Hi, I hope everyone is doing alright. In case you’re not familiar with the basic information and background of this fanfiction, take a look at this page, which explains it all. Alright then here is the 2nd installment of the first arc.
Miyoko no Naku Koro ni
Episode 2: Sky House
“You really are too cruel, Frederica,” said the visitor, Kaneko, as she sipped on her tea.
Her real name was Omoikane, Witch of Intellect, famous for her time spent with the former Omoikane, the Shinto God of Wisdom and Intelligence. “Kaneko,” as she called herself, sat at an elegant iron tea-table in a bright, ovular tearoom with its white-tiled floor and rounded ceiling. This place where witches visited each other or entertained guests had been created by the Witch of Miracles, who sat in the chair across the table from Kaneko.
Frederica Bernkastel, in the form of a human in her late teens, brushed aside a strand of her long, purplish hair and took a slow sip of her aromatic apple tea.
“I’m not causing this to happen to Miyo,” she stated at length. (A quiet one, Frederica sometimes ignored her guests and didn’t bother to reply.) “This much would have happened to her without any interference from me. And this is nothing. You could say the show has just begun.” Her voice was low and elegant, but rather flat and lacking in emotion.
“Well then, I’ll stay and watch it with you for a while.” Kaneko adjusted her heavyset body, her full red lips curving into a smile. “But I’m curious. When will the famous and respected Bernkastel make a miracle?”
“The miracle,” the other Witch replied, “will be revealed at the end of this story.”
Miyo screamed. She had meant to resist the urge, but it was too powerful. Sobs, tears, and cries of pain poured out of her. The smell of burnt flesh had already disappeared, but Miyo still felt sick thinking of it.
The child sat with her wrists bound together, and her feet as well, in a darkened storeroom among the boxes and sheets covering rotten furniture and weathered coats. Ebina was sitting in front of Miyo, holding a box of cigarettes and an ashtray. She wore a tight-fitted, light grey dress shirt and had used bronze-colored hair clips to keep her bangs out of her eyes and face.
In the ashtray was a cigarette butt recently used. It had been used on Miyo. Her left foot still stung so much she couldn’t think of anything but the pain. On the sole of that foot was an ugly burn mark where the lit cigarette had been extinguished.
“You’re all done,” said Ebino, lighting another cigarette, this time so she could smoke. “You’re a sorry, whiny mess, but it’s your first time, so I guess I can’t blame you.”
“How?” asked Miyo in a quiet voice, still sniveling and shaking with slow, quiet sobs. “How do you do such horrible things to kids? Is it fun for you?”
Ebina’s face looked disdainful after she heard those words. She purposely exhaled the smoke right into Miyo’s face. While the child coughed, Ebina said, “A kid like you wouldn’t understand why I have to do these things at this fucked up House. Even you could understand, what good would it do to tell a snot-nosed brat like you? Besides, you need to change your attitude.” A hint of a reassuring smile played on her features. “Look. You have only burn. It’s not on your dominant foot, either. I’ll even wrap it up for you. Consider it special service for as long as I can get away with it.”
Miyo glared at the green-haired woman with intense hate. She couldn’t understand what Ebina was getting at and didn’t want to. “I don’t need any special service,” the girl hissed.
“Alright. Have fun walking out of here with your rough indoor shoes scraping against that burn.” Ebina stood up and took another puff of smoke before adding, “I will have you listen to this much, though. It’s for your own good. Let me tell you three rules and three warnings that are important here at Sky House.”
Miyo looked away, as if to say there was no guarantee she was listening. Her tears were gone but her eyes were alight with loathing.
“What a shitty little brat,” Ebina muttered before saying loudly and clearly the three rules. “First, don’t stand out. That includes standing out with a bad attitude. Blend in and obey and you’re less likely to get picked on by the other staff. Second, always come when your name is called and don’t ever skip the group meals. It’s slop, but that’s all you’re going to get here. Rule three, keep your eyes and ears open, and stay on the lookout. You can learn a lot and get some interesting perspectives by staying quietly optimistic and observing as much as you possibly can. You may learn to blend in better and understand others’ intentions.”
Miyo said nothing in acknowledgement.
Ebina gave a quick sigh and continued. “Here are three tips. One: don’t ever try to fight or strike a member of the staff. Two: Hosoda is impulsive and dangerous. Don’t make him mad. And three: take good care of yourself and stray healthy. Nobody else here cares about you.”
After this, Miyo was released from the storeroom, while Ebina stayed behind to enjoy another smoke. Walking was difficult and painful, but Miyo found that if she tried not to think about it, the pain in her foot lessened. The reason her for detainment with Ebina was that she skipped dinner and didn’t come when her name was called. She hadn’t been rebellious on purpose, she just felt too emotionally weak and physically nauseous to get up and go eat.
Part of her depression and nausea was, of course, missing her parents. The other cause for it was Miyo’s discovery of what kind of place Sky House really was. The screams of children echoed through the house off and on all day. The kids at the group lunch told Miyo that the staff tortured the kids to punish them, and there were all sorts of terrible penalties. The food served was nothing but dirty rice gruel and some overly hard and salted mackerel. It was rare for any of the kids to be allowed to play outside. They spent most of the time in their shared rooms trying not to draw attention to themselves. Treating kids like this was unforgivable. At first, it made Miyo feel sick, scared, and depressed. But now that she herself had been “punished” by Ebina, she felt enraged.
“What? You only got just the one burn?”
Miyo had been staring at the floor while she limped along, but now, hearing a gruff little voice, she looked up. A girl just a little bit older than Miyo stood leaning against the wall in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Her hair was long and pitch-black, kept in a ponytail. Most of the kids in Sky House wore loose, whitish-gray long pants and shirts, but this girl had a pale-pink shirt made from a bath towel. It seemed like this style was supposed to look “elegant,” but it just came across as a little weird to Miyo.
“Ebina is too nice to you, just because you’re new.” The girl clicked her tongue rudely.
“And just who are you?” Miyo asked grumpily and without polite speech.
“My name is Fumie,” the girl replied. “And if what I’ve heard is right, you’re Miyoko. Oh, I don’t worry about family names,” she added with a wave of her hand. “There’s no point in having them in an orphanage. Well then, Miyoko, stop limping so slowly and come with me. The others told me to come get you.”
“The others,” Miyo murmured.
She knew Fumie must be referring to the two girls she shared a room with. To her shame, Miyo realized she hadn’t even looked at those two, let alone learned their names. When she thought about it, the child remembered there had been a fourth beaten-up futon and blanket. Nobody had slept there last night. But Miyo was quick to pick up on things.
“Fumie-san,” she said more politely, “you must stay in the same room as me and those other two girls. Thank you for coming to get me. I’ll follow you back there right away. May I call you Fumi-senpai?”
“If you must,” huffed Fumie, beginning to walk toward the bedrooms. “And by the way, I didn’t come to get you because I was worried or because I wanted to. Eriko sent me, and she is so difficult to refuse. Really! What a bother.”
As she followed her new senpai, Miyo wondered where Fumie had been last night, and what this Eriko person might be like. She managed to forget the pain in her foot for the most part, intrigued by the thought of talking to other girls her age.
To Be Continued