So on and so forth did the magically enchanted heart monitor pulse. It was a sign of life, of continued existence. It showed a heart that beat on and refused to stop.


Contrasting then, was the sound of the respirator. Forcing air into lungs that were burnt and damaged, refusing to work on their own.


Tsukia Tsubaki was miraculously alive, although stuck in a coma following her possession by the Flame Princess- the Traitorous Brat known to all who saw her handiwork as “Kyiahlnah.”


Sitting across from her in another bed in the same room, Kendal Kaie could not help but worry for the girl whose stolen body’s arm had stabbed her in the chest through and through.


Kendal could remember it vividly- the sensations of a burning fist punching through solid muscle and bone- a spine almost nearly severed. She should be dead, Kendal had reasoned when she’d first woken up in a smoldering apartment.


It is then that her now hyper sensitive nose catches wind of a scent, and a foreign sensation within twitches, a pressure building up with a Hisssss

“~Chu~!” She sneezed a tiny sneeze- the adorable kind one often saw from puppies and kittens- and her new-found ears flattened flat against her skull with the motion.

With a slight sniffle, Kendal readjusted herself against her pillow so as to better accommodate her new tail- which was not wolf like in the slightest- all so that she could see about finding that damned box of tissues without waking her father- who even now lay leaning forwards in his chair, resting his head against the bed’s mattress.

There was a knock then- from the other side of the hospital room’s door- before Ayako Mayoi leaned in, smiling. “Hey, Kendal,” She spoke in a whisper, so as not to wake the sleeping detective from his rest. “How’re you doing today?”

“Tissue,” Kendal requested, her voice sounding slightly slimy as she fought back the urge to sneeze again.

“Right, right,” Ayako nodded and went to fetch the box from the nearby table. She handed it over a moment later with a “Here you go!”

For a moment, Kendal sat there, staring at the bandages wrapped around Ayako’s palms. Ayako glanced down as well, and both girls frowned as their minds rushed backwards in time towards the incident that had brought them to the present moment.


That was the first emotion running through Detective Ranagi Kaie as he saw a torrent of flame jettisoning itself out of the apartment building- or more specifically that one particular apartment that his partner lived in.

He, Mikari Yuki, Ayako Mayoi, and Tony Nori, had all returned to the Mystryal Isles from an undercover assignment mere hours earlier. One of the first things they’d planned on doing was returning to their respective friends and family members to relax and clean up before going to report in with Chief Llewellyn that they’d returned from the case.

Ranagi had not seen his daughter at home, however, and had suspected that she probably was still staying at Kana Mayoi’s place. Ayako, being Kana’s adopted daughter, had simply wanted to check in with her adoptive mother to let her know that they’d all gotten back safe and sound. And so they had both headed towards that apartment building to see if anyone was home, or just hanging about for whatever reason.

It was the best decision they’d ever made- considering that Kyiahlnah had apparently hitched a ride with someone and decided to torch the place before absconding into the sky like the cowardly monster she was.

Due to the fire, the building’s elevators automatically shut down, and so they had to run up the stairs. Floor by floor- level by level- past panicking neighbors and those who were running in the opposite direction. By the time they got to Mayoi’s apartment, they’d expected to find a situation completely different from what they did find.

Tsukia on the ground- appearing at the time to be dead- and Kendal nearby, verging on the edge of Yaovi’s doorstep, with a certain Spriggain girl hovering over her, casting an impressive, golden colored spell of some kind, seemingly on instinct alone.

It was immediately obvious that it was only thanks to that golden spell that Elizabeth “Lizzy” Smith was pouring onto what appeared to be a massive puncture wound to Kendal’s front side that Kendal’s innate Fire Magic hadn’t spread out of control and consumed everything in sight.

“Kendal!” Kaie had called out in terror- now the second, third, and fourth emotions running through his mind- before trying to make his way over to his daughter.

“STAY BACK!” Lizzy had shouted in reply- and her voice echoed with a raw, untamed power that seemed to reverberate through space itself. “TOO DANGEROUS!” The point was punctuated by a visible stream of blood dripping from the left side of her nose. Whatever was going on was an incredible strain on the Spriggain girl.

However, upon hearing her father’s voice, Kendal’s eyes cracked open, and she saw her father and Ayako standing across the room. Then, they focused in on Ayako specifically- the ears and tail that flicked this way and that due to fear.

“Ly~can~,” Kendal managed to breathe out, even as a long distant conversation with Miri Nori resurfaced in her brain. But, jumbled to pieces as the order of the words were, the thoughts behind it- the general idea was still there in one piece. “Lycan…thro…”

Become a Lycan before the fire magic overtook everything that was human in Kendal. And there was an opportunity given by Hergie and Hecate that could be used here…

Ayako heard it- her ears twitched in an almost subconscious understanding- and then, dictated to the Detective to “check on Tsukia” before leaping over the girl’s body to join Lizzy at Kendal’s side.

“No! Don’t! If I lose control she might-!” Lizzy’s spell even faltered as she tried to say that sentence. The impressive golden weave began to burn ever so slightly around the edges as the fire magic tried to escape its containment.

“Lycanthropy!” Ayako finished for Kendal. “She’s saying Lycanthropy! I can turn her and she’ll be fine!”

Lizzy’s eyes widened in surprise as she considered the possibilities of that statement. Then she looked down to Kendal, “You’re sure about this?” The girl, barley there, nodded in consent. Lizzy turned back to Ayako, “You’re only going to get one shot!” And then she backed off on the golden spell. Almost immediately, the fire magic tried to ignite once more- but Ayako wouldn’t have it. Within a heartbeat, she scratched her thumb claws across both her palms and then pressed them down atop the lava-textured wound on Kendal’s torso before.

Magically Infused Blood met Magically Infused Blood- and the reaction could have exploded violently if not for Lizzy starting a new version of the containment spell and forcing it onto the ongoing magical reaction. Strangely, she felt none of the expected resistance from the Lycanthropy side of the equation. In fact, it was almost as if there was something extra added to it that was resonating with her own magical works…

What happened next passed by in a blur- seconds feeling stretched into minutes stretched into hours stretching even further into-

“Thanks,” Kendal took the box of tissues from Ayako, and then blew her nose. “Bleh…” She shook her head slightly to try and clear her sinuses of whatever smell had triggered the sneeze. “My nose is still acting crazy. It’s been five days. You’d think I’d be used to this hyper sensitivity thing already.”

I’m not surprised,” Ayako shrugged slightly as she sat down on a chair. “Tony said it’s one of the things fresh turns have to deal with,” She scowled at the fox-ears mounted atop Kendal’s head. “None of us have any idea why you didn’t become a normal werewolf, though. I’ve never heard of a were-fox before.”

“Meh,” Kendal shrugged in response. “I blame the fire magic.”

“Speaking of,” Ayako began, “is it still…?”

“As far as the doctors could tell from last night’s tests, my soul’s magic reserves are stable,” Kendal answered. “Plus, apparently I’ve got bigger reserves than they were when I was a human, and something you and Liz did is keeping what little fire magic I have left contained, for now.” She leaned back into her pillow-backed bed/chair, and smiled, “I’d be glad if it’d all have went away like you said it should have, but I haven’t had any burning fits yet, so that’s good.” She grimaced. “Although, I keep craving breaded and deep fried micro-rakutor sandwiches for just about every meal.”

Ayako giggled. “Yeah, you’re going to want meat a lot more often now, I guess.” She paused, then asked, “Had any urges to transform yet?”

“Not yet,” Kendal shook her head. “Mainly I’m just tired from sitting around in bed all the time. My legs are itching for a good run.” She frowned, “That is normal, right?”

“I think so, but I was born Lycan, so I’m not the best judge of what’s normal or not,” Ayako said with a shrug, and then silence fell between them. Only the continuous “Beep Beep Beep” of the heart monitor across from them kept it from becoming a true silent moment.

“How’s Lizzy doing?” Kendal asked.

“Mika’n says she’s locked herself in her room when she hasn’t been prepping to start classes,” Ayako shook her head. “I think she’s still a little confused about the magic she used, and says she’s researching into it, but…” She scratched at her nose. “I’m not sure what she expects to find, though.”

“I still haven’t gotten a chance to thank her yet,” Kendal frowned. Or talk to her in general, for that matter. They really did need to talk about a certain thing that a certain demon had said.

“She’ll come visit,” Ayako smiled. “I’m sure of it!”

A more comfortable silence fell between them for a bit, until Ranagi Kaie woke up from his slumber, grumbling about cats pushing their noses into other people’s business.

“Mornin’, Dad,” Kendal smiled at her father.

A fraction of a moment later, he smiled back and said, “Morning, Kendal.”

“I’ll just get out of your hair then,” Ayako smiled as she bowed out of the conversation.

“Later, Aya!” Kendal waved.

A whole island hop later, Ayako walked through the front door of the place she’d called home for several years before moving to her own, school sponsored place- as per Mystryal Academy’s rules.

“Wheew,” She grimaced at the sight and smell, “it still smells like a forest fire in here.”

“You’re telling me,” Kana Mayoi groaned as she stepped out from the kitchen, looking around at the water and fire ruined appartment. “Freaking Fire Princess made a mess out of everything.” Shaking the gloom off of her face, however, she smile at Ayako, “I Really shouldn’t have let it sit this long, and I probably would’ve just let it sit longer if you hadn’t offered to help. So, thanks for coming to help me clean up, kiddo.”

“It was my place too, for a while,” Ayako smiled sadly at the potentially lost memories of years past. “It’d be rude of me not to help.”

“Well, in that case, let’s start with your old room,” Mayoi smiled at her adopted daughter.

Ayako nodded, and together, Mother and Daughter headed towards a certain doorway, signed around the edges and the doorknob looking mostly melted into slag. There was a brief pause, and then Mayoi pushed the door open. The hinges creaked in protest. Ayako took in a sharp breath upon seeing her old room- which had been the guest room that Tsukia had been staying in.

When Kyiahlnah had finally overtaken Tsukia and manifested a flame aura, it had pretty much flash-incinerated the bed, leaving a scorched skeleton of a frame behind. The same flash incineration had done damage to the rug and ceiling as well- including melting the fire extinguisher in the ceiling to total uselessness. Some of the remaining books on the bookshelf had suffered a similarly crispified fate to the ones in the front room, while a few others had managed to survive somehow. That was a minor miracle to behold, all things considered.

The twin-moons lamp shade on the nightstand lamp had suffered the same fate as the bed frame, however, and Ayako frowned at that loss of a physical memory. “Aww, I remember when we painted that lamp shade,” she commented even as her ears drooped in sadness.

“We should have sent it with you to the new place,” Mayoi sadly remarked. “Maybe it would’ve survived.”

“We can always make a new one?” Ayako suggested. “Ooh, maybe we can all make a thing out of it with Miri once the baby’s born?”

“Yeah,” Mayoi nodded. “That could be fun.” Fun? Kana Mayoi had yet to truly delve deep into sudden extension of her family tree. Her daughter’s soul-bonded mate’s sister was going to have a kid. What would her Dad think of that, she wondered? He’d certainly be excited to meet his future grand… Niece? Nephew? Her mother on the other hand…

Silence fell between them for the next few minutes as they focused on the bookshelf for the moment, tossing the books that had been burnt beyond all recovery into a bin, and making sure to stack the ones that hadn’t been too badly damaged into a pile, only occasionally commenting on whatever had survived.

“Hey, do you remember this one?” Mayoi asked, holding up an old, slightly charred children’s book about ‘The Cat who leaped between the Two moons!’ which told the titular tale of the Cat with a Fiddle who jumped between the Twin Moons for fun.

Ayako looked at it for a moment, remembering using books like that to get a firm grasp on reading like kids much younger than she had been when they had first started reading. It made Ayako smile at the memories of Mayoi reading the books aloud to her. That had been… She sniffed, “How many survived, do you think?”

“A good few, at least,” Mayoi answered, even as she put the book on the pile. “Although I think the one about ‘the Dragon who Cried Harpy’ is a total loss,” She scowled as she picked up a particularly burnt volume, less so about the damage, and more about when she’d first gotten it.

“Meh,” Ayako giggled a little, “I wasn’t actually particularly fond of that one.”

“Me either, honestly,” Mayoi took particular glee in throwing that burnt relic of her own childhood into the bin.

Mayoi’s own personal book collection had survived relatively unscathed thanks to the fact that Kyiahlnah had never gone anywhere else beyond the main part of the apartment, and that the collection that had resided in there was but a small part of the whole. The rest had been stowed away in Mayoi’s bedroom, and in the extra guest bedroom that everyone else had crashed in during that fateful night.

‘Still, though,’ Mayoi frowned as she picked up a burnt and then subsequently soaked book, “This sucks. Some of these are out of print!”

“Yeah,” Ayako nodded as she examined one book’s partially visible title, something illegible then ‘the Twin Moons.‘ “Awww~! This one was one of my favorites!”

“Which one was it?” Mayoi asked, and Ayako showed her the book’s scorched cover, through which a werewolf-mode Lycan was barely visible, howling at the now burnt up moons. Mayoi hissed in pain, “Ooooh. Rachel Purchit’s fourth novel! I loved that one, too.” She sighed, “And I’m pretty sure that went out of print well before you were even born. The family wasn’t keen on keeping it in print after she died, for some reason. Shame, really. It’s going to be a pain to get another one.”

“Ouch,” Ayako grimaced at that, feeling a pang of sympathy for the century-old-writer’s lost work. But, regardless of the emotional pain, they continued on, sorting through the damaged books. This time, almost all of the given damaged books were not salvageable.

Still, though, there were a few that were recoverable, and much to Mayoi’s relief, the other Rachel Purchit novels that had been left out were included in that pile.

It was then that the apartment’s phone rang.

“Ugghh… Never a break around here,” Mayoi shook her head, and went to answer the phone. “Mayoi Residence. This is Detective Kana.”

_“Well hey yourself,”_ Answered a familiar voice of a certain Dragon Dispatcher. _“This is Dispatcher Dean, calling. Remember me?”_

“Oh, Hi,” Mayoi rolled her eyes. “Look, I’m kind of in the middle of something right now and if this can wait I’ve got to get back to it.”

_“No, I get it. You’re busy and I’m rudely interrupting something important.”_ The Dispatcher replied, _“Buuut I’ve got a case with your name on it, straight from Rakutor.”_

“Sorry, but I’m on administrative orders to take a vacation until the end of next week,” Mayoi countered, scowling, although the motion didn’t travel through the phone. “I only just got off today, too. Send the case to someone else.”

_“Uh, normally I would,”_ The Dispatcher admitted, _“but… everyone else is either on assignment right now, or on forced administrative leave after Izumi’s freakout. You’re the only one on non forced leave who answered their phone.”_

Mayoi found that hard to believe. “I Find that hard to believe,” She said flatly. “How likely is this that you haven’t just taken an excuse to give me a call because you want to- oh, I don’t know- ask about how my forced apartment salvage is going? Which you’ve interrupted, by the way.”

_“Look, I’m sorry. But believe it or not, I’m just doing my job here,”_ Dispatcher Dean said defensively. _“We’re understaffed what with… you know. And Detectives Kaie, Purla, Erwin, and Sanskrit aren’t answering their home phones, so…”_ Kana found that the only name on that short list that shouldn’t have answered being that of her partner. Strange, then, that Purla, Erwin, and Sanskrit weren’t at home despite being on leave. She wondered what was up with that.

“Bah, I could have dodged this if not for my compulsive desire to answer the phone,” Mayoi lamented. “Fine. What’s the case?”

_“Some sewer system workers were digging up some pipes strangled by tree roots,”_ Dispatcher Dean explained, “They got a lot more than they bargained for when they found a body under the roots too.”_

Mayoi considered the case for a moment. “And you’re Sure nobody else on duty is free right now?”

_“Scout’s honor, I’ve got a switchboard full of red lights here, Ma’am,”_ the Dispatcher said, and Mayoi imagined him crossing his fingers over his heart.

She smirked at the mental image, and replied, “Ch, like you’re a scout.”

_“Hey! I could be!”_ Dispatcher Dean protested.

“Uh huh, sure,” Mayoi rolled her eyes, and put a hand over the receiver of the Phone. “Hey, Aya! Come here for a sec!”

“Sure thing!” Ayako came over. “What’s up?”

“Wanna take a case on Rakutor?” Mayoi explained. “Apparently some workers unearthed a body strangled by a bunch of tree roots.”

“Hmmm…” Ayako mused on that for a few moments, then nodded. “Sure! Sounds like a fun one!”

“Alright then,” Mayoi removed her hand from the phone receiver and said, “Well then, Mister Scout, you’ve got yourself a detective.”

_“Great! Glad to see you back on the saddle!”_ The Dispatcher sounded mighty pleased with himself. _“Should I call up the usual Intern squad or…?”_

“Nah,” Mayoi shook her head. “I’ll take care of that myself.” And then with that, she pumped him for the location details, and then hung up.

Sorry, not today,” Mikari Yuki shook her head. “I’ve got the remedial class the teachers saddled me with when I told them about what happened on Egg Roost with Muiri and the spell that exploded in her face.” She scowled. “They still won’t believe me when I tell them it exploded all on it’s own, dammit! I’m not even a prankster!”

“Well, good luck with that,” Ayako smiled at her friend. “Tell me how it went when I get back!”

“Yeah,” Mikari nodded. “Sure thing.”

I’m in,” Tyler Obonz said without hesitation. “Classes have been light on cadavers and the last few cases I worked on had an unhealthy amount of actual leg work.” His pointed glare made sure Mayoi understood that this was NOT to happen again on this case. “My skills will get rusty if I’m not keeping in practice. Plus, unearthing a corpse sounds like a fun puzzle.”

I’m glad you’re simply telling me that you’re on a case rather than asking me to come along,” Ranagi Kaie smiled at his thoughtful partner. “Kendal would blow a gasket if I took on a case now, especially since she’s getting out later today.”

“Yeah, I hear ya,” Mayoi nodded. “Buy her a pizza or something once she’s out, since I’ll be out, okay?”

“Hah. Maybe.” While Kaie didn’t agree to the idea just yet, he did smile and say, “Good luck, though. Sounds like a doozy of a case to me.”

“I’ve got a feeling I’m going to regret taking this case,” Mayoi shook her head. “But, maybe it’ll be a good chance for me to see how well Ayako can stand on her own.”

“I’m sure she’ll do fine,” Kaie answered.

“Well,” Mayoi smirked as she and Ayako met Obonz at the way-gate plaza on the Academy Island, “looks like it’s just us two on this one.”

“Besides Bonsey?” Ayako asked.

“If I have to do anything other than dig up a body on this case,” Tyler shot a half-wary, half-humorous look at the Lycan, “I am going to murder someone.”

“Well, thanks for the heads up, at least,” Ayako giggled at him.

“Right then,” Mayoi turned to the Way-gate, “Let’s get going then: SET DESTINATION! TATEGAMI WYOH!


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