“Will they be all right!?” Tsukia asked with concern as they ran through the forest towards the Demon Shrine.
“Aya’s tougher than she looks!” Mikari answered, quickly checking the small map that Miri and Tony had drawn out for her as they ran. “They’ll be fine!”
They passed a set of trees that had Harpy wards carved into them- inactive. Concerning, but a sign they were on the right track.
“Think you can reactivate those?” Mikari asked Lizzy.
“Maybe, if I had enough time,” the Spriggain shook her head. “I don’t think they’d do anything if there are any more harpies like the last one we saw.”
The run through the forest seemed to stretch on for forever, but in reality only took a few minutes. As they neared the shrine, the various shadowed forms of mutilated Harpies began to grow in number, watching them as they ran.
“So what’s with that?” Tsukia asked. “Why are all the Harpies like that?”
“Probably? The Harpy wards aren’t meant to keep the birds out of the Moon Shrines,” Mikari guessed, “they’re to keep the birds inside this part of the forest.” She frowned, “I don’t know why they’d revive the damned things after they suicide on the wards, though. Just seems spiteful.”
“The answer to that is something you don’t want to know,” a woman’s voice called out. Familiar too. Everyone knew who it was in an instant. “But since you’ve rudely interrupted this ritual…” The three of them slowed in their tracks as they came to the edge of a disturbingly familiar clearing.
“Mom,” Tsukia frowned as she saw the form of her mother kneeling in the center of the circle, inserting something into the dead Lycan corpse’s chest. “What are you doing!?”
“This woman- Muiri’s sister- came here uninvited. She had to be silenced along with that flirtatious ex-husband of mine,” Matoi Tsubaki chided as she used a dark spell in her left hand to seal up the wound she had carved open with the weapon in her right hand– a cane with a rainbow aura shimmering around it. Half of it was missing from the hand-held object, however, and instead was strapped to Matoi’s waist like a sheath, leaving the shimmering rapier blade in Matoi’s hand to hum loudly with its shock enchantment.
Even so, the tip was clearly broken off. The Murder Weapon.
“Matoi Tsubaki,” Mikari called out as she cast a spell and summoned an orb of electricity in her hands, “you are under arrest for the murders of Shirou Tsubaki and Carter Nori, conspiracy to summon the Flame Demon Kyiahlnah, and the kidnapping of Mystryal Detectives Kaie and Mayoi! Surrender quietly and we won’t have to take you in by force!”
“Conspiracy?” Matoi laughed, standing up to glare at the three girls. “I’ll have you know you’ve got that one wrong. The ritual was not meant to re-summon Kyiahlnah, it was meant to free her soul from the vessel it was improperly bound to several years ago.” She scoffed, “And despite the fact that my adulterous ex-husband spread his seed in the former sacrifice victim, we still managed to find an alternate vessel… Kyiahlnah is free from the void.”
“Lemme correct that then,” Mikari narrowed her eyes. “You’re under arrest for the Illegal Summoning and Binding of a Demon Spirit with intent to sacrifice a student!”
“Snarky one, aren’t you?” Matoi glared. “You take right after your orange scaled friend. A shame she’s dead.”
“Better make that Kidnapping and subsequent assassination of two Mystryal Detectives,” Mikari didn’t believe for a second that Matoi was telling the truth, but upped the charges anyways. It certainly helped to rile up the dragon woman.
“Why not set it to five?” Matoi asked with a snarl, taking a step away from the Lycan corpse. “Also~! You might want to add Necromancy in there too. Just a thought.” There was some delightfully evil tone to her voice as- Oh.
The dead Lycan’s hands twitched, and then the legs flexed.
“Yaovi,” Mikari swore under her breath as they all watched the dead body of Carter Nori climb unsteadily to its feet and growl at them in the same unnatural way as the harpy that had chased them before.
“MOM! STOP THIS!” Tsukia called out.
“Sorry, Deary,” Matoi said with a tilt of her head, “but in case you hadn’t noticed the lack of wings or a Cypher damned tail the last few years… or the fact that your father was a Leprechaun… Lemme just spell it out for you.” And then she smirked an evil smirk as she said five dreadful words, “You are not my daughter.”
“Totally did not see that coming,” Lizzy sarcastically muttered even as Tsukia went silent, and outright fainted into Lizzy’s arms.
“Get her somewhere safe,” Mikari ordered, ignoring and instead biting back the equally obvious sarcastic rebuttal of ‘Really? How did you not see this really obvious twist coming?’ “I’ll deal with momma wolf and…!” She swore as she saw Matoi running away into the forest. “Damn it!” The zombified Lycan roared and leaped at Mikari, who was forced to dodge-roll to the side.
The Wolf-mode Zombie Lycan turned its attention towards Tsukia and Lizzy next, raising its arms in an attempt to slash out…
Only to get a full power Shock spell discharge to the back, making it collapse face first into the ground as it temporarily lost motor function.
“RUN!” Mikari ordered, and Lizzy didn’t have to be told a third time, dragging Tsukia away from the ritual site before the zombified Wolf could recover.
There wasn’t much time, so Mikari began charging the spell again and took aim. She wouldn’t get much time to deal with this. Just as the Zombie started to push itself up again, Mikari was already at half-charge and simply fired off- prolonging the corpse’s stun for just a little bit longer.
Mikari did the only thing she could think of- she kicked the Lycan’s corpse over onto its back to expose the front so she could search for an open wound. Only problem with that? There was no cut in the chest for her to work with. She couldn’t pull out that Heart-stone to turn off the zombified Lycan!
The corpse grinned up at her as it started to recover again… And then an emerald beam of light shot up not too far away- and suddenly the Lycan corpse next to Mikari seized up as if its heart had stopped, then it went silent, dead yet again as the ritual Tyler and Ayako had fought to perform paid off in dividends.
“Huh,” Mikari mused as she looked the Lycan corpse over. Of course it made sense that Muiri had been the actual necromancer to prepare that Heart Stone, but that just made Matoi’s involvement in this all the more confusing! Why had she remained here at this ritual site while Muiri had waited at the Moons Shrine to… distract them? Mikari’s eyes widened. “Crap. This was all a distra-“
Lizzy and Tsukia screamed then- and Mikari tore off after the source of the scream without hesitation.
They HADN’T re-summoned, OR unbound Kyiahlnah yet!
Mikari burst through a bush to see Lizzy, pinned up against the base of a tree, fighting off a mutilated Harpy that was trying to claw her face off. One slightly over powered Shock spell later, and the Harpy lay fried on the ground in front of the Spriggain girl.
“What happened?” Mikari asked.
“Miss Tsubaki came out of the forest and slashed at my leg and it stunned me for a moment!” Lizzy pointed at the obviously bleeding limb, “Then she grabbed Tsukia while I was out and sent a Harpy after me when I tried to fight back.”
“Damn it,” Mikari growled as she walked over to the likely zombified Harpy and stepped down on its chest- crushing it with surprising ease. Definitely zombified, as it stopped moving a moment later once the Heartstone was destroyed. “Which way did they go?”
“I don’t know, I lost track when it attacked me,” Lizzy shook her head.
“Fuck it,” Mikari swore. “I think Tsukia’s their new replacement vessel now that Miri’s unusable.”
“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Lizzy frowned. “Miss Tsubaki just said that she’s not her daughter-“
“I think we’ve ALL had this wrong the entire time,” Mikari growled. “Matoi wasn’t lying about one thing: the goal isn’t to Summon Kyiahlnah like fifteen years ago, her previous host included,” she glared at the dead harpy as she relaxed the shock spell. “It’s to UNBIND her from Kaie’s wife!”
“What?” Lizzy asked. “I don’t understand what’s going on. It doesn’t fit with what we know about the previous summonings!”
“That’s exactly the point!” Mikari said as she knelt down to look at the wound on Lizzy’s leg. “None of this makes any sense from the usual ritual paths! Like us, Shirou was working from Bell’s Old Journal from the First summoning, and we all thought they were going to attempt it *again*! But it couldn’t work that way because Kyiahlnah is still bound to the previous host in the prison dimension!!! I don’t think Shirou knew what Matoi and Muiri were actually planning until he tried to stop the ritual and it was already too late.”
“Oh, Mizar,” Lizzy’s eyes widened as she started to piece it together. “Necromancy. The harpies are like this because they’re practice runs!”
“That last zombie was just a distraction using the same techniques,” Mikari nodded as she took off her left boot so she could take off her sock. “I’m pretty sure the goal here is to vacate a body of its soul, via sacrifice, to unbind Kyiahlnah-” She started tying the sock around the leg wound, “-and then at the same time use that same body via necromancy to make a vessel that won’t fight back against Kyiahlnah like Kaie’s wife did. They were trying to bind her with a blood sacrifice the first time- and it worked- but not the way they wanted because they didn’t sacrifice with the right blood!“
“Wait- hold up, what?” Lizzy let out a sharp hiss as Mikari tightened her sock around the wound to staunch the bleeding. “What do you mean ‘right blood?'”
“When Kaie interrupted the ritual, the blood binding hadn’t been completed through his daughter’s death, so he made a different sacrifice to do something completely different,” Mikari explained.
“How?” Lizzy asked.
“He tricked the head cultist into cutting his left arm off,” Mikari answered grimly.
Two slices was all it took. A Rainbow glowing cane with a shock enchanted Rapier blade.
Ranagi Kaie’s severed left arm spun through the air, and then landed smack dab in the summoning circle, straight between his precious daughter and his possessed wife. The Magic in the circle destabilized- and immediately did the head cultist realize what a mistake he’d made. “NO! ROCK, RAVEN! STOP IT!” He snapped out an order.
“YES SIR, LORD GAGE!” some unknown man and a dragon woman, both in robes, moved to reach for the arm- but it was too late. The fire woman’s eyes flashed from white to yellow in all of an instant- and she ROARED.
“YOU WILL LEAVE MY HOUSE THIS INSTANT!!”
Those were the last words Ranagi Kaie ever heard from his wife before the whole basement seemed to explode into flames, searing into his memory the face of the Dragon woman that the cult leader had called “Raven.”
When he came to, there were a few dead cultist bodies scattered around the basement, a lot of scorched robes left behind with no sign of a body to have inhabited them, there was no trace of his wife anywhere, his arm was being sewn back on by a field medic, and a young Mystryal Intern was holding Kendall in her arms.
Her green eyes met his pale, soul shocked ones. And then she mouthed at him, “She’s okay.”
That was the day that Ranagi Kaie had met his future partner, Kana Mayoi. Sure, at the time, he had a little trouble not seeing a scaled set of wings without flashing back to that final moment, but he had worked past it, although he would never forget that woman’s face.
And as of right now, he was staring right at her, flying through the forest on her wings as she held a struggling Tsukia Tsubaki under arm.
There was a rainbow cane strapped to her waist.
“Ranagi! That’s Matoi Tsubaki and her daughter!” Mayoi realized in a heartbeat. “Quick! We’ve gotta go after them!”
“Don’t have to tell me twice!” Kaie growled as he chased after the woman who he knew had survived that dreadful day.
They chased after her, Mayoi spreading her wings and taking to a low flight altitude through the branches, and Kaie on foot; his anger well than made up for the speed difference between him and his partner.
‘I’m not going to be late again!’ Kaie grit his teeth.
Mikari came back to the Moons Shrine, carrying Lizzy on her back.
“Woah, what happened out there?” Tyler asked.
“Matoi tricked us and took Tsukia,” Mikari said as she knelt down so Lizzy could climb down. “Tell me Muiri is in a talking mood.”
“Her face pretty much tore itself to pieces so…” Tyler shrugged as he took a look at Lizzy’s leg. “Probably not, you’re welcome to try but Aya’s searching the house right now for any notes we might need.”
“I’ll take that chance then,” Mikari strolled over to Muiri, who had been handcuffed to a wooden post of one of the building’s front porches. “Oi, Muiri! Wake up!”
Muiri glared at Mikari through a heavily bandaged face, “Whbba eyu ant?”
“Where’s Matoi taking Tsukia?” Mikari asked of the woman. Muiri glared, possibly considering saying something that couldn’t be put in print. Mikari activated her shock spell and held it up to Muiri’s bandaged face as close as she had been safely trained to do, “Tell me or I’ll push a LOT harder than this!” She then whispered quickly and harshly, “Oh, and if I do that this spell might accidentally discharge which will probably hurt quite a LOT more than your face already does so it’s your choice here, lady!”
“Mew mish!” Muiri scowled through the bandages. “Pit’s pagenzt tha Paw-”
“As long as the spell doesn’t cause any visible damage like a burn,” Mikari smirked, “a Jury won’t accept it in court… and it’d be my word against yours on if I did anything or not.”
That fact made Muiri’s eyes widen as she considered that, and then…. “MRFF-INE!” Muiri huffed. “Fhe wook mer to fa fefong fite.”
“Where is the Second Site?” Mikari asked, easing up the pressure just a bit.
“Ifs mackup,” Muiri replied, “Mai bon’t mow mhere.”
“If you’re lying…” Mikari didn’t get a chance to finish as Ayako, still in wolf mode, came sprinting out of a building with a journal in her mouth before dropping said journal in a pile along with a few others and racing back into the house to keep looking.
Muiri, bandaged up as her face was, easily betrayed that she did, in fact, actually know where the ‘second site’ was, and that freshly dumped Journal said exactly where.
Mikari’s finger twitched at the spell’s trigger point for a moment, with the full mass of the electric spell still resting in front of Muiri’s face, as if she were debating…
Would she? Could she…?
Tyler looked up as there was a small explosion of electricity accompanying Muiri letting out a pain-filled scream. “What happened!?” He asked as Mikari Yuki shook her hand out as if it had gone numb.
“Spell blew up in her face,” Mikari answered simply as she went over to the pile of books to take the journal out to look at it. “Remind me to tell the teachers that they do that if you don’t discharge them right away.”
“…” Tyler said nothing, not quite buying it, but Lizzy seemed to believe it.
“Ouch, how’s your hand?” she asked.
“It’ll be better once we take down Matoi,” Mikari growled as she marched over to pick up the journal that Ayako had just brought out.