Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chapter 6 (b)

In my darkest moment, a voice spoke to me. It was strangely familiar, as if it came from a past that I had forgotten, but not completely.

"Your assistance is needed."

When I rose my eyes I saw something that wasn't of this world. On the surface she had the appearance of a young girl. She had beautiful silky long hair, and she wore a stylish black dress. Her almost childlike visage was betrayed by a most cold and cruel stare.
Her very existence there in that place defied rationality. Not only she was completely unaffected by the violent storm and the rain, she was literally levitating in front of me. The pleasure boat heaved and swayed, while I pathetically tried to keep my arms fastened around the railing, and yet that being didn't seem to move of an inch in relation to me.
Her unexpected appearance, her impossible revelation, filled my heart with awe. I was at the climax of my desperation, and even the smallest hint of an external help at that time would have seemed like a gift sent from the heavens. At that very moment she was my hope, my world, my life, my everything. Whatever she asked me to do, I would have accepted it without a second though. I was prepared to give her everything, if only she could rescue me from that hell. She could have easily fooled me into believing anything that she wanted, and yet she decided to be blunt and frank from the very beginning. She didn't even waste any time for introductions or kind words, she directly stated her own intentions. I was needed; in other words she needed me, my 'assistance'. I had already understood that she was no angel, she wasn't going to save me out of goodwill, and the way she kept staring at me with that blank expression told me everything about her cruelty, her disinterest for my pitiful existence. And yet I found that even more endearing, because that was something that I could trust completely. A smile is deceiving, kindness is double-faced, indifference is always honest.

Erika: "Who... are you?"

Bernkastel: "I am Bernkastel, I am the witch of miracles."

Erika: "A... witch?"

The usual me would have laughed at that claim, never I would have thought that I would be talking to a real witch before, but I had just gone through a period of my life where I couldn't really tell fantasy from reality anymore.

Bernkastel: "My opponent is also a witch and a very powerful one. I need you to assist me."

Erika: "Me? Against a witch? How?"

Bernkastel: "You need to join our ongoing game, as my piece. I need someone on the chessboard to act as my eyes, ears and hands."

I started to grow uneasy, I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, and she kept making requests, when I was the one who was in a desperate need of help.

Erika: "Can you... save me?"

The witch of miracles eyed me with cruelty for a moment, and I could almost read despise in her stare.

Bernkastel: "As long as there's a chance for you to be saved, no matter how small, I can save you."

I rejoiced for a split second and then fell into despair again. How was I supposed to interpret that statement? Did that mean that she would save me, or did she just seal my fate? Was there even the smallest chance that I could survive that predicament? The more I looked around me, the less I thought it could be possible.

Erika: "How?! How can you save me from the certain death of this typhoon?!"

An almost imperceptible movement of the witch's brows told me that my question surprised her. Like that, she pierced me with her cold eyes for several interminable seconds.
Then she smirked, slightly. That was the biggest change in her facial expression that she showed since her appearance, and I felt like my heart was just ripped from my chest and thrown cruelly into a deep, dark abyss.
She wasn't there to save me from my impending demise, she never had the intention to, I was a fool for even thinking that. But then my mind started to work, frenetically. In the lapse of a few seconds I came to several realizations. The witch sneered at my own mortal stupidity, my blatant shortsightedness. I was in the need of help so much, and yet I didn't even realize what I really needed to be saved from. There was something worse than the typhoon I was in the middle of, my real plight was of an entirely different nature. What I really needed to be saved from was the very reason that brought me there in the first place.
As if the witch had followed my internal thoughts, she spoke.

Bernkastel: "I have the power to alter probabilities. No matter how small they are, I can elevate them to one hundred percent."

Something clicked inside my mind, a gear that for a long time was left unused and for the dust to cover it suddenly was put into motion.

Erika: "Then, can you turn doubts... into truth...?"

Bernkastel: "Yes, I can show you the way to reach the truth that you seek. That's what I need you for: expose the truth. That is the only way to defeat Beatrice, my enemy."

Erika: "But..."

Bernkastel: "Indeed, an absolute truth definitely doesn't exist in the world of humans. However, the probability to reach a truth that will never be denied nor questioned isn't zero. As the witch of miracles I guarantee that."

And there I no longer had any doubts, she was a Goddess and she had chosen me to reveal herself to. Her words were imbued with a supernatural brilliance, and rapidly they dispersed the mists that had been clouding my judgment.

Erika: "If I become your pawn... I'll be saved from doubts and lies and I will reach the truth..."

Bernkastel: "Pledge yourself to me and you'll receive my blessing. You'll no longer know uncertainty and you'll find the answers that you seek. However, if you refuse, you'll be swallowed by the maelstrom of lies that surrounds you and you'll sink into the abyss of oblivion."

Erika: "You don't need to speak any further, there is no other choice for me and with joy I accept. You can use me as you please. I am your servant, Lady Bernkastel, my master!"

The deafening roar of a thunder sealed the Faustian pact.

Bernkastel: "Very well, Erika Furudo, I hereby bestow upon you my blessing. You are now under the protection of the witch of miracles."

Erika: "I am most grateful, Lady Bernkastel! However... what am I supposed to do now?"

The witch giggled sardonically.

Bernkastel: "You don't need to worry about pointless matters. I'm a voyager witch, I've traveled an enormous multitude of universes before finally reaching this fragment. Your fate is a harsh one, but I've seen worse. In almost every universe that I visited you eventually sink into the ocean and disappear. However, I wouldn't have bothered to show myself to the you of this world if that was going to happen here as well."

Erika: "Then, I'll survive..."

Bernkastel: "Don't get the wrong idea. That doesn't mean that you'll be magically saved. I merely chose this world among the infinite possibilities. The rest is up to you."

Erika: "Yes, master..."

Bernkastel: "Listen carefully, Erika. You'll soon reach the shores of Rokkenjima, that is the chessboard of a series of games that I've been playing against Beatrice. The rules are simple, she will move her pawn and commit several murders in overly complicated and apparently impossible ways. Your objective is to explain who did it, how the culprit did it, and why. She will claim that the crimes could only be perpetrated by a witch through her magic; that is the source of her own existence and power. You'll destroy her illusions by showing the truth behind them. You'll bring to light the real culprit, and in doing so you'll slay the witch."

Erika: "This witch... Beatrice... is she trying to hide the truth... with her lies?"

Bernkastel: "That's correct."

Erika: "With a preposterous claim no less? A witch did it? Is that so? She wants to replace the truth with a fantasy that only an idiot would believe in?"

Bernkastel: "Yes... that is the nature of the golden witch Beatrice."

Erika: "Aha... ahaha..."

I almost couldn't believe it. The more my master described the one that I was asked to defeat, the more she appeared to me as the very personification of what I hated the most. I hadn't even met her and yet I was already feeling an irresistible desire to confront her, fight her, and in the end crush her mercilessly under my feet. In spite of the cold rain that relentlessly kept falling on me, I felt my whole body burning with a growing excitement, the rush of the predator.
Until then I had been always thinking that I was at the mercy of an invisible enemy, an immaterial law of the universe that I couldn't oppose in any way. Everything changed at that very instant. I suddenly realized that there was a way for me to fight back and to exact my eagerly sought revenge.
To the world that denied me the truth that I wanted to know, I would show it the worst possible truth that I could find! Bernkastel, my savior, just offered me the weapon that I needed, she showed me the path. As a way to repay my debt, and for my own amusement and enjoyment, I swore that I would make use of my newly found abilities against Beatrice, the golden witch.

Erika: "I want to fight her! I want to destroy her! Bring me to her, my master! This is no longer something that I'll do for your sake, this is something that I desire!"

Bernkastel: "How endearing! My little piece is so eager to fight! I knew that choosing you was the right decision. However don't underestimate Beatrice. She knows many clever tricks in spite of her dumb outlook, don't let her fool you."

Erika: "It won't happen! I promise you, my master!"

Bernkastel: "Good, because failure isn't an option. If you disappoint me, I'll throw you back to the abyss I salvaged you from."

Erika: "I understand... I won't fail..."

She was indeed a most cruel being, and yet I couldn't help but loving even that side of her. The uneasiness that her threat brought was a surprisingly pleasant ache in my heart.

Bernkastel: "Funny that you're so confident, considering that you know nothing of Beatrice and her games!"

Erika: "I'll find out... I'll definitely learn everything about her and the truth that she hides!"

Bernkastel: "You're showing the right attitude, but that isn't enough. I want you to absolutely crush Beatrice and I don't want to wait until you figure out how. That's why I'm going to tell you everything that I already know about her and her games."

Erika: "Master! I would never dream to ask so much from you! Even without that advantage..."

Bernkastel: "Silence! I don't care about how much you want to prove your worth to me. You will win the next game, and you will make use of any advantages at your disposal. Our enemy does not value sportsmanship, and neither should you."

Erika: "As you desire... master... I will gladly accept your gift..."

Bernkastel: "Very well, it's time to show you the sea."

Erika: "The... sea?"

I could only be puzzled by such statement, because as far as my eyes could see there was absolutely nothing but the vastness of the ocean around me, and it wasn't a soothing sight.
The witch of miracles giggled.

Bernkastel: "Not this one, the sea where we're going is not of this world. It's the sea of infinite possibilities, the sea of fragments."

And before I could make sense of those words, my soul was snatched away from my reality. That was my first travel to that zone that lies beyond the physical realm: the metaworld. However the witch of miracles had a different perspective on that matter. Reality is only real and worthwhile for those who belong to it, but for my master who exists between the many possible worlds, reality is as relevant as a passing thought. She had no reasons to treat me differently from a character of a fictional story.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chapter 6 (a)

It was a most terrifying storm.
In the middle of nowhere, between the turbulent sky and the tumultuous ocean, I was a small, helpless, and insignificant little creature. I was alone in a hostile and alien world, a place I didn't belong to, a place where I wasn't supposed to be.
Nature itself was furious at me for that unforgivable trespassing. The sky incessantly roared with its thunders, menacing me, yelling at me with ferocity. The sea, with its giant waves, was a gargantuan beast, shaking its body with an increasing frenzy, desperately trying to get rid of the annoying pest.
There were no signs of civilizations for as far as my eyes could see, not a single trace of humanity. No one could reach me, no one could help me. It was just me against the rage of the elements.
Rain poured on me mercilessly, draining my life force with each drop. Water from above, water below, I was completely surrounded.
That day I understood how does it feel to stand before the creatures from the Cthulhu mythos, the unspeakable horror that they represent. I was at the mercy of forces that I couldn't even be compared with, forces that could not understand me, forces that I could not negotiate with, shapeless and yet gigantic beyond human comprehension. All that I could fathom was that they desired my death, my total annihilation. The mere thought of those boundless masses engulfing me was enough to erase from my mind any traces of rationality and self identity. I couldn't help but thinking how meaningless and inconsequential was my existence when compared to them. I was nothing, absolutely nothing. Just a dot in the universe. No, even less than that, not even a dot, something smaller than that. I was smaller than the very concept of a geometrical point. When compared to infinity even the thought of being something, no matter how puny, is a heresy.
But while my fear was great, more than I ever experienced before, in my heart there was acceptance. It was fine, I had gone there by my own free will. This is the story of Erika Furudo that everyone knows. On that day, October 4th 1986, I boarded a pleasure boat and sailed to the open sea. Of course, I was fully aware of the incoming typhoon, there was no way I couldn't have known. That led most to conclude that Erika Furudo on that day planned her own death, however some were still left with doubts. Aren't there easier and faster ways to end one's life? Why wasn't any message left to testify the suicidal will?
As of today the world still doesn't know the answers to those questions. That is only natural, they would need to know exactly what was on my mind that day, they would need to know my heart. But only Erika Furudo knows, and since I am Erika Furudo, I know.
In the midst of the twisting despair, on the shaking vessel unsteadily I stood. Raising my arms and head to the roaring sky I prayed:
"Take me. Take me away to a world of nether. Drag me down into the abyss of oblivion."

That was my only wish, my only hope left: disappear, completely.
A thunder answered my call, and simultaneously a giant wave pushed me up closer to the ominous sky. But the boat still floated, and my hands, defying my will, were holding fast onto the railing. Surprised, I realized that I still had lingering attachments to that shadow of a life. Even after I went that far, even after I had already crossed the point of no return, somehow I still wanted to live. I loathed myself for my own weakness, I despised my lack of resolution at that crucial moment. I had to embarrass myself right at the time of my death. So pitiful.
And yet my fear had grown stronger. It was so fast, sudden, and overwhelming, that everything else faded in its darkness. None of my afflictions mattered anymore, and all that I knew was that I wanted to live.
Like I child I helplessly cried for help:

"Someone, somewhere, no matter who, no matter how, may it be a god, an angel, or a demon, please... Please! I beg of you! Save me!"

My true wish became apparent, but I was alone in the middle of a raging sea. Nobody could hear me, nobody could see me. Nobody even knew that I was there, and even if they did, even if they wanted, they couldn't have possibly helped me. The typhoon would have killed them as well, I was beyond salvation.
And yet I couldn't stop wishing for the impossible to happen. My mind just refused to accept reality, my heart didn't want to listen to reason. What I longed for couldn't possibly exist in the real world.
What I longed for... was a miracle.

When we are born into this world, we know nothing. We can see, we can touch, we can hear, we can taste... We use our senses to learn about our surroundings. We assimilate all those inputs and then use that information to create our world. Then we learn even more complex concepts and facts from our parents, our friends, our teachers. How we act and how we make decisions is determined by what we know. All that we do, all that we believe in is shaped by what we trust to be true. In a way, our very self, our very identity, depend on what we have learned through the course of our existence.
But do we actually possess the truth? Is it something that we grasp with certainty?
It is a terrifying though the idea that all that we always believed to be correct could be completely wrong. If that happened to be 'true', then we would have to admit that everything that we did in the past was the consequence of an error. Could it even be said that our choices were truly ours if they were based on false information? That would be the same as to realize that we never truly lived, it would be as if we just acted a part scripted by someone else.
That alone would be enough to drag even the stoutest man into an existential crisis, but at least it would be a revelation. I can think of something worse, for example: the persistent thought that everything that we know could be wrong, while not having any way to confirm it or to refute it. Or, again, the realization that we lack any possible means to know something that is absolutely vital to us.
When you consider all this, it is not a wonder that people hate to be lied to. Why? Because in the end living inside a lie is the worst form of slavery. The realization that someone lied to us, or that someone withheld important information to us, is degrading, it is humiliating. And there is an even more dreadful consequence: it robs us of our trust. And when we start disbelieving, it becomes a slippery slope. Soon enough we realize that we cannot trust anyone. Furthermore, it doesn't even take a very high degree of education to realize that our senses aren't that reliable either.
So how can we even tell the difference between truths and lies? What is true, what is false? No, the question is even more fundamental than that. What is the meaning of 'truth' in the first place? How can one even define it? And even if he did, how could he even know whether his definition was the 'true' one?
I suppose that most people simply do not think about these philosophical matters, or, rather, they avoid them the same way they avoid thinking about unpleasant memories. I despise that attitude, but at the same time it's not like I don't understand it. It is a lot more alluring to simply pretend to know what you do not, than accepting that in fact you know nothing for certain.
But I didn't quite have that option, not since the day that I asked that fateful question:

"Do you love me?"

His answer was predictable, but I didn't like it one bit. It didn't ring 'true' to my ears, and so I demanded proofs.

"Prove it! If you love me, then prove it! Show me something that can confirm beyond any doubts that your feelings are true! Show me something as much as solid as that long hair that I found on your shirt, or the expensive cologne you still smell of, or the receipts in your pocket! Can you prove your love with something equally evident? You can't, right? There's no way you can! And yet you keep denying the truth! You still deny it! No matter how many evidences I bring up, you still say that I'm just being paranoid! You still dare to claim that you love me! Ah, of course! I'm the one at fault here! Figures! I must be crazy, I guess! No matter what, you can't even give me a proper closure, can't you? You must making me live with this doubt for the rest of my life, that's just how narcissistic you are! What does it mean that we're through?! You still didn't show me the proof that I wanted! You still haven't admitted the truth! I'm not crying! No, I won't stop shouting! I don't care! I don't care! I don't care anymore!"

After that, it was just a long descent into the realm of pure paranoia. I had just realized how fragile that assortment of facts that I called reality was. In the end, when confronted with the task of proving which was true or false, I was completely powerless. So I started to wonder just how much of what I was told could be trusted. What if all those crazy conspiracy theories were true? I was amazed to learn how many of those exist and the number of people that believe them to be real. For example it could as well be true that Neil Armstrong never landed on the Moon, perhaps it was just a hoax as some claims. Who am I to deny that? I wasn't there on that floating rock when it happened, I wasn't even born. There's then some who claim that the HIV virus is just a blatant invention. The whole world was fooled by pharmaceutical companies so that they could sell their costly medicines to treat a syndrome that doesn't even exist. Whatever can I say? I can't possibly see viruses, they might as well not exist. According to some sources Paul McCartney died long time ago, the man that currently claims to be him is just an impostor. Why not? It's not like I ever met him. The world is actually controlled from behind the scene by a few selected, powerful men known as the Illuminati. Of course aliens have already landed on our planet, but the American government is covering up the whole story. The spaceship and the alien corpses are held in a secret military base known as Area 51. Soka Gakkai has already infiltrated several government institutions. It will soon rule over Japan and then the whole world.
If only I could find a way to fight back, but I had none. I was defenseless, helpless. There was no way for me to prove or disprove anything without trusting a source or the other, and I couldn't trust anyone anymore. So, I was lost, completely.
I desperately needed a solid ground, some kind of certainty to base my beliefs on. I needed a truth that couldn't be denied, I needed an absolute truth that wouldn't leave any possibility for doubts to exist. However no matter how hard I searched for it, such truth in the world of humans doesn't exist. The truth that I was looking for couldn't possibly exist.
It hurt. The uncertainty I was living in was nibbling at my soul and my sanity each passing day. I wasn't even alive. I was essentially a ghost that roamed in an ethereal world devoid of any substance. And for all I knew at that time, that could have really been the truth of my existence. I was angry at the whole world, I hated it for denying me that simple and yet vital element that I desperately needed in order to survive. My request was legitimate and the refusal to grant it was a blatant affront. In the end I couldn't explain that in any other way if not as a deliberated attack against me.
Yes, the whole world was my enemy. They all knew the truth, and sneered at me. They knew everything and behind my back they ridiculed me. They kept the answers that I sought for themselves so that they could enjoy watching me crying, struggle and despair. It was all conspiracy against me. Every single person that surrounded me was part of it. I could see that through their lies, their fake smiles, and their badly playacted empty kindness. They planted invisible camera in my room so that they could always keep me under control. They knew everything about me, and I knew nothing. At one point they even found a way to listen to my thoughts. Somehow they could broadcast them so that they could always know what was going on in my mind. It was terrifying, but I had no way to deny it, I had not way to prove with absolute certainty that I wasn't simply imagining it. And then I realized that if that was true, then they knew that I was suspecting them. I couldn't even sleep at night anymore, I couldn't even eat without the fear that my food was poisoned. I had to react, I had to do something in order to survive. I couldn't stand that situation any longer. I even thought to fight against the whole world for a while, but soon I realized how unrealistic that plan was. And then I had an epiphany. The solution was so simple that I almost couldn't believe my shortsightedness for not thinking about it before.
What is murder in the end? It's just a way to erase someone from your world. Through the act of killing you sever the existence of an unwanted individual from yours and your world. It is pretty simple. Once I realized that destroying the whole world was beyond my powers, I just had to reverse my approach. If I killed myself, I would obtain the same result, I would permanently sever my connection with all those people, and perhaps I could finally find peace, I could finally find the truth that I sought. The more I thought about it, the more I couldn't find a justification for my prolonged hesitation.
It was settled, I only needed to decide how, but it wasn't simple. I couldn't do it in my room or in any other familiar place. I had to do it somewhere where they couldn't reach me, some place far away where not even them could follow me to. More importantly I wanted some sort of revenge. They deprived me of the truth that I desperately needed, I wanted to do the same to them. I wanted them to forever wonder if I really decided to kill myself, why, how, and even if I really was dead or not. Especially that man, I wanted him to live for the rest of his life with those doubts, just like I did after he broke up with me.
And then I found it, the perfect way to forever seal my last moments into a box that could never be opened. Once again, it was very simple.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chapter 5 (u)

This is unexpected. Teramoto is crying, she is shamelessly crying in front of me.

Teramoto: "Why did you do this to me?! You knew already of the consequences, and you still did it! Why?! I did many wrong things, I've been a bad person! I'm sorry! But you know! Even you should know... I don't deserve what's going to happen to me!"

Erika: "You don't... deserve it?"

Teramoto: "Yeah! I don't deserve this! Why do I need to be punished to that extent?! That's not fair!"

Erika: "Pfft..."

Teramoto: "Don't laugh! Why are you laughing now?!"

Erika: "Aha... ahahahahahaha!!!"

Teramoto: "Stop it! Don't laugh!"

Erika: "Oh my! Ha ha ha ha!!!"

Teramoto: "What's so funny about this?! What's so amusing?!"

Erika: "Not fair?! You don't deserve it?! And how did you get this foolish idea that the world is a fair place? Who exactly deserves to be bullied, Teramoto? At least you actually did something wrong. Do you have any idea how many people get victimized while being completely innocent? And now here you complain because your punishment will be too harsh! If that isn't a laughable, what else is? Sorry, but this is just how this world works. The faster you adapt to this reality the better it is. You thought you had it bad so far? You have no idea. Whatever you think you suffered in the past is outrageously trivial compared to what true pain is."

Teramoto: "Stop! I can't take this anymore! That's it! My life is over! I won't even go to school tomorrow!"

Erika: "That's a pity, you'll miss out on a most amusing show."

Teramoto: "I'll drop school entirely! There's no way I'm going through that hell! I don't want to be bullied! I don't want to become everyone's scapegoat! I don't want that! I don't want that!"

Erika: "Calm down, crybaby!"

Teramoto: "Then what am I supposed to do?! You ruined my life, you destroyed everything I had!"

Erika: "That's right. I completely destroyed that hateful castle made of illusions that you built."

Teramoto: "Uuuaaaargh!!!"

Erika: "By the way, your little friend Hibari told me something quite interesting about your so called 'philosophy'."

Teramoto: "What do you want from me still?! Leave me alone!"

Erika: "That's right, there was no point in responding to her, those are your theories, right? This is how you justified your shams and your tricks. What was that again? Yeah, I remember now. You claim that some people have the need to believe in magic. You seem to think that believing in something, even if completely false, is better than accepting the crude reality. But somehow you realized that this world with its rationality is systematically destroying the myths and legends of the past. More and more mysteries are solved each passing days. People can no longer fantasize about ridiculous explanations for natural events. Everything is denuded by the relentless scientific progress. All traces of romanticism are forcibly removed by the merciless jaws of empiricism, all that is left are the bare bones of facts and proofs. Few superstitions and beliefs survived the giant meat grinder of methodical experimentation.
All that left you with a profound sadness, your precious dreams were snatched from you and you cried and despaired. That's when you thought that you could reverse the flow."

Teramoto: "That's right! The truth is too cruel, the truth is hideous! What kind of worth is there in a world that loses its ability to dream? If the sky is gray, why do I need to accept it? What kind of good can come from that? Better it is to paint the sky of many vibrant colors, and who cares if it's fake? Who cares if it isn't the truth?! All I did was trying to stop the rapid descent into a world of despair. I may have fooled people, but I did it for their sake, and for mine! And it's not like I robbed anyone from anything! If those people truly didn't want to believe they would have noticed the tricks, just like you did! Don't you think so, great detective?! Can you really say that deep down it wasn't the very fact that they wanted to believe that it prevented them from realizing the truth?"

Erika: "Certainly, you do have a point... as stupid as they are, even they wouldn't have taken you so seriously if they really used their brain. So I can agree to a certain extent that deep down they wanted to be fooled."

Teramoto: "That's right! Then in the end I didn't do anything wrong! Just like I said!"

Erika: "In other words you just wanted to rekindle in people their inner desire to believe in magic, their ability to fantasize and to dream which is constantly under the perpetual attack of truth, facts, and reality."

Teramoto: "Then you do understand! That's not something that people want, it's something they are victim of. They have no choice but to accept the truth, they have no choice but to refute magic!"

Erika: "And since the truth is horrible, that just robs them of their happiness. Because there's just no way for someone to be happy about the sorry state our world is in. With magic, however, you can just pretend the world is a fantastic place. With magic... you can see beyond facts. With magic you can see beyond the crude and boring reality. You can still believe, you can still hope, you can still find happiness in the darkest hole of this deranged universe."

Teramoto: "Who... the hell are you? How can someone like you understand all of that and yet..."

Erika: "I know the theory all too well. Don't think you invented or discovered anything, Teramoto! But you know what? All of that is wrooong. All of that is utterly stupid! Worthless! Pathetic! Ridiculous! It can't even be redeemed as a joke! Do you really believe in that nonsense? Aren't you ashamed of yourself? I seriously have no words to state my incredulity. This is embarrassing! Look, I even feel embarrassed for you! That's how awkward this is! Do you get it? This is dumb! Completely idiotic! There should be a law to forbid people from even thinking that. Like you should be sentenced to death for atrocities against human brain cells or something. If there was..."

Teramoto: "I got your point already! Stop that!!"

Erika: "Then you see..."

Teramoto: "I see nothing! You just insulted me and my theories like every other so-called rational thinker did! You said that's wrong? Well, why is that wrong? Explain it, if you can! Explain how one can be happy without magic!"

Erika: "Happy?! What are you even babbling about? Of course the truth won't make you happy."

Teramoto: "Then... why..."

Erika: "Who the hell cares about happiness, Teramoto? Happiness is grossly overrated. Those who speak of happiness are the biggest fools, they don't even know what they're talking about. All it takes to be happy, Teramoto, is a few pills. Is that what you hold in so high regard?"

Teramoto: "Wait... no... that's not what..."

Erika: "Then you should understand that valuing happiness in itself is utterly stupid. Isn't the reason to be happy what really matters? Let's just make a stupid example. If you take a good grade you're happy, right? If you take a bad grade you're unhappy. But what really matters here, what really you should look for is the good grade, in other words the reason to be happy. Happiness has only a value if it corresponds to an event that is actually deserving of joy!
Now with your so-called magic, Teramoto, you can be happy regardless. You just fool yourself into believing that the world is a fantastic place when it is not! You just idiotically laugh and rejoice without a reason! And the worst part is that it will be short lived! Reality doesn't change just because you wish for it! Your pain won't go away just because you pretend it doesn't exist! It will return! It will return stronger than ever! You can't fight against reality! You can't fight against the truth! They will catch up no matter how far you escape! That's why you're an idiot! You don't understand!"

Teramoto: "But then what if you can't change your reality?! What if you can't do anything about that? Isn't it better to escape with your own mind? What good can come from acknowledging a desperate situation?!"

Erika: "You're approaching the issue form a completely wrong direction. You say that the sky is gray, but so what of it? What's wrong about the sky being gray?"

Teramoto: "Huh? No matter how you look at it, a colorful world is ten times better!"

Erika: "And who decided that?! Look, you can't change the color of the sky, you just need to accept it for what it is! If it's gray, it's gray! Deal with it! If you think you can paint it of your own favorite color, you're just going to make a fool of yourself. But that doesn't mean that you can't change absolutely anything!"

Teramoto: "What do you mean?"

Erika: "You can change yourself! If you're unhappy about the world, then adapt, evolve! If you live in filth, then learn to love filth! If all around you is filth, then become filth yourself!!!"

Teramoto: "I can't do that! What you say is pure madness! It's crazy!"

Erika: "No, Teramoto, that's what it means to be a witch of truth!"

Teramoto: "A... huh?!"

Erika: "Don't you wish you could look at the truth and appreciate it for what it is? Don't you wish you could accept any truths and survive them no matter how terrible they are? I can do that and much more."

Teramoto: "I don't care about that..."

Erika: "This is just the surface, Teramoto, there's a lot more to that. You see, you were deemed to fail whether I met you or not. That's because your magic was inherently weak. I observed you, you didn't care about the fact that some people would always deny your theories. You thought you could simply ignore them forever, and that's where you've been terribly naïve. Magic is a fragile thing, it takes very little to break it. Why do you think people were killed simply for challenging a dominant belief? You don't really need to worry about a fool stating what everyone knows to be wrong. The real problem comes when someone challenges a lie that everyone deep down knows to be false. What you created with so much effort could be taken away from you at any moment in a single instant, and I demonstrated that. You can't deny that I did."

Teramoto: "Then... then what do you want me to do? Are you saying that I should just give up?!"

Erika: "No! What I'm saying is that you should stop valuing fleeting stuff like your feeble magic. Something that only a few people believe in is worthless. What truly holds power is that which everyone believes in! In other words: truth!"

Teramoto: "Truth..."

Erika: "You may think that I hate you, Teramoto, but that's false. I don't have anything against you, what I truly hate is the magic that befouled your mind. In fact I think that you and I are similar in many respects. You're not much different from what I was before becoming what I am, and you'll soon experience the same hell that I've been through. Don't fear it, Teramoto, if you embrace the truth, that hell won't destroy you, it will make you stronger. Become a witch of truth and you'll survive anything, just like I survived far worse tragedies."

Teramoto: "How... how should I do that? You make no sense!"

Erika: "Don't worry, I'll help you. Just give me your mail address. There is much I can teach you, there is much you can learn. Your journey is just beginning."

The trembling, shaky hesitation is soon replaced by a twisted resolution.
A devilish thought walks past the shattered remains of the wall of sanity.
The serpent's whisper has tainted the core. There are no more doubts, there are no more worries, and not a single care for what the future may hold.
At this point, what is left to lose?
The contract has been signed, the ticket to the world of perdition has been presented.
Certainly I have received it.

Teramoto: "I must have gone crazy for doing this..."

Erika: "If that's what the truth is, then just welcome your new found madness with a smile!"

Teramoto: "A ha ha..."

Erika: "Ha ha ha ha!!!"

Teramoto: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!"