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A Mystery From Another World

Chapter Text

The trains sped in and out of the station. Businessmen and woman were loaded and unloaded in waves that never seemed to wane. Golden eyes watched each one of those nameless salary workers, ones that would never amount to anything more than what they already were. Cynical, perhaps, but it was the truth. After all, a truly honest job rarely lead anyone anywhere. There were no other paths but one in those jobs. It was no surprise any one of these nameless and faceless workers would be enticed into another life. Another place. Another world.

Another world was precisely the reason the golden-eyed boy- a boy no older than 18 to the day, was waiting in this endless sea of suits and echoing footsteps. Waiting for a face to match a name within an ocean of the opposite all around him. Forgetful conversations and tired words filled the air as everything appeared to ignore the boy who stood still in the center of it all. There were no eyes filled with concern or confusion, much less interest, directed to the child in heart of the bashing waters. What else could he be but a child? There was nothing else for him to be.

That was his reason for being here. He would be more than a child. More than a simple prodigy. The words of that man rang out in his head, the one from the show that his sister loved to watch so much.

It's just that even a prodigy becomes a normal person once they're out of their twenties.

For two years, seven hundred thirty days, those words rang through his head. Every stroke of his pen against the paper, every click against the keyboard, every praise from his instructors were nothing more than a reminder of those words. With every reminder, he began to fear he would fall into such an abyss. A prodigy today, but nothing more than a nameless and faceless worker tomorrow. The thought alone terrified him to the core. He may be a prodigy to those around him now, but after he took his first step as an adult it would all become nothing but a burden. Compared to his past self as he falls deeper and deeper into the ceaseless void of the unknown workers.

He refused to be in such a place. It was nothing he desired. It would be his grave if he became nothing more than a figurehead for those to point at and watch. Whoever desired such a life had already given up to the abyss of the commonplaced.

Amongst the brushes of shoulders and bags, a strong hand clasped onto his shoulder is more than enough to capture his attention. A strongly built man, nearly the height of his father, with a face unlike those around him. The boy recognizes him, he was the one who invited him after.

“Dr. Watson, it’s good to see you again.”

“As good as it is to see you, Galahad, I assume your trip went well?”

“Yes, the trains are very efficient here.”

“So you say, yet you look like a half-dead fish.”

“Sleep was unobtainable on the trip, but that is nothing new for me.”

Dr. Watson mumbles something under his breath about the carelessness of a child. Galahad knows very well he is right and does not give a comment, better to start off on good terms than to start off half off a cliff. The doctor leads him through the crowd, up the stairs, and into the bustling city streets. He is brought to a home, a temporary one purely for this occasion. This is where he will spend the next six months. Galahad opens the door, only to be met with a mess unbefitting of an adult.

“Watson! I’ve found it! I knew it was still here!”

A blue haired man, with hair in disarray, erupted from the mess covering the floor. Books, loose papers, folders, pictures, pillows, clothes, almost anything one could imagine was waded through by the man on his way towards the door. In his hand was a short whip that was held high above his head. Watson shook his head with a smile, knowing he would be the one cleaning up as per usual.

“Good lord Holmes, I leave you for a half hour and you’ve already torn up the house. What an impression you’ve made.”

“Best your temporary replacement know my habits early, oh yes would you mind making some tea for us?”

“How you will live without me I wonder.”

Watson shut the door and disappeared into the kitchen. Galahad was left with the man. A man, who at that moment, looked very different than on tv or in articles. It seemed that in interviews, Watson was not exaggerating how he lived in a mess of a home.

Sherlock Holmes, the World’s Greatest Detective. A cold- despite his smile, calculating- despite the mess, and dispassionate- despite his excitement, man. Galahad keeps his gaze locked, he knows he is being analyzed. He did it with everyone, and yet people still thought they could pull the wool over his eyes. It seemed the nameless were clueless to the power of knowing one’s name regardless.

Dr. Watson returns with a tray in hand, hot tea filling the sitting area as they sit surrounded by clutter. Holmes had brushed the clutter off three chairs to make room, though Galahad was almost sure it made the floor even less navigatable. Holmes pointed at him with the riding crop, barely knocking the tray from his assistant’s hand. Both appeared not to notice, perhaps it was normal for them.

“Galahad du Lac, son of Lancelot du Lac and Elaine Corbenic, though you live with your father following a custody battle. You were a prodigy in school and yet you look for work instead of seeking higher education, of course, even a prodigy cannot have everything now, can they? You have a little sister you care for, yet you are reclusive to all. You came here because you know my profession and wish to make something of yourself, yet you are greatly inexperienced,” Holmes paused to take a long sip from his cup, “And furthermore-!”

“Holmes.”

As if he’s a child being scolded, Holmes looks out the window and drinks from his cup. Watson, in his everlasting gentleman charm, apologized for Holmes’ out of place comments and hope it did not offend him for bringing up certain things. Galahad silently nodded, he knew what he was getting into when he applied. However, he had hoped to make it to his first case before this happened. So much for that wish.

“Well, we are sparse for time right now. Since you’ve gotten so much on him, what do you think Holmes?”

“How good is he at cleaning?”

“Better than you.”

“He’s hired.”

Watson rolls his eyes and hands Galahad three papers. He picks them up and instantly recognizes one of them. A man with a similar air to Holmes, and a man his father knows. Merlin Ambrosius, a half-incubus according to rumors and the one who raised his father’s boss. How a man who should be in his sixties at least looks the same as he did at age twenty is a mystery all on its own. The other two, in strange coincidence all have white hair, are a mystery to him. The one with tanned skin is listed under the name Shirou Emiya. The pale man only had a single name listed, Karna, yet there was a note of how that was possibly a false identity.

“These three are connected in a case of the supernatural. While outlandish, there is plenty of proof of them dealing with or bringing people into contact with demons. Starting today, you will assist us both in this case until the six months are up. If the case is solved before the time is up, you may come long for another or spend the rest of the allocated time how you wish.”

Holmes pointed towards the man with the large earring with the riding crop, “We will start with him. Simply because, where he is, the other two are close by. At least, they are for now.”

Galahad nods. He had 6 months to prove his talents were more than a simple prodigy’s. 6 months to escape the ever quickly closing path to a life worth living. 6 months to make himself a name.

 

And so, the clock began to tick.

Chapter Text

Galahad watched as Watson cut open the woman on the table. The body. It was nothing more than a body now. It was no longer a woman who died naturally at age 27. It was a nameless body with no past. There was nothing to it except its soul. The soul that stayed in place even after it died. A rare occurrence, but an obtainable one. Its legs are held far apart, as are its arms. The doctor marked a small ‘x’ where its diaphragm is located. He started with the scalpel before continuing his cut with the dissection scissors. The forceps kept the tissue away from the fragile organs. He called Galahad over to pin down the flaps of skin he pulled back, exposing the abdominal cavity for all to see. The teen swallowed the feeling creeping up his throat, this was half of his job now, he had to get used to it. Watson went back up through the chest, cutting through the ribs and the sternum as if it was chopsticks being separated. At the midpoint of the forearms, he made another incision. Again, he moved, this time back to the diaphragm. He cut away the wall of the body, pulling the rib cage back and pinning it to the table. The thoracic cavity now laid bare to two pairs of prying eyes. As was what the doctor was looking for.

Watson gently pushed the heart to the side and lifted the lungs, revealing a dull and cracked crystal-like ball. He plucked it from the cavity as if he was picking out a donut from a box. He brought it over to a triple beam balance on another table. Galahad released the flaps he held back to continue watching the doctor. With a few soft clicks of the counterweights, the soul’s weight balanced out. 21 grams. He took a cloth measuring tape and carefully wrapped it around the soul. 4 centimeters and 23 millimeters. As he jotted down the numbers and units of measurement, he rolled the cracked ball around in his hand.

Galahad looked closely at the soul. It was rare to see one out of the body. Photos were even rarer, it wasn’t until a few short months ago that it became possible to so. While the body was alive, the soul flowed throughout all of it like blood. Once the body died, once organ failure finished, it became a small ball that cracked minutes after death. Theoretically, it was possible to bring someone back to life during those sparse moments. Of course, there was never really any experiment to prove so. Human experimentation involving death- even if it was temporary, was highly illegal. Not to mention nauseating, even though he prepared by not eating anything beforehand.

“You know, it wasn’t until I meet Holmes that I ever saw a soul. I still don’t know how or why I suddenly had the ability, and I’ll likely never know. He certainly won’t say anything.” He turned to Galahad with the soul held up to the boy’s face, “But, a prodigy like you has never had to ask such a question, right?”

It’s an innocent question. Yet, Galahad can hear something in his tone that stings. Watson was a normal person. An intelligent one, but he was still a normal person. He wasn’t a prodigy. He was a normal man surrounded by those who weren’t. He still is a normal man. Well, as normal a man who spends all his time with Holmes can be.

“Watson!”

The door to the room is slammed open by the detective. It held enough force to make the walls shake and the contents of the shelves shudder as they began to near the edge. An obsidian glass skull near the door was unlucky enough to tip over and begin its descent towards the floor. Holmes caught the skull before it could shatter on the floor, in the process shaking the display cabinet it once perched upon. A porcelain heart was knocked over by the vibrations, nearly becoming countless fragments on the hard floor if not for Holmes catching it with his free hand. Slowly, he put the objects away in the cabinet and walked away with his hands raised. When nothing moved again he turned to face Watson and Galahad.

“Do you know if Galahad would prefer food before or after the collection?”

“Hm. Before. He’ll need the energy.”

“I’m very fit if you must know.”

His words fell on deaf ears. Holmes walked out of the room without another word while Watson went back to taking notes on the soul. Galahad took a look at the notes. It was short, yet detailed.

Subject A-39
Weight: 21 grams
Size: 4.23 centimeter
Shape: Ball
Color: Dull yellow
Life Span In Body (Life): 27 years, 130 days, 1 hour, 4 minutes, 9 seconds
Life Span in Body (Death): 10-23 days
Life Span out of Body:

There’s a moment of pause in his writing. His pen lifts off the paper and he watches the soul in his hand. A soft hum filled the air, with the closer Galahad got to the soul the quieter it got. Another crack formed on the ball’s surface. Then another. Then another. A new one would form quicker and quicker than the ones before it. The hum cut out completely with the dull color turning pitch black and falling apart in his hand. Watson made a loose fist and carefully took off his glove as to not let any of the crumbled soul fall out. He took off his other glove and dropped both of them into the trash can. He unpinned the ribs and removed the ropes around the limbs, wrapping the body in an off-white sheet. He jotted down quickly, 5 minutes, before putting the report into the large binder.

Getting rid of the body was fairly easy at this point for Holmes and Watson. Students who wished to study anatomy more but unable to secure more lab hours would take the bodies off their hands with little trouble. Galahad felt something unpleasant pool in his stomach, he didn’t know where they got the bodies in the first place. He doubted they dug her up, it was rare for a deceased person in Japan not to be cremated upon death. If they had stumbled upon her, then they had stolen from a family who still thought the person was alive or missing. Watson shook his head when he was asked, simply saying he would find out on his first investigation with Holmes.

He didn’t understand what he meant until Holmes brought him to an abandoned apartment complex. A temporarily abandoned complex specifically, the other tenets were simply staying in a nearby hotel until the investigation was complete due to a mysterious occurrence on the property. Holmes ducked under the police tape and ended the complex, whereas Galahad was stopped by one of the officers.

“He’s with me Fuuma. Watson’s on a breakthrough.”

The officer, Fuuma, simply nods. Galahad enters the crime scene, unsure if the officer knew what they were doing or if there was a string of lies around the truth. He decided it would be best not to question it at the time. If his second thought was correct, then his opportunity went down the drain immediately. He couldn’t have that.

At the third floor’s furthest room, the teen gulped down the vomit raising from his throat for the second time that day. It may be a bigger number considering what happened earlier, but this was the second time he remembered. The hanging sheets outside on the balcony had covered up the horrors inside. The entire living area was covered in blood and entrails, the limbless body in the center of the room looks like it belonged to a teenager. Galahad feels as if the walls are watching him, trying to figure out why he’s here.

“Ah ha, they weren’t kidding it was messy. Well, here’s some holy water. Use it if the ghoul gets too close before it dies.”

“..What!?”

The bottle is shoved into his hands as Holmes exits the room and closes the door behind him. Galahad tries to push to door open, only to find Holmes keeping it closed from the outside. He was locked in a room with a ghoul. That detective is an absolute madman. Was this why Watson gave him a crash course on what a ghoul was when they were disposing of the body? Both of them, absolutely mad.

Taking a deep breath to steel himself, he walked towards the corpse. His mouth was filled with drool, far more than what should be normal. It was as if it was forced down his throat even after he died. Galahad felt his mouth go dry. The boy had his soul sucked out by the ghoul. The most terrifying part, it was still mostly wet. He looked around as he backed away from the body, keeping an eye on the doors around him. One of the doors, it led to a bedroom most likely, creaked open. At first, he couldn’t tell what he was looking at until it lunged at him like a fox to a rabbit. He let out a scream and backed into the other wall. The ghoul, it didn’t look any older than he did with its hair falling out of the pigtails, crashed onto the floor. He heard the bones in its body crack as it pushed itself up, pushing against her skin as if they were broken. Its eyes were sockets of pitch black as it lunged at him again.

Galahad rolled onto the floor, getting up as he heard the ghoul crash against the wall. As it began to get up, he splashed it with the holy water. It writhed like a worm in a curious child’s hand, screaming like a wounded animal in a language that certainly wasn’t anything he had ever heard.

“F-_◾️•UH|_-◾️!”

He ran towards to open kitchen, the ghoul crawling behind him after it recovered from its screaming fit. There was a knife on the floor, probably dropped by either the corpse or the ghoul when it was alive. Galahad grabbed it and moved to the side, missing the ghoul by a hair as it crashed into the counter. Using its moment of weakness, Galahad splashed more holy water on it. He held the knife above the twitching body and slammed it down on the side of its head. Right at the base of its skull. The body jerked again, reaching out towards him as if to try to live long enough to catch him. It arms dropped along with its head, which drooped with its mouth open and knife sticking out of its head with blood clotting in its hair around the blade.

Galahad let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. Heaving heavily, he covered his mouth as he let out another scream. He had just killed something. Something that looked like a person. It still didn’t register properly in his head.

“Ah good, you’re alive,” Holmes was suddenly there, patting his shoulder in what Galahad assumed was faux sympathy.

They gathered up the ghoul’s body, the whole time Galahad tried to swallow the vomit that threatened to erupt from his stomach. Fuuma took the body and gave it to a female officer, telling Holmes it would be cleaned up for the autopsy. It was then Galahad knew where Watson was getting the bodies. The police knew. They were supplying them. Was it like that back home as well? Was that how the doctor was able to continue his research without much hindrance? Was his father involved with this?

He pondered those questions and more as he and Holmes made their way back to the home. On the way, he heaved up the lunch from earlier into a trashcan, choking back tears as the burning sensation filled his throat and mouth. When he finished, Holmes offered him a donut from the box he had picked up while Galahad threw up the contents of his stomach.

 

The clock on his phone struck 2.

Chapter Text

“I would like to introduce our two new students. Corbenic Galahad and Khatri Arjuna.”

Galahad bit the inside of his cheek, it had been years his mother’s name had been used for him. According to both Holmes and Watson, it was necessary. While it was unlikely anyone knew him, it was safer to use a surname no longer attributed to him to throw off suspicion. Though, Galahad was not excited to have to go through high school a second time for this investigation. How Holmes managed to get him into the school this quickly while the headmaster was gone was amazing. Not to mention in the same class as the boy he had to follow.

“It’s nice to meet you, my name is Arjuna. I count on your good favor.”

Arjuna bowed, completely cool-headed. The boy next to him speaks formally, something that sparks up conversations from the class. Murmurs of him being so polite, so formal, and having such good Japanese are shushed by the teacher who motions for him to speak.

“It’s nice to meet you, I am Galahad.”

The teacher points them each to a desk, starting with the attendance before beginning the first lesson of the day. The teacher’s words are drowned out as Galahad thinks over his assignment. Three of the ghouls Holmes had collected for Watson in the last week had been connected by a single factor. All had been students at this school that visited Karna Khatri’s cafe before they went missing, only to be found again as a ghoul. An innocent enough factor, but according to Holmes and Watson, it was immediately a red flag.

The school day was a blur to the false student, once it was over and the daily cleaning was done, he began to trail Arjuna. The boy had left the moment he could, not taking a second to stay any longer than he was obligated to. Galahad stayed a few feet behind him, far enough to not appear immediately as if he was following him, but close enough to keep an eye on him. It appeared that Arjuna’s school commute was an hour and twenty-five minutes, however, it may be faster when returning to his home compared to leaving it. When the destination was reached, Galahad stayed behind a few minutes after Arjuna went in. He didn’t want to seem suspicious entering.

'The Lotus Cafe' was written in neat letters and characters, underneath it is smaller text reading '& Florist Shop'. The building has large windows where booths are aligned, a number of groups or dates already sitting there or the other tables. There are two separate counters, one with baked goods on display while the other is plain save for the plant or two on it. When he enters the cafe, a small bell rings and brings the two manning the counter to look over. Arjuna, who returns his attention to the customer in front of him, had a short flash of recognition in his eyes. The other counter, the one with the sparse decoration, is manned by a man whose gaze would make hell freeze over.

Karna Khatri, most likely an alias. The surname is new information, Holmes simply told him it wasn’t necessary for him to know until now. Regardless, the possibility of it being one meant one big thing. He was hiding. If it was either someone or something, Galahad didn’t know. His job was to keep an eye on Arjuna, Holmes said he was handling Karna.

“Excuse me. Are students allowed to use a table for study here?”

“Over there. Don’t cause any trouble.”

The pale- the far too pale- man points to a group of small tables near the far wall. Galahad nods a thank you and makes his way over. He and Arjuna make eye contact for a moment, and for a fraction of a second, he was sure he saw the boy glaring at him. He sat down at the tablet and pulled out his laptop. He kept two windows up, one for faux school work and another for notes on his investigation. Galahad looked over towards Arjuna, attempting to get a reading on his soul. To a normal person, it would seem impossible. But to a prodigy, it was nothing more than focusing on a person and ignoring everything else around them. For a moment, the soul seemed to disappear from his sight completely. He looked away and then back again, the same thing happened. Did he have something to cover up his soul? Or was there a different reason? Was that what a demon soul looked like? Galahad stared at his laptop screen as he pondered these questions.

“Hey, we’re closing up.”

Galahad jerked back in his chair, gripping the side of the table to stop himself from tipping over with the chair. After he steadied himself, and the chair was back on all four legs, he looked up from his screen to the pale man from before looking at him. He checked the clock on the wall. It was nearly 10 PM. Galahad rubbed his eyes and began to pack up his things. Had he fallen asleep?

“You haven’t written anything.”

The man probably didn’t mean anything by it, he was most likely just curious. But that sentence nearly knocked the air out of Galahad. For a split second, he was afraid he was already being found out. The other man left as the boy scrambled to put his laptop away before returning and handing him a small bag. Inside was a clear plastic container full of cucumber slices.

“It’s good to eat when you have a headache. Don’t stare at the screen for so long even if it’s school work.”

Galahad nodded and made his way out of the cafe and onto the sidewalk. He passed by groups of people, young and old, who were experiencing the nightlife. Many of them were adults, although some were students or the elderly. It was different from his home, though he was never out at night like this. As he walked, Galahad saw people shining flashlights in and around alleyways. One of them noticed him and ran up to him.

“Hey, have you seen this person?”

It’s a picture of a woman. Fujimura Taiga. According to the poster being shoved into his face, she was last seen seven days ago. Apparently, she had been last seen here. Galahad shook his head, to which the woman holding the paper sighed. She mumbled something about knowing it was a bad idea to ask a high school student before the man with her suddenly grabbed her shoulder.

Galahad and the woman followed the man’s hand to find him pointing at someone across the street. In the bright street lamps, the woman in green almost looked drunk. The boy did a double take at the poster and realized it was the missing woman. But something didn’t add up to him. Why would someone missing for a week suddenly show up drunk? The man ran across the street and helped Taiga back over to the woman with him.

Taiga didn’t seem all that concerned with the fact she had been missing. Laughing off the concern from the woman and the man. She looked at Galahad in confusion and asks why he’s not at school. She then looks around to finally notice that it’s nighttime, laughing at her blunder with time. Seeing how she seems fine, Galahad makes his way past the three and towards Holmes’ house. He hears the woman suddenly scold Taiga for collapsing and probably being drunk. There’s a muffled sound of surprise followed by laughter.

But the casual laughter from them is suddenly cut off by a bloodcurdling scream. Galahad whips his head around to the man’s head smashed against a building’s wall and the woman neck is bending the wrong way. He was only so far up ahead of them when Taiga looked at him.

 

A ghoul’s eyes were staring right at him in the dark.

 

There’s a moment of his brain shutting down. There’s no way she was a ghoul. She was fine, probably drunk, but definitely not dead. But there’s no way a human could have done that so quickly. He felt his throat go dry as he turned back around and ran. He could hear the ghoul behind him chase him, and Galahad isn’t about to risk the alleyways for safety. As he runs with it on his heels, he tries to justify how she could have transformed so quickly. There wasn’t any way he could as he nearly tripped on his own two feet. Luckily, he only staggered for a second and was still able to keep himself ahead of the ghoul. But for how much longer, he didn’t know.

He looks back behind him to see the ghoul is tottering itself. Its shoes clip the sidewalk as it reaches out for him. Galahad makes up his mind and changes direction to run into an alleyway. Hopefully, he can get it to crash into a wall to give him more time. The ghoul is facedown on the ground when he looks back. When it gets up he can see its face is cut and bruised, it seems out of it before going down the alleyway after him. In a flash of panic, his back foot caught the heel of his front foot. The wind was knocked out of him as his chest hit the ground. Galahad collected himself as fast as he could, crawling just out of the way of the ghoul’s attack. As he got up and began to run again, he felt a hand grab his ankle. His chest hit the ground once more, he coughed as the air escaped his lungs once again. With his free leg, he kicked behind himself as hard as he could. The first kick didn’t hit anything, but his second and third made contact. His second kick didn’t do much more than stun the ghoul momentarily, but his third hit hard enough to make it release his ankle. He scrambled on the pavement to get up when he heard the unmistakable sound of a ghoul’s voice.

“T|◾️_ •◾️|-...H◾️L•!”

A loud gunshot rang out. Galahad gripped his head as his ears began to ring shrilly. He looked behind him to see the ghoul dead on the ground, blood beginning to pool around her shoulder. That shouldn’t have been a kill shot, but the ghoul had stopped moving. A hand suddenly gripped his shoulder, shaking him out of a stupor he hadn’t realized he had fallen into. Blue eyes stared down at him as he processed what happened as his ears continued to ring.

“Watson? What is-”

A hand is clasped over his mouth as the doctor gives him a look. The doctor went over to the body of the ghoul and began to wrap the wound of its shoulder. It was then that Galahad noticed it was still breathing. After Watson finished, he grabbed the boy’s arm and pulled him away from the body and into a side restaurant hidden within the alleyway. There was no one there but a cook, who pretended not to see them as Watson lead him through the restaurant to its other entrance on the street. Exiting the building, the two began the walk back to the house. While in the restaurant, Watson put his revolver away and unless someone looked at his gloves, no one would see the gunshot residue. The entire walk, any question Galahad had died in his throat.

When they returned to the house, Holmes was waiting for them. He had a strange smile on his face as Watson began to pour tea into some cups for them. Galahad sat down and tried to settle his shaking legs.

“So, I assume you had a fun night out? Or has Watson dragged you back from nearly dying?”

 

Three cups are placed down as Galahad tried to ignore the continuous ringing in his ears.

Chapter Text

Galahad listened to the television in the living room as he poured a cup of coffee. Watson had put out a plate of breakfast out for him, covered up so it would stay warm. He took the plate and coffee to the living room, where Holmes and Watson were watching the TV. When he sat down, Holmes stole his cup away. Galahad kept his plate out of reach from Holmes after that. Watson had better luck in securing his food, seeing how the detective hadn’t laid a hand on his.

The reporter on screen continued as the view changed to a hospital;

“Fujimaru Taiga has been making a recovery at the hospital. According to staff and herself, she recalls nothing of the week she was missing nor of what happened after her friends rediscovered her. Video recording of the event shows Fujimaru fainting before the brutal act took place. The authorities are currently investigating the situation, and it is currently unknown if Fujimaru will be charged with the murder of her two friends. According to one of the officers, this case is uncomfortably similar to one from nearly a decade ago…”

The volume is turned down by Holmes, who makes a hum of acknowledgment to Galahad’s complaint. He turned to Watson who was examining a skeleton’s hand. The boy wasn’t sure if it was a cast or not, nor was he sure why the doctor was doing so.

“I got a call from that guy this morning. The similarities are too much to be a coincidence he says.”

“You think that woman got tangled up in a spider web?”

“Almost certainly. Do you think the cafe is involved truly?”

“No, I think that is its own case all on its own.”

Holmes smiles, “Looks like all these years have done some good for you.”

Galahad stared at them with a bored look on his face before returning to watching the TV. He took a moment to hope the impending police investigation wouldn’t interfere with the one he was currently working on, he was clearly shown on a few recording running from her. Maybe they would ignore him however, it wasn’t uncommon for something so simple to be overlooked.

 

The school day passed without much incident, a number of students attempted to speak to him about how he was in the videos but little came from those attempts. He kept an eye on Arjuna, whom Galahad was sure was watching him as well if the feeling of someone watching him was any indication. Lunch proved useful for an interesting circumstance, Karna showed up to give Arjuna his lunch. According to the overheard whispers, the man told him if he was going to cook his own lunch he might as well remember to bring it with him. What made it interesting was that Galahad was sure he saw Arjuna go out of the classroom with his lunch in hand. He made a mental note to see if this would happen again on another day. At the end of the day, he once again followed Arjuna to the cafe. Only that time, he planned to only stay a short while as to not raise much suspicion. Or perhaps it was to avoid another encounter with a ghoul late at night. Either way, he put an alarm on his phone to remind him to leave before he spent too much time there.

“How may I help you?”

“Just a coffee, black.”

Galahad chooses the same spot as before, pulling up his laptop like last time. He did another check of Arjuna’s soul, once again seeing it fade in and out of existence like a mirage. Curious, he looked over to Karna to do the same. It appeared to be normal. Nothing unusual about it. Perhaps Arjuna was simply a strange anomaly. There was another strange occurrence though. A girl, probably from the school based on her uniform, ran up to the counter Karna was manning. She heaved heavily, obviously appearing as if she sprinted all the way to the cafe. She took a moment to catch her breathe, at which most customers returned to their own doings. Galahad listened in the best he could from the distance he was at.

“Gladiolus and Sweet William. Please.”

“Would you like them together or separate?”

“Together.”

Karna nods and turns to grab what Galahad assumed were flowers. A bouquet is handed to her, beautifully crafted from the angle the boy could see. She thanked him and walked out. At the angle at which he sat, Galahad wasn’t sure if she had paid or not. Karna did not call after her, so he assumed she did. That was the most unusual thing to happen that trip to the shop. The remainder of his time was spent typing on the computer and drinking the bitter coffee. He should have asked for some milk, this was far more bitter than what he was used to.

The alarm on his phone went off in his pocket, he was grateful his phone simply buzzed and didn’t begin to ring loudly. He began to pack up his things when his phone went off again. He checked it to see it was a text from his sister. He already had an idea what it was about, so he slipped it back into his pocket before finishing his packing. As he exited the cafe, he pulled out the phone to check the message. Before he could read more than a word, he walked right into another person. For a moment, he thought he had walked right into a wall.

“I’m sorry.”

The man, who was a giant of a person, apologized as he walked into the cafe. Galahad felt a shiver crawl up his spine. There was something strange about him, but he couldn’t place his finger on what it was. He looked behind him before shaking his head. It was probably nothing.

 

Dad said you were on the news. He’s been trying to call you since this morning.

It’s not important. I’m not dead.

 

When he opens the door to the house, he sees Holmes on the floor surrounded by papers and a skull. Galahad weighs it in his head to not ask and simply see what Watson is doing. The doctor is not in his lab, but the kitchen where he is cleaning a jar in the sink. Their eyes meet when he walks away from the sink.

“Holmes said the eyeballs needed to go.”

Galahad slowly backed out of the kitchen and returned to the living room where the number of papers seemed to have doubled. Holmes looks at him and raises an eyebrow at his expression. There’s a moment where Galahad debates inside himself if he should ask or not.

“Why did Watson have a jar of eyeballs?”

“Oh, those were mine. Just realized there was a crack in the glass so I got rid of them in case they were rotting.”

“Why did you have those?”

“No idea. Came with the house.”

 

Galahad began to hope that he would be questioned by police as his phone buzzed with four new messages.

Chapter Text

“What are your thoughts on what is happening right now?”

The guest, who looked perhaps ten to even those who knew his real age, adjusted his glasses as he spoke.

“Obviously it’s fantastic. A human turning into a ghoul without dying and turning back? It’s so far fetched that even a well trained golden retriever would have difficulty bringing it back. I suppose you actually want me to explain what’s going on. Well, I haven’t the slightest idea.”

“Eh?! But isn’t this sort of thing your specialty?”

“Demons are my specialty. Ghouls aren’t demons.”

“Aha! That’s right. Someone like you would like to investigate the fantasy. Though I suppose you have the looks for it.”

“And you have the looks of someone who is currently sleeping with his boss in a desperate attempt to keep his job.”

The show host pales slightly at the blunt observation from the guest. He looks over at the camera before turning back to the guest.

“That observation of yours is very...useful, isn’t it Mr. Andersen?”

“The dog you use as a mascot during the children’s shows’ time could have figured that out quicker than you.”

“...Okay. That one hurt.”

 

Galahad closed out of the tab of the interview. Hans C. Andersen. A writer and demon investigator. Mash loved watching his interviews and reading his books. Seeing him getting involved in something like this could be a sign of something worse to come. Or perhaps it was simply nothing but people believing he would have an idea on what was going on. Holmes just nodded and said he might have an idea on something, but certainly not with what people were asking. Perhaps he meant the writer knew something about that cafe.

But for now, he had to focus on finding a hole-in-a-wall shop. Watson needed something to be bought after school, thus making his planned scouting marked for the next day. Apparently, the shop was known for selling unusual wears. Galahad checked the alleyways carefully, in case there was something that looked strange. There was nothing so far expect some side entrances to shops or restaurants. When he looked away from the last alleyway before he had to change streets, he saw Arjuna. The boy across the street went into an alleyway, still dressed in his school uniform. Galahad crossed the road after a car passed by and turned to follow him down the alleyway.

He found the boy speaking with a man with long white hair. The man was handing him an unidentified bottle while telling him something of its effects. Galahad pushed himself up to the wall to listen and not be seen.

“Remember, don’t use too much okay? Bad things will happen if you do.”

“What do you mean?”

“Aha, you see, too much of that will make the brain only think of that. It makes every other organ useless. It’s a quick way to kill someone if you aren’t careful. Any more than just a few drops can really mess a person up.”

Arjuna narrowed his eyes at him. He looked ready to shove the bottle back at the man before the other held up a hand. Galahad couldn’t see the white-haired man’s expression, but he could hear the smile in his words.

“Haha! Now, now...you know the rule here. No refunds once you buy. It’s the same system that…”

The man trails off as he looks over towards the wall he’s closest to. Towards the entrance of the alleyway. Towards Galahad.

Galahad’s eyes widened as he tried to push himself closer to the wall as if to trick the man into thinking he was simply seeing things. That plan, however, did not work. If anything, it gave the man certainty that he had seen someone. Galahad held his breath once he started talking again.

“Well, you should be getting back home now, shouldn’t you? You wouldn’t want to make your older brother think you decided to run away now would you?”

Something in those words hit Arjuna harshly. To Galahad, it simply sounded like a way to tell a kid to go home. But from what he could see of the teen, it looked like those words were said intentionally to pierce. The student glares at the man before shoving the bottle into his bag and exiting the alleyway. In his annoyance, he apparently missed Galahad. Once he was gone and down the street, Galahad left his hiding space.

“Well if it isn’t Galahad. What brings you to my little hole-in-the-wall?”

When he was told to find a hole-in-a-wall shop, he had not been expecting the shop to be a literal hole in the wall. As in, he had made a hole in a wall and was operating a shop with that hole. Really, he should have expected something like this. After all, this man was Merlin.

Merlin Ambrosius, the adoptive father of his dad’s boss. He often hung around the office like a lazy cat, but something was rather strange about him being here. Keeping an eye on the man, Galahad pulled out his phone and opened up Mordred’s twitter. If anyone wanted to know what happened when the officers were off duty, the Pendragon heir’s twitter was the quickest place to do so. And low and behold, not even a day ago there was a post with Merlin in the background of the picture.

“How are you here?”

“Ha ha, wouldn’t you like to know? ‘Fraid I can’t say. Trade secrets you see.”

“...what did you sell him?”

“Oh? Concerned for a friend?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Can’t say. I have a rule about disclosing purchases to those who didn’t buy it.”

“Tch.”

Merlin smiled a cat-like smile at him. He pulled a box out from his jacket pocket and handed it to him. Actually, he shoved the small box into Galahad’s hand and grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around.

“Give that to the doctor for me why don’t ya?”

Galahad felt something on his backside push him forward as he used his free hand to stop himself from crashing face first into the ground. He looked back to tell Merlin off for kicking him only to find himself staring at a blank wall. As he got up, he kept staring at where the shop and Merlin were just a sec prior. He used a hand to brush across the brick wall only to find nothing but bricks. Not a single hole to be found. It was as if it had never been broken in the first place. As he slowly made his way out of the alleyway, he looked down at the box he was given. What did Watson have to do with this guy?

 

When he returned to the house, Holmes and Watson were eating a meal that could be compared to a fancy 5-star restaurant's dishes. The takeout boxes confirmed they hadn’t cooked it themselves. He grabbed a plate himself and gave the box to the doctor.

“That guy could charge so much more for this stuff if he wanted. I’m sure that sister of his would love that.”

“Maybe. Of course part of the reason they get so many customers is how cheap it is to get.”

“Mh, Yes, by the way,” Holmes paused to eat more of his food, “what’s in the box?”

Watson put down his utensils and opened the small box. Inside was two notes addressed to him and Holmes. He handed one of them to the detective who read it aloud.

“‘Tell your new guy he can’t steal my business as you did.’ Ha, you think he’s been holding a grudge this whole time?”

“Seems like it. Mine is a sales pitch.”

Galahad listened to their talk as he ate. It seemed as if there was a history between the three of them. That wasn’t too surprising when he thought about it. Weirdos knew other weirdos. After he finished his plate, he put it in the sink and went to his assigned room. He hadn’t thought to mention what Arjuna had purchased at the table, somehow it just didn’t seem important to do so. As he sat down at his desk, he realized the event wasn’t playing fully in his mind. It was as if what had actually occurred was lost to him. What did that guy even buy? Did he even buy anything? Was he even there? Was the shop even there? Did the shop even exist?

 

He leaned back in his chair as he questioned those five things.

Chapter Text

“Khatri, do you have a minute?.”

Galahad paused his process of putting on his outdoor shoes to listen in on the conversation. He was on the other side of the lockers, but the voices were loud enough and clear enough for him to hear perfectly. Somehow the unknown person’s voice was familiar to him.

“I’m afraid I don’t. I need to get home to help at the shop.”

“Please. This shouldn’t take more than a minute.”

“Well then, please do so before I leave.”

“Of course. Does your shop allow take out?”

“As long as it’s thirty minutes before closing at the lastest.”

“Then can you send this order to my home when you get there? I can give you the money now if you’d like.”

“Hm, alright. There’s someone there to pick it up correct?”

“Yes. My father should be home.”

Galahad watched as Arjuna left the school and the person he was talking to turned to walk down the lockers next to the row they were just in. The two of them locked gazes and a sharp slap of realization hit Galahad. The voice had sounded familiar to him because he heard that voice whenever Mash was on the phone with her friend.

“Hah ha! So Mash wasn’t kidding that you were here.”

Fujimaru Ritsuka. Mash’s best friend who lived overseas. And, by the looks of the armband, the student council president. Galahad wondered if that nickname was still in use or if becoming part of the student council got rid of such a name.

“Weird how you’re here though. Aren’t you an adult?”

“It’s for a job.”

“Ah, is it? That’s got to be interesting.”

An idea suddenly popped into Galahad’s head. He could get an inside source with the investigation with those ghouls who had been students here. Not only that, but this was Mash’s best friend, there was little chance of her turning out to be the one responsible. Not to mention how that news report said a similar incident had happened about ten years ago. Unless she was turning people into ghouls at age 7, then there wasn’t much to worry about.

“Ritsuka, can I ask something of you?”

“Of course, what is it?”

“If you hear about anything suspicious here can you let me know?”

“Oh, is that for your job? Well then, I guess I can let you know if anything happens. Not much happens here though.”

Not a minute after she said this, the acting headmaster came running down the hall towards them.

“Fujimaru! You have a phone call waiting for you!”

Ritsuka smiled at Galahad as she waved goodbye to him. She skipped down the hall as the older woman bent down to catch her breath. The acting headmaster nodded towards him and turned to walk after the student council president. Galahad wasn’t entirely sure if that was something unusual for the school. It was strange how the acting headmaster had run down here instead of using the PA system to call her down to the office though. Perhaps that was just something the woman did regardless.

 

Galahad entered the cafe, the small bell on the door rining to alert customers and staff alike that someone had entered. There were fewer people than the last two times he had visited, barely taking up a quarter of the cafe. Arjuna is talking softly with his brother, his face becoming more and more annoyed as the conversation continues. Karna ends the conversation by turning away which only serves to make Arjuna appear more annoyed. His composure is back by the time Galahad steps up to the counter to order.

“How may I help you?”

“A cup of coffee, black.”

As Galahad typed away at his laptop– and remembering how he should have ordered his coffee with sugar, the few other people in the cafe slowly filtered out. Soon it was only him and the brothers. He looked over slightly, not enough for it to be immediately obvious, to find Arjuna staring. For a moment, he thought Arjuna was staring at his brother but following his gaze, it appeared he was staring at the door. When he looked back he saw Arjuna was clenching a napkin in his fist as he glared at the doorway.

“I’m sorry. We have to close early today.”

Karna’s flat monotone nearly makes Galahad crush his cup in shock. The clock says only 6 PM. The cafe had previously closed at 10. What would cause an early close like this? Was it related to how few people were in today? The amateur detective thought about those questions as he packed up. As he left, someone bumped into his shoulder.

“I’m sorry.”

Galahad continued back home, with a large wave of deja vu washing over him as he walked.

 

When Galahad entered the house, he heard Holmes speaking to someone. They were sitting at the kitchen table and talking away. Well, two of them were. There was a third party standing off to the side.

The man speaking to Holmes did not seem human. On the outside sure, even if he was dressed in a gaudy outfit with enough gold to pay off a school’s worth medical student debt. Galahad could tell purely from that and how he spoke that this man was an arrogant one. His red eyes were narrowed with his mouth twisted into a snarl. Holmes was sipping from his cup as the man continued.

“Well? What are you going to do about it?”

“Good question. Galahad, what’s the status on your investigation?”

“Uh,” he’s caught off guard for a moment, “I have an insider source now. That should help with things I can not personally encounter.”

“See? Already on the case. There’s no need to worry about a repeat of ten years ago. Unless these abnormal ghouls are also part of that project, I believe it should be unrelated to your partner. If it does become connected, I assure you we will make sure it does not come to bother you.”

That answer seems to please the gold-haired man. He looks over to the person in the corner who smiles softly at him. Galahad awkwardly sits down at the table as Holmes continues to drink from his cup. There’s another cup in his reach, and not seeing Watson around, he takes a sip from it. It takes approximately two seconds for him to regret that choice. He sputters as he spits out the liquid.

“Oh, yeah, this isn’t tea. It’s salt water.”

“Why.”

“I was bored.”

Galahad doesn’t have time to question the mad man when the front door is slammed open and Watson’s voice can be heard. A fury of steps towards to kitchen is the only warning of the coming onslaught. A deep voice is yelling at the golden-haired man about being left in the tree of a children’s playground on purpose.

 

It takes 6 seconds for Galahad to realize that Andersen, one of his sister's favorite authors, is yelling profanity at the red-eyed man who looks far too smug.

Chapter Text

“You are an uncouth, despicable, self-centered, deplorable, insatiable, and self-satisfying piece of sadistic garbage that would make even a homeless man with leprosy sob in pity for the one less fortunate than him in that horrific outfit skinned from those cut from the worst cloth possible!”

“Fuhahaha! Is that all you got, you twisted author?”

“I’ll give you enough words that would take the average reader 3.7 years to fully read without a break!”

Galahad wasn’t even being threatened and yet he felt very intimidated by the 146cm author. Andersen, who looked very much like a ten-year-old despite his very deep voice, was standing on a chair to meet the eye of the other man. He was jabbing his finger to emphasize his words as if to turn it to a barb to strike the other man in the heart with each blow. The person in the corner, whose hair is a mess of green, has gone to leaning on the table by their elbows to listen to the verbal assault. He’s sure that the goldie doesn’t see it as such though.

The goldie. The demon. That’s what he was. He was almost surprised Holmes associated with one, but the shock soon wore off when he remembers just who Holmes was. A supernatural detective. Why wouldn’t he would work with demons? That was the obvious thing for him to do in this job.

The demon, whose name was hissed by Andersen, looked far too relaxed with the yelling directed at him. Holmes held up a cup that Watson poured more tea- this time it was definitely tea, into the cup. Watson was left standing, the table only had four chairs and all of them were taken up. He didn’t seem so bothered though, in fact, he seemed a little too happy with his position.

Gilgamesh. A demon who was undeniably fond of the human with him, a human named Enkidu. From what he heard from Holmes chiming in every so often, Gilgamesh had come to them ten years ago to demand they investigate what was happening with the school. The same school he was going to right now. As he digested the information, he had to question why someone would act so soon after something like that. It certainly wasn’t a small case, so ten years would not be enough for it to exit people’s mind. The news reports proved that. What was the plan here?

“While this is quite entertaining, we do actually have something to-”

Whatever Holmes was about to say was cut off by him slamming the cup in his hand down on the table. He shot up from his seat so fast that the chair fell over. The door of the fridge was thrown open as Holmes grabbed a milk carton and began to drink straight from the carton. After he had supposably drained half the carton, he wiped his mouth with his sleeve and slammed the carton down on the counter. He pointed an accusing figure at Watson who had a very uncharismatic smirk on his face.

“Merlin! What the actual hell is in that!”

Galahad watched as who assumed was Watson shifted into the strange shop owner from the day before. His smirk grew even larger as he snicked at Holmes’ bright red face. He pointed towards the pot in his hand.

“Oh, you know, just a nice little bit of Coralina Reaper and Dragon’s Breathe extract in there.”

Footsteps came running towards the kitchen. Watson- the real one Galahad assumes, is dressed in his lab attire with his glasses pushed up on his head. At his sudden stop at the doorway, the glasses fell down to his nose where they laid half off.

“What happened! I heard Holmes yelling!”

“Merlin happened!”

Watson’s face turned from a mix of shock and worry to one of blankness. He let out a deep sigh and readjusted his glasses. The man looked away to mumble something under his breath. He gave a disappointed look at both Holmes and Merlin before turning around to return to his lab. Galahad decided now was a good time to turn in for the night. He didn’t think he could deal with this at the moment.

 

The next day, Galahad found himself being approached by Ritsuka at lunch. The student had pulled him outside and pulled out her wallet to buy drinks from the vending machine as Galahad questioned how he ended up on the ground this quickly. She tossed him one and opened her own with a satisfying sizz coming from the bottle.

“I’ve got a scoop for you.”

“And what would that be?”

“Mame Chishiki, the school librarian. She’s been acting very strange lately. Like, suspiciously strange.”

“Care to elaborate on that?”

“She’s been seen hanging around the kitchen, specifically around the knives. I think-”

Whatever Ritsuka was about to say slipped away like the bottle of soda that fell from her grasp and sprayed the concrete with the fizzy substance. Galahad jumped up when she began to scream. Following her line of sight, he saw a girl standing on the edge of the school’s rooftop. The student council president broke out into a run towards her, almost in a futile effort due to the woman standing on the roof. Waves of students came out to investigate the scream, not to mention plenty of teachers. Galahad ran over to where Ritsuka was, his own drink falling to the ground and mixing into the grass just outside the concrete. The girl was screaming her head off telling the student to stay put.

Time seemed to freeze as the girl held up what Galahad thought was a knife. It wasn’t sharp. It was a plastic knife used by students. That didn’t seem to matter to her though. At the moment time began to speed up once again, the girl stabbed the utensil straight into her throat. Right where the hyoid bone would be. A sure hit to kill. Her body staggered as she made herself lurch forward. Mame’s blood stained her uniform as she dropped like a rock in a well. There was a sickening crunch as her body crumpled onto the ground beneath her. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, it just couldn’t have been. But it felt as if time had slowed for this girl just to show off her final moments to everyone watching.

Screams erupted from the crowd. Screams of shocked confusion. Screams of denial. Screams of teachers. Screams of students. Screams of concern. The schoolyard was filled with nothing but screaming.

Galahad found himself staring at her corpse. He couldn’t move, it was as if his limbs were paralyzed. He couldn’t stop staring at the scene before him. The twisted, mangled body of someone Mash’s age. She even had glasses like her. Short hair like her. She probably loved books just like her. The longer he stared, the more he saw Mash dead in the grass. Galahad felt his knees buck from under him. Unconsciously, his arms went out to save him from hitting the ground face first. Like that girl was a silent thought in his mind as he felt a burning sensation crawl up his throat.

The soda he had before, the small amount that escaped from being dropped to the ground like the rest of the bottle, found its way to the dirt underneath him. As did the breakfast and what he had of his lunch. The burning feeling in his mouth numbed the feeling of his teeth clashing together. He could hear himself gagging a second time over the deafening screams of onlookers.

There’s something pulling him up from the ground. He can feel his arm being flung over something and an arm that not his own holding on to his side. A voice he can’t quite hear is yelling over the crowd. His legs are numb and are barely able to keep up with whatever is pulling him. Galahad feels the coolness of the school surround him as he’s pulled further inside. Further from the outside. Further from the scene. Further from the blood-soaked grass. Further from the corpse.

 

The school nurse recorded seven students being admitted to the clinic due to nausea the day the school closed early because of a suicide.

Chapter Text

Is everything alright?

Galahad had stared at the message on his phone for what felt like hours. Everything was not alright. But there was no way he would tell Mash that. No, that would just make things worse. He was sure Ritsuka must have made mention of what had happened, or else he wasn’t sure where the out of nowhere text came from.

It’s nothing. Just the job. I’m fine.

He doesn’t check to see her response. His phone is tossed onto a chair where he’s hung old clothes that haven’t been sentenced to the washer yet. The covers of his bed are pulled up over his head as he attempted to fall back asleep. The school was closed that day, and he couldn’t be more grateful. Galahad was absolutely exhausted. This break was something he would take full advantage of, at least as much as he could before Holmes inevitability dragged him out to complete whatever task he doesn’t want to do.

The buzzing that erupts from his phone is muffled by the various clothes on the chair, barely audible as Galahad closed his eyes. The light from the window barely reached inside his blanket’s barrier. His own closed eyelids blocked even more of the light. Soon, any remnants of light disappeared as Galahad drifted back into sleep.

 

“Hey, why are you hiding?”

The purple haired girl looked up from her hiding place under the old slide. Mash, barely five-year-olds, had been curled up under the play equipment for nearly 30 minutes now. The surrounding ground was still wet from the earlier rain. Where Mash was, the ground was dry but hard. As if the dirt had been packed together and cooked in a furnace like clay.

“I’m playing hide and seek. You should leave, you’ll give away my spot.”

Galahad, a prodigy at even seven-years-old, raised an eyebrow at that. Mash was in a park that barely anyone went to anymore. It was overgrown and rusty. Even the slide had seen better days, near the bottom it was cracked. Whoever was playing with her must have left already, it had been far too long for her to still be hiding. Pulling her out from under the slide, Galahad looked around the abandoned park. There was no one else there but them and a chipmunk or two running through the tall grass. The other person must have given up at this point and gone home.

“Come on, let’s go back home.”

Taking his hand, Mash nodded solemnly. Her shoes were wet and muddy. It felt like every step made something else squish in them. As they walked down the sidewalk as the sky began to turn from blue to a mixture of warm colors. When they reached their home, the sky had become pink and purple with the clouds spread out like fluff falling out of a ripped stuffed animal.

The doorknob stopped short of turning all the way. They were locked out. Mash tried to turn the doorknob in a futile effort to get it open as Galahad quietly fumed. Of course, why would that guy leave the door unlocked when his kids are out? He probably still thought they were out playing. That way he wouldn’t feel as guilty for going out. Galahad clicked his tongue and pulled Mash away from the door. She shot him a confused look as she pointed to their house as if to tell him they were already home.

Mash shook her hand out of his grip to run back to the door. She furrowed her brows behind her glasses as she stared at the lock. As if staring at it while turning the doorknob would suddenly unlock it. Galahad stood near her, not wanting to risk some creep coming after her. Perhaps he was too young to care about that, but when it happens at your school despite security then he had the right to worry.

Quick footsteps heading towards them stole their attention away from the door. They were both scooped up in someone’s arms. Galahad flung his legs around in an effort to hit whoever picked them up as Mash let out a scream from confusion over who had picked them up.

“Oh thank god you both are okay.”

“Papa! You scared us!”

While Mash calmed down once she realized who was holding them, Galahad continued to fling his legs around. A number of times he landed his foot square on his father’s hip, another few into his stomach, and still more on his ribs. Lancelot didn’t appear to notice the assault on his person as he hugged the two children closer. With the grace befitting of a knight, he unlocked the door and brought his children inside without putting either of them down for a moment. He stood still for a moment before plopping both of them down on the couch.

Lancelot pulled out his phone and talk softly to someone on the other line. Galahad was sure it was whoever he was meeting with, probably apologizing for leaving so suddenly. He turned to them after hanging up and his calm face had turned to anger.

“Where the hell were you!”

Mash suddenly curled into herself at the sound of the shouting. Galahad himself tried to push himself into the back of the couch. Lancelot ran a hand through his hair in frustration as he continued.

“Well? Where were you!”

“The...the old park-”

“The old park! Why the hell were you there!”

“I-I th...thought it was a good hiding spot…”

“It was raining out there! You could have gotten sick or worse! I told you to stay in the house and the yard!”

“I’m sor-sorry.”

The five-year-old was in tears and her voice cracked nearly with every word. She curled further into her self as she began to sob loudly. She took in sharp breathes every time she tried to talk afterward, her own words being swallowed by her throat as more tears rolled down her cheeks. Galahad tried to speak up until his father turned his attention to him.

“And you! Where the hell were you!”

“I was at Mordred’s house-”

“Then explain how when I called her father to check on you, I’m being told you never showed up!”

“I-”

“And then I’m being told that Mordred didn’t even know that you were supposed to be over! So where the hell were you!”

“Why do you care! You were just with some woman again! You just talked to her!”

“I was speaking to Artoria to call off the search since I found you two! I was worried sick! No one knew where you two were and a god damn predator is stalking around still! Why would I be seeing a woman when my children are missing and possibly kidnapped for all I know!”

Lancelot rubbed his face and let out a deep sigh. He took each of his children’s arms and pulled them off the couch and lead them to their rooms. Mash was crying with a cracked little voice as she sniffed and rubbed at her eyes. Galahad tried to hold back his own but that proved futile as he felt tears roll down his checks.

“You’re both grounded under further notice. I’ll call when dinner is ready, but until then you aren’t leaving your rooms. Bedtime is at 7:30 sharp.”

Galahad kicked and screamed at his door after his father closed it. He shouted every bad word a seven-year-old would know and a few more. His feet began to hurt as he continued to assault the door.

“I hate you! You stupid father! I hate you!”

 

He was awakened by someone shaking him harshly. He groaned and pulled the covers closer to him, only to have them ripped away from him in an instant. The large pillow under his head was pulled up to cover his face. Once again it was snatched away. Galahad turned over to plant his face into the bed which seemed to deter the person trying to wake him.

At least, until he felt the bed dip repeatedly in a pattern. Someone was jumping on the bed next to him. He let out an annoyed groan and lifted his head to see who it was. The moment his head was lifted he was pulled off the bed and onto the floor.

“Alright, he’s awake. Now give me my pay.”

Galahad looked up to see Andersen being paid by Watson. The author held out his hand a little bit longer to which Watson forked over roughly another 2,000 yen. According to what he could hear, it was for his dignity. As he groggily got up, a note pad is tossed at his head.

“Holmes wants you to buy some things.”

 

It was at the moment the rain began to fall that Galahad was sure Holmes was some kind of sadist. He must have known it would begin pouring halfway through his shopping trip when he was halfway to another store and thus having to take shelter in a bus stop. His lack of an umbrella and a coat were possibly his worst decisions today. There was only one other person at the bus stop that day. Possibly because it was rather out of the way from the usual stops.

Out of pure curiosity, Galahad looked over to see who stood next to him. Apparently, the person had decided to do the same. For approximately 5 seconds, they shared a gaze. Once that time passed, they back up to the edge of the bus stop wall with wide eyes.

“You!”

Of all the people he had to be stuck with in a bus stop in the rain, it had to be the guy he was investigating. Arjuna. Of fucking course it was him.

“Are you with her? I swear to god if you are…”

“Her? Who are you talking about?”

“Fujimaru. She’s been following me all day. She stopped once the rain began.”

“Oh. Sorry to disappoint if you thought I was also following you.”

Arjuna narrowed his eyes at Galahad. As if he was trying to determine if he was lying or not. Luckily, Galahad had years of practice.

“I’m not lying, I’m just grocery shopping.”

He was totally lying. The only food in his bad was a collection of ramen noodles. Luckily the bag was opaque, so it was impossible to tell unless the bag was open. Arjuna raised an eyebrow but seem to accept the answer. A fog of silence overtook them as the rain pelted the glass coverings. After twenty minutes of silence, Galahad attempted to make conversation. He might as well try to get some information out of this encounter.

“So. You live with your brother. What’s that like?”

“It’s like a single parent. Expect worse. Because it hurts more when you make them upset.”

“No idea what that’s like.”

“Single child?”

“No, I just hate my dad.”

“I guess that’s fair.”

“What? Do you hate your brother?”

“Only from 8:30 am to 10 pm.”

“Oddly specific.”

Not to mention useful. It seemed those were the hours of school and work. While it could be a joke, it could work in his favor. During school hours, he could easily get someone to watch in on the shop during that time. As well as the 75 minutes it took him to get there. Afterward, he himself could stay until the cafe closed. Yes, this would help with figuring out if they are connected to those cases. It would also help Holmes’ investigation into Karna’s connection.

The sound of a rustling bag brought Galahad’s attention to Arjuna pulling out an umbrella. He opened it away from him, barely reaching out past the bus stop’s ceiling but it certainly wasn’t a small umbrella. When it finally processed in Galahad’s brain, he realized something was strange about Arjuna having an umbrella.

“Why did you use that earlier?”

“What part of ‘That Fujimaru girl was following me’ did you not get?”

“You hid at a bus stop to wait her out?”

“Yes.”

A cylinder-like object was thrown at Galahad which nearly hit his face if his free hand hadn’t grabbed it as quick as it did. With that, Arjuna left the bus stop and made his way down the sidewalk to either the shop or another store. Looking at what was thrown at him, Galahad found he was given a mini umbrella. He had no idea what to do with the information that Arjuna had been carrying around two umbrellas. Nor did he know what to do with the umbrella. Did he keep it or give it back when they returned to school? He honestly did not know what to do in this situation.

 

His phone dinged with a notification. Watson wanted him to pick up another item. An item that was eight miles away from where he currently was.

Chapter Text

“Hey Galahad, any ideas on what Mash would want for her birthday?”

“It’s not until the summer, why do you ask?”

Ritsuka shrugged her shoulders. Something about being curious about what she should get was cut off by downing her drink in a single gulp. She let out a content sigh and leaned back against the bench. The girl looked around innocently before leaning towards Galahad.

“I think something’s up with Khatri.”

“No, really?”

“Don’t give me sarcasm. Something’s weird with him.”

“And what’s that?”

“There was another suicide from this school this weekend. Both of these people were last seen speaking to Khatri before going off somewhere a little bit before ending up dead.”

What? Another death already? Not only that but the fact both of them had talked to Arjuna before they died was suspicious but not exactly incriminating. There had to be a reason for them to do that after speaking with him. But who was the second one?

“The second one was out at the marketplace. I was following Khatri and saw him talking to Yuutou Ikuyo. I followed her afterward and saw her go into traffic without hesitation. Well, me and about 200 other people. Yuutou was in the student council, she was in charge of managing activities,” Ritsuka took a breath, “It’s just suspicious to me.”

“Why were you following him?”

“I had a gut feeling it would be a good idea.”

“Why?”

Ritsuka looked around once more before leaning in closer. Galahad leaned back from the invasion of privacy. There’s a moment of silence before she whispers her reason.

“A demon goes to the shop for payment. Two girls suddenly die after talking to him, it’s almost like he took their souls.”

Galahad choked on his drink. He hacked like a cat with a furball in its throat. Ritsuka landed a few hard swats on his back to help get rid of whatever was lodged in his throat. He coughed into his hand before staring at Ritsuka.

“Demons? You don’t really believe that do you?”

“Don’t try to hide it Galahad. You’re a prodigy. You’ve seen exactly what I’m talking about.”

“Tch. I don’t-”

His collar is roughly pulled down by the girl. She knocked their heads together hard enough for Galahad to wince in pain. Ritsuka’s own sharp gold eyes were glaring daggers at him as her mouth curled into a snarl.

“If you’re not a prodigy, then I’m a fucking ancient king. Don’t play dumb with me du Lac. I know you are one and I know you’ve seen the demon.”

“What demon-”

It dawned on him. In that very moment, it dawned on him like the first-day break after a polar night in Norway. The man he had bumped into after leaving the cafe when it closed. The same man he bumped into when it closed early. He was a demon. But how had Ritsuka figured that out?

“How do you know?”

“You don’t think I gave up after Yuutou did you? I went to the cafe and stayed until they closed. I saw that demon, he couldn’t have been anything else. Humans don’t appear from brick walls that only lead to trash cans and no door or balcony.”

“But why do you think Khatri is responsible? Maybe the demon got to them before him and it’s just a coincidence.”

Ritsuka shook her head. She said there was no way for that to be possible. Demons couldn’t kill humans. It had to be another human. But, that brought up a whole new possibility.

If it wasn’t Arjuna, then it was likely Karna. The fact those other girls had all gone to that cafe before they died didn’t help his case either. But why would Karna have to make a deal with a demon? The same went for Arjuna. Neither of them would need to make a Faustian deal with any demon. Expect, he recalled the report Holmes had. An assumed alias. Not his real name. They definitely had a reason if they were hiding their identities. He needed to tell Holmes. No, he needed more information before he made any judgments.

“Do you have a plan?”

The smile on the girl’s face looked far too innocent for Galahad’s liking.

 

“Yo! Khatri! Wait up!”

Ritsuka did not have a plan. This was not a plan. She lied straight to his face when she said she had one. This was a suicide mission.

Arjuna didn’t turn around. He picked up his pace as Ritsuka dragged Galahad down the sidewalk behind her. That did little to deter her though. She picked up her own pace as the poor boy she way dragging desperately tried not to fall flat on his face from the force pulling him. This whole thing was going to kill him before a ghoul did. At the very least it would injure him greatly. Why couldn’t he have just said no and done the investigation on his own?

“Got you!”

The student’s bag is pulled back by the student council president, cause him to nearly lose his balance. He regained it with the grace a cat and turned to glare at the both of them. The disheveled look on Galahad face was offset by Ritsuka’s bright smile.

“Hey there Khatri. Would you like to hang out?”

“No-”

“Great! The cafe’s a good place, let’s go there.”

Ignoring his various protests, Arjuna soon joined Galahad in the position of being dragged around by Ritsuka. He shot a look at Galahad which was returned by a look of desperation as they were pulled down the sidewalk. They were both now victims to her not-plan. Expect it was far more embarrassing for Galahad. He was an adult being dragged around by a teenaged girl who still called her father ‘papa’. But Mash still did as well. Suddenly he wasn’t sure how to feel about that.

The bell rang out as the three enter the shop, altering the owner to their presence. Karna’s eyes widened a bit before he returned to his neutral face. Arjuna tried to start his work, a desperate attempt to get away from them, only to be told that he could hang out with his friends instead of working that day. It sounded more like Karna was telling him not to work instead of giving him a choice. The teen looked between his brother and the two people with him, looking ready to say they weren’t his friends before sighing and accepting the decision. They followed him up the stairs to the upstairs home. The easiest way to open early and close late was to simply live above the business after all.

They left their shoes at the top of the stairs and entered Arjuna’s room. Ritsuka immediately plopped herself on the bed, spreading her arms and legs out as she claimed it as her setting area for the duration of their time there. Galahad sat down at the desk chair, keeping an eye on Arjuna as he closed to door behind him. There was a moment of silence before he spoke up.

“Okay. Why are you two here?”

“I wanted to see how soft your bed was.”

“Bullshit.”

“Mh, no jokes? Okay then,” She sat up and crossed her hands under her chin, the cheerful color went from her face, “Your brother’s business is suspicious.”

“A cafe and a flower shop are hardly unusual.”

“One dealing with souls definitely is.”

The remark catches him off guard. His mouth left agape from whatever he had originally said as it left him like a leaf in fall wind. The expression of shock changed into one of anger and apprehension. Galahad can see a fist form in his hand.

“What are earth are you imply-”

There was a large crash downstairs. The three of them froze. That was the sound of breaking glass. It wasn’t something small like a cup either. It sounded like something had rammed into the windows. Shrill screams suddenly filled the store. Galahad got up and knocked the chair over in the process, following Arjuna out of the room with Ritsuka behind them. Arjuna was nearly sliding down the stairs with how fast he ran down, almost slipping once he turned at the bottom. Once the store was visible to Galahad, his blood ran cold. Surrounded by the broken glass was a girl with bones trying to break from her skin and red staining her uniform. He heard Ritsuka gasp out beside him. Mame Chishiki. The girl who had thrown herself from the building just a few days prior.

“What the hell…?”

The ghoul, there was no way that thing was still alive, staggered forwards as it’s black eyes looked around. It’s gaze landed on Galahad. He was frozen in place as the ghoul began to rush at him. Arjuna was standing in front of him, a clear collision course. That’s what one would think logically anyhow.

Instead of crashing straight into Arjuna, the ghoul sidestepped past him, going directing towards Galahad. It doesn’t register properly until Ritsuka pulled him away at the last moment. The ghoul hit the wall. Hard. It sounded like something broke, either the wall or the bones or possibly both. Galahad pushes himself and Ritsuka out of the way as the ghoul begins to get up. Arjuna back up along with them, getting as far from the ghoul as they could in the few seconds they had. As the ghoul set its sights on them once again, a sharp shatter was heard. The ghoul’s head jerked over to in front of the counters.

Karna’s arm was bleeding, his opposite hand holding a broken bottle. The blood was dripping down onto the floor into a puddle. His sharp eyes were staring down the ghoul as it turned fully to him. It lunged at him, crashing into the counter’s front when he steps out of the way just seconds before it could collide with him. As it reeled itself back up, Arjuna broke out into a run towards his brother. The ghoul lunged at him once again, missing as Arjuna threw Karna to the ground. He fell on top of him, seeing the ghoul skid across the floorboards as his brother let out a pained hiss. He had hurt his injured arm further by landing on it.

Galahad’s head spun as he tried to think of what to do. He didn’t have any holy water on him, and he didn’t have a weapon either. The ghoul pushed its self up, rocking around like a bag of rocks as it stood. It turned its head and caught sight of Galahad once again. In a moment of desperation, he threw himself to the floor as it rushed towards him. Lifting his head, he saw the broken bottle. It was his best bet right now.

Scrabbling up and grabbing the bottle, Galahad readied himself in case it attacked again. Just like before, it broke out into a run towards him. Instead of moving out of the way, he waited until it was an arms reach away and jabbed the bottle towards it. It punctured its neck, which was already cut from when it was alive. The ghoul sputtered and jerked before falling limp. Galahad pushed the ghoul away as it dropped back, possible contouring its spine far past what was natural. He looked over to Ritsuka, who was standing frozen in shock, and over to Arjuna, who was trying to stop the bleeding without making the glass too small to pull even more embedded into Karna’s skin.

 

It was a few minutes later when the ambulance arrived with the police. Galahad watched as those cut by the initial crash and Karna were lead into the ambulance if the injuries were severe enough. From what he overheard, a few people needed nine snitches at the very least for their injuries.

Chapter Text

“In the recent development of the ghoul attack on The Lotus Cafe & Floral Shop, owner Khatri Karna is reported to have no lasting damage. The same goes for the patrons injured by the glass window’s breaking when the ghoul broke in. While many were skeptical of this being a ghoul attack, the perpetrator's lack of fresh blood and state of decomposition being too far in for a living person who had only died mere hours prior. The ghoul’s identity has not been revealed, a request by the family. A reporter at the hospital has received an interview from the younger Khatri brother, who was there during the attack. According to other witnesses he had…”

“Watson. How much do you know about ghouls?”

“Almost die to something over a hundred times and you get to know it very well.”

Galahad wasn’t sure if he was exaggerating or not. With how Holmes played it, it could very well be an understatement. Regardless of what it was, he was sure Watson had some idea of what was going on with the ghouls. Both the normal and unnatural ones. It was just a matter of if he would tell him. So far, Holmes had simply given him the run around by answering any question with another question.

“What can you tell me about them?”

The doctor said nothing as the tea kettle rang out in its shrill voice. It settled as it was taken off the stove and placed on a table mat. He poured a cup of black tea for himself and left the kettle in the center if Galahad wanted any. Galahad watched as he pulled out a bottle of rum from the cabinet and poured a shot into his teacup. He left the bottle on the table and took a long sip.

“What I can tell you and what I should tell you are two very different things. I could tell you ghouls are actually fairies from the far west that once ate only dreams but now eats human souls. Since you don’t have any info, you’d believe me.”

“I wouldn’t believe something so stupid.”

Watson chuckled, “Ghouls are humans who wanted to stay alive. They wanted it so much that they will take it from others in order to live.”

“That does make sense. And the abnormal ghouls are like those girls…”

He didn’t get a response. Watson just smiled and drank his odd tea-rum concoction. Galahad stared as he thought through what they had said. Then it hit him.

“I guess I will believe whatever you say. You just lied didn’t you.”

“Yes. I’m afraid Holmes’ has rubbed off on me over the years.”

“Is this question dodging a game to him?”

“You just need to ask the right questions.”

He pours himself another cup and adds another shot. He downed the concoction within a few seconds and brought the cup to the sink. The rum was put away as well, apparently, Holmes wasn’t allowed near alcohol without supervision. As he walked out of the room, he left some parting words.

“Well, I have to go dissect a ghoul before her family starts freaking out. Hopefully, they won’t notice the stitches.”

Galahad was unsure how to feel about that comment.

 

What was the right question? He had tried being blunt, vague, backward, anything he could think of. But, alas, it was for not. Holmes only answered with another question, answers so vague it was better to forget them than anything else, and some weren’t answered at all with Holmes just having some off-topic remark to say. Galahad wasn’t sure if he was being like this on purpose purely to annoy him, or if even Watson had to endure this all the time.

After another dozen failed attempts at getting a real answer, Galahad thought back to what the doctor had said. Asking the right questions didn’t mean it had to be Holmes who answered. Even if he had the right questions, it didn’t mean anything unless he asked the right person.

“Where is Andersen right now?”

“Out with his daughter. She said something about going to the park.”

 

Parks were not a scarcity in the city. There were two not even 6 kilometers away from the house. Taking a shot in the dark, he went to the park up north. It had a small lake it boasted proudly about. From the site to maps to its mascot.

It was just as crowded as any park back home. He thought there would be fewer children around, what with the cram schools and clubs. That made him think they would only have free time on the weekend. But, here he was, surrounded by children and their parents.

He found the author sitting alone on a bench overlooking the lake. Anderson was writing with a quill. Not one of those pens made to look like a quill either. A real, ink well dipped quill. Galahad wasn’t even sure if they made those anymore. There was a girl in a black dress of frills and hoops feeding bread crumbs to ducks and the ducklings not too far away.

“Hey, Andersen, what can you tell me about demons?”

“What, are you so lazy that even reading a book so difficult? Listen to an audiobook of it, those are rather popular.”

Galahad sat down next to him as the girl walked off, probably returning to her mother. He wasn’t sure where Andersen’s daughter was. Based on what he knew from Mash, his daughter should at the very least be a teenager. Possibly even an adult. Maybe she had gone off to get something?

“How similar are ghouls to demons?”

“Both like souls and used to be human. Other than that, not much. Sell your entire soul and you’ll become a demon no matter what.”

“Is there an overlap between ghouls and demons?”

“I haven’t the damnest idea.”

Andersen stopped writing and began to put his things away, telling Galahad to read the books and only ask those questions in private. He was busy with his daughter after all.

“Alice! We’re leaving now!”

There wasn’t any response. He looked towards the lake and dropped his bag. He called out for whom Galahad assumed was his daughter. No response one again. Andersen circled the lake, calling out and checking the water. Did he think she had fallen in? At the age she should be, she should know how to swim.

“Did you see anyone here when you arrived?”

“Only a girl in some Victorian dress, she went tha-”

Andersen took off in the direction Galahad had pointed. Momentarily frozen in shock, Galahad grabbed the bag and chased after him. Something told him that girl was not just some random kid in the park. The author suddenly turned and called out the name again. This time, he got a response.

“Dad!”

Alice, so he assumed, ran at Andersen with tears in her eyes. She crashed into him, crying, as Andersen asked where she had been. She let out a shaky sob before she spoke.

“I, I saw Illya and wanted to play. She had, had to go home and, and her brother needed to get back to work and I said I could get back on my own but, but I got lost. Then this nice guy offered to bring me back because I was crying he, he even offered to buy me a cookie so I would feel better.”

As Alice cried and Andersen checked her over for injuries, Galahad looked over to the guy who had brought her back. The two shared a look of shock. It was Arjuna. What were the odds of that? He walked towards him and started up a conversation.

“How’s your brother?”

There’s a moment of hesitation in his voice, “He’s fine. He only needed a few stitches. He needs to be careful though, to make sure they don’t come loose.”

The two lapsed into silence. Andersen took his bag from Galahad and thanked Arjuna for helping his daughter. Alice in hand, he turned and began towards the park exit. Galahad figured they were going somewhere else for family bonding or something. He wouldn’t know much about those kinds of activities.

He felt his phone buzz with a new message. As he pulled it out, Arjuna pulled out his own. It appeared Ritsuka had made a group chat of them for whatever reason.

“How did she get my number…”

She sent a picture of some butterfly. That was...just weird. What was the point of sending them a butterfly picture? Sure it was pretty looking, but why?

“What the hell…are you seeing this?”

“What?”

“In the background. Where the apartment door is.”

Galahad zoomed into the picture. Right under the number 10 apartment door, was a body. Ritsuka wasn’t sending them a butterfly, she was sending them a body.

Chapter Text

“I imagine you have questions.”

“No shit Sherlock.”

Had they been talking to Holmes, that line would have been even more fitting. Sadly it was just Ritsuka in the spot she had brought Galahad for lunch. Expect now Arjuna was there. The student council president looked a little too calm, but perhaps she had already freaked out the day before. Galahad wondered if they were technically breaking the law by being at the school outside of school hours. He still wasn’t exactly sure what the rules were here about school property.

“Allow me to explain.”

“Are you trying to do a British accent?”

“Is it accurate Corbenic?”

“Not even close you dodgy tosser.”

“Psh, buzzkill.”

“How on earth did you two switch between English and Japanese that fast?”

“Regardless, I was following that guy from Mr. Khatri’s shop. Before you accuse me of solely stalking your shop, I followed him because he kept acting weird about entering. I just happened to be walking down that way. Anyway, so I followed the guy back to his apartment when he suddenly froze. Like, it looked like he had stopped breathing.

When he started to move again, he pulled the door slammer right off its hinges and began to smash it into his head. For some reason, he didn’t stop. It was like something had taken over his body and ignored the body’s attempts to keep itself alive. I mean, that’s the best I can describe it as. I looked away because, well, that was fucked up.”

“While that’s a fantastic story for before lunch, what's with the butterfly? The body by itself makes more sense.”

Even with his question and sarcasm, Arjuna looked like he was shaking. He had a right to. A student going to a very obviously closed shop, with police tape no less, and acting so suspicious would raise some alarm. Not to mention the description of the guy’s suicide. Something was very off about that, the body would stop itself from harming itself like that normally.

The student, Gotou Gai, was known to change his personality based on what he watched on tv. Even Arjuna and Galahad knew that after such a short time. But this? This had to be something else. Something else was going on.

“So, since we’re basically a team now-”

“I never agreed to this!”

“WE’RE BASICALLY A TEAM NOW. I’ll check into some stuff. Something isn’t adding up right to me, and I don’t think it is to you two either. This isn’t a demon...I just know it.”

“You are literally insane.”

“But you’re going to help anyway!”

Only Ritsuka could blackmail someone into helping the investigation after originally accusing them. Galahad was unable to back out now, he had asked her for help. Really, one of his worse decisions so far. At least it couldn’t get any worse.

 

It had gotten worse.

The three of them found themselves at the police station for interrogation. Well, actually it was four of them. Arjuna’s brother, barely out of the hospital, was there as well. He was in the interrogation room, while they were all waiting outside. It was simply to figure out more about the situation, and since all of them had been close to the ghoul it was only natural they were being interrogated. Bad enough, right? It got worse. Holmes and Watson, the supernatural detectives, were the ones interrogating them. Luckily- or unluckily, Holmes was dealing with them while Watson dealt with interrogations.

Holmes, being just as difficult but now as cold as dry ice in the mountains, was no help in figuring out what was happening. Galahad had an idea that this would happen at some point, but he expected to be the one interrogating. Not being the interrogated. Even Ritsuka looked nervous being stared down by the detective’s cold features. Arjuna was a different story. Galahad expected him to be more outspoken in this situation. But he was silent, glaring at the door which sat between him and the interrogation room.

When Karna was let out of the room, Galahad couldn’t help but notice how pale he looked. Not just pale, deathly. His eyes didn’t help at all. If he turned into a ghoul Galahad wasn’t sure if he could tell the difference. The man was trembling, not obviously, but if you stared at him you could see the shaking. Arjuna barely got a word out to his brother before he was brought into the interrogation room. His brother was less than happy with that.

“You said he wouldn’t have to be interrogated.”

“I did, but I never said anything about this incident.”

Holmes looked ready to physically restrain the man if he tried to get to the door. Karna and the detective had a stare down. One pair of cold, dead eyes against another pair of cold, dead eyes. It felt like an eternity before Karna sat down reluctantly. He took Arjuna’s place in glaring at the interrogation room’s door.

 

It felt like hours had passed before Galahad was brought in. Even when Arjuna was let out, he and his brother weren’t allowed to leave. Ritsuka was the next. She looked as if she was trying to appear calm, but her nervousness was obvious. The entire time Arjuna had been in that room, she had been pacing around. She wouldn’t sit down, she just needed to keep moving it seemed. When she finally exited, she only looked slightly less nervous than before. And then, Galahad was sat down across from Watson and the door was closed behind him.

“How are you feeling?”

“Fine.”

“Is Holmes treating you well?”

“He’s more assholish than usual.”

“Really? He’s actually rather decent today. Usually, he’s interrogating. Maybe he’s upset I said I would deal with it.”

“I see.”

“What do you think of Kharti’s cafe?”

“I keep ordering the black coffee. I keep forgetting how strong it is. Catches me off each time.”

“Hmh, the same thing happens to me whenever I allow Merlin to make anything when he’s over. Even Holmes is kinder.”

“Riiight…”

“According to the others, you were in the shop when the ghoul attacked. Can you describe what happened?”

“We heard a crash. We ran down and saw the ghoul. It ran at us, moved past Arjuna and Ritsuka pulled me out of the way. It kept going after me until Mr. Kharti broke that bottle on himself.”

“Who is we?”

“Arjuna, Ritsuka, and myself.”

“Where were you?”

“Upstairs in Arjuna’s room. He was the first one out, I was second, and Ritsuka was the last one down the stairs.”

“Did you attack the ghoul?”

“Yes.”

“How did you attack it?”

“I used a broken bottle to stab it in the throat.”

“Where did the bottle come from?”

“Mr. Kharti broke it on his arm to distract the ghoul. It fell to the floor and I picked it up.”

“Where was Arjuna during this?”

“He had pushed his brother to the ground so the ghoul wouldn’t get him.”

“Where was Ritsuka during this time?”

“Behind me...she was when I was turned around and stabbing the ghoul.”

“You don’t know where she was before that?”

“She wasn’t in my line of sight.”

“She was the last one down, correct?”

“Yes.”

“You said the ghoul moved past Arjuna, could you elaborate on that?”

“He was directly in line with the ghoul’s path. It just sidestepped him and went after me.”

Galahad’s brain is reeling. Every time he thinks back he has to ask himself, am I remembering that correctly? The questions are jumbled together and he can’t tell one from the other. He can’t tell what was first asked or what’s a follow up anymore. There are too many questions that seem so insignificant that he can’t keep track of them.

“Is there anything else that you can tell me?”

“No.”

“Is there anything you expected me to ask?”

“No.”

“Then I believe we’re done here.”

Watson closed the folder he had. Pictures, testimonies, all that should be used was there. Galahad can’t remember if he was shown them or not. He likely was. When they exited, Watson announced they would have to call them in again if needed but for now they were free to go. Galahad left with them, he wasn’t supposed to let them know he was staying with the detectives.

Ritsuka called out to Arjuna, saying she wanted to talk before he left. Karna only nodded when Arjuna turned to him, getting into their car and starting it. Galahad was pulled into the conversation as well.

“Something was off about that right?”

“Definitely. If we were being questioned on that, why wasn’t my brother? What were they talking about?”

“There’s got to be a way to figure out what is going on. That’s not a normal interrogation.”

“What do you expect to do? Steal the interrogation logs?”

“A great idea, doubt we could pull it off.”

“I could get them.”

The two looked at Galahad. It was an outlandish statement for sure. Especially for them. But, he would have an opportunity to get those papers. He did live with them after all.

“Just give me a few days.”

Arjuna left soon after, leaving Ritsuka and Galahad outside of the station. The girl looked around, back at the station’s door, before leaning towards Galahad to whisper something about texting him details later. Unsure of what she meant, he simply nodded.

 

Later, Ritsuka texted him a list of names. Apparently, there were more victims than just those three they knew. Eleven dead students who all appeared as ghouls soon after they died.

Chapter Text

Himuro Kane. The track team’s ace at the high jump. Went missing on XX/XX/20XX with Makidera and Saegusa, and found dead ten days later.

 

Makidera Kaede. The star sprinter of the track team. Went missing on XX/XX/20XX with Himuro and Saegusa, and found dead ten days later.

 

Saegusa Yukika. The manager of the track team, formally part of the cooking club. Went missing on XX/XX/20XX with Himuro and Makidera, and found dead ten days later.

 

Ayaka Sajyou. Originally from ◾️◾️◾️◾️◾️ and has become a sort of ghost story. Disappeared after a family suicide happened in her apartment building- no report on if it was her own or another family. Supposably found dead.

 

Mitsuzuri Minori. A member of the archery team. Found hanging within the club room.

 

Mitsuzuri Ayako. Part of the martial arts club. Found dead with her neck sliced- unconfirmed if suicide or murder.

 

Ryuudou Issei. Former student council president. Found unconscious at home, reportedly died in hospital.

 

Tohsaka Rin. Former student council vice-president. Supposably killed by her sister, debate if it was assisted suicide or not.

 

Mame Chishiki. The school librarian. Committed suicide by jumping off the building and cutting her throat.

 

Yuutou Ikuyo. The student council’s activity planner. Walked into traffic. (No ghoul yet)

 

Gotou Gai. Happy-go-lucky guy. Smashed his head in. (No ghoul yet).

Sent by Ritsuka Fujimaru yesterday

 

 

From the earliest date, it seemed to be happening over the course of at least 12 months. It would start and stop randomly, spiking without a real pattern. The first time it’s three, then it’s one, then it’s two, two again, and finally another three so far.

He would have to look more into the previous cases later. He only had a little bit of time to get the log before the doctor came back. Holmes was still in the house, but he was asleep. At least, Galahad thought he was asleep. The detective was leaned back in an armchair with a newspaper covering his face. It looked to be a few weeks old, not even a mention of ghoul attacks on it. He still was careful getting into Watson’s study, he didn’t need the detective to cross-examine him.

The door was barely opened- just wide enough for him to slip in. Galahad stepped lightly until he hit the carpet, hoping that would be enough to hide his footsteps. The doctor had already put away the logs, so he simply had to find the folder it was in. He opened the first cabinet and looked through it. The dates weren’t even close. Some of them dated back 20 years ago.

Looking in another cabinet, he found something even stranger. Logs dated back nearly 40 years. All in Watson’s handwriting. But that didn’t make sense. Watson was pushing thirty, not sixty. Galahad reached in but stopped short of pulling out a folder. One mystery at a time. He could deal with questionable ages at another time.

A third cabinet opened left the folder he needed in view. He reached in only to find it fitting snuggly in place. One hand wasn’t going to dislodge the dense stack. Using both hands, he tried to remove the object from the cabinet drawer. When it came loose, Galahad found himself falling back slightly from the sudden lack of resistance. His foot shot out to keep himself from landing on the floor, nearly pulling the rug out from under him. The air in his lungs caught in his throat as he heard the front door open. Actually, it sounded like it was slammed against the wall.

He looked down at his hands as Merlin’s voice rang out in the house. He had two folders in his hands, no wonder it was so hard to pull it out. But- which was the one he was looking for? In the panic that grew with Watson and Holmes’ voice filling in the nearby room, he shoved one of them back into the cabinet. Carefully, and as fast as he could, he slid through the door with the folder in hand and made his way to his bag just down the hall.

 

When he entered the sitting area as calmly as he could with his bag in hand, Merlin was pointing an accusing finger at Holmes.

“You’ve done something! I know you have!”

“People’s taste change over time, just because he liked a play a few years ago doesn’t mean he’ll still like it now.”

“Don’t give me that excuse. He said, right to my face, that he never remembered seeing it.”

“Well, he is stressed. It possible that’s affecting his memory.”

“Merlin, it’s not that big of a deal.”

“Yes, it is! You saw the pictures you had taken from the previous time. Yet you don’t remember a single time!”

Galahad awkwardly walked by the trio, not looking at any of them. He was not about to involve himself in that kind of drama. Especially not when both Merlin and Holmes were involved. Really, Watson was seeming like the calmest person in that conversation. Anyone who could stay calm when those two were acting up has a skill unlike any other.

 

“What the heck? Who are these people?”

The trio flipped through the papers in Ritsuka’s room. Galahad’s house was out of the question- lying through his teeth that his father was out of town so he couldn’t have people over. Arjuna’s was still under investigation. There was no way they’d be doing this in public, so Ritsuka’s house became the place. Her father was busy in his office, telling her to get him if they needed anything. Galahad wondered how different her father raised her from his own. Both were raised by single fathers but they were still so different.

The folder, dated 5 full years before their interrogation left all of them confused. He must have shoved the wrong one back. The most confusing thing, however, was one of the people.

Vrisha Jani, a 29-year-old mute woman with a striking similarity to Arjuna’s brother. Ignoring her single visible eye that was a deep red color, she looked as if they could be twins. They would be the same age at this point. The muteness was a problem for the interview, yes or no questions were the most common with her file. The few that required more than that were written out and scanned. She was deemed unsuspicious and highly unlikely to be the perpetrator of the crime at the end of the investigation.

Looking through the small file built on her, all of them found some strange things. Her weight was normal for a woman, yet she was listed to looking a little underweight. She had a daughter that was considered her little sister, a small note of her having her at such a young age being the reason. No one had ever heard her speak, yet they had seen her start before stopping herself. There was a side note stating it was believed she had lost her voice and did so out of habit. A bartender with extensive knowledge of alcohol yet she reportedly never had a drink in her life, not even drinking a little with customers like her co-workers. Despite having a daughter, she no longer had the ability to reproduce naturally. Not incriminating, but definitely odd.

“Kharti, do you know this woman at all?”

“No, I’ve never heard that name in my life. Why does she look so much like him…”

“Maybe you’ve got a secret sister?”

“I sure hope not. My brother’s enough sibling for me.”

“What does that even mean?”

“I have no idea.”

 

A loud crash shook the trio. A wave of panic covering all of them as they rushed out of the room. There was no way a ghoul would target a home right? It wasn’t like there was anything to attract one here. Then again, they did have living souls in themselves. But so did everyone else in this city.

“Papa! Are you okay!?”

“Ohhh...my hip. I think I cracked my hip.”

“Papa…” The tone of exasperation was not to be mistaken for anything else.

Galahad and Arjuna shared a look. What kind of person popped so loudly that it sounded like a crash? Probably the same kind of person that wore a turtleneck sweater near summer. The man got up and rolled his shoulders, sending a similar sounding pop out around the room. It was loud enough to make the two visitors jump. Seriously, what the hell made those kinds of noises!

 

They looked over the files once again- trying to figure out what they could even do with unrelated that had nothing to do with their case. Twelve different files with no clear connection to the current ghouls. But then they found a connection, this was for a ghoul investigation.

Chapter Text

27 Messages sent by Ritsuka Fujimaru in the chat: GHMF

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarti

Sent by Ritsuka Fujimaru at 12:01 pm

Pardon me for helping my brother with something and having my phone being blown up in this group chat and whatever else you’ve sent me.

Sent by Arjuna Khatri at 12:14 PM

Meet up at my house again today. Once Galahad gives the okay he got the file. Hope you don’t have anything else planned.~

Sent by Ritsuka Fujimaru at 12:18 PM

I do have something planned. I’d like to do it today.

Sent by Arjuna Khatri at 12:21 PM

You text as if you have a choice.

Sent by Ritsuka Fujimaru at 12:23 PM

I got it.

Sent by Galahad Corbenic at 1:03 PM

 

The folder was in the file cabinet like the week before. Galahad had to look through it more thoroughly though, it had been reorganized. Holmes was out. He simply announced he was going out and left, leaving a peeved Merlin and a Watson in his lab. The weird shopkeep was watching TV while snacking, and it wasn’t like Watson would be able to hear him through those doors and walls.

Double checking that the files were showing them, Galahad made his way to Ritsuka’s house. When he arrived, Ritsuka opened the door with an excited smile as she pulled him inside. Arjuna was sitting on the chair in the room with an annoyed expression. The folder was opened up on the desk and the files were taken out. The pictures from the crime scene were left in the folder.

It was Arjuna who pointed out the first discrepancy in the files. Karna’s file was on what happened during the attack, but he hadn’t been asked about that. It had been something different, whatever it was the group didn’t know.

The second discrepancy was on Ritsuka’s file. It was blocked out with black ink except a few words and letters to spell something out. Even her picture had black lines on it. This couldn’t have been by Watson or Holmes. They wouldn’t ruin a file like this.

The third problem came with Arjuna’s when they looked it over again. His information was more in line with a child than a teenager. Not to mention his picture was crooked.

The final bit was Galahad’s profile. For starters, it wasn’t even his profile anymore. It was a purple-haired boy who looked like his picture was taken from a photo shoot. Rituska and Arjuna didn’t recognize the boy and were completely baffled by his inclusion. But Galahad knew who this way.

That was his father. His father from when he was just a kid, all of that information was there. Galahad’s name might have been printed there, but he knew it was Lancelot. He felt cold suddenly. Why would his father’s childhood information be here? Was this some kind of joke? Did Watson and Holmes know his plan?

“You need to see this.”

That was the only thing to come from Ritsuka’s mouth as she placed the crime scene photos down. They had been written over. Someone- who sure as hell wasn’t Watson or Holmes that was for certain, had written on them in an effort to taunt them. The pictures from the injured in the hospital were directed towards Arjuna directly, Ritsuka was taunted with the pictures from the scene that captured the area, and Galahad was taunted by the pictures of the ghoul. The words written out were mocking them. Except for the one that didn’t belong. It was a picture of a hotel with the message ‘Catch Me If You Can’ in bold red printed on it.

“We need to go.”

 

The hotel was closed down. Its sign was overgrown with the vines from the garden that surrounded the building. The broken ceramic cats that dotted the garden had become more of a plant than a statue. The brick was stained and faded. In spite of all of that, the front door was open. Arjuna was the first one in, muttering something about taking on the person who wounded his pride like that on with a chair in a fist fight. Ritsuka sent one last text to her dad, saying a lie of saying they went out for lunch when he texted to ask where she was in concern, before walking in. Galahad looked around, no one seemed to notice them. He stepped into the building, taking one last look before closing the door behind him.

“For an abandoned building, the elevator sure works like normal.”

“Do we want to take it up? Or take the stairs?”

“We take the stairs, they’ll hear the elevator quicker than us going up the steps.”

“How do we know where they are though?”

“Check all the rooms and go up when we can’t find anything.”

“What about the police? What do we do if they show up?”

The question brought up by Arjuna led to the group to a pause. They were trespassing for sure, but what kind of excuse could they give? Galahad shared a look with both of them before he shared his idea.

“We say someone invited us and locked up in a room.”

“Great plan, lying to the police.”

“You want to end up in jail Kharti?”

“Take in the position we’re all in. The student council president with the two transfer students, who are already part of an investigation. We are immediately suspect if we get caught.”

“Then we just won’t get caught.”

There was a bit of silence between the group. Then Arjuna and Ritsuka nodded. They started their ascent up the stairs. Into the first floor of the empty hotel.

The first four floors where barren. Some doors were unlocked but still had the second lock in place to stop the door from opening all the way. The curtains were moth-ridden and mold was growing in monstrous amounts. It was on the sixth floor of the 13 story building, that the trio found something suspicious. A blood stain of something that had been dragged. Not only that, but it looked only a few hours old. It ended at a door at the end of the hall. The three approached the door with caution. Galahad turned the knob slowly, it didn’t resist as he turned. Carefully, he opened the door. All of them held their breath as the room came into view. Time appeared to still around them.

“Run,” the delayed reaction was too much of one for Galahad, “Run!”

Right after they had turned to run down the hall, the ghoul reached out after them. Arjuna grabbed both of their arms to pull them along the hall faster. Galahad looked behind them to gauge how close the ghoul was to them. It was still at the door. Smirking. The confusion soon turned to something out.

“Shit!”

Arjuna pulled them roughly up the stairs. On the stairs leading down, a hoard of ghouls was quickly ascending. He let go of their arms as they continued up, allowing Galahad and Ritsuka to run properly instead of being dragged. They could hear the ghouls climbing the stairs behind them, rushing over one another to get to the trio. Galahad still couldn’t wrap his head around what had happened. Why would a ghoul be smirking at them? Was that one of the unusual ghouls? Was this entire thing a plan to get them killed? But who was after them?

They stopped on the second to last floor. The last floor before the roof. All of them were out of breath and heaving as the faint sounds of the ghoul slowly grew louder. While they all caught their breaths, Ritsuka spoke up.

“More ghouls. Right over there.”

Arjuna and Galahad looked over to where she was pointing. Right there, was a second hoard of ghouls eating something. The three of them froze when one looked up. They needed to move fast. They needed to get to the roof.

And that was exactly what they did as the sprinted up the stairs. The door to the roof was unlocked, but it was heavy. The closed it behind them and ran to the opposite side of the roof. It was only then that they realized, the fire exit wasn’t on the roof. It was a floor down. Where the second, and possibly first at this point, group of ghouls. They were stuck. Looking around proved there was once a fire exit up here, only it had been removed. By accident or on purpose wasn’t clear.

“So, any ideas?”

“Well, unless you know how to parkour down onto the fire escape a floor down and catch up, not really.”

“Kharti, any ideas from you?”

“...We need to jump.”

“That is the exact opposite of what we want to do right now!”

“No, we need to jump.”

“This is not the time for a group suicide!”

“We won’t die! We just need to jump.”

“Are you actually insane?!”

They all froze when they heard the heavy door open. Ghouls came staggering out towards them. The three of them back up to the edge until really their only option was to jump or become ghoul food. Galahad really hoped Arjuna knew what he was talking about.

“Alright! Jump! If we die, we blame Kharti!”

 

With the wind blowing against his body as he fell down from the build, Galahad felt his life flash before his eyes. Then he felt something slow his fall. Wrapped around his waist tight enough he wouldn’t fall out of its grip. He could hear Ritsuka yelling something, what was she saying-

“HOLY SHIT THIS GUY IS RIPPED!”

What? Guy? What was she talking about? Galahad looked around to see a tail wrapped around his middle. Following the tail, he saw wings. And as Ritsuka put it, a ripped dude. Of course, the more important thing was the tail and the wings. Wait, were those horns? Galahad’s jaw dropped as he processed all of this.

“So, you show up now to help? And not when my brother was being attacked?”

“Aren’t you a little old to be complaining?”

“He ended up in the hospital you useless demon!”

 

Galahad was still in shock when they landed. They had just jumped from a 13 story building to be caught by a demon that apparently Arjuna knew. He had never felt so homesick before now.

Chapter Text

The demon was easily almost 200 cm, with tanned skin that stood out against his silvery hair. Ritsuka was staring in awe at the draconic appearance of the demon and was reaching out to try and touch the wings, tail, or the horns. That, or she was ogling at the exposed front of the demon. Galahad did admit he was staring himself, it wasn’t every day one saw a demon. Especially not with armor and a glowing mark on his chest.

“Put me down.”

It was then that Galahad realized amidst Ritsuka and his staring, Arjuna was still being held by the demon. The sheer idea of a 16-year-old being held like a child by a demon was insane enough by itself, but here they were, looking at just that. The demon carefully put him down, apologizing to the teen who was glaring at him.

The draconic attributes of his body began to dissipate as if they were never there in the first place. The armor shifted into a casual suit and tie, something that wouldn’t be in a formal setting but also a little more formal than pure casual. Ritsuka complained about how she wasn’t done looking yet. The demon- even if he looked more like a man now he was still a demon, held up a hand in a mock wave.

“Sorry, I am Siegfried, a friend of Arjuna’s brother.”

“I knew there was a demon involved in the business-!”

“As in the Nibelungenlied? That Siegfried?”

Ritsuka raised an eyebrow at Galahad. That conclusion was a bit of a leap. But to Galahad, it made sense. A draconic looking demon by the name of Siegfried, the irony was a little too much for a coincidence.

“Yes, the same.”

“How did-”

“Hey, so, before you start questioning about the useless demon, how about we get out of the area where we can be arrested for trespassing.”

“Only if I get to be carried.”

Arjuna and Galahad studied Ritsuka, both with a disappointed face. She huffed and said she wasn’t as athletic as them so it made sense she’d be more tired. They didn’t say anything as Siegfried hoisted her up onto his back. She looked very proud of herself.

 

 

“Why does Arjuna call you a useless demon,” Galahad asked the question as the group walked down the sidewalk of the city.

“I’m afraid he hasn’t been fond of me ever since he was little. I don’t blame him, I am a demon after all.”

“But ‘useless’?”

“He didn’t stop my brother from getting hurt, which, in case he’s forgotten, IS HIS ENTIRE JOB.”

“This teenaged rebellion phase of yours is rather annoying. Even when you were little you didn’t hate me this much.”

“Tch.”

“I’m hungry.”

Ritsuka’s sudden comment initiated a response from both Arjuna and Galahad’s stomachs. They were all hungry. Expect maybe Siegfried, but Galahad still wasn’t sure how demons worked. The demon looked around before nodding.

“I know a good place.”

 

Seven Rings of Heaven, the restaurant's name was in neat-looking metal characters adorning the side of the doorway. It didn’t look like much, but Galahad saw a flash of recognition in Arjuna’s eyes. He wondered if somehow, Siegfried had taken him here before from where he used to live. They entered the building after Ritsuka was put back down on the ground.

The restaurant was very homely looking. People were chatting happily as they were eating, the hostess that brought them to their table had red eyes and white hair. Being lead upstairs, Galahad felt as if he had passed through an invisible curtain. He looked over and saw Siegfried had reverted back to his demon appearance. Yet, no one eating had noticed. He began to think this upstairs section was for demons, it wouldn’t be a surprise Siegfried knew about the place.

They were sat down at a bar like setting, the grill where the food was cooked was in front of them as they sat around it. The white-haired chef simply nodded at the hostess who took their drink orders. Next to them was two familiar faces.

Anderson and his daughter, now clad in a white Victorian dress, chatting quietly between themselves. Siegfried had sat down next to Alice, who took a long sip from her drink before she turned to start talking to Siegfried. The hostess placed down the group’s drinks before going downstairs to let them decide on what they wanted to eat.

“Hi, Mr. Siegfried, what are you doing here?”

“Arjuna and his friends were hungry.”

“Dad was hungry too, a deadline just passed so I wanted to take him out somewhere.”

“That’s very sweet of you, are you paying for the whole meal too?”

“Yep! I’ve been saving up too!”

“Oi, don’t go claiming silly things like that. You aren’t using your money to buy me lunch, save it for yourself.”

“But I already planned to buy it!”

“I’m not letting you waste your money like that.”

“Mr. Siegfried! Tell dad I’m buying lunch for him!”

“I must admit, both are compelling arguments. I’m afraid I must stay out of this kind of argument, sorry.”

Alice puffed out her cheeks. She leaned over Siegfried to pull on Arjuna’s sleeve. The teen looked over from the menu as Anderson told Alice she shouldn’t lean over people like that.

“I should be able to buy my dad something nice, right Juna?”

“If you can afford it I don’t see why not.”

“Huh, do you know her?”

Ritsuka brought up the question as she drained her soda. Galahad had to pause in his continuing question by the sheer volume difference in the cup. It had just been given to them no more than 5 minutes ago, how was she already down to the ice? Another hostess came to refill her cup. The girl was somewhat started will how quick the service was, squeaked out a ‘thank you’ as she started on her second helping before they even had any food.

“Yeah! Juna and I met when he was little. I felt bad when I didn’t recognize him at first. He looked so different!”

“Shouldn’t you be like, half his age or something?”

“Hm? I guess I do look like that. I was born in the ’90s though.”

Galahad put down his drink. Then he looked over at the girl. His brain needed a moment to process that statement.

“...What?”

“Alice is a demon. She stopped aging once she became one hence why she still looks like an 8-year-old. She’s closer to being in her thirties now though. Tch. And I thought my looks are a curse.”

“Aren’t you like 20 something, Mr. Anderson?”

“Who are you?”

“Fujimaru Ritsuka.”

“You are now my favorite person here.”

“...Wait, is he not in his twenties?”

Everyone in the group, save for Anderson, looked over at Ritsuka’s bewildered expression. Galahad wasn’t sure if she was bad at telling ages, or if she was really just now learning how old the child looking author was. Arjuna was still sipping from his drink as he raised an eyebrow at the girl.

“Dad’s in his fifties at least.”

Ritsuka looked down at her drink, intertwining her fingers together as she rested her chin on them as she gazed blankly at the soda. She took a deep breath in before letting it out. Her next words were spoken softly.

“I’ve been fucking lied to.”

 

 

The chef handed over their orders. Ritsuka had managed to get them all to order Toshikoshi Soba. Galahad was sure if anyone else wanted to announce they were a demon today, it would be Ritsuka. He wasn’t complaining about the meal, the chef was amazing at his job, but he wanted something else. Siegfried seemed content with the food- actually, that brought up a question. Could demons still eat normal food?

Alice and Siegfried seemed perfectly fine eating human food. Alice was even stealing a little from her dad’s plate when he left for the bathroom. Galahad wondered if it was possible that the chef had perhaps added something to the food that let demons eat it. Actually, the chef was familiar to him. Yeah, he was one of those in the folder Holmes had shown him in the beginning. Shirou Emiya. Galahad mentally jotted down the information, he needed to investigate this when he had the time.

“Siegfried, if I may ask, how did you become a demon?”

“You get drenched in the blood of a dragon and suddenly you’re on the highway to becoming a demon. I can only guess it was because the dragon was an evil creature. Apologizes, I don’t truly know myself.”

“Mr. Siegfried is odd for a demon. Usually, demons from his time didn’t come in with that much of a soul intact.”

“Oh? What about you Alice?”

“...Dad doesn’t like me talking about it.”

The air suddenly felt heavy. Galahad pieced together in his brain that whatever had happened was a very touchy subject. He could only guess they had both died before becoming a demon. No wonder Anderson didn’t like Alice talking about it. Losing a child before they even lived a decade must have been a horrible punch to the gut.

“Hey Juny, what’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?”

“First of all, never call me that ever again. Recently my rainy days have been spent trying to find the second umbrella.”

“Hm? Oh right, I still have that.”

“What? Why do you have it?”

“You gave it to me. We were at a bus stop when it started raining and you said I could use the extra one you had.”

Arjuna bit down on the end of his chopstick.

“Why can’t I remember that…?”

 

Ritsuka’s phone suddenly rang out loudly. The girl picked it up to check it before dropping her chopsticks into the bowl and telling them they had to leave. Her message to her father hadn’t sent and she had 14 frantic, missed calls from him.

Chapter Text

“Yeah, we’re heading back now. We just met up with a friend of Kharti. Nothing happened, don’t worry. No, you don’t have have to send him to get me. Yes, I’ll be back soon. I love you too papa.”

Ritsuka ended the call with her father. Alice had gone to talk to another girl who looked to be about the same age as her. The white hair and red eyes were unnatural for sure, but other than that only one thing stood out to Galahad about her. Her soul. It was in a strange state. Not like Arjuna, no it was more like it had been deteriorated. He looked away from the two girls, he would ask Watson about that kind of soul. Apparently, she was the cook’s sister, but he still didn’t need to pry. Later, when this mess was over, he would.

They headed down the stairs with Hans and Alice, who was waving goodbye to this ‘Illya’ girl. Siegfried’s draconic features disappeared once again as they passed that invisible curtain. Arjuna was stopped as they exited by Alice, who pulled on his hand before the groups split off. Galahad assumed it was because of the two being friends. She pushed something into his hand and told him to, and Galahad would quote, ‘Don’t get stuck in a roller coaster again’. Arjuna laughed it off, slipping whatever she gave him into his jacket pocket. The last thing that happened was what Galahad and Ritsuka could only describe as a special handshake between the two. Each had a hand in a fist as they hit the upper half of their fist with the other’s lower half before meeting together in a fist bump with their thumbs pointed down at an angle. Ritsuka looked like she was jotting down an idea in her head. It was at that moment Galahad was ready to deny any ideas that involved a secret handshake. They didn’t need that sort of thing. They were already far from sight when Ritsuka stopped hounding Arjuna for information.

“Why hello there!”

The greeting of a woman in a nun outfit alerted the group’s attention. Siegfried stepped in front of the group, keeping her from getting any closer. She looked miffed at that action, her eyes narrowing at the demon.

“Pardon me, sir, may I speak with the people behind you?”

“I’m afraid I can’t allow you to do that.”

“Pray to tell why?”

“You know very well why Kiara.”

The woman simply nodded. She clasps her hands together as if she was about to pray. Then she brings one to roughly her collar bone, where a golden necklace of sorts sat. The other went to where her navel shout be. She closed her eyes and gave a gentle smile. With a flash, she was gone. The four of them began to look around, the trio needing a minute to recover from the shock.

“Oh my, I see why a demon would be attracted to this kind of soul. Very healthy and strong. I see your family raised you well.”

She reappeared close enough for Arjuna to feel her breath on the back of his neck. He jerked forward and turned around as he tried to get further away from the woman. Siegfried pulled the boy behind him and kept a hand on his arm. The woman paid no mind to that and stepped three steps too close to Ritsuka. The girl let out a squeak as her shirt is pulled out for the woman to peer down. Siegfried grabbed the woman’s arm with his free hand. The grip forced her to let go of Ritsuka’s shirt. She promptly backed away from the perverted lady.

“How wonderful. Your body has matured quite nicely for a young lady. For being raised by a single man that’s very nice to see.”

Galahad already started to back up towards Siegfried when the woman turned her sights on him. When he felt a hand on the lower part of his back, he jerked the opposite way only to feel a hand on his abdomen. He wiggled away from the touch, shoving his shirt back into his pants as the demon with them pulled the woman away from them all.

“Yes, that is a fine amount of muscle there. It’s very good to keep your body in such nice shape. I assume the rest is like that as well.”

“Get out of here Kiara.”

“Oh, Siegfried, I know you won’t try to fight me here. Too many people. I’m just checking out the future dinner plans. Planning out a few meals like everyone.”

“Does that meal include another restraining order?”

The woman— a demon most likely, bit down on her knuckle. Mumbling quickly under her breath. From their distance, Galahad could only pick up words like ‘no idea how he did it’ and ‘that verbally abusive author’ as well as ‘so different from when I was young’. Her gentle composure returned swiftly as if her little moment never happened. She stepped closer to the group until she was nearly chest to chest with Siegfried. She wasn’t all that tall, her eyes weren’t even reaching above Ritsuka’s head. Granted she was also wearing heels, it was possible she was even shorter.

“Now now, that sort of talk isn’t good for the atmosphere. More civil and peaceful talk–“

Her words seem to choke her as she suddenly stiffened up. She collapsed to the ground, convulsing on the sidewalk. The group took a few steps back as she began to get back up. Her face was a mix of shock and anger. Coughing into her hand, she excused herself but not before telling Siegfried to ‘control his charges’. Ritsuka and Galahad looked over to see Arjuna had stuck his arm through an opening between Siegfried’s arm and side. In his hand was a stun gun. Even if he was familiar with them, he never got why the short range version was called a stun gun but the long-range version was called a teaser. Arjuna looked back at them, face as flat as could be.

“Why do you have a stun gun?”

“It was in the pocket.”

“Is that what Alice gave you?”

“What? No. She gave me a chess piece. Why would she give me a stun gun?”

 

When the group arrived at Ritsuka’s home, a small white dog ran up to her. It jumped up like a child on crack around her, yipping until she gave in to pet it. She cooed at the white ball of fur as she rubbed its belly. After it had considered she had given it enough attention, it got up and sniffed around the others in the group as someone approached them.

“Ritsuka!”

“Papa!”

Ritsuka’s father engulfed her into a bear hug, lifting her up and nearly throwing out his back by the sound of things. He questioned what had happened and who this ‘friend of Kharti’ was. Siegfried introduced himself, apologizing for making Ritsuka come home so late. Her father looked him over as if inspecting to determine how true that apology was. He gave a nod of his head appearing to indicate he accepted it. Siegfried excused himself and Arjuna, stating he needed to get him home before his older brother started to get worried. Ritsuka’s father laughed at that, saying something along the lines of understanding that feeling.

Galahad was picking up the file from Ritsuka’s room. Shoving it into his bag, he got ready to head back. The student council president was talking to a woman with a long braid as she sat down some refreshments.

“Oh, you’re leaving already?”

“Sorry, I’ve got to get back home soon before I get my own influx of calls.”

“That’s fair, I’ll see you later then?”

“Yeah, try not to blackmail Kharti before then.”

The girl choked back a laugh as she downed her drink. As he opened the door, her father stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. Galahad looked back to see him handing him a folded sheet of paper.

“You left it here last time, at least I assumed you did as it has your name on it.”

“Ah, thank you. I hope you have a good day sir.”

“I wish the same to you du Lac.”

 

When he arrived at the house, a mess of a scene laid out in front of him. Galahad decided it was best to ignore it and just go to sleep for straight 15 hours. Anything less would not be enough for him to process what all had happened that day, even if it was barely 7 PM.

Chapter Text

“Take a look at this.”

Galahad yawned before he took a bite out his toast. He was awoken by Watson pulling off his covers and being dragged downstairs to see what he had discovered. Holmes was sitting on the couch, gazing into the void and unresponsive. Apparently, that was normal as Watson had little concern over it. He wasn’t sure where Merlin was, but he also wasn’t interested in knowing where he was either.

What the doctor was showing him was a chip of sorts. A memory chip if one would. He found it near the brain stem, but trying to use the chip was useless. It was completely useless as it was. To Galahad, it looked as if its data was burned from the inside out.

“This was inside the ghoul, there were two others that suddenly appeared that belong to recent deaths as well. Every single one of them had its data erased and is useless. But I have a theory they are related to these ghouls.”

“Like a mind control chip?”

“No. It’s not a mind control chip if it shuts off the brain. That’s my theory in any case. That ghoul you encountered, that woman who was still alive.”

“You think she has that in her.”

“Someone clicks the chip on, the person slips into a temporary dead state. Clinically dead if you will. When someone clicks the chip off, and the person is brought back to normal.”

“That sounds ridiculous,” Galahad took another bite of his toast.

“You weren’t awake for Merlin’s idea.”

The boy shrugged and left the laboratory to get ready for the day. Holmes was still staring at nothing when he passed by a second time. Galahad wouldn’t be surprised if he was on something, the look in his eye was intense. Watson left a cup of tea and toast in front of him, but since it looked like he wouldn’t be doing much with it any time soon Galahad took them for himself. He was still a growing boy, a little voice said in his head as he ate his second piece of toast.

As he unpacked his bag, he found the folder was still in there. As was the paper Ritsuka’s father had given to him. It looked a bit old, like a paper you’d find in a grandparent’s attic. Unfolding the paper, which had a crease in it that made ripping it as easy as breathing in and out, Galahad found it was indeed addressed to him in neat handwriting.

Dear Galahad,
I hope you are being well treated at your new school. While your requests to go to that other school were considered, I am certain this one is the best for you. A school with high honors such as these will make everyone positive what an impressive young man you are. Sadly, I must admit I was disappointed you did not want to go at first. This school is perfect for a prodigy such as yourself, any other school would have been subpar for your education. You must understand how important that is. The Pendragon heir should make a good friend through this, I do hope you are still on good terms with him. I know it may be lonely, but an older brother must be a role model for those younger than him. I have great expectations for you. Please do not cause any trouble.

Love,
Mother

Galahad stared at the letter in confusion. His mother never sent something like this before. She wasn’t even allowed to, not after the court order. So was this something she sent but only now came? He didn’t like the letter, it almost appeared like this ‘mother’ was telling the kid with his name what she expected of him. And that anything else would be a sign of disappointment and punishment. But the chances of a prodigy with the same name, something was up.

He pulled out his phone and sent a text to the group. They needed to meet up to discuss something. Both the letter and Watson’s breakthrough.

 

“Thank you for letting us come over Mr. Kharti, is your shop any closer to being reopened?”

The white-haired man shook his head. Galahad figured it was still being investigated, the hotel room was scarce with their property. Most of it was still under quarantine it seemed. Arjuna had been rotating between his uniform and a simple shirt and shorts, meanwhile, Karna looked as if he only had one outfit to his name at this point.

“Would you like anything to eat or drink?”

“No, thank you though.”

“Hmm...how are we going to talk? I don’t want to bother your brother Kharti.”

“We’ll just go down to the park,” Arjuna was already leading them out the door before anyone could say anything else.

As they were waiting in the elevator, Ritsuka questioned why they had to go to the park instead of just another room in the hotel.

“It’s a crowded hotel. The park is far better for this kind of talk.”

“I was expecting you to say we’d be tempting fate like with that other hotel.”

Galahad rolled his eyes. If tempting fate was something they were worried about, it was far too late for that. Karna didn’t even seem like he’d have much reaction if they talked about it in front of him. He was in contact with a demon after all.

 

“...And that’s what I read about what was discovered.”

As Galahad finished his explanation, Ritsuka and Arjuna each had their own expression clear on their faces. Arjuna looked uncomfortable, as is the mere idea made him sick. Ritsuka looked conflicted on if to look interested or disgusted. In his head, he told himself he probably shouldn’t have added the description of the bodies, but it was too late to try and take it back.

Arjuna crossed his arms and took a deep breath. It wasn’t unreasonable, three suicides and then coming back as ghouls wasn’t a pleasant thing. He shook his head and asked for Galahad to continue with the letter. The golden-eyed boy brought out of the letter, holding it out for them to read. Ritsuka’s phone started to ring as she looked it over, not breaking her place as she answered it. Handing it over to Galahad with a simple, ‘it’s for you’, the boy spoke into the phone.

“Hello?”

“Look over to your left.”

Arjuna looked up from the letter and followed Galahad’s line of sight towards the other side of the street. A girl with purple hair and a grey jacket stood next to a man with a suit with his hair tied behind his head. The girl was holding what looked like a phone and adjusted her glasses. The student was unsure who these people were, nor why Ritsuka looked so happy or why Galahad looked half way to death.

“Oh fuck me running.”

 

“Ah, so you are a police officer?”

“Yes, my boss asked me to come with him for this assignment, and I can’t leave Mash alone for medical reasons.”

“Doesn’t Mashu have a doctor to help though.”

“Still can’t drive Gudako.”

“Oh yeah.”

Galahad shoved another cookie into his mouth and glared daggers into the wall. This was the worst thing to happen right now. He didn’t need his bastard father or his dear sister here right now. It didn’t even make sense for them to be here now of all times. What was that Commissioner Pendragon thinking?

Arjuna kept looking between the three of them. There was something just slightly off about them all in terms of looks. How did such dark hair go so light for both kids? Not only that, but wasn’t Galahad’s dad supposed to be out of town right now? When he voiced the second question to Galahad, he brushed it off saying he was back early. Inside, however, Galahad was sweating. His lie was not going to be kept alive for long with them here. Not unless someone explained it all to them. A very unlikely situation.

 

The boy shoved the 16th cookie into his mouth as the conversation continued. He glared coldly at his father when he tried to bring him into the conversation. For once, the man didn’t try more than once to talk to him.

Chapter Text

“Watson! Get the taxi money and the dog treats!”

Going downstairs Galahad was met with Gilgamesh and Enkidu on the couch and floor respectively as Holmes was already out the door with Watson pulling on his coat as he chased after him. On the floor sat two yearbooks which Enkidu was looking through. Galahad looked over to see what page they were on. Class pictures, with a few people who looked oddly similar.

He sat down on the floor, getting a closer look. Between the pages, three students looked too similar for it to be a coincidence. Rin Toshaka, Issei Ryuudou, and Ayaka Sajyou. Except for a few main differences. Ryuudou wasn’t too different, but his hair is darker and styled differently. Toshaka had black hair in one picture but blonde in another. Sajyou had dark hair and eyes in one but in the other, it was nearly platinum blonde and blue-eyed. He could stook it up to it being hair dye and contacts, something stopped that thought right in its tracks. The dates were ten years apart, and the most recent one was for the year below the older one.

He needed to call Ritsuka.

 

 

“I can’t believe it! She lied! To my face!”

Galahad sipped his drink as Rituska continued her fuming rant as Arjuna was deligated to holding her cold drink and his own. His face was contorted as the cold cans felt even colder with the water sticking to his palms. Ritsuka kicked a rock on the ground, letting out a small hiss and she hopped on one foot as she held her other foot in pain. She grabbed her drink and downed the entire thing, letting out an angry huff.

“Straight to an eight-year old’s face! I mean who even does that!”

Unbeknownst to her, the two boys behind her had a pretty good idea of what that kind of person was. They watched her rant and abuse the empty can in her hand for another few minutes. When she finally calmed down from her raving and had shoved the can into the trash can, she sat down in between the other students.

“And the school’s still closed down too.”

Oh right, school, that had completely escaped Galahad’s mind. Well, that wasn’t surprising. There was a suicide- that was a couple of weeks ago though. It wouldn’t surprise him if something else had happened. He hadn’t been paying attention because of the investigation into Watson and Holmes’ interrogation.

“You got any of the cookies left?”

Galahad felt slightly guilty that he already ate them all. He had been listening to Enkidu and Gilgamesh showing Holmes new evidence about the situation that definitely involved teenage murders. Yet there he was was, eating a box of cookies he took from the hotel room. Now he felt a little bit worse, that box was probably supposed to last a few days and there he was already done with the box. He should have stopped before he finished, this was an excessive amount of cookies. Even Merlin wasn’t this much of a glutton. But, it was really good cookies.

He could feel Arjuna’s eyes on him. He knew he was being glared at. Mr. Kharti had watched him take the container and said nothing. But Galahad had felt the cold, dead eyes on him. That or he was being glared at because of his story that was becoming unraveled. At least Galahad thought that could be it. Maybe he wouldn’t notice the discrepancy. Or he really was glaring at him because of the cookies.

“So, you got interviewed by police?”

“No, my sister and father got interviewed. I was only eight when she died so I’m not a good source.”

“You were eight?”

“Well, technically I was turning eight cause it was my birthday.”

Arjuna looked over at Galahad with wide eyes, to which Galahad returned the expression. That sounded like the worst birthday ever. By how casual she talked about it, it must have been normal to hear that birthday associated with her mother’s death.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Ritsuka rolled back her shoulders and leaned against the bench, “Yeah I’m fine.”

The student council president pulled out her phone, pushing herself up from the bench as she typed out something. The police had left her house now, meaning they could go over there now. Arjuna finished his drink and threw it in the trash as they exited the park. Galahad realized he probably should have done the same, his hand was freezing now.

 

 

The woman with the long braid opened the door to welcome the three in. She held a tray in one hand, making her way to the living room with it. Sitting across from one another and conversing was Ritsuka's father and the police commissioner. Galahad looked over at Ritsuka, who shrugged with a sound of equal confusion to the other student.

“Officer Pendragon, I didn’t expect you to still be here.”

“Ah, I hope you don’t mind Miss Fujimaru. I’m afraid I haven’t eaten since yesterday and your father offered tea and biscuits.”

“The good biscuits! Papa! You said we were out!”

“They came in while you were out.”

Ritsuka reached for one of the biscuits on the tray, only for it to be moved just out of her reach by the woman with the braid. The girl complained as she tried a few more times, nearly getting a biscuit each time. She was shooed away from the tray after being told there was more in the kitchen. As they followed Ritsuka to her room, she snatched a biscuit from her father. She hummed happily as his agasp reaction.

Inside her room, Arjuna let out a yelp at the sight of the large doll that was now in there. Galahad stared with wide eyes at the doll that seemed to stare back at him. It’s lifeless, purple eyes almost appeared to lock with his. The elegant gothic outfit did not help in any shape or form in making it less creepy. He looked over elsewhere, the feeling of eyes on him not leaving no matter what.

“What’s with the, uh, new doll?”

“Oh, it’s not new, just kept it in another room. My sister is staying in the room it was originally in, and she asked for it to be moved out. So, what did you need the yearbooks for?”

“I want to show you two something.”

Ritsuka brought out the two books, the one from the year before and the one from ten years ago. Just as with the ones Enkidu had, the three students had an uncanny resemblance. Not only that, but they had been seen after their death as ghouls. Jackpot.

“Would it be too forward to say the school has something to do with the ghouls we’ve been seeing?”

“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible…”

The student council president bit her knuckle as she looked down at the pictures. She probably was more affected by this than they were, two of them were in the student council with her. Galahad would have considered comforting her, but he was very likely the worst person to do that right now. He just returned to looking at the pictures. It felt as if the pictures were taking over any feeling of being watched by the doll.

A buzz from his phone took his attention away. Watson sent a message that just said ‘Get back - Holmes’. Scratch that, Holmes had sent a message from Watson’s phone. Either way, he needed to get back.

Looking behind him, he saw the large doll was no longer staring at him. It was sitting on the bed next to a stuffed doll that looked nearly the exact opposite. Cute and not creepy. But regardless, he leaned over to Arjuna to point out the large doll. The other student only looked for a second before announcing he needed to leave.

 

 

“How would you like to break into your school?”

“I don’t think I’m allowed to answer that.”

“That was a rhetorical question, we’re breaking into your school.”

There were 17 reasons Galahad could think of for that. What he hadn’t considered was what Watson told him as he briefed him over what they had discovered. The headmaster hadn’t been gone at all when Galahad was registered.

Chapter Text

What do you know about the headmaster?
Sent by you

Why the sudden interest?
Sent by Ritsuka

He’s not in the yearbooks.
Sent by you

Those copies were donations.
Maybe they were torn out?
Sent by Ritsuka

That’s suspicious as fuck
Sent by you

Sorry, I didn’t have another copy for you to borrow.
Sent by Ritsuka

What about the one from your previous year?
Sent by you

About that
So you see
My dog
He ate it
Sent by Ritsuka

Are you serious
Sent by you

Sadly yes.
Papa nearly lost it when he saw the aftermath.
Nearly threw out his back too.
Sent by Ritsuka

So the headmaster.
Sent by you

Hello?
Sent by you

Ritsuka sent a picture

I got another student to send a picture, this is from the one last year.
Sent by Ritsuka

 

“Galahad! Get down here and help Watson cut open a ghoul!”

“Holmes will you please stop yelling and help me hold open this rib cage!”

 

Fine. He would look at the picture later. How those two could be one of the most successful detective duos in the world and yet yell at him like some kind of child was something Galahad didn’t understand. What, were they the old married couple and he was their grandchild? God, he hoped not. His own grandmother already was overbearing enough. At least the one he knew, he still never met his maternal grandmother and he wasn’t about to.

Downstairs, however, proved to tell a different story. Holmes and Watson were sitting civilly across from one another, having breakfast. The air didn’t smell of tobacco, and they looked far too calm to have been just arguing. He took a tentative step forward and it was then he knew he had stepped one inch too close to a trap. Though, he should have seen that coming by the third bastard eating breakfast.

 

 

It had been precisely 4 years, 7 months, 19 days, 10 hours, 30 minutes, and 4 seconds since Galahad had last been anywhere near his father for interaction. His sudden appearance with Mash was nearly 3 and a half years after he had last seen him in person. He hadn’t spoken or texted or emailed him in nearly 4 years. And yet, here he was, sitting next to the bastard on a train towards some other city.

He was almost impressed with how different he looked. At least in comparison to Commissioner Pendragon who looked like she hadn’t changed in ages. His hair wasn’t short and spiky anymore, instead, it fell to his shoulders and was parted in the middle. That was the only change Galahad could be bothered to notice, it was such a stark difference he’d have to be blind to not see the difference from the last time he saw him. He was probably in some of Mordred’s tweets like that, but he had the account blocked and filtered so he’d never see it.

“How is your investigation going?”

Galahad shrugged, it wasn’t any of his business to know. Not only that but he was supposed to be investigating Ritsuka’s family, he didn’t need that conflict of interest right now. He couldn’t even use Ritsuka or Arjuna as an excuse to get out of this. Arjuna and his brother finally were able to go back home and were spending the whole day discarding and restoking. Ritsuka was out with the woman with the braid- who Galahad figured was the maid, grocery shopping. And there was no way he was going to be able to get away with trying to get either of them to agree. Not to mention Mash’s puppy dog eyes being the compelling way they always were. And thus, he was stuck spending time with the bastard of a father. The only thing he’d be good for would be that note possibly.

The train doors are now opening.

The automated voice of the station rang through the car. Getting up from his seat, Galahad made his way out into the station with Lancelot following behind him. He considered just wandering around until he lost him, but Lancelot kept a good pace and was a good head taller than the average man in Japan. He wasn’t about to lose him any time soon. He sighed and resigned to his fate with only an average amount of reluctance.

“Are Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson treating you well?”

“Well enough.”

“They haven’t been overworking you at all?”

“Underworking is a more appropriate term.”

Lancelot gives a nod with a shallow smile on his face. He said something about how it always felt like that in the beginning when working under another senior. Galahad doubted he had experience with someone like Holmes, that man was far too unique to be a common occurrence. Not to mention someone like Watson.

They passed by a large lake where people rowed out in boats across the calm water. There were a handful of groups hanging about, and the occasional boat came into view if Galahad looked over to the lake. There was a park just off to the side, but it wasn’t all that interesting to Galahad. He moved towards the fence separating the hill above the lake and the walkway, sitting atop it to face the lake.

The lake was moved by couples rowing across the water. Resting his chin on his hand, Galahad watched with little interest. He never had much interest in that sort of thing, why would he when his father was always with another woman. All it did was make him dislike the entire idea more and more. High school hadn’t done much for him to change that. Too many people obsessed with it all the time, crying and then laughing like it never happened. A tap on his shoulder brought his attention away from the lackluster lake that shone in the morning sun.

Lancelot was holding up an ice cream cone to him. Vanilla in a waffle cone. Galahad’s favorite. He was almost impressed his father got him that, the last time he recalled ever actually getting ice cream happily he still preferred chocolate in a cake cone. He took the ice cream from him with a roll of his eyes.

“Lucky guess. Did Mash tell you?”

“I still remember what you like.”

“Riiiight, tell Mash thanks for remembering.”

He looked away with an upturned lip as his father’s shoulders fell. The vanilla ice cream was sweet on his tongue. It was a sweetness he hadn’t had in a while, that final two years of school were nothing but cramming. He took a bite off the top of the treat, ignoring the chill it brought his teeth. He feels something on the fence move as Lancelot let out a chuckle.

“You used to hate vanilla so much. I remember you once saying you’d never eat it in your life.”

“Well, things change.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

Galahad looked over at the man who was simply staring out onto the lake. He let out a ‘tch’ from his lips, he was looking at the girls in the boats most likely. What a stroke of luck one was passing by at that moment. His glare overpowered any chill that the ice cream had as he took another bite. It was beginning to lose its sweetness.

“Do you remember that time we went fishing in the ocean?”

“Not really.”

“You were a little young, you still managed to catch a sea bass nearly half your size despite that. It-”

“Couldn’t be that impressive.”

Lancelot falls silent and stares back across the water. The silence was refreshing to Galahad. He licked at the now quickly melting ice cream as it began to overflow the cone. He watched as ducks swam across the lake with ducklings following close behind. Boats slowed or the ducks speed up to stop collisions. He would lean back to enjoy a nap in the sun, but he was on a fence and close to a walkway. That was a recipe for disaster no matter what.

Looking over at the man next to him after he ate down to the cone, he found Lancelot was no longer looking at the lake. He had stood up and was staring at something behind them. Galahad looked back to see a curvy woman with long dark hair, giggling to a group of men. Of course, what else was he expecting from him? The letter in his pocket was gripped between his fingers as he slammed it into Lancelot’s chest. The man looked slightly dazed as he held the letter and Galahad walked off.

“When you’re done ogling, figure out who was sending that to me, ” he looked back as he neared a trash can to dump the cone, “The ice cream was bitter.”

 

 

Once he got back home after abandoning the bastard back at the park, Galahad passed by Watson’s lab to check on the ghoul dissection he knew was happening. Low and behold, Watson was recording a soul from the body. There was a man on the table, with long blue hair that had been tied back from his face. Well, he was a ghoul, so there wasn’t much of a man left in him. Before he returned to his room, he peeked inside Watson’s office. He’d get a chance to look more into those dates. At least when those two were out and not able to hear him.

Pulling his phone out, he opened up the messenger app. Tapping on Ritsuka’s log, he clicked the picture file to open it. It took a moment to load, most likely because of the wifi connection dipping.

<young moriarty>

Reading the 17 letter name, he could determine two things. The first thing being his name was Jim O’ Murcheartaigh- a strange name for a Japanese headmaster. The second thing was that it must have been hell to type that out.

Chapter Text

So I looked at the picture again and there was a typo on the headmaster's name.
It’s supposed to be O’ Muircheartaigh, with an ‘i’ after the ‘u’.

From Ritsuka

Galahad found the message from 2 am waiting for him when he woke up. That, and 4 messages from Mash from just a few minutes before he woke up. As he went downstairs for breakfast he opened the messages to skim them. Seeing the word ‘dad’ made him immediately close out of the app. It wasn’t that important, he could look at it later.

“Holmes, where are my glasses?”

“If they weren’t on the bedside table, or atop your head, or in their case, or in your coat pocket…”

The detective was under the couch, holding it up slightly so he could stick his head under it and look around. Watson was holding a basket in which he was collecting something. When he kicked a piece near the bottom of the wall and the paneling fell off to show a hidden compartment. He pulled out a bag of something and dumped it into the basket. From where he was, Galahad thought it looked like cocaine.

He went into the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of cereal. As the cereal poured out of the box, he found a pair of glasses in there. He looked up to see Watson looking in his direction and holding a finger up to his lips. Galahad put the glasses back into the box and put it away, and finished making his breakfast. He didn’t need to know what was happening.

As he ate, Galahad thought about the situation. He should tell Holmes he had a lead on his case, but, something kept stopping him. Something in his gut stopped him every time. It felt like there was something he needed to look into first before he said anything. He knew what that thing was. Watson’s office.

Galahad put down his bowl in the sink carefully, not making any noise to alert the two. Holmes was still searching, moving upstairs to search. Watson followed, his basket in hand. Galahad walked to Watson’s office. He closed the door behind him and begun to look around. He needed to find the oldest case file.

Instead of finding a file, the first drawer he opened had a newspaper in it. A very old one. Touching it made him afraid it would break in his hands. Galahad cautiously picked up the paper, looking at the colorless picture. Watson and Holmes were in the picture. He looked at the word surrounding them, finding his luck had pulled through. The article talked about how this was the detective’s first case with the assistant, in fact, the first one with an assistant. He looked at the date. 1881. If Watson looked to be in his mid-20s now, and he was the same age when this picture was taken, he was over 160 years old. This was ridiculous. If they had pictures taken someone should have noticed their agelessness. Something bigger was going on. He pulled out his phone to take a picture of the newspaper and put it back into its drawer. He needed to look more into this. Mash, a giant fan of the detective duo, must have some information on them.

His sister would be over at Ritsuka’s. A perfect excuse to talk about the headmaster as well. He exited the office, hearing the other two still above him. Perfect. He needed to get changed first. Boxers were not appropriate for the outside. In no universe would it be appropriate. He shuddered as he thought about the neighbor he once saw like that. It was horrifying.

 

His phone rang as he started down the way to Ritsuka’s house. He picked it up when he saw it was Arjuna calling him. It had to be important if he was calling.

“Hello?”

“Are you on your way to Ritsuka’s?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I found something interesting. Meet me at the front gate.”

The call cut out. Galahad picked up his pace. Arjuna had some connections if his friendship with a demon expert’s daughter and actual demon working with his brother was any indication. Galahad had a gut feeling this was something big.

When he reached the gate of Ritsuka’s estate, Arjuna was waiting just off to the side. He reached out to get his attention by tapping him on the shoulder. The teen jerked harshly away and turned around with a look of utter confusion. He took a step back and looked around. His confusion seemed to increase every second.

“How did I get here?”

“You called me. You said to meet here.”

“When did I call you?”

Galahad pulled out his phone and opened up the phone’s recent calls. Arjuna’s eyebrows furrowed as he saw his number on the call log. He pulled out his own phone, his face scrunching up in further confusion.

“My phone is dead. It was fully charged when I was helping my brother. What time is it?”

Galahad pointed to the date on his phone.

“Oh my god, I need to get home.”

“What? Why?”

“I need to go.”

“What were you going to talk about?”

“Can’t be important if I don’t remember it!”

The boy looked at the call button with slight disappointment. He was hoping he’d get to hear what the information was. Well, he’d just deal with the age situation right now.

 

“Bah...You only came to talk about that detective? I even gave you the good biscuits.”

“Your doll is enough reason not to come for a visit.”

Ritsuka looked over to the large doll that sat atop her bed. It was facing a picture on a side table. A shiver went up Galahad’s spine as he looked at the doll. Somehow, it had gotten creepier. Mash had her back to it, probably to avoid looking at it. She was typing away at her computer, pulling up articles and interviews on the duo. Ritsuka pulled out a bundle of paper from her side table and showed it to Galahad.

“Take a look at this.”

“A manuscript?”

The girl smirked, “Not just any manuscript. My mother’s. She never finished it. But, I looked around in my sister’s room and found it. It’s finished.”

“Okay...So your sister finished it?”

“Unlikely, her handwriting and style don’t match up. Mom wrote this, no doubt about it. Recently too.”

Galahad raised an eyebrow. That was actually insane. A dead person writing a manuscript this long after death? Watson’s age was more plausible than that. Unless she was saying her mom became a demon. Which brought up more questions.

“So-”

“Galahad. Do we have any other relatives named Galahad?”

 

Ritsuka and Galahad looked over to what Mash was looking at. Staring back at them was the 18-year-old face of his and Mash’s father. With Holmes and Watson at his side.

Chapter Text

“Are you done snooping around in my office?”

Galahad felt his entire body tense up as the question rang through his body. The doctor was sitting on one of the chairs in the living area. His glasses were folded on his lap as a case files were laid out on the table. Three folders were spread out carefully, each grouped together with its own case and then further separated by what was on the papers. The papers that showed blacked-out words made sweat build on his forehead. Those papers were the ones he showed Ritsuka and Arjuna. Classified documents he wasn’t supposed to have a hand on. Watson unfolded his glasses and put them on, pushing them up when they fell slightly as he got up.

The doctor picked up the documents with little regard for the frozen boy standing in the living room. He walked up to Galahad and grasped his hands. He could feel his hands being forced open as the folders were slid into his hands. The papers were close to slipping out of his grasp as his brain remained in a panic. Watson’s calm smile has never looked more out of place than at that moment.

“I must admit, you are more like your father than I thought. Do keep your nose out of places it doesn’t belong.”

Galahad could only grip in the folders as he was left alone in the living room.

 

Ritsuka sipped her soda, broadly scrolling through her phone as Galahad entered her room. He was still shaken from the day before. First his father in a picture with the detective and having his name, and then Watson clearly knew about his snooping around. He had been on autopilot the rest of the day and couldn’t even remember what he did. He felt a constant dread crawl up his spine, he didn’t know what the two knew about and what they didn’t. It was a gamble in all regards. He jumped back when he looked over to see how close that doll was. Her purple eyes appeared to lock with his. Why is it standing in the middle of the room like that? A sleeping bag was just under it. Ritsuka had to be messing with him at this point.

“Oh, Galahad, you’re back.”

Mash walked into the room with a fluffy biscuit on a plate. She was still in her pajamas despite it being noon. Galahad chalked it up to it being a lazy day, though it was weird how long Mash was sleeping over.

“Did Mr. Holmes say anything about dad?”

“Why would he say anything about dad?”

His sister furrowed her brows, putting down her plate as she pushed up her glass with her fingers.

“Didn’t you ask him? Before you left you said you would.”

“The picture?”

“No, if he made any progress in finding him.”

It was now Galahad’s turn to look confused. Finding him? He saw him not two days ago. Where could he have gone? He wouldn’t just leave Mash alone, especially not in a foreign country. Unless, he thought with a grimace, he’s with that woman from the park or some other woman. He wouldn’t be surprised if he was simply sleeping over somewhere.

“Why are you so worried. This isn’t unusual.”

“He isn’t answering anything. He didn’t come back to the hotel after he went to the park.”

“He probably went with some woman then.”

“Do you not think it’s weird he hasn’t come back yet?”

Galahad and Mash looked over to Ritsuka who was watching them intensely. Her gaze was locked with theirs in a disturbing manner. As if she was looking down on them. Galahad shook his head. He was paranoid now, this was Ritsuka after all. That doll was getting to him as well most likely. It was still just standing there.

“This wouldn’t be the first time he’s been out for a night.”

“But isn’t he working on the case? Why would he be checking in?”

Ritsuka’s comment sparked something in Galahad’s mind. Why would his father go to the park with him with an investigation going on? Why would he sleep around? Why would he bring Mash? None of this made sense.

The sound of his phone ringing snapped his thoughts in half as he pulled it out. Arjuna was calling. The wave of deja vu that ran over him only made him more uncomfortable than he already was. He answered the call with Mash and Ritsuka’s eyes on him.

“Is this Galahad?”

“Mr. Kharti?”

“Ah good, this number is a real one.”

“Why are you calling from your brother’s phone?”

“Mh, so that’s the number that shows up. Is that officer investigating your father?”

“What?”

“They came by a couple of days ago. She was speaking to him rather accusingly.”

“Do you know what she said?”

“No, Arjuna was the one who heard them. I was worried something had happened when he didn’t answer anything.”

Galahad mumbled out a thank you and goodbye, ending the call. That’s what Arjuna would have told him. But, something didn’t make sense. What would Officer Pendragon be accusing Lancelot of? And, weren’t they working on Ritsuka’s mother’s death?

“Ritsuka, when was the last time Officer Pendragon was here?”

“Now.”

“Wait now?”

“She’s here right now.”

Galahad threw open the door and ran into the living room, where the officer was taking a sip from her teacup.

“Officer Pendragon, when was the last time you saw Lancelot?”

Officer Pendragon looked up from her cup, blinking confusingly at the boy. She shook her head, stating she had last seen him the day before when he was telling her about something he had found. She paused, pursing her lips as she seemed to think about what she was about to say.

“He said that girl from nearly two decades ago was back. The demon girl, he said she was back. He saw her in the park.”

 

Something clicked inside Galahad’s brain and he felt sweat form on his forehead. That woman, that woman had been a demon as much as 19 years ago. His father had noticed, but Galahad hadn’t even picked up on her- not even when he was looking right at her.

Chapter Text

“Did he say anything about where he was going, he never came back to the hotel...”

Officer Pendragon shook her head, “No, he said he was going back when we parted. I’m sorry, I don’t know where he could be.”

“Shouldn’t you know where your co-worker is on this kind of job?”

“You haven’t heard? Your father resigned not too long ago.”

Galahad played the sentence in his head over again. Resigned? But, his father wouldn’t quit so early. Why would he? Officer Pendragon put down her cup and nodded her head.

“I was as surprised as you when he told me he wanted to resign. I brought him along unofficially to try and persuade him to come back. I fear I have made things worse, however.”

The sound of a door opening and footsteps running down the hall alerted everyone in the living room to the woman who had marched in. She had an extravagant purple kimono that made her long, black hair stand out against it. The woman walked up to Ritsuka and pulled at her cheeks.

“Is this your idea of a prank? I said I didn’t want that doll in my room and you put it right outside it!”

“Owie! I didn’t move it! It’s been in my room this whole time! Please let go sis.”

The woman pulled harder, “What have I said about calling me that so casually! It’s elder sister or my own name!”

“Kenshi pleeeease!”

“You know that’s not how you read my name!”

“Papaaaa! Katako’s bullying me!”

“What are you, nine?!”

Ritsuka’s father walked in from the kitchen with the long-haired maid, both of them sporting the closest thing Galahad could describe as ‘resting-bitch face’. The maid put down a tray of lunch, enough for five people it looked like. She appeared to be on auto-pilot, not acknowledging anyone and moving stiffly. She staggered as she left the room, looking as if her top half had begun to turn the wrong way and leave her legs moving in a different direction. It didn’t look unnatural, but it still looked strange.

“Katako you are arguing with a sixteen-year-old, you’re nearly thirty, you can not be doing this.”

“You had an argument with the groundskeeper the other day!”

“That dog ate part of my calculus textbooks and he can not escape punishment even if that man thinks he can.”

“You don’t even teach anymore.”

“It’s astounding how many teachers still use the old ones even with the new ones ordered.”

“While this is fun to watch, how about we get back to the point my stupid father is missing and no one knows where he is.”

Ritsuka’s sister rolled her eyes and pointed her thumb at where the maid disappeared to. She said that she was probably in the garden to feed the dog. Ritsuka gave a short nod and started her way out of the room. Mash and Galahad followed behind her quickly, leaving behind the other three. The student council president picked up her speed as she opened a back door to the garden. The garden, hidden by high walls and the house to its front, looked as if someone had trashed it. Pots were knocked over and dirt was everywhere on the once manicured lawn. Even from the back, Galahad could see Ritsuka tense up as she continued to walk. He heard a door open and closed, one of the adults must have come out to watch them.

It felt off-putting in that garden even if it was the middle of the day. The trees’ high branches covered the ground from the sunlight save for spots where the sun shone through brightly. As they went further into the garden, the less light that peaked through. Looking up, Galahad noticed the branches looked strange. Too long for it to be normal. Had someone added onto the branches? The center of the path had no light peeking through, it was as if someone had put a tarp over it. Galahad narrowed his eyes. Why would someone have a tarp over this kind of pathway? It wasn't raining last night, was it? He could hear the sound of someone walking on the grass, finding Mash standing near the side of the pathway.

He looked down to the ground and noticed a spot off to the side. Ritsuka’s pace had slowed as well when he went over to get a closer look. It was a dark brown stain that was long and thin at the one end, but the other end looked like it had pooled a little. As if it was heaviest then. It soon became apparent there was more around that one stain, there were easily twenty or so all in that area. A feeling of dread settled his stomach. Those dark stains were blood.

Mash pulled at his shirt, making a noise that reminded him of a hushed scream. He followed her pointing finger to where Ritsuka was crouched down. It was a large dark brown stain that looked as if whatever had been there had it pool under them. Galahad bent down to get a closer look. The feeling in his stomach seemed to grow expediently. This was blood. This was a giant dried bloodstain. This was a giant bloodstain in Ritsuka’s backyard. It wasn’t fresh either. This had happened far before they got here. And yet, not a single person in the house seemed to be concerned with the garden nor with them going out here. Or, he thought with a shaky mind, they didn’t even know it happened. He wasn’t sure which one was more terrifying to think of. There was a sound from up ahead, alerting Mash and Galahad to the center of the garden.

Ritsuka reached out to grab something in the blood only for Galahad to grab her arm and pull it back. She turned her head with a frown until she saw his wide eyes. The girl looked over to where he and Mash were staring at intensely. Just beyond them, in the center where it was darkest, a lump was on the ground. The darkness made it difficult to see what it was, but Galahad was certain he could see purple and blue fabric lumped together.

“What the hell…?”

“|•_◾k•?”

The voice sounded strange. It sounded like Ritsuka’s sister, yet, it was clearly distorted. Galahad felt a chill crawl up his spine. It was like a ghoul’s voice. That distorted, awful sound that went at your mind like the furious flailing of a choking victim. The lump started to move. It was lifting itself up. But it was wrong. Galahad could see its neck was hanging back, nearly falling off as it rolled forward and to the side. Its body was twisting itself to turn around, its neck about to swing from side to side as it started to them. As it grew closer, it looked all the more wrong. It had long, nearly black hair that gathered behind it and dragged with the bottom of its dress against the ground. It was dirty, tangling together under its stride. They could see its lifeless purple eyes locking with one of theirs.

It was the doll. The doll from Ritsuka’s room. It was moving its neck back in place as it grew ever closer. Ritsuka looked frozen in shock as it came closer to them. Galahad realized he and Mash had been unconsciously stepping backward with every step the doll took. Mash made a hushed call out to Ritsuka, trying to get her attention.

“|•_◾k•?”

“M...mom?”

“Ritsuka I do not know what you are on but how can you call that thing ‘mom’ in this kind of situation,” Galahad whisper-yelled at the other teen.

“|•_◾k•…”

Ritsuka’s face broke out into an uncomfortable smile as the doll reached out with its hands. It looked too pale to be alive. Too stiff. To Galahad, it looked more like a walking corpse that somehow stopped rotting. He heard a twig snap. In the eerie silence, it was like a bullet being shot. The sound of the snapping appeared to alert the doll there was more than just Ritsuka. It was then that Galahad got a look at the doll’s eyes. The lifeless purple pupils were in a sea of black. This was not a doll. This was a ghoul.

The bloodcurdling noise that came from the ghoul’s sliced throat tore through the air. It wasn’t a scream, no, it was far too broken to be that. It was a sound that had no right to exist. Like nails on a chalkboard, someone vomiting, the high pitched feedback of a microphone, the horrid crunch of a car crash, the harsh snap of a breaking bone, all rolled up into one singular noise. The mere fact it was coming from something so human yet not made it all the more horrifying.

It rushed at them with no regard for its long dress that would have surely tripped it up. Instead, it tore right through it like sharp scissors through paper. Galahad felt himself falling back, realizing far too late he had been pushed over as the ghoul closed in on them. The air was knocked out of him as his back hit the ground hard. Mash let out a groan, holding her nose as she got up just ahead of him. He pushed himself up as he heard her call out to Ritsuka. That was when she screamed.

The student council president’s arm was in the jaw of the ghoul. The ghoul released the arm with blood dripping from its mouth. Galahad and Mash tried to run towards her to help when the ghoul bit down again, this time on her hand she had raised up to shield her injured arm. She let out a cry as the teeth went through her skin. Galahad was able to reach out towards the ghoul’s head and push it back. It brought the hand with it, eliciting another sob from Ritsuka. He was about to move around it to pull back when a shout alerting them all to the sound of feet running down the pathway.

“Get away from it!”

Galahad jerked back as the gun went off, sending a ringing in his ears. Mash covered her ears as she fell down to the ground once again. The ghoul had let go of Ritsuka’s hand and revered back when the bullet hit it right in the chest. It fell back as Ritsuka’s father rushed past Officer Pendragon to pull the teen out from under the ghoul.

The ghoul didn’t move as Ritsuka started to sob into her father’s arms, the maid moving between them and the fallen ghoul. Officer Pendragon kept her gun drawn as Galahad and Mash drew back away from the ghoul behind her. Ritsuka’s sister was stuck in a state of shock, completely frozen behind all of them.

The officer let out a second shot as the ghoul started to raise up once again. It fell to the ground with a thud. It didn’t get up again even as Galahad went in with the others while the maid and Officer Pendragon watched outside.

 

Katako rolled her eyes as Ritsuka flinched away from the disinfectant applied to her arm and hand. She mumbled something about how she was overreacting, nothing was broken and no artery was cut. Ritsuka shot back that she had to be lead back by the hand because she wouldn’t move any other way. Her sister responded by pushing with more force than necessary with the disinfectant soaked cotton ball. She had her ear pulled by their father, scolding her for doing something like that.

“Did you know that thing was a ghoul?”

“No, I didn’t.”

The woman started to wrap Ritsuka’s wound, “It’s a sick thing. If that thing...if that is mother, how dare someone turn that into a doll just to set lose on this place.”

“Mom was cremated...if that’s her, who did we burn?”

Her father and sister were silent at Ritsuka’s question. Katako finished wrapping Ritsuka’s arm and hand, pulling her up afterward. Her father walked her over to the door, telling them he was taking her to the hospital. There was a shared silence between the three of them left in the house.

“That bastard knew.”

Mash looked over at her in shock. The bitterness in her voice was almost unnatural. It was as if it had been built up over the years. Galahad knew something about that kind of bitterness.

“What do you mean?”

“Is it important for you to know everything about our family dynamic?”

Galahad’s attention was taken from the conversation to his phone ringing. It was from Holmes. That was weird. He wasn’t even sure Holmes had his number. He just used Watson’s phone. He picked up to be immediately questioned in the call.

“Where are you?”

“Ritsuka’s. What-”

“Have you been to the house in the last 24 hours?”

“I was there yesterday around noon, Watson was also there.”

“Was there anything strange about him? Was he acting off? Was anything in the house missing?”

“I don’t really know.”

“Are you unable to recall anything from then?”

“Mostly...yeah.”

He heard the detective mumble something under his breath. It sounded something along the lines of ‘drugged’ and ‘only one’. He furrowed his brows together as he asked what was going on.

“Watson’s missing, his lab’s a mess, and a large number of his case files are missing. Did anyone give you any files between when you got home and right now?”

Galahad felt his stomach drop. It clicked in his head like an old clock. That wasn’t Watson he was talking to. Those case files were to throw him off. But, why couldn’t he recall anything? If he was drugged he would have had to eat or drink something with the drug in it. The gears clicked again. Of course, he had eaten something. He had dinner, he must have. It was in there.

“What’s your plan?”

“We’re breaking into the school tonight. We can’t wait any longer.”

 

20:00 PM. That’s when they would go in and figure out the school connection. Part of him wasn’t sure what the school had to do with it and why it was more important than Watson, but, a bigger part of him truly didn’t want to know.

Chapter Text

“What are you doing?”

“I just need a quick nap.”

Galahad laid face down on the bed. There was too much going on. His head was spinning and he, for once, had absolutely no idea what to do. Holmes had told him in no uncertain terms his original investigation was off. Galahad hadn’t realized how much it had slipped by. Merlin was already back in Britain and untouchable at the moment, but that was normal for him in any case. Emiya, that chef, was dead. Galahad didn’t even know how that happened. Emiya was suddenly dead and his sister was missing. The worst, however, was Karna. The closest one he had was completely gone. Arjuna and his brother weren’t even in Japan anymore. Galahad didn’t understand how they had moved so fast. The phones were disregarded and everything on them had been wiped. Nothing was recoverable. The cafe was simply abandoned. Someone had bought it out and re-established it within hours it seemed. School records were erased. It was outrageous. It was as if the entire world decided that at that moment, his one mission would fall apart around him.

Right now, all he wanted was a break.

 

Something was eating him. Something- no, someone was eating him. He could feel his skin being pierced and pulled apart. His muscles were being chewed up and ground between his bones. The teeth of the person were grinding his tendons into tiny pieces. The worst part of it all was that he was still intact. It was as if his body was split in two. One half feeling the awful pain of the other being eaten alive. He couldn’t move from his position on the ground. He couldn’t even scream after he felt his tongue being ripped out and chewed. He could feel his blood pool and drip all around him. He could taste it in his mouth. The pain was burning all around his body, it felt as if his body was on fire and any feelings other than the pain was overtaken.

Then, it stopped. The pain subsided and he could feel his limbs once again. The taste of copper was gone from his mouth. His skin was was no longer torn and shredded. His muscles and tendons were connected once again. He could get up and start to move around. The next problem was, he was unsure where he was. It was a sea of white in every direction. He wasn’t sure where to go. He stepped where he thought was forwards and found himself bracing his body from hitting the floor. He pushed himself up to be met with a mirror of his own eyes staring at him. A mirror image of his body was in shreds in front of him. Someone is sucking something from his mouth. His vision is blurry as an alien feeling of something being sucked out from his throat.

The thing released its hold on his head, and it stares at him- not the body but him. Its eye is pitch black. An endless void staring at him. It turned its head to the side, letting its bangs reveal the hidden eye behind it.

“Gala...had.”

“Mash?”

 

 

Galahad awoke with a start. He rubbed his face as he sat up in the bed. He could feel the sweat drip down from his forehead as he ran a hand through his hair.

“Finally awake?”

The boy felt his neck pop loudly as he jerked his head towards the voice in the dark. Holmes was sitting in the chair, the clothes that had once piled it was on the floor. The detective was watching him intensely from across the bed. His eyes seemed the glow in the dark. It was like a leopard stalking its prey in the night.

“You should get ready, 3 hours until we need to leave.”

Holmes left the room without another word. Galahad could feel his heart beating against his chest. None of this was good for his health. He got up from the bed and picked up another pair of clothes to wear. It would be better if he didn’t wear the same thing for this break-in.

 

 

“What the hell is that smell?”

“Corpses.”

“This is a school.”

The detective ignored him and jabbed his cane into a locker. The old, rusty thing popped open and a body came tumbling out. Galahad jumped back but the body didn’t react to Holmes forcing it to turn over with his cane. The eyes were pitch black. It wasn’t moving at all.

“It’s a dead ghoul.”

“How can you tell?”

“It didn’t move in the locker.”

“No shit, it looks normal though.”

Holmes used his cane to turn it over again. He pointed to the back of its neck. It looked like something had burned through the skin. Galahad thought back to what Watson had told him. About that chip he found and how it overheated itself. A suicide code was what it was, right?

“They’re all going to be dead. He wants to talk he says.”

“You brought a gun.”

“It’s not for the ghouls.”

 

The classrooms looked completely abandoned. Papers were scattered everywhere. On the floor, desks, chairs, in between the hinges of the door, between the broken baseboards, it was a disaster zone. Galahad couldn’t believe the entire place was in this state. It was as if someone decided to run a battle royal while it had been closed. There was enough blood caked on the floors and walls to make a slasher film backdrop. He wasn’t sure how old it was though. It was freezing in the school, the A/C was on full blast nearly everywhere. Well, everywhere Galahad had checked so far.

As he walked down the hall, opening lockers for a dead ghoul to fall out and crumple on the floor, the air was getting even colder. The stairs had dried blood splatter across its steps as he climbed past the arm laying haphazardly around a corner. Galahad wasn’t all that keen on finding the body it belonged to. He’d like to keep his food down in his stomach. He could hear Holmes sometimes. The occasional echo of footsteps would pound in his mind with every step he made himself. The sound of a cane being slammed into a locker was far more often, nearly giving him a small heart attack every time. Part of him mused the detective was purposely doing it to spook him.

The cold air chills his bones with every breath. The sound of footsteps become more common as he wrapped his arms around himself. The lights were a dim glow compared to the constant cooling of the air. The ghouls appeared less and less as he went on. As if they had been wiped out on the first two floors as he reached the suspiciously clean third floor. The mess was practically gone. It resembled more of the clean, uptight school from when he was in class. But, it felt like he was encased in ice. His theory was mainly either the headmaster or the ghouls needed to keep themselves freezing to stop from rotting- it reminded him of a certain Lovecraft book he read in high school for some sort of English assignment. If only he could a way to turn the A/C off and turn the living corpses into, well, regular corpses. Galahad would have chuckled at that had he not been more focused on rubbing his arms in an attempt to warm himself up.

There is a sound to his left, the loud clang of a desk hitting the floor. It stops him in his tracks as he gives a tentative look towards the closed classroom. The window in the door that would look out onto the halls were covered with blinds. Why such a small window was covered was perplexing to him. He walked over to the door, placing his hand over the door handle lightly. Someone was talking in there. Two people. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but, they were speaking. The door was unlocked as he carefully opened the door.

“Kingu we need to leave!” The words were a hushed yell.

That golden demon is in the back of the room, glaring at that green-haired friend of his. The other person is digging through a desk, completely ignoring him. They left the disorder of papers torn and left about as they moved on to a different one. The goldie’s head snaps his head towards Galahad as the door creaked. He’s by Galahad in an instant and he can feel a thumbtack’s head pressing against his back. It was pressing between the back of his ribcage. The hand around his neck wasn’t any help either.

“Kingu, we are leaving.”

“It’s in here.”

“Kin-gu.” The name is said through tightly clenched teeth.

Galahad tries to pry at the hand around his throat. It’s almost as if it's subconsciously crushing his windpipe. He’s struggling the lift even one of the fingers away from his neck. The goldie, the demon, Gilgamesh, is scowling at Kingu. He repeats himself again as the green-hair human drags out a paper from the desk. They grin triumphantly and pushed past the door with urgency as Galahad felt his vision start to fuzz. His airflow was restored as he was dropped unceremoniously on the floor while the demon chases after the person.

He pushed himself up and wobbled slightly as he started to run as well. A demon was here, that could only mean something was up. He nearly tripped over his own two feet as he turned a corner to follow them. Gilgamesh ripped a locker door off and tossed it behind him, hitting the floor with a sharp clang. It nearly took off Galahad’s foot as he stumbled into a separate locker from the incoming projectile. At the moment, he was betting on the mess of the lower floors was due to the green-haired person. A little thought in the back of his mind seemed to say that he recalled the name being Enkidu, but perhaps he heard wrong. He wasn’t able to think much about it, however. Galahad felt something grab his arm, the sudden shock sending him tilting over his own foot. He let out a hiss as he stumbled from his rolled ankle. He was pulled into a nearly pitch-black room as he lost sight of the demon.

“Galahad.”

“Commissioner? What are you doing here?”

“My job.”

Her deadpan was not appreciated in the slightest by Galahad. She asked how his ankle was as he weakly rubbed it. He shrugged, it stung a bit but he hadn’t lost any movement. She gave a nod- or what he thought was a nod in his limited light. His eyes adjusted slightly to the darkness, the sparse flecks of light that seeped in weren’t much help to anything that wasn’t on the sides. He can make out a large desk in the back, the edges in any case.

The headmaster’s office.

A smile made its way onto his face, practically invisible in the dark. This was perfect. He could figure out what that headmaster was up to. He just needed to turn on a light or find a convenient torch. He held his hand out to press the wall to find the light switch. He found what felt like a switch and flipped it, nearly blinding himself for a few seconds. Once his vision cleared, he turned over in the direction he believed the desk was at. His smile dropped almost simultaneously with another person’s smirk.

“Hello, Galahad. How nice of you to join us.”

“You-?”

“Are you really so surprised? Ritsuka even gave you a rather blatant hint did she not?”

“What are you talking about…?”

“The yearbook picture? Do you recall that?”

“But, he, that picture was of a young man.”

“Haha, yes, I used to look quite handsome didn’t I? But to use the one for the school pictures instead of a more fun one, baah, do you think she’s trying out teenage rebellion? Oh, I hope not,” The man shook his head and shivered, “Yeh gods, imaging her treating me like you treat your father is enough to chill me to the bone. I think I might die instantly if she told me she hated me as much as you hate him.”

“What-”

“That look of hatred, no, no, NO! Even imagining it breaks my old heart! Those cruel words would be like sharp stakes in my heart, bleeding me out like some sort of helpless animal hunted for sport. Having her cut all contact would be even worse. I would gladly deal with the constant pain if I knew she was alive and well. But to cut all contact, I would worry myself to death. Hmm, perhaps I should counteract this before it happens-”

Galahad was unsure what to say at this point. The man was just rambling to himself at this point. He took a step back in hopes he could just leave. This...this required backup. Holmes specifically. The cold circle on his back stopped him short. He turned his head around to look behind himself. Commissioner Pendragon is holding a gun to his back. She nudges him forward with the gun, watching him with a pair of eyes comparable to ice. In his numb shock, he didn’t fight against her. She stopped him when he was in front of the desk. The headmaster had stopped rambling and had leaned back in his chair.

The boy studied the man before him. The once almost charming smile he remembered from when they lived in London was gone completely. Only the smirk of a devious snake that was looking down on him. The glare from his glasses only served to make it appear all the more threatening. He weighed his options in his head, he could attempt a distraction by using that demon.

“Did you know you have a demon crawling about?”

“Gilgamesh? Why yes, I knew he was here. In fact, I made sure he was here.”

“...Why?”

The man chuckled, “Well, I needed quick extermination of those ghouls. What better way than using the successful one?”

“What does that mean?”

The headmaster waved him off with something along the lines of ‘oh that’s a different story’. Galahad looked past the corner of his eyes, trying to find anything to stare at while the ramblings started once again. His head turned ever so slightly to have a different range, finding someone laying down on a couch. The elaborate kimono was very familiar, he had just seen her earlier that day. Katako was it? Was she apart of this too?

“What is she doing here?”

“-Hm? Oh, Katako? Well, she never liked me very much. Hahaha, I’m almost sure she’d rather I dropped dead when I first stepped in her mother’s house. Hm-” He paused as if he was deep in thought- “I wouldn’t be surprised if she had past attempts on my life. Especially considering what she just pulled not too long ago.”

“What did she do?”

He barked out a laugh, “She did the damnest thing just before you and Holmes showed up! She pulled a gun of all things on me! Hahaha, I don’t even think she’s ever held one in her life. Katako is an old fashion kind of woman, she’d be more inclined to use a knife if anything. Maybe a metal fan if she wanted to be classy-” He waved a hand towards her, drawing Galahad’s attention to the teacup and kettle on the desk- “Would you mind, dear boy, giving her a cup of tea? I’d do it myself but she hit my hip very hard with the gun.”

The barrel of the gun pressed into his back. He didn’t have much choice in the matter. He picked up the kettle and poured the steaming water into the cup where the lone tea bag waited. The water swallowed the bag under as it stripped it of its taste. He picked up the plate the cup sat upon, the chill of the clay matched the air all too well. With the gun to his back, he brought it over to the laying woman with her arm thrown over her face. With his free hand, he reached out to pull the arm down. Her long sleeves made her arm feel heavy as he moved it down to rest on her stomach. The scalding cup tipped over and spilled on the carpet below as the glazed-over eyes gazed back at him with three intermingling stains marking her face.

“You would think she would know better than the speak ill of the dead.”

Galahad jerked back into the gun. The gun moved back with him as the Commissioner took a step back as well. Those stains weren’t dry. There was a ghoul still in the building. Was it that Enkidu or Kingu or whatever their name is? No, they didn’t act like a ghoul. They were talking as if nothing had changed about them. At least with how they sounded. A thought pried its way into his mind. If the Commissioner was working with this man, did that mean that ghoul from the house was still around? Sure it went down but, it existed for at least 8 years. And it hadn’t acted like the other ones he had faced. It seemed to recognize Ritsuka at the very least. Had they brought it here and used it to kill Katako?

A distorted groan filled the air as something started to move from behind the couch. Even in the warm light from the bulbs above, a sense of fear of what lurked in the shadows persisted like a tick to a deer. The man chuckled behind his hands.

“Yes, yes, we’ll hurry up so you can eat in peace. Just give the call when I should come back.”

He smiled almost sweetly at what was behind the couch. He returned his stare to Galahad and Pendragon.

“Artoria-” The familiarity sounded unnatural to Galahad- “is there anything you’d like to say to our guest before we move on?”

She is silent, but he can hear the light movement of her collar. The gun is lifted to the back of his head. He could feel the sweat that formed on his forehead begin to drip.

“Lancelot once confided in me he was terrified you would turn out like him, I promised him that wouldn’t happen...” She trailed off as the gun was removed from his head.

“I hate that I’ve now lied straight to his face.”

The blunt pain that wrapped its way around his head was the last thing he remembered before his vision turned into darkness.

 

 

Holmes was undoubtedly pissed at the moment. He, personally, could deal with that kid’s case falling apart. Not every case was a success or solvable. He could just assign another one. Or, he could have, had more pressing matters not come to his attention.

The first of these was Watson’s disappearance. Had it been a mess of any other rooms he wouldn’t have so much as lifted his eyes from the crossword problem he had been on. But Watson kept his workspaces impeccable. His office was painstakingly organized to keep any record easy to access for him. It proved extremely effective when he suffered a harsh blow to the head nearly a decade ago. His lab was equally well taken care of. To find them in a state of disarray that reminded the detective of his own room set off a number of alarms in his head. He knew who was responsible. No one else was simultaneous so bold yet idiotic- yet brilliant.

The second of these was Galahad’s stupidity. Had he thought to share his findings this could have been taken care of earlier. But since he hadn’t, Holmes did not stick his nose in it. He had promised Watson he wouldn’t. That was his first mistake. He should have done so even if Watson didn’t wish for a repeat of last time. He could suck it up, they traumatized plenty of children all the time. It was almost garmented in their line of work.

The third of these was far more recent. That was thinking that his arch-nemesis wouldn’t send out that doubleganger to intercept him at the school. Luckily that mastermind had overlooked the small detail in that Watson would not try to immediately round-house kick him into a locker. That guy was way too over eager to Holmes. He disappeared somewhere when Holmes started to smack him around with his cane. All in good fun in the detective’s opinion. The demon who ran out of the school with a human in tow was not of his top concern, but he should check in on what was happening after this was all through. That is if it didn’t burn down.

But, the thing that made his rage worse was the smirk on that headmaster’s face as he looked down from atop the stairs. That police commissioner was carrying Galahad over her shoulder without much regard for the weight. He pondered for a second that she was yet another successful experiment, but filed it away for another less life-threatening time.

“Holmes my dear boy! It’s wonderful it is to see you again after so long. What has it been? About a decade?”

“Jim O’ Muircheartaigh? Really? That’s hardly a good cover name.”

“Hey now, Ritsuka was very clever with that. Did you expect that prodigy to miss such an obvious hint?”

“Where is Watson?”

“Cutting small talk short already, eh Holmes?”

“I’m a bit short on time-” Holmes crossed his arms and leaned on his cane. There was a breath of silence where twenty-one ticks of the clock softly sang away. “-And so are you, Moriarty.”

Chapter Text

“Good evening everyone! I understand how unorthodox this meeting is and thank you all for coming on such short notice. Now, a roll call for who's here.”

“Galahad du Lac.”

“Mash du Lac.”

“Sherlock Holmes.”

“Arjuna...oh, I guess he’s not here.”

Each name is followed by a pen ticking off a box on paper, save for the last one which is scratched out. The clipboard the paper sits against is placed down on the podium in front of the semicircle of chairs. Three pairs of eyes watch the speaker as they slam their hands down onto the podium. Their smile reached their own eyes as they looked down upon them.

“Let’s get this council meeting started, alright?”

“This is far more than unorthodox. What kind of student council meeting has such a lacking number of student council members?”

“It’s not your turn to talk Sherlock. So shut it.”

Holmes leaned back in his chair, sinking down as he watched with nebulous amusement. Mash was shocked stiff with her hands locked together. Galahad, with his hazy recollection of why he was now locked up to a chair, was gazing with a similar shock in his eyes. The speaker didn’t seem fazed in the slightest at what was happening. Still as chipper as always even in that black suit. Where the sleeves and gloves didn’t cover, Galahad could see bandages wrapped around the arm.

Ritsuka Fujimaru, the student council president, was smiling as if this was a completely normal situation. As if they weren’t locked up in chairs with a ghoul walking around and her father wasn’t smiling down maliciously towards them in his office. His brain pulsed in pain as the memory of the commissioner flooded back. She was working with them. Had Ritsuka known this entire time? Or, was she really unaware of this whole thing? If that was true, was she still unaware? Did she think this was a real situation or some sort of play? Galahad had no idea what to think at the moment.

“Ritsuka. What’s happening?”

The student council president picked up a small white stick. She flicked it out to which it grew in length. Ritsuka then slammed the small tip onto the blackboard. In big, bold, colorful chalk it spelled out ‘HIDE AND SEEK’.

“I’ve been told to brief you all on this game. I’m sure you all know how to play-”

“Never played it in my life. What’s it about?”

The three of them turned to look at Holmes. He wasn’t smiling cheekily at all. Homles was completely serious.

“Uh,” Ritsuka paused, “Well you basically are either the seeker or the hider. A single person is assigned to be the seeker and they close their eyes and count as everyone else hides. The goal of the seeker is to find everyone. The goal of the hider is not to be found or to be the last one found. It depends on the version. Sometimes former hiders can become seekers”

Holmes nodded thoughtfully, “So, are we the seekers or the hiders?”

The girl clapped her hands together and smiled. “You’ll be playing both!”

A silence of confusion fills the room. Both? Did that mean they were seeking someone while being sought themselves? Or was it where they all hide and seek each other out?

“All of you have someone to look for. For Mash and Galahad, you have Mr. Lancelot somewhere in this building waiting for you two to get him out. For you, Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson is patiently awaiting your rescue.”

“Alive?”

“Kinda weird to send you guys after a couple of corpses.”

“Well, looks like he has some class in this.”

“You all have 24 hours to find them and get out of this building.”

“That’s an awful lot of time for something so simple,” Galahad spoke up.

“Yes, yes,” Ritsuka smiled brightly, “You do have some seekers after you though.”

“How many?”

“Hmm, I’d say about...4 of them, Mr. Holmes. I’m not one of them, and neither is papa.”

She stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out a pair of small keys. She placed them on the podium and walked towards the door. Ritsuka turned around so her back was to the door.

“Your time starts now.”

With that, she left them in the classroom.

 

 

The handcuffs clicked as Holmes unlocked them. Galahad rubbed his wrists, they hurt like hell. Mash was quiet as she sat still in her chair.

“Well, come on Galahad. We’ve got work to do.”

“But Mas-”

“It’s better to keep her here, isn’t it? We’ll just barricade the door.”

The boy would have spoken out again had Holmes not already been out the door. He looked over to Mash, who was holding the back of a chair. She gave him a nod. It didn’t quell his nerves in the slightest. As he closed the door behind himself, he heard the chair being pushed against the handle. Mash was locked in. And he was stuck following Holmes.

 

 

There’s the echoing of a bell throughout the hallway. It nearly gave Galahad a heart attack when Holmes inched a door open at the same time. The intercom screeched before Ritsuka’s father’s voice was heard through the speaker.

“Twenty-three hours left. Fuhaha, I expected you to be closer by now Holmes. Well, there’s still plenty of time. If you haven’t found anything by the next hour I’ll give you a hint.”

Holmes scoffed. This really was just a game to that man. A feeling had begun to pool in his stomach. Even if he hated his dad, none of this was settling well with him. If the commissioner had been working with that man, did that mean this entire thing was a farce? Had his dad been tricked into coming to be a hostage? The earlier comment of his resignation rung in his head. Had he actually resigned of his own accord or had that been manipulated as well? He wouldn’t leave Mash, he just wouldn’t. But why would he bring her here? Her doctor would have happily looked after her, he had done so before. Something clicked in his head.

He had been convinced to bring her. Most likely by the commissioner. She had been the last one to see him as well. Galahad began to think that she had betrayed Lancelot and brought him here for Ritsuka’s father’s game. But, something still didn’t make sense to them.

Why would she?

The two of them had been inseparable since they were children. He had seen enough pictures to put that together. His father kept their graduation picture in his wallet- as did the commissioner. He learned that from that hellish night he stayed over at Mordred’s and the officer kept reminiscing. Admittedly, hearing his father’s drunken sparring match with an equally drunk Artoria was rather humorous. Confusion filled his gut. Her betrayal was making less and less sense the more he thought of it.

Galahad racked his brain for any sort of hint he might have missed. Why would Artoria betray Lancelot? Why would his father resign with no warning? Why, why, why, why-

A loud slap echoed in the room. Galahad felt the wall hit his back as Holmes retracted his hand. He reached his own hand up to the stinging mark on his face as he looked at the detective in shock.

“Keep your head on, neither of us can afford to daydream right now.” He turned away and spoke softly to himself, “I can’t afford to lose this game.”

 

Ding Dong Ding

“Twenty-two hours left. Since he seems out of it, I’ll leave a hint for the young Du lac. You can not rest on the second floor, but there is a room where it lies.”

“You can not rest on the second floor, but there is a room where it lies,” Galahad repeated as he scrunched his face.

“It appears we must go down a floor.”

He followed the detective to the stairs. They were still splattered with the dried blood that bled out from the ghouls. For a second he wondered how aware they were when they died. They weren’t real ghouls, they were humans forcibly undead for the period of time. He steadied himself on the crusted railing when he stepped on a torn fabric on the edge of a step. If one were to guess, it looked like a uniform.

The walk was almost completely silent. The sound of their shoes across the ground was the only sound that graced them. Actually, there were too many shoes for it to be just them. There was a third pair, slightly off time with their own. A second too late. They were being followed.

Holmes stuck out his cane in front of Galahad, stopping him in his tracks, A second later so did the other steps. Perhaps 4 meters away was a man. Galahad couldn’t see his face at all. It was covered with pitch-black cloth and dark glasses. The head was completely obscured. That had to be one of the seekers Ritsuka mentioned. Why else would someone like that be in a school?

The question now was what was he going to do. He had found them, did that mean they lose already? Or was there another part of this game? Galahad’s question was answered very quickly when the man rushed at them. It was then he realized the man was holding a sickle of all things. These seekers had weapons. They were trying to kill them.

His swing was stopped by Holmes’ cane as it slipped through the large opening of the weapon to jab the man in the ribs. He staggered as the two ran off past him. When Galahad looked behind him, he was right behind them as if the jab only stunned him for a moment and nothing more. He heard the masked man call out in a deep voice that seemed to resonate off the walls.

“Lobo!”

A thought of ‘Lobo?’ passed his mind before the sound of large stomps with the rattling of a chain filled the air. Up ahead, where the stairs to the first floor laid, a giant white thing scampered up the steps. It’s bright yellow eyes seemed the glow as it turned to them snarling with its sharp teeth that were too white to belong to an animal. It clambered up the last step and began its approach towards them. It was large enough to take up the hallway. It growled as the chains around its legs clatter onto the floor with every step. The thing looked like it was supposed to be a wolf. But someone had fumbled horribly in the early stages and ended up with a monstrous thing that only resembled a wolf in that it was still mostly canine. At least, Galahad thought it was still canine.

Holmes started to chuckle behind his hand. He ignored Galahad’s horrified and worried look sent his way. He held out his cane and shouted out to the speakers as if that would allow him to be heard better.

“You kept the mutt around! I would have thought a ghoul of a dog was only useful for a short time before it tore itself apart! But here it is! You really outdid yourself with this game Moriarty!”

And Holmes was going mad. Galahad was accepting he was going to die with this mad man by the hands of a masked man and his monster of a canine. Mash was going to die and so was Watson and his father. They were all going to die because Holmes decided to yell at a loudspeaker about a dog. A dog.

As he was accepting his fate as mincemeat between the giant’s teeth, the thing suddenly started to howl in pain. It brought a paw to its face as it rubbed it against the paw and the floor. It whined out as whatever it was trying to get out only got deeper. Holmes pulled Galahad to the side as the man rushed over to the beast. The boy found himself being pulled back down the hallway away from the two by an unnaturally happy Holmes.

“What happened?”

“I threw some holy water at the mutt, or as its better known to the common man, hydrochloric acid!”

 

A sudden realization came to Galahad.

“You gave me acid back then?!”

“You lived against the ghoul didn’t you?”

“What if that splashed on me,” Galahad paused, “What if I drank that!?”

“Not my problem if you decide to drink supposedly holy water after seeing what it does to false ghouls.”

 

 

The canine- Lobo, was in excruciating pain. One of the hiders had gotten something in his eyes. It burned. It burned so much. The man was trying to calm him down. He wanted it out of his eyes. He couldn’t see anymore. He couldn’t heal as long as it was there. A growl erupted from his throat as the man tried to soak up the liquid with his outermost jacket. It was still burning. He was hungry. If he ate something he could heal. He needed that thing inside humans. That thing he was fed since he had woken up in the cage.

He sniffed the air. There was a human nearby. They had a soul. He needed that soul. His eyes were boiling in his skull. He opened his jaw and snapped it shut on the human it sense. Something snapped. He pulled up what he had grasped in his jaw and swallowed it. The burning stopped as he felt the dead eyes roll out. New ones had begun to take their places. He could smell the fresh blood.

When he could see again, he found his caretaker was no longer standing in front of him. He looked around. He was not there either. Lobo sniffed the air. The man was still there, but he could not see him. Once again, he sniffed. The man was on the ground. Lobo nudged his snout against his shoulder.

The man stirred slightly. He was slow to get up, but he brushed himself off and patted the dog’s snout. Lobo smelled something was off about his caretaker. He smelt off suddenly. Copper. Blood. He smelled of blood. The wolf nudged his shoulder once again. The man touched his jacket, his outermost one now laid on the floor not too far from him. It was bloody and tore. Had something cut him? He didn’t feel any pain. Had Lobo been cut as well? He felt the beast’s snout. There were no cuts but some wet blood was near his teeth. He touched the teeth and found they were covered in blood as well. Had he eaten something?

There was not a lot of time for him to think upon that, however. Lobo growled and bumped him to turn around. They had to hunt those two down again.

 

Mash was undeniably terrified. She didn’t know how the man got into the room so easily. She had panicked and shoved a chair at his legs before sprinting out of the classroom. She climbed the steps onto the fourth floor and hid in one of the bathrooms. She was atop of one of the toilets. Mash kept a hand over her mouth and nose, petrified of any noise she made would alert someone. She knew she was shaking, she only hoped the toilet seat didn’t make any noise.

Every second she was there, she could feel her sweat begin to build on her forehead. Her feet were starting to go numb. She felt the pins and needles as she shifted to try and keep the blood flowing into her legs. Mash looked through the small slit in the door from where she was. Nothing she could see. No feet where the big gap under the door was. She was still safe. Hesitantly, she let out a small sigh of relief.

Someone entered the restroom. The door opening was her only warning that they were there. The footsteps were silent. A hand was on the stall door, jiggling the lock from the outside. Mash hoped it was enough to deter whoever was on the other side. She pushed against her mouth with her hands to stifle any noise that would seep out. That would be enough to deter this person, she hoped.

It was not. The lock clattered onto the ground as the door swung open. It hit the stall wall with a harsh slam. A hand held the door in place as Mash let out a silent scream. Across from her stood the man who had broken into the classroom with a terrifying smile on his face.

“Foooound you.~”

He roughly grabbed her hair and pulled her off the toilet. Her knees hit the toilet seat as she tried to resist the pulling. Mash dug her nails into his hand as she kicked her legs out frantically, scraping the floor and stall as she tried to gain some sort of friction to stand on her own. Her shoes hit the edge of the bathroom door as she was dragged out. She pulled at his fingers which only tightened their grip on her hair. In another moment of pure desperation, she kicked out towards his legs. This time, however, it did little to stop his movement.

“Hey don’t struggle so much, it makes a bigger mess to mop up afterward,” He smirked down at her.

Mash’s eyes widened behind her glasses. She grabbed onto his arm to stabilize herself to kick him again. If she kicked him hard enough, he would let go. He kept dragging her along by her hair, she couldn’t stabilize herself for long enough to kick. Mash could feel the tears start to well up in her eyes as she struggled.

“Yan Qing! You aren’t playing fair!”

Mash stopped her struggle as a girl in a black suit marched up to them from a classroom. Ritsuka pointed down with her hand at the man. He paused, but he let Mash out of his grip as she dropped to the floor. One of her knees hit the floor, making her wince in pain. The two turned their attention to each other, allowing her a chance to gain her footing once more.

“I was told there were no rules, my lady.”

“She doesn’t have any weapons like the other two do! They even left her alone! You can’t just go after her because she’s an easy target!”

“But my ladyyyyy~, I’m boreeeeed.”

“Yan Qing,” Ritsuka growled out.

“Fine, fine, she gets to run away when I’m not looking and I’ll only chase her if I come across her.”

Mash took that opportunity to run as far she could from them.

 

 

Ding dong ding

“Three hours in everyone! That leaves another twenty-one left to find them. Since Holmes is closer, I’ll leave you a hint to keep you going. He spends a lot of time here before he started to cut up corpses.”

“You or Dr. Watson?”

“Your father obviously,” Holmes rolled his eyes. What kind of stupid question was that? Now wasn’t the time for those.

The answer was likely a library, this school didn’t have a medical lab. Watson had mentioned how he had wanted to learn everything he could before he went on his chosen path. Holmes remembered fondly he had scoffed at that. Why would a medical doctor need to understand what some old storyteller decided were good morals?

The library was still on the second floor. Galahad kept an eye out from the small window of the door as Holmes tore apart the collection of books for what counted as a hint. How lucky they were able to reach the library as the announcement rang out. Holmes erupted from behind a bookcase with an ‘Aha!’. A tablet was in his hands. He walked over to Galahad as he tapped the screen. A video began to play.

 

Watson was laid on a piece of chaise-like furniture as the camera looked down upon him. His arms were locked down to the arms that rose upon the seat. His legs were locked with the lower half of the chaise. His hair was pulled back and his glasses were gone. It looked as if a strange headset was placed on his temples. Looking down upon him as the camera did, was Ritsuka’s father.

“I must admit, you are far more resilient than I expected Dr. Watson. How many volts was that? Well, let’s just add another two or so to that number. I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it.”

He stepped around the furniture so he was near Watson’s side. As he moved, it became clear something was in Watson’s mouth. If one were to take a guess, a mouth guard was the most plausible answer.

“Before that, let’s try a question. What did Holmes teach you.”

Watson said nothing.

“We’ll just have to try again later then. Let’s see how long you last this time.”

 

Holmes gripped the sides of the tablet until his knuckles turned white. Moriarty was a theatrical man it seemed. The detective furrowed his brows as he pulled the tablet away from Galahad’s sight. The boy wondered if Watson was being tortured, then did that mean his father was too? His gut felt heavy as he recalled his hint. Was a video waiting for him as well?

Ding dong ding

“Ohoho! It’s twenty hours left before you lose them both. I hope you two aren’t slacking off!”

There was no way that video was an hour. They couldn’t have spent an hour in here already, had they? Galahad was about to voice this to Holmes before the detective started to pace. He sat down on the ground with his fingers pushed together as he stared blankly.

“He’s doing theatrics.”

“What?”

“Look at the video. If Watson was getting electro-shocked, he would have marks where he was being held. But he doesn’t. It’s clean. He was put there purely for the video.”

“...But why?”

“He’s trying to get us to act irrationally. If we rush around we’ll get caught. He knows this.”

“But we’re running out of time.”

Holmes said nothing. He got up from the floor and walked towards the door. He pulled something out of his pocket.

“‘You can not rest on the second floor, but there is a room where it lies’...what does that make you think of?”

Galahad scrunched his face up. He had no idea what the riddle was trying to say. You couldn’t rest, did that mean the chase? But then where would the room what it lies be? What was ‘it’?

“Rest...lies in a room...can’t rest…”

He snapped his fingers in revelation.

“Restroom.”

Holmes looked over his shoulder and smiled. He lifted up his hand to reveal a small vial with a clear liquid. ‘Holy Water’ was scribbled on the masking tape label. That dog-ghoul was still stalking about. And their only real defense was the almost innocent-looking bottle in Holmes’ hand.

Galahad swallowed the spit that had built up in his mouth. He needed to know what Ritsuka’s father had left for him. He needed to know what happened to his father. He pushed past Holmes and opened the door to the hallway. They needed to move. Now.

 

Mash braced herself on the railing as her foot slipped down to the next step. There was slick blood on the stairs. She sucked in a breath and hoped the blood didn’t belong to Galahad or Holmes. She stepped down carefully and stuck to the wall. She had run down a couple of floors to create space between her and the man, but she had to be cautious now. She didn’t know who was on this floor. Or what.

Looking down after hearing the light squish of her shoe, Mash found she was tracking blood. A flush of panic filled her as she crouched down to pull her shoes off. She left the bloody soled shoes as she started to continue walking down the hall. She paused. She couldn’t run in socks. And she wasn’t about to run around this place with her bare feet. Mash turned and picked up the shoes, holding them upside down to stop any stray dripping. There had to be a bathroom on this floor.

As she walked, Mash wondered if she should have smeared her footprints. If that guy was still following her, or any of the other seekers for that matter, they could follow her direction and find her. She gulped. She would just have to clean her shoes quickly and move to a different location.

She slowed her steps as the bathroom entered her sights. Mash gazed around to ensure there wasn’t anyone near. She could hear footsteps. They were close. She walked towards the door quickly, hoping her socks masked her own steps. Carefully, she opened the restroom door and closed it behind her. As long as no one came in, she could clean and leave without notice.

 

“Someone’s nearby.”

Galahad picked up his pace. They were near the restroom, but his clue may have expired. There wasn’t a true time limit on the clues yet Galahad had a sinking feeling there was limited time before they removed. He couldn’t waste a hint in this situation. He needed to hurry.

As they reached the doorway, the sound of running water was barely audible. A wave of dread overtook him. Was one of the seekers trying to destroy the clue? He pushed open the door without regard for the noise that resonated from it slamming the wall. Someone let out a gasp as an object hit the side of the sink and fell to the floor. Galahad stared with wide eyes at the person who held up a wet shoe in a weak form of defense.

“Mash?”

“Galahad?”

“Holmes?”

Mash and Galahad looked towards Holmes who was standing near the door.

“I felt left out.”

“Are you okay?”

Mash gave a shaky nod. She wasn’t in too much pain. She was, however, terrified. Galahad let out a sigh. At least she hadn’t been taken as an additional hostage. The girl turned off the water and grabbed the paper towels to dry off her shoes. One of them still had a bloody streak that was scrubbed away with the cold water. As she pulled out another towel, something inside the box made a bang. Mash backed away with the paper towel as Holmes and Galahad moved towards the box.

The top was unlocked, allowing Holmes to open it up. Inside was a small tablet atop a pile of paper towels. Galahad’s hint. The boy grabbed the tablet and tapped on the screen. A loading screen appeared before showing what looked like surveillance footage. There was a timer on the corner of the screen, stuck at twenty-two hours. In the shadowy room barely illuminated by the wall lights, was his father.

While the screen was dark, but Galahad and Mash could see their father clearly. Lancelot looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. If he had been their then entire time he was gone, then he likely had been there for almost a week. There was a pair of handcuffs around his wrists, but they looked as if something had been biting them. They could see the indentation in his skin.

“It’s a pre-recorded video.”

“What?”

“This was recorded for the twenty-two-hour mark. It was supposed to be live. Now, all we have is the recording.”

“Lancelot.”

The Commissioner’s voice erupted from the previously silent tablet.

“Lancelot,” She repeated, “You need to eat something.”

Lancelot did not seem to acknowledge her. He simply watched the opposite wall blankly. The Commissioner sighed.

“You haven’t eaten anything.”

Silence.

“There’s…plenty to eat.” Her voice sounded as if the sentence pained her to say.

Lancelot turned his head so the back of his head was supposedly facing her. Something was tossed down towards him. It looked like a leg. It still had what was left of its socks still attached. Lancelot didn’t pay it any heed.

“I know it’s disgusting, but there isn’t much choice here. Please, just eat.”

Galahad and Mash watched on in terror as their father brought his wrists up to his mouth and sank his teeth into them. There was a faint noise of something hitting a door. The audio cut out as the video continued to roll. The footage cut out when blood started to seep from his bites.

Mash covered her mouth with her hands, backing away until she hit the wall where she slid down to the floor. That had to be staged. It had to be. It just had to be. Galahad felt his hands shake as he stared down at the tablet.

“What the hell was that?”

“Exactly the reason we need to hurry. Moriarty won’t do much to Watson, he can’t risk it. Your father, on the other hand, it pure expendable in this situation.”

Ding dong ding

“Congratulations on finding your hint du Lac! I hope that motivates you enough to start searching. As of now, there are nineteen hours left on the clock.”

Holmes shook his head at the announcement. “He really should specify.”

“What do you mean?”

“We, as a group still have twenty-two-hours. Your father has nineteen left. Or-” He rested his hands on his cane, “In better words, he believes he has nineteen hours left.”

Chapter Text

It tasted like wet, viscous copper. It filled his mouth and slid down his throat with a warmth that soon turned to a sicking cold. As it continued to flow he could feel a dreadful burning that licked past his wrists. His heart was pounding in his ears as he tasted the chewy flesh mix with the liquid, the smell of which permeated the room. In the back of his mind, he can hear her yelling at him. She’s ceased her pounding as her knuckles began to tear, religated to only cry out in her desperation for him to listen to her.

For a moment, for many moments, he let his mind wandered to the possibility of listening to her. One last time. He can still see the eyes that told him to run when he stopped himself from leaving. He dug his teeth in deeper to force the blazing pain to distract him from the calls. It was getting harder and harder to accomplish that. The area was numbing. It was numbing itself so he couldn’t force more pain out of it.

The stench was nauseating around him. His eyes fell to the leg that laid just out of reach from where he sat. He dropped his hands down from his mouth, the handcuffs rubbing against the open wounds he had inflicted on them. His mouth turned up in a snarl. He was still human. He wouldn’t—he couldn’t— become a ghoul. He pulled his legs up and rested his head on his knees.

All he had to do was wait. They would come. They—

“There are eighteen hours left in the timer everyone. Have you been slowing down? Fuhahaha…”

He leaned back against the wall as his legs unfolded. His head dropped to his shoulder as he stared at the rotting leg. It was already becoming discolored as it laid on the entrail stained floor. He had to.

 

“Do you have a guess where they could be?”

“Well, if it hasn’t been sealed off still, they could be in the basement.”

“Why would a school have a- Oh.”

“Hopefully there won’t be any more dead children...”

Galahad looked past the corner of the wall he covered. No sign of any seekers on his side. He looked over to Holmes who gave a nod. Mash followed behind them as she looked back as they moved. They passed by the rows of lockers near the front. The entrance was bare of obstacles but they couldn’t leave just yet. The slowed in their steps when they heard one of the small lockers rattled. Mash had opened one and pulled out a clean pair of indoor shoes. She stuffed her stained shoes inside to replace them. As she stood back up to close the door she noticed one of the lower lockers was unlocked. She peered in and pulled out its contents.

“What is it?”

“A knife.”

 

The basement stairs were behind a door. It wasn’t a door that stood out. Walking past it you would think it was just a janitor’s closet, that was until you remembered this was a school in Japan. Then it stood out like a sore thumb. It was likely always locked during the day, but now they could open it like any other door.

Holmes took a step past the door frame when a shot rang out. It froze them all as the slight ringing died down. There were frantic steps coming towards them. Mash and Galahad were pulled past the door frame as Holmes pulled out his pistol. The knife in Mash’s hand was gripped tighter as the sound grew closer. The footsteps stopped as the person breathed heavily.

“Commissioner?”

“There, She paused to breathe in deeply, “There you are.”

“What are you-”

“Get down the stairs, now.”

She pulled back her shoulders and held out a hand to push Holmes back with them. She closed the door as they made their way down the stairs. Holmes kept a hand on his gun as Galahad turned to look at her.

“Why are you helping us.”

“...I can’t just leave him to die.” Her fingers tightened around the gun’s grip.

“What was that shot for?” Mash spoke up.

“The maid. What’s left of her in any case.”

They continued down the steps in silence, Galahad painfully aware of the gun in the commissioner’s hand as the scent of blood began to numb away at his nose. It was suffocating. He brought up his shirt by the collar to cover his nose and mouth. The stairwell was spotless, but the smell seemed as if it was baked into the walls. Part of him felt if he dared to push against the walls they would begin to bleed. Every step felt like he was wearing lead boots. Dragging him down further and further into a hell he wasn’t sure he was prepared for.

The commissioner shoved herself forward as they neared the door at the end of the staircase. The door groaned as they forced it open to move on. The air was heavy and curled around them like a constrictor. If the stairwell had the smell baked into the walls then this floor was the oven. Galahad found his sense of smell overtaken completely to the point he doubted he’d ever be able to forget it. How could the smell be getting worse at this point?

Commissioner Pendragon guided them further down the large hallway. Galahad felt something roll over in his stomach. Had she done the same to his father? Was she about to stab them in the back and leave them here? A hand was on his shoulder as he nearly jumped from the contact. Holmes simply gave him a nod and pushed him forward. She stopped them in front of a closed door.

“Dr. Watson should be in here,” She said.

“Go get your father, he’s bound to be in a worse sta–”

The door’s handle fell down with a striking clang. From the hole in the door where it once was attached, they could hear someone take a labored breath. The door swung open as Watson staggered out with a bent crowbar. He bent down to catch his breath and looked up to the group.

“Good to see all of you again, and Pendragon as well.” His voice sounded hoarse.

“You have no idea how happy I am to see you again.”

“We can save the reunion part for later,” He coughed out with a harsh noise, “By any chance, do you have water?”

“Does holy water count?”

“Oh no, I’m not making that mistake again.”

“Wait when did you drink-?”

“Uh, so, my father?” Galahad piped up.

 

Mash looked around as the commissioner unlocked the door. Her gaze fell to the blade in her grasp. She passed it between her hands. It was clean. Brand new even. She turned it over. There had been a note in the locker. ‘Don’t tell papa I’m helping out!’ was written in glittery orange ink against the pale pink card. A smiley face had been in the corner. The knife reflected her eyes back to her. Ritsuka still...cared about her. That’s what Mash told herself.

“Lancelot!”

Galahad’s eyes widen as the back of his head hit the floor. The hands around his neck tightened as he pulled at them. His father’s eyes were wild as they bore down into his.

“How...dare you…”

“Stop...wearing his fa...ce!”

“Give my s...on back!”

Pendragon had placed an arm underneath Lancelot’s neck and pulled back, trying to force him to cease his choking. He pushed against her as he dug his fingers in further. Galahad began to try and kick his father’s legs to make the grip loosen. With every second that passed, he felt the panic rising as he squirmed more frantically. Holmes wrapped his arms around Lancelot’s middle and pulled back. Galahad sucked in air that the sparse new space allowed for as his father’s grip was beginning to falter.

The hands around his throat fell limp as Lancelot’s eyes closed and he fell against the arms that were holding him back. Pendragon pulled back her arm as Holmes lifted up the unconscious man. Galahad coughed out, holding his throat as he sat up. He forced himself to stand up. They had everyone. They needed to leave. Watson hoisted up Lancelot’s legs when Holmes dragged him out while Mash was staring down the hallway.

They trecked up the stairs with Artoria leading the way, her gun drawn in case someone was waiting for them. She opened the door slightly to peek through, stopping herself before she opened the door too far. Galahad could see from the gap the man who had been with the dog was standing there. Save for his head, which seemed to have been ripped from his body. Its shoulders dipped to the side as if he was considering something. He turned away from the door and walked away. Artoria opened the door further to see he was unable to notice the noise, he simply continued to walk.

Upon reaching the entrance doors, Holmes and Watson brought Lancelot outside as Galahad and Mash followed. Artoria stood guard for a few seconds before running after them. Holmes’ car was still parked out front. Lancelot was loaded into the back along with Watson and the siblings. Artoria sat in the front seat as Holmes pulled onto the street.

They won. Galahad breathed a sigh of relief. His mind was racing. He rubbed the sides of his head. He didn’t know what to think. This was all too much. But, they had gotten out. His father was alive. Mash was alive. He was alive. They were all alive.

 

Holmes unlocked the door to his house as the group entered quickly. Watson and he laid Lancelot on the couch as Galahad locked the door once again. Artoria sat down in one of the chairs with her head down, staring at the gun still in her hand. Mash entered the kitchen, she needed a glass of water and so did Dr. Watson.

There was a squeak of the floorboards. Mash swung out her hand with the knife still tightly gripped between her fingers. She let out a scream before her eyes registered what had happened. In front of her was Ritsuka. With an angry red gash on her stomach. The knife slipped from her fingers as Ritsuka let out a cry and moved back. She was holding the open wound as the knife clattered onto the floor. Mash jumped back when she heard a shot ring out.

Artoria fell to the floor as the blood pooled around her head. Holmes and Watson stood between the perpetrator and Galahad, who was in front of the couch where his father laid. The man adjusted his glasses as the ghoul behind him moved towards the kitchen.

“My my, did you think the victory would be that easy? Holmes, I expected more.”

“So that’s why you stopped announcing the time.”

“Oh no, that was all recorded. I had Yan Qing stop it when you entered the basement. I’ve been here for a while now.”

Mash picked up the knife again and held it up in front of her as she stood between the ghoul and Ritsuka. The redhead was on her knees, hissing as she pressed against her bleeding wound. The ghoul reached out one of its rotting hands, the bone was sticking out and skin was hanging off underneath. Mash took a tentative step back, gripping the knife tighter.

“So this was the big plan? Send us away and then pick us off when we returned?”

“No, I half expected Lobo to handle that. This was the backup plan in case you lived.”

The ghoul lunged forwards as Mash jabbed out the knife in response. The ghoul staggered back with the knife lodged in its eye. Mash turned to lift up Ritsuka who was staring with wide eyes at the ghoul. As they passed by the doorway, the ghoul grasped Ritsuka’s leg, forcing her to drop to the ground.

The sound of Mash’s scream was enough to take Galahad’s attention away from the man pointing a gun at them, but the sound of Ritsuka’s was blood-chilling. And short. The old man’s eyes shot to the doorway.

“Ritsuka!”

A second shot rang out. Moriarty looked down to see the dark red spreading from his chest. He blinked. The gun slipped from his hand as his knees buckled and he fell down, hitting his head on the hardwood floor. The smoke from the gun in the doctor’s hand was barely noticeable over the ringing.

The ghoul released Ritsuka momentarily when the bottle was smashed atop its head. Mash swung again to try and knock it away. Its teeth dripped with blood as it tried to bite down again. The girl picked up the large plate on the table and smacked the ghoul in the face. It fell in the threshold of the living room and kitchen as Mash pulled Ritsuka away from the ghoul. She held down to the gushing neck wound that Ritsuka now sported. Her words were filled with hectic sobs and slurred words as the ghoul began to lumber towards them.

It stopped just an arms reach away, falling to the floor with a horrible sound as it withered from the liquid running down its back. Another bottle was broken over it causing the noise to bubble up louder and louder as it squirmed like a dying fish. Galahad dropped the bottle as he watched its movements slow to stop. The scent of burning flesh filled the room.

And the timer stopped.