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Author Topic: [HalloweenCollection_01]The Carnival of Forest and Fire[NagiUha]  (Read 2214 times)

Offline jubethehare

  • Comedy and Tragedy with a hint of Festive
  • ecchi
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  • 「皆さんが笑ったら私が笑って、私が笑ったら皆が笑う。 永遠にそんなループを世界へ誘いたい。」
Hello, everyone! It's October now and when you're talking about October of course you'll think about 'that' right? Yup, Halloween! That's why I decided to make a Halloween One-Shot. It's a NagiUha fanfic based on the song "Honoo to Mori no Carnival" by SEKAI NO OWARI. Just hit the song and watch the PV if you're interested, it got all the festivities feeling to it.  :D 

!!WARNING: IT'S A VERY LONG ONE-SHOT!!

This is the extended version which includes Ryouha's interaction with the other Tentoumu-CHU members, as well as several extra scenes and revelations. There's also a bonus art down there on my latest comment.

All in all, enjoy~ And Happy Halloween~~







のカーニバル
Chapter Innocence: Carnival of Forest and Fire

__________________________________________________________




__________________________________________________________




If you open the emergency exit of Yokohama’s ‘Cosmo Panic’

You’ll find the entrance to this place called [Treeland]

Just beyond the Great Tree, you are the main star of this place

Listen, can you hear the bell ringing? The party is going to start



=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


Today is October the 1st, and the town looked so beautiful.

With all its dazzling light glittering in the dark night, just like a sea of stars; for a moment I forgot that those light were nothing but simple lamp posts, standing lifelessly among the tall buildings and cold asphalts, and I looked down onto the scenery with a moment of admiration. This is the month of Halloween, where people would come together with their loved ones, playing around and handing out candies in a made-up party of the dead.  A happy holiday for all to enjoy. But none of that mattered to me anymore. 

Today is October the 1st; the day where I would die.

I closed my eyes and smiled, feeling my long hair fluttering against the cold wind that blew on that rooftop. 

Tick-Tack, Tick-Tack

I could hear the giant clock ticking beside me, as if telling me that the world would keep on moving whether I was there or not. I stepped forward and let my foot dangle in the air.

Tick-Tack, Tick-Tack

  --The constant ticking kept echoing as I felt my body fell.

Tick-Tack, Tick-Tack

   --As if mocking my ridiculous existence.

Tick-Tack, Tick-Tack

   --Until finally, everything stopped.

  DONG…
 
     DONG…
 
       DONG …
 
         DONG…
                 
            …
                 
        ..

      .


What was that? Is that…the sound of a bell?

Where did it come from?

I reopened my eyes, finding the starless sky that was dyed in a strange mix of red and dark purple. My body lied intact on top of the soft greenish grass.

…where am I?

I mulled to myself as I sat, staring at the otherworldly yet beautiful sight.

Had I finally died— “A human girl?”

I flinched. A hoarse croaking voice, almost like an animal’s cry. It sounded nothing like I’d ever heard before. I turned to find the source of that abnormally strange voice, and what I saw right after sent a cold sensation deep to my soul.

There was a dog. A huge gigantic dog, with pitch black fur and three mismatching heads. Its red eyes eyeing me closely like a hungry predator.

  “Human girl?” “Is that—?” ”Human…” “—what is that?” ”—human?”

More voices entered my ears as I saw a hoard of black peculiar shadows started to approach and circle me.

  “Human?” “Did you say—“ “Oh?“

A strange chill ran up my spine as I felt the dog’s cold breath against me, its razor sharp fangs only a hair-breath away from my face.

  “Smell delicious~~”

I froze; fear struck me stronger than ever before, and I could feel my body involuntarily shaking. …what an irony. The greatest fear I’ve ever felt was after I had died.

  “Looks warm~~” “—delicious!” “Share—“

I was scared. I was very very scared. Enough to drain myself with no power left to run or scream for help. What will happen to me after they eat me? Will it be hurt? Pain. I hated pain. I closed my eyes tightly.

  “THANKS FOR THE FOOD~~”

Somebody please help— “Right, right~ Break it up folks, break it up~~”

Another voice; a playful sing-song voice, followed by three light tapping sounds.

  “Harlequin?” “Harlequin—“ “It’s the Harlequin—“

The hoarse voices turned quiet, barely above whispers, and I heard footsteps approached me.

“What’re ya guys doing? Scaring the poor girl like that…”

It’s that voice again, and I could hear the dog growled in response.

“Step aside, Harlequin. It’s a human girl. And it’s my prey.”

“Human girl? A ha ha ha~ Ya got something in yer nose, Cerberus?”

Eh? I could sense someone standing in front of me and I opened my eyes, looking up at the mysterious figure. It was a girl with black wavy hair, adorned in a red top hat and matching red suit. I couldn’t see her face as she stood there, her back against me, stepping in between the monstrous pack and myself.

“She’s not a human, silly. She’s a special guest and the main star of this carnival.

…a guest? What is she saying?

“I—“

“Shh…”

She gave me a glance and put a gloved hand to her smiling lips, shushing me. Her shining red eyes gave me an air of assurance. I clamped my mouth shut in response.

“Got it now, Cerb? Just leave ‘er to me and get back to yer work.”

“Hah! And what make you think I’ll trust a word from a trickster like you?”

She shook her head, folding her both hands on top of her cane.

“It’s not a matter of trust or not trusting. As per Phantom Knight’s order, I am now the conductor of this carnival.”

“…”

“Or perhaps you have something to complain?”

Her voice dropped a few octaves as she said that, and maybe it was just my imagination but I could see her shadow extended from her feet, as if covering the whole plains in her power, sending the crowd of monstrous figure bowing and stepping back in fear. The gigantic dog growled.

“I’ll get you for this, Harlequin.”

“Sure, whatever. Now leave.”

She tapped her cane one more time and the crowd dispersed, running and leaving the two of us on the empty grass field. I stared at her with awe. Who is this girl? Why is she protecting me? As I silently thought about that, the girl suddenly fell to her knees.



..

.

Scary~!! Uwaaah, that was very scary!”

Eh? The strong aura around her instantly vanished and I stared at her with wide eyes, trying to cope with the sudden changes. What…just happened?

“Good thing that they believed my bluff, if not I’ll be in a big trouble. A ha ha ha~”

“…umm, are you…okay?”

“Huh? Sure, no worries~” She leaped back to her full height.

“How ‘bout cha? You okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine—“

My words were stopped short as she turned and showed her full appearance to me.

Her face was abnormally pale, just like that of a corpse, its upper half hidden behind a mask painted in a mix of black-white and red. But what struck me wasn’t that; it was the left part of her face that showed nothing but pure white skull, protruding from her skin. Right then, I realized something. She’s not human. She’s a monster, just like them. A renewed fear invaded me and I shakily scrambled to my feet.

“Ah, wait! Please don’t run!!”

An icy cold touch grasped my hand and I turned, finding the girl’s skeletal hand stopping me.

“Please calm down, I won’t hurt ya.”

The girl softened her grip and gave me a sheepish smile. And somehow, seeing that smile, the fear inside me quickly melted away. …how strange. Her touch that felt so cold before suddenly become so warm.

“Have ya calm down?”

I nodded, relaxing my tense muscle. She released my hand and chuckled.

“Aww, am I really that scary? I’m deeply hurt now, ha ha~”

“…I’m sorry.”

“Eeeh, why are ya apologizing? You’re not at fault or anything.”

“…”

“Well then, let’s go now. Quickly.”

She took my hand again, this time with her gloved one, and proceeded to drag me with her. I made a quick walk on my feet, trying to keep up with her pace.

“W-wait! What is this place? Where are we going!?”

“Here? This place is called [Treeland]; a place that lies between the human world and the world of the dead.”

“A place between the human world…and the world of the dead?”

“Uh-huh. This place is the gate that connects both worlds. I don’t know how but you may have accidentally slipped through and somehow got here.”

“…”

Then that means…

“am I…still alive..?”

“Yup, you sure are. And I’m taking you back.”

…No.

I stopped on my feet, forcing her to do the same. She looked at me in confusion.

“What’s wrong? We have to hurry—“

“No.”

I bit my lip.

“I don’t want to go back…”

“…”

“I don’t…”

My voice stuck on my throat, and I fixed my eyes to the ground, avoiding her gaze. Silence enveloped us until I heard her sighing loudly.

“Okay. I get it. I won’t force you. But first thing first, you gotta need this.”

She reached for her breast pocket, and I finally noticed the burning rose sitting there, plucking a petal from the odd flower and clenched it in her palm. She raised an index finger, telling me to wait, and tapped her closed palm a few times with her cane. As she did that, the petal grew into a full flower of its own, expanding through the hollow of her skeletal fingers. I was enchanted by her magical display, and she smiled, tying up the red ribbon around the flower to my hair.

“There… It really suits you.”

There was a hint of sadness in her eyes as her fingers brushed slightly against my face, but before I could see any further she turned away, taking my hand in hers again as she walked. Perhaps it was just another of my imagination; I decided that way as I followed her through the row of dark identical trees.

“..umm…”

“It’s Harlequin.”

“Harlequin... Where are we going this time?”

“Glad that ya ask~”

She changed her tempo from a walk into a run, dragging me with her one more time. Soon enough we passed through the forest into another open plain, a huge campfire sitting in the middle to greet us. The Harlequin released my hand and spun on her heel, ignoring the crowd of monsters that currently staring at the two of us, seemingly surprised by our sudden appearance. She hopped onto the giant tree stump beside her, stretching her both hands to her side and shouted.

“Welcome! To the Carnival of Forest and Fi—” THUD

“Ouch!”

I blinked, watching as a girl covered in stitches hit her head with a plank of wood, knocking her from her glory.

“Shut up, Harlequin. Where were you anyway? Stop being so noisy and start working already!”

“Geez, yer being overly serious again, Scarecrow." The Harlequin pouted, holding her head. "Since I’m the current conductor can’t we have a laid-back and enjoyable carnival?”

“You’re being TOO laid-back, ms. Conductor… We have to finish the preparation before the month’s end or the higher-ups won’t be happy.”

“But it’s only the first day!”

I could only stare as the two monsters started bickering, seeing how humans they acted despite their appearance. What a surprise…

“Please don’t mind those two, they’re always like that.”

I almost jumped on my feet as I found another figure beside me; a girl on a black robe and a scythe on her hand. She smiled at me and I tried my best to return her smile.

“Death! Come knock some sense to this idiot! You’re way better at leading people than her.” I heard the Scarecrow shouted and Death chuckled, approaching her two friends.

“Let her conduct this carnival her own way, Scarecrow. Besides, we’re not anywhere behind the schedule.”

The Harlequin puffed her chest in pride and Scarecrow sighed, crossing her arms.

“So, Harlequin. Who is she?” Three pairs of eyes landed on me and I could sense myself tensed.

“Oh, her? She’s the special guest brought by my boss.”

“The Phantom Knight?”

“Yup.”

“I see. What’s your name, miss?”

I felt my hands started to sweat as nervousness invaded me. Oh no, what should I say?

“It’s Black Swan.”

…eh? I switched my eyes to the Harlequin and she stepped down from her stage, coming to my side to pet my head.

“That’s her name. She’s eerily quiet and still new ‘round here so she’ll be needing some space, ha ha~”

“Huh. She’s still very young, I guess. If it wasn’t for that death flower on her I would’ve thought that she’s a human.”

…that was close. I could feel the Harlequin tense a bit from that word too but she hid it so well.

“Well then—“ Death said. “—let us welcome you one more time.”

The monsters that were scattered around us started to gather, cheering and clapping their hands.

“Welcome to the Carnival of Forest and Fire.” 


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


This is the Carnival of Forest and Fire; a carnival I invited you to

Where even ghost and the dead are dancing together

As I see you smile, I remember the magician’s words to me

"You must keep your love a secret, or the girl's life will be in danger"



=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


“Come on, over here. Hurry, hurry~”

“Wait a sec—“

I almost tripped on the nearby trunk as I walked through the wild patch of trees, trying to keep up with Harlequin’s pace. After a few walk from the center of the carnival I found her stopping by a particular tree, folding her hands behind her as she smiled. I blinked, studying the strange tree beside her. It wasn’t that tall of a tree, but compared to the other trees I saw around Treeland it was quite bulky. But what made this tree looked special wasn’t that.

There was a door on it. A door and some windows planted on its wooden structure. Could it be…

This’ll be yer house for now.” I heard Harlequin said as she tapped the door with her cane. “It’s quite far from the carnival site but not that far. At least it’ll give ya enough privacy, ha ha~”

I nodded, following her inside as she turned the doorknob open. The interior was simple and cozy, almost similar to what you’ll find in a human world; a living room, a small kitchen, a bathroom, a back door, and a stair to the second floor which I believe lead to where the bedroom is. What a surprise… I thought to myself as I ran my fingers over the wooden material of the dining table, finding it glowing a bit as I touched it. I instantly retracted my hand; looks like it’s not that much the same. I could hear Harlequin snickering as she saw my reaction, and I gave her a small pout.

“All trees here in Treeland are connected to the Great Tree, so they’re pretty much alive. They won’t bite though~”

…the Great Tree? What…is that? I decided to save that question for later as Harlequin continued her tour to the second floor, motioning me to follow. It was a bedroom, as I previously guess, a one-person bed and a cupboard inside. There was also a window sitting on the far end and I could see the carnival site from there. But there was something else that caught my attention, and it seemed like Harlequin was thinking the same. The red-suit conductor sighed and walked toward the bed, using her cane to tap on a girl sleeping peacefully on the comfy surface.

“Oi, wakey, wakey~ Time ta wake up, Cheshire~”

“Hmmrh?”

I peeked from behind Harlequin, watching as the girl let out a yawn, almost like a purr, and switched into a sitting position. Her purple cat ears twitched a bit as she blinked a few times.

“Ya awake now?”

She nodded slowly, turning head toward us, and as her gaze fell on me, her eyes widened.

  “YEEEKK!!!”

What the!? I flinched, closing my ears with both hands as the girl suddenly let out a high-pitched scream and disappeared in a puff of smoke. I saw Harlequin shook her head, chuckling.

“Aww, stop being such a scardy cat Cheshire. Come on out~”

There was no response. Is that cat-girl still even here? My doubt was cleared as I heard a voice answered.

“H-h-harlequin! Who IS that?”

“Oh, her? Just a new monster ‘round here and a special guest to this year carnival. Nothing to be afraid of.”

“Really?”

“Yup, really. Come out here.”

“…”

I nearly screamed when the girl suddenly materialized beside me, her body floating as she put her hand on my shoulder, her nose sniffing me like a real cat.

“She smells…strange…”

Uh-oh. I took a step away from her, feeling Harlequin pulling me and hiding me behind her back. The girl furrowed her brows in suspicion.

“A ha ha, what’s with ya and Cerb? Something wrong with yer nose?”

“Hmmm, I dunno. Maybe?”

She shrugged, vanishing and popping out again by the window, perching on it. Harlequin and I let out our breath in unison.

“Sorry for startling you, miss.” She smiled at me. “I’m Cheshire, what’s your name?”

“…Black Swan.”

“Whoa…” She popped and suddenly appeared in front of my face, and I yelped. “She’s a really quiet one.”

“Right, right. Now stop that, Cheshire. You’re scaring her…”

“Eh, I did?”

“Ya got surprised easily yet you surprise people as much with yer shriek.”

The Harlequin pulled Cheshire by her collar, throwing her away as she floated freely in the air, as if gravity didn’t affect her at all. She fixed her yellow cat-like eyes on me again and I gulped.

“So? What are you two coming here for?”

“Oh yeah. Imma borrowing this place so can you stay with Scarecrow for a while?”

A pause. A dead quiet pause.

“EEEEEEEHHHHH!?!!??”

I once again flinched as Cheshire shrieked and puffed, appearing in front of Harlequin.

“Y-you want me to leave this place!?” She pulled on the conductor’s collar, shaking her like a leaf. “I can’t! I can’t live peacefully with all that ruckus and unpredictable accident and—“ “Aww, yer overreacting, Cheshire. Ha ha~ It’s all safe in the carnival site. Besides, Scarecrow’s there so don’t worry too much. ‘kay?”

The Cheshire let out a long sigh and hung her head, before turning to me with a sad face. I started to feel sorry for her.

“Okaaay, I’ll lend my place to her for a while.”

“Great! Thanks a lot, Ches~”

The cat-girl let out another sigh and smiled at her friend, before she vanished again. I blinked. Has she finally left now? I turned to Harlequin and saw her chuckling.

“Well, you heard her.” She walked past me and leaned her back on the window. “Welcome to yer new home~”


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


Knock, knock, knock--

I woke up to the constant sound of knocking by my front door.

Knock, knock, knock--
Knock, knock, knock--


I groaned. Who might it be…? I absentmindedly thought as I closed my eyes again, still feeling sleepy from the full-blown explanation of the carnival’s rules by Scarecrow. Probably just Harlequi—  “Helloooo!! Is anybody home~~!?”

I instantly jumped from the abnormally loud voice, fully awake. Who!? I quickly put on my black sweater and shoes, running down the stair to answer the person by the door.

“…yes?”

“Ah, so you’re The Black Swan!”

It was a girl with a ponytail, a pair of black bat-like wings sprouting from her back and another pair from her head, and she was grinning widely at me.

“I’m Devil DJ. Nice to meet you!”

“…umm…nice to meet you, too…”

The Devil DJ nodded and grabbed me by my hand, suddenly dragging me with her.

“W-wait—“

“Let’s go, Harlequin’s waiting!”

Huh? I didn’t have time to say anything as the cheerful devil brought me to the carnival site, past the busy crowd of monsters and ghosts in a swift; I stared in awe as she greeted all the monsters on her way, not missing a beat. She even managed to fetch some food by the snack bar without stopping. I guess there’s still a glutton even among monsters… I mulled to myself as I let her dragged me around, finally reaching our destination as I saw a certain red top-hat by the distance. The Devil DJ waved her free hand and shouted. 

“Yo, Harlequin~ I’ve brought her with me~”

I saw the Harlequin turned to see us, putting away the black disk on her hands.

“Oh? Thanks a lot, DJ.”

I blinked as I saw the black box in front her, somehow feeling familiar by its shape. Is that…a turntable? I watched the Devil DJ gave Harlequin a quick high-five before switching place with her. So even such things existed in this world? I guess that’s why she’s called ‘DJ’… I mentally noted as I saw her placing a vinyl records under the needles, listening to the song it produced. It was a classical music. And I knew this music. The school I was enrolled to back in the human world was quite a prestigious one, so I knew a lot of classical songs. This one included.

Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35. Also known as—

“The Funeral March.”

I heard Harlequin finished it for me and I glanced to my right, finding her standing beside me.

“Did you know this song? The Dark Witch, the queen of this place, said that she loves this song. Especially the 4th movement.”

The 4th movement…huh. The mismatching finale, with unvarying tempo and not a single rest, ending with a sudden fortissimo. I remembered that piece a lot, finding it strange why such a calm melancholic song must ended with loud messy notes, as if describing the gossiping relatives who talked of the dead after their funeral. A ridiculous mockery. I couldn’t understand there’s even someone liking that part of the song. Harlequin seemed to read my mind and she snickered.

“The Queen is a very eccentric one.”

“I see…”

“…”

“…”

“Do you like classical songs?”

“I…”

I didn’t continue my words, fixing my eyes on the Devil DJ in silence. I liked them. I liked them actually. But at the same time, I hated them. I hated them. Because they reminded me of my school life, and all the painful memories I had there. I gripped my arm tightly, trying to push the thought away to the back of my mind. I didn’t want remember. No. Not any of them—

TAP

Eh? I blinked, feeling all the sounds around me being cut off. I glanced to my side, seeing Harlequin covering my both ears with her palms, trying her best to close the hole between her skeletal fingers. She smiled, loosening her hold a bit.

“Eeeh, ya don’t seem happy hearing it so…”

She shrugged, and I gave her a perplexed look in return. The worry inside me suddenly faded and I smiled, touching her cold skeletal hands. I sensed her flinching slightly from my touch.

“Thank you…”

“…sure. You’re welcome.”

It’s warm. It felt so warm. Even now I still didn’t understand why. Perhaps it was her kindness. Perhaps because I hadn’t felt kindness for a while that it felt so warm now. That’s what I believed as I savor that tender moment, enjoying the peaceful silence she gave me until…

“AAAARGGH--!!!”

What now…? I heard the Devil DJ shouted in frustration as she ruffled her hair.

“Boring! It’s so boring! We gonna need some more ‘oomph’ for the carnival! Don’t you agree, Harlequin?”

“Well…” Harlequin chuckled, retracting her hands. “Just do yer magic, DJ.”

“Sure, leave it to me!”

I watched as the Devil DJ put away the previous record, replacing it with an upbeat and cheerful song. She grinned, throwing her fist to the air, and seeing that, I could feel myself start laughing.

  “As I thought, a smile suits your face better…”

Eh? I turned to see Harlequin, but she had already left my side to join DJ by the turntable. I blinked. Did she say something just now…?



Oh well… I shrugged, seeing DJ waving her hand at me. I smiled and joined their little party, treasuring the small happiness that started to grow inside my heart like a candle in the dark. 


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=

Once I’ve found my way around Treeland I finally started my first day working together with the other monsters to prepare the carnival. It was funny, I thought, when I found that these monsters were the same monsters which nearly eaten me before. Seeing them now working, laughing, and playing around; they didn’t seem as scary as I saw them at first. The funnier thing was, I felt a lot happier here than back in the human world, melding with creatures that’s supposed to be human’s greatest fear. Really, what an irony. I guess I really wasn’t meant to live as a human. I let out a dry laugh as I kicked on a stray pebble by my feet, fixing my eyes in nothing in particular.

…ah, yeah. I had an errand to do. I shook my head lightly, focusing my eyes on the little map Harlequin drew for me. Just beyond this row of dead trees was the beverage section where I had to meet up with the Bar Robot. I quickened my steps, seeing the destination of my little walk. There, on the makeshift bar made from a giant tree root, was a girl with short black hair and white porcelain skin, a metal key planted on her back. She was so cute that I couldn’t help staring. In my eyes she was more like a doll than a robot. Yes. A remarkably cute wind-up doll you’d find in an antique toy store.

“Umm, excuse me?” I blinked, hearing her soft and cute voice entered my ears.

“Do you need something?”

She looked nervous, and I finally realized that I’d probably been staring at her for a while. I awkwardly nodded and approached her.

“…yes. Harlequin told me to come here… She asked for the sample of the Moon Cocktails…”

“Oh, why of course. I’ve got some sample but I don’t know…”

She shyly handed me some glasses and I stared at it, watching the mysterious concoction of many different colors swirling there on top of the bar.

“There’s a lot of them so I don’t think you can bring them all to Harlequin.”

“…”

“Umm, maybe you can just taste it and tell her what you think?”

I froze, staring at them with wide eyes. Wait. Cocktails… Aren’t they…some kind of Alcohols? I kept staring at the row of glasses in silence, and from the corner of my eyes I could see the Bar Robot eyeing me with a worried look. I took one of the glasses to my hand nervously. This is my first errand. And I wanted to help Harlequin so much after everything she’d done for me. But… There was a rule that prohibit minor to drink alcohols back in the human world. So I kept staring, didn’t know what to do.

“Black Swan?”

“!?”     

“I-is something wrong?”

“…no. It’s nothing…”

I took a deep breath, gaining my resolve. Here goes nothing. I closed my eyes and lifted the glass to my lip…but the cold liquid never reached my mouth.

“mmph!?”

I blinked, finding a strange black shadow covering my mouth.

“That... ah, so she’s sewing her shadow to yours? That’s convenient.”

…eh? Sewing...what? I gave the Bar Robot an oblivious look as I saw my own shadow extended to the bar, a bunch of pitch black bunnies emerging from it and taking the glass of cocktails one by one. The Bar Robot giggled.

It’s Harlequin’s ability. She never told you anything about it before?”

“…”

I felt the shadow around my mouth slithered away as one of the bunnies took the glass from my hand, still mesmerized by the amazing shadow play. A shadow bunny hopped to the bar and whispered to Bar Robot’s ear.

“Hmm…hmm… Ah, so that’s why! I see.”

“?”

I saw the Bar Robot turned to me with a smile.

“Sorry, I don’t know you’re allergic to alcohol… Ah, but they’re not alcoholic so you don’t need to worry.”

Allergic… I waved my hand lightly to dismiss her, giving her an awkward laugh. I guess there’s no rule about alcohol in this world so Harlequin made that excuse for me… I glanced at the bunny beside me and it blinked back at me, tilting its head.

“You don’t really need to do that…” I whispered to the bunny. “I… I’m not coming back to the human world anyway…”

The bunny blinked one more time, before hopping onto my shoulder. It let out a quiet purr, nuzzling its face to mine and licking me, as if telling me to stop worrying.

“…”

I let out a small smile, feeling a blush rising to my face from her silly way of affection. She’s just too kind. I softly laughed as I followed behind the line of black bunnies, waving the Bar Robot goodbye and following with their little march, back to a certain undead conductor waiting for my return.


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


Five days had passed since I arrived at this place. Or so, if I could really call it ‘day’.

There was no real concept of night and day here as the sky always stayed the same; the only way to tell time was through the sound of the bell. One chime to signal the one-third of the day. Two chimes for the next third and three chimes for the last part. After that the chimes returned to the start of the cycle. The monsters used the first part of the day to prepare the festivals, second part to have fun, and the third part to go back to work or rest. There’s some who worked all day, like the Scarecrow, but I usually followed the Harlequin’s method of work-play-rest in that order.

The foods around here highly resembled that of the human world too, except they’re more tasteless and almost felt airy, as if it was nothing but a specter of illusion. Besides, I couldn’t feel hunger anymore so I sometimes ate them just for the sake of habit. The monsters around me did the same. I also started to make friends with a bunch of Harlequin’s group.


   --The overly-serious Scarecrow...

   --The charismatic and leader-like Death...

   --The scardy Cheshire Cat...

   --The cute and soft-spoken Bar Robot...

   --And the cheerful Devil DJ.


Everyday was so fun here that I almost forgot how it was back in the human world. Not that I care. I had no reason to go back anyway. I shook my head to dismiss that lingering thought.

“Hey, Black Swan.”

Hm? Oh yeah, that’s my name now. I snapped my head to the source of the voice, finding Scarecrow calling me as she worked on a wooden statue.

“Yes?”

“Can you get Harlequin here? I need to ask the layout of this part. You can take a rest after that.”

“…okay. Umm, but I don’t know where she is…”

“She’s probably sitting by the Great Tree by now.”

It’s that thing again. The monsters mentioned about the Great Tree quite often. I wonder what it is… The Scarecrow seemed to realize the confused look I was giving and pointed her wooden hand to guide me.

“You see that giant tree over there? That’s the Great Tree. There will be a small lake by its root and usually Harlequin is there watching the bubbles floating from it.”

Is that how she passes her time? I always used the third part of my day to sleep so I never knew. Perhaps she didn’t need the concept of sleep; now that I think again, I never saw her sleep before. I shrugged and gave Scarecrow a nod, going on my way to fetch the conductor of this carnival.
The walk to tree was surprisingly short, and before I knew it I had reached its old sturdy trunk that glow in a faint reddish light. A calm dripping sound of water could be heard and I followed the direction of that sound, finding a small spring hidden behind a veil of green leaves.

“…Harlequin? Are you there?”

Stepped inside the area that was dyed in blue and green, illuminated by the mysterious light shining from pool of water. A bubble, around the size of my palm, floated up from the water surface; It danced silently in the air before popping in a mere seconds. Another bubbles followed right after, flowing from the water surface before popping one by one to make a unique echoing melody. I wonder what this place is. I guess I’d ask Harlequin after I found her. I proceeded to look for her again.

“Harlequ—“Ryouha…”

I froze. My body trembled as the familiar voice entered my ears and I darted my eyes around, trying to find the source of that echoing call.

“Ryouha… Please wake up…”

“..Rion?”

A bubble floated right in front of me, the crying face of my best friend reflected on it. What…is this? Why does she look so sad? An unknown sensation overwhelmed me and I reached my hand toward it.

  POP--

The bubble popped once my finger touched its soft surface, and a dark eerie shadow burst from it, covering the whole area. I stared on in horror as more voices echoed around me.
 
  “Eww, what with her? Gross~~” “She’s so eerily quiet~” “What with that look? Angry?” “Kyahahaha!!”

The painful voices pierced through my head and I closed my ears tightly, trying to block it out.

No, no, no—

   “Huh? You want it back~?” “Sure take it~” “What’s wrong? Just take it already~”

Please no… Shut up! Get away from me!!

   “Oopsie, did I hit you?” “How sad—

                  TAP--

My breath hitched as I felt someone softly embraced me from behind, a gloved hand covering my eyes gently. “Calm down.” She whispered to my ear. “Nobody is hurting you, I promise... It’s all just your imagination...” The malicious voices started to fade from her words and I felt myself calming down, falling to her firm grip. She moved away her hand from my eyes, and I looked up to see her smiling face, resting my head on her chest.

“Harle..quin…?”

“Hello.”

My head was still hazy and it took me a while to register everything, but once I realized the position we were in, I instantly returned to my feet and stepped away, a strange heat rose to my face. 

“Hm? Are you still dizzy?”

“N-no…I am fine…”

“Really?”

She tilted her head, and I looked away in response, frantically hiding my face. Eh? What is this? For the first time in my life I felt my heart beating very fast. What’s wrong with me?

“Ya better not touch those bubbles anymore. They pop so easily, y’know~”

I heard the Harlequin said and I peeked through my long strand of hair, seeing her skipping through the sea of floating bubbles. I decided to take the chance to distract my thought.

“…what is this place?”

“It’s the Spring of Memories. A special place located only in Treeland.”

She chuckled and touched one of the bubbles, keeping in on her palm without popping it.

“From here, you can see what happen in the Human World.”

The news shaken me and I saw her gave me a soft smile, before letting the bubble on her hand floated back to the air.

“I come to this place a lot of time before, seeing the happiness and laughter and cry and death and birth of many humans. Treeland is the gate that connects both worlds, the place of in-between; such a place is an anomaly to both worlds. That’s why it could only open its gate for a month every year. …well, only the sixteen members of the Great Council can actually cross the barrier of worlds though. Low-rank monster like me can only go this far.”

…I see. So that’s where the real tradition of Halloween came from. I nodded as I kept on listening to her story.

“Sometimes there’s human getting lost to this place just like you. But it’s very rare and the last time I heard of that was decades ago, ha ha~” She walked and stopped in front of me, folding her hands behind her and tilted her head.

“So? Did Scarecrow tell ya to come here?”

“…how did you know?”

“Eh, well, only six of us know of this place and if there’s anyone needing me by this late, it gotta be Scarecrow.”

…wow. Although how silly she usually acted she could actually think that far, huh? She blinked as she saw the perplexed expression on my face.

“What with that face? Are ya making fun of me?”

“..no. Not at all.”

“Well, okay. Let’s go before Scarecrow start yelling again, come come~”

I flinched a bit as she dragged me by my hand again, feeling that same warm sensation invaded me, but I decided to push it away to the back of my mind, letting the silly conductor brought me back to the carnival site. Back to the joyful days of preparation and playful chatters.


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


“Please take me away to the party”

You said that to me in a whisper

Well, let’s go see the Devil DJ then

And wait as I get us the moon cocktails



=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


I opened my eyes and sat up in a jolt, feeling cold sweats dripping down my forehead. A nightmare. Ever since that time, the memories from my time back in the human world started to haunt me again in my sleep. Those painful days, those constant bullying, those sickening laughter; I hugged my shivering body, trying to erase it from my mind. But Rion…

“Rion…”

I whispered her name softly, the name of my one and only friend. What have I done? Two weeks had passed since that time I tried to commit a suicide. What has happened to her? Is she blaming herself for what happened to me? Suddenly I was washed by a strong sense of guilt. I had to go back. I had to. But even then, I… I paused, seeing a shadow of cute bunny dancing in front of me, distracting me from my previous thought. I sighed, feeling a small smile creeping up my face.

“Harlequin...”

“Uh-oh, busted. Aha ha ha~”

The shadow melted back to the ground and I glanced to my left, seeing the playful conductor poking her head from the window. A huge smile adorning her face that had started to grow familiar to me.

“How’d ya know it was me?”

“…you’re the only one around here who can control shadows.”

“Eeeh, is that so? I thought anyone can do that.”

She scratched her cheek a bit and climbed inside, sitting on the windowsill.


"Did you have a bad dream again?"

“...yeah.”

"I see..."

"..."

"Say..."

“?”

“Do you want to go back?”


Her words surprised me and I looked away.

“I…”

“…”

“I…don’t know…”

I gripped the blanket on my lap tightly. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I want to go back, but in the same time, I was scared. I was scared of facing that loneliness again. I knew that I didn’t belong here. I knew that this black rose she lent me lose its petals day after day. That once it had truly gone those monsters would start hunting me again. But…

“I’ll come with you.”

Eh? I turned my face back to the Harlequin, watching her smiling there.

“Once I carried out this carnival I’ll get my promotion to the Great Council. By then, I will come with you to the human world—whoa!

I shot to my feet and hugged her tightly, burying my face to her chest. I felt her body tensed from the sudden action, before she started to relax and petted my head with her skeletal hand.

“I saw Rion…” My voice trembled, and I hugged her tighter. “I-I saw her there…sitting in a hospital room crying… She looked so sad…and so lifeless…”

“…”

“She’s my one precious friend…and I can’t stand seeing her like that… I have to go back… but… ”

“…”

“I-I’m scared. I’m scared of going back… I—“

“It’s alright..." She softly whispered to me. "Whatever happens from now, I promise that I will protect you…”

I flinched, feeling tears swelling up in my eyes. Why? Why is she so kind to me? Even though she’s just a monster… She’s supposed to be nothing but a moving corpse, cold and lifeless, and yet I buried my face deeper to her embrace, taking in all her warmth. My heart throbbing hard against my ribcage from her touch.

“Harlequin…?”

“Yes?”

I swallowed, trying to find my voice.

“I—“ “Sorry for intrudiiiing~~!!!”

“!?”

I pushed her away in reflex, feeling my face strangely heating up. Oh no! I looked out of the window, finding her barely hitting the ground, her shadow stopping her fall. Her expression was as shocked as I was. 

“Huh? What are you guys doing by the window?” The Devil DJ peeked through the window beside me, and as she saw the funny position Harlequin was in, she started to laugh.

“A ha hah! You look so lame, Harlequin~!! What the heck, you fell from the second floor!?”

“Shut up, DJ! Whatcha comin so suddenly for?”

“Whoa, don’t be so mad. The Bar Robot said she needed you to check on the new cocktails, that’s all.”

“…fine. Take care of Black Swan for me, ‘kay?”

“Gotcha!”

I saw Harlequin coming back to her feet and walked away, while I turned to the Devil DJ. She looked back at me innocently.

“Err, can you wait outside for a while?”

“Oh, okay.”

She walked down the stairs to the first floor and left, closing the door behind her. I sighed, taking the time to calm myself. I touched my face with both hands, checking if my previous abnormal temperature had died down. Okay, I’m ready now. I took a deep breath and went outside, following the Devil DJ back to the carnival site. Only two weeks left until the party started and the structure of the carnival could already be seen. The stage, the fire, the stands, the special seats for council members; I guess Harlequin didn’t mess around all the time. I silently smiled as I thought of that, walking pass a crowd of monsters and waving at some of them.

“Ah! I forgot!” The Devil DJ shouted on top of her lungs and I blinked.

“Can you fetch Harlequin again, Black Swan? Please?”

“…okay, no problem.”

“Thanks! Oh, and please tell her to come to my place afterwards. See ya~”

I waved as I saw her off, making my way to the beverage section. She’s probably still with the Bar Robot, I guess. I could hear the sound of her trademark laugh as I got closer to the bar.


“Harlequ—“Oh, oh~ This one is great, too~!”

   “Eh, you think so?”

   “It sure is, aha ha ha~”



I stopped, watching the two of them talking with each other in a friendly manner.


   “Thanks, Harlequin. I can do this by my own from here on.”

  “Are you sure? At least let me accompany you until DJ or Scarecrow comes.”

  “It’s fine, really. You guys have always been overprotective around me.”

  “What else can we do? You’re just too cute and unbearable~



I felt my ears twitched as I heard those words, something dark swelling in my heart …I don’t like it. Somehow, I just don’t like what I see. I clenched my fist and silently walked toward them.


“Ah, it’s Black Swan.”

“Ooh, is that so? What is it, ya need something— My mind went totally empty, and before I could register anything I had pulled her collar and put my lips above her, pulling her into a soft kiss.

Her lips were just as cold as I imagined them, but it didn’t matter as the heat from my breath melted our touch into a warm exchange. I saw her red eyes turning blank and I pulled away slowly, staring deeply into those red orbs. I puckered my lips, feeling the sweet taste of the moon cocktail she just drank, before switching my eyes to my feet.

T-the Devil DJ!" I shouted in excuse. "She said she needs you in her place after this…”

“…”

“Umm, t-that’s all... bye.”

I turned on my heel and sprinted off, not even taking one glance at her. My face felt like burning in embarrassment, but somehow, I felt a strange happiness swelling in my heart. I didn’t meet Harlequin for a few days, but the Devil DJ always came to my place after that, telling me how the usually so swift Harlequin kept tripping and bonking her head to some trees as she walked in daze for many days to end.


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


As I become entranced by the robot at the bar

You got angry and pull me into a kiss

“The next one will be your turn”

You shyly said as you looked away



=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


“Only one week left until the carnival…huh?”

I whispered those words to no one in particular, hearing as my voice echoed around the isolated cave of Spring of Memories, watching the floating bubbles in front of me. One week left until the carnival, and one week left of my stay here. Once that time ended I would return to the human world. That idea used to horrified me, but now, when I knew that Harlequin would come along with me, it didn’t feel as scary as I thought. I wonder why… I hugged my knees as I sat on the stony ground, watching the reflection of some children laughing and playing on the nearby bubbles. ...no. Perhaps I’d already knew. This strange tender feeling I had whenever she’s around, I knew what it was. But I just couldn’t say it.

“When did it all start, I wonder…”

I softly laughed as an image of that silly conductor with the red top-hat passed in my mind. Maybe, once we reached the human world, I’d tell her this feeling. I wonder if she’s feeling the same, too. That thought worried me a bit, but it quickly disappeared as I remembered her smile. Looks like I just have to give it a go…

“Oh? If it isn’t the Black Swan…”

Huh? I blinked and turned, finding a girl with black robe and a huge sickle approaching me. I smiled at her.

“…good morning, Death.”

“Good morning. What are you doing here? Does Harlequin’s antique start to affect you, too?”

“…I guess?”

She chuckled and walked past me, taking one of the bubbles with her; it had the reflection of an old lady on it, sitting peacefully by her rocking chair. The Death smiled as she saw that, and then, she did something I never imagined she would. She clenched her hand, popping the bubble along with her. I froze, seeing the eerie darkness I’d seen before bursting from it, followed by heart-wrenching cry. What is she…!? I shot to my feet in alert, but the Death kept her calm, watching the raging force in silence, before moving her hand to her mouth. Yes. I saw it clearly back then. She brought her hand to her mouth, swallowing and slurping that darkness like a delicious food. She licked her lips as she finished.

I stared at her in a mix of shock and disbelief, and she blinked at me.

“I’m sorry, did I startle you?”

I didn’t answer, unable to form any words as I was still shaken from her unbelievable action. She let out an awkward laugh.

“Err, that’s how I do my job, actually.”

“…?”

Do…her job?

It’s my job to escort a human soul to the land of the dead without getting lost in Treeland. And to do that, I have to consume their memories to know everything about them.”

Escorting a human soul…without getting lost in Treeland? My eyes widened as a realization hit me, and I clenched my fist, trying to stop my trembling. There’s something wrong. Something really really wrong. If Death was here to stop human from wandering into Treeland, then why…

“…”

“Are you alright, Black Swan?”

“…yes. Yes, I’m fine, but… can I ask you a question?” I took a deep breath, gathering my courage.


“Is it possible…for a human to come into Treeland?”


Death paused and stared at me in silence, before she sighed.

No. It’s impossible. My superior, the Skeleton Maiden, will definitely know about that. And I will be sent to retrieve that soul before they even reach Treeland.”

“!?”

It’s a taboo. The greatest taboo there is for us monster, to let human come to this place. And if one break that taboo…”

I froze. What… What’s the meaning of this? If what she’s saying is true, then—

“Oh? What a rare two-shot we had ‘ere, ha ha~”

I snapped my head toward the source of the voice, finding Harlequin standing there with her usual smile.

“Morning, Harlequin. And uh, I think I just scared Black Swan with my routine…”

“Eh, what? Yer still doin’ your job even though the carnival’s this close? Ha ha, ya being infected by Scarecrow’s seriousness?”

“That’s not it… I have to do my job disregard time, you know…”

“Well, whatever. I’ll be taking Black Swan now, see ya~”

She grabbed my hand and dragged me away from Spring of Memories in a second, her eyes avoiding me.

“Harlequi—“

“There’s only one week left to the carnival! We hafta work hard now, hurry hurry~”

I clamped my mouth shut and decided to give her a nod, trying to ignore the little fear creeping inside me. She’s hiding something. But whatever it was I tried to put it away for a while, focusing my attention to the carnival. There’s only one week left. And when the carnival’s over I’d have all the time I need to ask her about everything. I clenched her hand tighter, gathering my resolve. Until then…


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


Today was the day of the carnival, and I could sense the tension rising in the air. More and more monsters of higher ranks started to flood the area and I stared at the scenery with awe, peeking through the window of my room. The time had finally come. I gulped, trying to calm myself.

Knock, knock--

Eh? Someone was knocking by the back door. I wonder who it is... I put on my shoes and left my makeshift bedroom, opening the wooden door.

“Hello.”

It’s the Harlequin and something felt off with her smile, but I just couldn’t put my finger to it. I tried to ignore it and gave her my own smile.

“…what are you doing here, Harlequin? Isn’t the carnival starting soon?”

“Yup, but I’ve got Death to take over the opening for me. Let’s go.”

Go? Where to? I didn’t have time to ask as she grasped my hand and dragged me with her through the forest, running through the identical form of trees. It reminded me of the first time I arrived here, and the story of our first meeting.

“W-wait, Harlequin! Isn’t the carnival the other way around?

“It is.”

“Then where are we…”

I stopped mid-sentence, staring at her unusually serious face. I knew. Somehow I knew where she’d be taking me. The answer was right here, on the black withering rose on my hair. There’s only one petal left on that rose, so before it had completely gone, she had to take me back to that place.

The Human World.

I grasped her hand tightly as we walked through the dark forest in silence, seeking assurance in her touch. A part of me remembered of my previous encounter with Death, and I opened my mouth, trying to clear the lingering fear I had tried to keep hidden since then.

“Umm, Harlequin…”

“Yes?”

“You…you’ll really come with me, right? To the Human World…

“…”

“Harlequi—“ “Oh, lookie! We’re here~”

Finally our walk ended and I was met by a door. A simple white door standing on an empty ground, leading to nowhere. I gulped and glanced to the Harlequin.

“Go on. Open it.”

An unknown fear invaded me but I decided to do as I was told, intertwining my fingers with her as I turned the doorknob open, making sure that she’s still there by my side. What awaited me beyond the door was a pitch black tunnel, a darkness that felt like sucking me in toward it. It was a very frightening sight…but it’s fine. Yes. As long as she’s with me I wouldn’t be afraid of anything. I took a deep breath and took the first step into the dark tunnel. I had decided, once we finally reached the Human World, I’ll tell her my feelings. That I actually...





..

.

SLIP

Eh? I froze, feeling the hand on my grasp disappeared. What is… I turned around, seeing the Harlequin smiling at me from beyond the door.

“Harle…quin?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t come with you to the human world. I lied.

What…is she talking about?

“Even though it’s such a beautiful world, too bad. A ha ha ha~”

Why… Why are you laughing like that?

“Good bye, Ryouha.”

A sharp pain struck my chest and I reached out to her, trying to fight off the gravity that pulling me to the other side. What is this? It hurts. It hurts. I felt my tears threatening to come out as I saw her smiling there, before a patch of black shadow pierced through her chest, ripping her rose into pieces. Yet she still smiled. She still smiled and limply walked to the door, closing it slowly with the little energy she had left as the shadows started to spin and consume her body. I stared on in horror as that shadows started to rip into her limbs by limbs, and she shakily opened her mouth, whispering her last words to me.

“Please live.”


     DONG… DONG… DONG …DONG…


A bell. Another sound of the bell. I opened my eyes, meeting the unfamiliar white ceiling of a room. Where…am I now? What is this place?

“…Ryouha?”

That voice. A familiar voice I haven’t heard for a while.

“Ryouha! Oh, thank goodness… Thank goodness that you’re finally awake…”

I found my best friend Rion pulling me into a hug, sobbing into the white material of my hospital robe.

“Ri..on?”

“Oh, Ryouha… You’ve been in a comma for a month I… I thought I wouldn’t see you again…”

A comma? …ah, so that’s how is it. [Treeland] The gate between this world and the world of the dead. That’s how I got there. But the reason I could live on in that place, surviving through the hoard of monsters, was because of her. I tried to raise my shaky arm, staring into my empty hand. It’s her. It’s all because of her. That silly conductor with her red top-hat, the one that kept holding my hand with her cold skeletal fingers.

“…she’s…gone…”

“Ryouha?”

“…she’s gone...”

My throat felt like burning as those words passed through me, tears falling down my face as I cried my heart out. It’s not a dream. It’s not a dream, I’m sure of it. Because if it’s only a dream, then where’s this painful feeling in my heart coming from? I screamed as loud as I could, as if it would be able to reach her and bring her back to my side.

“R-ryouha!? Please calm down, what are you—“

I felt Rion holding my shoulders, speaking to me in a panic. I could faintly hear the jumbled voices of some doctor and nurse rushing to my side, but I didn’t care at all. She’s gone. She’s gone. She’s truly gone. I hugged my hand tightly to my chest, trying to recall her warmth. Her last word echoed inside me like a spell.

“Please live…”


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


This is the Carnival of Forest and Fire; a carnival we are invited to

Look, everyone is dancing happily to it

As we looked at each other, the magician’s words reminded us

"You must keep this love a secret, or else her life will be—



=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


Today is October the 1st, and the town still looked so beautiful.

One year had passed since that day, and I returned to this place, watching the night view of the city that still looked like a sea of stars. I wondered if the people down there were still the same too, enjoying this month of Halloween with sweets and pranks and their loved ones. I hugged my jacket closer as the cold wind blew against me, listening to the clock’s tick-tack. I recalled this one year I spent in the human world, the one year I spent without her. There was time when I felt like giving up again, but it was her wish that made me kept moving. And then, I remembered her previous words to me.


 “Treeland is the gate that connects both worlds. It could only open its gate for a month every year.”


Yes. That’s why I returned here, hoping that the gate would open once again. Clinging to that small hope of seeing her once again. I closed my eyes.

Tick-Tack, Tick-Tack

  --Hey, do you know? Those people finally felt guilty and apologized to me.

Tick-Tack, Tick-Tack

   --Thanks to you and everyone I’ve also started to open up to people. I’ve got more friends now.

Tick-Tack, Tick-Tack

   --I’ve kept on living, just like you say. If you just know…


  DONG…
 
     DONG…
 
       DONG …
 
         DONG…
                 
            …
                 
        ..

      .


“Ryouha?”

I flinched as I heard that, feeling a slight twinge in my heart. No way... I turned around, recalling her face in my mind once again—

“Harlequi—!!“

—but the one awaited for me wasn’t that silly conductor with her red top hat; there were two ghastly girls, one dressed in a blue military uniform, and one looked just like a broken rabbit doll. The color of their eyes showed me that they weren’t humans. The one with the blue uniform stepped forward.

“So you are Kitagawa Ryouha, I see.” She spoke in a stern yet caring voice, and from her appearance, somehow I could guess who she was.

“I am the Phantom Knight; the former commander of the Harlequin.”

“…I know.”

I answered in a casual manner, but inside, all my feelings for that certain ghost mixed together, suffocating me. I swallowed, trying to find my voice.

“How…is she?”

The Phantom Knight narrowed her eyes and I could see the Rabbit Doll approached her, squeezing her hand. No. I didn’t like the look she was giving me. I clenched my fists in my pocket as she gazed deeply into my eyes, as if trying to read my mind.

“Harlequin…she was one of my best pupil. She can be a bit slow in the head but she’s still a quick learner, and most of all, she always give her all in everything she did. Everything has been moving in a good direction, until that day…”

“…”

The day she fell in love with a human; an eerily quiet human girl who was so kind yet always looked lonely, a fragile human who stayed strong and kept hanging on with her life.”

Eh? What is she…

“Her ability grew tremendously since then, but at the same time she had visited the Spring of Memories more often. When I realized she had almost reached the top of my command. It was her dream to become one of the Great Council and came to the Human World to help that girl, but before she could reach that dream, that human girl gave up on living and decided to end her life.”

No… It can’t be…

“That moment Harlequin made a deal with the Dark Witch to save the girl’s life. She would be given time until the end of Halloween to return the girl to the human world, but once the time ends, Harlequin’s soul will be cast into the abyss of nothingness and forever belong to the witch…

…no. No, she got to be joking. A deal? The Dark Witch? And it’s all…because of me? Suddenly my legs felt weak and I fell to my knees.

“I’m sorry.”

Those two simple words pierced to me painfully, but I couldn’t feel anything anymore. Not even sadness. Not even pain. It was as if my heart had gone numb, leaving nothing but a hollow shell.

“There’s still hope.”

…huh? I found the Rabbit Doll crouching in front of me, patting my shoulder, and I looked up to her cute smiling face. She raised her furry arm and handed something over to me. A thread. A very thin spider thread that barely visible.

“Sayaka and I didn’t manage to rescue her, but with the help of Ms. Spider we managed to attach this thread to her soul without being known by the Dark Witch. Keep this with you, and someday, once you find the other end of this thread, you’ll be able to see her again.”

The Rabbit Doll released her fluffy hand and left, catching up with the Shadow Knight, and just like that, the two ghastly figures vanished, leaving me by my own again. It was just like a passing daydream and I gazed at the thread on my palm, watching it gleaming under the soft moonlight.

The other end of the thread…

I closed my eyes and stood, clenching the threads tightly. If I can find you again, I…

Tug, tug

Eh? I felt a slight tug on the thread and I blinked. Could it be… I clenched the thread tighter and ran, following its thin strand. My long hair fluttering behind me as I went passed the busy town, passing the crowded shopping district, focusing my eyes on that thread that only I could see. I bumped into people on my way and they gave me a cold look, but I didn't care. I needed to see her; that's all I had in mind for now. I finally went pass the dizzying crowd all the way to the dark and empty playground, resting my hands on my knees as I panted. It’s been a year. One whole year since then. What would I say once I see her? Would she laugh at me if I tell her that? This feeling I’d been keeping all this time…

I took a deep breath, calming myself, and stepped up the stony stairway one by one, but once I reached that place there was no one around. I sighed and rested myself on the nearby chair. The previous tugging stopped and I bit my lip, feeling a bit frustrated. Of course it wouldn’t be that easy, huh…

“Hello.”

I froze as I heard the familiar voice, and I almost couldn’t believe my ears. I turned, watching her standing there with a long sweater, a can of warm tea on her hand. Her kind smile greeted me like it’s always been. Her long wavy hair was still the same but her eyes were no longer the same shining red; it was replaced by pitch black orbs instead, and in place of her skeletal limbs were hands of that of a human. 

“You okay?”

“…Harlequin. You've really—”

“Harlequin?”

I blinked, staring into her confused face. Eh? A sharp pain struck through my chest and I raised my clenched palm, opening to find the spider thread vanishing into thin air.

“Err, ya really okay, miss?”

“…”

"Can I...have a seat here?"

The girl tilted her head, before hesitantly taking a seat beside me. She popped open the can on her hands, switching her eyes from it to me and back to the can again. Then suddenly, she tapped the warm metal to my cheek.

“!?” I flinched and pulled away from her, giving her a pout as I touched my cheek that was dyed red from the sudden change of temperature.

"...it's hot. What do you think are you doing?"

“You talk!  Ah, sorry~ You’re so quiet that I thought yer tongue’s frozen from cold, a ha ha ha~”

That laugh. That annoying yet heart-warming laugh. I couldn’t stop myself anymore and I pulled her into a hug; I felt her whole body suddenly tensed from my sudden action.

“W-whoa, miss!? What are you—”

“I’m sorry…”

“…”

“I’m sorry…but let me do this for a while…”

The girl let out a small ‘ok’ and started to relax, petting my head as I buried my face to her chest like I always did. She’s here. There’s no doubt about it, it’s really her. She might not remember anything about me, but she’s here now. And that’s all that matter. I felt my tears fell and I smiled, releasing her from my embrace.

“…sorry for doing that so suddenly.”

“Nah, it’s fine. I was shocked though, ha ha~”

She let out a laugh and I could feel our hands touching, intertwining with each other as if it was natural.

“My name is Nagisa.” I heard she said. “Shibuya Nagisa.”

The girl gave me a sheepish smile and scratched her cheek.

“What’s yours?”

I clenched her hand tighter, finding my voice.

“It’s Ryouha.” I smiled for her. “Kitagawa Ryouha…”


=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=


This is the Carnival of Forest and Fire; a carnival you invited me to

Look, even the Cinderella is singing to its rhythm

As we melt into the crowd, I grasp your hand tightly in mine

And from then on, I decide never to let go…




__________________________________________________________
Carnival of Forest and Fire// END
« Last Edit: October 11, 2016, 01:57:33 PM by jubethehare »

Online MaYukiIsLife

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2015, 10:55:05 AM »
It was sad at first, but then Nagisa or Harlequin, was reincarnated into a human body?

Offline jubethehare

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2015, 12:41:40 PM »
@MaYukiIsLife Well, to put it simply...yes. There's still a lot of mystery hidden along with the intervention from Sayanee, Milky, and "Ms.Spider", which will be revealed in their part of the story. I'm thinking of writing the SayaMilky chapter next for this Halloween Series but don't think I can make it before the month ends.  :sweatdrop: I also got my other fanfic, so...

Online MaYukiIsLife

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2015, 12:46:26 PM »
I would be able to help, if I hadn't had too many fics to proofread and write ^_^ But anyway, I'll wait for an update for this and your other fic too :3

Offline Ruka Kikuchi

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2015, 02:05:09 PM »
This is so good~~~ >w<

Offline kuro_808

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2015, 06:18:30 PM »
Interesting aspect overall :thumbup
Random Thought:

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Offline deguchi

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2015, 12:47:38 AM »
NagiUha!!!
I love this one!
Thanks author-san..
just love to read alot of fiction story

Offline ChibiRine

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2015, 01:46:44 AM »
YOU'RE BACK! Hihihi~

As usual, your works are toooooooooo GOOD! :mon thumb:

Will wait for more OS/Updates from you. :mon bye:


油断した私がハートときめかせたせいねその目に見つめられポーっとしてしまった

君を見つけたらどんな言葉を掛ければいい?その姿 見とれて僕はきっと立ち尽くす人混みと喧噪の隙間愛する人と出逢えたことだけでしあわせになる

スキャンダラスに生きて行こうそれが私たちの生きる道やりたいことやって行こう一度の人生だ

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Offline Yuki88

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2015, 07:16:33 PM »
I love the fantasy aspect of this fic! We're lacking this kind of fic on JPH!P nowadays so you brought us a warm breeze. ;)
Anai Chihiro is my one and only.


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My random OS Idea Center || Hakata Legend (HKT48 drabble fics) || Virgin Love (A TomoYuki Fluff) -hiatus?-

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Offline abcari

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Re: The Carnival of Forest and Fire [Halloween OS] [NagiUha]
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2015, 06:03:01 AM »
Let me tell you, when I saw how your fic was called I was like "Okay, sekai no owari?" then I saw that it was because of them and I started to read with more happiness as I was listening the song lol

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Re: [Halloween OS]The Carnival of Forest and Fire[NagiUha](bonus art)
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2015, 04:56:22 PM »
And here's the silly little bonus art I made for this fic~~
Happy Halloween, everyone~~
:D


« Last Edit: October 31, 2015, 12:34:30 PM by jubethehare »

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^OMG SO CUTE!!!!!!! >w<

I always love your artwork. X3

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