Episode 2 Purification during Teatime
She wore a gray sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a down coat, something that wouldn’t be considered warm by anyone. Her hair, that wasn’t tousled, was tied with a scrunchie.
The woman carried a rucksack and a small carrier bag.
Although the three were bewildered at the sudden visitor, as long as she knew this was a detective agency and came, she should be a client.
Yui, Akira, Kujou, and the visitor.
Nobody knew what to do.
Only silence continued…
Someone broke the awkward atmosphere. It was Yui. She observed the visitor from head to toe carefully.
… And then…
“Alright, no problem. Akira, let’s go!!”
Yui told them with energy and then dashed by the client and went out the entrance.
Yelling hysterically, Akira followed Yui, who had left without him.
“Wait, Miss Yui!!”
Kujou yelled loudly at Yui, who had dashed out the door and ignored the client.
“That’s not my duty, this task is handed over to you!!”
While saying so, Yui waved her hands at Kujou vigorously near the front door. Then the two disappeared into the streets before the butler could reply.
“Oh well,” Kujou released a breath.
As for the visitor, she didn’t understand what was going on with the three and just stood by the side of the entrance.
Cold winter wind blew into the entrance hall from the widely opened door.
Wishing to hide that scene, Kujou closed the door carefully and greeted the woman, who was standing in shock from the very beginning.
“I apologize for the unsightly situation that happened. You are a client, right? Welcome to Hakoniwa Detective Agency.”
Although the owner said “No problem,” a client who came to a detective agency must have some sort of problem.
Thinking of that, Kujou smiled gently and greeted the visitor.
The organized, antique furniture and the bookshelf that covered a whole wall with books to the ceiling made the reception office very impressive.
The sunshine that came from the windows brought gentleness to the quiet room.
Kujou poured Earl Grey black tea into a tea cup that had brilliant blue and golden lines and placed it in front of the client.
“By the way, I haven‘t asked your name.”
While speaking, he sat down onto a single seater sofa.
“My name is Yumiko Kinoshita.”
Nervousness could be found within her subtle voice.
“I ought to have introduced myself first. My name is Koushirou Kujou, the butler and detective of Hakoniwa Detective Agency.”
“You are a butler?”
“Right. Miss Yui is the master of the house and agency. She was the girl who dashed by your side.”
“That adorable girl is the owner!? Oh? Then what about the other guy?”
“Oh. He’s just the person who does the odd jobs.”
While smiling gently, Kujou continued the conversation.
“So why did you come to our agency? I am also a detective, you can tell me the case.”
Yumiko’s expression stiffened at this statement.
Then she squeezed her voice out slowly.
“In fact… My mom… Experienced kamikakushi1.”
They were able to slightly hear the sound of the crackle of the silently burning firewood from the fireplace.
Kujou fixed his position from sitting down on the sofa to putting his hand by his mouth and bending his upper body forward.
“So… She… Disappeared?”
Yumiko nodded, “Yes.”
“Since a week ago, I think.”
“Have you contacted the police?”
“No, I haven’t. She’s a little prone to being vagabond, so I think maybe she’ll just come back after some time.”
“Instead of posting a notice for a disappearing person… You came to a detective agency?”
“Ah… Umm.. If I ask the police to post a notice, it’ll become serious. I’ll feel sorry for the police if she comes back right after they post it out… P, plus, the police won’t believe in kamikakushi… When I searched if there would be a good solution on the Internet, I found Hakoniwa Detective Agency, which could solve even occult cases.”
“I see. I understand. Then I have another question. Does your father understand that you did not post the notice of a disappearing person?”
“My father… Passed away when I was young. My mom raised me up by herself.”
Although Kujou felt a moment of darkness in Yumiko’s language, he continued the conversation.
“I see… I apologize. Sorry for making you recall painful memories.”
While saying “It’s fine,” she drank the the warm black tea.
“So your request is to find your mother?”
Kujou confirmed her request plainly, and Yumiko nodded.
“I understand. So firstly, can I ask something about you and your mother? ”
“Something? About me?”
Her expression stiffened suddenly.
Although Kujou did not overlook her action, he continued asking with a smile.
“Of course. If you don’t want to say, it is okay. Let’s see, then can I ask about your age and career?”
Even though Kujou could tell most of the answers to the questions by looking her clothing and belongings, he started asking about his client.
“I’m a college student and I’m twenty-one.”
Talking about herself was probably uncomfortable to Yumiko, since she answered bluntly.
“I see. It’s the most enjoyable period of time.”
In order to dissolve her wariness, he smiled softly.
Contrary to Kujou’s expression, her tone was cold.
“It’s not enjoyable at all… At that kind of place.”
“Oh,” while speaking, he narrowed his eyes.
“You can enjoy clubs while being boisterous with your friends, you can grumble about the professors you hate to them in a cafe, and you can have drinking parties with them. Isn’t it enjoyable? Being a college student.”
“College is not a place for fun!!”
She was suddenly incensed.
It was a sudden change from her introvert expression. Her eyes were bloodshot and she breathed roughly through her widely opened mouth repeatedly.
Although Kujou only mentioned school life that everyone would consider as enjoyable, she became extremely unpleasant.
However, this sudden change excited Kujou’s curiosity.
“I see. You are such a diligent person. Then you must have already received enough credits for graduation. Good for you.”
His words rubbed Yumiko the wrong way even more.
“I don’t care about graduation!”
“Oh? Are the lectures difficult?”
“That’s because the professors explain so poorly that I can’t even understand!!”
“Then tests are strenuous for you as well, right?”
“If I don’t go to school, I don’t have to take them!!”
“Then you’ll have to stay in the same grade.”
“Shut up!! Why are you saying the same thing as her!! I am a NEET2, so college is nothing to me!!”
Yumiko slapped on the table in front of her intensely, and all the anger and depression that was stored was expressed at Kujou’s question.
Her relationship with friends. Academics. Relationship with family. And her current status. Kujou was satisfied for being able to glimpse at those from their conversation. In order to calm Yumiko down from rapidly breathing, Kujou recommended her to have some warm Earl Grey tea and strawberry shortcake.
“Exactly as what you said, college is not a place people should be forced to go. I understand your pain.”
She calmed down probably because she was pacified. Yumiko sipped the black tea that Kujou recommended.
“By the way, we’re in the middle of questions. Please let me continue. Let me ask about your mother. Please tell me her name and age.”
“Her name is Harue Kinoshita. Her age is forty-seven.”
“And what is her career?”
“She is in charge of the projects in an IT company. ”
“That’s cool. She’s a career woman. Then she can raise you all by herself.”
“It’s not inconvenient in my daily life, but she looks like she’s very busy and she’s rarely at home. ”
Kujou put his hand on his chin and narrowed his eyes, then he smiled and quickly started to talk.
“Then, was there anything unusual about her right before her disappearance?”
The conversation stopped right here.
Yumiko turned her face down, looked like she was thinking.
Kujou was looking at her struggling, and waited.
“… Will you laugh at me?”
Yumiko looked up at Kujou and said.
“No, I won’t. Detectives always face any cases seriously.”
Encouraged by Kujou’s gentle smile, she opened her mouth.
“My mom… She said there is a zashikiwarashi3 in our home.”
“Oh. A zashikiwarashi.”
After kamikakushi, a zashikiwarashi appeared.
Kujou’s curiosity was excited.
“Right. When I heard that, I thought it was a good thing, but my mom was unusually scared, so I asked her for the reason. And then my mom said that if a zashikiwarashi appears, then the home will be ruined.”
“Your mother really knows a lot.”
“Eh?! So that is true!?”
Kujou breathed in softly, and slowly began to say.
“Zashikiwarashi the youkai4. It’s often said that the home with zashikiwarashi will be prosperous; the home with a leaving one will decline. It appears like a child, and is an adorable youkai which only plays tricks on family members. This is probably what normal people in the world know about it. However, the folklore of zashikiwarashi includes something that people do not talk about nowadays… The event that serves at the origin of the folklore… It is said that zashikiwarashi is a child who was buried in the soil far away from home. ”
“A child… Who was killed by his parents?”
“Yes, that’s true. The folklore of zashikiwarashi is mainly told in the north-eastern area. Once upon a time, during the winter of a snow region, there was a famine. The infants who were treated as more mouths for their parents to feed were killed by the pressure of millstones. There seemed to be a secret custom of burying corpses within the house. Over time, that custom was intertwined with other stories, and it was said that zashikiwarashi was a youkai which can bring happiness. And that is what zashikiwarashi is nowadays.”
“Such a horrible custom… ”
Yumiko was shocked by the cruel folklore. She put her hand by her mouth and her body stiffened.
“It is a pretty old story as an origin. There’s nothing we can help with the secularity.”
Kujou breathed out softly.
“By the way, is Mrs. Harue familiar with youkai from long ago?”
Hearing what Kujou has just said, Yumiko tried to form her language.
“What happened? Did you recall anything, even a part of your memories?”
“Yes. Anything will be fine. Please tell me.”
Encouraged by Kujou’s smile, Yumiko opened her mouth with fear.
“Umm… In fact… Not only my mom… I can also perceive youkai. Not only can I perceive them, but I’m also possessed by them all the time; thus, I’m… Unfortunate.”
With his smiling eyes slightly open, Kujou said an “Oh” again today.
1. Kamikakushi – the phenomenon of a sudden disappearance of a person. It was believed to be done by a god in the past.↩
2. NEET – the acronym for a young person who is “Not in Education, Employment, or Training.”↩
3. Zashikiwarashi – a child-like youkai from a Japanese folklore.↩
4. Youkai – a class of supernatural monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore.↩