The Midnight Apparition
Written by Merula Aeolus (Stefanie T.)
Prologue: Stranger than Fiction
It was a beautiful spring morning in Hokkaido Japan’s Night Orchid Hot Spring and Resort, along the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk and among the thick bamboo forests. A light mist covers the ground. “Oh my god!” someone screamed, finding the clammy and bloated corpse of the Resort’s young waitress, Arisawa Yuko, floating face down in the public bath, her belly distended as if she had been with child, which looked to have been ripped from her, blood dripped down the sides of the bath.
“That was the first victim,” Masauda Ren, a leading paranormal investigator described, “The autopsy revealed that Arisawa-san, died of a brain hemorrhage, but she was also pregnant for one hour before the fetus began to grow at an alarming rate. The fetus was not recovered at the scene and the father’s identity could not be determined.” He glanced at the pale faces of his team. Ebina Isane, the fifteen years old psychic and younger sister of Ebina Kiyone, another psychic, looked particularly shaken.
“The second victim, Li Ming, the twenty-four years old, male resort attendant was found five days later, dead, up to his right shoulder in the meat grinder. He died from blood loss. His death was ruled a suicide, since there was no signs of struggle. However, please note that the Autopsy report found severely abused vocally cords as if he had been screaming for hours. However, neither the other employees or guests heard the meat grinder of his screams.” Ren said.
“Well, I’m certainly not ordering Gyudon Domburi, while I’m there.” Kudo Himura joked tastelessly. Ando Kensei, Ren’s quiet and anti-social assistant, scowled at the Rogue Buddhist monk in disapproval.
Ren continued as if he hadn’t been so rudely interrupted, “Please note, while Li-san has been ruled a suicide, Arisawa-san is still classified as a murder albeit a very strange murder. A police investigator and his partner will be on the scene. Their department has stepped out of the investigation when the Resort owner Obata Takeo called us in, but Detective Sarutobi-san has declared his intentions to remain on the case. Sarutobi Kaede-san is renowned as psychic skeptic and will go out of his way to discredit known psychics and various spiritualists. That said, please remain polite, we wouldn’t want to find ourselves on the wrong side of the law.”
“Furthermore,” Ando-san continued, “Since there was a non-fatal accident in the resort involving the police, Ren and I have called in several specialist to help our investigation and protect our psychic team. They will meet us outside of the resort.” At once there was a cacophony of complaints from the three female psychics, Ebina Kiyone, Ebina Isane and Fukunaga Kaori. Kudo Himura and Matsumoto Mei (a Shinto Shrine Maiden) also voiced their displeasure.
“Silence,” Ren commanded, “They are not bodyguards in the traditional sense. I have hired an Onmyouji, Kurosawa Sora-sama and his two apprentices, junior Onmyouji, Shindo Hikaru-san and Inuda Kenji-san.”
Mei snorted, “I’ve had the displeasure of meeting Inuda, he’s an arrogant womanizer with too much pocket money to throw about and manners that would turn his mother’s hair white. He’s also a bully and snob. Hikaru-kun on the other hand is simply charming, polite, modest and gentle if somewhat effeminate in behavior and androgynous in appearance. Their master is an enigma with far too much time on his hands and a vast intelligence.”
“I also have the guest and employee lists. I will be assigning you into three teams each team will focus on a different angle in this investigation and be guided by their Onmyouji. Team one will consist of Kensei and myself with Shindo Hikaru, Ebina Kiyone and Kudo Himaru with Inuda Kenji and Ebina Isane, Fukunaga Kaori, and Matsumoto Mei with Kurosawa Sora. Kensei and I shall investigate the human and scientific side of this case. Isane-Chan, Fukunaga-san and Matsumoto-san will investigate the supernatural side of the case, specifically haunting and possessions. Meanwhile, Kiyone-Chan and Kudo-san will be investigating the historical influences and monitor the guests and employees.”
The anxiety and tension was stifling in the public quarters of Fujiwara Sai’s rooms, where his young students, Touya Akira, Waya Yoshitaka and Isumi Shinichiro attempted to play go, while their esteemed visitor, the current Meijin, Akira’s father, Touya Koyo stood arms crossed uncomfortably. They were on house arrest or rather resort arrest until this murder was solved. It had been a week already and the poor boys were obviously filled with a sick fear and tension.
Twenty-three years old Sai watched the boys’ postures with a careful eye. The tension and fear was getting to the former child Go prodigy as well, making his usually fumbling even worse and incident in which a small clumsy stumble made him fall ungracefully into a heap. Koyo, his dear friend and former rival, had insisted that Sai remain sitting to save the boys the fear of their beloved sensei taking a fatal tumble. Sai sighed empathetically. Sai had been friends with Arisawa Yuko and her death had wounded him. Looking out on the clear blue sky, he though it should be snowing like back then or at least raining…
On October 15th 1982, Sai was born as the bastard son of Yamada Katsu, a wealthy businessman and to eighteen years old, secondary school student, Nakamura Yukiko, who had died in childbirth. Sai lived with Yamada estates gardener, Fujiwara Hisao, on the edge of the Yamada property. Hisao, an older man with no family to speak of was once a historian and 6 Dan of Go. Hisao had taught Sai about history and Go, until he could teach no more. Sai was a precocious and talented child, the envy of his half-siblings and classmates. His half-siblings, much to the disapproval of their peers would bully the youngest and bastard son of their father, Sai’s only refuge was those cold winter night curled up before the hearth with Hisao trying once more to beat Sai in a game of Go. Sai loved Hisao as if the old man was his father, since neither his father nor his father’s wife showed him an affection or parental concern. They too ignored and slandered Sai.
It was on a cool winter night, as Hisao was out shoveling the walk, that Yamada Shikaku, Sai’s oldest half-brother challenged Sai to a game of Go. This was a mistake. Shikaku was a prideful teen with a fearsome temper. So when Sai began to dominate the goban, Shikaku became angry. How dare the little bastard show such skill, he should be cowering at my feet. Angry and humiliated by his defeat at Sai’s hands, Shikaku knocked over the Goban and began to beat Sai bloody, breaking bones and hurling glass at Sai. As Sai’s sight began to waver in and out from the pain, he saw Hisao enter the small cottage and attempt to restrain Shikaku. When Sai became conscious once more, Sai found Hisao bloodied, bruised and barely breathing. Sai called the police and an ambulance.
Sai told the police about what had occurred and then was taken away by a second ambulance. Sai was patched up and released, but instead of leaving he sat three long days next to Hisao’s bed before death took the old man. The court hearing that followed was a farce. The jury being in his father’s pocket. His half-brother got off with only some light community work and Sai was abandoned to the foster care system without so much as a chance to gather his belongings.
At fourteen, Sai became a professional Go player in honor of Fujiwara Hisao’s memory, and only a year later he became Fujiwara-Meijin and Fujiwara-Kisei and held the titles for five years before retiring to follow other interests and work as a Go Sensei. He never forgave his birth father or half siblings and when they begged him for money he coldly turned them down. When his father took him to court to steal the hard earned money Sai had gotten, Sai turned it into a media circus, which crippled and later destroyed the Yamada business and family. They never got hold of Sai’s money. The rest was history.