Continuation of maiden's curse...5 more chapters to go!XD
“Why are you looking at me like that? Are you insane?!? I won’t do it!”
“Come on, Yocchan… It’s for Maki.” Risa nudged Hitomi’s shoulders.
“Don’t you dare use my best friend for your insane schemes!” Hitomi answered back. Rika tried to calm Hitomi.
“Look, Risa was just trying to help us. Risa helped you find me right? Listen to her. I think it’s the only way.”
“But…. Why snakes? Why me?”
“If you’re scared, I’ll do it. But this is for sure… You will handle snakes very soon.” Rika tapped Hitomi’s shoulders before walking towards Risa.
“Ok, here’s the box… and the gloves. Are you ready?” Risa asked. Rika just nodded and smiled at Hitomi, with a ‘try-this-if-you-can look’.
“You must face your fears very soon.” Rika said in a sing-song, mocking tone. Risa opened the door swiftly. Rika closed her eyes and sighed out loud. She leaned forward to check the creepy-crawlies in their prison, but they were surprised that there were no snakes inside.
“Yes! No snakes!” Hitomi cried out in delight.
“No snakes, means that we are facing our doom. That’s the only way to for us to survive Eri’s attacks.” Hitomi thought about what Rika said.
“So… I guess I shouldn’t be happy about it… Right?” The two nodded in agreement. “Oh yeah, I remembered that there are snakes inside the shrine… I know I heard some hissing sounds when we entered it.”
Risa’s eyes lit up. “So it’s finalized. The two of you will get some snakes inside the shrine before invading the tower. I’ll help you by playing this game.” Risa opened the lap top and logged in the game. The two walked towards the entrance of the palace.
“Can you still remember the path that we’ve taken in the game? If I remembered it correctly, you were the first one to see it right?” Rika asked. Hitomi pushed the door open and looked around.
“I remember that we went down the 2nd floor… and then, there’s a blinking door going to the back, towards the shrine.” Hitomi take one last look at Risa before proceeding towards the way where the door to the shrine is found. It’s inevitable not to pass through the place where Maki died. They stopped on Maki’s remains. Hitomi smiled and picked up something.
“I’m going to finish this, pal. Help me, please… Give me your strength and your ‘psychic’ abilities so that we may survive this…. I promise… I’ll do everything to kill Eri.”
Hitomi remained quiet as they explored the palace. So far, nothing came out to ‘kill’ them.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah… somehow...” Hitomi answered. Rika saw the far away look on Hitomi’s face.
“How did you develop your phobia on snakes?” Hitomi stopped and looked at Rika; fear can be etched on her face.
“I don’t want to remember it.”
“ I promise I won’t tell anyone… and besides… AHHHHH!!!” Rika stepped on a weak flooring and fell below.”
“RIKA!!!!!” Hitomi got her phone and dialled Risa’s number.
Risa was exploring the palace, together with Rika’s character. She was surprised when her character entered the palace. It was simultaneous to Hitomi and Rika who were entering the ‘reality’s’ palace. When she turned her character to the left, she saw Rika’s character walking at the same pace and place where the real Rika was walking. That’s the last thing she saw before the door closed. And now, as she was concentrating hard on the, another problem had risen. She saw Rika’s character fall due to the weak flooring. Now, they need to find Rika’s whereabouts fast; before Eri will find her.
“Risa, can you see her?” Hitomi asked frantically over the phone. She was screaming Rika’s name on the hole, trying to get a response. She focused her light below, attempting to see whether her friend’s still there. As the light gave her an access below, she discovered that it leads somewhere else. Hitomi wanted to jump and follow her friend.
“Personally, no. But here in the map, her character is moving. She’s going to the right side of the palace.” Risa replied. “You should follow her. I’ll lead you to her, while I still have my battery.”
“Hai, where will I go?”
“Where am I? I’m scared. Rika walked slowly, limping and hopping to be able to walk. The fall made her sprain her right ankle. She needed to go to the upper floor to be able to see Hitomi again. If her cell phone didn’t break when she fell, she might be able to get out of that place in a short time. She never thought that the small lighter she accidentally brought will be useful for her in this situation. She was glad that nothing came out to kill her… for now.
“Turn to the right, and run towards the statues. Push that to the left side and you will see a large door.” Risa instructed over the phone. Hitomi followed it very carefully. She didn’t question anything that’s happening right now; her mind is screaming for only one thing. And that is to save her friend, Rika. Hitomi did what Risa told her to do however, there’s only one little problem that surfaced.
“Risa… It’s locked! What shall I do?” Risa thought for a while. She remembered something that she picked up in the shrine when they were still playing in the computer room.
“Wait, I think I have a key. I’ll try whether it fits in the hole.” Risa pushed the start button the menu page can be seen. She scrolled her controller and tried to check whether the key is still in the Tools’ section. And indeed it’s still there. She quickly selected it and her character pushed the key inside the keyhole. It opened.
“Woah… It’s opened. What the hell did you do?” Hitomi asked as the door suddenly opened without her moving it.
“I don’t know how it happened. I just used the key that I found before… Now go and find Rika!” Hitomi switched her loud speaker on and ran inside the dark room.
“Where will I go?”
”A light! Thank goodness.” Rika quickly ran towards the light that she saw at the end of the dark hallway. Since she fell, she thought that the only way out will be to find a way that will lead her towards the upper part of the palace. Her beginner’s luck is still working for the way that she chose has a spiral staircase going to the top. She was walking for the last 5 minutes when she saw the light at the end. She opened the door and was shocked to see what’s inside it.
“Oh no! I’m inside the torture chamber!”
“Hitomi… This is bad… Run faster!” Risa saw where Rika was staying at this very moment. Hitomi couldn’t understand what Risa said so she brought her phone near her ear.
“What? Where’s Rika right now?”
“She’s inside the torture chamber…” Hitomi almost slipped due from shock. The torture chamber is where Eri kills her victims.
“Shit… Is there a short cut?”
“Wait…. Uhhmmm.” Risa looked at her map to look for the shortest possible way towards the chamber. “Run straight at the end of the hall, and then turn left… and then to the right. There’s a blinking thing there near the picture frame of a girl.” Hitomi continued running, not minding her tired feet. She soon arrived at the place that Risa told her. She found out that the ‘blinking thing’ Risa mentioned is a hidden door.
“Now what? I can’t open it! It’s locked!” Risa tried to use the key that she used before. But it didn’t work. Hitomi heard someone screamed below. It was Rika’s voice. Risa also heard it via the phone. “Risa, think faster!”
“Chotto… ano… I’ve got an idea!” Risa released her weapon, ‘Jitte’, on the floor near the hidden door. “Try this if it can destroy the lock.” Hitomi looked down on her feet. She saw small rod-like steel, with a branched iron bar, about 60cm length or more.. She knew this instrument. She saw this one when they were discussing the weapons used by ‘Doushins’ during the Edo era. Jitte was used as a sword breaker.
“How did you do that?” Hitomi asked. She looked below her feet and saw the item. She picked it up and tried to break the lock.
“I don’t know… Just go with the flow and move faster! Rika’s life is in danger!” Hitomi used all her might to break open the lock. She swung the door open and ran down quickly on the stairs leading to another way towards the chamber.
“I’m in trouble… I’m inside her lair…” Rika noticed the light from the torch were slowly diminishing in radiance. She can hear ‘someone’ walking in the far end of that dungeon. She walked back slowly but the door where she went in was mysteriously locked from the outside. She leaned on it and tried to push it with all her might, without removing her gaze at the woman walking towards her. “I’m trapped!”
“Shit!” “Rika!!! I’m coming!!!” Hitomi screamed. She can see another door at the end of the dark hall that she’s running. “How many doors are there in this house?!”
“I don’t know. You’re slow… I’ll try to use some items here.” Risa scanned through the list of items that she garnered from playing the game. She clicked on an item that looks like a bottle of sake. “Hey I’ve found something. I might help you run fast.” Risa let her character drink the contents of the bottle. As she pushed the forward button, her character’s speed in running was doubled.
“What did you do? I feel really light and I don’t feel exhausted anymore.”
“I gave my character an energy drink… Now can you see the stairs? Climb that up and you’ll see the chamber….”
“Rika! Hold on!!!” Hitomi shouted and ran up the stairs, taking two steps at a time. She opened the door and she saw Rika at the other end. It seemed that something was holding her. “I don’t see anyone! But Rika looks like…”
“Eri’s in front of her! I’ll try something…” Risa took out a snake from the special bag of her character. She threw it towards the figure. It vanished instantly. The torches inside the room were lit up again. Hitomi can clearly see Rika’s tear-stained face.
“Hitomi!!!” Rika ran towards her friend and hugged her tightly. “I’m scared.”
“Me too… But we need to finish this in order for us to live… Don’t worry; I’ll never let anything happen to you.” Hitomi consoled her friend.
“Guys… I need to destroy your ‘mushy’ talk right now. I have to warn you that you’re still in Eri’s lair and she might come back again. I didn’t think about it before but I think we can get to the shrine by getting around the palace instead of going inside it. So… come back here quickly!” Risa said what she wanted to say just in time before her phone’s battery died down. Hitomi helped Rika get on her feet and ran outside the chamber, taking the way towards the library.
“Now what? My head is aching…. From now on, I won’t play any games without checking whether it’s safe or not!” Risa put her hands on the floor and looked towards the sky. ”Will we be able to defeat her?” Risa felt the ground near her left hand vibrate. She looked at the controller and saw that it’s vibrating. She saw that behind her character was a pack of dogs. She instantly grabbed the controller and made her character ran away from the vicious dogs. The dogs followed her right away.
“Catch me if you can!” Risa was having fun running away from the dogs on the game that she didn’t notice something was moving behind her.
“Woah, the dogs’ growl seemed realistic… We’ll I wouldn’t argue with that considering….” Risa felt the hairs on her back rise. She slowly looked behind her and saw a pack of drooling dogs looking at her. Risa immediately ran away, deep in the forest in the middle of the city.
“HEY! THAT”S SO MEAN! I’M NOT DEAD YET!!!! THAT’S CHEATING!” Risa shouted to the dogs. She knew that Eri’s behind this. She stumbled over a fallen tree branch and fell on a cliff.
“Itaii~” Risa was dumbfounded as she saw that she’s being surrounded by a large number of snakes.
“Uso… You must be kidding me!”
“Risa! Where the heck are you?!” Hitomi screamed on top of her lungs.
“Are you sure she’s here? Try calling her phone.” Rika suggested.
“Been doing that earlier. I guess her battery didn’t make it. They saw a part of Miki’s lap top lying on the ground. They ran towards it and saw that was still on; showing Risa’s character lying on a grassy place full of snakes.
“Oh no!” Rika looked away from the monitor and hid her face on Hitomi’s shoulder.
“I guess it’s up to us to end this fight.”
“Risa’s right! There’s the shrine!” Rika exclaimed. It only took them five minutes to reach that place.
“Let’s go… do you still have that box and gloves?” Rika handed over the lap top to Hitomi for her hands to be free and scanned the contents of her bag. Hitomi remembered where she had seen that shrine. It was from her kouhai, Sayumi. They were talking about some famous shrines and Sayu showed her the picture of this shrine. She said that it’s a hidden shrine in the Chiba area. This shrine was used for worshipping ‘Orochi’. This shrine was called Hebi Shrine.”
“Yep, still here.” Rika looked at the determined face of Hitomi. “Am I thinking what you’re thinking? Don’t tell me you’re going to face your fears?”
“I have no choice but to do this… We’re the only one’s left.” Hitomi reached on her side pocket and took out something.
“Nails? Where did you get that?”
“I saw this besides Maki’s body… so I picked it up. And this journal can be used as a hammer right? Or do we need something tougher?” Rika grinned at Hitomi’s joke. She looked down and picked up a large piece of thick wood.
“I guess this is much better.”
“Look! It’s the lever which Miki pulled down in the game right? So if we…” Rika ran towards the lever and pulled it down. The large door opened as they predicted and as what happened before in the game, they heard the hissing sound as soon as they opened it.
“I totally forgot about it! Let’s check again the place where those hissing sounds came from.” Hitomi walked towards the place where they saw the shadow of a figure at the far corner of the room. Rika went ahead of her and pulled open the hidden door. They walked downwards, towards the ‘vault of snakes’.
“So, how many snakes are we going to take? Hitomi seized Rika’s gloves and wore it on her own hands and opened the door. Rika was shocked by the sudden change in Hitomi’s attitude.
“Woah, I thought you’re a scaredy cat… You’re going to do it?”
“Yes I am… This is the only way…”
“If I’m alive, I will take a picture of you doing this…. This is really an interesting thing nee, Miki?”
“It sure is, sis! I recalled that four days ago, we scared the wits out of you in that ‘seven days’ thing… Now… you’re adapting quickly to what’s happening around you.”
“Will you stop making fun of me and just help me boost my confidence?”
“Go Hitomi! You can do it!”
“Why are you smiling like that?” Rika was having fun watching Hitomi picked up the snakes one by one and putting it inside the box. Hitomi put lid of the box after putting the last snake.
“I was just thinking about something…”
“What are you thinking?”
“I was just thinking that if Maki and Miki will see what I’m doing right now, they will probably take a picture and put it in their blogs and link it in every forum they know.”
“They might be taking a picture of you right now… wherever they are….”
“They sure do… That’s why I’m smiling.”
“What?!?” Rika looked around the room. “Please don’t scare me like that!”
“Hahaha… Sorry, I was just joking… Let’s go!” Hitomi let Rika get out of the room first. She took one last look at the room before closing the door.
”I’m going to miss you guys…”
Hitomi and Rika went back to their starting place; the altar. Rika was dumbfounded when she saw a young woman walking towards their direction. Based from her weird walk and bloodied clothing, it’s a zombie.
“That girl over there…. is a zombie… I’m 100% sure.” Rika whispered. Hitomi got a snake from the box and threw it towards the girl. It vanished as soon as the snake touched its body.
“Hell yeah… Zombie.” Hitomi removed one of her gloves and gave it to Rika. “Give me your bag. I’ll put some of the snakes for you to throw at them.”
“Demo… it’s just a normal bag… It may be risky; those things might bite me. It will be ironic to die in a snake’s venom than in Eri’s hands.” Hitomi thought hard for a while.
“Fine, I’ll just put this bag between us so you can pull out some snakes when you see something.”
Hitomi and Rika found the staircase leading to the top of the tower after a gruesome 15 minutes of throwing snakes after snakes to the zombies. It was the only difference that they found between the game world and reality. In the game, they used their chosen ninja weapons in order for them to kill the zombies and acquire the snakes while in real life; they used the snakes to make the zombies disappear. And so when they reached the door of the tower, there were only three snakes left.
“There’s a door at the top of the stairs. It might be the room where the body of Eri lies.” Hitomi said and went ahead of Rika.
“Look! We’re safe! There’s a box here full of snakes, we can surround Eri’s body… or ashes with these!” The door closed suddenly, separating the two of them. Hitomi immediately ran back and tried to open the door. Good thing that the door has a kind of ‘window’, large enough for a head of a huge person to fit in.
“Chotto... I’ll let you in… I just need to think of something.”
“It’s no use. There’s no time left. You must to go there alone.” Hitomi was stunned. She can’t let Rika stay in this place all alone. She promised she will protect her no matter what.
“Please… You need to do it. I’ll be alright. I can protect myself. You need to finish this… for Maki… for Risa… and for all of our friends which she killed.” Hitomi nodded even though her heart was telling her otherwise.