Chapter 1: Black Rabbit
"And to think I was impertinent enough to dream of visiting my home town without encountering anything paranormal related...Honestly, how rude of me!" I muttered to myself as I followed the way that my instincts told me.
I check my phone to see what the time was, then fixed the black cardigan that complimented the thin green turtleneck that was tucked in the black jeans I had and soon enough, I realised I was guided in front of what seemed to be a bar that was named "Black Rabbit".
You must be kidding me...
First, there was the Black Rabbit from the Kujou mansion, the one that kinda killed Mary temporarily, but was in place, killed as well.
I and Yashiki -...Uh...Masamune, rather, but it's weird calling him that, think it could have been his sister, Saya, but the world may never know for sure.
So...What is this strong instinct that brings me here? It's a strong urge to protect, as if I have to take care of someone...I don't even know.
Shyly opening the doors to the bar, I see 3 people, seemingly younger than me, chatting seriously about something.
"Kijima, you have a customer." the black haired girl said in a shushed voice, making the brunet boy look at me curiously.
"We don't really have customers...That's unusual." he muttered, coming to me.
"Uhm...Actually, I wanted to ask something, which may sound extremely weird, so I apologise in advance." I sweatdropped, looking up at the tall boy now standing right in front of me, with a neutral yet intimidating aura.
"Too many weird things have been happening around. Try me." he scoffed, not trying to sound rude to a stranger.
"Well then, let's see if I can top that. Now...Have you been encountering some...Strange paranormal phenomena? Ghosts, spirits, feeling of being stalked, I don't know, anything weird and unexplainable?" I asked, trying my best not to sound too weird, however, by the slight widening of his eyes, I was sure I hit the nail.
"How...Did you know...?" his voice dropped by an octave, clearly shocked by what I said.
"Believe it or not, I have a pretty strong spiritual power, so I was guided here by my instinct to solve this. The whole story is rather long and tedious to explain, so maybe not now. I'd rather hear what's going on, if you'd let me help." I offered a small smile and an extended hand for him to shake, which thankfully, he did, and guided me to a table, where the other two were sat at.
"This is Amanome Seiji and Hazuki Kaoru. I am Keiji Akira. And, you are?" the brunet boy introduced everyone, so I complied.
"My name is Mashita Kisara and I come from H city. I'm not sure whether or not I should say that I'm fortunate, or quite the contrary, though I have a pretty long history of paranormal encounters and cases that I've debunked and solved with my brother and another person from a highly spiritual family." I explain, leaning back on the chair seat, analysing carefully each and every one of them.
"So you're a paranormal expert? That's great! We can investigate properly what's going on and rescue Ami!" Kaoru exclaimed in victory.
"Wait, hold up, can you tell me the story?" I stop the cheerful girl, wanting to know what I was dealing with.
"Yes, Kijima, let's see how older women like these fairy tales." Seiji smirked, making his friend roll his eyes.
"I think a little girl dressed in a traditional kimono cursed me. She said her name is Kakuya and she kidnapped Ami, my little sister, after making a car try to kill us. I know it sounds stupid, bu-" he explained, slightly irked and expecting me to laugh, but my face was still pondering.
"Kakuya...More like Kaguya, I suppose. A little girl, wanting to play...Why, that sounds just like Mary and hoow she cursed Yashiki. I think Kakuya could be a Doll...Spirit...Something." I thought it over out loud, and it seemed like Akira was following me.
"Spirits? What's that?" he asked, obviously confused.
"What?! You don't know what Spirits are?! That means you don't read Moe's H City Featured Article in OOParts?" Kaoru gasped incredulous, making me look at her in shock.
"You know Moe? She got the Death Mark in H City from Hanahiko. Since then, she started writing about most of our Paranormal cases, and even helped us get information on the Jirogumo, Little Red Hood, at the abandoned Masquerade Love Hotel." I explain Moe's story, making Kaoru's eyes sparkle with surprise and glee.
"No way! That means the Heroine of the story is you?! You're The Knight?!" she fangirls over me, her voice turning a bit more pitched then usual, as she slammed her hands on the table and leaned over it, getting very close to my face.
"U-Uh...Y-Yeah, that would be me. It's a play on words. I didn't want people knowing that was me, it might bring a bad spotlight to my actual career." my cheeks redden slightly in awkwardness as I inched backwards as much as possible, not used to people fawning over me like that.
"How did you get to that nickname?! What does it mean?!" she asked excitedly, barely contenting herself.
"It's just a word play that my brother and I came up with one day, while joking around. As I said, Mashita Kisara. If you add the "KI" and "SHI" from both names, you get "KISHI" which means "Knight". " I explain nonchalantly, hoping she'd leave me alone.
"That's so smart! Will you take me as your disciple and teach me more about the supernatural?!" she asked, but I only shook my head.
"Calm down, Kaoru, it's not what you think. I merely got caught up in everything, it's not like I like it, okay? And besides, sometimes you get random spirits playing tricks on you at your own home, which is very annoying. As well as that...I am a Veterinarian, I have nothing to do, professionally, with supernatural stuff. " I cross my arms, as she visibly deflated and pouted, getting back in her seat.
"What a pity. You'd have been an amazing investigator..." she mumbled, making me sigh.
"A bit more respect for my actual career would have been much appreciated." I sweatdropped in annoyance, but shifted my gaze to Akira, who zoned away because of the silly talk. "So, Akira, basically...Spirits are what happens with a human that dies with a very strong grudge. They are left behind as twisted beings that can curse and kill you. Many of them feed on the despair of the people they cursed, and won't kill them right away. And...There are only 2 ways to get rid of them, but there is only 1 I'd recommend, which is purification. That way, no more human casualties will happen." I tell Akira, who seemed to ponder everything.
"That just sounds like some occult story, don't scare us like that, Miss Mashita!" Seiji made a weird face, making me realise he was absolutely terrified of things he can't understand.
"Akira right now has Kakuya's curse...Some very terrifying mouths on his face. You can't really see them, since it's a personal curse, but few people with strong spiritual power can, if they focus on that only. Like, what I did now. Also, Seiji, it's normal to be afraid of things you don't understand, especially since they are malevolent and ready to kill, and unlike humans, you can't physically retaliate and thus, you have to do a pacifying ritual. But all in due time will be explained, okay? And don't worry, I will make sure nobody gets harmed. After all...My holiday is already ruined, might as well not let some kids die while trying to save another kid." I sighed, scratching the back of my neck.
"Treating us like kids isn't very nice, is it, Miss Mashita?" Seiji smirks widely.
"Can you all just call me Kisara? When you say Mashita...It just makes me think of my brother, and it's weird..." I look away slightly, making Seiji chuckle.
"Well, how old are you then, Kisara?" he asks with an amused grin on his face.
"Amanome! Don't you know it's not nice to ask a lady her age?" Kaoru raises her voice at him, making everyone sigh.
"That made me feel even older than his question. Honestly, I'm just 23, calm down. You're like, what, 18?" I ask, shifting a bit in my seat.
"Right on point~! Very much legal." Seiji smirked mischievously, making Akira slap the back of his head in annoyance.
"Don't be gross with a person you just met. Also, Hazuki is 16." he states, as I nod in understandment.
"Okay, casual talk aside, did Kakuya mention anything about the game she wanted to play with you?" I ask, wanting to get away from the weirdness.
"She told me to search for the Urashima woman." Akira answers my question, but I was even more confused.
"Any idea what that's all about?" I ask, looking at each of them.
"So...Does that mean that the rumours are true? The Urashima woman is the most discussed topic on the Shinza Ward Ghost Story forums." Kaoru mentioned out of the blue.
"E-Enough of this!" Seiji grimaced, obviously not wanting to hear anything about that.
"Don't worry, Seiji, I will protect you from the big, scary Spirit, okay~?" I smirked at him, and it seemed like he got both embarrassed but also more relaxed.
"It's the ghost of a woman said to appear at Yamato shrine, and her name comes from the Urashima Lake contained there..." she began, then told us the rumours about the Urashima woman, who died in that lake, and how, if you're lucky, if you throw a rock in the lake at midnight, you'll see her, and she appears to be a pregnant woman, walking a baby stroller, and that's how that college girl died, apparently. She didn't see the Spirit right away, but her body was found in the Lake, the cause of death being drowning, and the peculiarity of it was that her corpse was swarming with turtles.
"Well...I've heard worse, that much is true. However, if these are the rumours, we must go investigate. Ah...Seiji? You're not looking very well...Is it because of the story?" I asked gently, brushing a strand of hair from his face.
"What? Don't tell me you're REALLY afraid of ghosts?" Kaoru giggled like a schoolgirl, making Seiji grimace even more in annoyance at the mocking.
"My adversion to these sorts of things is more or less what you'd consider wheat allergy. Meaning, that's just how my body reacts, I can't help it if it does it." he scoffed, looking away.
"When I heard you were the son of a boss, I was afraid you'd be scary, but...So you can be cute too, Amanome!" the girl grinned in amusement at the fair haired boy.
"Why are you smiling? And why are you being overly familiar with me?" he glared at her, but she stood her ground.
"You don't seem to have a problem when Kisara does it." she shot back, making him chuckle lightly.
"She's a respectable woman who deserves respect, unlike some midget like you with no shape!" he continued the fight, which made both myself and Akira get mad and shout at them to shut up.
"When you said boss...What kind of boss did you mean?" I asked, looking at Kaoru, but instead, Akira replied.
"Amanome is the son of the Yakuza boss. He's not yet officially in the Yakuza, though. And he's known as the Prince of Threats or something." Akira shrugged, explaining the situation.
"Ahh, I see. Then, that would explain why he's so anti-ghosts. He's so used to being able to have everything in control and solve everything, that with the paranormal, since he doesn't have a clue how to deal with it, and it's also out of his reach, since it's unpredictable, he isn't comfortable at all. While, people...Well...They're expandable and replaceable. Right?" I ask, looking at the boy next to me, who nodded in appreciation.
"See? Someone GETS me!" he smirked in victory, before Kaoru started fangirling over this case and mentioned how we should hurry and investigate this, making Akira call her out for enjoying this and basing her clothes on it too.
"Of course, I'm a Momoler. Plus, the Urashima Woman got Momo's concert cancelled. I can't forgive her." she scoffed, looking away in anger.
"What...? Am I too old to understand teenagers? I feel weirdly uncomfortable now." I look in concern at Akira, who only shook his head.
"Don't worry, it's better if you don't know." he reassured me, but Kaoru glared at him.
"What do you mean by that?! Momo Kuruse is awesome and she sings very well! She is the most popular Idol nowadays." Kaoru exclaimed a bit too offended.
"Oh, another idol? I had to save another from the Death mark before. What was she called....Ai...Kashiwagi, I think? I don't know, I didn't really care enough to remember. But she played the piano extremely well, and she gave me some tips for that, which I really appreciate." I put my hand behind my chin, trying to remember more about the said obnoxious girl.
"Ah...Yeah, I heard of her. She's in that group, "Love & Hero" or something." Kaoru grumbled in envy.
"Ahem. Let's spare the chit chat and go investigate. Seiji, are you coming with us as well? I know you are scared, but I won't let a ghost hurt you." I pat his hair softly, making him make a slight cat face.
"I don't mind coming along, but didn't the news say something about the Yamato Shrine being closed at night right now? Wouldn't the trip be for nothing?" he asks with a serious tone.
"We'll just go there and check it out. Besides, you'd be surprised at the ways one can get through well guarded places. I've heard about die-hard fans sneaking into their favourite idol's dressing room." Kaoru shrugged as if that was the easiest thing to do.
"I think you take everything either too seriously or too...Uhm...Not serious enough." I try to say gently, but Akira wasn't that soft.
"One of these die-hard fans doesn't happen to be you, does it?" Akira asks, as if reading my mind.
"I bet she stole the clothes she's wearing from Momo Kuruse's dressing room." Seiji joined in the teasing, but it didn't seem to affect the girl at all.
"Do you WANT me to curse you both to death?" she threatened with a smile on her face, but I got up before they could answer.
"Look, it's getting late, isn't it? Let's just go and see what we can do, okay?" I explain, wanting to get this over with.
"Kisara is right. Don't forget to be on the look for cops, it'll be a huge hassle if they catch us." Seiji got up as well, getting next to me, which is when I realised how big our height difference was.
"Don't worry, I know a route that can go around with no police." Kaoru piped in, getting next to us as well.
"Why would you know that?" Akira asks suspiciously.
"I like exploring haunted places." she shrugged nonchalantly.
"Enough. Let's go." I state firmly, as Akira joined us, as we headed out. "Kaoru, lead the way. And be aware of your surroundings." I continue as I walk behind the girl, nobody else speaking much on the way there.
It didn't take long for us to arrive at the Shrine, where we realised that the only guard there was a bit too dedicated to his duty, and the only one who could actually jump the gate would be Akira.
The good part was that there weren't any security cameras.
After that, Seiji, very confidently, went to talk to the guard and see if he could negotiate, but the guard was very pissy and rude to him, so there was no success.
Thus, Akira found a flyer about Momo Kuruse's cancelled and went to ask the guard about it., finding out that tomorrow's guard is a die-hard Kuruse fan.
Even better, since Akira is so strong, he decided to go investigate on his own today, while we'd be on the look out.
So basically, we were to create a disturbance and make the guard pay attention to us, instead of Akira....But I wasn't expecting everything to go downhill so fast.
"Are you guys sure about this? It's, uhm...Weird." I scratch my cheek anxiously, feeling like I was playing some bad highschool theater play.
"Of course it will work. Besides, it would be nice playing the boyfriend part." he smirked slightly, hooking his arm to mine. "A woman your age surely has more experience in this department than she would, so I trust you with this role. And, besides...I believe her she'd fit the crazy ex role much better." he chuckled, walking away from Kaoru's ear-range.
"Should I feel flattered?" I smirked, looking up at him as I inched closer, making the appearance that we were together, for the guard to see.
"If you want to BE flattered, just say so, and it will be arranged." he leaned down slightly, using his other hand to take a strand of my hair and play with it, talking a bit louder for the guard to hear, and for Hazuki to hear the signal. "Your long red hair reminds me of how the angels paint the sky on each Spring evening, so beautiful, like the fire burning in my heart whenever I see or think of you. You know...I heard women with hair kissed by fire are the most passionate kissers...And I have to agree. Whenever I see those emerald eyes, sparkling with such mischief, and that foxy grin of yours...You don't know what you do to me, Kitsune." he stated every word clearly and with much conviction, which really made me wonder if he was playing his role or speaking the truth. Nonetheless, I played my part, and with a low chuckle, I rested my head on his arm, looking up at him with a huge grin.
"My, Seijiro, you're ever the charmer! If there is one thing I regret in life, is not having met you sooner! I feel so happy whenever I am with you, I feel like my heart truly is on fire!" I matched his tone, as love-struck as his, which was signal for Kaoru to butt in...Then again, it felt oddly nice, this faking, to be fair.
"Seijiro...! How could you?! I can't believe it?! Taking out this...This whore in OUR spot?! Nonetheless, on MY birthday?!" Kaoru's shrilled pitch made me cringe, not being fond of such noises, so I instinctively tightened my grip on Seiji's arm, as we turned around to look at the girl, whose face was twisted in anger.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Kaoruko? I don't care if you're angry at me, but why do you have to insult Kitsune like that? She's done nothing wrong!" Seiji stood tall, glaring at the girl as his voice boomed through the place.
"Who cares about her?! You should stay with me! You get me pregnant, and then run away with another chick you find on the streets?! How dare you do something like this! Have you no shame at all?!" her voice attacked him with such rage that almost shocked me. Then again, rage was the easiest emotion to fake.
"What's with that look on your face...?! Don't give me any of your shit! It's definitely YOUR child! Who do you take me for?! I'll...I'll make you acknowledge it, no matter what!" she inched towards us threateningly, but the guard came in to the rescue.
"What's all that fuss about?! Take your quarrel elsewhere!" the guard tried to get us to leave, but the girl's shriek made me cringe again, taking a step back.
"SHUT UP! You know what?! It's YOUR fault to begin with! If I hadn't seen them like this...If you'd have just let them go inside that park...! IF MY TRAUMA CAUSES ME TO LOSE MY CHILD, ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY?! HUH?!" she yelled, almost not understanding what she was saying because of the pitch, making the guard sweat drop, not knowing what to do.
"P-Please, miss, there must be a misunderstanding. Please, calm down." I try to make Kaoru get it, but she was much too caught up in her act to even realise that Akira was already far gone and we needn't continue this charade, so instead, I tugged on Seiji's arm and motioned for him to leave.
"Whatever. Let's just go somewhere else, Kitsune. We shouldn't bother with some hysterical girl like her." he guided me out of the place, towards the Kissouji Station, where we decided to meet. Hazuki probably stayed behind a bit, to argue with the guard, not sure if she realised we left right away or not, but the peace of the night was definitely better for my senses, and I sighed in relief.
"That's too much acting for a lifetime. Kaoru really overdid it." I muttered, not realising I was still holding his arm.
"Thought I'd go deaf pretty soon." he whined as well, but soon after, started chuckling in amusement. "We should do that again some time. But without Hazuki, she'd just make my ears bleed." he stated nonchalantly, looking down to meet my gaze.
"Is that your very subtle way of asking me on a date?" I ask with a side-smile.
"Depends if that's what you want to as well." he shrugged playfully, making me chuckle.
"Aren't I a bit too old for you?" I ask in amusement, but he only shook his head.
"No, no, no. A woman should be elegant, mature, smart and motherly, and you give me just that vibe." he stated confidently, but I merely shook my head as well, humming in amusement.
"If you're looking for a mother, you chose the wrong person. The other attributes, however, I think I can tick." I winked at him, as I noticed Kaoru approaching.
"One doesn't have to be a mother, or even want to be a mother, to give that feeling of security and happiness." he said it in such a bold and sure way, that he shocked me.
"My, that's rather mature of you to speak. Sure you don't have mommy issues or something?" I try to laugh it off, but he smirked and nodded towards Kaoru.
"No, I just don't like hysterical and immature young brats, if you catch my drift." he laughed, getting me to join in as well.
"Yeah, I can definitely agree with you here." I stifle a chuckle, as the girl changed her gaze between me and Seiji back and forth, completely confused.
"What's with you?" she asked, confused, but not before long, Akira joined us, saving us from the awkwardness.
"Akira. You move fast, well done." I clap my hands together, happy with the outcome.
"We had a lot of trouble while distracting that guard to get you inside. A certain SOMEONE had a rather impassioned performance and embarrassed us." Seiji grimaced, remembering how her shrill voice echoed throughout the park.
"Ahhahaha, I got a little caught up in the moment. I'm pretty good, right?" she grinned, as Akira merely nodded and started telling us what happened.
"I tossed a rock into the lake, but nothing showed up." he shrugged with no care in the world.
"Oh, you actually threw a rock...Are you feeling okay? No stomach aches? I hope no bad ghosts follow you home." she said in a concerned voice.
"I'm fine, as far as I know." he tried to stop the conversation, but Kaoru continued it.
"Then it's fine, I guess. It might be wise to burn some incense when you get home, just in case." she suggested, making Seiji grimace.
"Can we move away from the occult topic? We have to find a way to sneak into the park." Seiji brought the most important point to the discussion.
"And rather fast. We don't know how fast the curse will progress, so we have to be quick with this, otherwise, who knows what will happen to Akira, and more, to Ami." I explain, thinking back to my own encounters with the Mark.
"I suppose. And as pitiful as it is, since I had such lovely company, we can't do a show like that every time." he continues, as I nod.
"And besides, we can't let only Akira go inside all the time. He might need help, or one of us may see something the other doesn't." I add to the argument.
"Easier said than done." he crossed his arms, thinking.
"The guard on shift tomorrow is a Momo Kuruse fan, right? I guess the odds will be in our favour tomorrow. If he's such a big Kuruse fan, he's probably not used to talking to girls." he wore a wide, mischievous smirk. "I thought she could use her...Wiles to lend a hand." he suggested.
"Why not suggest Kisara?" she looked away with a scowl. "Isn't her woman charm supposed to be better than mine?" she continued, making Seiji nod.
"Well, of course it is. But, there are 2 main problems here. Firstly, you're a live-or-die obsessed Momo Kuruse fan too. You must know exactly what kind of things would make that type of guy happy. Obviously, if a man that age can be so into underage idols, he has some things for...What was that called...Lolis, right? And besides, you even have the clothes for it." Seiji said his first point, but it seemed to be enough to make Kaoru nod and agree to do it.
"Very well. I'll do my best. It's for the Urashima Woman and Ami. You can count on me." she smiled reliably.
"It wouldn't be such a hassle if we only had to access the shrine. We could do our business there during the day." Seiji states, a bit annoyed.
"Unfortunately, all ghosts-...Or well, important things, so to speak, seem to be appearing at night...Or after midnight. It depends." I explain calmly, but I could see Seiji breaking a sweat over it.
"I-I haven't affirmed the existence of ghosts for myself just yet! And besides, it's entirely possible that it's just a pregnant woman on a stroll." he tried to reason, but I shook my head as I put my hand on his arm, squeezing it in a way to reassure him.
"I'm sorry, Seiji, but I can sense it's a ghost. From the moment we got close to the Shrine, it was pretty obvious that a malevolent spirit was lurking nearby. But don't worry, I said I will make sure nothing bad happens to you, and I intend to keep my promise." I smile at them brightly, and somehow, it seemed to put their worries at ease.
"Oh, and one more thing. Don't tell Mrs. Natsumi a thing, she would definitely try to stop us. Not a word to the police or anyone else either." he stated seriously, making me tilt my head in confusion.
"Who's Mrs. Natsumi?" I ask, my eyebrow raised in curiosity.
"My aunt. Ami's mother. She's been worried sick since Ami's disappearance." Akira explained, as I nodded in understanding.
"Very well then, that makes sense." I mutter.
"All right, I'm off. I have an assembly to attend to." Seiji put his hands in his pockets, ready to leave.
"Ah, wait! You didn't say the other reason!" Kaoru exclaimed rather loudly, gasping as she remembered that little detail.
"Isn't it obvious?" he laughed darkly, barely audible. "Why would I want for some old lech to look at her with his filthy eyes? Who knows what things that mongrel would be thinking of with that peasant brain of his?" he finished with a bright yet threatening grin on his face, as a dark aura surrounded him.
"Woaw. Your aura is so dark, no wonder you're a Yakuza. Now I can see that you're a part of it." I stifled my chuckle as I patted his back.
"And it's only just the beginning. You should go back home as well. It can be dangerous for a lone woman to walk around the streets. Ah, actually, where do you live? I can walk you home." he offered, as we said our good byes and left in the opposite direction to them.
"Not too far, thankfully. Thank you for offering to walk me home, I appreciate it. Won't you be late to the assembly, though?" I asked, hoping not to inconvenience him.
"No, don't worry about such trivial things. If I tell my dad that I made sure a lovely woman such as yourself got home safe, then he'd just give me extra pocket money and praise me. He holds deep respect for women and made sure I'm the same." he grins casually, making me smile up at him softly.
"It's not very often that I hear that. It's very nice to see such a nice change from the usual, every day jerks." I stifle a chuckle, closing my eyes briefly in appreciation.
"I take it you you've had your fair share of dealing with uncultured swines." he asked, yet he knew the answer to that.
"Unfortunately, I think it's pretty common to hear that. What a shame, don't you think? So many people forgot how to respect and appreciate people around them." I shrug, spotting my home. "Well, here we are. Thank you for being so nice with me, despite just meeting me today. You're a very sweet boy, Seiji. See you tomorrow, have a safe walk to the assembly. Oh, rather, please text me when you get there so I know you're safe." I grin at him as I wave him goodbye.
"Huh...That's something I've never head about. Here, this is my number. I'll call you later. Good night, Kisara." he winked playfully before leaving.
In the meantime, I took a shower, ate something light and went to bed to read a few more chapters from the book I started, until the familiar notification tune brought me back to reality, as a nice reminder to both go to sleep, and that people can be nice too.
"I just got home, thanks for worrying. Good night.
Seiji x "
For a kid, he sure sounds more mature than his age.
"Thanks for walking me home again. Sweet dreams, Seiji.
Kisara x "
With a smile on my face, I turn off the lights and go to sleep, knowing full well that tomorrow will be a big day.
Chapter 2: Turtle War
What a peaceful night!
I fell asleep faster than usual, I had no nightmares, sleep paralysis or woken up 1000 times during the night randomly!
I guess it's true what they say, there's no place like home!
Except...I haven't been here in more than 13 years, and that night, I dreamt of Kaoru's very gruesome death, that involved turtles inside and outside her body, in a full bathtub, with blood smearing everywhere. Nothing unsettling or weird!
Oh well, moving on!
I can't let the kids know about this.
I call my brother to have a little chat with him, make sure he's okay and all that, before I go out and shop for some clothes, since I didn't have much around here, and honestly, I don't even realise when the day passed, that it was already evening and had to meet up with the kids to investigate the Shrine, so I hurried to the Black Rabbit.
"Hey, sorry I'm late. The bus driver closed the doors in my face, after he saw me running down the street. How ruthless." I chuckled in amusement, fixing my hair slightly.
"Don't worry, we just got here ourselves." Akira mentioned, as he nodded in a welcome manner.
"That's great to hear. Anything that happened while I was away?" I asked, hoping to hear a negative answer, but it was in vain, as Akira told me about his 'murky bath water' accident, and it made me look down, in deep thought.
"I knew I should have given you some incense to burn!" Kaoru mumbled in annoyance, but I could only shake my head.
"No. The whole thing with the murky water is obvious that the Urashima Woman noticed you and is playing tricks on you, so to speak. They are warnings. And...They may get worse, so be alert, Akira. I can't protect you in your own home. Also, Kaoru...That whole incense thing doesn't work, especially for something so big, so if you think that would have helped...You're wrong, sorry to ruin your whole view on this. The only way to get rid of this, before it physically attacks you, is to purify the ghost...Uhh...Spirit. Whatever." I shrugged simply, not realising how Seiji was cringing and how upset Kaoru looked.
"Then, we'll just have to get more clues on how to do that tonight, right?" Akira asked in question.
"That should do the trick, yes. Although...It could prove to be very difficult to purify a spirit, especially for newbies who have never went face to face with a spirit before. So...I apologise in advance for the potential life-threatening situations you might find yourself into...But you got yourselves into this." I shrugged with a mock grin.
"I won't say that I believe in this or not...But even so, did you guys come up with a good idea on how to get into that place?" Seiji asked, relatively shaken.
"Yeah. We're sticking with Hazuki lending a hand." Akira explained rapidly.
"Not just a hand, but my whole body." Kaoru replied without batting an eye, making me sweatdrop at her poor choice of words. "My plan will stay a surprise, but I've no doubt that it'll work perfectly." Kaoru explained nonchalantly.
"For the love of...Kaoru, do yourself a favour and try to think before you speak, okay? That's not something you'd like to tell 2 older boys...Or anyone else, for the matter." I sighed, extremely done with life.
"Let her say what she wants, maybe she's actually telling the truth, not being an idiot with her wording. Look at how confident she is. We're counting on you." Seiji asked, patting my shoulder in amusement. "It's time for us to get going anyway, don't you think?" he asks, extending his hand towards everyone.
"Hold on a sec. Hey, Kijima, don't you think we should tell Amanome and Kisara about your Bloodmetry? He probably won't believe it, but Kisara should at least know something about it." Kaoru suggested seriously.
So, Akira explained to us how he got a vision from the bloodstains on Ami's headphones, and this "Bloodmetry" ability, as they called it, which made me nod in understanding, since I can do something similar myself...But Seiji thought it'd be funny to say that the thing he's shocked about is that those two were together AGAIN last night, all that with a straight face. Of course, after a little chuckle from me, Seiji smiled and said that despite not completely believing everything and living his life by the rules of science, he was still on this train-wreck and was going to help us out anyway.
Back at the shrine, Seiji reminded us that the guard is a huge Momo Kuruse fan, and after that, Kaoru put on a silvery-blue wig and added a face tattoo, while Akira interrogated the guard, who was much more laid-back.
"How is it? Is it crooked?" Kaoru asked, so I started fixing her wig, neating the hair, the hat, accessories and outfit, before stepping back and giving her a thumbs up.
"Yeah, much better now." I nodded, as Seiji got near me.
"This is what I was talking about yesterday." he chuckled in my ear, but sighed, shaking my head.
"That's not motherly, is it?" I looked up at him, a bit shook.
"It definitely is." he smirked, as I covered my face in embarrassment.
"I will always be stuck as the Mum friend. Great." I groaned, before the boy in cause got his eyes widened by the sight in front of him.
"Wha...No way..." he raised his eyebrow in surprise.
"I'm confused. Will someone enlighten me, or should I just not care at all?" I scratched the back of my neck, tilting my head to the side, feeling rather awkward.
"Hehehe, Momo Kuruse is here. How's your guardian angel today?" she said in a much softer voice, with a girly giggle.
"Uh...Okay...I'm even more confused now." I pouted slightly.
"I-I'm glad Maruhashi isn't here. But, uh...That's one hell of a secret weapon. So you were Momo Kuruse all along." Seiji grimaced, not knowing what to say about this.
"If the security guard is a fan of mine, then this certainly should work, don't you think?" the girl grinned at us brightly.
"Well, I guess I see why people like you. You're prettier than most of the population." I nodded in acknowledgement, slightly envious of how great she looked and how everyone must love her for her talent.
"An idol alone gives more of an impact than some girl playing the seduction routine. Even more punch if that's the person's favourite idol...But...Shouldn't you maybe add a bit more padding on the top?" Seiji finished with a mocking remark, which made my eyes widen slightly.
"Wh-Whoa there, she's just a 16 year old, calm down a bit." I tried to mediate everything, but Kaoru's evasive and indifferent personality seemed to not listen at all.
"My fans rather prefer smaller." she informed simply.
"That's...Even worse..." I sighed, humming in annoyance.
We let her have a chat with a very overly-enthusiastic guard, but while she couldn't get us in, she gave us a way to fool the guard to get in, while someone stays on patrol duty. But hey, at least we can call the guard so we can sneak inside, so it's all cool.
"Okay then, Hazuki, you call the guard. I, Amanome and Mashita will go in." Akira stated, but I only rolled my eyes in annoyance.
"Kisara...please..." I muttered, glaring at the brunet slightly.
"Okay, sounds good. I'm going to call now." Kaoru stated firmly, taking out her phone.
"Wait, but...Will it be okay letting a girl here alone by herself?" I asked in worry.
"I don't see why not. There's a guard here, and barely anyone comes to these places, especially at night. If you ask me, she's safer than we will be." Seiji reassured me by putting his arm around my shoulder, pulling me to his side.
"If you say so..." I mumble, nodding.
As soon as she started the call and the guard picked up, we rushed to the gate, climbing over the gate with relative ease, before we start running as fast as we could at the boat place, but before we got there, Akira found a pacifier in the non-functioning fountain...
Fountain that started spraying water as soon as the pacifier was removed, which scared us half to death.
"That scared the shit out of me, jeez..." Seiji cringed, putting his hand over his heart.
"T-Tell me about it...Wait, hold up. How did this old stroller get here? It definitely wasn't here before." I sighed, approaching it. "This is definitely the work of the Urashima woman."
"Don't say that..." Seiji's eye twitched in slight panic.
"I'm sorry..." I smiled sadly, stroking his arm.
We found a metal wire, a towel-ket, a tiepin, a dirty neck tie, a hair decoration that had blood on it, and I and Akira looked at each other, nodding as we slowly touched the blood on the decoration, letting the vision take over.
I found myself transported in another place...A water...I was surrounded by turtles and all I could feel was pain, as I couldn't move. It felt as if I was being restrained by some invisible chains or something.
However, in the water, I could clearly see the reflection of a spirit resembling a heavily pregnant woman, shrieking in a inhuman voice, how she can't find her baby.
It was only then that I saw my own reflection, my own body, twisted in very awkward, unnatural angles, which scared me enough to tightly close my eyes and try to get back to my own real body.
As soon as my eyes snapped back open, I found myself on my knees, panting for air, feeling as if I had a panic attack. Looking to my left, I noticed Akira having similar symptoms.
"H-Hey...?! Are you okay?" Seiji asked, kneeling next to me.
"I saw her...The Urashima woman...Is real..." Akira stated between his deep breaths.
"Y-Yeah...Not a nice sight, might I say. Sort of reminds me of Hanayome..." I mutter the last part, looking down.
"D-Did you...See something from that blood?" Seiji asked in a soft voice.
"Yeah...We did. My visions sometimes come from the point of view of the person whose blood I touched, despite it being myself who experiences everything while at it, but the victim, in this case, means that it was the college girl from the rumour...And the spirit killed her." I sighed, explaining everything, but as I looked up, I could see Seiji's frightened expression.
"C-Come on, seriously...There's no way...That's impossible...Please, Miss Kisara, don't make up things like that, it's not fun to tease me that way." he mumbled in a mousy voice, which made me pull him into a hug, stroking his hair in reassurance.
"I'm sorry you have to find out this way, Seiji. But I won't let any spirit harm you, I promise." I coo into his ear, something that I've done every time I had to comfort a victim of the Death Mark, while hunting the ghosts down.
"I can't believe it either, but I saw it myself." Akira explained, agreeing with me.
"That hair ornament wasn't here yesterday...A-Are you saying the ghost of the college girl brought it...?" Seiji asked, putting his arms around me slowly.
"It's not impossible to assume that, unfortunately, but we don't know for sure either." I helped him get up.
After that, we went to explore more, and we realised that the stroller somehow moved in a completely different place, which frightened the chestnut haired boy even more, so I held his hand, letting him squeeze it as much as he felt the need to, despite it hurting.
"There's a book here. Something about Prenatal yoga for a blissful delivery. And there's a bloodstain on it." Akira stated as he got near us.
"Okay, then let's see what this vision has to tell us." I nodded, putting my other hand over the bloodstain...Only to find myself in a complete state of panic and claustrophobia as I could only see an abyssal void around me, as I was trapped in a small place and thrown into the lake, while an evil sounding woman voice talked...She must have been the one who threw me...Her... Into the lake to drown...How tragic...
"Is it only me, or do these things get worse?" Akira asked, trying to regain his senses.
"I...Don't fancy getting being trapped in a small place and thrown into the lake to drown, so yeah, I guess they ARE getting worse." I ruffle my hair with a pout, before I stopped in my tracks, pointing to the lake. "Damn it...She's here...!" I gasped, rushing in front of the boys. "Get behind me, now!" I ordered firmly, standing between the ghost and the boys.
"My...Stroller...What are you...Doing...?" the inhuman voice of the spirit woman got carried by the wind.
"I'm looking for someone." I spoke clearly, trying to hide my fear.
"The...The baby....Tell me..." she started panting as if she was getting more agitated, and with each pant, I started to feel as if I was drowning, so while one of my hands went to my throat to try to unconsciously fight for oxygen, the other was pointing to her big stomach.
"Isn't your...Baby there?" I ask her, but she seemed to ask me the same question.
"Why...Stomach...Why...?" she asked in a low voice, before completely vanishing, and I crouched down immediately, coughing for air, as I regained my ability to breath properly.
"Is it...Over...?" Seiji's freaked out voice could be heard from around me.
"Yeah...It's over for now. Are you guys okay?" I immediately rush to their side, examining their faces in concern.
"I'll just say...I'm fucking glad we didn't die just now." Akira exhaled deeply in relief.
"I told you I'd never let spirits harm you, didn't I? Don't doubt me, I'm a woman of my words." I chuckled softly, turning my attention to the one who couldn't immediately shake away the fear. "Come here, Seiji. It's over for now, she's gone." I spoke gently, hugging the boy.
"I-I just c-can't believe what I just saw." he replied after taking a few seconds to pull himself together.
"It's going to be okay, Seiji, I promise. I won't let her get close to you." I did circular motions on his back to reassure him, which seemingly managed to calm him down slightly.
After that, we discussed about the objects that belonged to her, and decided that the woman from the last vision was the Urashima woman and that she died by the Tamate sanctum most likely, so we realised we have to get one of the boats working somehow, so we went by the shack to get some equipment, and Seiji, to get his mind away from things, decided to pick the lock.
"It's a cheap cylinder lock. How basic, I can open this easily." he boasted, trying to sound confident in front of me.
"Oh, really? That's rather impressive. Would you teach me some day?" I smiled gently at him.
"If that's what you wish, then who am I to deny it?" he hummed in amusement.
"That's the son of a Yakuza for you." Akira spoke in surprise.
"Whoa, hey, that has nothing to do with this. I had my own reasons for learning." Seiji refuted, almost offended.
"Would it be too much to ask for the reasons?" I smiled, challenging him.
"Well, with a smile like that, I can't hold anything against you, Kisara. A while back, I was convinced Pop's had locked up a gun in the safe in his study. I had a phase where I was all about them, so I went through a lot of trouble to open it, so I pretty much learned the basics of picking locks." he explained with a victorious smirk on his face.
"Ohh, ambitious, I like it! So, was it really there?" I asked in curiosity.
"Yeah, it was there, all right. A fine, gun-shaped LIGHTER, appearing real in every way right down to the weight. Apparently a friend from Sicily gave it to him." Seiji complained in annoyance.
"Pfffff, well that was funny! Your dad must have a real sense of humour, alright!" I stifled my chuckle, but he only shook his head.
"It's a real problem for the family. Oh, I got off topic, let's focus on this. But I'm glad I could amuse you with my story." he smirked lightly at me, before turning back to the lock. "I will need some tools to pick this. I can do it with random junk...A tension wrench stand-in and a thin, sturdy metal wire. Give me 2 decent subtitutes and I might be able to work something out." Seiji explained, as Akira opened his bag to see what he managed to pick up.
"I...Don't think I have anything that works, for now. Let's go look around, maybe we can find something good on the way." Akira suggested, while we agreed and made our way to the lake...Only to find a boat ashore? That's new.
"Amanome, give me a hand." Akira ordered, suggesting they do a chain so they can get the boat ashore.
"Sure, but I'm ashore." Seiji nodded simply, walking to the boat.
"Uh...Why?" the brunet looked at him with confusion.
"I don't want to have my outfit dirty in front of Miss Kisara. That would be unsightly of me, don't you think? You're in black, so it's fine. Come on, let's do it." Akira took his hand and leaned further, having faith and not falling in the water, thankfully, only to get...A broken umbrella.
"That's a rather sad trophy of our team work." Seiji huffed mockingly.
"Hold on...Can't this umbrella skeleton thingy be used as a tension wrench? It's worth a try, right?" I ask, looking up at him with wide eyes, as if a lightbulb suddenly turned on above my head.
"And we can use the hair ornament in place of the metal wire." Akira suggested, agreeing with me.
"Hm....That could work. I approve. You pass. Congratulations." the chestnut haired boy nodded.
We go back to the lock and Seiji instructs Akira on how to dismantle the umbrella, and starts working around the lock. It took barely 10 seconds before, shocking us with his speed. Thankfully, we found the boat oars and tried to go to the boats...But Hazuki called us saying a guard is on the way, so we had to get the hell away from there.
"No good. A guard." Seiji muttered, instinctively stepping in front of me.
"What do we do? Should we make a circle around the park and make sure he doesn't see us?" I whisper, getting closer to him so he could hear.
"Getting caught is the last thing we want. Should we drive for the bushes over there?" he suggested quickly.
"It's kinda far. It'd be easier to knock him out." Akira shrugged, putting his fist in his other hand.
"So barbaric. Ever try solving your problems withOUT using your fists? You're in front of a lady, be mindful!" the yakuza heir scolded the fighter.
"You are such children..." I muttered as I picked up a rock from the ground and threw it at his hand, making him drop him gasp and drop his flashlight in shock.
"Nice aim, Kisara!" Seiji praised, with a wide smirk on his face.
"My brother's a detective. I'm stopping at that." I muttered. "Now come on, let's hide!" I grabbed their arms and we went in the bushes.
"Hey?! Where'd you hide?!" the guard cried out threateningly.
"Can you distract him with another rock?" Amanome asks, as I pick up another rock.
"I could...But I'm not strong enough. Akira, I trust you to solve this issue. Can you hit that lamp post?" I hand the rock to Akira, who only scoffed.
"Piece of cake." he said, and rightfully so, as he managed to make it shatter.
"What do we do now?" I whisper, biting my lip.
"Amanome, you go first with Mashita. I will go after that. That way we can back each other on the go." Akira suggests, and nodding, the boy in cause put his arm around me and we swiftly made our way to the entrance.
"We should call the guard on his phone and distract him, to make sure Akira gets away." I suggested as Seiji helped me jump the gate.
"Yeah, good idea." he nodded as we got to Hazuki's location.
"Glad you're safe, guys! But where is Akira?" the girl asks in concern, looking behind us.
"Give me the guard's phone number." the boy ordered her, basically taking away the phone from her hands.
"Hey, what are you doing?!" she glared at him, raising her voice in anger.
"Your phone looks so stupid, no wonder you're still a child." he mocked her absent-minded as he called the guard.
"We're rescuing Akira, so calm down, please." I patted the girl on the head, calming her down, as Amanome chatted the guard up, long enough for the brunet boy to appear in sight.
"Oh, you're back! When I saw Amanome and Kisara come by themselves, I started panicking. He then took away my phone, like a jerk. Honestly, I thought he left you behind, but I knew Kisara wouldn't do such a thing. If it weren't for her, I would have been so close to slapping him!" she said all that with a bright grin, making me hang my head in annoyance.
"I am shocked and offended. Do I look so coldhearted that I'd do that to my best friend?" his voice was mock-hurt, yet his face remained as stoic and passive as always.
"Now now, calm down, guys. All that's important is that we're all back here, safe and sound, and nothing happened to Akira while he was getting away from the guard." I raised my hands up as a way to mediate the problem.
"I could have gone without your help." Akira shrugged, looking away, making it obvious that he felt embarrassed.
"Aww, look at you being shy." Seiji cooed at his best friend, who started growling.
"Don't make me punch you." he threatened, already seemingly preparing his fists.
"Okay, okay, enough for now, let's just go home and sleep. I think we deserve it." I pat the boy awkwardly on his shoulder, making him back up.
"Come on, lovebirds, quit messing around and let's get out of here. The guard could be back any time soon." Kaoru giggles, walking ahead, followed by Akira.
"How rude of you to assume that I would want anyone but Miss Kisara to be my little dove." Amanome chuckled lightly, putting his arm around my shoulder as we rushed away from there.
"At least I'm glad you're not fixated on my aunt anymore." Akira shrugged nonchalantly.
"Mrs. Natsumi is 40. I may like women who can hold the status of a true lady, but I don't want to get to 50 years old and realise I'm all alone." Seiji replied with a shrug, but I couldn't really say anything, so I let silence take over us until we got back to the station.
The kids mostly discussed about how shocked they were to realise that the Urashima woman was actually real, mostly Seiji that is, who was still shaken up a bit...A who seemed to be in his middle age, with long black hair and Ozzy Osburne shades came to us with an intimidating aura, who only screamed STRANGER DANGER.
"What were you doing at Yamato Shrine? The place is off limits at night right now. Why are a bunch of punks coming out of there at this time of night?" he asked without a second of hesitation.
"Well, what were YOU doing there?" I ask, stepping in front of the kids and looking up at the man towering over me, crossing my arms, as Seiji subtly stopped Akira from becoming violent. "Surely, if you saw us there, you must have been yourself present." I smirked up at him with no fear.
"Being outside of the closed gate doesn't make me a culprit." he refuted simply, crossing his arms, mimicking me.
"And how do you know it was us? Do you have any proof? It's rather shady of you to go to some kids and throw around baseless accusations, don't you think? An old man like you should see to his business...And maybe retire." I shrugged, provoking him.
"I-I'm not that old, damn it. And I have proof, I took pictures of you going inside the shrine. Your childish provokations won't work on me, Mashita Kisara. Or should I say...Katrina Shimada? Step-sister of the detective from H-city, Mashita Satoru who got discharged because of allegations of sexual assault? What are you even doing here? Shouldn't you be playing around with your puppies and kittens like the good little vet you are?" the man talked so freely about my past as if he had known me, which was rather creepy.
"The fact that you know all that makes it obvious that you're some sleezy and super creepy stalker, and I'm going to report you to the police for that. Following kids around, especially an underage girl, taking stealthy pictures of minors, researching buried information like that...Tsk tsk, don't tell me you're some cheap unemployed-...Oh, pardon me, I meant to say, a FREELANCER journalist? You lost all your money on bets and now you come to some kids to steal their pocket money? Man, you're a different kind of low." I huffed, obviously angry at the man, but he seemed to be sharing the same emotion equally, if not, more obvious.
"Now, listen here, you foul-mouthed missy!" his voice went lower and deeper, as he grabbed my chin and forced me to look up at him. "First of all, not everyone wants to waste a lifetime on a degree that's only good for playing with some mangy mutts. Some of us like to earn money and live a real life. Secondly, I do what I have to do to get a new hit on the paper, and I don't care how I achieve that. I know the law inside out, there's no plot hole you can find that I wouldn't know or have taken advantage of, prior to this moment. So tell me, before I call the cops, what were you doing at the Yamato shrine?" the man threatened, his face very close to mine.
"I don't think you should be touching a lady like that, nor talk in such a barbaric way to her." Seiji slapped away the man's hand, pulling me behind him. "Secondly, it's dark outside, and any picture you may have of us, potentially, would not look as true evidence." he spoke in a light, professional way, even though his eyes were burning with anger.
"You talk big. All grown up. You don't seem to be afraid of anything at all. Isn't that right...Amanome Seiji?" the journalist spoke Seiji's name with a dark tone, almost as if he revealed a huge secret.
"Ah, you know who I am." his voice now became ice cold and sharp.
"Oh yeah, I know very well. You're the only son of the boss of the Amanome family, Taizou Amanome." he spoke as if he was talking to a criminal.
"Treating me like a criminal because I'm a Yakuza son is a violation of my civil rights." he refuted easily, almost as if offended.
"Stop pretending like you're innocent. I know who you are under that sheep disguise. I know very well what sort of shithead you really are. Profitting off fights betting is just a start. You use that money and your underworld ties to dig up people's weaknesses and threaten them! I hear politicians and high ranking members of the police force are already in your pocket! Quite the balls are your age!" his voice raised by an octave, accusatory.
"Man, you're supposed to be an adult, but you're nothing but a sewer rat, speaking foul of a child. What, are you jealous of his achievements, because you're nothing but a failure of a man?" I challenged with a sly smirk on my face.
"Ah, there was an opinion piece like that in one of those trashy weekly rags. 'The Prince of Threats lurks in the darkness of Shinza! The truth revealed!' was it? Although, as I recall, this so-called 'Prince of Threats' wasn't named." Amanome's face twisted in something resembling a weird kind of pleasure mocking him.
"Woaw...That's the sort of click-bait title only some trash writer like you could come up with. It was you who wrote it, correct?" I exhaled, feeling bored by this charade.
"Oh, if that's the case, this must make you the rumoured Ban." Seiji nodded, realising who he was dealing with.
"You know of me, I'm honoured. I guess that article put a bit of fear into you." this so-called Ban smirked in victory.
"No...I only remembered because the headline was so tasteless. Mister Ban, would it be fine with you if you withdraw for today? It's not exactly pleasant being defamed in front of my crush." he sighed, not defeated though, as he pulls a few 10k yen bills out of his wallet.
"Sure, fine." his smile was vulgar as he snatched the money away from Seiji's delicate hand. "I'll give you some time to consider. I'm nice toward children like that." he finished, making me scoff.
"Oh, yes, very nice. Nice enough to rob them of their money, huh? It's no surprise you're nothing but a scumbag with no professional success." I shrug, looking at him with disgust.
"Business is business, no matter what shape or form. I'll make contact with you another time. Look forward to it. Don't think you can run. I already know what you look like." he sneered directly at me, before turning on his heel and leaving that place.
"Please...I'm lazy enough to not even bother running away from my problems. Why'd anyone run away from you?" I spoke back, but he seemed to get an amused smirk on his face.
"What about spirits? Do you run away from them when they attack you? You know very well what it's like to hunt them, don't you, Crimson Knight? If you haven't died by now, you must be aware of the value information holds." without even saying goodbye, the man left me gasping in shock at his words, unable to even blink.
"Are you alright, Kisara?" Seiji asks, stepping in front of me.
"I have a...Sudden urge to perform vivisection on that guy...And wipe away that stupid smirk off his face. Who does he think he is, speaking to me like that?! Digging out information from hell knows where? And what's his deal with spirits?! And...Why'd you let him take your money like that?!" I looked up at him, pretty pissed off, but he only shook his head, putting his hands on my shoulders.
"Dealing with that kind of people is always bothersome, but it's best for him to keep his mouth shut. I will make sure to find out one way or another about his information source. His name is Naomasa Ban, he's an infamous unethical writer type. Hoodlums who dig into the dealings of Yakuza and businesses to find scandals to profit off of." he spoke seriously, as I managed to calm my rage down.
"Honestly...What a cheap jerk. People have no honour and chivalry nowadays." I looked away in slight irritation.
"Don't worry your pretty head over that, Miss Kisara. I'll take care of that guy. Nobody speaks to you like that and gets away with it." he brushed his fingers down my cheek gently, yet his tongue spoke cyanide.
"I...Kinda want to know what you're going to do." I muttered, putting my hand over his.
"Oh, I'm a gentleman, I won't do anything rough. We'll just have a nice...Talk. No problem." he informed with a twisted grin on his face.
That's too bad...Are you sure I can't stab him with my scalpel? After insulting me like that, I feel like he should know what it's like to waste your youth for something greater." I pouted softly, throwing a shady look to the side.
"I'll see what I can do. I wouldn't possibly want you to see me in a darker light. Now then, I'll walk you home. Tomorrow, we should all meet at the bar. Same time. Is that fine?" he suggested, as everyone agreed to the propositions, so we all left to our own path.
On our way home, Akira joined us and we talked about Kakuya's curse, about what she said, and where she could be at the given moment, then Seiji called his associates to make sure they gather all the information needed on Ban, then we got around a little convenience store...Where we met with a creepy looking fat guy who seemed to be sort of a slave for the young Yakuza boy, boy that enjoyed torturing the man in cause, who could only tremble and sweat in fear and intimidation....By saying he didn't pay the monthly due and will inform his dad if he doesn't do a good job.
"I have to buy some stuff from the convenience store. Miss Kisara, would you join me? I know it's pretty late, but I will walk you home either way." he smiled softly, and I could only chuckle at how he was trying to be such a perfect gentleman.
"Sure, I don't mind. It's nice hanging out without having to fear that ghosts will chase us." I shrugged, and we went inside to buy some stuff, and while at it, I got some stuff for myself too, for which I had to insist to pay...But was in vain.
"I can't let a lady pay for her stuff." he chuckled as he made Maruhashi carry everything.
"I don't like being in anyone's debt, you know?" I sweatdropped.
"You don't owe me anything, what do you mean? After stepping in front of that ghost for us, it's the least bit of gratitude I could show." he shrugged simply, looking ahead.
"It's not like I did anything spectacular, per say...But I will pay you back regardless....Huh? Why is my front door covered in mud? I just washed it, what the...?" I muttered in annoyance as I unlocked the door and got inside, only to see mud trails leading towards the bathroom. "This is unsettling..." I mutter, walking inside slowly.
"Do you think someone broke into your house?" Seiji asked, walking besides me.
"Broke into my house to take a quick shower, and then left? That's highly unlikely. I think it's much worse..." I sighed in aggravation, slamming open the bathroom door, to see the lights on and shower running. "Oh, great! The bill is gonna cost me a fortune now! Stupid ghost, can't you be mindful of my money? I don't have a tree money in my kitchen!" I ruffled my hair in rage, turning off the water in an instant.
"Your...House is haunted? Are you sure it wasn't a thief or something?" Seiji asked in a lower voice, from fright.
"A thief would have stolen something, which is not the case. They only came here...Water...The Urashima woman was thrown into the lake and drowned there. It would potentially make sense...It might also mean that Akira is facing the same situation." I leave the room, looking down at how much I'll have to clean, sighing in self-pity. "Well, thank you for walking me home. As you see, I have to clear up this ghost-mess and call Akira to make sure he's okay. Tomorrow, same place, same time, yes?" I rake a hand through my hair, leaning on the front door as Seiji walked out.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay at my place, or find you a nice hotel, until we're done with the curse thing? What if it comes after you while you're asleep?" he worried, looking away, thinking of other solutions.
"Don't worry, I've definitely had worse than this. I'm sure I can mange. Thank you for your concern, you're sweet. Careful on your way home and text me when you arrive, okay?" I smile gently at him, gesture that he seemed to copy.
"Good night, Kisara. See you tomorrow." he nodded, motioning for Maruhashi to follow.
Closing the door, I take the cleaning tools to make sure everything is tidy, including the front door, in the end, and it was a late hour when I was finally able to lie down, munch on something and relax. I heard the notification sound from Seiji a few minutes before I fell asleep, thinking of ways to take down the Urashima woman successfully and make sure nobody is harmed...
Chapter 3: Cursed
That night, as exhausted as I was, I was genuinely hoping that I would fall asleep with no problem...Which I did.
Except...That sleep didn't last for too long, as the familiar ringtone of my phone sounded loudly next to my ear, and mumbling a curse, I reach out my hand and instinctively accept the call, without as much as opening my eyes.
"Doctor Mashita Kisara here...How can I help...?" I groan in my phone, not sure if audible or comprehensive.
"Kisara? Why did you call me? Are you alright?" Seiji's voice, despite usually being soothing, now sounded somewhat concerned, through the huskiness of his sleep-voice.
"What d'ya mean? You called me...I heard the ringtone..." I mumble, frowning slightly.
"That can't be right...? I was awoken by the phone ringtone and accepted your call." he talked slower, as if trying to understand what was going on.
"I don't know...I was sleeping until just now...I.........Huh.........? KYYAAAAAAAAA!!!!" as soon as I managed to slightly flutter my eyes open, I saw a deathly figure towering over me, which made me bolt from my bed and throw the phone at it, running out of the room, out of the apartment altogether, into the dead of night.
My mind couldn't stop running ablaze with morbid thoughts - What the hell was that?! It looked much like the Urashima woman...But how could that be?!
In my flight out of the room, I wasn't able to discern any noticeable difference in my apartment from how it usually is, with the exception that...My bedroom door was widely open and my front door was unlocked.
How could that be?
I've always been a paranoid person, and checked 5 times to see if the front door is locked or not.
And as for my bedroom door, I physically can't fall asleep if it's open, and I wake up as soon as it gets opened even just a tiny bit, by any reason existent.
When we lived together, my brother always had to make sure he wouldn't forget my door open, since he'd have to go through my room early in the morning to get to the kitchen and make his coffee.
What the hell is going on? Was I cursed? Why WAS I cursed?
I'm not Akira, Kakuya wants nothing with me...
But even so...Since I came back here, to the place where I was born, my spiritual powers have been feeling more intense...I keep seeing death visions, not only of myself, but of the people around me that are involved in this whole ghost mess.
Kaoru with the turtle attack in the bathtub.
Akira getting drowned.
Seiji getting killed by a boat engine.
And myself having the same fate as the Urashima woman - stuck in a small place and thrown in the lake.
Ah....Where am I even...?
I've been running all this time without realising...I couldn't even feel the burning ache in my legs or the fact that I couldn't even breathe anymore...
I'm not a person to do physical effort, and yet, on these rare occasions...I wish they wouldn't exist.
I think I should walk back home now...Retrace my steps and make sure nobody sees me, or else they'd think I'm some hysterical mad woman who escaped the asylum or something, especially since I was in my PJs and my hair was quite messy.
I didn't even realise how much I ran all the way here, but I could barely walk because of all the fatigue and the relaxation from the adrenaline phase, how annoying.
It took what seemed like ages to get back to the back of my apartment, and looking up, I noticed how I left the front door open, but I was still scared to get inside the apartment, fearing that the ghost was still there, so I just leaned on one of the walls there and slid down, hugging my knees close to my chest, taking a deep breath, my gaze focused only on my front door.
I kept panting and thinking of various ways to get rid of that spirit from my home...Until something touched my shoulder, making me immediately shoot up and walk backwards, looking at the culprit...
"Oh my Goodness, Seiji, don't scare me like that! Actually, why are you even here? You shouldn't be here!" I put my hand over my heart, regaining myself after that scare, once again.
"After you call me and then shriek in the phone like you've seen death, what was I supposed to do?" he raised his eyebrow, crossing his arms.
"Go back to sleep, preferably. It was the Urashima woman. I think she made my phone call yours and then made my ringtone act up, so I would wake up and see her. She was right next to my bed...Hell, I can even feel her heavy breathing on my neck." I hugged myself, looking away, not realising the terrified look on Seiji's face.
"First you, then Akira...Now it came to your place making her presence known...What if it gets worse before we can...Uh...Kill her, or whatever we have to do?" he asks, making me vigurously shake my head.
"Purify her! If we destroy her, we're all gonna die horribly painful deaths, and I don't want that to happen to any of us!" I bite my lip, looking down in worry.
"Okay, no, let's not think that way. We're gonna purify her and get rid of her once and for all, no problem." he steps closer to me, putting his hands on my shoulders, reassuringly.
"Yeah, I know. I'm gonna make sure of that." I nod, almost mechanically. "I should go back inside and clean up, if there is mud again. Thanks for worrying about me, but your dad must be worrying about you big time. You're the heir of the Yakuza boss, and many know that. Who knows what could happen if you stay alone at night more than necessary?" I smile weakly at him, patting one of his hands, but he merely chuckled.
"Are you worried about me, Miss Kisara? Because you shouldn't be. I told you, I am a man. More, a gentleman, so if I wouldn't get out of my way to make sure the people I hold dear to me are okay or not, what kind of gentleman would I be?" he smirked slightly, putting his arm around my shoulders and guiding me back to my home.
"You're 18...And you barely know me for less than a week or so. I'm not sure what could possibly make you say that I'm dear to you in any way." I look away, speaking in a tone barely audible.
"Hmmm....Then, tell me, Miss Kisara, why did you get between us and the ghost back then? And also, why are you still here, trying to help Akira find Amy?" he asks with a knowing smirk on his face.
"I-I...W-Well...It's not like I have anything better to do. And now that I'm personally being haunted as well, it's not like I can just stay back and watch as you stumble blindly into the unknown....Okay, fine, you got me, I have nothing more to say. You are right. You win." I shrugged, chuckling as I realised my own words.
"See~? I know what I'm talking about. Besides, I already texted my dad about the situation, so there's nothing to worry about." he spoke confidently.
"Very well then. I guess now that you're here, no ghost is gonna attack, especially a 2nd time. Want to come over? Should I call you a taxi or something?" I ask, inviting him inside. "Ah, great, that stupid ghost made a mess all over the floor again. Honestly, for a dead thing, it's pretty messy." I muttered jokingly.
"Do you want me to help?" he asked, shooting me a concerned look.
"Oh, goodness, no. Thanks for the thought, but I couldn't allow a guest to clean in my house. Well, now that you're here, want to watch a movie or something? I have a few horror slasher movie cassettes if you want. I'm sure I have some popcorn around too." I informed with a soft smile.
"You watch horror movies for fun?" he raised his eyebrow in shock.
"I...Guess that's pretty unusual? Sorry if that made me look weird or something." I chuckled awkwardly, scratching the back of my neck.
"No, no, it's fine. It's nice seeing someone who's not so faint hearted...And isn't Hazuki." he smirked in amusement.
"Seiji...I'm a doctor. I do surgeries. I see more blood and cut up things every day then I do in movies. I don't think there's anything that could phase me, really." I shrugged, grinning.
"Gorgeous, intelligent and hilarious. Are you the perfect woman, Miss Kisara?" he smirked, leaning closer to me.
"Honestly? Far from it." I laughed it off casually. "That's my room over there. Make yourself at home, You can choose what film to watch, the cassettes are on my study desk. I'll be with you in 10 minutes when I'm done with all this, okay?" I pointed to the room in cause.
"There sure are a lot of them." he pointed out from the other room. "Is Nightmare on Elm street okay? Or Friday the 13th?" he asked, peering his head from the room.
"Oh, yeah, those are some of my favourites. You can start one of them, I'll be there in a few." I gave him a thumbs up as he started the movie.
That night, or rather said, the remaining of it, we watched horror movies until we fell asleep at dawn, as soon as the first lights of the Sun appeared.
We woke up pretty late in the afternoon, and Seiji suggested that we ditch those 2 for the day, and instead, he would take care of some information gathering and taking care of the guards for Kaoru and Akira. It would be just as if we were there!
That is, hoping nothing bad would happen to them, that is.
Of course, I was pretty anxious the whole evening and night, especially without someone around to keep me company, but it's not like I could have the kids stay over all the time, after all.
I will just sleep with light open and curse the stupid ghost for the horror of seeing the water and electricity bills at the end of the month.
At night, I met up with Seiji outside of Black Rabbit, where he was waiting for me with his guard...Maruhashi or whatever his name was.
There were no greetings when we got inside, but instead, Maruhashi apologised to Kaoru for harassing her, saying that she looked like Momo a lot.
In hindsight, Maruhashi told us again about the woman that was put in a suitcase and thrown in the lake, making me shudder, remembering the blood memory, and then he informed us about the midwife, the culprit in cause, saying that she had a strong attachment to babies, and that allegedly, she would secretly take the stillborn fetuses that died at the hospital.
As well as that, after she killed the pregnant woman, she got her hands on a baby that was still alive, so she didn't need her substitutes anymore, so she threw them all in the Urashima Lake.
"And here I am proven once again that the best horror stories are those about the actions of real people, not of anything paranormal." I rolled my eyes, shaking my head in disgust.
"That lake again...This is crazy." Akira sneered in anger.
"My thoughts exactly. This, combined with sinking the suitcase, it seems the lake is a favourite spot for the culprit. Investigators searched for the fetuses too, but, like the woman's body, they couldn't find them anywhere. They were so small that they probably became fish food." Seiji explained the situation.
"Urgh, don't be so blunt about something so terrible..." Kaoru tsked in annoyance.
"It is the truth, though. We can't afford to censor or hide anything at this point." I scolded softly.
"Huuuh, it seems you're surprisingly delicate." Seiji taunted her, making me stifle a giggle.
"Let's go to Yamato shrine then. The faster we get there, the more we can investigate and get this over with. We don't know how long Akira has before the curse deadline ends." I pointed out firmly.
"The only snag is how to get inside. Hopefully the guard today is the same one as 2 days ago." Kaoru thought it over.
"Oh right, the idol otaku. True, it'd help us immensely if he's the one watching the entrance." Seiji smiled mockingly.
"You're talking about Yamagami, yeah? He's not on guard duty today." Maruhashi told us quickly.
"Maruhashi, how do you know him?" the chestnut haired boy raised his eyebrow accusingly.
"He's in the Momo Kuruse Fan Club." he spoke excitedly, making me groan.
"Oh, not that again..." I muttered, feeling dead inside.
"So...He's a friend...?" the Yakuza pried on.
"No! Never! There's no way! Yamagami only talks about Momo's boobs! He goes on and on about how it's wonderful they aren't padded. It's like he's insulting her! Momo's charm comes from her beautiful legs and finely shaped a-" Maruhashi began, but was cut off by both myself and Seiji.
"Excuse me while I go vomit over how disgusting adult men are, drooling over an underage girl." I facepalmed, feeling even more disgusted, while Seiji spoke at the same time with me.
"Be quiet. I couldn't care less about your terrible taste. You have the perfect woman in this room, and your eyes linger on a flat kid that looks like a boy." Seiji looked at his subordinate with a disgusted, that seemed to be his usual expression whenever Maruhashi talks.
"...No need to hype me up so much." I mumbled, blushing slightly at the sudden compliments.
"Whoops. Sorry, I got too hot. I contacted Yamagashi when I was gathering info on the shrine, but...Seems he's missing or something. He disappeared 2 nights ago while he was on patrol in the park. No one knows what happened, so it doesn't look like anyone's called the cops yet." Maruhashi informed, making us frown in confusion.
"That's when we escaped from the shrine, right? So he went missing right after that." I muttered, trying to think of what happened, but I could only think of the ghost.
"Let's hurry to the shrine. Let's see how everything stands first, then we can think of a way in...Maybe we'll be in for a pleasant surprise. It might be less guarded than we expect." Seiji smirked knowingly.
"A guard up and vanished. I'd think it'd be even more tightly guarded." Kaoru scoffed, bored.
"No, no, I think he's on to something." I raised my eyebrow at the boy, who only flashed me a charming smile.
"There were a lot there yesterday. But I do agree we should go. We take to long and you'll die. Forcing our way in might end up being an option." she spoke firmly.
"Maruhashi, you stay here, use the laptop and find out what you can about that pregnant woman incident. If you uncover anything new, let us know." the Yakuza ordered.
And so, we left for the shrine, and from the looks of it, Seiji was the reason why there were no guards tonight. It was obvious blackmail, by the sound of the phonecall.
I chuckled in amusement as I saw him playing it cool by saying the Samoyed got sick or something.
In the end, Seiji thought it'd be better if he were to stay behind as a lookout and backup, but I could only look at him with slight worry.
"Will you be okay? I mean, I think it's better if you stay here since there won't be any ghost, but..." I step in front of him, speaking softly so only he could hear.
"I think you'd worry more if I Hazuki was here, by herself, with no guard to make sure she's okay. I'll be fine...But you better take care out there. That ghost attacked you more than once, you never know what it could plot next time." he looked at me with a stern look.
"I'm confident in my abilities to purify ghosts. I've done it at least 10 times before...And while sure, this ghost was rather aggressive...The one at the Love Hotel was...Much more aggressive." I shuddered at the thought. "Can you lean down a bit?" I asked quickly, seeing as the others were ready to go.
"What is it?" he asked, getting to my level.
"Here, a little protective charm. This will ensure you won't get in trouble. Take care now." I kissed his forehead softly, before rushing inside with the other 2.
We got the oars and went to the docks, rowing to the island where the woman was killed. We wanted to get inside the shrine, but what was surprising wasn't the fact that it was locked, but the fact that the doors were soaked wet.
Nevertheless, ignoring the sound of baby wailing that kept going on and off, we decided to look for the key.
Instead of that, we found a turtle...And its shell looked like it had a baby's face.
That's when we realised that the fetus somehow merged with the turtle, just like the old tales that said baby spirits become turtles, so Kaoru decided to hug and sooth it, as a mother would...Which made the turtle disappear.
I suppose now the baby could rest in peace...Or something.
Kaoru insisted we find the other turtle, while looking for the key on the main park, and we found it next to the fountain, so the girl went all motherly again, while Akira mocked her.
We soon found the 3rd turtle in a bush, and the idol asked it to help us find the guard. As soon as the turtle was pacified, a male groan was heard from the Urashima lake, which triggered a headache to Akira, which we found out was Kakuya telling him the curse is almost at its deadline, so we had to hurry.
As soon as we started getting back to the shrine...And we found the guard in the lake...Dead...Somehow morphing into a turtle.
Kaoru was so startled that I and Akira had to be the ones to drag the body ashore, and thankfully, we found the key to the tamate shrine.
Inside, we saw a stroller, and inside, we found a Safe birth amulet, some phone strap from the Momo-whatever, in the big vase, a bloody, dirty syringe next to the mirror...
Syringe that we touched and let our Bloodmetry do the trick.
I was on the bed, feeling numb at the extremities, very fain and tired, but in such pain...And there was a midwife holding a baby, threatening to kill me and steal the child.
The paper around the syringe was wrapped around a paper, which turned out to be a stillborn certificate...But there was something weird about this all.
As soon as we found that out, Akira got his signal that the curse was reaching its "Happily ever after" and we had to hurry the hell up or he'd die.
When we left the shrine, there was a terrible smell, and a voice...We turned around, to see the ghost behind Kaoru, and while Akira warns her, I leap forwards, grabbing her and pushing him behind me roughly.
"Go prep the boat, I'll stall her!" I order, not prying my gaze away from the ghost.
"Be careful, Kisara!" Kaoru cried out in a frightened voice.
"Take this!" I mutter as I throw the Yoga book at the trees, making her chase it away.
"Kisara, we're all set! Come on!" the girl got my attention, and I started running to the boat.
"Row!" I raised my voice as soon as I jumped in the boat.
"Did...We lose her?" Kouru panted, trembling softly, letting go of the oars.
"I think so." Akira muttered, feeling just as exhausted.
"...It's not over yet. Look there!" I point the flashlight towards the figure raising from the lake.
"You've got to be kidding me!" she gasped, and I took the oars from her hands, rowing away from there as hard as I could.
"I don't see her anymore." Akira pointed out.
"Let's get to the shore fast." I bit my lip, feeling my arms burning.
But just then, the boat started shaking and a pair of hands grabbed the edge in front of me, pulling us back from where we came from.
"Akira, get the oars, Imma try to pry her off." I handed him the oars, getting the backpack closer to me.
I get the safe birth amulet and force it into her slimy hands, and she started gently stroking it, making her get back into the water, giving Akira the signal to row away.
Thankfully, we quickly got to the shore, but as soon as we stepped on the land, we saw the ghost get out of the water again.
We started running like crazy, until she fell to her knees as soon as we got to the fountain.
Akira tried to help motivate her to get up, but the poor girl was dead tired.
As soon as the fountain flashed water, then stopped, the ghost appeared in front of us, revealing her face...That look like a split open shark...Or something.
I move in front of Hazuki who was barely able to scramble to her feet.
"Akira, do you have that calligraphy flyer?" I snap my gaze towards him, and he started searching for it.
"Yeah, here it is." he nodded, giving the Urashima woman the flyer. "That's what you were looking for, isn't it? Your baby?" he spoke with feign confidence.
"Tatsumi won silver in the calligraphy contest. Try to remember. Isn't he your baby?" I explained to her in a firm voice.
"If he is...Then he's alive. Your child is alive!" Kaoru spoke in a gentle voice, trying to sooth the ghost.
"Tatsumi...Tatsumi...Uuuuooooo....My....BABY........" the ghost cried out, before dispersing in a blinding flash of light.
"Oh, thank goodness. We managed to purify her." I let out a big exhale that I didn't realise I was holding on.
"So...We're safe?" Kaoru asked timidly.
"Yeah. Yeah, we are. That also means Akira's curse was lifted." I smiled softly at them.
"I can't believe it...Chased by a ghost...We even exorcised it...WHAT an experience. That was amazing!" the brunette girl chirped enthusiastically.
"...You're hopeless." I mused, amused by the girl's antics.
"Never again..." Akira grumbled.
"Really? I'm ready for a second round myself. Of course, only if lives aren't on the line...That's right, where's Ami? Kakuya said the Urashima Woman kidnapped Ami, didn't she?!" she gasped in realisation.
"No, that's not it. Ami won't come back if you don't play with the Urashima Woman." Akira informed.
"That must mean Kakuya isn't done with you, I believe." I sighed in annoyance.
In the place where the Urashima woman stood, there was a pool of blood and rocks, and as Akira touched it, he saw Ami.
As things got more intense, Akira got a call from Seiji, saying how we should meet at the Black Rabbit and discuss the details.
We run towards the bar, splitting up, as per Hazuki's request, trying not to attract unwanted attention.
I cursed my existence and Hazuki for wanting to split up, since I wasn't all that familiar with the place, but after a while, I got a phone call from Seiji.
"Are you okay? Where are you?" he asked with a concerned voice.
"Uh...I think I'm on the way to the bar. I'm not entirely familiar with the place, so I can't tell if I'm on the right way or not. I guess, now that there's no more spirit around Akira, there's nothing spiritually guiding me." I spoke in an awkward voice, feeling like a stupid kid.
"Goddamn it, whose idea was it to split up, anyway?! Idiots. Regardless, can you look around and spot anything that could tell me your position?" he spoke in a composed voice.
"Let's see...There's this cafe called Rendez-Vous...And a supermarket?" I trail on, but I was cut off pretty fast.
"Go in front of the cafe, I'll come to you. You're pretty close to the bar, thankfully." he spoke reassuringly.
"Okay...Thank you, Seiji. And I'm sorry for the trouble." I smiled softly, hanging up and walking next to the light post, in front of the cafe.
"Well, well, look who came from her ghost hunting adventures. Waiting for your little band of outlaws?" a familiarly annoying voice called out.
"It's you again. Should I file a restriction order or something?" I rolled my eyes.
"Nothing of the sort. That is, if you don't want me to go to the police and report you for illicit actions." Ban smirked, stepping closer to me.
"And...What? You'll get a thanks and a pat on your back? Thanks, Ban, you're such a good guy! A good samaritan, but nothing more." I nodded, crossing my arms to my chest.
"Got me there, missy. I just came over to give you a friendly little warning. There's someone looking for you, and unfortunately, he is very close to finding you. It's indirectly my fault, which is why I thought that warning you would morally and ethically wash away my sins." he shrugged, wiping that smug expression from his face.
"Huh? Why would anyone be looking for me? They could simply call me if they needed me, right? I'm a doctor, my number is out there." I raised my eyebrow in confusion.
"Does the name Adrian mean anything to you?" he asked, and in that instant, I could feel my face going white as snow.
"...Come again...?" I managed to usher, barely about a whisper.
"Miss Kisara? Is that guy bothering you?" an icy cold voice called out from behind me, which made me jolt in surprise.
"S-Seiji! N-No, it's fine. Surprisingly enough, he's not bothering me." I turn around to face the journalist again.
"The look on your face makes it obvious that you know that guy very well." Ban frowned.
"How do you know him? Did he contact you?" I ask, very annoyed.
"He came to me, saying he wants to learn and be an underworld journalist, and that he'd pay me for it. That was about a week ago. These days, he kept asking about this Katrina Shimada, and upon further research, I traced that name to you. That's how I knew so much about you." he explained, fixing his shades.
"...You chose the worst person to be around of. He's using you to get to me. That...That jerk finished some low rated programming University and worked in an office, doing excel documents. He wouldn't want to become a journalist." I frowned, gritting my teeth.
"I figured that out eventually. At this rate, he might find out where you're staying or something. He seems like a pretty obsessive ex...That's all I had to report, but don't think your little band of rebels is off the hook." he grumbled, turning to walk away from there.
"What was that about? Was he threatening you?" Seiji asked, walking in front of me.
"No...He warned me about...Someone. Someone that I was hoping not to hear about again." I bit my lip, looking down, pondering.
"Who is he? I can make sure he stays away from you." he put his hands on my shoulders.
"...Let's just say I have the worst dating experience. Or I'm unlucky. Or I'm just a terrible person. I don't know, and at this point, I don't really care, as long as I don't have to see that jerk again." I could feel my nails digging into the skin on my arms, trying to calm myself down.
"To think that someone would behave so poorly towards you...I should have a little chat with him, I believe. Give him a little chat about treating angels like you." he seemed to hide the anger in his voice.
"He tracked me down from England to this place... I bet he knew that if I was back home, my brother would have him beaten up pretty good. Now that I'm here by myself...He found the perfect opportunity. But...Why...? I broke up with him 5 years ago, damn it. Get a life." I groaned in anger, looking away.
"Don't think for a second that I'd let some lowlife get close to you. It's bad enough that he hurt you, but to have the privilege of seeing you again? Not a chance. I promise." his voice went softer at the end, before pulling me to his chest.
"Don't trouble yourself with something so trivial, Seiji. You're busy enough with school stuff, the yakuza and being a teenager and all that. Don't let some old woman's problems bother you, I'll be fine." I sighed, but he was having none of it.
"Now, now, I believe we already discussed this before. I don't want to hear more denial. I am a man and I want to prove to you that not everyone is an irresponsible and uncaring douche like that guy. Now, let's get you home, you've been through a lot today." he started guiding me towards my home.
"Nothing I haven't been through before. I've come close to death enough times because of ghosts, so this is nothing. I was worried but the 3 of you, really." I dismiss everything easily.
"Well, thanks to you, we're all okay and Akira's cursed was lifted. Don't downplay your actions like that." he nudged me lightly, and before I knew it, we got in front of my home.
"Thanks for everything you've been doing for me, Seiji. You're very sweet, especially to someone you've just met a few days ago. I really appreciate it." I lean on the door frame, looking at him with a gentle look.
"Few people deserve it, Miss Kisara. You're one of them. I've met countless people in my life, so I know how they are...Reading people comes about as easy as breathing for me. You can count on me, just like we count on you to solve this mess Akira found himself into." he brushed away a long streak of my red hair.
"I'm really not doing anything special...I'm just myself. Nothing more. And I feel responsible for your well being, in a way." I shrugged, shifting in my place.
"You're special, Kisara, that's all I'm going to say for now. Go sleep now, you deserve to rest. I will call you if Akira is contacted by Kakuya again, okay?" he gave me a soft smile, making me nod.
"Okay, Seiji, you're right. I'll try to relax a bit...The whole Urashima whatever is over now, so at least for tonight, I can afford to relax a bit. Be careful on your way home, okay? And text me when you get home. I want to know you're safe and sound." I smiled back at him, feeling the exhaustion from the day wearing me off.
"I'll see you soon, then. Here...This is a charm. I'm wishing you sweet dreams. Goodnight, Kisara." he caressed my cheek before kissing my forehead, staying like that for a few seconds, before pulling away and leaving the place.
"You're killing me, Seiji..." I sighed, feeling my cheeks warming up slightly, before going to bed to get some well deserved sleep.
I can't believe we're finally over that annoying Urashima woman who had the guts to come into my house twice, and even attacked me in my sleep like that.
The problem is, however, that the worst isn't anywhere close to being over and there are going to me more ghosts to purify and more people to save from paranormal danger.
As well as that...I just hope Ban won't mess with us again and that the jerk won't come anywhere near me or the little group of kids that, for some reason, I really started to care about a lot.
Let's just hope everything will turn out for the best.
Chapter 4: A Vet's Nightmare
I woke up feeling sunshine and daisies - Literally everything was beautiful, inside and outside of the house, so I decided to be productive!
I went to the cafe nearby, enjoyed a nice hot chocolate and a piece of cake, before going shopping for self-care items and food stuff, so I took out my music player, putting it in the bathroom, listening to rock songs, while taking a hot bath, surrounded by scented candles.
Everything was so calming and relaxing, I completely forgot about worries, ghosts, stupid people and whatever else would piss me off, that is.
Today was my day off, and I truly deserved it.
At least that's what I hoped, until a call forcefully brought me out of my paradise and I was reminded that I was not so much in a vacation, as I was actually on some sort of Ghost Adventures...A very messed up one.
"Doctor Mashita Kisara speaking, how may I help you?" I spoke my usual intro absent-mindedly, not bothering to look at the caller ID.
"Perhaps a date would make me feel better after the new ghost rumours I was forced to hear just now." Seiji's playful tone rang smoothly through the phone, and from the background, I could hear some giggles and groans.
"Kakuya visited Akira again?" I asked in a somber voice, stopping myself while curling my hair.
"Awww, come one, Kisara, don't make that the main focus. Why don't you meet us at the Kissouji Station? We're heading there right now. It will be like a double date." he chuckled, making me shake my head, then drop the curler with a hiss of pain.
"God damn it...I burnt myself. Yeah, sure, I'll be there, hope I won't be late. Can you tell me the basics of the rumours, if you know any?" I picked up the blasted curler, finishing my hair.
"It...May be a bit sensitive. I think I'd rather tell you in person, so it won't shock you too much." Seiji hesitated, his voice going a bit more serious.
"I'm 23, not 13. I don't think there's anything that could potentially trigger me or make me uncomfortable in any way." I remind him again, which only earned a sigh.
"It is related to animal abuse. Considering your profession, which SOME people are rather insensitive enough to forget, I believe you wouldn't quite like it." he explained, putting emphasis on that word, making Kaoru protest in the background.
"...Fucking ghosts. I'll be there in a sec, hope I won't make you wait. See you." I hung up quickly, putting on a plaid green shirt, rolling up my sleeves, then my black jeans, with a pair of boots, my usual silver rings and a silver paw necklace and bolt out of the house.
Thankfully enough, there was no traffic, so the taxi dropped me by the Station in a jiffy, and even more, I got there earlier than the rest - Either that, or they left without me, which hopefully, isn't the case.
Being a bit bored, I went to lean on a light pole, then took out the pocket mirror from my bag and started fixing my loose curls, not noticing when the others arrived, until I heard a whistle.
"You truly outdid yourself today, Miss Kisara. You look as radiant as the Sun. If you ever wear a red dress, you're going to look even more stunning than Jessica Rabbit." Seiji flashed me a charming smile, kissing the back of my hand.
"You should hear me sing, then. Now, tell me about this new ghost we're dealing with and where are we going." I asked more seriously, and before Seiji could explain, Kaoru chimed in.
"There's been some dog beheadings in Kintoki, and we suspect this new ghost, Kubitarou of Kintoki, is the reason behind them." she said, which made my eye twitch and breath hitch in my throat.
"Kisara...Are you alright?" Seiji asked gingerly.
"I...Just...URGH. If only I could destroy this ghost...Killing...Beheading...Those poor, innocent animals...!...Okay. I'm calm. I'm okay. Let's go." I shook my head, gritting my teeth, as Kaoru was to wait for us at the Station.
On our walk towards Kintoki, which was apparently pretty close, Seiji kept his arm around me, to keep me grounded, the same I would do when there would be a ghost around.
Walking through the dark streets of Kintoki, a dog kept barking, and as my animal-affinity kept urging me, I passed my bag to Seiji before going to jump on the fence to look around for it, only to see a little puppy wagging its tail in the garden and going in circles, making me giggle.
"Who's a cute little baby? Yeah, you are! You're a cute baby!" I cooed at the puppy, as it tried to jump on the fence to get to me and play with me.
"If you lean any more down, you risk falling on your head." Akira mocked, seeing me bent down in half down the fence.
"...Uh...Th-That's a Vet's primary instinct. Can't go against it." giving the puppy one last distance kiss, I jumped down, stumbling a bit, and trying to fan myself to cover the embarrassment blush.
"I'm sure that's the reason. I bet you're that kind of person who yells DOG or CAT whenever they see one, and goes to pet it, even if it has an owner or not." Akira smirked at me, and I could only chuckle awkwardly at him.
"...Oopsy Daisy, I got busted." was my only excuse, as it made both of them chuckle.
"As much as that was adorable, I wanted to ask...Don't you think security has been a lot more lax than expected?" Seiji asked casually.
"Why would security be on some random alleys around this place?" I looked at them confused.
"Supposedly, the police were concerned by all the...Animal abuse happening. In the end, them not being here works well for us, we don't have to sneak around and worry...Though you have to wonder if they can really keep the peace like this." he explained, as if nothing of interest happened.
"Says the guy who disrupts the peace." Akira jabbed his friend.
"Haha, what are you talking about? It's thanks to people like me that they even have jobs. It's an arrangement that's mutually beneficial." Seiji retorted with just as much spunk.
"What a terrible world we live in." Akira smirked right back.
"Now just who made it like this?" Seiji chuckled darkly.
However, we spoke to much of our safety, as we heard a scared policeman, which made the 3 of us tense up on the spot, trying to think of a plan to escape. It was obvious he was nervous, most likely cause by the rumours, but he still had to do his job somehow.
"What are you doing here so late?" the cop asked in an almost shaky voice.
"Oh, uhm, we just..." Akira tried to say something, but stuttered.
"There's been a rash of dangerous, disturbing cases lately, you shouldn't wander about. I've seen the recent crime scene myself...It was gruesome. Mind if I ask you a few things? And I'd like to see some form of ID, just as a precaution. A lot of people are reporting crazy supernatural things to the station for some reason. Seriously, the police aren't shamans. We don't deal with ghosts and the like. Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you cooperate." he said, obviously talkative because of his nervousness.
"Sure. Here you go. My name is Mashita Kisara, as stated on my ID. My profession is Veterinary medic, my record is pristine clean, so you don't have to worry about trivialities. Sorry for inconveniencing you with us being around, we love the night and it's pretty chilly outside, so we thought we'd have a calming walk around the city. We had no idea about the cases, rumours and whatever...But...You will keep us safe, won't you, Mr. Policeman? Ghosts are pretty scary...Who knows what they are capable of doing if they can make the police force be on their toes all over Kintoki." I spoke in a feign-concerned, yet very sweet voice, trying to make him even more nervous, which worked wonders.
"O-Oh, uhm...I...We-We are going to keep this city safe, so don't worry, miss! Now please, go home and make sure you stay on alert." he stuttered, his eyes shifting left and right.
"You are so brave, Mr. Policeman! But...You see...There is something that has been bothering me for the past few minutes...If you look behind you, right there, behind that pole, something that resembles the silhouette of a very scary dog has been staring dead at us. It is making me feel very much afraid, and I don't think I'll have the courage to go home knowing that such a big, frightening dog could be coming after us. Would you be so brave as to please check it out, Mr. Policeman?" I asked in a worried voice, which made him bite his lip and nod vigorously.
"Yes, ma'am, right away! Some mangy mutt won't scare away the citizens while I'm around!" he tried to play the hero, rushing in that direction.
"Let's run now." I muttered, trying my best to stifle my laugh as I grabbed the 2 boys and ran away.
"Well, that went well. Thankfully, Miss Kisara was here to save the day with her incredible charm and non-problematic record." Seiji chuckled, putting his arm around me.
"I definitely missed my true career, huh?" I chuckled, flipping my hair like a diva.
However, as soon as I heard that, some footsteps came from behind as, and what we suspected was the cop, turned out to be just Maruhashi, who brought us a bag of Kintoki Manju and told us how to get to the Kintoki tower.
When we got there, we found an old sealed well, and a mini-shrine, to which we read the history - It said that a sacred tree called Kintoki Cedar used to be in its place, and something about 2 brothers, Jirou and Tarou. Then, Maru told us some legends he heard as a child, while Akira gave a Manju offering to the shrine...But nothing happened.
That is, until I felt a weird sensation, like a burning gaze on me...But that all went away when the boys started praying and I snapped back to reality, telling them to go back home and investigate tomorrow as well.
On our way back to the station, however, just when we got to the street where we met the cop, we heard a loud scream of fright and agony, which made us all jump, startled, before running in the direction of the scream. When we got to the source of the scream, the cop was on the ground, yelling a strangled scream, scared out of his wits...
While hanging, roped, from the pole, the corpse of a headless white dog was dangling.
I felt like the sky fell on me and I wasn't sure if the world was spinning or if I was just too shocked, for my knees were weak and all I could feel was someone pulling me close to their body.
"What the hell...Hey, you, what the hell happened here?!" I yelled at the cop with a desperate voice.
"Kisara, breathe, take it easy, look at me, calm down." Seiji tried his best to keep me grounded.
"A-Axe...Head...C-Can't...Have mine..." the man tried to stuttered, but he couldn't keep his gaze away from the gruesome sight in front of him.
"Hey, did you see Kubitarou?!" I asked, prying myself from Seiji's arms and crouching in front of the man, shaking him by the shoulders.
"An axe...Large man...T-T-Took...The head...Went to...The transmission tower..." he managed to say, before letting out another shrill scream, which made me tsk in annoyance.
"It should have been you, not the dog." I muttered as I got up and motioned for the boys to run to the tower to get sight of the ghost.
Akira sprinted there like his life depended on it, letting the rest of us in the dust until we arrived, panting for oxygen and complaining about him being too fast for his own good...Or ours, rather.
Unfortunately, even despite him being some human Speedy Gonzales, he wasn't able to catch even a glimpse of the ghost...
Although, there was something definitely off.
"I don't wanna alarm you, since I'm not sure how good my sense of smell is after all the formalin I had to sniff, but...Doesn't it smell a bit like...Blood?" I asked, feeling a bit uneasy.
"I was about to point out the same thing." Akira said with a frown.
"Huh? Really? I don't really smell anything." Maru blinked in confusion.
"I place full trust in this guy's senses. He's like a superman, at least physically. Besides, Kisara is a doctor, she's used to this smell. We've checked that place earlier, but there's no harm in looking one more time. Things are gonna start moving fast soon after because of that dog thing...We don't have much time, so hurry." Seiji pointed out sensibly.
"Akira...Does it seem to you like the smell is coming from the well?" I muttered, earning a nod as I crouched by the well, touching it...Until I felt a slimy sensation, and before even realising that it was blood, a vertigo feeling struck me, and my bloodmetry ability sent me to yet another vision.
There, I kept hearing a humming of what sounded like a children's song and a dog whining.
"Head to the Great Tarou Kintoki...
On the 15th night...
Off to the Great Tarou Kintoki...
To make Dad feel be-" the voice sang in what seemed like a joyful voice, and yet, a vibe of sorrow tingled my skin.
As soon as the song ended, the swishing sound of a rapid blade coming down was heard, and the last thing I saw was shiny light...Which was the end of the vision, and I was able to come back to my senses, and trying to recollect what just happened, I forced myself to hum the very same song I heard, while putting my hands on my neck, gulping.
"We have to check what this song is about...I heard it as well. It seemed like a children's song...But the dog growling...I bet this blood belonged to the dog we just saw." Akira thought it over out loud.
"Must be some custom of people praying on the 15th night. Who knows, but we have to get out of here before the cop sees us again and we get in trouble." Seiji warned us.
"This is going to be one hell of a ride..." I muttered, starting to walk, almost robotically, towards the station.
"Kisara, are you okay? You seem to be more on the edge than with the Urashima woman." Seiji put his arm around my shoulder casually, pulling me closer to him.
"If I say that human death does not, in the least, affect me, but animal death does...Does it make me some kind of sociopath? Because if yes...Well, I can't say that I care, but that's just how it is. I am an animal doctor, not a human doctor, for a reason. I have seen a ton of gruesome animal cases, but in all of them, I at least had the chance to attempt to save them...But now? This sucks. And what's worse is that it makes me speak vulgarly, and I'm really not liking it one bit." I shook my head in annoyance, making him chuckle.
"It's normal to be shocked and uneasy when things like this happen in front of you. Don't blame yourself, it was inevitable. And you are mature enough to realise when something is wrong and try to correct it. But don't think too much about the language thing, it came out of anger and stress, and once this situation is over, there won't be any more issues like that for you." he tried to pacify me, but I could only sigh.
"I suppose. I'm going to research this song or whatever it is, and hopefully, I'll find something useful." I said thoughtlessly.
With that, we went in silence to the station, where we explained everything to Kaoru and went back home, of course, Seiji walking me home and telling me to take care of myself and to have sweet dreams, as he kissed my forehead and bid me good night.
I was too out of my mind with the Kubitarou case, that maddening song playing in my head over and over again, that I couldn't make myself sleep, so all I did for the whole night was to search the internet for any information of the song...
Until I got a call from Seiji saying that Ban contacted him and that he was going to the Shinza Station, as per request, with Akira, and that he wanted me to be there as well.
Something was fishy here, but I couldn't not go, so I called for a taxi and got myself by the bridge, leaning on the railing and admiring the lights from the Moon tower, humming that annoying song in a low voice.
The worries of me being too late, or in the wrong place kind of flew by me as I was all too much lost in my own mind, in my own reasonings and ideas, that I didn't realise when Seiji and Akira came over, greeting me.
"Hey. Great seeing you...Again." I nodded at them, not taking my eyes away from the tower. "Did he contact you because of the ghost thing? He seemed to be weirdly interested in that topic the last time we saw him." I asked casually.
"He seemed surprisingly concerned about what we were doing at Yamato Shrine." Seiji responded in amusement.
"Let's hope he tells us the right things. If it comes down to it, I'll just beat it out of him." Akira threatened, which earned the response of the man in cause.
"Jeez, so violent, runt. You should study how adults handle things...Don't you agree, undefeated champion of the UG Match, Akira Kijima?" Ban gave a knowing smirk. "You should know how to train your puppies better, Vet girl." he chuckled, walking towards me.
"Are you going to play down all your cards and speak out Akira's whole life now, just to prove you have info on him as well? Spare us the trivialities, we believe you, so why don't we cut to the chase and speak about the true matters at hand? I heard you seemed especially bothered about our activity at Yamato shrine. I wonder, Ban, whatever traumatic experience could have happened to you that it made you want to pursue such a dangerous path like ghost hunting? Surely, whoever met an almost-death experience would try to run away from anything related...Are you trying to get revenge on something...Or...Someone, perhaps?" I turned around with a violent speed, my red hair whipping like a flames in the air, as I started approaching him, as a hunter stepping in front of its prey.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Miss Kisara, if that is what you want to be called, however, I do believe you have a rather...Problematic taste in men. For a woman as mature and intelligent as you, I would believe older men would be much better for the needs of someone in need of constant intelligence-stimulating." he walked in front of me, clearly avoiding the subject.
"I surely hope you wouldn't be referring to yourself, Ban. I wouldn't want to become a widow by the time I'm 40...After all, I wouldn't have any fortune to inherit. As far as I'm concerned, I earn in a month more than you earn in 5 years, with this lame job as a 'Freelancer Journalist' as you name yourself, and yet, all you're doing is threatening kids and running after some will'o'wisps. Furthermore, you seem the type to be wasting even the last bit of money you have on useless things such as alcohol, cigarettes and gambling...Am I wrong in anything I said?" I tilted my head up, staring at him dead in the eyes with a challenging look.
"Then you mean to tell me you enjoyed running around, playing with ghosts, Crimson Knight? Or having your ex stalking you is your new way of keeping yourself busy when you're having too many thoughts that are killing you?" he provoked in a rather aggressive way.
"Was it your fault? Whoever died close to you...You seem to be rather set of getting your revenge, no matter how dirty the trick. Who did you kill, Ban? Was it your sister? Your brother?...You couldn't possibly have a wife with that attitude, can you? Or even a child?" I sneered at him, which made him glare at me with fire in his eyes.
"Don't poke your nose where it doesn't concern you!" he growled at me, which made me smirk.
"Oh, did I hit a nerve? Don't you know, dear Ban, that the first rule in diplomacy is to never get angry? Clearly, you are failing at even the most basic of things...Is that how you failed them as well?" I smirked in victory, as I realised he was going to grab my shoulders, which made me quickly take out my scalpel, pulling him down to my level as I tugged him by the tie, putting my blade to his artery.
"I never claimed to be a good diplomat. And I'm only 40, goddamn it. No need to attack me like that...Is that why your ex whined so much about you hurting him? You broke up with him, didn't you?" he quickly calmed down, realising that his words made me disgusted enough to let go of him.
"Hurt him? Me? Well, sure, I suppose words do hurt when you don't realise you are nothing more than a useless, worthless person who leeches off the other's life energy, and all he does is being a toxic piece of abusing shit. That, Ban, is all you need to know, and I suggest you keep away from him. He is a one time mistake, but definitely the worst one so far." I warned him, putting back the scalpel in my pocket.
"I don't see you running away from ghosts. In fact, it seems like you love hanging around and playing the good samaritan, don't you?" he shot right back.
"I don't go out of my way chasing ghosts like you, Ban. I was cursed the first time, along with my brother, and we had to find a way to...Not die. After that, we had to help the guy who helped us back then. And now...I just came home, met these guys...And I couldn't possibly let some kids stumble blindly and get killed, when I have the right experience, could I?" I scoffed, shaking my head.
"You are, by far, the best person to have a light conversation with. Nothing has gotten me excited or angry, but you. No wonder you attract everyone, fire girl, but be careful not the get burnt yourself. I did, and it's not fun." he warned me, making me raise my eyebrow.
"I've been through enough to know to stay away from the fire. I don't want trouble, I just want money to go travel the world. I don't get why problems keep following me. On the other hand, I do believe that an exchange of information would be mutually beneficial, don't you think? We tell you what we know from what we have encountered so far, while you tell us everything you know about spirits, namely Kakuya or Kaguya, if anything. How does that sound, poker chip guy?" I asked, smirking at the intrigue and annoyance in his eyes.
"Well...Fine. Information of ghosts doesn't put food on the table." he nodded, despite his sneer.
"Neither does you wasting your money on gambling, and yet, you're still addicted, aren't you?" I gave him a mocking smile.
"How did you even know those things? Have you been stalking me?" he asked with an irritated, yet curious face.
"Goodness, no, you think I don't have anything better to do? I just threw a lot of random accusations at you and clearly, by the way you got so worked up, you assumed I knew the truth, which was the only confirmation I needed. You got played in your own game, Ban. But nice try, better luck next time." I taunted him, which seemed to make him grow on the edge.
"I absolutely hate having to deal with you." he muttered, rolling his eyes.
And so, I made Akira tell him everything that has been happening, which in turn, made Ban think it over and say that he will only tell us what he knows after he investigates the truth of the rumours he's heard. After that, he told us to focus on Kubitarou, for the moment, instead of Kakuya.
Of course, Seiji had to add in his pleasantries as well, pointing out that Ban is unusually generous, but we will keep our end of the deal.
"Hey, Amanome kid, spirits and the Prince of Threats are different matter. I have other suspect rumours on you. I won't be generous with those." Ban sneered at him.
"We can get into that another time. I expect the Kubitarou info soon. If my friend were to die...By my family name of Amanome, I WILL chase you down." Seiji threatened him with a wicked smile.
"What a scary brat you are, threatening adults." Ban noted with disgust.
"I'd suggest you don't mess with the Yakuza, Ban...That is, if you value that little lifespan you have left, that is." I chuckled, which only made him scoff and leave the place.
"That went well." Akira muttered simply.
"What a simple man. Although, I have to say, he is fun to mess around with. I'm sure we are going to get interesting information from him." I chuckled for the first time in a while.
"He will be helpful for the most part. Clearly, your influence is rather impressive, Kisara. He seemed more threatened by your words than my power, and that says a lot. You would be an incredible Mafia Don, I am sure of that." Seiji said not so subtly.
"As long as I get to kill people who bother me, I'm all for. Anyway, this has been fun, let's go home for now. Tomorrow is a new day of investigating and we gotta be as fresh as we can, considering this obscure hour he called us at." I smirked, as Seiji nodded and went to call his men to tell them to back off.
After some more banters from Seiji and Akira, I get the taxi back home and taking a shower, I get myself in bed, letting the lamp on, too uneasy to stay in full darkness.
However, I couldn't get to sleep as easily as I hoped, still having everything that happened today in my mind...And yet, when I was half-asleep...Or maybe I was truly dreaming? I started hearing the faint sound of a dog's bark, which made me smile unconsciously...
And then, from the balcony window, I heard 2 loud taps and then a low, threatening, monstrous voice echoed through my ears, which made me jolt awake, my heart beating with fear like crazy.
Gulping, I get up on shaky legs, and biting my lip, counting to 3, I pull away the curtains...
Only to notice 2 giant palm stains on the window glass.
It followed me home.
It's the Urashima woman problem all over again.
Goodbye sleep forever, I suppose.
Chapter 5: Vertigo
How could this happen...
Why would this happen...
This the hell was I born with such a strong predisposition to stupid paranormal stuff, enough for it to follow me home...
Seiji beheaded and his head looking like some decorative mini Christmas tree...And now Kaoru being beheaded and trying to talk to Akira...
And then Akira, being hit by the train...And myself...Being cut like mean by Kubitarou playing the butcher's role...
I can't take this anymore.
It was never this bad...
Why is it this bad...?!
As soon as I saw the hand prints on the window, after waking myself from the frightening shock, I took the polaroid camera and took a picture of it, and got in bed, all the lights in the house turned on, and waiting for daylight to appear already, despite closing the curtains, in fear of somehow seeing Kubitarou again.
I had no idea when I fell asleep, or if it was just my imagination, but a loud dog bark made me jolt awake, along with an angry, monster-like, feminine groaning, which made my heart beat like crazy from fear.
The only thing that came in my mind was to open the curtains and see if Kubitarou was truly there - But...I should say, thankfully, maybe? ... Instead of the ghost, the bleeding head of a dog was laying on the balcony floor.
It felt like electricity ran through my veins so much that my brain felt fried. It shortcircuited so badly that it stopped thinking altogether. I could only fall to my knees on the carpet and stare with teary eyes at the poor dog head.
It was the head of the dog killed just that night.
My head was nothing more than a dark blank, and I had no idea how long I stood there, trying to regain my senses and cursing this stupid ghost for hurting animals like that...
The whole day I was similar to a dead man walking, until it was finally night and I could bring myself to the Black Rabbit bar and meet with the others...Not forgetting to put the dog head in a bag and bring it as evidence.
"Yo." I muttered, feeling drained of energy, as soon as I got in the bar. "Is anyone kind enough to get be a coffee...Or 5. I don't care, I just need something to keep me awake." I dragged myself to sit on one of the bar stools.
"What the hell happened to you? You look like you died and were brought back to life." Akira raised his eyebrow in confusion.
"I feel much worse, trust me. What happened? Fucking Kubitarou happened! If the fact that I have nightmares with everyone's deaths keeping me awake the whole night wasn't bad enough, I had a...Friendly visit from our ghostie. TWICE. Wanna take a look at the gifts it brought me? I am very much thrilled." I turned around, looking at him with a half-glare, caused by the sleep deprivation.
"...You mean Kubitarou came to you too?" Akira muttered, making me bite my lip.
"Yeah. Stained my windows. I just cleaned them two days ago." I sneered in anger, showing them the polaroid picture.
"The same thing happened to me as well." the brunet growled in annoyance as he brought me a black coffee.
"Great, I hate black coffee. This better keep me awake." I rolled my eyes, downing the cup of coffee like it was nothing.
"Anyone who can drink a cup of black coffee in one go is frightening." Kaoru chuckled in amusement.
"I have a scalpel with me. Trust me, Ban was more frightened by it than by Seiji's whole Yakuza squad." I muttered, sighing.
"Akira told me what happened last night. You were so cool, Kisara! You know how to dominate men so well!" Kaoru cheered, making me look at her with a weird expression.
"I...Have no words to explain my reaction, so I will just shut up." I blinked, feeling more awake now from the comment.
"Can you guys just leave her alone? She's not feeling well, let her at least wake up a bit." Seiji shook his head in annoyance at the two.
"Oh, shut up, you're just saying that 'cause you're in love with her. Besides, aren't you curious what she brought in that bag?" Kaoru smirked, nudging him.
"It's called having respect and reading the mood...Something you clearly lack." Seiji scoffed at the girl's comment.
"Are you sure you wanna see?" I chuckling darkly, getting a second coffee.
"Don't play mysterious, just show us." Akira grumbled, as I threw the bag to his feet.
"Here, have fun seeing the thoughtful gift Kubitarou gave me. I was so...Pleasantly shocked that I needed a few hours to regain myself." I let out a weak exhale of amusement, seeing his eyes widening.
"...At least now we know where the head went." he muttered, closing the bag and putting it away. "We will take it back to the tower. Maybe it will help in some way.."
"Don't tell me...Is that...The dog's head...?" Seiji's expression changed into a pained and frightened one, which made me sigh in understanding, getting to my feet and putting him closer to my side.
"Just...Don't look." I told him, rubbing his back to calm him down.
"This reminds me...Ban sent me the URL for a webpage that explains the truth about Kubitarou. Apparently, it's not just some huge man that's a serial killer, it's...Actually supposed to be just a large girl of superhuman strength, born to the landowner of Kintoki Village. She was said to have been dumb, but violent, and she...Beheaded a lot of animals' heads for fun. She did something that was taboo for the village and that's how she died." Seiji explained, putting his arm around me.
"...Very lady-like behaviour, what can I say." I chuckled weakly, despite my disgust.
"Sounds a bit like Hazuki, don't you think?" the chestnut haired boy smirked, making me grin a bit for the first time in a while.
"Hey, don't joke like that, it's rude!" Kaoru glared at the boy with anger.
"Okay, kids, let's go investigate. If we want to purify this hindrance, we should at least find out what taboo thing she did." I clapped, getting everyone's attention.
And so, we went to the station again, deciding that we should definitely look into the well, and find out more about the situation...
Until Seiji hinted that he brought a gun, which made me burst into laughter, covering my mouth with my hand and looking away.
"You seriously brought a gun to an exorcism?!" I couldn't stop my amusement, which seemed to make him smile.
"If it brought a smile to your face, then it was definitely worth it." he commented lightly.
"Okay, but, do you ACTUALLY believe something like that would work? They aren't from this world!" Kaoru blinked in confusion and shock.
"I believe we need some kind of protection." he shrugged simply.
"We'll be in deep shit if we're caught and they confiscate it." Akira pointed out, knowing it will be more trouble than help.
"Well, then we better not get caught." Seiji smirked with an almost trickster look on his face.
"Sorry, but I did not see, and have no knowledge of, what you have tucked in your pants." Kaoru looked away with a bothered look.
"That's fine. I will just say I secretly brought it." he spoke calmly.
"Let's not bother with that. We won't get a corporal search by the ghost, so let's just go and get this over with." I snapped my fingers, tilting my head to the side to make them start walking.
And so, we let Hazuki be the lookout again, while the three of us started walking towards Kintoki, and we were stopped by the train going rapidly in front of us. Gulping, I gripped the back of Akira's jacket and pulled him backwards slowly.
"Don't get closer, no matter what." I muttered unconsciously.
"...Not a cool way to die." he nodded in acknowledgement.
As we crossed the rails, I couldn't help but notice a bouquet of fresh flowers, most likely representing the place someone died some time ago.
When we got back at the place we went to the previous night, we spotted a cop car, so we darted quickly to hide behind a wall, managing to eavesdrop a bit on their conversation, which was enough proof that another dog was killed and they found the body near the trash cans in the Third District of Kintoki, and the blood was cleaned with rags.
The news of this recent killing made my blood boil so hard that I slammed the side of my fist on the brick wall, and yet, I felt nothing because of my anger.
Despite his frightened expression, Seiji gently put his hand over mine, trying to calm me down. We quickly came to a consensus and hurried to the Third District to investigate, as it was just the place we came through. We must, after all, investigate all the places we looked into last night, to look for any discrepancies and hints.
Akira was courageous enough to brave the horrible smell and take the bloody rags from the trash can and holding it out to me, we touched the bloody part, waiting for the Bloodmetry to do its job. The familiar vertigo sensation took over me and with blurry vision, I heard the same song spoken with the same menacing, yet sorrowful voice, and the dog barking...
"Head to the Great Jirou Kintoki
Come on the Izayoi
Offer to the Great Jirou Kintoki
To make Mom feel better" the voice cried the same lyrics over and over again, until the vision disappeared.
Trying to regain my breathing, I let Akira explain what we saw, which let Seiji speak out his thoughts about the sacred tree that may have cured injuries and illnesses if you made offerings.
Clearly, that was rubbish, but that was the only lead we had so far.
Walking down to the arcade, the brunet started looking around and somehow managed to find an utility knife, packing tape and a crowbar.
"Okay, I'll hold onto this." I muttered, snatching the crowbar from Akira's grasp.
"Why would you need it?" Seiji eyed it with a curious look.
"You have a gun, I don't see why you'd be one to ask." I gave him an amused half-smile, which he returned with a nod.
"You brought a crowbar to an exorcism. Guess Hazuki won't be able to comment anymore." he jabbed the girl.
We decided to try out going to the Tower again, and thankfully, the cop car wasn't blocking our way anymore, so we had nothing to block our way. The bad part was that the well was locked with a combination lock, so we somehow had to find out the cipher for it, otherwise, even Akira with his strength wouldn't be able to break the chains.
Behind the shrine, we found some paper with a string, on which was written "If you want to know Tarou's age, then inquire of Jirou."
"Do you think this has anything to do with the combination?" I asked, looking at the paper with a confused expression.
"That may mean that the Shinto priest wrote this, then?" Akira looked at me for confirmaion.
"Tarou and Jirou must mean the Kintoki Cedars since they're supposed to be brothers. Guess having to ask Jirou means the one that used to be here was the older one, Tarou." Seiji pointed out the logic.
"Then...Tarou's age must be talking about..." the brunet began his trail of thoughts.
"The numbers for the combination lock. I'm guessing the priest was forgetful, so he made a note for himself that only he'd understand. Then hid it here." Seiji finished the idea.
"Tsch, sounds like someone went senile. Though I guess a priest for a small shrine like this probably didn't have a successor...So where's this Jirou anyway?" Akira asked in annoyance.
"No clue. Maybe someplace that looks similar to here?" the Yakuza boy suggested.
"The Jinzo shrine from the arcade. How about that? I think there were Manju offerings there too, right." I spoke out my revelation.
"That's definitely worth a try. Let's go." he smiled at me, as we headed to that place.
Searching all over the shrine, we found pale letters wrote on the ceiling:
"Hear the children's song,
Offer up a humble prayer.
The two Gods will bless...
Multiply the numerals
Given by the waxing moons"
"Oh, it's a Tanka poem. It's telling us to multiply the number of moons from the Kintoki Cedars children's song you heard." Seiji explained the meaning of the poems to us.
"Oh...OH! I've got it! I think. I think it's 240. The song mentioned the 15th night and the "Izayoi", that has the characters that literally mean "sixteen" and "night" .It is the sixteen-day-old moon, so that may mean the code is 15 multiplied by 16, which is 240. Worth a try, right?" I snapped my fingers is realisation, speaking out quickly the solution.
"Have I ever told you that I absolutely adore your intelligence?" Seiji complimented, kissing my temple.
"Enough of that, let's go try it out." Akira rolled his eyes at us.
"You're just jealous Hazuki isn't here to do the same. And she'll never be as amazing as Kisara." his friend teased him with a knowing smirk.
"Do you want me to hit you?" the brunet glared at him harshly.
"I swear, you only think with your muscles sometimes." he shook his head.
When we got back to the well, Akira put in the combination and it worked, so with great effort, he lifted the lid and got a look inside.
Inside the well, unsurprisingly, we found heads - A doll head, a mannequin head, a toy head, a Jizo head, a backpack with a rabbit's head...And...The head of the dog from today.
"If we want to purify this stupid ghost, we have to understand the reasoning behind these beheadings." I spoke out without realising.
"Sound idea, but where should we look?" Seiji asked, looking at me.
"Hey...Do you hear that too...? It's that children's song again...B-But this time...It's not a vision..." I stuttered, my eyes widening in horror at what I was hearing.
"Y-You don't think...?!" Seiji's face contorted in fear.
"Stop hiding and show yourself!" Akira yelled at the spirit that was humming in an angry voice.
"I-It listened to you...There it is!" I was barely able to breathe out from fear.
"She's huge...Is she really a child?!" Akira looked at the ghost with a scared yet disgusted look, pointing the flashlight at her which made her disappear...Temporarily.
"Akira, in front of you!" Seiji and I yelled in unison, as the disgusting spirit appeared right in front of him.
With my weirdly polished reflexes, I managed to parry the axe coming down at Akira with the crowbar, pushing Akira away with my body, then taking a rapid step back, my arms hurting from the powerful blow.
"Seiji, get the flashlight! Akira, wake up!" I yelled out my commands as if I was back at the hospital, with an animal on the operation table.
"Hey, hey...? Head...Could ya...Give me...?" Kubitarou's voice was angry and low.
"Oh, fuck off! Akira, throw the dog head from the bag at her!" I yelled at him, my heart beating like never before, both from the fear and the coffees I drank before.
"Head....HEAD!!! Your head...!!!" Kubitarou hit down again, which made me yelp, jump back and put the crowbar defensively in front of me...Only for it to get cut down in half.
"Here, Take this!" Akira roared at the ghost, as it turned its attention to him.
"Dere...It iz..." she eagerly tears the dog head out of his hand, as it started at it, giggling happily...And very disturbingly, might I add.
"Time to go, Amanome, Mashita." Akira caught our attention, as they both grabbed my arms and dragged me the hell out of there.
We didn't stop running until we got back to the station, where Kaoru greeted us. I was so shaken up that, as soon as I found myself to safety, I fell to the ground, panting for air, and trembling worse than gelatin. Unsurprisingly, Seiji did the exact same thing. We weren't the most athletic, especially compared to Kijima, so this killed us big time...
Not to mention how traumatic it was to almost get struck down by that...That disgusting abomination.
"What the hell happened? You're all drenched in sweat. Did Kubitarou come out?" Kaoru asked in an almost mocking voice.
"Take a wild guess, Einstein." I sneered at her, trying to get past the frightening experience.
"Akira...You explain...I'm...Out of breath." the one besides me managed to say.
"Sounds like a close call. Why don't we rest at the Black Rabbit? These two look like they'll shrivel up and die if we don't get them some water." Kaoru sighed, borderline patronising.
"If you can manage to carry us, sure." I mumbled, gritting my teeth.
Somehow, Akira managed to carry both myself and Seiji to the bar, and we sat on the bar stools, downing down quite a lot of water.
"Great, now I can finally relax. I can't wait to get home, this sweat is disgusting." the boy sighed, and I could only nod in approval.
"Yeah...I hate sweating...But, urgh, being home alone after what happened today..." I shuddered, thinking of the horror night awaiting me.
"Let's first discuss what happened tonight." Akira brought the matter back in our attention.
"Well, it looks like Kubitarou really IS obsessed with heads. We've officially confirmed that rumour with our own eyes." the Yakuza pointed that out.
"Yeah. She seemed pretty happy when I gave her that dog head." the brunet agreed.
"But the fundamental question is...What does she accomplish by collecting heads? It's as Kisara said, we have to find out the reason behind this, if we want to get rid of it." he leaned back on the bar table.
One suggestion was that maybe it was something occult related, and of course, some teasing between Seiji and Kaoru happened, as she had no idea about any kind of occult similar to this. Another suggestion was to rummage through Aunt Natsumi's notebooks in which she writes everything she gathers. Apparently, she's a horror novelist and this brunet idiot didn't think to look at the notebooks before.
She found out that the sacred Kintoki cedar tree, Tarou, was chopped down by Kaneko, the daughter of the Ooishi family, who owned the land the village was on. This Kaneko suffered from oxyopia and symptomatic obesity, so she was considered a nuisance by her family, which made her believe that a bear plushie was her 'little brother'.
During some incident, the plushie was destroyed, which, in her mind, meant that her brother died, so she believed that if she would follow the Kintoki children's song, she would be able to revive her supposed brother.
"Head to the Great Tarou Kintoki
On the 15th night
Offer to the Great Tarou Kintoki and
Dad will feel better"
However, obviously, she misinterpreted the song...And the 'Head' part...She believed they were making head offerings...So she cut the heads off livestock and stray dogs, offering them to the Kintoki Cedars.
Since it obviously didn't work, she got mad, took an axe and cut off the tree...And that was the Taboo thing she did, which made everyone turn against her, and she was left to starve to death.
The corpse was never removed, and it decayed at the base of the Jirou Kintoki tree. It is said that she could be heard worrying over her little brother even up to the last moments leading to her death.
After Kaneko's death, the Jirou tree she was tied to inexplicably died, and so, after the loss of both sacred cedars, the Kintoki Village was repeatedly struck by lightning, which, in turn, lead to the people building mini-shrines in the place where the trees used to grow.
"Well, that's just great. A mentally ill kid was left to die such a horrible death. It truly speaks volumes on how sociopathic society can be with someone who doesn't abide by their so called normality. Nothing surprised me, to be fair." I sighed, shaking my head.
"Village society back then was very insular...It's insane to think that something like this definitely could have happened. It seems the Ooishi family had complete control over the village. The villagers were such obedient saps that they followed the gag order until their deaths." Seiji spoke, disgusted at what he heard.
"They saw Kaneko tied up, and still left her to die. The villagers are accomplices to all this...Maybe they maintained the secret because they also felt guilty." Kaoru looked down with a sorrowful look.
"Well, enough talk about guilt, crimes and discriminatory treatment. We find out that the reason Kubitarou-...Uh...Kaneko...Whatever, is afraid of the flashlight is that disease of her, oxyopia. As well as that, we finally know the motive behind all the beheadings, so we can finally purify her and get rid of her for good." I clapped my hands together, very willing to get rid of this mess.
"Wait, but...Why would she gather all those heads in the well, if she cut down the tree since the ritual didn't work?" Akira asked, which made us think of reasons.
"Maybe she doesn't remember everything from the time she was alive. She was a child, after all, and they have a very weird memory and innocence...Especially a kid who is supposedly very dumb." I give my opinion.
"Either that, or perhaps it is a deeply ingrained delusion? As Kisara said, spirit behaviour is affected by the regrets and grudges they had when alive, right? If she doesn't know any other way, she's got no other choice but to frantically keep trying and hope for some miracle." the Yakuza boy added to my theory.
"Great. Now we know what to do tomorrow. Now, we should get home. It's getting late, and I'm pretty sure we need a VERY well deserved shower at this point. Getting so close to Kubitarou's axe isn't the most cheerful or uplifting thing in the world." I chuckled weakly, getting up from the stool, making sure my legs weren't trembling anymore.
"I agree. Almost dying completely wore me out." the boy agreed with me, as we made our way to the station.
There, as our usual ritual called, Seiji walked me home, to make sure I'm safe, since there are tons of weird people out there, and he doesn't want to risk.
"Are you going to be okay by yourself, Kisara? From what happened last night..." he trailed on, looking away with obvious fear.
"It's okay...Not like I have anything to do. and besides...Even if you were here, I would be afraid of putting you in danger. For some reason, they seem to be more violent with me, and considering your aversion to ghosts...Well, at least one of us should be allowed to rest." I smiled at him softly, leaning on the door frame.
"I feel flattered that you would think of my safety, but let me worry about you as well. I hate seeing you so frightened. Last time, the Urashima woman didn't come back when I was there. Maybe ghosts are less powerful when they are away from the place they haunt." he spoke in a gentle voice, caressing my face with the back of his hand.
"You've been through enough today...Go home and take care of yourself, please. Kubitarou won't go to your house...You're safe there." I muttered, putting my hand over his, yet looking down and biting my lip.
"How about this...I have a little meeting with some official that I have to attend to...I will do my job, then come back and make sure you're okay. I won't accept no for an answer." he smiled in amusement, making me look at him with a confused look.
"Why...Would you risk another frightening encounter with Kubitarou...?" I whispered, frowning at him.
"Because you've been through enough and you deserve to have someone worry for you and take care of you, for once." were his words, which made my bottom lip quiver as I put my forehead to the door frame, hiding my blushing face with my equally red hair.
"...Okay. I'll be waiting, then. Come back safe, please." I muttered, turning around, trying to hide my face.
"Oh, and, before that..." he said,taking my wrist, stopping me from leaving. "Wait for me and stay safe as well." he finished, kissing the top of my head before leaving.
Closing the door, I rush to get a pair of short pyjamas then go to take a well-deserved hot shower, feeling much too exhausted to get a full bubble bath.
Afterwards, I went to the kitchen, making some pizza because I was craving it for the last days and I finally had all the ingredients in the fridge, and along with some hot chocolate, I was very satisfied with my dinner.
As Seiji didn't come yet, I decided to go to my room and read a magazine I had, gifted my Moe some time ago, from her company, as it had some articles she wrote on the supernatural cases we were on.
The only light in the room was from the lamp besides my bed, enjoying the dim atmosphere, yet it was pretty difficult staying awake for so long into the night, considering the way I was deprived the previous night.
All of a sudden, however, the lamp stops producing light, which startled me, but more, it got me annoyed, muttering curses at it for failing all of a sudden.
My only thought was that the lightbulb snapped, so I went to turn on the light in my room...Which didn't work...Which lead to the next logical explanation, which was that the lights went out in the whole neighbourhood.
I unlocked the entrance door and took a step outside, taking a look outside...Only to see the light post outside working, and few lights from some houses, which confused me greatly.
Was it only a problem inside my house? Maybe the light safety went off?
I need to go find a flashlight to tinker with the safety buttons...
Until a loud bang from the window door that lead to the balcony, in my room, which made me drop the flashlight and let out a yelp, only to go and rip open the curtains...
Only to reveal that huge-ass abomination called Kubitarou glued to the glass, doing some incredibly creepy and menacing noises and banging on the window....
I fell on the ground in fear, shrieking and trembling in shock, trying to find the flashlight to point it to the ghost, and by the time I found it and tried to light it...
I realised it wasn't working.
The reason I had no light in the whole house was because of Kubitarou.
All while it was still trying to break the glass and get in to kill me.
The only thing that crossed my mind was to defeat the ghost with light, and since the only light that could come was from outside, I amped up my frightened shriek, only to hear a door being slammed open, and from there, Seiji got in, with a sharp expression.
"Kisara, what happened?!" he asked, only to see the ghost himself upon entering my room.
"Do you have any light sources?! Kubitarou shut down all lights in the house!" I stammered over my words, as he tried his vest to keep himself from freaking out as well.
"Let me see if my flashlight works." he said, trying to get the light in the ghost's face, only for it not to work, and instead, managing to crack the window, getting us both to scream in horror.
Thankfully, the recent screams made the neighbours turn on their own lights because of the commotions, which made the ghost disappear, and our lights come back on.
Sighing in relief, I lay on my back on the carpet, closing my eyes and trying to control my breathing and not cry.
"H-How did the meeting go...?" I ask, trying to distract myself.
"Good...It went good." he muttered, sitting next to me.
"Uhm...Want some pizza and hot chocolate? Did them myself." I ask, turning my head to look at him.
"Sounds great. Can you get up?" he asks, and seeing me nod, he helped me up by putting his arms around me.
"Thanks. Uh...I have some large clothes I use as occasional pyjamas. They're from my brother. I think they will be good for you, so you won't sleep in your clothes." I say, getting up and putting my hands on my knees to stop them from trembling.
"Sure. Let's go to the kitchen and eat a bit, maybe it will help you calm down." he suggested, and I merely nodded.
"Okay. Okay, I'm better now. Thank you, Seiji. Gosh, I'm so done with ghosts and their stupid behaviour. I just want to sleep properly." I sighed, getting the leftover pizza slices on the table and making two more cups of hot chocolate.
"This is great. Kisara, you make the best pizza I've ever had." he smiled softly at me, making me chuckle bashfully.
"Thank you. You're the best, Seiji. You're always so sweet with me. I really appreciate it...In case I didn't say it before." I smiled back at him.
"Anything for you, Kisara. Now, let's go sleep so tomorrow we go with a clear mind and defeat that obnoxious ghost, okay?" he proposed, kissing my forehead.
"Gotcha. Let's show her who's in control of the human world." I grinned, kissing his cheek.
Chapter 6: Anxiety Rush
I wasn't able to sleep properly that night, but every time I'd weak up agitated, breaking in a cold sweat, I'd see that I wasn't alone, and Seiji's peaceful, sleeping face made me relax in an instant. That, along with the open lights made it easy to fall back asleep pretty fast, without too much overthinking.
No matter how much I wanted to sleep in and recover the lack of rest, I couldn't, so being careful not to wake him up, I went to the kitchen and made myself some caramel mocha, and eating some salty sticks, I let the silence sink in, as the coffee cup warmed my hands soothingly.
Feeling that something was missing, I put on a classical music cassette in the radio and putting it on low volume, so I wouldn't disturb his sleep, and started humming along the sound of Debussy's Clair de Lune, since it was always able to calm me down, and it wasn't too loud nor energetic.
It wasn't long before Seiji woke up and joined me at the table, sitting across from me, with a just woken up face, his eyelids still droopy and hair a bit messy.
"Good morning, Seiji." I spoke softly, my relaxed smile not faltering from my face.
"It sure is good now." he reciprocated that smile. "I never thought waking up to someone and having and angelic smile as the first thing you see in the morning would be so nice." he said so casually, almost as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"If you're talking about me waking up at least 5 times last night, and being able to go back to sleep because you looked so adorable and peaceful...Then yes, I do agree." I shot right back, knowing he wasn't expecting something like that.
"You're good...But, about you waking up...Was it the nightmares? You should have woken me up." he pointed out, a bit more serious.
"Yeah, it was the nightmares, but at the same time, most nights when I'm stressed by whatever...Well, sometimes even without stress, I still randomly wake up for no apparent reason. I look at the time, curse my existence for not sleeping at such a forsaken hour, and then go back to sleep. Besides...Why would I wake you up? You were sleeping so peacefully...I couldn't bring myself to. You look like an angel." I hugged the warm cup with my hands, looking down at the surface of the drink with a soft look in my eyes.
"You're giving me more credit than I deserve, especially when I should be the one saying such words about you." he said that, and yet, despite his composed expression, a faint blush was almost visible on his cheeks.
"I think it's the other way around...Not to mention...You are young, and you have the whole world ahead of you. You should be free and do whatever dumb things people your age do, not waste your youth on old people like me." I chuckled faintly, but the comment didn't sit right with him.
"You are not being fair to me, Kisara. Give me some credit. I did tell you I am a man of my words, and I'm not backing up from that statement. I don't know what you've been through, but from the looks of it, it can't be anything light. If you need someone to talk to, I won't judge nor turn away. I think it's obvious by now, isn't it?" he asked, making me sigh and look down, nodding.
"Maybe someday. Until then...Let it go. We have a ghost to get...And something tells me Kubitarou's case won't be the end of it...And I'm not looking forward to this." I muttered, biting my lip in worry.
"You defeated one, you can defeat another, I'm sure of that. I have faith in you and your wit and knowledge in this subject." he put his hands over mine, squeezing it lightly.
"I just wish I didn't have such a ghost affinity. It's maddening. No matter how strong you are and you get over some stuff...There are plenty of other things that will stay with you forever. And watching isn't the same as living the very same trauma. Akira has it easy compared to yours truly, and even for him, it's not easy...Because if you think about it, and eliminate the supernatural factor...In the end, it was still humans who damned a person so bad that they held on to this life with such hatred that they became malevolent ghosts." I managed to say, albeit a bit cryptic, while squeezing his hand back.
"You are the strongest woman I've ever met, Kisara. To be able to go through so much and still put on this facade of everything is fine. Few people would be able to do that." he comforted in his usual soothing voice.
"If I'm not strong, no one else is going to be for me. Nobody is going to live out my life except for me. No matter how many stupid traumas are thrown in my way, I have to get over them. That's just how life is...And I really hope it won't be the same for you as well...Then again, you are not a push over like I was at your age, so at least I know you're going to be much better in this aspect than I will ever be." I let out an amused and ironic exhale, which made him get up putting his hands on my face, lifted it up so I would look at him.
"Nobody is strong all the time, and neither should you be. Everyone has their days, and their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It's all about finding a safe place to let them exist. And I don't mind being that for you. Whenever you feel like you're comfortable in my presence and trust me enough to speak to me, I will be waiting. That's a promise." he gave me a reassuring smile before planting a soft kiss on my forehead.
"Okay, Seiji...I won't forget that. But if I ever end up talking too much, or draining you emotionally or something, tell me so I can stop, got it? The last thing I want to do is to accidentally damage you and make you hate me." I put hands over his, looking away.
"Don't worry so much, that will never happen. For your sake, however, I promise I will tell you if anything goes wrong." he gave a side smile.
"Well, then...If you don't have anything to do today, we can go somewhere to eat and maybe waste time looking around shops." I suggested, thinking of what to do until tonight.
"Sounds like a fine plan. That should ease your stress with Kubitarou." he agreed as we started getting ready to leave for the day.
For the day, I chose a black shirt, rolling up the sleeves, and a pair of black jeans and sneakers, for mobility, in case I have to run again, which hopefully, won't be the case, and left with the boy to the nearest restaurant where we relaxed, enjoyed the atmosphere and ate pretty well, then went around some random music shops, clothes shops and bookstores, and by the end of it, I ended up getting a green see-through scarf since the weather forecast said it may get chillier at night, and I didn't want to get a cold or something.
After that, we went by Kintoki to see how everything was doing with the security, but things weren't good at all, at the police force was amped up. Considering the large man with an axe presumption, it was to be expected...But it will sure be such a hindrance.
With him in my company, the day passed rather quickly - Along with the fact that we slept in quite a lot anyway - And as the Sun set, we agreed to go to the designated meeting place - Black Rabbit.
No matter how many times I say it, I will still be reminded by Saya Kujou's spirit guiding that black rabbit and dying in a suicide attempt to kill that blasted Mary doll.
Those were the days...Scary days...
Shaking my head to stop thinking about that, I see Seiji opening the door for us to get inside, only to see Akira mid-way stripping away his shirt, while Kaoru was dressed as her Idol persona, grinning like crazy.
"Yo, what's up, best friend?" Seiji chimed in, all cheerful and all, until he saw the scene in front of him unfolding, making him grimace. "...What are you doing?...Did I...Interrupt?" he asked as soon as he realised what was going on.
"Should we...Uh...Come back later?" I asked, smirking.
"Hey, wait! It's not what you think!" Akira blushed, trying to vigorously explain himself.
As if on cue, Kaoru jumped on me, her hands gripping my shirt, trying to unbutton it, which made me yelp in shock and try to push her off before she could do something idiotic.
"Kaoru, what the hell, get off! What's with you?!" I asked as I finally managed to push her off and turning to the side, button up the shirt better.
"Won't you PLEASE let me write the heart sutra all over your body?! It's for good luck and protection!" she grinned, obviously giddy and believing in her little fantasy.
"The only protection I need is a pack of condoms and a restraining order...That should turn into 2 or 3 now, I'm still debating." I sighed, shaking my head at the girl's behaviour, which made Akira blush more and Seiji to chuckle.
"But these things work, if they are done properly! I'm sure, I read it all over the occult network forums!" she whined slightly, almost as if someone told her Santa Clause didn't exist.
"Sorry to break it to you, but from my experience with at least 6 ghosts...Salt and holy water didn't keep me safe from getting possessed." I scratched my cheek awkwardly, shuddering slightly at the Jirougumo experience that amplified my arachnophobia.
"What?! You got possessed! That means you need extra protection from ghosts! Talismans, holy water, seals, prayers, lots of salt..." she trailed on and on with the usual occult stuff, and I could only groan and put my hands firmly on her shoulders.
"If it makes you feel better, I have a bag with all those idiocies with me at all times. I keep them more as a memento from an old lady who's very much into the occult like you...But I can use them, and prove to you that they don't work, so you can stop living in your fantasies that may or may not kill you for being misinformed." I sighed once again.
"Awesome! Looking forward to that!" she grinned so innocently, almost as if she heard nothing I said and just jumbled everything the way she wanted it to be.
"So, will anyone explain to us what in the world were you doing?" Seiji chuckled, looking at them with a knowing look.
As Akira explained that basically he wanted to appease Kaoru by writing the heart sutra on his body, the two of us laughed at them for being so silly.
After that, we talked about how the curse activated and we must purify Kubitarou tonight, despite all the police problem, and that the only way to get rid of them would be a disturbance.
As soon as the world 'Disturbance' was used, my and Seiji's eyes got wide and sharing a look and a sly grin, obviously thinking of the same thing, he went outside to call Maruhashi, telling him to gather his motorbike gang to cause a ruckus - As soon as the boy returned, he had that Yakuza look on his face, saying that he ordered his bodyguard to walk the Samoyed, and then invited us to eat at some luxurious sushi place.
Honestly, the only thing I could think of was that Samoyed he mentioned and how curious I was if it was real or not.
On our way to the station, that was the only thing I talked to Seiji about, and apparently it's a very cute baby girl called Yuki, since her fur is white as snow and she was born on a snowy day, and now I can't wait till I meet her.
As we arrived, Akira's curse activated once again, which was an obvious sign that things weren't good, so we hurried up towards the Kintoki tower, thankfully finding another crowbar at the arcade.
When we passed the rail roads, we noticed a teddy bear next to the flower bouquet. Even better, when we got to the street leading to the Tower, we saw the mess Maruhashi and his gang left, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud with tears in my eyes -Graffiti on the gates, tire marks and flipped cop cars...Masterpiece!
"I don't know how he did it, but tell Maruhashi I will pay him for this show." I put my hand over my mouth to stifle my giggles.
"Haha, they flipped over a cop car. I told him to distract the cops, but I didn't expect this much. I'll definitely tip extra as thanks for showing us something fun and making Kisara laugh." he grinned in satisfaction watching the forsaken street.
"Somehow I knew you were behind this." Akira sighed, shaking his head.
"I thought it was obvious from the beginning." I shrugged simply.
Just then, Maruhashi called Akira, for whatever reason, and reported to him that he already broke up the gathering requested and he's close to the Kintoki tower, waiting for us and eating manjus. This worried us, so we hurried to said tower...But we didn't find him anywhere near, so we started looking around for him.
We found his bag of manjus behind the shrine, which led us to believe that he may have opened the well, as he seemed rather curious by it, seemingly since childhood, so the first thing we thought of was to look in the well, for precaution.
Thankfully, it was the same as yesterday.
Akira then opened the rabbit bag and found the body of a worn out teddy bear plushie, which made me gasp in realisation.
"Akira, hold on to this, we might need it for the purification. Remember, the story said the little brother was a teddy bear, and since it doesn't have a head...If we find a head for it, we may be able to do it! We can use the head of the teddy bear back at the rail road!" I clapped my hands together, feeling as if a bright lightbulb was turned on above my head.
"Great, at least we know what to do in that aspect." Akira nodded, putting the plushie in his bag.
"I'm sure as hell glad you're on our side. That aside, where the hell is Maruhashi?" Seiji frowned, getting restless. "Oh, yeah, Akira, can your phone call back a number from your call history? Try calling him back. If he's close, then maybe we can locate him from the sound of his phone." Seiji proposed, making the brunet raise his eyebrow in confusion.
"You can do it yourself." he commented pointing to the Yakuza boy.
"I can, but I don't want to hear that guy's annoying voice close to my ear. Come on, aren't you worried about him? You do the honours, best friend." Seiji said simply, making me bite my lip.
"What if the reason this gate is cut is because Maru went through here?" I muttered as his own phone started ringing and it seemed like it came from the other side of the transmission tower.
Getting restless staying there doing nothing, I followed the fence and found the familiar silhouette of Maru taking a break on the ground...
A break from life, that is.
"OH....FUCK! Guys, don't come here!" I said loudly, but it was too late, as the boys got right next to me...And they didn't realise what was going on at first.
The boys were getting annoyed with him allegedly ignoring them, which made Akira want to snatch away that stupid wolf mask. I tried to stop him from doing so, but he moved too fast, and instead of his his head, as they were expecting, Maruhashi's neck was filled with candy and other kid-looking things.
From the shock of this mocking and humiliating killing of his subordinate, the Yakuza boy fell to the ground, glaring at Maru's corpse, gritting his teeth in anger.
I could only follow him to the ground, putting my arms around him, shifting his head so he would stop looking at the sight in front of him.
"Th-That bastard...Kubitarou...Sh-She did this to Maruhashi...Just like...The dog...!" he grips at his hair with both fists, nearly pulling out the strands.
"Seiji, stop, please! We will get our revenge for Maru, I promise! But let's get out of here before she comes for us too!" I tried to make him snap back to reality.
"She killed him! Kisara, she killed Maruhashi! That bitch has to pay for this!" he growled in anguish, his eyes getting wet from pure fright and anger.
"I know, but think of it! Maruhashi was alive during that phone call, so he was just barely killed! That means Kubitarou is close, so we gotta run before she gets us too!" my bottom lip was quivering from fear, but I had to be strong for him.
Just then the evening breeze started carrying that stupid children's song hum that plagued all my nightmares.
"You're right...If Kubitarou finds out we've been searching the well, she might go berserk...That could be why Maruhashi..." Seiji mumbled, mostly to himself.
"It's dangerous to stay here. Listen to Kisara, and let's move to an alley somewhere, for now." Akira spoke in a firmer voice, dragging both of us away from there.
However, as we tried to escape, Kubitarou's humming voice appeared behind us, which made poor Seiji tremble like a leaf, and I could only hold his hand, squeezing it reassuringly.
"Don't turn around, she hasn't noticed us yet." the brunet muttered loud enough for only us to hear.
"But what should we do? Run all the way back to the station?" his friend asked, barely keeping himself from stuttering.
"No. If Kubitarou discovers what we did to the well, she'll be pissed and chase after us. Either way, my time limit's almost up...Gotta prepare for the worst and confront her." was Akira's response, to which I agreed.
"We must get to the railroad station as fast as possible. It has lights and we have to discuss what to do with that teddy bear and how to merge the head with the body." I explain, and they agreed.
However, as soon as we agreed, Kubitarou spotted us and started rushing towards us, making us squeal in fright and surprise.
At first, taking out the 'magic' bag, I drew a line of salt, said some prayer with the seals in my hands, a talisman held between my palms, and as soon as Kubitarou approached, I threw the paper seals and some holy water at her...
Only to get the expected response - Nothing useful.
"Stupid old fraud of a hag, Towako Yasuoka, I swear to God I will come and kill you for this!" I growled in anger and fear as I took let my bag hit the floor, taking out the crowbar and bracing myself, parrying an axe blow from Kubitarou.
"Mashita, get the hell away from there!" Akira roared loudly.
"Ahhh, DAMN IT! You guys go to the railroad station! I will keep her away, do a detour and come back!" I yelled, spinning around and throwing Akira the crossbar, I start aimlessly running in the opposite direction, but Kubitarou wasn't following me, instead going for Seiji.
"Kisara, what are you doing?!" he asked as Akira parried an axe blow, making the crowbar shatter, just like yesterday.
"RUN!...KUBITAROU, YOU STUPID, UGLY, FAT BITCH! YOU WANT A DOG HEAD? HERE, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN! AWOOOOOO!" I started howling like a dog to the moon, which made the ghost snap her head in my direction and run towards me with annoying speed.
"KISARA, NO! GET BACK HERE!" Seiji yelled after me, only for me to squeal in fright, turning away to run like hell.
"AKIRA, TAKE SEIJI AND GO TO THE RAILROAD!" I yelled before running through unfamiliar streets.
I knew that if I were to go through streets and alleys alone, I would be at a disadvantage, seeing that a ghost has endless stamina and constant speed, while I have neither, so I walked under the cut transmission fence, narrowly avoiding that damned axe, or getting cut, but nothing severe thankfully. Just some blood and slashed clothes...
My poor outfit...
Of course, a full on run couldn't be done without some dead end alleys, turnarounds fence jumping, tripping and crawling under some barbed wire fences, to which I scratched a lot of my skin, but I couldn't feel any pain because the fear I had made my sympathetic system secrete so much adrenaline that I felt like I was running on solely fear...
Especially when those axes were being slammed so close to my head.
After I managed to break free from the wired fence, I was back on the track to the railroad crossing, and I went on a full sprint, seeing the barrier down and the red lights, along with the alarm warning us of an incoming train.
I could hear Seiji's voice, yelling out my name, telling me to get there to safety, that Kubitarou was behind me...
He rushed to the side of the street, next to the ditch so he could catch and pull me to safety as I jumped.
But that was short cut, as just as I was barely 10 meters away from the rails, I was harshly pulled backwards, and I fell, suspended by my scarf-
Kubitarou was holding me by the loose end of my scarf, screeching menacing, as I was struggling to pull the material away so I wouldn't choke before getting beheaded.
No, that's not okay!
"KISARA! GET UP! KISARA!" Seiji's desperate voice called out my name, as Akira was shouting at Kubitarou random curses and insults, but none had any effect.
My last witty reply to this was to tug at the other end of the scarf and propel myself on my heels, twirling around to uncoil the material from my neck, which ended up with me getting dizzy, tripping over my feet and falling in the ditch because my legs were too damn weak from the fear.
With the remaining ounce of strength and will to live that I had left, I pushed myself from the ground just as another axe was slammed my way, and doing a semi-circle around Kubitarou, I managed to confuse her and sprinted the last 10 meters, jumping in the middle of the rails, then getting dragged on the other side by Seiji, who pulled me to his chest, one arm around my back, while the other on my head.
I wasn't sure which of us was shaking worse, but it felt like an outright earthquake.
"NEVER do that again, damn it!" Seiji tightened his grip on me, my only response being to grip the back of his shirt, but my fingers were barely hanging on the material, as I have no power left in me, the adrenaline rush disappearing just as fast as it appeared.
"Hey, look, Kubitarou is leaving...What the hell? Did it get scared by the loud noise or what? It's her fault there's no lights and the flashlight isn't working!" Akira growled, growing antsy because of the deadline.
"How can we lure her this way?...I can't believe it's not following after almost killing me a dozen times." I muttered, unable to take my head away from Seiji's chest.
"You've still got your gun? Maybe firing it would do." Akira suggested, making the boy nod.
"Kisara, cover your ears, it will be loud...Let's liven things up, shall we?" the boy muttered, as I covered my ears, while he shot 3 times at the sky, the noise making Kubitarou rush back to us.
"Hey come on, give 'em back...Give him back to me." Kubitarou's ghostly voice echoed through the place, which made me shudder.
"The Teddy bear...Rip its head off and put it on the old one's body..." I managed to say between stutters.
"You're right, good idea." Akira nodded, taking out the utility knife and ripping off the new teddy bear's head neatly.
"Do we have anything to put them together?" I asked, taking out the old plush body from Akira's bag, handing it out for one of them to use. "If I had a thread and needle I would do it myself, but my hands are shaking too much." I chuckled nervously, hugging myself.
"Don't worry, I will do it. I've always had dexterous fingers" Seiji spoke in slightly confident manner, taking out the tape and attaching the bear head to the plushie's neck.
"Woaw...That's amazing...! It looks like it's brand new!" I blinked in surprise at the plushie as it was given to Akira.
"Thank you for the praise, but I think I might have taken too long." he muttered, frowning in the direction of the ghost, who was glues at the barrier.
"Quick, Akira, throw it at the ghost! Now!" I urged him to rush, and he did just as told.
"Here it goes...KUBITAROU! Here's your little brother back!" he yelled, and squeezing the plushie close, giggling as she fades away, she gives a gentle smile and disappears.
"Did...Did we do it? We did it, didn't we?" the boys ask, as I exhaled loudly, falling to the ground as my knees finally gave up on me.
"I can't believe I'm alive..." I kept saying over and over again, as the boy kneeled next to me, hugging me close to his chest.
"You're sleeping over at mine tonight, No objections. You've done enough for a life time." he spoke, as I nodded in a puppet-like way.
"Sure...Yeah...Anything you want." I breathed out, trying to steady my inhales and exhales.
For some reason, Hazuki ran full sprint to us, telling us that the police was going after the motorbike gang, and when we asked why she didn't call, we realised Akira's phone had several missed calls.
Then, we told her about Kubitarou and Maruhashi, and she got extremely shocked and saddened by the news.
Looking better at the rails, we saw a dirty reversible red and white cap, so I urged Akira to touch the blood splattered under it, hoping he would see a vision of Ami, which is exactly what happened.
But Akira started looking very disorientated, saying he heard a flute, and my only theory was that Kakuya was talking to him alone, telepathically or something...
And the sky was still rumbling...A shiver going down my spine...And a very bad premonition...
"Guys, we should get the hell out of here. I don't have a good feeling about this place..." I muttered, clinging on Seiji's arm, trying to pull him towards the station.
"YOU HEARD HER! RUN, HURRY ALREADY!" Akira yelled at us, as a noise split the atmosphere, and by instinct, I stepped towards Akira who was farthest from the rails.
Next thing I know, I see a blinding white light, and I'm laid flat on the ground. Still shaky from all the Kubitarou ordeal and the terrible premonition I had just a few seconds ago, I look to the other side of the crossing and see the tree by the road was shattered into many pieces, some having caught on fire, which caused a smoke through which we could barely see or breathe.
On further inspection, as I managed to get into a sitting position, I see both Seiji and Kaoru under lit tree branches, and my first instinct was to gasp and rush to Seiji's side, trying my best to push the branch from his back.
The next second, Akira joined me and together we managed to push away the tree, shaking the boy awake.
"So...Violent...My bones are going to collect in my feet..." the boy muttered as he got up, and I could only throw my arms around him, pulling him closer to my body.
"Thank God you're okay..." I sighed in relief for the thousandth time this night.
"I...I wouldn't say that. Looks like my leg's done in. I don't think I can walk...Oh, what about Hazuki?" he asked, looking around, not seeing her.
"R-Right...I'll check!" Akira nodded, going to the girl's side.
"Damn it...I'll call an ambulance. I have nothing to do a splint for your leg to keep it straight...Does it hurt too bad?" I worried over the boy, helping him keep his leg straight.
"Don't worry, I'll be fine. Call an ambulance, please, but I have to get rid of this little toy." he took out his gun, which made me gulp and call over Akira.
"Akira, do me a favour and take this. No way I can be taken to the hospital with something like this on me. So I want you to hold onto it for me instead. Since Kisara is coming to the hospital with me, you're the only other person I can trust with this." he explained, handing over the modified gun.
"Okay." his friend nodded, taking it and putting it in his pocket.
"Sorry for dumping trouble onto you...But now hurry up and leave. If the cops come, they'll want to question you and then all this would have no point." Seiji pointed it out, rushing his friend as I called over the ambulance.
"What about Hazuki?" Akira asked, sparing her a worried look.
"Don't worry, we'll take care of her. She'll get to the hospital. Trust me. Kisara here is a doctor, she knows her stuff. And besides, my leg is KILLING me, but my head and mouth are perfectly fine. Smooth talking is my specialty." the Yakuza smiled reassuringly at his best friend.
"Fine. I'll call you later, okay? I'll leave the rest to you, Amanome." the brunet shared a look with his friend, who nodded in acknowledgement.
"Don't slip on your end either, best friend." he replied as we saw Akira running away from Kintoki.
"What a mess...This is such a mess...I can't believe this happened..." I sighed, biting my lip hard, constantly looking left and right like a frightened meerkat, looking for the ambulance lights, whenever they may appear.
"Kisara, don't blame yourself. You went there and almost got yourself killed by that stupid ghost trying to save us. That's more than anyone else would have done...And look at you...Your neck is bruised, and you have so many cuts on your beautiful skin...And you're still crying." he put his hands on my face, wiping the river of tears streaming down my face.
"Oh, I...I was so focused on this mess that I didn't even realise I was crying...How silly." I let out a weak chuckle, only for my bottom lip to tremble and give away the emotions I felt.
"It will be fine. We got revenge for Maruhashi...Kind of. And Hazuki will wake up when we get to the hospital. We won't have to deal with ghosts for a little for, so we can sleep assured tonight." he explained, as I could only frown and look down.
"Akira said he heard a flute...But we didn't. That means Kakuya was talking to him telepathically. That, correlated with the blinding light, that we could guess may have been a lightning, since they said they became often in Kintoki...I...I think this was a choice for Akira to make. Who will stay awake until Kakuya is beaten, you or Hazuki. And Akira chose you. If she hasn't woken up by now...I think she will when we beat Kakuya." I hung my head, tugging on the ends of my long, red hair.
"I see...Well, we don't know that yet, for sure, but even if it is true, we will help Akira defeat Kakuya for once and rescue Ami. Now I'm more driven to get revenge. Let's not think about that now, it's enough ghost hunting for a night." he suggested with a dry smile on his face.
"Well, uhm...Uhm...S-So...Considering the mess we are in...What will you tell your dad when you bring me home?" I chuckled lightly, trying to lighten up the atmosphere.
"Hmm...Well, I can say that my beautiful doctor girlfriend insisted on staying over so she can take care of me...And my dog. Mostly my dog, but I'm the bonus." he joked, which made me look away and giggle in amusement.
"Is that really what you're gonna tell him? Hi, dad, I know shit hit the fan, and Maruhashi died...I was also slammed down by a tree, my girlfriend was chased around by an axe wielding maniac and my best friend's double-identity occult freak idol girlfriend was put in a coma by this stupid child ghost...But hey, here's my girlfriend and she's here to bond with Yuki, so hey, what a nice night, huh?" I mocked the conversation with him, which seemed to amuse him as well.
"I couldn't have said it any better." he nodded, and just then, the ambulance came, taking us all to the hospital.
Of course, since I can never sit still, I insisted on helping with Seiji's injuries and tended to my own, since they were mostly skin cuts that needed disinfecting and they would heal on their own...
All while the doctor said Hazuki's wounds were shallow and will heal quickly by themselves...But the cause of her comatose was unknown and she should have been awake by now, which confirmed my theory.
Getting a pair of nice crutches and making a splint for his leg, Seiji is allowed to go home, not before we get interrogated thoroughly, but what can we say except for the fact that a lightning strike hit the trees that caused it to fall on the two and I took them from beneath the branches? Easy lies.
And of course...There comes his dad and the problem with Maruhashi's death, and how we definitely had no idea what happened...
His dad was very nice, at least. Visibly worrying for his son, being very kind and polite with me when being introduced to him by Seiji, and saying it's no problem if I stay over, there are enough rooms, bla bla, and Yuki will be happy to have someone play around with her.
I think his dad might have had a sparkling glint of amusement and realised there was something between the two of us, but wisely chose to only hide behind a fatherly smile.
But he isn't only a father, he is the Yakuza leader as well, so he had to somehow reprimand his son for failing to take care of his subordinate, so he was put on a suspension, meaning that he won't really be able to leave the house for a little while...
Apart from the fact that he won't really be able to help Akira much, I see no downside to this, considering how sick of ghosts both of us are, so it should prove to be a good de-stressing period for him.
His dad's driver got all three of us home, and I helped him get inside the house, where we were greeted by a cute little Samoyed baby girl...Which, instinctively, made me forget about the poor boy and I dropped down, picking up the puppy and started kissing her head, while she was licking me all over my face, barking from happiness at getting attention and affection, which amused both of them.
"We barely got here and she already stole all your attention from me." Seiji mocked hurt, but he wasn't bothered in the least.
"As long as I don't call you Yuki, or her Seiji, I think it should be fine." I chuckled, cuddling with the puppy in my hands.
"Why would you do that?" he asked, leading me to his room.
"My mum used to do that accidentally. My dog was Kisara...Well, Katrina... And I was Fifi. Fun, huh? I used to tease her a lot with this mistakes of hers." I grinned, albeit a bit nostalgic, as Seiji sat on the bed.
"Well, then I'm going to have to suffer in silence." he chuckled, shaking his head lightly. "I'll ask the maid for some clothes for you, and in the morning, I'll have someone get you a fresh outfit. You can't leave this place with how damaged your clothes are now." he said with a more serious tone.
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I'm not the one limping, nor am I the one grounded. Just focus on resting and fully healing that injury of yours." I pointed out, slowly getting to sit on the bed next to him too.
"You should do the same. It's not every day a axe-wielding maniac ghost chases you around and hangs you by the scarf." he retorted with as much worry.
"Tsk...I...I...I don't want to remember that...But it's also not the absolute worst thing I've been through before." the corner of my mouth lift up in an ironic yet nervous semi-smile, which made him frown.
"What could possibly top that?" he asked, curious.
"...Another ghost hunt. In a love hotel. It, uh...I...I can't talk about it now, I'm too exhausted. Remind me next time and I promise I'll tell you. The last thing I want is to go sleep with more screwed up memories." I shuddered, as Yuki curled up on my lap comfortably. "Hey, no, don't do that! Let me change first, then we can cuddle!" I picked her up gently, putting her on the bed, as the maid brought me a large Tshirt and a pair of shorts that I changed on as I went to the bathroom in his room.
When I got back to the room, I helped Seiji get up to go to the bathroom and change as well, then we got in bed, awkwardly looking at the wall in front of us, none of us saying anything, before I sighed and let my head sit on the pillow, blinking up at the ceiling, then turning to face the boy.
"Come on, get down so I can hold you. You've been through enough today...But be careful with that leg, okay?" I told him gently, but he shook his head.
"Let me hold you tonight. Trust me, that will make me feel much better, and you as well." he said, pulling me closer to him, as my head rested on the crook of his neck.
"Okay...Okay...I hope I can catch a wink of sleep, then...Sweet dreams, Seiji." I murmured, as he started playing with my hair, which instantly brought a sensation of drowsiness over me.
"I hope you can sleep well and rest properly tonight, Kisara. Good night." he said, kissing the top of my head.
Chapter 7: Spider Nightmares
Clearly, I have no sleeping privileges, even here, where I'm supposed to be safe, so what's the point in trying to look up at the ceiling and trying to fall asleep, when that's never going to happen, as per usual?
Better than that, I'll just go out on the balcony and smoke a bit. Such a bad habit I got from my brother, but at least I'm doing it only when I'm stressed, unlike him, who seems to be smoking more often than he's breathing.
I let myself slump into a chair, while my feet were casually resting on another, as my gaze would venture from up above, on the starry sky, to Seiji, making sure he isn't plagued by nightmares like I am. If not me, at least he deserves a peaceful and restful sleep. He's just a child, he doesn't deserve to get stuck into the endless loop that I'm stuck in thanks to these impertinent ghosts.
How can I even dream of sleeping properly, when my nightmares keep reminding me how horrible it is to be bound, blindfolded, mouth open and having a spider crawling down your throat? How can I sleep, when my neck is still burning and pulsating from being choked and almost decapitated by that stupid ghost, and my skin is stinging in places from being cut by the barbed wire, and then applying disinfectant? How can I not be afraid and restless to close my eyes, when Urashima bitch was towering above me, and I can still feel and hear her heavy breathing?
And worse, Akira's curse isn't over, so there will be at least 2 more ghosts to deal with, and in all honesty, I'm afraid to know what Kakuya has in store for him...For us.
I'm at least glad I didn't have to be the one put in a coma...It's never nice.
When I next turned my head towards the sleeping boy, I noticed he kept stirring and grunting in his sleep, so putting my cigarette on the ash tray, I rushed to his side, gently waking him up, which resulted in him jolting away, panting and sweating. I went to get a napkin to wipe away the sweat, while cooing to him that everything is okay and he has nothing to fear.
"Don't worry, Seiji. I'm here for you. Nothing is going to happen while I'm here, I promise you that." I spoke in a voice as gentle as possible, which seemed to ease him into reality.
"Why are you awake...? What is the time, anyway?" he blinked in confusion, looking on his nightstand and seeing the clock showed 5 AM.
"The stars are beautiful from your balcony, you know? ...Do you want to talk about your nightmares?" I stroked his hair soothingly, hoping he wouldn't bother asking about me.
"Were you smoking?" he asked, almost as if he already knew the answer.
"Well...I never claimed to be a role model, did I?" I chuckled weakly, scratching the back of my neck.
"You had nightmares too, didn't you?" he pressed on, making me sigh.
"Nothing out of the ordinary. Now, drop it. My ghost horror interactions are not something I want to talk about at this hour of the night, especially considering what you've just been through. The last thing I want is for you to stop being able to sleep, just like me." I warned him, my gaze sharp, as a way to make him stop asking.
"Very well, I understand. I will try to go back to sleep now...I suggest you do the same." he nodded at me, slowly easing himself back on the bed, careful with his leg.
"After I finish my cigarette, I'll come back. Sweet dreams, Seiji." I murmured in a soft voice, going back to reminiscing and puffing from that damned cancer stick.
And so, a few days passed like a breeze, and one night, I was surprised to hear my phone ringing. It was Ban. Speak about surprises...
He informed me that he talked to Akira and he was told everything about the Kubitarou case and how we defeated me, then he explained how he and this woman called Rose Mulan were going to help Akira with the new case - The Screaming Author.
It is said that this man, Yakumo Miroku, an author of children's books, is haunted, or at least, his house is, for he lives alone in an old mansion, and people have been hearing weird screaming coming from that place lately.
One night, a woman went to complain about the noises, but realised it doesn't have an intercom, and she could only pound on the door, with no answer - repeating this daily.
When she finally got fed up, she threw something through the window to get the person inside to notice, and suddenly, a light in the 2nd floor window came on.
"Please don't look inside" a faint voice called out to her, pleading with her softly, over and over again...Until she heard a pitched scream, and since then, they said she was tormented by constant screaming inside her head, which lead to her having a nervous breakdown and committing suicide.
A possibility is that the Screaming Author that resides in Miroku's residence may as well be Miroku himself, but we wouldn't know until we investigate properly.
And so, he informed me that they were going to the station, taking the train to the mansion, and if I wanted to come, I should hurry already.
Without saying much, I rushed out of Seiji's place and to the station, since it was pretty close, and met up with Ban, Rose and Akira...
And yet, there was someone else there that I was expecting in my wildest nightmares, and I could feel my mouth dry and eye twitch with annoyance and rage.
"Ban...? Why is he...? Not dead yet?" my voice held an acidic dark humour to it, and the atmosphere quickly got incredibly tense and heavy.
"Sorry, Kisara, he just got here, and I can't get rid of him. Let's just go." Ban walked towards me, trying to take me away from the jerk, but he was faster, towering over me.
"What, aren't you so happy to see me? I missed you all these years we were apart! Truly tragic what happened to your parents, really. You should have come stay with me, not leave the continent, but -" he kept rambling, until I got pissed off and kicked his tibia as hard as I could with my boot.
"I'd rather let Kubitarou chase me around Kintoki again, then have to see you again. Now fuck off, you have nothing to do here. We have important things to do." I shooed him with my hand, walking towards Ban.
"Stupid bitch...And you wonder why nobody fucking loves you! How can they, when you're such a cold, aggressive bitch?! It's you who doesn't let people get closer to you! You're like a god damn cactus!" he kept yelling, making me flip my hair and rolling my eyes, I glare at him.
"Say that to my boyfriend, you, stupid waste of space. Now leave, you're not wanted here." I turned around to leave, only for him to laugh.
"Leave? I already have a train ticket for Miroku's residence!" he smirked, and with a scoff, I snatched the ticket from his hands, ripped it, and threw it in his face.
"Here's your ticket. Oh, and, if you ever approach me again, I'm going to file a restraining order. Ciao." with a condescending smirk, I hooked my arm to Ban's so we could go together on the train.
There, we sat opposite to each other, resting our elbows on the window pane, looking outside in the pitch black of the forest surrounding the rail roads.
"That was nicely dealt with. Sorry for giving you trouble, I didn't imagine he'd come over." Ban spoke after some silence.
"I guess. I was panicking pretty badly. Didn't think I'd actually have to see his face again after 5 years." I muttered, biting my lip in cold rage.
"Y'know...I may not look like it, but I'm a pretty good listener. If I can't give advice, I can at least listen if you need to vent off or something." he shrugged, not really looking at me.
"You know how the saying goes, Ban. Show me yours, I'll show you mine. I can't just go around showing off my traumas to everyone, can I?" I chuckled dryly, watching him nod from the corner of my eye.
"That's how deals are made, I suppose. What's your poison?" he asked, making me smirk.
"Vodka, cherry juice and cigarettes. Occasionally, vodka and Bailey's mixed shots as well." he seemed to look at me with a semi-shocked expression, before chuckling in amusement.
"I see you're not a lightweight. I'm impressed. Very well, I don't think you'd mind crashing and gossiping at yours, do you? My home is pretty far away." he mentioned, and I could only shrug.
"Yeah, sure. But I haven't been there in like...Four days, so it may be a bit dusty." I give him a half-smile. "I...Haven't gone drinking with someone in a long time. Actually, I only drank with my brother, Yashiki, Hiroo and Daimon in the last 5 years...All 5 of us were cursed by Mary...And then had to purify a Jirougumo. So I guess you could say it was a group therapy, of sorts."
"You really can't stay away from ghosts no matter how hard you try, can you?" he had a semi-amused expression on his face, as we both got up and walked towards the residence.
Akira took his dear time getting there, which I can't blame him for, it's pitch black and most houses look the same, and Ban had to explain that we have a limited amount of time to investigate, because this area had an unusual high rate of sporadic incidents, so the police investigate the area as a priority patrol.
Looking up at the house, we see how big the room in the attic must be, and realise that must have been the lit room from the rumour, so we decided to test it.
First, we started knocking on the door, but as expected, no response.
In the grass, we found a wooden plate that has Miroku's name, so Akira decided to throw it at the wooden frame of the window, and then we waited...And waited...And waited...
But nothing happened.
As soon as we discussed breaking in the house, the air around the place started changing, the room in the attic got lit, and a hunched over, petite silhouette appeared, resembling that of a crane...With a soft, feminine voice, just like in the rumours, she was pleading us not to look inside.
As Rose started unlocking the front door, I started attentively at the silhouette that looked as if she was strung up with strings or ropes...
But Rose moved quickly, so we got inside...And yet, someone was obviously watching us intently...And the same soft voice rung out, pleading for us not to look inside.
There's no turning back now, anyway...
Just then, a loud, high-pitched, piercing sound rips through our ears, making us instantly cover our ears, but the sound above easily pierces through and stabs into our brains mercilessly.
I groaned loudly, falling to my knees, trying to guard myself from this terrible noise, as I've always been very noise-sensitive, but I see the rest collapsing just as well...
Until it all stopped.
"What the hell..." I muttered, pouting, afraid to move my head because of the migraine.
"I guess that must be the screaming voice that people are talking about...Jeez, my head is still pounding. If it went any longer, my brain would have melted. I barely survived that..." Ban voiced all the words that were running through my head.
"We don't know that yet. Remember, in the rumour, Miss Y who heard the scream apparently committed suicide." Rose pointed out.
"Yes...Even better." I finally managed to get up and stand properly.
"Tsch...Things are starting to get real." Ban grunted, displeased. "Kijima, you better not be thinking of running away now."
"As if. You're the one looking pale." came the kid's witty comeback.
"Heh heh. If you've got the wits to sass me like that, you're still in ship-shape." Ban smirked at him.
"Well, if it's planning to take us down, then I suppose we don't need to hold back, either." the woman pointed out quickly. "Let's start scour- ...I mean, investigating. The place doesn't seem to be that big, so lets investigate whatever we see."
With this, Akira decided to let Ban on lookout patrol, so the rest of us started properly investigating.
On the wall in front of us, there is a plate with a single nail hammered into the upper middle, as if to hang something on it.
Searching inside the shoe cabinet, instead of the dusty shoes we expected, we found something black and cylindrical in the corner, proving to be some bamboo charcoal, along with a spray paint can.
Occasionally, out of the window, ghostly silhouettes of little girls could be seen, along with short, soft giggles. I was so focused on that, that I didn't realise the magician woman opened a cabinet, only to find a sailor uniform and some cute socks.
But what could kid clothes be doing in this place? I don't think Miroku had a family, did he? ...This is going from bad to worse.
Leaving the living room, we head towards a bed room, and we find a colourful flyer on the ground - It's about a ballet recital, and it has a girl dressed in white, in a ballet pose, with her legs raised high.
I've always admired anyone who could dance so beautifully and gracefully, considering all the effort they have to put into being this perfect. I'd never be able to do it.
On the flyer, the second act is called "Lac des cane" ...Featuring girls who are too young to wear pointe shoes...
"Is that Latin?" Akira frowned, trying to understand the French.
"It's French for Duck Lake. The name is supposed to be an adaptation of Swan Lake, most likely, but they are too young to even attempt to do 32 perfect fouettes. I guess this show is supposed to show off their energy, not their grace, as they are too young for that." I pointed out, handing the flyer to the boy.
"Ducks are far less impressive than swans." he muttered, putting it in his bag.
Noticing the odd bulge in the curtain, I pull it away, only to see...Nothing? Huh, weird, ghostly things once again.
Now, checking the bed, we realise they are pretty dirty, and there's a mass of hair under them.
"Horse hair? It has to be, without a doubt. Because it's pretty stiff and sturdy, it's commonly used for violin bowstrings...But what could it be doing in Miroku's house?" I pondered over.
"How can you tell?" Kijima asked, and I merely shrugged.
"I'm a vet, you know? I can differentiate horse hair from other kinds of hair. Also, to be admitted into any medicine Uni, you have to be able to show your dexterity by playing at least one instrument. I chose piano and violin." I explained quickly while searching around. "...Hey, guys, look at this, it's a mask. Uh...What were they called...Noh masks? Or something? Maybe we can put it on the board outside?" I take it out from under the many pillows on the bed, showing it to them.
"What would a Noh mask even be doing here? Anyway, good idea. When we finish investigating this room, we'll try it." Akira nodded, heading for the nightstand, where he found a cassette tape labeled T.
"Would you mind playing it? I'm curious what's recorded on it." Mulan asked, and as Akira tried, he realised it wouldn't work because the boombox has no batteries. Great.
Inside the drawer, there was some incense and an old battery that fit in the boombox, so we could play the tape...But the battery didn't work. As per my and Mulan's idea, Akira used the hand warm up to warm the battery, and tried it once again.
"An update on the missing child...According to the police, the victim of the kidnapping..." the tape began, and it spoke about Child T missing, a girl of 13 with long hair, wearing a white one-piece dress on the day she went missing. She was last seen heading home from a ballet class practice in Kissouji. Allegedly, it's been a month and the case is now a partial public investigation.
This Miroku guy...Surely is...Not a good guy. And the ballet mentioned once again...A little girl, that could wear a sailor uniform with cute socks...And the ghostly kid-girl silhouettes from outside the windows...
Suddenly, a loud phone ringing brought me out from my trance, so we hurried to look for it in the living room, where Akira answered it...Although, it definitely wasn't here when we entered the house.
As soon as Akira tried to answer, it seemed like the person hung up...And Akira seemed rather dizzy.
As if on cue, Ban called Akira, so we left the house, telling Ban about what we discovered...And so, we leave back home. I and Ban went to the nearest convenience store grabbing some booze and got into my home.
Sighing at the dust, I tell him to sit at the kitchen chair and prepare everything, while I quickly clean up everything, then slump on the chair opposite him, and we both quickly down a few shots to loosen up.
"You first." I point a finger towards him while holding the vodka glass and lighting up a cigarette.
"What do you wanna know?" he asked, taking a big gulp of the drink.
"Everything. Info for Info, of equal worth. Ever since you found out about the ex-situation, you seemed more...Protective of me. Especially after I mentioned your family." I pointed out, clearly not tipsy enough.
"Ah, yes...It's really not much to say about it. You were right. I started hunting ghosts because ghosts killed my family. I had a wife and a son...And I couldn't protect them. I failed them. There's really not much else to talk about...Except that I need some kind of closure and revenge. I doubt my family would have wanted me to become the way I am...But here I am. A lame ass middle aged man who steals from kids and gambles all the time." he grumbled, taking off his glasses and sighing.
"Yeah...They don't hate you, Ban. They'd have wanted you to live on for them as well and try to find your happiness. We will defeat Kakuya, Akira and everyone will be okay, in the end. I will make sure of that." I downed one more shot, letting my hand rest on top of his, trying to console him.
"Hah. I see why that kid likes you so much. You take care of everyone...But who takes care of you? It's like you want to scream and let all your frustrations out, but you feel like nobody wants to listen." he pointed out, making me scoff.
"As if you're one to talk." I muttered, looking away.
"Don't get defensive. We're here to talk and heal, aren't we? So let's talk. What's your deal with ghosts?" he questions, and after a few seconds of silence, I speak up.
"I don't think you should get too involved into the Screaming Author case. I believe it contains sensitive topics for you...Kidnapped kids...Killed...Tortured..." I trailed on, unsure of how to continue.
"It's exactly why I have to continue. To give those children closure and help them pass on. It's the least I can do." he explained why he's doing it.
"You don't owe anything to anyone, Ban. But...If you think it will help you, instead of damaging you even further...Then sure." I muttered softly.
"And you? How did you get into this mess?" he asked, turning to conversation around.
"After my parents died, I got adopted into a Japanese family, where my brother, Satoru, used to be a detective policeman. However, due to some unknown circumstances, he got accused of some pretty nasty accusations that I'm sure aren't true, so we set off trying to clear his name. Instead, we both got cursed with the Death Mark by another doll called Mary, and we were beginning to get memory loss...Until Yashiki came around and we gradually managed to save more and more people, until the end, where he managed to defeat Mary, and he regained his memories. That's the basics of me getting properly involved in this ghost business..." at this point, I felt the need to drink more vodka.
"But this is just the beginning, isn't it?" he asked in an understanding voice.
"Yeah...Well, you know...Akira has that Bloodmetry ability. He touches blood and he sees what happened. I have that too, but instead of seeing it in 3rd person, I see it from the view of the person whose blood was shed. And, uh...Around 5 years ago...Something very...Very bad happened...And I've been having nightmares ever since. They got milder over the years...Until I returned to this place, where we used to live before, and I got drawn to Black Rabbit, to Akira, and the Urashima woman and Kubitarou had the audacity to give me terrible frights and death visions with everyone." I sighed, flashbacks starting to flood my vision.
"What happened 5 years ago...?" Ban frowned, looking at me.
"There...Was this case. At an abandoned love hotel called Masquerade. It was me, my brother, Yashiki, a doctor called Daimon and a researcher called Hiroo. You see...I've always had a horrible aversion towards spiders. They scare and disgust the hell outta me...The spirit was a Jirougumo. Every little place had spiders...And...We went up, to a level that wasn't accessible easily...Only to find some kind of restricted area where wealthy patrons would indulge in incredibly messed up kinks and rituals. We even saw a shackled skeleton on a wall. But...There, in a secret room, the spirit showed me what happened to her...And those feelings...Those images...I will never be able to erase from my mind." I shuddered in my chair, quickly gulping more vodka, almost as if I was afraid of breaking down on the spot, remembering what happened.
"Hey, take it easy. You don't have to tell me if it's too much for you." he tried to reassure me, but I could only shake my head.
"The spirit was a highschool girl...One of those goody two shoes, and her role model was a teacher from her school. One day, she saw some of her classmates getting in the love hotel to make a quick buck, and she was going to report them. One day, she walked into the love hotel, as she saw someone resembling her teacher, and she was in disbelief...The teacher, afraid that word will get out, grabbed her, and along with other men, they stripped her down, and forced her down on her knees, bound her wrists roughly and blindfolded her. Then...They forced her mouth open with one of those dentist tools...God...I can still feel those hands on my skin, and the burn of the rope...And, uh....And...They...Did one of those...Witch rituals. Like...You drown her, if she drowns, she wasn't a witch, if she doesn't drown, she was a witch, so you burn her alive, either way, she dies? Well...They...They...Used...A..." I gulped, feeling sick to my stomach remembering.
"A...Spider...?" Ban whispered, and I could only nod in approval. "Goodness...People are the worst..." he frowned, looking down.
"They dropped one in her mouth...If it crawled out, she was a liar. If it crawled inside, she was speaking the truth. Three guesses what happened." I chuckled weakly, grasping my neck with one of my hands.
"Please tell me it got out." he asked, but he was met with a negative answer.
"It was a big spider...With long legs...A-And...It's...Hairy legs...Slowly went down her tongue...D-D-Down her th-throat...Oh my God..." I didn't even realise I started crying until I slammed down the glass and rushed to the kitchen sink to vomit and sob.
"Shhh, take it easy. Take it easy. It's gone now, it won't ever happen again." he held my hair back, trying to hold me up as he calmed me down.
"That's why I was afraid of talking. I knew I won't resist...And it's not even over yet." I tried to hold myself standing by grabbing on the counter. "I broke down then too, just like now, and I kept clinging onto my brother. When we got into the elevator to leave, however...It stopped mid-way...And it started getting flooded...With...W-Well...Those things. I was hysterical, to say the least, but somehow, my brother and Yashiki managed to get us out of there and we got out...But that's not the end of it yet." I grabbed a kitchen towel and wiping my face, I sit back on the chair, lighting up another cigarette.
"There's more to that?" he was shocked, clearly.
"Yeah...When we returned, we had to investigate some of the floors, and things were getting weird. I got separated from Yashiki and my brother...The spirit girl got me. And...Well...When Hazuki got in a coma, I knew right away she won't wake up until we defeated Kakuya, because that's what happened to me too. I woke up in Daimon's hospital room, and...Well, it took a lot of persuading to get my brother to tell me what happened...But the gist of it was that Yashiki found me...Well...In my underwear, on one of those disgusting, dusty beds, and I was trying to...Y'know...Seduce him. The spirit stung my back and stuck webs on me. Only imagining that made me shudder...But, honestly...It was so bad...All of it...And it was only made worse because of the bad experience with that jackass who thinks he's entitled to everything and everyone." I pouted, looking down and wiping my tears.
"Did he...?" he asked, and I could only nod.
"He knows what he did. My brother does too. He knew that if he were to approach me while I was still with him, he'd have gotten a restraining order and beaten him up to a pulp...Well, you heard him today. It's not surprising. But, you know...All of them, cumulated together, don't make for a great combination, y'know? I have more issues that I'd ever want to admit, and frankly speaking, I'd rather run away from them than ever trying to touch them and get therapy. I tried once, it only made me feel annoyed, so there's that. But...Thanks for listening, I guess. I don't think I ever had the opportunity to have someone listen to me properly, while I ramble...And I'm not even properly drunk." I chuckled weakly, looking away with a half smile.
"I wouldn't want you to end up like me. It sucks that kids have to experience shit like that too...It's really unfair. If that punk thinks he can approach you again, he better think twice." he grunted, almost as a way to amuse me.
"Thanks, Ban. I appreciate it." I smile at him, only to be interrupted by my phone ringing. It was Seiji.
"Hello? Kisara?" he asked, with a hidden urgency.
"Yes, Seiji? What is it? Did something happen to you or Yuki?" I asked after clearing my throat, making sure I don't slur or speak incoherently.
"Don't worry about us, we're okay. Stuck in the house with no way of leaving. House arrest is really boring, as expected. You, however, haven't said a word since you rushed out of my house. Are you okay?" he pressed on, making me widen my eyes in surprise.
"Are you...Worried...About me?" he muttered, biting my lip hard.
"Of course I am, how could I not? I've seen first-hand how those stupid ghosts attack you, and that's the last thing I want to see." his comment made me bite my lip even harder, most likely drawing a bit of blood.
"Sorry for not telling you sooner. I am home...I needed a drink. I was afraid you may have been sleeping and I didn't want to wake up up." I spoke in a softer voice, smiling.
"Glad to hear you're safe. Call me any time, I want to know you're safe, okay? Promise me that." he said, making me chuckle faintly.
"Okay, sure, I promise. But you must do the same, got it?" I looked away, my grip on the phone tightening.
"That's a deal. Then, take care of yourself, Kisara. Good night." telling him the usual Sweet dreams, I slam the phone on the table, along with my forehead.
"You said you see why he likes me...But what about the other way around? He called to make sure I'm okay. D'you know how long it's been since someone did that for me? ...I don't know either, that's how long it's been. It's the little things that matter, the ones that show you when someone truly cares...That's why I like him." I chuckled softly, holding my face in my hands.
"If you ever trust him with your vulnerabilities, pay attention to how he behaves later on. His words and gestures. That's when you'll properly see who he is. Then again...I'm sure you are cautious enough now, as it is. Now, come on, we should sleep. Tomorrow night is another investigation, and you have to be at your best." he patted my head, making me nod.
"Do you...Mind staying here? I don't want to be alone...Especially if that ghost decides to pay me a visit...Again." I got up, going to my room and nodding to him to follow.
"...Sure. Good night, kid." despite feeling awkward, it felt as if some kind of fatherly instinct kicked into him again, after all this time, 'cause he stroked my hair until he was sure I fell asleep.
Ban may be a complete shit head most of the time, but he's really not as bad or heartless as he wants everyone to see him as. I'm sure he must have been a nice dad...
And now I miss my parents.
Chapter 8: Crane Wife
"Kisara, calm down, it was just a nightmare!" I heard a deep voice calling out my name, as I jolted awake, pulling at my hair, groaning in frustration.
"Goddamn it...Not again...For once, I'd like...Just for fucking once...I'd like to sleep...Without having to see everyone's gruesome deaths...Is that so much to fucking ask?!" I gritted my teeth in anger, trying to wipe away the vivid images that kept plaguing my dreams.
"Come on, it's over now, none of that will happen to any of us. It's seems to be daylight now, I'll make some coffee, so get up." Ban helped me get up, and I could only sigh and nod in agreement.
"Very well, then I suppose I can order some take out. Chinese Chicken Noodles?" I asked, putting the phone to my ear.
"Yeah, just perfect." he spoke absent-minded, preparing the coffee.
For the next hours, we drank our coffee in silence, then ate the food that arrived just in time, and so, Ban went on to investigate by gambling or something, while I called Seiji to see how he was doing.
"Kisara, great hearing from you. Are you alright?" he asked casually, waiting for an answer.
"Yeah...I'm okay now. Just some nightmares, but nothing new here. And you? Are you okay there? No stray ghost threatening you, right? Yuki's taking care of you, right?" I asked, just a bit rapidly.
"Yes, of course, we are both alright...But how are you holding up We both know it's affecting you greatly, but now I don't know what you're dealing with. You haven't told me anything yet, it's only natural I'd be worrying." Seiji explained himself, but was followed by only a brief silence, then a sigh.
"Do you like pizza, Seiji? Or something else? Do you like chocolate cakes? I was thinking of bringing something over and have late dinner when I'm done with tonight's investigation...If you don't mind me coming over, that is." I explained sheepishly, knowing very well that I was rude auto-inviting myself to someone's home.
"Anything you like, I'll eat as well, but what you suggested is great. I'm glad to be seeing you again tonight. Don't forget that you're always welcome, okay, Kisara? And you better tell me what is going on with this new investigation. I have to know what you're dealing with." he pointed out, making me chuckle softly.
"You're the best, you know that, right? Very well, then, wait for me patiently, I'll be coming over when we're done. I'll bring Yuki some little treats too...Take care, Seiji. I will call you when I'm close to your house." I reassure him, and hearing his answer, I hang up and get ready for tonight.
We met up at the house, Ban telling me about the weird coincidence of Miroku having been a surgery intern before becoming an author, and we decided that we must somehow find the way into the hidden attic. Along with Ban and Akira, we went inside the house, letting Rose be the lookout, but as soon as we stepped in, the phone rang for just a brief second, before stopping altogether.
As the boy examined the phone, he realised there was something stuck between the wall and the shelf that neither of us could reach, so I suggested they try to move the shelf so the object would fall to the ground, and I'll be able to snatch it.
Cassette Tape H...
I'm...Not sure if I want to listen to it, but regardless...
We made our way to the boombox, and thankfully, Akira brought new batteries. The tape was spinning just right, however, for some reason, there was no sound coming from it, which left us confused.
But just as the two started arguing, the phone started ringing again, and I made a dash for it, picking up immediately and hearing some kind of radio static noise.
As soon as they got in the room as well, the sound of the tape started playing, which startled me enough to almost drop the handset, not only because of the sudden loud noise, but because of its contents too.
Enough to leave me stunned to the core.
"GAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Please....Just end it! Just kill me already..." the young girl voice shrieked from the top of her lungs, scratching at my brain and heart.
"H-Hey, Kisara, are you okay?!" Ban asked worriedly, but he was met by no answer, nor gesture.
"It hurts so much....! Please....Just end it! Just kill me already..." the poor girl continued to wail in pure agony, and I didn't even realise how my breathing started picking up, ragged, as I was struggling to keep myself grounded.
"Hm... I see... Sorry, I want to try to keep you alive... But that might be impossible with all four limbs cut off..." and with that statement, from a dark, male voice, the phone call ended, and the handset fell from my hand.
"What did you hear, Kisara?" Akira pressured me to talk.
"That...Fucking...MONSTER! I'm gonna kill him, even if he's dead, I'll still kill him!" I growled in anger, slamming the handset on the phone and leaving the room.
"Kisara, calm down, and tell us what you heard." Ban tried to pacify me somehow.
"I heard a little girl crying in pain and pleading to be killed, only to hear some guy, who may or may not be Miroku, saying that he still wants to keep her alive, but that he cut off all four of her limbs, that's what I heard!" I snapped in anger, before taking a deep breath and composing myself.
"...Christ..." I could hear a mutter of shock and horror from them.
"We...Have to solve this. Not only for Akira, but for the poor girls who got tortured by this...This maniac." I sighed, going to the bedroom, only to let out a short yelp-like sound out of sheer surprise.
"What is it?" Akira asked, getting in the room again.
"S-Sorry, I got startled by this doll. It wasn't here before...And now..." I went to look closer to the doll that had a duck-like mask, but when I tried to take it off, it almost seemed to be nailed to the doll.
"Why the hell is there a doll here?" the brunet boy frowned, getting closer.
"Hey, Akira, look at these dark red stains. Think this could be blood?" I asked as he approached and touched the bloodstains, before walking backwards and breathing heavily, nodding.
"Yeah...And I heard the sniffling and crying of a little girl. The girl was saying she was famished. What kind of name is Famish?" he said that so seriously that it made me and Ban share a look of disbelief, before looking back at him.
"...Is that a serious question?" Ban managed to ask after a few awkward seconds of silence.
"No, I mean, I'm saying that I have no idea what they mean by famished." the boy explained, which made us nod, trying not to say anything incredibly sarcastic.
"It means hungry. So, if the doll said she was hungry...Perhaps we should find some food and hand it to her and see what happens?" I suggested, which made the boy snap his fingers in realisation.
"Wasn't there a bowl of rotten fruit somewhere? Think that could work?" he asked, making me shrug.
"We can try." Akira nodded and rushed to get the bowl to the doll.
Unsurprisingly, the bird mask magically fell from the doll's face, and, as success dictated, we picked it up and hanged it on the wooden plate from the door...Which created some sort of earthquake and...Made a hidden door appear and open in front of us.
With grins of accomplishment, we went through the dark hidden passage and found ourselves...
At the entrance of the Miroku residence?!
But how....Is that...? Possible...?
Oh, wait, nevermind that...Weird things happened before at the Love Hotel as well, I shouldn't be so surprised.
The Love Hotel.......
Weirdly enough, a lot of elements here remind me of that blasted Masquerade...The worst place that can be...
"Wh-What?" Akira's eyes widened from the shock.
"H-Hold on...Wait a second...I-Is this really possible? Huh?!" Ban's jaw hit the floor in disbelief.
"I mean, I don't believe it either, but..." after a brief silence, as the boy looked around aimlessly, he speaks again. "Why is the entrance to the secret passage closed again?"
"Maybe it's a new passage. Ghosts can be very weird, trust me." I tried to calm them down a bit.
"But...Let's say we go back...Doesn't it seem like we'd be stuck in here in an endless loop?" Akira suggested, making me sigh and shake my head.
"No, I doubt it. Ghosts aren't capable of keeping you in an enclosed ghostly space." I spoke out, looking with interest at the wooden place where we hanged the mask.
"No time to talk, come on, let's try going outside!" the two stoogies ran full sprint out of the house, as I sighed and left the entrance, being guided to the bedroom, where I noticed the boombox was...In a weird position.
On further investigation, I hit the eject button, and to my surprise, a new cassette tape labelled 'A' was there, waiting to be played.
However, as soon as I touched it, not realising the red spot on it, I fell to my knees, screeching loudly from the pain.
"YGYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! It hurts...Give it back...My..." I wasn't even sure if this was me screaming, or if it was the poor little girl whose vision I was seeing, but I was sure that the pain we felt was the same.
"Hm... I see... Don't worry, it's just your legs. I'm knowledgeable in treatment, as well. But now..." the same horrifying male voice responded, just as before, and as it ended mid-sentence, I found myself shaken awake, only to scream again and push away the person touching me.
"Kisara, what happened?!" Ban looked at me with worry.
"...Did I scream in real life too...?" I asked in a soft voice, barely audible, as I tried to stop myself from shaking.
"Yeah, you did. The words you said sounded like the girl from the phone call you listened to, so we rushed to see if anything happened." Akira explained, looking away to see if there was any intruder.
"Damn it...That's odd. I never screamed out loud from visions before...You see, as you went running away, I came here and realised the boombox seemed off, and I found a new tape - Tape A - but I didn't realise a small spot of blood on it, so when I touched it...Well...You know very well what happens when I get visions. I'm sorry I pushed you like that, Ban. In the haze between vision and reality, the touch seemed like it was Miroku's." I raked my fingers through my hair, taking a few deep breaths to calm myself down, before shakily getting up.
"What an absolute maniac." Akira shook his head in disgust, frowning as he looked around the room to find any more clues.
"Let's go to the living-room again. If you noticed, whenever something happens here, something there triggers, and vice-versa." I pointed out, leaning on Ban's arm for support.
And just as I said, a doll wearing what could resemble a dog mask was sitting hunched on one of the sofas. Seeing that I had no intention of touching it and have another vision, the brunet boy walked forward. "I'm Cold...Mum..." she said...Poor darling...
"I see no heater around, unfortunately. If we can't do anything about it here, then we'll just have to carry her somewhere we can." Ban suggested, as Akira picked it up, despite being quite heavy.
"Let's get her in bed, then. I think those blankets are pretty warm." I walked ahead of them, making place for the doll to be placed, then I tucked her in...But nothing happened.
"Let's see how she feels. She shouldn't be cold anymore." Ban pointed out.
"Let me ask her again." Akira touched her again, only to frown, realising she was saying the exact same thing.
"Oh...Come on...Not that..." I groaned loudly, dragging my hands down my face.
"I think she wants her...Mother?" Akira guessed, making me nod in frustration.
"Yeah, yeah. Urgh, if only Rose was here...Get out of the room, I'll be back in a minute. The last thing I want is for someone to see me being motherly...Especially to a wooden doll." I waved them away, and thankfully, they did.
Taking a few deep breathes to encourage myself, I get in bed next to the doll, and hold her head to my chest, saying sweet, soothing things, just like mum used to say whenever I was little and had a nightmare.
Great, now I'm feeling sad and nostalgic.
At least the doll dropped the mask...Along with a hand towel? Weird, but what can we do.
Leaving the room, I throw the towel to Akira to put in his bag, and rushed past them to hang the dog mask on the same wooden plate at the entrance, and just as before, a secret passage door got opened right before our very eyes.
Turning around to shoot them a playful smirk, I walk through the corridor, motioning for them to follow me already, and just as expected, we found ourselves in the same place...Only to hear a loud knocking?
"Did you hear that?" I gasped, looking at them with worry.
"Who's there?!" Akira yelled at the intruder.
"Is it Rose? ...No, she has a cellphone." Ban thought out loud.
"Go check it out, I'll look through the house to find another doll, or some hint." I urged them to leave, then closed my eyes, waiting for my senses to guide me in a direction.
But I said that in vain, as, once again, I was guided to the bedroom, to the boombox, but it had no more tape inside, so I was very confused, but I could only guess the others would find a cassette...Hopefully.
As soon as those two walked into the room again, I looked at them expectantly, holding my hand out.
"...What?" Akira looked at my hand, then at me, with a confused expression.
"You must have found a tape, right? Otherwise you wouldn't have come to the only room that could play one, right?" I said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, which made the boy nod and hand me the cassette, which I put in the boombox, then hit play, bracing myself for more shrieking.
"GHIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! How...Could you...W-Why...? Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back! Give it back!" the poor girl kept repeatedly begging and sobbing to have the removed part of her body returned to her.
"Hm... I see... No need to worry, it's just one arm. Let's take our time and cut it while I treat it..." Miroku said in the same ominous voice, which made me grab the boombox and throw it on the ground, stomping on it.
"Let's continue investigating. I'm sure the next doll should be in the living room by now." I muttered, walking ahead, and just as expected, a bloody, naked doll, wearing a monkey-like mask.
"Here we go again." Akira sighed, going to touch the blood on the doll. "Argh...They never make it easy, do they...The voice said they wanted to go to school...Let's try putting that Sailor Uniform on her." Akira explained his thoughts, and we did just that...But with no effect.
"If she wants to go to school, maybe we have to put on an act for her? Pretend to have a teacher and stuff?" I went to sit besides her on the couch.
"Then, from now on, I will be Mr. Ban, got it?" Ban smirked, sitting opposite of us.
"Good morning, Professor Ban! What will we be reviewing today?" I asked, barely able to stifle my chuckle.
"Good morning, class. Let's review what we learned in our history lesson last time. So, when did Columbus make it to America? Kijima, what's the answer?" Ban asked, looking at my crestfallen expression.
"Tsk, what the hell...Uh, something about the ocean blue...Oh, right, it's 1492, right?" Akira answered, and I could only mouth a tired 'What the hell'.
"Good, I'm glad you reviewed what we learned. All right, next question...I'll ask you. What year was the 'Emancipation Proclamation' signed?" he asked, and I felt like facepalming.
"Professor, not to be rude, but I'm 23 and I have no idea. I don't think an Elementary student would have learnt that." I say, trying not to have my sarcastic expression out in the open.
"Oh, good point, my bad." Ban nodded with an amused smirk.
"You're doing a terrible job as a teacher." Akira groaned in annoyance.
"What did you say? You runt, that's no way to talk to a teacher." Ban glared at the boy, scoffing.
"Pft, what kind of teacher calls his student a runt? Jeez." Akira shot right back, with just as much spunk.
"That's it, come here you little - " Ban shot to his feet, looking at Akira with irritation.
"Oh, want to fight, you fraud?!" Akira stepped forwards, but just then, the mask fell from the doll, and I could only sigh in relief.
"Thank goodness for this blessing in disguise. You guys really can't work together well, can you?" I sighed, shaking my head and taking the mask, pushing both of them away from each other.
"No way...So all it took was a half-assed act like that?!" the boy looked weirdly at the maskless doll.
"What are you talking about, that was a class lesson no matter how you slice it. I was teaching my ass off there. I'll have you know that I got a teaching license from my college days." Ban smirked proudly, which made me stop in my tracks and look at him.
"What a coincidence, so do I. The first 3 years of University provided a psychopedagogy course. It was boring, and I knew I would never want to teach, but I still took it, regardless. Maybe, next time, I should be the teacher...At least I won't have to look like an idiot for not knowing things from someone else's history, that were taught to me over 10 years ago." I laughed, amused by the whole ordeal.
"That would be pretty fun to see, Professor Kisara." Ban chuckled, before noticing something shiny on the floor, that on further inspection, seemed to be a pair of shoes.
"Huh...Hard shoes. Guess I should put them in the bag, just in case." Akira snatched them, throwing them in the backpack.
"That was a pair of pointe shoes. The kind a ballerina wears. They are pretty painful and can destroy a dancer's toes...But the dancing is truly graceful, nonetheless. Sometimes I wish I would have continued my dancing classes..." I spoke out without realising, before walking towards the entrance.
"You took dancing?" Ban asked, curious.
"Yeah. I was...How old was I, now? I think I started when I was about 5 or 6 years old? They were teaching mixed dances, from traditional, to waltz, samba, cha cha, contemporary, step...Ballet...I was doing it on and off until I reached 12 or 13 years old, and then I had to stop it so I could properly focus on studies. But I still continued with music, because of the Medicine Uni requirements." I shrugged, a bit nostalgic, remembering the fun times on stage, as I put on the mask and waited until the hidden door opened.
"You can tell me more about it as we go on, if you want." Ban smiled slightly, but this corridor...Was bloody all over, unlike the others. Not good at all.
"...It's time to do your thing." the man addressed Akira, but just as he touched the blood on the walls, a shriek is heard just above our heads, even more powerful than the one at the entrance. Our vision goes a blinding white, and we fall to the ground immediately. This shriek...It almost sounds like a cry for help...A cry that is left unheard by anyone...So if anyone were to answer...Maybe it will stop...? This crane cry...Maybe...
"GIYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" I let out a loud screech, as high pitched and continuous as I could, which was weird for me, for I never screamed, and my voice isn't exactly anything other than a moderate-low pitch, and whenever I try to talk louder, my voice randomly stops, but now, it worked well enough, despite the raw, burning sensation that my throat felt.
As soon as I stopped and fell flat on the ground, a soft voice was heard - Same...As...Me... - she said, and thus, the shrieking disappeared completely. Looking to my left and right, I see Ban looking dizzy, and Kijima faint on the ground.
"You okay...?" Ban asked, and I could only nod, holding my hand to my throat in pain.
"Urgh...Thank goodness...That scream, it was like it was directly above our heads, right?" Kijima asked, as soon as he woke up.
"But there doesn't seem to be any ladders." the man muttered, looking around.
"Let's go." I tried to say, but my voice was strained, and my throat felt like claws ripped it to ribbons.
"Don't talk. Let's finish things here and return home. A warm drink will help." Ban suggested, which in return earned a nod from me.
As soon as we exited the corridor, we appeared to the front entrance of the Miroku residence, and yet, instead of just one wooden plate, there were 3 now. The obvious difference was remarked easily by everyone, but just as Akira took out the first mask, his phone rang - It was Rose, warning us that our time was up and we had to leave.
Thank goodness, I really need a break.
As we left the house, Ban and Akira explained to Rose everything that happened, and I went to the nonstop restaurant to order some take away pizza and chocolate cakes, so I would make my way to Seiji.
Just then, I realised that I will have some difficulty speaking, so I ordered a caramel latte as well, drinking it on the way to his house.
"Hey, still awake?" I asked, hoping my voice was heard.
"What's with your voice? Did anything happen?!" Seiji asked alarmed.
"I'll tell you when I get to you. I'm almost there." I explained, and I heard a hum of understanding.
"Then I'll be waiting for you outside. Hope you don't mind, I'm in my pyjamas." the boy chuckled, and I could instantly feel myself smiling.
"That only means I'll have to change as well, right?" I mused, raising my coffee-hand in the air, as a way to salute him from a distance. "Cute pyjamas, as always."
"Want to borrow them?" he chuckled, hanging up his phone, and putting his arm around my shoulder, bringing me to his chest, kissing my temple.
"I would love that." I sighed in content as we got to his room, placing the coffee cup and food bags on the table, before going to change.
"Why are you drinking coffee at such an hour?" he asked, taking out the pizza box and dragged me on the bed so we could eat.
"It's such a long story...So many things happened...But...I had to scream to save our lives, and now my throat hurts like hell, so I got a hot drink to help. I'm better now, at least." I chuckled softly, taking a bite from the pizza.
"You look exhausted. You've clearly been through a lot...How about we eat now and go sleep, and you can tell me all about this mess tomorrow when we wake up, okay?" his beautiful, gentle eyes showed understanding and concern.
"Thanks, Seiji. Honestly...It's a huge mess. I haven't felt this way in 5 years...I'm exhausted, really, and the nightmares aren't helping...But it's worse when you can see yourself in the victim's shoes. Literally. Maybe I shouldn't take things so personally, but...When you see their suffering and feel their pain directly...And when you find out who they were and that...You could have been the victim yourself...It really sucks." I ruffled my hair, trying to keep myself awake and to keep the memories away, hopefully.
"Oh, Kisara...Come on, get here, you've been through enough. Let me help you fall asleep." Seiji sighed, putting aside the empty pizza box and closed tight the cake box so it won't get rock hard and inedible.
"But...The cakes..." I muttered, looking away.
"Don't worry, we can it them tomorrow. You sleeping is the priority now. Come here." he gave a reassuring smile, and after a few seconds of reticence and a slight blush of embarrassment, I crawl in his arms, cuddling to his side like a kitten, which made him chuckle and start stroking my hair gently.
"Do you...Mind if we keep the lamp open? I know the electricity is expensive, but - " I tried to say, but I only got a kiss on the top of my head.
"Don't worry, it's fine. I understand why you'd need the lights open. Come on, stop worrying. Just close your eyes and sleep. I'm here, okay, Kisara?" he reassured me, once again, and I could only smile gratefully.
"...Thank you, Seiji. You're the best. Sweet dreams." I muttered, drawing even closer to him.
"Sweet dreams to you as well, princess."
Chapter 9: Closure
Clamping my hands over my mouth to avoid groaning, I then use the hem of my loose Tshirt to wipe the sweat and tears from my face, then quietly leave the bed, picking up my cig pack and going on the balcony, using a pillow to make myself comfortable as my back rests on one of the chair's arm rests, while my legs were dangling over another chair. I pour myself a glass of vodka with cherry juice, light up a cigarette, and look up at the starry sky, sighing deeply.
How did it come to this...?
I really shouldn't have gotten involved with this case. It affects me too much. I'm too empathetic for this idiocy. For this...This. But how can I not take things so personal, when I can see myself in those poor girls' shoes, and I even had the misfortune to feel what one of them felt, to that insane intensity, not only of pain and agony, but the fear and confusion, the hopelessness they felt being in that situation, with a psychopath like Miroku.
"Not even I can help you have a proper sleep, can I?" a voice called out, making me jump slightly, only to realise it was Seiji.
"...Sorry." I muttered, looking down and puffing a bit more from the cigarette.
"Don't apologise. It's not your fault those ghosts are messing with you. I just worry. Do you want company? Silence, listening or talking, I'll be here for you, if you want me to." he suggested, and I nodded, waving my hand for him to sit on the chair opposite of mine, at the little table.
"I'm a hypocrite, y'know? I go by that saying...Listen to what I say, not to what I do. I'm a terrible example to live by. I told Ban not to get involved in this case, since it would affect him tons...But look at me now. I never imagined, the first time I stepped into that...That God forsaken house...That I would have to find out such a horrific truth. I mean...All the ghosts so far had really painful stories, hence why they became so vengeful...But this one...This is one of the worst. It's tied with the Love Hotel ghost for the most painful cases...Or the ones that affected me the most." I spoke out, letting my head back, looking at the sky.
"What could possibly be so bad that it made you this weary and exhausted?" he asked in a gentle, shushed voice, as to give me my time.
"...In your time as a Yakuza, have you ever tortured someone? Or witnessed torture? And I mean extreme one, not just some beating up, that's usual and lame." realising that the burn reached the butt of the cigarette, I down the remaining of the glass and light up another cigarette.
"No, I can't say I did see anything worse than that. But my pops mentioned some extreme decisions he had to do, including cutting fingers and such. Not him personally, obviously, but his lackeys." he explained, and I hummed in understanding for a few seconds, before opening my mouth to speak.
"Say, have I ever told you that when I was little, I used to do lots of arts? People in Europe pride themselves for getting their kids to do lots of various extracurricular activities, varying from arts of all kinds, sports and foreign languages. I'm not sure why, but it was really fun, and sometimes, I wish I continued some of them so I could have a higher proficiency, however studying had to become my main activity, and it took most of my time, so for the little leisure time I had, I would either write random things, doodle, go for walks through the forest, or practice more the two musical instruments I chose for my medicine entrance exam." every good story begins with extremely cryptic words, doesn't it?
"That's interesting to find out. No wonder you have such a vast general culture. It's admirable, if you ask me." Seiji gave me a side smile that I caught from the corner of my eye.
"When I was about 8, I used to do dancing, of all sorts. Can you guess which type was my favourite?" I asked, getting up, holding both the glass and the cigarette in the same hand.
"I'm not very knowledgeable in dance types, but I can see you as the romantic one. Something like Waltz or Tango?" he guessed, making me chuckle slightly, before gracefully doing a few arm and legs movements, before doing a clumsy pirouette.
"Ballet...And thankfully, I didn't get dizzy yet, so I didn't fall. Ballet used to be my favourite type. I remember getting so loud and cheerful when my teacher finally allowed me to get my first pair of pointe shoes. They were pink! Just like the ones the Barbie doll did. Barbie as the Sugar Plum Fairy. From the Nutcracker ballet. I was so happy. And then, my mum even managed to get a tailor do create the doll's costume. I let my hair long, so by the time I would wear the dress, which was a Christmas present...Well, I danced the Sugar Plum Fairy's little part for them. I even had a cute little tiara. Albeit, I wasn't the best, clearly, I was just a child...But...Actually, I think my brother's parents still have the cassettes my parents filmed when I was little." I smiled, letting nostalgia paint my lips, as I leaned my back on the rail of the balcony.
"Aww, that sounds cute. I'd like to see them some day, if possible. Actually, my father made me do some dancing too, but more recently. He said it's an important skill for people like us, and I think I'm inclined to agree." he mentioned as a matter of fact, which made me smirk.
"It also makes one conjure a certain degree of inner sensuality and gracefulness that most people lack by default." I made a little playful jab, knowing very well he'd catch, as he chuckled in agreement. "Do you know that there is a dream that is shared pretty commonly among all girls who do ballet and want to perform on stage? There is a certain role they all wish to be able to do on stage and perform in front of everyone. It acts as a badge of honour and accomplishment for all the hard work, blood and tears you put into this hobby that became a full job." I continued my idea, despite the confusion on his face.
"No, I cannot say that I know, but I can only guess it would have to do with some pretty princess from a very popular classical ballet?" he threw his theory very carefully.
"Did you know that there were tons of people who told me that I should have pursued drama and become an actress? Yes, I know, I'm very anxious and an introvert...However...There is a sort of...Born, natural theatrical talent that I have, that I discovered when I was forced to do public speeches and presentations in front of people, and I would go all out with them, which made me pretty successful among my peers. Then, it continued with impersonations of different characters and little skits on the stage, whenever I had the chance...So you could say that I also had this dream...Of performing Odette from Swan Lake. Being so great that I could be both Odette and Odile on stage...Do you think I did it? It is one of the hardest roles in ballet, but the question still stands." I challenged him as I tried to remember some of the movements, and I body moved automatically, although not as graceful, especially barefoot, but still close enough.
"Judging by the way you move, and the way you inspire confidence, yes, I think you did. Maybe not to professional degree, but close to that. Do you have a film of you on stage? It must have been an incredible stage performance." Seiji crossed his ankle over his knee, listening intently.
"Yes, I did, and yes, I do, I reckon. I think I'd like to see them again, as well, if my heart can take the nostalgia. You see, I'm not the best at controlling my emotions. I'm either too emotional, or completely devoid of them. But...Here's the deal. I did become Odette. Those little girls didn't. And here comes the result to the build up I did just now. We are investigating the case of the Screaming Author, at Yakumo Miroku's house. Have you heard of him?" I asked, and at this point, Seiji's eyes became sharp and attentive.
"I believe my father may have mentioned his name some time ago. Something about a horror novelist, I believe? I was never interested in the supernatural, or the occult, so I never bothered to remember or research. But what is it about him?" he got up, crossing his arms.
"When I got into his house, we found a girl's Sailor Uniform...And a flyer that advertised a children variation of Swan Lake - Lac des canes, Duck Lake, for children too young to wear pointe shoes. And then...We found a tape. A tape that was actually a police report, mentioning young girls under the age of 13 that got kidnapped around this are...Did you know that Miroku was known for his exemplary descriptions of gorey stuff, like bones, flesh, wounds and blood?" I asked rhetorically, as he approached me, frowning.
"Did he kidnap them, then? And killed them, which is why the ghosts were made?" his voice was softer now, almost afraid, and I could only nod my head slowly, my mouth open, yet unable to speak for a few seconds.
"Today...We found something more. We found...Three dolls that needed appeasing. One of them was crying that she was famished. Another that she was cold and wanted her mummy...And the other was so desperate...Scared...In agony...That she wanted to go to school, thinking that it would change everything...And...That's not even the worst part. The children knew they were going to die. They knew they were helpless, hopeless, and that the inevitable was going to happen sooner than expected. But the parents didn't have this kindness. The kindness of having a closure. They may still hold hope in their hearts, even now, that somehow, their child will return home. They may still be blaming themselves for letting their little girl go home from school or extracurricular classes by herself and getting kidnapped. They don't know their child got killed...And they will never know the pain they went through, nor will they see how mutilated their little princess' body became." I took a sharp breath, looking up at the sky again.
"Mutilated...? What do you mean, Kisara? What in the world did you find there?!" his voice became alarmed, as he gently put his hands on his arms, trying to give me a sense of security and comfort.
"We also found...Three different tapes...And...Three different girls were talking...But...It wasn't 'talking'...It was more like...Shrieking in agony from the pain...And asking to have things given back...But...Those things...Were...Their limbs. Miroku...Was cutting off their limbs...With a handsaw. The girls were begging him to kill them already. One girl had all four limbs cut off, and he said...That he'd like to keep her alive, but with all her limbs missing, it would be impossible. Another girl had her arm half-cut, and she was begging him to let her go...But he said...That she should shut up and let him continue cutting her arm..." I didn't even realise my bottom lip was quivering until I got pulled into a hug.
"You don't have to talk if it makes you uncomfortable, Kisara, okay? Take it easy, you've already been through enough." Seiji spoke soothing words, trying to comfort me.
"That tape...Had blood on it. And I didn't realise it when I picked it up, to put in the boombox to play. And...And I became her. Tied to the chair...Both my legs cut off...Staring Miroku right in the face...As he spoke with a menacing, psychopathic tone...Saying that...He needs her alive...And that he will treat her wounds, so he can cut her arms next...And the pain...God, the pain...It was so terrible that I found myself screaming in the real world, and that never happened before. When Ban and Akira came to check on me, I tried to get up, but my strength was all gone, and an electrifying, numb pain was still running through me, and I needed Ban's support to stand up." a few tears fell down my face, but the boy was there to wipe them away.
"Oh, Kisara...You should really stop getting yourself in such horrible situations. I hate seeing you so pained. But don't worry, I know you'll be able to give those girls the closure they deserve. Shhh, it will be alright, I'm here." he continued reassuring me, hugging me tighter.
"The night before...I and Ban went to have a drink and lick each other's wounds. We told each other the traumas we suffered from...I told him not to get involved in this, because he will feel terrible. He used to have a wife and a young son, who died because of a ghost. I can only imagine, as a father, how terrible it must feel to have your family killed by ghosts, and then, to have to get in a situation like this. But I'm a hypocrite. I...I got home. I became Odette. I am here, alive, with a future...But they are not. And I can't stop seeing myself when I was little, in my ballet clothes...And then that happens. What if that were me? Miroku didn't just die recently, these disappearances aren't from now. They could have even been from 10-15 years ago...And then, I was the same age they were." I kept rambling on, and before I knew it, I left his arms, getting back in the chair, pouring more vodka and lighting up another cigarette.
"You're trying to get somewhere with the story, aren't you?" he asked, looking down at me, most likely debating whether or not should he take away those vices from me, or if he should let me mourn in peace.
"We got drunk...And...I spoke out about some things that happened 5 years ago...At the Love Hotel. I ended up vomiting from the horrible memories...Because I never told this story to anyone until now. My brother and the others there already knew what happened since they were there, so there was nobody else to tell, that would actually believe me anyway...But this wasn't the first time I got memory-tortured...But that one took its toll on me mentally, pretty damn hard, since it played on my greatest fears. Darkness, Insects...And Myself." I muttered the ending, looking own at the red mixed vodka for a few seconds, before downing it and pouring more, finishing the cigarette and puffing another, as if I was an old steam train.
"What do you mean by that...?" he frowned, leaning a bit over the table, sitting back on his chair.
"I had just moved to Japan and my brother got accused of some...Terrible accusations. I know how a sexual harasser is like, and I know very well he wasn't one, so I was dead set on helping him abolish those rumours and get back his position as a detective. At the same time, his mentor and best friend was killed by some cult...But as we investigated, we got marked by a ghost, and gradually, we started losing our memories, and we would have died, just like Akira...But Yashiki came by and we saved each other. We continued helping him on and off, until he finally got rid of his own Death Mark...And then, some time afterwards...Do you remember Moe Watanabe, the girl who wrote occult articles on OOPArts Monthly, that Hazuki mentioned when we first met?" I asked, turning to look at him.
"The one talking about The Knight, your occult persona, was it?" he raised his eyebrow, confused, yet intrigued, of why I was bringing her up.
"The article Hazuki found was from the Love Hotel incident. And...The ghost was a Spider Spirit. I'm...THAT kind of girl whose sight isn't the best, had frequent nightmares, sleep paralysis, got scared of what monster could lurk in the dark, and shrieked like hell whenever spiders or any gross insects were in sight. And...This Love Hotel was a place underage girls would go to for fast money...And there was a secret level that had no stairs, but you needed a secret code on the elevator buttons so access it...And...It was a place where wealthy men would go and indulge in incredibly psychopathic fetishes...Including brutal tortures. And...This Spider Spirit...Was a goody two shoes girl whose role model was her teacher, and she had conflict in her heart, seeing her schoolmates go to such an immoral place, and she wanted to tell her teacher...But she found the teacher in Masquerade...And he kidnapped her...And got her to the secret place...And...Tortured her..." I trailed on, not realising how the cigarette was rapidly burning, and the ashes were falling on the table.
"...And you touched her blood, didn't you?" Seiji blinked, taking the cig from my hand, putting it off on the ash tray.
"...They stripped her down...And restrained her wrists...And had her mouth forced open with one of those dentist tools, blindfolded her...And...Then...Well, she's a Spider Spirit for a reason...I'm sure...You can guess..." I stumbled over my words, mimicking the spider getting in her mouth, and then, trailing my index and middle finger down my neck, I noticed him shuddering in disgust and shock.
"They put a spider in her mouth, and it crawled in her throat?!" the disbelief on his face obvious.
"...Those long, hairy legs going down and tickling all the way and...Gahhhhh, I don't want to remember again. Remembering that scene made me vomit two days ago...And it made me have a huge breakdown when it happened, so bad that it took both Yashiki and my brother to drag me the hell out of there and try to stop me from being hysterical." resting my elbows on the table, I rest my face on my hands, groaning.
"Gosh, that's horrible. I can't even begin to imagine...I have no words. I can't even comfort you in any way since there's no way to comfort something of this magnitude. That's the worst." he put his hands over mine, and I grabbed them, intertwining my fingers with his.
"My ex, that I also saw two days ago, did some pretty nasty things to me...And they were pretty recent, 5 years ago. My brother was the only person I ever told. And...A trauma so recent, and feeling those hands all over me in that memory...It just made it so much worse. But then, when I got dragged in the elevator so we could run the hell away from there...It got suck and spiders started filling it, crawling all over us. I lost it completely. I was an irrational mess...And were it not for them...I don't think I would have been able to save myself, nor regain my sanity...But if that wasn't enough...Remember what I told you about Hazuki's coma? I...Got possessed by the Spider Spirit girl...I was made to seduce Yashiki...But when he took away the webs from my back, I fell into a coma, and until they purified her, I wouldn't wake up, no matter what Daimon would try...That's why...If I can allow myself to be so selfish to say so...I...I'm happy that it wasn't you. It may sound terrible and selfish a-and...The complete opposite of altruistic and whatever...But...I was so...Beyond happy when I saw Akira choosing you over her. I was so relieved when I saw you opening your eyes and being the same sarcastic little jerk that you are. I almost lost it when I saw you like that...It feels like whenever I make a step forwards, I take 10 backwards, and take a dive into those traumas that hold me back...That's why I told you...Don't stay around me. I'm a mess. And you deserve so much more than...This." I sighed, closing my eyes, feeling at ease for finally being able to let out all the pent up frustrations I held onto over the years.
"Kisara. Never speak like that about yourself, okay? And it's human to be selfish. You did absolutely nothing wrong. What happened to you would have traumatised everyone. It doesn't mean you're weak, in any way. Come on, look at me." he got up, pulling at my hands to get me into a hug, before cupping my face and looked me in the eyes, making me look away, bashfully.
"Don't even think about kissing me when I stink of alcohol and cigarettes. Trust me, it's disgusting. I don't even have mint gum or something." I chuckled awkwardly, putting my hands over his.
"You're being silly and worrying too much." with a gentle smile, his fingers found their way into my hair as he leaned down to kiss me, and I could only pull him closer, deepening it, just by a little bit, before we parted, and shyly looked away for a split second.
"Y'know you're the best, don't you? You have to know that by now." I scoffed in amusement, looking away with an amused smirk.
"Of course I do. And now that you said it, there's truly no way for doubt. Let's go back inside, it's getting cold. Let's eat that cake and try to relax...It sucks I can't be there for you tomorrow, but promise me, no matter what, you'll try to take care of yourself tomorrow. I hate seeing you suffering like that. Please, take care of yourself, and I promise you, if there is a next time, I will be there to make sure you're okay. Until then...Stick to Ban and Akira and try to stay away from the ghost. I understand you want closure and revenge for the victims, and we have to save Akira and Amy...But don't get yourself killed in the process, okay? I don't want to lose my Little Knight." he chuckled lightly, putting his arm around my shoulder, pulling me close to his side.
"I...Can't promise anything. But I can at least promise that I will try. I want to come back too. I'm afraid of ghosts...And I hope that after the whole problem with Akira is over, I won't have to see ghosts anymore, or anything supernatural. I'm really exhausted by all of this and I just want to get back to my normal life. And then...Things will get better. I'm sure of that." I smiled at him, leaning on his shoulder, on the best, as we both enjoyed the chocolate cake from yesterday.
"That's what I like to hear, Kisara. Keep your head up, and you'll pull through. There is only one Knight, and that is you. Besides...I don't know which of us will get more pissed off at you getting hurt, but I'm sure your brother will go livid." Seiji chuckled, which made me turn my head, looking at him with eyes wide.
"Mashita Satoru is the rudest person in the world, while also being the sweetest. Likewise, he's also the scariest, in an aloof, eerie way, especially considering that intimidating, detective stare of his, and the brute strength he has...And the tricks he knows. Trust me, he taught me some self-defense techniques, and let me tell you, I do NOT want to practice them with him again." I burst into fits of laughter, remembering the thousands of times I got thrown to the ground and many more as I tried to practice basic police-level self-defense stuff.
"At least I'm sure if you need to wrestle a ghost, you'll win the fight, unlike me, bringing a gun to an exorcism." he grinned, musing at what he's done.
"Why do I feel like things are going to get much more fun from now on, hmm~?" I mused playfully, turning to give him a mischievous side-glance.
"Because they are definitely going to get fun." he retorted with just as much cheek as me.
There's still a lot of time until tonight when we return to the Miroku residence, and the Sun barely rose, so I still can sleep until noon and gather enough strength for this insanity that's going to happen.
Things will get fun, clearly.
Chapter 10: Safe and Sound
The next day, I spent my time chilling with Yuki and Seiji, watching movies and such, until night time finally came by and I had to make my way to the Black Rabbit again, hopefully for the last time.
There, the others found out that Miroku kidnapped young girls, younger than middle school, once every ten years, and these 4 kidnapped girls all had their initial letter as one of the letters on the tapes...
And we also concluded that, since Miroku's relatives were all famous people, high up in the government and such, he had all the fire extinguished from his back.
Such is the corrupt way of the world, where people can torture little girls and have no consequence.
Despite taking a strong drink each, we quickly sobered up once we got to the residence, and went straight to the wooden frames where we put the masks adequately, and thus, the last secret passage way got opened, and at the end of the corridor, we found a ladder that led up to the attic.
Up there, a vast attic fills our vision, and everyone was curious of what was behind the sliding door. The paper lanterns on each side of the room were warm, as if fire had been recently lit there.
As soon as I look to the sliding door, I see Kijima reaching out to open the door - I tried stopping him...But he opened it anyway, revealing a shit ton of blood on the ground...I wonder if here is where he tortured those poor girls...
And Akira said that the blood was a bunch of different, jumbled images, and he couldn't make anything out of it.
We went down to his bedroom again, and we found a lot of scattered papers with different names and references, and an old typewriter.
There was a riddle on one of the papers, and using the carbon paper on the typewriter, we found out, thanks to Ban, that the answer was " TUBASA " no Ongaesi, as Wings are Tsubasa, but the kidnapped girl's name was Tubasa.
Then, the typewriter started writing on its on, revealing:
"I've failed with many of them in the past. However, I managed to save the fourth birdie. Though it is 'their role', all birdies have lost all four limbs. It's truly saddening. The fourth birdie wails that it does not want to be seen and it wants to die... Truly a pity. I shall at least give her wings and transform her from a little birdie, into a beautiful crane. If she became a crane, I'm sure it would show me utmost gratitude, even if it died..."
However, we didn't even have time to be disgusted or horrified by the paper's contents, for Ban noticed that one of the beds, that was previously perfectly flat, had formed a big bump, as if someone was sitting under the blanket.
As we looked back and forth between one another, scrunching our noses at the horrendous stench coming from the bed, I ripped the sheet away, only to see some kind of ridiculous abomination with multiple limbs, stapled together to what may have been a body? And the head seems to be infested by maggots.
"Please don't tell me this is Miroku's body and the girls' arms." I hit my palm to my forehead in an attempt to take away the shock.
"Looks like the kids' arms are embalmed...I think you're right..." Ban muttered, equally horrified.
"Why would anyone do this? Did the Spirit do this?! What the hell - " this may have hit Akira a bit more than it hit us, at least in the rationalisation area.
"I...Think Miroku might have done it...There's the surgical stapler, used to shut open wounds. Insane until the end..." I sighed, and just then, Akira took the blanket from my hands, covered the monstrosity and left the room.
"Hang on - ... If that's Miroku, then who is the Screaming Author?" Kijima looked at us, confused beyond belief.
"...I think it's the middle school girl. The one he tried to make into a crane or something. The fourth birdie, as he called her. As she was older, she must have been filled with exponentially more regret than all the others...And she might have also suffered more than the others. You can bet she holds an enormous grudge on this shithead...And we also haven't found the 4th girl doll...Tubasa..." I ruffled my hair, thinking at the tragedy of it all.
Thankfully, Ban found an old key and syringe filled with Mizadolan, a sedative, used in preanesthetic medication....What he may have used to operate on those poor girls...
Then, Akira thought it'd be better if he were to go only with Rose, as she was more knowledgeable in spirits, and Ban insisted he takes me outside, so we could guard the house better, as he says, but I was sure he didn't want me to get involved with this again.
Very nice of him, and yet, I could hear a vengeful female voice talking in my head...
"I pleaded...And pleaded...And pleaded...And pleaded...And pleaded........And nothing!" she kept saying, clearly wanting her revenge, showing how desperately rageful she was.
Biting my lip, hearing high pitched crane noises that kept grating my brain so bad that they were causing a terrible migraine, I go in front of the house, looking up at the attic, and I realised that while I could see her silhouette again, her image was already engraved in my retina, and no matter how much I tried to blink it away, or think of something else, the poor, mutilated girl with nails hammered into her body and wires hanging her up wouldn't leave my brain.
I knew Ban was shaking me awake, trying to make me snap out of it, but her desperate shriek wouldn't get the hell out of my head, so instinctively, I pushed the man away and sprinted up in the attic, only to see the deformed body of the pitiful girl, hanging from wires that were nailed into her, just like in my vision, while Akira and Rose were awkwardly hanging as well.
Despite the crane screech, a plea for help, I felt pity showering my heart, and in that moment, I remembered the lullaby that Satoru's mother sang to me whenever I'd have nightmares because of all the bad things that happened - The Japanese equivalent of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
It was clear as daylight to me that Akira was trying to do his plan - Whatever that may be - So p'haps if I can distract the spirit from attacking those two, he will have enough time to purify her.
"Kira kira hikaru, osorano hoshiyo. Mabataki shite wa, minna o miteru. Kira kira hikaru, osorano hoshiyo." I kept repeating those lyrics, and surprisingly, the effect was primarly what I expected - The girl stopped attacking for a little while, and seemed to cry for her mummy, which gave Akira enough time to catch the incense lighter from Rose.
However, what I wasn't expecting was for the girl's spirit to go into a frenzy and throw wires at me as well, dangling me up in the air, my limbs in awkward positions, as those wires were digging dangerously into my skin, possibly drawing blood, at some point, but of that, I couldn't be too sure, for I couldn't see anything, and all I could do was try to forget the uncomfortable, suffocating feeling from having those wires so tightly wrapped around my neck, almost as if they were trying to pull on it, lengthen it, just like a crane's.
"Thanks for the diversion, Kisara, now let's hope it works, for all our sakes." Akira grumbled, and swaying in his restraints, he managed to reach the spirit who, surprisingly, went ablaze very fast, and fell on the tatami in a pile of ashes in a matter of seconds.
How very unpredictable and un-natural can spirits be...
Thankfully, the fire didn't reach our wires, and instead, they vanished, so with a pretty painful thud, we all fell to the ground, groaning both from getting hurt, but also, in relief of having escaped yet another threat.
"Pfew, well...We're still alive." Rose sighed deeply, rubbing her skin to alleviate some of the pain from the wire cuts.
"Y-Yeah...Somehow..." and now, we all looked at the pile of blood and ashes that stood in place of the spirit.
"Maybe you can try and find something out about Ami if you touch the blood." I suggested, nudging the brunet boy forward.
As Akira did as instructed without a second thought, he had a vision once again, and after he got out of his trance, he told us about the place Ami was trapped into - Kakuriyo - And it seemed to ring a bell for Rose, who explained that it was some Shinto term for their view of the World, the Realm of the Dead, or the Afterlife. Consequently, the World of the Living is called Utsushiyo.
Despite the fact that they both seemed not to believe it was the true Afterlife, it was to my belief, after witnessing the weird powers of Mary the Doll, that even Kakuya would be able to mess around with our Realms, considering she may or may not have been the one to actually bring about in our world all these Spirits we encountered in our journey.
Getting snapped out of my thoughts, I see Akira opening some chest and taking out a small, oddly-shaped Doll, and a thick envelope. The weirdest thing of it all, allegedly, was the fact that the doll perfectly resembled Kakuya's face...So this only leads me to believe that Miroku may or may not have been directly associated with Kakuya.
Could he have tried to ritualistically send those poor girls in mutilated, doll-like shapes, to Kakuya, so she would have a playmate? It would make sense why the kidnappings happened once every 10 years, or so...But how in the world did those two get connected, anyway?
As he shoved the doll in his pocket, Akira opened the enveloped, revealing scratch paper with detailed descriptions of things and some photos of the girls he killed - The pictures depicted the girl who got kidnapped after ballet practice...So this was the Screaming Author's true identity. What she actually didn't want to see...She didn't want us to see her as she is now, and compare her to her former self. How painful...
After gathering our thoughts, we decided to finally leave this place since the cops may be making rounds soon, and we didn't want to get caught. Of course, as soon as we left the house, Ban started scolding me like the nagging mother he was, but Akira quickly told him to split up and meet up at the Black Rabbit before anything.
And honestly, I really need a drink as well.
After even more scolding from Ban on our way to the pub, we entered and, to our surprise, Akira's aunt, Natsumi, was there, and we had to introduce ourselves, albeit, a tad awkwardly, and explain to her what actually happened so far.
To our surprise, Natsumi pointed out that Miroku himself wrote a book called Realm of the Dead, which in all honestly, made me shudder and remember the rotten corpse in the bed.
But hey, at least she believed us, so she is entrusting Ami's fate to us. How lovely...
When we left the pub, we left to our separate ways, Ban called me a taxi so I could get to Seiji's faster and safer. Thankfully, he didn't press me too much, so I just told him the basics of what happened, then the next morning I gave him my phone to call Akira and chat, since I knew his dad was pretty strict about the house arrest.
That night, as I got dressed in a loose Tshirt and shorts, plopping down on the bed, exhaustingly looking up at the ceiling and sighing, dragging my hands down my face, I recalled the events that unfolded right before my very eyes - Not to mention, the ghost's figure was very much burnt into my brain, and I couldn't get the sound of high-pitched, crane-like shrieking. Albeit very tragic, and keeps reminding me of what could have happened, I really want to get these things out of my head and maybe - JUST maybe - Sleep peacefully and potentially NOT wake up a hundred times during night time.
"Kisara." I heard Seiji's voice snapping me out of my thoughts, and looking at him, blinking in confusion, I tried to guess whether or not he tried to get my attention before, or it was the first time he called out my name. "Finally. I was worried you were possessed after the 5 times I called your name and you didn't seem to react in any way." I see, so it truly was the former. Silly me.
"I'm sorry, Seiji, I didn't mean to ignore you like this. I, uhm...I'm trying to mentally erase what happened the past days. Hopefully, I can sleep properly...Or something. I don't really know. Did you want to tell me something?" I asked, propping myself up in a sitting position.
"Not necessarily something in particular...But I'd like you to tell me what happened. After Kubitaro chased you around Kintoki and strangled you, you had burn marks on your neck...But now, you get new ones. These are much thinner, but they clearly dug into your skin. What in the world happened?" he sighed, sitting down on the bed in front of me, reaching on his hand to gingerly trace my neck.
"...Oh. I should have known those would leave marks. Honestly, I've been so into my head with what happened to that poor girl, that I completely forgot what happened to me. Well, I may be selfish to say 'Me' alone, considering Akira and Rose found themselves in kind of the same situation as me...But, uhm..." I scratched the back of my head awkwardly, frowning and looking away for a little bit, before sighing and nodding absent-minded.
"Just tell me what happened, please. These ghost-huntings are getting worse and worse for you, and I'm getting worried. I don't want you to go one day to fight a ghost and not return home. Please think of me too before you do something reckless." Seiji looked me in the eye, and I could only let out a guilty chuckle.
"Uh...You won't like what I'm about to tell you...But, uhm...To sum it up...There were 4 kidnapped girls and we found 3 of the puppets, which gave us 3 masks, with which we were able to open the access to the attic, where we found the 4th ghost, who turned out to be the Screaming Author. We found that out after realising that we found Miroku's disfigured, rotting body in his bed, with the girls' arms stapled to him, but unlike him, those arms were perfectly preserved, not rotting. And, uh...It really stank there. Not that I'm not used to rotting organs and corpses, considering my profession, but it was...Ew." I leaned my head to the side, left once, right after, then shuddered in disgust.
"Urgh, must have been dreadful. But then...These marks were left by the 4th girl's ghost, then?" he asked, and I could only nod, then stood in silence for a few seconds, before taking a deep breath to continue talking again.
"In the end, Ban took me outside so we could be on a lookout, in case the cops come by, while Akira and Rose were supposed to purify the ghost...But...I could hear her voice in my head. It was the voice of a little girl, yet it got gradually more and more high pitched, so bad that it felt like my brain was getting grated. And then, a vision of her came into my mind, and I got freaked out and ran up to the attic...And I saw the ghost. She had huge nails hammered into her body, and wires were knotted around them, hanging her up, and that's how she attacked Akira and Rose. They were hung in very awkward positions, and as soon as I got there, I noticed Rose trying to give an incense burner to Akira, so they could burn her. Somehow, I managed to distract the ghost for a bit...I, uh...I sang her a lullaby, the one that my adoptive mother would sing me, and she stopped attacking for a bit...And it was enough. After that, she started screeching and...She leashed out her wires to me, and hung me up, trying to create a weird crane-figure out of me...She must have been very angry, realising I kinda deceived her, using something that her mum would have sung to pacify her...But the time she focused on me was enough for Akira to burn her to crisps...And we escaped. We found out that Ami is in the Realm of the Dead and we explained everything that happened to Aunt Natsumi, who seems to believe our story, which is good...And bad, because she kinda lost hope...But she said she trusts us to rescue her daughter, so it's good enough, I guess." I rambled quickly, hoping he wouldn't catch on the part where I basically ran away from safety and went right into death's grasp.
"...I will pretend I didn't hear what you did. On the hind side, I'm sad to hear what happened to the poor girl. Our cops really are useless when it comes to important things. I'll have the maid look for some ointment...But is there anything I can do or give you to somehow calm you down?" he asked, leaning forward to cup my face and plant a kiss on my forehead, which immediately calmed me down and made me smile like a kitten.
"Don't worry about that, I have a marigold ointment at me at all times. It's, uh...It's something that I order online all the time from my country. I don't remember what I told you before, but I was born in Romania actually, and I like to keep little mementos from my home country. Marigold ointment is the most popular, best remedy for little things like these cuts." I smiled at him, snatching my bag from the ground and unzipping the hidden compartment and taking out the little round box with the yellow ointment, before cheekily handing it to Seiji, trying not to grin in amusement.
"You're really bold, aren't you, Kisara? Are all Romanian women like you? I have to say, most of the girls in Japan think that being meek and soft-spoken is attractive...The exception being that annoying occult girl, but she's even worse than those girls." he chuckled, taking the box and gently applying it over my scars, and I could only shiver slightly from its cold feeling.
"Yeah, I think most of us are like that...Or maybe it's just Europeans? I'm not sure. We have a lot of...What do they call it...Ah, yes, spunk. We're like little firecrackers. Anyway, I think some ice cream would work well, now...Or chocolate. And, uh...You have a cassette player around the house, by chance? I actually carry a cassette with Romanian songs that I wired myself some time ago, and if you wouldn't mind, I'd kinda like to listen to them...Although, a bigass vodka bottle with cherry juice would definitely get me in a party mood even better..." I laughed, genuinely happy to think about my home, as I haven't seen it in many years.
"Then...How about we go some day back to your home? Would you take me there?" he asked, getting up, ready to leave the room, then returned back with a box of chocolate ice cream with chocolate fudge inside, and a small cassette player, which instantly made me grin.
"Of course I'd take you! I'd love to! There are so many beautiful things to see in my country, especially traditional stuff, and the landscape...And the overly used myth of Dracula and vampires! But also, keep in mind that, compared to many developed countries, we are very behind with technology, so, uh...Don't be too shocked about that." I went to cuddle with him after putting the cassette in the player, and the familiar sound of her native language soothed her soul like honey.
"So that is how a Latin language sounds, huh? It's so different from our own...I really admire you for having the motivation to learn so many different languages. Even though the circumstances dictated so, you speak very fluently, which is admirable." Seiji pointed out, and I could only shake my head, a bit embarrassed.
"It's kind of a...A thing for us, to learn lots of foreign languages, under the pretext that 'We may need them some day', and honestly, I'm really proud when I can understand things in other European languages. But, as you said, Japanese was the hardest to learn, and I still have problems with many things. I was lucky that my adoptive family knew English and we were able to communicate well enough until I got the grasps of this language. But, yeah...I missed Romanian, I guess you could say." cuddling into his side, I take a spoon and savour some of that ice cream.
"Your language sounds really good, but I really can't understand anything, even intuitively. Can you teach me something? Anything easy works." the boy asked, and I could only grin and jolt in a sitting position, facing him.
"Repeat after me, okay? We will go with syllables. Te--" I began, and nodding, he repeated after me, almost as if he was in a language class at school. "Iu-" was the next syllable, followed by "-Besc". "You did great! Now, let's try again, but the last 2 syllables, we'll glue together, okay?" with each second, I was getting more and more giddy, and from his amused chuckle, it was clear he was having fun too.
"Te. Iu-Besc." he said with some difficulty, then I said it faster, more fluently, for him to follow. "Te iubesc." after some time, we both said it, simultaneously, making me giggle in victory.
"I love you too, Kisara." with a smug smirk on his face, my eyes widened in shock, blinking a bit, only to burst into laughter, not having expected something like that.
"One step ahead of me, congrats, Seiji! How'd you guess? Are you an esper?" I nudged him softly, only for him to shake his head in amusement.
"It sounded too soft and nice for it to be some swear word. Also, I'm not sure you realise, but you make a really cute cat-like smile when you say things like this to me, so it's not difficult to figure out." hearing that, I could only look away for a few seconds, out of embarrassment, my long hair hiding my face that was just a tiny bit flushed, only to chuckle again and let myself fall in his arms, cuddling to his side.
"Yeah, well, you got me there...But you should know, your eyes sparkle when you talk to me." kissing the top of my head, Seiji chuckled, turning off the nightstand lamp, and caressing my hair, he wished me sweet dreams, to which I answered with my own equivalent, feeling now, more than ever, confident in speaking in my own language around a foreigner.
"Vise frumoase, Seiji."