Class 18 had decided to confine themselves. In order to leave the room as little as possible, Takeya had entrusted any exterior dealings to others. Such responsibilities were delegated to the rest of the student body, with the student council taking up the role of the core.
The plan was put into action. Reki immediately gathered all of the students in the gym, then laid out the plan and current situation to them. From now on, there would be no lessons and no weekly sacrifices.
But there was no joy. Everyone knew from experience that there was no way things would go just as planned when a magical girl is involved.
All of the students are obligated to watch over the classroom Class 18 are barricaded in. They use a system of ten people rotating out every three hours. This requires a total of eighty people per day.
Any student who leaves the class without Takeya’s permission will be considered White Noisette, and thusly be attacked and/or captured, period. Such an attack would not be gentle by any means, but would be one that would, without a doubt, kill anyone that was not White Noisette.
If the lookouts gave the signal, the entire school would be mobilized to fight her. Naturally, it would be a life or death battle.
Takeya had another realization. His actions bear a real chance of bringing about the end of all his comrades in Sorakara Farm.
“You look pale, Takeya.”
Takeya instinctively raised his head at Zan’s words.
Takeya brought Zan and his friend Shuuhei along to the physics classroom and laid out his plan from here on out.
The ballots that the class had written on a while ago were lined up on the old, scratched-up desk.
“So Takeya, what are we doing?”
Takeya lit an alcohol lamp with one of their precious few matches.
“Actually, there’s a bit of a catch to these ballots. Each has a number written on it in sugar water. If we put it over fire, that number will become visible. If we know who got which number, we can know who voted what.”
“Ah, so the anonymity was a lie. Which means the one who handed out the ballots, Lilly, was your accomplice?”
“W-Why would you do this?”
The one who responded to Shuuhei’s question was not Takeya, but Zan.
“To find out who voted no. There’s no way White Noisette would be up for a siege. Takeya is thinking that there is a high chance that White Noisette is among those who voted no.”
“Yeah. We need to pay special attention to those that voted against. If they’re only participating reluctantly and are dissatisfied, they might try do something troublesome when we’re tired.”
Takeya started checking the ballots.
“Takeya-kun. I wanted to ask, but how dangerous do you think this plan is? What do you think White Noisette is going to do?”
Takeya thought about Shuuhei’s question for a moment and answered honestly.
“It’s hard to believe it’ll go well. I don’t believe that White Noisette will starve without doing nothing. Even if the student council president has her ring, there are still things she can do to help her transform.”
“I’m not sure if she has any, but she might have her allies help her. Magical girls don’t work alone.”
“W-What will we do?”
“We have to expose her while she is still in human form and capture her, before she has time to act.”
“Magical girls are immortal even in human form, but they become unable to move for a small amount of time if their brains or hearts are pierced. If we affirm that someone is White Noisette, we will engage them in a surprise attack. Then we will pin her down with stakes so she cannot regenerate or move.”
“Ah, how gory… Can magical girls feel pain?”
“I have my reservations. We call them magical girls, but they still look like girls. It’ll probably be horrible. Even worse, she will look like one of the classmates we have lived together with… But we have no choice, no?”
Zan started adding to the conversation.
“Takeya, how long do you think White Noisette can hold out?”
“…About 10 days.”
“Then we have a time limit. We need to find out who White Noisette is and attack them within those 10 days. If we can’t, we will fail having accomplished nothing, right?”
The ballot check was finished. Three people voted “no”. Takeya started mentally comparing the numbers that had appeared with the class register.
“This number is… Uh…”
Takeya frowned instinctively.
“What’s with that face? What were you expecting? I’ve been telling you there’s no way we can kill her constantly.”
“…Well, at least he’s consistent.”
“Be glad I narrowed down the number of suspects. A boy like me cannot be a suspect. There’s no need to tell me off for voting no.”
There’s no point in blaming Zan. The suspects are the 15 girls in the class. Takeya started going through them in his head one by one. He doesn’t necessarily get along with everyone, but he doesn’t want them to end up being magical girls. He feels that from the bottom of his heart.
“Takeya-kun. Who are the other two?”
“Give me a minute.”
Takeya compared the numbers and class register and came up with two names.
“Hatogaya Koko and Fujisaki Nono.”
He recalled their faces. That said, he had no idea what Koko, who is always wearing a gas mask, actually looked like.
“So, one of these two is White Noisette…?”
“Or are they? White Noisette didn’t necessarily vote against. Besides, both them are pretty weak minded, so it’s not surprising they voted no. And Koko is twelve! It’s no surprise she can’t muster up the will to fight.”
“Yeah. If anything, I think Nono is suspicious, but I don’t think a girl wearing a gas mask all the time and catching everyone’s attention is White Noisette. If a girl loaded with suspicion like that was the criminal in a detective model, you’d throw the book against the wall.”
“Well, we aren’t. Let’s just be careful of those two for now.”
Zan looked at Takeya and crossed his arms.
“’Be careful of’, huh?”
“What are you trying to say, Zan?”
Zan was being uncharacteristically evasive.
“It’s okay, just say it.”
“Ok… Takeya, the two that voted no…”
He hesitated a little and said.
“You’re not going to kill them, are you?”
Even in the face of such brash words, Takeya’s expression remained unchanged. It was something he had actually briefly considered.
“There’s no way we can do that. It’s impossible to kill two people at this time.”
“But Takeya, do you think White Noisette will mess up so much that you can be 100% certain? We only have 10 days.”
“That’s true, but we cannot afford to make a mistake. If White Noisette sees us killing someone and isn’t hiding her true form, she might try something. It’s too risky.”
Zan accepted it, for now.
But Takeya realized something during that conversation.
He’s right. It’s unlikely we will be able to narrow it down so much as to definitively say someone is White Noisette. And if that is the case, do I need to kill my classmates, who were my friends and family, if I suspect them? Even though I could be mistaken?
Takeya bit his lips.
When that time comes, can I really do it?
It was the sixth day of the siege and their worst fears had been realized. Takeya hadn’t even been able to pick out a suspicious person, let alone identify White Noisette.
The ever-growing paranoia and suspicion between classmates. The knowledge that there is a killing machine living amongst them. The dissatisfaction with such an oppressive lifestyle and being unable to go outside. The sudden change in environment. The fear that everyone might be wiped out. The impatience of not knowing when it would all end.
The effect of all these intense stressors on the class’ psyche was clear. Everyone was nearing exhaustion.
It was only inevitable that something like this would happen:
The death of Kunugi Sumire.
“That’s enough! I’m no magical girl! Please understand! No! I don’t want to suspect anyone. Whatever! I don’t care anymore! Do whatever the hell you want! I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care!”
Sumire was unable to handle the current situation. Nobody comforted her like before, no matter how worried she was, how depressed she was, or how many tears she shed. Thus, she was driven to try and break free and escape the classroom.
The students outside were going through the exact same horrors she was. She thought they would understand if she told them just how hard things had been, cooped up in that room. She thought if she pleaded will all her heart that she wasn’t a magical girl, they’d spare her.
But Reki’s orders were absolute.
“Eh? Eeh? What’s that?”
Sumire found the student council waiting for her on the other side of the door, sabres at the ready. Following their example, the students standing guard quickly fell into line.
A man in an armband spoke.
“This is a magical girl. Do you understand?”
Those who attempt to leave the class will be considered magical girls. This is an iron rule.
There is no way Sumire can be allowed to live.
If they were to make an exception for Kunugi Sumire now and spare her, then slowly but surely everyone would make their escape attempts, and the plan would be ruined.
“Prepare yourselves! Everyone, surround her and kill!”
Sumire swung her head frantically from side to side.
“Why? You’re supposed to be killing magical girls! Why are you killing me?!”
“I don’t get it! I don’t get I don’t get it! I-I’m no magical girl! P-Please understand! I’m not lying, can’t you tell?! There’s no way a magical girl would beg and beg like this!”
“Help! Help! A-All I did was leave the class for a second, right?! I’ll go back! I’ll never leave again! I’ll go back! Let me go! Spare me! Please! Please! PleeEEEEAAAAAAAA-“
Sumire was killed by the student guards right in front of Takeya and the rest of the class’ eyes.
Her death rattle lodged itself in Takeya’s mind.
Sumire had definitely dug her own grave, but it was hard to blame her for not fully understanding the current situation. She was not the only person yet to comprehend that the life they had lived up to now was gone.
Most of the students are only now coming to terms with the fact they can never return to how things once were by seeing Sumire cut down right before their eyes.
Truth be told, Takeya was one of them. He had never imagined that Sumire would be killed just for leaving the classroom. He had thought that, all things considered, she would have been forgiven.
In reality, Sumire was not the first person to be killed since this started. Two people from outside his class had been executed. One of them, like that student council girl before, was put to death for being too loyal to White Noisette. Reki killed another for rebelling against Takeya’s plan. That person was not the only one who refused to go along with the plan, but they were made into an example to dissuade the rest.
In other words, Takeya was responsible for the deaths of at least three people. They in all likelihood died resenting him, cursing his name.
On the day that Sumire died, Takeya vomited three times in a makeshift toilet at the edge of the classroom. He knew he had to keep up a strong face as the architect of the plan, but he couldn’t hold it back any longer. Nobody said anything to him as he vomited, as if they already knew exactly why it was happening.
The next day.
Takeya lay in his futon, pressing his hand against the bruise on his cheek. He remembered the words that the one who hit him, Aikawa Matsuri, had said, along with the intense pain he felt then.
“I don’t hate you or anything, but let me give you a good hit in Sumire’s place.”
Matsuri, one of Sumire’s friends, slugged Takeya with all her might. She did nothing else to him after that. In the year that Takeya has known her that was the first time he had ever seen her cry.
The pain from the bruise was so severe it was causing him headaches, but he also felt a kind of comfort in his heart. In a way, he took comfort in being blamed by others.
He was still haunted by Sumire’s death rattle and the weeping that came after, and now both were incessantly battering against his ear drums. It was like they were about to burst.
He knew all of this was coming from self-pity, but knowing that didn’t make it easier to reconcile.
He felt dirty, as if a thick oil oozing was out of his heart. It was a feeling that never went away, no matter how many times he vomited. His mind felt heavy and dull, like it had somehow turned into an iron ball. He didn’t want to think.
Did I screw up?
The words he could never say. If he did, the anger and dissatisfaction of the class would turn on him instantly, and the plan would be as good as dead.
He couldn’t afford to think like that, but that question repeated itself over and over in his head. It tormented him as much as the pain did.
Do I just want to save Reika-san for my own sake?
Takeya couldn’t sleep at all yesterday so he really should be getting some sleep, yet, he couldn’t sleep at all today either.
On the first day of the siege the class were split into three groups. It was decided they work would in 8 hour shifts. Takeya’s group was assigned to sleep between 4 PM to midnight.. Sleeping outside of that time is punishable by death.
There is no day or night when the 21 Confectionaries are in play. It’s 7 PM now but the sky is the same absurdly milky sky it always is.
He was so broken down he even began to hate the sky outside.
Lilly was sleeping on her side right next to Takeya, and she was literally—and perhaps metaphorically—turning her back on him.
If the other classmates noticed Takeya starting to crack, they wouldn’t do anything. They might not outright hate Takeya, but it’s clear to them that any mental turmoil the guy who started this whole thing off in the first place went through would be a case of him reaping what he sowed.
But Lilly is different. She didn’t give him any words of encouragement nor did she try to patch things together with kind words, but he knew she was an ally from the way she had always stood right beside him.
He moved his mouth close to her ears.
It’s okay if she’s sleeping. No, he wants her to be asleep.
Takeya knew he couldn’t go around whining due to the position he held, but he was at his limit. He couldn’t keep it locked up inside anymore. He let it out.
He whispered into Lilly’s ear.
“Am I doing the right thing?”
Just saying those words helped clear his mind a little. Sleeping or not, she was the only person that would be able to accept his complaining, or so he thought.
He was surprised he would think like that.
Ah… I’m fawning over too much…
He thought that only person he could really rely on was Reika, and that he couldn’t really claim that such a close relationship existed between he and Lilly after just a year of living together.
Lilly said nothing. It seemed she was really asleep. That’s exactly what Takeya wanted, but he was still a bit hurt he wasn’t being listened to.
He pulled away from Lilly, surprised at his own weakness.
When he pulled his head back under the futon, his mind began to fill with his own voice again.
Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wrong? Am I wro-
Takeya was lightly patted through the futon. He stuck his head out.
Lilly was looking at Takeya, her lips pursed. Her blonde hair was touching his face.
“You’re awake, Lilly.”
Lilly didn’t respond right away. She was thinking about how to reply. She was even considering pretending to be asleep like that.
“No honorifics? Don’t get too familiar with me, idiot.”
The same tone as always. It made Takeya so calm, he himself couldn’t believe it. His face loosened up. It probably looked like he was about to cry.
Lilly pursed her lips, her face a mixture of sadness and confusion. She then went silent and climbed into Takeya’s futon. He had no idea what she was thinking.
They were together in the futon, so close their head were almost touching. She was staring right into his eyes.
Amazed and unembarrassed, Takeya stared back deeply into her emerald-green eyes, as if he was being pulled in by them.
He had always wondered, how can she keep such honest eyes in a world like this?
“Are you wrong? I can’t say. You thought it through, so I don’t mind what happens… I can’t say that either. We’ll only know when this all over. You’ll never be forgiven for the deaths of Sumire and the others if you’re wrong, and you’ll be wrong if we don’t manage to kill White Noisette. Her death is your fault and it’ll be your fault as well if everyone dies.”
“That’s putting it bluntly, but you’re right.”
Indeed, he wouldn’t know whether his decision was correct or not until the whole thing comes to a close.
But if results determine right and wrong, then Takeya is already wrong. After all, magical girls cannot be killed.
Will I die hated and unforgiven?
“…But, I don’t mind if you’re wrong.”
Lilly’s shocking words left Takeya’s eyes wide open.
“Really? I thought you wanted to live a calm life.”
“Yes. But really, it’s fine.”
She seemed serious.
“If you decided it, it’s fine.”
In that instant, the self-loathing voice in Takeya’s head disappeared.
That’s what he wanted to hear. He never actually expected it to come, but he desperately wanted to hear it. That even if he was wrong he would be accepted.
He was sure no one would say it. He had given up hope anyone ever would. He had even accepted he was going to die. There’s no way anyone would say it.
But Lilly had said it.
That she would accept him no matter what.
Takeya wrapped his arms around Lilly and hugged her tightly.
Her eyes flew open in surprise.
“W-wha- This is sexual harassment! And underneath the covers as well… I’m not ready! Stop messing around!”
She tried to tear him off but stopped and went silent when she saw his face.
“Thank you, Lilly…”
Takeya was crying. He couldn’t let the other students hear that, so he was pushing his face into her chest to drown out the sound.
For a moment Lilly did nothing. Then she smiled and gently held Takeya’s head.
It is the tenth day of the siege, and the day of reckoning.
Takeya, Zan, and Shuuhei were once again conversing in the science lab.
Unlike the rest of the class, these three have a license to enter and leave the class.
As boys, they are not suspected of being magical girls. They also members of the tight-knit group, “The Family”.
To make a long story short, “The Family” are those that were taken into Ijuuin Reika’s care and lodged freely in her mansion. Reika saved not only Takeya’s life, but also the lives of Shuuhei and Zan.
“The Family” respect, believe in, and love Reika without exception.
She doesn’t only help children. With Reika’s leadership, “The Family” brought some amount of order to the chaotic ruins of Sorakara City. They maintain the law and work toward restoring the city to its former glory.
Reika spearheaded this movement despite being merely a year apart from Takeya in age.
Even now, “The Family” exerts a great influence on the people living in Sorakara City. Even Takeya’s position as the de facto leader of Class 18 is strongly tried to his membership in The Family.
“Hey Takeya, would you mind if I asked you something? It’s a bit off topic, but it’s been on my mind.”
Takeya, Shuuhei and Zan were making the final decision about the identity of White Noisette. In the middle of doing so, Zan queried Takeya with an unusually serious face.
“Go for it, Zan. What is it?”
“It’s been doing my head in. How the student council president acted when he said Reika’s name. That tone. I can’t help but think that the only reason he agreed to your plan is because Reika’s your benefactor.”
“He called her your ‘ruler’”.
Indeed, Reki did say that. Odds are it was deliberately provocative.
“He probably thinks quite highly of her. Onee-san really is a great person. She’s so intelligent, much more so than anyone else. I think she can sort out the class to a certain extent, just like what she did with The Family.”
Shuuhei, who had been standing nearby, nodded along.
“Even if Reika can unite the class, we can’t believe she is anywhere near as capable as White Noisette. She’s human. Her body is weak and she can’t fight. She smiles and she laughs. Even if she is amazing beyond human capability… A human is a human. ”
“I agree. She’s not strong enough to kill White Noisette.”
Zan cut Takeya off and continued speaking.
“So I’m thinking, White Noisette created Sorakara Farm for a reason, and Reika must be getting in the way of that. At the very least, she’s just as influential as the student council president.”
“…And what purpose would that be?”
“How would I know? But if we assume White Noisette wants to use us for her own ends, then Reika-san may become a thorn in her side. And if we assume that, then perhaps choosing Reika as the next sacrifice was actually a very risky wager?”
Takeya raised his eyebrows.
“Why do you think that?”
“Ever since Reika-san was chosen, you, no—everyone has been moving to kill White Noisette, no? Could it not be said that, in a way, when that happened, White Noisette lost that wager?”
Takeya thoroughly contemplated what Zan pointed out before speaking.
“She wants to use us, and she wants to keep us alive for her own ends…?”
“It’s very possible.”
“White Noisette hasn’t taken action yet because she doesn’t want to kill us?”
“That’s what I’m thinking, but she can only go so long without eating.”
Takeya understood after Zan explained it to him. Even when White Noisette handed Reki her ring, she was trying to use humans to advance her own goals.
Why does White Noisette only confine young people? Why does she only eat once a week? Why is she hiding amongst Class 18? Why did she inform Reki and Leila of that fact? Why did she give Reki her ring, and why is she trying to strengthen herself?
What does she want?
Suddenly, Takeya felt odd.
I definitely feel like I’m missing something… but I have absolutely no idea what it is.
“Takeya-kun. No amount of thinking will bring you an answer. Let’s do what we can for now. All we can do right now is do our best to catch White Noisette.”
“…Shuuhei. Yes. Yes, that’s right.”
Exposing and capturing White Noisette. It’s what they ought to do. It’s all they can do.
It’s time to abandon any misgivings.
“We need to choose someone.”
Even if there is no basis for such an accusation or anything to back it up.
Takeya, Zan and Shuuhei had narrowed the suspects down to four people. Atop the black desk in front of them, they lined up four pieces of paper, on which the names of the accused were written.
Aikawa Matsuri. Mitsuishi Youko. Renkoujizaka Koneko. Mijisaki Nono.
Hatogaya Koko was not included even though she voted against the plan. She had clearly been living in absolute terror ever since the vote, and her age makes it difficult to gauge exactly why she voted no.
Shuuhei began listing off why each person was suspicious.
“Aikawa Matsuri has no sense of danger. She may have been attempting to throw things into chaos when she punched Takeya, who is leading this operation.”
“Mitsuishi Youko is oddly calm, and strangely friendly with Usakoro. She also tried to incite people to vote with her.”
“Renkoujizaka Koneko is quiet. Too quiet. She says she is 18 but her appearance does not match her age. Perhaps she, as a magical girl with an ageless body, has lost her sense of age?”
“Mijisaki Nono also voted against. Nobody knows what she looks like because her attire invariably includes a gas mask. She also remains distant from every classmate except Arimi Yuki.”
Takeya listened to the summary and gave a deep sigh.
“We’ve come up with a list of reasons, but it’s all circumstantial. Weak. It’d be too nasty to brand someone as White Noisette on that alone.”
“Yes, but we have to choose. Time is up.”
Takeya nodded at what Zan had said. He was right.
“I’ll restate my opinion. Shuuhei thinks she’s suspicious but I don’t think Aikawa is the magical girl. She’s not in The Family, but I’ve known her since before we came to Sorakara Farm. I know her well. She’s just become a bit bull-headed because of the situation we’re in.
She’s a bit of an idiot, truth be told, but she doesn’t have it in her to deceive her classmates for an entire year. She probably hit Takeya because she was getting emotional.”
Shuuhei spoke next.
“I don’t think it’s Youko. She’s really nice and has a strong sense of right and wrong. Joining the student council and being against this plan are just the actions of a pragmatist. She probably thinks that beating a magical girl is impossible.”
“And you like her tits.”
“T-That has nothing to do with it! What the hell are you on about, Zan?!”
Shuuhei’s face turned red.
Zan continued, looking satisfied at how he had teased Shuuhei.
“I think his assessment is spot on. Matsuishi is a fellow student council member and her views towards magical girls are similar to mine, though I know that doesn’t go too far in clearing her of suspicion.”
Takeya asked them if there was anything else left to say. There was no response. There was nothing left.
There is no way they could make a judgement based on things like this alone.
They can’t afford to make the wrong call. If they do, they will have taken the life of an innocent classmate. Even worse, it will rouse White Noisette to action. It would be no exaggeration to say the life of every student in the school hinges on Takeya’s decision.
But despite all that, this is all they have to go on.
It’s ridiculous, but they have no choice but to accept that ridiculousness.
Takeya started nodding frantically to make himself understand the situation. He subconsciously started tightening his fists.
I have to!
He forced his hands to relax.
“We will close our eyes. Then, at the same time, we will point at the paper with the name of the person we think is White Noisette.”
Zan and Shuuhei closed their eyes. Seeing that their eyes were closed, Takeya followed suit.
Takeya felt them moving instantly. Takeya had no hesitation as well.
They opened their eyes.
They were all pointing at the same person.
That was the name of the classmate that would be killed.
Zan spoke out.
Takeya glared back at him with a look of surprise on his face.
Takeya thought he was being self-conscious, that his objection was just indecisiveness. The decision had been reached. Everyone had picked the same person. Further debate would change nothing.
Yet, he too was unable to mentally picture Koneko being White Noisette. It didn’t make sense at all.
His intuitions were screaming at him.
The decision is wrong.
“By process of elimination we are left with Koneko. But is that enough?”
Koneko is an extremely quiet and emotionless girl. As a result of that, she has no friends in the class and no one knows what she’s really like. She is their classmate and acknowledged as part of the class’ family-like structure, but there is still something mysterious about her.
But there was not a shred of proof that she is a magical girl.
Takeya had a thought. Are they not just choosing from those that stand out the most?
Would it be okay to treat Koneko, chosen through process of elimination, like she was White Noisette , even though Takeya had a strong feeling it wasn’t her?
Zan blurted out to the silent Takeya.
“Will we sit back with our hands clean and doom every single person in the class? Or will we dirty our hands, kill Renkoujizaka alone and carry out our plan? Choose.”
“That’s a bit of a leading question…”
“Is it? I don’t mind which you pick.”
Zan quietly spat that out at him.
“We’re done for either way.”
Unbelievably, those were this true feelings.
Zan narrowed his eyes at Takeya, whose face has stiffened.
“I died the moment we decided on this plan, Takeya. We are surrounded by magical girls. Even if we luck out and somehow deal with White Noisette, the other magical girls will kill us in revenge. They’ll kill us in the most horrible way possible, make sure we suffer to make an example of us. That’s what I expect.”
Takeya took a moment to catch his breath.
It’s very possible.
“I’m probably not the only person. Youkou and lot of other students are probably thinking the same thing. You killed us the minute you started this operation.”
“So do whatever you like. The idiot that thinks they can kill a magical girl should be the one to decide, not someone like me.”
Zan was blaming Takeya, but at the same time, he was—in his own clumsy way—giving him his support.
Shuuhei patted Takeya on the shoulder.
“If you’re wrong, you can apologize to Koneko in heaven.”
Takeya was resolute.
He may kill the wrong person, the plan may fail.
But it’s too late now. The situation would be the same regardless, taking a risk with little chance of success. From the beginning, all Takeya could do was try his best.
“I get it.”
In this situation there is only one thing that can be done.
“We will kill Renkoujiza Koneko.”
It was decided.
Takeya vomited once more, unable to hold back the guilt.