Volume 8 Chapter 1

Chapter 1


file 01: suspicion


Life is a momentary phase

The end of life is a momentary phase

– Dougen





Saitou Yakumo woke up to his own yell .

His body was covered in sweat as he lay on the wooden floor .

– A dream?

After realising that, Yakumo slowly sat up .

He didn’t remember the contents of his dream, but he was left with a smouldering impression in his chest that it had been incredibly unpleasant

That’s how dreams are –

His vision was blurry, as if he were surrounded by fog .

The back of his neck hurt like it had been squeezed tightly .

– Did I hit it on something?

Then, his surroundings became clear . He had thought he was in the university’s Movie Research Circle room, where he usually slept, but it seemed he was wrong .

It was dim –

There were candleholders in the four corners of the room, with the small lights of the candles flickering . The room was about twenty tatami in size .

At first glance, it looked like a temple, but rocks dripping with water jutted out of the ceiling and the wall in the back and the narrow pillar in the middle of the room supported the limestone ceiling, which looked like it might collapse at any moment .

This was probably built out of some limestone cave .

– Why am I here?

Yakumo was trying to search through his memories, but the pain in the back of his neck stopped him . He let out a groan and closed his eyes .

His forehead was covered with a cold sweat .

He was taking deep breaths to try to calm down when an offensive smell suddenly assaulted him .

Yakumo knew what that smell was immediately .

Blood –

'This is…’

Yakumo leant back without thinking .

There was an aging fifty-year old man collapsed there in priest’s robes .

His eyes were wide . A purple tongue hung from his half-open mouth .

He had dug his fingernails into the floorboards, probably because he had frantically struggled to get away .

There were stab wounds all over the man’s body .

The large amount of blood that had come out of his wounds spread around the man, as if to draw his figure .

It was clear to anyone that Yakumo was already dead .

Yakumo knew this man .

His name was Seidou . The chief priest at the temple .

'What is this…’ murmured Yakumo, covering his face with his hands . Then, he suddenly felt something strange .

He felt something sticky on his palms .

– It can’t be .

Yakumo held his hands up in front of his eyes .

They were a deep red –

From his palms to his fingers, congealed blood stuck to his hand .

Again, Yakumo looked at Seidou, who lay face-down .

There was a knife stuck in the floor .

The blade was stained with blood up to the handle .

Yakumo had a creeping suspicion .

There was no sign that Seidou had been dragged . The blood seeping into the floor around him also showed that he had been killed here .

– Something happened .

The more he tried to remember, the more the back of his neck hurt . Like there were memories there that he himself wanted to forget .

While bearing with the pain in the back of his neck, Yakumo slowly stood up .

– I won’t forgive you .

Yakumo heard a voice from somewhere .

A woman’s voice that echoed with darkness, like it had been strangled out of the bottom of her stomach –

When Yakumo turned around, he saw a woman with her head facing down standing in front of the double doors which were the only exit .

She wore a navy blazer with a short check skirt . It was probably a uniform from some high school .

Her wet hair clung to her face .

Her skin was so pale that her veins appeared, faintly blue, and she was sickly thin .

Yakumo knew that in front of him wasn’t a living person but a ghost that he was seeing with his red left eye .

Yakumo looked at the girl .

– I won’t forgive you .

The girl said that again in a voice filled with hatred as she slowly lifted her head .

Her eyes were bloodshot, as if she were possessed by something .

Hatred, resentment, envy – those eyes condensed a variety of negative emotions .

– Die . Pay for it with your death .

The girl repeated herself in a voice as hoarse as an old woman’s .

'Why would you go so far…’

Without replying to Yakumo’s question, the girl went through the entrance, as if she had been sucked in, and disappeared .

'Wait . ’

Using the wall for support, Yakumo chased the girl .

Just as he was about to try to push open the doors, he suddenly stopped .

'This is…’

There was a piece of paper about the size of a business card stuck on the doors .

There was a short message on the piece of paper .

The moment Yakumo read the message, his eyes went wide .

If someone who didn’t understand looked at it without knowing the point, it would probably be difficult to understand the meaning from the message . However, Yakumo was different . He immediately understood the dreadfulness indicated by that message .

– This is bad .

Yakumo wanted to make a call, but he didn’t have his mobile . That wasn’t all that was missing . He couldn’t find his wallet or key either .

He turned around, but they hadn’t fallen in the room .

Either he dropped them somewhere, or – anyway, looking at the situation, it would be useless to stay any longer . He needed to get out of here as soon as he could .

Yakumo took the paper off the doors and stuck it in his pocket . Then, he took a candleholder in his pocket and pushed open the doors .

With the help of the faint light of the candle, he looked around .

Right in front of the doors, he saw the bare rock face of a limestone cavern .

Water dripped from the rocks above his head . The cave continued, about five metres wide and two metres tall .

– Seems like this is the only way to proceed .

Yakumo tried to advance, dragging his body forward, but his feet were unsteady, as if the ground were shaking beneath him .

After walking a few steps, he put his hand against the rock wall and took deep breaths with heaving shoulders .

He heard footsteps .

Somebody’s here –

The moment he lifted his head, he was hit by a strong light .

Yakumo’s vision went white, like a smokescreen had been put up in front of him .

'What are you doing here?’

It was a man’s voice . It had an intimidating tone to it .

After blinking a number of times, he finally saw the person standing in front of him .

It was a middle-aged uniformed officer holding a torch .


Yakumo was lost for words .

At the current stage, his memories were still vague, so he had no way of explaining .

'You look a bit pale…’

The middle-aged officer walked towards Yakumo .

'I’m fine,’ replied Yakumo, looking away from reflex . But it was a bit late . The middle-aged uniformed officer looked surprised .

'Your eye…’

Yakumo knew what he was going to say even without hearing the rest .

His left eye was red – that was why he was surprised . In the past, seeing a response like this would hurt him deeply, but now he thought of it like nothing .

People were frightened of others who were different than they were . It was natural as a living being .

'It’s terrible!’

A voice echoed through the limestone cavern, interrupting the silence .

Yakumo turned his eyes towards the doors to the cave, which were still open . A young uniformed officer stood there, pointing inside agitatedly .

It appeared he had noticed the corpse in the cave .

'What happened?’ asked the middle-aged uniformed officer in a relaxed manner .

’S-somebody’s dead!’ shouted the young uniformed officer .

That was the sign .

Yakumo pushed the middle-aged uniformed officer aside and ran .

The middle-aged office fell on his behind and yelled, 'Wait!’ Unfortunately, Yakumo couldn’t obey that command right now .

Yakumo just ran with all his strength towards the exit .

After running about fifty metres, the path took a large curve .

He saw the light of the exit after the turn .

'Oi! Wait!’

The officers’ voices and footsteps followed him .

Even if he ran out of the exit, with his exhausted body, he would probably be caught soon . That would be the end of everything .

– What to do?

Yakumo stopped and looked around . He spotted a gap between the rocks .

Limestone caves were complex – there wasn’t only one exit . Perhaps this gap would connect to another exit . However, if it was a dead end, that would be like running into a cage himself .

Yakumo made his decision and decided to dive into the gap, hiding himself quickly .

He stifled his breath –

The footsteps of the officers caught up soon after, but they went right by .

After a pause, Yakumo moved to look at the exit .

After the officers discussed something at the exit, they split up, running left and right .

Yakumo let out a sigh of relief, but then he returned to the problem at hand .

He couldn’t hide here forever . The officers wouldn’t search that far either . If they couldn’t find him, they’d return to the limestone cave .

That said, going to the limestone cave’s exit now would be suicide .

He really would have to go through the gap in the rocks to the end .

Yakumo stooped over and stepped into the deep darkness .

Suddenly, the bloody image of Seidou flashed through Yakumo’s mind .

– Did I do that?

He wanted to deny it – there was no way – but at this point, Yakumo didn’t have the evidence to .

Anyway, he had to escape now .

After moving about ten metres, he saw a small light .

There was an exit ahead .

With relief, he took another step . Then, his foot slipped .

'Damn . ’

It was already too late when he spoke .

The rock he had stepped on crumbled loudly .

Yakumo fell into the darkness, dragged in by gravity –




After Ozawa Haruka finished her orchestra circle practice, she headed for the prefabricated building in the back of Building B .

There were ten small rooms of four and a half tatami in size on each floor .

Haruka stood in front of the room at the very end of the first floor . There was a plate that read Movie Research Circle on the door, but it was a blatant lie .

The owner of the room, Saitou Yakumo, had fooled the university’s student union, created a fictional club and used the room as his own .

Yakumo’s left eye had been red from birth and had the unique ability to see the spirits of the dead .

– A hateful guy .

That had been Haruka’s first impression . A contrary person who was unfriendly and hated to deal with others .

Starting with Miki’s case . Haruka had experienced many incidents with Yakumo .

Most of them had been depressing, but with those experiences, Haruka’s impression of Yakumo had changed a lot .

Because of Yakumo’s unique ability, his own mother had tried to kill him and others looked at him like he was strange .

After experiencing hardship, Yakumo had put a wall between himself and others to protect his damaged heart .

However, inside he noticed more than anyone and had a kind side to him .

After Haruka noticed that, Yakumo seemed cute to her .

Somehow, she could relax with him . Though he probably didn’t intend it himself, she felt like she was being protected .

Now, she would go see him whenever she had time .

One of her friends had asked her if they were dating before . Unfortunately, the answer was no .

Though she had experienced many things with Yakumo, time had passed without any particular developments, and before she’d noticed it, she was here, half a year from graduation .

After that – there was probably nothing .

They might have experienced too much to become more than friends .

Close, but far . That was her relationship with Yakumo .

I wonder what Yakumo thinks – she did want to ask, but she felt like doing so would ruin everything they had built so far .

She was very afraid of that .

– What am I thinking about?

Haruka smiled self-derisively and looked towards the door again .

Today, she hadn’t been involved in some case like usual . It would be Yakumo’s birthday soon . She had thought about giving him a present, but she didn’t know what he would like .

After worrying about it, she decided to ask the person himself and came here .

'Yakumo-kun, you here?’

Haruka called out as she opened the door .

However, Yakumo was missing .

'What? He’s not here…’

With a sigh, Haruka sat on her usual seat by the door .

A dreary room with nothing in it –

Even the chair she sat on was just a rusty folding chair that could be found anywhere . That said, it made her calm .

It was a small room, only four and a half tatami in size, but she didn’t have to put on airs here – she could be herself .

Haruka rested her head on the table .

It was quiet .

'Yakumo, won’t you come back soon…’

Once he got back, he would definitely complain, saying something like 'What are you doing here?’ or 'Do you have this much free time?’ .

When Haruka had first met Yakumo, she would become seriously mad by what he said .

However, now it was as natural to her as a 'Good morning’ . It was comfortable .

She had never felt this way with anyone else before .

– I probably like…

To clear her head, Haruka took out her mobile and started typing a message .

It was to Yakumo .

She had never received a reply from Yakumo after messaging him . It was just a one-way digital signal .

It was mysterious how she still felt like they were connected this way .

<Do you want anything?>

Haruka sent a short message and lay on the table again .




I have so much time –

Gotou Kazutoshi yawned as he sat on the chair .

Nothing case-like had happened recently . He knew that he shouldn’t want cases as part of the police, but sitting at a desk didn’t suit him .

The Unsolved Cases Special Investigation Room that Gotou was stationed at had the goal of cleaning up cases that had been placed aside, as per the name .

That said, most of it was just paperwork . For Gotou, who thought before he acted, it was like torture .

After Gotou had sighed for the nth time, the door opened .

’D-Detective Gotou! I-it’s terrible!’

Ishii Yuutarou flew in with a panicked expression .

'You’re so noisy,’ responded Gotou with a click of his tongue .

Gotou could count on one hand the number of times things had actually been terrible when Ishii said they were .


Ishii faltered, suddenly losing his momentum .

Gotou had thought that Ishii had grown a bit, but he really didn’t have his feet firmly planted on the ground .

'What are you making such a fuss about?’

'E-er, I passed . ’

'For what?’

'That . I passed . ’

As usual, Ishii didn’t get to the point .

'What’s that? Say it clearly . ’

'The promotion exam . ’

Ishii’s breathing was ragged .

'Promotion exam?’

'Like I said, I passed . The assistant inspector promotion exam . ’

'That’s good . ’

Gotou wasn’t properly listening, but when he understood the meaning of the words, he suddenly come to his senses .

'What did you say just now?’

'I said, the promotion exam…’

'That isn’t it . I meant the rank . ’

'Assistant inspector . ’

Ishii puffed up his chest in pride .

'You’re going to be an assistant inspector?’

'Yes sir . ’

– What the hell .

Gotou’s sleepiness flew away all at once .

'What’s wrong? You look pale…’

Ishii looked at Gotou’s face in concern .

Though he probably didn’t mean it this way himself, it felt like he was pitying Gotou . It irritated him .

Gotou lifted his hand to hit Ishii’s head, but he didn’t drop it .

'Excuse me…’

Ishii adjusted the position of his silver-framed glasses with his fingers . His gesture, which annoyed Gotou even normally, especially grated on his nerves today .


'Aren’t you happy for me?’

– Happy? You kidding?

Gotou hurriedly swallowed the words he had almost said .

If those words left his mouth, it would be like he had acknowledged the dirty jealousy in the bottom of his heart .

'Congratulations, Assistant Inspector Ishii . ’

Gotou turned his chair around so his back was facing Ishii .

He knew himself he wasn’t acting like an adult, but knowing that didn’t change anything .

'Are you angry?’

Ishii walked in front of Gotou as he said that .

– This guy really can’t read the mood .

'I’m not angry!’


Ishii’s brows furrowed in his confusion .

'Do you know my rank?’

'You’re a police inspector . ’

There was no malice in Ishii’s words . That just made Gotou more irritated .

'I’m the same as you . Assistant inspector . ’

'Are you joking again, sir?’

Ishii shook his head, as if to say 'My, my’ . That gesture made Gotou even more annoyed .

Gotou clicked his tongue and stood up .

'E-excuse me… Where are you going?’

'I will be having lunch . Assistant Inspector Ishii . ’

Gotou bowed theatrically towards Ishii .

'Please stop that . ’

Ishii wriggled like a mollusc and clung to Gotou .

'Let go of me!’

Gotou thrust Ishii away and left the room, but then his feet suddenly stopped .

– Why am I so angry?

He didn’t have a response .

– The corporate ladder can kiss my ass!

Like that, he had done whatever he wanted up until now . He hadn’t even tried taking the promotion exam, since it was annoying .

Even though nobody had told him to do it – even though it was what he himself wanted – why was he so irritated?

'Damn it!’

Gotou kicked the wall and started walking .




Splish, splish –

Yakumo regained consciousness while hearing the periodic sound of dripping water .

– I’m still alive .

When he opened his eyes, he saw limestone, winding like a gigantic organism .

Yakumo sat up from his face-up state .

He saw a faint light coming in from outside . Though it was small, there was a hole to the outside . It looked like he could get out if he crouched .

A creaking pain ran through his left leg, making Yakumo’s expression contort .

The lower left half of his jeans was ripped and soaked with blood

With the support of a rock jutting out from the ground, Yakumo got up and started walking, dragging his injured left leg behind him, and escaped the limestone cave while stooped over .

He was in the middle of a forest of cedar trees .

He looked up and saw the summer sun peeking through .

He naturally narrowed his eyes and covered them with his hands . Then, he heard the sound of running water .

About five metres ahead, he saw a stream .

It was about as deep as his ankle . It seemed like a spring was the water source – he could see clearly to the bottom of the stream .

Yakumo went into the stream, put his face to the water to drink it and wet his dry throat, and washed the wound on his left leg .

Then, he rubbed his hands together in the water to wash the blood off .

The red water slowly flowed away .

It would probably soon fade into the rest of the water, making it indistinguishable .

Yakumo got out on the rock on the opposite side . He ripped the left sleeve of his shirt from the shoulder and wrapped the injury on his left leg on it, using the sleeve as a bandage .

Yakumo went to the nearby cedar tree, sat down and calmed his breathing .

– Why did this happen?

After he had regained his calm, that question came to Yakumo’s brain .

The man who died was the priest of the temple, Seidou . The two of them had walked this weedy path last night and went into the limestone cavern – he remembered that .

Something was following them then .

But Yakumo wasn’t sure of what . When he tried to remember, his head started hurting, as if to stop him .

Yakumo gave up on trying to remember what happened around the incident and started organising his thoughts in order .

Yesterday morning, a man came to the Movie Research Circle at the university .

It was Eishin . He was fairly old, but he had a large frame with a good physique . At first glance he looked gentle, but he was broadminded .

He had been the teacher of Yakumo’s uncle, Isshin .

After Isshin’s death, he had been persistent in trying to get Yakumo to continue at the temple, so Yakumo found him troublesome .

'There’s something I’d like to request . ’

Eishin had said that the moment he entered the room .

'I refuse . ’

Despite Yakumo’s refusal, Eishin continued anyway .

'Do you know about reincarnation?’

Eishin smiled .

– Reincarnation .

Yakumo was half-dumbfounded when he heard the word .

Rustle .

The rustling of a tree brought Yakumo back to his senses .

Something had run through the grass .

A raccoon .

Yakumo was relieved, but he knew he couldn’t stay here forever .

If the police found his way out of the limestone cave, they would probably come here right away . He had to put as much distance as he could between them before them .

Most importantly, he couldn’t just keep running like this .

He needed to gather information and confirm what had happened . No matter what terrible truth was waiting for him, it was his duty to know .

Yakumo stood up with determination and began to walk along the stream –




With complicated feelings, Ishii threw himself into the paperwork .

I want to become like Gotou as quickly as I can – he had frantically tried his hardest with that mind set and taken the assistant inspector promotion exam for that reason, but he hadn’t thought he would really be able to catch up .

And he was also surprised that Gotou’s rank was assistant inspector .

Did he fail the test? No, that wasn’t it . He probably hadn’t had the time to even take it .

Rather than taking a promotion exam, Gotou had chosen to act as a detective inspector . And how was Ishii in comparison to that?

After asking himself that, Ishii thought he was horribly lowly .

His shoulders slumped just as the door to the room opened .

The chief of the detectives, Miyagawa Hideya, showed up .

Though he had a small frame, he had a bald head and thick eyebrows . Underneath that, he had glaring eyes with a sharp glint in them which had the pressuring air of a carnivore .

'Where’ Gotou?’ said Miyagawa in a forceful and gravelly voice after looking around the room .

'Ah, er, he just stepped out . ’

'Slacking off at a time like this . ’

Miyagawa walked in angrily with large strides and then sat on top of the desk with his arms crossed .

'Did something happen?’ Ishii asked timidly .

'This morning, a corpse was found in the back of a limestone cavern in Nishitama,’ said Miyagawa with a sigh . ’

'A corpse…’

The victim was Todayama Seidou, the priest of a nearby temple . Fifty-eight years old . ’

Miyagawa continued his explanation in a flat tone .

'The incident occurred at about nine this morning . There was an anonymous tip about a corpse in a limestone cavern in the mountain area of Nishitama . ’


It wasn’t rare for anonymous information to come to the police .

Especially in big incidents, informants didn’t want to get involved .

'It seems like that limestone cavern’s famous as a spiritual spot . ’

'Perhaps he went there to test his courage?’

'We don’t know the details yet, but it’s possible . Anyway, two policemen went that and found a corpse, like the tip said . ’

'Oh . ’

Ishii gave a response lacking feeling .

He saw the outline of the case, but it was out of their jurisdiction . He didn’t know why Miyagawa had gone out of his way to talk about it .

'It seems like the corpse was stabbed all over . ’

'Stabbed… all over…’

The image of a priest covered in blood in the limestone cavern came up in Ishii’s head . He gulped .

If he actually saw it, he probably would have screamed .

'So the Nishitama precinct sent a request for cooperation . ’

'To us?’

Ishii was surprised .

'Yeah . ’

'Why is that?’

'The two officers he went witnessed a suspicious man at the scene . ’

Miyagawa’s way of speaking was impassive, like he was reading a speech, but his expression was unusually grim .

'Is he the culprit?’

'The Nishitama precinct says it’s likely . ’

'I see . ’

'In the officers’ testimony, the man who ran from the scene had a red left eye . ’

Miyagawa said that without a pause .


It took some time for Ishii to understand .

Ishii only knew one person with a red left eye .

– Saitou Yakumo .

But that was just from the people Ishii knew . He couldn’t deny the possibility that there were other people with red left eyes .

'Look at this . ’

Miyagawa might have sensed what Ishii was feeling, because he took a piece of paper from his breast pocket and placed it on the desk .

It was a copy of an identity card which looked like a student ID .

’T-this is…’

When Ishii saw what was written there, he was lost for words .

– Meisei University, Saitou Yakumo

'There was a wallet at the limestone cavern . Seems like this was in it,’ explained Miyagawa .


Yakumo’s head flashed through Ishii’s mind .

Well-defined features and skin was white as porcelain . Terrible bedhead and sleepy eyes .

He had a blank expression and acted indifferent ot everything, but in the back of his eyes, he coolly observed others’ words and actions .

It was true that his perception had led them to solve many cases, but at the same time, Ishii felt frightened .

When he stood in front of Yakumo, he felt like Yakumo saw right to the bottom of his heart, so Ishii couldn’t relax . There was something mysterious about Yakumo .

It might have been because Yakumo was the son of that man –

'The Nishitama precinct’s sending a detective over,’ said Miyagawa while crossing his arms .

'Could it be that we are – ’

'Exactly . ’


Ishii exclaimed without thinking .

They were going to cooperate with a detective from the Nishitama precinct and chase Yakumo . To Ishii, it just seemed like a bad joke .

'Don’t complain . I told them in advance that you’re Yakumo’s acquaintances . ’

'I-isn’t that bad?’

'They’d find out anyway . It’d be even worse to hide it . ’

'I see…’

It was just as Miyagawa said . If they hid it, the information would come out easily once they searched . If it was found out later, it would become an even worse problem .

'Anyway, get Gotou back before they get here . ’

Miyagawa finished with that and then briskly walked out the room with his bow-legged gait .

Ishii felt like a gigantic weight had been placed on his shoulders . It seemed like he would be crushed flat .

– Did Yakumo really kill someone?

Ishii couldn’t find the answer to the question eddying in his heart .




Assistant detective inspector? To hell with that .

Gotou was walking on university premises in his irritation .

The first term of university had ended and now it was summer vacation . It wasn’t bustling like usual – it was rather leisurely .

Gotou was headed for the Movie Research Circle room, where Yakumo was .

Gotou didn’t know himself why he had come here .

If they met, Yakumo would just complain and make Gotou more irritated .

Despite that, Gotou would want to meet Yakumo when he was in an ill humour . This wasn’t the first time .

It would be difficult to explain, but Yakumo made him feel that way .

'Sorry to bother!’

As Gotou said that, he opened the door to the Movie Research Circle .

'If you know you’re a bother, please leave . ’

– This brat!

Gotou swallowed the words he was about to say and his eyes went wide .

In front of him wasn’t Yakumo but Haruka .

’… is what Yakumo would say . ’

Haruka laughed, shrugging her shoulders .

'Oh, it’s you, Haruka-chan?’

Gotou sat on the folding chair in the corner of the room and loosened his tie .

The room had no air conditioning – just an electric fan . If he stayed an hour in this room, he’d be drenched in sweat .

'Would you like something to drink?’ asked Haruka, standing up .

'Anything’s good as long as it’s cold .

'Roger, Detective Inspector Gotou . ’

'It’s Assistant Detective Inspector . ’

Gotou hadn’t meant to say it, but it slipped out of his mouth .


Haruka looked confused .

'It’s nothing . Anyway, something cold . ’


After saying that, Haruka went to the refrigerator in the back of the room .

Recently, it had become so natural that he hadn’t noticed, but looking at it like this, Gotou felt like he’d visited the house of a newly-wedded couple .

Even though a man and woman of the same age were at such an intimate distance, they weren’t dating . It boggled Gotou’s mind .

Rather than the two of them both not being honest with themselves, they were probably just not good with romance .

'Though I don’t have the right to say anything…’ said Gotou as he stretched .

'Did you say something?’

Haruka came back with a bottle of tea .

'It’s nothing . Anyway, where’s Yakumo?’

Gotou accepted the tea from Haruka and gulped it down .

'Gotou-san, you weren’t together with Yakumo-san then,’ said Haruka, sitting down on the folding chair and propping her head up in her hands . From that response, Haruka didn’t know where Yakumo was either .

'Yeah . ’

'Is there another case?’

Haruka looked at him doubtfully .

It appeared that she thought Gotou only came to see Yakumo when there was a case .

'That’s not it . I was just wondering how he was since I haven’t seen him around lately . How about you?’

'I felt the same way . ’

Haruka smiled .

At this lull in their conversation, Gotou’s mobile phone rang .

The display showed Ishii’s number .

'Your mobile’s ringing . ’

Gotou thought about ignoring it, but with Haruka’s comment, Gotou had to answer .


<Detective Gotou, it’s terrible!>

He heard Ishii’s agitated voice from the phone .

'Don’t make such a fuss . ’

<But it really is terrible!>

'Then talk,’ Gotou said curtly .

It really did make him irritated to think that this useless guy was on the same level as him .

<Ah, yes sir . After you went out, Detective Gotou, I was doing paperwork for a while, when…>

'Forget the preamble,’ Gotou interrupted .

<I-I apologise, sir . This morning, a corpse was found in a limestone cavern in Nishitama . >


Though Nishitama was a neighbouring city, it was a different jurisdiction .

The police organisation was very aware of its borders . If people stuck their necks into other jurisdictions’ business, there’d be trouble .

<The police are chasing a man as an important person of interest because of evidence and eyewitness testimony . >

'So that’s the culprit then . ’

<W-wait! That’s not it!>

Ishii hurriedly stopped Gotou before he could hang up .

'What’s not it?’

<The name of the person of interest is Saitou Yakumo-shi . >

'Ah, I see . ’

Gotou was about to hang up when he suddenly realised what Ishii had said .

– It can’t be .

<Excuse me… Detective Gotou…>

Ishii’s wavering voice came through the receiver .

'What’d you say just now?’

<I said that the person of interest was Saitou Yakumo-shi…>

Gotou hadn’t heard wrong .

'When you say Yakumo… You mean that Yakumo!?’

Gotou sat up as he shouted in his agitation .

Haruka looked at him anxiously, seeming to sense that something terrible had happened .

<Yes sir . That Yakumo-shi, the one we know . >

'You’re kidding me . ’

Gotou couldn’t accept Ishii’s words .

However, Ishii wasn’t the type to fool people or joke around . That made his words ring true .

Yakumo was a person of interest in a murder case – like Gotou could accept something as stupid as that .

As if to deny Gotou’s thoughts, something somebody said flashed through his mind .

– That child will kill people .

Yakumo’s mother, Saitou Azusa, had said that .

It was a rainy night fifteen years ago .

That day, Azusa had had her hands on the neck of her own son, Yakumo, while incoherently saying, 'That child will kill people . ’

Were those words that came from delusion or a prophecy –

Now, Gotou couldn’t see the answer .

<Hello, Detective Gotou?>

Gotou came back to his senses when he heard Ishii’s voice .

This wasn’t the time to remember the past .

'Explain in detail . ’

Gotou sat down on the chair again with a hard expression .




Yakumo stopped his walking along the river .

A drop of water hit his cheek .

He looked up . Thick clouds blanketed the sky .

'An evening shower…’

As if they had waited for Yakumo’s murmur, large raindrops suddenly started to fall .

Climbing down the mountain would be dangerous in the rain .

Yakumo looked around and saw a large rock with a hollow in it a bit beyond the river .

He could probably take shelter there if he stooped over .

Yakumo quickened his pace while dragging his left foot and slid his body into the hollow of the rock .

The large raindrops hit the ground loudly, creating a light mist . Yakumo decided to rest until the shower was over .

He ran both his hands through his hair and wiped them off .

After letting out a long sigh, a woman’s face flashed through Yakumo’s head .

– Ozawa Haruka .

He couldn’t remember clearly now what his first impression of her had been .

Somebody troublesome has come along – he had probably just thought something like that .

She would disappear once she had used him and didn’t need him any more . He had thought she’d be one of that type . After some time, he wouldn’t think about her again . Like scenery passing in a car window .

However, the word Haruka had said so casually had destroyed the prejudices and sense of values that Yakumo had had up until then .

– Beautiful .

Haruka had said that when she saw Yakumo’s red left eye .

Though Yakumo didn’t say it, that word had healed Yakumo’s impoverished heart more than anything that had ever been said to him up until now .

Because of his red left eye, which could see the spirits of the dead, he was viewed as something strange and looked at by the world with curiosity .

'Creepy . ’

'Scary . ’

'Pitiful . ’

Hate . Fear . Pity –

Each of those words hurt Yakumo’s heart, as if they were sharp blades .

– I’m not wanted .

It was natural for him to think that way .

I don’t want to be here . I want to disappear . Yakumo had wished for death countless times, but as somebody who could see the spirits of the death, he knew that death was not a release from pain .

Yakumo felt like the word Haruka had said when she saw his red left eye – beautiful – had pulled out a stopper that had been in his heart .

Like it had told him it was all right for him to exist .

There had been many cases after that . While going through those, Haruka had become more than somebody who was just passing by .

That wasn’t all . After she had become a part of his life, Yakumo’s world had started to change .

Isshin and Nao . And Gotou – Yakumo had realised that there were other people who wanted him to be there .

At some point, the world had become something he didn’t want to lose, and there were people he wanted to protect .

In the past, he would have thought that troublesome, but it was different now .

It was pleasant . He had been taught that he wasn’t the only person in the world . It felt like he was being released from the suffering that he had been burdened with up until now .

– Why am I suddenly thinking about this?

With a self-derisive smile, Yakumo shut his eyes .

Perhaps because his nerves had calmed, he was assaulted by a heavy sleepiness .

He had somewhere he could return . That was why he had to return . There were people who were waiting – people he wanted to see –

Just as his neck lost its strength, Yakumo’s eyes flew open .

He couldn’t fall asleep carelessly in a place like this .

Yakumo shook his head .

At the same time, part of his memory came back to him .


He was in the cavern at the back of the limestone cave . Where Yakumo had woken up .

The flames of the candles were flickering .

Seidou stood there with lifeless eyes, as if his soul had left him, and gripped a knife .

'What do you plan to do after knowing the truth?’ asked Seidou in a flat voice .

At the time, Yakumo had said something, but he couldn’t remember what –

'I see . Then…’

Seidou smiled slightly and gripped the knife more tightly .

Everything suddenly went dark – and then another image appeared in his mind .

A place like a temple .

'Do you believe in reincarnation?’ said Seidou .

A girl had been standing next to him .

She had bobbed hair and well-defined features, like a doll .

'I’m the reincarnation of my mother . ’

Though the girl smiled, there was no emotion there .

This girl was empty .

– You?

While he was thinking, a jolt of pain ran through the back of his neck, bringing him back to reality .

A piece of a memory, just a moment . Everything was jumbled . He couldn’t determine at this stage what it meant .

However, it appeared clear that there had been some sort of quarrel between Yakumo and Seidou .

Furthermore, Seidou had been holding a knife . It wouldn’t be difficult to believe that after their quarrel, Yakumo had stabbed Seidou .

The doubt that had started to disappear came back again .

'That can’t be . ’

By saying it aloud, Yakumo cut down the growing anxiety in his heart .

If he theorised recklessly without all the information, he would become bound by a hard perspective and would be able to arrive at the truth .

For now, he wanted information . In order to do so, he would need to go to Seidou’s temple .

Yakumo waited for the rain to stop .




'What’s wrong?’ Haruka asked Gotou once he finished his call .

Though she hadn’t heard clearly, she could tell that something terrible had happened to Yakumo from the bits and pieces of the conversation she did hear .

Her heart was pounding .

It made Haruka recall what had happened half a year ago . The incident when Yakumo had disappeared without a word –

The corners of her eyes felt warm just from thinking about it .

She didn’t want to feel that way again .

Gotou sat there silently with a stiff expression without answering Haruka’s question .

It felt like he wasn’t sure if he should talk .

That attitude made Haruka even more worried about the gravity of the situation .

The heavy silence continued .

The sound of the rain sounded incredibly loud .

The rain was heavy – the sound of the countless raindrops hitting the ground rang through the room .

'Please tell me . ’

Haruka gripped Gotou’s arm .

Guess there’s no avoiding it – with that expression on his face, Gotou let out a breath in resignation and said 'I don’t know the details yet’ as his preface .

'A corpse was found in a limestone cave in Nishitama . ’

'A corpse…’

Could it be –

Haruka felt like she had suddenly fallen into a bottomless darkness .

Tell me it isn’t true – Haruka stared at Gotou with that wish .

'The person who died was the priest of a nearby temple,’ said Gotou, as if he had sensed Haruka’s feelings .

'I see…’

She knew it was indiscreet, but she was relieved that the corpse wasn’t Yakumo .

'The police are chasing Yakumo as a person of interest . ’


Haruka said that without thinking .

It wasn’t like she hadn’t heard what Gotou said or that she didn’t understand what the words meant .

She just couldn’t believe it .

'The detectives witnessed a man with a red left eye fleeing the scene . And there was a wallet left behind as evidence . Yakumo’s student ID had been in it . ’


'From that situation, it’s likely Yakumo’s involved in the case somehow . ’

Gotou had said what Haruka didn’t dare to say .

She felt like a knife had been thrust through her .

’… It’s a lie . ’

After a silence, Haruka said just that .

She was saying that to herself . That can’t be it . She wanted to believe that . She wanted that to be true .

Words from a terribly desperate wish –

'I know that . ’

Unlike Haruka, Gotou’s words had force behind them .

There was no doubt there . There was a confidence in them – like it was natural .

'That’s right . ’

'Right . There’s no way he’d kill anybody . ’

'You’re right . ’

Though Haruka gave a firm reply, she couldn’t clear a niggling doubt .

– Why?

'The question is what to do now,’ said Gotou, interrupting Haruka’s question .

'That’s right . ’

They needed to find out the truth to see why this had happened . And –

'Where’s Yakumo-kun now?’

'I don’t know . ’

Gotou crossed his arms in his displeasure .

'Did he run?’

'Seems like it . ’

Haruka realised what had been bothering her .

'Why did Yakumo-kun run?’

Haruka didn’t understand .

If he hadn’t killed anybody, he wouldn’t have needed to run . He could have just explained what he was doing .

And Yakumo must have known that running in that situation would be unbeneficial for him .

'I don’t know . ’

Gotou frowned .

'Was there something that happened that made it necessary for him to run?’

'It’d be faster to ask him . ’

'But we don’t know where he is . ’

'We’ll find him . ’

Gotou puffed out his chest with confidence .

'But how?’

'We just have to check the places we think he might be . ’

Gotou wasn’t joking – he probably really meant to do that .

However, Haruka didn’t think they’d be able to find Yakumo that way . Going around mindlessly wouldnt’ do anything – they needed to find a clue .

'Are there no leads?’

'Ah, that’s right . ’

Gotou seemed to recall something after hearing Haruka’s words . He clapped his hands together .

'What is it?’

'Seems like the place where the corpse was found was a spiritual spot . ’

'A spiritual spot…’

Haruka murmured that as she mulled it over .

It was likely that Yakumo had been there following some spiritual mystery for some reason .

Even if that were the case, it was incredibly unlikely that Yakumo would chase a case related to spirits of his own volition .

'Did somebody bring a spiritual investigation to Yakumo?’

Haruka said the question that came to mind .

'It’s possible . ’

'But who would it be?’

'I don’t know . ’

'I don’t either…’

Haruka thought about it, but she couldn’t think of anybody .

Just as the conversation had come to a lull, the door opened .


Haruka stood up and looked at the door, thinking Yakumo might have returned .

However, the person standing there wasn’t Yakumo –




Ishii’s shoulders slumped in his disappointment .

He took off his glasses and leant on the back of the chair, looking up at the ceiling .

The detective from the Nishitama precinct would be here soon, but it didn’t seem like Gotou would be coming back – he’d hung up the phone, saying <Only share info> .

Ishii understood why Gotou thought that way too .

If he met up with somebody from the Nishitama precinct, he wouldn’t be able to move freely . And he probably didn’t want to be asked too much about Yakumo .

However, Ishii didn’t like being left behind . He couldn’t explain why Gotou wasn’t here, and he didn’t have the confidence to do this alone .

Ishii covered his face with both hands . Then, he heard a knock on the door .

'Ah, yes . ’

Ishii hurriedly put his glasses back on and stood up .

'Excuse me . ’

The door opened . Ishii looked at the door and saw a woman standing there .

She was probably in her late twenties . She was tall, but she had an elegant figure .

Her hair was very short . With almond eyes, she looked strict at first glance, but she was quite the beauty with her feline features .

'My name is Natsume Youko . I’m from the Nishitama precinct . ’

While saying that with good enunciation, she took out her police ID and held it in front of Ishii’s eyes .

'Ah, I apologise for not introducing myself sooner . I am Ishii of the Setamachi precinct . ’

Ishii was still troubled as he gave a polite bow .

'I believe that Chief Miyagawa has already contacted you . ’

Youko walked right up to Ishii .

When she looked at him with her clear eyes, Ishii felt awkward and dropped his gaze to the floor .

'Ah, yes . I heard earlier . ’

'So… where is the other detective?’ said Youko, looking around the room dubiously .

She had hit him where it hurt .

'E-er… today… er, he wasn’t feeling well…’

It didn’t look like Youko was going to accept Ishii’s explanation as she fixed him with a stare .

It wasn’t like she was glaring at him, but it made Ishii feel timid .

'A-anyway, please sit down . ’

Ishii tried to change the subject and took out the folding chair in the corner of the room .

'About cooperating with the investigation…’ said Ishii once Youko sat down .

'I’ll say this now, but you don’t need to cooperate with the investigation . ’

Youko’s eyes narrowed as she said that in a clear tone .


Ishii was so surprised that that was he replied with .

'I said that you don’t need to cooperate with the investigation . ’

'Yes, but . . ’

'What is it?’

Youko looked at Ishii sharply .

Though Ishii was surprised by what Youko said so suddenly, he felt like she and Gotou were a bit similar .

An aloof detective who liked working independently . That was the impression Ishii had .

'But… the superiors have said…’

'The people at the top don’t know the situation . Working with an impromptu team would be no help at all . Furthermore, investigating with a man…’

Though Youko didn’t finish, her feminist side could be seen .

'Then what did you come to do today?’ asked Ishii after gulping .

If she didn’t want to ask for help with the investigation, why did she come all the way here? Ishii didn’t understand .

'You know Saitou Yakumo, right?’

That gave Ishii a start .

He couldn’t reply immediately – his gaze just wandered . However, it wasn’t as if the answer was stuck to the walls or the ceiling, so he was just wasting time .

'You know him, right?’ repeated Youko .

'Ah, no… Rather than knowing him… Well, I do…’

Ishii wiped the sweat on his forehead .

He knew it was a pointless answer . He really was useless .

'Why is he?’

It was a straight question . Like Gotou, she appeared to be the type who hated beating around the bush .

'No, we don’t know where he is either right now…’

If they did, they would have already gone to meet him .

'Then tell me where you think he would go . ’

Youko’s eyes were forceful .

Under that pressure, it was difficult for Ishii to breathe . No criminal could escape if she were chasing them . It made Ishii feel that way .

'Places I think he would go…’

'Places he often visits . His lover’s house, his friend’s house . Anything’s fine . Just tell me the information you know . ’

There was fervour behind Youko’s words .

It appeared that she had already jumped to the conclusion that Yakumo was the culprit at this stage .

'Detective Natsume, do you think Yakumo-shi is the culprit?’

After a silence, Ishii finally said just that .

'It’s certain that he’s the most likely suspect . ’

For a moment, Youko looked surprised by Ishii’s response, but then her expression became blank again and she replied in a flat tone .

'I see…’

'What do you think?’


When Youko asked a question back, Ishii was lost for words .

It appeared like Gotou thought there was no way for Yakumo to kill anyone, but Ishii couldn’t say that for certain .

Yakumo, who could see the spirits of the dead, respected life more than anybody else . Ishii knew that .

But on the other side of that, Yakumo was sometimes cold – to the point it was obsessive – about the things he couldn’t forgive .

'What’s wrong?’ said Youko, sticking out her pointy chin .

'I believe it is too early to say…’

'Is that from the situation? Or your personal opinion?’

Another difficult question .


Ishii adjusted the position of his glasses .

– Which is it for me?

As if throwing a bone to Ishii in his confusion, Youko’s mobile rang .

'Hello, Natsume speaking . ’

Youko answered immediately .

Ishii couldn’t hear the conversation, but from the atmosphere, it looked like she had new information about hte case .

'Understood,’ replied Youko, sounding agitated .

'Did you find something out?’ said Ishii once Youko hung up .

'We were able to confirm this from a trainee monk at Seidou’s temple . ’

'What is it?’

'Saitou Yakumo and the victim Seidou appear to have left the temple together late last night . ’

Youko smiled triumphantly .

Though they were still at the stage of gathering evidence, that testimony made it seem more like Yakumo was the culprit .

But –

'That is only one testimony about the situation . ’

'That’s not all . ’


'Fingerprints from the cup that we believe he used in the temple’s living quarters match the ones left on the knife at the scene . ’


Ishii couldn’t breathe .

If even the fingerprints matched, he couldn’t say anything .

No, it was still too early to come to a decision . Ishii shook his head .

There was no proof that Yakumo really used that cup . They just believed that – that was what Youko had said .

'Fingerprints will be taken from Saitou Yakumo’s room,’ said Youko, anticipating Ishii’s thoughts .

It looked like that she hadn’t overlooked anything .

If they matched the fingerprints from Yakumo’s room, that would confirm their suspicion .

'If the fingerprints from the room match the knife, he would go from being a person of interest to a supect . ’


'Hurry and tell me where Saitou Yakumo is . ’

Youko looked like she might like her lips at any moment .

Ishii couldn’t help but look away from her persistence .




– Yakumo might be back .

Haruka looked with hope towards the door but standing there was a priest in religious clothes .

He appeared rather old, but he had a large frame that rivalled Gotou’s with a round, shaved head . He had a good physique and looked like a good person .

'What an awful shower,’ said the priest in a forceful tone as he wiped the raindrops off his clothes .

It was an unreserved attitude . It felt like he’d mistaken them for someone else .

'Excuse me…’ said Haruka, confused .

'Oh, what’s this?’

The priest looked at Haruka like he had just noticed her .

'Do you need something?’

'Oh, it’s the first time we’ve met . You’re Ozawa Haruka, right? Just as the rumours say, you’re quite the pretty girl . ’

After taking a hard look at Haruka, the priest said that and gave a hearty laugh .

It appeared he was a considerably lively man .

'Don’t be so loud, you damn monk,’ said Gotou .

'Is it OK to say that? Who do you think helped you get the place you’re staying in now? You can’t have forgotten . ’

The priest puffed out his chest .

It looked like Gotou knew the priest . And the priest knew Haruka’s name . Haruka felt like she was the only one who was left out .


Though Haruka spoke up, she had so many things she wanted to ask she didn’t know what to say .

'That’s right . I haven’t introduced myself yet . That’s my bad . ’

The priest awkwardly scratched his head as he said that, like he couldn’t overlook Haruka’s confusion . Then, he sat in the chair Yakumo usually used .

'Excuse me…’ said Haruka after the priest sat down .

'You don’t need to worry; I’ll tell you . ’

'Ah, yes . ’

'My name is Eishin . As you can see, I’m a humble priest . ’

After Eishin said that with a voice full of energy, he smiled, his eyes closing as he did so .

'A priest…’

Actually, Isshin was my disciple . I heard about you from him, Haruka-san . ’

'I-is that so?’

Isshin was Yakumo’s uncle – the person who had raised him .

Haruka had been in his care a number of times too . Though he had already passed away, to Haruka, he was somebody unforgettable .

'The teacher watches his disciple and teaches him . We’re alike, right?’


Haruka was confused .

Though they had just met, his appearance and personality – no matter how she looked at it, Isshin was –

'You’re not alike . ’

Gotou spoke Haruka’s feelings .

'Can you really say that?’

Eishin looked at Gotou meaningfully .

It looked like Eishin had a hold of one of Gotou’s weaknesses, because Gotou just said weakly, 'My bad . ’

'Gotou-san, er… Do you know Eishin-san?’ asked Haruka .

'The hell I know him . He’s just a damn monk . ’

'Can’t you give a better explanation?’ Eishin interrupted immediately .

Somehow, when she watched their exchange, Eishin seemed less like Isshin and more like Yakumo .

'To put it simply, he’s like my landlord . ’


Even after Gotou explained, Haruka didn’t really understand .

'The priests’ quarters that Gotou is staying in belongs to the religious organisation . ’

'Eh? Is that so?’

Eishin gave an additional explanation which made Haruka surprised .

Since Isshin had lived there before, she had thought it belonged to him . Haruka had thought that Yakumo had let Gotou stay there while thinking of Nao, but it seemed that wasn’t the case .

'Normally, those unrelated to the religion are not allowed to stay there, but my wheedling got them special permission to stay there . Under the condition that Yakumo would take on the temple duties . ’

'I see…’

Though Haruka spoke like she understood, the last sentence Eishin said came up in her head .

– Under the condition that Yakumo would take on the temple duties .

'Is Yakumo-kun going to become a priest?’

'Don’t take what the damn monk says seriously . ’

Gotou snorted .

'That’s my plan . ’

'Yakumo didn’t agree to that . ’

'He will . ’

'What’s with that baseless confidence of yours?’

Gotou and Eishin continued to quarrel .

'Why did you come here today?’

Haruka asked a question to stop their conversation .

'Oh, that’s right . ’

Eishin clapped his hands together .

'Actually, there’s something I want to ask Yakumo . Where is he?’

Eishin looked around the room . The room was small . He should have been able to tell if he wasn’t here, but his movements were exaggeratedly large .

– Can we tell Eishin the situation right now?

Haruka looked at Gotou since she wasn’t sure .

Gotou nodded and started to speak .

'Yakumo’s in some trouble right now . ’


Eishin cocked his head .

'Yeah . There’s no point hiding it, so I’ll say it clearly . The police are chasing him as a person of interest in a murder case that occurred in Nishitama . ’

'Could it be the victim is Seidou?’

'How’d you know that?’

'I heard earlier that Seidou was killed . ’

'Was he an acquaintance of yours?’

Gotou bit onto the words Eishin said without any hesitation .

'Not just an acquaintance –I was the one who told Yakumo to go to see Seidou . ’

'What did you say!?’

Gotou stood up in his excitement .

Unlike him, Eishin had a sad expression on his face .

'Excuse me… Could it be that you requested Yakumo’s help in an investigation of a spiritual phenomenon…?’

Haruka said what came to her mind .

'You’re quite quick . ’

Eishin nodded a number of times in admiration .

'How are you so calm!? You’re the start of this! You damn monk!’

Gotou grabbed Eishin by the collar, but Eishin just smiled .

'Wait, Gotou-san . Please calm down . ’

Haruka stepped between them and tried to pull them apart, but she didn’t have the strength .

'I need to punch this damn monk . ’

'This isn’t the time to quarrel . Let’s ask Eishin-san what happened . ’

’… Fine . ’

Haruka’s frantic convincing finally got through to Gotou, who let go of Eishin and sat back down in a sulk .

Haruka sighed . She felt in her flesh and bones how tough it must be for Ishii .

'Would you please tell us what happened?’

After sitting down on the chair again, Haruka asked Eishin that question .

Eishin looked a bit troubled, but then he nodded and his expression changed back .

'I met Yakumo here yesterday morning . ’


'Actually, Seidou came to me for advice a little while back . ’

'Was that related to a spiritual phenomenon?’

'Hm, not exactly . Well, something like it . ’

It was an incredibly vague response . It looked like it was difficult to talk about .

'What does that mean?’

'To put it in one word, reincarnation . ’

– Reincarnation .

In Haruka’s head, that word reverberated with the inauspiciousness of a curse .




– Reincarnation .

In the hollow of the rock, Yakumo glared at the rain while crouching . The voice echoed in Yakumo’s ear .

When Eishin had said that, Yakumo had had a terribly bad feeling .

'There’s a girl who says she was born again . ’

Yesterday, Eishin had gone to Yakumo’s room and said that with a troubled expression .

Why is he troubled – Yakumo remembered feeling that was odd .

In Buddhism, after somebody died, they were reincarnated in one of the six realms based on their actions when they were alive .

It should have been natural for a Buddhist like Eishin .

Though he didn’t know too much about it, Buddhism had a no-soul stance .

The reason why Yakumo wouldn’t agree to Eishin’s request that he inherit the temple was largely related to that .

For me, who can see spirits, to put my faith in Buddhism, which doesn’t recognise the existence of spirits –

It would be incredibly unnatural .

'That’s outside my jurisdiction,’ Yakumo had said .

However, Eishin hadn’t backed down easily .

'Why do you say that?’

'I can see the spirits of the dead . I don’t know what they were in their past lives . ’

'But don’t you have any interest in it?’

'I don’t,’ Yakumo said firmly .


'What do you mean by that?’

'I’m interested . ’

Eishin smiled .

'Then why not go yourself?’

'I did . Now I’m asking you . ’

He really was persistent . Yakumo ran a hand through his hair .

'I said this earlier . I see the spirits of the dead . Not their past lives . ’

'What if that girl says she was her own mother in her past life?’

Yakumo had thought he had misheard, but Eishin just smiled with no intent of changing what he said .

'That doesn’t make sense,’ said Yakumo, leaning on the back of the chair .

It would have been more sensible if it were the father, but the mother gave birth to the child . It would be impossible to be reincarnated then .

'Don’t you think it’s mysterious?’

Eishin’s eyes narrowed .

He probably thought that Yakumo was the type of person who would become interested in a puzzle and act on it .

Yakumo knew himself that he had a side of himself that was like that, but he couldn’t shake the thought that this case really was outside of his jurisdiction .

'Please ask somebody else . ’

At the time, he really had meant to refuse .

'The girl in question was an abandoned child . She’s in a temple now . ’

Eishin continued speaking .

'Is that so?’

'That temple’s one that Isshin trained in when he was young . ’


Something shook within Yakumo .

Come to think of it, when Isshin was alive, Yakumo had just relied on his kindness – he’d never talked to him at length .

He knew practically nothing about the sort of life Isshin had walked – he hadn’t tried to know either .

I can talk to him whenever . That was what he had thought .

– I should have talked to him more when he was alive .

Regret gripped his heart .

'The head priest, Seidou, was Isshin’s senior disciple . ’


'You’ve gone to that temple before too . ’

'I did?’

Yakumo cocked his head .

'That’s right . That was around when Isshin decided to take you in…’

Eishin looked up, as if searching his memories . Yakumo unconsciously started searching his memories as well .

He recalled an old temple . It wasn’t Isshin’s . Someplace else .

There was a statue of the Buddha at the front .

Sitting atop of lotus leaves in meditation . His half-open eyes seemed to see right through Yakumo – he couldn’t relax .

Isshin was next to him .

While gripping Yakumo’s hand, Isshin said something . Something very important – but Yakumo couldn’t remember .

– What did he say?

Yakumo closed his eyes and asked himself that .

At the time, Isshin was about the same that Yakumo was now . Yakumo had remembered thinking that Isshin was old, but now that he thought about it, he had been quite young .

But still, Isshin had determined to take in the child that his sister had tried to kill .

– Why?

Now, that doubt bubbled up from deep within Yakumo’s heart .

When Isshin was alive, Yakumo had never thought about that . He felt like the answer to that question was in the words that Yakumo couldn’t remember .

– The answer is in that temple .

Yakumo had no proof, but he had started to feel that way .

'Won’t you go to that temple to take a look?’ Eishin asked again .

It didn’t take much time for Yakumo to decide .


The rain had stopped while Yakumo was recollecting what happened .

Yakumo crawled out from the hollow in the rock and looked up at the sky .

The clouds, which had been so thick, had become much thinner . They had probably dropped at the raindrops they had been holding .

Though the clouds were thinner, the sun had already hidden itself behind the mountains, so the sky was dyed scarlet .

Night would fall soon . It would be better to hurry .

Yakumo started walking .




Eishin’s story was a strange one .

It was too confusing for Gotou to swallow .

'So that girl said she was her mother reborn?’

Eishin nodded .

'Isn’t that strange?’ interrupted Haruka as she leant forward .

'It is . It is strange, but…’

It was rather bad enunciation for Eishin .

'Isn’t that girl just lying?’

'That’s what I thought at first . ’

Eishin shook his head .


'First, I need to talk about that girl’s story . ’

Eishin nodded to himself .

'The girl’s?’

'That’s right . That girl isn’t Seidou’s daughter . About ten years ago, she was abandoned in front of the temple . A baby just a few days after she was born . ’

'That’s horrible…’

With wide eyes, Haruka covered her mouth with both hands .

Though Gotou’s expression didn’t change, he felt the same way as Haruka .

It was inhuman to abandon a baby who couldn’t even live on its own yet .

But it was undoubtedly true that there were parents like that .

'So the priest called Seidou took the kid in . ’

'That’s correct . He adopted her and named her Hatsune . ’

'How about her mother?’

'She hasn’t been found yet . ’

'Then there’s nothing to prove she’s her mother’s reincarnation . You don’t even know if she’s alive or dead . ’

Gotou voiced the question that came to his head .

Gotou had seen a number of television programmes in the past about reincarnation .

The people on these shows always declared they had memories of the past, which proved that they were reincarnated .

During investigations, the information that police gave the media was limited .

Knowledge that only the culprit could know could become a confession .

In this case, since they didn’t know who the mother was, they couldn’t tell whether the girl was telling the truth .

'There’s that . ’

Eishin looked even more troubled .


'About three months ago, it seems like Seidou and Hatsune went foraging for mountain plants, but at that time, Hatsune said that there was a limestone cavern ahead . ’

'And there really was one?’

Eishin nodded . 'Right . ’ Deciding just from that was much too easy .

'Couldn’t she have gone there to play by herself?’

'It’s not the sort of place a child can go alone . ’

'She just happened to know, right?’

'That might be the case, but there are other odd things . ’

'Like what?’

'She also said correctly that there was a lake about three kilometres from the temple,’ said Eishin quietly .

'A lake… You can see that from a map . ’

Gotou snorted .

It was a bit unreasonable making an uproar about past lives just from that .

'Well, you can think about it that way, but the problem’s still ahead . ’


'Hatsune said that there was a corpse at that lake . ’

'A corpse?’

'Right . Her mother’s… No, maybe I should say her own…’

Eishin crossed his arms and cocked his head, focussing on something odd .

'A corpse is quite the matter . ’

'Right . ’


Gotou urged Eishin to continue, but Eishin looked blank .

Honestly . The old man was playing the fool .

'So was there a corpse there?’

'I don’t know,’ Eishin replied immediately .

'You didn’t check?’

'Of course not . How would I?’

'How? You could just call the police…’

'If I called the police about a corpse because a girl who said she was her mother’s reincarnation said there was a corpse there, do you think they’d send people to the lake?’ Eishin said, pressing Gotou for an answer .

Even Gotou couldn’t rebut after Eishin said that much .

Just as Eishin said, the police probably wouldn’t move unless a part of the corpse was found . But –

'Then there’s no proof of her past life . ’

'Don’t be in such a rush . There’s still more . ’


'About ten years ago, there was a rumour near the lake . ’

'What sort of rumour?’

'The people there used to say they could hear a woman’s screams coming from the lake every night . That’s right about the time when Hatsune was abandoned . ’

'You saying something’s there?’

'Though I don’t like putting things together so simply, this time, Seidou was killed in the limestone cavern . Don’t you think we should take the story seriously?’

After Eishin said that much, something seemed odd to Gotou .

'Could the limestone cave that the priest called Seidou was found in be…’

'You just noticed? What a fool . ’

Eishin snorted scornfully .

A corpse was found in the limestone cavern pointed out by the girl who said she was her mother’s reincarnation – so that was it .

That did make it seem like something was there .

'So you asked Yakumo-kun to investigate,’ interrupted Haruka after listening to the story silently .

'Well, that’s how it is . ’

Eishin laughed loudly like he thought something was funny .

Gotou understood the gist of it . It certainly was an odd case . However, there was something that Gotou just couldn’t accept .

'I can’t believe Yakumo agreed to investigate . ’

To be honest, Eishin’s story was incredibly suspicious . Because of Yakumo’s personality, Gotou couldn’t think that Yakumo would stick his neck in .

'The temple in question is a place where Isshin trained in the past . Seidou is Isshin’s old acquaintance too . ’

'Isshin-san’s…’ murmured Haruka, half-closing her eyes .

– So that’s how it was .

Gotou understood now .

To the old Yakumo, it wouldn’t have mattered what sort of temple it was .

He had built a wall around him and decided to keep everyone out of it, regardless of what other people thought or how they lived their lives . However, it was different now .

Something besides spiritual phenomena had aroused Yakumo’s interest .

'The problem’s what came after that,’ said Gotou, clearing the heavy air .

'That’s right . What can we do?’

After Haruka agreed, Eishin nodded as well .

The conversation had just got back on track when Gotou’s mobile rang . It was from Ishii .

– What bad timing this guy has .

'What do you want!?’

Gotou yelled at the phone’s receiver .




Yakumo dragged his injured left foot along as he walked beside the river .

It was already dark .

All he could rely on was the faint light of the moon .

He didn’t even know if there was a path here . Furthermore, the shower earlier made it easy for him to slip .

He had to walk through the weeds while keeping in mind his injured leg .

Yakumo placed a hand on a cedar tree and wiped the sweat off his forehead .

It wasn’t just his forehead that was sweaty . His body was drenched with sweat, making it sticky .

How far had he walked? How much further did he have to walk before he could get out of this forest? He didn’t have any idea .

Like a realisation of Yakumo’s current state .

He had gone to the limestone cavern in Seidou’s car last night . It was about fifteen minutes away .

Even if he left out the time he had been stuck during the evening shower after falling in the lime stone cave, he had walked for more than three hours . He should have been arriving at the temple soon, but it didn’t seem like it would happen .

Perhaps he’d taken a wrong turn somewhere, or perhaps he was just circling the mountain, but whichever was the case, he had made the wrong choice .

The exhaustion made his body heavy . With an empty stomach, he had no strength .

His left leg pulsed with pain like it had been struck with a hot iron .

– Why am I running like this?

That question suddenly came to Yakumo .

He had also had the choice of staying there and explaining the situation to the police . That would have been much easier than running .

Running would also make the police more suspicious .

– I might have killed him .

One big reason was that Yakumo couldn’t clear that thought out of his head .

He remembered up to when he went to the limestone cavern with Seidou, but he had lost his memories of what happened after that .

Boxers who were knocked out in a match often remembered standing in the ring but forgot that they had participated in a match .

The strong impact on their brain made them forget the memories around the event .

However, that didn’t mean that the memories had been erased . It was just temporary memory loss . When they watched a video of the match, they would sometimes remember that something had happened .

Yakumo had to go to that temple and recall what had happened at the limestone cavern .

– To protect somebody important to me .

Yakumo took out a piece of paper that he had stuck in his pocket . It had been stuck on the doors to the cavern .

All that was on it was a short message .

<You’re the one who killed him . If you’re caught by the police, somebody important to you will die . >

It was like something out of a novel .

However, Yakumo understood the true meaning of the message .

The biggest reason why Yakumo had made the choice to escape .

'I have to go . ’

Yakumo now had somebody who was important to him – who he wanted to protect no matter what he had to give up in exchange .

And so –

Yakumo gritted his back teeth and started walking again .




'Was that Ishii-san just now?’ said Haruka after Gotou hung up .

If it was Ishii, he might have some new information .

'Yeah . There’s a problem . ’

Gotou sounded depressed, which was rare .


'Fingerprints thought to be Yakumo’s were found at the temple . They match the ones on the knife left at the scene . ’


Haruka couldn’t say anything else .

'Well, at this stage, they’re just thought to be Yakumo’s . They haven’t been proven to be his . ’

Gotou said that in a forced cheerful voice, like he couldn’t let Haruka look so down .

'That’s right . You’re right . ’

Haruka said that for herself, but it didn’t clear her worries .

'Anyway, I’m going . ’

Gotou stood up .

'Where are you going?’

'Police are coming here now . ’


'Yeah . To get Yakumo’s fingerprints . If I meet up with them, it’ll be a problem . ’

Gotou’s face looked pained .

'What if the fingerprints in this room match the ones on the knife?’ asked Haruka, though she knew the ansewr .

Gotou looked like he felt awkward, but then he spoke after sighing .

'Then the police will change Yakumo from a person of interest to a suspect . ’

Though Haruka had known, hearing it made it feel like she had been pushed off a cliff .

'Then what are you planning to do after leaving here?’ said Eishin in a casual tone that didn’t match the atmosphere .

He appeared to be a terrifyingly laidback guy .

'Whaddaya mean, what am I planning to do!? I’m going to look for Yakumo!’ said Gotou with determination .

A complete opposite of Gotou, Eishin just said, 'I see,’ like the matter wasn’t related to him .

'I’m going too,’ said Haruka .

She wanted to meet Yakumo as soon as possible . And she wanted to confirm .

– You haven’t killed anyone, right?

It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in him, but she wanted to hear it from his mouth .

'You can’t . Haruka-chan, you can’t come along,’ Gotou said firmly .

'Why not?’

Haruka stood up and pressed Gotou for an answer .

She couldn’t just wait by herself in this situation . She knew she would just be a hindrance, but she still wanted to go .

'There’s something else I want you to do . ’

Gotou placed a hand on Haruka’s shoulder .

'Something else?’

'Yeah . Even if I do find Yakumo, he’s a fugitive right now . ’

'That’s why we have to look for him . ’

'Listen to me . ’

When Haruka repeated her request, Gotou rebuked her .


'Haruka-chan, you meet up with Ishii . ’

'With Ishii-san?’

'Right . To solve the puzzle behind this case . Make a place that Yakumo can return to . ’

– A place that Yakumo can return to .

Gotou was probably right . Even if they did find Yakumo, they couldn’t do anything if the police were still chasing him .

He would be a fugitive for his whole life if they didn’t clear his name . But –

'Can I do it…’

'That’s a silly question . ’

Gotou snorted .


'It’s not about whether you can do it or not . You’re going to do it . ’

'Yes sir!’

Haruka gave a bright reply .

She felt like Gotou’s words had saved her . All she could do now was believe and act . If they didn’t do anything, they couldn’t save Yakumo .

'OK, let’s get out of here now . I’ll walk you part of the way . ’

'Thank you very much . ’

'Do your best!’

As Haruka and Gotou were about to leave the room, Eishin said that with a small wave .

Gotou’s face went red when he saw that response .

'You’re coming with me, you damned monk!’


In contrast to Gotou’s agitation, Eishin was just sitting on the chair placidly .

'Don’t you “Why” me! You’re responsible for this mess!“

Gotou’s anger had reached its peak .




Ishii was waiting for Haruka at a coffee shop .

It was a privately-owned coffee shop near the station . There was a broken and unmoving wall clock there .

Ishii sat at the round table in the very back of the first floor and watched the entrance .

He would meet Haruka soon . And it would be just the two of them –

If the situation weren’t like this, he would have been so happy, but he felt depressed thinking about what was going to happen .

It looked worse and worse for Yakumo .

The police were probably getting Yakumo’s fingerprints from the room at the university now .

If the fingerprints matched – Ishii didn’t want to think about it .

'Ishii-san . ’

Ishii lifted his head at the voice .

Haruka was standing in front of him .

Ishii had been so lost in his thoughts that he hadn’t noticed Haruka coming in .

A mistake he would never live down –

'E-excuse me . ’

Ishii hurriedly stood up and bowed deeply .

As he did so, he knocked over the coffee cup on the table .


'Ishii-san, are you all right?’

Haruka went to the counter and borrowed a towel, wiping up as much of the coffee Ishii had spilled as she could .

This act that she did so casually made Ishii feel like his heart had been pierced .

'Ah, no, I’m really sorry . ’

'It’s all right . Would you like the same thing?’

'Eh? Ah, yes . ’

While Ishii was troubled, Haruka ordered two coffees from the waiter .

Ishii really was useless . You couldn’t tell which of them was older .

'This is quite the situation . ’

After they sat down across from each other and had calmed down, Haruka brought up the topic at hand .

Ishii couldn’t ignore the shadow in Haruka’s eyes . Though she was acting calm, it must have been tough for her .

'It has… Detective Gotou said to solve the mystery, but to be honest, I don’t know where to start…’

Ishii adjusted the position of his glasses with his finger .

He wanted to act cool in front of the person he liked, but the situation this time was too serious .

'We have some new information, so I should tell you about that, Ishii-san . ’

'What is it?’

Ishii’s brows furrowed .

'The reason why Yakumo-kun went to the scene of the crime . ’

'Ah . ’

Ishii understood now .

Come to think of it, he didn’t know why Yakumo had gone to Nishitama .

Though Nishitama was the neighbouring city, the scene of the crime was quite remote . It would take an hour to get there by train .

It was a bit too far just for a stroll .

'A priest named Eishin-san requested that Yakumo-kun investigate a spiritual phenomenon . ’

Haruka started to explain after taking a sip of coffee .

Her explanation was a complicated and strange one related to reincarnation . A girl who said she was her mother reborn, and the screams of a woman that could be heard from the lake –

Perhaps because of the way Haruka said it or the story’s innate strangeness, Ishii’s hair stood on end as he listened .

'Is that really…’

That was the first thing Ishii said after Haruka finished .

Ishii had read a number of books about reincarnation .

Young children talking in a language of a country that had never been to, or talking about people from a different age – things like that .

Recently, it was even claimed that some people could recall their past memories under hypnotism .

Ishii didn’t know if it was true or fake, because human memories were incredibly subjective .

'I don’t know if it is true or not, but…’

Haruka put her chin in her hand and stirred her coffee with a spoon .

'What is it?’

'I thought it might have something to do with Yakumo-kun . ’


Ishii gave a flat reply .

It was probably true that Yakumo had gone there chasing a spiritual phenomenon, but it was difficult to think that it was related to Seidou’s murder case at the current stage .

'Do you doubt it?’

'Ah, no . ’

Ishii frantically shook his head after Haruka saw through his faults .

'It’s all right . I think it’s a bit forced myself… But I think there’s no point in investigating the same thing as the police . ’

'That’s right . ’

It was just as Haruka said .

If they investigated the same thing, they could just leave it to the police .

'That’s why I thought that we could investigate from a different perspective that the police . ’

'A different perspective…’

Unlike Ishii, who was troubled, the corners of Haruka’s lips turned up in a confident smile .

'Yes . It might be a bit forced, but we can investigate with the premise that the spiritual phenomenon and the murder this time are related . ’

Haruka leant forward .

Ishii leant back a bit from the pressure .

'But even if you say they are related, how…’

'Putting together what Eishin-san said, it is likely that somebody died near the temple, limestone cavern and the lake . ’

'In short… We’ll be investigating something that occurred near there in the past . ’

'Yes . ’

'But a murder case…’

Ishii stopped .

If a murder case occurred in the same place in the past, they should have received information about it .

'It doesn’t have to be a murder,’ said Haruka, like she had read Ishii’s thoughts again .


Ishii lifted his head in confusion .

'Accident, suicide, disappearance – anything is fine . ’

'I see . We can just pick up whatever seems related . ’

'Yes . ’

'You really are amazing, Haruka-chan . ’

'I’m not just helping Yakumo-kun for show . ’

Haruka smiled bashfully .

When Ishii saw that, he felt a twinge of pain run through his chest .

I wonder if Haruka would be so frantic if I were the one being chased as a murderer – Ishii suddenly thought that .

He knew the answer .

Haruka was always glad and sad by turns while at Yakumo’s side . To her, Yakumo was somebody special who couldn’t be replaced by anybody .

– How cute .

That had been Ishii’s genuine thought when he first met Haruka .

After experiencing a number of cases, Haruka had become much more adult-like, but that adorable smile hadn’t changed .

Ishii didn’t know how many times it had soothed Ishii’s exhausted heart, but Haruka’s eyes had never been on Ishii .

The same person was always reflected in Haruka’s eyes .

Ishii felt that all over again .

'Ishii-san, what’s the matter?’

Haruka waved a hand in front of Ishii’s eyes .

'Ah, no, it’s nothing . Anyway, I’ll look into incidents and accidents that occurred in the past . ’

Ishii came to his senses and spoke after clearing his throat .

'Let’s both do our best . ’

Haruka smiled .

'No, I couldn’t…’

'I’m the one who asked . ’

'No, I’d love your help, but information about cases is personal information . If we showed it to civilians, there would be a number of problems . ’

'I see…’

Haruka’s shoulders slumped .

It was like she was stricken with her powerlessness .

'Could you look into this on the internet for me, Haruka-chan?’ suggested Ishii, feeling guilty .

'The internet?’

'Yes . I’d appreciate it if you look into rumours about spiritual phenomena or incidents in the area online . ’

'I see . We could do that as well . That’s Ishii-san for you . ’

Haruka’s expression became brighter all at once .

Normally, Ishii would feel happy about the distance between him and Haruka shortening, but today was different .

No matter how short the distance between him and Haruka, that would still be the distance between friends . That was because Haruka’s heart was filled with Yakumo .

If Yakumo were arrested as a murderer, would Haruka’s feelings change?

Ishii ended up thinking something imprudent –




Gotou drove the car .

He got stuck in traffic, so he took more time than he expected . It was already dark out .

He got off the highway and turned onto the winding mountain road . He was almost at his destination .

In the passenger seat, Eishin was sleeping soundly .

– Damn . He looks so comfortable .

'Oi . Wake up . ’

Gotou shook Eishin’s shoulder .

However, his lips just flapped open and close – it didn’t look like he would wake up at all .

He was terribly laidback . Even Yakumo had his hands full with Eishin . but that he had to agree with .

'Wake the hell up already!’

When Gotou yelled, Eishin finally sat up and rubbed his eyes .

'You’re so noisy . What do you eat to have such a loud voice?’ said Eishin while stretching .

– This monk doesn’t shut up .

It even made Gotou think Eishin, rather than Isshin, was the one who raised Yakumo .

'I’ll listen to your complaints later – tell me directions . ’

'Left at the next intersection . Then just drive along the road,’ said Eishin, sounding annoyed, and then he lay back on the seat again and closed his eyes .

It looked like he planned on sleeping again . What kind of joke was this?

'What sort of man was Seidou?’ asked Gotou, looking at Eishin .

'What is the point of asking that?’

'It might give us a lead . ’

'It won’t be much help . ’

Eishin got up and wiped his face with both hands .

'Why not?’

'People’s hearts change moment by moment . That’s why there isn’t one set shape of a person . In short, the person named Seidou that I know is only who he is at a certain time, and a subjective perspective on top of that . ’

When Eishin spoke like that, it was like he was reading a sutra . His eyes seemed to be unfocussed as he looked forward .

'Don’t say something so difficult . ’

– Don’t hide this with smoke .

'It isn’t difficult . For example, you think that Yakumo wouldn’t kill somebody . ’

'Of course not . ’

– What are you saying this for now?

Gotou wanted to spit that out in his irritation .

'What is your proof?’

'That’s the sort of guy he is . ’

'Let’s change the question . When did you last meet Yakumo?’

Gotou was lost for words at the unexpected question .

He couldn’t remember the exact date, but –

'About a month ago . ’

'In the month you haven’t met him, something might have changed in Yakumo’s heart that led him to murder . ’

'Don’t be ridiculous . People’s feelings don’t change so easily . ’

Gotou hit the wheel in his anger .

'Is it that ridiculous? Hasn’t Yakumo changed already?’

Eishin had pointed out something that hurt, so Gotou couldn’t reply .

He had first met Yakumo fifteen years ago –

On a rainy night, Gotou saved Yakumo from his mother, who was about to kill him . At that time, Yakumo had had eyes so cold and expressionless they made you think he wasn’t a seven-year-old child .

– What’s going to happen to this kid?

Gotou had been worried about Yakumo’s future .

When they met again, Yakumo was fifteen .

At the time, it had been dangerous for Yakumo .

It felt like he would crumble if anything happened .

If Yakumo had killed somebody then, Gotou would have probably thought, 'He finally did it…’

But Yakumo had met Haruka . He had changed greatly .

People’s hearts continue to change with time and outside influences . That’s how it is – Gotou understood that, but he shook his head in denial .

'He wouldn’t kill anybody, now or in the past . ’

'How frank . ’

Eishin stifled his laughter .

'Are you going to praise me or speak ill of me? Make up your mind . ’

'Why would I praise you?’ Eishin said without a pause .

– This damn monk is really annoying!

Gotou buried his urge to yell into his stomach . They were off topic .

'Forget about that and just tell me what kind of man Seidou was!’

'Letting the blood get to your head so quickly is a bad habit . ’

'I don’t need your concern,’ said Gotou with a click of his tongue .

Even talking with Yakumo might have been better than talking with Eishin .

'Well, the Seidou I knew was a good man . ’

'Anybody would be when compared with a damn monk,’ said Gotou, his voice filled with all the resentment that had built up .

'That’s true . Seidou was meticulous and reliable . He always thought of others . ’

Gotou had meant to say that sarcastically, but there was no point if Eishin was just going to admit it .

'And?’ Gotou urged .

'He was Isshin’s senior, but he was good at watching over him . Isshin looked up to him like a real older brother . They were quite similar . ’

'A faultlessly good guy then?’

'I said this earlier, didn’t I? That’s just that person at a certain time . ’

'I know that . You’re saying that there might’ve been a reason you don’t know that he was killed, right?’ Gotou said casually .

'Well, that’s what I’m trying to say . Though I shouldn’t say this, Seidou had a son…’

Eishin spoke in a slow tone .

Gotou noticed that Eishin said 'had’ in the past tense, but he didn’t ask about it .


'He committed suicide . ’


'Yes . He hanged himself in the temple . ’

Gotou swallowed . It was because he understood what Isshin was trying to say .

A faultlessly good man, but his son killed himself –

Gotou didn’t know if Seidou was the cause of it, but it was a fact that Seidou hadn’t noticed that his son had been cornered to the point of suicide .

People’s hearts changed . The person somebody knew was only one side of them .

– What do I know about Yakumo?

Gotou asked himself that .

Perhaps I think I know but actually don’t understand anything at all –




After Haruka returned to her flat, she turned on her computer right away .

She opened an internet search and typed in 'spiritual phenomena’ and 'Nishitama’ .

There was a considerable number of hits .

There were personal sites about spiritual spots with maps and photos .

Haruka clicked each of them and glanced over them .

Though it was boring, simple work, she also knew that this was all she could do now .

– Where’s Yakumo-kun now? What’s he up to?

For just a moment, Haruka’s hands stopped as she looked out the window .

The evening shower had probably cleared the clouds . She could see a bright fool moon .

– What if Yakumo really killed somebody?

With no preamble, that question came up in her head . No, that wasn’t true . The truth was that it had been in the back of her head, but she had tried not to think about it .


She couldn’t answer that right now .

As if pulling Haruka away from her negative thoughts, the mobile phone on the table started vibrating .

The number on the display was the newspaper reporter Hijikata Makoto’s .

She had experienced many cases as well .

<Are you all right?>

The moment Haruka picked up, she heard Makoto’s frantic voice .

'Yes, I…’

<OK . Yakumo-kun… is in quite the situation…>

'Excuse me… Has the information already got out?’

<Yes . Though the name was kept out, I know an officer at the scene saw a young man with a red left eye . >

That was Makoto the reporter for you . She was quick with information .

'I see…’

Haruka knew herself that she sounded depressed .

Yakumo killed somebody – though she didn’t want to believe it, that information was spreading on its own .

People who didn’t know the true Yakumo would just see the information and decide he was a murder . Haruka’s chest heart when she thought about it .

– Yakumo isn’t that kind of person!

Haruka wanted to yell, but that voice wouldn’t carry to anyone no matter how much she did .

<Isn’t there anything I can do?>


<Let me help with something . >

Makoto’s forceful words made Haruka happy .

When Haruka first met Makoto, she had seemed somewhat difficult to approach . Perhaps because of that, they hadn’t talked very much .

However, that impression had changed after a number of cases .

Haruka didn’t know if it was because Makoto had changed or because Haruka’s thoughts had changed . However, it was an example of something that made her feel how human relationships changed .

'Is that all right?’

<Of course . Yakumo-kun’s helped me a lot as well . Plus…>

Haruka heard Makoto breath out awkwardly .

'What is it?’

<I can’t believe it either . >

'Can’t believe it…’

<I can’t . I can’t believe Yakumo-kun would kill somebody . >

Haruka felt like Makoto’s words saved her .

It wasn’t just her . Other people believed in Yakumo too . Knowing that made Haruka happier than anything else .

At the same time, she felt how pathetic she was for being shaken earlier .

No matter what happened, she had to believe in Yakumo until the end . Haruka bit her lip and strengthened her feelings .

<Haruka-chan, you believe in Yakumo-kun too, right?>

'Of course . ’

Haruka gave a forceful reply .

Now that she thought about it, there was no reason to doubt Yakumo .

She might have just been shaken by the flow of information and started to doubt Yakumo .




Gotou looked at the temple from his car, parked by the side of the road .

Like guards, two uniformed officers stood at the tiled roof of the temple gate . Gotou also saw a number of men in suits that looked like private detectives coming in and out .

That was foolish, even for me – Gotou cursed at himself .

He’d come all the way to the temple to search for Yakumo, but naturally, the police in the jurisdiction were here .

There was nothing he could do about it, but the problem was that he didn’t have any plan now .

'What do you plan to do?’ said Eishin with a grin .

He had probably sensed what Gotou was feeling . Gotou felt like Eishin was mocking him for being an idiot .

'Don’t you have any ideas?’

Gotou turned the question around to Eishin .

'I was just forced here by you . ’

– Damn, what a mean monk .

Gotou lay back on the seat with a click of his tongue .

It had always been Yakumo’s job to think . Gotou just followed those instructions and charged .

'I have one suggestion…’ said Eishin .


'You might be able to hear the story from a trainee monk . ’

– I see .

If he talked to a trainee monk at the temple, he might find out what happened between Yakumo and Seidou last night . But detectives from the Nishitama precinct were crawling around the temple .

'But we can’t get in, right?’

'There’s one walking around there . ’

Eishin pointed out the window .

Gotou looked out and saw a young man with a shaved head walking in robes just beside the car .

– This is a chance .

'Oi, you . ’

Gotou ran out of the car and called out to the man in robes .

The robed man leapt in surprise, but he stopped and timidly turned around .


He had pale skin and was skinny, like a beansprout . He was fidgeting like he couldn’t relax . It was just like Gotou was looking at Ishii .

'Police . I want to talk to you a bit . ’

Gotou showed his police ID .

'I said all I know earlier…’

The robed young man seemed confused .

'Relax . This detective is my friend . ’

Eishin got off the car and said that to the young man in robes .

'Master Eishin . ’

The robed man put his hands together and bowed his head in awe .

'Oi . Are you some big shot?’ said Gotou, surprised by the young man’s sudden change in attitude .

The person who replied was not Eishin but the robed young man .

'Master Eishin is a man of exceptional virtue . ’

'That so?’

Gotou couldn’t believe it .

'Yes . Without being tied to a temple, he supervises all the temples in this area . He has a role similar to that of a counsellor . ’

'Doesn’t look like it . ’

Gotou looked at Eishin’s face .

He didn’t know how the people at the temple viewed him, but to Gotou, Eishin just looked like a selfish monk .

Anyway, if what the young man said was true, Eishin would be of help at the temple . At first, Gotou had regretted taking him, thinking of Eishin as luggage, but he might be unexpectedly helpful .

Gotou got the robed young man to sit in the passenger seat, and then Gotou sat in the driver’s seat while Eishin sat in the back so that they could listen to the young man talk .

The robed man was named Shuuei .

Gotou didn’t know whether that was his real name or his monk name, but that wasn’t the problem right now .

'How many people in the temple?’ Gotou asked Shuuei to understand the situation .

'Normally, there are Master Seidou and myself . Hatsune-san makes three . ’

'The number of people who want to become priests has dropped lately,’ lamented Eishin .

It looked like few people wanted to be bound by the rules of the temple .

'Were you there last night?’

'Yes . ’

'Was Yakumo really at the temple?’

Shuuei looked up with a start, like a kid blamed for a prank . His eyes were wet and looked like they would cry at any moment .

'Yes . ’

'How was he?’


Shuuei looked troubled as his brows furrowed together .

It seemed like he was troubled about whether to speak as his mouth flapped open and shut .

'He knows about Hatsune,’ interrupted Eishin .

'I see…’

Shuuei’s shoulders lowered as he relaxed .

'You haven’t told the others why Yakumo came?’

'Ah, er… I was told to keep quiet about Hatsune-san, so… And the police wouldn’t believe it, would they?’

It hurt to hear that .

Just as Shuuei said, the police wouldn’t accept a story like reincarnation . Even if there were some who personally believed in it, it wouldn’t have influenced the direction of the investigation .

'Then what did you say about Yakumo?’

'Er, I said that nephew of Master Seidou’s friend came to play…’

– I see . He didn’t lie .

'So how were the two of them?’

'Though I wasn’t there directly, they discussed with Hatsune-san for a rather long time . ’

'And after that?’

'When it became night, they said that they would go out, just the two of them . ’

'About what time?’

'If I remember correctly… I think it was about ten,’ replied Shuuei, his gaze wandering as he tried to remember .

'Where’d they go at a time like that?’

Gotou put the question that came to his head into words .

If they were in the city, they could have gone out for a drink to chat some more, but that was difficult to believe in the middle of the mountains .

'Though I don’t know what they went to do, they said that they were going to the limestone cavern,’ said Shuuei in a fading voice .

'I see…’

The two of them went to the limestone cavern late at night, and one of them became a corpse, stabbed all over . The more Gotou investigated, the more unfavourable the situation seemed for Yakumo .

'If I had stopped them then…’

Shuuei’s voice wavered as he sniffled .

'Nothing will start if you regret the past,’ Eishin said quietly .

'Were you the one who contacted the police?’

After the conversation had come to a still, Gotou asked another question .

'No . ’

Shuuei shook his head .

That was probably true . Shuuei looked like the type who couldn’t lie .

'Then who was it?’

'I don’t…’

Shuuei hesitated . He wouldn’t know . But –

'Did you leave things as is even though Seidou didn’t come back?’

'Though I was concerned, that limestone cavern is also a meditation spot . In the past, he had gone there to meditate through the night, so…’

After Shuuei replied, Gotou looked at Eishin in the backseat . Gotou couldn’t tell if the story was true .

'That happens sometimes . ’

Eishin nodded, sensing Gotou’s intention .

'I see . That was a great help . ’

Gotou let Shuuei off the car, stretched out and leaned back on the seat .

'What will you do next?’ said Eishin, leaning forward from the backseat .

He didn’t seem concerned at all, as usual . It was like he was enjoying the situation .

To be honest, Gotou couldn’t think of a concrete plan . He wasn’t Yakumo, but at a time like this, for now –

'I’ll go to the scene of the crime . ’




Yakumo finally got out of the forest .

He arrived at the bank of a smile lake .

It was probably about a hundred metres to the opposite bank . Weeds grew rampant – it appeared to be a place iwth few visitors .

The shining moon was reflected on the water’s surface .

– I was killed and sunk into the lake .

The words of the girl called Hatsune flashed through Yakumo’s mind .

Hatsune said that she was killed by somebody before she was born and that she sank into a lake by a tree with red flowers .

Yakumo looked around and spotted a tree with red flowers . It was probably crape myrtle .

It was likely that this was the lake Hatsune had mentioned .

If the location information he’d heard from Seidou was correct, this lake was about three kilometres direct from the temple .

After falling in the limestone cavern, he had taken a long detour, but it seemed like he would be able to get to the temple soon .

Perhaps because he relaxed, his body suddenly felt heavier .

Yakumo spotted a rock nearby and sat down on it .

His muscles were screaming after walking down mountain paths that he was unaccustomed to . Dragging his injured left leg had also been a heavy burden .

Furthermore, he hadn’t eaten anything since last night .

He was terribly hungry – it felt like his stomach was twisted .

– I’m exhausted .

Yakumo hung his head .

All he could hear was the sound of the wind and insects .

– It’s quiet here .

He shut his eyes and let out a deep breath . Then, a sleeping memory came back to him .

A memory from when he visited Seidou’s temple yesterday evening .

Yakumo walked into the temple together with Seidou . There was tatami there with a statue of the Buddha at the entrance .

It was an incredibly strange situation .

Zen Buddhism did not acknowledge the existence of spirits . The soul and body were one; they were not to be separated .

They also believed that if one focussed on life, that would create worldly thoughts, becoming an obstruction to religion .

In such a Zen Buddhist temple, he, who could see the spirits of the dead, was standing to solve an incident regarding reincarnation .

Yakumo was smiling self-derisively when his eyes met those of a girl standing in the corner of the temple .

That was Hatsune .

A girl with glossy black hair . Her face was somewhat reminiscent of Nao’s .

However, there was something decisively different .

– She’s hollow .

Yakumo felt that the first time he saw her .

Not her appearance, but her heart .

She was as expressionless as a manmade doll . He couldn’t tell where her round eyes were looking .

'You are?’

Yakumo bent over to ask Hatsune that .

'Hatsune . But before, I was Minami,’ said Hatsune expressionlessly .

There was no ill will there . It felt like she believed that wholly .

'Which should I call you?’

'Whichever you want . I mean, both are me . ’

Hatsune smiled awkwardly .

'I see . Then, Hatsune-chan, where is your mother right now?’

Yakumo stared at Hatsune’s large black eyes .

The answer to that question was –

'Damn it . I can’t remember . ’

Yakumo said that aloud and ran a hand through his hair .

He lifted his head in resignation, but then he saw a girl in front of him .

Lit up by the moonlight, she glared at him from below the crape myrtle tree .

She had on a uniform of a knee-high skirt and a blazer – the same girl he’d seen in the limestone cavern .

– She knows something .

Yakumo stood up while pressing a hand against his hurting left leg . Dragging his heavy body forward, he started to walk towards the girl .

The distance of about ten metres felt considerably long .

'Who are you?’ said Yakumo after walking up to the girl .

– I won’t forgive you . Absolutely not .

The girl’s dry purple lips moved as she said that in a voice that echoed to the bottom of his stomach .

It was a voice trembling with hatred .

It was almost as if a black flame of hatred had engulfed the girl’s surroundings .

Yakumo felt a chill .

A strong hatred that had still not dissipated after death . Yakumo didn’t know how to soothe feelings this strong .

– I won’t forgive you .

The girl said that again and then disappeared into the darkness .




Ishii groaned as he looked at the computer monitor .

Though he’d declared to Haruka that he would investigate the past cases, he didn’t know where to start, to be honest .

It would have been fine if it were just murder cases, but including accidents and suicides greatly increased the number of documents . Furthermore, they didn’t have a set time . It was like looking for a needle that had fallen in the desert .


Ishii had just let out a sigh when he heard a knock on the door .

'Please come in . ’

Ishii had thought it would be Miyagawa, but the person who opened the door and came in was Youko .


Ishii stood up at the unexpected arrival .

'There’s something I want to ask you . ’

Youko walked over briskly and sat in Gotou’s seat, opposite Ishii .

'If it’s something I can answer…’ replied Ishii, readying himself . To be honest, there were some things he could say and some things he couldn’t .

'Who is Saitou Yakumo?’


The question was so sudden that Ishii didn’t understand .

'I’ve looked into him . ’

'Which means…’

Ishii looked at Youko’s face .

He tried to see her true intentions, but all he could see through his glasses was Youko’s cold and expressionless face .

'it appears he’s stuck his nose into a number of cases . ’

'I-is that so?’

Why does Youko know that – though Ishii had that question, he played dumb .

When Ishii wrote work reports, he had done his best never to mention Yakumo’s name – it was an ordeal every time . That meant there was no way Yakumo’s name would come up in the cases .

'Don’t play dumb . Most of the people at the precinct here know his name . There’s a whole rumour about how he’s the one solving all the cases . ’

Youko said that all at once . Perhaps because she was agitated, her cheeks were a bit red .

Even if Ishii hid it in the documents and he and Gotou kept quiet, Yakumo showed up at the scene so often that it was natural for the other investigation members to suspect something .

However, he still didn’t know how to explain Yakumo .

'Is it true that he can… er, see them?’

Youko glanced at Ishii awkwardly .

So the rumour’s that wide – while Ishii was surprised, he came to a decision .

'Yes . Yakumo-shi can see the spirits of the dead – that is, he can see ghosts . ’

'Please don’t be ridiculous . There’s no such thing as ghosts, right?’

Youko spread her hands in an exaggerated appeal .

Perhaps she wanted him to deny it . People didn’t believe things they didn’t experience themselves .

'There are,’ Ishii said firmly .

'Do you have proof?’

'He has always led us to case’s solution . Those cases are proof . ’

'Are you saying that the cases were solved because he could see ghosts?’

Though Youko was acting tough, her heart was unsteady . Ishii could see that easily .

'I am . Yakumo-shi hears the spirits of the dead and solves the mystery behind the case as a result . ’

'Even if that were true, why did he kill somebody this time?’ said Youko, tapping the desk with her finger .

'I don’t know . That’s why I’m investigating . ’

'You think Saitou Yakumo’s not the culprit?’

Youko’s eyes narrowed .

Ishii couldn’t reply to that question immediately . The reason being –

'I don’t know . ’

Ishii shook his head .

The doubt within Ishii hadn’t left him .

Did Yakumo kill somebody, or –




Yakumo stared at the lake where the girl disappeared for a while, but then he turned around, suddenly having the unpleasant feeling that somebody was watching him .

His eyes met a gaze within the grass .

The two eyes, lit up by moonlight, were dyed a deep red .

Yakumo swallowed .

A speckled pattern, a triangular head . It stuck out a brown tongue as its tail went back and forth .

– A pit viper .

'This is bad . ’

Yakumo regretted entering the thicket carelessly .

Pit vipers were a venomous snake common in Japan .

The venom of the pit viper was a haemotoxin which destroyed the tissues, blood and blood vessels within the body . Since it caused internal bleeding, there would be intense pain in the affected area . It could also cause fever and confusion .

A number of deaths had been reported before as well .

– I can’t be bitten .

Yakumo regulated his breathing and stepped back, trying to avoid making any sound .

Crack .

He’d stepped on a tree branch .

Yakumo turned around, startled by the sound . Then, the pit viper bared its fangs and attacked .

Yakumo leapt back, but his injured left leg wouldn’t move the way he wanted to . He staggered .

The pit viper’s fangs sank into his left leg .

As Yakumo fell to the ground, he grabbed a tree branch and brought it down on the pit viper’s head .

It hit .

The pit viper separated from Yakumo’s leg immediately and disappeared into the thicket .

'Damn it . ’

Yakumo took off his belt, wrapped it around his left thigh and bound it tightly .

It was to avoid letting the poison spread . However, if he bound it too tightly, it would interrupt the blood flow, speeding up the necrosis of his tissue from lack of oxygen .

He would have to regularly loosen the belt to allow blood to flow .

Yakumo rolled up his jeans to check on the injury .

There were two small red dots a bit above his ankle . Fortunately, because of his jeans, they didn’t appear to be too deep .

Putting your lips to a snake bite to suck out the poison wouldn’t reverse the effects .

On top of likely infection, bacteria such as those from tooth decay could invade .

All he could do now was wait .

Even if he started to walk to a hospital, he didn’t know where there was one . Even if he did, it would have been very far .

If he moved, it would quicken his heartbeat, spread the poison more quickly and worsen his physical state .

Most importantly, going to a hospital would be going to get caught by the police himself .

Yakumo crawled to a nearby rock, stretched out his legs and sat, resting his back against it .

The symptoms from the pit viper’s venom would show up in twenty to thirty minutes .

With exhaustion and an empty stomach, he didn’t know how much he would be able to resist, but all he could do was wait .

Yakumo looked up at the shining round moon .

When he looked at the captivating pale moon, he felt himself calm down .

– I might die .

A feeling close to resignation spread throughout Yakumo .

– I wonder where I’ll go when I die .

Yakumo could see the spirits of the dead . However, those were only the spirits who had unfinished business and were remaining in this world . Yakumo didn’t know where spirits without unfinished business went .

Now that he thought about it, it was an unfortunate fate .

It felt like he’d been fighting against the current all this time .

All he had experienced from that was a great amount of sadness .

However, he had no regrets . The reason being –

If he had just one wish, before he died, just once more –

I wish I could have seen her again –




'Oi . How long does this slope go?’

Gotou called out to Eishin’s back as they climbed up the slope .

He’d thought that they’d be able to get to the limestone cavern by car, but the asphalt-paved road had stopped . After that, he’d had to walk through the weedy path with a torch in hand .

He was out of breath . Even his underwear was soaked with sweat .

'Don’t whine . It’s only a bit more . ’

Even though Eishin was fat, he walked with incredibly light footsteps as he climbed the slope .

They’d had this exchange a number of times already, but it had already been twenty minutes . Gotou thought he would die from exhaustion .

'Let’s take a short break . ’

'I said, it’s only a bit more . ’

'I know . ’

Gotou took off his tie, unbuttoned down to the third button of his shirt and then started walking more quickly .

'See? We’re here . ’

Right after that, Eishin stopped . Gotou stood next to Eishin .

There was a craggy rock mountain with a black hole in its middle .

On both sides of the entrance, there were two uniformed guards .

It looked like they’d noticed them, as they came towards them with the light of a torch .

'I’m Gotou of the Setamachi precinct . ’

Gotou showed his police ID .

'Setamachi precinct?’ said an officer . What’s a detective out of his jurisdiction doing here? That question was written on his face .

He looked incredibly serious – inflexible . However, Gotou was used to dealing with people like this .

'The person of interest is in my jurisdiction . I was instructed to check on the situation . ’

'At this time?’

'Since when’ve the police worked at a set time? If there’s a case, the time shouldn’t matter . ’

'Ah, no…’

Gotou’s sudden forcefulness startled the officer .

'Or does your precinct stop investigating once time’s up? Who’s in charge here? I’ll beat them into shape . ’

'P-please forgive me . G-go ahead . ’

The officer looked ashamed as he replied, spine pencil-straight, but he gave Eishin a glance .

'This is Master Eishin, friend of the victim . He’s coming in with me – you don’t mind, right?’

'Please go ahead . ’

Gotou casually walked towards the limestone cavern’s entrance .

'So you can do it if you try . ’

Eishin slapped Gotou’s back while grinning .

Even though Gotou was being praised, for some reason, he couldn’t be honestly happy about it .

'Stop talking – let’s go . ’

Gotou walked into the limestone cavern with Eishin at his side .

– It’s cold .

Cold air enveloped him, like he had walked into a refrigerator .

It was probably because light didn’t come in from outside . It was pitch black . He couldn’t see anything that wasn’t lit up with the torch .

Drip, drip . He could hear water falling .

'Quite a guy to think of meditating here,’ said Gotou as he took careful steps .

'He was a zealous and serious man . ’

'Unlike you?’

When Gotou said that, something pushed his back .

Gotou slipped and almost fell, but he managed to avoid that by grabbing a nearby rock .

'What the hell are you doing!?’

'If you yell so loudly, you’ll fall again,’ said Eishin as he stifled his chuckled .

– I can’t let my guard down .

'I don’t like meditating in places like this,’ said Eishin, suddenly stopping .

'You afraid?’

'Don’t be ridiculous . It’s a problem of thinking . ’


'Meditation must be done in the middle of life . Walking all the way to a place like this to meditate isn’t meditation . ’

Eishin had his hands together and eyes half-closed – he looked solemn, as if his arrogance and laziness up until now had all been a lie .

However, admitting that would irritate Gotou .

'Forget about the pretentious talk and hurry up . ’

Gotou walked briskly into the depths of the limestone cavern .

After about five minutes, there was a wide space . One corner appeared to be a room surrounded by boards . That was probably where the crime occurred .

Gotou stood in front of the door to the room .

There were lights there, probably from the investigation team . Gotou flipped the switch . The bright light disoriented him .

Just as his eyes had grown accustomed to the light, he slowly opened the door .

A raw smell pierced his nose .

'That’s an amazing stink . ’

Eishin coughed .

Gotou covered his mouth and nose with his arm and walked inside the room .

Creak .

Every time he took a step, the floor creaked .

Gotou turned the light of his torch towards the ground and suddenly saw a dark red stain . This was probably where Seidou was killed .

Gotou bent over and looked carefully .

The floor looked like they had been scratched with fingernails . This was where he had been trying to run away but was stabbed more .

Not just the floor . Gotou spotted blood sprayed on the walls too .

It was much more brutal than he had imagined .

'This is awful,’ murmured Eishin .

'Agreed . ’

Gotou sighed .

The culprit had repeatedly stabbed somebody trying to get away . Did they enjoy seeing him in pain? Or had they continued to stab because they were so absorbed they couldn’t stop?

Whichever one it was, it gave Gotou a chill just imagining it .

'So what are you going to do now?’ said Eishin, crossing his arms .

Gotou had thought he’d be able to find something out by coming to the scene, but it looked like things weren’t going to be that easy .

However, he couldn’t just wait because there weren’t any leads .

'I’ll go over everything with a fine-tooth comb . ’

Unfortunately, that was the only method he had right now .

Eishin shook his head, looking exasperated .




– I’m losing consciousness .

Yakumo’s head hung because he was unable to keep his neck straight .

His body felt hot . A burning pain ran through his left leg and had near doubled in size .

The ground was moving, as if Yakumo had just been rolling his eyes about . The pit viper’s venom was eating away at his body .

He consciously breathed slowly .

He put his left hand up in front of his eyes . He couldn’t focus . He saw doubles of his fingers .

– This is no good . I have no strength .

His left hand felt as heavy as a way . Unable to keep it up, it fell back to the floor .

He wanted to vomit . It felt like something was stirring up his stomach .

– Am I going to die?

Yakumo lifted his head with the last of his strength .

Standing there was a man . He had on a black suit with long hair that went down his back . He smiled triumphantly .

His eyes were dyed a deep red .

'A pathetic ending…’ the man said expressionlessly .

That might have been true . Without anybody watching, rotting away all alone at the edge of a lake – d

'Says a dead man . ’

Yakumo gritted his teeth and glared at the man with two red eyes .

He was already died . He was just a spirit .

'How about it? Won’t you come with me?’

The man held a hand out towards Yakumo .

– Where to?

Yakumo didn’t know the destination, but if he took that hand, he felt like he would be released from his suffering .

'I’m waiting . ’

The man disappeared into the darkness with a faint smile on his face .

– Where are you waiting?

Before Yakumo had that answer, he saw the back of a woman standing by the lake .

He thought it was the spirit of the girl from earlier, but he was wrong .

When she turned around, he saw it was Haruka .


Yakumo’s expression relaxed .

Haruka didn’t say anything . Her brows were furrowed, like she was troubled, as she looked at Yakumo .

'Don’t look like that… Is it trouble again?’

Haruka shook her head . There was a trace of tears in her eyes .

Yakumo hated seeing Haruka cry .

At first, he had thought it was because he was irritated, but then he noticed that wasn’t the case .

'Smile for me…’

When he saw Haruka’s smile, he felt the dregs in his heart wash away .

It made him feel idiotic for worrying . He felt like it said it was all right for him to be here – all right for him to live .

I should have died when my mother tried to kill me – he had always thought that .

He wasn’t needed by anyway .

He hadn’t ever thought that somebody would smile when they saw his red left eye .

Though Yakumo coldly thrust her away, in the depths of his heart, he was thankful that he had been able to see that smile again .

He should have talked to her properly .

The truth was there were other things he wanted to talk to her about . He wanted her to know him . And he wanted to know her .

– My eyes are blurry .

Haruka melted into the darkness .

– Don’t disappear .

With all his might, Yakumo reached out, but his hand didn’t reach her .

Just as Yakumo was stricken by his powerlessness, a man appeared .

A man with a smile like Maitreya . It was Isshin .

– Uncle .

Isshin made no reply . He just smiled .

– That’s right . Uncle always smiled for me too .

No matter how hateful the things Yakumo said to him, Isshin had smiled and accepted them all .

– Why did you go?

What Uncle said was always correct, but I didn’t try to accept them honestly .

But still, Uncle stayed with me .

He always welcomed me with a smile .

– Thank you .

I could never say the words I wanted to tell him most, even at the end .

I see . Uncle’s here to take me with him .

I have a lot I want to talk to him about .

I’ll be there soon, so listen to what I have to say .

I –


Yakumo’s hazy consciousness fell into a deep darkness .