Episode 3 Under the Cherry Blossom Tree…
The next day.
Kujou and Yui had been staring at the TV programs since early morning.
“We are connected to the scene and the relay broadcast right now. Mr. Kinashi?”
“Yes. This is Kinashi.”
The rookie reporter was a young man and he continued talking with a stressful expression.
“I am now in Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture. Here inside the foot of the Fuji Mountain, the second possible victim of the case regarding the corpse under the cherry blossom trees was dug up.”
“How was the corpse dug up?”
The woman news caster of a studio in Tokyo asked calmly.
“According to the police, a group of two males dug up a corpse that was completely skeletonized under a cherry blossom tree yesterday, at midnight. Regarding the question of ‘Even though there are many cherry blossom trees planted in Fuji, why did you choose to dig this one,” the discoverers responded that they wanted to confirm the Tweets on Twitter. This is all from the scene. I will report if there is new information..”
While the reporter saying this, the TV screen returned to the news studio.
“Kujou, this is…”
Yui turned her gaze to Kujou.
“Chichibu and Fuji. Although the corpses were found in two places that are far apart, I think the cases were done by the same person.”
After confirming that the news series had ended, Kujou turned off the TV. He placed his right hand on his chin and started to contemplate.
Looking at him, Yui reached both of her hands towards the hot milk and drank it.
In the dining room without the two’s voices, there was only silence
However, the silence which deepened their contemplation was broken with insolence in no time.
The distant entrance was opened with momentum and closed with an intense sound. The same abruptness approached the dining room with strong footsteps.
In the next moment, the door of the dining room was opened with momentum that it almost broke it.
“Kujou!! Have you seen the news…”
Kujou rapidly and accurately stabbed Akira, who had flown into the dining room, at Akira’s solar plexus with the remote control placed aside by him at once.
“Hum? Oh. It was you instead of a ruffian. I apologize. I am sorry for not hitting between your eyebrows. ”
“… You… You mistook me for what you should… apologize… about.”
Akira fell down onto his knees and leaked the floor1 impressively.
Akira blinked with a dazed look.
“Kujou and I were just watching that news here.”
“Then, what do you think? So do you think they were done by the same offender!?”
“Well, I cannot accurately say. I was saying they were probably done by the same offender.”
“I see, I see!! I agree with your opinion~”
Because his inference was correct, Akira put all the scones left over into his mouth joyfully.
“Miss Yui, I’m thinking of leaving this house for two to three days.”
“Are you going to the scene?”
“Yes. Not only because the information I can obtain from the news is limited, but because I also think there is information I can obtain only if I go to the scene, such as similarities between the two victims.”
“Ok. I got it. Be careful on your way.”
“Thank you very much.”
Having received permission from the owner, Kujou bowed.
“Yup! Don’t worry!! For I will protect both Yui and this house when you are not here!!”
Hearing that, Kujou let out a big sigh.
“Although this is completely against my will, I have no other choice. Akira, take care of Miss Yui.”
Ending his sentence, Kujou pulled a bundle of paper with a thickness of fifteen centimeters out of nowhere and placed it in front of Akira’s eyes with a “Don” sound.
Akira’s eyes widened.
“Wh, what is, this?”
“A butler manual.”
“Finish reading all of this within an hour. That way, even you can master the tasks of a butler perfectly.”
“Wait, it’s impossible to finish reading something this thick!!”
“Assuming something is impossible without actually doing it is the way of thinking of a loser. Plus…”
Kujou lowered his voice.
“Kid… You look like you forgot to give a gift to Miss Yui on White Day2 in return for the chocolate you received from her on Valentine’s Day.”
“Why!! How… did you… know that?”
Akira turned to Yui, who was sitting right beside him, nervously.
There, Yui was facing their back, laying on the table and shaking her legs.
She had a completely unhappy face.
“I know, kid. You are in the most urgent situation. Read this manual well and master the work of a butler. That way, Miss Yui might have a better mood. I am providing you with a chance to redeem yourself.”
Kujou showed a smug expression.
“… Okay… I know… I will try.”
Realizing that Yui’s heart was hurt by his blunder, Akira stated his will powerlessly with his forehead on the table.
Just after noon that day, Kujou got off at JR3 Mishima Station in Mishima, which was near Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Mishima is located east of Fuji. The distance between Mishima and Numazu, which is north of Suruga Bay and prosperous due to its seafood, is as close as the distance between the eyes and the tip of the nose.
It was also the first station of the train while the terminal station was at Shuzenji on the Izu Peninsula. The streets around the station were lively.
Then, why did Kujou got off at the Mishima Station instead of the one in Fuji?
That could be seen in retrospect after knowing what happened around two hours before the current time.
“Hello, this is Kujou.”
“Is that you, Kyuu4? Where are you now?”
A call from Genjirou had caused Kujou’s phone to vibrate.
“At Tokyo Station. I’m heading to the crime scene in Fuji.”
“Indeed, your actions are so fast. However, even if you go to the crime scene, you probably won’t obtain any information. The corpse has already skeletonized thoroughly. However, I have good news for you: he has been identified.”
“Even though he was completely skeletonized, his has already been identified?”
Surprised, Kujou knitted his brows.
“Oh. Similar to the case in Chichibu, his identification was buried with his body carefully.”
Speechless, Kujou pressed his right temple with his finger.
“The victim was Jedi Aoki, who lived in Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture. He was twenty years old. Male.”
“Eh? If his name was Jedi, does that mean a foreigner was involved in this crime?”
“No. His name was written as Kishi but read as Jedi!! Really, to an aged man, this is so difficult to read!!”
“… That name shows such good taste… ”
Genjirou and Kujou seemed to have a headache due to reasons completely unrelated to the case itself.
“What we have to do now is to ask the police office to confirm with the bereaved relatives. Well, it would be mean to go to the relatives directly. I think it’s better to go to Mishima and inquire around there. I will send a message to you for further information.”
“I see. That’s true. Thank you, Mr. Gen.”
Only people like Mr. Gen who were not restricted by the law could disclose this kind of information.
After having received Genjirou’s desire to solve this case, Kujou got onto Shinkansen6.
North exit of JR Mishima Station.
Under the endless, sunny sky, which gave people a great mood, the Fuji Mountain there was aloft with snow on the top.
The color and size of the Fuji Mountain looked different than looking at it from Tokyo.
Breathing in a large amount of cool air, Kujou checked the message from Genjirou on his phone.
“Mr. Aoki’s address… Oh, it’s on the north.”
Murmuring, Kujou called a taxi and headed to the victim’s home.
Moving to the north on the national highway of Japan.
Although some of the cherry blossom trees nearby were becoming hazakura5, they were closer to being fully bloomed.
“Corpses were buried under the cherry blossom trees… Were there?”
Murmuring to himself, Kujou looked at the cherry blossoms that were dropping from the tree.
The taxi stopped soon after that.
A residential area had been built there after cutting through the mountains.
After Kujou got off the taxi, he found Aoki’s house right away among the similar structured houses.
The police probably had already disclosed the information of the victim while Kujou was on the Shinkansen. Because of that, people from three different TV stations and several people who looked like journalist had scrambled to and gathered in front of the house.
“… This probably won’t work… ”
Breathing out in large breaths, Kujou turned back and headed to the local residents who were looking at the Aoki family at a distance.
“Um, excuse me. I am from a TV station. Is it possible to ask you some questions? Did you know Jedi Aoki well?”
Kujou used a nice and gentle voice to ask. A plumpish mid-aged woman who had a kappa hairstyle answered with an energetic voice so loud that it could even been considered noisy.
“Of course! He was such an intelligent child. He was famous around here!!”
“He helped his family so well that I really admire him!”
Swaying her disheveled, wild hairstyle, a tall woman who had a slim face responded and the two showed that they shared the same opinion.
“Was he the only child in the Aoki family?”
“Yeah, that’s why he always said ‘I will work hard so that my parents can live more comfortably~!!!’”
“I heard that he was also the president of the student council or something. Students younger than him all admired him.”
“I can’t believe a wonderful child like him was killed. I wish my stupid son could replace him.”
“Hey, what are you talking about? Death ends everything. It’s more important to be alive.”
“Yeah, you’re right!!”
Saying that, the two housewives laughed out loud.
“… After all, they feel like this case doesn’t affect them at all…”
Kujou murmured with a voice which was too low to be heard by them. After thanking them, he left.
It was after Kujou finished asking several groups of residents, went downhill, and returned to the place near the entrance.
Three girls who looked like high schoolers were in their uniforms and walking towards Kujou.
“Excuse me. Can I borrow few minutes of your time to ask some questions? I think you have already heard about this on the news. It’s about Jedi Aoki.”
Although the three people were stopped so suddenly, they answered kindly.
“That person seems to have been our senpai from our school. I don’t remember exactly when, but he had suddenly disappeared. ”
Kujou asked back to the girl with a brown semi-long hairstyle.
“When did that happen?”
“Umm, I remember… It happened when were were freshmen, so it was around two years ago?”
A girl with a tan skin color next to her answered and then drank her sports drink.
Kujou knitted his eyebrows slightly.
“I am surprised. How did you know that?”
The girl at the end with short black hair asked a question that Kujou wanted to ask.
“Well, of course. He was a senpai in our club.”
The girl with black hair looked like she had not heard that before. She was very surprised.
According to their conversation, the three were the kouhai of the club that Jedi Aoki was part of.
“Speaking of two years ago, wasn’t that when you two were freshmen? Do you remember the feeling that Jedi gave off? ”
“He was a nice and helpful senpai. He worked hard in the club and also taught us schoolwork when we were confused.”
“He taught me as well. He was easy-going and was famous among both senpai and kouhai.”
“Then why did he disappear?”
The freshman girl with black hair asked.
“Well? The counselor said that he disappeared without telling anyone.”
It seemed like the black haired kouhai had lost her interest. She answered casually and started playing on her phone.
“Last question. Where is your school?”
“The high school right to the north of Mishima Station.”
“I see. Thank you”
After receiving the new information that Jedi disappeared two years ago, Kujou started to walk back along the road he had come from via taxi.
The longer evening, which announced that spring was here, cast Kujou’s shadow onto the national highway.
After Arieru Shimizu, Kujou’s heart was hurt by the fact that another innocent child became a victim. His footsteps were heavier than usual.
1. Leaked the floor – 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.↩
2. White Day – a day that is marked in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China on March 14, one month after Valentine’s Day.↩
3. JR – Japan Railways.↩
4. Kyuu – Kujou’s nickname. In Japanese, the Kanji of ku also has the pronunciation of kyuu.↩
5. Hazakura – a stage of a cherry blossom tree when its leaves start to appear. “Ha” means “leaf” or “leaves” and “zakura,” or “sakura,” means cherry blossom trees. The leaves of cherry blossom trees grow out after the petals fall off.↩
6. Shinkansen – a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by five Japan Railways Group companies.↩