Chapter 4 – Past
Chapter 4: Past
People are forgetful creatures.
That’s why memories fade.
Even if they were important.
Even if they left a deep impression.
Even if they were never supposed to be forgotten.
Eventually people will forget.
But people revise their memories.
Consciously, or perhaps unconsciously.
That’s why memories of the past are what they are.
They mix with other memories, get tinted by our own impressions, and slowly get painted over.
For example, this is why two people could have different memories about how they met.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
After all, their first meeting happened exactly once.
That is an unchanging fact.
But if two people have differing memories about how they met.
… it means they must have misremembered something
It’s nothing more than trivial differences in memory.
My world was always full of light.
When I was a little girl, even the ordinary days felt like they were shining.
Mom woke me up in the morning every day.
I went to school and had silly chats with my friends.
I learned new things in class.
I sat around the table with my family for dinner.
On weekends, I went out shopping with mom and dad.
Every once in a while, we took a family trip to places I had never seen before.
The things I saw, the things I heard, the things I felt—they all filled my world with light.
Back then, I could even smile naturally.
There were bright lights on that day too.
They twinkled, like shooting stars flying towards me.
That was of course, a mistaken impression.
I wasn’t seeing any stars.
It was the middle of the day; there were no shooting stars.
The lights, which weren’t stars after all, shot into both my eyes and—
On that day, I lost my light.
I ended up with artificial eyes.
I became very used to those artificial eyes and could see with them almost as if they were real.
I could see even more things than with my real eyes.
I saw something else—the cost of using these artificial eyes.
It was a quiet time.
So quiet, that it was almost impossible to believe we had been in the middle of a battle a few hours earlier.
But the scars from that battle still remained.
I was in the hospital room with Saki
She was sleeping on a white bed.
The doctor had finished a preliminary checkup and now I was waiting for the results. It seemed likely that Saki was going to be hospitalized for a few days, so Towako-san had gone back to Tsukumodo for a bit to bring back changes of clothes and whatnot.
There were no other patients in the room and no one else to talk to. Every so often, a ruffling sound came from the open window as a breeze blew past.
That sound was the only proof that we weren’t enveloped by the total silence of the Mirror of Serenity.
That was the tranquil atmosphere in the room.
Saki had some scratches here and there, but her breath was calm, and she was sleeping peacefully.
While her face looked peaceful, it was still the same blank expression as always.
Lately Saki was slowly becoming more expressive, and I was slowly getting better at noticing.
But Saki’s face right now was just like it was when we first met.
It hadn’t been that long since Saki and I first met.
But still, it felt like a long time had passed since then.
My first meeting with Saki left such a strong impression, that there was no way I’d ever forget.
Meeting led me to Towako-san, and that let to my introduction to Relics.
Everything started when I met Saki.
I was having a dream.
I was aware enough to recognize that it was a dream, but still couldn’t move my body.
What happened after that, I wonder?
Was Tokiya okay?
What ended up happening to me?
I could feel someone’s presence next to me.
Was it Tokiya?
Or was it that boy named Shun?
I hoped it was Tokiya, but there was no way for me to check.
Even if it wasn’t Tokiya who was next to me, I wouldn’t mind as long as he was okay.
My thoughts about the real world were being filtered through my dream.
But I still wasn’t fully conscious enough to understand that.
Before long, I fell back into a dream.
I hated dreams.
I hated the misleading things I saw in them.
But this was a dream of fond memories.
I wondered why it was coming back to me now of all times.
A dream that hurt, but was still important. Memories of a time that I would never forget as long as I lived.
A dream of the day I met Tokiya.
A long time had passed since then.
I was fully aware of just how long it had been.
But these were important memories that would never fade.
My meeting with Tokiya left a deep impression that I would never, ever forget.
Meeting him led me to Towako-san and introduced me to Tsukumodo Antique Shop.
Everything started when I met Tokiya.
I was working hard at my part time job that day.
This was before I started working at Tsukumodo.
Back then, I was registered at a staffing agency and did all sorts of things depending on the job I got assigned. Among other things, I had worked at stores during special sale, managed lines at events, cleaned buildings, and worked as a parking lot attendant.
My job that day was passing out tissues.
I wasn’t being paid per hour, but per item. The job would be over when I finished handing out all the tissues filled in the box. A number of us, including the crew chief, were stationed around the avenue handing out tissues. I was very motivated to hand out as many as I could to get this over with as soon as possible.
Tissues were better than fliers because people were more likely to accept them and sample products.
I continued handing them out at a steady rate until I was down to my very last packet.
That’s when I saw a girl walking down the now almost abandoned avenue towards me.
All I had to do was give it to her. Then my job would be over.
The girl kept walking straight ahead, making no attempt to avoid me.
She probably wanted to take one.
I held out a packet of tissues when she reached me.
However, the girl didn’t even glance at the tissues. More than that actually, it was almost like she didn’t see me at all as she continued walking by.
I just had to give it to someone else.
But in the end, I got a little greedy because I thought this job was finally over.
That’s why I didn’t pull my hand back fast enough.
The girl didn’t slow down at all as she walked past me.
She bumped right into my outstretched hand.
It was an act of God.
I should have apologized and immediately pulled my hand back.
But unfortunately, my hand was at exactly the same height as the girl’s chest.
That why, well…how to say this…my hand ended up touching her chest.
The girl glanced at me, apparently noticing my presence for the first time.
Her gaze was so cold that I couldn’t even begin to utter an apology.
I would have actually preferred it if she got angry.
But all I got was a blank stare.
I had never been given such a cold look in my entire life.
Her icy stare literally pierced me and froze me in place.
And as a result, my hand also stayed planted on her chest, putting me in a situation where I couldn’t even excuse myself anymore.
I knew that, but it was a fact that I couldn’t move.
Her gaze alternated between me and her chest for a while before she slowly opened her mouth to speak.
“Do you happen to know any killers?”
Maybe that wasn’t the best way to word it.
I wanted to follow up with an explanation, but it was already too late.
I might have been a bit flustered since this meeting was unexpected.
My emotions didn’t show up on my face so it was easy to get the wrong impression, but despite what it looked like, I did have feelings.
“Don’t treat me like some criminal just because I touched your chest!” he shouted.
I knew it. He misunderstood me.
The other people in the area heard his showed and turned to look at us.
It was no wonder. Anyone would turn around if they heard someone shout about a criminal.
And unfortunately, there also happened to be a police officer nearby. He started walking towards us with a suspicious look on his face.
This wasn’t good.
Things were going to get annoying if the police officer started questioning us.
“Follow me.” I grabbed the boy’s hand off my chest and ran away with him.
We ended up going to a fast food spot that he recommended.
Getting away from the police officer was good enough for me, but it seemed he still wanted to apologize.
I didn’t know what he was apologizing for, but went along with it since there wasn’t any reason not to.
He bought a hamburger combo for himself and one for me before sitting down at the table across to me.
I was starving since I hadn’t eaten anything since that morning, and there was also something I wanted to talk him about, so this was perfect.
He took out his cellphone and told his job that something urgent came up after he finished his work and that he had to go straight back home.
I quietly waited for him to finish.
He glanced at me from time to time, but quickly looked away every time.
I wonder why.
“Alright, then.” After hanging up, he cleared his throat once, and straightened his posture.
“Uhh…well, how do I say this…that absolutely wasn’t on purpose earlier. It was an accident…or a freak occurrence if you want to call it that.”
“Just so you know, I’m not saying what I did wasn’t wrong. It was, and I’m reflecting on my mistake.”
“So take this food as an apology, and let bygones be bygones. And well…you might think it’s cheap, but this kinda all I can afford…”
“Cause I’m broke and… uhh are you okay?”
To be honest, I still didn’t understand why he was apologizing so much.
“Wait…are you actually not mad at me?”
“Because it felt like you were.”
“What made you think that?”
“Your expression, or maybe your aura, I guess.”
“You can see auras?”
“No, I mean, I can’t see them but… ok then, why you were looking at me with such cold eyes?”
“I always look like this though…”
“… Are you really not angry at all?”
“You know what I mean. You started talking about killers all of a sudden and were looking at me so coldly that I couldn’t even guess how furious you were.”
“Could it be that you’re sorry about keeping your hand on my chest for thirty-four seconds?”
“That didn’t bother you?”
“Not really. I was just counting the seconds.”
That seemed calm him, because he let out a deep sigh of relief, and began devouring his hamburger.
Since he was the one who recommended it, I took a fry.
We didn’t say anything until he had finished his hamburger and I had finished half my fries.
I wasn’t particularly uncomfortable, but it seemed he was unable to endure the silence.
“My name’s Kurusu Tokiya. What about you?”
“Maino-san, huh”, he repeated.
Since I had food in my mouth, his name came out wrong when I tried to say it.
I swallowed and tried again.
“You changed what you said.”
“Do you mind if I ask you something?”
“You’re dodging the issue.”
“Do you mind if I ask you something?”
“What is it?”
“Do you happen to know any killers?” I told him the reason I had come here today.
“You’re bringing that back up? I’ll get mad if this is some kind of prank.”
“It’s not a prank. I’m completely serious.”
“Ok, listen.” He took a deep breath and took on a lecturing tone. “How on earth would an ordinary high school student like me know any killers?”
“Do you plan to meet any killers soon?”
“Hell no!” He raised his voice into a shout.
“I see. Yeah, I guess so. I’m sure this means you’ll meet them by chance, then”
“You will be attacked by a killer soon, maybe even today.”
“I understand why you’d be surprised, but there’s no need to worry.”
He looked worried, so I followed up with something to calm him down.
“Because I’m the one who’s going to die.”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
What was this girl saying? I was tempted to ask if she was alright in the head.
Was she one of those eccentrics I had been hearing about lately? Cause if she was, then this was about to get really annoying.
“Just making sure I got this right.”
“You’re saying that I’m going to get attacked by a killer today?”
“Yeah.” She replied seriously.
“So uh…how do you know this, if I may ask?”
“Because it’s fate.”
“…I can’t tell you the details, but yeah.”
No doubt about it, she was an eccentric. Wait, actually now that I looked, her clothes were all pitch black. Maybe she wasn’t just an eccentric, but one of those occult freaks? She looked like she was going to pull out tarot cards and tell my fortune any moment now.
I wouldn’t mind if that was all, but what if she pulled out some strange items too and tried to sell them to me? I looked around just in case. It didn’t look like she had any companions, but I still couldn’t afford to let my guard down. Yeah, let’s just end this here.
“Well, that’s about it for me.” I shoved the rest of the burger and fries into my mouth and stood up.
She hurriedly finished the rest of her fries and stood up with me. There were still about two bites left of her burger.
“Oh, there’s no need for you to rush. I’m going home, but you can stay and finish the rest.”
“If you’re going, then so am I.”
Oh no. Now she wants to follow me around. Not good. This was a problem. She must have gotten attached to me somehow, so my plan of giving her food and disappearing wasn’t going to work. I had a feeling she would put a strange curse on me or something if I tried to resist.
How terrifying. Getting rid of her clearly wasn’t going to be easy, so I might as well try playing along.
“What did you mean when you said that earlier?”
“That thing about me meeting a killer today.”
“You believe me?”
“Of course I do. I can’t imagine you’d say something like that as a joke. And that’s the thing, if your prediction is true, then it’s best you don’t go with me. Makes sense, right? You’ll get caught up in the attack as well if we’re together, so I think we should split here.”
I had to admit my words sounded like likes from a play, but she’d understand me this way…
“So yeah, see ya.” I raised my hand and coolly turned to leave, but—
She grabbed onto my sleeve.
Please. I’m begging you. Let me go. I wanna go home.
“Not a problem. There’s no need to worry.”
Did something I say not add up? No, that wasn’t possible. My logic should have been impeccable. I believed her, and demonstrated I was concerned for her safety.
I didn’t make a single mistake.
Then why? Why was she still trying to stop me?
She looked at me as I struggled to find an answer and replied without hesitating, almost as if it should have been obvious.
“Because I want the killer to murder me.”
I really didn’t think he was going to believe me.
I thought he was just going to make fun of me.
“… What did you just say?” He stopped trying to leave and sat back down.
“What I just said?”
“You just said you wanted to get killed right?”
“I did. Why is that a problem?”
“You’re asking me what the problem is? Are you going to tell me it’s for some crazy ritual or something?”
“Ritual? What are you talking about?”
“Oh, never mind. What do you mean when you say you want to get killed?”
“It means I am hoping someone will murder me.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about!”
“What are you talking about, then?”
“I’m asking why you want someone to kill you.”
“Obviously because I want to die.”
“You want to die? Are you suicidal?”
“Getting killed by someone else isn’t suicide. If anything, I want to be homicided”
He sighed and adjusted himself in his seat.
“I’m just gonna go ahead and ask, but why do you want to die? Did something happen?”
“Huh? … Well, I guess it makes sense you don’t want to talk about it to a total stranger.”
“That’s not it. I mean exactly what I said. There’s nothing worth staying alive for.”
“Nothing to live for? Nothing at all? You’re alive, so there has to be at least something good in your life, right?”
“Something good? Like what?”
“I dunno… like something fun?”
He faltered for a moment at my immediate answer, but soon came back with a reply.
“Don you have anything you want to do?”
“What any future dreams?”
“…if nothing else, is there anyone who’ll be sad if you die?”
He was looking slightly annoyed as he scratched his head. “… this is kinda irritating.”
He was starting to get upset with me. I suppose ordinary people would react this way…maybe I ended up saying things I shouldn’t have.
“Is that good?”
“I’m asking if the hamburger I bought you is good.”
I didn’t understand why he was asking this all of a sudden.
But since he did treat me, I suppose I should give him my impression.
“… Yeah, it was okay.”
“I asked you if it was good or not.”
“It was just okay though.”
“Don’t you want to eat it again?”
Unfortunately, I no longer cared whether or not something was delicious or not.
Why did it matter…food was food.
I was sure I wouldn’t feel anything even if I ate the same thing every single day. I’d simply consider it good and put what I had in front of me into my mouth.
“Dammit. Ok then, are there any things that you like? Doesn’t have to be food…what about music?”
“There has to be something. Anything is fine.”
“Alright then…if you insist, then black tea.”
He was pressuring me, so I answered.
It wasn’t like I really enjoyed tea or anything. I just happened to see through the window that the building across the street was a tea shop.
“Tea…hmm, I wonder if there’s anything for that around here… Oh? Look at that, there’s a tea shop right over there.
He muttered to himself, and then checked his wallet.
“Alright, let’s go.”
After that, he took me with him out of the fast food restaurant.
I ran out of the fast food restaurant with her and went straight for the teashop across the street.
Now that it had come to this, my only choice was to make her satisfy her and make a clean break for it.
My experience with eating out was pretty much limited to fast food, curry shops and beef bowl places. Sometimes, when I went to family restaurants when I was feeling fancy. Because of that, I had never so much as set foot in a trendy place like this teashop here.
“Welcome,” a man dressed like a butler invited us in.
Relaxing music was playing in the background. I was a little overwhelmed at the stark contrast between this atmosphere and the hustle and bustle outside.
The waiter guided us to a table and sat us across from each other.
The chairs themselves looked like they were made from aged wood, totally different from the cheap seats at the fast food place.
The waiter elegantly opened up the menu and handed over.
…This makes no sense.
The menu was wordy and several pages long, but I had no idea what was what.
On the shelves were huge jars with tea leaves in them…were all those different types of tea? Tea is just tea right? As far as variety went, it was straight, lemon tea, or milk tea, right? If I wanted to change it up, then wasn’t apple tea enough? What on earth were Darjeeling, Assam, and Earl Grey?
I looked over my menu to the girl in front of me.
She was flipping through the menu without even blinking.
So this was what it was like for someone who enjoyed tea. She wasn’t even a little bit unsettled.
Anyway, maybe I should just ask for a recommendation…I made up my mind and looked down at the menu again.
It costs how much!?
I was feeling a little more confident when I looked down at the menu, but quickly lost my confidence again.
Was tea really this expensive? I thought it would be like 300 yen or something.
I knew how much money I had from checking my wallet earlier, and while I did have enough to cover the bill, it meant all the money I earned from work today would disappear.
Oh, come on! Enough already! This wasn’t the time to think about money!
“Have you decided on an order? You can order cake or whatever you want. It’s a fire sale!”
When I said that, she closed the menu and replied…
“I don’t know what any of these things are.”
The menu was several pages long, and had words all over the pages, but I had no idea what anything was.
There were big jars of tea leaves stuffed into the shelves, but were those all different types of tea? Tea was just tea right? When talking about variety it was basically straight, lemon tea, or milk to…or if I wanted to change it up, apple tea, right? What on earth were Darjeeling, and Assam, and Earl gray supposed to be?
When I honestly confessed to my ignorance,
“Ahahaha.” He started laughing out loud.
Of course I got offended and asked him what he was laughing about.
“Oh, it’s nothing. You were just looking at the menu so confidently that I thought you understood all of it.”
Well, nothing I could so about that. I only said I liked tea because it was the first thing I thought of. It was my first time ever in a shop like this.
“It’s fine though. Leave it to me.”
He explained to the waiter that we were new to tea and asked for some easy to drink recommendations.
A short while later, the waiter returned with some tea along with some other pots and cups. The pot of sugar cubes was placed in front of Tokiya-kun across the table, and a pot of honey was placed in front of me. Between us was a pot of milk. I was a bit surprised to see that the milk had even been heated.
The waiter explained some details about the tea and poured us the first cup.
Tokiya-kun mixed milk and sugar into his tea to make it milk tea.
I was about to do the same, but then the smell of the tea wafted into my nose, so I tried to just drink it as it was. It was a little bitter, but the fragrant aroma spread throughout my nose and mouth.
The scone that came with it was wonderful too.
It may have been the first time I ever ate or drank anything so good.
I drank the first cup straight, the second cup with honey, and the third with milk and sugar. I wanted to try out all the different tastes.
Each of them was delicious; I was thoroughly enraptured.
And there was one more thing.
The waiter was also very skilled in preparing tea. The tea that I tried to brew myself smelled totally different even when I used the exact same equipment. I could hardly hide my surprise when I learned that changing how it was brewed could result in such a difference.
He was also very knowledgeable and good at explaining things to total beginners like us.
That’s when I first learned the depth of both tea and customer service.
“How was it?”
Tokiya-kun was asking for my thoughts.
I believed before that I no longer cared if something tasted good or not.
“I was ignorant. To think something so delicious existed in the world.”
“Don’t you want to drink it again?”
“Yeah. I want to try other teas too. It’s too bad this will be my last time.”
“I see, I see.”
“I liked this shop. I’d like to come again if I could.”
Yep, Yep, he nodded his head seeming satisfied.
“Alright, then. Let’s go to the next place.”
Maino-san looked confused, but I paid that no mind and took her to our next destination.
We’ve had enough of food and drink for today, so I wanted to try something else. That said, there was only one place to have fun that came to mind.
We were going to the arcade.
“Have you ever been to a place like this?”
There was no emotion on her face as always, but she seemed somehow restless, with her eyes darting from place to place.
“Try this one.”
“I’ve never played before, so I don’t know how.”
“Just try it. I’ll show you how.”
I sat her down in front of the arcade machine and stood next to her to teach her how to play.
I wasn’t entirely sure she got it, but for the time being I just wanted her to try as I put money into the machine.
To no one’s surprise, it didn’t even take 30 seconds for her to get a game over.
“You’re not very good at this, are you.”
“It’s my first time playing, so of course I’m not.” She protested with her expressionless face.
It was painfully obvious that she was a total beginner. It wasn’t just arcades…she probably didn’t play any video games at home either.
“Let me borrow that for a bit. I’ll show you.” I took her spot and started playing instead.
And for the record, there was nothing unfair about having her play a game I was already good at.
I played so she could follow along. Every time I glanced in her direction, I saw her expressionlessly alternating her gaze between my hands and the screen.
She seemed puzzled, wondering how I could use the controls like this.
“Are you secretly a professional?”
“Professional, huh? Nah, I’m just an ordinary high school student.”
“I don’t believe you. It was like you know exactly what’s going to happen next, as if you knew the fut—”
“No, no, you’re exaggerating.”
It was simply the fact that the enemies on the screen were pre-programmed. Anybody could guess how they’d move by playing the game enough times. More importantly though, I already had this game at home and also owned a strategy guide.
She didn’t seem to fully understand even when I explained all that to her
“A strategy guide?”
“That’s what you’re confused about? Think of it like a game manual.”
“I see…so you can learn to do all that from reading a book.”
“That, and experience, but yeah.”
“So just reading books, and putting it into practice, huh.”
I chuckled to myself imagining her running off to buy a strategy guide.
“Nothing. Alright, it’s your turn now.”
“Come on, hurry up.”
“It’s too much for me.”
“Don’t worry and give it a shot.”
She worriedly looked back and forth between me and the screen, but eventually resigned herself and sat down because the game was about to start. Unsurprisingly, it quickly ended with a game over.
“This is why I said it was impossible.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s how it is when you start out. You’ll get better with practice.”
I walked around the arcade looking for another, simpler game to play when I noticed her staring at something.
It was a crane game filled with stuffed animal prizes.
“Want to play that?”
I pulled her along to the crane game.
“What kind of animal is this?” She asked and pointed to one of the plushs in the cage.
That wasn’t exactly an animal. It was a famous cellphone commercial character. To be honest, the fact that she didn’t recognize it made me wonder just how ignorant she was to the world.
Maybe she just didn’t have any interest in stuff besides the occult…though in the end I was just assuming that was what she was into.
“Is that the one you want?”
“I don’t know if I want it necessarily…but I do think it’s the best, I guess?
“Because it’s black.”
Well, her reasoning aside, I was glad she found something she liked.
I took control of the crane and set my sights on the character she wanted. However, it wasn’t so easy that I could get it on my first try. I wasn’t that good at crane games.
“One more time.”
“Wait a minute.”
She held my hand back before I could try again.
“Let me try.”
She must have learned how to use it from watching me, because she pressed the start button, moved the crane into position, and pressed the button to lower the crane.
But the claw didn’t grab onto anything and went back to its starting position.
Her face which was reflected in the glass didn’t change, but looking at her from behind, I could tell she was a little despondent.
I sighed and inserted another 100 yen coin.
“This is your last chance.”
Maino-san nodded quickly and turned back to the claw game.
She set her aim on the plush, making small adjustments to the crane as she went.
“Don’t you think it should be a little more to the right?”
“No. This should be good enough.”
The passion she was showing despite her lack of expression made me chuckle in spite of myself.
She carefully got crane into position and pressed the button.
But with no regard to her passion, the claw just barely missed grabbing the plush.
“What a shame.”
“Ah.” She exclaimed in an uncharacteristic show of surprise.
I really thought the crane had come up empty, but it had miraculously gotten snagged on a thread off the stuffed animal.
The crane went up, taking the plush with it. It swayed dangerously in the air, at risk of falling at any moment.
Her eyes were glued to the crane.
I found myself caught in the moment too and stared at it with her. Just a little more until it got to the chute.
But the moment those words left my mouth, the thread that was hanging on to the crane slipped. The plush tumbled and landed precariously on the edge of the chute.
There was a tinge of disappointment in her voice.
I quickly looked around, and then purposefully bumped into the claw machine. The impact caused the plush to fall into the chute.
I put my finger to my lips, shushed her before taking the plush out the chute.
“Is doing something like that allowed?”
“Only if do it just once.”
I boldly lied to her since she didn’t know any better and handed over the stuffed animal.
I thought she was going to look at her new prize, but then—
She surprised me with a sudden show of gratitude.
Her expressionless face was the same as always, but it sounded like there was happiness in her voice.
I could have just been imagining it though.
We played a lot of different games after that.
Even though she was a total amateur at the start, she was starting to show signs of getting better after playing for two hours.
I ended up spending a lot of money, but strangely enough I wasn’t upset by that
It was pretty late by the time we finished trying all sorts of things at the arcade.
“Did you enjoy the games?”
“I did. They were fun.” She said it with her usual blank face.
I couldn’t actually tell how much fun she had from her expression, but it did seem like she had enjoyed herself a little.
“It was too bad about that last game. I’m sure you’d be able to clear at least the first stage if you tried a couple more times.”
“I could have done it for sure if I had one more chance.”
She didn’t seem all that upset though.
“Oh, if it isn’t Kurusu”, I heard someone call my name from behind.
Turning around, I saw my classmate, Shinjou, standing there.
“How rare, seeing you around these parts.”
“Ah, yeah. It’s cause my job this time was close by.”
Unlike me who always worked after school, Shinjou was part of a club.
“I’m about to go get something to eat. Want to come with me? Food just doesn’t taste as good alone.”
“Nah, I already ate today.”
“Oh…I see. So that’s what you’ve been up to.”
Shinjou’s eyes were focused behind me. He was of course, looking at Maino-san.
“…That job of yours must be nice, huh.”
He didn’t say anything else, but the icy look in his eyes betrayed his thoughts.
“Wait, I can explain…”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it, man. See ya.” Shinjou said with a understanding tone.
“Who is he?”
“Oh, an acquaintance from school.”
“Is it really okay for you not to go with him?”
He did invite me to have dinner with him, but I didn’t have enough money for two meals today. Plus, I wasn’t even that hungry anyway.
Also, it was about time she and I went our separate ways.
But before we split, there was something I had to confirm.
“What did you think of today?”
“Was the tea delicious?”
“Yes, very much so. I could fall in love with it.”
“That was your first time going to an arcade, right?”
“Yeah. I had never been to a place like that before. It was quite the experience.”
“Did you have fun today?”
“Yes…I think so.
Then, I stood right in front of her and asked her straight.
“Do you still want to die?”
As his questions continued, I slowly realized what he wanted to say.
And by the time he finished, I realized what he had wanted to do.
By having me drink tea, he wanted me to understand that I wouldn’t be able to taste the things I liked if I died.
He asked me if I wanted to drink tea again to make me understand that there would be no ‘again’ if I died.
Taking me to the arcade was to teach me that there were fun things that I didn’t know about.
He went out of his way to spend time and money on me, a total stranger. What a truly kind person he was.
I was glad the last person I met was someone like him.
… that’s right. The last.
Because my feelings remained unchanged.
Even if I drank delicious tea or had fun at an arcade
My determination wasn’t so shallow that something like this could shake it.
“You’re right. I don’t want to die as much anymore,” I said in appreciation to him.
It was in return for his kindness towards someone like me.
“That’s good to hear.”
He smiled like a happy child.
It was a touching smile.
If I still had the capability to smile, I definitely would have smiled back at him.
Then, at that moment.
I heard a scream from far away.
I looked towards the direction of the scream and saw a crowd forming around the commotion.
Tokiya-kun and I glanced at each other and headed towards the crowd.
He looked towards the center of the crowd between the gaps and—
His friend was there lying there in a pool of blood.
Shinjou was lying on the floor covered in blood.
I had seen him just a moment ago, going to get something to eat on his way back from club activities.
How did things end up like this?
Shinjou’s face was twisted in pain; his torso was dyed a dark red. The liquid staining his jersey from underneath…I know what it was, but I didn’t even want to think about it.
What on earth happened?
What could have happened to make him bleed so much?
“Call an ambulance.” I heard a calm voice from behind me.
I came back to my senses.
“An ambulance! Call an ambulance!”
The people around me responded to my shouts and took out cellphones to call an ambulance.
I desperately called out to the Shinjou as he lay there, taking out the towel he used for his club out of his bag and pressing it against his torso.
“Are you alright!? Hold on!”
Shinjou let out an anguished groan in response. His weakness sent a jolt of fear throughout my body.
Was he going to die here…?
The thought hit me like a lightning bolt.
The feel of the lukewarm liquid soaking through the towel almost made me want to vomit. I wasn’t feeling sick, but the fear and the tension were already well beyond what I could handle.
I had never faced directly with someone’s death before.
And I never thought I’d come face to face with death like this ever again.
There was nothing I could do even though he was right in front of me.
There was nothing I could do except wait for an ambulance as I watched someone I knew bleed to death.
Could Shinjou survive this?
Was there anything at all I could do to help?
I looked up when I heard those words.
The girl I just met was looking at me with a calm face.
“He won’t die. I know this for a fact.”
Maybe she was trying to encourage me in her own strange way.
Her facial expression was unchanging as always, but her kindness did reach me.
“Oh, really. So you can tell that kind of thing?”
Grateful for her kindness, I forced myself to smile.
I wonder if I pulled that smile off?
Maybe it didn’t come out like I hoped it would.
I wanted to smile and tell him everything would be okay and make him feel better.
I’m not sure if I did the smile right, but I think I was able to give him a little courage.
His friend wasn’t going to die.
There was no question that he was going to live.
I knew this for a fact.
I knew it.
Suddenly I noticed a particular man among the crowd.
He was at a slight distance, staring intently at Tokiya-kun’s bloodied friend.
His face was completely blank.
He and I were the same in that regard.
There were worried people, sympathetic people, others who winced at the obvious pain, as well as those who were simply curious.
All sorts of different expressions among the gawkers, but he was the only one who expressed nothing at all.
Same as me.
But he looked far colder, inhuman.
The man and I met eyes.
For just a few seconds.
He noticed my gaze, and quietly escaped from the crowd.
That’s when I realized.
I knew who this man was.
You could say that I remembered.
I had to follow him.
I was a little hesitant to leave Tokiya-kun alone with his friend, but I still chose to follow the man.
I brought my face to Tokiya’s ear and whispered.
“Thank you. And goodbye.”
“Please stay with him.”
She whispered in my ear and quickly merged into the crowd, leaving me behind.
But she disappeared into the crowed without even turning around.
She left so suddenly…
True, there was no reason for her to be here.
And once the ambulance arrived, there was no reason for her to go to the hospital with me.
My friend was the one injured, and she had only met me just today.
That’s why I didn’t particularly blame her for separating here. In fact, my entire goal was to split with her smoothly…this was something worth celebrating.
But it was just…it felt a little cold.
She was expressionless to the very end, but by no means was she acting cold.
But that’s what I felt from her as she left.
We met in such a strange way.
I unexpectedly and accidentally touched her chest at work. To apologize, I took her out for fast food where she ominously announced that I was going to meet a killer. Then I came up with a stupid plan to make her have fun and cleanly get away from her.
It truly was a strange encounter.
Or perhaps I was the strange one here.
Why did I spend time with her like that?
Was it that I couldn’t ignore her?
“You will be attacked by a killer soon, maybe even today.”
It was the first time in my life that anyone had ever said something like that to me.
It was a memorable meeting.
However, that’s not all it was.
There was also something I couldn’t ignore.
Maybe because I saw through the crack in her expressionless mask. I noticed she was being considerate of me.
That’s right. She was worried about me.
Even if her face didn’t show it, I could feel it somehow.
… I wonder, did that have anything to do with this situation?
I wonder, did this incident, with Shinjou on the verge of death, have any relation to the killer she mentioned?
Of course it did.
If there was going to be a victim, there also had to be a perpetrator.
Shinjou was hurt this badly, and there was obviously someone out there who did it.
But what did that have to do with her leaving?
Was it simply because wanted to separate with me?
Was she perhaps afraid in getting wrapped up in all this?
No, that couldn’t be it. She was the one who told me I’d meet a killer. If she wanted to run, she would have done it long ago.
It was strange that she chose to leave with this timing.
But despite that, it was a fact that she was gone.
I could hear the sound of the ambulance approaching.
The crowd separated.
Paramedics ran over with a stretcher.
I let the paramedics start caring for Shinjou and got into the ambulance with him, supporting him with encouraging words all the while.
For just a moment, she surfaced in my mind.
However, it wasn’t like I could leave Shinjou alone just because the paramedics were here.
She also told me to stay with him.
Put another way, she was telling me not to follow her.
Not to follow her?
Another doubt rose up within me.
Why would she tell me not to follow her, knowing that I would encounter a killer…?
“I am the one who will die.”
I believed those words more than anyone else in the world right now.
At the end of a narrow back alley, I finally caught up to the man.
I lost sight of him several times, but still made it here by relying on my memories.
I confirmed everything. The area, the time, and the man in front of me.
I remembered the place.
I remembered the time.
I remembered the killer.
This was it. This is where I would die—and this man would kill me.
He was looking at me.
There was no way out.
From another perspective, it looked like I was the one cornering him.
But I was the one who was going to die.
The man stopped trying to escape, and quietly fixed his eyes on me.
I didn’t know how he would kill me.
Would he stab me with a bladed weapon?
Club me with a blunt weapon?
But I had no interest in knowing how I would die.
I would accept any method.
As long as it killed me.
I wouldn’t be so selfish as to demand a painless death.
Anything worked as long as it killed me.
Because there was nothing in the world that could possibly be more painful than staying alive.
How could I have ever thought that the world was full of light,
When it was covered in such darkness.
Suddenly, the atmosphere changed.
I felt his bloodlust.
I felt his determination to kill me.
As someone so used to death, I could feel it. It was a strange feeling.
The man took a step forward.
There were only ten steps between me and him.
Ah, I was finally going to die.
Ah, at long last I could die.
I closed my eyes and waited for the moment.
There was a sound.
One that I’d never heard.
Then, there was warmth.
A warm something splashed onto my face.
There was no impact.
There was no shock.
But I could understand that something had happened.
There was nothing that could have happened here besides my death.
Therefore, I must have been killed.
I was just killed by the man in front of me.
Ahh, at long last…
A feeling, something like relief came all over me.
Only to be shattered by—
—A boy’s scream.
I opened my eyes.
My field of vision was dyed red.
For a moment, I could not understand what just happened.
Not the sound of him falling on the ground.
Nor the frightening amount of blood that flowed from between his fingers as he held his face.
Nor his writhing on the ground like a crazed animal.
Nor the anguished screams that echoed through the alley.
There was not a single thing that made sense.
Because the only thing that should have happened here was my own death.
Because I didn’t know.
Because I hadn’t seen this kind of future.
—Everything began on that day.
I looked up at the sky.
The glimmering sky.
Shining, like it was full of shooting stars.
But that was an illusion, of course. It was noon, why would there be any shooting stars?
Those stars were simply shards of glass.
They alone, were not an illusion.
The glass shards rained down on me.
They rained down on my two eyes.
Those glimmering lights hit me.
And took away my light.
After I lost my eyes, I had surgery and was given artificial replacements.
Naturally they weren’t going to let me see again.
Even as a child, I understood the fact that I would have to live the rest of my life blind.
But that understanding turned out to be undue fear.
For some reason, I could see with this artificial eye.
Almost like it was real.
I asked my dad where he got them, but all he did was insist that he couldn’t quite remember. That was probably the truth, knowing just how bad he was at lying.
All he could say was that it was a small old antique shop in a back alley somewhere.
As a child, I didn’t understand how bizarre that was.
I just thought it was amazing.
My father who only half-believed, and my mother who hadn’t been convinced at all, burst into tears of joy when they saw I could see again.
I didn’t think too much about it and accepted them when I saw how happy they were.
The artificial eye became a part of my life.
They felt a little off at first, but I quickly got used to it.
I thought it was only a matter of time before I could get back to my old life.
But from that day on, I started having strange dreams.
One time it was a person run over by a car.
Once time it was a person falling from a building.
One time it was a person getting stabbed with a knife.
I became afraid to sleep and often ran to my parents’ bed in the middle of the night.
They thought I was still suffering from the shock of the accident and kindly let me stay with them.
But the dreams continued.
And frightened as I was at first, I eventually got used to them.
They were just dreams. Not any worse than horror movies. That’s what I convinced myself of.
It wasn’t so much that I was flexible as much as it was that my heart was already starting to break.
My friend from elementary school came to visit me at home that day.
She was going on a trip the next day, but I of course, couldn’t go. She went out of her way to visit me thinking that I was sure to be depressed about it.
I spent some time chatting with my friend since I hadn’t seen her in so long. Then, as I looked towards her back as she was leaving, I saw a certain scene.
My friend was slowly tilting forward.
In her field of vision, a cliff. She was falling, tumbling down. Down to God knows where.
“Wait! You can’t go!” I yelled out to stop everyone.
They looked at me puzzled, wondering what was wrong.
My mother smiled awkwardly, perhaps thinking I suddenly started feeling lonely.
“You can’t go on this trip!”, I continued.
My friend looked uncomfortable.
Mom scolded me for being unreasonable.
But I continued.
For the sake of my friend, I continued.
“Tomorrow, someone will fall from a cliff and die.”
My friend looked at me, shocked.
Mom thought I was just jealous that I couldn’t go; she sent everyone off and yelled at me.
I continued in a panic, trying to get everyone to stop.
I desperately tried to get them to believe my words.
That’s when I learned.
That my artificial eye could see the future—
I heard news of her death the next day.
My friend had fallen off a cliff on her trip and died.
Mom took me along to her wake.
My friends were all crying, but I was not. I already knew what had happened, and had spent all of crying. That’s why I couldn’t to cry now.
My friends saw me at the wake, and accused me.
Saki-chan said those weird things, and they became true.
My departed friend’s mother hit me. Apparently my friends had told her what I said.
She was venting her anger.
But then everyone asked me to go home.
As if I had no right to be there.
As if I was the one the one who did something wrong.
Like that I left and went home.
I later heard that my friend’s mother had gotten hospitalized for mental trauma.
As well as rumors that it was my fault.
I returned to school and found my desk gone.
Nobody talked to me.
People gave me unpleasant looks.
My ominous prediction had become a rumor.
There was no place for me at school.
My home room teacher was my only ally while all this was happening.
He’d scold the others and tell them not to ignore me.
I was grateful, and to thank him, I gave him a warning.
“A fire will occur in the home economics room tomorrow and someone will die. Please be careful.”
The next day after school. A gas fire erupted in the room during the home ec club’s activities. The teacher in charge of the club ended up dying in the fire.
From that day on, my homeroom teacher treated me the same as everyone else. He looked at me unpleasantly and started to avoid me.
Having lost my place at school, I ended up becoming a recluse at home.
Mom began to ask if I was seeing dreams more often.
I didn’t want to lie to her, so I decided to answer her honestly.
That lately I was seeing them even when I was awake.
Once I pointed to the television and told them what I saw.
The stuntman for this drama will die during filming.
The next day, the news went exactly as I had predicted.
“I told you, didn’t I?”, when I brought it up, Mom ran out from the living room to escape my sight.
She never looked me in the eye again.
Starting from dinner that day, they started dropping food off in front of my room and left me to eat all alone.
Deep into the night.
I began to hear my parents arguing more often.
“There’s nothing good about that eye! This is all happening because you brought it here!”
“So you’re saying it would be better if she were blind!?”
“Yeah, it would! Rather than seeing all those awful things, it would be better for her to see nothing at all!”
“And you call yourself a mother!?”
“Even mothers have things they can’t stand! Don’t act like you’re not avoiding her too!”
I entered the room to ask them to stop fighting, but then, the argument suddenly stopped.
The two of them quickly left the room to avoid me.
Perfectly in sync, as if they had a perfectly understanding relationship.
It was like my mom said. Being blind would have been much better than this.
I stopped leaving the house.
I stopped talking to anyone.
I stopped interacting with anyone.
I continued to live alone in my room. Trying to stifle my breath. Trying to disappear into the darkness
Trying not to burden anyone.
So no one would look at me.
I forgot how to laugh.
I forgot how to deal with people.
I forgot how to express emotion.
The dreams, they continued.
When I slept.
And when I was awake.
That alone did not change.
I continued to see the futures of people I had never met before.
I continued to see thousands, tens of thousands of futures.
When I saw them, my body did not react.
When I saw them, my heart did not move.
Peoples’ futures simply passed through me as though they were nothing more than eerie videos.
The future, and what it held had nothing to do with me.
I saw a certain scene one day
Of a back alley, and a large man, and a boy my age.
Along with the entirety of everything that was to happen that day.
It was the usual vision of the future.
A future that would come for someone.
A future where someone was killed.
But there was one big difference.
I was more familiar with this future than all the others I had seen before.
Ah, this is where I will die.
Finally, I thought. In fact, part of me wondered why I never thought of this before.
I thought back to the place I was going to die.
It was outside.
It was in a deep alleyway, but I more or less knew where it was since there was a famous building visible near bye.
If I went there, I could die.
There was nothing else.
Nothing except death left for me.
I ran outside for the first time in many years.
Searching for the place in which to end my existence.
Where I could finally be saved.
That’s when I met him.
The boy my age who I saw standing at the place of my death.
I was certain that I’d be able to die if I stayed with him.
And like that, I met the man who would kill me.
I didn’t want to see the boy injured like in my dream, so I left him behind to avoid that.
That’s why, all that was left was to die at this man’s hand.
But the boy followed me.
He sacrificed his body to protect me.
I didn’t know this future.
I never saw a future where he risked his life to protect me.
More than anything, there was absolutely no reason for him to get hurt for me.
Why did have to get hurt for someone like me?
We just met today.
There was no value in saving me.
I wanted to die.
Everyone wanted me to die—
Then he said.
“… You said you didn’t want to die as much anymore, right?”
In the end, I couldn’t stay on the ambulance and ignore Maino-san
I left Shinjou in the care of the paramedics and went after her.
It wasn’t like I was following her.
It wasn’t like I knew where she had gone.
But I found myself running with a strange sense of conviction.
A back alley off a major road. A narrow math leading into it.
To this day I believe I took the fastest possible route.
And when I arrived…
She and a man were facing each other.
I took a step closer.
I didn’t know what was going to happen next.
I wasn’t completely certain that this was the man who hurt Shinjou.
But before I knew it, I had put myself between her and the man.
An intense pain pierced my right eye—
I didn’t know what just happened.
I didn’t know what the man did.
Although there were so many things I didn’t understand, the one thing I was certain of, was that my right eye was dead.
—I knew that I had protected her.
With my uninjured left eye, I could see her shaking her head with both hands covering her mouth.
But then she quickly came to her senses and ran over hold me.
The pain and the shock were making it too hard to think.
But my mouth still moved; I had to say something.
She asked, and I answered.
I can’t quite remember what I said.
But my brain was so sluggish, that I let out my true thoughts, with no pretense or any attempt to make myself sound cool.
With all that happening, there was only one thing she said that I remembered.
“…You said you didn’t want to die as much anymore, right?”
He hid his pain and smiled with a bloodstained face.
“For something so small…?”
“It’s not small. I think it’s important.”
“But that was…”
“But that was…?”
“That was a lie.”
“I was lying when I said that!”
I told him before that I didn’t want to die as much.
It was true, I did say that.
But I was lying.
It was a white lie, to express my gratitude. How could it have led to this…
“… You think I didn’t know that?”
But he didn’t utter a single word of complaint, and instead told me he knew all along.
“I don’t know what your circumstances are. But it must be bad enough to make you want to die. It had to be at least that tough, right? I’m not so stupid to truly believe that having fun for a few hours would be enough to change your mind.”
What he was saying made sense, I still didn’t understand why he did it.
“It’s just, your mind changed just enough…enough that you could say you didn’t want to die as much, right? In that case, I don’t think it was a lie. Maybe it wasn’t exactly true, but it wasn’t a lie either.”
“That’s why you believed me?”
“That’s why you protected me?”
“Even though I wanted to die?”
“You wanted to die a little less, right?”
“Even though there was no point in protecting me?”
“I protected you because there was.”
“Even though everyone wanted me to die?”
“I didn’t, so not everyone.”
“Even though I don’t have anything?”
“You do. Even you have something.”
He rejected it.
He rejected all my thoughts about dying.
He rejected every reason I had to die.
“I don’t know what it was that pushed you far enough to say that. As someone who just met you, it isn’t right for me to pry, so there’s nothing else I can do.”
He had risked his body to protect me. There was a lot of blood flowing out from his right eye, he was in so much pain that he was about to pass out, and now he was saying there was nothing else he could have done.
He didn’t know just how much that saved me.
No one else had ever denied me.
There were some people who denied me as a person, but no one denied my yearning for death.
He was the only one who denied my wrong way of thinking.
He was the only one who recognized my existence.
—He accepted me
Then, something stabbed into me.
Almost as if the support had been pulled out of my body, I collapsed right there.
I didn’t know what just happened.
But understood clearly that this was death.
I saw him crawling to me. He had forgotten about his pain in his right eye and was getting closer to me.
He was crying. Tears were flowing from his left eye. He hadn’t cried even when he was writhing in pain from his injured eye, but now he was crying for my sake.
My body didn’t hurt, but my heart was in pain.
My vision was getting blurry.
He was becoming harder and harder to see
I must have started crying
Were these tears of happiness? They were. The certainly were. They had to be.
This was what I had wished for.
This is what was I looking for.
I wanted to die.
I really wanted to die.
Something touched my hand.
It was his hand.
A very warm hand.
Stop throwing my heart into chaos.
I wanted to die.
Indeed. I wanted to. For so long I had wanted to die.
I wanted to die…
Not I want to die, I wanted to…
That’s right, I wanted to die.
That’s right. My thoughts of death were already a thing of the past.
… Ah, I was so stupid. I really was so stupid.
I was having a change of heart after all that had happened.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Even though it wasn’t supposed to happen like this…
Even though I wanted to die feeling a sense of relief.
I didn’t think that way anymore.
Without thinking, I put more strength into my hand.
I clung to the hand that was holding mine.
I clung to his hand like I clung to life.
Not, not yet. Not like this…
“…I don’t want to die…”
The man was getting closer.
He was going to do something to me—he was going to do something to us.
Without a doubt, it was going to end in despair.
Even I, with my brain half-working as it were, knew that.
“Run”, I told her.
She shook her head.
“It’s fine, so run”, I repeated.
She shook her head.
And then she covered me, as if to protect me, and confidently whispered in my ear.
“I’m sure it will be alright.”
And almost as if to answer her,
A lone woman appeared.
She had shapely eyebrows, and strong, willful eyes. She was tall for a woman, slender and bold. Her straight glossy hair down her back. The clothes she was wearing also bold. She wore a jacket over a fitted shirt and slim leather pants that showed off her long narrow legs.
She had arrived like a protagonist in the final hour.
But her expression didn’t match, her face was wrought with grief and sorrow. It felt fair to say she didn’t seem reliable at all compared to the mysterious man.
But despite that, seeing her calmed me down.
That sense of calm relieved me of what little consciousness I had left.
I didn’t know what happened after that.
I heard later that she managed to chase the man away.
—That was the day I met Towako-san.
Saki and I were taken to Towako-san’s store and were given medical treatment.
Following that, I began working part time at Tsukumodo Antique Shop.
Incidentally, I heard that the man from before was using some kind of Relic, and that’s what he used to damage my eye.
From that incident, I learned of the existence of Relics.
My right eye was completely dead, but thanks to the artificial eye Relic that Towako-san gave me, my sense of sight was restored.
And the name of that Relic was—
… When I came to, I was sitting in a corner of my own room.
It felt like I was dreaming.
I was awake, seeing that dream again.
It felt different from my usual dreams somehow.
I wonder why.
I raised my hand to touch my artificial eye, and noticed a dampness on my cheeks.
I was crying?
I was surprised to learn that I still even had tears left, and also felt a sense of doubt.
Why was I crying?
Where these feeling causing my tears to flow?
What were these feelings?
I was confused by the sense that I had just woken up from a dream and was perplexed by my own feelings.
What were these feelings?, I wondered.
Sadness, but that wasn’t all.
Anguish, but that wasn’t all.
Pain, but that wasn’t all.
…There was also warmth.
Somewhere in my heart, there was warmth.
Even though I was sad, even though I was anguished, even I was in pain, for some reason, I felt warmth.
It made no sense.
What was causing these feelings to sprout in my heart?
At that moment, a noise-like distortion ran across my eye.
A tilting field of view.
Through my artificial eye, I was seeing the world from someone’s perspective.
Someone who was going to lose their life.
But that didn’t happen in reality.
This was one of the “dreams” I always saw through my artificial eye.
Of the nightmare called the future.
But this “nightmare” did not end there.
There was a continuation.
Nothing like this had ever happened before.
I saw, with my artificial eye…
…Another future. One that continued after death.
After waking from that dream, I knew.
What was going to happen to me.
What these feeling sprouting inside of me were.
And…the weight of the sin I had committed.
I unconsciously put my hand to my artificial eye.
The eye that Dad got me after I lost my light.
This eye could show me what would happen in the near future.
But it didn’t show me everything. I couldn’t foresee the winning lottery number, the winner of a sports match, or even the weather. I couldn’t see any future events at will either.
But there was one type of future that I never failed to see.
That was the future that everyone was destined to meet—yes, it showed me the future of people’s deaths.
When that happened, a distortion, much like TV static would run through my eyes, followed by a cut-in of the future.
When I started to see the future…
I lost the light of this world.
I lost the light of hope, and then everything else.
This special eye changed my destiny.
Its name was…
The first time we met.
It really was strange.
Thinking back, it almost felt destined.
I wonder if it really was.
I felt quite stupid, noticing now after all this time.
Could it be that Saki was carrying that secret this whole time?
Keeping it to herself without telling me?
Why did she have to do that?
Was it because she couldn’t talk about it?
If it was, I was considering asking her. I wanted to asked her.
What she was hiding beneath that expressionless face.
What was the future that she saw—
She had nothing to worry about.
Nothing was going to change.
Because I was here.
I won’t change and leave your side.
So please, open your eyes.
She put her hand on the book.
It was a Relic, Grimoire.
The one she had been looking for.
For so, so long, she had hoped to attain it.
But despite that.
Why was her heart clouded over?
But she didn’t take notice of those feelings.
She turned away to not notice…
And ran her pen across the page
The words written here would become a hex, one that would take effect when chanted.
It had the power to distort the effects of any Relic.
But she did not chant the words.
Not because she was hesitant.
Not because she was reluctant.
But because she was waiting for the right time.