So this is the Minakami Village...

The Ritual that cannot be spoken about...

And the place that mustn't be seen...

Why am I trapped here...?

A ritual to sacrifice Outsiders... Could it be...?

If I take a picture of that place...


The Fourth Hour Has Begun

The sound of the lock clicked open.

Index recalled where she had seen the symbol of the 'Butterfly' marked on the key, and had the both of them backtracked all the way back to the entrance of the main door to the Kurosawa House.

“Did I ever mention how much I hate puzzles that make you backtrack the entire way?” Touma reminded her with an annoyed face.

Thankfully the [Kusabi] was no where to be found, but they had some close encounters with[Mr. and Mrs. Limbo] with the latter attempting a cheap scare move on Touma. Needless to say the highschool boy proceed to beating the crap out of them which yielded some surprising reward. They've uncovered yet another book written by the Folklorist. He wrote about two twin girls who warned him to escape from the side door of the house before the [Hidden Ceremony] begin, and had given him a map as well.

Touma was briefly reminded about his talk with Itsuki, and how he seem very desperate to get Touma to leave the village because of the Ritual.

Index advice that they should keep this in mind should they need to leave this building, preferably when this is all over.

As the door opened, the two of them find themselves in some kind of dirty, dusty storage room. It was filled with wooden boxes, various urns and heavy cloths. In the corner of the room lay an old grandfather's clock, the glass cover of the clock is broken, and shards lie scattered around it. Right in front of them was a flight of stairs leading up to a second level.

There was nothing particular about this level either except for the partition screens that separate the rooms into six segments. Touma went further back to check some drawers while Index notice a part of the floor is broken, and one can see down to the floor below. There seems to be something caught in a spider web strung across the hole.

“Maybe it would come loose if I dropped the something onto it-”

It was only at that moment Index realize there was someone look at her.

It was a little boy.

A little ghostly boy holding a red ball.

He reached out with both hands as if offering Index his toy.

“Can I... borrow it?” She asked cautiously.

The boy nodded politely.

Index carefully took that ball and dropped it down the hole. It looks as if the object that was caught dropped with it to the floor below.

“Thank you.”

The boy simply smiled and faded away.

Right on time, Touma returned with yet another old piece of paper in his hand.

You're not gonna believe this.”

You're not gonna believe this.”


When the twins were born, I was miserable knowing that they were doomed. They

were raised freely, without pain or sadness. They say the pain of the X never

stops.

The elder sister must kill the younger in the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual.

It's a cruel, horrible fate.


“This note was written by the Ceremonial Master, inside it he talked about Sae and Yae.” Touma explained as Index went back downstairs to pick up the fallen object- A wooden key with a [Diamond] link design carved onto it. “It looks like the Crimson Sacrifice involves the death of one of the twins, specifically the younger one.”

“Yes, but it doesn't say how they were to be sacrificed. The means of killing is also an important, if not the most important aspect of a Sacrifice. Take for example the Celtic druids, the method of sacrifice would be used to invoke different gods. If the victim was drowned, it was to appease Teutates, the tribal protector. If he was hanged, then the ritual was for Esus. And victims who were burned alive were offered to Taranis, the God of Thunder.”

Index then showed him what she had picked up.

“Another key?” Touma lamented.

The sudden sound of wood creaking and made the two of them jump. Behind them was a small pale child shyly peeking around a door only to hide away when the two of them spotted it.

“Well, that was awkwardly convenient... Wait Index! Are you sure we should follow it?”

The Nun already had one hand on the door.

“Of course, we have to go where the story leads us.”

“What if it's a trap?”

“Touma, this entire village is pretty much one giant death trap already.”

“Point taken, but I still don't like traps... Both the phenomenon and the life choice.”

Behind the door was a long hallway, separated by cloth covers much like the ones from before. As the two of them make their way down the passage, the spirit of the little girl continuously phased in and out of existence right before their eyes, leading them deeper in. Touma was unnerved at how well he's been accepting all this; it wasn't too long ago that he brushed aside the thought of spirits and ghosts, and now he's causally following a little ghost girl into what certainly was another supernatural ambush.

Index commented on that as well.

“I guess maybe Touma's brain work differently than other people. It's not uncommon for people to break down when the logic of their world has been thrown out of the window and kicked to a curb and what was once impossible has become the norm. This is the second time it has happened to you, all things considered, you have been taking this quite well. I guess being a single minded idiot has it's benefits. ”

“...You're enjoying yourself way too much.”

Index looked offended.

“Touma, are you suggesting that I'm taking pleasure in our current predicament? Just because this is the first time in a long while that the two of us spent time altogether, and that I'm participating in an active role instead of being left out, nor the fact that I'm able to help you doesn't mean that I'm happy about it...”The girl suddenly became quieter. “And Touma was always there to rescue me... So maybe I thought that this time, if you get into trouble... I could save you instead...“

Looking her like that, Touma couldn't help but sigh and smile.

“When was I ever not in trouble? I guess you'll be my partner this time.”

Index eyes widened before beaming happily.

“Of course! You can count on me!”

At the end of the hallway was a door with a large padlock attached to it. Using the key she had just acquired, Index effortlessly unlocked it and open the door. The room was an old warehouse with many dusty furniture scattered all over the place. There's a layer of dust on the ashes in the coal brazier. It hasn't been used for a long time.

The Ritual that cannot be spoken about...

A dark haunting voice came from behind the cover. Looking around the corner revealed a large menacing prison cell. Behind it was the ghost of an adult man, the room was big enough to contain shelves of old looking books, as well as a study desk in the corner where he stood. A formidable iron lock holds the door shut.There were two keyholes on this one.

...Great.

“I had seen this man before!” Index exclaimed. “He was in the study room.. He thought I was Munakata... Wait, Touma I think I know who this is!”

Why am I trapped here...? A ritual to sacrifice Outsiders... Could it be...?


Long ago, a visitor to a mountain village become a ceremonial sacrifice. When

the Veiled Priests captured me, they said things like "Outsider" and

"Kusabi"... What exactly is the nature of the Hidden Ceremony?

The key the twin girls gave me must be for the side door of the house. They

key for the cell must be in another house. According to the map, the key is

hidden in a cave under the Osaka house. Maybe this is the cellar in the

passageway that I read about...


Those were the words written by the imprisoned man, whose notes on the study desk were the only thing that Touma could reach from this side of the cell.

“A folklorist?” Touma asked.

Index took out the [Butterfly Diary] belonging to Yae and Sae.

“Yes, he was Munakata's teacher and the one who had been writing about the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. I've seen him before in the study room looking for Munakata. And look here,” Index took out the other notes belonging to him. “He was an outsider like us, both him and his student came to this village to learn about the Ritual.”

“And for some reason, he become their prisoner.” Touma stare back at the Folklorist. “Itsuki had warned me that outsiders weren't safe, I guess that's why... But it looks like the girls were trying to help him escape, it says right here that there's some kind of side door out of this house- Bloody hell, they even drew him a map.”

Touma passed it over for Index to see.

“There an underground cellar connected from this warehouse, you can see a passageway leading to the outside of the house.”

She closed the book.

“Shall we go take a look?”

“Why? It's probably just another locked door...”


“You know, I saw this in a movie once...”

Dark, damp, dirty and dusty. That's how Touma would describe the underground cellar, not that he had been expecting anything else from this haunted house anymore, but it would be nice to be wrong on that account just this once. As they descend down the stone steps, the boy notice a large black well in the center of the place. Looking down the square mouth gap of the old well, it was too dark inside to see the bottom.

In seven days...”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nothing.” Touma quickly replied.

Index didn't understand, but decided not to pursuit the matter.

There wasn't much to explore in this room. At the opposite end of the stairs which they came from was a solid wooden door. Standing close, they can feel cold wind coming in through the cracks around the door.

“It must lead outside...” Index deduced.

“Hah! See? It's locked.” He proceed to 'express himself' about it.

The lock on the door has a hammer design on it.

“We're not getting through here, lets head back and-” Index froze.

“-design this place clearly have an obsession with keys.” Touma notice the girl was shaking. ”Index? What's wrong- Oh you got to be kidding...

In the middle of the room was the well.

The familiar creaking sound, like those of a box opening.

Soon replaced by hollow whispers and groans.

A hand, pale gray from death, grasp onto the edge of the well.

With great effort, the body of a woman emerge from it.

Her long black hair cloaks her face.

She collapsed onto the floor, unmoving.

Then she began climbing to her feet, staggering.

As she turn to face them-

pacchii!

Touma pound his fist right into her face. The impact might have crushed her nose or cheek as the [woman in the box] does a backward dive right back into the hole she crawled out from. It was a long time before they heard the splash.

“...Down.”


To be continued...