page."
"What's this? Magic friends? The Seven Sisters of Purgatory? Aha, what a creepy name! *giggle* It says they can fly at awesome speeds and finish off the enemy. Ahhaha, Ange, if you can use this kind of magic, shouldn't you use it right now? Ahhahahahaha. Foolish!"
The page that wrote of the Seven Sisters of Purgatory was also heartlessly torn away. The page itself was just paper. It wasn't Mammon's vessel or anything. But the tearing, denying toxin burned Mammon from the inside...
Mammon's face twisted from that heat and pain...
'Are you okay, Mammon?! Hold on...!!'
"...This much is... no problem... It's not me, but Ange-sama... who's in pain..."
However, Mammon's expression was twisted with unbearable anguish and humiliation...
'Stop it, black witch...!! Why are you doing something like this?! Why... can't you use magic for happiness?!!'
"...Oh, you're a magic friend too, right? *giggle* I'll defile you too. Sumadera Kasumi, look for this guy's page too, okay?"
"Ahhahahahahahaha!! It really is a crappy scribble. This ugly lion is totally you."
"To think she had something like this as a friend... That Ushiromiya Maria kid's mind is so pathetic it's embarassing, what a joooke. She's like, a moron. If only she'd just give up... and diiiiiiiieee...!"
'U...ryu... Don't make fun... of Maria...'
"...St...op...it... Don't break it..."
There was a shrill sound. The page had been filthily ripped out... The picture of Sakutarou... that Onee-chan had drawn... was violently ripped in half...
"You all laugh too, okay? Ahhahahahahahahaha...!"
A pair of the black-suits laughed vulgarly... and heartlessly trampled the two halves that had been torn and thrown away...
'Uuuuuuuuuuuu, hic! Uuuuuuuuuuu...'
"...Sakutaro, hang in there..."
'I'm... not sad... I just... can't stand it... I can't stand that... Maria's being made fun of, and I can't do anything about it...'
"...To Humans who can't 'see' us, it's as though we don't exist... We can only interact with Humans that need us. That's why... we're furniture..."
As Sakutarou and Mammon... supported each other, they crouched down, sobbing...
I couldn't stand it either... Those who can't 'see' how wonderful the world of magic is... can't understand it. You can't explain to humans who can't understand. So it gets belittled. If you could show them it... But you can't... Because, in front of Humans who are filled with the magic-resisting toxin and who can't understand magic, magic cannot be used...
"I really don't get it. From this delusional diary, I've got to assume that something's wrong with your head. It really is fun to take a peek into your mind. You creepy child."
"Both you and Maria. And that stuffed animal and the furniture over there too, right? *giggle*giggle*giggle*!! Ahhahahahahahahahahaha!"
"Aah, I could laugh. You don't have any friends, do you? You're aaalways all alone, so stuffed animals are your friends? What a pitiable child. Heheheheheheheheh...! Don't worry, I understand. I know what it's like to live that way. So I'll accept it. You really are a pitiable child, right? Ehhehehhahahahahahahaha!"
...To you, it probably would look... like something made by a pitiful child. That's right. If a hundred people were to read Onee-chan's diary, a hundred people would probably think the same thing. I used to be like that too.
But you know, despite all of that, Maria onee-chan... summoned a world of happiness. Don't deny... that magic, that happiness...
"Such a stubborn child, you are. Very well. This is the last one. I'll tear apart the source of the truly foolish magic that you and Maria believed in. Sumadera Kasumi, read this page, okay?"
'St-Stop iiiiiiiiiiit!! Not that page...!!'
"Aha. This magic's really simple, isn't it? It looks like even I could do it. Even I could remember an incantation this short. Shall I give it a whirl?"
"*giggle*giggle* It really is a short incantation, isn't it? Okay, give it a try, let's have everyone spit it out!"
With expressions that ridiculed it from the bottom of their hearts, the black witch and Kasumi... tapered their mouths. And they said it aloud...