Fall to Rebirth

Whisper

 

The construction crew just stared at the ceiling of St. Mary’s Cathedral. They had long since tuned out the priest and now just proceeded to wonder how anything had managed to burst through the tall ceiling from the inside.

Unfortunately for Daisuke Sakamoto the understandably livid man had moved on to him, and he had to listen.

“The police were supposed to keep it closed off, but you tell me someone did make it inside. Someone matching the description of the demon who intruded two days ago. You force me to close my doors your foolish investigation and then let this happen.” He swept his arms wide in a frenzy as he spoke, revealing how much they shook from his rage.

“And we’re looking into all these incidents,” Daisuke calmly explained. “We must investigate while the scene is fresh. We’ve got some men on the roof taking a look and will help cover your costs. In the meantime the crew will help us figure out what might have happened.”

“And then you find nothing for it was the work of demons.”

Daisuke shook his head. This man was usually so reasonable, and had helped Daisuke find people to perform Catholic exorcisms on several occasions. Surely, he knew better.

A tall man, somewhere in his twenties, strode into the cathedral. His laced and buckled boots came above the knee and his leather jacket hung to about midway down the thigh, though it was open right now to reveal the boots, katana, and set of strange tubes along his white weapons belt. The inside of the coat was purple, reminiscent of royalty, and he wore and old uniform cap from the Taisho era. He came right up beside Detective Sakamoto, almost a head taller than the older man.

The priest immediately backed down.

“Anything?”

“Just that it was done from the inside, but you knew that already. Your end?”

“Barrier.” The newcomer looked carefully around the room. “You have to be invited in.”

“By whom?”

The newcomer looked the detective straight in the eye. “Demons. Likely Divine order, doesn’t seem to hold an elemental affinity, but whatever’s holding it up might even be as high up as a herald.”

“Angels,” the priest mouthed.

“Not surprising they’d like this place.” He looked up to the ceiling. “Given that, it’s a little odd they’d let this happen to it. Safe to assume they got into a large fight. What we don’t know is why, or with whom. With angels though, the second one’s usually pretty easy to answer once you know the why.”

“The demon from the other day,” the priest surmised, glaring at Detective Sakamoto.

The seasoned detective held up his hand. “We don’t know that.”

“Demon? Is this about those reports of mass hallucination two days ago?”

“Yeah. Didn’t get to me right away, but once this happened too they thought I should look into it. I’m already handling a kidnaping and the kid’s parents are going berserk. Knowing I’ve got another case won’t help. Still, this definitely falls under our jurisdiction.”

“You saw the demon?” the man asked, turning to the priest.

The priest nodded. “Looked like a young adult human male at first, but his eyes glowed yellow and he snarled like a wolf. Stronger than a bear.”

“Save the theatrics.”

“He threw people with one hand.”

“Description.”

“Like I said, much like a young man, Japanese. He wore a hoodie, but once he fought you could see these marking all over his face and hands. They were black and blue, and the blue glowed.”

“With an internal light?” Detective Sakamoto inquired.

“Definitely. He had a horn coming out his neck, and a voice spoke to us to destroy him. He took on a horde of angels all on his own.”

“You saw the angels?”

“Oh yes, they were beautiful.”

“Blonde ladies in bondage outfits?”

“What?”

“Description,” the man added testily.

“I suppose that would be one awful way to describe their splendor.”

“Good to know your fetishes.” He turned directly to Detective Sakamoto. “Everyone who works here needs to be extra careful. Make sure they don’t mess with anything.”

“I’ve already told them that,” the priest practically screeched. He was ignored.

“As for the supposed demon…”

“Radou.”

“Hmmm?”

“I might have a lead on that.”

“The kidnapping?”

Detective Sakamoto nodded. “The kid’s brother had some interesting markings he was trying to hide. Said it was cosplay, but seems to me you’d just wait to apply the lines ‘til you were out of dodge. Apparently, had quite the personality change recently too.”

Raidou nodded slowly.

“What’s wrong?”

“Hm? Ah, nothing much. Just thinking over the description.”

“Strange demon?”

“Possibly unique. Avoid conflict at all costs.”

“Heh. I prefer to leave conflict to the professionals.”

“Smart man. Call me the moment you’re done.”

The detective’s phone let out a buzz. With a sigh he pulled it out and checked the new message.

Narumi: Don’t forget to contact Raidou about your meeting with the kid. Contact the agency immediately in case of trouble. Will message you again when you approach his home.

He glared at Raidou. “You’re wearing it again.”

“Obviously.”

“Does she have to hear everything?”

“Yes.”

Detective Sakamoto let out a dramatic groan. “You youngsters and your technology.”

“She heard that.”

“Good.” He grinned. “Anyway, guess I have a kid to interrogate.”

Raidou nodded.

“Careful out there.”

“You too.”

Detective Sakamoto offered a small bow before heading out of the church. Raidou watched him leave, waiting until the man had left the building to pull out one of his small tubes.

“Raiju,” he whispered, lips pressed against its cool metal. The tube seemed to open of its own accord, a green mist spilling forth.

A moment later a vaguely hound-like flash of lightning appeared before him, but this was a flash with physical form and which stayed, even if it blinked to and fro as it did so.

“About time,” the demon snarled.

Raidou motioned to the roof. “Investigate.”

“So says the man with the tube.” The demon began to flit up to the ceiling, starting at the hole.

As for Raidou, he moved up to the altar. Two claps. Bow. “May I have a word?” Since he knew there were angels here it seemed reasonable to ask them for their side of the story.

Much to his surprise, it was an angel bound to a fiery wheel who answered his call. “Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha the Fifteenth.”

“Throne. Thank you for answering.”

“If the Kuzunoha would aid our crusade against the fiend we would be most gracious.” The flames on the wheel blazed a little brighter. “However…”

Raidou waited patiently.

“It is your predecessor who allowed this fiend to escape in the first place.”

Raidou kept his face completely still. He wanted to hear Throne say it. To hear an angel admit to failure.

“The demifiend, the human Asura, a threat to existence.”

A little party went off in Raidou’s head as he silently prayed for Narumi-san to have recorded this moment. Now, to make it perfect. “If he is so dangerous how is it the angels have allowed him to live?”

Throne spun angrily. “We are restricted.”

“This is your home.” Raidou pointedly looked up to the ceiling. “And yet you allowed this demifiend to defile it?”

The angels spun once more, fires flaring. “He escaped.”

“Hunt him down.”

“He is originally Japanese and still under Kuzunoha jurisdiction.”

Ah, so there was the crux of it. A rogue angel was one thing, but a group of angels on a man hunt for a Japanese citizen on native soil? Oh yeah, Raidou would totally fight them without a second thought. Unfortunately, while these little admittances of failing were beautiful, that meant this discussion was headed in a rather nasty direction.

“You should mend the mistakes of your predecessor.”

Truly, a statement he had never thought he would hear. At least, not when it came to discussing the Raidou directly preceding him.

“Don’t revel in it too long,” a female voice berated through his hidden earpiece.

“Very well,” he responded loudly. “I will consult with the Herald and track down the fiend.”

“You will defeat the fiend.”

Raidou bowed. “I will remove the threat.”

Throne looked long and hard at him. “You had best stay true to your duty, Raidou Kuzunoha.”

So many things to do now, and almost all of them liable to end in a terrible burn. “I stay true to my oath.”

The angel seemed content with that, vanishing in a puff of flame. All heads turned towards the source of the fire, but not even smoke lingered.

Raiju came down.

“Well?”

“Electricity. Very strong. Alongside a sharp impact. Area between there and the dark realm very weak.” Raiju looked around cautiously a moment before leaning in close. “Raiju can smell it. The smell of rotting corpses.”

A kidnapping. Rotting corpses. He really didn’t like where this was going. Still, without evidence he had to tread very carefully in a Catholic church.

The priest came up to him. “Were you in prayer?”

“Huh? Hardly. Don’t pray.”

“Truly?” The priest looked quizzically at the protection talisman hanging off Raidou’s katana.

“No. I ask.”

“Prayer is…”

“A wish. Asking is a conversation, which I would like to end now.”

The priest bowed. Raidou strode purposefully passed him and out the church, Raiju trailing behind.

A black cat with bright green eyes met him immediately outside the building. “Well?”

Raidou took a deep breath. “Demifiend.”

For a moment the cat just looked at him, as though sorting what it had heard. Then its eyes slowly widened.

“The demifiend, the human Asura, a threat to existence, as Throne put it. He said that it was my predecessor’s fault for letting him escape.”

The cat’s hackles slowly raised. “Not good.”

“Apparently, he is Japanese. Daisuke thinks it might be connected to a kidnapping. Raiju smells bodies.”

The cat sat down, slowly seeming to calm as everything sunk in. “Human helpers the demifiend murdered or captives of the angels?”

“Guessing the latter, but either way we need his side of the story. Can’t charge into an angel lair without evidence.”

“And Daisuke went to talk to him?”

“Yeah.”

“Call him. Now. Tell him to stop.”

“You sure?”

“Akira, you have no idea how dangerous this child could be. Even when your grandfather and I fought him he was resourceful and dangerous. Imagine how much more he could be now.”

Raidou pulled out his phone with a sigh.

“We definitely need to monitor this demifiend, whatever the case,” the voice behind the earpiece stated.

“Agreed.” Raidou dialed the detective. One ring. Odd. Two rings. That was rare. The third ring had just started when the phone picked up.

“Sorry, just got off the train.”

“Daisuke.”

“What is it?”

“I think your hunch was right. That kid, he might be…” Raidou trailed off. He looked questioningly at his cat. What would happen to this kid if they were right? If they exposed him to the Kuzunoha?

“Protect him,” the cat urged.

Raidou nodded. “Sorry. The kid might be the demifiend. Proceed with extreme caution.”

“Demifiend?” Daisuke whispered.

“Long story, but if we’re right you need to be very careful.”

“Understood. I’ll be careful.”

Raidou hung up then.

“Are you sure about letting him go there alone?”

“I’m sure.” He smiled down at his cat. “Better not to freak this kid out.”

“Demifiend a legend,” Raiju said, continuing to flit around.

“And for good reason,” the cat warned.

“That’s why I’m going home. Time to collect information.”

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