In Minakami Village, a special ceremony existed to prevent the * from erupting.
Every decade, a pair of female twins at the age of fifteen had to perform the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual to avoid the Repentance.
They were respectively called Shrine Maidens.
The elder twin must strangle her younger twin so that their souls would become one again.
The younger, strangled twin would be thrown into the *, transform into a butterfly and protect the village from above, while the elder twin, called the Remaining watched over the village with the living.
However, sometimes boy twins called Altar Twins were also used for the ceremony, but it would also happen that not twins were born, but triplets.
It was not common for triplets to be born, let alone identical triplets but it was also a blessing for the villagers.
Triplets meant that two of the triplets had to be strangled by the third sister, which would appease the * for a decade more which would bring a longer lasting peace in Minakami village.
So when the Kagina triplets were born, the village was thrilled and treated the girls like they were holy.
When the triplets were three years old, the Tachibana twins were born and a year later, Yae and Sae Kurosawa, twin daughters of the village Ceremony master entered the world a year after Mutsuki and Itsuki.
With triplets and two sets of twins born so close after each other, luck for Minakami village couldn't get better.
Years later, when the Kagina triplets turned sixteen, they were brought to the Kiryu house where they had to stay until the ceremony would take place.
It had been weird to live in the Kiryu house for so long, but the girls had to be purified for the ceremony and they were not allowed to see anyone outside the house.
A girl with shoulder-length black hair stood on the bride that connected the Tachibana house with the Kiryu house.
Her bangs fell in her eyes and she blew them away in boredom.
She looked down at the people walking by, occasionally somebody would look up, flashing a little smile before swiftly proceeding their route.
The girl sighed while she dropped her chin on her arms that rested on the wooden balcony and she heard the door on the right side open.
When she looked up, she stared into identical green eye.
A rare sight for everybody in Minakami Village had dark eyes.
Her hair was a little longer then her sister's and her fringe was parted to the left.
She send a big smile to her sister and she stood by her side.
'Is everything alright, Onee-chan? Nomi and I have been looking around and calling out for you for at least ten minutes now!' she scolded and her older sister pouted.
'Gomenasai, but I really needed to get away. Those maidens are making me angry; they are way too sweet and suck up all the time!' she growled and her sister, Miku chuckled when she imagined the scenario where Yra would explode and attack everyone in the house!
Even though Yra was the eldest of them, she never acted like it and always got into trouble.
That was before they had to live inside the Kiryu house for purification, because tomorrow morning they had to perform the ritual everybody was always secretly talking about.
'I know, they can be very annoying. But I don't mind. My thoughts keep wandering about tomorrow.'
Miku sighed and Yra rose so that she could face her sister and she pulled her into a tight hug.
'Please don't cry, it'll be alright. I promise, Miku-chan, we will always be together. All three of us, no matter what happens.'
Yra felt her sister sob, her shoulders were shaking and when she finished her sentence, the left door swung open and another girl, identical to the other two rushed forward.
'Finally! Where were you two? Oh, what's wrong Miku-chan?'
Nomi noticed the sad look in Yra's green eyes and she felt her own become watery, her black hair was tied up in a loose bun and her fringe was also parted to the side like Miku's, but Nomi's fringe was parted to the right.
Suddenly, Nomi wrapped her arms around her sisters and their soft cries could only be heard by the villagers below their feet, but they didn't pay any attention to it.
For many years had the villagers of Minakami heard the tormented screams of the sacrifices, and every night again did they haunt them.
But this time, it would be even more difficult to ignore because three scared, terrified screams and sobs, were harder to ignore then two.
That night, the triplets placed their futons close to each other, creating a huge bed for all three of them to lay on.
Laying close to one another, the girls wrapped their arms around each other, Yra was in the middle and she felt the warm bodies of her two sisters on each side.
'Whatever happens tomorrow, we will always be together. You have to promise me that!'
Yra grabbed her sisters' hands underneath the covers and she squeezed softly.
Nomi nodded and smiled like she always did, Miku gave a little nod and lay her head against the soft hair of Yra.
Her other hand swung over her to reach Nomi and giggling softly, Nomi did the same which made Yra feel like a sushi roll.
Laughing louder, the triplets broke their hug and quiet down when an irritated maiden came in to hush them.
After a short silence, Miku spoke the thought all three of them had.
'I'll miss Mutsuki and Itsuki so much. Not to mention Yae-chan, and Sae-chan.'
She snorted softly and Nomi played with a piece of cloth from her pillow.
'I will miss mom and dad too… But, I think, I know that I will miss you the most.' Nomi whispered and Yra swallowed, but she stayed strong for her sisters.
She was the eldest, whatever it was that they had to do tomorrow, she would do it for them.
If she was strong enough to do it, her sisters would forgive them for sure.
After thirty minutes, the girls finally fell into a deep slumber and awoke early the next morning.
When the sun nearly reached the top of Misono Hill, a line of priests made their way to the Kurosawa house, the triplets held hands in the middle.
Maidens of the Kurosawa household bowed in respect when they passed by and suddenly, before the triplets were about to walk downstairs towards the passageway, two screams startled everyone.
'Matte! Don't go just yet!'
A girl with short black hair and bangs rushed inside, pulling her younger sister with her.
It were Yae and Sae, twin girls of thirteen years of age threw themselves against the triplets and they held into them tightly.
'Kagina-san, we heard about your arrival and we wanted to see you before the ritual.' Sae exclaimed, her features identical to Yae except for the slight parting in her bangs.
'You will be back soon, right? We can play all together with Tachibana-san!' Yae said with a cheerful and eager smile on her face and Miku hugged her.
Yra did the same and the Kurosawa twins both hugged Nomi; thanks to their friends, it was a little less scary to face the ritual.
'Arigatou, Kurosawa-san, we'll be back soon. For now, it's time for us to go.' Nomi said while looking them in the eye and the twins nodded, took each other by hand and ran away, just in time before some maids tried to catch the twins.
Their happy squeals made Nomi feel a bit better and she felt a soft squeeze from Yra and Miku took hold of her other hand for a moment.
'Let's continue.' a priest said with low voice and the triplets hurried down the stairs.
After they made it down the long passageway, they entered a room that was filled with lit candles.
There were hundreds of them and in the center of the room lay a cloth, surrounded by the eerie light of candles.
It was Miku's turn to swallow and Yra send a reassuring gaze to calm her sister down, but it didn't work all too well.
All three girls felt weird; a mixture of fear and tension, because they didn't knew what the ritual really was.
'Kagina Yra, you are the eldest, am I correct?' one of the priests asked and the girls were a little startled by his sudden voice.
'Y-yes, I am. I know that I have to do this, so please let's hurry up so we can go home.' Yra said rather disrespectful and she felt a pinch in her arm by Miku.
The priest gave her a warning stare, but said nothing about the way she spoke to him.
'The ritual will go as followed; the older twin strangles the younger, whose body will be thrown into the * to appease it and avoid the Repentance.'
The girls green eyes went big with surprise; is that what this ritual was about?
That's why some twins always returned back as one, their twin was sacrificed into a hellish pit!
Its name was never been spoken, because that was taboo.
'However, since you are triplets, it means one of you has to strangle the other two sisters. It will be done in this room and in the next room, where the * is. Therefore, the eldest and the youngest will be strangled by the middle sister, bringing peace over Minakami village for a longer amount of time.'
The other priests kept quiet while he spoke.
'It is to save our village. You will be respected and honored, Kagina Nomi-san.'
The girl's eyes filled with fear and she shook her head in despair.
'W-what? I-I have to k-kill my sisters?! No! Never! I will never do that!'
Nomi fell on her knees, dragging her sisters down with her and she almost crushed their hands, holding onto them as to never let go.
The other priests knew this would happen and were about to step in, but the priest that spoke earlier raised his hands to stop them.
'This was to be expected. You have two minutes, but after that it is time to perform the ritual.' he said, a small hint of pity in his voice and the priests walked away, but only for a few steps.
Many twins tried to run away when they had a chance to escape, so the priests took no risks with the triplets.
Nomi screamed and cried furiously, keeping her sisters close to her and not letting go of them.
Yra and Miku were as surprised and taken aback as Nomi, but they forgave her.
How could they hate their sister?
It was for the sake of the village, it had to be done.
'Nomi-chan, please calm down. It's alright, we are not mad at you.' she whispered in her ear, but Nomi was oblivious to her sisters' words.
'Onegai, you always told me to not show it when you are frightened or in pain! I don't want to lose you two Onee-chan, but it can't be helped.' Miku tried desperately, but when that didn't work either, Yra and Miku pulled her into a tight hug and began to hum.
That seemed to work and after a minute of intense crying, Nomi calmed down and her eyes were bloodshot due to the crying.
Her always cheerful green eyes were staring at her sisters, scared and guild of the deed she had yet to fulfill.
Yra smiled at her and suddenly lay down on the cloth, she looked at Miku who came closer and she cupped her face with one hand.
'It'll be alright, ne Miku-chan?' she said with a small smile and Miku felt warm tears fall down her cheek onto Yra's hand and kimono.
She nodded, took hold of her sisters' hand briefly before letting it go with a lot of effort, stepping away for Nomi to close in.
Nomi held her breath when she crawled closer to her sister, watching her soft green eyes looking at her sweetly.
'Onee-chan… I-I can't do this.' She sobbed while holding her sisters' hand close to her face, caressing it like it was her treasure.
'You can do it, I believe in you. This is hard, I know, but I forgive you. I love you and Miku the most in this world, and I will always do.' Yra said when she took hold of both of Nomi's hands and bringing them to her throat.
Miku turned her head away, too afraid to watch but at the same time, she wanted to see what happened.
Nomi gasped when she felt the warmth of Yra's skin, it terrified her even more and she wanted to skid away, but Yra held her firmly.
With a quick angry glance, she silenced her sister and caressed her sisters' cheeks lovingly.
'Please Nomi-chan, do it. You have to… Kill me.' Yra swallowed when she finished her sentence and Nomi held her eyes closed.
The priests had gathered around the triplets, they kept a close eye on Miku and her sisters when Nomi began to put pressure on her sisters' throat.
It felt horrible, Yra's heartbeat went rapidly and she loosened her grip in shock.
Nomi felt like withdrawing, but when Yra opened her eyes, she knew she had no choice.
She took a deep breath, pushed again and this time, Yra felt the grip on her throat intensifying and she gasped.
Miku held her eyes shut, she tried to block everything out, hoping it was all a horrible nightmare.
When Nomi stopped the pressure for the second time, one of the priests stepped in to help her, ignoring her protests.
'No! Don't touch her, I want to do this! I have to do this by myself!' she cried in panic, but the priest didn't respond to her and his hands clasped over Nomi's.
With the added force, Nomi felt Yra's presence linger on the edge of life and death and she tried to pull back, but she failed because of the priest.
With a scream of agony, Yra stopped gasping and squirming until she lay completely still.
The priest removed his hands from the young girls' throat, while Nomi's hovered over the lifeless body of her older sister.
The look in her eyes was empty, a red mark appeared on her hands and on Yra's throat and the Mourners came to take her body to the other room.
Miku ran to Nomi, holding her tightly when the priests ushered them to move on to the next chamber.
'She's gone, you did well.' Miku said awkwardly, she didn't know how else to react and she felt her sister wrap her arms around her as well.
'I-I killed her. Yra will never come back again.' she mumbled, her face as pale as a sheet and Miku helped her stand up.
She grabbed her hand and held it tightly, knowing that it wasn't over yet and she held back her tears.
'Yra-chan is one with us. Now, it's my turn, I want to be one with the both of you.' she said with a sad tone in her voice.
Nomi and Miku went downstairs to the other chamber, where Yra's body was taken to and the * awaited its sacrifices.