Yay, welcome to eighth case of Sky Ghost Hunt! Let me comment on your reviews for last chapter… UNBELIEVEABLE! You guys LOVES Matsuyama that much?! Or is it our TrollYasu?
Case 08, Part 02
Festa Della Sensa, the ascension Festival of Venice. Which was held on the first Sunday after Ascension Day in Venice. The ceremony commemorates Venice's marriage to the sea and in past times, the Doge threw a gold ring into the sea to unite Venice and the sea. And in modern times a regatta headed from Saint Mark's Square to Saint Nicolo' culminating with a gold ring being thrown into the sea.
"How romantic…" Mai commented, sighing wistfully as their personal zeppelin flew over Venice. The view was superb as she could see the regatta, the festival ship sailing to the next checkpoint. They also flew quite low so Mai could watch everything, with a shroud of mist flame hiding the air vehicle they had nothing to worry about.
"Indeed." Yuni who was standing by the balcony of the zeppelin with her agreed. "Unfortunately, considering today is the anniversary of our own ascension as the Three Great Skies, we spend it to review our work."
Yuni must have wanted to see the fair below, Mai guessed. "At least we can enjoy the view…" She walked back towards the round table which was occupied by Byakuran and Tsuna. "For once your theatric love for high place is not so bad, Byakuran…"
The boy was not enjoying the view obviously. "It's just May but in North America alone we already got over thirty round of Choice Game and another three scheduled next month!" Byakuran reported as slammed the thick stack of report on the smooth mahogany table. "And I still catch some illegal fight over territory in remote corner of New York and other cities!"
Mai sighed, placing her own report which was slightly thinner than Byakuran. "In Asia we got twenty two till May and… another six pending for approval."
Tsuna or rather Giotto had the thinnest stack, "Over twenty but another twenty pending for the next three months." He reported curtly. "And some have rather ridiculous reason to happen which boiled down to wounded ego of theirs…"
Yuni smiled sympathetically to her fellow skies. "It's not a good year for us, is it?"
Byakuran smiled sardonically, before he blew up. "AARGH! This wasn't what we had in mind when we make Choice as replacement for war!"
Mai sipped her coffee daintily, heeding no mind of Byakuran's tantrum. "We did expect menial conflicts would crop up, as slowly Choice is accepted as some sort of honorable duel in our society…" Which was easily achieved with publicity of the game and recognition of power the game gave to participants. It was not their best move to make their violent society to accept Choice as replacement of war, but what else they could do to make the non-lethal game attractive prospect for their future?
Byakuran growled, "The game Sho-chan I painstakingly created is not a duel to regain their manly honor!"
"Maa…" Giotto recalled the olden days, "At least you guys don't have to worry about any army or all out turf war anymore." While manly honor was a petty thing to fight a full blown battle between famiglie for, he had to say it was better than war where honor was the first thing chucked out of the window.
War… Just hearing that word made them feel ill, at the time of synchronized feeling with his fellow skies Byakuran wondered how the heck he thought world war was a good idea? Then again addled mind was the price he had to pay for his power. All of them sitting in this table paid a price for their power.
"Dear honorable ancestor." Byakuran called respectfully, because he knew Giotto disliked him. "Do you think we should set a rule on what matter could involve Choice Game?"
Giotto looked at him with like he had grown second head, "While I appreciate respect to elderly, listening to you speaking so respectfully to me is just unsettling."
"Why did you ask Giotto anyway?" Mai wondered, "And to your question, we could but we have to be really careful…"
Yuni nodded in agreement, "No one will likes it if we say their reason is too frivolous to start Choice." Even the three Great Skies couldn't afford stepping on too many egos.
"We're running a dictatorship, but in the end we still have to be a good dictator. Less we have rebellion in our hand…" The reason mafia world didn't whine too much when Choice System was introduced was because the Three Great Skies made it seemed like they still respected 'power' as measuring stick, and assumed the system was to make sure their already small community kept healthy size without getting too weak.
"I see Byakuran's point though, I don't want to see another case of 'insult to my dignity' to give extra work to Cervello." Mai pointed out. "We're overworking them since the Choice system is established."
"Or another wounded 'macho pride' on request form for Choice."
"Huh? You found that kind of ridiculous request? Don't tell me you accept it because it's funny."
"I did consider to let that request past, just for some giggles." Byakuran admitted sheepishly.
Mai and Giotto glared at him, "Don't you dare… So we will set some rule on standard of cause to request Choice…" Mai murmured softly, "There no end to amending our laws, is there?"
Byakuran nodded sagely, "It's so tiring doing this year after year… can't we just tell everyone to stop being criminals or else?" The Three skies stared at Byakuran in disbelief. "What? Eventually we want to convince them to stop being criminal!"
"Hai, let's drink some coffee…" Mai decided, "Someone already didn't think straight, we need some caffeine to function!"
"No I need sugar." Byakuran grunted as stuffing his mouth with marshmallow.
They stared at his chipmunk like face, "You're going to get fat."
Higan Village, SPR's Base
"Because the activity is focused on my farm I will provide this log cabin house for your use." Dino announced as as his right hand man, Romario fished a set of keys with wooden horse keychain.
Ayako and Masako were amazed, "Such a nice log house…"
It was quite a large log house with rich yellow log wall stood in nice contrast with green scenery of the farm. The two storey log house had terrace with slab stone storage, unpolished wooden fence, with comfy looking bench beside a glass coffee table. The roof was dark green color, and there was a chimney protruding by the center of the house.
"This looks really good for a vacation house."
Romario unlocked the door, and Dino gestured the team to come in. "it is a villa… there are suggestion to open the farm for public so people who get tired of buzzling in the city to spend a quiet and peaceful vacation in here…" Dino trailed off, "I stop the project from going further though… since we're breeding rare breed of horses and I'd rather not amateurs to mess around here…"
Naru who had been quiet so far interjected, "I see…" Mentally he translated that as in his mind as Dino not wanting to open opportunity for sabotage. Mafia Don were paranoid bunch. "So about the electricity and wireless connection...?"
Dino beamed, "Ah yes… we have set everything up for your team." He gestured towards the living room, the furniture had been pushed to the wall to free more room for SPR's equipment. "Feel free to ask my subordinates to help labor work."
"Thank you, but we have enough people for that."
Bou-san whined. "Eeh~"
Naru sighed, "We will start setting up our equipment after lunch… you guys can go rest for now." Their eyes widened in glee, Naru was giving them a break?! "So I expect, by the time I conduct interview everything are already in place..."
Dino smiled at them, "The bedrooms are upstairs, we have five and each have double beds… since your Boss said it would be safer to bunk together there's also extra futon in storage room over there."
Masako and Ayako exchanged glance, "Of course there's no having one room all to ourselves." Masako harrumphed.
"Haa! Do you have problem with sharing a room with me?!"
Naru ignored the commotion his team made, inclining his head to Dino who excused himself from their base, before heading towards the bedroom. Surely they could sort the room arrangement on their own, he figured he would share room with Lin as usual. The bedroom was around the same size as one they got in Miyama's mansion, with double bed, a study desk and a closet. The room like the rest of the house had a rustic feel to it, and had two windows facing the farm.
"Naru… about the vision you saw…"
He had been wondering when Lin would bring it up, as soon as they had their privacy apparently. "Well…"
The door opened, almost slamming to Lin who quickly stepped away to let slightly harried Fujiwara Hikaru inside. "I am sorry but please let me to share room with you."
The two Ghost Hunters frowned at him, "Why?"
"As I am here as affiliated onmyouji of SPR it's just prudent for me to abide by your rules." He began, his jade like eyes shifted to the side. "So of course I have to share room with someone but… The Monk, Takigawa-san said he called dibs on John so I am left with Yasuhara-san… and he is a little enthusiastic and started to compliment my fine features…"
Naru raised his hand in halting gesture, taking pity on the young Onmyouji. "I can imagine the rest… I suppose Takigawa-san refuse to be alone with him so you guys decide we men should share one room for three."
Hikaru nodded, "I am really sorry but… Yasuhara-san is a little unnerving. Never I imagine I'd find a common people make me uncomfortable."
"It's nothing to do with his lack of supernatural power… it's just his personality."
He glanced at the closed door nervously, "Uhm, is he part of Vongola?"
"No, I believe he is a civilian."
"Yet he acts like one of them."
Naru quieted down at that, "I am one of them but I don't act like Yasuhara."
"I mean the more eccentric members of Vongola…" Hikaru corrected, "None of my clansmen have been quite the same after the misfortune of meeting one of them."
Lin and Naru believed this was where they should stop asking. "Right… so about your vision…" Lin swiftly switched the topic. "What do you mean by mother?"
Naru shook his head, recalling the vision of pair of cold hands on her shoulders and the feeling of fear mixed with safety. "It's not my mother, but Kyoushirou-kun's."
"The boy's?" Lin echoed.
Hikaru cupped his chin, "Hm… my shiki thinks the boy have a guardian spirit, it's a faint presence but he has one. It's not uncommon for a mother to protect their child even after death… well if the mother have spiritual power." He explained, "A clansman of mine was protected by his mother's spirit until he had his come of age."
Naru frowned, "The boy's father married a woman with spiritual power?"
"The boy himself don't have any special power, I think." Hikaru added. "So what did the boy see?"
He sighed, "A large mass of darkness shaped like a human… crouching all four over the dead boy."
"Larger than human?"
The dark haired psychic nodded, "Slightly… it's not too clear." It would be a very simple case if he could see what monster they had to deal with. Oh well, he just had to send Yasuhara to check local library later after lunch.
Nakata-san was in the middle of sweeping their yard, the trees around their house were getting unhealthy lately so there was a lot of leaves to clean. So she had lit up a small campfire to burn the trash. Kyou thought she was too lazy, mother used to say burying the leaves, returning them back to earth was much better even though it was troublesome.
His mother was a wonderful woman like that, and yet… father hated her. His father was a very cruel man.
"Takaaki-sama?" Nakata-san, their maid seemed surprised when his father was back so early from work and carrying a stack of familiar books.
Ignoring their maid's inquiry, his father dropped the books to the tin container and set it on fire. "This village don't need this anymore."
Nakata-san nodded frantically, "Ah yes…"
Not long after his father left, Kyou approached the still burning campfire while Nakata-san was watering the flower bed nearby. His dull brown eyes shifted to color of jade for a moment, watching the book with title 'Legend of Higan Village consumed by the red tongue of flame.
Few Hours Later…
We had our rest and I'd admit it was the right decision considering they started working in high spirit. So after we set up our equipments, I sent Hara-san with Matsuzaki-san to look around the farm, Yasuhara-san with Fujiwara-san to library, Bou-san and John for checking temperature and last Shima and Toujou to take care the rest of our equipment. Lin and I started the interview session and called Dino-san to start sending his employees who had experienced supernatural disturbance.
The first was Teana Wilson, an Australian woman with fair complexion like John, but narrower blue eyes and paler shade of blond. "I suppose my Boss has told you that I was the first who experience a major incident."
Thankfully she didn't speak in Kansai-ben, just a normal Japanese though slightly choppy. "Feel free to use English." Everyone else was out of the base so there was no fear I would be found out because of my accent.
"Thank you but I need to practice." She declined politely.
"Very well." I nodded, "Dino-san said you were alone when you saw the man that morning…"
Ms. Wilson nodded, "Yes… I was just moving the horse to the barn. It's not a work I need an extra hand for… not to mention by the grassing field and track there were guys working too." She explained, "So I moved the first, second and third horse myself to their stable… and it's the fourth, Suzuka… the most quiet mare under my care suddenly stop on her track and refuse to get inside her stall."
I frowned at her, "And then?"
The blond woman looked up from her lap, "She got really restless and spooked by something, it's like she thought I was dragging her to a butcher." Her crossed fingers fidgeted, "And that was when a man I didn't recognize came out of Suzuka's stall. I was sure it was empty and this man just walked out of it?"
She sounded incredulous when recalling the event, "Can you describe the man to me?"
"Uhm… obviously a man, I'd say he is average height for Japanese man but he is broader." Teana recalled, "I am not sure it's the bad light in our barn, or the ghost should have such a dark skin but he just looks 'dark' to me. He was also pretty muscular…"
Not a very specific description.
"I told him. 'Sir, this is private property… you should be here. Is there anything I can help you?' Because it's not the firt time people got lost in this large farm." She explained, "He ignored me and walked straight to our feed room. I was pretty intimidated and didn't think straight back then I'd admit." She seemed embarrassed by what she said next. "I picked a pitchfork and followed him to the feed room."
Gene whistled, 'Very brave of her.'
'Or foolish.' I added mentally. "But he was gone?" Ms. Wilson nodded. "How does this feed room looks like?"
She cupped her chin, "Well… it's a small room where we stack bags of fodder, on one wall we stacked lots all the way to the ceiling and on the other wall is… the only window in the room, if you can call 15 inch by 10 inch square hole a window." She trailed off unsurely, "I mean, I can't fit in there so how could he?"
We should check the room she described just to make sure later, I made the mental note. "Was that when the phenomena escalate from simple apparition?"
Ms. Wilson nodded, "Yes, because I could recall clearly I was in no way half-awake or drunk and the man looked too real for me to be a figment of my imagination. So I backed away, pitchfork in hand just in case… then the doors started slamming. Lights flicked on and off as I ran to the front door, by pure luck I didn't run to anything but by bad luck the exit door closed right on my face. That's when I noticed our horses were as scared as I was and… what else I can do but scream and bang the door for help?"
Obviously that was a better course of action than curling up and crying.
"The guys arrived a few minutes later…. And it took them around ten minutes to pry the door open." She finished her story. "We got our horse out from the haunted barn as soon as we could, we thought it's the only one problematic barn before the same thing happen at random in other barn of ours."
I frowned at that, "Only when someone goes inside on their own?"
She shook her head in negative, "No, Mister Shibuya… there are some people who got stuck in pair, or group of three…"
"I see…" The spirit usually prefer attacking a vulnerable individual when they were alone but this was not the case. Though the small number of group perhaps meant it was not something worth noting. "Is there anything else you'd like to add?"
She cupped her chin, "Well… other than that one time my experiences are the same with the rest, hearing random noises and bad smell."
"Could you specify the noise?"
"Well… it's a bit weird, but most of the time the noise can't be identified… it's like jumbled up background noise. And one time I recognize it…" She trailed off unsurely, "It's sound like squealing of a pig."
"And the smell?"
Ms. Wilson wrinkled her nose, "Smells like one time we found a rotting dead rat under my sofa back home, perhaps worse."
I sighed, "Well, thank you for your cooperation . Please don't hesitate to talk with one of my staff if you find anything remotely connected to our case."
At my last sentence the blond woman paused from pushing herself up from the chair she just occupied. "Well… remotely connected…" She repeated after me. "I am not sure but… I heard one of local farms that just assimilated to our company has an incident."
"Is it paranormal in nature?"
She frowned, "I am not sure, but… a goat was slaughtered cruelly. The native kicked quite a fuss before it died down."
"Who is the owner of this local farm then?"
"I am sorry but I don't remember but… I believe that's a few days before I got locked by the spirit."
So the first dangerous incident could happen before Ms. Wilson's.
The next four had similar experience, either they got locked up in one of the old buildings or they found the butchered animals. Coming in next were Ino Mitsu-san and Ino Tatsu-kun, father and son pair who was transferred from Cavallone's farm in Hokkaido. They also revealed one detail about Dino-san's company in this village the boss forget to mention, that most senior staffs were transferred from other branches of his farm. So there was a lot of workers who got involved with no clue what did they do to earn spirit's hostility.
So far we had Dino-san's employees only, as the Boss promised the native villagers would come tomorrow. He seemed displeased by the arrangement himself, saying the villagers needed an internal meeting first. It was very suspicious.
"Ah yes, so Tea-san told you about the first goat that got killed?" Mitsu-san sipped the tea Tojo had served for him and his son. "I believe it's Matsuyama-san's farm… I helped the old man to dig the grave few months ago before his younger brother return from city. So I saw the butchered goat but… it's strange."
"Strange, how?" I prompted him to continue.
He set his cup of tea down, "I was the one who found the yorkshire pig that got butchered few months ago, and the old cow a few days after… so I know how the animals look after monster was done with them." He trailed off. "The goat I saw back then didn't get eaten at all."
That was strange indeed considering from the report we assumed all animals got eaten, at least their insides. "Could it be just prank?"
"A prank by a psycho perhaps." The man grunted, "We people who works with livestocks have iron rule to not be cruel even to animal we raised to eat… to take a life and leave it there just to root…" He trailed off. "Make me think the monster who ate his victim a little is better…"
That was a pretty morbid line of thought, 'They works for a Mafia Don, even if they have no idea…"
The boy sitting beside his father looked restless, "You can tell us anything, Tatsu-kun."
The brown haired boy almost jumped from his seat, "Ah uhm… since we're talking about spirit and supernatural stuff." I snorted mentally at his phrasing. "I wonder if rumor about Medium is related."
"What is this rumor about medium?" I interjected, ignoring Mitsu-san's confused 'where did you hear that from?' to his son.
He crossed his arms, "I was in sixth grade last year and I overheard some juniors from fifth grade talking about bullying Towa-kun."
Towa-kun? The boy who was very attached to Dino-san? "Was he bullied because… he talks to people no one else could see or the likes?" Like Gene did?
Tatsu shook his head, "No, the medium they're talking about is not Towa-kun himself… it's his mother."
"His mother?" I echoed. "Not the boy himself?"
Mitsu-san seemed shocked, "That's strange."
I frowned at his reaction. "What do you mean, Mitsu-san?"
He rubbed the back of his head nervously, "Well… Towa-san's secretary is my wife and she often visit Towa residence. My wife, Sumi said… it seems Towa-san's wife was either not living with them or she was already gone… Sumi have never seen the woman serving tea or the likes as how a wife should. It's all Towa-san's mother and their maid…"
Tstsu crossed his arms, "Okaa-san said that? I spoke to Towa-kun before he became mute… he got nothing to talk about other than how pretty his mother was and how she wised he looks more like her. The kid is so shy and that's the only topic I got him to talk about… not that I can talk much to him since whenever I saw him I have to drive his bullies away or drag him to infirmary."
Typical situation, but how come Towa-san had a wife that had never been seen by his own secretary to the point she thought the wife didn't live in his house? 'I have heard hiding psychic child in fear of their power but a wife? Why did he marry the woman in the first place? The man obviously hates anything supernatural!'
"What else do you know about Towa-kun's mother?"
He sighed at that, "Nothing on her medium power or anything supernatural… or why I have never seen her around in the village. I just assume it's family stuff I shouldn't ask…"
"Anything would be good, even things you think not supernatural." I encouraged the boy. "Maybe how she looks?"
Tatsu-kun nodded, "She is pretty… with straight jet black like slk, said Towa-kun. She is really pale with red lips even though she didn't wear any makeup." That description almost matched Hara-san, I couldn't help but thought. "She likes to wear pretty kimono and very soft-spoken…"
'Definitely a woman like Hara-san, at least a stereotype Japanese beauty.' Gene added.
"But I think the most striking trait Towa-kun told me is…" He trailed off and cut off by sound of door opening, revealing our researcher, Yasuhara and Lin's fellon Onmyouji, Fujiwara.
He looked unhappy, "Boss… sorry for the interuption."
Tatsu-kun who had turned around to look at the newcomer pointed at Fujiwara, or to be specific his eyes. "Eyes like pair of jade… yes, Towa-kun said his mother have the same eyes like him."
That night, 8PM (3rd POV)
After a tiring day Naru decided before letting them go, it would be prudent to call a meeting to hear their oral report as a group. Unlike in their previous cases, the death toll was higher and in the open so Naru deemed it prudent for everyone to be well-informed on respective investogation.
Bou-san was the first, reading from his temperature report. "I have walked around the farm with John, and the temperature are mostly normal for this season though there are cold spots in some barn. Erm… we also check the humidity, lights and inclination…" The latter was helped by Shima to measure them. "Just in some still in progress renovation the lights and humidity are bad…"
In short, a normal haunting temperature which didn't fit the monstrosity implied by the tragedy happening in this village.
"We also hanged out around places where the victims were attacked, but again… nothing unusual. So most likely whatever kills in this place didn't stay in one place." Bou-san concluded.
Masako, their medium was next. "As per your request… I visited places where the victim was found, and indeed I found their spirit bound to their place of death. However… they were all too shaken after their brutal death to speak coherently with me." She informed them. "Their thought is filled with fear and denial of their death, these types of spirit are no good…"
AYako glanced at his partner, "There are some live trees around the shrine in this village though…" But so little, it was a remote village but for some reason the trees are mostly dead. "So I suppose I could help to give them a lift before we go."
The doll like medium added, "Yes… as for the older spirits here, the one haunting the barn and other buildings in the farm… I think long time ago the same tragedy had happened. All they could remember is that they're killed by a monster…" She covered her mouth with her kimono sleeve, "I am not sure how long ago. They all wear kimono but peasant kimono, I think they were farmers from how they dressed."
Naru frowned, "Did they tell you why they locked the doors?"
"When I asked them… they keep saying along the line 'to keep monster out' and desperate pleas."
"So they're protecting the people in the farm?"
"They think they did."
The same as in Urado's case, spirit were doing unpleasant mischief in hope to warn the living. "How about you Yasuhara-san? Fujiwara-san?"
The researcher of their team sighed, "You won't like what I found big boss…" He trailed off, "Absolutely nothing."
Bou-san sputtered, "Eeh?! What do you mean you got nothing, Shounen-team?" The two shounen raised an eyebrow at that.
Naru narrowed his eyes, this was the boy who could keep up with Madoka in last case, it must be serious if he could find nothing. "Explain."
He grinned, "As expected from you, Shibuya-san… what I mean by nothing is… both local libraries and one belonged to local elementary school have emptied all books on their legend."
Fujiwara nodded, "There are books on history and folklores but nothing on local legend… but the book is undoubtedly exist, Legend of Higan VIllage is the title."
"How did you know that book exist if you can't find it?" Ayako asked curiously.
Yasuhara fished a book, which titled the history of Higan Village. "This book…" A very thin one which was retelling history of the village. "It says this village is created by a group of samurai and their family that fled war to protect the princess… according to this, the village was born around the beginning of Tokugawa Shogunate. To be honest nothing unusual but… there's a period of time when the village suffered a sharp drop in population that believed to be a plague by the author."
"A plague?" Naru echoed.
The researcher nodded, "However the most interesting part is… the plague kills the livestocks the villagers raised before them too got sick." He pushed the open book towards Naru. "Which is again not unusual like bird flu but the author then mention about a legend from other book that said otherwise…"
"And this book is the Legend of Higan Village, you spoke of." Naru concluded. "Definitely interesting…"
Then much to Naru's puzzlement Yasuhara produced another copy of the same historical book and passed it to him, it took just a moment for him to spot what was wrong with the second copy. "As you can see Boss… someone cut the pages on plague off of other copy. We could pass it as prank if not for how neat the cut is… and if we didn't look closely we won't know there is a page missing."
Naru pulled the book so they could see the middle part, and indeed there is a bits of paper left from the missing page. If someone just wanted to play a prank they would just rip the page, not making sure no one know a page was missing with such a neat cut using cutter. "How did you find an unmolested copy?"
It was their young onmyouji who answered, "There are only two copies in local library for this book, and Yasuhara-san had trouble finding one that's not on loan because the librarian got it mixed up with other book. I was about to ask for the librarian to help us when I saw the loaned copy was returned by a middle school student."
Yasuhara pulled a library card on the back, which recorded who's borrowing the book and how long. "The kid keep this book since last summer for his summer homework." And forgot about it. "He paid quite a sum for fine… and more than happy when we offered paying it for him in exchange for lending us his library card for a while." He laughed like an old man as showing them a card that was not his like a trophy. "Only locals could take their books out, you see…"
Naru smirked, "May I assume that policy is a recent thing?"
"I believe so."
He crossed his arms, "Hm…" Most likely tomorrow interview would be a challenge. "Let's retire for tonight, morning briefing is at nine tomorrow. Don't be late." The dark haired psychic warned them.
[Day 02] Higan School Library
Higan was a small village in the first place, with total population of sixty two according to latest census. So understandably the village only had one school building, with elementary school consisting of three classes on the first floor while middle and high school sharing the second level. It was quite a surprise for Yasuhara to see a class shared by three different grades, and not all chair even filled by the kids. No class in elementary level even had more than ten children.
"My~ my~ Japan's birth rate is really steadily declining." Yasuhara couldn't help but commented as he and Hikaru passed the classroom on their way to school library. "If not for Dino-san this village is going to be another abandoned rural place in Japan."
Hikaru supposed being Yasuhara's research partner was not so bad considering he was also good in folktales and history, as it was part of his education as Onmyouji. However he'd rather not sharing sleeping quarter with this man for sure! "What a thing to comment on of all things… You'd better not say that in front of villagers, Yasuhara-san."
"I won't." He beamed, "Especially since villagers of this place feel like how teachers in my old school used to be."
The Onmyouji tensed as they entered the library. "Ryokuryo High School Case, huh…"
There was no one manning the library and considering the small population it was no wonder the school didn't hire a librarian. "Oh, you have heard of it?"
Hikaru nodded, "Yes… your school gathered media attention, if SPR didn't step in back then I think someone from my clan would have." Though the truth was, Vongola interfered first.
"Glad to know someone care." Yasuhara mused, "Anyway… you didn't wear your onmyouji costume today." For once the onmyouji was wearing white dress shirt, brown pants and tied his hair in braids.
"It's not a costume." He was ticked, "And I am a genuine onmyouji."
"Is it because dressing in traditional clothes attract attention of the villagers?"
He shook his head, "If just attracting attention I wouldn't mind… but you saw the librarian's reaction when she saw me."
Yasuhara recalled the friendly looking middle aged woman's face souring when she saw Fujiwara's attire, and the suspicious look she threw at the onmyouji from time to time. "I reckon she share the same opinion as Towa-san, the accountant of Dino-san you said outright accuse us for swindlers."
He nodded, "I don't mingle with other spiritualist outside of my clan much, and I usually work alone, so I don't really know fake spiritualist. Matsuzaki-san met a couple of them in this business though, so did Hara-san… then again to my clan exorcism is not much of a business. Considering we work for our emperor..."
Yasuhara whistled, "I see… I have been with this team just one case longer than you and back then I was their client, but I think we're together not just because we're friends but also because the spiritualist in our group believe in each other skills. When I met them for the first time I can't help but wonder if they stick with each other because of that."
"I suppose it's not unusual for even spiritualist to feel skeptical of others who works in the same field?" He asked Yasuhara.
"I think so." He agreed as he browsed rows of book in literature section. "But I think healthy amount of paranoia is just fine, I mean… who wants to openly acknowledge there are invisible dead people capable of killing you?" He wondered out loud as he pulled a book out of the shelves, "However denying what in front if your eyes is just dumb like this one ex-teacher of mine… he still deny existence of supernatural after he saw a dog demon wrecked a class right in front of him."
"I think rather than dumb that's called being delusional." As in denying reality.
"Right! And you know the funniest part, Matsuyama-sensei is the culprit!"
"I DIDN'T ASK TO GET CURSED!" Someone hollered, cutting off their conversation.
Yasuhara turned around, confused, before his lips pulled to a very devilish grin even Hikaru backed away from him in fear. "Oh my~" Was it just his imagination or Yasuhara was really growing horns and tail? "Matsuyama-sensei, long time no see." The former student council president chirped.
There he was, the former councillor of Ryokuryo, Matsuyama Hideharu stood not far before them in jersey. The man looked more tanned than the last time Yasuhara saw them and older, and his appearance was messier. "What the hell are you doing here, Yasuhara?!"
"Eeh~ you don't know? I am Researcher of SPR now and we're hired to investigate the farm and the village by Mister Dino Cavallone!"
Then it clicked to Yasuhara who had read the interview file and identify Matsuyama-sensei as family member of Matsuyama farm that had become part of Cavallone company, and also the first victim that got a goat of theirs killed by the monster. "I have no idea this is your hometown he he he… this must be a fated meeting."
Matsuyama for once was being sensible when faced by grinning Yasu-troll who in his last months in his old work place took joy in… trolling him. He ran like mad, dignity be damned.
SPR's Base (Gene's POV)
While Noll had said it would be difficult to interview native villagers if someone had done their best to sabotage us so early in investigation, it was not helping us to deal with stubbornness of denying everything happening so far could be paranormal.
"The sheep I take care off must be eaten by wolf or fox." The man by the name Mori-san denied hotly, "Not any of paranormal nonsense! Who believes in such old superstition nowadays? Only backwater folks who don't know better."
Noll sighed, "Mori-san… you're free to have your own opinion, and I am not here to convince you otherwise. Just answer my question, could you please tell me the morning you found the dead sheep?"
The man sputtered, and I was impressed Noll didn't even point out some stupid mistakes the man who claim to be logical and intelligent folks spouted. As in one, wolf is already extinct in Japan and fox was too small to hunt an adult sheep. No one mention about superstition, and yet he denied believing something already. "Well…" At last he relented and tell us how he found the carcass.
This repeated three more times, in which Noll had to tell them he was not here to corrupt them with paranormal nonsense, and they should answer his question without denying existence of supernatural in every wasted breath they inhaled.
'Good job for being patient.'
'I don't think Dino-san will appreciate me antagonizing his employees… this is the same case as Matsuyama Hideharu in Ryokuryo. This feels like dealing with a swine of pig instead of one."
I felt Noll contemplate lecturing Matsuzaki-san who slammed the door of the base open but decided against it when he saw her thunderous expression. With a face like that, it was not because of our resident Monk's teasing, whoever incite her wrath most likely deserved it and we had no intention to be collateral victim.
Hara-san hid it better but from her frown and thinned lips, obviously she was not in good mood either. "Naru, I am sorry but we're turned down by the front door of Towa-san's residence…"
"Turned down…" Matsuzaki-san growled, repeating the term as if it was a great insult. "Turned down means the owner of the house was polite about it, like 'I am sorry but the master of the house won't seeing anyone today' or something along the line! We're told 'this house is off limits for the likes of you!' by that old woman!"
I had to say that was beyond rude.
"Who is this old woman you're referring to, Matsuzaki-san?"
Hara-san was the one answering, "I think it's Towa Takaaki-san's mother, the matriarch of Towa family… ." She murmured softly. "I am no stranger to people questioning my profession but I have to say… this level of hostility is unusual."
That was true, not even Ryokuryo with Matsuyama acted as if we had done a great injustice just with gracing them with our presence. That was when Takigawa-san and John came in, not in bad moon but not in good mood either, though rather than annoyed they looked disturbed.
"I assume you've been treated with Higan village's brand of hospitality." Noll said in deadpan tone.
Takigawa-san scoffed, "Indeed… you see considering we're good with kids and all, when we saw a couple of kids playing near the clearing outside of this farm I approached them to ask some question. I even played hero with them and got my poor tummy kicked for my trouble."
John laughed softly, "Boys don't know how to hold back when playing, I also got some bruise when they got too excited."
He nodded sagely, "Then comes the angry parents grabbing their kids away from us as if we're going to kidnap their kid." He huffed, "They're the ones who leave the kids out without supervision and we got tongue-lashing for our trouble babysitting them?"
Noll scoffed, "You're not the only one… so, did you get something for your trouble at least?" My twin asked the monk and priest.
"I asked the kid if they know anything about monster in legend…" Bou-san explained, rubbing his temple with a sigh. "Only one kid answered, he said…"
"You mean the one where a demon coming to our Village, Onii-san?"
"Their parents grabbed them away from us before we could ask anything else, throwing insults and accusing us corrupting their children." Bou-san finished. "Really… what the hell is wrong with this village?"
Noll narrowed his eyes at them, "A demon hm… so there is a legend with demon."
Takigawa-san nodded sagely, "The one million question is… what's with the secrecy? If we solve this case and get whatever terrorizing this village out of their hair, it would be for their own good right? We're not converting anyone to believe in supernatural, so what's their problem with us?"
"Takigawa-san…" John chided him, "Even though they didn't treat us kindly…"
"John, since Yuasa I learned my lesson… from Mai-chan especially." He told us seriously, "In Ryokuryou too… observing human around the location is also important." The monk pointed out. "If Jou-chan is here I am sure she would zero-in to their abnormal hostility to us…"
Matsuzaki-san agreed, "Bou-san is right… it's damn suspicious the whole village act like this towards us."
John turned to Noll, "Shibuya-san, what do you think?"
"I have to agree before the supernatural phenomena… their unusual behavior is disturbing." Especially since they deliberately hindering our investigation, this was the first time we dealt with outright sabotage.
"Should we ask Dino-san for help?"
Noll shook his head, "He already knows… and he is as displeased as we are with their uncooperative attitude. But you have to understand he is also an outsiders here, an influential one but still not part of this village. Relying on Dino-san's influence would just make the villagers fight us harder…"
They winced in unison, "Right… " Takigawa-san sighed, "Come to think of it, with their attitude... Dino-san is already do a good job to get us here."
That was when Yasuhara-san of all people came in and the only one returned in a very good mood. "Hello guys, guess who I met in school library today!"
We stared at him in disbelief, and Fujiwara-san who came with him looked like he had a massive headache. "We don't feel like playing guessing game today, Yasuhara-san."
He grinned, "None other than our old sensei, Matsuyama-sensei! Higan Village is his hometown!"
Suddenly, it made so much sense… go figures that annoying sensei just had to be from this village.
I was never good at writing report, that was Noll's job to write what I saw and I was not going to take that job from him, ever. Or Lin's for that matter. So when nothing happen the next day, no one got locked in random barn, no one got killed or animal butchered outside of butcher house, and the villagers were still treat us with their very own brand of hospitality…
As in avoiding us and acted like vicious stray cats whenever they thought we were going to convert them to ghost worshipping cult. The funny thing was John, our resident priest was treated genially enough for some reason. Because if there was anyone with remote chance of converting anyone it would be our John, because… he was in Japan for missionary work.
Yasuhara-san was busy with researching history of this village, but he swore by next day he was going to hunt Matsuyama-sensei down. Never imagined even Noll felt a little sorry for him when we heard Yasuhara-san's plan and his giggling. Fujiwara-san wisely kept his distance from the glass wearing researcher of ours, which was impressive because anyone else in the team would have fled from Yasuhara-san. Maybe not John because he was too nice, but even Noll and Lin wouldn't want to deal with Yasuhara when he was like that.
Matsuzaki-san went with Hara-san to interrogate… trees, believe it or not. For once Hara-san sympathized with the miko who lost faith in humanity after what happened yesterday and resort to communicate with non-human entities. I had to say medium like us understand her sentiment perfectly. If human in this village won't talk, she'd rather speak to trees.
Noll even give her 'go ahead' with the idea.
Bou-san and John were tasked to ward the barn to give the staff a peace of mind to work without bothered by the spirits. Bou-san reported that while non-native staffs were happy with their effort -whether they believed the ward worked was still up to question- the native staffs were displeased with stupid charms on their work place. Loudly commenting we were frauds who charged for paper with scribbles and making the barn looked creepy.
Luckily John was there to stop Bou-san from killing someone, and he even kindly informed them the charms were free and they were welcome to ask for protection charm free of charge.
Our case aside, Mai didn't even call and it soured both my mood and Noll's. I even jumped in to front seat to ask Dino-san about it at night when he came to check our progress.
"The Vongola guardians would know what Mai and the others are working on I am sure." He told us, before calling one of Vongola guardians to check exactly that. "Hello, Kyouya."
Why of all guardians he calls Hibari-san?!
"Kyouya…" He said in scolding tone. "Save the death threat for later, tell me… how the annual meeting goes." He sighed, "It's my business to know about my brother and sister… and you're my student."
Hibari-san was Dino-san's what?!
"So give me some news… it's not like I ask anything confidential." He prompted his student. "Eh? Hong Kong and- Kyouya! Don't hang up on me!" He looked at his phone in annoyance. "Well, I definitely can't rely on Kyouya ever when it's about asking someone's whereabouts." Then he turned to me. "Kyouya said Mai is in Hong Kong… she is meeting with the triad."
Triad, Chinese crime syndicate…
Sometimes it was still hard to compute that Mai was really a mafia princess, no… more like the princess of crime syndicate all over the world considering Vongola's influence was worldwide.
"By the way I have been meaning to ask..." Dino-san trailed off, "Do you have multiple personality disorder or something?" He asked somewhat cheerfully, as if he was asking about the weather.
It was a bizarre question I understood the reason but normally people won't ask such thing outright, then again he was not a normal person. He was not even from a normal background, so perhaps asking whether someone had personality disorder was the same as asking whether someone had a cold in mafia world. "Uhm… we're twins sharing the same body… I am Eugene… but my Japanese name is Kazune. Kazuya is my brother you saw the whole day."
He nodded understandingly, "That's unusual."
Yet, you didn't act like it.
"By the way… do you have special cellphone Vongola members use?"
I fished my or rather Noll's cellphone, at first glance it looked like a normal smart phone but if one looked closely the material the body was made of felt different than standard phone. It was sturdier and slightly bulkier than normal phone, and I had a feeling this device could survive explosion . I was pretty sure it was heat resistant too to some extend considering it was mafia special phone.
Noll had been pretty curious for quite sometime if there was any special function this phone had but turned out it was just sturdy phone. Aside from… strange hole on the back.
"Oh… there's flame socket on it, so you're a flame user."
That made me pause, "Uhmm, is that unusual?" I echoed Noll's question, "I am under impression all mafiosi are flame user too."
Dino-san blinked owlishly, "Oh, you're really a new guy… new at learning your flame too?" I nodded, "Damn, since Mai ordered from Talbot on December I thought you have some experience already…"
"How did you know I got my ring from Mai?"
He smiled at that, "Well… the craftsmen of that ring is a pretty elusive person and I had appointment to get a new ring in the same time Mai got that special ring…" Dino-san pointed at our ring. "The design is unusual… and it didn't stand out at all."
THat was right, the ring was easily hidden to those who didn't look closely.
"In our society, a flame ring is symbol of status." He explained, "So classic and ornate design is common so everyone could see them…"
Which explained glaring design of Hayato's skull ring and Mukuro-sensei's eyeball ring. Speaking of ring… Mai didn't have ring herself, perhaps that watch had the same function?
"As for your previous question, actually majority of our society are non-flame user." Dino-san informed us, "We flame users make up around…" He trailed off, "Around 26.4 percent of population last time I checked."
Not even half? "Why?"
He laughed, his eyes softened as he explained. "Isn't that obvious? Not everyone have resolution to die for a cause or even have access to a flame ring!"
That made sense alright, "I see…" Then turned the phone around, "So what will happen if we inject flame to this hollow part?" Suddenly I was on the back seat, and I groaned at my twin, whose curiosity was apparently an intense enough emotion to provoke our switch.
Dino-san blinked owlishly, noticing the change of demeanor. "Eeh, I don't know?"
Silence… if a pin dropped now we could probably heard it.
He mentioned it and he didn't know?
"All guardians had the same phone you see… and other closest members of Vongola to Mai and Tsuna. What it was for, I have no idea."
Right,I forgot this man was not Vongola member but the Don of allied famiglia.
"By the way, if you're in the middle of training… how are you doing?" He asked.
I sighed exasperatedly, "Not very well… I can lit my ring but the flame keep flickering and unsteady." Aside from the time we saved Mai, I didn't progress as well as I hoped in practical side. Gene's flame was steadier than mine but it was so small according to Hayato, he was not going to get anything out of it.
We got the most of theory down, but it didn't help much. Hayato had warned us that Dying Will Flame was a step up from psychic power in a sense, and theory was just theory. Your mind understood the mechanic but didn't mean your body and spirit does.
The easiest example was, even a genius like me couldn't quite explain why ourbrain work differently than normal human to enable us to perform PK and ESP. That was why… 'even idiots like Ryohei could master his flame.' and he didn't even understand more than twenty percent Hayato had taught us. Then Hayato added we should be thankful it was Mukuro and him who were tasked with teaching duty.
Brilliant flame user they were, the other guardians couldn't teach Dying Will Flame in sensical way. Which was a hypocrisy in highest order in Hayato's part, because I still remember once upon a time he tried to teach Gene and I how to skate with MIT level physic. Even I know understanding the mechanic of psychic behind skating was not going to help anyone to master standing and sliding on slippery ice.
"Show me then." Dino-san instructed, cutting off my musing. "I am Kyouya's teacher, I can at least give you tips."
There was no harm so I did as he told me. "Here I go." I lit the ring, red, green and blue flame flickered to life.
He gave the flames an appraising look, eyes narrowing. "Three flames at once? You're the other twin, Kazuya… right?" I nodded. "Hm, I think you have the same problem Kyouya used to have… He has natural talent but somehow he can't get it right as quickly as he should and his flame flickering like yours even though he has massive capacity."
"Perhaps my case is slightly different, having three type of flame…"
"Hm… you're lighting up all three on purpose, by the way? It should be easier to focus on one."
"Unfortunately I can't control which ring to lit." Which was frustrating because according to Hayato focusing to my primary flame should be easier. "I have a massive capacity for life energy, perhaps that's why."
He blinked, "Oh, Tsuna have the same problem at first too I recall."
Go figures… Mai's older twin and I seemed to share a lot of problem when our power was concerned.
"Then, are you afraid?"
What? "Did you just ask if I… am afraid? Afraid of what?"
His brown eyes gazed at me sadly, and I could tell… even though he was looking at me, on his eyes the one he saw was the shadow of someone else. "Of yourself…" He answered. "Your power… that's what hindered Tsuna the most in the past."
I was afraid, he said? 'Noll?'
Then someone's voice echoed in my head, not Gene's… but gentle and grieving voice of Mai's older twin.
"If I lost control…
All I can do is hurting people and destroying everything around me…
I don't want their respect for my power, I don't want it…"
Suddenly it dawned on me that I was… I was afraid, that for the first time in my life I was facing a circumstances where I desperately needed my power, the power I was afraid of… a power I had to control by myself. Also the fact that Tsunayoshi-san unlike me who had a choice to say no to use my power, like I told Kasai Chiaki back in Yuasa… he never had that choice.
"Someone have to do it…"
Mai said that before, that line refer not only to her brother but also herself. Even at great cost, they had to do it as scions of their family.
"Or it could be the same problem Kyouya had…" Dino-san's musing interupted my thought. "He is not life-force tank like Tsunayoshi, but he is still the strongest guardians of Vongola."
News for me, though to be fair I never asked Mai and had no interest of power rank in Vongola. 'He has the attitude of an apex predator I have to say…' Gene mused, 'It makes sense though… he is the ldest, and while Mukuro-sensei is strongest traditionally illusionist aren't front-line fighter from what I learned so far.'
"So how did he overcome it?" I asked.
He looked sheepish, "Mai would be mad if I teach you this… she was pretty upset with how I presented this solution to Kyouya." Dino-san crossed his arms, sighing sadly. "Though to be fair it does seems like I taught Kyouya the wrong way."
Mai was upset?
"Because I told Kyouya… the best way to ignite his flame properly is to get pissed off."
"Because after teaching Kyouya for a while I come to a conclusion getting irritated and resolute is the same to that aloof pupil of mine." Dino-san explained with a chuckle. "Mai said I am pouring oil to flame, as if they needed Kyouya to be more temperamental than he already is…"
'I have to say Mai is right… from little I saw him, Hibari-san is pretty moody and temperamental.'
Not really, if he channeled that temperament to something advantageous.
'Destructive you mean?'
"So it's just a matter of perspective." Dino-san concluded. "What your resolution is… some can get away with desire igniting flame as the fuel, but you see… flame is an emotion based power. So the more emotion you pour to that resolution he bet-" He stopped on his track, "Uhm, Kazuya?! What's with horrified face?"
For some reason we switched again and I was on the back seat, 'Gene?'
"No wonder Noll have harder time than I do…" He moaned. 'While you're no robot… you're not the most emotional person, and you like thinking you're above feeling, don't you."
Dino-san stared at Gene or rather us in disbelief, "Erm… I think you have a lot of work ahead of you, man… That's quite a handicap if you're unused to feeling strong emotion."
Of all things that could stop me from learning Dying WIll Flame…
Few Hours later…
What didn't Hayato notice this?
'Because he is a scientist like you? Do you think, it even cross Hayato's mind that you didn't get this right because you didn't put enough feeling in it?! That Gokudera Hayato? He would think you get an equation wrong somewhere in his flame formula…'
Well, I couldn't imagine Hayato of all people telling me I got something wrong because I didn't put enough feeling. He liked to put an aloof mask but unlike me, he was actually as emotional as Gene with explosive temper in addition. Which mean, he was not short in emotional department unlike me.
Then again with Hayato as a teacher, it was not much a stretch while he got the part 'resolution' and 'will' right, he failed to mention emotion in equation. Which made sense considering my PK ran wild if I get emotional, Flame of Dying Will required the same strong emotion. I was used to be in control of my emotion, keeping my power in check.
And DIno-san tell me I have to let go of that control?
'To be fair… it makes sense that the few first times activating flame need strong emotion before you get used to it. Kinda like how ketchup bottle need a good shake after opened first?'
I can't lose my control. Unless you think it was a good idea, poltergeisting I mean.
'No, it's not… but I think we all know how we get it right the first time right?'
'Love is a wonderful thing.'
We're not talking about it, not in the middle of a case. I don't want to get distracted.
'Mai is a wonderful distraction, isn't she?'
Shut up Gene!
Someone cleared his throat and as I cracked one eye open I found Lin looking up from his laptop, Shima and Tojo blending in the background and pretend they didn't see or hear anything. Which reminded me again that I might be Lin's boss but he was my subordinate like Tojo and Shima were, which was why he couldn't turn a blind eye on anything I did the way the two did.
"Is something bothering you?"
I sighed, knowing I couldn't get away with 'no answer' because obviously Lin thought it was something my parents -his real superiors' would worry about. "My training is not progressing at the rate I could feel satisfied with."
He frowned, "I'd think this power is not something you should rush to learn… you still have plenty of time."
Sound of footsteps from outside alerted us of our co-workers' return, it was a good thing they had no skill in stealth so I could always sensed their coming. Judging from the noise, it was Matsuzaki-san and Hara-san. The sound of high heels and geta were distinctive.
"We're back…" Matsuzaki-san announced, followed by Hara-san. Not far behind them was Yasuhara-san and Fujiwara. Soon, Bou-san and John returned, and our team was complete to report their findings.
Ayakolooked grim, it seemed she found something but if she didn't feel smug about it meant whatever it was definitely not a good news. "What is it Matsuzaki-san? DId you find something from Kodama?" Kodama, the nature spirits inhabiting trees in Shinto religion. Though in the miko's belief they were more like minor gods than spirits.
"Well, the good news they did tell me something… but the bad news…" She trailed off somberly. "The tree spirits knows what's happening in this village, not the detail perhaps because nature spirits like them usually are detached from mortal affairs… they said…" The miko crossed her arms, "The villagers has been disrespectful and ungrateful, and so they deserve the punishment…"
Naru narrowed my eyes at that, "Did you ask them to elaborate what the villagers had done to deserve this punishment?"
"I tried." She sighed exasperatedly, "But the spirits are unwilling to help this village, it seems in recent years they had cut down a number of old and living trees."
Which earned them disfavor from the spirits. "Are the tree spirits the culprit?" Bou-san asked. "Nature spirits aren't exactly forgiving lot."
Ayako frowned at him, "I know how kodama curse human, and no… what happens in this village is not because of their curse."
Which made sense, tree spirits won't eat human like a beast. "What do you think these villagers had done?" Bou-san wondered out loud.
She shrugged, "Saa… considering their attitude to us I bet something akin to defiling a temple I'd say." The miko tapped her chin, "The nature spirits around here more or less content to just watch the villagers to get their just desert."
"Nature spirits could get quite vindictive." Fujiwara added with a sigh. "The misfortunes in this village pleases them to a degree, I'd say."
Masako frowned at him, "Must the whole villages suffer for mistakes of small number of people? Especially the boy who had been murdered brutally?"
Ayako and Hikaru exchanged glance, obviously the medium while used to deal with human spirit was amateur when nature spirits were concerned. In the other hand miko and onmyouji worked closely with them. "Nature spirits tend to think faults of small group of humans have to be shouldered by one community…" Ayako explained, "That's why it's not rare in folklore if one villagers angered a God or nature spirits, the whole village suffered the brunt…"
"I believe there's one tale in which a group of children disrespect a jizo because they didn't know better and the whole village are punished because they didn't teach their children respect…" Hikaru finished, "Human morality doesn't apply to them." Or anything remotely human.
Masako looked somber at that. "Still… it's not right." Then she realized something. "Do you think they'd refuse to help purifying the lost spirits?"
Ayako couldn't help but smile at that, the medium cared very much for the dead. "Well...I will try my best, I would like to think they're more lenient to the dead…"
Naru cleared his throat, "Matsuzaki-san, anything else?"
"Well…if possible I'd recommend the villager to not venture too deep to the forest." She informed the dark haired psychic. "While they're content to let the curse run its course, I don't think the villagers won't meet any misfortune in the woods."
Bou-san snorted, "Dino-bou would listen, but the villagers? As if…"
Yasuhara agreed, "They seems to be under impression listening and believing supernatural would lower their inteligence…." He paused, "Or standing." He shrugged. "Very Matsuyama-sensei's kind of mindset really…"
"It's his hometown."
Hikaru was very confused, "What makes this person so special?" He asked, "I can't help but think Yasuhara-san thinks our current situation is an amusing irony."
Yasuhara smirked, "Why… of course it is! After all he has been on receiving end of a nasty curse last year, we saved him and not a few months later, retiring and hoping for a fresh start in his hometown, karma returns for payback!" He snickered, "Not only that… he works as councillor in school again, but because there's so few children here he also works under Dino-san as caretaker! He is taking care of pigs now!"
Indeed to SPR team, Matsuyama's presence in this village was proof karma was a bitch.
"Yasuhara-san, rather than concerning yourself with that pig I'd say it's more productive to report us about your finding." Naru pointed out.
He beamed, "Of course big boss! So! We tried to gather some information from villagers… but since Fujiwara-san even in casual clothes looks like a spiritualist." WIth long hair and mystic air around him. "Regretfully he has to stay out of sight so I can finish my question before the villagers run away."
Hikaru sighed, "It's ridiculous… they seems to think I have some sort of disease or something."
Yasuhara threw his partner a sympathetic look, "Anyway,... I found out that there's a legend told from mouth to mouth in this village, but no one is willing to tell us about the story..." Yasuhara reported with grim expression. "And also… this legend have something to do with Towa-san's son and wife."
Naru frowned at that, "But not with the man himself?"
"No, but as this village hate spiritualist and psychics… they didn't view him in a good light for marrying a medium." Yasuhara explained, "I found where he used to work before, he is not well liked."
"He has an attitude." Bou-san pointed out. "Of course he is not liked."
"Actually…" Yasuhara trailed off, "From what I found it's nothing to do with his personality, but because the legend make the villagers views anyone associated with Kyou-kun's mother in negative light?"
"What legend make it right for them to scorn an innocent child?" Ayako growled, "Or hate us who tried to help them?"
"Maa... it's just what you'd expect from Matsuyama-sensei's hometown..." Yasuhara grinned towards his former mentor who walked pass the window of building they used as their base, wearing overall and covered in... mud and perhaps animal waste too. Yasuhara opened the window and shouted, "You looks so good in that, Sensei! Kyaaa~"
Matsuyama blushed, whether in fury or embarassement was still up to question. He wisely fled the devil he thought was a role model student of his old working place, "Daaaamn youuuuu!"
"Aww! Sensei, don't be so shy!"
Bou-san and Ayako exchanged looks, "Well, at least someone is enjoying his stay in this forsaken village."
Naru eyed the direction Matsuyama disappeared to thoughtfully, and picked up his phone and dialed. "Dino-san… I'd like you to bring one of your employees for an interview."
Yasuhara's gleeful look when Naru made that call made SPR team minus Naru and Lin to back away slowly from him.
Half an hour later, Dino showed up with a very depressed Matsuyama in tow. The former teacher of Ryokuryou looked like he was going to his execution. Bou-san thought it was a delicious irony the teacher who wanted to stay behind to oversee interview now looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. Dino was plain confused with the situation, and left SPR to have Matsuyama on their mercy.
"So Matsuyama-sensei, I'd like to ask a few question."
"I thought you value privacy of your clients?" Matsuyama choked out. "Can you ask me without… that in the same room."
What he meant by that of course was Yasuhara.
Yasuhara faked a wounded look, "But sensei! I am a researcher of SPR, of course I can be here! I have plenty of respect for your privacy!" Then he added, "Beside, we're not asking a private question!"
"But I have never seen anything here! I don't get locked in the barn or hearing anything weird!" He almost squeaked, "Why did you ask me?! Ask someone else!"
Naru let Yasuhara to have his show, because even though Matsuyama was obviously mellowing out, he was still a pig. Matsuyama didn't even realize why they even got through trouble to get him here.
Their resident researcher's smile was wide and innocent, of course no one was fooled. "Why? Of course it's because you're the only one in this village who owe a life debt to us!"
Matsuyama froze, "But… that's your job! The school pays-"
"Hm? Actually Matsuyama-sensei… breaking the curse is not SPR's job, we're paranormal investigation team… researchers." He explained in lecturing tone, "Cleaning up the paranormal mess like curse breaking and exorcism is a 'thank you' from us. It's like how scientist is paid to investigate a disease and found everything about it, but doesn't mean he has to figure out the cure…"
Matsuyama gaped at him.
"And so, you owe SPR… your life." He shook his head frantically at that. "Or we can just tell Cavallone-san, what a wonderful teacher you were…"
The teacher swallowed heavily, the last was a blackmail! "What do you want from me?!"
"Relax…" Instead of relaxing, Matsuyama tensed up. "We just want you to answer a question no one else in this village willing to answer." He frowned at that, "Tell us about the legend of Higan Village?"
Obviously that was not what Matsuyama expected they want from him, going as far as blackmailing him. "You want to know about that old legend? That's it?"
Naru didn't fail to note that unlike other villagers Matsuyama didn't seem to think the legend was a big deal to share with the outsiders. "Then if you'd like to do us the favor, sensei…"
Matsuyama didn't understand why they wanted the old legend but it couldn't hurt to get them off of his back, right? "This is the tale that has been passed down in this village, a demon that came to Higan village as calamity…"
Mai was tired, it was a good thing she could go back to Japan soon. She was going to chew Dino-niisan out for taking Naru and SPR team to a dangerous case when she was absent! They still didn't master their flame yet, last time she hard from Hayato. She'd rather not get them in a tempting situation to use power they couldn't control yet.
When Hayato and Mukuro were busy to boot and let the twins out of supervision.
"Rough day, Hime?" Lancia asked her from his driver seat as Mai hopped into the backseat of the car.
Mai cracked one eye open, before closing them both. "Always a rough one… considering allied famiglia that prefer me to meet them over my brother is the likes of Giegue family…" In short, family who respected power of fear so while they defer to both twins, they liked Mai who played the cunning sister of Neo Vongola Primo more.
Lancia smiled at her, starting the engine. "Well Hime, you can take a nap before the next-"
Someone knocked the window, and Mai's eyes snapped open in shock because she didn't even notice the intruder. The said intruder even had the gall to open door and claimed the seat on the other end.
Mai knew the intruder was not here for her life, but given the choice she would rather assassin visiting than this…
"Hello, long time no see half of Vongola twin skies…" The man greeted her. "Since that fated day…"
Her eyes narrowed, murderous amber met amused onyx orbs. As if he was unconcerned by clear desire to kill the sky wished to unleash upon him, then again an immortal wouldn't fear threat to his life. Mai knew this, after all this man… no this monster…
"What do you want… Checker Face?"
He was the god and demon of mafia world…
Mai is barely in action in this chapter ha ha ha... I think lately Naru and Gene more of a main chara than she is. By the way the meeting on zeppelin serves no purpose other than Byakuran like high place, and I though it's cool LOL