Volume 9 Chapter 1

Chapter 1


file 01: encounter (TRANSLATION NOTES)


That forest summons the spirits of the dead –




‘You can see them too, right?’


When Aoi Hideaki called out, he slowly turned around .

It was a corner of a graveyard, twilight imminent .

His narrowed eyes were facing Hideaki directly . His eyes were dark and appeared to be filled with sadness .

They became classmates in the third year of high school . They had been in the same classroom for nearly a year, but this was the first time he had called out to him .

Hideaki had thought about doing it numerous times up until now . However, he hadn’t been able to . It was because he had had an atmosphere that made it feel like others couldn’t approach .

He put a wall up between himself and others and did not let anyone in . However, that didn’t mean he wasn’t interested in other people . He observed from a height . A superior existence –

'What is it?’

His voice was unexpectedly calm .

'Spirits of the dead… That is, ghosts . ’

'Idiotic . ’

He laughed quietly .

He had probably meant to feign innocence, but Hideaki wouldn’t let him .

Hideaki hadn’t noticed that they had the same ability at first, but because of an incident, he realised that he was the same .

He saved Hideaki’s younger sister’s life, but he wouldn’t have been able to do so if he couldn’t see .

'Don’t try to hide it . ’

When Hideaki glared, he grew silent .

His gaze shook slightly . It appeared to be a sign of his shaken heart .

'I don’t know what you’re talking about . ’

'Don’t play dumb . You’re the same kind as me . ’

'Don’t put me together with you . ’

He immediately denied Hideaki’s words .


'You show off your ability to see . ’

Just as he said, Hideaki didn’t hide the fact that he could see . Rather, he declared it .

He definitely wasn’t showing off though . There was a reason he did it .

Also, the reply just now was obviously admitting that he could see .

'Want to talk for a bit?’

'I refuse . ’


'I have no reason to . You and I are conclusively different . ’

'What’s different? We’re both the same in that we can see, right?’

'It’s different,’ he declared . Then, he tried to walk away .

Hideaki might never have a chance to talk with him again if he left now, even though Hideaki had gathered the courage to call out to him .

'Wait . ’

When Hideaki called out, his feet stopped . He didn’t turn around .

Hideaki continued to talk regardless .

'I’ve always thought that my ability was disgusting . ’

'I agree . ’

When Hideaki heard his sad voice, he felt like he understood the true reason he had called out .

'But it’s not just a sad thing . By lending an ear to the spirits of the dead, there are people who can be saved, she said…’

'Who said?’

'My sister . ’

'A joke . Seeing them doesn’t save anybody . ’

'It does . That’s why I can see . That’s what I believe . ’

'I couldn’t save anyone important to me…’

When he turned around, his eyes looked just a little bit wet .

He must have lost somebody important to him because of his ability . It might have been impossible then, but next time –

'You can save them . ’

'You’re strong . ’


'I’m not that strong . If I’m just going to lose them, I’d rather not have anything important to me in the first place . ’

After declaring that, he slowly started to walk .

Hideaki could only watch him leave .

He had chosen to live alone .

Hideaki couldn’t condemn that choice . The pain of being able to see wasn’t a light matter .

However, one day, if he also found something he had to protect, his mind would probably change . Like Hideaki’s had –

'Let’s meet again,’ Hideaki said quietly .

A strong wind blew .

Hideaki looked down to escape a cloud of sand .

When Hideaki looked up again, he was already gone .


That was the last time Hideaki spoke to him during high school –




'Hey, let’s go back already . ’

Maehara Rina spoke to Hiroki, who was walking ahead of her . Hiroki might not have heard her voice, as he continued to walk farther in .

They had been walking for over fifteen minutes since entering this forest .

The forest, thick with hinoki cypress trees, was dim, even though it was day, and it was wet . Furthermore, the changeless scenery continued endlessly .

If we go any farther in, we’ll never be able to get out – that anxiety was in her head .

'Let’s go back!’ shouted Rina, halting as she did so .

Finally, Hiroki’s feet stopped .

'What? Let’s just go a bit farther . ’

Hiroki, smirking, held a Handycam video camera .

Rina had come to the Kawaguchi lake shore[1] cottage for the tennis circle’s training camp . She’d worked up a light sweat in the morning, and then there had been free time after lunch .

Then, Hiroki, who had come with her, called out to her .

– Want to explore the Sea of Trees?

Rina had understood that as 'Want to be alone?’ . She’d had an interest in Hiroki since before, so she had thought that it’d be a good chance .

However, Rina’s faint expectation had been betrayed .

Hiroki was really exploring the forest . With a camera in one hand, he was focussed on trying to catch spiritual phenomena on tape .

'I don’t care any more . Let’s go back . ’

Rina was about to cry .

'Rina-chan’s afraid . ’

Hiroki zoomed in on Rina’s face with the camera .

To put it frankly, it was bad taste . Rina looked away to avoid the camera .

– I can’t bear with him any longer .

She’d go home herself . After deciding that, Rina started to turn back through the forest .

'Honestly, this is the worst…’

Rina was walking away when she stopped, suddenly feeling something’s presence .

– Oooooh .

She heard something like a groan .

Maybe Hiroki had come following her . She turned around, but nobody was there . Just the dark forest spreading out in front of her .

'Hiroki-kun, are you there?’ said Rina .

There was no response, but she felt like somebody was watching her .

'If you’re there, come out!’

As expected, there was no response .

– Am I thinking too much?

Rina was just about to start walking again when her feet stopped immediately .

'Gi… ll… d…’

She heard somebody moaning in her ear .

– Eh?

She couldn’t look . She knew that in her head, but her body wouldn’t listen . Rina slowly turned around .

However, nobody was there .

– How creepy .

Rina was stricken by an indescribable fear and she started running to escape .

However, something caught her feet immediately and she fell .

It seemed like her foot had slipped on moss . Her knee had hit a rock, and a stinging hot pain spread through it .

'This is the worst…’

To try to get up, Rina placed her hand on something beside her that looked like a rock .

– Flump .

A soft feeling . Not a rock . What was it?

Next to her lay a large mass, burnt completely black . When she took a careful look, she saw that it was the shape of a person .

– This is a corpse .


When Rina realised that, she shrieked and tried to run .

However, as if to block her escape, a man stood in front of Rina .

Though the forest was dim, that man wore black sunglasses . With all that had happened confusing her, Rina couldn’t speak .

Sneering at Rina, the man slowly took off his sunglasses .

The two eyes looking down at Rina were dyed a deep red, like fresh blood .

'The true nature of the human spirit is darkness…’

The man said that quietly –




Ishii Yuutarou was up to his head in paperwork .

He was in the Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room, one of the divisions of the detective department .

Though the name was splendid, all he actually did was the simple task of sort paperwork for past unsolved cases by year .

Though they were sometimes sent out as additional help for other divisions, that was rare

– I’m bored .

Just doing paperwork like this made him feel down . He felt like that boredom had grown especially ever since Gotou had left .

When Gotou had been here, his actions, which could be called wild, had brought about a variety of incidents .

He had been afraid at the time, but now, strangely, he felt that things had been good then .

It had been tough, but at least he hadn’t been bored .

'Oi, Ishii . ’

He lifted his head at the voice .

Miyagawa Hideya sat across from him and glared at the paperwork with a difficult expression on his face .

Miyagawa had been the chief of the detectives until a month ago, but he had been demoted because of the incident with Gotou and put in the Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room .

Though he had a small frame, with his scary face and bald head, rather than a detective, he looked like the people he was supposed to be fighting .

'What is it?’

'Where am I supposed to stamp this document?’

Miyakawa tapped the document on the desk .

Even though he already had a frightening face usually, when he showed his irritation, he looked like a demon .

'Er… Here . ’

Ishii peered at the document and pointed at it .

'Who the hell made a document that’s so hard to understand?’

'Miyagawa-san, you did . ’

Ishii spoke without thinking .


Miyagawa turned his glare towards Ishii .

'Ah, no, I mean, Miyagawa-san, you acknowledged the introduction of these forms . ’

Ishii hurriedly added an explanation .

Miyagawa hadn’t been the one who made them, but he had decided to introduce these documents when he was chief of the detectives .

'You saying it’s my fault?’

Miyagawa raised an eyebrow .

'Ah, no, er… I apologise . ’

– He’s going to hit me .

So Ishii thought, preparing his body, but nothing happened .

'I see . It was me…’

Miyagawa sighed .

It looked like he truly regretted it . His body looked a size smaller .

Though Ishii was happy that he hadn’t been hit, for some reason, he felt like something was lacking . If it were Gotou, Ishii would have been hit with a fist before he even finished speaking .

– Detective Gotou, please come back .

Ishii murmured that in his heart .

It wasn’t that Miyagawa was bad . If speaking about work, Miyagawa dealt with it more seriously . Gotou just leant back on the chair and slept without doing any paperwork .

But still, for some reason, Ishii longed for those times . It was a strange thought, but he wanted to be hit .

Just as Ishii sighed, the door opened and a man appeared .

It was Honda, the current chief of the detectives . A mid-career hire, he was young – he had just turned forty . The person who had taken over Miyagawa’s position after he was demoted .

Ishii had no way of knowing how the higher-ups thought of him, but with his high-handed attitude being the ruin of him, his subordinates didn’t trust him much . Ishii often heard people badmouthing him .

'Chief Honda . ’

Miyagawa’s expression clouded the moment Ishii spoke .

'There’s some work I want you guys to do . ’

Ishii offered Honda a chair, but he ignored it and spoke while standing .

'What? Hurry up and say it . ’

Miyagawa put his chin in his hands and looked up at Honda .

Speaking casually to Honda, who was his boss, was probably from his pride as the previous chief, but Ishii broke into a cold sweat from watching it .

'Watch your tone . ’

Honda glared at Miyagawa .

He had his own spirit . Even if Miyagawa was the previous chief, Honda probably couldn’t keep quiet when somebody below him spoke rudely .

'Shut up, brat…’ Miyagawa muttered, clicking his tongue .

'So what is the matter you wanted to talk about?’ Ishii questioned to cover Miyagawa’s words .

Honda didn’t look pleased, but after clearing his throat, he brought up the topic at hand . Miyagawa crossed his arms sulkily .

'You know about the robbery that occurred two days ago, right?’

'Ah, yes, that . ’

Though Ishii and Miyagawa weren’t directly related to the case, they knew of it .

A nursing student named Aoi Yuuka who lived in a city apartment had been found fainted in her room by her older brother, Hideaki, who lived with her .

Hideaki took Yuuka to the hospital, but her head had been injured and she still hadn’t regained consciousness .

Her room was a mess and her wallet was stolen, so the police were investigating it as a burglary injury case .

'The victim’s older brother said he wanted the police’s cooperation . ’

'Did he see the culprit?’

'No, the victim’s brother didn’t witness the culprit . ’

'Then what does he mean?’ asked Ishii, which made Honda scowl . It looked like he wasn’t very pleased .

'Seems like the victim’s brother can see . ’

'What can he see?’

'Ghosts . ’


Ishii spoke up without thinking .

'To be honest, I don’t think I can go along with something that ridiculous, as a policeman . But it’d be a pain if the victim’s family made a fuss about being treated unkindly . ’

'So you’re pushing the trouble to us,’ said Miyagawa, voice dripping with sarcasm . However, Honda didn’t lose to him .

'The work’s perfect for you guys, right? You’ve got the free time . ’

'What’d you say!? Try saying it again!’

'Now, now . ’

This was just a kid’s fight . Ishii stepped in as mediator .

'Right now, he’s in the reception room, so just listen to him . ’

Honda said just that and left the room . Miyagawa kicked the desk before the door was even fully closed .

'Miyagawa-san, let’s calm down . ’

'Don’t you hate this?’

Ishii knew what Miyagawa wanted to say . He was probably irritated by the tone of Honda’s words, but Ishii knew well that getting angry wouldn’t change anything .

'I’m used to it . ’

When Ishii smiled, Miyagawa looked up at the ceiling in exasperation .

'More importantly, let’s start our investigation immediately . ’

Ishii stood up from his seat for a change of pace .

Is the young man who says he can see ghosts the real thing – Ishii noticed that he was a bit excited to find out .




Gotou Kazutoshi stood in front of the door with his arms crossed .

Next to him stood a middle-aged woman . Her name was Nakazato Yoriko . She was in her mid-forties .

'Please save my son…’

Yoriko put her hand on her mouth and sounded like she had a lump in her throat . It felt like tears could fall from her eyes at any moment .

Gotou looked at her face and sighed . He didn’t feel like sympathising .

'Sorry, but there’s nothing I can do . ’

Gotou’s careless words made Yoriko’s eyes grow wide .

'That’s… Please . My son has been possessed by an evil spirit . ’

Yoriko clung to Gotou .

'What do you mean, evil spirit?’

Gotou shook Yoriko off .

With the previous case, Gotou had been let go from the police and had started work as a detective who specialised in the spiritual .

For work he could do as an ex-police officer, there was work as a guard and as a detective . He had decided to specialise on spiritual phenomena because he’d thought he could use his experience up until now and that he’d be able to pull Yakumo in if he needed to .

However, after actually starting, there weren’t any real spiritual phenomena at all – all of the cases were just at the level of giving advice about concerns .

It was the same with Yoriko beside him right now .

After graduating high school, her son hadn’t gone to the university he had been enrolled in and just stayed in his room . Yoriko believed it was the work of an evil demon .

However, after listening to her talk about it, it turned out that her son was just addicted to online games in his room . And on top of that, he never failed to eat rice every day . That was definitely not an evil spirit . Just a shut-in .

'Please . The evil spirit in my son…’

'You going to keep saying that!?’ Gotou yelled .

'Eek . ’

'Don’t blame ghosts because of your own inability to raise your child!’

'B-but he won’t come out of his room . ’

'If he won’t come out, you can just go yourself . ’

'It’s locked…’

Yoriko shook her head and started to cry .

– Ah, I’m pissed .

'You can get past locks if you’ve got the guts!’ yelled Gotou and then gave the door a kick .

The door opened with a crack .

Yoriko was stunned . Her son in the room was even more surprised . He slipped from his chair and fell to the floor .

'Oi, brat . ’

Gotou walked into the room briskly and glared at the face of Yoriko’s son, who was on the floor .


The son gulped loudly .

He was shivering so much it was pitiful, probably from fear, but that was convenient .

'I’m Gotou . A detective . Came at your mum’s request . ’


'Yeah . Seems like you’re possessed by a ghost . ’


'If you keep inside this room, I’ll need to come check on you every day . ’

'E-every day…’

'Yeah . Every day, until you leave the room and go to school . ’


The son’s face twitched .

'If you don’t like that, stop playing online games and go to university every day . Got it?’

Gotou grabbed the son by his collar and glared at him . The son nodded fervently .

'Right . That’s a promise . ’

'Y-yes . ’

'Your voice is too quiet!’


'The spirit’s been exorcised!’

Gotou hit the son on the head and stood up .

Yoriko looked like she wanted to say something, but Gotou ignored her . It was probably just going to be a complaint .

'Deduct the door repair fees from the payment for the request . ’

After saying just that, Gotou left the house briskly .

When he quit the police, he had felt refreshed . He wouldn’t have to be bound by stiff rules any more . He’d thought that he would be free .

Recently, though, the freedom he was supposed to have grasped felt strangely suffocating .

Even though he’d complained, wasn’t working cases with Ishii better – he frequently thought that .

– I wonder if Ishii’s doing well?

Gotou shook away the image of Ishii’s face that suddenly came to his head . Then, he stuffed himself into the driver’s seat of the red Mini Cooper parked by the road .

It was too late to regret now .

And Gotou hadn’t quit the police because he wanted to – he’d been forced to retire .


Gotou spat that out and started the car’s engine .




A dry wind blew through –

'It’s already autumn now . ’

That thought came to Ozawa Haruka as she looked up at the sky . Just a little while before, she had thought it was hot and humid, but in no time at all, the refreshing season had come .

Haruka walked towards the prefabricated building behind Building B .

It was in order to see Saitou Yakumo . She didn’t have any trouble . She was just going to see him .

She thought that being able to just walk to him for no reason in particular was an amazing step forward .

On the other hand, the sad reality was that there had been no developments in their relationship .

The person of the opposite sex in her age group that she was the closest to – keeping that position, she hadn’t advanced any further .

When she thought about that, she felt a bit heavy-hearted .

After cheering herself up, Haruka opened the door to the Movie Research Circle room, at the very end of the two-storey prefabricated building .

'You again?’

Yakumo looked up, sitting at his usual spot .

As always, he had messy hair and sleepy eyes . His left eye was also a vivid red .

Yakumo’s red eye had been red from birth .

That red eye could see the spirits of the dead – that is, ghosts .

Using that unique ability, he had found the solution to many cases, but because of that strange ability, many people had shown him hatred . In order to evade that, he had hidden his red left eye with a black contact lens until a little bit earlier .

The death of Yakumo’s uncle, Isshin, had changed him .

Because of Isshin’s death, Yakumo had stopped hiding his red left eye . Haruka thought that he was determined to accept himself now .

'What do you mean, again? It makes it sound like I’m troublesome . ’

Haruka pretended to be angry as she sat across from Yakumo .

'It doesn’t make it sound like it . You are troublesome . ’

'Can’t you welcome me every once in a while?’


'Why, you say…’

'You came the other day too, right? Do you have a lot of free time?’

Yakumo yawned .

A lot of free time – she couldn’t deny it . In the fourth year of university, rankings were pretty much set, so there were virtually no lectures .

'Isn’t it fine?’

'If you’re not careful, you’ll become a jobless university graduate . ’

Yakumo propped up his chin with his hand, looking bored .

'Too bad for you . I’ve already got that decided . ’

'That’s the first I’ve heard of it . ’

'Because you didn’t ask,’ said Haruka, puffing out her chest . That was a line Yakumo always used .

'I can’t believe a business would hire you . ’

'You have it wrong . It’s not a business . I’m going to be a teacher . ’

She had just got the results from the teacher employment examination that she took in the summer the day before . She had come today to inform Yakumo .

It was also the seed for Haruka’s worries .

'You, a teacher… It’s the end of the world . ’

'I don’t need your concern . ’

Haruka warned Yakumo but he just let out a sleepy yawn . There was really no point in talking to him .

– How long will I be able to do this?

That question suddenly came to Haruka’s head .

It was fun being able to talk to Yakumo like this . It was because she didn’t want to destroy this space that she had never spoken the feelings buried in her heart . However, now that her future was determined, she realised something .

This time wouldn’t last forever .

Once she graduated, she wouldn’t be able to visit Yakumo like this . Their individual lives would being and they would drift apart – that anxiety filled her head .

'Hey, Yakumo-kun . What are you going to do?’ asked Haruka, placing a hand on her chest to calm her wildly beating heart .

Yakumo’s expression turned just a little stiff .

She wanted to hear the answer to the question, but she didn’t – shaken by her confused feelings, Haruka’s heart was in her mouth .

'If I had to say whether it’s decided or not, it is . ’

'What’s with that vague answer?’

Because Haruka had been so concerned, she felt it was anticlimactic .

'There’s a place I’ve been invited to, but I’ve put it on hold . ’

'Where?’ asked Haruka, leaning forward .

That was unexpected . She hadn’t thought that Yakumo had been on a serious job search . Not just that – he was even worried about his placement .

'You know Professor Mikoshiba, right?’

'Yeah . ’

Mikoshiba was an associate professor at Meisei University . Though Haruka had never met the professor herself, it seemed like Yakumo and Mikoshiba often played chess together .


Yakumo started speaking, but he suddenly stood up, looking surprised .

His gaze was on the door right in front of him .

– What?

Haruka turned around to look at the door, but nothing was there .

'What’s wrong?’

Yakumo interrupted Haruka .

'Why are you here…’ he murmured .

Yakumo’s red eye could probably see somebody there . All Haruka could do was swallow and watch him .




Ishii cleared his throat as he stood in front of the door .

– I can see ghosts .

The young man on the other side of the doors had apparently declared that .

The answer to whether that was true or false was behind the door . When Ishii thought about that, he realised that he felt incredible excitement rather than anxiety .

'Don’t dawdle . ’

Miyagawa pushed Ishii aside and opened the door .

Ishii hurriedly followed him, putting aside his feelings .

A young man was sitting on the reception sofa in the back of the room .

- He is Aoi Hideaki .

Big brownish eyes and a smallish nose and mouth . His face as a whole looked soft and young .

When Hideaki noticed Ishii and Miyagawa, he stood up quickly and bowed .

'My name is Aoi Hideaki . ’

'I’m Miyagawa . A detective . ’

'My name is Ishii . ’

After everyone exchanged greetings, Ishii and Miyagawa sat opposite Hideaki .

'I apologise for taking up your time . ’

Hideaki smiled gently .

In contrast to his young appearance, he was very calm and the picture of politeness .

'Well, please sit down,’ Ishii urged .

Hideaki’s expression softened and he sat once more on the sofa .

Before coming here, Ishii had taken a look at Hideaki’s info .

Hideaki had lost his parents in the third year of high school . He had quit high school after that . One of his father’s friends got him a job at a transport company . He was working now as well .

He lived with his sister, Yuuka, in the apartment his parents left behind . It seemed like Hideaki paid for all of Yuuka’s nursing school fees .

Even in such tough circumstances, he had lived with all he had, and still he had gotten wrapped up in an incident like this – it hurt Ishii’s heart to think about it .

'So you say you can see ghosts . ’

Unlike Ishii, who wasn’t sure whether to talk about it, Miyagawa said it carelessly .

It was like he didn’t believe it from the start .

Hideaki seemed to sense that too, and his face twitched slightly .

'Yes . That said, it isn’t like I can do it constantly . At some times, I can only sense them, and sometimes it’s faint – it’s very uncertain . ’

Without flinching from Miyagawa’s attitude, Hideaki replied in a clear voice .

Ishii felt sincerity from those words .

He didn’t feel that he was suspicious, like he would from a fake exorcist trying to deceive someone . However, that didn’t mean he could just believe him .

Furthermore, his eye wasn’t red . Yakumo’s ability to see the spirits of the dead came from his red left eye .

'Is there any way to prove it?’ asked Ishii .

Hideaki shook his head .

'There’s no proof besides my words, since nobody else can see them . It’s easy to prove the existence of things that can be seen, but you can’t prove the existence of something that can’t be seen . ’

'So you saying that you can’t prove it, but we should believe you anyway?’

Miyagawa looked doubtful as he lit his cigarette .

Hideaki nodded with a smile . Ishii was surprised by that uprightness .

Normally, people would make excuses here, but he was different . On the contrary, when he was so straightforward, it made Ishii want to believe him .

'I can’t prove my own ability . However, I can’t just keep quiet because you won’t believe me . Especially since my sister is involved this time…’

Hideaki gripped his hands into fists, sounding like he had a lump in his throat .

Anger, sadness, frustration – he probably had feelings fighting within him . Hideaki’s expression twisted .

'I understand how you feel, but leave the investigation to the police . ’

Miyagawa hit Hideaki’s shoulder .

For a while, there was silence . Hideaki slowly took deep breaths . Ishii had no way to know what thoughts were in his head .

'The police won’t be able to catch the culprit…’ Hideaki said .

'What do you mean?’ asked Ishii . He felt like there was a special meaning to Hideaki’s words .

It was hard to believe what Hideaki had said .

'It’s because the culprit is already dead . ’

Hideaki’s eyes, directly on him, seemed for just a moment to let off the colour red .

'What do you mean? Depending on what happens, we’ll have to arrest you,’ threatened Miyagawa, sounding agitated . Ishii felt such pressure from him that he wanted to shriek just from watching, but Hideaki was calm .

'I met the ghost of the culprit . ’

'Please speak in a more concrete manner,’ interrupted Ishii, restraining Miyagawa, who was growing twitchy .

'When I went to visit my sister’s hospital, a man appeared . ’

'He’s the culprit?’

'He apologised a number of times to my sister . Asking her to forgive him somehow, since he had paid with his own life…’

'So the person who did it killed himself,’ said Ishii .

Hideaki nodded .

– This young man’s the real thing .

It wasn’t Ishii’s reason speaking to him . He was sure of it in his gut .




'I’m back . ’

Gotou opened the sliding door to the temple’s priests’ quarters .

While taking off his shoes, he heard Nao’s laugh from the living room . She was probably playing with his wife, Atsuko . Gotou went down the corridor and opened the sliding door to the living room .

'You’re late . ’

The one who spoke wasn’t Atsuko but Eishin, wearing a priest’s robe .

Eishin had been Isshin’s teacher and managed temples in the Kanto region, so he was something like a boss, but to Gotou, he just looked like a depraved monk .

'Ahh . ’

Nao, who had been playing with Eishin, noticed Gotou and flew towards him .

Gotou pet her on the head and then sat cross-legged in front of Eishin . Nao followed him and sat next to Gotou .

'What are you doing?’

'Atsuko-san’s out shopping right now,’ Eishin said, playing dumb .

'That’s not it, you damn monk . ’

'Watch your tongue . Who do you think helped you find work?’

– Hitting me where it hurts .

To be frank, Eishin had been the one who introduced the request today to Gotou .

No, not just this one . All the requests he’d had since starting his detective agency had been from Eishin .

It hurt for Gotou to say it, but without Eishin, he would’ve been out of a job ages ago, but Gotou didn’t want to admit it honestly .

'Shut up . You’re just giving me the tasks you find annoying, right?’

'Do you want to lose the roof over your head?’

– Hitting me in another place where it hurts .

When Gotou took in Nao after Isshin’s death, he had looked for a place to rent for their family, but he hadn’t been able to find one . Then, Eishin had offered him a helping hand .

He had let them stay in the temple’s priests’ quarters, where Isshin had been living .

At the time, Gotou had thought he’d take any port in a storm, but now, he felt like Eishin had got a grip of his weak point and was using him however he liked .

'My bad . ’

It hurt, but Gotou had to acknowledge his defeat .

Eishin smiled triumphantly, like he was saying, 'As long as you get it . ’

'So how was it?’ Eishin asked more formally .

'I kicked down the door and threatened the shut-in inside . ’

Gotou had thought Eishin would scold him, but unexpectedly, Eishin laughed aloud .

'That funny?’

'Good medicine for that mother and child . ’


'Ah, Yoriko-san believed it was the work of demons and wouldn’t listen to anyone . And I can’t be forceful like you . ’

It looked like Eishin had known from the start that it hadn’t been a spirit .

'You’re a cunning old man,’ Gotou said carelessly .

'Saying hateful things doesn’t become a splendid monk . ’


Eishin’s sudden words made Gotou doubt his eyes .

'I’m saying that that won’t let you become a splendid monk . ’


'You . ’

'Don’t be stupid . ’

Gotou waved his hand, as if to brush away a fly .

For a joke, it wasn’t funny at all .

'I’m serious . ’

Eishin’s gaze was serious, which was unusual . It had an incredible pressure .

'Why do I have to be a monk?’

'Ever since Isshin’s death, this temple’s had no monk . ’

'I get that, but…’

After Isshin died, Eishin’s disciples had been doing the work at the temple .

But that couldn’t continue forever .

'With Yakumo like that, he won’t agree . So only you can continue . ’

'Don’t be ridiculous . ’

'What’s ridiculous about it? If you become a monk, you can continue to use these priests’ quarters . And you can keep up your spiritual detective work . Requests would just keep coming . Not a bad idea, right?’

Eishin’s words were strangely convincing . Gotou almost nodded .

– This is dangerous .

'Y'know, there are things people are suitable for and things they aren’t . I’m not suitable . ’

'I think you are . ’

'Don’t be stupid . ’

'You’re the type of guy who can’t leave people who are troubled alone . ’

'If you don’t keep your jokes in check, I’ll hit you!’

Gotou spoke angrily, but Eishin didn’t seem to care . He smirked at him .

If Gotou kept talking, he might really end up becoming a monk .

'If you don’t have anything to do, get out already . ’

Gotou tried to chase Eishin out, but Eishin just continued smirking at Gotou .

For some reason, Gotou had a bad feeling .

'Actually, I have another request . ’

– My feeling was right .

Gotou put his head in his hands and sighed .




Haruka gulped and looked at Yakumo .

'No good, eh…’

For a while, Yakumo looked at the door, but finally he sat back down in his chair, seeming exhausted .

There was a wrinkle between his brow and he had a difficult expression on his face . He looked pale too .

'Hey, what happened?’ Haruka asked, leaning forward .

'There was a ghost there earlier . ’

Yakumo ran a hand through his messy hair .

Even though Haruka hadn’t been able to see it herself, she had sensed it from Yakumo’s reaction .

'Someone you know?’

She had sensed that from Yakumo’s words and actions too .

When Yakumo looked at the door, he had said 'Why are you here…’ He had said those words because it was someone he knew .

'Yeah,’ replied Yakumo, pressing a hand against his left eye .

There was no will-power in his voice . He must have had a great shock .

'A friend?’

'We weren’t that close . ’

– That’s a lie .

Haruka felt that . She could tell from how Yakumo had panicked .

She wanted to confirm it, but since it was Yakumo, he would probably just hide it .

'I see…’

'In any case, I need to look into this in detail . ’

'Look into what?’

'There’s something I want you to call Ishii-san about to check . ’


'Yes . I want you to ask whether this name’s come up in any deaths from incidents or accidents . ’

After saying that, Yakumo quickly wrote a name on a memo .

– Aoi Yuuka .

A woman’s name . Probably the ghost who had been here earlier .

The urge to ask how they knew each other came to Haruka’s head, but before she could, Yakumo tried to leave the room .

'Where are you going?’

'There’s something I want to check,’ Yakumo said quickly . Then, he left .

I’ve been left behind – there were a number of things Haruka wanted to ask, but first, she had to confirm about that woman .

Haruka called up Ishii’s phone number from her mobile’s memory and made the call .

After a number of rings, Ishii answered .

'Hello, it’s been a while . It’s Ozawa Haruka . ’


Ishii’s loud voice came through the receiver . He sounded the same as always .

'I’m sorry for calling so suddenly . Do you have any time right now?’

<Yes, if it’ll just be for a bit . >

Ishii’s voice dropped down a tone .

Perhaps somebody was beside him . It seemed like it would be best to keep it short .

'Actually, there’s something I want to ask . ’

<What is it?>

'I want to know whether a woman named Aoi Yuuka has died in an incident or accident . ’

<Aoi Yuuka!>

Ishii’s voice jumped an octave on the other side of the phone . From that response –

'Do you know her?’

<A woman who was assaulted in a robbery two days ago had the same name . >


– Assaulted in a robbery .

Haruka felt her throat grow tight at those unexpected words .

<Right now, she’s undergoing treatment at the general hospital’s ICU . >

'Is she alive?’

<Yes . Though her condition isn’t good…>

– Thank goodness .

Haruka sighed in relief .

She didn’t know what relationship Yakumo had with that woman, but if she was important to him, Haruka wanted her to be safe . Those were her true feelings .

<Excuse me, but why are you asking about her?>

Ishii’s question sounded doubtful .

'That’s… I don’t really understand either . Yakumo-kun just asked me…’

<Yakumo-shi did?>

'Yes . ’

<Actually, there’s something I’d like to ask Yakumo-shi as well . >

'Something you’d like to ask?’

<Yes . It’s actually about Aoi Yuuka-san’s case . >

'What is it?’

<No, er… It’s a bit hard to explain…>

Ishii fumbled for words .

'I understand . I’ll tell Yakumo-kun once he’s back . ’

<Thank you . >

After thanking Ishii, Haruka hung up .

She had no proof, but something terrible was going to happen – she had that feeling .




After Ishii finished his call with Haruka, he returned to the Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room .

Up until now, just hearing Haruka’s voice would make him beside himself with joy . He was still happy now, but something was different .

Ishii felt once more that his feelings towards Haruka had changed in a complicated manner .

It might have been because he had seen the strength of her feelings towards Yakumo during the incident one month ago .

'Who was the call from?’

Miyagawa looked up from his papers as he leant back on he seat .

'Ah, just an acquaintance…’ Ishii replied with a smile .

It would definitely be bad if he told the truth . He had blabbed about the investigation to a civilian .

Though Gotou didn’t really care about that, that wouldn’t fly with Miyagawa .

Ishii didn’t know if Miyagawa believed Ishii’s lie, but he didn’t press any further .

'So what do you think?’ asked Miyagawa, lighting his cigarette .

'What do you mean?’

'That Hideaki guy earlier . You believe him?’

Miyagawa threw the documents onto the desk .

Those documents had a man’s details in them . A man named Imoto Yasuo .

After that, Hideaki had said the name of the burglar who had assaulted his sister, Yuuka . His name was Imoto Yasuo . After checking the police database, they had found him .

About two years ago, he had been violent towards his wife and there had been a police intervention .

In the past, Imoto had entered a rising religious organisation called Jikoukoushinkai and had donated a considerable amount of money . That had been the cause of the couple’s quarrel .

However, with just this information, they couldn’t know what type of person Imoto was .

'I don’t…’

'You don’t seriously believe that the guy can see ghosts, right?’

Miyagawa leant forward, a furrow between his brow .

'I would like to deny it, but…’


'There is Yakumo-shi’s case . ’

When Ishii said that name, Miyagawa made a 'hmm’ sound .

Miyagawa knew that Yakumo’s unique ability to see the spirits of the dead had solved a number of cases .

Because of that, he couldn’t reject what Hideaki said without listening to him .

'But that guy’s eye is red . ’

Miyagawa pointed at his own eye .

'But we don’t know whether he can see them because of the red colour of his eye . ’

'Well, that’s true…’

Miyagawa frowned .

Yakumo had said this before . 'I just have the physical ability to see . ’

If the ability to see the spirits of the dead was just something genetic, it wouldn’t be strange at all if people besides Yakumo could see the spirits of the dead . However, in contrast to that, there was Kamiyama’s case as well . At that time, Ishii had completely believed him and met with unfortunate circumstances .

Earlier, this was what Ishii had wanted to consult Yakumo about . Yakumo would be able to tell whether Hideaki was the real thing or not .

Perhaps Yakumo had already stuck his neck into the case .

That’s why he’d asked Haruka to look into the victim, Yuuka – Ishii had that theory .

'Well, there’s no point thinking about it here . ’

Miyagawa pressed his cigarette into the ashtray and stood up, determined .


'What do you mean, eh? We’ll find out whether he’s the real thing or not if we meet Imoto Yasuo . ’

Miyagawa tapped the documents .

'Ah, that’s right . ’

Ishii stood up from his seat .

Gotou would have probably made the same choice . The answer wouldn’t come to them just from thinking about it, so they had to move .

If Imoto Yasuo was alive, that would prove Hideaki’s words to be a lie, but on the other hand, if Imoto Yasuo had really committed suicide – no, he’d stop thinking for now .

Ishii hit his own cheeks and ran out after Miyagawa .

– He fell .




'So where should I go?’

As Gotou drove the Mini Cooper, he posed the question to Eishin, who was in the passenger seat .

When two people with large frames rode it, it made Gotou feel like the air in the car was thin .

'There’s a residential area away from the city, right?’

'Yeah . ’

'Just head towards there . ’

'What? Isn’t this the opposite direction?’

'Yes, it is . ’

In contrast to Gotou’s anger, Eishin was nonchalant .

'Then say it earlier . ’

'You’re the one who slammed the pedal without asking where we were going, right?’

What Eishin was saying was true, but his tone irritated Gotou . Eishin was mouthy enough to be comparable to Yakumo .

'My bad,’ grumbled Gotou . He made a U-turn and then looked at Eishin again .

'So what kind of request is it?’

'The daughter of a family who supports a temple went to Lake Kawaguchi with people from her university circle . ’

'And then?’

Lake Kawaguchi had a lot of camp sites and multipurpose venues . Since it was close to the city, university circles often went there for camps .

'It seems like she went exploring with a male friend in the same circle . ’

'That’s just an excuse, right?’

Gotou snorted .

A guy and a girl – and in this season – would definitely not just go out with the intent of exploring .

'I thought that too, but it seems they really went to the Sea of Trees to explore . ’

'By Sea of Trees, do you mean the one in Aokigahara?’

'Yeah . ’

Eishin nodded, a complicated expression on his face .

A chill ran down Gotou’s spine . Exploring Aokigahara’s Sea of Trees of all things – it was stupid .

Aokigahara’s Sea of Trees was a primeval forest at the base of Mount Fuji . It was considered a natural treasure and ideal for hiking or a peaceful walk through the woods .

However, because the same scenery continued, if an amateur just walked in carelessly, they could get lost even in the day . If they weren’t careful, they wouldn’t be able to leave the forest .

That wasn’t the only problem .

In Aokigahara, near a hundred corpses from suicide were found a year . It was famous as a spot for suicides .

In short, there were countless hate-filled spirits in the forest . It wasn’t a place you should just go for fun .

It was like asking to be possessed by a ghost .

'So you saying they saw a ghost?’

'Well, rather than saw…’

Eishin had just put his chin in his hand when a mobile phone rang . Gotou used a hands-free function to answer .

'Who is it?’

<I keep saying this, but…>

'You want to tell me to fix my phone manner, right?’ said Gotou, interrupting the voice on the phone . If he had to hear Yakumo’s whining on top of Eishin’s annoying blather, he’d burn a hole through his stomach .

<If you understand that, please act on it . >

'I’ll think about it . So what is it?’

Yakumo wasn’t the type to call somebody for no reason .

<Actually, there’s something I would like to request . >

'Sorry, but right now I’m being used by old man Eishin . ’

Gotou glanced at the passenger seat . Yakumo wasn’t good with Eishin . He wouldn’t say much if Gotou was with Eishin .

<Are you still committing fraud?>

'It’s not fraud . I’m a detective . ’

<It’s something like it, isn’t it?>

'It’s completely different . ’

<I don’t care either way, but it would be better for amateurs to keep their noses out of spiritual affairs . >

'Acting so high and mighty . ’

<Gotou-san, you’ll be possessed by a ghost . >

'Enough with the chitchat . What do you want to ask?’

<Please call me once you’ve settled down . I’ll tell you in detail then . >

After declaring that by himself, Yakumo hung up .

– The guy does whatever he wants, as usual .

'That Yakumo just now?’ asked Eishin .

'Yeah . ’

'If you’re going to meet him, I’ll come too . There are a few things I want to say . ’

'Do what you want,’ Gotou said carelessly .

If Eishin was with him, Yakumo would probably be a bit quieter .

'So what were you saying?’

Gotou brought the conversation back on topic .

'Ah, that’s right . Actually, it seems like they found a corpse . ’

Gotou’s face twitched . Though corpses weren’t a good thing, at Aokigahara, it wasn’t that unusual .

They had probably found the corpse of somebody who had committed suicide .

'What an exploration . ’

Gotou snorted .

'Indeed . Since the corpse of somebody who’d been murdered was found in that Sea of Trees . ’

'W-what did you say?’ said Gotou without thinking .

He’d been sure it was a corpse from a suicide, but it was a different story if it was a murder .

'Don’t make a fuss . ’

'It’s a murder . Of course I’m making a fuss . ’

'You’re not a detective any more, right? And it’s a different jurisdiction . ’


Exactly as Eishin said . Gotou wasn’t a detective any more . He couldn’t stick his neck into the case .

Even if he were a detective, murder cases were done in the area the corpse was found . Since it was Aokigahara’s Sea of Trees, that would be done by the Yamanashi precinct .

'Well, it seems like there’ve been questionings, but it was proven that she had nothing to do with the case . ’

'So that’s settled . ’

'Are you an idiot? We’re talking about a spiritual phenomenon right now . ’

'My bad then . What about it?’

Eishin’s tone always irritated him, but there was no point quarrelling about it now . Gotou urged Eishin to continue .

'After going back, it seems like that girl got a phone call . ’

'From whom?’

'The ghost . ’


Gotou’s eyes flew wide in suspicion, but Eishin’s expression was the picture of seriousness .

'A call from a ghost, eh…’

'She got it on her mobile . When she answered, there was the voice of a man . ’

'Wasn’t it somebody’s prank?’

'But it’d be pretty nasty for a prank . ’


'On the other side of the phone, the man kept saying the same thing . ’

Eishin slowly turned towards Gotou .

When he looked up at him, his large face seemed incredibly creepy .


'You killed me…’

Eishin’s words made a chill run down Gotou’s spine .




'How was it?’

That was the first thing Yakumo said after returning to the room .

Haruka told Yakumo what she had heard from Ishii . As she did so, she felt like it was hard to breathe .

Even though she had come here to tell Yakumo about her future career, she had ended up wrapped up in an unexpected case .

'I see…’ said Yakumo curtly once Haruka was finished .

Perhaps it was because he knew that Yuuka was alive that his expression seemed a bit relieved .

However, there was something Haruka didn’t understand .

'Earlier, the ghost that appeared in front of you was the woman named Yuuka-san, right?’

'Yeah . ’

'Why would she show up as a ghost if she’s alive?’

That was Haruka’s question .

Yakumo ran a hand through his messy hair .

'To put it simply, it’s an out-of-body experience . ’

'Out-of-body experience?’

'Yes . Something similar happened before, right? With my uncle’s incident…’


Haruka finally understand .

Just as Yakumo said, something similar had happened in the past . A girl’s spirit had left her living body and wandered a hospital .

Yakumo was probably saying that this incident was similar .

'It makes me suspect your memory . ’

'Yes, yes, I have a bad memory . So what were you doing, Yakumo-kun?’ asked Haruka .

Yakumo combed his hair back and looked up at the ceiling .

'I contacted Gotou-san, thinking I’d get him to help . ’

'Is Gotou-san well?’

Haruka hadn’t seen Gotou since the last case .

After hearing his name, Haruka felt like seeing him again . Come to think of it, since Gotou had quit the police, they had much fewer chances for all of them to meet .

'Yeah, he’s the same as always . ’

'That so?’

'And I tried calling her older brother, but the call didn’t go through . ’

Here, Yakumo looked displeased .

'Her older brother?’

'Yeah . Her older brother, Aoi Hideaki, was in the same class as me when I was in the third year of high school . ’

'Were you friends with him?’ asked Haruka .

Yakumo had a difficult expression on his face .

'Friend . Where does being a friend start and end?’


Haruka didn’t understand the meaning of the question .

'What’s the definition of a friend?’ Yakumo said reluctantly .

When Haruka looked at his face, she felt sad .

Yakumo had always been like this . He perceived the relationships between people with his thoughts rather than his feelings .

That’s why sometimes he couldn’t straightforwardly accept that people liked him .

– It’s sad .

Haruka felt that .

'There’s no definition for a friend . Isn’t it fine as long as you both think that you want to be together?’

'It’s fine for you . You’re simple . ’

Yakumo’s eyes narrowed as he smiled wryly .

'You make things too difficult, Yakumo-kun . ’

'That might be true…’

After saying that, Yakumo let out a quiet laugh .

'Even if you aren’t friends, you’re related somehow, right?’

Otherwise, Yakumo wouldn’t be so disturbed .

'There was an incident when I was in the third year of high school . ’

Yakumo ran a hand through his messy hair .


'Though it wasn’t anything that serious, that caused Hideaki to realise that I could see . ’

'Eh?’ said Haruka in surprise . That meant –

'He knew about my eye . One of the few people who did . ’

Yakumo pointed his index finger at his left eye .

'Is that so?’

If that was true, he must have been somebody special to Yakumo .

'Anyway, let’s go see how she is . ’

After a silence, Yakumo stood up, as if for a change of pace .

'OK,’ replied Haruka, standing up too .

The two of them had just left the Movie Research Circle room when something came to Haruka’s mind .

'Hey, what did Yuuka-san’s spirit say?’ asked Haruka .

Yakumo stopped and looked up at the sky .

The clear blue autumn sky had just one little stray cloud, blown by the wind .

'A deep forest…’

Even though Yakumo was beside her, his voice sounded far away for some reason .


'Yeah . A deep forest . And that… she wanted me to save someone…’

That moment, Yakumo looked incredibly sad .




Ishii walked on the pedestrian path beside the Tamo River .

He saw the water gate in the distance . That place had a lot of memories for Ishii . During the case that he had first paired up with Gotou, he had run down this path with all his might .

Even though it had only been a month since Gotou left the police, Ishii felt very nostalgic about the time they’d spent together .

'Honestly . What a pain,’ grumbled Miyagawa, walking beside Ishii .

Ishii understood how he felt . They had really been given something troublesome to deal with . However, Ishii wasn’t that negative about it .

'However, we might find out the truth to the burglary case . ’

'You’re optimistic . ’

'Is that so?’

'Yeah . When we first met, to be honest, I thought you were a pretty hesitant man . ’

'That’s true…’

Ishii couldn’t deny that .

Ishii couldn’t be confident, and when he was hesitant, he always did nothing .

That was why he had looked up to Gotou . He was never hesitant . He didn’t think about what might happen .

He just rushed straight down the path he believed in .

'But you’ve changed recently . ’


'Especially after pairing up, I’ve started thinking that my impression was wrong . ’

'What do you mean?’

'I’m saying you’ve got your feet planted firmly on the ground . ’

'Feet on the ground?’

Ishii repeated Miyagawa’s words, but he didn’t really understand .

'Yeah . On top of that, you’re bad at giving up and you’re stubborn . You’ll be a good detective . ’


Ishii stopped for a moment, so surprised that he had been praised .

He’d never even thought in his dreams that he’d hear those words from Miyagawa . To be honest, he even felt that he wasn’t apt to be a detective .

'Don’t dawdle!’ said Miyagawa, interrupting Ishii’s thoughts .

Before Ishii had noticed, Miyagawa had already walked fairly far ahead . Ishii hurriedly ran after him .

His feet tangled and he almost fell, but somehow, he regained his footing .

'I think this is it . ’

After walking for a while, they went off the pedestrian path to the road . Miyagawa stopped in front of an apartment building .

It was probably thirty years or so since it was built . It was an old apartment . There were cracks all over the walls and the steel stairs outside were rusty .

Ishii checked the address on the map . This was the place, no doubt about it .

'So, now we’ll find out if that guy’s story is the truth or a lie . ’

Miyagawa rubbed his hands together as he said that .

In the files, it said that Imoto Yasuo had lived in this apartment ever since his divorce .

'Yes,’ replied Ishii, though his heart was beating loudly .

For a moment, Hideaki’s face came up in his head .

His eyes had had no doubt in them . They were the eyes of someone who knew the path they should take .

– Can he really see ghosts?

'Let’s go . ’

Miyagawa, standing in front of the door, pressed the intercom button .

However, there was no response . Miyagawa pressed the button multiple times, but there was still no response .

'Maybe he’s not here?’

Miyagawa clicked his tongue and knocked on the door .

However, there was still no response .

When Ishii looked at the mailbox by the door, he saw that there were a lot of advertisements stuffed inside it .

So he hasn’t been back for a while, or –

'No helping it . Let’s come back later . ’

Miyagawa stuck his hands in his pockets and turned around .

'Please wait a moment . ’

Ishii called out to stop him .

Hideaki had said that Imoto felt guilty and had committed suicide . If that was true, there was no way that there’d be a response .

'Want to go around the back?’ said Miyagawa .

Though Ishii hadn’t spoken, it seemed that Miyagawa had sensed his thoughts .

Ishii responded with a nod .

They went to the back of the apartment, between the fence and the building . There was a garden facing the balcony .

'There . ’

Miyagawa pointed at the balcony that was probably for room 102 .

The glass door for the balcony had curtains covering it, so they couldn’t see inside .

Ishii climbed the fence onto the balcony . There was a small gap between the curtains . He put his face up to it to peer inside .

It was a dim room . Then –


After peering in, Ishii shrieked without thinking and leapt back . His back hit the fence .

'What’s wrong?’

'A-a person…’

Ishii’s voice was shaking .

Inside the room, a man had hanged himself to death –




Haruka visited the general hospital with Yakumo .

She had visited this hospital a number of times before . Hata Hideyoshi, a strange coroner who called his work his hobby, worked at this hospital .

'I was thinking about who it could be, but it’s you, Yakumo-kun?’

After going through the entrance, somebody suddenly called out to them . Haruka turned around in surprise .

Speak of the devil . Standing there was Hata in his doctor’s gown . His shoulders shook as he let out a creepy giggle .

He had a body like a dried mummy, but his eyes alone shone brightly .

Haruka always thought he looked like a demon .

'It’s been a while . ’

Yakumo bowed his head .

'That bear isn’t with you today?’

'Wasn’t that bear chased out of the forest for causing too much trouble?’

'Oh, that’s right . ’

Hata smiled, looking incredibly pleased .

'I’m here on a different matter today . ’

'I see . That’s too bad . Come play every once in a while . ’

'You plan to dissect me, don’t you?’

'You could tell?’

Yakumo and Hata were exchanging distasteful jokes .

It was hard for Haruka to join the conversation .

'Putting the jokes aside, you can come to play . I’ll show you my collection,’ Hata said with pride . Then, he hobbled away .

After that, they went to the reception and asked for Yuuka’s hospital room . They were told that she was currently in the ICU and couldn’t see anybody .

Yakumo tried to ask about it in detail, but naturally, because of privacy, they couldn’t be told .

'Anyway, let’s just go to the hospital room,’ said Yakumo .

He started walking . Haruka nodded and followed him .

They took the stairs up to the third floor and went to the ICU with the help of signs . Then, Yakumo suddenly stopped .

Though it was through a glass, they could see inside .

There was a bed with a woman lying face-up . She was probably Yuuka .

She had a respirator attached to her mouth and IV drips hanging from her arm . Her head was wrapped in bandages, covered in blood .

'Why did this…’ murmured Haruka .

From what Ishii had told her, Yuuka had been assaulted during a burglary . Why did a woman who had done no wrong have to suffer like this –

It was too much for Haruka .

'She said she wanted me to save someone…’

As Yakumo said that, he looked straight at Yuuka .

His voice sounded just a little hoarse .

'Yes . ’

'Who on earth could she want me to save after being assaulted during a burglary, and how?’

'I don’t know . ’

Haruka shook her head .

She didn’t know, but she did know that Yuuka was a kind woman . Normally, after suffering something like this, somebody would first feel hatred and resentment towards the culprit .

However, she probably had something more important to her than that .

'What are you hoping for?’

After saying that, Yakumo turned on his heels and started walking .

What is Yakumo thinking right now – Haruka wanted to know, but at the same time, she felt like knowing would be a very scary thing .

'Her brother Aoi Hideaki said something to me,’ said Yakumo as he walked down the corridor .

'What did he say?’

'That he could see the spirits of the dead . ’

'No way…’

Haruka was shocked by those words .

Somebody besides Yakumo could see the spirits of the dead – but now that she thought about it, it wasn’t that strange .

The man with two red eyes could see the spirits of the dead too .

Haruka could see ghosts too sometimes, depending on the timing and situation .

'Couldn’t you understand each other since you had the same ability?’ asked Haruka .

Yakumo shook her head .

'At the time, I couldn’t accept him . ’

'Why not?’

Haruka didn’t understand .

Because Yakumo could see the spirits of the dead, he had suffered for many years . Hideaki should have been a special existence to him, as somebody he could understand and be understood by .

'We were completely different . ’

'How were you different?’

'To put it simply, hope . ’


'Yes . He believed that being able to see would change something . He even thought of it proudly . ’

That would be the complete opposite of Yakumo, who had suffered because of his ability to see . But –

'Yakumo-kun, you also…’

Yakumo had used his ability to see to solve many cases up until now .

He had saved many spirits that hadn’t been able to rest . He wouldn’t have been able to do that without hope .

'I was envious of him . Even jealous . ’

Yakumo’s brow furrowed .

The light of the fluorescent lamps made it look like his red eye was shining .


'He naturally did something I couldn’t . He had something he should protect, but I didn’t…’

Yakumo smiled bitterly, looking down, and shut his mouth .

– Something he should protect .

Those words struck a chord with Haruka .

Yakumo must have felt that way in high school because of the matter with his middle school homeroom teacher, Takagishi .

After reaching the entrance, a young man stood in front of Yakumo .

His big brown eyes were impressive .

'Saitou Yakumo… Why are you here…’

He spoke up the moment he saw Yakumo . In contrast to the young man’s surprise, Yakumo was calm .

'Aoi Hideaki . It’s been a while,’ said Yakumo, with narrowed eyes .





Standing in front of the house, Gotou asked that question to Eishin, who was standing next to him .

Around here, about five years ago, the mountain was cut open for a new residential area which had houses that all looked the same . Even looking at the nameplate, Gotou wasn’t sure about it .

Eishin nodded and pressed the intercom button . Immediately, a woman’s voice came back: 'Yes?’ Eishin gave his name . After a while, the entrance door opened and a middle-aged woman welcomed them .

The woman had a plump face and was probably in her early fifties .

'Master Eishin, I’m sorry you had to come all this way . ’

The woman bowed at her waist .

'Don’t concern yourself about it,’ Eishin said kindly . Eishin was incredibly good at keeping up appearances . His expression was gentle – he was like a completely different person than when he talked with Gotou .

The woman’s expression became slightly gentler . Then, she turned her eyes to Gotou . She didn’t actually ask 'Who is this?’ but Gotou could hear her doubt .

'This man is my manservant . His name is Gotou Kumakichi[2] . ’

– Who the hell’s his manservant!? Who the hell’s Kumakichi!?

Gotou had a mountain of things he wanted to rebut to, but with the person who’d made the request in front of him, he managed somehow to hold it in .

'I’m Gotou . ’

'My name is Maehara Fumiko . ’

After Gotou introduced himself, the woman politely bowed again .

'This is sudden, but could we meet your daughter?’ asked Eishin .

'Please follow me,’ replied Fumiko, inviting them into her home .

After passing through the entrance, they went into what was probably the living room . Gotou and Eishin sat next to each other the sofa, while Fumiko left the room . She was probably going to call her daughter .

'Who the hell’s Kumakichi?’

Gotou glared at Eishin .

'You . ’

'I’m not called Kumakichi . ’

'But Yakumo called you Kuma . ’

'You’re saying that on purpose, didn’t you . I’ll punch you,’ said Gotou threateningly . Then, the door opened and Rina came into the room .

Though she looked young, she had dyed brown hair with heavy makeup on her eyes, like a model . She felt very much like a current university student .

'You don’t have to be so afraid . Let’s sit down and talk,’ urged Eishin .

Rina nodded and sat down on the opposite sofa .

Then, Eishin asked her to explain what had happened in the Sea of Trees . It was pretty much the same as what Gotou had heard before .

Just as Gotou was starting to feel bored, Rina said something strange .

'I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but…’

'What? Just say it,’ urged Gotou .

Rina continued, though she seemed hesitant .

'Just as I was trying to run after finding the corpse, a man appeared in front of me . ’


'Yes . That man had two deep red eyes…’

Rina’s body shivered, like she was remembering the incident .

'That true?’

In his agitation, Gotou grabbed Rina’s shoulders .

Rina’s eyes welled up with tears, perhaps in fear, but she nodded .

'Calm down a bit,’ reprimanded Eishin . Gotou let go of Rina and sat down on the sofa again .

– What’s happening?

If that man showed up with the spiritual phenomenon, they couldn’t go with ordinary methods . He had to be planning something inconceivable .

'Let’s get back on topic . Do you have to the mobile you mentioned?’ said Eishin after clearing his throat .

'Yes,’ replied Rina . Then, she hesitantly put her mobile on the table .

Besides the number of character straps from a pirate manga dangling from it, it was a completely normal mobile phone .

'How many calls did you get?’

Eishin continued his questions .

'I don’t know . I was so afraid that I turned off the phone immediately . ’

Rina shook her head .

'Did you check the call display?’

This time, Gotou was the one to speak .

'It was an unknown number…’

'What do you think?’ Eishin said to Gotou quietly .

'There’s something suspicious about it,’ said Gotou, glaring at the mobile .

The little amount of information made it hard to come to a decision, but at this stage, rather than a spiritual phenomenon, it seemed more like a prank by somebody who knew the situation .

'It’s true . Please believe me,’ pleaded Rina with wide eyes, perhaps sensing Gotou’s thoughts .

'I’m not denying what you experienced . ’


Rina looked down feebly .

'Anyway, we need to confirm this . ’

Eishin was the one who spoke . That would probably be the quickest .

Gotou took the mobile on the table and turned it on . After a while, the screen lit up .

The waiting screen had a photo of a dim forest on it . Gotou couldn’t say he really liked it .

'Why’d you make a photo like this the waiting screen?’

When Gotou showed the screen to Rina, she let out a shriek and jumped back to the sofa . Her body was shaking terribly .

'What’s wrong?’

'I-I don’t know… I don’t recognise that photo,’ responded Rina in a hoarse voice . That response – it didn’t seem like she was lying .

Even Gotou had a bad feeling . Something unexpected was going to happen . He had that feeling .

Riiiiiiing –

Interrupting Gotou’s thoughts, the mobile phone rang .




The scene was busy with activity because of the hanged corpse that was found .

An ambulance carried away the corpse as investigation members began their search of the scene . Ishii watched from a corner of the apartment grounds .

The corpse that was found was definitely Imoto Yasuo .

A will was found in the room . It appeared that the will’s contents hinted that he had done the burglary himself .

Furthermore, Aoi Yuuka’s lost wallet had been found .

The situation made it seem like Imoto Yasuo had assaulted Aoi Yuuka during a burglary, but in Ishii’s heart, there was still something that didn’t seem right .

'Oi! What the hell are you doing!?’

A yell that sounded like Miyagawa’s suddenly reverberated through the area .

Ishii turned to look to see Miyagawa approaching Honda, who was giving out orders . It seemed like Miyagawa might punch Honda at any moment .

'Miyagawa-san . ’

Ishii hurriedly ran over .

'You shut up!’ Miyagawa responded immediately .


'This guy’s telling us to keep away from the investigation . ’


So that was the cause of Miyagawa’s anger – the moment Ishii understood that, anger sprouted up within him too .

There was no way that Ishii could accept it if Honda had made them deal with Hideaki because he thought it was troublesome, only to tell them to back off once they found the corpse .

'This isn’t a game . If you’re going to complain, I’ve got my own thoughts too . ’

Honda’s words were the picture of highhandedness .

It was like throwing oil into the fire for Miyagawa’s anger .

'You’re the one who’s playing around!’

As expected, Miyagawa shouted angrily at Honda .

'Miyagawa-san, please calm down . ’

Ishii pulled Miyagawa back by force, even as he continued to yell .

If this continued, Miyagawa might get demoted again . Miyagawa’s reputation had already dropped because of the matter with Gotou .

'That fool!’

After leaving the apartment premises, Miyagawa kicked the ground with as much force as he could .

'I understand how you feel, but…’

'Even if you don’t tell me, I get it,’ replied Miyagawa, the force completely gone from his voice .

He seemed incredibly tired .


If the incident with Gotou hadn’t happened, Miyagawa would have been the one giving out orders, but now, he was completely left out of the loop .

Ishii thought that Gotou’s choice then had been correct . That was why Miyagawa didn’t blame Gotou either . That just made it hurt more .

Perhaps this was what it meant to make a choice .

'You think he’s the real thing?’

After a silence, Miyagawa asked that question while lighting a cigarette .

'Are you talking about Hideaki-shi?’

'Yes,’ replied Miyagawa, his face solemn .

They found the corpse because of Hideaki’s testimony . If his ability was real, they had nothing to worry about .

However, if it was false, a number of problems arose .

'I don’t… How do the higher-ups plan on dealing with this case?’

One thing bothered Ishii .

If the culprit was found from a regular police investigation, there wouldn’t be any problem, but the situation was a little different this time .

Ishii was curious about how the detective department, starting with Honda, would conclude this .

'That fool’s completely useless . ’

Miyagawa glared at Honda, who was giving orders in front of the apartment .


'He plans on pulling Hideaki in as an accomplice . ’

'Why would he?’

'It’s simple . His theory’s that Hideaki knew about Imoto because he killed him . Honda’s going to make Hideaki confess in an interrogation . ’

Miyagawa’s frown was so deep that it couldn’t be any deeper .

'But that’s…’

That was far too hasty .

Rushing forward with just a theory would make the investigation veer off course . Furthermore –

'That room was a locked room . ’

The apartment door had been locked . That wasn’t all – there was a chain lock on the inside too .

Ishii and Miyagawa had gone in by breaking the glass door .

'That guy’s going to get that out of Hideaki too . ’

'It won’t go that easily!’

Even Ishii ended up raising his voice .

'Don’t tell me that . If you’re going to say it to anyone, say it to that pampered brat . ’

Miyagawa looked at Honda again .

Ishii felt disappointment spread throughout him . If it were Gotou, he would have probably gone at Honda without mercy, but unfortunately, Ishii didn’t even have the courage to share his opinion with the chief of the detectives .

Even if he could give his opinion, Honda had chosen to leave Ishii and Miyagawa out of the investigation . He definitely wouldn’t listen to what they had to say .

'This leaves a bad taste in my mouth . ’

Miyagawa put his cigarette into his portable ashtray .

'It really does… What do you plan to do, Miyagawa-san?’

'Nothing . ’


'We’ve been left out of the investigation . There’s nothing we can do . ’

After glaring at the scene, Miyagawa walked away briskly .

Miyagawa probably felt uncaring because he had been left out of the investigation . Ishii understood those feelings . Anybody would feel angry after being treated that way .

However, was it acceptable for them to back down?

Hideaki was being treated as a suspect . Ishii himself just couldn’t accept that .


Ishii was irritated with himself for being unable to make a decision .




Riiiiing –

The mobile phone rang on top of the table .

Gotou thought that Rina was going to scream, when she just covered both ears and kept repeating 'Stop it already…’ like a spell, sitting down right there .

Gotou looked at Eishin .

Riiiing –

The phone kept ringing .

Gotou slowly reached out and took the mobile in his hand . He looked at the number displayed on the screen . It read <Unknown> .

– Is it really somebody’s prank?

'Why not try answering?’ said Eishin, peering at the mobile .

That was right . Just looking at the mobile wouldn’t get anything started . If it was a prank, Gotou could just give a good scolding . If it was really a call from a ghost, he’d bring in Yakumo . That was all .

Gotou was just about to accept the call when the ringing stopped .

'It’s because you were dawdling,’ Eishin said mockingly .

'Shut up . ’

'Even though your body’s as big as a bear’s, your heart’s smaller than a flea’s . ’

Eishin smirked .

– This damn monk!

'I can’t keep it in any longer! We’re going outside! I’ll punch you a good one!’

Riiiing –

The mobile phone started ringing again, drowning out Gotou’s yell . Just like earlier, the display showed <Unknown> .

'Come on,’ said Eishin, elbowing Gotou’s stomach .

– You don’t have to tell me .

Gotou answered the call and put the mobile by his ear .

'Who is it?’ asked Gotou, but there was no answer .

On the other side of the phone, he could hear wind and crackling branches .

'Hello? I’m asking who’s there,’ said Gotou more forcefully .

He could now hear somebody breathing quietly . It looked like somebody was on the other side of the phone .

'If you don’t stop screwing around…’


Gotou heard a voice .

A man’s voice, similar to a beast’s .


<You… did…>

The man’s voice echoed in Gotou’s ears .

A chill ran down his spine .

– This isn’t a prank . It’s a real ghost .

Gotou was sure of it . This was bad . Answering the phone was the wrong choice .

– I need to hang up now .

That was what Gotou thought, but his body wouldn’t work the way he wanted t .

His forehead was drenched with sweat .

'What’s wrong?’

Eishin spoke up . He seemed to have sensed something was wrong . However, Gotou was unable to answer .

He felt like something incredibly dark was flowing into him through the phone .


– No . It wasn’t me .


– No .

Gotou frantically fought back .

However, that resistance was futile . That dark something swallowed Gotou’s consciousness –




Haruka stood by a maple tree in the hospital courtyard .

Yakumo was facing Hideaki a little away from her .

Evening approached . Its reddish purple light made it difficult to see their expressions clearly .

'I feel kind of nostalgic,’ said Hideaki in a gentle tone .

'Yeah,’ Yakumo replied brusquely, his tone a bit stiff .

It felt like there was a difference in the distance they felt between each other .

'She your girlfriend?’ said Hideaki . For just a moment, his eyes met hers .

'No, that isn’t…’

Under that straight gaze, which seemed to look straight through her, Haruka felt flustered .

'No . She’s just a friend,’ Yakumo said bluntly .

Though he wasn’t incorrect, being denied so readily like that made Haruka’s heart plummet . Don’t come any closer to me – it was like he was telling her that .

Hideaki started to laugh, his shoulders shaking, as if he thought something was funny .

'You’ve changed, Saitou . ’

After laughing for a while, Hideaki looked at Yakumo again .

'Nothing’s changed,’ replied Yakumo a bit testily .

'You have . The old Saitou would never have called somebody a friend . ’

'I don’t remember . ’

Yakumo looked at his feet as if to try to escape Hideaki’s gaze .

'I see… Well, whatever . More importantly, what are you doing here today?’

'I came to visit your sister . ’

This time, Hideaki was the one who looked away .

'To see Yuuka…’

Hideaki gripped his hands into fists and his face twisted, as if in pain .

It felt like he was forcing himself to hold back emotions that could explode out at any moment .

'I heard about the incident . ’

'Is that so?’

'Your sister came to me . ’


Hideaki’s eyes widened in shock .

'Her spirit left her body . ’

'I see… Yuuka went to you…’

Hideaki’s expression softened just a bit . It seemed like he understood what happened .

'She came to me for help . ’

'Help? Why from you?’

'I don’t know . ’

Yakumo shook his head .

'I see…’

'She left two messages . ’

'What were they?’

’“Deep forest” and “I want you to save someone” . ’

'Save someone in a deep forest… What does it mean?’

'I came to confirm that . ’

Hideaki was silent as he looked down for a while, but then he suddenly looked up .

'I feel like I understand . ’


'Actually, the man who assaulted my sister appeared in front of me yesterday . Well, to put it more accurately, this was in Yuuka’s hospital room . The man kept apologising to Yuuka . He probably felt guilty about what he did…’

'And then?’

'The man was already dead . He committed suicide…’

Hideaki shook his head slightly . Though it was faint, it looked like his eyes were wet with tears .

'So why would that translate into saving someone?’

Yakumo looked at Hideaki sharply .

'Yuuka must want to save the man who killed himself…’

'I can’t save someone who’s already dead . ’

Hideaki smiled bitterly at Yakumo’s words .

'Hey, do you remember what we talked about before?’

'What we talked about?’

'How you can save people by seeing the spirits of the dead . ’

'Ah… that…’

Yakumo’s eyes seemed distant .

'At the time, Saitou… you said that you couldn’t save anything . ’

'You said that you could . ’

'I still believe that . There must be something I can save . ’

'Why are you so…’

Interrupting Yakumo’s words, a woman in a suit moved to stand in front of Hideaki .

– What?

While Haruka was confused, a man appeared behind Hideaki . They had him sandwiched .

The woman in front showed a police ID .

'I’m Shimamura from the Setamachi precinct . You are Aoi Hideaki, correct?’

– Police?

Even Yakumo appeared surprised by the situation, but Hideaki didn’t seem disturbed . He replied confidently with a 'Yes’ .

'I apologise for the trouble, but there are a number of things we would like to ask . Would you come with us to the precinct?’

'Is this optional? Or is this an arrest?’

'Of course, this is optional . ’

'So that means I can refuse,’ Hideaki replied calmly .

That moment, the woman showing her police ID frowned .

'You can refuse, but it won’t do you any good,’ the man behind Hideaki said threateningly .

'I understand then . Saitou, let’s talk at length at some other time . ’

Hideaki smiled at Yakumo . Yakumo received that smile expressionlessly .

All Haruka could do was watch in shock as Hideaki was taken away .

'Hey, Yakumo-kun…’

Haruka spoke up, but the shrill ring of a mobile phone interrupted her .




– Did Imoto really commit suicide?

After Miyagawa left, Ishii continued to watch the scene at the apartment as he mulled over his thoughts .

If it bothered him so much, he should just snap at Honda like Miyagawa did and suggest they continue the investigation . However, Ishii couldn’t do that .

It wasn’t just this time either . He was always like this . Running away was his habit .

'Ishii-san . ’

Just as Ishii had put his head in his hands, somebody called out to him .

When he lifted his head, he saw Hijikata Makoto walking towards him .

He had met Makoto because of a certain case . Ever since then, it had felt like something had kept bringing them together .


Makoto was a newspaper reporter . She had probably come to gather information .

Her father had been the chief of the police . The reason he had been forced to quit was his daughter’s article .

There must have been a lot of conflict, but Makoto never mentioned it .

– I envy her .

Ishii looked up to Makoto’s straightforwardness .

'It’s been a while . ’

Makoto stopped in front of Ishii with a smile on her face . Her long and glossy black hair fluttered .

Ishii had been afraid of Makoto before . The circumstances they had met under had been bad .

When he first met Makoto, she had been possessed by a ghost . Because of that, Ishii had suffered a fair amount .

As a result, his heart would start thumping every time he saw her .

However, he felt like the nature of his heart’s palpitations had changed lately .

'Are you here to gather information?’

'Yes . Ishii-san, you were the one who found him, correct?

'Yes, well… how should I put it…’ replied Ishii, flustered .

Though they had been the one to find him, the path there had been complicated .

'Actually, there was something I heard…’

Makoto brought her face close to Ishii’s .

'W-what is it?’

'I heard that a young man who could see ghosts was involved in the case . Could it be Yakumo-kun?’

So a rumour’s already spreading throughout the reporters – Ishii was a bit surprised at the speed of information .

'No, Yakumo-shi isn’t related to this case . ’

'Then it was nonsense?’

'No, that’s…’

Though Yakumo wasn’t related, it was true that a young man who said he could see ghosts was involved .

Makoto pressed forward, not letting Ishii’s moment of hesitation escape her .

'What do you mean?’

Surprised by how close Makoto’s face was to his, Ishii leant back without thinking .

'No… How should I say it…’

Makoto, as a reporter, did have quite some force behind her . Even though Ishii was hesitant, in the end, he explained everything that had happened, as Makoto asked .

After Ishii finished, Makoto nodded a number of times in understanding .

'So what are you going to do, Ishii-san?’


'About the case . ’

'I… I’ve been left out of the case, so…’ Ishii replied weakly .

'But you want to know the truth, right?’


Of course he wanted to know the truth . He wouldn’t be able to sleep like this .

If he could, he wanted to see the case until the end . But –

'Then let’s investigate together,’ Makoto said indifferently .

'No… I…’

'Shut up . We’re going . ’

Makoto’s sudden harsh words made Ishii’s eyes widen in shock .

When Makoto saw that, she started laughing, her shoulders shaking as she did so . Ishii didn’t understand what was happening .

'Er… Makoto-san?’

'Did it sound like him?’

'Like who?’

'I was mimicking Gotou-san . ’

'Oh . ’

After hearing that, Ishii ended up laughing too .

Gotou would have said that . It didn’t matter who said what . He went forward on his own path .

'So Ishii-san, you can just investigate it if it bothers you . ’

'That’s right,’ agreed Ishii without another thought .

He felt silly for being hesitant . There was no point floundering because he’d decided on his own that he couldn’t do it .

'Chief Honda’s instructions don’t matter . I’ll follow this case until the end . ’

Ishii thrust a fist up into the air .

'That’s the spirit . ’

'Thank you very much . I feel like I’ve woken up now that you’ve given me a push, Makoto-san . ’

'If you’re all right with me, I’ll give you a push any time . ’

With a wide smile, Makoto pushed Ishii’s back forward .

Because of how sudden it was, Ishii lost his balance and almost fell, but luckily, he managed to regain his footing .

Makoto laughed aloud happily .

As Ishii looked at the bright smile, for some reason, his heart beat loudly –




– Things are serious .

Because of all that had happened, Eishin couldn’t speak at first .

After Gotou answered Rina’s mobile, he had suddenly collapsed, like he had been stricken by lightning .

Even Eishin had panicked . He’d tried to shake Gotou and hit him, but he still wouldn’t open his eyes .

Since Gotou was breathing and his heart was beating, he wasn’t dead, but he wasn’t in a good state .

'H-he’s been possessed by a ghost!’ shrieked Rina .

Rina was curled up in a corner of the room in her fear . Perhaps it was just as she said .

– Gotou’s been possessed by a ghost .

In a situation like this, there was nothing Eishin could do any more .

– Seems like I’ll need Yakumo to come .

Eishin pulled his mobile phone from his robe’s sleeve and called Yakumo’s number, which he had stored in his contacts .

After a number of rings, Yakumo answered .

<What do you need?>

He was cold, as always .

Since Eishin had been calling persistently to tell Yakumo to take over the temple recently, Yakumo probably held a grudge about that .

'Actually, there’s been a spot of trouble . ’

<There’s trouble here too . Please call me later . >

Yakumo was going to hang up the phone .

Eishin didn’t know what had happened, but it looked like Yakumo had some difficulties on his end too . Eishin would be in a tight spot if he let Yakumo hang up here though .

'Gotou’s been possessed by a ghost,’ Eishin said quickly .

Even Yakumo seemed surprised . For a while, there was silence .

<What do you mean?>

It seemed like Yakumo finally felt like listening .


Eishin explained in detail from Rina’s request to Gotou’s collapse . When Eishin finished, Yakumo sighed .

<And then he was possessed by a ghost…>

'Looks like it . ’

<I’ve always thought Gotou-san was an idiot, but there’s really no helping him . >

'Now, don’t say that . He’s still Nao’s father . You can do something, right?’ Eishin said admonishingly .

However, there was no response .

Eishin knew though . Yakumo wasn’t the type who could leave this situation alone . He was like Isshin in that sense .

<Anyway, nothing will start if I don’t take a look . Could you bring Gotou-san?>

'Understood . I’ll do that . ’

After saying that, Eishin hung up .

– Now, the problem is how to carry this big man to the car .

Eishin crossed his arms as he thought, but as if to interrupt that, he heard a scream .

He turned to Rina and saw that her eyes were wide and her body was shaking . Gotou, who had been collapsed on the floor, was slowly getting up .

'You awake?’

Eishin tried to approach Gotou, but he stopped immediately .

There was clearly something strange . Gotou’s eyes were bloodshot . He ground his teeth together as he growled .

It looked like he really had been possessed .

'You… did… ’

As Gotou’s huge body shook, he approached Eishin like a zombie .

'Stop that . Can’t you tell it’s me?’ Eishin said, raising his voice . However, Gotou still kept walking towards him .

He had completely lost it .

Gotou’s hands reached for Eishin’s neck .

– No helping it .

With determination, Eishin struck Gotou’s head with all his might .

It had an impact . Gotou’s large body slowly fell forward .

'Don’t blame me,’ Eishin said to Gotou on the floor .

'W-w-what’s happening…’

Fumiko ran into the room, perhaps because she heard the commotion .

'Ah, sorry, but do you have some rope?’ asked Eishin .

Even though Fumiko’s eyes were darting about in confusion, she left the room .

'Honestly… What a pain,’ muttered Eishin .




Haruka waited for Yakumo’s call to end .

Though she couldn’t hear the call, she could tell from Yakumo’s expression that it was an urgent situation .

Her heart beat loudly .

'What happened?’ she asked Yakumo, who had ended the call with a sigh .

Yakumo frowned .

'It’s bad…’

'Are you talking about Hideaki-san?’

'No . ’

Yakumo shook his head in irritation .


'I’m concerned about his situation, but there’s another problem . ’

– This isn’t a light matter .

'What happened…’

Haruka’s voice started shaking .

'I got a call from Eishin-san just now . ’

'By Eishin-san, do you mean the monk?’

Haruka had met Eishin before .

He was a monk who had taught Isshin . They had met after Isshin’s death . He had a round face and seemed gentle at first glance, but he was rather self-assertive .

'Yeah . You know that Gotou-san’s doing detective work with him, right?’

'Yup . ’

After leaving the police, Gotou had started work as a spiritual detective .

Haruka had heard from Yakumo that Eishin brought requests to Gotou .

'It seems like Gotou was investigating a spiritual phenomenon when he was possessed by a ghost . ’

– Possessed by a ghost?

Haruka was becoming more confused .

Even though Haruka already couldn’t understand why Hideaki had been suddenly taken away by the police, a new problem had arisen .

And for Gotou to be possessed by a ghost – to be honest, Haruka couldn’t believe it .

She couldn’t see Gotou as the type of person who would be possessed .

'What do you mean?’

Her tone grew restless from her irritation .

'I don’t know the details, but it sounds like the ghost came out of the phone . ’

Yakumo ran a hand through his hair .

– The ghost came out of the phone?

'Is it possible to be possessed through a phone?’

'It’s the first time I’ve heard of it, but I can’t deny the possibility . ’'Eh?’

'The spirits of the dead have no physical influence . However, it is possible for them to interfere with electromagnetic waves . ’


Haruka felt like she had fallen off a cliff .

Her head felt dizzy . She felt like she might have to sit down at any moment .

'Anyway, I need to confirm Gotou-san’s condition first,’ said Yakumo quickly .

It was just as Yakumo said . Though Haruka was concerned about Hideaki, saving Gotou was the priority .

'That’s right,’ replied Haruka .

She and Yakumo started walking .

The wind felt terribly cold .

It made Haruka afraid, like it was hinting at the location they were going . Haruka suddenly looked towards Yakumo .

His left eye seemed to let out a hard glint, lit up by the setting sun .




'I can see ghosts . ’

Hideaki kept repeating the same words .

They would never believe him, but he was used to that reaction .

When he was in high school, Hideaki had declared that he could see ghosts . His friends had either accepted it as a joke or made fun of him for being strange .

Hideaki didn’t take it seriously and object either . It wasn’t like he wanted them to believe he could see ghosts . There was just a need for him to do what he did .

Hideaki smiled self-derisively .

The moment he did so, the male detective in front of him glared at him fiercely .

If Hideaki remembered correctly, his name was Nakamura .

'Stop fooling around,’ he threatened .

However, Hideaki didn’t think him frightening . No matter how he was cornered, Hideaki replied with the same thing .

'I’m not fooling around . I can really see them . ’

Perhaps Hideaki’s cool attitude bothered Nakamura, because he grabbed Hideaki by his collar .

'Stop that . ’

The female detective named Shimamura immediately stopped Nakamura from beside him .

'B-but… . ’

'This isn’t an interrogation . This is only a voluntary questioning . ’


'Stop whining and go outside for a bit . ’

Shimamura cut Nakamura down . Though Nakamura looked unsatisfied, he left the room dispiritedly .

After a moment, Shimamura said gently, 'Sorry about that . ’

It was such a sudden change that Hideaki was surprised .


'Let’s pretend everything up until now didn’t happen . Tell me about you . ’

'About me?’

'Why did you quit high school after your parents died?’

'Because I had to live…’

His parents had died suddenly . They had been returning home from shopping when they were in a hit-and-run incident .

When Hideaki was contacted about it, his head had gone blank .

However, when he saw Yuuka sobbing, he managed to regain his senses . He had to be reliable – that was what he thought .

'But there was life insurance – you must have had some money, right?’

'Yes, but there was my little sister…’

Though there was life insurance, when Hideaki thought about reserving money for the future and about his sister, he decided to quit school and start working .

He wanted to at least let his sister Yuuka do what she wanted to do with her life, even if he couldn’t do it himself .

Naturally, Yuuka had objected . She had insisted that she would work too, but Hideaki hadn’t allowed it .

For a while, they had been on parallel lines of thought . In the end, Hideaki quit school on his own and started working at the company of one of his father’s friends .

By acting, he had forced Yuuka to accept it .

'But she isn’t your real sister, right?’

Shimamura probably meant no harm by those words, but that was a matter Hideaki didn’t want to touch .

'Is there a problem with that?’

He ended up speaking more roughly without thinking .

'There isn’t, but…’

'Even if we’re not related by blood, we’re siblings . ’

Hideaki’s mother had run away from home, leaving her child behind . Hideaki had been raised without knowing a mother’s love .

He had always lived together with his father .

Hideaki’s life had changed in middle school, when he was introduced to Kaori, his father’s new wife, and her daughter, Yuuka .

Of course he had objected at first, but now that he thought about it, it might have been fear from his inexperience with love .

Kaori had been a kind woman . She had treated Hideaki like her own child .

She had scolded him at times, but that had made him happy . It had felt like she was really looking at him . For the first time in Hideaki’s life, he had experienced a mother’s love .

It had felt like their dark and lonely home had been lit up . It had been warm and pleasant – a place of his own . That was why –

'I see . I know a couple who’ve adopted a child . ’

'Is that so…’

'When I see that family, I think that blood isn’t the only thing that makes a family . ’

Those were probably Shimamura’s true feelings . She had a very gentle expression on her face .

'I believe so . ’

'That was a bit off-topic . You can go home for today . ’

Shimamura stood up .

Hideaki felt troubled by how sudden it was .

'Is that OK?’

'Yes . I said this earlier too, but this is a voluntary questioning . ’

With a smile, Shimamura left the room .

Hideaki, left behind, leant back on his chair, exhausted .

If that accident hadn’t happened, his life would have been very different . When he thought about that, his feelings became complicated .

However, what he had lost wouldn’t come back, no matter how much regret he felt over it .




Before he’d noticed, Gotou had entered a dark forest –

Lush trees stood around him . At his feet, there were rocks covered in moss .

It was chilly . It felt like a creepy place .

– Where am I?

He felt like his body was floating .

While it felt like he was in a dream, for some reason, there was a sense of reality to it . It was a strange feeling .

– If I don’t get back soon, Atsuko and Nao will be waiting at home .

Gotou tried to walk forward, but no matter where he went, the same scenery continued . It was like a maze .

A tree branch rustled .

– What?

Gotou looked around to see a man slowly walking towards him .

He was a young man . He had something heavy on his back as he took one step at a time through the forest, which was hard to travel through .

'Oi! You!’

Gotou called out to him, but he didn’t even turn to look, like Gotou’s voice didn’t reach his ears .

He continued walking silently, with some sort of determination .

Finally, the man came right in front of Gotou .

'Oi . ’

Gotou tried to reach out to the man, but his hand went through him .

That wasn’t all . The man walked through Gotou’s body and went deeper into the forest .

– What? What’s happening?

Gotou turned around, confused .

'Oi! Wait!’

Gotou bellowed from the bottom of his lungs . The man stopped in front of a rock about as tall as he was .

Finally, Gotou’s voice had reached him . That was what Gotou thought, but it looked like he was wrong . The man crouched carefully, put down what he was carrying and put it on the rock .

Next, the man started to pour a liquid onto his belongings .

– What’s he doing?

Oblivious to Gotou’s confusion, the man lit a match and threw it at his belongings .

Then, flames rushed up .

Tears fell from the man’s eyes, lit up by the brilliant flames .

– What the hell’s happening?

Though Gotou was still confused, he took a step towards the man . However, the ground collapsed underneath him .


As Gotou screamed, his consciousness fell into a deep darkness .

– Sorry .

He felt like he heard somebody’s voice in his ear .



[1] Lake Kawaguchi is one of the Fuji Five Lakes . It is the most popular one among tourists . The MT FUJI SITE has some photos of the lake in all twelve months .

[2] Kuma (熊) is Japanese for bear . Kichi (吉) is a common suffix for male names .