Beta Reader: Me babbyy lets see how many times I can cringe from the spelling mistakes SOBBING FR


Our Sacrificial Waltz To Everlasting Memory

Chapter 1

(Intermission)


It's just both of us alone... you can speak your mind.

It's okay, I won't leave you.

Just please promise you won't leave me.

...please...?


Thoughts In The Dark

(Part 2)


The Storyteller

After much debate, Anata Noshi didn't attend the dinner.

She sighed, utterly isolated in her bedroom like she always was. That loneliness was an old friend to her, but never did she expected it to become grating after just one day here.

She knew she set herself up for it though. Once she declared others could be "acting" she split herself apart from any connection with the group. There were two camps now… the logical side… and the emotional one.

As expected, the majority stuck together hand in hand, believing nothing would go wrong if they just blindly trusted each other.

Anata and a few others stood alone as they contemplated their logic… and even then it seemed like she was the odd one out of this group.

She noted how Uta and Albion at least had each other… and somehow even Koji was on speaking terms with Prince. Only Hania mirrored the isolation she had, but what did it matter? Didn't change that Anata was sitting in her room by herself, not at all comforted by the books around her like she thought she'd be.

She contemplated joining the group for dinner after reading her thirteenth novel… but the risk far outweighed the reward in doing such a thing… and if she was going to be logical here she had to make sacrifices.

…but perhaps she should've gone, at least to avoid suspicion.

Anata shook her head. There wasn't a point. She made her bed and now she had to lay in it. At the same time though, her not attending today wasn't the end of the world. The people in the emotional group turned out to be very open with their plans. Amaya, Machi, Aimi, Kanna, Tadatake, Jun… and so many more. The good outweighed the bad with these people given her observations from them...

And out of all of them... she found herself thinking of Prince most often.


"You're right, I am feeling uneasy… but I still want to trust people, so e-even if you think people are pretending to be... you know, nicer than they are, at least try and also see the people who are genuinely being friendly. There's people who might prove you wrong…"


Prove her wrong. For someone with no memory and by far the most suspicious person here without a talent, he truly believed the others were being friendly...

...

…did Anata want to be proven wrong?

She sat on the couch in her room and glanced around, contemplating that idea. Her room was designed with her talent in mind. It was dark and wooden, bookshelves practically crammed into every part of the space. The walls were bookshelves, the floor was in the pattern of books, and even the fireplace had shelves for novels on the side which were probably a fire hazard. Stories, words, and fairy tales were everywhere, adorning the kitchen, bedroom, and even parts of the bathroom.

She figured her room wasn't the only one based on her Grand Talent. If Alexander had some sort of vendetta or attachment to Grandview, he'd want to emphasize their talents through everything and anything… and it appeared their bedrooms were used as that reflection of what they used to be.

For Anata's room, she understood the message pretty quickly. It was obvious that stories made up her whole world. The legends of heroes… villains… and happy endings… all of it was engraved into Anata's heart like veins pumping blood. As long as she had stories, she could wait however long she needed to get out of here…

But in a killing game could a happy ending exist here? Could she believe in Prince's words?

She wasn't a little girl anymore. She had long understood what the real world was like and its cruel rules that would make even the strongest of people crumble to their knees. This killing game was another horrific reminder of that. It was as if the existence of this game was screaming at her that even if she was a Grand Student who worked harder than anyone else to get where she was…

…her reward would be being stuck in a manor with strangers who could stab her easily in the back.

But to be honest... it wasn't very different from her old life.

...

Why… couldn't she just have it easy for once? Why was this so difficult? Why was… she stuck here…?

...why did she hate this as much as she did?

So many questions and no answers littered her mind. All of it was junk. Typical. She closed her book sternly and went to put it away…

When she suddenly heard steps outside her door.

There was no mistaking it, she could hear someone walking into the living quarters. What initially caused her to panic... slowly turned into a weary sigh as she realized it was probably the group returning from dinner, right? It might've just ended now…

…although the Nighttime Announcement hadn't played yet… perhaps the group was getting a head start and leaving beforehand?

She figured she'd take a peek out her door, at least to see what everyone was doing. Besides the memory of Prince asking her to attend and then her choice to not show up slightly compelled her to at least check up on the others.

Believing that she would see the group return from dinner, she peered out the door into the dark living quarters... only to witness a more… bizarre sight.

a figure she couldn't identify was heading up to the boy's floor, holding a box of some kind. Even when she squinted her eyes they moved too fast for her to see who it was.

But she was certain about one thing...there was no way in hell that was Empress, Omen, or Alexander. After all, everyone was at dinner… right? Then who was this? Unless not everyone showed up to that event. Whoever didn't must've been the one delivering this box… but to who?

Anata didn't dare leave her room just yet to find out. Instead, she waited at the door, peering through the crack as she waited for whatever the figure was doing to finish up.

She heard the sound of someone grunting. Then a door opened… followed by something being put down before said door closed again.

Then whoever the figure was hurriedly walked down the stairs and out of the living quarters, their eyes vigilant as they left. Whoever it was didn't want to be spotted.

Once the coast was clear and the figure vanished… Anata left her room and ventured upstairs to the boy's rooms to see what just transpired. Was it possible someone was planning to kill? She wouldn't put it past someone to want to leave… but she didn't figure it would happen so soon.

She made it to the second floor, her analytical eye scanning the area. But nothing seemed amiss. Was it possible someone just… returned to their room for something? Then why did the figure look so shady?

No, she crossed her arms, frowning. Something was VERY wrong here. She could only believe that to be so.

The question remained then… how could she prepare for whatever was to come?

...and did this prove her RIGHT if anything?

Anata stood there, alone, her eyes flickering in unease. Someone was plotting something... and she was not going to be caught defenseless in this game... especially after her dream last night.

...she needed to be alert.

...she needed to be ready for anything.


The Magician

Fudo Tsukuyomi and his best assistant Minnie left the dinner with full bellies and content smiles.

Ever since waking up in this weird place, things had been hard for them both, especially with some less-than-accepting faces. The thought of a certain perfumer alone made Fudo roll his eyes. But there also had been some good parts, especially with some new friends he made here.

Actually… could he call them friends? It was only a day and they all really didn't know that much about each other. The only person he felt remotely connected to was Prince, and even that was strange given they just met and Fudo had no idea what his deal was! Everyone else was a blank slate in Fudo's head, a total stranger.

And as his Ma always told him, "never trust strangers!"

So, listening to her was all he needed honestly. He had to keep his wits about him until he made it home to them safely. He would return home to her soon...

"I can only trust you right now Minnie," Fudo sighed as he snuggled close to his mouse friend. Minnie returned the snuggle as her furry whiskers brushed against Fudo's cheek, prompting a squeak from the mouse.

With his parents missing... it was just the two of them against the world, just like back then... right?

"F-Fudo!"

"Yo Pip!"

Two familiar voices thankfully snapped Fudo out of those thoughts as he whirled around. Mister Take… or usually just Tadatake… and Aimi.

….seeing their smiles, Fudo let go of the angst and was reassured. No, what was he getting worried about? These two were definitely his friends as well. Tadatake was like the strong... confident... slightly stupid older brother he never had!

And Aimi... w-well he didn't know how to address her but they could be friends, right?

Shaking out of his thoughts, Fudo grinned and waved to them. "Heya guys! Long time no see," he teased, knowing they all just ate dinner together, "I thought you were staying to clean up Aimi?"

"I-I was but the Nighttime Announcement played," Aimi nervously revealed, "so we had to leave… or e-else we would've broken rule… um… I think Rule 3?"

"Yeah, the Nighttime rule!" Tadatake clarified as folded his big arms, "I was gonna wait for Aimi once she finished cleaning but since she doesn't have to I'm walking her back to her room! Wanna join kid?"

Walking back to the rooms with Tadatake and Aimi put Fudo at ease with the suggestion. It was better to travel in groups considering how weird this place is, then no one could jump him or Minnie.

But at the same time, that feeling of comradery was so… foreign to him. Aside from when he was with Ma, Minnie, and Pa… he was used to being alone, ready for anything from scheming bullies. But in these halls, it wasn't like school. Aimi and Tadatake took a side to protect him as the night stars danced outside the manor window.

This feeling… wasn't so bad. It was good to have company finally.

"Yo Pip, was that dinner all the rage or what?!" Tadatake flashed his signature grin as they walked, his body booming in satisfaction over the event. "I can't get over all the stuff we got to eat! Next time, I'm asking Jun to help us chow down on more stuff!"

"Y-You should probably wait until he's rested…" Aimi suggested quietly. Even after baking so hard for the event, she was still worried for others.

"Yeah, a tired chef is no better than an amateur chef!" Fudo chimed in with Aimi's suggestion, "but that dinner was pretty amazing. The food was soooooo good, and everyone got along for once! Even that pink flamingo girl didn't bother me too much!"

Aimi blinked. "P-Pink who…?" She never got the memo on who that was as she blushed.

Tadatake meanwhile laughed, knowing full well who it was. "The girl had her hands full with the big guy, Albion, yeah? I gotta come up with a good name for those two. Maybe the 'Blonde Barrage' or 'Dumb Bougie Delights' or something like that. We could even get a whole group going with everyone who's got the hair color!"

"I'm blonde... Mister Take," Fudo deadpanned, "don't lump me with those two. And they are NOT a delight to be around."

"I... can come up with something better than... haha." Tadatake scratched his cheek, "but even if they're wack to be around, dinner kinda brought em' down a peg in terms of snobbiness, don't you think?"

"Are we talking about the same people?" Fudo flatly spoke. The phrase "brought down a peg" and "Amelie" did not compute for Fudo, or Minnie who just rolled her eyes.

"I think they had f-fun..." Aimi nervously brought up as she glanced to the floor, "and everyone else too. No one seems as scared as they w-were from the announcement."

That was true. Fudo didn't feel nearly as worried as he did yesterday. Maybe these strangers actually wouldn't fall for the killing game!

"Fudo? A-Are you okay?" Aimi seemed to think something was wrong with Fudo first, "unless I'm wrong you look… u-um… contemplative...?" She wasn't able to say anymore... in fear she said the wrong thing.

"Nah I'm fine" Fudo meant that as he tipped his hat, "I was just thinking on how… incredible some people are here. Miss Machi and Miss Amaya were so quick to talk down to that bully Mustache Head. And Mister Lukas showed Boney Head a lesson when they fought."

"B-Boney Head… Mustache Head…?" Aimi murmured as she scratched her cheek. She couldn't keep up with the nicknames.

"Those brutes Omen and Alexander I bet!" Tadatake got it right on the money, "ever notice how that fancy weirdo's head looks like a mustache!"

"I-I didn't actually," Aimi blushed.

"It does Mister Take!" Fudo grinned, "see you get me!"

"You know it!" Tadatake fist-bumped Fudo. "But yeah, Lukas was pretty badass charging in against Omen like that. I kinda regret I didn't jump in either." The hockey player's boisterous voice quieted down shockingly enough, which signaled Fudo something was eating away at the big guy.

"Don't say that Mister Take…" Fudo mumbled as Minnie joined in with reassuring squeaks, "you kept everyone else safe when they fought."

"...everyone but Prince and Lukas…" Tadatake clenched his fist briefly. Perhaps that Omen battle messed him up more than he cared to admit. "I know there isn't use dwelling on that crap… but… I'm usually so on top of keeping people in check. The fact Prince got hurt… and Lukas to… damn... I just... I dunno man."

Fudo was not having any of that down talk as he stared at Tadatake, "Mister Take, nope! Shame on you for thinking bad about yourself! Mister Prince and Mister Lukas are fine! We should be blaming that Boney Head!" Minnie squeaked in agreement, plotting Omen's demise as they all walked.

Tadatake blinked as he scratched his head, "you sure man? I know when to admit fault… especially when it comes to my teammates getting hurt and I-"

"But you didn't do anything wrong!" Fudo argued as foul memories crawled to his head, "that Enforcer is the bully… and bullies like him suck. Trust me, I know... and you did everything you could back then."

"Y-You know?" Aimi picked up, but she didn't pressure Fudo... who didn't reply.

The hockey player meanwhile looked genuinely surprised before grinning and ruffling Fudo's wild hair, which made the magician giggle.

"Heh, thanks Pip," Tadatake laughed, "you got a way of brightening me up! Way better then my younger sis who scolds me all the time!"

"If your younger sister is scolding you... you're the problem," Fudo jokingly sighed.

"W-Well don't take Asuka's side!" Tadatake groaned. Asuka must've been said younger sister, who the big jock didn't seem to actually mind talking about as he smirked. "I already dealt with her in my dream last night, now I gotta be reminded of her again."

"As the Grand Magician, I have a way of making people reflect on themselves!" Fudo proudly smiled before softening, "but honestly… my talent isn't anything compared to Aimi's performance today."

"M-Me?!" Aimi squeaked, her face red like the icing of a cupcake. "I did s-something?"

"Are you kidding?" Fudo blinked, "you rocked it with Mister Jun making all that food. The dinner was only that amazing because your treats made everyone smile! That's what your talent can do for others, which is awesome!"

"Y-You think so…?" Aimi nervously fiddled with her fingers, overwhelmed by the positive response.

"Pip is right!" Tadatake made a peace sign and smiled gently to Aimi, "you d

"Back off Mister Take!" Fudo defensively said, "Aimi is mine! She promised toid good today Shortcake. I couldn't stop eating those cupcakes you made! I gotta hope being your personal taste tester is in the cards for my future!" help me cook!"

"Wha-!? Can't we take turns or something?" Tadatake tried to compromise… but he was probably in it for the free sweets he'd get.

"Why d-do you both sound so possessive when you say that!? P-Please stop!" But even if Aimi was embarrassed, she still looked happy by these answers. "But thank you you both. I… I wanna be more confident in my abilities here. So I wanted to have everyone come to dinner so... they could enjoy my meals and get along. It's why I-I asked Prince to invite everyone..."

Fudo blinked, he didn't know that! "Mister Prince was inviting people on your behalf?"

"I s-should've asked everyone myself but yes..." Aimi softly revealed, "I know things are scary here, but... I wanted e-everyone to be as reassured as you both reassured me! And F-Fudo… um… I'm sure there's going be a time where your talent c-comes into play and gives smiles to all of us."

"You think so?" Fudo's eyes widened.

"Y-Yep, I think so…" Aimi blushed quietly, her eyes sparkling as she looked down.

Something warm bloomed in Fudo's chest then as he gratefully gazed at Aimi and Tadatake. These two… if only he met them back then. It had been only a day, but… he truly did feel they were friends. At least, he was sure he could call them that during his time in this game.

But deep down he had to wonder how long that very game would last… after all… the last time he felt this warm with someone…

they left him.

"Yo… Pip?" Now it was Tadatake's turn to notice Fudo's silence. "You good bro?"

Aimi silently looked concerned as well.

Fudo jumped and hid his mouth with his scarf, "I'm fine… really. I was just thinking of an old friend."

Fudo didn't elaborate, and given Minnie's protective look Tadatake and Aimi didn't push for the topic as well.

But as they reached their rooms, the hockey player at least left Fudo with this. "Well hey, if you ever wanna talk about anything, I'm here man. We gotta trust each other during this game, don't we? As a team and all!"

"R-Right, as a team," Aimi joined in quietly. She was silently encouraging in the back, hoping her words were making a difference.

Fudo stared at them both and smiled, genuinely. "Thanks guys. I felt safe walking back to our rooms with each other… we can talk more tomorrow, okay?"

"Roger that!" Tadatake flashed a grin as he gave a thumbs up.

"Yes… let's talk more soon!" Aimi beamed.

Fudo nodded and watched Tadatake help Aimi to her room. He really did want to learn from Aimi and he felt safe around Tadatake… but in a game like this… wasn't that the last thing he should be feeling? Maybe instead of the dinner lifting his spirits, it gave him more to think about. But he knew three things for certain.

One, he could trust Aimi and Tadatake.

Two, he could trust Minnie…

And three, whatever he dreamed tonight, he hoped it was of his parents again. He could desperately use a reminder of what he was fighting to stay alive for.

...and he desperately hoped no one here leave him... like his so called "friend" did back then.


The Marionette Maker

"Sister Luna… this is your living quarters?"

Amaya had walked in on quite the scene. After dinner had ended, she and Luna walked side by side back to their rooms. However, Luna had taken a brief moment to invite Amaya to her abode, and with such a considerate invitation Amaya couldn't refuse. She ventured inside to find a room as mystical as the cult leader herself.

Luna's room was done in ancient-looking baby pink and blue walls, with runes scrawled out on the pillars speaking in some ancient text. Her floor was done in church like cobblestone. Her windows appeared to be cathedral esc. as patterned pastel glass showed images of what Amaya assumed was Luna's god… the Eternal One. An ancient fireplace flickered a cool blue color as it swayed, highlighting the historical couches that were adorned with funny-looking pillows of ancient cosmic horrors. The kitchen appeared just as ancient, with the furniture taking an underground crypt style more than an actual modern cooking area. In the corner area where there would be a study, it appeared there was some praying station setup with pillows, stuffed animals, and even a floating staff holder for her… well... staff.

But none of these things triggered Amaya's fight or flight. It all appeared to be uniquely Luna's… which was a fact that made Amaya feel content that her friend could rest in a place such as this.

The only thing that gave Amaya a pause was… the large cannon in the corner of the room.

"Sister Luna am I mistaken or… is that a cannon?" Amaya was puzzled briefly.

"Kanon?" Luna tilted her head, "no I don't think she snuck into my room."

"D-Don't tease me!" Amaya frowned, flustered as she pointed out the huge contraption, "this! That cannon! Is that an actual... um... working one?"

"Not working, but it would seem it's a cannon indeed." Luna did not look phased by the item and even smiled at it. "It appears to be a replica of my ceremonial canon back home. We would use it to draw crowds during our praying sessions to the Eternal One. I often blasted out of it myself back then... so I wonder if this replica canon could be fired like the ceremonial one back home…"

Amaya seriously worried for the wellbeing of her fellow sister in that moment, but remained respectful, "I imagine it felt freeing to fly from that?"

"Oh very, I was like... a star..." Luna hummed, "want to help me test it now?"

"Perhaps, we should test such a thing on a later date?" Amaya nervously chuckled. Luna's passion for her work was admiring to witness… but Amaya wasn't sure if firing cannons' indoors was the best course of action.

"I suppose you're right," Luna tiredly nodded as she suddenly squeezed one of the stuffed animals nearby. Her room was overflowing with them in every corner. My dealings with the cannon would detract from what I wanted to talk about with you."

"And that is…?" Amaya patiently waited.

Out of everyone, Luna was by far the most welcoming and accepting in Amaya's eyes. There wasn't exactly a "first meeting" or "a moment there eyes met" where the two decided that they could talk to each other. They just… sort of got drawn to one another like the ocean's tug and pull. Amaya could tell right away from Luna's devotion to her faith and willingness to selflessly contribute to others they'd be close friends.

And that thought didn't change as she stood waiting for Luna to finish her tiredly yawn.

Luna finally spoke. "I was curious… did you manage to talk to Prince today? I know you signaled me before dinner started that something was wrong… so I was curious if you worked things out with him. You don't have to tell me what you talked about... jut that he's okay."

Amaya let out a faint breath she didn't know she was holding and clutched her marionette doll in her hands, "ah, you wished to talk about my progress with him! Yes, I was able to talk to Brother Prince before dinner. Our conversation appeared to ease his mind, just as we planned for it this morning!"

"Good…" Luna nodded, a faint smile playing on her tired lips, "he appeared distressed from whatever his nightmare was this morning, so I was hoping to reassure him as soon as possible. If he were to lose faith in the group then…" Luna didn't finish. She appeared extremely curious about Prince's wellbeing, that's all.

"I don't believe Brother Prince is the type to split off from the group," Amaya softly spoke, "he desires security and trust, which we can grant to him as long as we stand united and face the masterminds of this game without regrets. I know that is what I intend to do… for both his sake, and all my brothers and sisters."

"You hold strong conviction…" Luna noted, rubbing her chin. "I feel the same way… if there's anything else I can do to help the group… I'd be willing to do that. Just say the word."

Amaya smiled. Luna was far too kind., she could sense it.

...

...

But… she had been wrong before with her initial observation of people.

While she wholeheartedly trusted Luna, there was always going to be a part of Amaya that worried if she was putting her faith in the right people. Her dream last night emphasized that. The most important people in her life… her loved ones…

...remembering them was a cruel mix of bliss and pain. If she slipped up for even a moment... could her work start crashing down around them? Like back then?

…was it... possible then that Amaya may have made some mistakes today?

She did everything she hoped was right by getting the others to trust each other… but she couldn't help but worry. That's all she could manage to be good for as she fumbled with her doll in her hands.

"Amaya?" Luna picked up on her silence right away. For being so loopy, her attentive gaze snapped at the worry on Amaya's face. "Is something plaguing you?"

Amaya breathed steadily in order to speak. Hiding things from Luna would be childish on her end, wouldn't it? She didn't want to keep a friend in the dark. So Amaya spoke, picking her words carefully so as to not distress Luna.

"I was just… recalling some of the things we did today," Amaya thoughtfully spoke, "the dinner… our attempts to reassure Brother Prince. I was hoping they truly worked. I don't want those events to cause concern in others or make us divided in some way. That's all…"

Luna listened quietly as she allowed Amaya this small moment of weakness.

"I feel I can tell you that back then, I made some extremely poor choices," Amaya revealed vaguely, her eyes pained, "I had a dream that reminded me of such a thing… it made me want to redouble my efforts to assure myself that I wouldn't make similar choices that could hurt this group."

Luna kept listening, her eyes closed. Something about her gentle stance compelled Amaya to keep talking. Perhaps she would confess to even more… if she didn't feel her heart unraveling slightly in pain.

"I... I wish to speak of more but, it pains me to recall," Amaya spoke, "this place is entirely new to me… I'm not sure how the modern world operates and their customs of keeping the peace. And despite my attempts to reassure the others… I may be making the same mistakes I did back then, just like my dream reminded me of."

There was a pause at Amaya's confession. Perhaps she spoke too much… perhaps she burdened Luna? How could she vent like this to her fellow sister? Amaya was supposed to be the reassuring one, why, did she speak up like this…?

Luna thought for a moment, her dreamy eyes sluggishly flickering before she sighed. "Amaya… your dream was about your loved ones… yes?"

Amaya's breath stopped, but she nodded. "That's correct."

"You do not need to elaborate if you aren't comfortable," Luna reassured as she tiredly leaned against her staff, "but I will say this… if that dream is making you worried that you're making the wrong choices in this game… I will tell you right now that you aren't dividing anyone or making any mistakes at all. That's the seed of doubt being planted in you by this game."

"The game…?" Amaya blinked, clutching her coat.

"Mhm… this game proposed by Alexander is supposed to make us doubt our efforts of teamwork," Luna continued, her eyes staring off to the side, "but we aren't the weak-minded individuals that man believes us to be. We are Grand Students… and we are symbols of Power in this world. Why else would we be picked of we didn't have that resolve?"

Resolve… Amaya let that resolve burn in her chest.

Luna continued, "you are a Grand Student, yes? Just like me and everyone else here. We are chosen because our determination to express our talents burns brighter than anyone in this world. As a cult leader, I desire to spread the message of the Eternal One… and as a Marionette Maker… I imagine your creations are meant to be shared and bring wonder to others' lives, isn't that right?"

"Y-Yes, of course," Amaya nodded. Despite everything that had happened to her… she still held her dolls close to her chest.

"Then tell me… what is it you wish to do as a Marionette Maker?" Luna mumbled, "do you doubt your ability… or do you believe strongly in your capacity to make change with those dolls?"

Amaya calmed down and thought for a moment. The doll in her hand was deep in thought, just like her. Masa… that was the name that she had cherished for the doll. Although he was made of pine and earth, there was a heart inside the doll that steadily beat alongside Amaya. A heart that desired to share her gifts.

"More than anything… I believe in my dolls," Amaya nodded with newfound conviction. "The Natural Deities… they entrusted me with the gift of creating them, or sharing them with others, be it children, families, or those in need of guidance. So… I believe in the change these dolls make. I believe that the Natural Deities can bless them… I have to believe that."

She had to. Believing anything else… was too painful for Amaya to think about.

"You have done well then," Luna praised quietly, "to be a Grand Student… is to have the resolve to keep fighting which others lack. We need to push forward, to have our ideas known and hopefully make a change. If we doubt ourselves for a moment, Alexander wins. That is why… I will tell you this Amaya… I will never doubt your ability, or your wish to care for others in this game… as will I never doubt my willingness to be there for my people and this group."

"You won't doubt me?" Amaya breathlessly repeated. Such a declaration, it was so determined and honestly powerful spoken from Luna's voice.

"Never," Luna closed her eyes, "even if people believe my faith is strange… or that I don't fit in with my peers, I have never doubted my resolve to the Eternal One… or my care for my followers. I serve my cult just as they serve me, because we wholeheartedly believe in our goals. As long as you believe you can achieve it… and clutch onto that resolve with an iron grip, you will never doubt yourself again... an I in turn won't doubt you."

Amaya couldn't breathe. Luna's words truly were like a soothing wave for her troubles. As long as she believed in herself… In that resolve, Amaya could keep going. She could allow herself to be scared like Prince… but she couldn't falter in this game.

Luna was right… the luxury of doubting her mistakes couldn't happen here. That's why she was a Grand Student… because she wanted to desperately hold onto that part of herself that loved creating those dolls.

"Sister Luna, you have opened my eyes tonight," Amaya smiled gratefully, "I… I appreciate your friendship… and your belief in me. I won't let you down… or anyone for that matter if I can help it."

"I know you won't," Luna nodded quietly, pleased. "Don't ever lose that ability to believe… okay?"

There was… almost a desperate plea in Luna's voice as she said that, as if she was scared Amaya might not follow through with her words. Was she worried Amaya wouldn't believe in her own abilities? Or was there… more to it?

…whatever the case was, Amaya wasn't going to disappoint her, not today. "Never Sister Luna… I'll always believe."


The Assistant

Fujisaki Kanna had been very busy ever since he had woken up here.

First, he panicked a little. Then, he took the time to examine his new quarters. Then he ventured out and met so many new people to help! Some were a little bossy… but many of them were nice! But then the killing game announcement happened and he had no idea what to do until Machi stood up for the group.

Things only got busier the next day. He had been racing around trying to see if anyone needed help, to the point where his small legs were aching from the exertion. His company was accepted by few though… but at least during dinner he helped with some things!

And besides, he had gotten a lot done for two students in particular!

The first student being Lukas, who was currently aiding Amelie to her room as she murmured to herself. The knight had been relatively quiet for the past few days, but he had accepted others help more now… including Kanna's which he was grateful for!

The second student was… well of course Amelie wjo was muttering in french after the dinner.

"Quelle journée…" Amelie rubbed her forehead elegantly... if one could even manage that as her eyes fluttered tightly shut, "today drained me. I've had just about enough of this insane place!"

"I-I thought you enjoyed the dinner though?" Kanna spoke up nervously.

"Oh the dinner itself was… passable," Amelie nodded, "but I'd rather focus on my personal affaires than group ones. Which is why… tomorrow is going to be a 'me' day!"

A day focused entirely on Amelie? Kanna pumped himself up to help her as much as possible. "O-Okay! I promise I'll do my best to serve you during that time-!"

"Didn't you hear my words?" Amelie appeared offended and scoffed. "I said… a 'ME' day. Your presence would only aggravate me further."

Kanna tilted his head, confused, "b-but what if you require me for anything!"

"Simple!" Amelie smirked, "I'll call for you and you will appear."

"B-But the manor is so big…" Kanna raised his concerns nervously, "what i-if you're on one side and call for me. I won't hear you."

"Figure it out!" Amelie dismissed and closed the door.

Kanna deflated at that. So much for being of service. He'd have to be attentive at ALL times if he wanted to hear Amelie. But realistically… even if she shouted at the top of her lungs, he figured her voice wouldn't carry far enough anyway. So... should he quietly follow her at all times?

But she wanted some 'me' time... ugh... what was he to do!?

Kanna nervously hugged himself as he saw everyone as tucking in for the night. "I-I have to draw up plans if I wanna h-help Amelie. But at least if she's alone... I can help the o-others..."

"So it seems…" Lukas mumbled.

"A-Ah!" Kanna jumped on all fours as his hair spiked, much like a cat as he forgot Lukas was standing nearby. That knight was usually so quiet!

"I apologize… did I scare you?" Lukas spoke in a concerned tone. He didn't expect Kanna to be scared either.

"Oh I'm s-sorry!" Kanna timidly laughed as a dark blush coated his cheeks. "I wasn't attentive of my s-surroundings! I'm a b-bit jumpy so… I didn't realize you were still here! I-I won't make the same mistake again! P-Please forgive me!"

Kanna apologized profusely. He really hoped the knight wouldn't hate him for this!

Lukas meanwhile crossed his sturdy armored arms and sighed, "no need for apologies, it was my mistake for not announcing my presence earlier."

Kanna nervously replied. "B-But it was my b-bad that I didn't take into a-account that you were standing r-right next to me!"

"But I tend to fade into the background so it's understandable… I'm sorry," Lukas calmly spoke.

"N-No, I'm more sorry then you!" Kanna flusteredly spoke before covering his mouth in shame, "w-wait, I didn't mean to keep saying sorries over your sorries! I-I'm sorry!"

Lukas gulped. "Sir Kanna p-please, I'm the one who should be-"

Lukas sighed, "you know what, how about we both just calm down?"

Kanna nodded. There he went messing up again! How could be of service to anyone if he kept saying sorry so pathetically? "I'm… uh…" He forced himself not to say it this time, "I regret not noticing you next to me. I promise to b-be more aware in the future."

"You… don't need to do that for me," Lukas tried to reassure, though the uncertainty in his voice made it sound like he had no idea what to say.

"B-But I HAVE to!" Kanna spoke with shocking determination as he glumly looked down. "I'm the Grand A-Assistant. If I'm not attentive to others' needs, I'm no better than a helpline operator that hangs-up on people…"

"Helpline o-operator?" Lukas shook his head, "I'm not sure I follow…"

Kanna gulped. "Y-You know, the people on the phones?"

"Phones?" Lukas's confusion made Kanna's eyes widen.

Kanna whimpered. "W-Wait, are you not familiar with modern technology?"

"Where I come from now, such a thing isn't developed yet." Despite Lukas's radiant armor and skill with the sword, he appeared almost endearingly naïve to the wonders of technology around him.

Such a thing made Kanna whine with guilt, "o-oh no… I assumed things again! I really AM no better than a helpline operator! I'm s-so-!"

"P-Please, it's okay, sorries aren't necessary for me!" Lukas was really struggling with this kid. "Let's calm down…"

"Okay…" Kanna did eventually calm down and get back on topic, "as I said earlier, I'm the Grand Assistant… my whole life… I've dedicated myself to h-helping people. If I don't do that… then… I'm… I'm a terrible child…"

Lukas quieted down right away as Kanna tightly hugged himself. Kanna was worrying the knight, he shouldn't have said that. Why is it that when he's speaking he makes things worse? He should've kept quiet like he did for the past two days and just… focus on working.

After all… if his dream from last night taught him anything, it was that he wasn't doing nearly enough for the group.

"That's all I-I can really do," Kanna murmured as he closed his eyes, "if I'm not working… or helping others, am I r-really needed? I… I just want to do things right this time… I just… need to be b-better."

Kanna could tell that Lukas was thinking deeply about the words being said. He really was just bothering the knight, what a horrible thing for Kanna to go ahead and do…

"You were with me when Omen attacked the first day, correct?" Lukas suddenly brought up, "when Prince was hurt, you tended to him right away… and you told me to share my burdens with you even though we didn't know each other…"

Kanna gulped slightly as Lukas continued, not realizing the knight was praising him.

"Not only that," Lukas continues, "you sought to de-escalate the tension whenever you could throughout today... and I witnessed you help during both breakfast and dinner. You attended Madam Amelie and Madam Xiuying. You even helped me over to Madam Kanon for my check up. All of that is a sign you are incredibly helpful here."

Kanna's heart stopped. Did Lukas really validate his work? Was he useful?! "I… I did good?"

"Very good," Lukas affirmed, and Kanna could've sworn under the helmet the knight smiled. "In fact I dare say… you show more productivity than knights at the kingdoms I hail from."

Kanna almost purred at that. To be validated by someone as strong as Lukas was like a dream come true!

"T-Thank you!" Kanna blushed as he clutched his oversized sweater happily, "I promise to k-keep working hard for the group's sake!"

"That's admirable of you," Lukas encouraged as he gave a slight bow, "But allow me to repeat what you said to me the first day here, if you ever are burdened by anything, please lean on me, okay? I also want to be of service here."

"A-Are you sure?" Kanna mumbled. He was glad of Lukas's validation, but Kanna really thought the best thing would be for Lukas to share no burden. "I can carry it all, it's o-okay-!"

"Please don't do that," Lukas gently said as he placed a hand over where his heart would be, "everyone has a role to play here to ensure the group's survival in this… game. If we are to make it out, we all need to work together… so please, if you would trust me to protect you and the others, I'd be grateful and swear to do everything I can to keep you safe."

Kanna was silenced by the resolute tone from Lukas. He sounded adamant in wanting to protect everyone...

Kanna… needed to do the same… to trust Lukas, and protect everyone as well in his own way.

"Yes! I-I will!" Kanna was more dedicated now than ever before! If Lukas saw his efforts, then he needed to try doubly harder to not disappoint him! "We should rest and get ready for a big day tomorrow helping everyone! From one helper to another!"

Lukas nodded gently, "I suppose we both should do our best to serve the community here then. Good night Sir Kanna."

"N-Night Lukas!" Kanna left the conversation with the knight feeling refreshed in all the work he had done here. If he worked even harder… then surely he would make up for everything he did back then… right?

But with Lukas's words, maybe he could rely… a little bit on everyone else. But… did he deserve to lean on the others? Could he even think that was okay for a kid like him?

As Kanna stood alone and thought about it, he took out a small photo from his sweater and clutched it carefully. He was reminded of many things, of pain, of love. He held the photo tight, afraid to let go… and praying deep down that the person in the photo would give him answers in his dreams on what to do…

"A-And goodnight mother…"

Fujisaki Kanna made an extremely important vow right then and there. He would help this group. No matter what…

…and this time… he wouldn't fail at his service.

…not again.


The Enforcer

"...so let me understand this right… Not only did you leave behind the Crown unattended today… but you went out of your way to try and arbitrarily demand the Weapons Room be left alone by Albion and Uta. Correct?"

Tonight, Alexander's words came out far more serious than on other nights. There was a crackling, almost demonic energy to his voice as he probed for an answer… an answer that he already knew given the disappointment in his voice.

Because of that… Omen said nothing. How could he? He just kept screwing things up with the boss. Now it had gotten to a point where Omen of all people… the mightiest warrior… was feeling downright anxious around meeting with him.

Omen. ANXIOUS. Of all warriors?! He knew he must've looked that way to boss. Talk about embarrassing. But as embarrassed as he felt, nothing matched the utter shame at his conduct as Alexander berated him.

It was the shame of said failure that made Omen wearily bow his head. "I-I… um… well… sir…"

"Omen, use your words," Alexander narrowed his red eyes, exhausted, "I have had a very long day and I do not need another circus act from you distracting me."

Omen steadied himself. Yeah, he could use his words alright! "Sir, listen, I… I did take my eye off the Crown… but only for a second! I o-only did because that demon girl was runnin' laps a-around me!"

Alexander blinked. "And you let her beat you?"

"S-She's fast!" Omen panted. He still felt winded after their race again. He needed to beat that demon one day! "B-But anyway, then I went to the b-ball room and helped set up for that event… and t-then I noticed the boys running amok in the Weapons Room! T-They're hoarding the weapons sir!"

Omen had figured his boss would scream and shout alongside him, utterly enraged that the game was being halted by those two dummies, Uta and Albion!

But Alexander said nothing, instead he almost looked bored at the reveal. "And?"

"E-Eh?" Omen gulped, "a-and what…? Aren't we gonna put a stop to em'?"

"Why would we do that?" Alexander boredly yawned, "it isn't against the rules for them to set up shop in the Weapons Room. By all means let them have their fun trying to lock down all the weapons."

Omen's skeletal jaw dropped. He couldn't believe boss was just… LETTING THEM take over the Weapons Room. "B-But sir, that's… that's cheating! How is anybody gonna kill if the weapons are guarded? I can pummel them sir, just give me the wor-!"

"What gives you the thought that you can just… ISSUE your own orders?"

Silence.

Omen was rendered silent as he nervously sweated. All that bravado and boasting earlier was wiped away as Alexander cracked his neck toward Omen. If anyone else tried such a thing, Omen would've just laughed and slammed his fist into them with his mighty strength.

But he wouldn't lay a finger on his boss. NEVER. And the way Alexander furiously spoke now only made Omen submit further.

"Not only… did you get Lukas and Prince hurt yesterday," Alexander snapped, "but now…you allowed the Crown out of your possession for two seconds without my permission. And then you go off and throw a tantrum to the boys in the Weapons Room. Tell me… are these the markings of a great warrior… or a spoiled child whose behavior needs to be corrected?"

The sadistic look Alexander gave was one that instantly made Omen squirm in discomfort. Only his boss could make him feel this way. "A-A spoiled child… s-sir," he begrudgingly spoke.

"Good to see you can understand that much," Alexander sighed in relief as he gazed teasingly at Omen, "now here is what's going to happen in the foreseeable future so you don't embarrass yourself further. You are going to let these children do whatever they damn well please for the coming days. And then when time comes for that event… you may collect them all for our big announcement. Understand?"

Omen obediently agreed to the orders, "...y-yessir…"

"Good." With a slam of Alexander's staff the snow storm appeared to ease up as he took a seat in his glorious chair, "aha… and what of the gift making it to Prince?"

"It arrived… without issue sir," Omen grumbled, his eyes growing weary.

"Perfect…" Alexander spoke in a nostalgic tone as he traced a finger over his staff. "You really need to put more faith in me, Omen. You might believe the kids have their lives under control… but that trust won't last more than two days here. Within time, it'll break. Someone will kill. And we will rejoice for our victory."

Rejoicing their victory. Omen managed to wearily smirk at the idea. Yeah, that was his purpose as a warrior to serve Alexander. He would help him kill these kids, and then celebrate with a proper feast and meal for their victory of bringing peace to those corrupted souls! As befitting of his warrior-like status!

But tonight was not the night for celebration. Instead it was a humbling night as Alexander spoke down on Omen like a child, "in other news though… I believe a punishment for your mistakes is in order… so… I order you to clean up the dinner those kids had tonight."

"W-WHAT?!" Omen sputtered, "b-but… but that dinner was on them! They should clean up the dishes! And I mean, look at me!" Omen flexed his massive gauntlet arms as he protested, "I'm built for fightin'! N- Not being a maid!"

"Omen… you're a staff member here," Alexander laughed, "as the owner of this manor… when I order you to do something… you do it without question. Understood?"

No arguing against that logic. Omen was rendered silent as he glumly nodded. Guess he was on dish washing duty tonight… though one could say the punishment was deserved. He had been doing nothing but acting out.

"Now then, with that all said, make haste, go enjoy the night!" Alexander spun in his chair and leaned back, his eyes flickering with delight, "and remember big guy… don't you dare make a fool of me any further."

With that warning, Omen stomped out, utterly humiliated by his actions today. Had he kept his emotions in check he wouldn't have been lectured so ruthlessly and forced to wash dishes. But at the same time, he was just looking out for the game while his boss did squat! He was doing all the heavy lifting here! Why is he getting pissed on for it!?

"G-Grrrr…" Omen grumbled as he clutched his weapon. He wanted to break something, but the Weapons Room was being occupied by those two idiots, and he definitely couldn't just destroy something in the manor.

So… he begrudgingly stormed to the dining room prepared to clean up the total mess of that dinner the kids had.

But when he stomped into the room, he was met with a shocking sight of Empress already cleaning things up.

"E-Emi! What… are ya doing here?" Omen blinked, stuttering a little in her presence, "weren't ya supposed to be restin' or whatever?"

Empress didn't answer. Instead she was making the dirty dishes float off the table and into the kitchen for cleaning. Her pale figure was being highlighted by the beams of the moon, as if becoming one with the moon beams herself.

Wait, why was Omen focusing on that? He grumbled for his shameful staring and glanced at the dishes around. "Uh… if you ain't gonna talk, I can just uh… help with this… if ya want. I'm uh… a gentleman like that!"

"Alexander… put you to this… task… didn't he?" Empress didn't even glance up to speak with him.

"Y-Yep…" Omen sheepishly glanced down, ashamed. Only two people could ever get him to confess something so humiliating, that obviously being Empress and… well his boss. "But if he put me to the task… why the heck are ya doing my job right now, cleanin' up after those nosy brats?"

"..." Empress was quiet as she stared at Omen. Even though her eyes were bandaged up, it was as if she was studying him intently.

Omen recognized that look. It was something of self-introspection that she often did when alone. In those quiet moments, Omen tended to let her be. But since he was forced in the dining room... he could soak up her thoughtful gaze without worry.

And… it was somewhat… captivating for his dead heart.

"Oh wait, lemme guess!" Omen grinned, stumbling to the table like a kid and striking a manly pose, "ya wanted to hang out with the mighty Enforcer! Is that why yer here? Well, don't be shy… I am quite the look after all!"

Empress was silent. Could she have been so impressed that she was thinking of how to compliment him? Omen smirked with pride at that.

"...I was worried you'd end up breaking a dish actually," Empress bluntly spoke.

"W-WHA!?" Omen sputtered. That pride was short-lived. "I-I would not! Those dishes would be spankin' clean if I did them!"

Empress tilted her head, then lowered the dishes to Omen, "if that's… the case, let's see you clean… without my help. Surely… a warrior… is capable of that much… right?"

"Hell yeah, I'm capable!" Omen cackled as he grabbed the plate.

A chance to prove himself after his many blunders was finally upon him! He wouldn't mess this chance up, especially in front of Emi who usually didn't speak to him so openly. If he could impress someone as stone-faced as Emi with this… then eventually even his boss probably would praise him as well, yeah?

Yeah...?

...

It's a shame that he broke pretty much all the dishes after handling them for five minutes.

"YOU CHEAP LITTLE- GRAAAAAHHH!" Omen accidentally broke another dish and went roaring as he threw them around the room.

Empress just watched, unimpressed. So much for showing off to her… Omen was acting like a spoiled child just as Alexander said. The reminder of the insult only threw him into a rage more. How could he keep messing up?

After he threw his tantrum Omen begrudgingly calmed down and stared at his mess, "s-shit. I didn't mean to break em' all. Boss is gonna be so pissed at me!"

"As expected…" Empress nodded as she bent down to grab the plates.

"Y-You expected that?!" Omen flustered before joining her on the floor, "w-well hey at least let me pick em' all up!"

"I wasn't… picking them up…" Empress suddenly whirled her decayed finger around and the dishes morphed together perfectly in their original state. Then with a green aura radiating around her like the frosted trees outside, she moved the dishes to the sink. "Just making your job… easier."

"Oh gee… ya didn't have to do that," Omen rubbed his bony head, even more embarrassed.

"You're right… I didn't," Empress shrugged.

Omen perked up. If she hadn't, Alexander certainly would've squabbled at him some more. It didn't affect Empress. So then…

"So... why did ya?" Omen asked without much thought, his bony eyes scanning her face.

Empress was quiet. Then she sighed, "I talked to one of the children today... Hania Shah..."

Omen's eyes widened. Did that brat do sometimg to Emi? He flared up, "what happened!?"

"Always... quick to bark..." Empress sighed. Guess that means Hania didn't do anything. "I just talked to her... about the magic here... and thought of something... and that thought made me want to help you..."

"And that was... w-what?" Omen murmured.

Empress gave it some some serous thought before she softly confessed, "you make… many small mistakes… but you are… the best hope at striking fear in these children… children like Hania... or Prince... and making them play the killing game. So… I'd rather you not get in trouble… over a matter as… pathetic as this."

Omen bumbled out a smile at that. He was intimidating to Empress?! That was more than he could've asked for. "S-So yer sayin' I'm useful here?!"

Empress didn't say anything again. Omen would take the cold silence as a "yes" though. Small victories. He would definitely take that.

"If it means getting you and the boss's approval than I'll keep puttin' the pressure on those brats! Just watch Emi!" Omen grinned widely, before… sheepishly looking down, "b-but first I have to clean up those brat's dishes for them… s-seriously they are so messy!"

"And you aren't… messy…?" Empress pointed out.

She got him there. Omen flustered. "W-Well, I can clean up after myself if ya… want me to."

"That would… be ideal, thanks," Empress nodded, "I'd rather not… repair any more broken dishes again."

But the way she spoke sounded much softer than anything Alexander ever said. She was… joking with him. Or maybe not. It was hard to tell since her voice was so monotone. But Omen couldn't care. Her voice sounded perfect to him… and she wasn't lecturing him either.

Okay well, she WAS lecturing him, but somehow it didn't make him simmer with anger. Instead, he sort of took the critique in his heart as he cleaned the dishes up with her.

…and for a moment… all felt right for Omen.


?

Hania Shah thought back to what she heard in the Angel Room earlier that day, specifically, what that ghostly woman Empress had told her


"That can't be all there is to it." Hania suddenly spoke up, her eyes worried. "Magic has stricter rules… doesn't it? It's not just a stupid dance… there's systems to follow-"

"Isn't magic itself… breaking the laws of reality?" Empress said quietly. "Nothing in life… nothing-" she repeated "-comes without sacrifice. To use the magic here… you must accept that."


Sacrifice… that was the one condition to use magic here. To sacrifice another life… or to sacrifice oneself, that was how the impossiblities of fantasy could become possible in reality.

Such a thing was something Hania didn't dare to dream of before. Well actually, that was a lie, she did dream about it in her spare time. She made fantasy games, of course she'd entertain herself with worlds brimming with magic.

But reality is very different from the fantasy world, so Hania had to make a compromise with her imagination just to get by.

And yet here she was… in a place that defied all logic and reason. Truly a winner was her, right? She got to see miracles that many people could only fantasize about. At least, that's what she thought before she realized you had to kill someone to even attempt to use magic… which wasn't something a person like her could do.

I mean, it was insane to sacrifice someone… who could do that and not bat an eye?

Some people here didn't seem like they would kill, but she had to be vigilant. Everyone was a stranger no matter how much they preached about 'friendship' and 'bonding'. While their sentiments were nice, it had no place for Hania right now. She'd rather be alone, reading in her bedroom and plan the future games she would make for her fans.

All development for those games would be on hold though until she escaped, and if she wanted to do that and get back to the life she planned… she had to understand the magic here.

This is why she was studying the notes she took in the Angel Room. She sat at her bedroom desk, writing in her notebook which she had taken out of a mini purse hanging from her bed. She used to have a phone in her purse… but that was missing, which sucked. All her photos and apps were confiscated just like that. Well, she had an electronic wrist watch at least, even if it didn't replace it entirely.

She shook her head and went back to her notebook. She turned to a clean page that wasn't scribbled with fanfic recommendations and game ideas as she thought back to everything Empress told her. Some of it… still left a chill down her spine despite the sweater she wore, but she had to push through, and recount everything she learned.

She had to if she was going to report this to… that person.

And so Hania wrote, keeping their face in mind as she recalled her time in the Angel Room after the others left.


Prince, Anata, and Koji had all left, leaving only Hania in the Angel Room with Empress.

Hania stood quietly, shuffling her feet as she held her arm. Something was unsettling about being stuck in a room with Empress like this. The woman just floated there… her voice detached and almost dripping in worn-down exhaustion that she didn't bother to hide.

Despite Hania not wanting to talk… she figured she'd have to initiate this conversation between them.

"…why did you say that to Prince?" Hania suddenly spoke, her voice hesitant.

"Hm…? Oh about his memory…" Empress muttered, "he asked… a question… about… the magic… here… and I simply… answered him."

"…but what you said… basically confirmed you took his memory away," Hania pointed out, "why single him out specifically? Isn't that… suspicious or whatever?"

Empress thought for a moment and then shook her head, "I only am… here… to answer questions on… the game or the magic here. Anything personally.. related to the guest… is not up for me... to say. Only Alexander... and your fellow guest... can speak on... such things"


Hania paused her writing and sighed. She was a little disappointed she'd have to talk to the others here to find more information on them, but they all seemed nice, right?

Well, actually she kinda cringed as she thought about the childish people here to… and the loud ones.

Maybe she didn't want to talk to any of them. Instead, she just thought on Prince and figured he was suspicious. He was nice… enough. But she put his name in red underline as someone to keep an eye on before she continued her writing.


Hania sighed, "fine… I can talk to him later. What about the magic spell here t-then? You said you would teach me a few?"

Empress nodded, "that's right… I can teach you three spells currently."

"Only three…?" Hania sounded bewildered as she rubbed her eyes, "what are these spells?"

"...the three spells are as follows…" Empress got ready to announce them.

"The Pupeterring Spell… the ability to control movement from an object that is not a living organism."

"The Morphing Spell… the ability to change any selected form into another form."

"...and finally… The Memory Spell… the ability to recall memories or the erasure of old memories."

Three spells… Hania paid close attention to their names. "These are spells… you've shown us?" Hania questioned.

"Yes… all but the Pupeterring Spell has been shown for you from before if you recall," Empress nodded, "the Morphing Spell is one you've seen performed by Alexander with the candles… followed by the Memory Spell which had been cast already…"

Hania waited for Empress to explain when that spell was used, but Empress said nothing so… Hania quieted down and backtracked nervously, "I g-guess… that was used for Prince…?"

Empress didn't confirm or deny it, but the silence was tense as she waved her hand, these three spells can be found… in spell books all over the manor, meaning they can be practiced… over time. Your peers may stumble upon them in the library… even if you choose not to tell them."

Hania sighed. She couldn't keep quiet about these spells then. The best she could do was tab them for later use, even if someone would later learn about them anyway.

"So… those are the spells you can tell me for now?" Hania mumbled, "what about other magic? Like… teleporting… or…?"

"Those are high-level spells," Empress continued, "throughout your stay... more spells… shall unlock eventually… until all magic is available to you. We wouldn't… want to overload you with too much information, would we? That could... kill you..."

"I feel like you already are…" Hania sighed, "but fine… I just need to practice them, r-right?"

"It'll take time… as studying may not produce the strongest result as sacrificing something… but it can be done," Empress clarified, "furthermore, depending on your magic type… you may have an easier time deducing what spells are easier for you to do… than others."

"Magic type?" Hania narrowed her eyes before realizing, "oh… you mean Solar and Lunar classes… right?"

"Yes… followed by one more class," Empress nodded. But she didn't explain what that class was. Whatever she was thinking of made her lips twitch into a frown, "these… three… classes form the basis of everything… and I shall say this right now Hania… you are lucky to be adept in the one with the most powerful class…"

"I-I am…?" Hania gulped. Something about that made Hania uneasy. She was part of the most powerful class…? "What class is that? And how can you tell…?"

"I am the Informer…" Empress mumbled, her voice filled with tired wisdom as she briefly gazed away, her body language sluggish as she resigned herself to the role. "I know… all in this manor… and also… eveyrhting about all of you as well…"


Hania shivered as she remembered the cold voice of Empress stating such a thing. That woman knew things about them all… and that wasn't something Hania couldn't gloss over.

It's possible that lady knew about her secret...

Even if Empress couldn't reveal it to the others, she worried it would put that person at risk. What could she do... if that secret got out? People would be as suspicious to Hania and that person as they were to Prince.

Hania remembered leaving at that point after Empress spoke of such matters. She was spooked on ho much that lady knew, but even though she didn't get to see how the spells were performed, Hania had a heads up on the competition by knowing a little more than the others… and that's all that counted.

So she wrote it all down… including whatever class type she was.


(Hania Notes - my best attempt to figure things out)

Class Type (3 Classes?)

Hania - Adept Class

Everyone else… who knows what class? (more info needed on them)

Lunar, Solar, and one more energy/class (Adept Class is makeshift name)

Sacrifice needed for magic for effective results... maybe study?


Then came the spells, which she wrote down as well. She didn't know their classes but she knew their names and what they did. That system was good enough for her. But what to do with all this info?

She most likely would have to share it with the others tomorrow, especially if Amaya later pestered her about what she found in the Angel Room, but she also didn't have to attend those group meetings.

What to do... what to do? What she really wished she could do was just be at home and go back to her coding gig like before. She'd be sitting alone, listening to her music quietly in that decorated room of hers as she worked by herself.

Now... she was in a cheap imitation of her old room... even though it still was nice that a lot of stuff she recognized was in there. Her room was done in dark purple, the wood similarly dark as it held fantasy game rugs and patterns of iconic game items. The wallpaper had designs of dragons, knights, and princesses dancing around one another in a digital form. The furniture in her room was comfy and fat, the type of material you could sink into while playing a game. Speaking of games, arcade machines and portable consoles actually lined the room with fancy televisions, being the most advanced systems Hania has ever seen... although NONE of them worked right now, which sucked.

Hania sat at her study area adorned with stickers of game characters and sighed. The room was fancy and big... but still suffocating since she was living under another roof. She didn't want to stay in here, but going out meant talking to other people, and she never had the energy for that, even before it was revealed to be a killing game.

...

...

...

Was she going to die here? She didn't like thinking about it, but she very well could. These people were weird... and she was an easy target. This was the worst situation for her. Forced to mingle, forced with eighteen other loud voices. She should just... stay in her room, not talk to anyone... ever again. Just... go to sleep.

...

But even if that was what she wanted, she at least had that that one person with her. As long as she thought of them... her heart… would be okay, even if it was horrible they both were stuck here.

So, she knew she had to do what she could to interact with others here. That was how she could help that person, she could help them by giving this information.

Now detirmined Hania took the notes she hastily made and stepped out of her room, holding her breath as she confirmed nobody was outside. Given dinner was over and everyone was asleep aside from Albion and Uta, she figured she'd be okay to walk around. So she raced to the room in question, quietly knocked on their door, and slipped the notes of information under it like they asked for.

If this could help them… even a little bit… it would've all been worth it. She just… needed to keep this secret… even if hurt not being by their side.

But… she was used to being alone. It would be fine, right?

...right...?


Author's Note

I am not kidding, this chapter had 2k words when I started today, I just... blitzed through it. Screw it, we poting.

I LOVED writing this chapter, and I still love this story in general. I think working with the character dynamics and testing the waters on their backstorieis have kind of excited me to write more... so I'm gonna keep doing that. I want to get chapter 1 actually done as soon as I can since I am ready to finally let loose all the ideas I had been hiding before hand. And I think with this chapter people can actually TALK abiut stuff? What a shock!

Anyway, a lot was dumped here, I hope its fun to dissect and explore! It might be clunky still, my bad! But I hope it was a good read! I wouldn't count on the next chapter coming out super soon... but I'll be doing what I can!

Take Care

CandleFire45