Chapter 1: The Death of Nai Asano
Deep in the forest where nobody lived there was a girl.
She sat upon a simple wooden pole, tapered at both ends, and in her lap was a crow.
That in itself may not seem strange, but when taking a closer look one would realize that the pole was floating by itself in the air and the crow had three legs instead of two.
Quietly swinging her feet, the mysterious girl with the mysterious crow sat on the mysterious pole.
I wonder what I should do now, she thought idly, as if the thought wasn’t something that was particularly important.
Even though she was sitting in a place that looked like the remains of a forest ravaged by war.
There was a long line of cars outside of the Asano family’s Japanese mansion.
The father was a corporate magnate, the mother a high-frequency trader in stocks. The children excelled in both school and athletics, often reaching the top statuses among their peers in Japan.
If that was all the Asanos would already be among the rich and famous, but on top of their monetary value they could trace their line back to Emperor Seiwa.
An old family with a noble lineage, known for their beauty, grace, abilities, and benevolence; it’s hard to believe that anything could mar their happiness.
But with good fortune comes dark shadows.
Today was the funeral of the elder daughter, Nai Asano.
She died at the young age of 33.
Her legacy remained as a fair swordswoman, an expert archer, a brilliant mind, and a gentle woman.
Proof of her likeability manifested itself as a giant crowd made up people of all ages and walks of life sobbed outside the mansion, despite the fact that the funeral was only for family.
Despite all the grief, though, everyone couldn’t help but agree; it was better that she had died.
Ever since THAT day, she had already suffered enough.
When it first began no one knows, but THAT day was in Nai Asano’s second year in middle school.
THAT day Nai, standing in the archery dojo in her middle school, loosed three arrows, one after another.
Thwap. Thwap. Thwap.
The three arrows’ impacts sounded through the dojo.
Normally there were cheers from her fans, who would then be angrily hushed by the archery captain, but today there was only silence in the aftermath of her shots.
That silence was the sound of shock; it was a shock so great that even the mild-mannered Nai tilted her head in natural confusion.
Every one of her shots had narrowly missed the target.
It was a circumstance unheard of since she first began Japanese archery.
“Asano! What happened to your focus?!”
The archery club captain finally broke the silence.
At that, the hushed crowd began whispering.
“Every one? Even if it’s one of her off days…”
“Captain Fujitani’s horrible. Even though Nai-senpai won over him to become the middle school champion last year, he tears into her as soon as she makes a mistake.”
“Geez, jealousy isn’t attractive…”
Fujitani-senpai flushed red as Nai’s fans tittered in the background, but before he could say anything Nai bowed gracefully and said, extremely embarrassed,
“I apologize for giving such a miserable performance, captain.”
Her embarrassed look was too cute; Captain Fujitani sighed and let go of his jealousy.
“Well, what’s wrong? You don’t seem to be in good condition today. You’ve been rubbing your eyes all day.”
Nai gave a small frown and rubbed the corners of her eyes gently again.
“Yes, they feel somewhat…”
Nai trailed off. She wasn’t sure what they felt like herself.
“Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. An athlete has to treasure his body.”
Fujitani said, beginning to preach at her, but some of Nai’s fans quickly ran up and cut him off.
“Nai-senpai, please don’t overwork yourself!”
“Nai-senpai, don’t mind it! It’s just a little slump!”
“Nai-senpai, here! A towel!”
One eager girl offered her a towel; even though she didn’t need it, Nai smiled at her, saying
But even as she said it, Nai’s hand grabbed at empty air, swishing past the towel she had been aiming for.
It felt like time had suddenly stopped.
For every single person who witnessed that small incident, cold dread welled up from the pits of their stomachs.
The Asano’s called in the best doctors, and the leading experts were consulted.
Nai was losing her vision and not one of them could give a reason why.
The girl who had become the middle school champion in archery her very first year of middle school had to lay her bow aside in less than a year.
By the time she was a second year in high school, Nai was completely blind.
If that was all it would already be a tragic story, but then that OTHER day happened.
That OTHER day, Nai’s classmates held a quiet consultation.
“…No, I don’t think that’s possible.”
“But it really happened…”
“The pure-hearted Nai wouldn’t ignore anyone on purpose! Maybe she just didn’t hear you.”
“… But they say her hearing’s super good, ever since she lost her sight…”
As the small group of (slightly suspicious-looking) girls whispered back and forth, giving furtive glances back towards Nai, they finally came to an understanding.
One girl separated herself from the group, and curious on-lookers noticed she held a paper bag, inflated like a balloon.
No, she couldn’t be…
Holding their breaths, they watched as the girl snuck behind Nai, then …
That small bang startled the few who hadn’t noticed what was going on, but Nai simply sat there for minute, then slowly raised her head and asked,
“Did anyone hear something?”
The girl who held the popped bag stood there for a moment, her mouth open in disbelief, then clenched the bag in her hand.
It was the day they first noticed that Nai was losing her hearing too.
And that wasn’t all she lost.
Next it was her sense of taste, but Nai quietly kept that from her distraught parents and fearful friends.
It was harder to hide when it was her sense of smell.
But when she began to lose her sense of touch, it was all over.
Eventually, Nai became bedridden.
Unable to see, unable to hear, unable to taste, unable to smell, and unable to touch.
By the time she died at the age of 33, Nai had completely become a mind trapped in a body that was practically a coffin.