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I'm so so so so sorry for taking so long to update this story, I missed it and I hope you guys like the new chapter. I'll start updating it more, promise!
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~*Chapter Five - The First Curse Returns*~
When everything had settled down and Miku had moved from her bed, everyone sat in the living room of Rei's house, mostly all watching Miku who didn't speak a word yet since she had woke. She sat with her hands in her lap staring at the floor. Without meaning to Rei mumbled a few words under her breath to Ayame and Haru, startling Miku who had been caught of guard in thought while it was silent. It seemed that even though she had been gone for quite some time, she was still confused as to exactly why she was there. Her eyes locked onto Rei's instantly when she looked over, and then like a river the words somehow started flowing from her mouth.
"Rei I can't believe this, I'm alive even after I almost crossed over to the other side in my dream... I should be with Mafuyu right now but I'm here. I missed you so much, all I could think about was finding a way back to you for some reason. Like it was the right choice compared to what I had thought before. But Mafuyu..." Miku lowered her head as she glanced at Ayame and Haru. "Who are they?"
"My name is Ayame Makoto. I came here to talk with Rei about a dream I had. Miku, do you remember me at all? I saw you in my dream of the Himuro mansion."
Miku's eyes widened for a second when she heard the last part. "The Himuro mansion... That's right I was there for a short time looking for Mafuyu. It's like I kept going back to the last place I had seen him. Then when I made it back to the passage past the alter, I ended up in that forest place."
Rei's body reacted to her words with a cold chill at the memory that surfaced, when Miku had chosen to follow her brother instead of coming back with her. Though she was obviously not aware of it from what she did, Rei had been there right behind her the whole time chasing. Their bodies had parted from the dream and though it gave her chest pains to think of it, she had been overwhelmed with sorrow the instant Miku disappeared from her sight. Most would not know it but she had grow close to the girl over the time spent as her assistant, even more after Yuu died. Like sisters almost, and the thought of being alone forever had only made Rei more crushed than before, though all those feeling had been replaced by relief as soon as Miku's eyes had opened.
"So, what exactly happened after you followed him Miku?" Rei asked slowly placing a hand on hers from were they sat sharing the couch. It took her a few moment before she spoke, as she took sip for the first time of the tea that was placed before her on the coffee table. It seemed to calm her somewhat. There was so much to be said, yet also so little. Miku's hand clutched Rei's as she talked.
"After Mafuyu and I were together, he didn't seem the same, almost completely emotionless even though I was there, we were crossing what I can only imagine was the rift that we learned of in the manor of sleep." She paused looking at Ayame, who seemed to follow what she said perfectly. Miku knew Rei would since she had experienced the nightmares as well, but she was a little surprised to see these newcomers knowing so much already. She continued. "It felt like days that we walked and with each step further I took beside him my body grew more numb. I was beginning not to care anymore and most of my memories of anything other than Mafuyu were fading, till suddenly he stopped me and whispered, "The living don't belong with the dead, you have to go back." After that I found myself in that endless forest till I heard your voice." Without warning Miku shuffled closely to her and then wrapped her arms around her shoulders.
"Oh Rei, you saved me! I was so scared, I couldn't take it anymore and then I heard you and found my way back."
Though it had took Rei by surprise she returned the embrace and glanced up at Ayame, who gave an understanding look before standing slowly with Haru. They felt it was best to let the two relax after all they had been through, which was a lot more than Ayame had had trouble with so far. Sitting her things in the box Rei had brought to them, she let Haru carry it.
"I guess we'll be going now. Miku must need her rest and I want to do some more research while it's still early. Thank you again Rei for letting me borrow your notes and such, I promise I'll return them as soon as I'm done." Ayame bowed.
"It's alright, please take care of them and visit again soon if you do so happen to dream of that house. I watched Reika pass over to the other side myself, but if there is any possibility of her return, then I would like to know of it."
"Of course. Take care Miku."
"Wait... If you happen to dream of the Himuro mansion again, please don't trust anything you see. I wouldn't be surprised if any of the ghost still haunt it even after Kirie..." She trailed off with a painful look in her eyes, Ayame assuming she was remembering something from her time there. She reassured Miku that she would be on her guard if she did dream of that place again, but even so Miku didn't seem to pleased.
That place must have really been like a hell on earth to her, I wonder what it will be like to me if I enter it again? And that other house, will I see it again?
When Ayame and Haru returned home, they two had been in a conversation about Miku's awakening and what it could possibly mean related to her dream, they were bombarded with questions from Nana though as soon as they reached the house. She had apparently been waiting at the door for them the whole time since she had finished researching for Ayame. Kyo still on the computer upstairs.
"Well?! What did this Rei woman have to say?"
"There's a lot of info Haru can feel you in on, I have to look through these things before I sleep. Speaking of research, what did you find?"
Nana frowned slightly but ended up giving in as she handed over a small notebook to her. "It's all there, but I'm a little more worried now. Ayame is it really that serious, your dreams?"
"Possibly, but it's nice to know I'm not alone." With a quick smile she hugged Nana and then headed for upstairs, overhearing Haru start explaining things as she walked telling his sister about Miku and the Manor of Sleep."Another haunted house?!" Nana's voice echoed enough for her to hear.
Slightly laughing at the siblings Ayame hurried into her room where she found Kyo sitting at her desk. He had a note book open and a pen in one hand scribbling something down of the computer screen. From what she could see he also had the folder of articles that Haru had given her the night before to look at.
Upon learning all this new information, that she was still trying to sort out in her head, Ayame couldn't help but wonder about the other house that no one but her had seen so far. The woman with burning arms, the mask and journal, and the odd sense that she had been there before when she was younger. One small memory stood out of that place, of the little girl who she played tag with. Of course back then as a child with an imagination she thought it was possible that she had a friend within her dreams, but now that she was older she believed it was just a recurring dream that gave her comfort.
With a sigh Ayame sat on her bed, Kyo's attention finally turning to her once he noticed that she was even in the room. "Hey, any luck with...whatever it was you were hoping for?" He asked still new to what exactly was going on.
"Somewhat I guess. It's a long story so I'll cut to the chase. I dreamed about a mansion that's haunted, and some other place I use to dream of, and the girl that was in my newest dream turns out to be an actual person who apparently I just woke from some kind of coma state. I sound crazy, right?"
Kyo smirked. "If you believe it then so do I. At first I was starting to think it sounded a little crazy reading all this, but you're not the only one who has dreams like that other people have. It means your special is all. Like that woman on the news last week, she could dream of where dead bodies were or something like that. So no I don't think you're crazy."
"Special. Yeah that's a word to use." Ayame's expression changed to annoyed at the thought of it. There was nothing special about her, so maybe she was going crazy? It would make more sense if she was at least, though Kyo had a point. But of all people to dream of things like this, why her? Special or not it wasn't normal and her curiosity for it was growing. "Any luck on what I asked for? Nana gave me something but I haven't looked at it yet."
He nodded to the computer. "Yeah. A pair of twins named Mio and Mayu, by the exact names you gave us, went missing a while ago. After some time one of the twins, which was Mio, was found but so far Mayu is still missing. According to a report I read she hasn't spoken since they found her, at least not to any police or reporters. She's with her uncle, Kei Amakura."
That name rung a bell instantly. "Rei Kurosawa mentioned him. Miku, Mio and Mayu, Rei and Kei are all connected to one another in some way it seems. This is really strange, why was I pulled into it?" Ayame whispered.
"Want me to help you go through anything else before I leave? I have to work tomorrow at my fathers shop."
Kyo's father owned a small ramen restaurant a few miles from where they lived, it was a nice place to go in the winter time, always warm and welcoming. He served customers for time to time but sadly wasn't the best cook. Ayame knew from experience. Pulling the box of files closer to her, Ayame shook her head.
"No it's alright get going. I'll be okay. Love you."
"Love you too, if you need anything let me know."
She gave him a nod, not exactly what he was expecting, but he gave a small smile before showing himself out. When Kyo was gone Ayame glanced at the necklace she was still wearing. She really did love him, but a part of her was also afraid to after what happened to her mother when her father had died. If she did love him that much someday and they were married, If he died would she end up the same way? Half crazed in a hospital and all alone.
Shaking off the though she started glancing over the files. Some were of occult things, like the camera she had once held when she saw Mio. Others talked of a film projector, ancient rituals and sacrifices, and even one notebook was filled with nothing but notes of what Ayame had finally come to believe existed, ghosts.
She took out another book that was a dark shade of green, which when she opened she found was a journal that belonged to a woman named Yoshino Takigawa. One of the ghost names within the notebook that belonged to Rei. The last two entries caught Ayame's attention the most.
My family and Naoya died.
But being alone is more frightening then even that harsh fact.
More than the accident itself, being the only one living afterwards, waiting endlessly-that was more frightening. Left all alone, in the total darkness.
A sweltering night, but freezing cold...
Am I to blame? It hurts. It hurts...
What should I do? What? Forgive me...
That woman is coming after me. I can see her even when I'm awake.
I can't take being touched again. I don't want to see anymore...
Ayame sat the journal down and thought for a moment of what Rei had said before she continued reading most of the things within the box. In time she learned of enough to put together the puzzle.
"The tattoo priestess, that was the woman Rei was talking about. Something horrible must have happened to her, but she said it was over with. Still, could it have any connection to my dreams? Have I been in that manor of sleep yet? I can't remember..." She trailed off peering over at the clock. It was after three in the morning and Ayame was fighting to keep her eyelids open longer, but in the end she lost this battle. Sitting the box right in her floor beside the bed, she rolled over and under the covers, slowly drifting into sleep and unknowingly another dream.
Though she was aware that she wasn't asleep anymore, Ayame didn't open her eyes till she heard a loud creaking noise close to where she sat. Forcing them open at last she immediately sat straight from the stone cold wall she was leaned against, shifting her head to both sides making sure that no one else was around her. When she caught sight of the large mirror at the end of the hall of swaying ropes she knew exactly where she was. Himuro Mansion.
"This place again... Why?" Ayame whispered clasping the flashlight in her hand. To her surprise when she stood she found that her clothes were the same as last time, though not a kimono, but the ones she had worn on her date with Kyo that day. Oddly her first though was to check the floor for the camera she had used on Miku once before, but to her disappointment there was nothing but the faded dusty wood.
Feeling along her pocket she found that her cellphone still remained within it. Slipping it out she flipped it open. It had always had a pretty good camera on it, and even though it wasn't special enough to say fight a ghost in a battle, she could at least see if using it would be the same as in real life. To see that if when she woke she could actually see the photos she had taken or not. It was worth a try, after seeing the things Rei had photographed in a dream of all places.
With a horrible feeling in her gut Ayame took low breaths as she made her way toward the end of the hall. Her reflection in the mirror, though she looked normal, somehow seemed more fearful than it might by looking into a regular mirror. There was something about this place that sent chills up her spin, other than what she had learned before.
Between the two possible doors to choose from Ayame took the one on her right, finding herself within a room that held sets of armor and dressers against the wall, a hearth in the center of the room which gave a warm glow within the dim lit room. Stairs were visible across the room, a large grandfather clock that seemed to her quite rare to see ticked and then a door to the side of the stairs that only her imagination could wonder about where it would lead her next. The air within the mansion so far seemed a little thick, like at moments it was harder to breath than others, though not harshly suffocating like the first time she had woken.
Peering around with the torches light she wondered closer to the steps. Her cellphone in hand on it's camera mode still, waiting for something interesting to happen. Yet also at the same time Ayame wished for nothing to happen, but things don't always go as planned. When the first creek came she stopped in her dusty footprint tracks with a slight jump, her pulse already racing higher than it should normally be.
Peering around she searched for anything that might be out of place or lurking in the shadows that the light didn't touch, and when her eyes finally came into the stairs view again she froze. There before her was none other than the boy she had seen in the photograph with Miku, her brother Mafuyu. He seemed happier looking though, making his way up the steps slowly, but he wasn't alone. There was a woman with him, who instantly made Ayame think of the doll photo she had seen before in a white kimono. She was smiling at him as they walked. The two seemed to be unaware of her, even when Ayame finally spoke.
"Mafuyu, why are you here?" She paused waiting for a reaction, but there was none. Slowly they were starting to fade together, but not before Ayame snapped a photo with her cellphone. To her surprise she saw that it could capture a photo of the place, but not them themselves like the camera obscura had. When she looked back up the two were gone and instead stood a little girl with short black hair in a school uniform, her face full of joy. Ayame was surprised at seeing this. She didn't look like a ghost at all, just a regular human standing at the top of the stairs. This little girl was the same one from her first dream, she was sure of it, only it wasn't snowing and they weren't in yukata.
"Who are you? What are you doing in a place like this?" She questioned.
The girl only giggled as she motioned for her to follow, then darted the other way. Her curiosity peeked at this, Ayame didn't waste a second as she took the stairs two at a time, grasping the torch firmly so she wouldn't drop it. There was only one door to enter at the top, when she pushed it open she caught a glimpse of the girl turning a small corner. Ayame darted through the small room following to the left down another set of stairs and into a strange hallway, which by just entering it gave her a chill from the air. The walls a stained greenish-brown color with faded bloody hand prints.
"Over here!" A quiet voice called, making her turn to see the girls body dash around the corner to another door. With quick breaths Ayame forced herself to run trying to catch up to her, the walls of the hallway painted red with hand prints in various spots, and after she finally did, passing through a room of candles, she came to a walkway with a lovely view of a large atrium. Everything wasn't as dark here and easier to make out with the moons light shining down. From a quick glance of the area she saw a small shrine, a large cherry tree which was missing it's leaves completely to the bark, and then the mysterious little girl standing next to what looked like a small gravestone with pillars.
Moving slowly as not to spook her away, Ayame stepped off the porch area and onto the stone walkway, where she was almost close enough to touch the girl. "I don't think it's safe enough to run around like that here, why wouldn't you stop? Why did you want me to follow you?"
"They're in there." The girl tilting her head toward the shrine. Ayame glanced to it then looked back at the girl. "Who's in there?"
"That man you were looking for with that lady. She's won't let him go."
Even with the situation she was in, it took Ayame's mind a moment to understand she was talking about Mafuyu and the Kirie woman she had read of. "What do you mean won't let him go?"
"You want to help him right? Follow me." She took Ayame's hand and started leading her toward the shrine, the small steps up were easy to handle but when she saw that there was a latter leading down she began to wonder what exactly awaited her. When her foot stepped off the ladder she glanced to the small child who was already ahead of her, humming as she walked down a narrow passage way that only seemed to grow darker.
"So what's your name?"
"I can't tell you." She giggled.
"Why not?" Ayame asked, though she wasn't able to get her answer as they came to a stop together. Before them were a large amount of rocks, as if a cave in had happened. The little girl had already moved to the right of it, crouching low to reveal a small passage to Ayame. "This way, hurry!"
"Hold on! Where are we going?"
She followed quickly getting to her knees, which on the rocky path didn't feel the best. It was a short crawl to get further into where ever this place took Ayame, but she she did finally get to stand again she was shocked at the sight. Ahead of her was what looked like a mummified corpse of someone laying again the wall, and a set of large stone doors bound in maroon stained ropes. There was a sick smell in the air that almost made Ayame want to not breath at all.
"What are we doing here?"
"If you want to help that man you have to move those." She pointed toward the large doors.
"But aren't the ropes the only thing keeping it closed? Why is it even here, this place doesn't feel right at all." She moved the flashlights way ray around to discover that at each side of the path simple ended into a bottomless abyss. They were under the mansion for sure and Ayame hadn't read anything about this, at least not in detail, but she was assuming this was where the ritual of the rope shrine maiden took place. It had to be.
"What will happen if I move those ropes?"
At first the little girl didn't answer her, she seemed in thought about it. "That man will be free." She smiled.
Unsure of her decision she turned back to the ropes, taking slow steps to approach. As she walked around a large rock in the center of the area they were within she noticed the light catch something with a sparkle. When she examined it she found a small mirror embedded in the stones center. It was a faded silver around the outside but the glass was crystal clear and unscratched. Her reflection stared back at her as she looked to the ropes. She stepped up to them and wrapped a hand around the closest one, Ayame felt a cold chill fall over her body then and her head began to ache. Something wasn't right about this. Peering over at the skeleton she noticed before a thought came to mind, and after what she had read what Rei wrote, she was sure of who it was.
"Please stop!" A womens voice cried suddenly. With a startled expression Ayame peered up at the ropes to see a woman hanging by her wrists across the door. She was dressed in a white kimono, her facial features so pure yet at the same time she looked frightened by something. A sudden jolt came from behind her as the doors tried to open, her body being pulled tightly again the ropes that bind it. "You... You must not open these doors, otherwise the calamity will happen again."
"I am the rope shrine maiden Kirie, it is my duty to keep these doors sealed so that the calamity will not happen again like it did before in the past."
Ayame blinked. "But what about Mafuyu?" The girl seemed saddened by this question.
"He stayed with me, but when he died he was able to pass to the afterlife. I let him go... Even if I am to spend eternity alone it's for the sake of others, my purpose is to keep this door from opening."
The little girl that Ayame had somehow forgotten was there stepped up before the woman, an angry frown across her face. Without warning she gabbed a large stone from the ground below her and turned hurling it at the mirror embedded within the rock. It shattered instantly and when it did Kirie let out a ear piercing scream that struck Ayame with fear, as the sound that came neck was of cracking bones and ripping flesh.
"W-What did you do?!" She cried out, but the little girl was completely gone from sight. It was within a small flash of light that Ayame watched the doors before he open and the body of Kirie be ripped apart by hundreds of arms. She tried to move but somehow felt paralyzed where she stood. As the light increased before her she stared wide eyes and terrified at the shadowy figure who slowly emerged from it. Kirie.
She had changed though, her hair thickined and covering most of her face, her lips had a wicked smile on them. Suddenly a set of hands grabbed around of Ayame's wrists, or at least she thought they were hands. Ropes tugged tightly on her arms as Kiri approach her. She couldn't move or run or stand to try pulling away at the tight ropes that dug into her skin, so when Kirie's hands finally rested on her neck she screamed with all her might, "I'm sorry please! I don't want to die yet!"
Time froze as Kirie's grinning face moved closer to hers. "You have awaken me once again..."
Dazed and confused Ayame sat up from the soft pillow her head had been laying on, already backing against the wall and trying to fight off the hands that were no longer coming at her. When she opened her eyes she realized that she was once again back in the real world instead of a dream, but before she could relax from the corner of her eyes she caught sight of something standing next to her bed, something that resembled Kirie's figure. Turning quickly she found that she was alone, that whatever she had thought she saw was now gone, the only thing that remains was the pain in her wrists and when she peered down at them she found that one thing that confirmed everything she had dreamed about was real, rope marks.