• Kiku sat in a small house with the shogi door wide open letting in a breeze. The old woman who lived here was more than happy to lend her the room. Kiku wore a black baggy shirt and brown baggy pants. She had her hiking boots lined up by the porch and a wheat stalk was sticking out of her mouth.
    She grinned up at the sky as the old woman came through the door. “Excuse me miss but there’s a young girl who would like to see you”
    Kiku looked at the old woman with a questionable look and pushed up her glasses. She then shrugged a bit and turned her head around.
    “Sorry but I don’t buy stuff unless if I really need it” Kiku said then the shogi door was slammed wide open.
    “I expected that kind of behavior from Miss Kiku” said a young woman’s voice. Kiku turned her head around and saw a girl in a black yukata with orchid prints on it. The girl had her long black hair tied up to the back of her head and deep violet eyes glared at the young Yokai Detective.
    Kiku blinked a bit surprised from the visit. “Ah, Hanna what are you doing here?”
    Hanna walked over to her friend and pulled her up by the arm.
    “We’re leaving now!” she said in a serious tone.
    “Oui let go!” Kiku said releasing herself from Hanna’s grip. “What’s the rush?”
    Hanna walked over and began to pack Kiku’s bag for her. “We have an urgent case that needs your assistant along with me. No at least five of us plus you and me. The bureau sent in the Akaburakosagi detectives from Shikoku; our squad!”
    Kiku’s mouth dropped and the wheat stalk landed silently on the floor. The Yokai detectives from Shikoku were detectives trained in the ritual of disciplinary demons one of the top detectives near Kiku’s rank.
    “Now why would the bureau send the detectives of Shikoku?” Kiku asked pushing up her glasses. “I mean what kind of case would they be called to?”
    Hanna handed Kiku her leather pouch and opened the shogi door leading to outside. “It’s a village not far from here. You’ll have to see for yourself”
    Kiku still did not understand but as her duty as a Yokai detective she had to go. Kiku placed on her brown mail hat and brown poncho then stuffed her hands into her pocket and followed her friend with a toothpick handing out of her mouth. They were silent for a very long time until Kiku manage to open her mouth again.
    “So what are we dealing with? Bake-Kujira? Gashadokuro? Hiderigami? Amazake-babaa?” Kiku guessed.
    Hanna leered back at her. “Non. it’s none of the above Kiku but you do deserve a right to know. To be quiet frank we don’t know what it is or what caused it”
    “What are you saying Hanna?”
    “I’m saying this isn’t like anything we ever encountered before” Hanna said. “Come I’ll show you, the village is just up that hill”
    Kiku followed her friend in silence up the hill until they reached the top. From there the village stretched so far it was almost more like a town than a village but with no daimyo to keep track of this great land.
    Hanna pointed to the village. “See how big it is?”
    “Yes its mighty impressive” Kiku said. “Bound to be a lot of people”
    “There should” Hanna said. Kiku looked to the side wandering what she meant then followed her to the village.
    “I still don’t see why I’m here” Kiku said as they enter the village.
    “See for yourself” Hanna said. “Look around what do you see?”
    Kiku looked left to right spotting people peering out of their doors and windows then jump right back into hiding after her gaze landed on them. It was very quiet; the only thing that could be heard is an endless amount of whispers among the small groups of people. Most of the houses were empty and filled with holes and had a tattered roof like if no one was taking care of it. Ox carts were left abandoned some even broken and fragments of pottery were scattered everywhere. Ahead there was a large pile concealed by a large piece of cloth.
    “That’s strange” Kiku said glancing over the landscape again. “This place should be busy and crowded. Where are all the people?”
    Hanna walked over to the large pile then grabbed onto the cloth. She then yanked it off and threw it into the air. Kiku could only stand in shock seeing a pile of bloodied corpses of men, women, and children alike. Some of the people had large cuts on their bodies, some with ropes around their necks, and some which looked like if every bone in their body was broken. Kiku’s whole entire body began to shake uncontrollably. Hanna lowered her gaze unable to stand the sight of the bodies of dead children and dropped the cloth and looked at her friend.
    “The bodies on top were recovered after ten people jumped off a cliff” Hanna explained. “Little over three weeks ago, a fourth of the village’s population commited suicide. Kensei and Kikyo were the first on the scene then Ren came and contacted me to bring you along. Kikyo examined the bodies and they had one thing in common”
    Hanna reached into her breast pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Kiku. Kiku unfolded it then her expression dropped a bit. On the piece of paper was a sketch of a two dimensional butterfly drawn with black ink. On the tip of its wings were long thorns that stretched out.
    “That mark was present on all the victims’ chests” Hanna said. “We have never faced anything like this before”
    Kiku looked up from the paper and stared at the corpses. “I have”
    Hanna stared at her friend in wander. Even though they were friends for three years she had never heard of Kiku talk about her past more or less about her old cases. To her Kiku is just one stranger to her with no history or proof of her existence.
    Kiku stepped forward to the pile of corpses. The smell of them rotting was clear and sickening. From behind people came out of their houses finally seeing Kiku was a Yokai detective. Kiku turned around with a serious expression on her face. “I accept this case then. From here on out I’ll take full responsibility”