Miyoko no Naku Koro ni
Episode 13: Sky House Staff
Frederica Bernkastel showed Lamba several glimpses of the past. In one such scene, a young girl with green eyes and a ferocious expression sat on her bed in her room, using big scissors to clumsily cut off her long, dark green hair. She cut it back until she almost looked like she had a boy’s haircut. Before long, a frowning adult woman entered the room with her silvery-blue hair up in a bun. She shouted terrible things at the young girl for cutting her hair, and had the butler come and spank her with a rod till the skin on her bottom was covered with welts and bruises.
“This is why I can’t tolerate you,” the woman told the child, who was glaring at up at her. “I shouldn’t have ever adopted you. Say, Meisa. You should know by now that I am opening an orphanage of my own at the end of the year. I believe I shall place you in it and have you raised by the staff there.”
“So you’re not going to be my mother anymore,” Meisa growled. “So what? Good riddance! You treat me like crap anyway!”
“Oh, I’ll remain your mother legally, and officially,” said the adult woman, Sumire Ichihara, menacingly. “When you have become less of a beast and more of a young lady, I’ll take you out of the orphanage and send you to a strict boarding school.”
“You just try,” replied the defiant little girl.
That scene ended, and Lambda saw many more. She saw a young adult version of Meisa at her wedding ceremony, marrying a smart and talkative man. Later, they were seen raising a baby together, and though she still had a stubborn look about her, Meisa was truly happy. In another scene, adult Meisa wore black mourning clothes, and knelt before Sumire Ichihara. She was asking to for money now that her husband had died from sudden illness.
From little glances like these, Lambda was able to piece together the story of Meisa Ebina. She grew up in an orphanage herself and then she was adopted by none other than Sumire Ichihara, who later became headmistress of Sky House. But Ichihara was hateful toward Meisa and embarrassed by her because of her defiant looks and personality. So Sumire put her daughter in Sky House while officially still being her mother.
Meisa suffered a lot in those days. She eventually escaped Sky House and her mother by running away, going to a small college, and getting married. But after her husband died from illness, Meisa was forced to come back to Sky House and work there. Her one surviving child was taken from her by Sumire, and raised in Sky House. There was no choice but for Meisa to work for her mother in that dreadful place.
At around age 28, Meisa Ebina decided she would shut down Sky House from the inside by gathering evidence and orchestrating escapes. Meisa was not particularly kind, and participated in harsh punishments and some abuse of children in order to blend in with the other staff at Sky House. She was cold and calculated, but she was on the kids’ side.
In another scene of the past, a slightly younger version of Hosoda was interviewing for a position at Sky House with Sumire Ichihara. He fumbled over the simplest of sentences and also became so angry with himself he went berserk and punched a hole in the office wall. He failed the interview terribly, but Ichihara was so puzzled by his behavior that she looked up the records of his past and his medical history.
Apparently, Goro Hosoda used to be a very kind and gentle young man set to take over his mother’s job at a much better orphanage than Sky House. But he changed after falling off a high ladder and sustaining a severe head injury. His personality changed to one of impulse, impatience, and easy rage. His intellect and memories became impaired as well. If he wasn’t hired soon, the only option was for Hosoda to be locked up in a psych ward, and those were worse than prison in those days.
“Fine then,” Sumire said, addressing a younger staff member. “Go back to the office and tell that big man that I shall give him a place here after all.”
“So, Ebina is trying to shut down her mother’s orphanage from the inside,” Lambda gathered, “and Hosoda is stupid and aggressive because of damage to his frontal brain lobe. Those were very interesting insights. I can’t forgive Hosoda, though, impaired though he may be. He’s psychotic and should be locked away. I’ll kill him if I have the chance.”
“But you forgive the Meisa Ebina, then?” asked Frederica.
“It’s not exactly that I forgive her. I just think I’ve been a brat up till now, hating her so much when there were clues that she was on our side.”
“I see,” said the Witch. “Well then, would you like to know about Kashima next? He was the one who stirred up Hosoda and ordered him to kill Eriko in that second world? He is my Piece, my agent on the gameboard. He stays in line with my will, but I longer directly interfere with him or give him orders mid-game.”
“You goddamn Witch,” Lambda cursed. “So Kashima was in your pocket all along. What’s the story behind all that?”
“Oh, the whole thing would take much too long to show it all to you,” Frederica answered. “I’ll tell it to you like a story, so we can move on to the next game more quickly. Once there was a child named Muneshige Kashima. He believed in magic as a child and even taught himself a few magic techniques. Originally, he really did work in Sky House, but instead of spending his time tormenting children, he was trying to become a Wizard with the same level of godlike abilities as some Witches, like myself.
“This could not be allowed. So the Witch of Intellect, Omoikane, was assigned to destroying his soul. Kashima was caught up in a gameboard a bit like the one I’m playing with you. Because he lost, he forfeited his life and his soul, which was sent to be tormented in Jigoku, the Japanese Hell.
“During his suffering, Kashima became an existence higher and more powerful than a normal human soul, but too deformed to be a Wizard or a God. You could say he was the same kind of being that you are now, Lambda: something between Human and Devil, who could never hope to rise higher.”
“Oh, shut it,” Lambda snapped. “Just wait. I’ll become a God or a Devil someday and make you take back those arrogant words. Who know? Maybe I’ll become a witch.”
“Continue with your happy delusions,” Frederica said sardonically. “Back to the story. Much later, I agreed to buy Kashima’s unusual existence from the Enma, Witch of Devilry. I decided to use him for myself. Since he had a little bit of magic power, he could sustain his existence and give it form as a medium-sized, black wildcat. I call him Kashi and he’s rather like my pet. At the beginning of each game, I send Kashi to merge with that world’s Muneshige Kashima.”
“You Witches are all despicable creatures,” Lamba observed. “Buying souls, giving rise to Devils, playing with Human lives, and the like. Why do you all enjoy torture?”
“I wouldn’t say I enjoy it,” Frederica replied after taking a moment to consider. “It’s just that it can bring a mild sense of satisfaction, and it’s interesting and entertaining. As Witches, we don’t have the same types or variety of emotions as humans. We are immortal, for the most part, so life becomes quite boring quite quickly. I seek both satisfaction and new knowledge. There’s also a theory I have, that Witches are driven by instinct to torment Humans, because that is one way you can possibly give rise to another Witch. It’s one of the few ways of increasing our numbers.”
“With that in mind,” Lambda sighed, “I suppose it’s time to get back to our game.”
“Indeed,” said Frederica Bernkastel.
To be Continued