-persona 4: the unseen truth-

"Three Things Cannot Be Long Hidden: The Sun, The Moon, And The Truth" -Buddha

Episode 0: Falsehood made from Truth

The fog was an endless domain, one that humans cherished with every fiber of their being.

Ever since the beginning, humans have preferred their own illusions rather than facing the truth of a cruel reality.

That was, in a manner of speaking, the truth of humanity. They would rather turn their eyes away and delude themselves, believing only in what they saw, heard, and believed. It was in their nature to lie to themselves... in all manner of things.

It was because of such deceptions that she had been separated into two beings: one without memories, and the other, so cold and malevolent. They were once a singular entity, a god that guarded these lands and to answer the wishes to the people. However, their form was forever constricted to the Shinto's world of chains and death, unable to find a way to leave it. However, as time passed, she did not need to leave it, only stay there to observe the world's motions. Within time, her constraints would slowly erode, and fall to a mere echoing clatter.

However, because of people's corrupted desires, the entity that remained in Yomotsu-Hirasaka had become splintered.

And that entity was Izanami.

The Shinto Deity, the Goddess that died giving birth to Hi-No Kagutsuchi, the Goddess who was left behind by her lover Izanagi, had remained in this Underworld for countless centuries.

Since having split away from the self that had all but abandoned it's memories, and having been made into a suitable pawn, she had come to believe that the truth was worthless, that all humans needed to do was embrace the falsehoods and accept their innermost desires, and the lies that came with it. Yes, even now, she believed in this ideal.

Who was she to deny the desires of humanity? She had been bombarded with them constantly through the passages of time. She would be granting them their salvation. To live their lives in blissful ignorance, to wander the hallowed forest forever.

That was, after all, their wish?

And yet... what was this feeling of apprehension she felt?

In all these years of believing in herself to be correct...now she feels hesitance? What was happening to her? Surely she should be following through with no reluctance. So why?

No... it wasn't that she felt hesitance about granting their wish... this apprehension stemmed from something else. She felt it's presence here, lingering in the fog of deceit, squirming and writhing as if it were a newborn babe. Even from here, in Yomotsu Hirasaka, she could feel it... the putrid, wretched darkness oozing form it's form.

"...who dares enter this place?" Izanami had all but demanded, her red eyes narrowing at the blanket of fog that enshrined this place. When she received no response, she scowled. "You dare trespass into my domain?"

At first, it was a mere tense silence... but like glass, it was shattered by the sound of clapping. Slowly, a form began to take shape within the fog, the writhing blackness solidifying into a solid shape.

The Goddess immediately recognized this form. Despite seeing it only once...she never forgot something so...Vile...

It was a being colored a metallic black. It held no face, it's limbs were lanky tendrils with razor-sharp tips at the end. From its back sprouted grand demonic wings. Atop its featureless head was a golden Crown.

"...who are you?" Izanami had all but demanded of the being, her power flowing outward as a display of strength. From behind, a spectral image, a manifestation of her powers as a goddess, emerged as hundreds of pairs of skeletal arms. "And why have you dared to cross my threshold?"

The being, if it possessed a face, would have surely grinned. "Hahahahahahahaha..." the creature laughed, a multitude of voices speaking together as a singular entity. "How amusing... I must admit, you're an interesting existence, Izanami-no-Mikoto... Or rather, Izanami-no-Okami."

Her scowl deepened, her contempt for this creature growing by the second. "Answer me, wretched abomination!"

"I hold no name... for I am nothing." the creature responded as it's form changed, a black mass twisting and churning until it took on a new form. This appeared to resemble some girl, bearing chin-length black hair and dark eyes. Izanami's eyes narrowed, recognizing the form as her other self, the self that had lost it's memories, and therefore, it's existence as the Shinto Deity as well. "But... the humans refer to me as Nylarathotep. Their Faceless God... The Crawling Chaos."

The form the creature currently held had a warped grin on her face.

Izanami retained a neutral expression, but inwardly flinched by the amount of malice the being was emitting. It was...revolting...

"...You have yet to answer my question." The Goddess glared. "Why have you come to my domain?!"

"I have merely come to see the one who has apparently set forth a series of trials for Philemon's latest champion..." the being said as it's form shifted again. This time, it took on the guise of a man with long black hair tied back into a ponytail, dressed in a fine suit with a mask hiding the right half of his face, while the left side, which hid his eye, formed into a butterfly wing. "And I must say... I am most disappointed in you, goddess."

A snarl broke out across her face, anger filling her inexplicably so. "What did you say, you filthy maggot?!"

"You claim to grant humanity's truest desires... yet you have fallen to your own illusions."

"...!" The Goddess's eyes widened from the sudden remark. She...fell to her own illusions...? Preposterous! As if such a thing were possible!

"But it is the truth..." The Vile Being smirked, as if reading her mind. "You claim that eternal delusion and ignorance is what Humanity desires...but that is only your interpretation of it all."

"H-how dare you?!"

"But... it is the truth."

Suddenly, Nylarathotep's form shifted again. This time, the choice in form was a young man in his teens, wearing what appeared to be some type of school uniform. The jacket was open to reveal a white buttoned shirt with a pair of slacks. The school emblem resembled a single "Y" within three tight circles, located just below the collar of the blazer. The face was young and handsome, a taunting grin plastered across their face, bearing gray hair and silver eyes.

Izanami's eyes widened, and her body shook with unbridled rage.

"Y-you dare..." she breathed. "Y-you dare... to take on that form in my presence?!"

"Oh come now, Izanami..." Unlike before, Nylarthotep's voice changed in accordance to this new body. It was all eerily similar to the one person of the Goddess's past. "...Is that any way to refer to your beloved?"

"Silence!" She barked angrily, her power flaring about her.

The power solidified and became hundreds of skeletal arms that emerged from behind her, aiming to reduce this vile being to mere paste. The Crawling Chaos merely gave a sickening grin as black tendrils formed from various parts of it's body, lunging out to interpect them all. Black spears clashed against rotting red hands, halting their advances in mid-air.

"You dare to that form in my presence?!" Izanami howled with absolute fury. "Remove yourself from this place, at once!"

"And I will..." the being chuckled in amusement as it casually strode passed the hands, it's tendrils still keeping the arms in place. "...once I make you understand something. What you claim to do, granting humans the bliss they wish for... it's an illusion. A mere fantasy that you have pulled over yourself. What you believe to be a 'truth' is no more than a shoddy falsehood, the lowliest of all lies."

Anger continued to boil in her breast, her want to wipe this damned thing's smirk off it's face growing with each passing second.

"Do you know what humans truly wish for, goddess?" Nylarathotep asked, still wearing the young man's face, and still wearing that annoyingly arrogant smirk. "...it's death."

"Death?!" The Goddess questioned in surprise.

"Yes...Death..." The deity's grin turned sinister. "They all seek the ultimate end of their journeys. From birth, mankind takes part in the journey of life. However, what they desire most is the final destination of where that oath will take them. In other words...their own demise..."

"Humans do not wish to fall into the sublime lie, Izanami-no-Okami..." Nylarathotep spread his arms out, an expression of demented glee plastered over the young man's face. "They wish to meet their ultimate end!"

"Nonsense!" The Goddess shook her head in denial. However, it was more so in refusing to look at the Crawling Chaos's face. That face brought forth too many memories.

"...Still denying it I see..." Nylarthotep frowned in disappointment.

Finally, it's form twisted again... this time into her own form: pale skin, long gray hair, and ruby red eyes. "If you fail to understand the truth of the human heart's innermost darkness..." the Vile being said in her own voice. Warning bells began to ring inside her head as the being developed a cold, dark grin. "...then perhaps you should be removed from the equation, in order to fully understand what it is humans truly desire."

Suddenly, the vile presence that wreaked off it's very being had become so cold and malevolent, it nearly sent her dizzy. 'What...' she gasped, finding it hard to breath. 'What... is this...?!'

She felt...numb...as if a hand of darkness had her in its clutches, slowly tightening its grip around her. Not only that but she felt her own self becoming...weaker...As if her powers was being drained. Her eyelids were slowly growing heavier.

"W-what... are you...?!"

"You need to understand, Izanami-no-Okami..." Nylarathotep said as it reverted back to it's original form, an obscure beast bearing it's demented crown. "That even a lie shall not last forever..."

"N-no... NO!"

She resisted the vile feeling that overcame her. She poured her power, but in contrast to the times she allowed it to appear, it was far weaker than before. It manifested as a multitude of arms, though lacking in number. They lashed out, aiming to skewer the being. Nylarathotop didn't look even phased as it flapped it's wings, taking to the sky. The hands followed after it, piercing through the fog.

However, she was unable to detect her target through the fog. Her vision was slowly growing hazy. She felt her strength continue to dwindle.

The vile being easily evaded each hand, though even after it missed it's target, the limbs continued to chase after it. It still continued to dodge, barrel-rolling around them like a master flier before diving upward. The limbs joined together as an upward stream, aiming to grab it and pull it down the very depths of Yomi...

"...how foolish of you, goddess."

Then, Izanami felt something splash through her chest.

The Goddess looked downward and gasped.

Sticking out of her chest...were her own skeletal hands.

She had gotten herself with her own attack...


"As I told you before..." Nylarathotep's voiced echoed in it's twisted warped tone huskily, as if behind her. "...you yourself a trapped in a lie."

Izanami tried to resist, but the overwhelming darkness had become so intense that she could no longer fight back. Her own strength was being taken from her. But... how? How could this be? She was the goddess of Yomi, that which controlled the dead souls of the lost... so how could this have happened? Why was she being stripped of what made her that which would grant humans their desires?!

How could this be happening?!

"To believe that you grant humans wishes, you must try to understand the ficklness in their hearts." the vile being scolded her, clucking it's tongue. "I should know this, after all... I am all that makes up humanity's darkest emotions. Their hatred, their greed, their envy, their jealousy, their lust, their grievances, their sadness, their rage, their overwhelming despair." The being now stood before her, once again clad in the form of the young man from before. "I am humanity's innermost desires. In other words... I am their wanting desires for death."

Izanami could barely stay conscious now. Slowly, her eyes began to close. She could see the gray eyes turn sickenly yellow, and a cruel smirk plastered all across the vile being's face.

"Do not fret, however... I will make excellent use of what you once possessed. After all, I must uphold my end of the bargain. Humanity must still be tested."

A dark laugh bellowed in her ears, ringing as she begun to succumb to the darkness.

However, before her consciousness faded completely...only one word appeared in her mind and slipped past her lips.


Finally, she succumbed to unconsciousness. The moment her eyes flown closed, and fell back, vanishing into the fog. Nylarathotep chuckled as he held up his hand, cradling an orb in it's grasp. It was barely the size of a softball, twisting and churning like a cloud of dak energy.

"Well then..."

Sho Minazuki was bored. No scratch that, he was DYING from boredom.

He had been in a coma for nearly six years and woke up in a hospital.

The only problem being...There was absolutely NOTHING to do in this hospital!

The whole damned place was boring. The people were boring, the other patients were boring, gah! It was just so frustrating!

"There's hardly anything to do here in this freakin' place!" he complained as he threw on his shirt. "How the hell did I even end up here?"

'...do I need to seriously answer that, Sho?' a voice within his mind asked, almost deadpanned. 'A hospital is a place for healing, and you've been out for six years. The fact that your even up and walking right now is astounding.'

"What?" the red-haired boy growled. "You gonna nag on me too, Minazuki?!"

'If I was nagging, I would be doing it already. Besides, that's these people's jobs to nag on you. Mine is keeping you alive. Also, what makes you think it's a good idea to be leaving?' the voice, now named Minazuki, asked curiously. Sho was out of his bed, dressed in a dark green shirt and slacks with a yellow armband. His fleece jacket was wrapped around his waist. 'You still need a month's worth of rest.'

"If I stay here any longer, they'll NURSE me to death!" he cackled at his own little joke. "Besides, this place is sooooo boooring! This place has got to have something that's more exciting, right?!"

Minazuki sighed. 'Aren't you a handful?'

"I'm just fricking tired of this place! Every day I just lie down in bed, eat mediocre food, doing occasional health tests, physical therapy, and nothing more! I wanna head out and see the world!"

'Well, can't argue with that,' the voice conceded to the point. 'Just try not to pick a fight with anyone, alright? Last thing you need is trouble.'

"Yeah, yeah, whatever..." Sho waved him off before he slung his dufflebag over his shoulder. "Alright, let's see what this place is like."

It was small.

That was Sho's first impression of Inaba as he walked around the place in it's entirety. The Shopping District was a single strip of street with few shops, mainly a metal works smithshop, a small nick-knack store, and a variety of others. There was the Samegawa River, which was actually a pretty cool view. It wasn't far off, maybe a few minutes away, and it was nice and quiet when he wanted to get away from all this crap. There was also this large shopping supermarket, Junes he thinks it was called, but he really didn't care much for that.

Oh, and there was some place called Yasogami High, whatever the hell that was.

"Holy shit, this place is a dump." Sho remarked crudely as he sat atop a building, legs hanging over the edge. "Seriously, there's barely anyone here!"

'Well, given that this town is in the middle of the country side, that much is to be expected.' Minazuki elaborated. He agreed with his host's sentiment. There was barely anyone in the streets. Some of the shops appeared to have closed down. All in all...it was just too quiet.

"Well, least we found someplace to stay." the teen commented. "Still... what's with the shit-ton of cash?"

After Sho woke up in the hospital, he learned that he had a massive amount of money stored in a bank account under his name. When he asked how he managed to obtain that much wealth, all they told him was that a man named Shuji Ikutsuki had left him a substantial amount of financial aid after dropping him off at the hospital so long ago.

Shuji Ikutsuki... that name left behind a bitter taste of memories.

His mind drifted back to when he was a child...to when he was a test subject to the Kirijo group.

His face curled into a disgruntled snarl, fists clenching upon recalling them. The scar on his face began to irritate him as he remembered those times in that lab, beating the shit out of those kids under Ikutsuki's orders.


He recalled it all. The 'treatments', the experiments, being forced to fight others, sometimes killing them, in order to grant data...all for what?

The ability to use a Persona?!

'Sho... calm down.'

The teen held clenched teeth, his body trembling. "...Sorry, just... Son of a bitch, what the hell?! The bastard uses me, then tosses me away, and then all of a sudden, he pays for everything?! How the hell does that work?!"

'I can't really say for certain, other than that he must have some sort of agenda in mind...' Minazuki thought, mostly to himself. 'Especially since he enrolled in this Yasogami High.'

"Yeah... Wait, what?!"

'Oh? You didn't read that part? You're written as a first year in a few documents.'

"THAT'S BULLSHIT!" Sho shouted. "No way! Nu-uh! Not happening!"

'I'm sorry, but it is the truth. You must accept it.'

"LIKE HELL I WILL!" Sho snarled angrily. "There is no way in Hell that I'm going to school in this backwater town!"

'Sho, this could be your chance to actually earn a decent education,' Minazuki tried to argue with him. 'In my opinion, this is something that man actually did right for once.'

"No way! Not happening!"

His other self sighed in frustration. 'I see...then I guess I'll just have to convince you to go.'

"Wait, Minazuki...the hell do you think your-?!" Sho was cut off as his eyes changed. Rather than displaying brash behavior and arrogance, they became more calm and calculated.

"There, much better." the red-haired teen said. His voice tone had changed, gone from violent and rash to a calm and cool tone. He groaned a bit as he stretched his arms. "Damn... how in the world can you move around this much? I knew it was a bad idea to let you leave the hospital so early."

'Minazuki, you bastard!' Sho's voice cried out in humiliation. 'Switch me this instant dammit!'

"Hm, how about... no?"


"This is for your own good Sho." Minazuki stated coolly. "You are getting a good education, whether you like it or not."

'Y-you bastard!'

"Call me one all you want. Doesn't change anything, and I am not giving you back control until you agree... as well as commit."

'W-why you little...' Sho growled. 'You can be a real asshole when you want to be!'

Minazuki gave him a smirk. "So says the one who acts like a child most of the time."

'Shut up! I'm not a child! I'm gonna be 17 for crying out loud!'

"And yet you still have the mentality of a 10 year old..."

'Aw, stuff it!'

Minazuki gave an amused grin as he hopped off the building, and slid his hands into his pockets. "To be rather frank with you, Sho, I'm actually interested to see what they teach here." he admitted. "Considering I've only been around for six years myself."

'Huh?' Sho frowned before he remembered that Minazuki had been with him ever since that experiment regarding that damned feather. 'Oh, yeah... I almost forgot... Hey, wait! That means your younger than me!'

"And apparently more mature."


In response, Minazuki gave a hearty laugh.

He...he was glad that both of them had woken up. Now, they were able to experience things they were unable to before.

'Hrgh... alright, fine!' Sho conceded. 'Let's just go already! But... if this place is going to be as boring as I think it is, I'm outta here!'

"Now now, Sho. Have patience... Huh?"

Suddenly, Minazuki's senses flared, eyes widening in surprise as he looked around. 'Minazuki?' Sho questioned. 'Oi, oi! Minazuki! What's wrong?!'

"I'm...not sure. But I'm feeling a disturbing presence nearby..."

'A presence?' Sho questioned. "Who's?"

"I... I don't know, but... it's certainly not human."

'Huh? What do you mean? Is it a Shadow?'

"No. Nothing like that. It just feels...different..."

'How so?'

"I... am unsure. However, something about this... it's unnatural." his eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Where is it...?"

Minazuki scanned the area around him, hoping to distinguish the source. His gaze was soon locked to the spot near the train station.

"...what the hell?"

'I-is that... a naked chick?!'

Sure enough, both personalities gawked at what they saw. It was a young woman, presumable around their age, with short, wavy, silver hair. Her skin was very light and flawless, almost like porcelain.

The most disturbing part, however... was that she was naked.

Fortunately there was no one else in the vicinity. But the girl was genuinely as naked as the day she was born. She was also unconscious.

"Wh...why the hell is she just lying there?!"

'W-Why are you asking ME?!' Sho asked. If he was actually in control, his face would have been as red as his hair.

Minazuki shook his head as he undid his jacket around his waist, and draped it over. "W-well, we can't exactly leave her here..." he said, a heavy blush on his face. Gently, he snaked his hands around her, and pulled her up.

'Hold up, we're seriously taking her with us?!'

"Relax, Sho... It's not what you think."

'Then what are you planning? Are you seriously going to take that girl in?!'

"There is no other option. If she is left alone, who knows what will happen to her. I can't just abandon her."

'But what if she...?'

"If she does..." For a moment, Minazuki's eyes flashed a dangerous, dark crimson. "I will kill her. Any threats to your safety must be removed, after all."

'...Alright. I have no qualms then...let's just get out of here...'

"Indeed. I'd rather not get labeled as a rapist, or anything of the like." Minazuki said dryly as he made his way back to Sho's apartment, carrying the unconscious girl.

It was that dream again... the same one he's been having for the last few weeks.

It always starts out like this. He's sitting alone on a beach of some sort, watching as the waves flow back and forth at his feet. The sky is tinted black, and stags poke out of the ground, towering all over the place like some sort of demented collected of spires. The moon was also twisted, mangled and curled, left hanging in the blackened sky.

His attire was also different, the same no matter how many times this dream occurred. Always in that loose shirt and the black pants, yet left without any shoes.

He didn't know why this dream kept happening. He viewed it to be rather strange. For the past few weeks, nothing ever happened in this scenario. He would wander the still setting, trying to find anything that would explain what all of this was.

It wasn't that he had problems with these dreams. No, not at all. He simply sat there, knees curled up to his chest as he watched the waves. He found it to be quite soothing.

He found that speaking with her was also soothing.

Yes. Her.

During these dreams, a young woman would often speak with him. He didn't know who she was, and he could barely make out her features, but her voice was so melodious and smooth that he couldn't help but be captivated by it.

1Sometimes, he would feel so drowsy, and his eyes grew heavy. Whenever that happened, he would always feel slouched and began to fall, only to be caught in her embrace. Her arms gently slid around him, one curled over his chest, fingers intertwining around his own digits, while the other gently framed his face. Her breath was hot, tickling his face while her strands of hair, a darker color than his own scalp, fell upon his face.

He tried to get a good look at her face, but most of it was shadowed by her hair. The only thing he could make would was the serene smile she had. He saw her lips move, but he could hear no sound.

"Who... are you..." he tried to say, but his voice failed him. He could barely say anything. When the dreams first began to happen, he tried to talk with her, but every time, his voice had ceased. Now, he simply enjoyed this feeling of being so close to her.

The woman simply smiled as she held him closer, savoring his warmth. He did the same. He didn't know why but...he just wanted to be with her. Holding each other in their arms.

Sadly, like all dreams, everything to had reach an end as he closed his eyes, unable to keep them open any longer. He had succumbed to the darkness.

When he awoke, he found himself staring up at the old, familiar ceiling. He sighed tiredly as he cradled his face in his hand before it touched his forehead. "That dream again..." Yu Narukami wondered aloud. "I wonder... who are you?"

Yosuke Hanamura hadn't really liked Inaba at first when he arrived here a year ago, if he was being honest. It also didn't help matters that almost everyone didn't like him simply because his dad was the CEO of the Inaba Branch of the Junes Supermarket.

Ever since Junes appeared in this town, the shopping center had been gradually losing business. Stores have been closing down, and even more are on the verge of going out of business. Everyone there could only blame the Super Store for their downfall. ANd to an extent, they all looked at Yosuke in contempt as well, just for being part of the business.

All in all, he was having a difficult time.

Of course, he tried his best to ignore it. He simply continued on with what he did, attending schools and not even bothering to pay attention to the people who glared at him, simply because their business were failing. At the very least, he had two people who didn't seem to hate or curse him, and were actually very good friends.

Although, his mother said he had a strange collection of friends, and for good reason. One was the heiress of a local inn, probably the only thing that was keeping this place actually running, and the other was, to put it bluntly, a kung-fu obsessed meat freak.

It was the truth. She would always rant about how Meat was the best food or how much she loved kung fu. It wasn't that he hated her talking about it, it just got somewhat tedious after a while.

Still though...he was grateful to have friends at least. It made his stay in this town more tolerable.

And of course, things were actually looking up. Recently, his dad has asked him to coach some of the new part-time workers. They were from Inaba, like anybody could guess, though they were simply working here trying to earn some ends meat, and find a way to support their family. The pay wasn't bad at all, especially since it was a daily wage.

One of the part-timers was a girl named Saki Konishi. She was his senior. Okay, well, technically, she was his junior, but when school would begin next month, she would be his senior, and he a junior. They didn't really talk to each other at first, simply making idle conversations that lasted for maybe a few seconds before things became quiet. Over time, though, he started to get her to open up.

He found her company to be...enjoyable. He found another reason to enjoy being in this town.

"Maybe I should ask her one of these days?" he wondered aloud as he doing a quick routine check around the grocery isle. "Nah, maybe not... I mean, her parents would get pretty pissed if I did that. Plus, she's already having a hard time dealing with everybody else as is."

He wasn't an idiot, despite what some people believed. He had seen how some of the people in town gave Saki a disappointed, condescending glare. He was also fully aware that her family's liquor store was on the verge of being shut down. Didn't they understand it? That she was working to keep them afloat because of the lack of business in the first place?

But he guessed that people just couldn't look at some things past their pride. Her family prided on their store. When Saki started working at Junes, they didn't see her as helping them, they saw her as betraying them.

Honestly, it made him scowl in disgust. They were her parents. Why didn't they try to understand her?!

His two friends saw where he was coming from, though they simply told him was just how things were. The heiress said it was better just to try and get over it. He didn't want to, but he didn't have much choice but to stay quiet. He honestly wanted to help Saki, but he also had to be considerate of her feelings. He doubted she even wanted his help.

That wouldn't stop him from trying though. He tried to easen her burden, giving her some extra hours off every now and then, as well as an added bonus to her paycheck. His father raised some eyebrows out of concern and told him it wouldn't do him good to play favorites, but he didn't listen. He had to help her out somehow.

For the umpteenth time today, Yosuke sighed. "I wish something would happen to make all of this crap go away..."

Chie Satonaka was a tomboy, plain and simple. Sure, she had a girly face and a nice figure, and while she lacked in what her friend excelled at in terms of beauty, she made up for it in her own little way that created some form of attraction from her. That didn't stop people from calling her a tomboy, much less a meat freak.

She honestly couldn't see the problem. What was wrong with eating meat? It was an excellent source of protein!

Protein in one's diet is good. Especially if one were to stay in shape. She does so by practicing martial arts.

Ever since she was a child, she loved kung fu movies. She always wanted to be able to fight like the the people she sees on the screen.

Her mother was a bit worried, especially as she got older. By the time she was in middle school, she had asked her parents if she could practice karate. They were definitely worried by that point, but in the end, after she gave them the puppy-dog eyes, there was nothing they could really do.

When she was in her first year, she was already a black belt, and won a few local tournaments here. She also managed to fight back against a few common thugs before the police came in. She didn't get into trouble, thankfully, but they did tell her to be careful about who she was dealing with, lest she regretted it.

SHe took their words to heart. But she couldn't help herself. If there was someone in danger, she'd want to help them. That's just the type of person she is. And she accepted it. Yukiko did as well.

Speaking of Yukiko Amagi, her friend had been swamped with work lately. Her inn has always been so busy, even especially during times such as this. The town was slowly beginning to start it's annual tourist attractions, which would last until the end of the month after next. This, of course, meant that Yukiko would have less time at school, especially since her parents had been open in their desire for Yukiko to inherit it.

She knew her best friend had been the one to inherit the inn when the time came for a long time. That was what she was raised to do. But honestly, she didn't think it was fair that her future was just decided for her. But there wasn't much that she could do about it.

All she could really do is support her to the best of her abilities. Yukiko was her friend, even more than that, she was her best friend. She meant everything to her, especially since they had been friends since they were kids. It was almost funny how their friendship started, meeting because of a smelly old dog.

And speaking of said dog...

"Geez, Muku..." Chie pinched her nose, grinning humorously as she waved her hand in front of her face. "Just what did you eat to give you the runs?!"

The large dog before her just panted with his tongue sticking out. He barked once in reply.

She giggled before she hopped off her bed and walked over to the window, undoing the lock before sliding it open. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief, feeling the cool, crisp air flowing into her room, and her dog's gas vacating. "Much better." she said before turning back to Muku. "That's it, no more burritos for you."

Muku gave a whine, but then barked and hopped atop her bed, dawdling around before sitting down and curling up, almost like a cat.

"Geez...you're still the same as ever, aren't you?" She shook her head in amusement. It had been a long time since she adopted Muku...a decision she did not regret even once.

After all, he was the reason they were together. Smiling happily, she flopped back down to her bed, cuddling with her large pooch and nuzzling against his neck.

"I hope that, one day..." Chie muttered to herself. "I can be strong enough to protect everyone... and Yukiko."

Yukiko Amagi would not say that she was discontent with being the future manager of her family's inn... it was more like she had resigned herself to it.

After all...she couldn't let her parents down. They were kind people who sheltered her, fed her, and gave her mutual tender love and care. She wanted to repay them for their kindess. So she voluntarily worked at the inn.

It wasn't like she disliked working there. The staff was like an extended family to her, and she actually enjoyed taking care of it.

Although... she did find this work to be like a ball and chain. She could honestly say that she enjoyed school, especially because Chie was there too, but her work often got in the way of her social life. In all honesty, it irked her quite a bit.

She never really wanted to just inherit the inn. She wanted to be able to make her own choices and hang out with friends while she still had time left.

Although, she did not have the luxury to speak for herself. Her parents had told her what they wanted, and she obeyed. So, she worked her hardest to live up to their expectations, earning good grades and bearing a good social standing. Of course, a few people raised some eyebrows when they learned she was friends with Yosuke Hanamura.

Yukiko failed to see what the problem was. Just because his father ran Junes didn't mean it was his fault the shopping district was failing.

They shouldn't blame Yosuke for what Junes did to them. It just wasn't right. Instead of taking their frustration on only the super store, they had to resent everyone affiliated with it as well. It just didn't seem fair.

It was also bad because they scorned anyone who was working their, including her senpai, Saki Konishi. She was more than aware of her situation, as her family's store was on the verge of being shut down. She was doing what she could to keep them afloat. Even her brother, Naoki, understood that.

Yukiko sighed heavily as she took a sip of her tea. "I wish Inaba wasn't so distorted.."

It wasn't just her. Many others shared the same sentiments. If only there were a way to get everything back to normal...

She wanted to do something, but... what could she do? she was just one girl, who was going to be taking over her family's in like her parent's had wanted, thinking about what would be best for her. She knew that, but even still... she wanted the chance to make decisions for herself.

Yukiko stared at her own reflection shown in the cup. It showed not her face, but the face of a girl who wanted to escape from all the ugliness of this place. "I wish someone would just come and take me away from all of this..."

Kanji Tatsumi was a delinquent... or so people believed.

He was just a misunderstood teenager. The only reason why he beats up biker gangs is to protect his mom and make she sure she is alright. It was a promise he made to his dad.

In addition to that...he didn't know how to interact with people his age normally. Not since he was made fun of for liking cute things as a kid.

Ever since he was young, he always preferred playing house than sports, and because his folks ran a textile shop, he had somehow got into sewing. His mother was very impressed with his work, especially with how delicate his skills were, especially considering how he was able to make things most people wouldn't be able to, especially if he had very little to work with.

Of course, this mindset brought a lot of problems. A lot of people, especially the harsh, snotty girls, called him a freak or a weirdo, but the biggest wound to his pride was being called girly. He was a man, dammit! And so, that one insult led to him changing his look, and overall, how people looked at him. He bleached his hair, changed his look overall...

And before he realized it, they looked at him as if he were some punk. It also did not help matters that he beat the shit out of the punks who were keeping his mother up at night because of their fucking bikes. he told as much to the police, but no one believed him. No one except his mother and that one detective, Dojima.

But you knew what? Screw 'em! Who cares what people thought of him? He did whatever the hell he wanted. Why? Because he was a Tatsumi! And Kanji Tatsumi would never go back on his word!

That was the promise between men that he swore with his father! He may not be able to see him now...but he wondered if he made his pa proud?

That lone thought made his face drop. Would...would his father really be proud of what he's become?

"...he'd probably kick my ass." Kanji muttered to himself as he put down his needle and thread, sighing. "I mean, hell... Even ma's getting tired of my crap."

She knew he meant well, but that didn't stop her from worrying about her child, especially since he's getting more attention as of lately because of those damned leathered up pansies.

Just because he beat up a couple biker gangs, many more try to fight him out of petty pride. It sickened him of how stupid they can be.

In the end, with so many fights, he ended up getting hauled to the police station. He listened to the same old shit every freakin' day, and he didn't pay much attention to them. Why should he? It wasn't like any of them would believe him.

No one would believe his side. After all... he was a delinquent.

Kanji groaned as he stood up, looking at his reflection in the television screen. "I wish people would just try to get the real me..."

Rise Kujikawa used to like showbiz... 'used to' being the key word.

She loved it at first. She used to be an average school girl, but she was then taken into the Idol business. It was fun initially...but she was starting to get tired of it. She used to love it because she would be able to send messages out to kids like her. But now...? It was just showbiz.

The reason she became the famous idol, "Risette," was so she could try to make a connection with people. She wanted them to understand what she was trying to get across, and at the same time, she felt fulfillment singing and dancing. However, as time went on... she realized that people couldn't understand what she was doing. They only saw her as Risette the idol, not Rise Kujikawa.

They only saw the image she adopted for the media. They failed to see the true person behind the screen. It saddened her that the effort she had put into this was all for nothing...

She didn't want to give up, however. Even after becoming so disheartened, she still tried. But it was for nothing, they still didn't understand what she really wanted. Inoue had seen how troubled she was, and tried to console her... but it did little.

He just didn't truly understand how she felt. It was rather disheartening, knowing the person who advised you the most was unable to help.

Even though she was still continuing to be Risette, she knew this wasn't what she wanted... not anymore, anyway. Part of her wanted to keep going, to give people what they wanted, but the other part of her was tired of it all.

"Maybe..." she bit her lip as she looked at herself in the mirror, staring back at her own reflection. "I should quit...?"

Should she? Honestly...she didn't have much drive to continue things like this anymore...but she felt that it was unfair to everyone that she would quit the business entirely. Maybe she would just take a break from it all instead...?

Although, now that she thought about it... where would she go? Her parents weren't exactly too keen on her becoming an idol in the first place, but her grandmother was always so kind and gentle, telling her to do what her heart told her to do. The more she began to think about it, the more she wound up growing more and more anxious. She had to reach a decision soon.

Rise sighed, staring mournfully at her reflection. Her tried face stared back at her, almost like a lifeless husk. "I wish people tried to get to know the real Rise, rather than some fake idol..."

Naoto Shirogane was a girl. That fact alone would have raised eyebrows and shocked looks from everyone if they saw her as she was now, dressed in the outfit of a boy, and acting with such a demeanor. Then again, due to her status as a detective, she had already been established as such.

She was from a distinguished family line of detectives, the Shiroganes. Even as a child, Naoto was completely intrigued by mysteries and solving crimes. Heck, even her own grandfather, a renowned detective himself, let her help out in some of his cases. She was damn good at her job. At a young age of 15, she is well known in the criminal justice field as the Detective Prince.

With such a talented reputation, one would think she would be highly valued by law enforcement... except there was one problem.

Naoto Shirogane was a girl.

This lone fact was enough to cause mistrust amongst her associates. So in order to prevent that...she masqueraded as a boy.

The law enforcement had women on the job, make no mistake... but it was male-dominated, a sad truth, just as much as the fact that women in law enforcement were largely looked down upon, despite a few number of them being highly successful. Naoto posed as a male, even trying to lower her tone of voice, in order to avoid as much suspicion as possible. It was largely because of that she was reknowned by the title, despite it being misleading.

Right now, she was contemplating on a new case she had been given. She sat in her desk back home in the Shirogane Manor, going over the facts. It was rather simple enough, albeit confusing and misleading, especially given the fact that the one who requested it was apparently yet another suspicious agency member of some very influential group or figure, such as Public Security and the likes. It had apparently involved the deceased Takeharu Kirijo, the former CEO of the Kirijo Group, and the chairman of Gekkoukan High School, Shuji Ikutsuki.

"The facts are as plain as day..." Naoto murmured, taking a sip of her coffee. "They're little more than accidental deaths, or results of a possible mugging. Shuji Ikutsuki died from having fallen from the school rooftop, though why he was located there, especially given that he was seen there at midnight, is suspicious... and then there's Takeharu Kirijo. To the public, he died of an illness, but in reality, he was shot to death, yet the perp was an unknown... Hm."

She leaned back, a heavy frown on her face.

The gears in her mind were turning as she made a few hypothetical connections. The deaths of Ikutsuki and Kirijo were too close together to be coincidence.

She can form as many theories as she wishes, but she lacks the proper evidence to support them.

"...no matter." she decided in finality as she stood up, rubbing her eyes. It was getting late, and had to turn in for the night. "I can go over the details tomorrow." As she passed her desk, her eyes settled on the small photograph that rested atop the mantle of the fireplace. A sad look crossed along her beautiful features, seeing a young child with blue hair being embraced by adults on both sides, all three of them smiling happily.

"If only..." Naoto muttered. "If only I was born a man, then... maybe, I could truly be a great detective."

"The stage has been set."

Within the realm of consciousness and subconsciousness, a lone figure stood in what appeared to be an ever-shifting void, flowing all around him. His form was just like that of the one Nylarathotep had assumed earlier, white suit and mask and all. His hands were inside his pants pockets while he looked up, a curious smile on his face. He had to admit, that was a rather bold of the vile being. Stripping Izanami-no-Okami of it's power, and then forging a new being entirely to take her place in the upcoming events.

"However, that alone will not halt man's true nature." Philemon said with conviction. Unlike Nylarathotep, who thought that humans solely believed in destruction, he knew that they were so much more, capable of things beyond their wildest dreams. He truly believed in this. "The game will soon begin... However, I can't help but wonder."

His smile became one of amusement. "What sort of bond will you create with the one who is so closely linked to you... Yu Narukami?"

-Prologue: END-


Sho: H-hey! the hell're doing, walking around in my place like that?!

Yu: My name's Yu Narukami. It's nice to meet you.

Yosuke: I've heard of love at first sight, but that's ridiculous...!

?: T-this feeling in my chest... Aaah, my heart's beating too fast! N-no! Stop! DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT!

Next Scent! Izana Miokami