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Cradle of the Final Witch

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The Endless Witch is not endless. To believe otherwise is to fall for the only real trick she had to offer. Of course, she can curse you to repeat the same two days for thousands and thousands of years – perhaps forever – but that, in itself, does not give her mastery of infinity.

To CALL yourself “endless,” you must first ensure that time itself has no end. Walk to the very ends of it, and, at the very edge, find that you can never jump off it. Time simply creates more of itself.

To truly BE “endless,” you must also prove that time has no beginning. After all, in your long journey to get to the end, you may decide to turn around at one point. When you do, you’ve chosen a new direction for time. Follow it long enough, and you would eventually reach the beginning. And you would not be endless. Therefore, time must have no beginning.

The final step, now that you’ve learned to walk alongside the great big river of the universe, is to come to a realization.

Walking forwards and backwards in search of your own worth and power – you’ve gotten yourself lost.

Nobody can be a master over infinity. We can either surrender to it, or be lost to it.

Rejoice.

You are lost.

You are endless.

And now you can see.

Look.

No! No, not into the stream. Look over to the horizon.

Look!

There’s another stream.

And another you…

***

A ripple has been made on this spot. Do you see it?

Look.

It is October 5th, 1986.

A storm has covered the island of Rokkenjima.

We are greeted to the sight of an angry and scornful family gathered in the parlor of their grand mansion. Their eyes focused on the person responsible for an unimaginable tragedy – Ushiromiya Natsuhi. She cries, she begs, she shouts, but none believe her story. Why should they? Why should they listen to the pleas of such a pitiful woman?

She has, after all, murdered five people in their sleep. Her husband is missing, likely killed after he found out about her tryst with Ushiromiya Kinzo, the family head. His obsession had become hers, and she gave into his insane desire of bringing back a Witch through pagan sacrifices.

They should have realized it sooner. If they had simply considered everyone’s alibis for the night before, she may have been caught. And her newest victim, Ushiromiya Hideyoshi, might have been spared...

Listen. She still denies it. Now she’s rambling about some man who threatened her. Some child from nineteen years ago. She almost sounds like she believes it.

But her words mean little to the survivors – when they consider that Ushiromiya Kinzo had stolen the bodies after the fact, and is now no doubt desecrating them in some other unholy ritual. And every word of denial just prolongs the old man’s madness.

Rain taps on the windows indifferently.

Look.

It is November 12th, 1998.

We are off in the corner, watching an old Doctor Nanjo Terumasa recounting those same events of 1986 to the man sitting across him. Nanjo doesn’t exactly trust the man, but he’s come under the orders of Ushiromiya Ange. In spite of the tragedy, and in spite of the part he believes his old friend Kinzo had played in it, he is still loyal to the family itself. A request from Ange – a request from the current family head’s sister – is not something he could refuse.

It’s harmless enough. He’s told the story a thousand times before by this point. All he needs to do is make no mention of the witch. As had been agreed to by all the others.

That’s easy enough.

Even so, he simply does not like this man.

He has introduced himself as a detective, yet he appears to take no notes. In fact, he seems barely interested in what the old man is telling him. He never nods, he never asks a follow-up question, he barely even blinks – absolutely not a single sign of recognition. It’s as if he’s sleeping with his eyes open.

But his appearance is, no doubt, the most unusual. The old doctor has come to expect an eccentric wardrobe from an Ushiromiya. But this man is an outsider, and he’s surpassing even them. A ‘fashionable disaster’, some would likely call it.

Doctor Nanjo, however, would simply and confidently call it a ‘disaster’, and with not a single modern bone left in his body. ‘Even if I do have one’, he thinks, ‘there’s simply no way people these days dress like this.’ Who on Earth still wears leg warmers? Pink ones at that?

The most eye-catching, however, is the detective’s hair color. A shade of deep blue. Cut short, just barely covering his ears.

It’s no surprise that such an odd man has a perfectly odd name to go along with him.

Virgilius.

Look.

It is March 18th, 2011.

We are peering in through the window of a dimly-lit apartment. You can just barely make out the silhouette of Shiratori Eiji, standing in the center of the living room, staring at the scene before him. He has just come back from an errand. He’s still holding a bag of fresh coffee beans.

Fukui Ryo’s ‘It Could Happen to You’ is running on the record player in the corner of the room. But the melody isn’t reaching Eiji’s ear.

There is only the empty ringing. It still doesn’t feel real. Any moment now, he thinks reality will warp and release him from the nightmare he’d stumbled into. He gives it a moment.

Then another.

And another.

And when it still hasn’t changed, he decides to finally meet the wide-open eyes of the corpse at his feet. It’s not the first corpse he’s seen. Working as a detective’s assistant for over a decade has trained him to come to terms with it. And really, it’s not the gaping hole in the man’s chest, or the blood, or the smell that’s making him dizzy.

It’s where he’s standing.

It’s this deep blue hair, which he has never seen unkempt in all this time, now dipped in red and carelessly pressed against the carpet.

It’s who these blue eyes belong to.

It’s his boss – his friend – his… something.

It’s Virgilius.

Virgilius has been shot in his own office.

And Eiji was too late to stop it.

How? Why?

He was only gone for fifteen minutes.

Fifteen minutes for the stupid beans…

Look.

Look real close.

The past. The present. The future.

Can you make out your own reflection?

No?

Just wait.

Let it settle.

It always does, sooner or later.

Look.