Shinrei Tantei Yakumo

Volume 3 Chapter 3



Volume 3 Chapter 3

Chapter 3     

VOLUME 3 - THE LIGHT BEYOND THE DARKNESS    

file 03: grudge (TRANSLATION NOTES)     

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1    

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In the morning, Haruka visited Yakumo’s secret hiding place .     

She was wearing the necklace she had received from Yakumo yesterday, of course . She wanted to see how he would react .     

That said, the fixture that connected the chain of the necklace she had brought home had broken, so she couldn’t wear it as it was .     

She just went and switched it with a leather cord from another necklace she had at home .     

She thought it matched pretty well .     

Yakumo was sitting in the chair he always did with his bedhead and sleepy eyes as usual, and he said, sounding like a fizzy drink that had gone flat, ‘You again?’    

It wasn’t just his words – not even his expression changed . He didn’t notice even when she tried .     

'You look sleepy as usual . ’    

Though she felt disappointed, Haruka sat down across from Yakumo .     

'I’m busy . ’    

'I can’t tell . ’    

'There’s somewhere I have to go after this . ’    

'Really . Even though I thought I’d keep you company since you were free . ’    

'It’s the opposite,’ said Yakumo in the same tone of voice, and then he slowly stood up .     

So he really was heading out . Haruka was going to give up when Yakumo called out to her .     

'Will you go too?’    

'Go where?’    

She asked that, but the truth was it didn’t matter where .     

Since Yakumo had gone out of his way to invite her, of course she would go .     

'The continuation of the case . There’s something I have to investigate . ’    

Ah, so that’s what it was –    

That case wasn’t finished yet . Since she had been entrusted with the diary, she had a duty to see the case to the end .     

'Of course I’ll go . ’    

-    

They walked from the university to the station, took a cab and walked another fifteen minutes .     

When they reached the apartment they were aiming for, Haruka was covered in enough sweat to warrant a change of clothes .     

Yakumo talked the manager into unlocking the auto-lock and lending them the key to the roof of the apartment . Then, they took the elevator up to the seventh floor and took the stairs up from there to the roof .     

There was no railing or fence – the edge was just a little bit taller, like it had been folded back .     

Haruka stood in front of that edge and narrowed her eyes .     

She had an unbroken view of the town, cutting through the mountain like a miniature garden .     

When she looked at it like this, it didn’t feel like anybody lived there .     

A scene with only buildings lined up inhumanly and irregularly . However, many people’s emotions existed there .     

Before Sawaguchi Rika-san jumped from this rooftop, what did she feel –    

With his hands in his pockets, Yakumo jumped onto the highest edge . It scared Haruka to look at him .     

'Why do you think she jumped from here?’    

Yakumo spoke to the air .     

'Because she had decided to die…’    

'Correct . That was not an impulsive decision . She had decided to die with a strong intent . ’    

'Why do you think that?’    

'Her family lived on the fifth floor of this apartment . If it had been an impulsive decision, she would have jumped from there . ’    

'I see…’    

'However, she didn’t do that . She purposefully went up the stairs, somehow opened the locked door to the rooftop and stood here . ’    

It was just as Yakumo said . In order to come here, she would have had to borrow the key from the manager . That would take a lot of effort . It didn’t feel impulsive – it felt planned .     

Yakumo looked up at the sky .     

Haruka looked at the sky in the same way . A clear blue sky, discrepant with the situation, spread out above them .     

The clouds carried by the wind looked like waves .     

'Is there some meaning to this place?’ Yakumo said, still looking up at the sky .     

'Maybe it has some special memories . ’    

'That may be it . She might have come here in her pain to be soothed rather than to die . ’    

Yakumo turned his gaze to the town that spread out below them . His eyes seemed incredibly sad .     

Yakumo didn’t often put his own feelings honestly into words, so his eyes did a surprising amount of talking for him .     

'So you really were still here,’ said Yakumo as he turned around .     

He was looking directly behind Haruka . Was someone there?    

Haruka turned around, but she couldn’t see anything . She turned back to look at Yakumo for an answer .     

'Sawaguchi Rika-san, yes?’ said Yakumo .     

Oh, so she came here?    

That was what Yakumo saw .     

After a silence, Yakumo jumped off the edge and slowly started walking .     

He passed by Haruka and proceeded straight forward, towards where Haruka thought Rika was .     

The photo of Rika she had seen at the altar came up in Haruka’s mind .     

When she was in the photo, she had been about the same age as Haruka and she had smiled really happily, showing her teeth .     

Haruka couldn’t feel any shadow of death from it .     

What sort of expression did she have here now?    

Haruka followed Yakumo’s back with her gaze . Even though she couldn’t see her, Rika was in front of that gaze .     

'Let’s put an end to this already . ’    

Yakumo spoke in a gentle tone, like he was speaking to a child .     

'Death won’t bring release,’ Yakumo continued .     

The cry of the cicada sounded frightfully loud .     

Because of the heat which scorched her skin, sweat came down from her forehead and dripped from her chin to the concrete .     

'Stop already!’    

Yakumo’s voice drowned out the cry of the cicadas .     

For a while, Yakumo stood as still as if time had stopped, but finally, he gave up and shook his head while looking down .     

'It’s no use . As I thought, my voice won’t reach her . ’    

'What do you mean?’ asked Haruka, who couldn’t understand what he’d said .     

'It looks like I really will have to have him exorcise her . ’    

After saying that, Yakumo took out his mobile phone .     

By him, does he mean that that exorcist we met before –    

-    

2    

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Gotou visited Hata’s hospital . He was sipping tea in his usual heedless manner .     

'You look really tired . ’    

'I don’t enjoy my work as much as you enjoy yours, old man,’ said Gotou as he handed Hata a memo .     

It was the one Yakumo handed to Ishii yesterday . This should have been Ishii’s job, but he couldn’t come since he was busy elsewhere .     

Honestly . Kicking the face of the chief’s daughter – there was a limit even to clumsiness .     

Thanks to that, Ishii was being wrongfully doubted and was probably strictly restrained right now, even though he had gone to help Makoto .     

'What is this?’ asked Hata, looking at the memo with a complex expression on his face .     

'I want you to collect the items on that list . And make it fast . ’    

'What are you going to do once you’ve got them?’    

'I want to ask that myself . ’    

Gotou crossed his arms as he tossed out that comment .     

Hata brought his face closer to Gotou’s and looked at him with cloudy eyes, as if he were tasting him . It was creepy . Did Hata want to autopsy him?    

'You should take some time off,’ said Hata, finally letting his face muscles go slack . He spoke gently, like he was looking out for his kid .     

'What are you saying all of a sudden?’    

'I’d thought of saying it before, but you’re not suited to being a detective . Why not take some time off and think about it?’    

'Huh?’    

Not suited to being a detective, he says –    

Nobody had ever told him that before, and the thought had never crossed his mind .     

'It hurts to look at you . You’re rebelling against the police, an organisation you can’t win against, and you empathise with the victims of each of your cases and your anger just explodes . It’s like you’re hurting yourself . ’    

'I’m not that masochistic . ’    

'Then why are you blaming yourself? You’ll just be worn out if you keep putting the burden for everything on your shoulders even when you could just let it go . ’    

'Mind your own business . ’    

'Why are you still a detective after all that?’    

Damn this perverted old man for saying the same thing as Yakumo .     

Do I look like I’m suffering that much? They’re wrong . I’m not suffering . Reason being –    

'I just rebel against the organisation because I find it frustrating . You say I empathise with the victims? Of course I do! If you asked me, it’d be stranger to look at them like a bystander!’    

Gotou talked at length in his agitation .     

He wasn’t trying to look good or anything – that was how he really felt .     

Hata sighed like he was tired of Gotou . What’s with that look of pity? Gotou didn’t have the right to have people look at him with pity .     

Most victims were angry at their assailants, but they couldn’t let it out . Sawaguchi Rika was a good example .     

She had even taken her life because of all that she suffered .     

Gotou couldn’t silently watch that . That was all .     

He didn’t know why . That was just the sort of person he was .     

'Well, fine . All I have to do is prepare the items written on here, correct?’    

'Does it look like it’ll work out?’    

'I won’t be able to do it by myself, but nothing looks like it’ll make for a wild goose chase .     

'I’ll come again this evening . ’    

After saying that, Gotou left the room .     

The previous case and the current one with Sawaguchi Rika . There had so much happening lately that he might have been lost in thought, which was unlike him .     

It was the end for Gotou though if even this old geezer was worrying about him .     

There was no point dwelling on it . He just had to work now .     

Gotou left the hospital and got into the car he had parked in the parking lot when his mobile phone started ringing .     

It was from Yakumo . There were a number of things he had to tell him, so the timing was perfect .     

    

Yakumo spoke without even greeting him first .     

He was the one who was always complaining about how Gotou didn’t have good phone manners . Well, conversely, it would feel creepy if that guy greeted him politely .     

'Yakumo, we can’t treat this lightly . Makoto was assaulted last night,’ said Gotou .     

    

'Shut up!’    

It was just as Yakumo said . He might have been the one treating the situation lightly .     

He regretted not sending her all the way home .     

    

'She’s in hospital . It appears that her head was hit, but she’ll be fine . Seems like the perp was wearing a mask, but there was a message which said, “Don’t stick your neck in any more than this . ”’    

He left out how Ishii had kicked Makoto’s face . If he told Yakumo, he’d tease Ishii until he fainted . Right now, the guy was as depressed as if he had seen the end of the world .     

    

'Yeah . And Makoto didn’t see the guy’s face, but she remembers seeing that tattoo on his arm . ’    

    

'That’s right . ’    

Makoto had just started looking into the assault case from five years ago again . With this timing, Oori Kazushi was probably the one who had assaulted her .     

It’d be great if he could just stop his roundabout investigation and arrest Oori .     

    

'Ah, I looked into the bartender called Yagi . ’    

Gotou took a memo from his pocket .     

Gotou hadn’t had the time to investigate with the incident last night, so he asked Eriko to . She’d replied first thing in the morning .     

    

'The bartender Yagi Keita is the son of Yagi Yasushi, the former Diet member . ’    

'And?’ Yakumo pressed .     

'Yasushi was arrested three years ago for the embezzlement of his secretary’s wages and lost his standing . ’    

    

Yakumo sounded like he knew about it .     

Gotou hadn’t, but it seemed like it had been a pretty big deal . Eriko had also gotten the results of the investigation so quickly because she remembered Yasushi’s name .     

'After he lost his standing, he ate himself out of his fortune, but Yasushi passed away two years ago due to cancer . That bar was left behind as his son’s only inheritance . ’    

    

'I’m just about to head there . ’    

So slow – Gotou readied himself for that complaint, but Yakumo responded differently than what he had expected .     

She’d just needed three stitches for her head injury . She was just in the hospital for a check-up now, so meeting her should be possible .     

'OK . ’    

    

'Am I a taxi?’    

    

This guy . How much more am I supposed to take –    

The call ended before Gotou could let out his anger .     

-    

3    

-    

When Gotou’s car reached the front of the apartment, Yakumo got into the passenger seat .     

Then, Haruka got into the back seat . She shouldn’t have had anything to do with the case, but –    

'You on a date?’    

Gotou made fun of Yakumo with his usual response .     

'If you are going to make such boring and false assumptions, I’ll get off the car immediately . ’    

'My bad . ’    

Was he kidding? Like Gotou would let him do that . Gotou started the car before Yakumo could change his mind .     

I’m glad we’re regrouping, but –    

'Yakumo, what do you want to ask Makoto?’    

'There’s nothing in particular that I want to ask . ’    

Yakumo yawned in boredom at Gotou’s question .     

'You’re the one who said you wanted to see her . ’    

'That’s why I’m going to see her . ’    

'What for?’    

'Because she’s in hospital . ’    

Gotou started grinding his teeth loudly in his irritation .     

Sorry, Makoto, but Yakumo should’ve known better than anyone that they didn’t have the time to take it easy with a visit to the hospital .     

'Tell me the truth . ’    

'Gotou-san, it’s useless . I asked him many times myself, but he won’t tell me anything . ’    

Haruka replied in Yakumo’s stead .     

'You’ve gotten wrapped up in this too, Haruka-chan?’    

'That’s right . He asked me to help out with various parts of the investigation . ’    

Haruka said that with a sour look, but Gotou felt like she probably didn’t really feel that way on the inside .     

She was probably happy that she’d been promoted from the usual troublemaker to the assistant .     

'Yakumo, you know the truth behind the case, right?’    

'Right – why don’t you just tell us?’    

Haruka agreed with Gotou, who wouldn’t stop pressing the issue .     

'You two always come to your own conclusions right away . That’s why you always call me in for your troubles . ’    

'Shut up!’ said Gotou and Haruka at the same time .     

-    

The three of them went through the hospital entrance to see Ishii sitting on the sofa while cradling his head .     

'What are you doing?’    

'Ah, yes, er, apologising to Makoto-san…’    

Ishii leapt up . His gaze darted everywhere – it seemed like he couldn’t relax .     

'Did you?’    

'That’s… er…’    

Ishii looked at his feet and stopped talking .     

Honestly . What a pathetic guy .     

'Hurry up and go!’    

Ishii’s shoulders shook at Gotou’s yell .     

'Gotou-san, don’t yell at him – he looks so pitiful,’ Haruka interrupted .     

Ishii’s forehead was covered in sweat, and he kept on fixing the position of his glasses with his finger . He really was a pathetic guy – a girl younger than him had to stand up for him .     

'Ishii-san, let’s go together . We are heading to see her as well,’ said Yakumo .     

'Y-yes . ’    

Ishii finally raised his head and replied .     

Honestly . It was the end for him if he needed to be saved by a university student . In any case, Gotou hit the back of Ishii’s head .     

They asked the employee at the reception desk where Makoto’s room was and headed for the hospital room together .     

'We’re coming in!’ said Gotou loudly while going into the room .     

Yakumo followed him . The private room was about four tatami in size . When your dad was well-known, there really were differences in how you were treated for things like this .     

'Ah, Detective Gotou . ’    

Makoto sat up on the bed .     

Her head was bandaged, but she looked much better than he’d imagined she would .     

'Hey . We’re just here to check up on you . ’    

Gotou raised his hand, pulled out a round chair from below the bed and sat down . Yakumo stood by the bed with a blank expression without sitting .     

'Oh, you didn’t have to –I’ve only been hospitalised for a check-up, so I’ll be let out this evening . ’    

Gotou was glad it wasn’t a big deal .     

'Sorry about my partner – Ishii . ’    

Gotou called for him, so Ishii finally came in with a completely red face . Haruka followed after him .     

Gotou couldn’t tell who had been the one who was hospitalised .     

'Come on, Ishii-san . ’    

Haruka pushed him forward, so Ishii staggered towards Makoto’s bed and bowed deeply .     

'I am truly sorry . ’    

His voice was trembling like he would start crying at any moment .     

'No, please don’t worry about it so much . ’    

'No, but I did something awful…’ said Ishii, his head still bowed .     

Was he reflecting on his actions, or was he unable to look at Makoto’s face… Gotou couldn’t suppress the feeling that it was the latter .     

'I’ll apologise too . Sorry about that . ’    

Gotou bowed his head as well .     

'It isn’t as if Ishii-san had any ill will . Please raise your heads . ’    

Makoto, seeming flustered, placed a hand on Ishii’s shoulder .     

'I’m no good as a detective . I planned to save you, but…’    

'That’s not true at all . ’    

Makoto comforted Ishii, who sounded like he was going to cry .     

What a pathetic scene .     

'Excuse me, but since there isn’t much time, could I advance the conversation?’    

Yakumo interrupted the apologies while running a hand through his hair .     

'Oh, that’s right,’ Gotou said while pushing Ishii aside .     

Yakumo walked forward into the now empty space .     

'Actually, there is something I would like to ask you, Makoto-san . ’    

'Ah, yes . If I could be of any help . ’    

Makoto corrected her posture on the bed . Her expression was stiff, like she was going to undergo an interrogation .     

'I want to ask about Asami-san, who has disappeared . ’    

'About Asami?’    

'She was in the same year as you when you were in university, yes?’    

'Yes, she was . ’    

'Sickness or injury, any reason is fine . Did she ever take an extended break from school?’    

'She did,’ replied Makoto with a surprised expression on her face .     

'When was that?’    

'During our fourth year of university . Because of an illness, I couldn’t contact her for about a month . ’    

'So that was the case then . ’    

Yakumo nodded in satisfaction, but Gotou didn’t understand .     

'Oi . Yakumo . ’    

'Please be quiet,’ Yakumo said, cutting him off . 'How was she after that?’    

'That’s… Asami returned home after that . I only communicated with her through email and New Year’s cards after that and didn’t meet with her directly until we met again at the bar . ’    

'Was Asami-san the one who said to meet at the bar?’    

'Yes . She had been relocated to Tokyo for work . ’    

'I see,’ murmured Yakumo .     

'Does that have something to do with this case?’    

Makoto urged Yakumo for an answer, but he didn’t reply .     

'May I ask you one more thing?’    

'Yes…’    

'The tattoo with that pattern was on the arm of the person who assaulted you, yes?’    

Makoto nodded to answer Yakumo’s question .     

'Yakumo . Our perp has to be Oori Kazushi . We have to go and –’    

'I did say to please be quiet . ’    

Yakumo looked at Gotou, who had interrupted, with an incredibly annoyed expression .     

He was unusually irritated . Gotou had thought Yakumo hadn’t cared much about this case, but he had been wrong .     

'The tattoo was there,’ said Makoto firmly .     

'Was that on the right arm or the left arm?’    

'Left… I think . ’    

'I see . ’    

'Now that you mention it, Kamiyama-san asked the same thing about the tattoo just earlier . ’    

The moment Yakumo heard that, his cheek twitched and he looked unusually suspicious .     

Why did Kamiyama come here –    

'Does Kamiyama-shi know about this incident as well?’    

'Yes . He kept on apologising, saying “I’m sorry” again and again . ’    

After Yakumo heard Makoto’s response, he sighed, seeming troubled .     

That exorcist apologised to Makoto . Why? Does he have a reason to apologise –    

'Gotou-san, a change of plans . Preparations are not in order yet, but let us go to the exorcism . ’    

'Exorcism?’    

Gotou’s voice cracked because what Yakumo said had been so unexpected .     

He hadn’t thought he’d hear the word exorcism from Yakumo, who believed that that ghosts were clusters of the emotions of the dead .     

'As well, Makoto-san, I have a request . ’    

'A request…?’    

Makoto cocked her head .     

Yakumo didn’t pay any attention to her response and whispered something into Makoto’s ear .     

'Would that be possible?’    

'I think it would be fine . ’    

Makoto replied firmly to Yakumo’s request .     

For some reason, it seemed like they were in a rush all of a sudden .     

'Ishii-san, please help Makoto-san . ’    

'Eh, ah, yes . ’    

Ishii gave a flustered reply .     

'Now, Gotou-san, we’re going . ’    

We’re going, he says –    

'Where to?’    

'Please, there is no time to lose . ’    

Yakumo briskly headed for the hospital room door .     

It annoyed him to be ordered around by a university student, but there was no helping it this time . Gotou responded with a 'Got it’ and followed Yakumo .     

'Wait, Yakumo-kun . How about me?’    

Haruka, the only one with no instructions, grabbed onto the arm of Yakumo, who had been trying to leave hurriedly .     

'You can go home already . ’    

'Wait, Yakumo-kun . ’    

Yakumo ignored Haruka and left the room .     

He really just did whatever he wanted .     

Gotou was grumbling on the inside, but he left the hospital room after Yakumo .     

-    

4    

-    

Before he took off in the car, Gotou contacted Hata through his mobile phone .     

Of course, at Yakumo’s instruction .     

'Old man . You got the stuff on the memo?’ said Gotou once Hata picked up .     

    

'Can’t you hurry it up?’    

    

Hata was quite right .     

Since Gotou had just made the request this morning, there was no way Hata would be done preparing in only a few hours .     

'Says he’s only got one . What’re you going to do?’    

Gotou covered the receiver and asked Yakumo beside him this question .     

'What does he have prepared?’    

'Old man, what do you have prepared?’    

Gotou repeated Yakumo’s words .     

    

It sounded like a baseball position[1] .     

'Says he’s got the light . ’    

'That’s sufficient . The rest will work out somehow or other…’    

Yakumo was muttering something .     

'Then what are you going to do?’    

'Please tell Hata-san to bring that to Inoue Asami-san’s apartment . ’    

Did Yakumo plan to go there now?    

Gotou didn’t know what Yakumo was doing, but he wasn’t going to grumble after coming this far . He’d go with him to the end .     

'Oi, old man . I want you to bring that where I tell you to . ’    

    

This damn old man . Gotou would go pull his head off his shoulders .     

While Gotou was seething with rage, Yakumo took the mobile phone from beside him .     

'Hata-san, this is Yakumo… Could I make a request? I am going to perform an exorcism now… Yes . The solution to the locked room case . ’    

Yakumo smirked as he talked .     

'Thank you very much . ’    

After he said that, he threw the mobile phone back to Gotou . If he was going to interrupt, he should just talk himself in the first place, honestly .     

'Gotou-san, please tell Hata-san the address . ’    

Yes, yes, he would be delighted to .     

* * *    

When Gotou arrived in front of the apartment where Asami disappeared, an old man in white was standing in front of the entrance .     

He had a paper bag in his right hand .     

'Hey, Yakumo-kun . It’s been a while . ’    

Hata looked over Yakumo with eyes full of curiosity .     

It really was creepy, so Gotou wished he would stop . If he took his eyes off this old man, he might go and dissect Yakumo right then .     

'Hata-san, the thing we mentioned?’    

Hata showed Yakumo what was inside the paper bag . Gotou had given the memo to Hata without checking its contents, so he didn’t know what had been written .     

He’d said 'light’ earlier, but if it were just a normal light, Yakumo wouldn’t have had to go out of his way to ask for it .     

'This is fine, yes?’    

'Yes, thank you very much . Gotou-san, what are you staring so vacantly for? We’re going . ’    

Honestly, using a detective like a gopher . Gotou would definitely take a swing at him once this case was over . Gotou vowed that in his heart, opened the door with the key he had borrowed and went through the entrance with Yakumo and Hata .     

When he pressed the elevator, the lift was fortunately on the first floor so the door opened right away .     

Yakumo got into the elevator and made a call on his mobile phone while pressing the 'Open’ button .     

'Please keep it like this for a bit . ’    

Yakumo addressed the person on the other side of the phone .     

Gotou heard the person on the other end say . She was probably Haruka .     

'Gotou-san, could you watch the time?’    

After Yakumo said that, Gotou turned his eyes to the second hand of his wristwatch .     

'OK . ’    

At the same time as Gotou replied, Yakumo pressed the '9’ and then the 'Close’ buttons .     

There was the sound of the winch winding up as the elevator started moving .     

'The call ended . How many seconds was it?’    

Yakumo spoke at around the same time as the display showed that they were on the third floor .     

'Eleven seconds . ’    

The elevator continued going up .     

They arrived at the ninth floor . Yakumo ran out the moment the door opened .     

Gotou followed after him . He headed straight out of the elevator and then turned right . Another right . It wasn’t so noticeable when walking, but it was a narrow path .     

'How many seconds has it been now?’    

After reaching Asami’s room door, Yakumo spoke . Gotou turned his eyes to his wristwatch immediately .     

'Forty-five seconds . ’    

'Thirty-four seconds since the call cut off then? It isn’t an impossible number . ’    

'What on earth are you doing?’    

Hata had leisurely walked up to them .     

Gotou had no idea either . He turned his gaze to Yakumo .     

'This is an experiment related to the locked room disappearance phenomenon,’ said Yakumo with narrowed eyes .     

'Yakumo-kun, is that really possible?’    

Yakumo shook his head at Hata’s question .     

'Hata-san, if you are asking whether it was a spiritual phenomenon, the answer to your question is no . If you are asking whether a person could have done it, the answer is yes . I proved it just now . ’    

'Y-you proved it?’    

'Like I’ve said before, please do not speak so loudly next to my ear . ’    

Yakumo complained about the volume of Gotou’s voice again, but it would be stranger if he had heard what Yakumo said and been calm .     

'Yakumo . What do you mean?’    

'More importantly, Gotou-san, do you have the key to this room?’    

More importantly, this guy said .     

Gotou withstood the urge to stamp his feet in frustration and handed the key to Asami’s room to Yakumo .     

Yakumo quickly unlocked the door and went into the room . Gotou and then Hata followed after him .     

The room had been left as it was after Asami’s disappearance –    

'Hey, Yakumo . It’s about time for an explanation . What on earth happened?’ said Gotou, unable to bear it .     

'Have you not noticed yet?’    

'I’m asking because I haven’t!’ yelled Gotou angrily .     

'All the spiritual phenomena this time have been tricks . ’    

Yakumo put his index finger to his brow as he said that .     

'Tricks?’    

Was he saying that Asami’s disappearance from a locked room and the ghost he saw in this room – that all of these were tricks?    

'Correct . I will prove that now . Hata-san . ’    

After Yakumo said that, Hata took something that looked like a torch out of the paper bag and handed it to Yakumo .     

It had the shape of a fluorescent lampstand, but the fluorescent tube was a deep bluish purple instead of the white colour he usually saw .     

'Gotou-san, you saw the ghost near that window, yes?’    

Yakumo pointed at the glass in the window that connected to the veranda .     

That’s right . That’s where . The longhaired woman covered in blood had glared at me from that window . Those eyes had been filled with a strong hatred –    

After Gotou responded with a nod, Yakumo plugged the light into a nearby socket .     

'Please take a good look . ’    

Yakumo flicked the switch for the light . A bluish purple light hit the window .     

At the same time, a faint image of a woman appeared on the window .     

The woman from that time –    

'W-wha – this – ’    

'So that’s how it was!’    

Hata drowned out Gotou’s surprise with his wonder .     

Did the old man understand already? Gotou didn’t understand at all .     

'What is this!?’    

'You really don’t know anything . This is a black light . ’    

Hata crossed his arms as he made fun of him .     

'Black light?’    

'Yes . It’s made like a fluorescent light, but it uses bluish purple glass and cuts out a fixed portion of visible light . ’    

Hata was speaking triumphantly, but Gotou didn’t understand what he meant .     

'Explain it so I’ll understand . ’    

'In short, images and words drawn using special fluorescent pigments can’t normally be seen, but you can see them if you shine a black light on them,’ Hata said with a snort .     

'You often see it in karaoke rooms,’ offered Yakumo as an additional explanation . When Gotou heard that, he finally understood the situation .     

So the picture of the woman was drawn on the window so she showed up in the window when a black light was shone on it .     

'If the paint is tinted, can’t you tell?’    

'In the past, these fluorescent pigments came only in white, but recently transparent ones have been developed . It can only be seen faintly now, but when you saw this picture, Gotou-san, it was night, and the lights had been off before the woman appeared . Is that correct?’    

'Yeah, that’s right . ’    

Gotou recalled what had happened then .     

Before the woman’s ghost appeared, the lights had been off . Then, the ghost appeared and the lights came back on while he was surprised .     

If he’d looked longer, he probably would have noticed that it was a picture, but there had only been a short period of time .     

That was the main point of the production .     

'There should be a remote control switch separate from the switch on the wall to turn on and off the lights . The voice that said “Die” should have come from a small speaker somewhere . It will be difficult to search for it now without a tool, but…’    

The room itself is like a haunted mansion –    

Now, Gotou had a question .     

'Wait a minute . If this was all set up from before…’    

An unbelievable idea was growing in Gotou’s mind .     

'That’s right . The person who lives here, Asami-san, knew about it . ’    

Yakumo cast his eyes down slightly as he said that .     

'Why didn’t Asami say anything if she knew?’    

'Let’s ask the person herself,’ said Yakumo with an expression that looked sad . Did he know where she was?    

Plus, the mystery of the ghost had been solved, but Asami’s disappearance from a locked room was still a mystery . Did he plan to ask her directly for that too?    

Confusion and irritation – a variety of emotions were mixed up and about to burst within Gotou .     

-    

5    

-    

Gotou gripped the handle with a hunched back in his displeasure .     

Yakumo was yawning in the passenger seat . Hata was grinning in the back .     

'So how will you solve the disappearance?’    

Gotou looked at Yakumo in the passenger seat .     

'Have you still not noticed?’    

Yakumo smirked, and Hata followed with a creepy giggle .     

Somehow, the two of them looked like demons .     

'You’re slow as usual,’ said Hata with shaking shoulders .     

'Old man, you don’t know either, right?’    

'Don’t use your head as a reference . If I know it’s a trick, it’s simple . ’    

Hata gave an immediate reply to Gotou’s objection .     

'Do you really understand?’    

'You did the experiment earlier, yes? There was more than enough time . ’    

Hata shook his head boastfully .     

So Gotou was the only one who didn’t understand . That was irritating .     

'Gotou-san, it took thirty-four seconds to reach Asami-san’s room after the call cut off . ’    

Maybe he pitied Gotou, because Yakumo started explaining with sleepy eyes .     

'Ah, yeah about that long . ’    

'If the major premise is that Asami-san knew about the trick, there is one answer . ’    

Yakumo paused .     

Gotou’s mouth felt dry, so he cleared his throat and swallowed .     

'After the call cut off, she smeared her mobile phone with blood and left the room by herself . ’    

'W-what!?’    

Gotou was so shocked he slammed the breaks . Yakumo and Hata pitched forward .     

'That’s dangerous!’ shrieked Hata in objection from the back seat . The cars driving behind them honked as well .     

'My bad . ’    

Gotou gave an honest apology and started the car, but Hata was the strange one for being so calm after hearing that just now . He should have been surprised .     

'Then you’re saying she caused her own disappearance?’    

Gotou asked to organise his thoughts .     

'That’s right,’ Yakumo replied immediately .     

'That’s stupid . Putting aside that exorcist, Ishii and Makoto were at the scene too . How would she disappear in the middle of that?’    

'Gotou-san, if you say that, you have already fallen for the trick . ’    

'What do you mean?’    

'Asami-san, who disappeared, is the victim . Then, Ishii-san and Makoto-san should have seen the scene . That preconception is the spirit behind this trick . ’    

'Asami’s not the victim?’    

'No, she is not . Though I had not understood why she had done this up until now, I discovered that reason from what Makoto-san said earlier, though it is still my inference . ’    

'That so…’    

'Yes . Asami-san had a goal and left the room of her own volition,’ declared Yakumo .     

Just as Yakumo said, he had been thinking with the presupposition that Inoue Asami disappeared against her will .     

Asami was Makoto’s friend, which may have been the reason for that preconception .     

That was why the disappearance from the locked room had troubled him .     

However, if she left the room on her own, there was no problem at all . Had she deceived all of them with her one-woman play? There was still something Gotou didn’t understand though .     

'She could leave the room if there were thirty-four seconds, but the time from when they get off the elevator to when they saw her room should’ve been shorter . Plus, she shouldn’t have had the time to lock the door .     

Yakumo spread out his hands and sighed in a melodramatic manner .     

What was with his attitude? Gotou hadn’t planned on saying anything funny .     

'Gotou-san, the wool has been pulled over your eyes . ’    

'What?’    

This brat is unbelievable –    

'Please remember well . Immediately after getting off the elevator, did you see the door to Asami-san’s room?’    

Gotou recalled the experiment he’d done with Yakumo earlier .     

They couldn’t get to Asami’s room without turning twice in the corridor shaped like a right-facing bracket .     

On top of that, the path was narrow, and Yakumo, who’d been running in front, had blocked his way, so he hadn’t seen much until they reached the door to the room .     

'Which means…’    

'That’s right . That night, the three people who headed for Asami-san’s room were Ishii-san, Makoto-san and Kamiyama-shi . In order to perform this trick, the order in which they headed for the room was also important . ’    

'The order…’    

'Yes . The person who ran in front had two roles . ’    

'Roles?’    

'Correct . The first was to block the vision of the people behind him and to regulate the timing with which they would arrive . ’    

'Really . ’    

The guy who ran in front blocked the vision of the people behind him and made sure Asami was hidden .     

If she’d left late, he could take up time by stopping or falling .     

'There is one more . The role of locking the door . ’    

'Locking the door?’    

'Just as you say Gotou-san, there was not much time to leave the room, let alone lock the door . Accordingly, trying to lock the door in a rush would be a great risk . ’    

'So the guy in front…’    

Yakumo responded with a nod .     

After fleeing from the room, Asami left the key by the door and hid herself in the emergency stairs or something .     

Then, the person in front took the key, locked the door while pretending to check the doorknob and hid the key in his pocket .     

After borrowing the key from the manager and entering the room, he could just leave the key casually on the table .     

Now that I understand, it’s a simple trick –    

'And the person who had run in front then was…’    

Yakumo’s gaze turned sharp .     

That was right . Ishii had said that the person who ran in front then was –    

-    

6    

-    

Ishii sat next to Haruka on the bench in the corridor in front of Makoto’s hospital room .     

What on earth is Yakumo thinking –    

Ishii wanted to know the truth behind this case that was full of puzzles too, so he didn’t mind helping out . However, he wouldn’t have minded a bit more of an explanation .     

'I don’t really understand,’ said Haruka as she sat beside him, like she had read Ishii’s heart .     

'Ah, yes . But Haruka-chan, it’d be better if you returned…’    

'I definitely won’t!’ said Haruka, interrupting Ishii’s sentence .     

'No, but…’    

Haruka had been told by Yakumo to go home .     

On top of that, if there was any awful trouble in the case, she would get involved in the danger . Makoto had already been assaulted .     

Ishii wanted to avoid that no matter what .     

'I’m not unrelated to this case . ’    

'Eh, is that so…’    

This was the first time Ishii had heard what Haruka said .     

'I promised Sawaguchi Rika-san’s father that I’d find the truth behind her death…’    

'I see…’    

'That’s why I can’t go home by myself partway through,’ said Haruka firmly .     

She was surprisingly stubborn . Once she’d made her decision, she went with it until the end . Ishii was envious of that strength .     

He tried to run away at every opportunity .     

'I understand . I’ll take responsibility for you and protect you . ’    

'I’ll be in your care,’ replied Ishii with a puffed chest .     

Haruka bowed her head with a smile .     

She really is cute –    

'I apologise for the wait . ’    

Makoto came out of the hospital room . She had finished changing .     

Her head was still wrapped with bandages and there was a dark red bloodstain on the collar of the white shirt she had changed into .     

'Um… are you really all right?’    

'Yes . It hurts slightly, but… In any case, let’s go . ’    

'U-um…’    

Ishii called out to stop Makoto, who had started walking down the hallway .     

'Yes?’    

'Where are you going?’    

Yakumo had whispered the instructions in Makoto’s ear, so Ishii didn’t know what he was supposed to do, even though he had been asked to help .     

Makoto appeared to realise and clapped her hands together, as if to say 'That’s right’ .     

'Yakumo-kun told me to bring my father . ’    

'Eh!?’ exclaimed Ishii, taken aback .     

'Why would he ask for your father, Makoto-san?’    

Haruka cocked her head in her puzzlement .     

'Makoto-san’s father is the chief of the police . ’    

'Wow, that’s amazing . ’    

After Ishii explained, Haruka spoke in her surprise, but then she looked troubled .     

'Why would he ask for the chief of the police?’    

'That… is something I don’t know either,’ Makoto said nonchalantly .     

In his head, Ishii was saying, 'No, no, no . ’ He’d be too frightened .     

'We can’t just call out the chief of the police without knowing the reason . ’    

Even if it was his daughter’s request, he wouldn’t come without an explanation . ’    

'But since Yakumo-kun said to do so, isn’t it necessary?’    

'I think the same way . ’    

Makoto agreed with Haruka’s irresponsible words .     

What were these two doing? Why were these women so reckless even though they didn’t have a plan? Haruka and Makoto didn’t pay any attention to Ishii and walked farther down the corridor .     

'P-please wait . ’    

Ishii hurriedly ran after the two them .     

He fell –    

-    

7    

-    

Gotou parked his car in front of Kamiyama’s office .     

The last time they came, it had felt like Yakumo was being pulled along by Kamiyama . Gotou had felt it wasn’t like him .     

However, it felt like there’d be some sort of match this time . If not, they wouldn’t have come all the way here .     

Gotou pressed the intercom button, but there was no response . Maybe he was out –    

While he thought there was no point, he tried turning the doorknob . For some reason, it wasn’t locked . He looked to Yakumo, who returned a nod .     

That was right . It’d be illegal trespassing, but there was no point just standing in front of the door like this .     

'We’re coming in . ’    

While he said that, Gotou opened the door and stepped into the room .     

Yakumo and Hata followed after him . The lights were on in the room, but there was no one there . They passed the kitchen and stepped into the living room .     

There were two partially drunk coffee cups on the reception table .     

There had to have been somebody here just earlier .     

'Kamiyama! You here?’    

Gotou called out towards the room in the back, but there was no response .     

Even if he had been there, he wouldn’t have just showed his face honestly .     

'It seems Kamiyama-san isn’t present . ’    

Yakumo walked in front .     

'How do you know?’    

'There weren’t any shoes . ’    

Hata replied for Yakumo .     

Gotou hadn’t noticed at all . There was nothing he could do about being made a fool of if he wasn’t attentive .     

'You’re here, are you not? Inoue Asami-san . ’    

Yakumo spoke towards the door at the back of the living room .     

'W-what!? She’s here?’    

'Isn’t it natural? As you know from the trick with the locked room, Kamiyama-san and Asami-san were accomplices . ’    

Yakumo shook his head like he couldn’t believe Gotou as he continued .     

'Furthermore, she was also the person who came to me with the name Iida Mizuho to request that I investigate a spiritual phenomenon . ’    

Iida Mizuho –    

The other case Yakumo was investigating . That was how he’d become connected to Sawaguchi Rika .     

'I looked into the university’s name register . There is nobody named Iida Mizuho . Asami-san, you pretended that it was a coincidence and involved me in this case,’ continued Yakumo .     

So that’s what Haruka was investigating –    

After a while, the door to the room in the back opened . A woman walked out into the living room .     

She’s Inoue Asami –    

It was the first time Gotou had seen her face-to-face .     

Her long hair was tied in the back and she was looking down where she stood . Her face was so pale he almost doubted whether she was alive .     

However, those eyes seemed to have a strong light in them .     

Asami bowed politely, almost as if she had known that this had been going to be the outcome .     

There was a bandage around her left arm . The blood left on the mobile phone at the scene had been real . She had cut her own arm and left her blood at the scene .     

She had wanted to do something to the point of doing that .     

'What sort of stupid game are you playing!?’    

Gotou drew closer to Asami .     

When he thought about how Makoto had run about in her worry for her, a hot anger boiled up in the bottom of his stomach .     

'It isn’t a game . ’    

Yakumo placed a hand on Gotou’s shoulder to pacify him .     

'Not a game? What is it then? Working together with that exorcist for fraud?’    

'That is wrong as well . ’    

'Then why did she do this!?’    

Gotou brushed Yakumo aside and gripped Asami by her collar .     

She didn’t resist and just let him grip her collar . Her downcast eyes were still alight like a candle that could go out at any moment .     

Why is she looking at me with those eyes –    

'Stop it, you idiot . ’    

Hata grabbed Gotou’s arm from behind .     

Gotou thought of tearing Hata’s arm off by force, but he restrained himself . If he shook off this delicate old man, he could very well die .     

'Their goal was not fraud but revenge,’ Yakumo said quietly .     

Revenge, he says –    

Revenge for what? Gotou didn’t know .     

Yakumo turned back to Asami and looked at her directly before starting to speak again, answering Gotou’s doubts .     

'You were a victim as well . Isn’t that right, Asami-san?’    

At Yakumo’s quiet words, Asami collapsed like her soul had been taken out of her . A trickle of tears went down her face as she sat on the floor .     

That response proved that Yakumo’s words were correct .     

'Oi . Yakumo . By victim, you don’t mean…’    

'Correct . Like Sawaguchi Rika-san, she was also the victim of an assault . The assailant is the same as well . In Asami-san’s case, since she did not press charges, it didn’t come out, but…’    

'How did you know?’    

'Please remember what Makoto-san said earlier . In the fourth year of university, she couldn’t contact Asami-san for about one month . That was probably when it happened . To tell the truth, it was a bit of a stretch in logic, but I couldn’t think of any reason for her to cooperate in this series of events . ’    

After coming here, Gotou could obscurely see the outline of the case .     

Asami, who had been assaulted, conspired with Kamiyama, the exorcist, and caused the spiritual phenomena . Their goal was revenge .     

She must have done something so elaborate because she had been cornered psychologically and needed to make known the weight of what had been done to her –    

That was why she’d used the story of the grudge of Rika, who’d also undergone an assault and killed herself because of it .     

'When I heard of your disappearance, I immediately thought of the possibility that you were a conspirator . However, I did not have a clear reason . ’    

Yakumo had a sour expression on his face .     

Gotou finally put everything together .     

They had been dragged around by a trick, but it was more important to reveal how everyone was related in order to break through this case .     

’… It had been an average day . The same tomorrow as usual should have come, but…’    

Asami put her two hands on the floor and talked while hanging her head .     

Her voice was filled with so much sadness it was painful .     

'It was so sudden I couldn’t fight back . I just had to bear it until it was over…’    

'You…’    

Yakumo got the better of Gotou who had started to talk .     

He didn’t say anything, but those eyes asked him to let her speak .     

'The female detective I first met after that said this . “Why didn’t you resist? That’s the same as consent, isn’t it?” … I’m not a policewoman . How could I have fought back against a man with a knife…’    

Asami’s words were heavy on Gotou’s shoulders as a policeman .     

Currently, victims of assault cases in Japan were often treated as having given consent unless they actively resisted .     

But, like Asami said, how many people would fight back if their lives were in danger –    

Anger which had no outlet ran through his body with his blood .     

'So you didn’t press charges . No, you couldn’t press charges,’ said Yakumo, kneeling in front of Asami .     

She nodded as her tears fell to the floor .     

'However, since you have made revenge your goal, you have ended up bound . You understand what I am saying, yes?’ said Yakumo gently .     

Asami nodded again .     

'Please tell me . Where is Kamiyama-san?’    

'That’s…’    

Asami raised her tearstained face .     

'You might already know, but I am the real thing . ’    

As Yakumo said that, he took the contact lens out of his left eye .     

He turned his deep red eye towards Asami .     

'Though the method will be different, your goal will be attained . ’    

'Do you know everything?’    

Asami looked right at Yakumo . He answered with a nod .     

'And there is something I have to tell him . The real reason for Sawaguchi Rika-san’s death…’    

'The real reason?’    

'Yes . My goal is to save Rika-san and Kamiyama-san . ’    

'He went to the bar . The situation took a sudden turn, so he plans to use force . Please, somehow…’    

Gotou didn’t know what Yakumo’s real intention was, but it seemed like it had gotten through to Asami .     

'I understand . ’    

Yakumo stood up .     

Gotou knew what was going to happen next . They were going to go . Gotou just said 'I’m sorry’ to Asami, who had fixed her posture .     

Gotou himself wasn’t sure what he was sorry for, but Asami gave a silent nod .     

'Hata-san, please take care of her . Now, could you see that Chief Ideuchi comes to the bar called Snake?’    

Yakumo’s words made Gotou remember something important .     

Ideuchi’s son is gone too . He’s not working with them too, is he –    

'I don’t mind, but will he come?’    

'If he doesn’t want to, please say that you know where his son is . ’    

'That true?’    

Yakumo showed Gotou a smirk and left the office .     

Gotou looked at Asami again .     

However, he couldn’t say anything . He was too clumsy with words to comfort her . All he could was show it with his actions .     

He got a grip on his emotions and followed Yakumo .     

-    

8    

-    

Gotou stood in front of the multi-tenant four-storey building that the bar was in .     

The sun had started to set so the white walls of the building were dyed orange .     

Yakumo, standing next to him, had a difficult expression on his face, which was unusual . He hadn’t spoken a word on the ride here either .     

Gotou understood, since he had known him for a long time . When he looked like this –    

'You in two minds?’    

Yakumo looked at Gotou with his red left eye .     

'I might be . ’    

Even though he’d usually put up a strong front, Yakumo readily acknowledged the truth .     

'Well, aren’t you being unusually honest . ’    

'I am always honest . ’    

It was amusing to hear that from the world’s most contrary person .     

'So what are you in two minds about after coming all the way here?’    

'I’m wondering whether there is a need to stop this series of incidents…’    

'What do you mean?’    

'They haven’t committed any actual crimes . No, there’ll be a crime soon enough, but still, if I think about their emotions, it seems natural . I wonder whether I have the right to stop them…’    

Yakumo’s gaze wavered, emulating his emotions .     

Since Gotou only grasped the outline of what was happening, he couldn’t understand what Yakumo meant . However, there was just one thing he could say .     

'To hell with rights . It’s not some judgement about good and evil . I can’t just leave it like this though . It’s the same for you, right?’    

Yakumo laughed aloud at Gotou’s words .     

What the hell was he laughing at?    

'That’s just like you, Gotou-san . That’s right . I’ll stop thinking about unnecessary things . ’    

After Yakumo said that and stopped laughing, he turned his gaze directly to the building .     

It appeared that he had been able to change his mood . That was good . He was ready and had put on airs, but Yakumo couldn’t be feeling that different from how Gotou was feeling .     

'OK – going then?’    

Gotou hit his cheeks with both hands to motivate himself and took the first step forward . That moment, a mobile phone started ringing as if to stop him .     

What bad timing –    

    

He heard Ishii’s voice from the phone . It sounded like he could start crying at any moment .     

'What?’    

    

'Oi, Yakumo . Are you really going to call out the chief?’    

Gotou covered the mouthpiece and asked Yakumo that .     

'Yes . I made that request to Makoto-san earlier . ’    

So that was what he said at the hospital then .     

Chief Ideuchi and the chief of the police . What was he going to start by gathering them? Well, there was no point thinking about it now . Gotou had placed his bets on Yakumo .     

'So, where should they bring him?’    

'Obviously, they should bring him here . ’    

That made sense .     

'The bar . ’    

Gotou said that and hung up .     

Now –    

'Going?’    

'Yes, let’s go . ’    

Gotou started walking before Yakumo answered . He took the stairs down to the bar in the basement and placed his hand on the doorknob . It was locked and wouldn’t open .     

'Please open it,’ Yakumo said, as a matter of course .     

Yeah, yeah, he got it .     

Like a locked door would stop Gotou . He kicked the door with all his strength .     

However, the wooden doorframe only warped a bit .     

Gotou kicked it a second and third time .     

'Damn! What a door!’    

The door opened on the fourth kick .     

'Isn’t there a way to enter more quietly?’    

'Shut up!’    

Gotou intercepted Yakumo’s comment with a yell and stepped into the bar .     

The lights were off and the bar was completely dark . However, he felt somebody there .     

Gotou advanced to the back of the bar without hesitation .     

Clatter .     

Gotou’s ears caught a noise .     

Just as he had put himself on guard, a violent shock came down on his head .     

Crack . There was the sound of something breaking . It seemed like he’d been hit by something like a pole .     

He saw somebody moving at the edge of his vision .     

'Did you think you’d knock me out with something like that!?’    

Gotou threw the hardest punch he could at that shadow . He hit it . After a yowl like that of a cat whose tail had gotten stepped on, there was the sound of something thumping against the floor .     

Suddenly, everything lit up, so he put up his hands to shield his eyes from the brightness .     

'You could have walked in after turning on the lights . Gotou-san, you really are an idiot beyond my imagination . ’    

Yeah, he was an idiot .     

'Stop grumbling . If I turned on the lights, the guy inside would’ve noticed, right?’    

'The person would have noticed the moment you kicked down the door . You really are unreasonable . ’    

This brat went on and on about everything –    

'Shut up! I can do what I want!’    

Gotou turned around and grabbed Yakumo’s collar .     

'You’re bleeding . A fair amount at that,’ said Yakumo with a smile .     

Blood – Gotou put his hand to his forehead . It was wet . When he looked, his hand was covered in blood . There was a broken mop by his feet .     

Damn, who the hell had done that?    

Gotou grabbed the hair of the person who had fallen facedown and pulled him up to check his face .     

There was blood all around the man’s nose, but Gotou could tell . It was that bastard rapist who used the fake name Murase Shinichi, Oori Kazushi –    

Sobbing .     

Gotou heard a voice that wasn’t a groan or a yell .     

He’d thought it was Oori, but he was wrong . It appeared Yakumo had promptly noticed where the noise had come from . He pointed towards the lavatory in the corner of the bar .     

Telling me to go then –    

Gotou let go of Oori, and weaved through the space between the tables towards the lavatory .     

Gotou stopped in front of the door . Makoto had said that the woman’s ghost had been reflected in the lavatory mirror .     

Will something appear –    

Gotou opened the door forcefully .     

That moment, a person who seemed to have collapsed fell out . His mouth was covered with tape and his arms and legs were bound with rope . There were bruises all over his face and his nose was bleeding, like somebody had hit him .     

He was Yagi Keita, the bartender here .     

His face was drenched with sweat and he was shaking in fear .     

'You OK?’    

While Gotou said that, he ripped the tape of the bartender’s mouth all at once .     

'A woman – a woman! I-I’m going to be killed!’    

The bartender Yagi was as noisy as a child having a tantrum .     

When Gotou looked at the back of the lavatory, there was a faint image of a woman’s face in the mirror hanging there .     

That’s Sawaguchi Rika –    

Was she wandering because she had unresolved hatred?    

Gotou turned around to see Yakumo .     

'Gotou-san, please break that mirror,’ said Yakumo, a faint smile on his lips .     

No trouble at all . Gotou picked up a nearby chair and threw it at the lavatory mirror . It broke with a piercing crack .     

'Can’t you break it a little more quietly?’    

Yakumo looked exasperated . He always had so much to say .     

When Gotou turned back to look into the lavatory, Sawaguchi Rika was still on the opposite side of the mirror .     

'Yakumo . Explain . ’    

'Please take a good look . That is an LCD monitor . ’    

As he was instructed, he took another look . He hadn’t realised at first glance, but it was an LCD monitor and an image was projected on it .     

'This is…’    

'A trick . ’    

'A trick . ’    

'Yes . The mirror you broke earlier was a one-way mirror . When that monitor is off, it is a normal mirror, but when an image is projected there, that light faintly produces her image . ’    

Gotou recalled the one-way mirror in the interrogation room and understood .     

A one-way mirror was a semi-transmissive mirror which split two rooms . When one room was lit up and the other made dark, it would appear to be a mirror from the bright room and would be a glass from the dark one . If both were bright, then it would be simply glass .     

If the monitor in the lavatory were turned off, it would be dark behind the mirror so it would appear to be a mirror . However, if the monitor were on, both sides would be bright because of the light so the woman would appear in the glass .     

'The other spiritual phenomena were probably also done with one-way mirrors and black lights . ’    

It was a simple trick now that it had been explained .     

'Damn, doing something so stupidly elaborate . ’    

Gotou dragged the monitor out and flung it to the floor .     

The monitor was cracked, but it still showed an image of a woman .     

'Why don’t you come out already? Kamiyama Eiji-san . ’    

Yakumo spoke while looking from the lavatory to the counter .     

That was right . Inoue Asami said that Kamiyama was here . Where was here? Where was that fake exorcist?    

Gotou looked around the bar .     

'Inoue Asami-san came clean . Your spiritual ability will not fool me . ’    

Yakumo’s voice echoed through the bar .     

In response to that, the small door behind the counter opened and Kamiyama came out .     

He was in a black suit as usual, and his two eyes were a bright red .     

'I knew that you would come, Saitou Yakumo-kun . ’    

Even though he was cornered, Kamiyama’s tone didn’t feel hurried or angry .     

There was even a calm and composed smile on his lips . Was he still scheming something?    

'Of course . You made Asami-san use a fake name and purposefully involved me in this case . Even my actions now are a part of your plan… isn’t that right?’    

Yakumo’s cool tone wouldn’t lose to Kamiyama’s .     

'Just as expected, your perception is sharp . ’    

'I don’t know if you are praising me or mocking me,’ said Yakumo, slowly approaching Kamiyama .     

'I’m praising you . No, I may have underestimated you . ’    

'What do you mean?’    

'It is still too early for your entrance . ’    

Yakumo and Kamiyama looked straight at each other . The air of tension made it feel like sparks would fly .     

These two are the only ones who understand everything –    

However, Gotou didn’t . From the way it seemed, Asami had conspired with the exorcist Kamiyama to cause these incidents in order to take revenge against the rapist Oori .     

But looking at these two, Gotou felt like it wasn’t that simple .     

Why would Kamiyama participate in Asami’s plan? Why did he involve Yagi and Ideuchi’s son?    

Plus, Yakumo had called the chief of police and Ideuchi here . What for?    

'Oi, Yakumo . Give an explanation already . ’    

'Gotou-san, it would be better if you made a habit of taking a proper look at the data . ’    

'What? This isn’t the time to be complaining about things like that . Don’t keep me hanging . ’    

In response to Gotou’s irritation, Yakumo smiled wryly as he ran a hand through his hair .     

'I suppose it’s fine . But before I begin the explanation – Kamiyama-san, please take off those tasteless contacts . ’    

Yakumo turned back to Kamiyama .     

Those red eyes were fake? Gotou had seen it though . Kamiyama had taken contacts off his black eyes and they’d turned red .     

'Oi, Yakumo, but he…’    

'It’s called palming . A rudimentary magic technique for hiding things like coins in your palm . ’    

'It’s a magic trick?’    

'Yes . He made it look like he had taken off his contacts, when he had in fact put red ones in . On top of that, after making it appear like he’d taken them out, all he would have to do is show the contacts hidden in his palm,’ explained Yakumo while turning around .     

Kamiyama let out an amused laugh as he heard that . That was proof that he acknowledged it .     

'I rather like them, personally . ’    

After Kamiyama said that, he took out the red contacts . He’d taken them in .     

'Now, let’s continue the conversation . ’    

Yakumo put his index finger to his brow .     

'First, there is something I would like to confirm . If this is wrong, then my reasoning will completely collapse . ’    

Oi oi, Yakumo . Why was he showing all his cards?    

If he spoke with that as the premise, the person he was talking to could change his answer to anything he wanted . He could just bluff as he usually did, couldn’t he? Yakumo continued speaking, ignoring Gotou’s concerns .     

'I said this before, but this is only the way I perceive it . I have no hard evidence at all . However, Kamiyama-san . You were Sawaguchi Rika-san’s lover . Am I wrong?’    

'Though you say you have no hard proof, you sound rather confident . ’    

Kamiyama rubbed his nose like he was embarrassed .     

'That true?’ asked Gotou . Yakumo glared at him like he thought he was annoying .     

'Kamiyama-san . Please answer . Is it yes? Or…’    

'Why do you think that?’    

'Right, Yakumo . Why?’    

Gotou repeated Kamiyama’s question .     

'Like I said, Gotou-san, you should take a proper look at the data . ’    

That had nothing to do with what they were saying now, right?    

'Sawaguchi Rika’s lover’s name wasn’t written in the data . What the hell are you talking about?’    

'I said it was my reasoning, did I not? It is just the conclusion that anyone would arrive at if they looked at the data . ’    

'I have no idea what you’re talking about . ’    

Irritation was building up in Gotou and about to burst .     

'Kamiyama-san used to be a teacher . At the same school that Sawaguchi Rika attended . ’    

Was that how it was? Gotou hadn’t noticed at all . But just being a teacher and student at the same school didn’t make them lovers .     

Like he had read Gotou’s mind, Yakumo continued speaking .     

'That isn’t all . Kamiyama-san himself brought up the topic of the ghost of Sawaguchi Rika-san who committed suicide, but he didn’t behave like he knew her at all . That is unnatural . Isn’t it normal to think he is hiding something?’    

Now that he mentioned it, it was just as Yakumo said .     

Even if the class was different, he should have known her name and face – he wouldn’t have thought nothing of it .     

'The time he quit his job at the school is the exact same period that she committed suicide . If we think further along these lines, you heard that there was a female student who had pursued Kamiyama-sensei then . Gotou-san, what was that student’s name?’    

'If I remember correctly, it was Kawaguchi or Yamaguchi… Ah!’    

Gotou let out his voice without thinking .     

That was right . The memories of the teacher Mamiya had been vague .     

'It seems you’ve noticed . It might be a stretch, but it was probably Sawaguchi . ’    

Kamiyama let out a long sigh and walked out from the counter to the floor .     

Even if he didn’t say it aloud, Gotou knew . Kamiyama had given up on denying Yakumo’s reasoning –    

'Rika was very kind . She dreamed of becoming a teacher . She had thought that from watching me, which made me happy . She was a bit stubborn sometimes, but she had a strong will and tried to move forward . ’    

Kamiyama kept talking, like he was reading from a textbook .     

However, Gotou felt like he was doing it purposefully rather than naturally .     

'You created this plan in order for Rika-san’s revenge then . ’    

Kamiyama smiled bitterly at Yakumo’s question .     

'Oi, Yakumo . Didn’t that Asami make this plan?’    

'No, she didn’t . ’    

Yakumo gave an immediate reply .     

'Kamiyama-san created this plan himself . Kamiyama-san gathered everyone involved in this case and enacted this plan . ’    

'Aaagh . ’    

Gotou heard a groan .     

Oori, who had been on the floor since earlier, got up shakily, sat on the nearby chair and hung his head .     

Maybe his mind was in a daze or he had given up on running – his movements were extremely sluggish .     

'Everything started with his lust then . ’    

Gotou glared angrily at Oori .     

One punch didn’t cut it . He wanted to hit him two or three more times .     

'Gotou-san, that’s wrong . He’s on Kamiyama-san’s side . ’    

'Eh?’    

This guy is the culprit behind the assaults . He’d ruined someone’s life, sold the pictures of his crime, and still lived peacefully, this bastard .     

Why would he pair up with Kamiyama –    

'Perfect timing . Since it seems our guest has arrived, let us talk with him . ’    

Yakumo looked to the entrance . Gotou did the same .     

Ideuchi was there .     

-    

9    

-    

Earlier, Yakumo had told Hata to bring Ideuchi here .     

However, he seemed like an out-of-place guest to Gotou .     

'Gotou . What on earth is going on? I came because I heard Yuuya was here, but who are they?’ said Ideuchi while looking around the room .     

See, look . He was out of place .     

'He knows where your son is . ’    

Yakumo pointed at Kamiyama .     

'You… What did you do to my son!?’    

Suddenly, Ideuchi rushed at Kamiyama . It was the first time Gotou had seen Ideuchi lose control so badly .     

So after all’s said and done, he’s still someone’s dad, huh –    

'Gotou-san, please stop him . ’    

Honestly, when he’d been the one to egg him on in the first place .     

Gotou stood in front of Ideuchi and held him in place .     

'Let go, you bastard!’    

Ideuchi flailed his arms like a child in a fight, but there was no way he could win in a contest of strength against Gotou .     

Gotou knocked him down to the floor .     

'Calm down!’    

Ideuchi rolled on the floor and looked dazed .     

'I-I am calm,’ said Ideuchi while standing up . It appeared that he was more composed – maybe he was out of breath .     

'Oi, Yakumo . Why’d you call him here?’    

'Obviously because he is related to the case,’ Yakumo said, like it was extremely obvious .     

However, Gotou didn’t understand . Yakumo didn’t seem to care as he walked towards Yagi, whose arms and legs were bound .     

'Gotou-san, please help over here as well . ’    

Yakumo started untying the rope around Yagi’s legs .     

Gotou put his hands on the rope around his hands when Yakumo said, 'It would be better if you didn’t take those off . ’    

Gotou didn’t feel like asking any more questions . He helped untie the ropes around Yagi’s legs, left his arms as is and sat him on a chair .     

'Now, the point of this case is that everyone is sorted into two sides: the side which lay the trap and the side that was trapped . ’    

Yakumo looked around at everyone present .     

Sides? Does he mean the perps and the vics –    

'I will say this first . The people who attended the drinking party and witnessed the fake spiritual phenomenon were gathered intentionally . Everyone had a role . In short, the members had to be those members . The members were carefully gathered under the preliminary arrangements . ’    

'Forget about that . Tell me where Yuuya is . And who are you anyway!? You’re sure talking big!’    

Ideuchi hit the table and interrupted Yakumo’s explanation .     

Yakumo did not flinch – all he did was raise an eyebrow and make an openly displeased face .     

'Gotou-san, this person is annoying . Is he always like this?’    

'To the point that he’s being more obedient than usual,’ said Gotou after clicking his tongue .     

What was with that attitude when he was the one who called him here? And when that guy was here, things always got more complicated .     

Yakumo sighed like he thought there was nothing to be done and then slowly approached Ideuchi to put his face close to his ear .     

'As it appears you have not noticed, let me introduce you . His face has changed from plastic surgery, but this is Oori Kazushi-san . ’    

While Yakumo murmured, he pointed at Oori .     

That moment, Ideuchi’s expression changed . Surprise – no, that was wrong . To Gotou, Ideuchi looked afraid .     

Yakumo nodded with a feeling of satisfaction after seeing that .     

'Since Ideuchi-san has become quiet as well, I will continue speaking . Gotou-san, when you saw the images published on that website, there was a tattoo on the assailant’s arm, correct?’    

'Yeah . ’    

A tattoo of a cross with a snake coiling around it –    

'The same pattern was also drawn in Sawaguchi Rika-san’s diary . Perhaps she had drawn it as a clue for the assault case . ’    

That was right . That was how they found out Oori and Shinichi were the same person .     

'Yakumo walked towards Oori .     

'Oori-san . Could you show us your arm?’    

After Yakumo said that to Oori, Oori pulled up his shirt sleeve and showed his right arm without any hesitation . There was no tattoo there –    

What was going on?    

'Gotou-san, I said this earlier as well, but you wouldn’t be deceived by things like this if you would look at the data properly . ’    

'What did you say?’    

'If Oori Kazushi-san had also had the tattoo, it should have been recorded in the data for his physical features since he was the perpetrator of an assault . However, it wasn’t mentioned . ’    

That was right . Normally, when they made an arrest, they’d record everything about the guy – weight and fingerprints, of course, but they’d note physical features like moles and tattoos too .     

However, Oori’s tattoo hadn’t been mentioned anywhere .     

'But earlier…’    

'The tattoo you saw was painted . On top of that, it was not on the right arm but the left . ’    

Which meant, maybe –    

An uneasy feeling spread throughout Gotou .     

'Oori-san’s arm had been injured from the spiritual phenomenon, yes?’    

'Yeah . ’    

When Gotou came to the bar last time, Oori’s arm had suddenly started bleeding in the dark .     

'That was a trick that occurred because he was Kamiyama-san’s side . The truth is that something like that is impossible . I will say this again and again, but the spirits of the dead are clusters of emotions and virtually all have no physical influence . ’    

After Yakumo said that much, he glanced at Kamiyama .     

Gotou recalled how Kamiyama and Yakumo had discussed the definition of a ghost’s existence before . It had sounded like the odds were with Kamiyama then, but now the situation had completely flipped around .     

Maybe the reason Yakumo hadn’t wanted to persist in talking about his reasoning this time was related to that .     

Gotou hadn’t said it aloud, but he had wondered whether Yakumo’s definition of a ghost had been wrong . Otherwise he would have reached the truth immediately .     

If you applied Yakumo’s definition to the spiritual phenomena that occurred this time, they were just farces .     

Gotou had been drawn right along too though, so he couldn’t say anything .     

'They wanted to show that tattoo purposefully by enacting that spiritual phenomenon, in order to shake the heart of their true target . An appeal to say “We know everything” . ’    

'Oi, Yakumo . Who’s that true target you’re talking about?’    

Without answer Gotou’s question, Yakumo slowly walked towards Yagi, the bartender .     

Yagi stood up in fear and backed up towards the side of the room .     

'I won’t let you escape,’ said Yakumo, staring at Yagi .     

Yagi lost his will to run with that red left eye glaring at him . Yagi hung his head limply as Yakumo took his arm and rolled up the sleeve .     

There it was . The tattoo of the cross with a snake coiling around it .     

'It can’t be that he’s the real culprit behind the assault . ’    

Gotou couldn’t stop himself from approaching Yagi .     

'He is . He is also the one who assaulted Asami-san . That image is proof . Also, I dare say that before this place became a bar, it was the scene of the crime…’    

Which means –    

'Oori-san was falsely charged . ’    

Yakumo said that at a noticeably louder volume .     

Those words made Gotou’s footing unsteady .     

'You… you…’    

Oori stood up while muttering . His face was bright red and there were traces of tears in his eyes .     

'Aaaahh!’    

Oori suddenly let out a beastly yell and, using the table as a diving board, jumped towards Ideuchi .     

It was so sudden that Ideuchi, defenceless, fell into a chair and then the floor . Oori was on top of him .     

'Stop!’    

Gotou rushed towards them immediately and pulled Oori off of Ideuchi .     

There wasn’t as much resistance as he thought there would be . Oori fell to the floor and cried with shaking shoulders .     

'Oi, Yakumo . Is it true that he was falsely accused?’    

'Unfortunately… it took me a while to notice which side he was on . ’    

'Why did you notice?’    

'There were a number of things that would not hold true unless Oori-san was on Kamiyama-san’s side . If he was falsely accused, I could understand both his reason for aiding Kamiyama-san in his plan and his reason for involving himself with the young man called Yuuya . ’    

'Falsely accused? That’s ridiculous . ’    

Ideuchi, who had collapsed, used the table to help himself stand up . Contrary to his words, his face was drained of blood .     

Yakumo’s red left eye stared at him .     

'I have no physical evidence . However, the circumstantial evidence is complete . ’    

After Yakumo said that, he suddenly walked towards Ideuchi .     

Ideuchi silently averted his gaze .     

'Yagi Keita-san’s father was a Diet member . Sawaguchi Rika-san’s case occurred during the period when he was aiming for re-election . ’    

'What of it? That has nothing to do with the police . ’    

Ideuchi was averting his gaze as he spoke .     

No matter how much of a strong front he put up, that voice was shaking unreliably .     

'Yagi-san didn’t think that the police would mobilise . He had made light of the situation, thinking nobody was going to say anything, so all he had done was put on a mask . If an investigation actually started, it was only a matter of time before he was caught . Then, he clung to his father . ’    

Gotou left Oori with his head hanging low as he cried and stood up to look at Ideuchi’s face .     

Even though they thought differently, he was a man in the same organisation who he’d worked together with . If he had to say, he didn’t like him, but Gotou had understood somewhere in his heart that people like him were necessary in an organisation .     

'His father was incredibly pressed since it was election time . His son’s scandal would have been fatal . Then, he thought of hushing up the incident and consulted an acquaintance of his in the police . ’    

That was impossible . It couldn’t happen .     

'The person in the police who he consulted decided to try to have the charges withdrawn . Then, this person took the detectives who had been in charge off the case and put in novices who shook up Rika-san during their questioning . In order to have her withdraw charges . ’    

'Yakumo! Stop screwing around! Are you saying the police hushed this up on purpose!? That’s ridiculous!’ yelled Gotou .     

However, Yakumo’s expression didn’t change a whit . He continued talking like nothing had happened .     

'However, Rika-san did not withdraw the charges – she committed suicide . Then, her parents called the police killers, and the press used that to attack . Rather than hushing it up, the situation became such that the only way the settle to it was to arrest the culprit . ’    

'I said to stop screwing around!’    

Gotou grabbed Yakumo’s collar .     

However, Yakumo’s expression still didn’t change .     

'Gotou-san, please be a little bit quieter . You understand already, don’t you?’    

He had never seen Yakumo’s eyes look so cold .     

He was right . Just as Yakumo said, Gotou understood already . But he couldn’t accept it .     

'Even if what you said so far is true, Yagi could just have been arrested then . There was no point in involving Oori!’    

Gotou was still holding on . Yakumo brushed off Gotou’s hand, his expression still blank .     

'They couldn’t arrest Yagi Keita . If they did, the fact that the police and a Diet member had done a backroom deal . In that meaning, it didn’t have to be Oori-san . He was just unlucky . ’    

Gotou looked at Oori’s hunched back .     

His shoulders were still shaking . The guy had been unlucky . That was the only reason he had been imprisoned for three years and had been branded as a rapist . He’d been living with that?    

Eriko had said that the timing of the arrest was too good .     

They had found a picture in his car when he had been caught for drunk driving . It seemed like definite evidence, but anything could be true if the police had arranged it .     

'My life was ruined because of that incident…’    

Oori spoke in a trembling voice .     

Gotou knew what he was going to say next even if he didn’t say it aloud . He became a rapist who brought a woman to her death . That would follow him everywhere .     

No matter how much he wiped, it would come back out to ruin his life .     

'He was not the only one whose life was ruined . ’    

'What?’    

'Please think about Asami-san . She had been assaulted three years before . Do you understand what that means?’    

Gotou no longer had anything to say back .     

Oori had been let out two years ago . He had been in prison three years ago . Oori couldn’t have been the culprit .     

That wasn’t all . They had let the true culprit run free while knowing that .     

Because of that, she – Asami had been raped . Her life after that grossly warped .     

There was the true reason Kamiyama, Oori and Asami didn’t directly take revenge .     

As long as the police were involved, it would just be hushed up if they made a fuss about the case . They would just be oppressed if they used force .     

They put on these fake spiritual phenomena so the police wouldn’t get involved –    

'Ideuchi-san . ’    

Yakumo’s eyes were full of anger as they looked at Ideuchi .     

'I said this earlier as well, but I do not have any physical evidence . You can deny it if you want . However, if you do, your son will not return again . ’    

Gotou looked at Ideuchi too .     

The man looked older than he was because of the overwork that had built up . Please . Deny it . Gotou was begging him to do so in a corner of his heart .     

'Please return my son to me…’    

Ideuchi lowered his head as he said that desperately .     

That was the sign that he admitted everything –    

'That is what he has said . What will you do, Kamiyama-san?’    

Yakumo turned his gaze to Kamiyama .     

Kamiyama smiled triumphantly .     

'Yuuya-kun has been entrusted to a new religious organisation under the pretext of exorcising evil spirits . ’    

So that’s how it is –    

Now that he thought about it, Kamiyama and Oori were the reasons they thought Yuuya had disappeared .     

He hadn’t been abducted or cursed . He’d been left at a religious organisation with the pretext of escaping a ghost’s curse – they’d just raised a fuss about his disappearance after that .     

'Is Yuuya safe?’ Ideuchi said with pleading eyes .     

'Yes . He is doing well . ’    

'That isn’t all, is it?’    

Yakumo replied to Kamiyama’s words .     

'You’ve seen through me, then… As expected . In order to participate in that training, he made an offering of about five million yen . ’    

'W-where’d he get that money?’    

'There are organisations that would happily lend out money to the son of the chief of police . I think it was ten per cent interest every ten days?’    

Yakumo answered Ideuchi’s question . That moment, Ideuchi collapsed .     

So that was how it was . That was their goal . To have the son of the chief of police borrow five million from the yakuza .     

There was no method that was more effective in tormenting Ideuchi this much . He would go at full speed to his ruin .     

'But why did they assault Makoto?’    

Yakumo looked at Gotou like he was an idiot .     

'The one who assaulted Makoto-san was Yagi-san . ’    

'Why?’    

'Because he was afraid . That day, the woman he had assaulted in the past came to the bar as a guest . Then, a strange spiritual phenomenon occurred in the bar, he heard that Asami-san disappeared from a locked room, an exorcist appeared, and the name of the woman who had committed suicide because he assaulted her came up . ’    

'It shook his nerves . ’    

'On top of that, a reporter and the police came to investigate… Though it was like him to attack Makoto-san instead of Kamiyama-san or Oori-san…’    

Yakumo bit his lip .     

Gotou understood now . Makoto had been the start of it, but they had all just been there as a gallery to make the spiritual phenomena appear true .     

If they had statements from a reporter and the police, even something that was difficult to believe like a person’s disappearance could hold true .     

'Now, Saitou Yakumo-kun . What are you going to do from here on?’    

Kamiyama narrowed his eyes and looked at Yakumo challengingly .     

'What are you trying to say?’    

Gotou couldn’t stand that triumphant attitude . He interrupted for Yakumo .     

'We went mad because of their egoism . Would it have been correct for us to give up because there was nothing to be done? They should be punished . Don’t you think so?’ asked Kamiyama . It sounded like his pointed comment wasn’t aimed just at Yakumo but at everyone there .     

'I thought that at first too . It would be fine if the truth came out after your revenge played out . Nobody would blame you…’    

So Yakumo had been calculating his timing .     

When he had seen through the case, that had marked the end of Kamiyama’s revenge . Maybe he had been thinking of seeing their revenge through to the end .     

'Then why did you get in our way?’    

Even with Kamiyama’s challenging gaze, Yakumo’s expression didn’t change at all .     

'In order to explain that reason, there is something else I need to bring to light . ’    

Yakumo spoke slowly . The tone made it sound like everything that had happened up until now was just a sideshow .     

'What is it?’    

Kamiyama also spoke calmly .     

Like boxers with their fists up, the two of them appeared to be enjoying the atmosphere .     

'The truth behind Rika-san’s death . ’    

'She was physically raped by that man, psychologically raped by the police and driven to her death . ’    

To Gotou, it looked like there a pale flame of anger had lit in Kamiyama’s cool expression .     

'That is not all . When I first met you, you said this . The spirit of a woman who committed suicide is here, and she had a strong hatred…’    

'I remember something like that . ’    

'That conversation confused me slightly . ’    

'What do you mean?’    

'Rika-san’s spirit certainly had been there, but it looked different to me . ’    

Yakumo paused . There was silence –    

It felt like time had stopped .     

'To me, it looked like she was filled with sadness rather than hatred . ’    

Kamiyama made no response . Kamiyama had no way of ascertaining whether Yakumo’s words were correct or not since he himself couldn’t have seen it .     

'If that person won’t accept me, is there any reason for me to live…’    

'What is that?’ asked Gotou .     

'This is a part of Rika-san’s suicide note, which had been lost . ’    

So her suicide note really did exist?    

But how did Yakumo know what was in it? Where’d he get his hands on it?    

'Did you not reject her as a woman after she was assaulted? Many women who are assaulted think of themselves as impure . How painful do you think it was for her when the person she loved turned his back on her?’    

Kamiyama closed his eyes calmly without saying anything at Yakumo’s words .     

'I see… That was the true reason Rika committed suicide…’    

'There could be no other trigger for her suicide . You were the trigger . ’    

Yakumo said that one sentence at the end .     

Tears were falling from the corners of Kamiyama’s eyes .     

Gotou would’ve responded too if the person he loved had been assaulted . He imagined his wife’s face and thought about it .     

The answer’s obvious . I’d want to support her with all my strength in order to save her .     

But would it go that well? I might understand it in my head, but wouldn’t I end up inadvertently rejecting her like Kamiyama did Rika?    

People are weak creatures –    

'Kamiyama-san, she is still suffering . Even after her death, she has not been released from her pain and is still committing suicide in the same place . ’    

This man had also been on the wrong path . People never noticed the important things in front of their eyes .     

And so tragedies repeated .     

'You are probably the only one who can stop her . ’    

At Yakumo’s last words, Kamiyama fell to the ground and started sobbing .     

-    

10    

-    

Nobody said anything as they looked at the floor .     

Assault cases . Under criminal law, the greatest penalty was just a few years of prison time .     

However, that had ruined so many people’s lives . It was the same for other crimes . They didn’t just affect the people there . It became a large wave that enveloped everyone involved and engulfed them without any mercy .     

Gotou had no place to vent his anger so he restrained himself by clenching his fists .     

'I came here because I knew how she felt . In order to end your act of revenge . ’    

'Before I resented anybody, I should have embraced her…’ replied Kamiyama, his eyes bright red .     

His expression was gentle, like he was a completely different person than he had been before .     

'Yakumo-kun, I wish I had met you first and not your father . ’    

'As I expected, that man did participate then . ’    

Yakumo’s eyes changed .     

That man was Yakumo’s father, who had two red eyes . Kamiyama had said before that he’d met a man with two red eyes .     

'He said this to me . The true nature of a person’s soul is darkness . Rika’s soul was filled with hatred even after death . That there was no other way to save her besides clearing that hatred . ’    

'If it is nonsense to say that there is always hope, it is also nonsense to say that everything is darkness . People’s feelings cannot all be the same way . ’    

Yakumo’s words were full of a strong will without any clouds .     

'That’s right . It appears I’ve been trifled with . ’    

Kamiyama took a plastic container out from behind the counter and started pouring it out .     

The bar quickly filled with an irritating odour .     

After Kamiyama threw away the plastic container that was now empty, he took a knife from his pocket, walked up to Yagi, who was hunched up on the chair . He bound his arms behind his back and made him stand .     

'Oi! What are you doing!?’    

When Gotou tried to approach him, Kamiyama put the blade of the knife to Yagi’s neck .     

'Aah!’    

Yagi’s shriek echoed through the bar .     

'Oi! Get away!’    

Kamiyama didn’t react to Gotou’s words . He then took a Zippo lighter from his pocket and lit it up .     

Just from that, Gotou understood what Kamiyama was trying to do .     

The liquid on the floor had to be flammable .     

'Yakumo-kun, I understand what you are saying . If I had accepted her, she wouldn’t have died . However, even if she hadn’t died, the fact that she would have suffered all her life wouldn’t have changed . ’    

'I do not deny that,’ said Yakumo in a voice that sounded like it would fade away .     

Gotou couldn’t deny it either . Even if she didn’t die then, she would have had to continue living with that injury for the rest of her life .     

Rape was a crime that injured the heart .     

'She had her rest stolen from her . I just can’t forgive this man . ’    

'Oi! Don’t do anything stupid! We know everything now . Yagi will be sent to prison!’    

Gotou shorted the distance between him and Kamiyama .     

Kamiyama shook his head, pointing the tip of the knife towards Gotou .     

'I looked at the video of Rika being assaulted countless times . Every time, I was hit by a pain that felt like it would cut through my chest and thought I would go mad . In that video, she had called out my name while bearing with the humiliation, but no matter how I try, I can’t go there…’    

Tears were falling from Kamiyama’s eyes again .     

Even if he could think about it in his head, it was no more than his imagination . If he didn’t want to think about it, he could run away at any time by thinking it was a fantasy .     

Kamiyama had accepted it as the truth because he couldn’t do otherwise .     

'Detective, could you forgive it if it were you? If the person you loved was not only assaulted but had images of her humiliation uploaded to the internet for tens of thousands of people to see after her death, just for a cheap way of getting money . ’    

After a pause, Kamiyama asked Gotou the same question again .     

'Could you forgive it if it were you?’    

No, he couldn’t . He couldn’t stop this guy .     

That was how Gotou felt . Rather, he felt like this Yagi guy should die . He wasn’t going to reform anyway .     

At least he could let Kamiyama kill him .     

'I’ll apologist to her in that world . Then, I will forget everything and accept her . ’    

After Kamiyama said that, he dropped the lighter to the ground .     

Flames started dancing up at once . On the other side of the fire, Yagi screamed while struggling .     

The flame was spreading every second and the bar was filling with smoke .     

Ideuchi and Oori rushed towards the exits, but Gotou didn’t move as the flames spread .     

What was that? How disgusting .     

'Gotou-san! What are you just standing there for? Please save him!’    

Yakumo was the one who yelled . He was still here too?    

'When did the police start forgiving revenge? Gotou-san, no matter who it is, you aren’t the sort of person who would let someone die without helping, correct?’    

Yakumo’s lips turned up in a smile .     

That was right . It was just as Yakumo said . What had he been doing?    

No matter what sort of villain they were, killing somebody was unforgiveable . He didn’t understand the difficult things, but that was the road he believed in .     

He’d almost done something that he would have regretted for the rest of his life .     

'That’s right . That was right . ’    

'Then please hurry up and save him . Oh, but bears are afraid of fires, aren’t they?’    

That Yakumo – saying too much even at a time like this .     

Gotou would definitely punch him after this was over . He’d remember .     

'Don’t think that a fire like this could stop me!’     1

Gotou stooped and ran into the fire .     

He broke through the wall of flames and hit Kamiyama . Gotou, Kamiyama and Yagi – the three of them fell over together .     

Gotou stood up immediately, grabbed Yagi first and pushed him out of the flames with all his strength . Thump! There was a loud sound .     

He might’ve hit the ground strangely . Well, that’s better than dying . Next –    

'Why are you getting in my way?’ asked Kamiyama, slowly getting up .     

Why? The answer was obvious, right?    

'I won’t let anybody get killed in front of me . I won’t let anybody die . That’s the sort of guy I am!’    

'But you couldn’t save my lover… Rika . ’    

Just as Kamiyama says, I couldn’t save her . But that’s why I have to do this –    

'I’m going to save you!’    

'You are fascinating people . It was only a brief time, but it was a very enjoyable one . It will become a good tale to tell her . ’    

After Kamiyama said that, he thrust Gotou away .     

Gotou was suddenly knocked out of the flames .     

'Damn . ’    

The moment Gotou was about to jump back into the flames, the ceiling board fell down right in front of him .     

The flames engulfed it .     

Kamiyama was staring at something through the gap .     

His gaze was on Yakumo .     

The two of them were looking straight at each other . They didn’t say anything, but it was like they were talking .     

Finally, Kamiyama smiled . He smiled – he looked truly happy .     

'Gotou-san, it has reached the limit . Let us go . ’    

Yakumo shook his head and gripped Gotou’s arm .     

'He’s still inside…’    

'This is the path he has chosen . Even if we save him now, he will do the same thing . Moreover, we will be in a dangerous position if we stay here . ’    

The strength of the fire had increased, the bar was filled with smoke and they could not see Kamiyama any longer .     

'Why? Why won’t you try to live!?’ yelled Gotou .     

That yell was aimed towards Kamiyama, but it was also aimed towards Rika, who already wouldn’t return .     

-    

11    

-    

When Ishii, who had brought Makoto, the chief of the police and Haruka, arrived at the building with the bar, the building was enveloped in smoke .     

People had started gathering and there was the sound of a fire engine .     

Oori Kazushi and, for some reason, Ideuchi were outside the building .     

They’re coughing like they were in the smoke . What on earth happened –    

Ishii rushed towards Ideuchi .     

'Chief . Where is Detective Gotou?’    

Ideuchi couldn’t say anything – he just looked at the stairs that led to the bar in the basement . It couldn’t be . He wasn’t still inside, was he?    

'Hey, Ishii-san, what happened? Where’s Yakumo-kun?’    

Haruka looked worried as she tugged on Ishii’s sleeve .     

If Detective Gotou is inside, then Yakumo is probably –    

Ishii wanted to say something, but he couldn’t think of the words .     

The fire engine arrived in front of the building and started extinguishing the fire . One firefighter tried to enter but returned because the fire was too strong .     

Ah, Detective Gotou . He had been a splendid detective . Ishii respected him more than anybody else . Farewell, Detective Gotou .     

Ishii Yuutarou would carry his spirit forward .     

'Yakumo-kun!’ shouted Haruka as she ran towards the entrance .     

That was no good . Ishii grabbed Haruka’s shoulders to stop her from trying to go down the stairs now .     

'Haruka-chan . It’s no good . ’    

'Please let go . Yakumo-kun is still inside!’    

Tears were falling from Haruka’s eyes . Ishii’s chest felt tight upon seeing that .     

Even now, her feelings for him –    

He understood how she felt, but he couldn’t let her go .     

'Haruka-chan, if you go inside, you’ll die as well . It is very unfortunate about Detective Gotou and Yakumo-shi, but even if their bodies have perished, their spirits will always be in our hearts…’    

Something hit Ishii’s head with an incredible force and he unthinkingly bit his tongue .     

'Don’t just go and kill me off!’    

’D-D-Detective Gotou . ’    

It seemed that he was still alive . Ishii was glad . Really, he was glad .     

Ishii was so happy that he hugged Gotou, who was covered in soot .     

'You’re disgusting!’    

Gotou thrust Ishii away and then put down the man he was carrying over his shoulders .     

This man, if Ishii remembered correctly, was the bartender, Yagi Keita .     

'Yakumo-kun . ’    

Yakumo was standing next to Gotou .     

Haruka immediately ran over to him .     

'What? Are you crying again?’    

'That’s because…’    

'Tell me why you’re crying so much some other time,’ said Yakumo, running a hand through his hair .     

What on earth was with that attitude, as usual? The anger gathered in Ishii’s chest . He thought of saying something, but before he could, Haruka kicked Yakumo .     

'I want to ask you one thing . ’    

Gotou stepped forward and glared at Ideuchi with the expression of a demon .     

Ideuchi didn’t make any reply . What was this tension? What on earth had happened inside?    

Ishii just held in his breath, unable to understand the situation .     

'Why did you do something so stupid?’    

Ideuchi would normally have lost his temper if Gotou talked to him like this, but he just hung his head silently .     

'My wife… had cancer . I needed… money . ’    

After a silence, he started speaking like a skipping record .     

'You ruined my life for money!?’ yelled Oori suddenly, raising his fists towards Ideuchi . This is dangerous –    

Gotou had stepped between them much more quickly than Ishii could have acted and pushed Oori down .     

'Got this? If you hit him now, that’ll be assault . We just cleared your name . Leave him to me . ’    

Oori obeyed Gotou’s words .     

Gotou pat Oori lightly on the shoulder .     

'I really am sorry . ’    

Oori looked up at Gotou in surprise and then silently nodded .     

'Your wife’s sickness must have been tough . It costs some money to treat cancer – a detective’s cheap monthly salary wouldn’t have been enough . ’    

While Gotou said that, he cracked his knuckles and rolled his right shoulder .     

He couldn’t . He couldn’t . What was Detective Gotou planning on doing?    

Uneasiness spread throughout Ishii . And then, that uneasiness hit the mark .     

'Aaagh!’    

With a yell, Gotou punched Ideuchi in the face as hard as he could .     

Ideuchi fell down and rolled twice .     

W-w-what is he doing –    

Ishii tried to rush over to Ideuchi after he fell but Gotou went before him to step on Ideuchi’s head .     

'Got this? Listen up! I sympathise, but that’s no reason to screw up someone else’s life! You fool!’    

Gotou’s angry voice shook the air .     

'Gotou-kun, what on earth are you doing?’    

Hijikata, the chief of the police, had come over from hearing the commotion . His daughter Makoto was next to him .     

'Huh?’    

Gotou looked at the chief of the police with contempt .     

He was just like some juvenile delinquent loitering at a train station . Ishii was flustered by everything that was happening .     

'I’m saying to explain what’s happened,’ the police chief said in a forceful tone .     

'Chief Ideuchi was asked with money to hide the assault case that happened five years ago . On top of driving the victim to her suicide, the crime was put on the head of somebody who was completely unrelated . ’    

Yakumo was the one who explained .     

So that was what happened . That was what happened in this case . While Ishii had been away, there had been so many rapid developments in the case that Ishii couldn’t follow .     

'Who are you?’    

The police chief looked at Yakumo . His suspicions were natural .     

'Even if you ask me who I am, I am just a university student who happened to pass by . ’    

This young man has that attitude even in front of the police chief –    

'Is what he’s saying true?’    

The police chief pushed Gotou aside, pulled up Ideuchi’s upper body and asked him that .     

Ideuchi wiped the blood around his lips off and then said quietly, ’… I sincerely apologise . ’    

The chief of the police stood up with a sigh .     

'I’ll listen to the details after . Then I’ll announce it officially,’ he said coldly .     

The police chief tried to leave after that, but Gotou blocked his way .     

'Don’t tell me you’re planning on hiding this again . ’    

Gotou glared at the police chief sharply, but the police chief didn’t try to look him back in the eye and just looked fed up .     

'You should understand this a bit better . If something like this became public, the police organisation itself would shake . ’    

'What about it?’    

'You still don’t understand it? It’s said that scandals should be kept as small as possible . ’    

'Oh . I get it . You’ll clear Oori’s name but say it was because of an investigation mistake . ’    

'For the sake of all the police in the country . ’    

'That’s wrong,’ said Gotou while rolling his neck .     

He couldn’t . Detective Gotou . When Ishii thought that, it was already too late .     

Gotou’s head rammed into the chief of the police’s face .     

'What the hell do you mean by “for the sake of all the police in the country”? You kokeshi doll! You’re just protecting your own ass!’    

While Gotou yelled, he tried to give the police chief a final blow .     

The chief of the police’s front tooth stabbed into Detective Gotou’s forehead . He couldn’t do any more .     

Ishii tried to jump at Gotou from behind to pin him down .     

However, unlike what Ishii had expected, his body floated away . Eh? Ah, Detective Gotou hurled him away . Just as he thought that, his back hit the ground .     

He lost consciousness –    

-    

NOTES:    

[1] The word light was written in katakana (raito or ライト) which is the same way the position of right fielder is written in Japanese .     

    

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