Kendal Kaie was a chipper girl for a Human-Pyromander hybrid. Brown hair from her father’s side of the family, and orange eyes that came from her mother directly. For Miri Nori, the Lycan girl without a knack for enchanting, there was something otherworldly about this girl who was the daughter of a detective, and yet went to school somewhere else in the world.
Miri knew, roughly, about what had happened to Kendal’s mother- Detective Kaie’s wife- thanks to yesterday’s events. The Possession attempt and the ritual that had been interrupted. But ‘Knowing and Understanding,’ versus ‘SEEING and Understanding,’ were completely different things. And unfortunately, Miri was firmly stuck in the first category.
Add in the fact that Kendal outwardly appeared happy, and smiled happily while discussing all of the things she’d learned in school, Miri could smell a bubbling rage tinting her breath. A glance at Ayako showed that she was smelling it too- and seemed to be bracing herself for an inevitable blow out.
After touching upon school life, Kendal began poking and prodding into every detail Miri and Tony were willing to share about working at a Moons Shrine. Alcor and Mizar were important aspects to the world, after all, and the shrines were a way to maintain those aspects…
Miri let Tony talk most about the people who would visit the shrine, either for pilgrimage or for sanctuary. She noticed he avoided the mundane stuff, however, and Miri knew it was for the same reason that Tsukia continued to slowly and quietly pick at her first slice pizza with a fork and knife rather than having already quickly eaten the thing and moved onto another slice like everyone else had.
Because just as there were good memories, there were bad ones too. There were always bad ones to counter act the good… Miri looked over at Lizzy, and saw the girl rubbing at the bandages around her leg, where she’d been cut at by a certain peculiar cane-sword with a funny magical enchantment. (A small part of Miri wanted to cry at the loss of that one last tie to Shirou being lost, and yet… That weapon had caused enough damage as it was.)
Thankfully, Detective Kaie seemed fit to head off any awkward territory questions his daughter might propose, and other than the details of shrine life, the events of the previous day (and the preceding events) seemed to be ignored with ease. With each interruption, however, Miri smelled a bit more anger, could see a growing tremor in the left hand where anger was being funneled to in an attempt to not explode verbally…
Unfortunately, her temper finally won out as Kendal slammed her hands onto the table, and asked her father flat out, “So what’s the excuse this time for why you didn’t you call last night?”
Almost immediately, all the temperature in the room seemed to disappear, and even Miri’s plain-cheese pizza seemed to become an unappetizing piece of ice cold sludge within her mouth. Literally, not in metaphor. The already chewed food felt as if it became sludge within her mouth and it was only though sheer determination not to throw up that she managed to swallow her mouthful. A poke at the half eaten slice of pizza still on her plate confirmed that it had gone cold, too. Strange.
“This isn’t really the time for this,” the poor man tried to talk his way out of it, but his daughter would have nothing of it.
“You. Never. Call.” She said every word with meaning and emotion. Almost immediately, Lizzy’s skin looked like it was going to wilt from intense heat, and the Spriggain girl seemed to slump backwards in her chair ever so slightly. “You never call when you promise you will every time and you NEVER. CALL.”
“Couldn’t we have talked about this earlier while we were picking up the piz-?” Kaie began to ask, when-
“You didn’t want to talk about it THEN either!” Kendal stood up from her chair, pizza forgotten on her plate, with the cheese and meat starting to bubble as if being heated by an oven. “So- I’m talking about this NOW!” Miri glanced at her own Pizza. It wasn’t reacting…. yet, though even she was starting to feel a little warm all of a sudden.
“Kendal? Maybe we shouldn’t-” Ayako tried to intervene, but that failed to bring an end to the conversation.
No, that roll was provided by the apartment’s phone ringing loudly, and, nigh simultaneously, a cordless phone suddenly dropping out of a teleportation spell onto Chief Llewellyn’s lap, it too was also ringing.
“Well that’s not ominous in the least,” Ayako remarked flatly as her mother went to answer the apartment phone.
“Agreed,” Tyler said with a curt nod.
“Hello?” Nahgi answered the phone that appeared in her lap, reluctantly returning to the role of Chief while off duty. “…What? Could you repeat that?” The Lamia’s scales went pale as she heard what was on the other end.
In the other room, Mayoi could be heard answering the phone. “Mayoi residence. This is Detective Kana speaking.”
“You….” Nahgi- Chief Llewellyn now- swallowed sharply. “Okay. Right. Thank you, just give me a moment to get some paper,” She put the phone down on the table and quickly slithered off to find a pad of paper and a pen of some kind.
“WHAT!?” Mayoi’s sudden cry of surprise echoed through the apartment. “You’re joking, Neia! You’re–! …Why are you calling me–?” A long pause followed, and then came the woman’s voice, dripping with cold venom, “Stop screwing with me, Alcor. This isn’t a funny prank, Mizar!!”
At the table, Mikari grimaced and let out a hiss, “The Ominousness rises…”
Ayako, curiosity finally getting to her, reached over the table to pick up the magical phone, “Hello?” She paused. “Um, I’m just someone at the table the phone dropped onto…” A shake of her head, “No, she’s still trying to find–”
“KANA! WHERE’S A SPARE PAPER PAD?” Nahgi called out.
“TOP DRAWER, LEFT SIDE NIGHTSTAND IN MY BEDROOM!” Mayoi called back, then hissed rather loudly into her phone, “Sorry ’bout that. You were saying?”
“Um… yeah,” Ayako scratched at the side of her cheek as she spoke into the phone, “Paper. It’s hard to find, apparently.”
“Is…” Lizzy finally spoke up, “is it always like this around here?”
“No,” Tyler offered a sarcastic answer, “Usually things go to Gi’ahn’na in a hand basket a lot sooner than this.”
“Um, may I ask how this phone’s even connected?” Ayako asked into the strange device. “Usually they have wires connecting them to walls and…” She paused for several moments as she heard an answer. “Oh! Oh, that’s pretty cool. So does that mean that you’re…?” And then her eyes went wide. “Oh.. Oh Wow! That’s awesome!”
“GOT IT!” Llewellyn came back into the room a few moments later and snatched the phone out of Ayako’s hands with an apologizing glance before speaking, “Okay, I’m back. They didn’t bother you, did they?” A pause. “Oh. All right. I guess I can work with that.” And then she pulled out a pen from her shirt pocket and clicked it. “Okay, I’m ready to write…” And then she started writing down what the person on the other end of the line was saying, while occasionally muttering part of the information in confirmation.
“WELL GOOD NIGHT TO YOU TOO!” And then a loud clang filtered through the apartment before Mayoi came storming back into the dining room, “We’ve got a case.”
“What?” Kendal whined, “Right now!? You’ve gotta go!?”
“Who died?” Tsukia asked, quietly, speaking for the first time in hours, which didn’t really make anyone look at her in surprise.
“Well, that’s–” Mayoi was cut off by Llewellyn saying her goodbyes and hanging up the magic phone, which disappeared with a poof of smoke the moment the call ended. Only Ayako seemed unsurprised by this display of magic.
“Sorry to break up the team after that heart-felt discussion earlier,” Llewellyn spoke, “but I’ve got a case that requires some help and since Ayako spoke to them they’ve requested her specifically to go-”
“Terran’s dead,” Mayoi cut the chief off.
The room went silent once more, and the temperature leveled off to something fitting of shock. Only Lizzy, Tsukia, and the Nori twins didn’t know the name, but even so, they could tell it was an important name.
“…Dispatcher Terran?” Mikari asked, almost quite in shock.
“No way,” Ayako slouched back into her seat. “That’s…”
“Fuck,” Llewellyn ran a hand through her snake-headed hair. “Damn it of all the–” Almost immediately she hardened her emotions down. “The Lucky Cat’s Guild just uncovered a Kidnapping case from several years ago and has hired us to interfere.”
“Years ago?” Mayoi frowned, “Surely that can wait until-”
“Kana-” Llewellyn interrupted her friend, “we know who and where the kid is right now. She’s the current princess of the Royal Jackal Family based out of Fai’lah Guard.”
“…” Mayoi’s face scrunched up into a scowl. “O…kay? I still don’t understand why this is urgent enough to-”
“They’re planning on marrying her off to the royal family in Kah’tan’na Port in a few days,” The Lamia woman grimaced, “and when they find out that the Princess isn’t of royal blood- and they are because they’re going to do a blood test– and that their Prince was going to marry a turned child, they’re going to start a War. There is an implicit time limit on this and the time to act is *Fucking Soon.*”
“Okay, right, okay,” Mayoi pinched at the bridge of her nose. “I see why this is important, but, Nahgi, Terran was killed IN HIS OWN HOME.”
The weight of that sentence hit close to everyone. Home, as in here on the islands. As in HERE. On Mystryal.
“Oh, Mizar,” Kaie whispered in shock.
“Exactly,” Mayoi nodded. “And Nahgi? Izumi was the one who discovered the body.”
In a very un-chiefly way, Nahgi Llewellyn let out the third “Fuck” of the evening with a face palm.
“Okay, Obvious solution,” Mikari spoke up. “We split up. Some of us go to Fai’lah Guard, prevent an international war, while others stay here and solve the murder! It’s not like we’d need a coroner on a rescue mission anyways, right, Bones?” She smiled at Tyler, as if to hint at him to speak up.
He considered it for a moment, then nodded, “Yeah. I think that plan is probably our best course of action.”
“Okay then,” Llewellyn said with a nod. “Ranagi, I’m sending you with Ayako since you were both asked for by name. Take Yuki with you too. Kana and I will deal with the murder here.”
“But you can’t–!” Kendal protested, grabbing at her dad’s arm.
“I’ll keep an eye on her too,” Mayoi smiled at Kaie. “You take care of Aya, okay?”
“That’s a deal, then,” he answered, not even remarking on being asked for by name. He had a decent idea why already. “I guess we’re heading to Fai’lah Guard.”
“This is a stealth mission,” The chief added. “If the Royal Family finds out Mystryal is digging around at the Cat’s Guild’s request…”
“Got it,” Kaie nodded.
“No, dad, please…!” Kendal protested. The rising temperature in the room became very noticeable now, to the point that Miri could hear every drink at the table starting to bubble.
“Pack light- standard stealth mission rules. No uniforms. Belt pouches only if you think you need the pocket space,” Kaie said to Mikari and Ayako. “You’re not going to need much else out there on Ehm’ma’s southern coastline.” And then he smiled sadly at Kendal, “I’ll call this time, I promise.”
“No you won’t,” And with one final surge of increased temperature to the room, the teen-aged girl turned and ran out of the apartment, slamming the door shut behind her with enough force to rattle the dishes on the table. As soon as she’d left, the temperature in the room began falling back to normal levels almost immediately.
Pyromander Magic, there was no doubt in Miri’s mind now. It was unstable, and only affecting the immediate area around Kendal. And like a turned Lycan without control- that could be very dangerous.
“I’ll go after her,” Miri volunteered as she stood up. “If that’s okay?”
“Please,” Kaie nodded to the Lycan girl, and Miri got up to find her shoes and the jacket Ayako had loaned her. They were resting exactly where she’d left them, and got ready to go almost immediately.
“All right then,” Tony coughed, “I guess this is where we split ways?”
“Unless you wanna come with us to Fai’lah Guard?” Ayako asked him, smiling hopefully.
Before Tony could answer, Kaie interrupted, “I’m not going to stop you if you want come- you did sign the Student/Intern paperwork after all- but keep in mind this is as undercover of an operation as we ever do. If I say ‘Jump,’ you jump. Are we clear?”
“Crystal, sir,” Tony nodded.
“Right then, Time’s of the essence here,” Mayoi coughed. “Let’s split ’em up, and knock ’em down.”
And so with all that said and done, the dinner group broke up and those with their missions left, leaving Tsukia and Lizzy alone in Mayoi’s apartment once all the dust had settled.
“Soooo…” Lizzy ventured, “I guess we’re left with cleanup duty?”
Tsukia gave a faint shrug, but said nothing otherwise. The message was clear enough, however, “I don’t know where else we’d go otherwise.”
Lizzy’s first order of business, then, was putting away the Pizza… A glance down at her plate confirmed the damage of the latest of the temperature fluctuations, however. The cheese had risen to a boil, and was still bubbling away as it cooled down.
She didn’t bother checking the pizza boxes’ contents. There weren’t going to be any leftovers worth saving.
Miri’s nose sniffed the air as she tried to follow Kendal Kaie’s scent through the hallways of Detective Mayoi’s apartment building. Maddeningly, the girl had taken one of the two elevators nearest to Mayoi’s apartment door, and was still in the process of going down to the ground floor, leaving Miri in a state of waiting for another elevator to this floor first, and then would likely have to wait even longer to get down to ground which would be annoying and- Oh, great, here comes everyone else.
“She took the elevator,” Miri said simply as she saw Detective Kaie’s worried face. “I’m waiting for the next one.”
“Damn it,” Kaie swore as everyone came to wait at the elevator. “Guess we’re all waiting then.”
Another elevator arrived soon, but not soon enough, and they all piled in, heading down towards ground as fast as the machine made possible.
“So, ah,” Tony coughed, “Miri?”
“Yeah?” She looked at her brother.
“I’m going to go with Aya and the others,” He said. “Stay safe, okay?”
Miri blinked a few times as she processed the statement, and then sighed before smiling at Tony. “I will, just promise me you wont strain your arm, okay? Otherwise I’ll get really mad!”
Tony glanced at his stitched up arm, which had been badly wounded by a Harpy’s talons back on the island, then nodded in return. “I promise.”
And then with a ding, the Elevator doors opened, and Miri was the first out, nose sniffing at the air to pick up Kendal’s scent. There was an older trail, mixed in with pizza and Kaie’s scent, which was probably from when they arrived… Ah, and there was something fresher. Solo. No pizza scents mingled in. Miri took off at as fast of a run as she dared, meanwhile, everyone else headed off in different directions.
With a clear head-start, Kendal seemed to be running faster than Miri was capable of without transforming, darting through the Residential District and the “Other Businesses” District with what was no doubt a well memorized path. It was only once Miri passed the Plesio Myne’s pizza parlor that Miri faltered- Kendal’s scent abruptly changed from what Miri had been trailing, becoming replaced with something that felt more at home in a volcano than on the Mystryal Isles.
What was more alarming was that Miri now had a trail of scorch marks on the ground in the shape of human footprints to follow, in addition to the smell.
Hurrying along, Miri continued to follow the trail of footprints along until she came to the giant domed building that had a large trench running through the middle of it. Odd design choice, Miri thought, before spotting a giant telescope resting within the trench- aiming upwards at the heavens at a slowly changing angle.
Primary Observatory– a nearby sign helpfully informed her. It also helpfully was bent at the sign post, having apparently flash melted as something hot moved passed it. Kendal had paused here for some reason. Miri sniffed at the air, and caught the scent of burnt cloth. She looked in a trash bin near the signpost, and saw the smoldering remains of what appeared to be Kendal’s clothes resting on the top layer.
That definitely wasn’t good.
Kendal’s path crossed with very few other paths, either due to the time of night or because Kendal was just that well versed in the comings and goings of various people. Miri frowned, and followed the trail around behind the Observatory, where the street then diverged in three directions: one heading in front of a large, mirror surface covered building; one heading towards a very large beach (Seastone Beach, another sign post identified); and the third path, which Miri wouldn’t have noticed if not for scorched footprints leading the way in-between a large rock wall and the giant mirror building. The rock wall didn’t seem to be a natural part of the island, and appeared to keep the sea and the beach away from the foundation of the odd mirror building. Regardless, Miri followed the path Kendal had left- circling around the large building, avoiding the edge of what seemed to be a small mushroom forest- of the same variety that were growing on the other small islands that were visible in the distance during the day, but right now weren’t all that recognizable.
Finally, the trail Miri was following came to a stop at a small beach, where a single, giant pine tree sat firmly planted where the sand turned to topsoil. She knew that the hunt was over in that moment, as there was a small form sitting within the giant pine tree’s shadow.
‘Well that was easy,’ Miri frowned as she slowed down to a walking pace and slowly approached Kendal- hair flickering warmly like a lit flame- who was sitting there on the ground, naked, and drinking out of a can that smelled of something sweet. Some faint glow from Kendal’s hair caught the name on the can, and Miri frowned in confusion. For a moment Miri nearly misread the name “Dryqs” as a stylized ‘Drugs’ because of the flickering light.
‘Dryqs brand Root Beer,’ Miri sighed in relief as she finally placed the smell. She had never personally drank the stuff, but she was aware of its existence- and peculiar smell- thanks to the factory that made it that had been a mile or so up wind from where she’d lived before moving to Egg Roost.
And then Miri got close enough to see that the metal of the can was faintly glowing red as Kendal drank the liquid. Pyromander magic- Kendal was unconsciously heating the can’s contents, probably to her own frustration.
Miri decided to cough to announce her presence, which startled Kendal enough to make her perform a spit take with her current mouthful of root beer. A spit take that quickly evaporated into the only slightly chilly night air.
“Um… are you alright?” Miri ventured the question.
“No, I’m not,” Kendal turned and spat at her both with her tone of voice as well as with some root beer. (Miri took a step back to avoid the liquid, not that it mattered much as it evaporated as well.) “Wha’d’ya want?? Did dad send you as ‘backup lycan’ because he’s taking Ayako with him and she won’t be able to ‘calm me down’? PFT. Figures.”
“No, actually,” Miri shook her head, “I sent myself.”
“Huh,” Kendal mused for a moment, then scoffed. “Yeah, sure. Go right on ahead. Still doesn’t answer my first question. Wha’d’ya want?”
“I wanted to tell you why your dad didn’t want to talk about what happened the other day,” Miri answered. “It’s…”
“Lemme guess,” Kendal sighed, “cultists who wanted nothing better to do than waste a buncha people for shit and giggles?”
“Um, well, actually…” Miri sighed, bracing herself for telling the story once again after so little time. “It feels like a dream, honestly. That everything happened just a day ago.” Kendal raised an eyebrow, but did nothing more than shift over a few inches to the left in the grass to offer up a seat. “I… had a Soul bond with someone, and he sacrificed himself to make sure that I, and his child, would be safe.” Miri lowered her hands to her stomach as she sat down next to Kendal, who eyed the contents of her can before tossing it away and grabbing another can out of a magically hidden pocket in the side of the tree.
“A kid, huh?” Kendal observed Miri for a moment. “You’re what, sixteen? Definitely not any older than I am.” She pulled the tab on her new can of root beer and took a sip. The liquid seemed to hiss inside her mouth. “So either yer pregnant right now, or you really got busy early on. Guessing the first bit’s the case since I didn’t see a kid back at Mayoi’s.”
“Yeah, I’m pregnant,” Miri nodded.
“Soul Bonds…. pft,” Kendal scoffed. “I don’t see the point. I’m definitely not going to have any lovers- not in this life anyways.” She prepared to take another swig of probably boiling soda. “So… you were saying about him dying? Cultists?”
“The people who he sacrificed himself against… I was told they were the same people who tried to kill you and your mom.”
Kendal nearly choked for a second time, but managed to swallow properly this time. “W-What?!” She asked, stunned and confused by that statement.
“He got killed by the same cane that cut your dad’s arm off,” Miri repeated that fact as if it smoothed the edges of the act over. It really didn’t, and both of them knew it, but it was an appreciated sentiment. Even so… “Your dad was tied up in a cave, and that’s why he couldn’t call last night. But he and Mayoi escaped and–”
“Stop,” Kendal stood up then, staring out into the ocean and glaring at the stars. “Just. Stop. Please. I get it. I’m an ass for running out but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to protect me from everything. I’m… Urgh.” She proceeded to chug down the entire can’s contents within seconds, a majority of it simply evaporating upon making contact with her breath, before throwing the now empty can out at the horizon. “Nothing gives him the right to not tell me when I asked him when we were alone.” The can could be heard distantly splashing down in the water a few more seconds after she’d finished that sentence.
“Well,” Miri began, “I’m in no real position to judge. I’ve made stupid mistakes myself… I didn’t even believe my own brother that I was pregnant until after it was well and truly too late.”
“Well boo fucking hoo, cry me a river,” Kendal growled, and started stomping down the hill, leaving wilted grass footprints in her wake. “This isn’t the first time he’s missed calling me because of some case,” She spun around for a few moments, her hair floating through the air as if it suddenly lost a half of its mass. “Do you know how much that hurts!? That my own dad would try to hide the fact that he fought the same people who tried to kill me and my mom!? And so what if they killed someone you loved? I’m sorry but I just don’t-!”
Miri growled sharply at that, got to her feet, and marched over to Kendal, “My AUNT killed my MOM because of this cult!”
“Well That’s just GREAT,” Kendal glared at Miri. “Maybe we can all join the ‘dead momma’ club and go pilot some giant golem Rakutors against the space invaders from the frozen wastelands of N’kaish’al!” She scowled. “I just… I wish he’d stop trying to keep me from knowing what’s going on! I’m dying because of this and I… I just want him to…. to…” She went silent and then stormed down to the beach.
Miri followed, frowning as she asked, “What do you mean you’re dying?”
“When my mom died, I was in this spell circle about to be sacrificed,” Kendal answered. “Dad intervened, and it did something weird… But that had it’s consequences and it basically means that the thing that’s supposed to safely turn me into a Pyromander from a human- cause Mom’s a Pyromander and everyone knows how they can’t have hybrid children that stay hybrids- well… uh… It isn’t gonna do it safely.”
Miri processed that for a moment, then… “Oh.”
“Yeah, ‘Oh’ is right,” Kendal agreed. “And it sucks.”
For a few minutes, neither said anything. There wasn’t really anything to say about it… And then, “What do you want, then?” Miri asked.
“Well, I dunno? Maybe an apology for starters?!” Kendal threw her arms out wide, eyes flashing briefly like a cats would, except there was no light being reflected enough to cause it, and especially not in that bright red color. Her hair flared up like a stoked camp fire as well- sending a few embers drifting towards the ocean.
For a moment, there was silence, and then Miri sighed. “I’m sorry,” she said as simply as possible.
“Sorry for what!? You don’t have anything to apologize f–” Kendal stopped when she saw the expression on Miri’s face. It was sad, reluctant, and barely accepting of what the Lycan was about to say. “…What the hell happened on that island?”
Miri took a bracing breath. “My aunt was working with those people who killed your mom and they’re both dead now so there’s really nobody left but me to say it.” Miri then bowed towards Kendal, “I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart that your life was ruined because of my family!”
Kendal stood there in silence for several moments, and then with a muted ‘fwoosh’, her hair extinguished, and returned to normal.