In a blink of an eye, everything was swallowed by the darkness. Another blink and the place changed, along came confusion. She saw her reflection in the water as she looked down and find herself standing in the middle of a pitch black ocean.
A piercing rattle in her head. She felt the first trickle of fear. It was more like a dream. Felt so far away, out of reach yet catching up. Her heart seemed to slow until it almost stopped, and she felt like she'd swallowed a big lump of mochi.
Something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong.
Suddenly a strong force dragged her down the water. Although she tried so hard to struggle, the unknown force succeeded pulling her down. Bubbles and blue lights pass her face as she submerged deeper. It was cold and warm at the same time.
'What happened?' She asks herself. 'I thought I was having a conversation with Shibuya-san?'
Another swirl of current hugged her body along with so many different voices talking all at once, she couldn't understand a word.
'Mother!' A young boy's voice resonated in the whole place. It made the other voice sounded like a whisper. 'Mother!'
"Mother?" She tried to see the end of this deep waters but all she could view is the pitch darkness in front of her.
Something pulled her again, however this time the force is harsher than the other. A chilling sensation cupped her whole body and she couldn't help but be petrified. Nonetheless, she let the force drag her wherever it will go.
Another blink. She was now standing in front of a small temple. It was dark and quiet. Seems no one is around. The girl wheeled and found a large number of trees, a wood?
It was on a night when the moon was bright red. It was as though the red moon was shining down for those whose seeking the truth on the table. The rays of the red moon made the forest like bathing in blood and burning in crimson flames.
No sound. Yet anyone can feel the lingering sorrow and pain all over the place. It was strange because a temple should have a clean aura, yet she felt otherwise.
There was evil.
The girl heard faint voices inside the forest. They're uttering indecipherable words.
'What is it?' She asked. Although scared, she can't help but to get curious. Therefore, she decided to enter the woods. Carefully looking around, she found a dirt trail and travel down where it leads.
She shivers as the cold breeze touches her skin.
The girl ends up near a clearing. She automatically hides behind a large tree upon seeing four people standing in the middle of the clearing, surrounding a huge bonfire.
The wind blew once again and a foul rotting smell reached her nose. She nearly throws out, suddenly feeling sick.
"Om Shreem san vam bhan bhuteshwari mam vash kuru kiri swahaa bashiri..." Four male voice chanted in unison.
When the sickening feeling subsided, she peered once again.
There're four priests surrounding a bonfire, each of them holding a shakujo with six rings.
(AN: Shakujo-Sounding staff made of long tin metal stick used by priest or monks.)
Wearing black robes and a white habaki that covers their legs. Large woven rice straw hat made their face hidden and mysterious. The four people knocked their shakujo twice on the ground, followed by incantations.
"Ware-ware wa koko ni nanji o shoukan suru." They said simultaneously. "Ware-ware ga korusu, ware-ware ga kizuite, ware-ware ga iyasu. Waga te wo nogareru mono wa hitori mo inai."
(We call upon you here. We will kill. We will harm and heal. None will escape us.)
She noticed how the atmosphere darkened around the four priests. The gray smoke started to thicken surrounding them as though forming a barrier.
But the four of them didn't even falter and continued chanting like there's nothing unusual happening.
"Nanji wa ten ni soshite chi, yoru ni soshite hiru, yami ni soshite hikari, zen ni soshite aku, miru mono ni soshite miirareshi mono, sozou omotarasu mono ni soshite hakai yo omotarasu mono, hito ai soshite hito zou suru mono."
(You are the earth and the heavens! Day and night! Light and dark! Good and evil! He who watches and he who is watched! He who creates and destroys! He who loves and hate people!)
Another person came out of nowhere and pushed a young man in the middle of the four priests. They didn't care even if the boy almost hit the bonfire. They pinned him down as he screamed for help and struggled to be free.
She gasped, and felt how heavy her breathing was. She gulped at the scene as she already knew what's going to happen next. She tried to run but cannot move. She tried to shout however her voice betrayed her. It was terrifying! This is the first time she'll be seeing someone die in front of her.
She encountered different deaths many times before and she's the one feeling it. But now is different. It actually played in front of her and she knew she can't do anything.
The place was almost burning in the color of crimson flames coming from the bonfire, shadows being born from the crimson rays of the fire and reaching out to the light of the red moon.
"Yurushi ni wa houfuku wo, shinrai ni wa uragiri wo, kibou ni wa zetsubou wo, hikari ni arumono ni wa yami wo, sei aru mono ni wa kurai shi wo."
(Do not pretend. Retribution for forgiveness, betrayal for trust, despair for hope, darkness for light, dark death for the leaving.)
One of the priests took out a knife and prepare himself in stabbing the young man. The latter's eyes widen, he was terrified and started to struggle even harder to get free from their grip. He kicked and thrashed his legs out of desperation more than anything.
Yet he failed.
"Ware ware no yobikake ni, kotae ima. Zenryoku de norotte yaru! Ware-ware ga haruka naru chi yori shoukan suru!"
(Answer our prayer now! We will cast a curse with all our power! We summon thee from the distant earth.)
The daggers edge gleam before thrusting it to his heart, like a drop of poisonous blood to end his life.
Mai stepped back, suddenly feeling a pain in her chest. It was as if a dagger was driven into her heart and from there, slowly, a hard object was creeping into the deepest part of not only her body but also her soul. The feeling as if a metallic ant's nest were spreading.
"Waga no inori o kiku."
(Hear our prayers)
"Waga no inori o kiku."
(Hear our prayers)
"Waga no inori o kiku."
(Hear our prayers)
"Waga no inori o kiku."
(Hear our prayers)
The sound of the young man's scream filled the whole quiet place. Murder of crows flew away in the night sky. It's deafening and terrifying.
Then, all became quiet.
The four priest promptly vanished like an ash swept away by the tender wind, and then ... ... everything including trees got covered in blood and a boy wearing a black yukata appeared before her eyes.
The boy himself was covered in blood and reaching out to her...he was chanting-NO!-singing.
"Kagome, kagome ... " The child begun to walk toward her. "Kago no naka no tori wa ... itsu itsu deyaru? Yoake no ban ni ... ... tsuru to kame ga subetta ... ... . . ." He halt and then vanished, like how the priests suddenly disappear.
The girl felt something heavy on her back and before she was able to move, a creepy voice whispers in her left ear. "Ushiro no shoumen dare? (Who stands behind you now?)" The boy's fingers stretched and strangled her.
The girl clutched the boy's hand and tried to break his grasp. She felt as though her fingers was burying in his soft pale hands as she struggle to break it.
"Ano ne, neechan ... I'm living in world I hate." The boy said. "And all alone I dwell the sufferings."
She started coughing as she felt her lungs begun to lacked oxygen. If this goes on she'll die!
"Nee, neechan? Can you stay here with me?"
Mai cough and cough and cough and cough. Her visions blurry, her chest hurt, she felt scared, more than scared. Is she going to die again in this dream?
"Le...Let go!" She tried to say but her voice was inaudible. "L..L-Let me-me go please!"
"I just want to be with you. Do you also want to stay with me?" The boy kept on strangling her. "I have something to say, listen. Why can't everybody understand that ... ... . .. I just don't want to be alone."
Mai froze. A moment more, she gave up struggling and let him do what he wants with her. If she could ease this soul's pain even a little with her death, then she will give up struggling.
'I'm sorry ... I'm really sorry...' She said inside her mind. She cannot talk anymore. 'I don't know if I could ease your loneliness. I don't know if I can help you either but I hope ... you can feel ease even for a while.'
The boy's fingers loosen and to her surprise he hugged her from the back. "I'm sorry ... .. . .. I'm really really sorry .. .. . I'm selfish .. Ne, neechan can I ask you a favor?."
"The only way I can get out of here is just by being killed. Do you want to help me even if it means getting your hands dirty?" He chuckled. "I don't mind dying in your hands in the future. Please neechan ... ... please kill me to end up my misery."
When the boy let go, Mai found herself face-to-face with the younger version of Kurogane Kagiri.
"Mai!" A man's voice startled her pulling her out of that scary dream. "Are you still with me or are you sleeping with your eyes wide open?" He asked, somewhat annoyed.
Mai didn't respond, she just sat there motionless. The feeling of getting stabbed still lingers inside of her.
'...what...what did I...dream about just now?'
"You look pale." Naru stated. "I trust there's something wrong."
"N...No, there's no-nothing wrong. I'm-"
"There's no use lying, Idiot. Your action betrays you."
She stared at the guy's face then frowned. "Who...who are you?" She asked, all flustered.
Naru was taken aback. Questions that he wanted to ask Mai vanished and turned to uneasiness. He can feel his heart beating fast and he felt sick with apprehension.
The indifferent countenance he always has nearly falls but he managed to contained himself. Dreading over the situation will only make things worse. He have to remain calm under any circumstances, however, it is something Naru find difficult to do at this moment.
He rolled his shaking hand into a fist. "I'm...Shi-"
"Ah, right! Shibuya Kazuya." Mai laugh a nervous laugh. "I'm sorry, my mind went blank for a moment." Her voice quieted down. "But ... for a moment there I thought I was going to die."
"Did something happen? Why did you think of that?" He asked.
"Oh, because ... you were suddenly gone and I'm standing in the middle of the ocean. And then something pulled me in the water. Then there's a boy, he ... strangled me." She sighed. "What a happy experience."
That's right. During your life, things that you don't understand with your head are bound to happen, but even so...does that kinds of things really have to appear so suddenly? She's not even sleeping.
"Does this happen often?"
Mai shook her head. "It doesn't. This is actually the first time, and I'm afraid it's not going to be the last."
"Did he say something to you?"
"Hmmm ... more like he wants me to do something for him."
Naru frown. "I hope it's not something dangerous." He said.
"Unfortunately, it is dangerous." She said, doing her best to hide her uneasiness. "He wanted me to kill him. I, I can't kill a person! .. ... say, Shibuya-san ... what can I possibly do for them? How can I ... help them?"
Naru just stared at her. She's hiding something again.
Mai is always like that. Most of the time she keeps valuable information thinking that it was something not important. She didn't even know that most of their cases were solved because of her great help.
He sighed. "A time when you're feeling useless is nowhere near rare. Everybody feels the same way sometimes. However, doing something or doing nothing is not the problem. There were times a situation is beyond someone's control. But don't think it's already too late to act, to do something."
"I don't understand ... "
"I know." He replied bluntly. "What I'm telling you now is: In your current situation you can't act alone. Humans are weak, that's why they move in groups, keep that in mind. If you can't do anything, it is alright to seek for someone who can do that for you. Someone who can help you do what you can't do."
"... is it okay to rely on someone?"
"What are your chances of success if you're going to do it alone?"
"I don't know! It might be a risk ... but what else choice do I have?!" She answered honestly.
"Are you sure you don't have any? Saying that while overlooking any potential options seems like I underestimated the number of your brain cells."
She glared at Shibuya. "Well, I'm sorry I'm not smart like you!"
"Of course! Your mind and mine works differently after all."
Ok, can she punch him right now? "You really are a crude guy! I bet you will be bald in the future."
Naru just smirked at her. "Anyway, relying only on yourself cannot resolve things at all. When you go to help someone you have to consider yourself as well." He said. "It's alright to rely on someone if it's impossible for you to do it alone."
Mai fell in silence, she busied herself by looking at her hands.
Naru sighed again. She's still don't trust him. "I'm pleased to hear you say something to me, however what I'm wanting to hear is what you're not telling." He said. "There's a limit in hiding information Mai. Don't keep it to yourself. How am I supposed to help you if I neither know what's troubling you?"
Mai turned to her left, then in her right, in her front. When she looked in her right again, her gaze met Shibuya's. She sighed. There's no helping it. He was right after all.
How could he help her if he didn't know anything about her situation? It's her. She's being undeniably distrustful and Shibuya can see right through her.
"You said, my spirit travels in the astral plane, yes?"
"I did say that."
"Then, is my spirit capable of traveling in the past?"
"It certainly can." Naru answers. "The act of astral projection is to travel in different dimension of existence, dimensions and spiritual places. You can actually use your spirit to travel anywhere in the universe and traveling through time is not an exemption. Spirits or souls travels back to the past and re-live history. It could be like watching a film. You can zap back and forward and even have the feeling that you participated in it, but without having the slightest possibility to ever alter the story."
Wow ... that's a long explanation. Exactly what she needed!
"I can't alter what's happened, but what if my existence in that time causes something that may appear in the future? Is that possible?"
He frowned. "Did you perhaps talk to someone in that dream?"
"That ... only the boy."
This time Naru crossed his arms. This information is making him uneasy. "What else did happen?"
"I saw many different scenes but it didn't make any sense. I heard chanting, I saw a forest, a temple. The moon was eerily bright red and..."
"Someone died." Mai sighed. "Ne, Shibuya-san. Why does Kurogane Kagiri decide to target female mediums?"
Naru sighed and shook his head. "The reason is still unclear. It's true that the demon wants a strong spiritual power. As you had asked why female mediums? Onmyouji, monk and miko can also have strong spiritual power. He can target anyone as long as it has the power. Yet he sticks to abducting female mediums."
"I won't assume anything but ... what if those girls are somehow connected to each other?" She said. "Didn't you say that there's no coincidence is these kinds of thing?"
Naru pondered about it for a while.
Clearly, Kurogane Kagiri is not someone stupid. He's smart and if Naru would put himself in his shoes, he'll form a plan that would accomplish more than one of his goals. Therefore he concluded that aside from resurrecting his brother, Kurogane Kagiri had other purpose.
He pinched the bridge of his nose in absolute frustration. The mystery is piling up as they solved the previous one.
"We should go now. There're people expecting us in the office."
Naru cringed. Mai calling him by his last name is rather unpleasant. It was like a thick wall is builds yet again. He wanted them to go back to where they were. He wanted her to be comfortable around him, he wanted her to call him Naru again.
"What is it?"
Mai look down her lap and with a small voice she said. "I'm glad you're safe."
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
She awkwardly put her hands together and smiled at him. "You shouldn't go near a cliff ever again. It's hard to pull you up you know."
Naru froze in his spot. So that time actually happens in reality and Mai was the one who saved him.
That means he owes her. And Naru hated to be indebted to anyone that's why he will do anything to save her this time. After he succeeded that's where he can only declare it 'Even' but for the time being- he owes her his life.
"Ouch!" Mai cried when her foot missed the rail of the van and hit the hard door. Hissing a little, she looked at her foot.
It's still alive.
"How stupid can you be?" She heard Shibuya say. "How can you miss a rail that's only few inches away from your feet?"
"I'm very sorry, I didn't see it, the sun was in my eyes." She said with a little sarcasm in her tone.
Shibuya gave her an insulting grin. "I don't see any sun."
Mai looked up and noticed how cloudy the sky is and true to Shibuya's words, the sun was nowhere to be found.
"You're the type of person who will confuse the gas for breaks."
Mai's interpretation: You're the type of person who will die easily. "Geez, I don't even know how to start an engine so that's a given fact."
It's faint but Mai heard the small chuckle coming from Shibuya. She peered and saw how his expression doesn't changed he's still wearing that cold mask. Did he really laugh or was it only her imagination?
Lin sighed inwardly, shook his head and started the engine. It's obvious that Naru is happy and he can't hide it from him. The way the side of his lips pulled upward gave him away and since its Naru, the Chinese man was certain that he won't admit anything especially when it comes to his feelings.
The van began to run moving away from the Shibuya residence. Their travel was running smooth until they reach Minato city. There's a slight accident that made the cars slow down, few already stopped and their van was one who halted.
Mai looked out of the window. On the other side was people walking back and forth, some of them are looking down while some are walking fast to reach their own destination. It wasn't that dark, it's still morning nonetheless none of them noticed the boy standing near the wall of a boutique. He's possibly the same age as she is, standing five feet six tall and quiet thin for his age. But there's something familiar about him. Did she met him somewhere before?
'There's something wrong.' Mai thought.
A tall dark shadow loomed before Mai. It was from that boy, he wasn't human. He's already dead.
The boy floated in the air and flew near the window. Looking intensely at her with those dead eyes. She heard a click and she wouldn't have to guess what it was. It's the door lock.
Mai frown when the boy pointed toward the other direction. 'What do you want from me?'
'Please ... .. . .. .the truth...' She cringed when a voice mixed with a loud static enters her head.
Mai squinted at the ghost before her. It's not hard to ignore this boy but before she could do it, a large force coil in her whole body. Compelling her to open the door and go towards that direction, cold sweat broke out on her skin.
Her hands moved absentmindedly to reach the door but before she can touch it, cold hands ceased hers. Surprised, Mai turned to the person who stopped her and she was greeted by the deep blue pupils looking directly at her. His eyes were showing disapproval and unease.
"Don't even think about living this car, idiot." He said, voice hard and cold as ice.
She wanted to do what he said yet ... the unknown force took over, she vigorously shoved Shibuya and pulled her hand from him.
Although it was against her will Mai couldn't stop herself from leaving the car. Instantly, she opened the door and run outside, to the place where her feet wanted to bring her.
A shrill whistle sounded inside the van and Naru can only give Lin a confuse look.
"There's something in here." The Chinese man said. "It's not something malignant. Still I can't give you the assurance that it won't harm her."
"I'm going after her." Informing Lin wasn't necessary but it's also Naru's way of ordering Lin to look after Mai. "Go on ahead and Lin, don't tell anyone about what happened."