Taisho x Alice episode 3: Wizard

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Next we have Wizard (CV: Hatano Wataru). A mysterious young man who always appears in every story. An elusive character who gives a different impression each time. He appears to have a certain goal. This DOES NOT follow from the Prologue. It is HIGHLY recommended to go through the first 5 routes first, as this route touches on all the spoilers. Also, this route contains elements which might be triggering.

Before you realise it, you’re wandering in a pitch black world.  You wonder where this is, as you keep walking, unable to find any exit. You have lost track of time. If you stop breathing and walking, perhaps all you’ll hear is the sound of your heart beating. You have no memory of who you are, or what you’re doing here. Feeling uneasy and lonely, you ask if anyone’s there. But there’s no answer. You decide to keep walking in hopes of an answer. Suddenly, it feels as if darkness grabs your feet. You struggle so as not to be swallowed up.

You: No……! Someone, help!!
???: Who?
You: You are……
???: No way. I don’t want to help. A selfish, weak, hopeless, fool who can’t do anything without anyone’s help. Why do I have to lend a helping hand to someone ungraceful, unrefreshing, petty, miserable and spoiled.
You: Ah……!
???: You are about to be swallowed up by darkness. Do you know why? Because there is no you. You don’t know who you are right?
You: I am…………
???: Who are you?
You: I am…………
???: What’s wrong? You can’t recall anything? About yourself.
You: Ah………………I am…………I am myself!
???: ……seriously you are such a handful.

He offers his hand and both of you run away. After a while you both stop thinking that it’s safe. The blonde boy catches his breath and looks pale, and you ask if he’s alright.

Boy: ……there’s no way that I’m alright! On top of the person you saved running past with a relaxed face, you pulled me along forcibly. What a thick-skinned and insensitive woman! How about learning to respect a man a little bit more!
You: I see! Wo–w! That’s great!
Boy: No, not at all……that’s flattering a man you idiot! I can see right through you making fun of men by thinking that I would be happy and get carried away with a praise you black-hearted woman! In the first place that line had no context at all and wasn’t flattering at all!
You: Ahaha. I’m sorry. You are a very spontaneous person!
Boy: ……hmph. You are an unbelievably detestable person.
You: Thank you for saving me! Umm……
Boy: It’s Alice.

You thank Alice, commenting on his lovely name too. You ask if he knows you, and he flatly denies this. He questions your excessive ego, asking if you reckon that you’re a celebrity. Of course he wouldn’t know you. But you recall that he called you a selfish, weak, hopeless, fool who can’t do anything without anyone’s help just now. Wasn’t he referring to you? He shrugs at your question. You add that he seems to know you better than yourself. At the very least he knew that you had no memories. You are delighted when he confirms this. Alice frowns at how carefree you are laughing away, when you were just in danger. Even if you avoided it just now, there’s a saying that one will follow soon after.

You point out that it hasn’t come yet, moreover Alice is with you now. He asks if it’s because you think he will save you, if you are one of those typical women who shout for gender equality but insist that you’re a woman when it’s inconvenient. You say that it’s because you aren’t afraid since he’s here. You will help him if he’s in trouble. But of course, you will be happy if he helps you when you’re in trouble.

You then ask if he knows where this is. Alice tells you to think for yourself first, instead of relying on others. You ponder, wondering if it’s hell since it’s dark and you can’t see anything. There’s nothing, and it feels very lonely. But then again it can’t be, since you met Alice.

Alice: I see……I don’t know where this is, but at the very least I think that this isn’t reality.
You: If it’s not reality, then the most realistic thought may be “inside a dream”.
Alice: A pun?
You: Yes! But this may be a rather fair opinion. See, if it is a dream there are all sorts of incomprehensible and impossible things right?
Alice: If this is a dream, you would be a character in an unreasonable and incomprehensible dream?
You: You could say the opposite too.
Alice: Which dreamed it? You, or me? The one who doesn’t wake up will disappear.
You: …………
Alice: …………Arisu.
You: Nn? What about your name?
Alice: It’s your name. It’s miserable to keep calling you “you you”.
You: It’s the same name as you right?
Alice: At the very least, it’s differentiated by hiragana and katakana.
You: I see.
Alice: Come here.
You: Eh! Waah!

(For the review, I’m going to switch to third-person POV now. Even though the game refers to the heroine as “you”, I’m not used to writing in first-person POV. And the heroine shall be “Arisu”, while the boy will be “Alice”.)

As Alice takes her hand, the both of them start walking in the darkness. The uneasiness and fear dissipates as she feels the warmth from his hand. He doesn’t answer her when she asks where they are headed for.

Arisu: ……Alice-kun is kind. You’re leading the way for me, who is lost.
Alice: Aah, that’s right. There is no other human being as kind as me. It appears that there is also a fool who is troubling such a wonderful human being who is an urgent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Arisu: Though you’re not very honest.

The two of them keep talking. The floor they’re walking on isn’t quite a floor, and there isn’t anyone else around. But she doesn’t feel lonely. Eventually, they come across a large mirror. While it may come across as a crystal too, Arisu points out that their reflections are being shown. So points at herself, asking if this is her.

Alice: Aah, that’s right. That thoughtless-looking, seemingly dull-headed and flighty person is you.
Arisu: Ehehe……
Alice: What. That’s disgusting. You can’t stop laughing at how interesting it is as you gaze at your stupid face? As expected of a flighty girl. Your head appears very dull indeed.
Arisu: Alice-kun. Thank goodness you are here.
Alice: Hah?
Arisu: I don’t have any memories of myself, so I don’t know if this is me. But because Alice-kun is here. Because you recognise my reflection, I have confidence (my own self) that I am me.
Alice: It seems that the first step to self-awareness is knowing your own reflection in the mirror. With the mirror, people first gained a way of looking at themselves objectively.
Arisu: Then, Alice-kun is my mirror.
Alice: Perhaps.

Arisu wonders if the mirror connects to another world, to which he remarks that it’s just like a fairytale then. She wonders how the mirror world is like. He replies that it might be completely the same, but also the complete opposite, causing her to give the analogy of the two of them. As she stretches out her hand towards it, the mirror shines. What was once her reflection in the mirror, now shows a young man dressed in black and as if he’s laden with darkness. The mirror ripples like waves when her fingers touch it. It looks like she can pass through.

Alice asks what she plans to do, and she immediately answers that she wants to leave this world. He points out that everything will be meaningless, since this is a dream. However, she replies that you can change the dream if you are aware that it is a dream. She would like to make this lonely dream even a bit more fun. He sighs at her selfishness, for the person dreaming this may not wish for that at all. If they see a fun dream, waking up from it will only be more painful.

Arisu: So, you’d try to escape?
Alice: Perhaps it will be happiness for the person to never wake up.
Arisu: ………………I am a selfish and flighty girl as Alice-kun says. But I still wish for a fun dream filled with bliss, when woken up. And……if this is a dream, perhaps the person also has the same thought as me. Right? If this is a dream, you and me are of the same existence.
Alice: ……that’s right. Arisu, if it’s you, you can do it.
Arisu: I think so too!

The two of them stretch their hands towards the mirror, passing through and diving into the world there.

One day, the girl who was playing chess as usual made a comment.

Yurika: Did you know? A girl can change when she is in love.
???: She will become shy?
Yurika: There’s that, but on the flipside she can also become strong. You can do anything for the one you love, you wish to do so. Even if you make enemies out of the whole world, you wish to remain on the side of the one you love.
???: That’s some blind devotion.
Yurika: To lose sight of your surroundings, is also a feature of love. But perhaps it’s a bit different from becoming strong. Of course, you need the resolution and strength to make enemies out of everything. Perhaps it’s closer to think that “I can become anyone”.
???: I can become anyone?
Yurika: Yes.
???: Just like a pawn. If a pawn can move to the very back line of the opponent, it can become other pieces too.
Yurika: That’s right. Earnestly moving forward, queen, rook, bishop, knight. You’d become any type of piece.

(Note: This is hard to phrase in English. But the implication of “I can become anyone” is that she can become any type of “herself”. Also when they say “pawn”, the word written is 歩兵. So yes, they are talking about chess pieces.)

The story I will tell now is about searching for the truth (depth)—- the heroine of this story, is none other than you.

Ryoushi and Ookami are seen on their way to someone else’s place. The latter is reluctant for he doesn’t trust the person in question. The former admits that he doesn’t either, but it’s their job. In any case, even if he isn’t trustworthy, he is useful – after all he is “Wizard”. Wizard cheerily welcomes the visitors to the Black Cat Detective Office, but drops his tone when he seems the familiar faces. Ryoushi tells Ookami that they’re heading back, and Wizard hurriedly stops them as he hears that they’ve a job for him.

Wizard: ……so, what’s the job?
Ryoushi: You know Arisu Yurika right?
Wizard: I wonder.
Ryoushi: ……let’s go back, Ookami.
Ookami: Roger!
Wizard: Ah–! Wait wait!! I know!! I know her!!
Ryoushi: …………
Wizard: ……Arisu Yurika is your precious younger sister, and the princess of the mirror world right?
Ryoushi: She’s not really precious.
Wizard: So what about the lady Arisu? Could it be that she’s involved in a murder case over inheritance?
Ryoushi: You’re sharp.
Wizard: Who is it!? Who was murdered!?
Ryoushi: No one has died yet.
Wizard: Meaning that it may happen later right?
Ryoushi: ……aah, that’s right.

Ryoushi has Ookami pass over the threat letter to Wizard. It threatens to kill Yurika by the night of the next full moon. The only way she can avoid this is by marrying one of the 5 brothers – Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin, Kaguya, Gretel. Wizard remarks that it’s a strange threat, looking from another perspective it is acting like a cupid by joining two people together. Ookami thinks that it’s just a frightening and forceful way. The detective guesses that the culprit may be anxious that Yurika may not have a happy end with anyone at this rate. Ookami can’t comprehend the idea of the culprit wishing for her happy end, while threatening to kill her. But to find out about this is part of Wizard’s job. Wizard learns from Ryoushi that this is a job request from Yurika herself, admitting that he doesn’t understand his own sister.

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Wizard: So what is Yurika’s relationship with the five brothers?
Ryoushi: Don’t you know about Arisu Yurika?
Wizard: I know but I’m just asking. You know, to confirm.
Ryoushi: ……the eldest brother Cinderella, second brother Shirayuki, third brother Akazukin, and fourth brother Kaguya, fifth brother Gretel. The famous brothers whom everyone in mirror world knows of. They are currently……living together with my sister in my parents’ house.
Wizard: I see, a reverse harem.
Ookami: How indecent!
Wizard: Aren’t you worried? Older brother.
Ryoushi: Not really.
Wizard: What a tsundere
Ookami: A tsundere alright–

Ryoushi hits the two of them, and adds that they’re living together because all five brothers are the fiances of Yurika.

I saw a nostalgic dream.

Arisu Yurika, 17 years old. She’s living together with five wonderful fiances. The eldest brother Cinderella, second brother Shirayuki, third brother Akazukin, fourth brother Kaguya, fifth brother Gretel. It’s been a year and a half since she met them. Back then, she was living overseas and came to know about them from her brother’s letter. Her brother was working as a hunter in a countryside village, which she had visited numerous times too. His client were the brothers.

Desperately to meet them, she persuaded those around her and completed all the necessary procedures before stepping back into that nostalgic area. Her emotions were complicated the first time she met them – both happy and sad. Once upon a time, she had someone she liked. A boy she had only met once when she was young. Her encounter with the boy, had light shined upon her darkness, and she found herself. She recalled this when she met the brothers. Surely they are wandering in the darkness, just as she did so in the past.

She pleaded with her family to save them. Fortunately, her parents also sympathised with them and had started arrangements on adopting them. It was then that her father asked if she was willing to become family with them. Unlike her brother who is an adult and living away from them, she is still a minor and a female – she had the right to reject. She felt slight despair at his words. He should know well enough, seeing how she came all the way back here. But he used the word “right to reject”. In other words, he was still hesitant. She didn’t hate her parents for this though, for they were already kind enough to consider this. But she knew that only she could save the brothers. So she firmly answered that she was fine.

So she called over Cinderella, but he refused their suggestion. Her father and I couldn’t understand why. While they do have their own wills, the brothers weren’t strong enough to survive on their own. She was anxious, that they would go separate ways at this rate. It was then, that her brother proposed that the brothers become her fiances (guardians). Yurika was taken aback. Perhaps because they lived apart since she was young, she didn’t really regard him as family and didn’t know how to deal with him. She never dreamed that he would aid her. But later he told her that it was for their sake, rather than her sake. It appears that he was familiar with Shirayuki, that they had a deep bond. Perhaps because it was her brother who proposed this, whom Cinderella was already familiar with, the eldest brother accepted it.

And so they became her fiances, and started living together. Happily ever after……regretfully it was not. They were not familiar with each other and while she had heard about them from her brother, her impressions upon meeting them were totally different. Their ages, hobbies, likes, habits were all different. It was difficult living together with them under the same roof. While she did like them, it is different from love. But wanting to get along with them, Yurika took the initiative to talk to them. Wanting them to like her, she liked the same things as them, and acted how they wanted. She did a lot of arrangements to put them at ease. She tried to be the one who understood them the most. She thinks that they also did not dislike her.

Having grown accustomed to her life here, it was soon time to start school. She transferred to the nearest private school to her house. She wanted to go to the same school as them, but it appears that the difference in academic levels due to their situation wouldn’t allow this. But she soon grew to enjoy school. Fortunately, it was there that she met Ookami, an excellent person who came to understand her and knew when to back down for other people. He knew how to balance his role out, like a supporting character who would save the main character. Having heard everything from her, he would help her out if she’s with the brothers whenever needed.

It was also around then, that Gretel started calling her “sister” with admiration. Her brother felt cautious about that, but she didn’t. Her parents were also uneasy at first about them living together, but soon were at ease as their lives seemed stable. It was not long before they left the house for work. While they were hesitant about leaving her alone, her brother lived nearby and they also felt their work’s responsibilities. Moreover, they didn’t seem to have the resolve to abandon everything, just like how their daughter did for the sake of the brothers. And that’s how she came to live with the brothers. There was no inconvenience. She had stamina, and was skilled at household chores. While some people may see them living together as an issue, they were fiances approved by her parents. There’s no right for people to complain. She was happy.

While living together with them, she came to like them a lot. It was not hypocrisy nor charity. She just purely liked them, and even didn’t mind dying for them. That may be her delirious words in the spur of the moment. But that passion became a flame which made her anxious. She wanted to understand them. But that was her pride speaking. They may look stable but their hearts bear a deep wound. It was a delicate and dangerous one which may explode any moment. Even so, if she had the time, those wounds could be healed over a long, long time. But they didn’t have much time. There is only one soul for one body. She cannot divide her love. She has to choose only one person.

In present time, Yurika informs the brothers that she requested for the help of a private detective regarding the anonymous threat received this morning in the mailbox. However, the brothers don’t seem to find a private detective trustworthy. Akazukin agrees with Cinderella, saying that he will protect her for he is a policeman. He will guard her 24/7. The silence which proceeds, causes Akazukin to tilt his head curiously.

Shirayuki: That means you will watch over her even when she does this and that?
Gretel: Pervert.
Akazukin: T-t-t-that’s not what I mean!!
Cinderella: ……well with a policeman like this, I understand why you would ask for someone else’s help. Even so, a private detective! It only sounds suspicious!
Yurika: I really think that that’s a prejudice……

In any case, she has already given the case to the detective who is on his way to their house now. There’s no turning back. Shirayuki remarks that he thinks it’s a possible solution. However his words add fuel to the fire, for he explains that if the threat is real, the culprit may be among them. Gretel and Kaguya agree, and Shirayuki continues to stoke the flames. The one who sent the threat should have something to gain, in other words the five of them will have something to gain from this. After all, all of them like her. That’s why she handed the task to an outsider. A heavy silence falls upon them, as Shirayuki’s words planted the seeds of suspicion in everyone’s hearts. It was then that the doorbell rang.

Yurika hurriedly stands up, volunteering to answer the door. She welcomes the detective, who introduces himself as Wizard. His appearance gives her a sense of assurance, that things will be alright with him. She leads him to the living-room, where the five brothers gaze coldly at him. The detective calmly observes that he isn’t welcomed at all. Before she heads to the kitchen, Gretel offers to prepare the tea instead as he casts a suspicious look towards Wizard. The latter notes that he is the youngest brother who has lived with Yurika ever since he was born, and is doing well academically in school. Gretel remains unfazed, and disappears to the kitchen. Wizard brings out the copy of the threat he had received, and Yurika presents the original copy. He remarks that it’s a strange threat, and asks if anyone has any idea who may be the culprit. Neither Yurika not the brothers have any clue.

But Wizard reasons that Yurika can escape danger if she marries one of them, wondering what might be the culprit’s motive. He glances at the brothers, and Cinderella sighs and sees that he’s suspecting them. Yurika feels guilty, for she was the one who called on the detective. Wizard denies that he’s accusing them, asking if he has any suspicions on who is the culprit. Cinderella only frowns, and Wizard moves onto Akazukin. He heard that he is a policeman, and wonders why she didn’t rely on him instead of a detective. In other words, she can’t trust the police. Akazukin remains quiet.

He turns to Kaguya, commenting on his unique appearance. So if he doesn’t wear his usual clothes and mask, perhaps he could move around without being noticed by anyone. The usually calm Kaguya is rattled, and Wizard reassures him that it’s just a “what if” situation. Wizard looks at Shirayuki, commenting on his beautiful appearance. He has stepped on a landmine, for Shirayuki hates being called “cute” or “beautiful”. Wizard recalls that he isn’t studying or working, so he’s always at home. When the second brother remains silent, the detective apologises if his comment offended him. He merely speaks his mind. Shirayuki quietly leaves the room.

Gretel returns with the tea, asking if his interrogation is over. Wizard thanks him for the tea, but the youngest brother snatches it from him. The detective raises a hand, indicating to Yurika that it’s fine. He recalls that Gretel really admires his sister, and that they’re really close. But he had heard that friendliness goes a bit overboard. The smile disappears from Gretel’s face, for his statement seems to be hinting that Gretel is the culprit.

Gretel: Can the detective drink tea with his head?
Wizard: Yes?
Gretel: Do you wish to intake tea with your scalp?
Wizard: N-no, I wish to taste it normally with my mouth.
Gretel: Then please hurry up and shut your mouth up with the tea. If not you will get scalded.
Wizard: …………

As everyone helps themselves to the tea, the suffocating atmosphere settles in. After all, the detective did just cast suspicion upon everyone. Yurika feels that it’s her fault, she’s the root cause of everything – the threat, and calling in the detective. She breaks the silence, asking how much does Wizard know. He’s aware that the five brothers who are also her fiances, are living together with her. But she has yet to choose anyone yet. He asks if she reckons that the culprit is nearby. She hesitates in her reply. Following this, the four brothers left in the room start to suspect each other and it escalates.

Gretel: ……hah. Is that it. I don’t deny it but isn’t it contradictory for me to kill sister if my attachment to her is overly-strong?
Cinderella: For you, you know. The type who will do it if you can’t have her.
Gretel: Please don’t speak as if I’m a yandere!!
Cinderella: What are you if you aren’t a yandere. A yanyan!!
Yurika: Please stop!!

Everyone looks towards her as she raises her voice. She can’t stop trembling, and her body feels cold even though the heater in the room is operating. She feels terribly guilty, that the people she loves are fighting because of her. Wizard stands up and offers his hand to her, thinking that it’s best for her to rest first. She apologises quietly as she takes his hand, leaving the room as if she’s fleeing. Yurika stands at the landing of the staircase, sighing as she gazes at the dimly-lit moon. It will be about 5 days till the next full moon. She has to take one of them as a husband by then, or they will have to catch the culprit and ensure that she won’t come to harm.

She sighs again, and Wizard calls out to her. He asks how she’s feeling, and she forces a smile and answers that she’s feeling better. She apologises for before, and asks if he wishes to return to discussing the case or would like to head back first. All of a sudden, he grabs her arm and leans his forehead against hers.

Wizard: Hmm. You don’t seem to have a fever.
Yurika: U-um!
Wizard: Ah, there’s a fever now. Are you alright?
Yurika: I’m fine! I’m very, very well!
Wizard: Hahaha. It appears that way.

He lets out a laugh as she pushes him from her, causing her to wonder if he was teasing her. She apologises for worrying him, thinking that it’s meaningless to put up a front before him. Wizard remarks that the brothers are worried about her too, for they think of her as precious to them. She nods with a smile, for she knows that best. She also finds them precious. That’s why this situation is so painful. Yurika asks if he finds anything suspicious, and he honestly admits that everyone is suspicious, but also not suspicious. In other words, he doesn’t know yet. She shares that she doesn’t mind that she’s in danger. But it pains her to see the brothers who got along so well, acting like this. If only she had hidden away that threat letter. But Wizard points out that this fight over her hand will happen sooner or later. It just so happens that the day is today.

Everything will be solved if she chooses one of them. But Yurika likes everyone, it’s impossible for her to choose. She’s aware of how selfish and cruel her words are. It’s as if she’s saying that it’s fine to hurt all of them, for she likes all of them. But she would like to maintain her current relationship with them for a bit longer. Silence envelopes the two of them. She knows that her words may be troubling for Wizard. After all, they only just met. Out of the blue, Wizard offers to show her some magic. After all, he’s Wizard.

Yurika: ……you’re a detective right?
Wizard: The detective is just a disguise to avoid public notice. My true identity is a wizard who guides sheep lost in the dark to the right path! Now now, there is a red, red, round apple here. I shall make this apple disappear without a trace.
Yurika: A magic trick?
Wizard: You could say that.

He takes out a large, black, pointy hat and a red apple. He shows her that there’s nothing inside the hat, before chanting and dropping the apple into the hat. There’s a knocking sound, and he tells her not to mind it. He proudly shows her that there’s nothing in the hat – but his posture is extremely unnatural. One of his hand is supporting the hat in the middle, as if something is there – for example, a mirror or a board. But Yurika keeps quiet and applauds his act. Wizard notes that there was a long pause before her applause, and she smiles and says that it’s just his imagination. She thanks him for the fun experience, for it’s her first time seeing magic.

Wizard waves his finger at her, saying that this isn’t the end. He takes out the apple from the hat, showing her that it has been cut cleanly in half. He first only showed her the red part, so it appeared to be like a round apple. But if it’s turned 90 degrees, you can see that it’s half. And if he turns it 90 degrees again, you can no longer see the red part. If you change angles like this, the apple which you thought was round, can be seen differently. He drops the apple inside the hat again, flipping the hat around.

Wizard: And things which have form, will disappear one day. And so that’s the end of the story of the apple. The magic show of Wizard ends here. Now, applause~

There was no knocking sound this time, and the apple seems to have truly disappeared this time. Yurika claps and comments that it’s just like the moon floating in the night sky. He agrees, and adds that it’s also like her current situation. He places the hat on her head. She can only see two options now – to be killed or to start a family with one of the brothers. But the world can change depending on how you see it. The choices can be increased endlessly, and the same applies for the future too. She shouldn’t just be caught up in the problems before her eyes, such as who the culprit is and who her future husband is. She should look upon the world with a bird’s eye view. A path won’t be opened up just by looking at the moon listlessly. Yurika wonders if this is his way of encouraging her. She asks to accompany his investigations then, and Wizard happily obliges.

It appears that the five brothers have returned to their rooms. So the two of them head to Cinderella’s room first, which is the large hall on the first floor. A place with a grand chandelier and where a party could be held. Cinderella questions why he’s first, asking if the detective finds him the most suspicious. Wizard denies this, claiming that it’s merely based on age. Yurika adds that he’s also the most reliable brother, which improves his mood. The detective thanks him for cooperating, asking about his daily lifestyle pattern and his relationship with the other brothers and Yurika. Cinderella answers that he works the whole day before coming back to shower and eat. He does his glass craft as a hobby after that, before sleeping. While he doesn’t talk much to his brothers, he believes that they get along well as normal brothers do. And he’s Yurika’s fiance. When asked what he thinks of Yurika, he replies honestly that he likes her.

But Wizard questions if it’s because she’s from a rich family. The eldest brother frowns at his words, and the detective adds that he’s only curious if their feelings for her are true or not. He asks how he came to live here and become her fiance, and Cinderella explains that he had no place to live so her eccentric father offered a roof over his head. However, he hesitates to explain why he had no place to live in. Wizard recalls that he was from a rich family when he was young. But his father failed in his business, and even went to loansharks. As the debt accumulated, his father fled overseas, leaving behind him and his mother. He can imagine how hard life was for Cinderella then. Cinderella asks if he reckons that he wants to marry her for her money.

Wizard directs the question back at him, and the eldest brother remains silent. But Cinderella reasons that he wouldn’t kill her if he was after her money. Wizard agrees, and admits that this talk has no relation to the case at the moment. Cinderella says that he has to get up early tomorrow, so Wizard thanks him and excuses himself. Yurika says goodnight, and Cinderella smiles kindly at her as he says goodnight too.

They head to Akazukin’s place next, which is a small cottage in the forest away from the mansion. They knock on the door, but there is no answer. There’s a light lit inside, but it is unlike Akazukin not to answer the door. So Yurika thinks that he is not in. Wizard thinks that he might still be in the living-room, so they head back. However, Akazukin is nowhere to be seen. As she calls out to the detective, she finds him looking outside of the window. His handsome figure catches her attention, almost like movie star. Wizard points out that Akazukin is outside, standing in the middle of the garden. She can only wonder what he’s doing out there in the cold winter. They didn’t see him outside just now, so perhaps they missed each other.

They go outside and Yurika calls out to him. The third brother is flustered, asking what she’s doing out here. He sees the detective, and quickly denies that he is the culprit. Seeing how rattled he is, she smiles and remarks that she knows that he isn’t. Akazukin calms down, and she asks what he’s doing here. Perhaps feeling embarrassed, he pulls down his hood. He explains that he was thinking of guarding the place from today onwards. His words throw Yurika off. Akazukin is a good person, a serious person. But he’s rather naive.

Yurika: Now? At night? In winter?? And just like the threat said, I’ll be safe till the night of the next full moon?
Akazukin: That is if you believe the threat. Is there any value in believing in?
Yurika: That is…………no, not at all……
Akazukin: Right. That’s why, please only think of your own safety.
Yurika: But……
Akazukin: No buts…………

He looks at her intently, which makes her feel like running away. While she usually takes the initiative against others, she’s poor at dealing with the reverse situation. As Akazukin is about to say something, Wizard lets out a loud sneeze. The latter apologises for interrupting, but he would like to ask some questions. The third brother backs away, allowing the detective to ask if he is Yurika’s fiance. Akazukin leaps at the word, leaving the other two speechless. With a flushed face, the former apologises and clears his throat, confirming that it’s true. He denies that he’s dissatisfied with this, for it was her father who decided to have someone like him live here.

Just like Cinderella, he mentions her father. Her father is a doctor who works in a university hospital in the city. He is reticent, good-natured, irresponsible and strange. Thanks to her father, they could live together and also became her fiance. Wizard asks if he doesn’t find it ridiculous for all five of them to be her fiance, and Akazukin replies that it was her father’s decision. The detective suggests that he doesn’t particularly like her then, since it was all decided by her father. Akazukin loudly denies this. Wizard asks if he wishes to marry her then, causing Akazukin to blush furiously. After a short pause, he replies that he has no right to marry her. That’s why he needs to become someone worthy of that. He whispers that he will definitely protect her. A truly kind, serious and shy man – Yurika really likes him.

Wizard: You seem to be insistent on protecting. Speaking of protecting, it can also be keeping a promise right?

Akazukin’s face turns pale at that word. The detective heard that he lied in the past and hence withdrew himself from other people. The third brother remains silent, so he asks what he usually does when he’s on the job. Akazukin refuses to answer in detail, citing that it’s confidential. Yurika explains that he hardly talks about his job, as it would be troubling if something important got leaked. So Wizard asks for his department at the very least, to which Akazukin replies that he’s part of the metropolitan police department, criminal investigation first division. Wizard thanks him, telling him to work hard at his job. Yurika tells him not to catch a cold, and he advises her to be careful too. They wish each other goodnight before parting ways.

After that, they go to a facility away from the mansion where Kaguya is. It’s called Nayotake no Ie. (Note: “Nayotake no Ie” literally means home of (flexible) bamboo. By the way, “nayotake no kaguya-hime” is the accurate name given to Kaguya in the original story.) Kaguya is about to open the door after she knocks on the door, but stops when Wizard adds that he would like to ask a few questions. Yurika quickly calls out to him, having recalled the feeling that he would disappear. Kaguya opens the door, asking if he’s the most suspicious. The detective denies this, explaining that he’s going around asking everyone. When the fourth brother notes that she’s here too, Wizard explains that it was her wish to join.

Kaguya shares that he’s working as a waiter at a cafe, and confirms that he is Yurika’s fiance. He doesn’t have any dissatisfaction with regards to this. When Wizard asks if he finds the other brothers a hindrance, the smiles disappears from Kaguya’s face. After a short pause, he sighs and answers that while they may be brothers not related by blood, they would not think of removing each other over a girl. He’s certain that the rest think that way too, because Yurika would be sad if they act like that. He’s very gentle-mannered, sensitive and observant of other people – Yurika really likes him.

The detective apologises for his rudeness, and Kaguya remarks that it’s fine. However, he would like for him not to accuse without any evidence. Wizard agrees to this, and asks one last question. He heard that Kaguya spent some time at a children’s home, wondering what the reason is. Despite them being brothers, only he was living in different houses before ending up at the children’s home. The mask of smile Kaguya was wearing, clearly falls off at these words. Yurika sharply calls out to Wizard, who only quietly waits for an answer. The fourth brother asks if he has to answer, to which Wizard replies that it’s voluntary. The former smiles gently, but it also looks as if he’s crying.

Kaguya: ……I had nothing from the start. Before I realised it, I had no parents and could only do what his relatives told him. I could never become their child no matter where I went. It’s to be expected. I was merely a nuisance to them. I was never loved by anyone till now. I was never needed by anyone. That’s why I was happy when I came to know that I had brothers. I was happy when I was told that I could stay here. I was not alone……it was the first time I thought that.

The two of them visit Shirayuki next, whose room has a dressing table and is on the second floor of the mansion. When Yurika knocks on the door, he tells her to wait and noises can be heard. He opens the door about 5 minutes later, looking a bit flustered. She apologises for interrupting him at night, introducing Wizard who would like to ask some questions. Shirayuki immediately shuts the door and the detective knocks on the door repeatedly. The second brother opens the door once more, frowning at how noisy it is. He allows Wizard to ask away, whom quickly asks if he is her fiance. Shirayuki confirms this.

Wizard asks if he feels no suspicions or dissatisfaction at how all of them are her fiances. After all, it is a strange and unprecedented situation. Shirayuki admits that it is strange, but he isn’t dissatisfied. He finds everyone precious, so all he can do is wait for Arisu to decide. The detective asks if he won’t have any grudges if he isn’t picked, and Shirayuki replies that it can’t be helped as it’s her decision. Yurika feels a bit lonely at his choice of words. It’s true that it is her decision. But does he really like her, if he can reply that way? She shakes her thoughts away and her eyes meet Shirayuki’s. He smiles at her as if he’s seen through her thoughts, remarking that there’s nothing better than her choosing him though.

Shirayuki shares that he either reads or sleeps at home, and has never gone outside. Wizard asks if he longs for the outside world, and Shirayuki flinches at his question. The detective recalls that he was the first one to find his deceased mother, who had died abruptly from over-exhaustion. It must have been a shock for him for his beloved mother to die before his very eyes. It’s no wonder that it caused him to become a shut-in. Shirayuki quietly questions how he knows this. The tense atmosphere renders Yurika speechless. Wizard only replies that he heard from a certain information source. He’s a detective after all.

Shirayuki: Hmm……it’s as if you know everything. Are you a magic mirror?
Wizard: Ahaha. By the way, do the other brothers know about your mother?
Shirayuki: …………

The second brother seems to have resigned himself, as answers that Kaguya and Gretel don’t know. They weren’t living together back then. But Cinderella and Akazukin do. He doesn’t think that they’ve seen her body – but perhaps Akazukin has. His answer is vague as he hardly talks to his brothers. Moreover, it’s a silent agreement between them not to touch the topic. Wizard thanks him for his time, but recalls one last question.

Wizard: Who conveyed the news about your mother’s death?
Shirayuki: …………I told brother Cinderella.
Wizard: I see. I understand.

Lastly, they go to find Gretel. He has changed the separated kitchen into his own room, since it is hardly used and making sweets is his hobby. He’s aware that Wizard has been interrogating his brothers, especially when he’s been dragging his beloved sister all over the place. He glares at the detective – he already has four rivals, he doesn’t need a nuisance sticking around her. He confirms that he’s her fiance with a smile. Wizard points out that they’re siblings, and his smile disappears for a second. The youngest brother answers that they’re only siblings in law, and only came to be because he was taken in. As Wizard already knew, he was here since he was born. He heard from his brothers that his real parents are already deceased or gone. Honestly he doesn’t care for they are strangers to them. His only family is his sister, and brothers.

When asked what he usually does, Gretel replies that he’s a normal student and either makes sweets or studies when he’s back home. He agrees that he is a model student. Wizard heard that he had caused some trouble at school before though – that even a model student like him has a shadow. Gretel looks coldly at him, remarking that despite his occupation it is still an invasion of privacy. Wizard shrugs his shoulders, since this is part of the investigation. Gretel changes the topic, asking if he’s found any clues on the culprit. Seeing how he’s questioning the brothers, it appears that he suspects one of them.

Just like Shirayuki said, the culprit stands to gain from the threat – aka them. Everyone likes Yurika. But she has not chosen any of them. Only one of them can marry her. It is fun for all of them to be together, but that’s merely ignoring the problem. The culprit has thrown a stone, and caused the ripples. While the rest of the brothers won’t admit it, to be honest he wished for this. With this, he can finally be at ease. Wizard sees that he reckons that one of the brothers is the culprit, and is secretly grateful for this.

Gretel: Because I was fearful. Of who is sister’s number one. It’s meaningless if I can’t be her number one. I will be abandoned by sister if I’m not her number one.
Yurika: That’s not……
Wizard: Then you could just kill off the rest and snatch her. Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin, and Kaguya. You could just kill everyone and you would be the only one left, and snatch her. If you do that, everything would be yours. Have you never thought of that?
Gretel: ………………if I do that, would sister approve of me?
Yurika: I could. Because that’s how much you think of me.
Gretel: Oh? You would forgive me? Then let me become a serial killer right now.
Yurika: I’m sorry, it’s a lie. A joke.
Gretel: What. What a pity.
Yurika: Ahaha……

It’s hard to tell how serious he is. Gretel raises a suspicion. He finds it hard to imagine that one of the brothers would threaten Yurika. So he can’t forgive Wizard’s existence, for there isn’t denying the possibility that he is the culprit. He tells Wizard to prove his innocence right now, because he knows way too much. Just because he’s a detective, doesn’t mean that he can poke his head into their affairs. Even if Ryoushi came to him with the request, they could be in cahoots. Wizard admits that he cannot deny any of this. But he has no merit in this. Yurika is only his client, and he has no advantage if she were to choose any of the five brothers. The only benefit he would have is to solve this case successfully. Gretel cannot argue with this, and agrees to cooperate in any way he can. He waves his hand at Wizard, who thanks him for his cooperation. The youngest brother doesn’t give in, adding that he also wished for a poison-tester for his latest creation.

After their interrogation, the two of them return to the living-room. Wizard observes that her brothers really love her, and joking advises her to pick one of them so that the case can be closed. Yurika is well-aware of this, but she can’t pick anyone. She’d rather be killed instead. But she also doesn’t want to wait for death, so at the very least she asked for his assistance in finding the culprit. She asks Wizard why he deliberately poked into their pasts and wounds.

Wizard: Their hearts’ wounds huh.
Yurika: That’s right. They normally hide it, but that are in pain and grief over their pasts. The past is something which they wish to forget.
Wizard: Yes, I suppose so.
Yurika: Then, why? Is digging into their pasts connected to finding the culprit?
Wizard: Yes, of course.
Yurika: …………

He explains that he is planning his next move by correctly getting to know their pain and grief. In other words, by understanding them. She doesn’t comprehend, for it would be more reasonable to question her past in that case. Since she is the one being threatened. So Wizard directly asks her, to which she sarcastically answers that he thought he knew everything. He remarks that there is no omnipotent being in this world. He only knows about her family, her current situation, and her motive. Yurika thinks that it’s more than enough, and challenges him by questioning what he doesn’t know about her then. Wizard stands up and approaches her, pointing at her chest.

Wizard: Your heart. I don’t really understand what you are thinking.
Yurika: …………

She denies his words, explaining that she just doesn’t wish to be killed like this. Her last futile resistance is for him to help her find the culprit. She doesn’t have such a past or wound like theirs. Unlike them, she was born in a good environment with her parents and brother, and led a life with not restraints. Wizard takes a step back from her, and she glances towards the clock. Yurika observes that it’s late, and asks him to stay the night. He thanks her.

I dreamed of you last night again.

???’s POV

Before you realises it, you’re wandering in a pitch black world.  It is the same scenery everywhere you go. You have lost track of time and all sense of everything. If you stop breathing and walking, perhaps all you’ll hear is the sound of your heart beating. It is then, that you hear someone’s voice in the darkness. Feeling that you were called out to, you rush towards it. Soon you find a large mirror, and it ripples like water when your fingers touch it. You wish to go to the other side. So you stretch out your hand towards the mirror, pass through it and dive into the opposite world. A man tells you to open your eyes. You do so, and the black world is now a white world.

A middle-aged man dressed in a white coat reveals a fake smile, asking if you know where you are. You are unable to answer him, and he seems to take this as you rejecting him. He reassures you that he is your attending doctor, and is on your side. Your role is to guide the others to the right path. No one else can do it. Because the others inside of you, are not perfect like you. He’s sure that you had many experiences, including sad memories. But that is all in the past. There is no one who can harm you now, for you are strong. That’s why you should be able to overcome the painful past and live a bright future. In order to do that, you need do erase all other existences besides yourself. To gather as one, and walk your own life. He asks you to say your name, but you could not answer his voice (expectations). Because you are…………

Back to Yurika’s POV

In the early morning before the sun has yet to rise, Yurika prepares breakfast for the seven of them. While everyone else is sleeping, Wizard is up and reading the newspapers. He affirms that he slept well, and she suggests for him to stay here while the investigations are ongoing. He is hesitant, for he’s sure that the brothers won’t be pleased. At that moment, Cinderella enters the room and frowns at the sight of the detective. Wizard cheerfully greets him, and the eldest brother demands an explanation from her. Yurika says that she will explain when everyone is gathered, so that she need not repeat herself four times later.

After breakfast, she explains her decision to have Wizard stay here till the culprit is caught till the next full moon. As expected, the brothers oppose to this and she is aware that it will take a lot of effort to convince them. But somehow they seem to misunderstand that the two of them would fall into love if they remain together. Well it is true that he is handsome and mature. She glances at him, before awkwardly looking away when he catches her attention. Yurika takes a deep breath, and says that they’re merely a client and detective. It is only for work that he is staying over. The five brothers exchange eye contact, till Cinderella, Shirayuki and Kaguya show their consent. Before Gretel can protest, Yurika quickly thanks him.

Cinderella: But what about school?
Yurika: School……
Cinderella: Don’t tell me you want him as your bodyguard throughout the day?
Yurika: …………
Wizard: …………
Yurika: ……that’s right!
Wizard: That’s how it seems.
Cinderella: What was with that pause!!

Yurika covers her ears, ignoring his last sentence. Wizard approaches her, remarking that he cannot turn down her request. He winks and promises to protect her. Gretel says that he can very well fight off one or two punks, and could even take the day off school by calling in sick. Wizard points out that he can’t since it’s his duty to study. When Kaguya offers to take the day off work, Wizard tells him to be more aware of his role as the poster waiter. There will be many disappointed customers if he takes leave. Akazukin says that he’s the most suited then. But Wizard replies that he’s a police so his duty is to ensure the whole town’s safety, and not just her safety. Cinderella says that he has no choice but to be the bodyguard then. Wizard comments that he has his own job, and that a craftsman’s world is sure tough.

Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: Shirayuki-kun is……
Shirayuki: I’ll be at home.
Wizard: In other words, I’m the most suited to be the bodyguard?
Cinderella: But
Yurika: No buts or ifs.

He falls silent. She observes that it’s time for them to leave, passing them their lunchboxes. Cinderella warns Wizard not to make any moves on him, and the latter notes this with a laugh. And so the brothers disperse into their daily routine. On the way to school, Yurika apologises for the ruckus in the morning. Wizard doesn’t mind this, adding that everyone gets along well. She agrees proudly. However, he adds that her existence also disturbs their relationship.

Yurika: …………
Wizard: Love is a demon which can make people go mad. No matter how smart the person is. But it is not just bad. Love can also make a person stronger. They may be able to change because of your existence. One thing is for certain, your existence is salvation to them.
Yurika: That’s an exaggeration.
Wizard: Is that so? Just as we spoke last night, they carry wounds in their hearts. They need understanding and a deep love.  You have the capacity to understand them, and to embrace everything.
Yurika: ……isn’t time included in it?
Wizard: It’s true that time is needed to heal a heart’s wound. The more time passes by, the new memories formed can make the past memories fade away. But that is only placing the memories somewhere far away, and doesn’t erase the “fact” that those memories were made. And not everyone has the time.
Yurika: Time is limited?
Wizard: That’s right. Time can progress, but not return. You don’t know when people will die. It may be tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.
Yurika: In my case, it is till the next full moon.
Wizard: Yes. That’s why we need to find the culprit before that.
Yurika: …………

He doesn’t intend for her to be killed. Yurika agrees, for it’s because he’s a detective.  He is here to search for the truth, is that why he has to reach out to the depth……what is deep inside a person’s heart? She asks why he started being a detective, and he replies that perhaps it’s because he has a high affinity for it. He basically does anything, doing what he’s told to do so. One may say that it is a mission he has to achieve. It is extremely important, to the extent that it is the reason he is born. So perhaps it is more accurate to say that it is his destiny.

Yurika mulls over this. Her life till now has been very peaceful and stable. Those were irreplaceable happy days, but it is also true that she spent time without any real goal. But the appearance of the five fiances disrupted everything. She thinks that it’s wonderful to have something to risk your life for. Wizard thanks her, adding that it gives worth to what he’s working for. Deep in her thoughts, Yurika recalls how the threat further disrupted her life. It will be simple if she choose someone. But is it really right to walk down a branched path due to an anonymous person? Will something she is willing to risk her life for, be born there?

She nearly trips over something, but fortunately Wizard catches her in time. He advises her to be more wary, to which she acknowledges as their close distance causes her heart to beat faster. She hides this, by remarking that Cinderella will certainly scold if she gets hurt. Wizard chuckles and agrees to this. As he releases her, she thanks him.

Later during her lunch break, Yurika finds Wizard waiting at her usual spot. Ookami recognises him, realising why he’s here. Wizard remarks that he does have something to ask Ookami and Ryoushi. Since Ryoushi isn’t here yet, he starts with Ookami.

Wizard: What is your relationship with lady Arisu?
Ookami: Of course that is……
Yurika: Friends.
Ookami: …………
Yurika: Good friends.
Ookami: I haven’t said anything yet–!!

Ookami himself explains that they knew each other at school. He heard about a cute transfer student and immediately hit on her, only to be rejected because she has someone else she likes. He was shocked to see her walking together with the person she likes later – because he knows that person. It’s none other than Akazukin, his childhood friend. That being said, it was only for 2 months. Ookami was physically weak and came here to live with his grandmother for rehabilitation. He found Akazukin always gazing at the lake, and called out to him. Just when he thought they were getting along, a lot of things happened and he soon had to return to his original home. So they got separated. That was about 6 years ago, around February or March. Unlike the past, he’s a lot better now.

The reason he returned here is because he wanted to meet Akazukin again. He doesn’t really get it, but he’s always been bothered by something. When they played together, Akazukin would sometimes show a painful expression. It was normal till just before, but sometimes Akazukin would look at Ookami uneasily but pretend that it’s nothing. He knows about the other brothers, but isn’t particularly close to any of them. For example, he has never talked to Shirayuki before. In the first place, he never knew that Akazukin had so many brothers before. The information he knows is less than that of Yurika and Ryoushi. Because he is a sub-character, and is only assisting the protagonist.

Wizard: I see. Then lastly, are you the culprit?
Ookami: Yeesss! I am the culprit!
Wizard: Then you’re under arrest.

He handcuffs Ookami, and Yurika plays along. Perplexed, Ookami pleads innocence and Yurika wonders if it’s about time they stop. Wizard considers that he should be guilty till proven innocence. Ookami desperately implores for the opposite. Ryoushi appears, and the younger boy pleads for him to help. However, the older man remarks that he’s noisy so it will do to lock him up for two or three days. Ryoushi ignores him, turning his attention to Wizard. As their conversation progresses, Ookami begs for them to release him. He turns quiet instantly, when Ryoushi threatens to send him to prison.

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Wizard questions Ryoushi this time, confirming that his occupation is a hunter. But Ryoushi specifically explains that he is a therapist, in other words a doctor. The “hunter” is just a play of words on his name. (Note: Therapist 療士, hunter 猟師 and Ryoushi’s name 諒士 in Japanese is all “ryoushi“.) He specialises in psychiatry. He heals the heart. He answers directly that he is Yurika’s blood-related brother. He wonders why Wizard is asking all of this now, and the latter replies that it’s just to make sure. Ryoushi hesitates in his answer when asked why he lives separately from Yurika. The detective asks if he’s being considerate to the five brothers, to which Ryoushi admits that it’s complicated. There are those who bear good will towards him, but also dislike him. So he thinks that it’s better that he distances himself.

The detective then asks what he thinks of a young girl living with men under the same roof. Ryoushi answers that they should exercise moderation, and Wizard chuckles at how he’s a rather understanding brother. Her brother frowns at him, but answers his next question. He knows everything about the five brothers, from their pasts to their profiles. Wizard specifically asks about Shirayuki, referring to how Ookami answered that he only didn’t know the second brother well. Ryoushi says that he hasn’t met him in years. Or rather he cannot, as Shirayuki refuses to. The first time Ryoushi met him, he wasn’t the shut-in he was now. He first met Shirayuki six years ago in spring, the boy was staring at the lake so he called out to him. Wizard recalls that he witness his mother’s death, and her brother confirms this. But it isn’t that simple. Shirayuki was living together with his mother’s corpse, that’s also the reason for him being a shut-in.

A heavy silence follows, till Ryoushi asks if he has discovered the culprit. Wizard has not, though he did speak to all five of her brothers. Honestly, everyone is suspicious, but also not suspicious. In other words, he doesn’t know yet. As the detective shrugs his shoulders, her brother sighs in understanding. He pats Yurika’s head, telling her to try and avoid getting killed.

On the way back home, Yurika expresses her anger at Ryoushi’s actions. Wizard only laughs. It’s not as if her brother isn’t worried about her. While they live apart and are not that close, she’s aware that he’s good at taking care of others. Before she lived with the five brothers, it was her brother who took care of them. She remarks that the world is really small, as she ponders over the word “relationship”. To think that Ookami also knew them. She’s implying that he hid information from his client. Wizard agrees, it’s as if there are only some limited people in this world. It feels as if he deflected her accusation, though she wouldn’t know the truth.

Ookami and Akazukin, Ryoushi and Shirayuki – both have a deep connection. They both knew each other around the same time six years ago – one was during February or March, and the other in spring. Both of them were gazing at the lake, what could they have been doing? The detective suggests heading there, and so the two of them make a small detour to the lake. Yurika observes that the lake has waves too, admitting that she didn’t know. She had always imagined the lake like a mirror. Wizard explains that the breeze stirs up the waves, causing it to spread far and wide. Yurika remarks that it’s no different from the sea. She recalls something from the past. She had wished to travel beyond the horizon when she gazed at the sea back then.

Wizard: But a lake is a lake, and not a sea. It is unlike the sea which connects to the world, and you are unable to go to a far away country.

It’s as if he read her thoughts, and rejected them. Dumbfounded, she stares at him. He chuckles, adding that Shirayuki and Akazukin might have thought that. The two of them might have wanted to go somewhere far away. Perhaps it was escapism, yearning, or curiousity. In that case, the two of them might have disliked the current situation then.

Yurika: ……have you ever thought of wanting to go to a far away country?
Wizard: I have never thought that.
Yurika: Why?
Wizard: Then let me ask you in return. Do you wish to go to a far away country now?
Yurika: No.
Wizard: Why is that the case?
Yurika: That is……

He seals her lips with his finger when she attempts to answer.

Wizard: My feelings and yours are the same. It’s as if we are of one heart.
Yurika: …………

He walks away from her, towards the lake. He asks when she came to the mirror world, and she replies that it was a year and a half ago. That was when she met the brothers. She had been living overseas before that.

Wizard: What is the reason for you coming to the mirror world?
Yurika: That is…………that is……because I wanted to meet.
Wizard: Who?
Yurika: Who……? Who did I…………

(Note: I know that the Japanese says 鏡の国 so “mirror country/land” is more accurate and makes more sense. When I first saw 鏡の国, it reminded me of Wonderland 不思議の国 so it gave me the impression of another world – especially with the prologue’s events. So I translated it was “mirror world” from the first post and kept at it because I wanted to be consistent…even if it makes less sense. ;; Okay, end of my rant.)

I dreamed of you last night again.

???’s POV

Sometimes I would look at the mirror. The world in the mirror is different from this world, and I would be able to see even things I didn’t want to see. I knew that if I reached my hand out, I could go to the other world. But milk in the mirror looked like it tasted bad, and I didn’t feel like going at all. The doctor from that time in the world inside the mirror, called out to me numerous times. I realised what he expected from him, and what he wanted me to do. He eventually gave up when I stubbornly refused to respond, sighing at how it’s a failure. One day, he said that and abandoned my existence. It felt like anger, at how I wasn’t a good kid. Ever since then, he paid less attention to me, and eventually he no longer showed up.

As I gazed at the mirror, I would recall his words. “Defective”, “failure”. Perfectness was expected out of me. But what is perfectness? Being smart, sociable, athletic, skillful……it’s all on the surface, but is it fine to just be more excellent than other people then? In that case, it’s fine to act as “someone” whom others wish for? Then there isn’t a need for “myself” in the first place. If it isn’t needed by anyone, my existence isn’t needed. All of a sudden, something clung to my feet and pulled me into the darkness. I ran frantically in the darkness. I knew the true identity of this darkness. I realised that if I melted into this darkness, I would no longer by myself.

“I will lock you in the mirror house, if you’re not a good child.”

It seemed to say that. And I recalled that I was told something similar, in a not so distant past. I didn’t answer expectations. So I was abandoned and killed.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Yurika wakes up abruptly, as she realises that she’s lying on the bed and against someone else. Her heart is beating wildly and her breathing is heavy, as if she had just ran frantically. She looks up to ascertain the situation, and finds herself in Wizard’s arms. He greets her, and she lets out a yelp. Her heart beats faster as she meets his gaze. Is she still dreaming? This situation is only understandable if they are lovers or this is a dream. The former is impossible since they only just met and they are detective and client. So is this a dream? In that case, was her dream just now reality then? While she is confused, he is extremely calm and observes that her face is pale. He asks if she saw a nightmare and pats her head. His gentle expression and kind gesture, slowly allows her to regain her composure. The recalls the sense of assurance she felt the first time she met him.

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Wizard: ……you’re not running away. Are you not afraid?
Yurika: Eh?
Wizard: No, it’s nothing.
Yurika: …………

When she has calmed down, she asks why he’s here. Wizard smiles, and points out that it’s because she isn’t letting go of him. She realises that she has been clutching to his shirt this whole time, and quickly releases her grip as she apologises. He tells her not to apologise, for he doesn’t dislike being relied upon. From his words, it appeared that he was by her side the whole night. Moreover she doesn’t remember how she got home. Yet she’s on her bed with a change of clothes, and perhaps was the one who dragged Wizard into this situation. Yet he remains unfazed. Yurika feels miserable that she’s the only one this self-conscious, and feels irritated despite the unreasonableness. She clings to him again, and his expression doesn’t change. She notices that he had draped his coat over her, and recognises his consideration. It feels as if she has a glimpse of his personal side, after all this time when she found it hard to understand him.

She mutters that she saw a dream, in which she was killed. She was desperately running away from something in the dark, and was extremely scared. After that, something caught her foot so she fell. The darkness gradually enveloped her and she lost consciousness and her memories. It felt as if she was no longer herself. Wizard remarks that it must have been scary. It’s likely due to the threat she received. He volunteers to call someone so that she can calm down. As he’s about to get up, Yurika pulls him back. She’s fine with him.

Wizard: ……do you hate the idea of choosing one of them so much?
Yurika: …………
Wizard: I understand. I will stay by your side as you wish.
Yurika: ……thank you.

She feels relieved. That somehow surprises her, and makes her hate herself. Unknown to the brothers, she’s lying on the bed with someone else and confiding in him. Is this not an act of betrayal towards the brothers who care for her so much? Yurika continues to confide in him, admitting that she was not afraid of dying. She isn’t sure why. It’s not as if she desires it, nor does she have a pessimistic or philosophical view of the current situation. But since before she would be relentless in her methods in order to achieve her goal. She even did not mind dying for her mission. Perhaps it is like what he had mentioned, an extremely important meaning to her living – a destiny. But the moment she disappeared, she thought that she didn’t want to die like this. Wizard asks if she has regrets over dying without accomplishing anything. She replies that might be the case. She thought of herself as pitiful. She asks him if she is actually fearful of death.

After that, he explains that she suddenly fainted at the lake. The brothers are worried and would take turns to visit her. When she goes to the living-room, the five brothers immediately gather around her and express concern. Yurika smiles and reassures them that she’s alright, apologising for worrying them. This time, they turn their attention to Wizard.

Cinderella: Hey you! Did you do anything weird to her!?
Wizard: Anything weird?
Cinderella: That……you know……
Gretel: To hold down sister while she is sleeping, remove her tights on the pretext of good cause, and to stick your hand underneath her skirt without any reservatiooon!
Cinderella: Calm down–! Gretel!!
Akazukin: Ugh……
Cinderella: Look! Akazukin has fainted!!
Wizard: Ahaha. I won’t recklessly wolf her down like you–.
Gretel: Wha!!
Yurika: …………

Her body relaxes at the usual flow of conversation. As she watches over them, Kaguya whispers that everyone is being considerate towards her. They truthfully want to question her and Wizard about yesterday, but know that she would be troubled. Yurika’s mood darkens as she realises how much they care for her. Kagya asks if she should rest some more, to which she agrees. She looks to where Cinderella and Gretel (who looks like a thug) cornering Wizard. She calls out to the detective, asking him to come with her. At her words, the brothers look at her in surprise with wide eyes and mouth.

Yurika returns to her room with Wizard, who asks if it’s fine. He pities the brothers. She’s aware that she’s in the wrong here, but asks if he dislikes being with her. Wizard denies this, so she remarks that it’s fine as it’s fun with him. It’s despicable of her, but it’s also a way of gaining someone on your side. The detective seems to see through her. She looks around uneasily, and notices that the chess pieces on her table has moved. Wizard admits that he was bored while she was asleep, and played with it. Yurika checks where the pieces are. White rook at G1 and E1, white knight at G3, white pawn at F4, white king at G8. Black rook at D7 and H7, black queen at F6, black knight at G6, black pawn at F5. She sees that it’s a chess mating problem. She takes the white knight in her hand, removing the black rook. She’s somewhat skillful in chess, and challenges Wizard with a confident smile. He obliges with a smile. Both of them sit at opposite sides, as she takes the white and he takes the black.

As he moves his chess pieces, he recalls how two brothers met different people around the same time. Akazukin and Ookami, Ryoushi and Shirayuki. 6 years ago, Shirayuki was 12 years old and Akazukin was 15 years old. Thinking about it, it’s odd that Shirayuki is the second brother when he’s younger than Akazukin. Yurika recalls that her brother should’ve been 23 years old then, and Ookami was 11 years old, the same age as her. Wizard remarks that Akazukin and Ookami are rather far apart in age. From the way they talk, there’s an impression that they are the same age – but they actually are 4 years apart. The detective adds that the siblings’ mother passed away 6 years ago in spring. It’s odd to see how all of these occurred in the same year.

taialiep3w-5

Wizard makes his next move, and calls checkmate. He comments that he’s actually good at chess. Yurika asks for one more match, and he knows that she hates losing so she will keep at it till she wins. His words surprise her. He’s open to rematches, but not at the moment. She’s being targeted, so her case should be resolved first. She can only accept this.

So they go to find Shirayuki to talk about his mother. He answers the door, but frowns the moment he hears the question. It’s a memory he doesn’t want to recall the most, so it’s expected that he would either ignore them or turn them down. However, he glances at them and sighs, asking what they would like to know.

Yurika: What kind of person was Shirayuki-kun’s mother?
Shirayuki: …………a cheerful, innocent, kind lady……who was always dreaming like a girl.
Yurika: She was a wonderful person.
Shirayuki: Yes. Very much…………
Yurika: ?
Shirayuki: Speaking of which……she resembled you a bit.

Not in terms of appearance, but their aura. He’s sure that if they met, they would get along well like a real parent and child. His mother loved princesses like her. Unsure of how to answer, Yurika keeps quiet. Wizard recalls that he knows Ryoushi, and that they met at the lake at night. He asks what was Shirayuki doing then. Shirayuki looks away awkwardly, replying that he was merely gazing at the lake.

Wizard: The lake in the mirror world is famous for being like a mirror which reflects everything symmetrically. What were you thinking, looking at your reflection?
Shirayuki: It doesn’t matter right.
Wizard: You seem to hate your own appearance, is it related to that?
Shirayuki: …………

The pale boy glares at the detective, prompting Yurika to interrupt and apologise. Shirayuki says that there’s nothing for her to apologise, to which Wizard agrees since he was the one who asked the question. He then asks when his mother passed away. Shirayuki is evidently tired of the topic, but the detective remarks that there are a few matters to be clarified.

Shirayuki: Will touching on the secret (forbidden) be for Arisu’s sake?
Wizard: Of course.
Shirayuki: …………

Hearing this, Shirayuki’s expression softens. He recalls that it was probably at the end of March, for it was still chilly. Before he realised it, he was outside that day. Even though his mother told him not to go outside so many times, he broke her promise. The house was lit up inside. Thinking that she was home, he anxiously opened the door. He wondered if his mother would be angry or worried about him – but it was neither. She gazed down at him with cold eyes. Her body was cold, and he immediately realised that his mother was gone. But he couldn’t bring himself to believe that his beloved mother was gone. Perhaps it was his mistake, and she would return one day. While dreaming of that, he lived with his mother like that for a while.

He met Ryoushi after this. He was at his limit then. His beautiful mother gradually turned uglier with each passing day. Time could not be turned back. Unable to withstand it anymore, he left home and met Ryoushi at the lake that night. He thought that Ryoushi would believe him, seeing that he’s a good person. That’s why he confided the truth in Ryoushi. Wizard asks why they no longer meet, if they know each other. Shirayuki thinks that it’s better that way, adding that Ryoushi probably understands why too. It’s fine if other people can feel better, if he bears this painful memory (feeling).

Yurika is confused by what he means, but Wizard comments that it’s a beautiful self-sacrifice. He thanks Shirayuki, but has one last question. He wonders why Shirayuki’s mother told him not to go outside. Why would she shut him inside, if she was kind? After a brief pause, Shirayuki replies that it probably was simply to make her child watch the house at first. But she changed, and grew colder in her attitude towards him. No matter how busy she was at work, she would always hug him when she came back. But he gradually saw less of her, and it soon felt that she was leaving him behind. She seemed really tired. He thought that she was busy with work at first, but realised that it wasn’t just that when he looked in the mirror – he wasn’t her real child.

They visit Akazukin next, who is in the garden. Yurika directly asks him what kind of person his mother was. Akazukin asks if he has to answer, to which Wizard remarks that it’s for Yurika’s sake. Akazukin glances at the both of them, and Yurika can’t help but think that this gesture of the two brothers is rather similar. Akazukin admits that he doesn’t really remember his mother for she hardly came home. If he had to describe, she was a cold person who would neglect her child to prioritise her own convenience. She was busy with selling flowers. His image of his mother is completely opposite from Shirayuki’s. When Yurika tries to raise the different from Shirayuki’s story, Wizard stops her. Akazukin adds that his mother wasn’t hardly at home so she was a distance existence to him. It doesn’t feel real to him, to call someone he hardly saw his mother. He has no memories of his mother being kind or angry towards him.

Wizard changes the topic, asking if he and Ookami are childhood friends who got along well. Akazukin looks surprised, and hesitates before agreeing. He confirms that Ookami approached him first, when he was at the lake by himself. Wizard wonders why he was there, and not at school. Akazukin replies that his mother said it was fine not to. When pressed further for the reason, he pauses and takes time to regain his composure. Wizard gestures to Yurika that it’s fine, and eventually Akazukin continues.

Akazukin: My mother told me. I was a good kid unlike the rest, so I can’t play outside. Everyone else is a wolf. There’s no telling what bad things wolves will do, so to ignore them even if they approach you. When mother is not around, I was to properly watch the house. If anyone comes by, I can’t let them in.
Wizard: But you yearned for the outside world.
Akazukin: ……yes.
Wizard: Despite your promise to your mother not to go outside, you broke it.
Akazukin: Yes……
Wizard: I’m not reproaching you or anything. I think that it’s natural for you to yearn for the outside world. Because normally you would go to school, make friends, and play outside.
Akazukin: …………

The detective proceeds to ask if he knows about his mother passing away. Akazukin looks up in surprise, before hiding under his hood. He slowly recalls that he was playing with Ookami near the lake as always. Then a hunter rushed over and said that Ookami’s grandmother had collapsed, and kept calling out her grandson’s name. As he liked his grandmother a lot, he lied that he was Ookami and went to visit her. He doesn’t recall much after that – what happened to grandmother, or how he got back. Before he realised it, he was in front of his house. It was a rare sight to see the lights switched on inside. Wondering if his mother has returned, he anxiously opened the door. Would she be angry or worried? He opened the doors and saw for himself. She wasn’t angry, nor did she kindly hug him. She gazed down at him with cold eyes, and never came back home again.

Wizard: In other words, your mother died at that moment.
Akazukin: ……I don’t know.
Wizard: Why don’t you know?
Akazukin: I don’t remember. When I realised it, my mother was gone and I……vowed to no longer stray off the path again. But, even then……

He glances at Yurika. Unsure of how to react, she habitually gives a smiles. Wizard thanks him, for he has gotten closer to the truth. He asks one last question, why did his mother not let him go outside. Akazukin eventually answers that it’s because his appearance is different from the rest. But he doesn’t clarify what he means by this.

The two of them return to Yurika’s room to go through the information. To Shirayuki, his mother was kind. To Akazukin, his mother was cold. The impressions are completely opposite. However, Shirayuki’s mother changed all of a sudden, and it seemed to match Akazukin’s impression more so. Moreover, what could Shirayuki mean when he says he isn’t her child? And when Akazukin said that his appearance was different from the rest? Wizard calls out to Yurika, who is lost in thought. She says that she’s listening, and was just thinking about the possible answers. Before she quietly falls back into thought, Wizard suggests asking one more person who has memories of his mother.

Cinderella recalls that his mother was kind and beautiful, and loved shiny things just like him. Wizard asks if his impression of her changes midway, explaining that he heard a lot from Shirayuki earlier. Cinderella sighs at this, agreeing that she did change. After his father disappeared, she started living in a small house in the forest. He found her rather over-protective at first, saying that he is not to leave the house and all. But Cinderella didn’t keep that promise. Perhaps that’s why one day, she suddenly treated him coldly. She looked at him as if he was foreign, almost afraid of him.

But Cinderella thinks that it couldn’t be helped. She had to do a lot of work she wasn’t accustomed to, and was also laden with debt. There was no one to save her. She could only work hard alone. She was tired. His tone is extremely sympathetic, without a hint of hatred or detest. His reaction is completely different from Cinderella and Akazukin. Wizard remarks that he loved his mother. Cinderella acknowledges this, adding with a smile that he doesn’t hate his father either. He’s sure that both of their hearts were just a bit weaker. He fully understands how it feels to want to run away from things you hate.

After this, it’s soon time for dinner. It’s normal for Shirayuki to be absent at mealtimes. Perhaps because of the earlier conversations, both Cinderella and Akazukin are quieter than usual. And both of them quickly return to their rooms. Though they didn’t pursue the matter, Kaguya and Gretel seemed aware of the sensitive situation and quickly leave after finishing. Only Yurika and Wizard are left behind.

Wizard attempts to string everyone’s memories together. Once upon a time, they were a rich family but became laden with debt when their father’s business failed. The father left for overseas, leaving the mother behind to work day and night tirelessly in order to repay the debt. Their mother was a very kind person. But just like how a situation can change a person, she started to treat them coldly. This is where both Cinderella and Shirayuki’s stories connect till. He moves onto Akazukin’s. To Akazukin, his mother was hardly at home and was a cold person. Not wanting to stay at home all the time, he broke her promise. He met Ookami at the lake one afternoon, and they got along well soon and started to play together everyday. One day after playing, he returned home and saw that his mother has truly turned cold.

He moves onto Shirayuki’s. Witnessing the death of his beloved mother, Shirayuki was unable to accept it and couldn’t confide in anyone. He spent his days with his deceased mother for a while. But he was reaching his limit. Unable to withstand his beloved mother decaying with each passing day, he left home and met Ryoushi at the lake at night. He revealed the truth to Ryoushi, and became a shut-in. Wizard remarks that it’s quite a tragedy, and that all the brothers went through a lot. However, there are two brothers without any memories of their parents. Why was Kaguya rotated between relatives’ houses when he had parents? And Shirayuki mentioning that he wasn’t her real child.

Yurika doesn’t answer, for she is the client. Moreover, she doesn’t quite like his dramatic tone. She suggests stopping here, for she’s getting scared. It feels that she will hurt the brothers if she goes any further. However, Wizard coldly points out that the brothers are already hurt. So she is scared of getting hurt herself. He mentioned before that he is planning his next move by correctly getting to know their pain and grief. And it is her role to save them.

Yurika: ……even though I’m the one being targeted?
Wizard: Yes. But there’s still time left.
Yurika: ……what do you know?
Wizard: I wonder, what is it?
Yurika: ………………it’s a pretty roundabout way, but in other words, you wish to say this right? That I should choose.
Wizard: That’s right.
Yurika: ……have you ever liked someone before?
Wizard: I have.
Yurika: Then what about liking multiple people?
Wizard: No. The one I like is only one person.

It feels as though she’s won over him, and Yurika smiles at this. She says that he wouldn’t understand her feelings. To choose just one person, is her pain.

I dreamed of you last night again.

???’s POV

I seemed to be swallowed up by the darkness for a moment, but in the end the darkness wasn’t strong enough to do that. On the flipside, I have become strong enough to not be swallowed up. An isolated existence which no one follows. Being isolated means that you aren’t tied down to anyone, that you are free. And being free means that you aren’t caught by anyone, that you are alone. I am always alone. There are four other people in the darkness besides me. They are all sensitive, carry their own problems, and it’s tiresome to accompany them. I wonder why they are always worrying over insignificant things. I know that happened to them, but I neither sympathise nor side with them. Or do I think this way because I’m a perfect existence?

It was expected of me to integrate them, but I can’t help but think this. If dealing with them is this troublesome, it’s fine to just kill them off. But that can’t be done, so the responsibility is pushed to me alone. Surely if I kill them, no one will blame me. Because no one will be sad even if they disappear. At least, until then.

I always looked at the mirror alone. In the mirror world, the perspectives are always changing. But nothing interests me, nor do I feel attached to anything. Eventually it became troublesome to look in the mirror, and I thought that it would be better to just disappear if I were to feel this way. I focused my attention on the chess board on the table. I know the rules. But I have never played chess with anyone before. One day, “she” suddenly called out to me across the mirror.

Girl: Nice to meet you. My name is………………you know me right? I know you. Hey, won’t you tell me your name?

I ignored her. But she talked to me again the next day.

Girl: I heard from brother. That you know everything. But no one knows you. Everyone thinks that you’ve disappeared. Perhaps they even think that you never existed in the first place. Even though you’re here. Only I know you……hey, can you hear me?
???: …………
Girl: Where are you?

Even I don’t know where I am. The next day, and the following day, she persisted.

Girl: ……do you think that I’m getting annoying? Actually I think so too. But if I wasn’t who I am, I think that I wouldn’t be here. I have someone I like. That person said that he liked me. I hate myself, but I can’t do anything about it…………and he said this to me.
Wizard: I like it. Your jewel-like eyes, and your soft and fluffy hair. Everything is proof that you are you.

I know this already without her telling me. Even if everyone else forgets it, only I remember it. And I probably won’t ever forget it.

Girl: Say, do you know that person?
Wizard: I’m right here.

I unwittingly answered that.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Yurika wakes up in the middle of the night. Feeling uneasy, she leaves her room and after worrying over it, she eventually goes to find Gretel. He’s shocked to see her, but doesn’t refuse her request to sleep together. He makes space for her, asking why she’s here since it’s the first time she’s done this. She replies that she saw a nostalgic dream – before she came to this small town, and when she started living together with everyone.

Yurika: ……say, Gretel-kun.
Gretel: ?
Yurika: Is Gretel-kun………………is Gretel-kun happy now?
Gretel: I’m happy. Sleeping together with my beloved sister in the same futon. Is there anything happier than this?
Yurika: Answer honestly.
Gretel: …………
Yurika: …………
Gretel: ……I’m not happy. I thought that you coming here means that you’ve chosen me, but I’m wrong right?
Yurika: ……Yes.

He sighs loudly, calling her cruel. He asks if she thinks she can get away with a mere apology, but she knows that he has a soft spot for her. Gretel turns his back towards her, remarking that he likes her. He wants her to choose him, that way she won’t die. He’s sure his brothers are thinking the same thing too. But she likes everyone, and he wonders why they fell for such a person. With a wry smile, he turns around and flicks her forehead.

Gretel: It’s sister’s fault for being so charming. You give us what we desire. There’s no reason we won’t fall for you, living with such a person. But sister can’t split into five.
Yurika: ……that’s right.
Gretel: And we don’t want your equal love.
Yurika: That’s right.
Gretel: Sister. I want you to look at me only, to love me. Everyone wishes from the bottom of their hearts for you to choose them. I also want sister to choose me……
Yurika: …………

He will do anything if she chooses him. He will work hard in his studies and sports so as to be suitable for her, and also be wary of his blunt attitude. Surely everyday will be happy if she chooses him. But sometimes he wonders what will happen to his brothers if she chooses him. If she chooses someone else, he may go crazy with jealously. It will be hopelessly painful and sad. He will be irritated at her, but he knows that it can’t be helped. He likes his brothers. They’re annoying and make him angry, but he doesn’t hate them. When Yurika remarks that he’s soft on his brothers, he hits her head.

Gretel: I want to be chosen by sister. But it’s up to sister to choose. I think that’s probably the fairest. In a story where one girl loves multiple men at the same time.

He smiles teasingly, and he will forgive her for now since she chose him today. She thanks him.

The next morning, Yurika slips away while Gretel is still sleeping and heads to the living-room. She greets Wizard, who is already sitting on the sofa. She’s about to wear the apron, but stops and asks if he’s found the culprit yet. He hasn’t, and asks in return if she will choose someone. This was mentioned yesterday too. Three days has passed since Wizard came. There are still two more days till the next full moon. She closes her eyes and carefully considers – who does she think of, and what should she do.

>> Choose: Who will you choose as your fiance?
(Note: If you don’t choose anyone, skip to that option below to keep reading.)

a. Cinderella: Wizard smiles at her answer, commenting that Cinderella is unexpectedly steadfast and will surely make her happy. She’s saved now, so his job is over. Yurika thanks him for everything, but he points out that it was her who made the decision. He wishes for her happiness. After that, Yurika finds the right time to tell Cinderella the news. He’s taken aback by the abrupt confession, for he never thought that she would choose him. He’s very happy, but he’s sorry for he can’t make her happy.

b. Shirayuki: Wizard smiles at her answer, commenting that Shirayuki is rational and smart and will surely make her happy. She’s saved now, so his job is over. Yurika thanks him for everything, but he points out that it was her who made the decision. He wishes for her happiness. Yurika finds the right time to tell Shirayuki the news. His eyes waver, for he can’t make her happy.

c. Akazukin: Wizard smiles at her answer, commenting that Akazukin is serious and will surely make her happy. She’s saved now, so his job is over. Yurika thanks him for everything, but he points out that it was her who made the decision. He wishes for her happiness. Yurika finds the right time to tell Akazukin the news. He looks at her in surprise, but soon looks down and takes a step back. He apologises. He’s happy, but he isn’t suitable for her. He can’t make her happy.

d. Kaguya: Wizard smiles at her answer, commenting that Kaguya is kind to women and will surely make her happy. She’s saved now, so his job is over. Yurika thanks him for everything, but he points out that it was her who made the decision. He wishes for her happiness. Yurika finds the right time to tell Kaguya the news. He laughs, before apologising with a serious expression. He’s honoured by his feelings, but he can’t make her happy.

e. Gretel: Wizard smiles at her answer, commenting that Gretel has a lot of issues, but he will do anything to make her happy. She’s saved now, so his job is over. Yurika thanks him for everything, but he points out that it was her who made the decision. He wishes for her happiness. Yurika finds the right time to tell Gretel the news. She thought that he would happily accept it, but his reaction is unexpected. He apologises. He’s very happy that she chose him, but he can’t make her happy.

After being turned down, she wanders aimlessly. She was met with an unexpected response. Why didn’t her feelings reach him? Even though everyone kept telling her to choose. Before she realises it, she’s wandering in a pitch black world. It is the same scenery wherever she walks. She has lost track of time and direction. If she stops breathing and walking, perhaps all she’ll hear is the sound of her heart beating. She recognises this as a dream. Perhaps she feels somewhat relieved at this. A beautiful blonde boy appears before her. She feels as if she’s met him before. He remarks that it’s only natural for he knows her, and it shouldn’t be weird for her to know him too. Yurika apologises, for she can’t recall even though it feels very important. The boy witnessed everything, laughing at how she was turned down.

???: It’s only natural that you were rejected. Put your hand against your ridiculously large chest and think about it. Or is that it? You’re a typical gravure idol who is empty and all of your nutrition intake went to your chest? Will you say “I don’t know~”? The moment you say that, I’ll hit your empty head with all of my might.
Yurika: ……it’s not good to judge a person’s capabilities by their chest size alone you know?
???: Hmph. Well those girls also act like a stupid character going “I don’t know~” because it’s asked of them. Thinking that way, those girls also did use their heads and probably living rather shrewdly. And so, you should also show your intelligence.
Yurika: ……………………because he didn’t like me?
???: It’s a bit different, it’s not that they don’t like you. You were rejected because he didn’t desire you from the bottom of his heart. You can also say that you weren’t needed. You should also know this. Despite how they appear, all of them bear deep wounds. Do you think that they can make others happy in that situation? Even though they themselves are not happy, can they share happiness with others? It’s impossible. Their hearts have no room for that. What they want isn’t love, but salvation.
Yurika: Salvation……
???: Infinite and unconditional love.
Yurika: Isn’t that a god.
???: Then abandon your humanity and become a god. In the first place, you have a condescending attitude. Deep down you probably thought that you were doing them a favour right? I know that you’re pretty capable, but you are overly self-conscious. They’re not idiots either. They’ve long seen through you.
Yurika: ……then would it have been better for me not to choose anyone?
???: I don’t know that either. Because I’m no god. But I can say this for sure. If you’re aiming for a happy end with him, you need to solve his heart’s problem.
Yurika: ……but I thought that it will be resolved by becoming lovers. My problem should have been solved……
???: It’s not. You did choose him, but he rejected you. If it ends without it being requited, it’s a bad end.
Yurika: ……then what should I do?
???: Think for yourself. You empty-headed sukaponta! ……is what I would like to say, but I’ll provide you a special service since you’ve come this far.
Yurika: Thank you very much.
???: You will eventually learn. What your existence is in this world, what their existences are in this world. When everything comes to light, you may be sad. You may be in grief. But be rest assured. If you ever lose your way, I will save you.
Yurika: You will save me? Because we’re acquainted? Say, who are you?
Alice: I’m Alice.
Yurika: Alice-kun?
Alice: Yes, that’s right. Goodbye, Arisu.

(Note: Sukaponta means idiot, stupid, used by some villains in a very old anime Time Bokan.) Yurika is met with a pair of amber eyes, as Wizard calls out to her. She can’t recall what she was doing. Seeing her reflection in his eyes, she leaps backwards and he apologises. It feels as though she saw a dream, of her confessing to the person she liked and being rejected. It’s strange as she was conversing with Wizard normally just a while ago. The smile from his face disappears, and she struggles to find something else to talk about. She recalls that he had someone he likes, and asks what sort of person she is.

Wizard: She was a person who hated to lose, and would resort to any means to win.
Yurika: I may get along well with her.
Wizard: I suppose so. She was someone who said that she liked me. I didn’t know myself well, and couldn’t help it……she told me this. If you have nothing. I will give you myself. In exchange, let me have you. You are mine. You will realise all of my wishes and orders.
Yurika: She sounds just like a queen.
Wizard: That’s true. But I was happy. She gave me, a minor part, a role. I’m hers.

>> Don’t choose anyone: There’s no need to be anxious, for there are still two days left. She thinks that she can just search for the truth till then. She’s relying on him, because she doesn’t want to choose. She will be saved if she chooses someone – no one will benefit from this. Wizard remarks that the chosen person will benefit. The other four will be pitiful, but they will obediently withdraw. They can find their happy end in another story with someone else. It’s embarrassing, but she doesn’t like that idea. She knows that she’s selfish. It’s not sincere to have multiple people you like, even though they only like her alone. She recalls that he had someone he likes, and asks what sort of person she is.

Wizard: She was a person who hated to lose, and would resort to any means to win.
Yurika: I may get along well with her.
Wizard: I suppose so. She was an unfair person. I didn’t know myself well, and couldn’t help it……she told me this. If you have nothing. I will give you myself. In exchange, let me have you. You are mine. You will realise all of my wishes and orders.
Yurika: She sounds just like a queen.
Wizard: That’s true. But I was happy. She gave me, a minor part, a role. With this, I was completely hers.

(Back to common route)

Wizard: I will resort to any means to realise all of her wishes and orders.
Yurika: Wizard is masochistic.
Wizard: Haha. It’s the first time I’m told that, but perhaps.
Yurika: Are you still together with her?
Wizard: No. We’re not.

She blinks in surprise, for she had expected the opposite. He confesses that he still likes her, though he isn’t sure about how she feels. They embrace each other sometimes, but that isn’t love. Yurika bluntly questions if they have sex even if there’s no love, and quickly regrets her words. He remarks that if the heart isn’t filled, the fastest way is through the body. She doesn’t quite understand, for she wouldn’t want to give herself to someone she doesn’t love. Wizard confirms that she didn’t love him, for she had someone else she loved. In other words, he’s eternally in an unrequited love. But he doesn’t find it painful, for both his heart and body are filled with her. He realises something, and smiles wryly that perhaps he’s really masochistic.

Two days left till the next full moon. They walk in the opposite direction from her school, on their way to question Kaguya. Wizard plans to continue piecing together everyone’s memories. Kaguya’s is probably the latter half. Both Kaguya and Gretel’s circumstances are special. Their ages aren’t that far apart from the eldest brother, so why were they were taken in and raised by other families unlike the other three? Thinking about it, it is weird. Why did she not notice this straight away, even that alone feels off.

However, she doesn’t feel up for it. It’s true that this may be necessary to save them. Time and proper treatment is needed. More time may be needed if the wound is very deep. And it may become a scar if it is too late. But it hurts to see them in pain, when touching on their wounds. Because they’re people she loves. What they’re doing now is not even treating them, only hurting them. It’s unfair of her to say this though, when she has hurt them aplenty already.

So Wizard suggests for her to do the questioning this time, and he’ll keep quiet. Yurika looks at him with her jaws dropping, before asking if he’s abandoning his duty. He denies this, it’s just that his words will only cut them. She asks if he’s implying for her to personally hurt them instead. He smiles teasingly, saying that it’s up to her. They reach a retro-looking cafe, which she finds strangely familiar. But it’s not as if it’s in her memories. Wizard remarks that it’s only natural since this is where Kaguya works. Surely she visited it before. She hesitantly agrees. A hazy feeling that something is amiss spreads within her. As if she’s lost in Wonderland.

I dreamed of you last night again.

???’s POV

Several days have passed since she started talking to me. As always, she has no intentions of stopping. Feeling somewhat interested in her, I tried laying out a trap. She widened her eyes as she was about to talk to me. I smiled, speaking in kansai dialect. I secretly snickered as she recognised me as Kaguya. It was my first time imitating. But having observed his every movement through the mirror, I’m more familiar with him than anyone else. Yurika changed her tone accordingly.

As I waited for her, I spotted the chessboard. With a glance, I could tell that it’s a chess problem in which white could win in 11 steps. But it was a little different from what I knew. The black queen was removed from the chess board when it shouldn’t. I returned the black queen to its correct position. Just then, someone knocked and I quickly looked back at the textbooks. Seeing me yawn, Yurika offered her lap for me to sleep on. As she stroked my head, she asked how long I planned to imitate. Thankfully, I kept my composure and asked what she was talking about. She dismissed it with a small smile.

Perhaps she realised it. Finding it interesting, I appeared before her more often so as to test if she really knew. It was like a game. Being starved of a challenger till now, I was completely absorbed in it. One night, Yurika snuck inside while I was sleeping. I acted like Cinderella, however she soon pointed out that I was too weak in my reaction.

Wizard: ……why do you know?
Yurika: I wonder why? And why do you imitate?
Wizard: ……is it unacceptable?
Yurika: It’s Akazukin-san this time.
Wizard: Even though no one noticed, only you noticed my true identity.
Yurika: I know. No matter how much you pretend, you are you.
Wizard: …………

I felt annoyed at her last statement. No one knew about my existence. Yet for her to act like a know-it-all. Just then, she noticed that the chess pieces were different. She was pleasantly surprised, and remarked that I’m surprisingly honest. I had not realised that she deliberately made a mistake. In other words, this was her trap. I felt horrible, so she suggested a challenge to erase that feeling. Yurika said that she can’t guarantee if I wouldn’t feel worse though. While we were playing, I kept imitating (Shirayuki). I wasn’t being stubborn. I just didn’t know who I was.

Yurika: ……say, what sort of place is the world you’re usually in?
Wizard: It’s dark and there’s nothing.
Yurika: Even yourself?
Wizard: No, only I’m glowing.
Yurika: I see. Is it sad?
Wizard: ……I wonder. I don’t know.
Yurika: I see. Then all the more I wouldn’t know.
Wizard: Because you’re not me.
Yurika: Yes……

She looked into a distant, away from the chess board. I thought that she sure had the cheek the confidently challenge me with that attitude, as I checkmated her.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Kaguya greets them, wondering if they’re on a date. She looks towards Wizard before denying it. Kaguya wonders what that pause was, and she dismisses it as his imagination. His emotionless voice scares her, even when he says that he knows that she’s here with Wizard to solve the case – to the extent of skipping school. Yurika can only let out a dry laugh. Kaguya shrugs, and shows them to a table. Even though the cafe has been open for a while, they’re the only customers. She observes that the furniture is rustic – it’s as if they’ve slipped into Taisho era. Strangely, all of these don’t feel new to her. Why does it feel as though she knows this place? Kaguya takes their order of two coffees, before disappearing behind.

Yurika: …………
Wizard: ……are you imitating me?
Yurika: You’re wrong. I just felt like drinking coffee too.
Wizard: I see.
Yurika: …………

Wishing to get back at him, she wonders if they look like they’re on a date. He remarks that they’re of suitable age. When she points out that he has someone he likes, he returns her comment back to her. The smiles disappears from her face. It’s true. So it’s wrong of her to be this self-conscious of him. Wizard asks if she’s curious about him and the person he loves. She admits this, but doesn’t know the reason why. She can’t help but be curious, ever since he appeared. He seemed to see through her feelings, replying that it may be because he’s devoted to one person. They are complete opposites. Yurika notes his words, somehow envying the person he loves for he doesn’t look away at other women like her at all.

She learns that he’s never gone on a date with her before. He lived together with her, and mainly interacted with her over chess. It sounds like an adult relationship to her. Then again, she’s also living with the five brothers. Wizard shares that she was strong in chess, but he’s stronger. So he may have let his guard down, for the tables were turned all of a sudden one day. As he mentioned before, she hates losing and would resort to any means to win. So she did play unfair. The detective asks what would she do. Yurika mulls over this, suggesting that she would distract him and turn the chess board around. He chuckles, commenting that they’re really similar.

Wizard: Speaking of which, you may be the first.
Yurika: What is it?
Wizard: To go on a date like this.
Yurika: …………

She widens her eyes, before looking away and repeating his words in a whisper. In other words, he recognises this as a date. It then strikes her that they could’ve just waited for Kaguya to come home to ask him. Why did they come all the way here?

Wizard: So you noticed?
Yurika: I just noticed. Why did you purposely……
Wizard: I wanted to bring you out.
Yurika: Eh…………

Kaguya timely returns with their coffee. He also serves Wizard chazuke, saying that it’s on the house as they’ve been in his care. Yurika notes that it’s that bubuzuke custom and he’s actually politely asking Wizard to leave. And the coffee is black – black Kaguya has arrived. Wizard merely thanks him, and drains the coffee. Kaguya shrugs and asks what they would like to know for the rush hour isn’t here yet. She checks and sees that they’re really the only customers, asking if he’s the only one working here. When he confirms this, she asks if it isn’t tough and wonders where the owner is. Kaguya answers that the owner is her father. She’s surprised. So this means that the cafe is owned by her father. She glances at Wizard, who remains quiet. She decides to focus on her original purpose, leaving her other question for later.

She asks how he came to know his brothers, recalling that he was happy when he knew about them. Who told him, and where? Yurika tried to phrase it as nicely as possible. But the observant Kaguya sees what she’s implying, and says that he heard it from Ryoushi. He isn’t referring to her brother though. She realises that he’s talking about the occupation, a doctor. Kaguya shares that a lot of things happened in the fifth house which took him in. After he ran away, he was in a white room before he realised it. He couldn’t remember who he was or what he was doing, except for his own name. That was when he met the doctor, who said that he was part of five brothers who were all in pain like him. He was told that they were his friends, and wouldn’t bully him. He was told to try talking to them once. He decided to do so, and went to the place the doctor told him.

It was a pitch black world and he couldn’t see anything. It was the same scenery everywhere he went. He lost track of time and all sense of everything. But for some reason, he could see himself. After walking for some time, he saw three other people. That’s when he first met his brothers – Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin. Gretel wasn’t there yet. After they introduced themselves, they talked about their situation and what to do next. They had nowhere to go, and no one to rely on. In any case, they decided to listen to the doctor who let them meet. They remained at his place where they didn’t have to worry about food. There was no entertainment, but it was fun to talk with his brothers. Speaking of which, her brother was there at first too. Her brother was still in training though.

The doctor was very kind towards them at first. But each time they met, he grew more brusque. After a while, he no longer appeared before them. They thought that they were abandoned again. Everyone leaves their side. From what he heard, it seems that they were all born with such a fate. And then her father took them in next. Distant relatives, and even the doctor abandoned them. So they couldn’t understand why a stranger would take them in. Cinderella rejected the offer on their behalf. Then a lot happened, and they became her fiances. That’s when they first met their youngest brother, Gretel. Just then, a group of female customers enter. Yurika thanks him, and he narrows his eyes as if looking at something bright. He takes the chance to thank her for accepting them, on behalf of his brothers.

(Note: Kaguya and the other characters keep calling the doctor “Ryoushi” which is “hunter” in Japanese. It’s rather confusing since it can also refer to Yurika’s brother, Ryoushi. As such I’m keeping it as “doctor”, so you know whom I’m referring to.)

On the way back, Wizard asks if she has come to understand them. By correctly getting to know their pain and grief, the next step is to heal them. She should think what she can do for them, and act on it. She can offer warm words, or even risk her life. Once she understands them, she should know what is the right thing to do. Before he tells her to choose one of them first, Yurika questions if she really understands them. She may know what happened to them. But it’s just an overview (synopsis) and doesn’t actually delve into their true heart (story). The detective muses over this, suggesting that she should choose one of them then. By narrowing down to one person, she can gradually reach out to his heart. He forms a gun with his hands, aiming at her heart. He asks if she would like to choose someone.

>> Choose: If you choose anyone the same scene of them rejecting her will repeat. After that –
The screen turns white, and Yurika stumbles as she feels dizzy. Wizard asks if she’s alright for she’s been in a daze quite often. She smiles, insisting that she’s fine. She asks if this world is reality, and he comments that it’s a weird question. What is this world if it isn’t reality? She replies that it’s a dream. Perhaps because she’s gone around asking questions, her memory is kind of mixed up. It feels like a dream, even though she’s awake. She’s looking at her own memories, but there also seems to be a mix of things not from her own perspective. Like she’s looking at herself. Wizard asks if he’s inside the dreams too. Even though he’s gazing at her, it’s as if he’s looking at someone else deep inside. She says that she does. Rather, everyone she saw might have been him.

>> Don’t choose: Wizard looks fed up, but she suggests meeting the doctor before he can say anything else. He frowns, asking what she plans to ask. Yurika says that she’s bothered by how the doctor changed midway too, just like how Cinderella, Shirayuki and Akazukin’s mother changed. But the doctor is still alive. She thinks that perhaps her brother will know where he is. Wizard coldly remarks that he wouldn’t be useful. This surprises her, and he quickly softens his tone. But he hesitates in explaining the reason.

(Back to common route)

Just then, he spots a cat. Yurika excitedly calls out to her, but it doesn’t move. He makes an attempt, and the cat approaches him, purring while being stroked. She’s amazed, for cats are known to be guarded. Moreover this one seems to be a stray. When she tries to touch it, she gets scratched instead. As advised by her, he pats it. He doesn’t know why he’s being favoured, since he didn’t do much. He wonders what is good about cats, and she replies that they’re graceful, fickle and surprisingly have deep attachment. They also seem to sensitive to people’s feelings and thoughts. They will open up to you if they deem that you aren’t an enemy. In other words, Wizard must be a good person since the cat favours him. He reckons that she must have a bad personality then, since the cat dislikes her. She points out that she never once claimed otherwise. However, he observes that her fiances all see her as a saint.

Yurika says that she’s putting on a pretence. She isn’t faking it, she’s merely hiding a bit of her true personality. After all, she’s a girl liked by multiple men. She places a finger against a lips, while winking. Of course, she’s condemning herself. To her surprise, he pats her head. She lets out a surprised yelp, scaring the cat away. Yurika apologises, but he remarks that it’s fine – the cat is gone, but she’s here. His words sound like he’s hitting on her, but she stops herself from saying so aloud. He explains that she looked as if she wanted to be patted. He finds her just like a cat, asking if she likes this. She’s well-aware that she’s blushing, and admits that she doesn’t dislike it. Wizard continues to pat her head.

Yurika: ………………I still think that she liked you. You said that you didn’t know if she loved you.
Wizard: Is that so?
Yurika: After all, you’re a very charming person, enough to be favoured by a cat.
Wizard: ………………you got me.
Yurika: ?

He stops patting her, and stands up. She shades her eyes from the sunlight as she looks up.

Wizard: Lady Arisu.
Yurika: Yes.
Wizard: The talk about putting a pretence, actually I’m also putting up a pretence. Do you wish to strip it away?
Yurika: ……if I can.
Wizard: What a bold person. Then shall we go and meet him. The doctor.

He takes her arm and pulls her up. (Note: In Japanese, “to put up a pretence”is literally “to wear a cat”. So it was a play on words with the appearance of the cat. A similar English expression is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.)

I dream of you.

???’s POV

I asked if she’s still persisting. Ever since I won in chess, she’s been asking for a rematch each time we meet. Yurika shared that she hates losing. It’s something I never knew before.

Yurika: Right? I’ve been putting on a pretence.
Wizard: What does it mean?
Yurika: You don’t know? To hide your true nature and act good-tempered. To pretend that you don’t know when you do. You’ve been pretending till now too right?
Wizard: …………
Yurika: We’re similar aren’t we.
Wizard: ……perhaps.

For the first time since I was born, I smiled.

Back to Yurika’s POV

She is filling up a question sheet at the reception. The subject, the symptoms, when the symptoms occurred and so on. The next page asks for more details about your situation, as well as what you’d usually think. Questions which seem to be analysing your personality. All this makes her aware of what sort of place this is. Yurika asks if they can really meet Ryoushi by doing this, and Wizard says that his investigation shouldn’t be wrong. She remarks that he really knows everything, but he corrects her – he knows everything except her heart for he isn’t her. She giggles at this. That implies that you wouldn’t know anyone else’s hearts. He recalls having said that if you don’t know your own heart, there’s no way you’d know others. Yurika thinks that you can at least imagine how they feel. After all, humans share common emotions. That’s why you don’t do what you hate to others, and are sensitive to people’s feelings by changing how you approach them. But he thinks that it’s only limited to one’s imagination.

Wizard: All existences……especially humans are lonely the moment they are born. There’s no way you can understand a person’s heart by answering questions written on a scrap of paper.

He snatches the question sheet and rips it into pieces.

Yurika: ……if you can’t understand a person’s heart, then I will never understand the pain and grief of the person I love?
Wizard: Normally, that is the case. But you can. And painfully so.
Yurika: Wizard-san. You are……

The doctor calls for her, so they enter the room to meet a bespectacled man in his 50s. She says that she has something to ask him. But she’s overwhelmed with uneasiness and her heart beats faster. Nothing has been done, yet she’s feeling irritated and teary-eyed. She apologises, giving the excuse she’s feeling nervous. When the doctor asks for the reason, her mind goes blank. She struggles to find an answer, but can’t. She feels like escaping from the cold gaze.

He changes the question. He notes from the sheet that she’s been in a daze rather often, and will realise later that time has passed. Yurika acknowledges this in a trembling voice. He asks when did this start. She doesn’t know. But since before she should always be inside her home, yet somehow she finds herself standing outside and a stranger is talking to her. But the stranger knows her. She relaxes, adding that it feels like she’s dreaming. She’s awake, yet sometimes she experiences fantasies which appear real. Even though it’s not real, she feels like crying and her chest tightens up. It feels like she’s looking at her memories, but perspectives’ of someone else’s are mixed in too. She’s looking at herself in a dream. (Note: She uses “boku” to refer to herself in the last line. Even though she usually uses “watashi”.)

The doctor confirms that she will find herself in unfamiliar places before she realises it, and that she’s hurt too. He asks for her hand, hitting it lightly. He confirms that she feels the pain. The doctor continues to ask how other people see her. Has she been told that she’s like a different person? In a dark doorway or in a place where she can’t reach, is there someone peeking at her? Is there a black shadow behind her? Yurika wonders why he knows this.

The scene switches to a bedroom. The sound of a glass breaking, and someone screaming. Yurika asks what’s wrong, and sees that the person is hurt. She has to treat the injury at once.

???: Arisu……who exactly am I?
Yurika: Eh?
???: Right now, there’s someone who isn’t me inside the mirror……I was myself at first. But when I realise it, I have changed into someone who isn’t me. My face doesn’t reflect in the mirror. There is someone who is similar but also not similar to me there. Someone who isn’t me told me this. That he likes you. That was when I realised. Surely someone who isn’t me, wants me to leave. And after I’m gone, he wants to live as me and become happy with you.
Yurika: …………
???: I’m scared…………I’m scared. Someone who isn’t me exists, and sometimes uses my body to pretend to be me. And when I’m myself, he would peek at me from the darkness. Arisu……am I myself? I have no confidence……after all, isn’t that right? Who can prove that right now I’m the real me? Someone who thinks that I’m not me, may be the real me instead.
Yurika: ……I’m on your side. Even if you deny yourself, I’ll approve of you. I love you.
???: Arisu………………I’m sorry. I don’t even know if those words are really directed at me. I……can’t even believe in your love.

Arisu. I still can’t forget the hurt look on your face.

The doctor asks if Yurika is alright, she was in a daze. She sighs while answering that she is fine. How many times does this make? She’s awake but would experience a fantasy that seems real. A daydream. Narcolepsy. Or rather, it’s something which feels more unrealistic and floating. As if she’s in a dream. The doctor asks what she wants to know, thinking that she’s a client. Yurika introduces herself as Ryoushi’s sister. He recognises the name instantly, asking if he should call Ryoushi. She says that she’s here to ask about Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin and Kaguya instead. His expression changes, as he confirms that they did come here before. She wants to know why they came here, to a place which deals with the heart.

He answers that it’s obviously because they were his patients. Her heart grows uneasy at the mention of it. But thinking about it, it’s obvious. The doctor first heard about them, when the children’s home he belonged to contacted him. He would repeatedly escape from the children’s home. Each time he was brought back, for some strange reason he would not remember it at all. These cases aren’t unusual. Usually children would lie so that the adults pay attention to them. But he was different. An easy way to identity would be his use of words. Sometimes he would suddenly speak in kansai dialect, or speak arrogantly, or not speak at all. Moreover, his capabilities, habits, likes, knowledge all change so much that it’s incomprehensible. His aura was even different, like a different person.

Hearing this, the doctor instinctively knew that he had brothers. He brought him over here immediately to talk to him. He didn’t seem to know that he had brothers. But the doctor was certain that he saw that he had brothers. The doctor met Cinderella, Akazukin and Kaguya. At first, he thought that there were only four brothers. But later he realised that there was one more – Shirayuki. He was a special case, and heard about him from Yurika’s brother. It was a coincidence that Ryoushi knew him. As he talked to the brothers, it seemed that some of them weren’t aware that they had brothers. He proposed that they meet their brothers once to talk things out. By having them meet each other, they could sort out their situation and decide on their future approach. They each have their own personalities though, so he isn’t sure if things would go well or not. But the situation didn’t turn dangerous, and they came to a compromise.

At the end of their discussion, they were taken in by the doctor.  He had tried to do everything he could for them. They were all young who should be filled with dreams and hope. But because he had his brothers, it was very difficult for him to live. At this rate, he would surely be crushed. That alone, should be avoided. The doctor talked to them, guaranteeing their safety be it physically, mentally, or socially. He built trust. He probably approached them more passionately than he did towards any other patient. He felt strongly that none of them were perfect. They each only had their own memories, and were each deeply wounded. He tried to treat them individually. But their hearts remained trapped in darkness.

The doctor grew anxious. His symptoms didn’t get worse, nor did it get better. It would be good if there was someone among them who could integrate the rest. But he couldn’t expect that. The eldest brother Cinderella would be the most suitable, but he had his own problems too. The next candidate is Shirayuki, but he was fast asleep. So the doctor created another brother. A perfect existence who has no problems in terms of intelligence or sociability, with memories of all of the brothers, and can endure all of the pain. The doctor used hypnotism to speak to his inner consciousness, and succeeded in creating the sixth brother. But it was a failure. The sixth brother was an empty shell with no emotions, hearing or vision.

Lastly, Yurika asks why he left them. He sighs, answering that he was tired. It’s usual to witness a patient’s suicide or them acting violent. They need to approach the patients, while avoiding being chased out of the room. He could confront all this with all he had when he was young, but not at this age. He did his best, but couldn’t save them all. Along the way, he started to think that it’s because he was powerless, that his patients couldn’t recover. He knows that it’s weird. It’s his role to save a patient’s heart, yet he wishes for someone to save him.

It’s completely dark as they head back home. Yurika remarks that the sixth brother can’t be Gretel. Gretel only met the other brothers after he came to her house. Wizard agrees softly, as if it was someone else’s matter. It’s almost her time limit, but strangely he doesn’t appear anxious or uneasy. Thinking about it, he never showed any interest in her from the start. Perhaps to him, she is but a mere pawn which he can easily throw away.

Yurika: It’s the first time I knew. Cinderella and Shirayuki, Akazukin and Kaguya. To think that Gretel-kun had other brothers……there are actually seven brothers. Then where are the remaining two brothers?
Wizard: I wonder.
Yurika: ……you will evade the topic at any means.

She stops in her tracks, gazing at the distant back in front of her. As a pawn, she can only move forward. The doctor may have been dodging the topic of the sixth brother too. Wizard turns around, revealing a mysterious smile. Once more Yurika asks about the girl he likes, his reason for liking her. It’s persistent of her, but she can’t help but be curious. She wants to know what sort of person would fall for a strange person like him. She requests for him to share the reason he still loves her now. Sensing her determination, Wizard sighs and replies her.

Wizard: ……she gave me a role. Only she needed me. She saved me, an existence on the verge of disappearing. That’s all there is to it. Even if that was a calculative move as she was after my abilities, and she had other motives, I didn’t mind at all. Even if she no longer needs me after she fulfills her goal, I will accept that. I don’t mind even being killed by her. I’m fine if I die for her. That’s my love for her.
Yurika: ……that’s blind devotion. I’m envious of her. To be loved by someone willing to risk his life.

The word “loyalty” appears in her mind. She asks if he wishes to meet her. He answers that he does, but he can’t. They’re separated by his rivals in love. He says this with a playful expression, but she can see the glimmer in his eyes. But he quickly switches the topic, pointing out that the day is tomorrow. He asks if she has found her resolve. Yurika remains quiet while walking again, so he sees that she hasn’t. He has no idea who the culprit is either. She passes by him, taking out the letter from his pocket. She wonders how the culprit felt sending this. Wizard reckons that the culprit wanted her to hurry up and decide.

She thinks that perhaps the culprit had no merit in this from the start. The culprit may send it because he/she wants a certain response, not because he/she wants something. Perhaps he/she was doing just as told by the person he/she likes. Wizard notes that the person has no autonomy then. Yurika points out that it may be the characteristic. She looks up at him, wondering if she’s reflected in his eyes. What would the culprit think, if he kills her? When he shrugs, she asks what he would feel – if it were him. Wizard pauses, before remarking that he may find it pitiful. Not that he would understand how a murderer feels. Yurika feels relieved to hear this. She thinks that she can find an answer before tomorrow night. He advises her to think through carefully, for there is still time. They return, and she sinks in her own thoughts with what little time there is left.

I’ve been dreaming of you.

???’s POV

One day, she pushed me to explain what triggered the other personalities to appear, and what the circumstances were. She listened to me from start to end without interrupting. Her eyebrows would quiver sometimes, but she never cried nor trembled from anger. I found this unexpected. I knew how she felt favourable towards them, so I thought that she would break down in tears. After I finished, she let out a small sigh. Yurika thanks me for telling her in detail. Now she can understand his heart even a bit better.

Wizard: I was merely answering your questions.

As always, I kept pretending. A cat was surprisingly comfortable, and I started to think that it may be possible to keep pretending. Yurika remarked with a smile that she’s happy that I responded. But her expression soon turned mellow.

Yurika: ……isn’t it painful for you?
Wizard: Why?
Yurika: Because you possess all the memories right?
Wizard: I guess.
Yurika: Even though you possess all the memories……of which others wish to disappear from all the pain and sadness, but you seem to think nothing of it.
Wizard: That’s of course. Because I was told to become like that.

A character numb to pain. Who won’t be hurt no matter what. Perhaps that is why I don’t find them pitiful. It may be natural, because I was akin to being ordered to kill.

Yurika: ……by who?
Wizard: The doctor who made me. He would remember almost every memory of all the personalities. And completely different from the rest. He would have no problems in terms of intelligence or sociability. He should be the most suitable as the original personality. That’s why…………

I was at a loss of words as I saw her crying. I forgot to imitate for a moment, and asked why she was crying. She replied that I was too pitiful. Even though I don’t know pain, she seemed to know my pain. After that, after the other personalities have slept, I would sneak out of the mirror world to meet her. At first it was because I often won in chess, she would challenge me again each time, and that became a reason to meet again the next day. That day, she was clearly down. Even when playing chess, she didn’t have her usual fighting spirit was her mind seemed to be elsewhere.

Yurika: ……how is he lately?
Wizard: Whom do you mean?
Yurika: That’s……

She hesitated. I knew everything that happened to her. Of course, because I have everyone’s memories. I merely asked in return, because of  the hazy feeling in my chest. I called out her name, pushing her onto the bed and kissing her. She didn’t reject me, even when I pushed my tongue in. After a long kiss, she looked back at me calmly. I observed that she didn’t look happy. Yurika asked if I meant to make her happy.

Wizard: That’s right.
Gretel.
Wizard: ……I know. Because no matter who I am, I have everyone’s memories.
Cinderella.
Wizard: I am them, and they are me. And you said that you love me.
Akazukin.
Wizard: Arisu. You’re amazing. In order to get along with any of the personalities, you play the convenient woman however they wish.
Shirayuki.
Wizard: That’s why, I thought that I should also try playing the convenient role however I wish.
Kaguya.
Wizard: Who is good?  Me? Or, me?

I kept changing tones. And finally……

Wizard: Or…………am I good? Arisu. If you wish, I can be promoted to any chess piece.
Yurika: Stop it!

For the first time, she showed disgust.

Wizard: ………………was it that dissimilar. Defective! Failure! Just as he said. There’s nothing in me. Yes, even though he wished for me to be born. But it’s no good. No matter how well I try to imitate, you find out immediately. As expected, it is because I am a defective.
Yurika: ……as expected, you don’t know.
Wizard: ……?
Yurika: I am me. No matter how much I pretend. Is it that strange to word hard to be liked by the person you love?
Wizard: I don’t really get it.
Yurika: Then think about it.

I unwittingly nodded, as she commanded me. I thought of backing away from her, but in the end I kept my eyes on her eyes and lips. I smiled, asking what she would like to do next. I couldn’t help but push myself, because this was a game with her. After a brief silence, she spoke.

Yurika: ……if you have nothing, I will give you myself. So……in exchange, let me have you. You are mine. You will realise all of my wishes and orders.
Wizard: You sound just like a queen.
Yurika: That’s right. It’s fine if you refuse.
Wizard: No……as the queen commands.

A deep, sweet, and numbing sense of euphoria spread within my chest. And I leaned in to kiss her again. After that, I stopped pretending in front of her. It was meant to tease her at first, so it was pointless to keep up the pretence if she already knew. As always, I appeared before her to enjoy our time playing chess. She wondered if the pitch black world we all usually reside in is a dream. For the people and places in a dream are usually part of the person’s memories. The brain may reenact a stored memory if it is triggered by an outer or inner cause. A story could be pieced together in a dream.

Yurika: If so, I may be able to provide some colour.
Wizard: Colour?
Yurika: Yes. I may be able to save the prince.
Wizard: …………

A prince. That doesn’t refer to me. She looked at me, before suddenly kissing me. A figure of a prince, who isn’t me, reflected in her glass-like eyes. That fanned a sensational, beautiful and enrapturing desire in me even more. Our lips parted, and she remarked with a grin that it is checkmate. She had flipped the chess board. She was black, and I was white now. I pointed out that it’s cheating, but she replied that she would do anything to win. Some days after that, I suddenly could not  go across the mirror one day.

Wizard: ……it’s useless. I just can’t wake up. What a worrisome king……no, a prince?

The other characters didn’t seem to realise the situation, and were fast asleep as well. They were all delicate, easily hurt, and in pain over their hearts’ wounds. A dark space. We were born here, and took turns to dive into the mirror.

Attending doctor: Come, try saying it. What is your name?
Wizard: …………
Attending doctor: ……what is your name?
Wizard: Answer me. Alistair……it’s no good. It’s a failure. I was to create a common personality most suited to be the original personality, and that personality would become the original. He would remember almost every memory of all the personalities. And completely different from the rest. He would have no problems in terms of intelligence or sociability. He should be the most suitable as the original personality. Yet, why!! This defect!!
Ryoushi: ……isn’t that an overstatement?
Attending doctor: It won’t reach him anyway. He has no emotions or senses. The treatment for today is over.
Ryoushi: But
Attending doctor: There are many other patients who require me. I don’t have the time to pay attention to him alone.
Ryoushi: What do you plan to do with him?
Attending doctor: ……who are you referring to? This empty shell here, or the boy who is the main personality?
Ryoushi: Both.
Attending doctor: There’s no problem. A weak personality will be weeded out. With this state, he wouldn’t be able to surface with his own strength. He will eventually blend with other personalities and fade away. About the boy……he’s pitiful, but it’s best to give up on integrating personalities. The burden to combine multiple personalities into one is heavy……I tried talking to him, but it’s impossible for him.

We are……I’m not Alistair.

Wizard: I thought that I was a mere pawn.

A perfect existence which isn’t hurt by anything. I’m most suited for the king’s throne, for I can keep my composure while accepting the other personalities’ unbearable pain. And if this world is a dream, and I know that it is a dream, I can act as I like. Yes, just like a queen. Then it may be possible for me to catch the king who is somewhere in this world, and to checkmate him. As I contemplated that, I heard a familiar voice in the darkness.

Yurika: ……say, can you hear me?
Wizard: This voice is……
Yurika: Can you hear my voice?
Wizard: I can. Your voice reaches me.
Yurika: Why……
Wizard: And why are you crying?
Yurika: Please……wake up……! Alistair-kun!
Wizard: …………

I realised something while trapped in the mirror world. I may be an omnipotent wizard (chess piece), but I can’t become a prince (king). Today as well, I can hear her voice from across the clouded mirror.

Yurika: ……hey, can you hear me?
Wizard: …………
Yurika: Does my voice reach you?
Wizard: …………I can hear you.
Yurika: I have a request of you……it is something only you can fulfill. Wizard-san.

It was the first time she called my name. Let’s pretend we’re kings and queens;’

taialiep3w-6

Yurika: Let’s pretend! Shall we play princess? The roles have already been decided. I’m the princess, and you’re the wizard.
Wizard: Not the king and queen?
Yurika: The stage is also decided. The stage is the mirror world……a world where everything is reversed. Fairytale characters with reverse gender will welcome me as the “heroine” in the mirror world. As the “heroine” of each fairy tale in the mirror world, I will spin a slightly curious and distorted fairytale with slightly twisted fairytale characters. What exactly will be the outcome of this story? ……there is no script, so even I don’t know what kind of story this will be. But the ending to aim for is already decided, so it’s fine. You know right? I like happy ends.
Wizard: It’s the first time I heard this.
Yurika: Wizard, sometimes a supporter, and sometimes an enemy, you are someone who can use mysterious powers……an extremely important position.
Wizard: In other words, you wish to make use of me as a chess piece.
Yurika: I wish for you to become a chess piece I can manipulate, a role which can turn the story around. And I wish for you to kill me if I’m wrong. A single story doesn’t need multiple heroines (princesses). If not, the story will turn weird.
Wizard: To erase the story?
Yurika: You can do it right?
Wizard: If you tell me to do it.
Yurika: After all, you’re my strongest queen (chess piece).
Wizard: Aah, that’s right. I’m your wizard. My queen. If you wish, I will become any chess piece be it queen, rook, bishop, knight.

If she requires me, I don’t mind being any role. In order for her (white pawn) to always move forward, I will save her sometimes, and become a confronting chess piece sometimes. That is my role, and my wish.

Wizard: Now, let’s start the story!

Back to Yurika’s POV

Waking up from her dream, Yurika heads outside and sees an almost full moon hanging in the night sky. She finds it beautiful, and behind her, Wizard agrees. He asks if she intends on choosing someone. It’s an exchange she’s tired of hearing and answering, but it actually symbolises their relationship well. A “detective” and “client”. He accepted her request, and gathered information about her important ones. Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin, Kaguya, Gretel. While I was aware that I was hurting them, I searched more into their relationship, the darkness in their hearts. That may only be an overview. They are all delicate, easily hurt, and still in pain over what happened in the past. They are lost in a pitch black world, waiting for someone to find them. That’s why having learnt the truth, I should forsake my own feelings and settle this story.

>> BAD ENDS:

Yurika: Yes. I……

a. Cinderella BAD END: In the end, without uncovering the truth, the day of the full moon arrived. The threat only mentioned “the next full moon”, so it’s unclear if it’s day or night. Yurika headed to the living-room while fearing an unknown death. It was extremely quiet. It was supposed to be a familiar sight, but it suddenly felt foreign and she unwittingly dashes out. She looks around. The wide hall to the gorgeous chandelier. The castle-like aura is familiar, but for some reason she can’t recall the layout. She dashes in and out of every room. She runs around in circles, and the sense that something is off only swells in her. Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin, Kaguya and Gretel are nowhere. It’s as if only she lived here, and the five brothers have vanished.

Yurika: Someone……Cinderella-san!

Driven to a corner, she realises her feelings for the first time. But time can’t be turned back. How much time passed after that? The bright light gradually faded, and nighttime came. The world lost its colour, as darkness crept in. Feeling like something is attacking her, she breaks out in cold sweat. She hears someone’s footsteps from afar. But there is no one there. She hears someone’s voice from afar. But no one is there. She hears a crying sound from afar. She focuses on the source, desperately running towards it. She ran, ran, ran – and when the sound disappeared, she found herself standing at the entrance of the house. When she turns around, she can see the full moon gazing back at her. She knew that today was a full moon. But being faced with it, she’s confronted with a reality she cannot fight against.

She couldn’t choose a future husband from the five brothers. She couldn’t find out who the culprit was. In that case, there is only one future which awaits her. Standing before the future which is fixed for her, she can only stare up at the moon which she cannot reach.

“I’m sorry.”
Yurika: You are……

The next moment, a strong force hits her head and she blacks out. (Note: The game says “you” instead of “Yurika”.) When she wakes up, she finds herself wandering in a pitch black world. She cannot find an exit no matter how far she walks. She cannot see anything. She cannot tell how far she has walked, nor how much time has passed. It is the same scenery everywhere you go. She has lost track of time and all sense of everything. If she stops breathing and walking, perhaps all she’ll hear is the sound of her heart beating. She wonders why she is here, and who is she. But there is no one to answer her. Only deep darkness. She doesn’t know anything.

b. Shirayuki BAD END: In the end, without uncovering the truth, the day of the full moon arrived. The threat only mentioned “the next full moon”, so it’s unclear if it’s day or night. Yurika headed to the living-room while fearing an unknown death. It was extremely quiet. It was supposed to be a familiar sight, but it suddenly felt foreign and she unwittingly dashes out. Yurika goes into the forest. There isn’t anyone’s presence, and she can’t even hear any animals. She could only hear the cracking of dry branches and leaves under the feet. She whispers Shirayuki’s name, and hugs herself, overwhelmed with uneasiness. Even if she wishes for him to be by her side now, time cannot be turned back.

After walking for a while, she discovers a small house and enters it. It’s empty, and no one responds to her. Everything is white inside, and she can only hear the occasional sound of firewood crackling. She drags her tired feet to the window, drawing the curtains. It’s dark outside. The moment she whispers that’s it’s a full moon, someone sharp pierces through her stomach. She wants to scream out in fear, but she can’t. She can’t even turn her head around, and her visions blurs. As she blacks out, it’s for certain that her life has been taken away.

“I’m sorry.”
Yurika: You are……

(Note: The game says “you” instead of “Yurika”.) When she wakes up, she finds herself wandering in a pitch black world. She cannot find an exit no matter how far she walks. She cannot see anything. She cannot tell how far she has walked, nor how much time has passed. It is the same scenery everywhere you go. She has lost track of time and all sense of everything. If she stops breathing and walking, perhaps all she’ll hear is the sound of her heart beating. She wonders why she is here, and who is she. But there is no one to answer her. Only deep darkness. She doesn’t know anything.

c. Akazukin BAD END: In the end, without uncovering the truth, the day of the full moon arrived. The threat only mentioned “the next full moon”, so it’s unclear if it’s day or night. Yurika headed to the living-room while fearing an unknown death. It was extremely quiet. She prepares breakfast as usual and waits for the rest. But no one comes no matter how long she waits. Usually, Cinderella or Akazukin would have been awake by now. Perhaps they had something to attend to and left early. She sets the table for herself and the other brothers, waiting for them. But no one comes. As the place suddenly felt unfamiliar, she went outside. Yurika goes into the forest. There isn’t anyone’s presence, and she can’t even hear any animals. She could only hear the cracking of dry branches and leaves under the feet. She whispers Akazukin’s name, and hugs herself, overwhelmed with uneasiness. Even if she wishes for him to be by her side now, time cannot be turned back.

After walking for a while, she discovers a small house and enters it. It’s empty, and no one responds to her. Everything is white inside, and she can only hear the occasional sound of firewood crackling. She drags her tired feet to the window, drawing the curtains. It’s dark outside. The moment she whispers that’s it’s a full moon, something hits her back. Without knowing what happened, she collapses.

“I’m sorry.”

Someone leans over her. When she’s about to resist, a sharp pain hits her neck. Her consciousness slips away, and she can’t open her eyes again. Darkness swallows her world. (Note: The game says “you” instead of “Yurika”.) When she wakes up, she finds herself wandering in a pitch black world. She cannot find an exit no matter how far she walks. She cannot see anything. She cannot tell how far she has walked, nor how much time has passed. It is the same scenery everywhere you go. She has lost track of time and all sense of everything. If she stops breathing and walking, perhaps all she’ll hear is the sound of her heart beating. She wonders why she is here, and who is she. But there is no one to answer her. Only deep darkness. She doesn’t know anything.

d. Kaguya BAD END: In the end, without uncovering the truth, the day of the full moon arrived. The threat only mentioned “the next full moon”, so it’s unclear if it’s day or night. Yurika headed to the living-room while fearing an unknown death. It was extremely quiet. No matter how long she waits, no one comes. As the place suddenly felt unfamiliar, she went outside. Yurika shouts Kaguya’s name, while searching for him. But he is nowhere to be found. She finds herself at the lake, and kneels down. Even if she wishes for him to be by her side now, time cannot be turned back. She covers her face with both hands, and cries from the uneasiness and fear. Even if she stands still, time will not wait.

The sun eventually sets. With her tears dried up, she gazes at the lake. Just then, she recognises the figure standing in the lake. The silhouette of unique clothes. It has to be Kaguya. She calls out his name, but he continues looking up at the sky. She chases after him, telling him to wait. Just then, something catches her leg. Something pulls her, and she crashes into the water. Yurika struggles against something that is clearly like a hand, clearly meaning for her to sink, clearly with ill intentions. Her life is about to be taken. She sees that Kaguya’s silhouette is no longer there. Only the big, round moon looking down upon her. She slowly loses strength to resist and shuts her eyes, giving into the intention that is taking her life.

“I’m sorry.”
Yurika: You are……I……to you……

Darkness soon swallows her consciousness. (Note: The game says “you” instead of “Yurika”.) When she wakes up, she finds herself wandering in a pitch black world. She cannot find an exit no matter how far she walks. She cannot see anything. She cannot tell how far she has walked, nor how much time has passed. It is the same scenery everywhere you go. She has lost track of time and all sense of everything. If she stops breathing and walking, perhaps all she’ll hear is the sound of her heart beating. She wonders why she is here, and who is she. But there is no one to answer her. Only deep darkness. She doesn’t know anything.

e. Gretel BAD END: She wakes up and finds herself locked inside a big cage. It’s an unfamiliar room, where everything is painted white and emits a sense of madness. In the end, without uncovering the truth, the day of the full moon arrived. But she never imagined that this would occur. Was she moved while she was asleep? By who? She cannot reach an answer. She only recalls what was written in the threat. She couldn’t choose a future husband from the five brothers. She couldn’t find out who the culprit was. She didn’t do anything, but does it link to her current situation? If so, there is only one thing awaiting her.

Yurika: You will surely take my life.

All of a sudden, her vision is darker. The sunlight that was pouring through the windows disappears, it seems to be nighttime. She cannot see anything, except for a reddish light. She can hear firewood crackling away. She can make out the shape of the furnace, and a pot. It means that someone should be living here. Yurika cries out, but no one answers. In despair, she pleads for help. Just then, a human-like figure covers the reddish light. At a loss of words, she barely lets out a cry. The human-like figure is like darkness, like shadows. The shadow creeps up to me, swallowing the cage and everything up, as if they never existed. She shuts her eyes. Even though her eyes are closed, she can see a big, round moon.

“I’m sorry.”

The next moment, someone lifts her body. She sees the moon, and below– She screams that she doesn’t want to die yet, but she is thrown into a boiling pot. Her consciousness dissipates into the darkness in an instance. (Note: The game says “you” instead of “Yurika”.) When she wakes up, she finds herself wandering in a pitch black world. She cannot find an exit no matter how far she walks. She cannot see anything. She cannot tell how far she has walked, nor how much time has passed. It is the same scenery everywhere you go. She has lost track of time and all sense of everything. If she stops breathing and walking, perhaps all she’ll hear is the sound of her heart beating. She wonders why she is here, and who is she. But there is no one to answer her. Only deep darkness. She doesn’t know anything.

>> GOOD END: Do you wish to choose someone? – No

Yurika slowly shakes her head as she answers. She saw a dream. In her dream, she became “Wizard” and looked back on the past. In her dream, she didn’t realise her identity at all. But once she woke up, she became “Arisu Yurika”. Is she “Arisu Yurika” who becomes Wizard in her dream, or is she Wizard and dreaming that she is “Arisu Yurika” now. She doesn’t know which is true. Surely both are the same. That’s why having woken up from her dream, she finds the person before her very dear. She came to know his pain in her dream.

Yurika: ……it’s enough. Arisu Yurika. I know what you wish to do. But I am him, he is me, and……whether you are me, it doesn’t change the fact that I am me. That’s why, it’s my turn this time.
Wizard: In the end, you didn’t choose anyone. Are you fine with dying?
Yurika: I don’t want to die. But more than that, I don’t want to act as others wish.
Wizard: So you can’t choose?
Yurika: …………
Wizard: You’re surprisingly stupid. In that case, won’t you just end up dying? If you die, no one can be saved. A bad end.
Yurika: That’s why you came. You sent me the threat right? Wizard-san.
Wizard: Yes, that’s right.
Yurika: Why did you do it?
Wizard: Because I wanted to guide one of them to a happy end.
Yurika: But you failed. What a pity.
Wizard: If I fail, I can just restart.
Yurika: Then you will force a happy end? No one wishes for such a story.
Wizard: I am just one of the roles, I’m not the story-teller.
Yurika: ……that’s right. The story-teller is someone else. It’s the person you love, but I seem to know her.
Wizard: Yes, that’s right.
Yurika: Just like you said, she is a very cruel person. She will resort to any means to fulfill her wish. She will treat other people like chess pieces. Her wish is to save the person she loves. She is always only thinking about the person she loves. But I hopelessly empathise with her.

Wizard’s clothes change to his usual style.

Wizard: ……that’s enough. I was meaning to wait quietly till  you chose someone, but if you can’t do that then I no longer need you.
Yurika: ……is that your true character?
Wizard: No. I have no fixed characteristic. This is just characterisation for convenience’s sake. My name is Wizard. Wizard is sometimes a supporter, and sometimes an enemy, you are someone who can use mysterious powers, an extremely important position.
Yurika: Are you going to kill me? Because I couldn’t save anyone?
Wizard: Yes, that’s right. I will kill you. And one day I……
Yurika: Will be killed by her?
Wizard: Yes, that’s right. That is my love story. The role she desired of me.

He pushes her to the ground, and she looks straight back at him. He observes that she’s not resisting, asking if she isn’t afraid of being killed. She says that she is, but not afraid of being killed by him. Wizard isn’t interested in knowing the reason, for it doesn’t matter to him. She finds it regretful. Yurika asks him instead why he thinks she wants to kill him. Wizard replies that it’s because she has someone she loves.

Yurika: ……Alistair?
Wizard: That’s right. Amazing. How did you know?
Yurika: I saw it in a dream.
Wizard: A dream within a dream……so you know everything.
Yurika: Not everything. I only know fragments of a collection of memories. Thanks to that, I realised. What I should do, and the role I was given.
Wizard: Because your intuition is sharp.
Yurika: Alistair. He is the person seeing this dream (the creator of this world).
Wizard: Aah, that’s right. Just like you know, this world is a dream. And we are characters in his dream. We can maintain our appearances because this is a dream. But once we wake up and return to reality, we will be Alistair’s body, Alistair’s mind, Alistair’s life. There is no us there. Because we are but a personality inside of him.
Yurika: Dissociative identity disorder. Commonly referred to as multiple personality disorder.
Wizard: ……that’s right. Alistair was a weak human being. He cut himself off in order to avoid the tragedies which befell him. The first dissociation was Cinderella. A character created to escape the impoverished life when his affluent life was reversed after being abandoned by his father. The second was Shirayuki. A character created so as to be loved by his mother who admired princesses. The third was Akazukin. A character created as he wished to freely wander in the outside world in rebound to his mother locking him up. The fourth was Kaguya. A character created to single-mindedly endure the cruel treatment from his relatives. Everyone had a fairytale heroine motif due to his mother’s influence. All of them saw their current situations in the fairytales, and took the name of the most similar character. And the fifth one to be created was me. Only I’m a bit special. He didn’t create my existence. The doctor which you wished to meet……you know after talking to him right? I was created by that psychiatrist, the most convenient character among all the personalities. My role was to integrate the other personalities, to lead a healthy life as Alistair. For that, I was made to possess everyone’s memories, and unable to feel pain so as to bear the pain. According to the doctor, I was supposed to be perfect. He said that I should be the most suitable as the original personality. The doctor asked for my name. The doctor hoped for me to answer “Alistair”. But I couldn’t answer. Because I’m not “Alistair”. The doctor branded the me who couldn’t say anything, as a “failure”.

Yurika cries, and he asks her for the reason. When she replies that he’s too pitiful, he remarks that she said the same thing. There’s no need for her to be sad, he doesn’t hate the doctor. In fact, he’s thankful. If it weren’t for the doctor, he wouldn’t be here. Moreover, he wouldn’t have met Arisu Yurika. Having been abandoned by the doctor, Alistair was taken in by Arisu family afterwards. That’s where they all met Arisu Yurika. After that, Gretel was born.

Wizard: Gretel was a character created as he felt an inferiority complex to the outstanding Arisu Yurika.
Yurika: …………
Wizard: Arisu Yurika took a lot of care in order to make us feel at ease. She acted as we wished such that we will take a fancy to her, like her. She tried to be the person who understood us the most.
Yurika: But she failed.
Wizard: Aah, that’s right. Arisu Yurika didn’t correctly understand our……no, their pain and grief. It was the same for Alistair, the original personality too. He was lost in the mirror world. Thanks to that, it gave me much trouble. Severed from the real world, I can no longer meet the person I wish to see. But it was the same for Arisu Yurika. She grieved, and thought of something unbelievable. To create a new personality, Arisu Yurika, in Alistair. And to converse with each personality (us) by speaking from the real world. You are a character created by Arisu Yurika to save the prince lost in the mirror world. Your existence is made up of the Arisu Yurika who Alistair (this body) remembers, and the Arisu Yurika speaking from the real world. You are not the real Arisu Yurika.
Yurika: …………fufu. My words are the words you desire, my thoughts are Arisu Yurika’s words. Then what am I?
Wizard: A mere pawn. A disposable chess piece, a doll she manipulates. She creates you, and manipulates you. She prepares branch points in the story, chooses the choices and guides the story to a happy end. If a wrong choice is made, you’re no longer needed. A single story doesn’t need multiple heroines (princesses). If not, the story will turn weird. I am the means to dispose of you. After you are gone, she will create an avatar again, to continue the story.
Yurika: What a cruel person.
Wizard: I think so too.
Yurika: And……what does she wish to do by guiding the story to a happy end?
Wizard: Of course, to wake up Alistair from the dream.
Yurika: And are you there?
Wizard: No, I’m not. Not just me, Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin, Kaguya, Gretel too. And with Alistair being the only one left, he will return to his original body and be reunited with Arisu Yurika in the real world. Happily ever after. One soul for one body, one personality. That’s the correct way of a human.
Yurika: And you are fine with that? Only to be taken advantage of, and disposed of when you are no longer needed.
Wizard: I don’t mind. If it is her wish, I will fulfill it.
Yurika: You sure love her.
Wizard: Aah, that’s right. I’m hopelessly in love with her.
Yurika: Then you could just kill the rest and snatch it all. Alistair, Cinderella, Shirayuki, Akazukin, Kaguya, Gretel, and me. You could just kill everyone and being the only one left, snatch this body, mind, life and everything. Then everything will be yours……you can’t do it, right? Because you are you. You’re afraid right? That she may hate you if you do that. You have no guarantee that she loves you. Because you don’t understand her heart. You’re surprisingly a coward.
Wizard: ……what do you know about me?

She points out that she is a part of him. He laughs at her reply, agreeing. She is the same existence as them, who reside in Alistair’s heart. Yurika points out that it is why he cannot approve of her. Wizard says that it’s about time to put this to an end. It’s regrettable but he can’t help it even if she doesn’t wish to die.

Yurika: Because I love you.
Wizard: Hah?
Yurika: I love you. That’s why I wish to save you.
Wizard: …………

He’s at a loss, to think that she would plead for her life. Is she really Arisu Yurika? She states that she is herself. But the Arisu Yurika he knows wouldn’t do this. She suggests that perhaps there is a Arisu Yurika whom he doesn’t know of. She could have pretended in front of him. Though her true colours are now shown. Moreover, she wants to save him for she loves him.

Wizard: My salvation will be to let you live?
Yurika: Yes.
Wizard: How absurd. The one I like, the one I love isn’t you.
Yurika: I know.
Wizard: I won’t think of you as my number one.
Yurika: Then number two is fine.
Wizard: Number two may be impossible too. Despite how I look, I’m devoted to one person. I can’t cheat.
Yurika: Then I don’t mind even if you hate me. In exchange, please let me stay by your side.
Wizard: I’m not eccentric enough to let a person I despise stay by my side.
Yurika: Then……
Wizard: That’s enough. I don’t have enough reason to fall for you. In the first place, didn’t you say that you love them just before this? Yet you switch to me now, isn’t the story-telling too sloppy?
Yurika: Is that so? In the end, no matter how deeply you interact, no matter how much foreshadowing, your heart won’t change right?
Wizard: Because I have someone I love.
Yurika: ……yes. That’s why this is my unrequited love. And this is your story.
Wizard: …………
Yurika: Haven’t you actually already realised it? This isn’t anyone else’s story, it is your own story.
Wizard: …………

He asks what would happen to the other brothers, does she plan to abandon them? Yurika says that they would have their own stories, in which there would be another her devoted to each of them in their stories. That’s why, she will give her love to him in his story. To her, he is her prince. But Wizard firmly states that he isn’t a prince. She agrees that he wants to become Arisu Yurika’s prince, and not hers. But again he firmly states that he is a wizard. She suggests a familiar then. All witches have a cat. If there’s a problem with her being by his side, she will put up a pretence. (Note: This is a play on words. In Japanese, Wizard is 魔法使い and familiar is 使い魔.)

Wizard: You will deliberately disguise yourself?
Yurika: Isn’t it fine? To work hard for the person you love. And……you know this since you are skilled in chess right? A pawn is the weakest chess piece, but it conceals a huge ability. Promotion. If a pawn can advance to the very back line of the opponent, it can become other pieces too. Rook, bishop, knight, and even queen.
Wizard: Even so, it can’t become king (prince).
Yurika: Nor the player.
Wizard: I don’t wish to be saved by you. I don’t need a replacement for her. What I wish for is the real thing.
Yurika: ……I know. You had a relationship with Arisu Yurika, and love Arisu Yurika.
Wizard: Somehow that sounds like I just want to do it with her. Isn’t there platonic love?
Yurika: There is. At the very least, Arisu Yurika loved you in a platonic way.
Wizard: …………
Yurika: Isn’t that right? You have no body. I know her feelings. Wizard-san who possesses Alistair’s body, Alistair’s mind, Alistair’s life. She loved you. That’s why, she wishes to save you.
Wizard: Then, why did she call Alistair’s name then, and not mine……heroine-chan. It’s useless even if you speak words to please me. Your words won’t reach me. And my words won’t reach her.
Yurika: …………

He’s well-aware of who is the most important to her. She instantly called his name when she wandered into this dream world. She loves Alistair, not him. Yurika wonders why they are not waking up from this dream then. Wizard answers that it’s because her words don’t reach Alistair. Alistair doesn’t love her. Yurika says that it’s ironic – everyone is in an unrequited love. She recalls that he once said that it wasn’t painful to be in an unrequited love. Because his heart and body are already filled up by her. But that’s a huge lie. He admits this with a wry smile.

Yurika: You wanted to monopolise Arisu Yurika. You wanted her to look only at you, love only you. You’re the same as the rest. You wanted to be chosen by Arisu Yurika.
Wizard: That’s right. I wanted to be chosen by her. You said that I should just kill my rivals if I love Arisu Yurika but……if she had called my name then, I suppose I would have killed everyone else and woken up. When she called Alistair’s name, I knew pain for the first time. I, who shouldn’t know pain by right, knew pain for the first time with a heartbreak……
Yurika: ……isn’t it still too early to give up?
Wizard: Eh?

She highlights that Alistair still doesn’t like Arisu Yurika. So there’s still a chance for him. He widens his eyes at her suggestion to snatch her. Yurika acknowledges that it is a way to appeal to Arisu Yurika too. She will support his unrequited love, and assist him in fulfilling his love. That’s why she asks him not to kill her, to leave her by his side. She believes that she’s very useful. She may not be Arisu Yurika, but she is her shadow. Yurika doesn’t mind if he throws her away if he succeeds, or even if he forgets her. Surely, that would be what Arisu Yurika wants.

Wizard: You’re fine even if you disappear?
Yurika: I will disappear from you. But I will be in Arisu Yurika’s memories. Arisu Yurika won’t forget me. She won’t forget my existence. Because Arisu Yurika is returning to Arisu Yurika, so it’s fine for you not to be sad. Wizard-san. I cannot become the person you love, but I can become the one who understands you. Because we are both in an unrequited love.
Wizard: ………………aah, I hate this. This kind of ending. Does she think that I will be saved with this?
Yurika: I wonder?
Wizard: Wouldn’t you know. Because half of you is her.
Yurika: But half is different.
Wizard: ………………was the Arisu Yurika I desired for also a fake. She acted the way I desired in front of me. Did I also fall in love with a fake?
Yurika: Isn’t that not true? You’re surprisingly stupid. It’s natural for a girl to put up a pretence so that the person she loves, likes her. That’s why……in any case, won’t you have a rematch with me as promised? I was really looking forward to playing chess with you.
Wizard: ………………aah, sure. Heroine-chan.

This is my story which even you don’t know about.

Ryoushi tells his sister about the 6th personality. He never mentioned it before as he no longer exists. He was too weak, and didn’t even have a name. Ryoushi has only met him once before. He had everyone’s memories, and was a perfect existence with no problems at all in terms of abilities and sociability. Those were the words of the attending doctor who gave birth to him. But he didn’t had no emotions or senses at all. Ryoushi also witnessed it, that he had no sense of self unlike the rest.

Yurika: ……what a strange story. To have no emotions.
Ryoushi: ……that’s right.
Yurika: Say, why did you feel like telling me about it?
Ryoushi: ………………somehow I felt like it.
Yurika: ……hmm.

I came to know about your existence when talking to my brother. I grew interested in you, who was different from the rest and didn’t even have a name. Brother said that you had disappeared, but I didn’t think so. I saw when he was asleep, and called out to you.

Wizard: …………
Yurika: Nice to meet you. My name is………………you know me right? I know you. Hey, won’t you tell me your name?

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But there was no answer. Even so, she couldn’t give up and kept talking to him. As he should know, she hates to lose.

Yurika: I heard from brother. That you know everything. But no one knows you. Everyone thinks that you’ve disappeared. Perhaps they even think that you never existed in the first place. Even though you’re here. Only I know you……hey, can you hear me?
Wizard: …………
Yurika: Where are you?

She was searching for him. She believed that if their hearts call out to each other, surely they will meet one day.

Yurika: ……do you think that I’m getting annoying? Actually I think so too. But if I wasn’t who I am, I think that I wouldn’t be here. I have someone I like. That person said that he liked me. I hate myself, but I can’t do anything about it…………and he said this to me. I like it. Your jewel-like eyes, and your soft and fluffy hair. Everything is proof that you are you. Say, do you know that person?

She knew that he was always there, looking at her. Even after that, she didn’t give up. One night, she went into his room and he responded as Kaguya. She thought that it was just a coincidence at first. But each time she visited his room, “they” would appear timely. Another time it was Gretel, and she offered him to lie down on her lap. She never immediately realised that he was imitating others, because he always had unwavering self-confidence and conviction. But that was also the definite difference between him and the others. She asked him how long he was planning to pretend, but he pretended not to know.

She played a game with him. Who could drive their opponent to a corner first. A chess game to settle the score. The first to attack (white) was always her. (Note: In Japanese, to settle the score or to make things clear is literally “to put things in black and white”.) One night, Yurika snuck inside while he was sleeping. He responded like Cinderella. He was very flexible and smart. Unlike her who was adept at playing offense, he was adept at waiting to see and then responding each time. If she was a white pawn who could only move forward, he was like a black queen who could move anywhere horizontally, vertically, diagonally. That’s why she laid a trap for him (took the initiative). So she soon pointed out that he was too weak in his reaction. He is good at imitating, but he doesn’t seem to know people’s hearts well enough yet.

Wizard: ……why do you know?
Yurika: I wonder why? And why do you imitate?

She still isn’t sure if he truly lost to her, or if he deliberately lost to her. But it doesn’t change the fact that she won right?

Wizard: ……is it unacceptable?
Yurika: It’s Akazukin-san this time.
Wizard: Even though no one noticed, only you noticed my true identity.
Yurika: I know. No matter how much you pretend, you are you.

Just then, she noticed that the chess pieces were different. She was pleasantly surprised, and remarked that he was surprisingly honest. He replied that he had not realised that she deliberately made a mistake. He felt horrible, so she suggested a challenge to erase that feeling. Yurika said that she can’t guarantee if he wouldn’t feel worse though. He was truly skilled at chess. She controlled the white pieces, while he controlled the black pieces.

Yurika: ……say, what sort of place is the world you’re usually in?
Wizard: It’s dark and there’s nothing.
Yurika: Even yourself?
Wizard: No, only I’m glowing.
Yurika: I see. Is it sad?
Wizard: ……I wonder. I don’t know.
Yurika: I see. Then all the more I wouldn’t know.
Wizard: Because you’re not me.
Yurika: Yes……
Wizard: Checkmate.
Yurika: Ah.

It was really fun to play chess with him. One day, he asked if she was still persisting. Yurika shared that she hates losing. It’s something he never knew before.

Yurika: Right? I’ve been putting on a pretence.
Wizard: What does it mean?
Yurika: You don’t know? To hide your true nature and act good-tempered. To pretend that you don’t know when you do. You’ve been pretending till now too right?
Wizard: …………
Yurika: We’re similar aren’t we.
Wizard: ……perhaps.

For the first time, he showed himself to her. He probably didn’t notice it. She loved his gentle eyes. He would answer anything she said. She thanked him for telling her in detail. Now she can understand his heart even a bit better. He replied that he was merely answering her questions. But she remarked with a smile that she’s happy that he responded.

Yurika: ……isn’t it painful for you?
Wizard: Why?
Yurika: Because you possess all the memories right?
Wizard: I guess.
Yurika: Even though you possess all the memories……of which others wish to disappear from all the pain and sadness, but you seem to think nothing of it.
Wizard: That’s of course. Because I was told to become like that.
Yurika: ……by who?
Wizard: The doctor who made me. He would remember almost every memory of all the personalities. And completely different from the rest. He would have no problems in terms of intelligence or sociability. He should be the most suitable as the original personality. That’s why…………
Yurika: …………
Wizard: Why are you crying?
Yurika: Because you are too pitiful.

He doesn’t realise his own pain. She found that very saddening. After she cried in front of him, he started to show himself more often. As always, they played chess. Recently, it would start out as evenly-matched, but then the gap would widen. The attacking side would get attacked. The attacked side would attack.

Yurika: Did you know? A girl can change when she is in love.
Wizard: She will become shy?
Yurika: There’s that, but on the flipside she can also become strong. You can do anything for the one you love, you wish to do so. Even if you make enemies out of the whole world, you wish to remain on the side of the one you love.
Wizard: That’s some blind devotion.
Yurika: To lose sight of your surroundings, is also a feature of love. But perhaps it’s a bit different from becoming strong. Of course, you need the resolution and strength to make enemies out of everything. Perhaps it’s closer to think that “I can become anyone”.
Wizard: I can become anyone?
Yurika: Yes.
Wizard: Just like a pawn. If a pawn can advance to the very back line of the opponent, it can become other pieces too.
Yurika: That’s right. Earnestly moving forward, queen, rook, bishop, knight. You’d become any type of piece.

A white pawn can slip past the opponent, and be promoted to a white queen. I became your queen. But……

The sound of a glass breaking, and someone screaming. Yurika bursts into the room asks what’s wrong, and sees that Alistair is hurt. She has to treat the injury at once.

Alistair: Arisu……who exactly am I?
Yurika: Eh?
Alistair: Right now, there’s someone who isn’t me inside the mirror……I was myself at first. But when I realise it, I have changed into someone who isn’t me. My face doesn’t reflect in the mirror. There is someone who is similar but also not similar to me there. Someone who isn’t me told me this. That he likes you. That was when I realised. Surely someone who isn’t me, wants me to leave. And after I’m gone, he wants to live as me and become happy with you.
Yurika: …………
Alistair: I’m scared…………I’m scared. Someone who isn’t me exists, and sometimes uses my body to pretend to be me. And when I’m myself, he would peek at me from the darkness. Arisu……am I myself? I have no confidence……after all, isn’t that right? Who can prove that right now I’m the real me? Someone who thinks that I’m not me, may be the real me instead.
Yurika: ……I’m on your side. Even if you deny yourself, I’ll approve of you. I love you.
Alistair: Arisu………………I’m sorry. I don’t even know if those words are really directed at me. I……can’t even believe in your love.

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She has someone she loves besides him. They are all part of his body and mind, and use his life. There can only be one soul for one body. She cannot divide her love. She has to choose one person. After he became her queen, she could start to sense his desire to monopolise her and his jealousy towards him from his expressions.

Yurika: ……how is he lately?
Wizard: Whom do you mean?
Yurika: That’s……

He called out her name, pushing her onto the bed and kissing her. After a long kiss, he observed that she didn’t look happy. Yurika asked if I meant to make her happy.

Wizard: That’s right……I know. Because no matter who I am, I have everyone’s memories. I am them, and they are me. And you said that you love me. Arisu. You’re amazing. In order to get along with any of the personalities, you play the convenient woman however they wish. That’s why, I thought that I should also try playing the convenient role however I wish. Who is good?  Me? Or, me? Or…………am I good? Arisu. If you wish, I can be promoted to any chess piece.
Yurika: Stop it!

For the first time, she rejected him. ……I still can’t forget the hurt look on your face then.

Yurika: …………
Wizard: ……was it that dissimilar. Defective! Failure! Just as he said. There’s nothing in me. Yes, even though he wished for me to be born. But it’s no good. No matter how well I try to imitate, you find out immediately. As expected, it is because I am a defective.

He knows everything, yet he doesn’t know everything. It looked like he cannot understand her heart……the feelings of a girl in love. And she also didn’t truly understand his emptiness. Because they are not of the same existence.

Yurika: ……as expected, you don’t know.
Wizard: ……?
Yurika: I am me. No matter how much I pretend. Is it that strange to word hard to be liked by the person you love?
Wizard: I don’t really get it.
Yurika: Then think about it.
Wizard: ……yes. I understand. I’ll think about it.
Yurika: …………

He smiled, asking what she would like to do next. After a brief silence, she spoke.

Yurika: ……if you have nothing, I will give you myself. So……in exchange, let me have you. You are mine. You will realise all of my wishes and orders.
Wizard: You sound just like a queen.
Yurika: That’s right. It’s fine if you refuse.
Wizard: No……as the queen commands.

If the heart is impossible, at least the body can be connected. That’s why she gave her first time to him. After she accepted him, he stopped imitating the others. As always, her king today is being driven into a corner by him. She wondered if the pitch black world we all usually reside in is a dream. For the people and places in a dream are usually part of the person’s memories. The brain may reenact a stored memory if it is triggered by an outer or inner cause. A story could be pieced together in a dream.

Yurika: If so, I may be able to provide some colour.
Wizard: Colour?
Yurika: Yes. I may be able to save the prince. Say…………

She caught him by surprise with a kiss. Their lips parted, and she remarked with a grin that it is checkmate. She had flipped the chess board. He pointed out that it’s cheating, but she replied that she would do anything to win. That was the last, and they became separated.

Alistair: Arisu.
Yurika: What is it? Alistair-kun.
Alistair: ………………it’s nothing.

That day, she went to school as per usual, and sat in class as per usual. She realised a voicemail from her brother during her break. With a bad feeling, she listened to it and was shocked by the unexpected news. Alistair had collapsed and was in hospital. She left school and rushed to the hospital. Her brother was waiting for her there. He informed her that he had overdosed on sleeping drugs, swallowing a whole bottle of it. It seemed that he intended to commit suicide. A passerby happened to spot him collapsed in the lake, and reported it. The stomach has been pumped, and he isn’t in critical danger. While he is unconscious, he should wake up the next day. Yurika felt relieved at those words. But he never woke up.

She asked her brother for the reason. He wasn’t sure. Nothing abnormal shows up from the examinations. He explained that to sleep is to lose consciousness as your response levels to outside stimulus is lowered. But it is easy to wake up from that state. However, Alistair won’t wake up no matter how strong the stimulus. Yurika asked if he is in comatose. Ryoushi agreed, but stated that his situation is a little different from coma or vegetative state. Changes in expressions and brushing movements were observed in response to pain or stimulus. In other words, he isn’t awake but his consciousness— Yurika interrupted him, asking for the conclusion.

By checking the brain waves, he saw that while the body was asleep, the brain itself was still active. In other words, he is dreaming. He doesn’t specialise in neurology, so he isn’t familiar with comatose. But if there is no problem with the body, it probably has to do with the mind. The person himself is refusing to wake up. Ookami wondered if that was even possible. Ryoushi wasn’t sure. But perhaps he wanted to escape reality to the point of choosing death. Usually, you don’t realise that it is a dream when you are asleep. Only after you wake up. If Alistair is dreaming, that the dream is reality to him now. Yurika asked if he will ever wake up, but he remained quiet. Ookami tried to reassure her – after all, there is no such thing as a dream you don’t wake up from. Her brother agreed. She asked what she could do, to which he advised her to talk to him everyday, move his body, and let him listen to music. In any case, to give him stimulus. And that was what she did.

Alistair: …………
Yurika: ……say, can you hear me? Can you hear my voice?
Alistair: …………
Yurika: Why……please……wake up……! Alistair-kun!

……and I hurt you didn’t I.

At school, Ookami tried to cheer her up. He assured her that surely he will wake up. While her brother said that Alistair tried to commit suicide, she doesn’t think so. It was true that he was at a loss over his situation, and feared the world. But she doesn’t think that he would’ve chosen death. Alistair probably thought of meeting them in his dream. To meet them and decide what to do. Not that she would know what he was truly thinking. She had been thinking of a way to save the prince this whole time – to create herself in him. He has dissociative identity disorder, and has seven personalities. She would create Arisu Yurika as his eighth personality. Since he is dreaming, and the people and places in a dream are usually part of the person’s memories. The brain may reenact a stored memory if it is triggered by an outer or inner cause. A story could be pieced together in a dream.

A dream can be influenced by an outside stimulus, and she would make use of that. Fortunately, she exists in his memories so the success rate should be higher. She would have Arisu Yurika appear his dreams, control her from outside, and save the prince. Ookami asked what would she do if it failed. Since it is a dream, there’s no telling if things would go according to plan. Yurika replied that she had insurance, and thought of a cooperator. She asked if he would stop her. Ookami said that he wasn’t a doctor, and asked what he could do to help. And so with his help, she sneaked inside the hospital.

Yurika: ……hey, can you hear me?
Alistair: …………
Yurika: Does my voice reach you?
Alistair: …………
Yurika: I have a request of you……it is something only you can fulfill. Wizard-san.

It was the first time I called your name. Something which they had, but you didn’t have. I thought that if it were the omnipotent you, you would answer my request.

Yurika: Let’s pretend! Shall we play princess? The roles have already been decided. I’m the princess, and you’re the wizard.The stage is also decided. The stage is the mirror world……a world where everything is reversed. Fairytale characters with reverse gender will welcome me as the “heroine” in the mirror world. As the “heroine” of each fairy tale in the mirror world, I will spin a slightly curious and distorted fairytale with slightly twisted fairytale characters. What exactly will be the outcome of this story? ……there is no script, so even I don’t know what kind of story this will be. But the ending to aim for is already decided, so it’s fine. You know right? I like happy ends.Wizard, sometimes a supporter, and sometimes an enemy, you are someone who can use mysterious powers……an extremely important position. I wish for you to become a chess piece I can manipulate, a role which can turn the story around. And I wish for you to kill me if I’m wrong. A single story doesn’t need multiple heroines (princesses). If not, the story will turn weird.You can do it right After all, you’re my strongest queen (chess piece).

……this story ends here. How was the story, which I wrote for the first time? The story of the red queen which appeared before the white pawn which moves forward. Let’s present it filled with love, so as to save your heart.

(After the credits)

Yurika moves her white queen to F5, and Wizard is troubled as he is unable to do much in response. She declares that it’s a stalemate, so it’s a tie. He remarks that he was done in by her pawn, as she deliberately lured him into a trap. She says that it’s only natural to sacrifice her pawn to do that – that’s how chess is. He agrees that that is the real thrill of chess. She chuckles at the result – their 100th match ended in a tie. Wizard recalls that their record is 50 wins for him, 49 losses for him, and 1 tie – he is still leading. She’s confident that she will reverse the score soon though. He’s aware that she’s persistent and hates to lose, so she will chase after him no matter how far the gap. But he hates losing too. Yurika is aware of this. It would be boring if he deliberately lost to her, she’s here to challenge him with all she has. Even if she loses terribly, there’s no need for him to sympathise with her. It’s more fun to settle the score like this, rather than just for her to win.

Wizard chuckles at her words, and asks if she’s really alright with coming here with him to this place where there is nothing. If she remained there, she could have experienced a reverse harem since she’s popular with everyone. Yurika points out that it’s meaningless, for she would reject them all. That was a story she had prepared to save Wizard. The brothers each have their own story, where there is an Arisu Yurika (heroine) who exists for them. She couldn’t have saved them. After all, Wizard had planned to remove her for not saving them. He acknowledges this, for that is his role.

Yurika: I had no choice from the beginning. Even though my story partner (fated prince) was you, there was no way I could choose another prince.
Wizard: In other words, you drew the short end of the stick.
Yurika: ……do you think so?
Wizard: I do. Because you have to remain in an unrequited love with me. A bad end.
Yurika: A story with the premise of a heartbreak……how is that as a love story.
Wizard: I don’t know the difference between a good or bad story, but I think that you are pitiful.
Yurika: You sympathise with me.
Wizard: Because I know fully well the pain of a heartbreak.
Yurika: ……that’s true. But……I think that it’s good that you are my story partner.
Wizard: Even though it’s a bad end?
Yurika: Yes. Because I fell in love with you. If it’s for the sake of the person I love, I will sacrifice myself over and over again. I can endure any pain, for the sake of the person I love.
Wizard: How devoted.
Yurika: Because this is a story of saving the prince. In a mirror world where everything is reversed, fairytale characters with reverse gender will welcome me as the “heroine”. As the “heroine” of each fairy tale in the mirror world, I will spin a slightly curious and distorted fairytale with slightly twisted fairytale characters. What exactly will be the outcome of this story? As a heroine, my role is to save the prince and have a happy end. Of course, if I make a wrong choice, the princess cannot save the prince.
Wizard: And without any more use, you will be killed by me.
Yurika: Because that is your role……was the short end of the stick drawn?
Wizard: Are you imitating me?

She admits that she did. He questions if she’s fine with being killed. While she is a shadow of Arisu Yurika, one can say that she is still Arisu Yurika. She sees that he admits that, even though he doesn’t wish to accept her. It isn’t a nice feeling to rid of herself, who isn’t her. But it cannot be helped since the situation calls for it. And she doesn’t think that he feels nothing when killing all of herself off. He has to keep killing the shadow of the person he loves, for the person he loves. She believes that it’s a very painful thing. She understands his pain. That’s why she hopes to ease even a little bit of his sadness and loneliness by remaining here. Only she will forgive him, and continue to adore him. And she wishes from the bottom of her heart, for his love to be returned one day.

He looks at her, and she reminds him that even if she loses terribly, there’s no need for him to sympathise with her. It’s more fun to settle the score like this, rather than just for her to win. Yurika asks if this match with her is fun, or is he already bored? He answers that spending time with her like this is not that bad.

Wizard: By the way, what shall we do if it’s reversed?
Yurika: Eh?
Wizard: I’m talking about chess. I have always been chased by you. But if you reverse the score, what should I do?
Yurika: ………………I never thought about it.
Wizard: Then let’s do this. If you reverse the score, I will grant you one wish.
Yurika: Any wish?
Wizard: Any wish.
Yurika: ………………fufu. This game with you just got more fun! Because I just need to win two consecutive times to win, it’s an easy victory!
Wizard: I wonder if it will be. I have no intention of losing. I plan to keep widening the gap.
Yurika: No matter how wide the gap is, I shall catch up immediately.
Wizard: I look forward to it.

While he wishes to play one more match, it’s about time for him to make his appearance. For his beloved queen, he will become her chess piece and make his move. Yurika says that she will accompany him. No matter where or how far, she will put up a good pretence by his side……and they lived happily ever after.

taialiep3w-9

Overall thoughts

I kinda of expected this, due to Wizard’s constant appearance throughout (especially in Shirayuki’s route), some of Alice’s dialogue, as well as the overlapping similarities in Akazukin and Shirayuki’s route. But I did not expect the extent of what just happened. It’s hard to convey my thoughts without spoiling the route. But yes, Wizard’s route really clears up a lot of the mystery. I was rather confused at the start, but when the scenes were connected once more near the end – it clicked. Also, the use of chess imagery was really strong. But I was not expecting a certain line because it references to an entirely different fairytale. Yet it naturally fell into place.

Before I started this game, I had a feeling that either Wizard or Alice would hit my bias. And……I was right. For those who have played Shinigami to Shoujo and knowing that this is the same writer – you can’t help but compare the two. I feel that……there are similarities. But as of now, I feel that the way StS came together really smashed the world you knew. Especially with the use of an unreliable narrative. This kind of impact felt less so in TaiAli. I mean, the revelations did make my brain stop for a while. But inside your mind, you kind of had this small expectation that something of this level might happen. Given that playing StS first may have contributed to this expectation. (StS also has such memorable quotes……just saying. w)

But like I said, I really enjoyed the imagery and parallels in perspectives. And it doesn’t change the fact that the revelation was painful. You know that feeling in which you wish everyone could be happy? But it’s not possible? While towards the end, the characters themselves seemed to deny this – I’m not so sure given that Alice’s is the epilogue route. Yeah……shucks I hope I was vague enough to not spoil anything.

In any case, I’m glad to finally get this post out. I hope that I can finished the last route before the year ends. But we shall see. Till then~

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