The Izala Flower Shop was one of the standard affairs set up in Tategami Wyoh’s market plaza- a two story building, the ground floor containing the shop, and the upper floor containing a house. Inside the main building, tending to the flowers, was Nuhar Izala, a dragon woman who had just hit fifty but didn’t look a day over thirty five. Only her slightly frayed, grey-tipped brown hair gave any indication of her actual age.
“Mom?” Alexa then introduced the Mystryal detectives, Kana and Ayako Mayoi, to her mother. “They’re here about Grandma Joan.”
If the older woman had been holding a flower pot of any kind in her hands, Mayoi was sure that it would have been dropped to the floor, judging by how Nuhar Izala’s violet eyes had widened.
After quickly telling her husband to take over the shop until she returned, Nuhar Izala lead Kana, Ayako, and Alexa up to the second floor of the house.
“So… how did she die?” Nuhar asked once they’d settled in the kitchen.
“We’re not entirely sure yet, to be honest,” Mayoi replied. “We’re still working on getting the body out of the ground at the moment, without damaging any signs of struggle from the remains.”
“So, she was out by that damned tree after all, wasn’t she?” Nuhar sighed, and shook her head. “All this time. Father always said he had a feeling that was where she’d died at, but he could never get the permits to dig up the pipes again.” She frowned, “And then he died, never knowing if she was really under there or not.”
“What gave your father the idea that your mother was buried under the tree?” Mayoi asked.
“After she missed their wedding day,” Nuhar began, “father just knew she was dead. He riled up the town guard and they all began searching for a body, but when it came time to search the part of the park where the sewer lines were being worked on, the then-current town guard chief, Kinzy Hoss, called the searches off.”
“I see,” Mayoi frowned as she wrote down the story. “Did your father think him a suspect?”
“It was no big secret that many people, like Kinzy Hoss, were lust-obsessed with my mother back then,” Nuhar nodded. “My grandparents told me how many times they’d had to kick him off their doorstep just to keep him away from my mother when they’d been kids. He wasn’t happy that my mother was going to marry my father, or so I’ve been told.”
“Why didn’t anyone call Mystryal back then?” Mayoi asked.
“Father said that at the time the only phones in town were in the Mayors’ office, and that calls out to Mystryal had to be approved by the town guard first…” Nuhar shook her head. “By the time phones began to become a little more wide spread here, the response was that too much time had passed to do anything without a body or any supporting evidence.” She sighed, “Father’s heart gave out a few weeks after that. I think the stress of it all finally got to him.”
“Rest assured, Miss Izala,” Mayoi smiled. “I’m going to make sure that we personally right what should have been fixed fifty years ago.”
“Don’t worry, Caria!” Rhutowski smiled from across the jail-cell bars, “I’m going to get my best lawyers on this! They can’t hold you when they attacked you first!”
“You’d better have the best mentalist on hire as well,” Caria scowled at the Lamia across from her. “Because the brainwashing on my poor Kana has run too deep. She believes every single lie they fed her in that wretched place. She even thinks she adopted a wolf for a kid!”
“Er… well….” Rhutowski scratched at the top of his head, and his snake hair bristled uncomfortably. “I don’t know anyone who does that sort of stuff, but I can see if I know a guy who knows a guy who might–?” He gulped as Caria glared at him. “Okay! I’m getting right on that!”
“Best that you do that, then!” Caria hissed at the man. “And DO be sure to come up with a back up plan this time in case your plan A doesn’t work out!”
As Rhutowski slithered out of the Tategami Wyoh jail, he passed by an older, slightly pudgy looking human with balding grey hair and the same pale blue eyes as a certain current Guard Chief. This was Kinzy Hoss, and he scowled as he over heard Rhutowski muttering something about back up plans for getting someone out of jail.
“Hmf…” Kinzy raised an interested eyebrow. “I wonder what that was about.”
Regardless of his interest in the odd event, he turned and entered the old building that had once been his work. He walked down the familiar halls and headed the well worn path to his old office, now his son’s office. His son’s office- the Chief of the Town Guard.
It warmed the old man’s ice covered heart to see that his son had taken up his old job, as he’d hoped for so many years. As he’d planned. The minute he’d heard that Robert had won the election, Kinzy had mentally done back flips- not that he would ever do one physically, not even when he had been a kid.
And now, his son had called him in for some unknown reason, nothing too out of the ordinary, but unusual to say the least. Especially in this case- that he’d been called in for ‘consulting’ for an older case. ‘Consulting.’ That meant that one of the old incidents from back when Kinzy had been Chief had come back from the proverbial grave.
“Mister Hoss?” And damn, if it wasn’t a dragon-born woman inside his son’s office, holding a hand out as if she weren’t about to tear things down.
“That’s me,” Kinzy replied, forcing back a scowl as he glared at his son, who seemed mightily disconcerted. “Who’s she?”
“Detective Kana Mayoi, from Mystryal.” Her green eyes glared at his soul, even as his son introduced her.
“We’re here about a body that was discovered this morning,” there was a werewolf girl in the same uniform style, too. Damn. Just what was going on here?
“Oh?” He raised an eyebrow. “Who?”
“They believe her to be Joan Hayamoto, dad,” Robert said. “Alexa’s grandma.”
“So she wasn’t a runaway then?” Kinzy tried to look pensive. He wasn’t sure he succeeded. “Well, I guess you want to know my side of things then.”
“It would be appreciated,” The werewolf girl said.
“Well, it seemed to be a closed and shut case back then,” Kinzy said it smoothly, “just a runaway girl with cold feet before the wedding. We searched everywhere in town, but never found a sign of her.”
“We found her out where the sewer lines are being dug up,” Mayoi said. “Any reason you called off the searches before going there?”
‘Crap,‘ Kinzy thought. ‘Crap in a Hat.’ Of all the things they had to ask…! “You’re asking me to remember something from forty nine years ago!” Kinzy didn’t bother to fight back the growl. “Is this what you brought me in for!?” He turned towards his son. “To Interrogate ME!?”
“Dad, we’re just trying to figure out what happened back then, and as much as I hate to-” Robert Hoss had the misfortune then to see his Father flipping a twin pair of harpies at him before storming out of the office in a rage. “…Well that wasn’t suspicious at all.” He sighed.
“Nope,” Mayoi shook her head, and then a moment later they all went out after Kinzy Hoss at a brisk pace.
“Dad, stop!” Robert called out, “You can’t leave!”
“Just watch me!” Kinzy shouted back, accelerating towards the building’s exit/entrance.
“Dad! Don’t make me arrest you!” Robert insisted.
“You don’t have the nerve!” Kinzy snarled.
“He might not, but I HAVE arrested my own mother, just this morning as a matter of fact,” Mayoi said it calmly, as a matter of fact. “I can make sure you’re both sharing a cell.”
“I’d like to see you try!” Kinzy scoffed… and then face planted into the usually automatically opening doors. “Ow! What in Alcor’s name!?” Somebody had locked them after he’d come in! How dare they…!
The next thing he knew, a pair of handcuffs were placed around his wrists, fastening with a ‘click.’
Ayako knew that while life often did not follow the exact same plots as a fictional detective novel, there were writers who wrote based off of experiences in their own life. There was always the occasional book dedicated to observing a person’s family troubles. However, it seemed that today was the day that- if someone was writing this as a book- the “Family Issues” plot lines rose to the surface in full force.
“Oh, so you ARE the kind of man who would arrest his own family!” Caria scoffed as Robert locked his father into the same jail cell. “Well doesn’t that just warm my heart!” And then she spat through the bars at Robert Hoss, “NOT!”
“I take it you’re the woman who raised that beast who provoked my son into arresting me over a half-a-century old case?” Kinzy inquired.
“I just don’t know where I went wrong!” Caria said with a dramatic wave of her arms. “It’s like she hates everything I stand for! Running away as a child to the Gods know what corner of the world!” She then glared at Ayako, “Becoming the mother to some…. devil dog! I don’t even know how that’s possible! I refuse to accept that thing as my granddaughter!!”
“Obviously she made love to some mutt and had the beast out of wedlock!” Kinzy agreed, his anger getting the best of him. “The way she pulled me away from the doors…! Scratched my arms to no end!”
His arms were scratch free, if bound by handcuffs. ‘Some people,’ Ayako shook her head at that.
“Well,” Mayoi wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Aren’t you two just the perfect picture of everything that’s wrong in the world.”
“As of right now, you’re both under arrest for separate cases,” Robert said coldly, as professionally as he could given the circumstances. “IF, and that’s a big If, you somehow manage to make bail, Dad, do NOT leave town.”
“Well I’M not leaving until my daughter agrees to come home with me!” Caria insisted. “AND leaves that non-daughter of hers here in the jail cells where SHE BELO-”
It was then that Ayako heard enough- slamming her hand into a control rune on the wall, and activating a silencing field across the jail cell bars. A moment later, she ran out of the room. Mayoi gave Robert a sad look, and went after her daughter.
Ayako hadn’t gone too far, having retreated to Robert’s office and slumped down onto the floor in the corner of the room. Mayoi’s ears heard the sound of sniffles and she knew exactly what to do.
She sat down next to her daughter and pulled her into a hug.
Ayako cried into her mother’s shoulder, “WHY is she so MEAN??”
“Because she was raised to think that she was better than everyone else,” Mayoi said simply. “People like her are always irrational, and never make any sense.” She sighed. “It’s just… not worth arguing with them. They’ll never give up their point of view.”
Mayoi honestly did not know if that was really the truth of the matter or not. She never could get inside her mother’s head, just to figure out what was going on inside that bloody mess of ‘better than thou’ and ‘you do as I say or you do nothing at all!’ And really, Mayoi wasn’t sure if she wanted to know what was going on inside her mother’s head at all.
Maybe they were all better off not knowing… But they’d never get anywhere if they didn’t try to at least attempt to understand each others point of view. If her mother would ever give an opportunity to let go of some of that over abundance of hate, that was.
But figuring out how her mother thought… that wasn’t important right now. Mayoi tightened her arms around her crying daughter. Now was the time to be the best person Kana Mayoi could be, not the worst person Caria Mayoi always seemed to be.
It still took Ayako a good half an hour before she finally calmed down enough to return to work.
“I’ve requisitioned the files from… Kinzy Hoss’s time as chief,” Robert said, with an obvious frog in his throat. “As it stands, his entire time in office is going to be called into question now. What he did during that time is going to be scrutinized to no end if it turns out he killed Joan Hayamoto.”
“That’s the best we can hope for, I guess,” Mayoi sighed, running a hand through her hair. “There’s no telling what else he might have done that was illegal, if anything.”
“Yeah,” Robert agreed in a familiar, resigned tone. “There’s no way to know, really.”
The skeleton buried between the tree roots was only half way dug out by the time Mayoi and Ayako rejoined Tyler Obonz at the site.
“How goes the tree trimming?” Mayoi asked.
“So far?” Tyler chuckled, and it was an amused chuckle at that. “We’ve got multiple stab wounds to the chest- ribs mainly- that follow the same curvature as the blade that decapitated the head.”
“Shovel?” Mayoi asked.
“Shovel,” He nodded. “Good luck finding it, though, after all these years. I doubt the killer was dumb enough to keep it around for fifty years.”
“Given that our current suspect is the former Town Guard Chief?” Ayako let out a faint growl, “Then it’s almost definitely gone by now.”
“And even if it isn’t, the trace evidence might too decayed by now to be useful,” Mayoi shook her head. “So yeah. We’re not doing so great on our front. Anything else of note?”
“Just that the forearms seem to have been fractured by something,” Tyler replied, pointing at the score marks on the forearm bones. “Likely, they’re defensive wounds from blocking the shovel. But the tree roots grew in there and damaged the wound tracts a bit, so it’s nearly impossible to tell what really caused it at the moment.”
“How did the tree roots grow INTO the wounds, specifically?” Ayako asked, frowning.
“Beats me,” Tyler shook his head. “Ask a Spriggain. Plant life isn’t in my job requirements.”
“Fair enough,” Mayoi sighed, and then slipped over to underneath the shade of another tree, where Albert Gillipup and Kua Traen were resting for the moment. “Got a question for you two, seemingly random. Your thoughts on Kinzy Hoss?”
“You mean the old Town Guard chief?” Kua Traen, the Dragon boy who had first discovered the skull, asked.
“He’s your number one suspect, isn’t he?” Albert asked.
“Got it in one, both of you,” Mayoi nodded.
“Always seemed skeevy to me,” Albert remarked. “You know? We’ve had root problems out here in this part of the woods for years, but until he retired a couple years ago, the Mayors office never got in new Request forms for anything. Lots of things around town got real bad behind the scenes ’cause of that. Part of why it took us this long to get out here. We had to fix everything else up first.”
“He always kind of creeped me out too,” Kua said. “Like, I was always afraid of him, when I was growing up. Same with this tree too.”
“Oh?” Mayoi raised an eyebrow.
“We were joking about it just before we found the body,” the dragon boy said. “I’ve had dreams where I’d died under this tree.”
“Then we found an actual body,” Albert grumbled. “We’re pretty sure he’s reincarnated from then.”
“Creepiest thing ever,” Kua shuddered. “If that body is some older version of myself… I held my skull with my own hands. Yaovi, how messed up is that?”
“Oh I can imagine things a lot weirder than that,” Mayoi sighed, glancing over at Ayako and Tyler, and then imagining the non-present Mikari Yuki standing there with them, chatting about some thing or another. She should have been here. “A whole lot weirder.”
“I guess you’ve had some experience with reincarnation during murder cases before?” Kua asked.
“Oh, a few cases here and there,” Mayoi nodded. “It’s always the brutal ones that leave unfinished business that cause memories to really stick around.” She frowned, “Stuff like that still sticks around even after the unfinished business is finished, but ends up more… diluted? I guess. It’s like it’s own form of Blood Magic, the more violent the memory, the stronger the desire to right it. That kind of stuff just sticks with you for a long time, is what I’m trying to get at.”
“That’s really sad,” Kua frowned.
“Damn straight,” Albert shook his head.
“So, Kua,” Mayoi began, “Tell me about these dreams.”