Miyoko no Naku Koro ni
Punishment Chapter (1st Arc)
Episode 4: The Witches’ Tea Party
Muneshige Kashima was a man in his mid-twenties, a little shorter and skinnier than most Japanese men in that time period. He had black, spiky hair and black eyes, and it wasn’t hard to guess his favorite color since he dressed in black nearly every day. Sometimes it was traditional men’s kimono, but most of the time, he wore a modern black dress shirt and black trousers.
He spoke in a rather high voice for a man, and spent most of his time locked away in the small chapel on the edge of the property. By all accounts, Kashima was eccentric, and to all the children of Sky House, his name brought terror. And that was because he was the Master of Penalties, the one who “punished” and tormented children in the worst ways.
“So, Miyoko Tanashi,” Kashima said, smiling down at the bound and gagged Miyo, “I don’t feel much artistic impulse today. Somebody put in a good word for you, you see, and it killed my mood. Now I’m not entirely sure what to do with you. Perhaps one of the lighter penalties. Hmm.” He made a dramatic show of touching his hand to his chin, closing his eyes, and thinking.
“The Duck That Can’t Drink Water Penalty,” Kashima mused. “The Goose Penalty. The Jaguar Claw Penalty. Maybe something creative with chains. No, those are all too harsh. I’ll decide what to do you after we’ve gone through the usual process.”
Kashima removed Miyo’s cloth gag. “Are you surprised? I can tell from the hate in your eyes that you want to yell at me. But look at how you’re trembling and sweating. You’re too terrified to say a word.” He laughed a little and then cleared his throat, calming down. “Well then, let’s get this over with. Miyoko-chan, do you admit that you’ve sinned?”
Miyoko nodded. It was a lie — she didn’t believe she’d done anything wrong — but her survival instincts urged her to play along.
“Good girl. Now, do you know what your sin was?”
“Striking a member of the Staff,” murmured Miyo.
“Oh, is that what is was?” Kashima seemed surprised. “I suppose that’s pretty serious. It’s also very brave. Just out of curiosity, whom did you hit?”
“That dirty bitch, Ebina-san. I bruised her leg with my kick and reddened her face with a slap.”
Just for a minute, Kashima’s attitude changed entirely. He looked so fierce all of the sudden that he might just tear Miyo apart. Then he regained his calm and weirdly happy demeanor. “You’ll be getting the Coffin Penalty,” he stated. “It’s one of the worst there is. But for you, I’ll make it the very worst.”
Miyo’s heart was thundering. “But,” she squeaked, “You said — ”
“I happen to be quite infatuated with Ebina-san,” Kashima interrupted. “And even if I wasn’t, you clearly don’t understand what your sin is. In this case, that’s almost as bad as the sin itself. Your crime isn’t only striking my dear Ebina-sama, but also, being blind to her kindness.”
“What kindness?” Miyo spat, losing her cool again. “You’re all devils, including her.”
Kashima tied the cloth gag around Miyo again. Then, without a word, he hit and kicked her for almost fifteen minutes. He beat her till she vomited. Miyo was only half-conscious when she was lowered into an unused coffin, one of several kept in the chapel. The lid was closed over her and sealed, and all became dark.
Miyo vaguely remembered someone, somewhere, telling her that she could have avoided suffering. But she didn’t remember who told her or how they said this fate could be avoided. All she knew was fear and suffering, interspersed with loss of conscious, for roughly 24 hours. Miyo Tanashi died, bound and sealed within the coffin, from suffocation and dehydration.
But there was a moment of light right before her death, as someone opened the coffin. It was Meisa Ebina, and tears were rolling down her face.
“Why? Why?” she screamed, sobbing. “I told you not to hurt her much! I asked you over and over where she was, and you said you didn’t know. You lied!”
“Well, I did let it go on longer than originally intended,” said Kashima. “I do apologize.”
“That’s not good enough! Gods, why did you let this happen?! I’m sick of playing along. This plan never pays off. That’s it. I’ll burn Sky House to ashes!”
Those were the last words Miyo heard.
“Well, that was rather disturbing,” Kaneko observed.
“Don’t be so posh,” Frederica said back to her guest. “I didn’t even let you see all the most disturbing parts. You and I were talking about the Golden Witch while that child, Miyo, slowly suffocated and lost her mind over 24 hours. That was on purpose. Unlike some witches, I don’t want to drive away my guests with too much human pain or gore.”
Again, the two Witches were sitting in the white tearoom at the set of iron table and chairs, sipping tea. This time, it was Irish Black Tea. From this place, Witches and Gods could sit and watch events unfold as they altered events in different world lines to suit their fancies.
“But Bernkastel,” said Kaneko, “are you saying you didn’t influence anything at all in this gameboard? As I recall, you said this Miyoko girl grew up to be your enemy in most worlds.”
“Well, I changed it by adding a Piece of my own. He’s a wretched fellow who was beaten by certain Wizard and Gamemaster, losing his soul. In this story, he goes by Muneshige Kashima.”
“I see,” said Kaneko, smiling. “How intriguing! But that was a short piece of entertainment, you know, Bernkastel. And you never did show me a miracle.”
“I’ll show it to you now,” replied Frederica coolly. “And don’t worry, this is only the first chapter in the entertainment I have planned.”
The Witch of Miracles vanished from the tearoom and reappeared in another world line just before the deaths of Miyo’s parents. She placed her Piece, Kashima, in Sky House. Finally, Frederica transferred the memories of the dead Miyo in the other world line to the live Miyo in the new world. The memories wouldn’t be readily available, but if Miyo searched her consciousness and tried hard enough, she might be able to access them.
Kaneko watched from the Witches’ Tea Room while Frederica “set up the board” for the next world. When she finished, the Witch of Miracles returned to the chair across the table.
“Now I see what you are doing,” said the Witch of Intellect happily. “A gameboard! Only a relatively few Witches and Gods can actually make something like this. I suppose you can do it with ease because you’re the Witch of Miracles. You alter the world a certain way, set your pieces in place, and play against the targets in that world. Of course, the odds are ridiculously stacked in your favor. I would love to see a real Witch’s Gameboard for at least a few more rounds. Thank you for inviting me, my dear Bernkastel.”
“You’re not going to ask why I’m doing this?” Frederica seemed mildly surprised.
“Of course not. It’s obvious already. You still maintain some human emotions and an attachment to your old human self and her struggles. You’re setting up the Gameboard so that Miyoko will always die. The reason why? Her suffering satisfies your craving for revenge.”
Frederica looked to the side, refusing to meet Kaneko’s eyes for a minute. She felt frustrated and embarrassed to be seen through so easily. But she felt no guilt.
“Game start,” she said, and sipped her bitter tea.
This completes the first Arc.
Betrayal Chapter (2nd Arc)
Episode 1: Companions
(Notes: in the Umineko no Naku Koro ni series, Beatrice the Golden Witch makes the events repeat each time in a different world line, and can interfere with events and people therein. She refers to the repeated worlds as Gameboards, and any servants or agents that she sends in are called her Pieces. That’s what Kaneko and Frederica mean when they use those words. The Witches’ Tea Party and the white tea room are also concepts taken from Umineko.)