The sound of Cicadas and hoots from Owls inside the forest wasn't calming at all. It gives a small amount of uneasiness on Oliver whose eyes never leave his laptop after Lin finished installing portable cameras on all sides of their van.
He sighed inwardly. It's been thirty minutes since they parked near the Kurogane's mansion, but there's still no sign of Mai. A little earlier, he and Lin heard some faint crashing noise, certainly coming from the residence.
At that time Oliver was looking a bit perplexed. He's anxious because he couldn't do anything but to wait. As the time quickly ticks by, the urge of wanting to go to the mansion was slowly increasing.
What if Mai is in danger and she needed help?
What if Kurogane Kagiri caught her?
He would probably blame himself if something happened to her. He should be the one to blame in the first place, if he didn't hire her to work as his assistant, none of these would happen. But he couldn't imagine working without her.
Naru hired Mai out of sympathy when he learned that like him she's also an orphan. But as the time goes, his respect for her grows when she saw how passionate and strong she was despite being parent-less. That respect bloom and turned into something much more than admiration. He started to pay attention on her, he learned how to extend his patience and more importantly, he cared for her the way he never did toward others.
He almost stopped drinking tea. It reminded him so much of her, his fear and anxiousness of losing her for good. He would remember how her voice filled the whole office when she's chatting with the group or just having a conversation with him. How her eyes crinkled when she smiles at something so simple and how she would stand in front of him while waiting for him to say 'thank you' after serving his tea.
Moments that he will treasure in his memories for a lifetime.
Lin's deep voice revert his thoughts back pulling him out of his reverie. "Noll, someone is here."
"Who?" He asked
Oliver smirked, stood up and spun around to see Kurogane Kagiri walking toward them.
"Hi." Kagiri greeted waving his hand still wearing that annoying grin. "I figured you'd come."
"Really? That's impressive." He said dryly, narrowed eyes sending cold gaze at the man. Oliver noticed the scratch on Kagiri's right hand. "Having a blast inside your mansion, hence the late greetings." He said.
He lifted his hand and surveyed the scratch. "My apologies, but your visit came at the most unexpected time. It would have been better if you just went straight to my mansion. I'll be honored to give you a very warm welcome, Oliver Davis-sensei or should I call you Shibuya Kazuya?"
"A warm welcome, you say?" He gave him his fake smile. "I'm sorry but I don't have any interest over something I found unworthy of my time."
"Is that so?"
"And I might tell you as well that I didn't come here for you. I'm not so free with my time that I can bother showing up without a cause. I don't have the luxury of wasting my time you see." Oliver said in a blithe manner.
Kagiri fixed his glasses. "Then I won't have to guess who you are here for. After all she's the only one remaining. But Oliver Davis-sensei, had it not occur to you that as we speak, your dear friend is out there, running for her life or possibly be. . .dead."
Mai half opened her eyes. All she could make out were foggy shapes and blinding lights flying just above her face. She tried to focus her bleary vision but saw only many wil-o-wisps, huddled al together forming a not so large swarm.
She budged, only to find herself lying above on another swarm of wil-o-wisps. The warmth coming from them enveloped her body. She could barely feel the pain of her wounds.
"All of you... ...catch me?" She said. Overwhelmed by what they have done. She thought she would actually die right there.
'They planned all of this?' Mai thought
'We . . . all knew how... ...felt...to die.' Someone said, though she's not sure who it was.
Ah...she can understand that.
'Sometimes...painful . . . sometimes not, but you . . .don't deserved.. ..die here . . .nice kid, you should. . .live.'
"Thank you...thank you so much!" She got up to her feet and bowed her head, giving her full respect and gratitude towards them.
It was really nice to felt that somebody is with you, the feeling of not being alone. They may be ghost, soul or spirit but they made her feel that she's someone important.
Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap "How touching."
Startled by the voice, Mai looked up. It's not the demon but Kurogane Kagiri who's leaning at the window frame and looking down at her. At that moment the only thing that comes to her mind was to run.
Oliver looked at Kagiri, still emotionless, an attitude that pisses Kurogane Kagiri off. How can he still be calm despite what he had said?
"Seeing you in front of me, hiding annoyance under that serious face," Naru pointed his own head. "Common sense suggests that your plan didn't turn out the way as you hope. How could it be If you can't even touch her?"
Kagiri's eyes widen just a fraction. It passes really quickly-you could say it never happens. But this hadn't gone unnoticed by Naru who let out a small mocking smile.
"How did I know?" Naru asked. "Because I am not Oliver Davis for nothing."
His lips parted and was about to say something but chose to laugh instead. "I'm surprised." He said. "There's actually someone like you who can easily say something like that."
Naru didn't say anything. He just glared at him.
"What a soppy scene. I am touched to my very soul." Whispers Kagiri. "You know, not many touches my soul these days, sad isn't it? Always sad."
Mai shuddered. The demonic look on his face never faded. It always Bear the impression of danger making her all terrified. The air inside her lungs became thin, her throat parched that suddenly she found herself struggling to breath and swallowing hard.
She winced at the pain from her wound. It seems like this guy is the trigger for all of her pain.
His glasses gleamed when he straightened up. "Twenty two girls ... all reached and met the same end. All of them thought they could escape their destiny. They tried to escape but still died in the end." He paused then went on. "Six of them end their lives on their own accord. Believing that their suffering would die along with them. But they don't know that dying is just the beginning."
"You...you killed them?" She asked with a horrified expression. The question tastes bitter in her tongue and she's certain the answer would be like poison in her ears.
"I did? Maybe...maybe not. Does it matter? All of us will die some time. The only difference is how we will meet our end." Kagiri ran a finger in his hair.
"How about you, how do you think you will die?"
Even though trembling, Mai tried her best to firm her legs. "Even if I die a horrible death, I'll make sure that I won't die in your hands!" She said, spitting out every words.
"You're really different from them." Kagiri said. "It would be a waste to kill you when the game already became much more interesting."
"And it's such a waste that striking good looks had gone wasted on a terrible and horrible human being like you!" She insulted. "I may look like a weak person but that doesn't mean I'm not capable of doing anything."
She told someone she would make it out of there alive. She promised herself that she will help everyone escape this place. She also promised herself that she would find the missing pieces of her memories.
If fulfilling those promises means she has to fight a tough fight, then bring it on! She doesn't want to go back in that claustrophobic cell like room.
Wondering what it feels to be outside. How it felt to be with someone alive and being held after she had nightmares. She wanted to be free, she wanted to feel more humane.
"You told me you won't escape." Kagiri said. "You lied to me. That is...you're also afraid to die, isn't it?"
Mai balled her fist.
He is wrong!
Her nightmares consist of different sorts of death and she dream dying a miserable deaths a numerous times, experiencing every bits of them. She became numb and unafraid to die. She knew it was those souls death and every time she sees one, she could completely feel their pain.
It was terrifying. It was sad. It was lonely. It was agonizing. It was sorrowful. It was ... painful.
But it was their death. She just dream of it however they felt the real thing. They suffer the sadness, loneliness, agony and pain. That is enough for them. Being trapped in this place is too much.
At first it was hard but as the time goes. . .she realized that it was something she must felt to understand them, to be not scared of them. She's not scared of death, however, the thought of dying in this miserable place terrified her the most because it only meant one thing.
No freedom. . .
No freedom. . .
No freedom. . .
No freedom. . .
No freedom. . .forever.
Her soul will be trap in this place and the freedom she longed to have would be no longer in her reach.
"You betrayed me." He told her.
"There has been no betrayal! You already knew that I would escape right from the start. You should have killed me when you have the chance, but you didn't do it. Why? Why didn't you kill me?"
Kurogane Kagiri fell in silence. The breeze of the night blew once again and her hair swayed along with the wind in the tune of mild rustling of leaves. When the wind died down, Kurogane Kagiri spoke.
"You should know your place number twenty three." Kagiri said in an almost whisper voice. "I keep you alive for my own benefit, never forget that. You ought to be thankful at least." He then took out something that looks like a gun. "It's a pity, but a sacrifice is needed in order to fulfill my goal." He started inserting a rather long bullet and pointed it at her. "Therefore, I somehow suppressed myself from using real bullets and kill you. I need you alive so I'm gonna use paralyzing bullets."
Mai step back and her eyes widen in intense fear.
He fired once but the girl easily dodged it. He aimed at her again. "That's only a warning shot. I'm sure the remaining bullets will hit you, that is ... if you're not good enough to dodge it."
'Mai run!' Chou shouted, panicked.
Kagiri snapped his fingers really loud and instantly his shiki appeared before him. "After her."
There's no time for hesitation. That's what Mai thought when she saw something jumped. She moved immediately and run before she could even hear Chou's voice in her head.
She run run run. . .She didn't care that some sharp twisting branch of the live trees put more scratches in her bare arms and face as she ran, or that many of thick rooted plants tripped up her feet, she even couldn't care less when some small rocks hurt the finger on her feet. She had to get away from there.
Far away where Kurogane Kagiri wouldn't find her.
Mai felt a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach that she can only recognized as a warning. Whatever that thing is, it's coming closer and closer.
They ran nonstop for a few minutes. The growing weeds made it hard for her to see the way. Her sides are cramping, her skin is tight, and her throat is even dryer and screaming for water. She didn't know how far they've run until a large root caught her feet and she fell down really hard.
"Ugh!" She groan in pain. She can't go any further than this, she's tired and her body is starting to give up.
'Stand up. . .he's coming' Chou said. '. . .A little bit more.'
Yeah...a little bit more and she's dead!
Fighting the pain and the tears that were threatening to fall down, Mai slowly stand up, wincing while sweats slowly rolling down her face.
'Found you...' A voice said. The man walked towards them, a scythe in his hands. He stopped in front of her, lifted his tool and set himself to kill her.
Mai shut her eyes and waited for the sharp edge of the scythe touched her body, accepting the reality that her life is all over. But moment had pass, she could still feel herself breathing.
A loud clang came from the scythe when he throws it on the ground. 'I don't want to do this anymore... ...end this.' He said. 'I beg you.'
Wide brown eyes stared at the pale ghostly man who started shedding tears. He seems like someone who's already tired of his life. A person who's chasing death but death itself is running away from him. A person with a heavy burden piled in his back. A pitiful person who just wants to rest.
Mai tried to move her arms, but in doing so she felt a severe pain from the gash.
"Useless." Kagiri said, suddenly standing behind a large tree. "And here I thought you already learned your lesson when I punished you years ago for disobeying me." He took a step. "Shibaru!"
Instantly, an invisible thread coil around her wrists and feet, retraining her from moving and pulling her harder on the ground.
"Get her." Kagiri ordered his shiki.
Reluctantly, the shiki picked up his scythe, his hands trembling and body moving sluggishly. 'I'm sorry.' He said.
Just as the shiki was about to capture Mai, a lot of ghost swarm around Kurogane Kagiri. Entrapping him inside and forbidding him to move. The man screamed in pain when the spirits electrocute his body. The invisible thread vanished but she didn't expect that the shiki would charge into her. It happen quickly, the shiki pushed her and she fell tumbling down on a shallow cliff.
She came rolling down for a while until her back hit a hard body of a tree. Instantly she felt much more pain. She whimpered; groan when a burning feeling crashed her inside. She tried to crawl but couldn't move at all. Something must be broken. . .it must be her ribs.
She winced and wheezed. The pain is becoming unbearable that's why she decided to rest her head and stopped moving. She remained silent on the ground. It's remarkably quiet, perhaps she lose her sense of hearing.
Mai laugh a bitter laugh. May she's really destined to die in this place. But it's all right, at least she wouldn't die in that psycho-loving-ghost's hand.
A blinding light came into her view. She thought it was the wisp but it gave off a different kind of feeling. Almost familiar, something she recognized but couldn't remember. It was emanating a warm tender aura similar to a humid weather of a sun shining after a rain. It's calming, that seconds later, she found herself slowly surrendering but before her consciousness left her, she felt a warm hand gently caressing her head. Maybe it's just her imagination nevertheless it gave him comfort and assurance that she will be safe no matter what.