Volume 6 Chapter 1
VOLUME 6 – TO THE LIMITS OF DESPAIR (1)
file 01: prophecy (TRANSLATION NOTES)
Dawn had not come yet .
The dim interior of the temple was blanketed in silence .
A wooden statue of Gautama Buddha was enshrined at the front .
Saitou Isshin was sitting in the standard lotus position and hands in Dhyana mudra . He was sitting straight up .
He was looking forward, and then he lowered his gaze, eyes half-closed .
– One, two, three…
While counting in his mind, he slowly readied his breathing .
Next, he readied his mind .
– Ensou .
One cannot see correctly if one does not ready one’s mind .
The basic ideology of Zen .
However, Isshin felt this was incredibly difficult .
No matter how he tried to attain mu, worldly thoughts passed through his head .
Trivial things form his everyday life, or negative emotions like envy, resentment and jealous, or the feeling of an empty stomach and the desire to sleep –
Most of Isshin’s mind was occupied by that man .
He sometimes forgot in his regular daily life, but when he sat in meditation like this, a strong image would always come up .
However, the man that appeared never had a face .
This was because, though Isshin knew what that man was like and what he had done, he had never once met him in person .
He was in completely black, as if painted in shadow, but his two eyes glittered, dyed in red .
When Isshin thought about that man, his heart wavered .
– Hatred .
That feeling was definitely there . But it was also true that it couldn’t be split up into a simple emotion when he thought about how Yakumo and Nao wouldn’t be in this world without that man .
– Can I forgive him?
If he asked that question, he would probably immediately reply no .
At the same time, however, he felt something like karma .
That man stole an important person from Isshin and also gave him back someone equally as important .
He could say that that man had brought about Isshin’s life now .
He always thought about the same thing, but he couldn’t find an answer .
‘Hm . ’
Isshin opened his eyes .
– I was controlled by worldly thoughts again .
After smiling self-derisively, Isshin slowly stood up and exited the temple .
The sun had risen and bathed the world in its refreshing morning rays .
Isshin looked at the cherry blossom tree in the garden .
He saw small pink buds on its branches .
Though it was still chilly, spring would come soon . Then this garden would probably be in full bloom .
'Maybe I’ll have a flower viewing,’ said Isshin to himself .
In response to the voice, Isshin looked and saw Nao running to him .
In Nao’s smile, Isshin could see her face . The only woman Isshin had ever given his heart to . Isshin didn’t know how much that smile had supported him .
Isshin naturally smiled as he waited for Nao to arrive .
However, before Nao reached him, he was assaulted with a fierce pain in his head, and he fell to his knees .
His forehead was drenched in sweat .
Recently, these awful headaches came often . While enduring the pain that came to him intermittently, he looked up .
The smile left Nao’s face . She peered anxiously at Isshin .
'I’m fine,’ said Isshin with a smile as he patted Nao’s head .
– Once the flowers bloom, let’s view the flowers with everyone .
He placed a hand on Nao’s shoulder as he murmured that in his heart .
I’m bored .
Ishii Yuutarou stifled his yawn as he looked at the documents .
March was finally approaching and it was much warmer now . When he did simple document organisation, he became sleepy, even though he knew he couldn’t .
Ishii’s hands stopped . He took off his silver-framed glasses and rolled his head .
Since he had been in the same position for so long, his neck cracked loudly .
The <Unsolved Cases Special Investigation Room> where Ishii was stationed was one of the departments of the police force . Though its name was splendid, in actuality, all he did was organise the files for cases that had been left behind and help other departments .
Ishii felt very dissatisfied with the situation .
– Could the <Unsolved Cases Special Investigation Room> just be a dead-end job?
He had been thinking that recently .
Though it was imprudent, since he had finally joined the police force he had been yearning for, he wanted to take part in a stimulating case .
That said, he didn’t want to have a case like the one last month with Takeda Shunsuke which had been bloody and had required him to investigate alone .
He had managed somehow then, but if something like that happened again, his heart would definitely break .
– Won’t a safe and stylish case come my way?
Ishii put his glasses back on as he daydreamed .
Suddenly, he saw Gotou in front of him .
He had on a wrinkled shirt and a loose tie . He was reclining on his chair with his mouth wide open as he snored in his sleep . He didn’t look much different from a drunkard sleeping on a bench outside the station .
– He could help out a bit .
Though he thought that, Ishii didn’t have the courage to say it aloud .
Just as Ishii sighed, the door opened .
'Hey . ’
Chief Miyagawa came into the room .
Though he was of small stature, he had a bald head and a hard, sharp gaze . At first glance, he looked more like somebody on the other side than a detective .
’T-t-thank you for your hard work!’
Ishii stood up energetically and straightened his spine as he saluted .
'Er, um, he is here, but…’
Ishii’s reply fizzled out as he looked at Gotou, sleeping in his chair .
Miyagawa clicked his tongue and walked briskly towards Gotou
'How long’s this fool been sleeping?’
'He fell asleep immediately after lunch . ’
When Miyagawa glared at him, Ishii replied simply, unable to resist .
The next moment, Miyagawa raised his right fist and dropped it on Gotou’s head .
The dull sound reverberated through the room .
Ishii felt as though he himself had been hit and unconsciously cowered .
Gotou howled as he slipped out of the chair, falling to the floor .
'E-er, are you all right?’
Ishii immediately approached Gotou .
Gotou looked up .
Their eyes met .
– Eh? He can’t think that…
When Ishii thought that, it was already too late .
Gotou rose abruptly and grabbed Ishii’s shirt .
'Ishii! You bastard! When’d you get so mighty that you’d raise your hand against me? Eh?’
’T-that isn’t it… It wasn’t me . ’
'Stop complaining . ’
Gotou didn’t listen to Ishii’s explanation and tightened his grip .
'Won’t you stop!?’
Miyagawa hit the back of Gotou’s head .
'You bastard! What the hell are you… doing, sir…’
Gotou turned around reflexively, but when he noticed it was Miyagawa, he immediately toned down .
'What? So it’s you, Miyagawa-san?’
Gotou leapt away from Ishii .
– I was this close to choking .
As Ishii coughed, he fixed the collar of his jacket .
'When’d you get so mighty that you’d sleep during work?’
'Even if you ask me when, I’ve always been doing this . ’
Gotou picked his nose as Miyagawa questioned him .
'Don’t just shrug it off,’ complained Miyagawa . He walked to a nearby chair and sat down . Then, he took a cigarette case out of his pocket and held it out towards Gotou .
Gotou took a cigarette . Then, the two of them both lit up and had a smoke .
No matter what they said, the two got along .
When Gotou said before that he was going to quit the police, Miyagawa had been the one who’d stopped him, saying, 'Don’t screw with me!’
They were scathing to each other, but they were deeply connected .
– This is a friendship between men .
Ishii gazed at them enviously as he sat down .
'So what are you here for today?’
Gotou crossed his legs and leant back on his chair lazily .
This really wasn’t the attitude one should be taking towards a boss . However, Miyagawa didn’t seem to mind and brought up his topic .
'There’s somewhere I want you guys to go . ’
– Are we going to help out another department?
That was what Ishii thought, but when he saw Miyagawa’s grim expression, his thoughts changed .
Though it was vague, he became anxious that something unbelievable was happening .
'Even though we look like this, we are busy . Please ask elsewhere . ’
Perhaps Gotou didn’t sense the strange atmosphere, because he waved his hand as if swatting a fly .
'You’re busy napping?’
'Well, yes . ’
'You’re fired if you don’t go . ’
When Miyagawa said it, it didn’t sound like a joke .
'Please feel free to do so . ’
Gotou didn’t budge . He spat his cigarette out towards the ceiling .
Miyagawa’s fist would fly with Gotou’s attitude like that . That was what Ishii thought, but it didn’t happen .
Miyagawa’s eyebrows lowered and he sighed, which wasn’t like him .
'I don’t want to make you guys go either . ’
'What do you mean?’
– Don’t want to make us go .
Ishii interrupted because those words had sounded off .
'It’s troublesome, but you guys were designated first . ’
'Designated? We were? This isn’t a cabaret club – what are you planning?’ said Gotou, his attitude the same as always .
'Nanase Miyuki asked for an interview with you . ’
After a silence, Miyagawa said that calmly .
– Nanase Miyuki .
The moment Ishii heard that name, his body jolted, as if electricity had run through him .
Cold sweat came out from every pore of his body .
Ishii put his thoughts into a question .
Nanase Miyuki was a woman who had killed her whole family when she was only ten years old .
After that, she disappeared with the man with two red eyes, Yakumo’s father, and was involved with a number of cases .
They wouldn’t involve themselves directly . They played with the negative emotions in the bottom of people’s hearts like hatred and jealousy and led them around .
– It’s more frightening then directly killing somebody .
If there were existences in this world that were evil from birth, they would be considered part of those existences . Ishii felt like all other criminals were overshadowed by her absolute malice .
During Takeda Shunsuke’s case, they had finally arrested her . Currently, she was in detention and awaiting trial .
– Why would she ask for that?
Ishii wiped his sweat, which wasn’t stopping .
'What does Nanase Miyuki want now?’
Gotou stretched his back and glared at Miyagawa .
Even Gotou wouldn’t joke around once her name was brought up .
'Nanase Miyuki seems to have told her lawyer that there is another murder that the police do not know about . ’
Miyagawa said that in a terribly flat voice .
'A murder we don’t know about?’
Gotou casually put out a cigarette in the ashtray .
The smoke swayed .
'She said she would only talk about the details with you two . ’
'W-why us?’ asked Ishii .
Since it was Miyuki, it wouldn’t be strange if she had killed one or two more people .
What I don’t understand is why she would talk about that now –
He also didn’t understand why she would only talk to Gotou and Ishii .
'I don’t understand either . Even when we asked the lawyer, all we got was that she only planned on talking to you two . ’
Miyagawa covered his face with both hands as he sighed .
Ishii understood the situation . That said, he didn’t want to see Miyuki .
There was just one reason . He was afraid .
Ishii licked his dry lips and looked to Gotou for help .
With a grim face, Gotou poked himself in his left side .
Several months ago, Gotou had been stabbed with a knife there . Miyuki had been the one who did it .
– Please refuse .
Ishii hoped Gotou would do that .
He really was afraid of meeting Miyuki . Since she was stuck in detention, they probably wouldn’t be in direct danger, but he was still afraid .
'I guess there’s no helping it . ’
Gotou said that and stood up . Then, he grabbed his jacket from the back of the chair .
'Detective Gotou, you can’t . This is definitely a trap,’ pleaded Ishii .
If Miyuki was acting in such a roundabout way, there had to be something behind it .
'I know that even without you telling me . ’
Gotou snorted .
'If you know that, why?’
'If we don’t fall for it, we won’t know what the trap is, right?’
After Gotou said that, he left the room briskly with a wide gait .
– I need to follow him .
Though Ishii knew that, for some reason, his body didn’t move .
'Ishii . ’
Miyagawa said that in a murmur .
'Y-yes sir . ’
'I leave Gotou to you . ’
It was so unexpected that Ishii thought his ears were playing tricks on him .
'He doesn’t have anything to protect, so sometimes he loses himself . ’
– Loses himself .
When Ishii heard those words, he felt like there was a truth to them .
He knew what Miyagawa was saying . But –
'I can’t do anything…’
Ishii knew he was only a burden .
'You don’t have to do anything in particular . Just stay with him . ’
'Yes sir . ’
Ishii stood up as he replied .
Even though his body had been frozen earlier, it was now so light that it felt like that had been a lie .
Ishii left the room and ran after Gotou .
He stumbled .
He fell –
After finishing the morning lecture, Ozawa Haruka went to the prefabricated building in the back of Building B .
She was going to meet Saitou Yakumo .
She walked to the courtyard and turned her eyes to the cherry blossom tree which had started to bud .
– The flowers are going to blossom soon .
She looked up at the sky, where lines of clouds were blowing by . Spring was going to come soon .
So it’s already that season – she nodded and started walking again .
It had been a year and a half since Haruka met Yakumo –
It had started when her friend Miki was possessed by a ghost .
She had been troubled about what to do when she had a rumour about Yakumo’s expertise in spiritual phenomena, so she decided to go meet him .
Her first impression was the worst .
He was contrary and discourteous – he treated people like idiots .
Yakumo normally hid his left eye behind a black contact lens, but it was red, with the unique ability to see the spirits of the dead .
He had used that ability during that incident too . He hadn’t only saved Miki from her possession – he had even solved the murder case without it becoming an issue .
That was the start of Haruka’s involvement in a number of cases .
A lot of things had happened . She had been abducted, almost drowned in a river, held at knifepoint – she couldn’t count them .
It was almost mysterious how she had managed to live until now .
While these cases piled up, her impression of Yakumo, who she had just thought of as fishy and contrary, changed .
Because of Yakumo’s red eye, he had endured more sadness than most .
Because of that, he had built a wall around his heart and tried not to let people get close . He still did that sometimes .
However, Haruka thought he had gotten better now than he had been when they’d met .
While Haruka was thinking, she spotted the prefabricated building she was looking for .
There were ten small rooms of four and a half tatami in size on each floor . The building was lent out by the university for club and circle activities .
At the very back of the first floor, Yakumo lived in the room with the plate that read <Movie Research Circle> .
That wasn’t an exaggeration . The name Movie Research Circle was a barefaced lie . Yakumo had deceived the university and was living in this prefabricated building like it was his own .
'Yakumo-kun, you here?’
Haruka called out as she opened the door .
Normally, Yakumo would be sitting at the chair facing the door and complain – 'What did you come here to do?’ – with eyes that looked like they would fall asleep at any moment, but the room was so silent it was creepy .
– Is he sleeping?
Haruka looked at the sleeping bag near the wall, but it was empty .
'What? You’re not here?’ said Haruka in her dissatisfaction to nobody in particular .
– Maybe he’ll come back soon .
Haruka opened the refrigerator in the back of the room, took out a bottle of tea and some almond chocolate, and sat on the chair .
'What are you doing?’
Surprised by the sudden voice, Haruka stood up and turned to look at the door .
Yakumo was standing there .
As usual, he was wearing a white shirt and jeans, and he had terrible bedhead .
'Ah, Yakumo-kun . ’
'You barged into somebody’s room but are acting like you owned the place . Do you not know the word “restraint”?’ complained Yakumo as he sat down in his usual chair . He looked as displeased as a cat whose nap had been disturbed .
'How long have you been there?’ asked Haruka, sitting down again .
'Since you were smirking up at the sky like an idiot . ’
Yakumo yawned like a cat .
Haruka had looked up at the sky when she was in the courtyard . Which meant –
'You were following me that whole time?’
'Don’t let the screws in your head get looser every time we meet . I’m just going to say this, but this is my room . I was only heading back to my own room . I don’t have enough free time to stalk you . ’
Though what he was saying wasn’t wrong, he always said one thing too much . Plus –
'Then you could have called out to me . ’
'Even if you ask me why…’
Haruka was lost for words .
She had felt like the distance between her and Yakumo had grown shorter after going through so many things together, but sometimes he would say things like this .
Her friends would sometimes ask if they were dating, but the answer was no .
It wasn’t like she wanted to date . She felt like that would waste too much of her time .
She didn’t want to ruin their relationship by bringing that up .
Just as Haruka sighed, the door opened .
'Hello . ’
The person who showed up at the door was Yakumo’s uncle and the person who had raised him, Saitou Isshin .
He had on black robes and a monk’s stole . Since Haruka was used to his usual work attire, he had a different impression than he usually did .
However, his smile as gentle as Maitreya’s and red eye were the same as always .
Though Yakumo’s red eye was from birth, Isshin’s was different .
He had put on a red contact lens to make his left eye red . He received strange looks so that he could try to understand Yakumo’s feelings, even just a little .
Isshin’s love for Yakumo was that deep .
Haruka thought that Isshin was the reason Yakumo was able to overcome the experience of having his mother try to kill him when he was young and didn’t cross the line .
'It’s been a while . ’
Haruka stood up and bowed .
'Ah, it has been a while . You could come by once in a while . Nao’d be happy too,’ replied Isshin in a dignified voice, still smiling .
'Yes, I’ll take you up on your offer . ’
Then, Haruka gestured at her chair . 'Please sit down . ’
'Ah, it’s fine . I’ll stand . ’
Isshin showed his usual restraint and refused .
'It’s more troublesome in a situation like this if you stand,’ rebuked Yakumo .
'That so?’ said Isshin . He rubbed his shaved head and sat down on the chair, seeming embarrassed .
Haruka took the round chair in the corner of the room and sat next to Yakumo .
Yakumo’s cheek twitched and he looked a bit displeased, but Haruka pretended not to notice . It’d be best not to pay him any attention since he’d probably just complain anyway .
'So what are you here for?’
Yakumo put his chin in his hand as he asked Isshin that, looking as melancholic as if he had seen the end of the world .
'I came to consult you about something,’ said Isshin with a sigh .
Haruka was surprised, though she didn’t express that surprise aloud .
Haruka had never heard of Isshin consulting Yakumo before .
She looked to Yakumo .
'You can’t be consulting me about spirits, could you?’ drawled Yakumo, chin still in his hand .
Isshin clapped his hands together .
'You really are sharp . ’
'What do you mean, sharp? You know I hate trouble of that kind . ’
'Having one troublemaker is enough,’ said Yakumo, glancing at Haruka .
It was a rude way of saying it, but she’d never see the end of it if she got angry at every little thing . Haruka pretended she didn’t hear him .
'So you really won’t help me?’ said Isshin .
'No,’ Yakumo said firmly . He crossed his arms in his displeasure .
When he became like this, Yakumo wouldn’t budge .
Isshin knew Yakumo’s personality, so he gave up readily . 'There’s no helping it . ’
But, putting Isshin aside, Haruka had no plans of letting it end like this .
Isshin had never brought up ghosts before . Rather, he knew that Yakumo didn’t like his unique ability, so he avoided the topic .
For Isshin to bring up the topic, it must have been a very special situation .
'Hey, why not just listen to him?’
When Haruka said that, Yakumo glared at her immediately .
'I refuse . ’
'So cheap . ’
'I don’t want to hear that from you . ’
'What? You can just listen . ’
'If I listen to it, I won’t be able to leave it alone,’ said Yakumo irritably .
– I see .
Haruka clapped her hands together in realisation . If she flipped those words around, it meant that Yakumo would take on the trouble if he heard the story .
Though that was just a convenient way of looking at it, she didn’t care .
'Isshin-san, please let me hear what you have to say . ’
'I said I wouldn’t listen to it,’ interrupted Yakumo immediately .
'I’m talking to Isshin-san . If you don’t want to listen, you can leave . ’
'Do whatever you want,’ Yakumo said recklessly, and he leant back on his chair, seeming exhausted .
– This is a pain .
Gotou cursed in his heart after arriving at the reception area of the detention room .
The detention room was very different than what Gotou knew of them .
Renovated with the concept of a detention room with no walls, its appearance, outside and inside, reminded him of a general hospital .
Gotou wrote his name in the interview request document at the reception and put it through the window . Then, he sat on the sofa in the waiting room .
The prosecuted persecutor left the hands of the police, went from being the suspect to the accused, was taken into custody by the prosecution and was waiting for the trial in the detention room .
The police couldn’t freely visit people in detention .
Though it was a pain, he had to do the usual interview procedures .
Next to Gotou, Ishii was fidgeting, like he was trying to keep his bladder in check .
After waiting more than long enough, a voice called them in from the speaker .
Gotou and Ishii took the lift to the fourth floor . They followed the instructions of the uniformed guard, entered the room and sat down .
Protective glass divided the room in half . Each side had its own entrance so that the accused and the visitor could not directly touch .
Sitting next to Gotou, Ishii was looking around, unable to calm down, as usual .
Gotou hit Ishii’s head casually .
'Ack . ’
Ishii yelped like a dog whose tail had been stepped on and held his head in his hands .
It wasn’t like Gotou didn’t understand how Ishii felt, but they couldn’t act disturbed in front of Miyuki .
Gotou crossed his arms and snorted .
At the same time, the door on the other side of the protective glass opened and the guard brought MIyuki in .
Since she was still the accused, she wasn’t wearing prison clothes . She had on casual clothes – a white blouse and jeans .
The moment Gotou saw Miyuki, an unpleasant feeling welled up in his stomach .
– Miyuki doesn’t regret what she’s done .
He felt that way .
Though many people would falter when taken into detention because of the sudden change in environment, Miyuki hadn’t changed at all since she was arrested .
On the contrary, when her eyes met Gotou’s, her glossy red lips turned up in a smile .
Miyuki sat down as gracefully as a queen in the chair that the guard directed her to .
'My, if it isn’t Gotou-san . Even Ishii-san – what is it?’
Miyuki turned towards Gotou and Ishii, sitting like the woman in the Mona Lisa as she said that with half-closed eyes .
Gotou shuddered just from looking at those eyes . Ishii looked at his feet, like he couldn’t bear the gaze .
– Don’t get caught up at her pace .
Gotou told himself that and glared at Miyuki with his hands in fists on his lap .
'What is it? You’re the one who called us here . ’
'My, is that so?’
Miyuki hid her mouth with her hand and laughed with shaking shoulders .
– She’s enjoying this .
'If you don’t need anything, we’re leaving . ’
'That’s fine by me, but somebody important to you will die . ’
Miyuki’s voice was so empty of intonation it was uncanny .
'That’s not what you said . You killed somebody else and were going to tell us about that . Isn’t that what you said?’
Gotou leant forward .
– There is another murder .
That was what Miyagawa said, but from what Miyuki said just now, it sounded like that murder hadn’t happened yet .
'It seems like the message wasn’t carried to you properly . ’
The smile left Miyuki’s face .
Her expression was as inhuman as a wax figure’s, but her eyes alone were sparkling . It was creepy .
'I’m going to kill somebody – that’s what I said . ’
'That’s ridiculous!’ yelled Gotou, overwhelmed by his emotions .
However, Miyuki didn’t raise even one eyebrow . She continued to speak disinterestedly .
'It isn’t impossible for me . ’
'Don’t make fun of us! You’re in prison . There’s no way you could kill anybody . Understand the position you’re in,’ said Gotou all at once, his nose so close to the glass it was almost touching .
Miyuki was imprisoned in the newly built Tokyo Detention House . It couldn’t be compared with the old system .
All of the windows were protective glass . The door was made of steel and wouldn’t open without both a key and fingerprint recognition . Furthermore, the security cameras everywhere were always on .
– It’s definitely impossible for her to kill someone in this situation .
Miyuki had to be challenging them, saying she’d kill somebody because she was bored from being imprisoned . That was how she entertained herself .
'You think I can’t do it . ’
Miyuki looked at Gotou with eyes full of pity .
'Of course I don’t . ’
'Unfortunately, I can . ’
'Even while I’m here, I can kill somebody outside . ’
'There’s a limit to how far you can take a joke!’ spat out Gotou .
However, even while he denied her claims, the anxiety in his chest was stuck there, like gum at the bottom of a shoe .
The reason for that was Miyuki’s eyes . Even though what she was saying was absolutely impossible, there was no doubt in those eyes . On the contrary, they appeared filled with confidence .
'I thought that was what you’d say, Gotou-san . ’
Miyuki’s lips turned up in a smile . Then, she slowly pointed at Ishii .
'But what do you think, Ishii-san? DO you think I can kill somebody elsewhere while I’m in the detention house?’
The conversation suddenly turned to Ishii, and his mouth fell agape as he froze . He was going completely at Miyuki’s pace .
– Don’t fall for it!
Instead of speaking aloud, Gotou hit Ishii’s back .
Ishii came back to his senses, recoiling like a spring .
Ishii fixed the position of his glasses as he looked at his feet .
– There’s no point talking any further .
'We don’t have the time to go along with your stupid joke,’ said Gotou with a click of his tongue . He got up from his seat .
Miyuki stood up as well, as if she were a reflection in a mirror .
Their eyes met through the glass .
The pupils of her narrowed eyes glittered like a drawn sword .
'I don’t mind if you think I’m playing around . People won’t acknowledge the importance of something until it’s happened . ’
Gotou couldn’t think of a reply .
He knew in his mind that there was no way somebody in detention could kill somebody outside . But what was that numb feeling?
Could this woman really kill somebody at a distance?
A line of sweat ran down Gotou’s back .
'It’s time . ’
The guard walked towards Miyuki . Gotou came back to his senses .
The guard stood in meetings to check that there was no issue with what was being discussed . Despite that –
Miyuki had been discussing a murder plan . It was definitely unnatural for the guard just to stand there like nothing had happened .
'Wait a second!’
Gotou called out at the guard who had tried to leave the room together with Miyuki .
The guard slowly turned around . Those eyes were hollow – it was like they didn’t see Gotou .
'What are you planning to do? This woman…’
Gotou hit the glass with his hand .
'Gotou-san . ’
Miyuki interrupted Gotou .
'I forgot to say the crucial point . ’
'The name of the person I’m going to kill…’
'You can’t be aiming for Yakumo again, right?’
Gotou said the first thing that came to mind .
Miyuki was so focussed on Yakumo it was extraordinary . If she was going to kill somebody, Yakumo was the only person Gotou could think of .
'Nope . I can’t kill Yakumo-kun . ’
Miyuki shook her head .
'Then who? Who the hell are you planning to kill?’
Miyuki paused purposefully and then licked her lips, like a snake .
Gotou gulped .
'Saitou Isshin . ’
Gotou’s voice caught at the unexpected name .
'I’m going to kill Saitou Isshin from inside this detention house . ’
After licking her red lips, Miyuki smiled twistedly .
– Why? Why does she need to kill Isshin?
Gotou thought furiously, but he couldn’t find the answer .
Miyuki walked out the door with the guard .
'Oi! Wait! We’re not done talking!’
The door closed loudly, interrupting Gotou’s frantic yell .
Haruka went together with Yakumo and Isshin to the hospital where the spiritual phenomenon occurred .
A number of affiliated hospitals in the city had combined and were rebuilt into a general hospital .
The glass-sided lobby looked at first glance like a high-class restaurant . Haruka had thought it’d be more eerie, so it was a bit anticlimactic .
Isshin went to the reception to call out his friend, the one who had told him about this .
Haruka sat with Yakumo on the bench in the waiting area .
Yakumo had his hands in his pockets and was staring forward, looking displeased .
'Hey, Yakumo-kun . Do you think the story earlier was true?’
Haruka recalled the story Isshin had told them earlier .
It was about a girl’s ghost who appeared every night in the hospital .
That girl wandered the hospital and would ask patients a question if she found them .
– When are you going to die?
The people who were asked this question always died soon afterwards .
Yakumo’s expression was grim, but finally, he opened his mouth while running a hand through his hair .
'I’ve said this countless times, but the spirits of the dead are clusters of people’s emotions . Therefore…’
'They have no physical effect on the living . ’
Haruka finished Yakumo’s sentence .
He had explained this to her again and again before .
Yakumo could see the spirits of the dead with his red left eye . It was a notion he had come up with from his experiences .
Since spirits of the dead were only clusters of people’s emotions, they had no physical influence at all .
Accordingly, they couldn’t curse people to death or directly harm them . The actions of exorcists were pointless . That was Yakumo’s theory .
'But people actually died, right?’
Haruka said the first thing that came to mind . If the rumour were true, everyone whom the girl asked that question died .
However, Yakumo shook his head in his exasperation .
'You’re such an idiot you could be in the Guinness World Book of Records . ’
– When’d my idiocy become world-class?
'Did I say something so strange?’
'You did . ’
'But the rumour…’
'That’s why I said you’re an idiot . Rumours are rumours . ’
'Plus, this is a hospital . It isn’t strange for people to die . ’
'Right . My bad . ’
Haruka understood what Yakumo was saying, but his tone annoyed her . In the past, she would’ve cried herself to sleep, but now, Haruka had a trick to fight back .
Haruka waited for a chance to poke Yakumo in the side .
A jolt ran through Yakumo’s body and he stood up from the bench .
He looked so strange Haruka couldn’t help but laugh .
Yakumo opened his mouth like he wanted to say something when Isshin came back . He was together with a woman in a white and a female nurse .
'Let me introduce her . This is Arai Mao-san, one of my friends from university,’ said Isshin, gesturing at the woman in white .
'It’s nice to meet you . My name is Arai Mao,’ said Mao with good enunciation . Then, she smiled with dimples .
When Haruka heard the story from Isshin, she had thought that his friend was male, so she was a bit surprised .
Mao had an intellectual air to her, but perhaps because of her small frame and skin as smooth as an egg, she looked young .
'My name is Ozawa Haruka . ’
Yakumo bowed silently while yawning .
'You must be Yakumo-kun . I’ve heard about you from Isshin-kun . ’
Mao held her hand out towards Yakumo for a handshake .
However, Yakumo didn’t appear to notice the hand, and just said, 'Nice to meet you . ’
He might have disliked being talked about without his knowing .
'Sorry, Yakumo can be difficult,’ said Isshin, smoothing things over .
'More importantly, please let me hear about the spiritual phenomenon . ’
Yakumo brought up the main topic while running his fingers through his hair .
Pointless conversations are unnecessary – it was like he was saying that .
'She knows about it in more detail than I do, so do you mind if she explains?’
Mao smiled wryly as she looked at the nurse with her .
'Go ahead . ’
Yakumo yawned, seeming uninterested in Mao’s suggestion .
'Then Furukawa-san, I leave the rest to you . ’
'Yes . ’
After replying quietly, Furukawa took a step forward .
Her height wasn’t much different from Mao’s, but she was a size larger .
She had defined, childish features, but she looked somehow afraid .
'My name is Furukawa . It’s nice to meet you . ’
'It’s nice to meet you as well . ’
Haruka bowed politely .
However, Yakumo didn’t bow – rather, he looked away .
He was looking at Isshin and Mao, speaking quietly between themselves .
’… discussed… results of the examination…’
Haruka could faintly hear Mao’s lowered voice .
– Results of the examination?
Perhaps it was something to do with Yakumo’s red eye .
'We’re going,’ said Yakumo, interrupting Haruka’s thoughts .
She saw that Yakumo and Furukawa had already started walking .
'Ah, wait . ’
Haruka started walking after Yakumo .
– I’m scared .
Ishii finally reached the parking lot .
The distance of only a few dozen metres had felt considerably longer to Ishii .
His ears had been buzzing ever since he heard Miyuki’s voice . He was dizzy and his feet were unsteady, as if he had had a bout of anaemia .
Ishii dropped his key a number of times from his shaking hand and finally opened the door to the white Crown to get into the driver’s seat .
He leant back on the chair and could tell that his back was damp .
Miyuki’s faint smile wouldn’t leave his retinas .
Her eyes, mouth and voice – her very existence was the object of terror .
Ishii looked at himself in the rear-view mirror .
– I look awful .
His face was as pale as a dead man’s . His eyes were bloodshot .
'Stop spacing out . ’
Gotou got into the passenger’s seat and hit Ishii’s head .
Though Ishii apologised, his feelings didn’t change .
– Even while I’m here, I can kill somebody outside .
Miyuki had said that .
Thinking about it normally, that was impossible .
However, Miyuki’s eyes then had been filled with confidence, like those of a magician about to show his audience a marvel . Ishii was sure she was planning something incredible .
'E-er, Detective Gotou . About earlier…’
I want somebody to deny it – that was Ishii’s wish as he asked his question .
'It’s obviously a lie!’ spat out Gotou, in a foul mood .
Though Gotou’s words normally reassured Ishii, now they just sounded like a strong front .
'But she didn’t look like she was lying . ’
Ishii couldn’t erase his anxiety .
'Listen – use your common sense . That woman’s imprisoned in the Tokyo Detention House . She’s locked in a room and is being watched twenty-four hours a day . It’s definitely for making an alibi . ’
Just as Gotou said, as long as she was imprisoned, committing a crime would be impossible .
Ishii understood that, but something in the back of his mind wouldn’t accept that .
Miyuki had trapped them many times up until now . Mightn’t she be able to overcome physical convention – thought Ishii .
'She might have a method that we don’t know…’
He put his anxiety as it was into words .
'Give it up already . Of course she can’t . The story’d be different if she could walk through walls or something,’ said Gotou recklessly, lighting up a cigarette .
That moment, a light came on in Ishii’s head . A bolt out of the blue –
'Detective Gotou! That’s it! That!’
Ishii was so agitated he leant towards Gotou .
'You’re so noisy! Calm down!’
Gotou pushed Ishii away from him as he said that .
'I understand! I know how she’s going to commit the murder!’
Even Gotou couldn’t hide his surprise as he looked at Ishii with wide eyes .
It made sense for Gotou to be surprised, but Ishii couldn’t think of any other method . Ishii was confident in his thoughts .
'Explain,’ said Gotou, looking straight at Ishii’s eyes .
Gotou’s eyes seemed doubtful, but once he heard Ishii’s explanation, that would probably change .
'It’s simple . The hint was what you said about walking through walls, Detective Gotou . ’
Gotou’s brows furrowed, and his lips turned down in doubt .
It was such an interesting expression, but Gotou would probably get angry if Ishii laughed so he continued his explanation in a disinterested matter .
'You don’t understand? Just as you said, Detective Gotou, she plans on walking through the walls . ’
Gotou cocked his head .
'I’m saying that she has the special ability to walk through walls . From her perspective, it doesn’t matter how strictly guarded the detention house is . I mean, she can walk through walls,’ declared Ishii clearly .
He was that confident in his own thoughts .
'Ishii . You seriously saying that?’
'Yes . Of course . Walking through walls is possible . I saw it on television before . A man with supernatural powers named David Copperfield…’
As Ishii continued explaining, Gotou’s fist came down on his head .
It hurt so much that Ishii couldn’t even scream – he just held his head in his hands .
'The next time you say something so stupid, I’m going to kill you,’ said Gotou, spitting out his cigarette .
– I’m always chasing after him .
Haruka finally caught up to Yakumo and Furukawa at the lift .
It would be more correct to say they were waiting there .
'You’re the type who would run away too late during a fire . ’
When Haruka got in the lift, Yakumo said that in his usual tone .
He always said one thing too much .
– I don’t need to hear that from you .
Haruka muttered that in her heart .
They went up to the third floor and then walked up to the men’s lavatory in front of the nurse centre at Furukawa’s direction .
'It’s here,’ said Furukawa, pointing at the door .
After hearing that a ghost was spotted here, the simple door looked like the gateway to hell .
Yakumo opened the door without any hesitation, flipped the light switch by the entrance and went inside .
Haruka and Furukawa stood at the entrance, peering inside .
It was a clean lavatory, surrounded by white walls . Urinals were on the walls with three stalls at the end .
'About a week ago, a young man hospitalised for a stomach ulcer saw a ghost here . ’
Furukawa’s voice was shaking .
It was like she had experienced it herself .
'Where did he see the ghost?’ asked Yakumo .
'At the sink,’ replied Furukawa .
Yakumo stood in front of the sink .
'Yes . ’
'When he was washing his face, he turned around at the sound of someone’s voice . ’
Yakumo turned around at Furukawa’s words .
His gaze was on the white wall of the lavatory .
'Nobody was there, but when he looked at the mirror again, there was a girl standing behind him . ’
'A girl…’ said Haruka as she imagined the scene .
When he looked at the mirror, the girl’s ghost was standing there . How frightening –
'That girl asked him a question . ’
Yakumo raised an eyebrow .
'Yes . ’
'What sort of question?’
'When are you going to die – she asked him that,’ said Furukawa, opening her eyes wide .
Haruka felt gooseflesh rise on her skin .
– When are you going to die?
Haruka was more frightened by the words the girl’s ghost had left .
It made it sound like she wished for that person’s death . When she thought about how it was a young girl who’d said that, it made it even more terrible .
'Then what happened to him afterwards?’ asked Yakumo lazily after a silence .
'He hurriedly ran out of the lavatory and tried to return to his hospital room, but the girl’s ghost was there… and then he headed for the stairs…’
Furukawa left the lavatory entrance and walked towards the stairs .
Haruka and Yakumo followed her .
'Here . ’
Furukawa stopped in front of the stairs .
The difference in level was minimal . The stairs were wide and there were landings as the stairway turned .
'The girl’s ghost came upon him and he fell here . ’
As Furukawa explained, she clasped her hands in front of her chest .
'Then?’ urged Yakumo .
'He hit his head, and when we found him, it was already too late…’
Furukawa covered her face with her hands as she finished .
Haruka looked down the stairs . For just a moment, she felt like she could see a bleeding man collapsed at the bottom of the stairs .
Yakumo pinched his brow with his fingers and looked down, as if thinking .
'Can you see anything?’
Yakumo shook his head at Haruka’s question .
'I don’t see anything now . ’
'You make mistakes because you jump to conclusions like that . ’
'Can’t you say that differently?’
Haruka looked angry, but Yakumo didn’t appear to care as he turned back to Furukawa .
'I understand . I’ll investigate . ’
Yakumo said just that and turned around on his heels . He started walking briskly .
Haruka wasn’t sure what to do, so she bowed at Furukawa and chased after Yakumo .
'Hey, did you find out anything?’
Haruka spoke up to Yakumo, but he walked silently to the lift; it didn’t seem like he wanted to respond .
'Hey, why are you in such a bad mood?’
She asked Yakumo another question as they waited for the lift to move .
Yakumo sighed and then scowled .
'Listening to that would put anyone in a bad mood . ’
'What do you mean, why? Don’t you think it’s strange?’
Haruka looked up at the ceiling as she thought, but she couldn’t think of anything in particular .
'I was an idiot for asking you,’ said Yakumo as the lift doors opened . Then he walked briskly to the exit .
Haruka chased after Yakumo’s back again .
'Explain properly . ’
'Have you really not noticed?’
'I haven’t . ’
'The young man died after falling down the stairs . ’
'What’s strange about that?’
'That young man died . ’
'Yes . ’
'Then why would the nurse know what the ghost said to the young man?’
Now that Yakumo said it, Haruka finally understood .
If that young man really died, there was no way the nurse could know what the ghost said to him .
'Furthermore, why wasn’t it in the news?’
'If a patient died after falling down the stairs in a hospital, there would be a fuss . ’
'Right . ’
'There are other points that are strange . ’
'That hospital has been built for half a year . The way the nurse put it, a number of people have died mysterious deaths . ’
'She did say that . ’
'If that many people have died mysterious deaths, the responsibility of the management would be questioned . ’
Yakumo’s voice was filled with anger .
After hearing what Yakumo said, an uneasy feeling spread through Haruka’s chest .
'Could it be…’
'Correct . That was just gossip . Though it seems like the nurse called Furukawa believes it…’
Yakumo stopped in front of the automatic door as he said that with a disappointed expression .
'How about Isshin-san?’
– Does he know this is just gossip?
Haruka was concerned about that .
'Of course he knows it’s gossip . ’
'Then why did he go out of his way to consult Yakumo-kun?’
'When that person sees somebody who’s troubled, he can’t leave them alone . ’
'Right . ’
Haruka felt that too .
No matter the situation, Isshin was the type of person who couldn’t leave somebody who was troubled alone .
'He knew it was gossip and got me to pretend to be an exorcist to control the situation . ’
'And that doctor called Mao doesn’t believe in the ghost either . ’
'That’s why neither she nor Uncle came along . ’
– Come to think of it .
Haruka clapped her hands in understanding .
Yakumo walked through the automatic doors and went outside .
'Hey, where are you going?’
Haruka immediately ran after him .
'Back, obviously . ’
'You’re not going to wait for Isshin-san?’
'My work is done . ’
Yakumo walked away without turning around .
Ishii walked through the corridor in the basement of the hospital where the coroner Hata HIdeyoshi worked .
The fluorescent lighting was dirty and broken at points, so the corridor was dim and uncanny .
Ishii didn’t want to come to a place like this by himself, but he couldn’t say something like that .
Gotou was frantically looking for Yakumo and couldn’t get away from his work . Plus, the person who’d suggested that they ask Hata’s opinion was none other than Ishii .
Ishii stood in front of the door at the very end and knocked as he pinned down his wildly beating heart .
'It’s open . ’
There was a reply in a hoarse voice .
With the mood of the corridor, that voice sounded more uncanny than usual .
'P-please excuse me . ’
Ishii timidly opened the door and went inside .
The room was about six tatami in size . Cabinets lined the walls, while Hata was at the desk in the back .
With white hair and a face that was wrinkled like a dried persimmon, Hata had goggling eyes which were sparkling like those of a child .
He looked just like a demon .
Hata was a perverted coroner who professed that 'corpses had to be raw’ .
Gotou always said that Hata would commit a crime someday, but Ishii thought that what Hata said came from an innocent interest in the matter as a doctor .
Hata was unusually interested in the threshold between life and death .
However, just because Ishii thought that didn’t mean Hata wasn’t frightening .
'Oh, it’s you, Ishii-kun?’
Hata took a leisurely sip of his tea .
'Ah, h-hello . ’
'The bear isn’t with you?’
For a moment, Ishii was confused, but then he realised that Hata was talking about Gotou .
'Detective Gotou is busy with another case…’
'I see . Why not sit down?’
Hata looked at the round chair in the centre of the room .
'Ah, I don’t mind standing . ’
'Then we can’t relax and talk . ’
'I-I’m sorry . ’
Ishii hurriedly sat down in the chair after Hata said that, sounding depressed .
When they sat in front of each other like this, Hata seemed even more like a demon .
– He really is scary .
'So what are you here for today? You come to ask for a way to kill the bear?’
’T-that’s… How could I kill Detective Gotou…’
'That idiot won’t get better unless he dies,’ said Hata . He seemed to find it funny as he leant backwards and giggled .
Ishii looked at him fearfully, wondering whether his chin might dislocate .
'Actually, I wanted to consult you about something,’ said Ishii after Hata finished laughing .
'Consult? All I can help with is corpses . ’
'I understand . ’
Ishii adjusted the position of his glasses and looked straight at Hata .
Hata seemed to sense something different from usual so he looked back with a serious expression and urged Ishii to continue: 'Try telling me . ’
'We went to the detention house today to meet Nanase Miyuki . ’
'That must’ve been a trial . ’
Hata’s eyes popped out like a fish’s .
Even Hata couldn’t remain indifferent after hearing her name .
'We were called there . By her…’
'She gave us advance notice that she would kill Saitou Isshin from within the detention house . No, perhaps it was a prophecy . ’
'Advance notice of a murder, eh…’
Hata looked grim as he rubbed the white stubble on his chin .
Even Hata was troubled by the situation .
'So I wanted to borrow your knowledge, Hata-san…’
'The method somebody would use to kill somebody else from within a detention house – that’s what you want to know . ’
'Yes . ’
'There’s no such method,’ said Hata firmly .
The response was so quick that it was anticlimactic .
'If it were a one-room flat, there could be some sort of trick, but it’s different for a detention house . ’
Ishii also understood what Hata was saying .
The detention house was fortified with metal walls . It couldn’t be left or entered easily . Ishii knew that .
However, that didn’t mean he accepted it .
Ishii didn’t think that Miyuki had just gave them advance notice of a murder she couldn’t do to kill time . She must have been thinking something that Ishii couldn’t understand .
'Can you not think of a method besides a trick?’
'Besides a trick?’
'YEs . For example, supernatural powers or curses…’
'Yes . Do you know anything of them?’
'I hear many rumours of that sort, but they’re all scams . ’
'The only real thing I’ve seen up until now is Yakumo . ’
Hata snorted .
It was the same for Ishii, but he still thought there might be something .
'We are dealing with Nanase Miyuki . She might have a special ability . ’
'If she is going to kill somebody with supernatural powers or curses – we have no means to stop her . ’
Hata gulped down all the tea in his teacup .
Ishii felt like he had fallen into hell .
It was just as Hata said . If she used supernatural powers or curses, even if they knew her method, they, as normal people, had no way to stop her .
'This is just my gut talking, but is Nanase Miyuki’s goal murder?’ drawled Hata .
'What do you mean?’
'Exactly what I said . ’
After Hata said that, he slowly looked up at the fluorescent lights on the ceiling .
Ishii couldn’t understand the true meaning behind Hata’s words –
'Sorry to bother . ’
Gotou opened the door to Yakumo’s secret hiding place, the <Movie Research Circle> . .
The dim and cold room was silent .
It seemed like Yakumo had gone out without locking the door . Gotou thought it was careless, but then he realised there was nothing to steal from the dreary room .
Gotou sat down on a chair .
– I will kill Saitou Isshin from within the detention house .
Miyuki’s words kept repeating in Gotou’s head .
It was absolutely impossible . Gotou understood that, but he just couldn’t wipe the anxiety away from his heart .
That was why he wanted to hear Yakumo’s opinion .
No, he might have just wanted to hear the words 'Killing somebody from within a detention house is impossible’ from Yakumo’s mouth .
However, Yakumo didn’t answer no matter how many times Gotou called .
Gotou had come to Yakumo’s secret hiding place because of that, but the room was empty .
'You monster cat . What are you doing at a time like this?’
Gotou clicked his tongue and cursed . Then, his mobile phone started vibrating to tell him he had a call .
'You bastard! Where the hell have you walked off to!?’
Gotou answered the mobile without checking the display and yelled at the receiver .
<What did you say?>
The voice he heard from the other end of the phone was the thick one of Miyagawa .
'What? It’s you, Miyagawa-san?’
<What do you mean, what? Honestly…>
Gotou heard Miyagawa sigh .
'What is it then?’
<What do you mean, what is it? I’m calling about Nanase Miyuki’s murder . >
'Did you figure something out?’ snapped Gotou .
<No, we don’t know the details at all . >
They wouldn’t have to put up with so much if they could find stuff out that easily . Gotou understood that, but he couldn’t do anything about his rapidly withering feelings .
<There’s one piece of bad news . >
'What is it?’
<Regarding the matter of Saitou Isshin’s bodyguard…>
The moment Gotou left the detention house, he told Miyagawa the situation and requested that a bodyguard stay with Saitou Isshin for the next little while .
From the tone of Miyagawa’s voice, Gotou could easily imagine what the police had decided, but he decided to ask anyway .
'The guys at the top decided to keep an eye on the situation . ’
– As I thought .
'Why?’ asked Gotou, though he knew the answer .
<There’s no way a murder can occur from within a detention house – that’s what they decided . >
'Idiotic . It’ll be too late if something happens,’ spat out Gotou, disappointed in the answer he had expected .
It was certainly impossible to kill somebody from within a detention house . Gotou understood that . But there was always the possibility .
It would be too late once it happened .
However, the organisation that was the police wouldn’t move their fat bottoms until something happened .
There was a mountain of cases wherein they had the information from the victim but no concrete action was taken .
<We’ll need people to guard him . And if the press hear about the police moving because somebody gave advance notice of a murder from within a detention house, it’d be a mess . ’
Gotou understood what Miyagawa was saying .
If the police moved now, that would mean they recognised what Miyuki said . Then the press would get all stirred up .
'Who the hell cares? Somebody might get killed!’
<Calm down . >
'How could I be calm?’
<You idiot! Before you go flapping your mouth off, there’s something you have to do!’
Miyagawa yelled so loudly Gotou thought the speaker would break .
Gotou’s breath caught at the pressure from that voice .
<I told you the decision from the guys on the top . >
<You go protect the monk who’s got that murder notice . >
Miyagawa’s words changed the anger eddying in the bottom of Gotou’s stomach into a sense of duty .
– I’ll protect him!
Gotou engraved that determination into his heart .
'I planned on doing that even if you didn’t tell me to . ’
<We’ll look into the background of the guard who was watching when you had your interview . >
Gotou recalled the face of the guard who had watched as he met with Miyuki .
He had left Miyuki alone when she gave advance notice of a murder right in front of him . That attitude was clearly strange . There was a chance it was related to the case somehow .
'Thank you . ’
After he said that, Gotou hung up . At the same time, another call came in .
This time it was –
'Who is it?’
<Ah, er, this is Ishii Yuutarou . >
He heard Ishii’s hesitant voice .
'What do you want?’
<I just left Hata-san’s hospital . >
<Unfortunately, I have no new information . >
Even through the phone, Gotou could tell that Ishii was bowing his head .
'Anyway, come right now . ’
<Er… Where to?>
'To that monk’s place, of course!’
Gotou yelled at the receiver and then hung up .
– I have to protect him .
'I won’t let any get killed in front of me . I won’t let anyone die . ’
Gotou murmured that to incite his own morale and then opened the door to leave the room .
– Yakumo really went back .
After deliberation, Haruka decided to wait for Isshin on the bench in the waiting room .
Since Isshin had been the one who asked them to come investigate, Haruka didn’t think they should leave without talking to him .
Just as Yakumo said, Isshin might have known that the ghost sighting was just a rumour, but those were two different matters .
Plus, Haruka was interested in why Isshin had taken the request .
She was sure he had some sort of special reason .
While Haruka thought about that, gazing idly at the opposite side of the glass, she suddenly felt somebody’s gaze .
She looked up and saw a girl of about middle-school age in front of her .
Her glossy black hair went to her shoulders . Perhaps because of her hollow cheeks, her eyes were goggling .
She just looked at Haruka without saying anything .
'What is it?’
However, the girl stood there without even a twitch, as if she hadn’t heard anything .
'Haruka-chan . ’
Isshin called out to her as he walked over .
'Ah, Isshin-san . ’
Haruka looked up at Isshin .
Isshin noticed the girl in front of Haruka . He looked surprised .
'Yoshiko-chan . ’
Isshin called out to the girl .
'Is she somebody you know?’
'She’s a patient at this hospital . We were together during the examination earlier . ’
'What are you doing here?’ said Isshin, crouching down .
Yoshiko’s eyes, which had been blank until now, seemed to light up a bit .
That was Isshin for you, thought Haruka . Isshin found a place in your heart no matter who you were .
'I’m looking…’ said Yoshiko in a hard voice .
'What are you looking for?’
'Dad . ’
Yoshiko’s expression clouded over again .
'Your father, eh… You’ll definitely find him . ’
'Yoshiko-chan . ’
A nurse called out and walked over to interrupt them .
Yoshiko turned around in response to that .
'So this is where you were . Come on, let’s go back to your room . ’
The nurse took Yoshiko’s hand .
Yoshiko nodded weakly and was led away by the nurse .
'Her heart is weak,’ said Isshin, his eyes narrowed as he watched Yoshiko leave .
'When we were waiting to get our blood drawn, I talked with Yoshiko-chan a bit . ’
'Is that so?’
'I was concerned because she looked so sad, so afterwards I asked the nurse, who said her heart was failing…’
Isshin’s eyes looked distant as he said that .
Perhaps he was thinking about Nao .
'By the way, where’s Yakumo?’ said Isshin, changing the topic .
'He left earlier . ’
Haruka shrugged her shoulders .
'I wanted to talk to him a bit, but I guess there’s no helping it . ’
Isshin knew Yakumo’s selfish personality well . That said, he couldn’t hide his disappointment .
Somehow, Haruka felt apologetic .
'I’m sorry . ’
'No, no, there’s no reason for you to apologise, Haruka-chan . ’
'Now, we should get going too . ’
A carefree smile appeared on Isshin’s face, and he started walking slowly .
Haruka followed after him .
When they passed through the automatic doors to go outside, the wind blew by them lowly .
That wind felt warmer than usual . Spring was coming soon .
'Yakumo-kun could have said something too . ’
Haruka looked at Isshin’s profile .
Normally, Yakumo lived in the room for the <Movie Research Circle> at the university, and he rarely visited Isshin’s temple, though Isshin was the one who had raised him .
Earlier, Isshin had said there was no helping it, but Haruka could tell that Isshin was regretful .
'Yakumo is a cloud,’ Isshin said seriously .
'Yes . He won’t be bound by anything . When somebody tries to grab him, he slips out of their grasp . ’
Isshin had stopped in his tracks . He reached out towards the sky and gripped his fingers, as if trying to grab a cloud .
'That might be true . ’
Though Haruka was smiling, those words had stabbed deep in her heart .
– He won’t be bound by anything .
It really could be true, but that meant Haruka might have been tying Yakumo down by chasing after him so frantically .
It could be terribly annoying to Yakumo .
Haruka knew it was a bad habit to think so negatively, but she couldn’t help but be concerned .
– What does Yakumo think of me?
She felt like the distance between them had closed more than before, but she also felt like there was a wall in front of her that she just couldn’t scale .
More than friends, less than lovers – it was a setting that might work out if this were a drama, but being put in this position in reality made her dissatisfied and anxious .
'Are you all right?’ asked Isshin, sounding concerned .
Haruka’s face heated up – she felt like he had seen through to the bottom of her heart .
'Yes . ’
'Did I say something unnecessary?’
'No, that isn’t it . ’
'Yakumo isn’t good at expressing his feelings . He should be a bit sweeter to you ,Haruka-chan . ’
– Yakumo being sweet?
Haruka couldn’t imagine it at all . She unconsciously started laughing .
'It’d be creepy if he acted that way . ’
'Hm, that might be true . ’
Isshin scratched his chin and nodded .
'I know very well about Yakumo-kun’s contrary act . ’
'Right . You might know him better than I do, Haruka-chan . ’
Isshin smiled .
It was mysterious how Haruka felt like her worries had been silly just from seeing that gentle smile .
'No, I don’t think so . ’
'I do though . As long as you’re there for him, Haruka-chan, Yakumo will be fine . ’
Isshin looked up at the sky and said that cheerfully .
Perhaps putting it this way would be an exaggeration, but he looked like a father seeing his child leaving the nest .
Haruka looked up at the sky as well .
The cloudy sky was dyed a brilliant red .
In the middle of the sky was a single line of clouds, like a brush had artlessly drawn them .
Isshin’s eyes looked a bit wet as he stood next to her .
'Did something happen?’ said Haruka, looking at Isshin’s forlorn profile .
– He’s going to disappear .
Isshin looked so fleeting then that Haruka felt that way .
'No, it’s nothing . ’
'If you’re sure . ’
Haruka didn’t accept that answer, but she couldn’t ask further . Haruka felt that way so she looked away from Isshin .
After that, Haruka parted with Isshin at the train station .
'Haruka-chan, from now on, I’ll leave Yakumo to you . ’
When they parted, Isshin said that with a solemn expression .
Haruka felt like those words had a special meaning to them, but she didn’t ask what it was . She just replied, 'Yes . ’
Only afterwards did Haruka realise what those words meant –
– To hell with it!
Gotou cursed in his heart as he leant back on the passenger seat with a cigarette in his mouth .
He had called Yakumo earlier, but his phone appeared to be off so all Gotou’s calls had gone to voicemail .
Yakumo wasn’t the only person he couldn’t get a hold of .
Gotou went to the temple to guard Isshin, but he had also been out .
The car was parked in front of the temple gates, but all Gotou could do was wait for the person he was supposed to protect .
That just increased his irritation .
Gotou lit up his cigarette to try to calm down .
'Er, Detective Gotou…’
In the driver’s seat, Ishii spoke up, sounding troubled .
'What do you think Nanase Miyuki’s goal is?’
'What are you saying?’
Gotou cocked his head .
Her goal was clear . I will kill Saitou Isshin – Miyuki had declared that . That was her goal .
'Hata-san said this . ’
’“Is her goal really murder?”’
Ishii adjusted the position of his glasses with his fingers and looked forward .
'Idiot . Don’t take that demonic old man seriously . ’
Gotou hit Ishii .
However, now that Ishii said that, Gotou realised that there were a number of things that were off .
– Why Saitou Isshin?
Gotou didn’t think that Miyuki had a reason to kill Isshin .
If she had a grudge, it would have been Yakumo, who had cornered Miyuki, or Gotou, who had arrested her .
'What do you think?’ said Gotou without thinking .
That very moment, Ishii raised his head with sparkling eyes .
'I think it’s an experiment . ’
'Yes . Nanase Miyuki found a way to kill with a supernatural power and she wants to try it on Saitou Isshin…’
Gotou dropped his fist on Ishii’s head before he finished speaking .
– I was an idiot for asking .
Ishii had saved Gotou during the last case . Gotou had thought that Ishii had grown a bit, but it appeared he had been mistaken .
'There’s no way supernatural powers could kill somebody,’ said Gotou with a click of his tongue, putting his cigarette out in the ashtray .
He leant back on the seat and was about to light another cigarette when Ishii suddenly sat up .
'He’s here . ’
Gotou looked out the window .
He saw somebody climbing the long slope to the temple gates .
– No doubt about it . It’s Isshin .
He was walking slowly in his robes and monk’s stole as he held Nao’s hand .
Gotou leapt out of the car and ran to Isshin .
Isshin may have been surprised to see Gotou running at him at full speed, because he stopped in his tracks with wide eyes, but he soon started smiling gently again as he usually did .
'This is unexpected . Even Ishii-kun is here . What is it?’ said Isshin casually, as he looked at Gotou and Ishii, who had arrived a bit later .
'That’s not the issue . Where’d you go?’
The irritation that had piled up within Gotou exploded .
Nao winced at that and hid herself behind Isshin, peeking out with just her face .
'I had some business today . I left Nao with an acquaintance, so I went to pick her up . ’
'Why are you in such a hurry?’
Gotou felt like Isshin’s disinterested tone sounded reprimanding .
'There’s trouble . ’
Gotou took a deep breath to gather himself and then looked straight at Isshin .
The smile left Isshin’s face; perhaps he felt something unusual from Gotou’s gaze .
'Nanase Miyuki gave advance notice of a murder . ’
'She’s the culprit from last time, yes?’
'Right . ’
'Isn’t she in the detention house?’
'Yeah . She said she’d kill somebody from inside there . ’
'Oh, that’d be quite a feat,’ said Isshin .
Isshin, who didn’t know the situation, was talking about it as if it were unrelated to him .
'That isn’t the problem . ’
'The problem is who she said she’s going to kill . ’
'It can’t be Yakumo, could it?’
There was a glint in Isshin’s eyes .
Because he was normally so gentle, the face was so frightening it made Gotou want to step back .
Isshin was always kind, but he couldn’t remain calm when it came to Yakumo . However, Miyuki’s target wasn’t Yakumo .
'It’s you . ’
Gotou said that, but Isshin didn’t seem to understand . He stood there with his mouth half-open .
'Nanase Miyuki said she’d kill you,’ repeated Gotou .
This time, Nao seemed to sense something, though she couldn’t hear, and she gripped Isshin’s hand tightly and looked up .
In the living room of the temple’s priests’ quarters, Ishii knelt on a cushion .
Gotou was sitting cross-legged next to him, and Isshin was across the table from them .
Gotou explained the details of the situation so far to Isshin .
'I understand the gist of it,’ said Isshin after Gotou finished .
Ishii looked up without thinking .
Isshin’s expression was as gentle as always as he sipped from his teacup .
– Does he really understand?
Ishii wasn’t sure .
Isshin was calm even though his life was in danger .
'You might be killed,’ said Gotou forcefully, leaning forward .
Ishii understood how he felt .
Isshin wasn’t nervous at all . Perhaps it was so sudden that he hadn’t seriously accepted it .
'I know that . ’
'Would panicking here solve the problem?’
Isshin kept his calm even while Gotou was agitated .
'That’s not the problem! If you get killed, what would Yakumo and Nao do?’
Gotou smashed his fist against the table angrily .
Still, Isshin did not even move his eyebrow .
– This person understands .
As Ishii watched the exchange, he felt that Isshin did understand the situation he was in .
Isshin knew he was in danger and was preserving his calm .
After a silence, Isshin quietly said, 'I’ll leave Yakumo and Nao in your care then . ’
'Please don’t say that . ’
That sounded like a will to Ishii . He looked at Isshin pleadingly .
– I don’t want you to die .
It wasn’t as if he and Isshin had a particularly deep relationship, but Ishii still sincerely meant that .
'Fine, you damn monk!’
Gotou stood up . His yell shook the whole room .
His face was bright red from anger .
'Don’t talk so loudly . ’
Isshin smiled wryly .
'It’s your fault for saying something morbid!’
'Is that what it sounded like to you?’
Isshin played dumb .
'It did . You idiot . And you don’t like me, right? You’ll leave the rest to me? What’s wrong with you?’
Gotou crossed his arms and sat .
'It’s true that at first I didn’t think well of you . ’
Ishii was surprised to hear Isshin’s words .
It was unexpected – it was the first time Ishii had heard that Isshin didn’t like Gotou . Ishii couldn’t imagine Isshin not liking anyone .
More than anything, Ishii didn’t understand the reason .
Gotou snorted angrily .
'Gotou-kun, you made Yakumo, a civilian, cooperate in your investigations of murders . I thought you were an unbelievable detective . ’
'That isn’t true . Detective Gotou didn’t blindly involve Yakumo in cases,’ interrupted Ishii, unable to stay silent .
There was an absolute trust between Gotou and Yakumo that others couldn’t come into . Ishii felt that painfully as somebody who got to see it up close .
Furthermore, Gotou felt conflicted about involving Yakumo too .
'It is just as you say, Ishii-kun . Gotou-kun has a good subordinate,’ said Isshin with a nod .
When Isshin accepted what he said so easily, it felt a bit anticlimactic .
When Ishii said that, Isshin’s expression became gentler as he looked up at the ceiling .
'By taking part in classes with Gotou-kun, Yakumo became somebody who faces his own fate,’ said Isshin seriously .
Ishii had felt that Yakumo had changed too, however slightly . At first, he’d made every complaint he could think of even though he did cooperate, and it had felt like he was being forced into helping against his will .
However, recently, it seemed to Ishii that Yakumo was helping because he wanted to .
'Yes . ’
'Recently, I was forced to realise that Gotou-kun has always been thinking of Yakumo and watching over him . ’
'What are you saying now?’
Gotou clicked his tongue .
'I think you are a man I can trust . ’
'I’m not . ’
Gotou looked at the floor awkwardly .
'I don’t dislike your boorishness . ’
'Don’t say something so unpleasant!’ said Gotou forcefully, but Isshin smiled like he was enjoying the scene .
Though they were two completely different types of people, they were deeply connected through Yakumo .
To Ishii, Gotou and Isshin looked like very old friends .
'I should get going soon . ’
Now that the conversation had calmed down, Isshin sat up .
'Where to?’ said Gotou immediately .
'I’m going to do my daily mediation, but will you join me?’
'Don’t joke with me,’ said Gotou . Then, Isshin nodded and left the room .
His back looked somewhat sad .
'Ishii . ’
Gotou stuck out his chin .
Watch Isshin – that was probably what he meant .
'Yes sir . ’
Ishii gave a bright reply, but as he stood up, his legs stung from kneeling too long .
Before he took his first step, he fell –
The guard Ishikawa was patrolling the building with his subordinate, Sudou .
It had just passed six in the evening, so the lights in the rooms were still on .
Patrolling was much easier at the new detention house .
There was a rectangle of protection glass in the steel doors, so they could check inside just by walking down the corridor .
There was no need to go up to each door to peer in like before .
'Do you know about Number 607?’ Sudou said with a smirk .
He was still young . Ishikawa could tell because he would say something like that .
In room 607 was the defendant named Nanase Miyuki . In front of her beauty, everyone stopped .
However, Ishikawa felt afraid of her .
Though she was beautiful, there had to be something dark eddying behind that smile . Plus –
'Do you know what that woman did?’
Though Ishikawa’s expression was hard, Sudou was still smirking .
'She’s a murderer . ’
'Right . ’
Because of juvenile law, she couldn’t be tried, but she had brutally killed her family when she was just ten years old .
It wasn’t something a proper human being would do .
If there were people in this world who were born as criminals, she would probably be one of them .
'But I don’t think she did it . ’
'That’s not something for us to decide . ’
'But she said that before . ’
When Ishikawa heard Sudou’s words, he stopped in his tracks .
'Don’t talk to the defendants . I said that . ’
Ishikawa walked right up to Sudou .
– Don’t talk to the defendants .
Back when he’d just become a guard, Ishikawa was told that by his superior .
There were some defendants who would use words to entice guards . Then the guards would be used and fall down the slope to destruction .
Ishikawa had seen a colleague run errands for defendants before .
That was why Ishikawa was warning Sudou too .
'A little bit is fine, right?’ said Sudou, with no concern whatsoever .
The truth was that Ishikawa wanted to say more, but Sudou probably wouldn’t listen . Ishikawa gave up and sighed before starting to walk again .
Thump, thump, thump –
The sound of something hitting something echoed through the corridor .
It kept repeating .
Thump, thump, thump –
Ishikawa looked at Sudou . Then, they ran towards the source of the sound .
Thump, thump, thump –
The sound was coming from room 607 .
– What is going on?
Ishikawa stood in front of the door and looked inside through the glass .
It wasn’t time for the lights to be turned out, but the lights were off . Ishikawa couldn’t see inside clearly .
He took the torch from his waist and turned it on .
He saw something squirming in the back of the room .
'What’s wrong?’ he said, pointing the torch’s light at the corner of the room .
There, Number 607 was lying down and convulsing like a fish out of water .
Those four limbs were hitting the walls, making the sounds they’d heard earlier .
– What is going on?
'Calm down!’ said Ishikawa frantically, but there was no response .
He wanted to carry her to the infirmary immediately, but because of security, the patrols didn’t carry room keys .
'W-what should we do?’ said Sudou, face pale .
'Call for aid! Quickly!’
Sudou hurriedly called for aid on the wireless .
Ishikawa used his torch to watch what was happening inside the room .
Number 607 wasn’t moving at all .
It seemed that she had coughed up blood – the floor was covered in it .
– What on earth happened?
All Ishikawa could do was wait for aid to arrive .
Finally, a number of men with the medical officer reached the room .
'What is the situation?’ asked the jailer in charge as he unlocked the door .
Ishikawa quickly told him that he had been on patrol when he saw that the defendant had fainted and appeared to have coughed up blood .
When he finished speaking, the door opened .
He went inside with the medical officer and walked up to Number 607 .
The area around her was dyed red with blood .
'Stay with me . ’
When the medical officer spoke to Number 607, she opened her eyes slightly .
’… Ki… ll… ed . ’
Number 607’s mouth moved faintly as she said something .
– What? What is she saying?
Ishikawa put his ear closer to try to hear her .
That moment, Number 607 opened her eyes completely and she gripped Ishikawa’s arm .
'I just killed somebody . ’
Her weak tone from earlier changed completely – her words were clear .
– What is she saying?
Indifferent to Ishikawa’s confusion, Number 607 was put on a stretcher and carried out of the room .
In the temple, Isshin sat on the wooden floor to meditate .
The light of the candle was trembling .
A moth scattered its scales as it fluttered about .
Isshin took a deep breath to the bottom of his stomach and went into a half-asleep state .
Doing this calmed his mental state, so that man naturally passed by a corner of his heart .
– The man with two red eyes .
However, his nature was different from usual today .
Mysteriously, Isshin didn’t feel hatred or resentment .
He didn’t think that things he couldn’t even try to make disappear would disappear so easily .
The teachings of Zen did not acknowledge the spirits of the dead .
Believing in the existence of the soul would create an attachment to life and would become an obstruction to discipline . He now actually felt the things he had understood in his head .
– Don’t you hate me?
He heard a voice deep in his ear .
Isshin couldn’t determine whether that was real or an illusion, but it didn’t matter .
'Up until this morning, I thought I hated you,’ Isshin said to the candle flame, still sitting in the lotus position .
– Everyone lives with hatred .
The voice spoke .
'That isn’t always true . I decided not to hate . ’
– Will you always be able to?
The voice was challenging .
However, Isshin’s heart still did not waver .
– Yakumo will fall into darkness ahead .
'He won’t fall . ’
– No, he will definitely fall . Into a deep darkness .
'It’s pointless . No matter how you struggle, you won’t be able to capture Yakumo . ’
Isshin confirmed that today .
Yakumo was tied with a bond stronger than blood .
They shared with each other the things they each lacked .
At first glance, it looked like a frail relationship wherein they licked each other’s wounds, but that wasn’t it . It was a firm bond – they supported each other, understood each other and walked together .
Yakumo had found the road he was supposed to take .
There was the sound of something falling . Isshin was brought back to reality .
He opened his eyes .
The flame of the candle was flickering in the wind .
Isshin felt somebody behind him and stood up slowly .
'Who is it?’ he said, but nobody replied .
However, he felt an electrifying pressure .
– A thirst for blood .
'Have you really come to kill me?’
Isshin slowly turned around .
In the dim light of the candle, he saw glittering eyes .
There was no hatred in those eyes . A stronger emotion –
Isshin said that in a murmur .
Then, those glittering eyes moved .
The cold flash of a blade thrust forward .
Isshin felt no fear .
Dying here is my fate –
But he wished that he could see the faces of the children he loved once more .
Nao, and Yakumo –
– For some reason, my heart’s beating strangely .
With crossed legs, Gotou looked out the living room window .
He saw Ishii keeping guard outside the temple . He should’ve been able to tell if there were any intruders .
Gotou took a cigarette out of his shirt pocket and lit it with his lighter .
He felt the heavy air fill his lungs .
Though Isshin would probably complain – smoking was forbidden – if Gotou didn’t smoke a cigarette, he would feel itchy from sitting .
Gotou blew out smoke as he thought about what to do next .
He didn’t really think somebody in a detention house could kill somebody in another place, but Miyuki must have had some sort of scheme .
– What the hell is she scheming?
'Ah, damn it!’ spat out Gotou, mussing up his hair .
Thinking had never been his strong point . He moved according to instinct .
– If only Yakumo were here .
Just as Gotou clicked his tongue, his mobile phone rang . On the display was the number for Yakumo, who he’d been waiting for .
'Why didn’t you answer!?’
Gotou let out all the dissatisfaction that had built up .
<Please don’t speak so loudly . >
He heard Yakumo’s usual drawl through the phone .
It riled Gotou up to hear Yakumo sounding completely unconcerned .
'I don’t have enough time to banter with you!’
<I feel the same way . If that’s all then . >
'Wait! Listen to what I’m saying!’
Gotou hurriedly stopped Yakumo from hanging up .
<I said, please don’t speak so loudly . >
Yakumo spoke in a disagreeable tone .
However, no matter how disagreeable he found it, Gotou couldn’t hang up now .
'Nanase Miyuki said she’s going to kill somebody . ’
Gotou quickly told Yakumo the main point .
<What do you mean?>
Yakumo returned a question .
Even Yakumo couldn’t hide his surprise at the unexpected development .
'She said she’s going to kill somebody from inside the detention house . ’
<That’s impossible . Isn’t this sort of faking her specialty?>
Yakumo let out a dry laugh in his exasperation .
'The problem is what comes next . ’
'Yeah . The person Nanase Miyuki said she’s going to kill – is Saitou Isshin . ’
The other end of the phone was so silent it made Gotou doubt whether anybody was listening, but Yakumo was definitely there .
Gotou cleared his throat and swallowed as he patiently awaited the next words .
After a long silence, Yakumo finally said just that .
'Yeah . ’
There was another silence .
– Where’d that joking attitude go?
Gotou gripped the mobile phone tightly with a sweaty hand .
This was different from making an alibi . Killing somebody from inside a detention house was physically impossible – please say that .
<Gotou-san, where are you now?>
'Isshin’s temple . ’
<You’ve told my uncle the situation then . >
'Yeah . ’
Gotou could tell that Yakumo’s voice was becoming more agitated .
Yakumo, who was normally calm, was clearly disturbed .
<Where is my uncle now?>
– What’s wrong, Yakumo? This isn’t like you .
Gotou murmured that in his heart to shake off his uneasiness .
'Meditating in the temple . ’
He looked out the window again as he said that . Ishii was standing as still as a statue, like he had been before .
<In the temple by himself?>
'He said he had to do his daily meditation . Ishii’s guarding the entrance now . ’
The moment Gotou finished saying that, the sliding door to the living room opened and Nao rushed in with a panicked expression .
Nao was completely white and half in tears as she tugged at Gotou’s shirt .
'What’s wrong? Calm down . ’
Gotou patted Nao’s head to try to pacify her, but it was no use .
She shook her head and ran out of the living room .
– What happened?
<Gotou-san, please go to the temple right now!>
Yakumo’s voice was close to a shout .
Gotou sprang up .
Gotou didn’t understand, but he ran out of the living room after Nao .
'What’s going on?’
<Nanase Miyuki knows that my uncle is alone when he does his daily meditation!>
The blood left Gotou’s face the moment he heard Yakumo say that .
If she knew in advance that Isshin would be alone, she wouldn’t need to wait for a chance .
She could just wait there ahead of time .
Gotou ran in bare feet past Nao, pushed Ishii away and went up the wooden stairs to the temple .
His heart was pounding . His blood pulsed through his veins .
– Don’t screw with me . As if I’d let something so stupid happen!
Gotou pushed open the sliding door in one swift movement .
For a moment, time stopped .
He couldn’t speak .
– Damn it! What the hell!
The unreliable flame of the candle lit up Isshin’s body, collapsed on the floor .
Stabbed into his stomach like a gravestone was a knife with a silver design .
The blood from the wound pooled on the floor, outlining the contours of Isshin’s body in dark red .
'Ishii! Ambulance! Now!’
Gotou approached Isshin as he yelled that .
He picked up Isshin’s wrist to check his pulse . It was very weak, but it was still there .
Then, he put his ear near Isshin’s mouth to check his breathing . Though it was faint, he was still breathing too .
– It’s OK . He’s still alive .
'Oi! Can you hear me? Give me a response!’
Gotou called out to try to wake Isshin up as he looked at the wound in his stomach .
The knife was below his left rib and thrust in up to the hilt . If he took the knife out unskilfully, it would injure him even further .
From the length of the design, the blade was probably ten to fifteen centimetres .
'It’s OK . You won’t die from something like this!’ said Gotou, as if reprimanding his own weakness .
– Anyway, I have to stop the blood .
He ripped his shirt sleeve, scrunched it up and pressed it against the wound .
The shirt was soon dyed a deep red .
Isshin’s expression twisted as he opened his eyes slightly .
Did he wake up?
'Oi! What the hell are you sleeping for!? Wake up!’ said Gotou all at once .
Isshin’s face was twisted from pain, but he moved his mouth slightly . He was trying to say something .
However, it didn’t make it into words .
'What is it? What do you want to say?’
Gotou put his ear closer to try to hear the words, but Isshin closed his eyes again .
'Idiot! If you’ve got something you want to say, say it clearly!’
He hit Isshin’s cheek with his flat palm .
However, there was no response .
– Damn . Did he faint?
Gotou heard a child crying .
He looked to the temple entrance and saw Nao standing there while crying .
'Don’t cry! It’s fine! He won’t die! I definitely won’t let him die! So don’t cry!’
Partly because Gotou was in chaos, he made it sound like a threat .
In response, Nao nodded firmly, though she couldn’t hear .
'Right . That’s good . ’
– Nao, you’re a strong girl .
Gotou even felt angry when he saw her brave figure . It was anger towards Isshin .
'Oi! You’d better not die! You absolutely can’t do something to make that girl sad! You’ve got a family you have to protect! No matter what happens, you have to live! If you die, I’ll kill you again! Got it!?’
Gotou’s veins stuck out as he frantically yelled at Isshin in his anger .
However, Isshin didn’t open his eyes again .
 Dhyana mudra is the gesture for meditation in Buddhism, called hokkai jouin (法界定印) in Japanese . THIS is an example of what it looks like .
 An ensou (円相) is a circle drawn in one stroke in Zen buddhism and symbolises enlightenment and the universe . It is written with the kanji for circle and appearance in this book but the latter can be exchanged for the kanji meaning window (窓) . HERE is one being sold on Rakuten .
 Mu (無) is a Buddhist term meaning without or nonexistence . It comes up in a Zen koan which goes something like as follows: 'Does a dog have Buddha-nature or not (無)?’ 'Not (無) . ’