“This is Frey’s room.”
Yomi guided Raishin and Komurasaki up to the second floor of the orphanage.
The second floor was comprised of small rooms lined up in an orderly fashion, much like a dormitory for students. It appeared that the south-eastern room was Frey’s.
Opening the door, Komurasaki stepped in and went “wow~” with wonder in her voice.
There was a photograph stuck to one wall.
It was a picture of a cheerful boy and a smiling girl. There was also a married couple smiling gently.
Raishin was drawn to the girl. She was smiling innocently. This was a Frey from long before Raishin had met her. Right now her face was full of joy; it was a look that he couldn’t imagine the current Frey wearing. There was no trace of fear on her face at all.
It was only natural that Frey could smile, all humans could. But ironically, just as Raishin was shocked that she could actually smile, he was reminded of the fact that the current Frey never smiled at all.
Family. Something Raishin had lost. It had been stolen from him.
And Frey too, had lost her family.
The siblings in the picture were very young. This photo was probably taken before they had entered the orphanage.
“Frey’s parents were extremely skilled puppeteers… or so I heard.”
Yomi spoke with some sadness in her voice as she looked up at the photo.
“They were in an American troupe performing puppet shows for the public.”
“…Is Frey her real name?”
“No, it’s her identification code. It was given to her after she came here. Even I don’t know her real name.”
“How did her parents die?”
“They lost control of the automata they were handling, and it went on a rampage. This was right in the middle of the show, mind you. The audience were showered in the mother’s blood.”
“… Did Frey tell you that herself?”
Yomi nodded silently in confirmation.
Komurasaki covered her mouth with her hands. Her eyes gradually became moist and trembled, with tears forming.
For such an innocent girl to witness such a tragic accident firsthand; Raishin was at a loss for words.
His mind replayed a flashback of his past. The sea of blood and fire. And then his sense of loss. Was Frey holding on to the same pain that he had gone through…?
“I don’t know the details or anything about her trying to kill you… but luckily or unluckily for her, Frey has always been a gentle girl. “
Yomi solemnly told Raishin.
“She was always nice to us too. Every day, she’d spend her precious break time coming over to brush our fur. Having had nothing but nutrition tablets all our lives, she fed us meat.”
Yomi’s fur was frayed, and her coat had no gloss to it.
In other words, there was no one in this facility whose responsibility was to brush their fur.
“Of course everyone loved her. However because of that, she ended up being chosen.”
“…To be Rabi’s master?”
“That’s right. She went through about five thousand hours’ worth of lessons and practice before finally entering the academy.”
Five thousand hours in one year was no joke. Raishin couldn’t imagine going through such a long period of time.
“… I still don’t know if this whole ordeal was a lucky or unlucky thing for her.”
Raishin stared at the girl in the photo, burning the image of her smile into his retina, before answering Yomi.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing. After all, someone like you was around, so at least she had some good family.”
Yomi’s eyes widened before chuckling slightly.
Men in white coats walked up and down the hallway Raishin and the others were cautiously passing through.
The next place Yomi brought them to was the first floor of a different building. It was the one with the steel bars over the windows.
The inside of the building gave off the same vibe as a school. There were large rooms that appeared to be classrooms along with blackboards installed on the walls and even a field for P.E.
In the middle of what looked to be the dining hall of the school, an unbelievable sight greeted Raishin’s eyes.
“They weren’t lying when they said this was an orphanage… But still…”
Cold sweat formed on his skin and he looked around the room.
(What the hell is going on here…!?)
The children sat side by side in neat rows, systematically consuming their meal. Bread and soup. A salad and meat looked to be the menu of the day. No one was talking and the children silently carried on with their meal like a bunch of robots.
All of the children had one peculiarity.
They all had pearl hair and red pupils.
They were exactly the same as Frey and Loki!
“I would like to say all of them are siblings… but something like that isn’t possible at all.”
Although they had the same colour of hair and eyes, their faces and bodies were all different.
Frey and Loki resembled each other. However they didn’t resemble any of the children here. In addition, they didn’t appear inside the photo in Frey’s room. It was highly unlikely that they were blood-related to her.
A separate race then? Or a unique ethnic group?
Or was this a place for a specific group to gather…?
No, that wasn’t likely. There was no way something like this could happen so conveniently!
“They’re the Promised Children.”
Yomi answered Raishin’s doubts.
It was the first time he had heard of such a term. Yomi was surprised by the blank look on Raishin’s face,
“I never thought there would be a person in the academy who doesn’t know what they are. Within the human race, there are those with a strong affinity for magic energy. For every hundred thousand babies, only one will be born. “
“Hey now… Wasn’t this an orphanage?”
“They are all orphans, there’s no mistake about it. They’ve been gathered from all over – Britain itself, the continent and as far as the India subcontinent.”
“Still, they’re supposed to be one-in-a -hundred-thousand, and for so many to be conveniently in one orphanage…”
“They’re not the real thing…is what you want to say?”
Was that really the case then?
Komurasaki was staring in puzzlement, but Raishin had already begun to understand.
But could something like that be done?
Was it possible? Was it even allowed?
Turning her back on them, Yomi said in a low, muted voice.
“Let’s go. There’s something more repulsive I want to show you.”
Heading down a set of gloomy stairs, they descended underground.
The damp air chilled their lungs. There was an unnatural smell of blood in the air which caused a queasy feeling in their chests.
Raishin noticed Komurasaki was lagging slightly behind him.
“What’s wrong, Komurasaki?”
“I… I’m a little scared.”
Her little shoulders were shaking. She looked like she had some sort of evil premonition.
“Sorry about this, but you know that you can’t go back by yourself.”
He reached out and grabbed her hand.
“There, I’ve got you. If you’re really scared, then just close your eyes.”
“Ok… Thanks. I think I feel a little braver now. Because I’m together with Raishin.”
Holding hands, they chased after Yomi.
A rather ferocious looking Doberman was sitting in the middle of the staircase, on guard.
If it sank its teeth into them they’d be goners for sure… but the Doberman had no reaction to them. It looked like it didn’t possess the ability to switch on its active sensor. Much like Rabi, it looked like it only possessed the intelligence of an ordinary dog.
“What lies before us is the most important part of this facility. Not even the staff members are allowed to enter.”
Yomi hopped off the last step. At the end of the staircase, a large iron door was set in place.
As they approached it, a cutting blast of cold air hit them.
This was probably an icehouse… or something.
The ice and snow from winter could be replicated and maintained through magic arts. The recent trend was a combination of circulation of the atmosphere inside combined with heavy insulation on the outside that proved very effective.
From what they could see from the door itself, this place was designed to be airtight. The construction was relatively modern as well. The interior temperature was probably below freezing point.
Raishin reached into his pouch again, drawing out his lock picking tools and began to work on the door.
Working in silence, he managed to get the door open.
Breathing in the extremely cold air hurt his nose. Inside it, it was so cold that he started shivering. It was so cold he could feel his skin becoming tight and drawn. Just like he thought, this place was a freezer.
“What is this place?”
“A storehouse where they keep meat.”
Yomi answered, but they couldn’t see her. The inside of the icehouse was pitch black.
“Any sort of light here would attract attention. You’ll just have to wait and adapt to the darkness. “
Komurasaki was clinging tightly to Raishin’s back, pressing her small frame against his body. Gradually his eyes became adjusted to the darkness. Light was leaking in from somewhere and the thing before him gradually came into sight.
He let out a cry unconsciously. Standing next to him, Komurasaki was stunned.
Glass cases were lined up in rows.
Filled with antifreeze, what was floating amidst the machinery inside them were-
They were all small in size. Slender. Hadn’t matured yet.
It was the bodies of numerous children.
“What… the hell… is this…!?”
It was a truly stupid question to ask. He could feel the bile rising up his throat. Even for Raishin, this was too much to bear. At the moment he turned away, a shrill bell rang out and there was some noise on the other side of the door.
“Raishin! There are a lot of footsteps heading this way!”
Komurasaki shouted out to him in an urgent voice.