TRC – Chapter 3


“You okay there, Aya?” Mikari’s jovial question was aimed at nudging Ayako, who had remained silent since they left the shrine, into talking.

“He’s cute,” Ayako whined. “He’s kinda~a suspect but he’s really cute and is it weird that I suddenly want to howl at the moons with him all, night, long??

“Keep it in your skirt, kid,” Mayoi chuckled. “Flirting with the potential suspects ruins any evidence credibility we’ll have in court.”

“I know that,” Ayako pouted. “I know it’s wrong but he’s just so cute and I just don’t know WHY.”

“Change of subjects then,” Mayoi began, saving her daughter the embarrassment of continuing that subject further, “Matoi neglected to mention that Miri came over with Tsukia, who also neglected to mention that she knew Miri personally.”

“Noticed that,” Mikari nodded. “I think when we mentioned the argument thing, Matoi decided to hold back that info in case it implicated her daughter.”

“That’s almost a sane theory, Mika’n,” Mayoi smirked. “Makes sense, though. Got anything else that’s wild and out there?”

“Maybe,” Mikari hummed for a moment, “I wanna work on it a little bit longer, though. I’ll let you know after we get the autopsy report.”

“You sure, Mika’n?” Mayoi frowned, that was a reasonable thing to do, but it was rare for Mikari to keep something to herself. However, they had no clue what had even killed the victim yet, so any theories about the case would be shaky when confronted with that information when it eventually surfaced.

“Yeah,” Mikari nodded after a moment’s consideration. “I’m sure.”

Mayoi sighed, “All right then.” She then suggested as they approached the bridge leading away from the shrine into town, “Why don’t you two go get lunch while I go check up on Bones’ autopsy.”

“Sounds good,” Mikari nodded.

They split up once they hit town, Ayako and Mikari going off one way while Mayoi went another. While solitude was not the best way to work through some emotional issues, Mayoi knew that personally from experience, sometimes one just had to have a small (or sometimes larger) slice of time to themselves to figure things out and just get their emotional shit in order.

Mikari Yuki’s sister had died almost… ten years ago, wasn’t it? A death that could have been prevented by Mayoi taking action a lot sooner than she had to arrest that damned teacher. A single hour’s difference would have saved a life that was now lost to the Reincarnation cycle.

From time to time, Mayoi wondered if it was the same soul as her long lost childhood friend. Wouldn’t that have been ironic? Sad, stupid, and if true, something to blame the Reaper for a thousand times over.

But that was all an exaggeration, Mayoi knew that. The chances of it happening were slim to none, to use that tired old phrase. Back then, Mayoi only learned of Mikari Yuki on the day of the arrest, never knowing that the young student had been piecing together the puzzle of the teacher’s wife’s murder until it was too late.

That same death had made Mikari Yuki much more vocal in spouting out her nonsense theories- especially the ones that could potentially be true. To see a clever girl like Mikari keep a theory to herself was concerning to Mayoi. It was some odd internal sense of wrongness that was being tripped up here.

That same sense had first triggered on that fateful day that had brought Mayoi onto her current path of hunting down criminals and murderers; getting justice for those bodies left lying on the ground to rot away. It was her way of giving back to the world, trying to make it a better place… Even if her mother had never approved of it. So what? Mayoi was going to walk the path that was destined for her. All she needed was the occasional push to get her out of this same melancholic rut every now and again.

Maybe her old friend was working to make sure that everything worked out better too? Subtly pushing her and guiding her from beyond the veil of reincarnation to make the world a better place. That was a nice thought, Mayoi mused. Unlikely, but, possible? Yes, maybe it all depended on how the Reaper in Green pushed events into motion. But even so…

That still didn’t rule out the mortal motives of the mortal world. Oneuywa was a place where even despite the otherworldly interventions of the Demons and the Ancients, a single person could still wreak unimaginable pain and dismay.

By that same measure, a single person could also pierce through that veil and work to bring peace back to everything, so long as they had the opportunity to just speak their mind…

Mayoi paused her line of thinking as she came to the doors of the Import shop that was their temporary base here on Aura’s Dawn. The time to mope over could-have-beens and possibilities that weren’t related to the case was over. She had a case to solve and by Alcor and Mizar, she was going to solve it… But that wouldn’t happen without a completed autopsy.

And what an autopsy it was. Nearly three hours after first observing the body at crime scene, the corpse of Shirou Tsubaki had been almost completely stripped of meat and flesh down to the bones. But, thankfully, it hadn’t moved at all after that final spasm.

Mysterious, but thankful nonetheless.

Detective Ranagi Kaie had observed the entire time, observed as Tyler Obonz had deftly gone in with a magically honed scalpel, cutting and examining anything to everything to see what had happened to the Enchanter. Every so often, Tyler had simply made an “ah” sound at something he observed, and then continued on after making note both on paper and with an imaging gem.

The look on Mayoi’s face when she returned from questioning the town was one of surprise. Evidently, she hadn’t expected “Bones” to strip the corpse down to the Bones here in the field like this. Back at Mystryal’s labs? Sure. Sure… But out in the field? Had they really been out and about that long? She shot Kaie a questioning look and he just smirked in that way that said, “I approved this since you left me with nothing else to do.”

Ah, so he subtly as getting back at her for earlier… Well, if that was how he wanted to play it?

The orange scaled dragon rolled her green eyes at the sometimes irritating human that was her partner, before coughing politely to announce her presence to the pale scaled dragon that was currently nose-deep in the corpse’s chest cavity. She expected him to leap suddenly at the noise, but…

“Oh, Detective Mayoi, you’re back!” He pulled out of the body without the jump-and-head-bump-against-bone that Mayoi had been hoping would happen. “Where’re the others?”

“Fetching lunch,” Mayoi’s tail swished faintly even as her face paled. “Which thankfully I think we’re just having pasta today instead of raw meat because speaking of I’m noticing a distinct lack of anything raw on those bones, Bonesy.”

“Yeah, I had to remove most of it,” Tyler admitted with a quick laugh. “It was impossible to tell what was Lycan bite from the knife wounds otherwise.” Mayoi blinked- as did Kaie. Knife wounds?? When had the boy spotted that?

“So our Mystery Lycan stabbed him to death before eating his skin off?” Kaie asked.

Tyler just laughed, “I’ll let you know when I’ve finished… or we have lunch, whichever comes first.” And with that said and done, he leaned back in to stuff his head inside the torn apart rib-cage.

Deciding not to comment on that, Mayoi just shook her head and walked over to join Kaie where he sat against the borrowed kitchen’s counter. “Bwuuuh,” She sat down with a huff.

“Rough day?” Kaie asked.

“Yuki’s first guess of the day was that the daughter killed her dad,” Mayoi explained, “now she’s holding back on some even wilder theory until Bones finishes the autopsy.”

“Huh,” Kaie blinked. “Never known the girl to not wildly speculate like Mizar.”

‘Which is what has me concerned, thank you very much,’ Mayoi bit back the snappy comeback. No sense drudging up the past while on the job when it wasn’t needed. No, better to stick to the present. “Also, I think Aya’s got a potential soul bond with a potential suspect,” Mayoi said it completely deadpan, and then giggled when Kaie’s face paled. Tempting for a bigger reaction, she pressed on, “Hehehe… she wants to ‘howl at the moon’ with him, Ranagi. Howl. At. The-“

“I do not need to hear this,” Kaie interrupted by covering his ears with his hands. “I do NOT want, nor need, to know anything about the potentially case breaking love life details of a STUDENT OF OURS– a girl that you’ve raised as a DAUGHTER– that you are spewing at me right now. Stick to the facts or else I’m going to leave!”

“Oh, please do stick around, Detective Kaie, because I have news for you!” Tyler sounded sarcastic and hopeful at the same time as he gripped something within the chest cavity, and then wrenched it out before pulling out of the corpse and holding the object up to see.

Whatever it was appeared to be a small fragment of something glowing with the faint energy of an enchantment.

“What is it?” Kaie asked, frowning.

Tyler replied, smirking faintly, “Shirou Tsubaki was most likely tortured before he was killed.”

“Tortured!?” Mayoi nearly shouted surprise. Instead, her exclamation was just barely this side of “speaking” tone.

“Take a look,” Tyler held up the fragment of metal, large enough that it was clear it had come off of a sword of some kind. “It appears that someone had a thin blade with a shock enchantment on it, then they stabbed it into the base of his right shoulder near the spine, far enough that it got stuck on the other side of the bone as a matter of fact, and twisted until this metal tip snapped off of the rest.”

“What about the jumping?” Kaie asked.

The small smirk widened to a full blown, glorified ‘I was hoping you’d ask’ smirk as Tyler answered, “The jumping we saw was this little beauty discharging a small amount of electricity into the body. It would have stopped his heart within a few hours if something else hadn’t beat it to the punch. As for Cause of Death?” His voice lowered, almost dramatically, “Blood Loss. Also Known As: The Death of a Thousand Cuts.”

Mikari and Ayako joined them a short while later with lunch-to-go from the Island’s best (and only) pasta shop. As Standard Operating Procedure, Mayoi called off any further autopsy talk until after they had eaten and the talk of murder wouldn’t send them to the restrooms for stomach emptying.

Tyler didn’t seem to mind, and left for the upstairs floor soon after receiving his lunch so he could prepare his notes into something presentable while he ate. In the meantime, the rest of them sat in the front most waiting room of the building whose kitchen they’d stolen for a morgue. Ayako and Mikari seemed to be engrossed in some conversation about the antics of two foolish boys who had shared one of Mikari’s recent remedial classes, so Mayoi felt it safe to broach her current line of thought to her partner without being spied upon.

“So this case has me thinking, Ranagi,” Mayoi mused as she twirled her pasta around with a fork, “about my own family life, and everything from back then. Have I been too harsh on my Mom? Do I have time to reconcile with her before any of us go see Yaovi?”

“I never figured you for the remorseful one,” Kaie mused, sipping at his coffee. “All the years we’ve worked together, and you’ve only ever acted like you’d moved on from her. What happened that’s got you spooked?”

“I did.” Mayoi paused. “It’s this case,” she said after a moment. “If you’d heard the things Muiri had said about her own sister. About her parents? I… I want to believe that I don’t sound *that* bitter when I talk about my own family.”

“I believe the words ‘cut out of my life’ were used, once,” Kaie grimaced in sympathy. That kind of thing was never easy to deal with. He’d gotten some flack from his family for switching vocations after Kendal had been born and his wife had…

Mayoi eyed Kaie’s left arm, specifically the part where the skin paler than the rest of his body, and grimaced. “Pretty sure I never said those words, Ranagi.”

“Maybe you have, maybe not, but you’ve managed to keep her cut out of your life for this long. And you always talk about her like she’s never changed at all except for the worst. My advice is ‘Don’t screw that up by trying to reach out.'” Kaie offered, and then set to work with finishing off his own pasta. “But then again, maybe she has changed. Maybe it is time to reconcile. If you feel that strongly about it, why don’t you just call her and see if she’s changed?” He frowned, “She does have a phone, right? Should be just as easy to borrow one from upstairs and dial a number.”

That got Mayoi to laugh at the thought. ‘Oh if only, if only.’

Phones were something of a modern novelty. They were dramatic little boxes that when receiving a call, would ring loudly with either a bell, or some musical composition. All things considered, they weren’t something that could be mass produced due to the magic involved. They were essentially miniature way-gates that only transmitted voice rather than a whole body. Quite frankly the whole idea of it could make even a high ranking Mages Guild member cry at the complexity.

Mystryal was the pioneer and pusher of a majority of the world’s produced phones. It was the only way to securely contact the Agency and Academy to either report a crime, request a case, or to apply to the school itself. The why of it all never seemed to be something questioned by anyone. That was just how the Creators wanted it for some reason.

For Kana Mayoi, a phone meant a lot of things. It could mean a way to get a case. It could mean her daughter was calling requesting help with a class. It could be… the way to reconcile.

Ranagi Kaie had his reasons for saying what he did, and Mayoi accepted that. However, the desire to reconcile was something strong. She knew for a fact that her old house had a phone. She’d used it enough times when growing up, and had memorized the number so that she could call home from a friend’s house to report that she was staying the night or something to that degree. (Something that had happened more and more frequently as she’d grown older.)

Mayoi picked up the receiver from the phone in the Import Shop’s office, and dialed out the number she’d memorized so long ago.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Would her mother even want to reconcile? Could they maybe figure out how to move on from being estranged and stop being at ends with each other?

Ring. Ring. Ring.

No, Mother likely wouldn’t. Too stubborn in her ways. Never listened. Never believed anything you ever believed in. This would end up becoming a shouting match, for sure this time, only over the phone.

Ring. Ring. Click.

“We are sorry, the number you have dialed is currently in operation. Try again later and-” She hung up on the stupid answering service with a loud CLANG!!

“LIKE HELL YOU’RE SORRY!” Mayoi growled. “Yeah, you’re sorry alright. Freaking Mom of the year, that’s you!” She scowled and ran a hand through her hair. Why had she even bothered trying? It was just as impossible to get through to that flighty broad over the phone just as it was to get it through her skull that she didn’t actually want to be little miss perfect “Heir to the Company”…

Feh. What did it matter anyways? She wasn’t out seeking her mother’s approval anyways. Reconciliation? Why had she even gotten started on that thought? Maybe Muiri had a point…

No, Mayoi’s mother would just as soon approve of her life style than admit she was wrong about that day.

It didn’t matter what she thought of Kana Mayoi now, because Kana Mayoi was her own creators damned person!

So why did she have to keep repeating that mantra?


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