The port town of Tategami Wyoh was a massive place. Like Fai’lah Guard, Tategami Wyoh was a port town, and Ayako saw all the same features. A large market place fed by the massive docks, businesses and bars of all sorts lay scattered about the place. Ayako noticed that the main difference, however, was in the scenery. Fai’lah Guard had been a desert oasis; Tategami Wyoh lay on the edges of a tropical jungle.
The town’s main way-gate was in a different place as well. Where Fai’lah Guard’s gate had been geographically in the middle of the town, Tategami Wyoh’s gate was seated firmly in the private plaza of the town’s largest legal building, home not only to the local courts, but to the town’s mayor and other important people, which was to the south-east.
Like the more civilized parts of the world, the local town government was run by a hybrid system of election, nomination, and family descendants. Unlike certain towns like Fai’lah Guard, which had been supported by a single Royal Family for countless generations, Tategami Wyoh held no Royal blood lines at all.
The descendant system, in this case, worked more to the benefit of those families who trained their children to be their inevitable replacements. However, those who were trained had to be nominated to their desired position, and an election would be held. Following that came a two-month long trial period for the winner, during which they would be judged for their competency by the people who elected them.
If the elected person succeeded and did their job properly and showed no glaring conflicts of interest, they were then fully elected to the position, and that was pretty much the end of it and they got to do the job they were bred for. However, if a person was really bad at their desired job, or the trial position failed to gain the support of the town, they would be booted from the position along with any other jobs of a similar nature. This helped weed out the more undesirable citizens from public office. The runner up in the election would then have to undergo the same trial period and judgement process. If they failed there as well, which only very rarely happened, then a new election cycle would immediately begin.
That was something Mayoi could get behind, although she wished from time to time that her old home town had adopted this particular hybrid system. Maybe then…
She shook her head to clear the gloomy thoughts away. ‘Now is not the time to be thinking about the past.’
“Skeleton’s been buried about fifty years or so,” Tyler reported as he observed the remains of a dragon who had been practically preserved in their dying position by the growing roots. It wasn’t pretty.
‘Or maybe it is time to look back, if it’s that old,’ Mayoi sighed. “Physical age, Bonsey, not how long its been buried.”
“Fine,” Tyler sighed as he observed the spread forms of the wing bones, which had been pinned against the sides of the grave back when the body had originally been buried, and were now supported into position by the root network that they had yet to clear away. “Going by the wing and tail bone lengths, I’d wager… early twenties.”
“So we’re looking for a twenty year old who went missing twenty years ago,” Ayako summarized. “I guess we’ll have to interview everyone…. say, fifty and under?”
“Way too large of an age gap, Aya,” Mayoi corrected Ayako’s guess. “There’s no telling if the people who knew the victim are even still in town.”
“I guess you’re right. But I didn’t see too many dragons in town on the way over here,” Ayako mused, “how many could have moved around in twenty years?”
“Well, you’ve got one other major clue,” Tyler said as he finished examining the hip structure. “Victim’s female, and going by the separation in her pelvic structure, she’d given birth sometime in the year before she died.”
“Well hey! Now that makes things easier!” Mayoi grinned. “All we need to do now is cross check birth records with missing persons reports!”
“Shall we get going then?” Ayako asked.
“After we interview the two who discovered it,” Mayoi nodded over her shoulder at the Gnomic man and his dragon assistant.
“I’ll see what I can do about clearing the roots away without damaging the skeleton while you’re doing that then,” Tyler spoke, not even really caring about anything else but the body before him. “At this point I’ll probably have to just do the medical examination out here.” He paused to sigh, but sounded rather happy about this turn of events as he spoke again, “But that’s fine by me as long as I’m actually doing my job rather than the other kind of field work.” He shot Mayoi and Ayako a glance as he said, “This could take a while.”
‘Leave me alone and I’ll come find you when I have something,’ was what he was saying.
“All right,” Mayoi nodded. “Aya, let’s get moving.” She then motioned for the Gnomic man to come over. “Alright, Mister Gillipup. We’ve got some questions for you. Would you mind walking and talking with us while we do this? We’ve both got a lot of ground to cover today. Might as well multi-task, right?”
“Sure,” The Gnome nodded.
Jonathan Rhutowski let out a faint hiss as his left eye flared up in pain. “What is it now, You silly thing…?” The Lamia Merchant of Exotic Goods- notably of the kind made out of fabrics- looked around as his one good eye tried to show him the Sight once more, and failed miserably. It didn’t work, mainly, because his right eye was now physically blind, and had been damaged exactly when he had been using the Sight to look at… someone’s Aura. That had been back during his youthful days back in Romain Port, telling fortunes and building up enough of a cash investment to start his true heart’s desire– Buying, Selling, Shipping, and Trading.
Because of the simultaneous use of the Sight during the time it was damaged, the Right Eye was permanently attuned to the Sight, and it would sometimes catch something of interest that his mundane senses had missed. And so, Rhutowski looked around- his still good green eye piercing through the crowds for whatever made the Sight try to activate. The black hued snake-hair on his head rustled in eager anticipation… and then he saw it…. Or rather, saw HER.
A young Lycan girl in… was that a Mystryal Uniform? Rhutowski hummed in appreciation. That was some fine rune-work those uniforms used. Yes, nice strong protection wards and a few more durability charms than was standard, even despite the torn off sleeves. But, that wasn’t anything to call home about when it came to a Lycan. No, indeed, it was nothing compared to what Jonathan Rhutowski saw next.
It was the dragon woman next to the Lycan, also in a Mystryal uniform, and talking to a Gnome about- Rhutowski strained his ears a little as he began to approach them- Child Birth Records? What was that about? Obviously, something had happened to bring Mystryal’s attention to the island, and Rhutowski wasn’t about to let an opportunity like this slip away.
“MAYOI!” He called out- causing both Dragon and Lycan to turn their heads at him in surprise. “KANA MAYOI!”
“What in Mizar’s…!” Kana Mayoi shook the disbelief out of her eyes. “No freaking way.”
“Do you know him?” The Lycan asked, frowning at the loud shout.
“You could say that,” Mayoi didn’t sound, or look, too pleased to see him, but Rhutowski figured that would be the case.
He’d just have to reminder her why he was a better friend than an enemy! That was all!
“Heyyyy!” He greeted, grinning at Mayoi. “Long time no see, Kana! What brings you to Tategami?”
“Official investigation. Unless your name comes up, we can’t tell you anything,” The Lycan girl said this while stepping forwards and baring her fangs just a little. Almost like a protective little guard dog! Probably, she was sensing how on guard Mayoi was being. That was… Cute? Yes, he supposed Cute was the word.
“Aww! And who might you be?” He smiled at the girl and gave his best ‘what a cute kid!’ voice while looking her straight in the eye.
What was so special about her that his Ruined Sight was trying to flare up for? It didn’t make sense, unless it had simply happened to drag his attention back to-?
“Rhutowski!” Mayoi interrupted him. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Business! Same as it has been for the last two years. I’ve got official offices here now and everything.” Rhutowski didn’t take his eyes away from the Lycan girl’s- which she met with a fierce glare. She was NOT going to back down, that much was obvious. “She’s pretty cute! She your new Squintern?”
“No, actually.” Mayoi was sounding very defensive, the Lamia noted. Curious, and sad, too. Why was she so mad at him for? “Now do you mind? We’ve got somewhere important to be.”
“But we haven’t had a chance to catch up yet!” Rhutowski turned to look at MayoiiiIIIYeeeeeeesh! She looked really mad. Definitely, One hundred percent MAD. Angry. ‘Seething,’ maybe was the word? “I Wanna catch up! Talk about old times! See how the family’s–!”
That Mayoi herself snarled at him in perfect mirror with the Lycan pup, that was Scary. “After the last time we met?” Mayoi accused, “No. Thank. You. Good Day!” And then with that, she turned to leave with a “Come on, Aya. We’re leaving.”
“Yes Ma’am!” The girl responded, and followed.
Well, at least there was a name, Rhutowski mused on that bright side of things. Or, at least, he did until the Gnome locked eyes with him.
“I dunno what you did to piss her off, but I’d lay off it so she can do her job, and therefore, let me get back to mine.” The Gnome said simply enough, then turned to follow Mayoi, only pausing to shoot over his shoulder, “Digging up dirt, and reburying things.”
What? Was that supposed to be a threat? Rhutowski frowned. “Well, okay. Bye then.” He was pretty sure Mayoi was ignoring him, as were the other two now.
Why? Just because he’d called her mother to let her know that Kana was alive and well back when she’d been a kid at the academy all those years ago… Wait. WAIT. THAT was what he was forgetting!
“So who was that?” Ayako asked as they left the bemused Lamia behind.
“That was John Rhutowski, owner of Rhutow-Sky and Sea Shipping, and,” Mayoi shuddered, “my mother‘s ‘best friend,’ practically. She and him have had a business arrangement of some form or another since before I was even born.”
“O…kay?” Ayako knew that Mayoi didn’t like talking about her family much, but she didn’t understand quite why Mayoi was acting like this.
“So what’d the little snake do to piss you off?” Albert Gillipup asked.
“He caught sight of me on a case once back after I’d joined the Academy, I was just a student then, second year, and,” Mayoi shook her head, “Mom wasn’t happy about my leaving to join up in the first place. Or the divorce. ‘Supposedly’ she didn’t know if I was alive or dead, and Rhutowski took it upon himself to let her known. Didn’t even talk to me first to let me know he’d even seen me so I could tell him off.”
“Ohhh,” Ayako grimaced as she figured the rest out. “You found out second hand through your mom?”
“Yes and no,” Mayoi answered. “They both showed up at the same time and- worse than that,” Mayoi scowled, “’mother dearest’ tried to get me pulled off the case. She insisted I’d be coming back home with her that very instant.” She laughed. “You should’ve seen the look on her face when Detective Erwin punched her in the snout and told her she was interfering with official business.”
“Didn’t take too kindly to that, I suspect?” Albert asked.
“Nope,” Mayoi shook her head. “Mom, ah, insisted just a little bit more than she should have and spent the night in jail while we wrapped up the case we were on.” Then, she quirked a faint smile, “Long story short, she’s not allowed on Mahgelait for the rest of her current, mortal life.”
“Sounds like a person I wouldn’t want around during the start of an investigation,” Albert replied.
“You and me both,” Mayoi sighed, “but knowing Rhutowski…!”
“Yeah, Caria. She’s here, just like you told me two years ago. ‘Go to Wyoh and keep your eye open for Kana’ that’s what you said.” Rhutowski nodded into the phone. “A little mad at me for last time though. You’d think she’d have gotten over it by now but I guess that’s her problem.” He paused, waiting for the other person to finish speaking. “I KNOW! Right?! You’d think we’d done something really horrible to make her THAT mad! I mean, it’s almost two decades ago COME ON let it go already…” He paused again, waiting, and then responded, “YEAH! Punching you was completely out of line!” Then, another pause. “So how long until you can get here…?”
“…My mom’s probably already half packed and on her way down to ‘rescue me’ from myself, I’ll bet,” Mayoi grimaced. “Anyways, let’s get to the Mayor’s office and see about those birth records before that happens, shall we?” She shook her head. “Now, where were we on that interview, Mister Gillipup?”
“Do I remember any people who fit the category of ‘had a kid at twenty and disappeared’?” The Gnomic man answered. “And the answer is, I think I have one extra category to narrow it down by.”
“And what’s that?” Mayoi asked.
“The last time that section of pipe was dug up for access,” was the answer.
Inside the Mayor’s office building, just past the Secretary’s desk down the hallway to the right- tenth door to the left- was the Records Room. Inside, certain Birth records from Fifty Years back were presently stored about half-way into the back of the room, with a buffer span of five years to either side.
The records there were then sorted through and narrowed down by cross checking with missing persons reports. Only one Dragon woman gave birth and disappeared within months of it. Only one name popped up as the answer to the question of who their freshly discovered corpse was.
“Joan Hayamoto,” Mayoi declared firmly upon reading all the files. “Gave birth to one Nuhar Hayamoto forty-nine years ago on the nose, and disappeared about three months later.” She then looked to their Gnome escort. “Ringing any bells, Mister Gillipup?”
“Nuhar, huh?” Albert mused. “Yeah, I know her. That’d be Izala now, though, not Hayamoto.”
“Married?” Mayoi asked.
“Yeah, to a Dragon named Sorna,” Albert nodded. “They’ve got a daughter, Alexa. Just turned twenty-five last year. She’s working as the mayor’s secretary right now.”
“You mean the woman we passed on the way in?” Mayoi asked as they went to leave the records room.
“That’d be her, yes,” Albert nodded. “Shall I make an introduction?”
Mayoi’s reply was interrupted as they exited the records room- a loud and familiar voice was echoing down the hallways and making a general nuisance.
“Oh for crying out loud,” Mayoi scowled as they reached the door, “how long were we even in there for?”
“Half an hour,” Ayako, who had been standing guard outside the records room, supplied without missing a beat. “Loud mouth out there showed up less than a minute ago.”
“That’s Just great,” Mayoi said before sighing, which earned a slight chuckle from her Lycan daughter. “Better get this over with then.”
And so they walked town the hallway and re-entered the main lobby where the Secretary’s Desk resided. Sitting at said desk was Alexa Izala, with pale blond hair tied up into a pony tail framing a set of purple eyes. Her light green scales looked slightly greener than when Mayoi had last seen her, which was understandable, given who she was having to listen to.
Caria Calvert- formerly Mayoi- was an older dragon-born woman whose stern glare was only betrayed by simply how angry she looked. Her green eyes were a shade that Kana had quickly associated with envy and jealousy, her pitch black hair was a synonym for the tar pit of a town that Mayoi had fought tooth and nail to leave, and her yellow scales were as yellow as a coward’s belly could be.
“Where. IS. MY. DAUGHTER!?” Caria growled at the hapless secretary.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry but I don’t have any clue who you’re talking about–” Alexa tried to reason, but alas…
“Do. NOT. Give me that,” Caria said. “I know you’re covering for her. So STOP. LYING. TO ME!”
“Ma’am, please, can you at least give me a name so I can-?” Alexa’s suggestion didn’t get very far, as Caria slammed her hands down onto the secretary desk, causing the whole room to shake and shudder.
Kana Mayoi had seen enough, and so cleared her throat. Loudly.
Caria’s attention turned then, mouth open wide to curse out whoever had interrupted her when she saw that- Oh. “Kana! There you are!”
“What, no hello?” Mayoi asked her mother with a very noticeable scowl on her face. “Well, what what I expecting when your first words to me last time we met like this were exactly the same.”
“You are coming home RIGHT THIS MINUTE!” Caria insisted, marching over towards Mayoi and reaching a hand out to grab her daughter by the wing.
That only got about as far as it took for Ayako to take a step forwards and between the two.
“You take one more step closer, and I’ll bite your hand off,” Ayako growled, baring her fangs.
“Kana,” Caria didn’t so much as flinch at the sight before her, “you are going to call off your attack dog, or I’ll have her arrested for attacking me!”
“She’s not an attack dog,” Mayoi glared at her mother. “She’s just taking her future job seriously… and I approve, since I taught her when she should defend people that she cares about.”
“What?!” Caria asked, well, more like snarled out a confused sound. “What are you even talking about!?”
“Taking care of her and teaching her has been my responsibility for years now,” Mayoi answered.
“You have no such responsibilities to care for a mangy mutt like that!” Caria snarled once more, sounding enraged. “Especially one with such a foul mouth!”
“What?” Ayako blinked in confusion, then refocused her glare at the woman. “I didn’t say anything nasty at all!”
Caria ignored that, and continued on, “Now come along, Kana. It’s time you gave up this pathetic charade and came home where you belong!”
“I’m not a child any more, Mother,” Mayoi practically spat the title out. “And you have no legal rights over my life, and haven’t since I joined the academy-”
“That’s nonsense! That place doesn’t even exist on any maps!” Caria rolled her eyes. “Now stop spouting nonsense and–!”
“NOT TO MENTION,” Mayoi said it calmly, but loudly, “the fact that any rights you would have had otherwise been rendered null and void when you and Dad got divorced.”
Caria didn’t seem to care about that fact, and reached forwards to grab Mayoi by the wing once more.
Ayako flashed her claws and feinted a scratch- no physical contact was made, but it was enough to make Caria flinch back.
“AAHHH!” However, she decided to scream like a bloody infant and act more hurt than she actually was. “YOU MONGREL!!! HOW DARE YOU CUT MY SKIN OPEN!!” As she said that, Mayoi saw before her own very eyes as her Mother took her own claws and scratched at the back of her non dominant hand, drawing blood that hadn’t been drawn at all before that moment. “THAT’S IT! I’M CALLING THE TOWN GUARDS TO ARREST YOU FREAKING MURDEROUS–!”
The next moment was one that Alexa Izala would remember for the rest of her life. It was a moment of sheer awesome condensed into a span of seconds.
It was the moment where Kana Mayoi stepped between her mother and her daughter, then spun around and delivered a roundhouse of a tail-slap to Caria’s face. The sound of scales against scales echoed loudly as everything else went blissfully silent.
It was a wonderful slapping sound that echoed for several seconds more. Yes, Alexa would remember it- as would Ayako, and Kana herself- in glorious slow motion as Caria Mayoi recoiled from the hit with a brilliantly stupefied expression on her face.
Yes, they would remember as she lost her balance, and Caria spun on the ball of her left heel like a top for a few moments before twirling out of control and landing, face first, on the floor.
And then Kana Mayoi drew out a pair of handcuffs, knelled down next to her dazed mother, and said as loudly as she could, “CARIA CALVERT!” Yes, her mother flinched even as her daughter grabbed her wrists and began binding them behind her back, “You are Under Arrest for interfering with a Murder Investigation!” Click! CLACK! “This is your SECOND offense of this kind and as such punishable by Jail Time Without Bail!”
“That’s Illegal!” Caria spat on the ground- which did more harm than good, seeing as her face was being pressed up against the tile of the Mayor’s office floor.
Then, Mayoi leaned in and, in as much of a stage whisper as Alexa had ever seen, said, “Also?” a dreadfully delighted smirk formed on Kana’s face, not that Caria could see it, “Not that this is something I can add extra jail time to, but it’s generally considered very bad taste to yell at your granddaughter with species targeted racial slurs, and then threaten to call the guards on her for an injury that you yourself caused in plain sight of an International agent of the law.”
If the epic tail slap was the start of the wonderful memory that Alexa would forever remember, then the look on Caria’s face as she processed that last sentence was the brilliant climax to the whole moment.
“Grandau- WHAT???” Caria nearly shrieked in dismay.
The Town Guard had been called, and they arrived in quick order as the call had come from the Mayor’s office. Leading the pack- neigh, not even just the current group that had been dispatched, but being the actual Chief of the entire Town guard himself- was Robert Hoss. He was a human, with blackish brown hair and a set of firm, and piercing eyes that were as cold as the ice they were colored after.
“So what happened here?” He asked.
“A woman who was harassing not only the poor Secretary, but began interfering with an ongoing murder investigation,” Mayoi answered.
Robert Hoss raised an eyebrow, “Interfering how?”
“She’s also my mother and does not approve of my line of work,” Mayoi clarified. “Hasn’t for years. This is just the second time she’s directly tried to screw me over in some bizarre attempt to ‘take me home.’” Then, she added, “Oh, and do keep an eye on her hands, she intentionally cut open her one hand and tried to blame it on my daughter. Although, just between you and me, I’m not sure she even knew she was doing it.”
If Robert Hoss hadn’t believed her then, Caria’s rude exclamation of “YOU ARE NOT A DETECTIVE!!! STOP PLAYING PRETEND WITH THE SMELLY HUMANS!” definitely gave the Town Guard Chief reason enough to take the Dragon Woman into custody.
“Well,” He gave a wink as he left, however, saying, “don’t worry. The paperwork will take a nice, long time to complete.”
After Caria was taken away, Mayoi apologized to Alexa, “Sorry you had to get caught up in my mom’s harpy-shit-fit.”
“It’s fine, I have to deal with stuff like that from time to time.” Alexa shook her head. “What was that you said about a Murder Investigation?”
“We’re treating the body discovered this morning as a homicide,” Mayoi answered. “And I was hoping to talk with you about it.”
“Why me?” Alexa asked.
“The victim was a female dragon, in her twenties, and died about fifty years ago,” Mayoi explained. “Ultimately, what made identifying the body easy was the fact that her hip structure was still stretched and recovering from giving birth.”
“So that’s why you asked for the birth records,” Alexa nodded, as the pieces began to fit together in her head. “And you think the body’s…” She trailed off, almost afraid to voice the words in her mind.
“Your grandmother, Joan Hayamoto,” Mayoi nodded.
“Gran’dad always told mom that she had to have been killed,” Alexa smiled sadly. “She disappeared the day before they were going to get married, and he said that she’d never miss it for the world.” She frowned, “I just wish he’d still be alive to hear that we’d finally found her body.”
“What happened?” Mayoi inquired.
“Heart-attack,” Alexa answered. “He passed away in his sleep about thirty years ago. I never even met him.”
“Sorry for your loss,” Mayoi grimaced in sympathy. “Did he ever tell your mother anything about the way your grandmother disappeared?”
“No,” Alexa shook her head. “And mom always says ‘when you’re older’ whenever I asked her about it. I think he told my mom something important, but she doesn’t want me to know about it.”
“Do you mind if I speak with her?” Mayoi asked.
“Sure, I’ll even make the introductions myself,” Alexa nodded. “I was going to take my lunch break soon anyways. Just let me go tell Mayor Morgan I’m taking off.” And so with that, she went to go to the Mayor’s personal office, somewhere down the confusing maze of hallways and corridors.
“I’m going to return to the dig-site,” Albert Gillipup spoke up. “Your coroner could probably use my help getting the roots out. And that happens to be my job anyways, so…”
“Sure,” Mayoi nodded. “I won’t keep you, then. I’ll come and find you if I need any more questions.”
And so, while the Gnome left, and Mayoi waited for Alexa to return from the Mayor’s private office, the orange scaled, emerald eyed dragon sat down next to her daughter.
“Feel better?” Ayako asked, looking somewhat depressed by recent events.
“Mizar and Alcor, YES,” Mayoi let out a half-groan-half-laugh as she leaned back in her seat. “I don’t even know how long I’ve wanted to say that to her.”
They sat for a few moments in silence, then Ayako asked, “She doesn’t like me, does she?”
“Aww,” Mayoi pulled her daughter into a hug. “Don’t worry about it. She doesn’t like me either.” She smiled slightly, “Prooobably, even less so after that awesome tail slap I gave her.”
“That was pretty awesome,” Ayako started to smile as well.
“It was, wasn’t it?” Mayoi smiled, then started to laugh. “It’s times like this I’m glad my dad divorced mom.”
“Why?” Ayako asked, tilting her head to the side and ears flicking in confusion.
“Because he’s going to love hearing about this,” Mayoi answered with a smile.