Episode 1 Murder at Jouji Girls’ School
He was really tall, with moderately tousled hair and a slender facial feature. The indistinct dark circles beneath his eyes probably due to anxiety.
His age was around 40. This attractive middle-aged man who naturally wore a navy blue suit without a single crease introduced himself as Kentarou Nishino.
The clock within the reception office pointed to fifteen o’clock. Kujou sat onto the sofa and immediately went straight into the topic.
“As you have said over the phone, you want us to find out the offender who murdered your daughter, Azusa Nishino, this time, correct? ”
The word “murder” took Akira’s breath away.
“… Yes… ”
“Then please tell me what you know about the case.”
Nishino opened his mouth with his face slightly facing down ponderously.
“I work as the principal of Private Jouji Girl’s High School. Azusa was a student from there.”
“My daughter was a member of the Track Club, and she jogged around the neighborhood for about an hour every night. … However, that night, Azusa did not come back even after two hours… I was worried, so I walked around to find her. I went from major roads to minor streets. Although there weren’t many people, I asked them if they have seen a girl looked like a high school student. … But my daughter wasn’t anywhere…. ”
At that moment, words such as kidnapping and abduction came to Nishino’s mind.
“And then my wife called me. I thought my daughter was home, so my heart relieved.”
The sorrow on Nishino’s face deepened when he stopped for one breath.
“… But when I answered the phone…The reality was a completely different story… ‘She was stabbed and now she’s in the hospital! We have to go there now!!’ I can never forget my wife’s sorrowful voice even now.”
Nishino pressed onto his lacrimal caruncles1 and sniffled.
“When I rushed into the hospital, the doctors and policies were waiting for us… And… Azusa’s face was covered by a white cloth. I shook her and yelled ‘Azusa! Azusa!’ many and many times. When I touched her glamorous face, it was still warm — I could feel her warmth… But the doctor… He said… ‘I am sorry for your daughter…’”
The feeling of a father whose daughter was plundered from him was so sorrowful that it affected the atmosphere even as he attempted to restrain it.
“I heard from the police that a pedestrian saw Azusa when Azusa was about to fall down in a park within the neighborhood in Numabukuro2. It is said that the place around was a sea of blood that time. The cause of death was the hemorrhagic shock due to cutleries. The wound probably extended through the left side of her waist to her heart. Plus, the police said the ferociousness of the offender could be seen because the wound was sideways.”
Nishino used his handkerchief to wipe his endless tears when he talked about it.
“Do you have any threads or clues regarding the offender?”
“The police said they couldn’t find a single weapon, and my daughter was killed around twenty-two and twenty-three o’clock when there weren’t many pedestrians or witnesses. And both my wife and I think Azusa was modest, so we don’t think she could possibly incur the wrath of anyone… However… One time… Azusa said she was possibly tailed after by a strange man. I don’t know if that might be the reason…”
Kujou narrowed his eyes for a moment.
“Thank you very much. I understand the situation. Since it has been two weeks the case happened, is there any progress on the searching?”
“… No… I haven’t heard anything from the police after that.”
Nishino lifted up his downcast face.
“Please… I can not let her go like this. Please accept my request…”
Nishino’s eyes staring at Yui and Kujou pleadingly, scarlet and wet.
“Miss Yui, what do you think about it?”
Yui had not spoken anything but only listened to them until now. She slowly opened her mouth.
“… From earlier, I… can see a girl with black hair in a short bob hairstyle. Her height is petite. The mole near the left side of her mouth is impressive.”
Nishino was so surprised that his eyes popped out.
“That wasn’t a rumor… You can… really….”
“Of course. So, is this girl Azusa? She is standing behind you. Standing, but… ”
“What happened, Miss Yui?”
“She frequently murmures ‘… Why… Why… I don’t understand… Who…’ This represents… probably Azusa herself doesn’t know the reasons of suddenly being attacked. Even she becomes a phantom now, she is still pretty confused. I thought we could obtain useful information regarding the offender from Azusa… Then… Plus… Perhaps, this case is not so simple.”
After perceiving the spirit, Yui’s facial expression was clouded. Nishino was in a choked voice. The atmosphere of that place became so heavy that no one moved his body.
“… However..No matter what happened, as long as now we know what our clients and spirits want, I have the duty to respond to it. ”
“Then, Miss Yui…”
Yui spoke with dignity.
“This case, Hakoniwa Detective Agency will receive. ”
“Yes, my lady.”
Kujou hung his head, and relieved Nishino held Yui’s hands. At this point, the atmosphere in the reception room became more relaxed.
“Yui, Kujou, both of you are so awesome! You are just like real detectives!!”
After finished talking about the investigation plan from now on, Akira turned his eyes filled with curiosity toKujou after Kujou saw Nishino off at the entrance and came back.
“We are real detectives. You fool.”
“Kujou was so calm and asked about the situation, and Yui was perceiving spirits and found Azusa. You were very cool! And when Mr. Nishino vented his grievances with tears, I was also kind of feeling to cry. Like, I want to help too! I was thinking about this.”
“This is not a game for a kid. Go back home, idiot.”
“I will definitely be helpful in some ways!”
“Didn’t you hear me? You’re helpless!”
“Eh, no… But…”
“Get crushed quickly!”
“E, even though, you don’t have to…”
“You are annoying, be bald!”
“Wait you! There’s nothing to do with being bald!! ”
“Kujou, don’t say that. Aren’t we going to investigate a high school? I’m sure that Akira will be helpful. ”
Yui spoke on Akira’s behalf softly.
“But, Miss Yui…”
Yui kept speaking as she didn’t hear Kujou’s advice.
“Azusa was a student from Jouji High School, so I think we can start investigating the school first. Aren’t you a high school student? As a student, you have the possibility to find out the detailed information from other students. Let’s start searching about Azusa mainly focus on students.”
“OK! I got it!!”
With the momentum that his aspiration is accepted, Akira showed a thumb-up.
Although Kujou sighed and overlooked them, he reluctantly started explaining the investigation plan from now on because this was his master’s decision.
“Mr. Nishino is the principal of Jouji High School. There won’t be any problems with sneaking into the school. I will sneak in as a substitute, you will be a student teacher, and Miss Yui will be a transfer student to investigate inside the school.”
“Yes! I got it !”
“Speaking of this, Akira, is your school okay with this?”
Yui asked an obvious question.
“Yes, that’s fine. There will be a test tomorrow, so I will be dismissed before noon. I can meet you as soon as noon.”
“Is that okay? That doesn’t affect studying for your test?”
“I am totally comfortable♪ To me, that test will be super easy!!”
Immediately, their voices overlapped.
“What, so basically, you want to leave me behind?”
And then, obviously, Akira had the second time of floor leaking3 today.
1. [ Press onto one’s lacrimal caruncles – a Japanese phrase meaning trying to restrain the tears from coming out of the lacrimal caruncles.]↩
2. [Numabukuro – a town in Nakano District, Tokyo.]↩
3. [Second time of floor leaking – the first time Akira leaks the floor happens at the end of Episode 1 Part 1 when he falls. Leaking the floor is a Japanese phrase used in MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) to describe the situation that a character of a player cannot fight anymore. When the character faces down, he looks like he is leaking he floor.]↩