There was two things in the world: peace and chaos. Only a few places could have both, but nowhere could have both at the same time. One of those places was the peaceful village of Hinamizawa.
In said village, at the time, a small girl who didn't seem like she could be in a grade any higher than sixth, at most, was happily skipping down a dirt path to her school. The girl's name was Rika, and she was the head of the Furude family, also one of the last of its members as well. Her currently set destination was the only school in town, which housed all grades, with some children being only kindergarteners and some being as old as high schoolers. She was chanting a jump roping chant she'd learned the day before.
Hurry up with what you do
Keiichi-kun's coming for you
The only way to stay away
Please spell your name, keep him at bay.
Kei-chan won't stop, he's coming up fast
Spell out your best friend, make the shield last!
Even hearing Satoko's name brightened Rika's day. Satoko was her best friend, even if everyone saw bad things in the Houjou family. Her older brother, Satoshi, had run away years ago, and Rika knew, even though she wasn't supposed to. She and Satoko had many friends, especially Keiichi Maebara. He was everyone's friend, and was the subject of teasing for this…mainly by Mion Sonozaki, who was the leader of the class. The others were all pretty well-mannered. Shion Sonozaki was Mion's sister, who took wonderful care of Satoko and looked after her along with Rika. Satoko loved setting traps more than anything, and Rena Ryuugu would always want to take home anything she found to be adorable. Because of her anxiety to see her friends, Rika couldn't wait to get to school.
But she was greeted with a shock that day.
As she opened the front door, she wasn't surprised when an eraser fell on her head. Satoko's traps? She laughed along with Satoko and Keiichi, who were across the room laughing. Rena rushed over to her and hugged her as hard as she could.
"Oh, Rika-chama looks so cute laughing! I wanna take you home with me!!!"
Keiichi quickly pulled Rena off of Rika before she could even try to take her home. Shion rubbed Satoko's head.
"Can you lay off the traps for at least a day, Satoko?"
Satoko beamed. "No way!"
Everyone started laughing. Rika smiled at her best friend, wondering how many other traps she'd set that day. In fact, she found one that almost got Keiichi killed outside…
The group had a meeting of the club today, the club of friends, with Keiichi, Rena, Rika, Satoko, and Shion in it, with Mion as the leader. The club did various activities, and today's was a water gun fight. Keiichi had originally suspected Satoko had laid out traps, and anticipated being attacked any second. He was hiding behind a corner, Rika watching him from a few feet away, well hidden from his view. I'll get Keiichi-kun when he's not looking, that'll teach him to mess with Rika Furude! Wait…a rope? It's pretty hidden, must be one of Satoko's traps.
However, when Rika's eyes traveled up the rope, she saw that the rope was attached to a cleaver. If the rope were to snap…Keiichi-kun!!!
She was almost too late, too. She barely had time to tackle Keiichi after he stepped on the rope. The rope was very weak and immediately broke. Keiichi heard the rope snap and looked up to see the cleaver flying towards him at an unavoidable speed. Rika tackled him, knocking the two of them to the ground.
"Keiichi-kun! Are you alright?"
"Was…was that one of…Satoko's…"
"Only Satoko sets ropes like that, it had to be."
"But…she wouldn't set a trap like that, would she?"
Rika was deep in thought for a moment, then frowned. "No, she wouldn't."
Later that day, Rika and Satoko were walking home together. When they were preparing to part ways to go back to their houses, Rika stopped Satoko before she left.
"Satoko, I need to ask you something."
"Huh? What's wrong, Rika-chan?"
"Did you set traps on the field where we had the water gun fight?"
"Uh…a few, I think. There was some pitfalls, one or two water balloon bombs-"
"Did you use a cleaver in any of them?"
"Huh? Not that I remember, why?"
"You have your own way of setting rope traps, right?"
"Yeah, and it's a secret. I'm not telling you, though…"
Satoko laughed and walked down the dirt path to her house. Rika wouldn't budge.
Only Satoko knew how to set rope traps like that.
That trap was set to kill, too.
Rika shook her head, trying to erase the thought from her mind. Satoko wouldn't do that! She'd never try and kill her friends!
She followed the dirt path to her home in Furude Shrine, thinking something the whole way.
Satoko wouldn't do that.
She just wouldn't….
That night, Rika couldn't sleep. Her mind kept drifting to Satoko, and whether she intended to do that or not. After not being able to sleep for about an hour, she went outside to the front of the shrine, where she prayed to the spirits at least once a day. She bowed her head ceremonially. A girl who looked about Rika's age with purple hair appeared before her as a spirit. Rika looked up at her, her voice becoming serious, which it rarely did.
"Hanyuu, it's been a while."
"Rika-sama? I haven't seen you in a while...what can I do for you?"
"I have some questions about one of my friends."
"Houjou? Is that the one you're worried about?"
"Yes, Satoko Houjou is my main concern."
Hanyuu's spirit sat down on the steps of the shrine. Rika sat down next to her.
"Rika-sama, what's wrong with Satoko-san?"
"Well...she did something that doesn't seem like her at all. She set a trap that put Keiichi's life in danger. I didn't see her do it, but the way the rope was set...only Satoko sets her rope traps like that. There was a cleaver tied to the end, so when someone steps on the hidden rope, it would snap and the cleaver would..."
"Oh, I see. Has she only done these things when there's no one around, or has she acted out in public?"
"No one's seen her do anything. Yet."
"Mmm...keep a close eye on her, Rika-sama. If she gets suddenly serious and aggressive, make sure she stays away from everyone else."
The figure of Hanyuu started to fade into the air. Rika called out; she wasn't ready for her to leave yet. "Hanyuu! Hanyuu, what do you mean? What's wrong with Satoko?"
But it was too late, Hanyuu had already disappeared. Rika rested her face in her hands and her elbows on her knees, deep in thought.
What's wrong with Satoko?