0041 - an hour of loneliness

The Moon is full tonight.

The first thing upon awaking from my slumber was this strange, glowing Red Moon.
My head hurts.... Just looking at this strange Moon is causing my mind to burn with pain.
Trying to avert my gaze in the hopes that my pain would cease, I noticed that I had been sleeping in a large clearing in a forest.
However, I'm not sure why I'm here, or for what reason...
I suppose I should look around and see what's around here.
It seems, though, that I'm still exhausted from whatever I had been doing before falling asleep here.
Just walking seems to be a difficult task.
I could see a cliff in the distance, though, so I hurried in its' direction, so I could see exactly where I was and what was close by.
As I continued staggering along, I felt a strange feeling, like someone was watching me.
I quickly turned around to see if my suspicions were correct, but fortunately, they were not.
Turning back forward, a girl was standing in front of me, staring off the cliff. I decided to try and get closer to her, unsure of whether she was dangerous or not.
The girl didn't seem to pay any mind to me, as she seemed to be whispering things to herself while gazing out over the cliff. Curious, I decided to look as well.

There was nothing. Aside from a single ruined city and a large, aged tower, there was nothing.
Somehow, I felt saddened by this. My heart began to ache a little, but I wasn't sure why, at the time.

As if she knew my very thoughts just now, the girl suddenly spoke out, and asked, "Does it sadden you?"
I wanted to respond, but for some reaosn, I couldn't bring myself to.
The girl turned towards me, revealing herself to be partially disfigured, having a large gash in her chest, and her eyes were tired and weak, almost about to close for good.
Her appearance startled me quite a bit, so I was a bit nervous when I asked her for her name. However, she remained silent, turning away from me again, before speaking once more.
"I am merely a voice in your head."
Her voice seemed to echo in my head when she spoke. Odd, but I merely wrote it off as being due to my extreme exhaustion.
The girl pointed towards a large cliff in the distance, calling for me.
"There is an important place there." she whispered to me. I was curious as to what she meant by 'important place, but I didn't have a chance to ask her anything.
When I turned to ask her about it, she was already gone. Being my only lead, I decided I might as well head towards this so-called 'important place'
I crossed rivers, a couple of caves, scaled steep cliffs, and finally made it to that large mountain. Up close, though, it seemed fairly small.
There was even a path going up, as if people lived here. If there were, then I could finally get some rest and figure out exactly where I am...
There was a faint light coming out from the forest near the top. Perhaps someone was there? Well, even if there isn't there might be something else there, so I started on my way to this light.

I didn't get far though, my weary body had given up on me, and I could feel my conscious slipping.

0040 - beginning to end

I'm not sure why, but tonight, I found myself thinking about the olden days.
The days that I had met him and grew so attached to him that I wouldn't let go, even at the end.
While those days were anything but kind to me, they were my most precious days.
That's not to say that I don't treasure the days I now spend with my grandchildren.
However, those days gone by were the only days I got to spend with him during his short time here.
Those days were the worst, not just for me, but for him as well.
And while I didn't want him to go, I knew he had to. It was either that, or today never would've come.

In those days gone by, neither of us had a choice.

I want to recount those days, though, because I want to remember that short time we had together.
Because even though those 4 short hours caused me pain I would never want anyone to feel, they gave us today.
Those 4 hours gave us hope that today the sun would rise.

0039 - days gone by

days gone by

0038 - Someone's Light, Someone's Shadow

This is the epilogue of Pasche

Chapter 1 - A Childish Hope
Chapter 2 - Just A Mere Curiosity
Chapter 3 - Thoughtful Memories
Chapter 4 - Nature Pattern
Chapter 5 - Memories of Somebody
Chapter 6 - Autumn Days
Chapter 7 - Maze in Your Heart
Chapter 8 - Ray of Clear Vision
Chapter 9 - Reality, Honesty, and Imagination, then Truth
Chapter 10 - Where We End Up

"W-Wake up . . . ! Please . .. !"

It had been 4 years since I first heard those words from her mouth.
To think that we would become so close, it really must have been fate. Well, regardless of whether it was fate or not, I'm glad that we did meet.
I find myself thinking back on that day far too often. Now, it means far too much to me to forget.

I . . . I've lived for a long time. Each time, I would inexplicably come into contact with someone from Pasche Manor.
While I'm not wholesomely the same person as the previous incarnation, it still feels strange to be so involved . . . !
Okurin's Mother had apparently known me before, too. Even Tsukyuu knew me, though I'm not terribly surprised, since she said she has been involved
in the Manor for a long while as well.
We learned that the Manor has a special power, to bring together children of purity and understanding together in harmony, even when the world
may possibly be in complete and utter despair.
It all sounded like something out of a fairy tale, but at the same time, I felt somehow that it was true.
Okurin's mother, when she was a child around the same age as Okurin now, had lived during a period of time where the world was in despair, but a dear friend of hers, whose name she refused to tell us, had brought the world back to order, at the cost of his life.
It was this, she said, that caused her to meet one of my previous selves, her husband. A part of me listened to her like she was telling a mere story, but I, nor could Okurin, could hide our sympathy and sorrow.
Okurin's mother told us not to be saddened, though, as it was what he had wanted to do.

On what had happened more recently, Okurin's mother had left merely to visit her late husband's grave, but stayed there so
that her daughter would grow up with someone she truly cared for and who would heal her faults and wounds.
That person, she said, was me.
It was a little funny, actually, seeing Okurin's response to her Mother's words. Her reaction was a little cute, too . . . !
Of course, Okurin could never come to hate her Mother, but she made her swear never to leave without telling her beforehand.
Seeing her like this, it felt a little touching . . . I'm sure her father must also think so, too . . . Ah, I should speak for myself. I'm me, Kuroto, not her father.
Even though I have absolutely no relation in any form to my previous incarnations, it still feels awkward being so deeply connected to Okurin and her family . . .
Okurin had told her mother of our plans to get married, much to her delight. Her mother must be happy for her, as she was doting on her and giving her all kinds of advice and other such things.
After all, when I first met Okurin, it seemed like she had no will, almost like she couldn't bear to live anymore.
Now, she's so certain of herself that she's become just a tiny bit stubborn. It seems she's always full of surprises, I'd say.

When we returned to the manor that day, we spent the night spending time together , but at night, I couldn't sleep, so I woke up and went outside once more to gaze at the sky.
While I was sitting, someone I didn't know had sat next to me and gazed as well. Although I didn't know them, their appearance struck me as awfully familiar, until I heard their voice.
It was Tsukyuu, who teased me for not recognizing her but why she looked so different, I couldn't figure out.
She thanked me for taking care of Okurin for so long, to which I responded with enthusiasm. After all, she did so much for me when she didn't even know my name, among many other things. She's special beyond all else to me
Tsukyuu chuckled at my remarks, saying she knew how it felt..
It was at this moment that I noticed something significant in Tsukyuu's strange appearance. Her usual golden hair had been a shade of red not unlike Okurin's. And her eyes were no longer that strange gray, but the same vibrant green Okurin's were.
She seemed to notice that I had discovered these differences, and, asking if I were surprised, stood up in front of me.
Tsukyuu revealed to me that she was, in fact, the 'first' Okurin Pakuromi to live in Pasche Manor, and the one who built it. She told me that she had the manor built as a symbol of two overcoming sadness, fear, and coming together to reach happiness, as she had been a child during a time where people were fearful of closeness.
It all hit me fairly hard. After all, I only knew Tsukyuu as Okurin's maid and a trouble maker who teased the two of us. To think she was actually Okurin's ancestor, I had some doubt. I also had to wonder if Okurin herself knew of this, but it didn't matter too much in any case.
However, I felt I could trust her words. Something inside of me just seemed to believe it.
She thanked me for my time, and told me that the reason why she changed her face and opted not to spend her afterlife with her husband was so that she could watch her descendants and in turn, help them reach happiness.

While I didn't think of it right away, I grew a bit flustered when I realized that one of my previous incarnations was probably her husband . . .
The next day, Tsukyuu had told Okurin what she revealed to me the previous night, much to her great surprise.
I'm sure Tsukyuu must be happy that she can finally confide in her granddaughter without having to keep secrets.
Even then, though, Tsukyuu had to bear the scolding her granddaughter had in store for her. It seems now not even family, recent or of days gone by are safe from her built up frustration.
She apologized, and somehow, she managed to appease Okurin by offering to make her favorite paella for lunch.

Time passed from then. Spring came, then summer, then fall.

We had our wedding in Winter. Although not many people came, it didn't matter much. We were both the happiest people alive that day.

In time, another 6 years passed, and we had a daughter. She was frail, but her heart is strong enough to overcome it, I'm sure.
Her eyes are the same vibrant green I've come to love, and her hair is a breezy bright red, like her mother's.

As per the tradition of the Pasche Manor, our daughter was named Okurin, and her Mother would take on her middle name as her first.
For our daughter's middle name, which would be the name she would use when our daughter met someone who she would keep dear in her heart, we thought long and hard.
We both came back to the same end.

Today is our little Yuno's 6th birthday. We took her to town to let her find something she wanted.
When we returned home, she said she had met a strange boy sleeping outside who wore a cute red scarf, and asked us for a red scarf.

0037- Where We End Up

This is the revised version of the final chapter, chapter 10.

Chapter 1 - A Childish Hope
Chapter 2 - Just A Mere Curiosity
Chapter 3 - Thoughtful Memories
Chapter 4 - Nature Pattern
Chapter 5 - Memories of Somebody
Chapter 6 - Autumn Days
Chapter 7 - Maze in Your Heart
Chapter 8 - Ray of Clear Vision
Chapter 9 - Reality, Honesty, and Imagination, then Truth

72:02 -010

A few more days passed. Each night, I would see the same dream as before.
I would appear in what feels like a fleeting vision. Someone would always talk to me in these dreams, but I could never figure out who it was.
Before I knew it, though, I was having normal, everyday conversations with that strange person in my dreams.
Once again, they seemed far too familiar to be written off as a mere stranger, but I couldn't recognize them enough to place a name and face on it.

It was still winter outside. Though the frequent days of non-stop snow have stopped, it's still awfully chilly out there.
Kuroto and I had decided that today, we would finally go to see my mother in that strange place that Tsukyuu called 'the Afterlife'.
It was still early, though, so we waited until noon to leave. Until then, we sat outside drinking hot chocolate.

Noon eventually came. Kuroto had such a serious look on his face, it was like nothing I'd ever seen before.
We ran back to that strange stone in the forest. The entire clearing was covered by those butterflies. It looked like a sign, in a way.
Such a beautiful sight . . .
Although they all flew away from us once we approached the stone, the way they departed seemed . . . mystical.
Such an otherworldly sight . . .
As they flew away, we could finally see the door that led to the Afterlife. It glowed with an almost sorrowful brightness.
Just being here made me feel a little sad. Death really is a tragic thing, no matter how peaceful and kind it may be . . .
After all, it was many years ago that Mother had experienced such a time where death was a far more cruel existence.
With all of my courage and hope, I closed my eyes and touched the door.
When my eyes opened again, we were in a large, seemingly infinite field of snow. Only a small shrine and a large door far off in the distance could be seen.

Kuroto seemed to be taken by the sight. I, too, was shocked at the sheer size of this world. The sun was barely peeking over the horizon, like it had only just woken up from a deep slumber.
As we slowly made our way to the horizon, Kuroto and I talked about the past, and our thoughts on what may happen today.
As always, he always made me feel much better, and erased any doubts I had about what would come.
Soon enough, we reached the shrine, to my surprise. It had only seemed like a mere hour since we arrived, but looking back, the door we came from was gone from sight.

Approaching the shrine, a young lady stepped out, a solemn expression on her face.
She had been expecting us, as she called both of our names with a voice of ice.
She introduced herself to us as Sanako, the one who takes care of the Afterlife. She had been told by my mother, apparently, to wait for us here.
I wad rather skeptical, of course, since I had never known this woman, nor did my mother talk to her when she had lived in the manor.
However, this wasn't the time to question such things. All I had on my mind was to meet my mother again.
Kuroto, however, had many questions for Sanako, including if she could tell him anything about himself.
She promised him that she would be able to tell him something, important, at that. I grew a little excited at the idea of learning more about Kuroto, and so I listened intently.
Sanako merely closed her eyes, and told him that he was delicately connected to me. She said that the connection lies in both of our past lives.
I didn't entirely understand her, but I could tell she meant that Kuroto had some sort of connection to my mother.
Kuroto, however, looked like he had just realized something grand. I wanted to ask him about it, but thinking it over, I felt like it would be a bad idea.

We'd decided to stay and rest here with Sanako for a while before heading off to the door. Kuroto decided to take a short nap, curling up outside in the hall.
While I was siting outside, staring at the door, Sanako came up, wanting to speak to me. By her tone, it sounded important.

She told me more about Kuroto, and what she meant when she said we were delicately connected.
Kuroto has apparently been alive for a long time, she told me. She confused me, though, when she said that he has been alive 5 times. It made more sense, though, when she said that
he had reincarnated 5 times. I didn't understand why she told me this, though, until she told me that Kuroto had been reincarnated from a certain someone terribly important to one of my great-great grandmothers.
Thinking as hard as I could, I remembered the book lying around in my mother's room. There was a story about a boy who had died to bring this world sunlight, and, in turn, life.
Now I realized that Kuroto was the one mentioned in that story. However, I was puzzled by the fact that the story said he had died. Kuroto was alive and well in front of me the entire time, so how does he fit to the role of that boy of the story?
Sanako explained that he wasn't that person himself, but rather an indirect descendant. They all share traits of the boy who had died, but are not directly related to him by blood or genes.

It made more sense the more she told me, and in due time, I had more or less learned Kuroto's entire life.
The last thing she told me was that the reason he had no memories when I first met him was because he had simply just been born.
After our conversation, I laid down next to Kuroto, staring at his slumbering face. With everything I now knew about him, I couldn't help but feel much more strongly about him.
To have been born right away, and immediately use your life to selflessly help others, even though you don't know anything about yourself, it touched my frail heart even more.
I'd decided then that when he woke up, I would tell him more about myself. After all, it was only fair to him that he know all about me, when I know all about him.
Just then, his eyes fluttered open, his scarlet eyes staring straight into the deep green of my own.
He had slept peacefully, he told me after he gained his sense.
He dreamed that a person that looked like me was talking to him about me. I had to question it for a moment, but I remembered that I had the same dreams not too long ago.
Casually, I asked him what he learned, and to my surprise, it was as if he had been in a similar conversation to the one I was in!
He said he was a bit surprised, but he felt that he could trust it.
He then looked at me, and asked me if Sanako told me about the 'true' Kuroto. Nodding, he smiled weakly, saying that he was glad that I didn't change because of it.
I let out a slight giggle, tapping him on the forehead. Of course, I told him I would never change merely because of learning the truth. You've always been there for me, even when I was lost in a cloud of doubt. Now it was my turn to be there for you in yours.
He seemed greatly surprised. He grabbed my hand. When we returned home, he said, he wanted to marry me.
Naturally, my first response was to become majorly flustered. For a moment, I felt like the child I was only a few years ago. We laughed for a good while.

I quickly overcame the initial embarrassment, though, and gave Kuroto a kiss that, I hope, neither of us would forget.

A few hours later, Sanako asked us if we were ready to go.
We merely had to take a glance at each other to tell we were prepared. Sanako seemed to notice our new found determination, and gave us a cheerful smile, asking us to follow her.
After another hour of walking, we had reached the colossal door that led into the heart of the Afterlife, the Edge of Eternity, or so Sanako called it.
She told us it was a place reserved only for those who had lived in the Pasche Manor, and a very select few others.
The door itself was partially frozen over, and just being near it chilled our bodies to the very depths of our souls.
We stood back, letting Sanako open the door before us. As we stood in awe, the towering gate before us slowly but surely opened, releasing from within a blizzard of cold.
Sanako told us that it was easy to get lost inside, so we should keep close to each other.
Without any other words, she wished us luck, and let us pass. Before going inside, I wanted top thank her for many things, but by the time I looked back to do so, she was already gone.

On the other side of the door, the cold was unbearable, biting away at us. To keep me warm in here, Kuroto let me wear his scarf, the one thing that he had with him since the day I met him . . . The raging blizzard inside blinded our sight, and we had no way of knowing where we were going.
However, we continued forward. Even if we don't know where we're going, we could keep looking.
Eventually, the blizzard began to weaken, and the cold became warm.
In the distance, we could see a large monument. In our excitement, we ran up to it with the last of our energy. As we approached it, I could see someone in front of it, facing in our direction.
It was Mother.

At last, I could no longer hold back my emotions, and I ran up as fast as I could ahead of Kuroto, and leaped for my mother, who took me into her arms, wiping my tears away from my cheeks.
It was at this time that I felt truly, wholesomely happy.
Mother comforted me, hushing me and telling me not to cry, but I wanted to get it all out of me.
She looked to Kuroto, and, as if they recognized each other, did not say anything. When I had calmed myself down, I asked my Mother why she had left the manor.
She gave me a rather impressed smile. She said that she left the manor to 'visit' father, but then decided to stay here.
When I asked her why she didn't tell me, she said that it was so I would grow up faster. I was confused by what she meant, but Kuroto pointed out that when we had first met, I was timid and fearful, but now I had become more certain of myself.

She continued to explain more about everything that had led up to this day, almost to the point where it seemed like she was lecturing me!
Even now, I still felt like a mere child. But, it didn't make any difference, other than when Mother scolded me because I cried a lot while she was away . . .
She thanked Kuroto for taking care of me while she was away,and for making me happier.
Mother said he reminded her of father, but . . . Do they really look alike? I could never see the resemblance, but perhaps that may just be Mother's eyes.
As the hours flew by, I felt at ease, finally. I was finally home.
Eventually, Mother agreed to come home with me and Kuroto. She didn't want to leave today, though, so she told us to go on ahead. Reluctantly, we agreed.

Tomorrow, we would announce our engagement to friends and family. For now, though, we simply wanted to rest, what with everything that's happened today.
It became night. The sky was full of stars, and the moon was bright, full and generous.
Kuroto and I sat outside one last time today. We didn't really talk much, instead, we gazed at the sky until we could no longer stay awake.

That night, for the first time in the longest, I slept peacefully.
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