a wolf snuck into a group of friendly rabbits. as the others fell asleep, the wolf appeared in natural form. day by day, one by one, the wolf killed and ate the rabbits. the rabbits, not knowing which the wolf was, arranged a meeting. then— the tribunal decided on the one amongst them that they believed to be the wolf and killed it. if they chose correctly, the rabbits win. if they were wrong... all of the rabbits would be killed and eaten by the wolf. this is the story of such a game.
And... there! I got chapter six of Rewriting: Dying Gates up in about two hours. Now, we finally have some drama going on here!
Now, if this was a virtual novel... then this would be the moment when the demo would end and credits would scroll up, and then I would ask you to pay $1.99 for the rest of the chapters, but nope, this is free, so... read ahead!
Venelop3 VICTIM Player First Mate; Curator of Virgins
Hello, it's been a long time, hasn't it? In case some don't know of my current circumstances, I'm Lock// . Due to some personal issues, I had to create a new account for this forum, but I still wish to continue this series. I'm sorry for the wait, but I hope you enjoy it! Chapter 7: The Living Don't Talk
Azelf had barely shifted from her seat following Venelop3's dismissal. Her hands were cupped at her lap as the only sounds that accompanied her were the buzz of the air conditioning system and the clatter of carts and racks as nurses would dart through the hallways in a flurry. The bag of miniature pretzels, now empty, laid crumbled in between her feet. The staff had attempted to reassure Azelf that Shiro would be fine under their care, but Azelf had still insisted on staying the night. It was not that she had little trust in their skills, but the hospital would not know what to do in the case that the shadow within Shiro was not completely eradicated. As the one who had delved into Shiro's regret and guilt, Azelf had decided to bear the responsibility of her former classmate on her own. There was no physical load, but the burden caused her shoulders to sag. A lack of confidence crept up Azelf's spine, plucking away at any courage left as it ascended. With two hands, Azelf clamped them directly on opposite sides of her face. Her cheeks puffed before she gave a brief exhale. Straightening her back, Azelf abruptly stood from her chair, which caused the seat to skid backwards an inch or so. As her arms fell back to her side, the adolescent edged towards the doorway. She gave a quick glance towards the unconscious Shiro. Despite her earlier resolution, Azelf found herself caught in the doorway, although not by any physical means. "I have to move on. I have to face this... even if I have to do it by myself," muttered Azelf dejectedly. She had not noticed before, but her left hand had attached itself firmly to the frame of the door. With a single yank, the blue-haired teen had released the frame and considered delivering an apology before recalling that it was only an inanimate object. The hallway had an ominous atmosphere to it with its occasionally flickering lights and the lack of people bustling through compared to the other hallways. Azelf feigned ignorance to the mood as she followed the path she had taken not too long ago. Her feet had clumsily led her to a single vending machine located in a niche of the same corridor. The adolescent gave a gulp as she imagined the overhead lights blinking down at her. She attempted to break away from such a scene by redirecting her mind to the vending machine in front of her. The vending machine appeared to be at least eight years old with its rusty black exterior and window speckled with dust. Azelf had to lean forward in order to examine the contents of the machine clearly. Azelf sighed in mock relief as she noted that all of the available snacks had not aged like the vending machine. Its contents varied from the miniature pretzels that Azelf consumed a moment ago to a pack of crackers filled with peanut butter to a small plastic package of baked chips. Retrieving a total of three quarters from her pants, Azelf had inserted them in a deliberately slow manner before inputting C3 onto the keypad. She grinned to herself as she watched the row with her purchased snack slowly unwind followed with a clunk near her shins. With one knee to the floor, the adolescent knelt down to reveal another bag of miniature pretzels from the vending machine. After she returned to a standing position, the girl increased her pace from being still to walking and eventually, an uneven power walk. As the familiar flickering lights came into view, Azelf could make out a figure under the lights, but given the distance of at least four meters, it was difficult to make anything out besides that the figure was most likely adorned in a light blue dress. It was obvious that the figure was not part of the hospital staff given its attire, but coincidentally, it had paused in front of Shiro's room. The blue-haired teen approached steadily as more of the figure became discernible. By this point, Azelf could claim that the visitor was a female with blonde hair reaching below the shoulders. Considering how to confront the visitor if she proved a threat to Shiro, Azelf's strides grew larger as the distance closed with each passing second. Realizing her own pace, Azelf halted as she returned to a cautious approach, making as little noise as possible. The figure, after some contemplation as Azelf assumed, had entered Shiro's room with a blank expression. Azelf's eyes widened momentarily as she was somewhat surprised by the advance even though the woman had been standing at the doorway for a minute or so. Rather than retreat back to the reception desk to request for help or security, Azelf charged for the room; she paid little to no heed in her steps anymore as they rang throughout the floor. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no," murmured Azelf in between gasping. Grabbing the frame of the door, she used the stationary point and her momentum to fling herself into the room, although this stunt almost followed with Azelf collapsing. Expecting a menacing shadow to be looming over Shiro, Azelf was again caught speechless as she saw the visitor from earlier idly seated on the side of Shiro's bed, near the lower portion of the bed, flipping nonchalantly through a magazine. Noticing Azelf's arrival, the woman's expression turned into that of forced enthusiasm as she closed the magazine with a resounding clap and nodded towards the younger female. The adolescent could not help, but to examine the room once more in the case that there was someone else nearby waiting to ambush her. Confirming that they were the only three present, Azelf skirted closer to the hospital bed, although with obvious signs of hesitation. The visitor sighed as she noticed Azelf's demeanor. The visitor instead took the initiative, greeting, "Good evening, I assume you are an acquaintance of this person." With a sweep of her hand, the woman motioned towards the sleeping Shiro. Already drawing to a conclusion of her own question, the woman continued, "Let me get straight to the point then. I am Yukihime, the undertaker of this forum, and my job is to retrieve any dead bodies and prepare them for burial." A growl surmised in the back of the blue-haired girl's throat yet she was wary enough of the visitor to not release any immediate remarks. As if testing the waters, Azelf inquired in a tone as to not suggest aggression, "Are you here then to take Shiro?" "I was here to take Shiro, but she's obviously not going to die anytime soon, so luckily for the both of you, I'm not going to take her today. I would really love to, but Amie and Kuro told me that that would be overstepping my boundaries and whatnot," explained Yukihime with disappointment sparking in her voice. Coming to a realization in Yukihime's appearance, Azelf rose to ask, "You said that you thought Shiro had passed, but... how would you know that Shiro was here or that she was even close to... you know? Yukihime's head whipped towards the window as she rested a finger under her chin. A moment strolled by before the undertaker finally responded, "I don't really know the details myself, but I always get a feeling when someone is near Death's door. It usually comes to me in a series of voices, and honestly, they're annoying and won't settle until I check on that person. This girl you called Shiro... she definitely isn't dead, because the living don't talk." Azelf raised an eyebrow at the explanation as she was left with numerous gaps, but as the questions were near the point of stumbling out of her mouth, Yukihime had already dusted off her dress as she left the magazine at the nightstand near the bed and had already taken a couple of steps towards the doorway. The teen watched as the undertaker disappeared from view, but then the voice of the self-acclaimed undertaker echoed back from the hallway. "Hmm... some of the spirits just told me that you dealt with a 'shaded soul'... congratulations is what should be said, but... you just entered a world that has no exit and the only direction is down, under the ground, or forward. Maybe that's why there is the saying 'Ignorance is bliss."
The streets of the forum choked under the sound of engines early in the day. The sky flickered with some of the familiar light blue dapples, but was mostly overcome with the apparent navy color. Venelop3, out of habit, leaned forward with the front of her tennis shoes leaning over the sidewalk as her head spun from side to side. A car making a sharp turn had raced past her, a sudden gust almost tipping the brunette over. She gulped as she regained her step, staring bewildered at the cement below her. Her left hand fumbled inside her inner coat pocket. From when she had put on her coat to now, Venelop3 would check every few minutes to make sure nothing had fallen out. This response became more frantic whenever someone passed by to the point that she would shove both of her hands in her pockets while a pedestrian approached from tens of meters away. The student blinked at the remaining darkness, which only warily blinked in return. In the midst of her fumbling, she did not notice the various creaks that had gotten closer to her ears over time. A large vehicle with a red and yellow hue gave a screeching halt a few yards away from where she stood. Although startled by the vehicle's arrival, the student bounded onto the bus, nodding to the driver as she ascended the steps. Her eyes glazed over the interior of the shabby vehicle. All the seats were made of plastic and were lined like those in a typical school bus. Venelop3 settled for the seat directly behind the bus driver, noting that only a handful were on the bus at this time of day. As the bus began to roll again, Venelop3 allowed her left hand to slide out. It was clenching an object, a wooden cylindrical piece with a blue thread coiling around it. She had only found the spool when she awoke, following a somewhat diluted dream of a figure, much like a shadow, offering to help her. It seemed inefficient to Venelop3. If the being or "shaded soul" in her dream had wished to aid her and Azelf, then why would it present her with a spool rather than being directly involved. Recalling the dream, Venelop3 vaguely held onto the warning. At that moment and even as she sat on the bus now, she had thought the deal was unfavorable, especially for herself. She, one student, was given an item acclaimed to possess abilities, but this came with the cost of the expanse of her own life. When all of the string has been used up, Venelop3's life would also vanish. It was not exactly a welcoming thought. She had originally gone through her day at a regular manner, despite the events still mangled in her head from yesterday. As she had retrieved a computer she would often pack with the rest of her belongings, curious enough to research on the matter or shaded souls and saving them, her cell phone, one that could slide between a basic phone and a texting format, had received a message from an anonymous number, although it was directed to both her and Azelf. With one free hand, the girl covered the screen of her phone from any prying eyes besides her own. She could not help muttering the context of the message under her breath, though: "Dear Azelf and Ven-chan, This is Amie. I hope I am not bothering you with this, but seeing as you have both become aware of the kidnappings, I need to talk to you guys about the possible dangers and your own futures. Today, please just go to school as normal and Zeref will meet with you two there later on. Don't worry! He doesn't bite!"
With a few clicks on her cell phone, Venelop3 had exited from the messages and had already opened her contacts. A wave of hesitation numbed her, but pursing her lips, she had decided to create a new contact, inputting the number of the sender of the recent text message. Placing her phone on her left side, she gave into curiosity and peered out of one of the bus' windows. The scenery dashed by as if in a cinematic sequence put on fast forward. Most of the smaller vehicles she saw did not give a second thought as they either deliberately fell behind the fumes of the bus or released a fragment of energy as they sprinted a good distance forth. As she had predicted due to past experiences, the bus screeched to a halt another four times before it had arrived at her stop. The student handed over a fee of a single piece of colored paper. The parchment was crisp, but undoubtely showed a few creases along the middle. She spared some gratitude as an additional payment, although it made her own heart feel lighter and the driver seemed to pay no heed to the gesture. As expected, the atmosphere of the school, although Venelop3 was still a block away, emanated with bustling voices and a range of scuffles. It appeared that the majority of the forum was unaffected by yesterday's events. Although these events, according to the knowledge of Zeref and Amie, occured in the past also. If such was the case, then how much of a burden did those authorities and title-holders carry in order to maintain this "everyday" for the rest of the members. These thoughts only came to mind as Venelop3 advanced to the academy's building, looming over her as she came closer. The adolescent paused at the entrance to the school, giving a brisk glance around her. She becomed overwhelmed with conflicting emotions as she noted the carefree grins and the mindless slouches of the varying younger members. There existed a warmth of reassurance upon knowing that there could be those living from day to day in spite of the conditions yet there also existed an envy as others were able to live in that state of ignorance. She was not one who could confess this, though, as she had been the same a few days ago, a few weeks ago, months ago. Brushing away part of her hair to the side with a wave, Venelop3 braced herself as she took a step onto academy grounds. Her left hand had naturally wandered back to her coat, taking grasp of the spool.
Azelf had awoken to a series of taps on her shoulder. Her eyes fluttered in alarm and in response, her arms flung towards the visitor behind her. Falling a bit short of expectations, Azelf quickly discovered that her hands had collided into the jaw of an unexpected nurse. The blue-haired girl, caught in exclamation and slight embarrasment, could only stammer an excuse on top of a reason to flee. Due to Azelf's stammering, the nurse caught four words at most: "flew", "sorry", "school", and another "sorry." Not only had Azelf managed to injure someone before eight in the morning, but she was found buried in a wave of sleep in a small chair with her head using another person's leg as a pillow. The temporary pillow was Azelf's friend and former classmate who had disappeared a while ago, Shiro. It could have been a streak of luck or, more likely, a premonition to misfortune that Azelf and Venelop3 had stumbled into the missing student. Although the pair were certainly unable to identify what they encountered as their former classmate Shiro; almost sixteen hours ago, what Azelf and Venelop3 had seen was a humanoid beast with piercing shrieks and tentacle-like hair. The monster, formally called a shaded soul, had been defeated through some form of purification. It was difficult to expalin, or comprehend it for that matter, but the process could possibly be compared to purification. Of course, a regular purification did not involve entering another's memories or clamoring in a ballroom over a single pistol, but a purification was the only way Azelf could describe the feat of yesterday. It was probably the fault of construction that the hospital was located within a radius of two miles from the academy. A fortunate fault for the student sprinting across rough paths. Her breath was hitched and a dull ache echoed from her ribs, a sign familiar to those who had not exercised lately. Arriving breathless to the familiar scenery of a red brick building, barely blocking the sun peeking from behind it, Azelf dragged her legs through the entrance. The girl did not pay heed to the slight differences that came with being late: the increase in birds chirping, the lack of students speaking casually as they enter the school's gates, and the bell that sounded ahead, signalling the start of classes. With one palm already making an impact with her exhausted face, Azelf sighed. The following ten minutes consisted of the blue-haired adolescent dragging herself further into her first class of the day, although the method of her entrance gave the impression of a barrel losing momentum. Her presence was barely noticed as she entered, but the teacher had insisted that the adolescent provide an excuse, to which Azelf honestly answered, "I slept in late this morning." It would be assumed, usually, that one who had sprung from her sleep an hour after the academy's classes, such as Azelf, would have stored quite enough energy to the last the day. Contrary to the assumption, though, the student was plagued with fatigue. It only took fifteen minutes before Azelf's head lowered into her folded arms. At first, she attempted to keep her eyes peeled to the chalkboard at the front yet her eyes betrayed her as they dozed off twice during the period. The bell had disrupted her second nap. Similar to the events of earlier, the girl's arms shot forward like springs, pushing another student that sat ahead of her. Some growls of frustration and earnest apologies were exchanged before those crowding the hallways made way for a blur of light blue. She was supposed to be an experienced student yet it still felt like the first autumn of the first year at the academy. Azelf could not help as her tongue instinctively clicked at her in disapproval. Spinning around three more corners, the teen, flushed to her head from the strain of her dashing, slid onto the reflective flooring of her second classroom. Her limbs gave out from underneath as Azelf allowed her composure to melt. It was an unrelated thought, and it was somewhat sudden, but a fragment of an idea sprouted in her mind. "Pebbles don't have to run frantically or go to an academy, do they?" muttered Azelf to herself. Interjecting into her commentary, a more masculine voice retorted, "On the other hand, a pebble is a pebble. It can't do much besides being a pebble." The girl paused at the response; her right hand roamed to her chin as if considering the counter. It took a couple of seconds to pass before Azelf had noted that there were two silhouettes facing her. Azelf sprung to a stand again, but her head dangled from her neck at the realization of her own thoughts tumbling out of her mouth. When the adolescent dared to look up, she had immediately noticed that rather than the class she was accustomed to at that time of the day, the only ones present were Venelop3, who had taken a front row seat and was waving with some zest towards Azelf, and Zeref, who was tapping his foot impatiently near the entrance of the room. Azelf took a moment to absorb the placement before she began to mutter, "S-Sorry, I think I might have gone to the wrong classroom. I'm just a little tired today, so if you don't mind I'll just ta-" "Hey, don't think you can just skip out on this lesson by shedding ignorance," Zeref proclaimed with an inch of irritation hanging at the edge of his words, "Amie should have informed you both already." Having diminished to a state of curiosity, Venelop3 had whisked out her own cell phone, displaying its screen, even though neither Zeref nor Azelf could spy the contents from where they stood. Given the silence, Venelop3 jabbed, "I didn't think a Guillotine Maker would give us a text message, though. What about you, Azelf?" Azelf shrinked back slightly as the attention was directed towards her. She tugged lightly at the collar of her own shirt, attempting to avoid eye contact. She released a second sigh before she mumbled, "Here's the funny part. I didn't have a chance to look at the message today. Because I didn't get up until nearly an hour after the first class had started, I left my phone at the hospital..." Without giving either the student or mentor a second to soak in Azelf's admittance, she claimed a seat adjacent to Venelop3. Her voice wavered in uncertainty, but it soon ran along with her conscience as Azelf inquired, "This is about yesterday, right? Our titles, shaded souls, those... pasts, you'll tell us about them, right, Zeref?" The mentor strode in front of the chalkboard. The chalkboard creaked as Zeref leaned against its frame. "That's correct. If you checked your phone beforehand, though, then you would have already had your answer," grunted the dark-haired male. Clearing his throat with a handful of coughs, Zeref rebounded from the chalkboard. His hands formed arc motions in the air as he remarked, "Let's hit this off with a review. According to our official archives, we define a shaded soul as a member of our forum that has been tainted by an unidentified shadow. We aren't entirely sure what the shadow is or where it came from, but we are aware that it is similar to a parasite. It consumes its host by drowning a person's conscience in jealousy and, more commonly, regret. These emotions that stir up within a player can be treated as a lure, players succumb under these emotions, allowing for the shadow to take control of that player's actions. Those consumed by the shadow are easily noticed due to their appearances. I believe I don't have to provide an example of that. Those who are victim to a shadow, a shaded soul, will experience a lie, a beautiful life, of a moment they had either regretted or treasured. It doesn't matter how the victim perceives the moment, because in the end, the shadow will distort that memory. To our advantage, the Guillotine Makers have discovered a method as to how to clear the shaded souls of their lies. It involves our accounts, or badges as other forums call them. As long as we use an account to make contact with a shaded soul, then we can dive into that victim's past. Because a shadow resurrects a memory of a player, the distorted memory will become the most recent memory for that player. Seeing as a majority of students may not be prepared yet, the job falls upon the title-holders to fix these illusions left by the shadows. We can't connect to a player's conscience from the physical world, so we have to connect mentally to do this. There is one downfall to this method, though, which is that it places a risk on the one that enters the shaded soul's memory." The monologue was cut off as a hand reached towards the ceiling. The hand in question belonged to Venelop3, partially bewildered by the explanation. With a nod from the mentor, Venelop3 threw a question into the mostly vacant room: "If the shaded soul is cured by having his or her memory corrected, then how does this put the player entering in danger? D-Does this also mean that Azelf could have died back there?" To some extent, Zeref had acknowledged this with a glance to the side, although he had not actually prepared a lecture for these points. Grumbling to himself, Zeref reached for a stick of chalk. Motioning to the board, he sketched a stick figure with what seemed like a lasso around its neck. He gave a fifth cough to announce the next part of his lecture: "Yes, anyone could be at risk when inside a memory. It's another reason why, on most occasions, title-holders are the only ones given these tasks. This method, though, provides us a chance to not only defeat the shadow, but cure the victim also. In that confrontation between the player that enters, who we'll call as a challenger in this case, and the shaded soul, the challenger has an several chances to correct the timeline, although it would be a grave mistake to call the amount infinite. When a challenger enters the illusion, the challenger is attached with a rope, almost like a choker. While the rope is not tangible, it is still fatal; think of that rope as a timer. The extra length of the rope shortens over time and when it reaches to the challenger's neck, then he or she technically dies. To be more exact, the rope represents the attachement between a challenger's physical self and the one that appears in the illusion. The connection between the self and the body cuts off when that rope disappears, making the challenger no more than a corpse. I suppose that answers your question, Venelop3, although it ended up on a downward slope." The next hand that interruped the atmosphere was Azelf's. Scooting a bit forth on her seat, Azelf pressed, "I remember when I was in Shiro's memory. We were in an extravagant room. There were people, chandeliers, speakers, and... that gun." Venelop3 blinked innocuously at the description, although her own face contorted into a nostalgic expression. The brunette frowned soon afterwards as if the answer was just out of reach of her own mind. "Zeref, those memories that get distorted... what are they?" finished Azelf. As if glancing out of a window that did not exist in the classroom, the mentor found himself drifting from the conversation. His head abruptly swiveled back. His left hand unconsciously reached for the bridge of his nose. Zeref's eyes darted to the two students, waiting with eyes slightly ajar. Arriving at an answer, his tone dropped and his words slurred to form a brief response: "They're games. I'm sure both of you are aware of them. There are thousands of forums, including ours. Our forum is known as Rabbit Doubt Games, often shortened to RDG, and as the name suggests, our forum holds games. They're somewhat of a mixture of a debate, psychological warfare, and a drop of mystery. Out of the other events in our forum, these games have the strongest feelings associated with them, especially since we've had over a hundred of them by now. For a forum that has a simple concept of 'find the wolves' and 'don't trust anyone,' it's surprising that players do not actually die in games. You can thank our local undertaker for that, though. Yukihime... she does collect those who have been brutally murdered or hanged during games, but due to the large reapings with accusations flying to and fro, she ends up having to return those who died from the games. Of course, just because a player may die does not mean that the player's opinions or resent will go to the grave either. It lingers and that's possibly why the moments that shadows alter are from games most of the time... at least that's what Amie would say." Stretching both arms, Zeref nonchalantly dropped the chalk from his writing hand, not bothering to pick it up after it cracked against the floor. "Well, I believe that's all of the information I'm going to be shoving into your heads today. Please, at least memorize the important points of what we've discussed today, so I won't have to repeat tomorrow. Any last questions?" stifled the dark mage through a yawn. It was a rhetorical question, but another question had been given as a response. Azelf was standing in an aisle. Her arm was not dancing frantically above her head, but her gaze did not carry the same signs of exhaustion as before. Rather than boredom or baggy eyes, an element flared behind her glazed green eyes. Azelf, with a serious expression, inquired, "Zeref, throughout this period, you mentioned how only title-holders would deal with shaded souls, but Venelop3 and I are just students, so wjy are you informing us about all of this?" "You're asking that now?" an exasperated look seemed to be carved into Zeref's features as he asked back. "I thought it was obvious. Why else would I be sent to instruct two students on anything classified that relates to missing cases?" responded the mentor. Azelf and Venelop3 gave the taller male an expectant gaze. To Azelf's dismay, she quickly came to the realization that Zeref was expecting either of them to provide the truth. Her thought process tossed the problem around, treating it like a foreign riddle. The truth settled in her stomach. It carried weight and left an empty feeling in her stomach as her brain raced to prepare for her own astonishment. Part of Azelf leaned towards pride at the meaning behind the truth yet every other ounce of herself was distraught at the truth in its very essence. It was not Azelf who spoke first as Venelop3 caught on a few seconds later. Venelop3 almost choked on her own words, but she managed to portray the conclusion that both Azelf and Venelop3 have arrived to. Flicking at the cat ears of her hoodie, she stated monotonously, "You want us to fight those shaded souls."
Sorry, this is short compared to previous chapters, but that is because this chapter will be split into two parts as it shifts views from Venelop3, in here, to Azelf.