Shinrei Tantei Yakumo
Volume 4 Chapter 3


file 03: embers ()




At the morning meeting, the vice-principal Konno informed them that Komai had passed away.

However, Haruka just couldn’t believe it was real. She had been talking to her just yesterday.

The business-like manner in which Konno stated the facts made it feel even less real.

Komai’s flat was on the eighth floor of her apartment. The front door had been closed and it seemed that she had jumped from the veranda.

There were no signs of struggle and a note that read ‘I’m tired’ had been found, so it appeared to be an impulsive suicide.

Haruka had only worked together with Komai for a week, so it wasn’t like she knew everything about her. However, she had been happy about her upcoming wedding. Would somebody like that kill herself –

Something might have happened with her lover.

Haruka was probably hung up because of what Masato had said.

– You’ll die next.


When Yokouchi tapped her on the shoulder, Haruka returned to reality.

’Eh, ah, yes.’

Haruka raised her head, flustered.

’No questions, right?’

Yokouchi asked for agreement with an exasperated look on his face.


She couldn’t think of a response because she didn’t understand the point of the question.

’Honestly, please get a grip. Everyone’s had a shock.’

Yokouchi normally felt gentle, but he was unusually irritated today.

’Please forgive me.’

’The vice-principal will inform the students. Other teachers will help out in shifts for class. Please look after the children in the classroom.’

’Yes, I understand.’

’Get a grip, OK?’

’Please forgive me. I just can’t believe that Komai-sensei committed suicide...’

Haruka looked at her feet.

She knew that she had to keep her head up at times like this, but she felt like there was a weight on her head.

’I think it’s possible though.’

Yokouchi said just that.

Haruka looked up at Yokouchi, surprised by his words.

’What do you mean?’

’Ah, Ozawa-san, you wouldn’t know.’

’What about?’

’I’ve heard that Komai-sensei had an affair.’

’An affair?’

’I don’t know the details either, but there was this whole rumour about how she’d had an affair with the dad of one of the kids. Maybe she was troubled because of that.’

’An affair?’

Yokouchi nodded.

Komai, who had been thinking about marriage, had had an affair –

Troubled because of the affair, she committed suicide. It sounded persuasive, but it felt like it just didn’t link to Komai.

’Are you ready?’ said Konno.

Yokouchi made his escape.

’Yes. Thank you very much.’

Haruka bowed her head politely towards Konno.

However, Konno didn’t even reply and just looked at her scornfully.

She really couldn’t bring herself to like this person.

Haruka buried her emotions in the pit of her stomach and left the room with Konno.




’Sorry to bother you.’

Gotou said that as he opened the door to the university <Movie Research Circle>, which was Yakumo’s secret hiding place.

’If you know you’re a bother, please leave immediately. Honestly, please don’t make me say that so many times.’

Sleepy-eyed Yakumo was sitting in his usual seat while running a hand through his hair.

This time, he really did look like he hadn’t gotten enough sleep. There were faint shadows underneath his eyes.

’Stop whining. I don’t have the time to listen to you either.’

However, Gotou also hadn’t gotten enough sleep.

He’d said that to get rid of the irritation he’d accumulated.

’What a coincidence. I also don’t have time to waste talking with you.’

’What did you say?’

’The exit is over there.’

Yakumo pointed at the door with a yawn.

Damn, only his tongue was in good health. If Gotou talked to Yakumo any more, he’d just become more irritated. It’d probably be better to get the point quickly.

’Old man Hata called. Told me to bring you too.’

’Is that so...’

Yakumo looked up at the ceiling in exhaustion and sighed, as if he were some young man in love.

Yakumo was probably troubled too, for once.

’So you have troubles like other people do too,’ teased Gotou, since it was a rare opportunity.

’It makes me truly envious of you, Gotou-san, since you have no troubles.’

’I have troubles too.’

’About what to eat?’

This bastard –

’Of course not.’

’Then, about your wife running away.’

’My wife is at home... probably.’

Gotou hung his head and put his hands on the table.

He shouldn’t have said anything. He felt exhausted now.

The truth was, he didn’t know where to start with this case. It was suffocating.

This case was really hateful.

’What are you dawdling for?’ said Yakumo as he suddenly stood up.


’If we’re going, let’s hurry up and go. Or can you not move from hunger?’

’You making fun of me?’

’No, I’m mocking you.’

This brat –

Yakumo quickly evaded Gotou, who had leapt for him, and left the room.

After the case was over, he’d definitely give Yakumo a good punch.

* * *

Ishii thought over the details of what had happened so far while sitting in the driver’s seat.

It really was an unsolvable case.

It should have been surprising for an escaped murderer to be found as a burnt corpse, but what was the most complicated was the state of that corpse.

Hata and Yakumo both said it, but was it spontaneous human combustion –

If it were, they probably wouldn’t be able to get even a clue as to how to solve the case with the investigation methods they’ve used until now. They’d have to add experts to the investigation team.

Ishii conjectured that the possibility of alien invasion regarding spontaneous human combustion was extremely high.

They definitely burnt humans, bones and all, using weapons humans couldn’t even think of.

They should bring the matter to NASA. He would suggest that to Gotou.

Just as Ishii’s delusions were reaching a peak, the passenger door opened and Gotou came in. Then, Yakumo sat in the backseat.

He’d thought they wouldn’t return for an hour, since that was the usual pattern, but they came back more quickly than he’d imagined.

’Start the car.’

’Ah, yes sir.’

Ishii started the car as told by Gotou.

’Gotou-san, how is the investigation I requested?’ said Yakumo while looking out the window. He looked unusually tired.

’I’ve investigated a lot about Ushijima Harue. Still investigating that brat’s dad.’

While Gotou started explaining, he took a file out from the glove compartment and threw it towards the backseat.

Yakumo started flipping through the pages silently.

Gotou began a supplementary explanation.

’Ushijima Harue. Fifty-eight years old. After graduating from high school, she worked at a hostess at clubs and bars, but she stopped in her early twenties.’

’The reason being?’

’I don’t know the details, but it seemed she was kept by her lover. After quitting her hostess job, she didn’t do anything like work.’

’And the person who kept her?’

Yakumo furrowed his brows.

’Still investigating. According to a woman living nearby, the guy would change.’

Gotou was talking like he’d been the one who’d seen it through, but Ishii was the person who’d actually investigated.

After returning from the elementary school yesterday, he’d gone to question people who lived near the apartment where Ushijima Harue lived.

You could find gossip-loving housewives everywhere.

They’d told him in detail about how she used to be a hostess, how a man that looked like a father would sometimes visit with his kid, and how another man – much younger – would go in and out too.

When he thought about how the neighbours were watching so closely, it was exceedingly frightening.

’Then how about Oomori Masato’s father?’

’All I know is the place he used to work.’

’Which is?’ urged Yakumo as he looked at the documents.

’Oomori Hironori worked at a bike repair shop. He was skilful, but the manager caused some problem and was arrested, so he lost his job. He started doing part-time after that.’

’Could that be when he got his divorce?’

’Ah, that’s right.’

’I see...’

Yakumo’s sorrowful eyes looked at the low car ceiling.

He’s realised something – that was what Ishii felt.




Haruka went into the classroom for Class 5-4 with a hard expression and stood at the front next to Konno.

The children shouldn’t have known about Komai’s death yet.

However, it seemed they’d felt the unrest that flowed through the whole school, because the whole classroom was unsteady.

Haruka turned her eyes to Masato, who sat by the window.

He had his chin in his hands and was looking out the window, but his eyes were puffy like he had cried, and he appeared to be holding back his pain.

That child knows something –


Konno raised his voice. It was no different from the tone he’d used to reprimand teachers in the staff room. The noisy classroom was blanketed in silence.

The children were waiting for Konno’s next words as they looked right at him.

If it were her, how would she explain Komai’s death to the children –

The death of somebody close to them. They would experience that sometime in their life, but they couldn’t just throw that reality at children who were unprepared for it.

While Haruka was thinking, Konno cleared his throat and opened his mouth.

’Komai-sensei committed suicide.’


Haruka said that without thinking and looked at Konno. He looked as arrogant as always –

Haruka couldn’t believe it. How could he use the word ’suicide’ of all things?

The children were noisy again.

There were some children talking among themselves, and some children, who already knew the meaning of the word, were shaking and had started crying.

’Sensei, what’s suicide?’

Eri, who sat in front of Masato, raised her hand and asked that question.

’Suicide means killing yourself...’

’Vice Principal. Please stop it.’

Haruka couldn’t stop herself – she grabbed Konno’s arms and interrupted him.

’They’ll find out eventually. What’s the point in hiding it?’

Konno glared at Haruka, as if he were looking at something filthy.

Did he think that doing that would make everyone do as he said? She wouldn’t yield to that arrogance. Haruka glared back at Konno forcefully.

’That isn’t the problem. The problem is how you expressed it.’

’You’re just a trainee teacher.’

Konno brushed off Haruka’s hand.

’You’re the vice principal – don’t you understand the children’s feelings?’

’Don’t talk like you do!’

Konno’s angry voice, inappropriate for a classroom, echoed.

At that, Eri covered her face with her hands and started crying. Maiko comforted her from the neighbouring seat.

’What’s up with him?’

’He’s so annoying.’

The children started criticising Konno.


Konno raised his voice again as he hit the teacher’s desk.

It didn’t matter that this person was the vice principal. Haruka couldn’t let him stay in the classroom any longer.

’Would you please leave the classroom?’

Haruka stepped in front of Konno and looked straight at his muddy eyes as she said that.

Even though she was trying to chase the vice principal out of the classroom, she wasn’t nervous or afraid at all, to the point she even surprised herself.

Konno’s breathing was ragged, having gone too far to back down.

’This conversation is finished, Vice Principal. Please leave.’

Haruka didn’t take even one step back and said that firmly.

They glared at each other for a while, but perhaps Konno decided Haruka wouldn’t back down, because he left the classroom with a click of his tongue.

The problem is what comes next –

Haruka went back to the front of the classroom and sighed as she looked at the children’s faces.

’Everyone, listen to what Sensei has to say.’

To tell the truth, she didn’t know what she should say in this situation, but she couldn’t leave it as it was.

The children’s hearts weren’t mature yet. The injuries their hearts received now wouldn’t heal through their whole life.

Haruka had experienced that herself.

– You can do it.

Next to her, Haruka felt like she heard Komai whisper.




After Gotou went into Hata’s room, he sat on the only round chair in the room, as he had done last time.

Yakumo and Ishii stood by the wall and Hata sipped his tea at his desk. This was also the same as last time.

’Now, the wait is over.’

Hata rubbed his wrinkled hands together. He was just like a fly that gathered around excrement.

’Stop showing off and talk.’

Gotou crossed his arms. Hata let out his usual creepy giggle.

’As usual, the idiot is hasty.’

’What did you say!?’

Gotou leant towards Hata, but he didn’t seem to care.

Yakumo and the old man – he really couldn’t compete with them.

’Well, anyway, take a look at this.’

Hata laid out for photos on the desk, as if he was going to start playing cards. Everyone looked at them.

The photos on the desk were all of burnt corpses.


Ishii jolted and let out a shriek.

’Shut up.’

Gotou hit Ishii’s head and looked at the photos once more.

They were different from the photos of the scene they were at before, but the state of the corpses was very similar. Even the bones were burnt, and everything had turned into ash.

One photo caught Gotou’s attention.

Though the body had turned into ash, the feet, with the shoes on, were left behind. This was incredibly like Tobe’s corpse.

’Are these photos of that spontaneous human what’s it you mentioned before?’

’Spontaneous human combustion. At least remember that.’

Hata shook his head melodramatically. The old man always got on his nerves.

’So does that combustion have something to do with this case?’

’Yes, that’s exactly it.’

At Gotou’s question, Hata smiled happily, showing his yellow teeth. This old man really was creepy.

But wait a minute. If that was the case, it would contradict with what they’d said earlier.

’Old man, the last time I came, didn’t you say that spontaneous human combustion hadn’t been explained yet?’

’That’s right. Spontaneous human combustion hasn’t been explained.’

Hata looked composed. What was the old man putting on airs for?

’Then isn’t that a contradiction?’

Gotou stood up and stared down at Hata.

’Gotou-san, please calm down,’ said Yakumo.

Normally, Yakumo should’ve noticed a contradiction like this first, but –

’I am calm. What this old man is saying is strange.’

’It isn’t strange. Hata-san hasn’t said that this case involves spontaneous human combustion.’

Yakumo ran a hand through his hair like he thought Gotou was troublesome.


’Gotou-san, you asked whether spontaneous human combustion has something to do with this case, so Hata-san just said that it does.’

’That’s the same thing, right?’

’It isn’t. I said this before as well, but spontaneous human combustion has three main characteristics. Do you remember?’


Gotou nodded.

The fire started in a place with no sign of fire. The fire didn’t spread to the surroundings. The whole body including the bones was burnt –

He knew that.

’The first characteristic of fire suddenly starting in a place with no sign of fire has not yet been explained, though there are baseless theories such as plasma and alien invasion.’

’So we don’t understand it, right?’

’However, if we take away that first characteristic, we can explain it.’

’Ah, so that’s what it is!’

Ishii seemed to have understood Yakumo’s explanation because he spoke up while clapping his hands together.

However, Gotou didn’t understand. Perhaps Yakumo thought Gotou looked pitiful as he held his head in his hands, because he supplemented his explanation.

’In short, it isn’t clear how the fire suddenly starts, but if we think of methods which could burn a body including the bones without the fire spreading to its surroundings, it is possible under certain conditions.’

’Is that how it is?’

Finally, Gotou understood as well.

Nobody had seen the fire start with this case. So, they could put that aside for now and think about how the bones had burnt.

But they needed a temperature of over six thousand degrees to burn a body including the bones. Is that possible –

’Hata-san, I leave the rest to you.’

Yakumo handed the explanation over to Hata, crossed his arms nonchalantly and leant against the wall.

Hata nodded and began the explanation.

’I should have remembered the moment I saw the corpse. My memory’s gotten worse with age. Also, burnt corpses aren’t my forte. I like them raw.’

’Shut up! You perverted old man!’

Gotou rejected Hata’s introduction, which was extremely indiscreet.

However, Hata didn’t reflect on it – rather, he laughed in his creepy voice with shaking shoulders.

’Yakumo gave a hint when he said adipocere.’

’Addie what? Who’s that?’

Come to think of it, they’d mentioned the same guy before.

’Honestly. Do I have to start the explanation from there?’

Hata’s face was sullen, like he had eaten something sour.

’I can explain adipocere,’ interrupted Ishii – maybe he couldn’t keep watching.

’Ishii-kun, thank you.’

At Hata’s words, Ishii walked to the centre of the room energetically.

’Adipocere comes from adipose, as in body fat, and cera, the Latin word for wax, like in candles[1].’

Which makes adipocere –

’Body fat candles?’

’That isn’t it. After a person dies, if they are left under specific temperature conditions, such as a hot and humid location, the fat decomposes, becomes fatty acid, binds with the calcium or magnesium in the water and the whole body becomes something like soap.’


It didn’t really fit in Gotou’s mind.

’Yes. In that state, the human body becomes like a wax figure and can be kept in that shape without decaying.’

Wasn’t this completely occult?

’Oi, old man!’

Gotou spoke up in disbelief.

’It’s true. It’s not sorcery or witchcraft – it’s been proven in the medical field and is completely accepted,’ said Hata as he sipped his tea.

Is that so – he hadn’t known.

No, that was wrong. Though it made sense for Hata, Yakumo and Ishii were the strange ones for knowing something like this.

Well, in any case he understood adipocere now. However, he still didn’t understand.

’What does that have to do with burning bones?’

’In order to burn a body including the bones, there are two methods. The first is burning the body at above six thousand degrees, as mentioned before.’

Hata raised a finger.

’And the other?’

’Burning the body at a low temperature for a long time. Well, it would be about ten hours.’

Ten hours –

’If there was a fire for that long there, it would’ve definitely spread to the school.’

Hata let out a creepy giggle at Gotou’s objection.

’You know about candles, right?’

’Of course I do.’

’Wax wraps around the string that makes the wick. When you light the wick, the wax melts as the wick slowly burns.’

Even Gotou understood that. But –

’People aren’t candles.’

’Gotou-san, you should study a bit more,’ interrupted Yakumo as he raked his fingers through his hair.

’What did you say?’

’Just that your knowledge is inadequate, Gotou-san. The human body is built incredibly similar to a candle.’

’What do you mean?’

’You can think of the fat underneath the skin of the human body as wax and the clothes a person wears as the wick,’ said Yakumo, as if it were obvious.

So the wick was on the outside? It was the opposite of a normal candle. When the clothes caught fire, that heat would burn human body fat and it would burn out like a candle.

’But would it be that easy?’

’If thinking about it normally, it probably wouldn’t go that well, no matter how similar the two are. Though it was different in the past, the clothes that are supposed to make up the wick are now made of materials that are difficult to burn,’ said Hata as he scratched his chin.

’Then it won’t work, right?’

’Now we return to the topic of adipocere.’

Yakumo put his index finger to his brow.


’The fat in that corpse had probably saponified into adipocere.’


Gotou unconsciously raised his voice at Yakumo’s explanation.

I see. The fat in the body decomposed by becoming adipocere, seeped into the clothes and made them easy to burn.

But –

’Why didn’t the fire spread?’

Even if the fire started from the adipocere, there should have been other things to burn.

’It was a low-temperature fire,’ replied Hata matter-of-factly. There he went again, using a term Gotou didn’t understand –


’You know that fire needs oxygen to burn, right?’

Hata was treating him too much like an idiot. Even an elementary school student would know that.

’Of course.’

’When there is a low concentration of oxygen, the force of the fire weakens and won’t spread to its surroundings.’

Hata looked up at Gotou’s expression.

Gotou replied with a nod.

’However, that doesn’t mean that the fire is extinguished. Even if there is no flame, it continues to burn slowly. That’s a low-temperature fire.’

Gotou recalled the pump room as he listened to the explanation.

A room surrounded by concrete underneath the pool. The humidity and temperature for the fat in a human body to saponify into adipocere. On top of that, the concentration of oxygen needed for a low-temperature fire.

Those elements brought about that burnt corpse.

Wait. That would mean –

’Doesn’t that mean Tobe was already dead before he was burnt?’

’That’s right.’

Gotou was surprised, but Hata spoke like it was obvious.

’So what was the cause of death?’

’I don’t know. The corpse is in that state, after all,’ said Hata readily. Well, it probably was difficult to decide the cause of death from that state.

’Then what caused the fire?’

’Have you forgotten? I’m employed as a coroner – not an investigator. That’s your job, right?’

It was just as Hata said. Gotou was lost for words.

’Well, if there’s nothing there to start the fire, somebody probably lit it,’ said Yakumo with a sigh.

Gotou looked at Yakumo with a snarl, but Yakumo just yawned, not nervous at all.

This guy. Doesn’t he understand the importance of what he said –

’If what you say is true, this is a murder.’

’Gotou-san, are you really a detective?’

Yakumo gave Gotou his usual mocking sidelong glance.

’Yeah, unfortunately.’

After Gotou spat that out, Yakumo shook his head, like he didn’t know what to do with Gotou.

’I said that somebody might have lit the fire. I said this earlier as well, but that corpse was dead before it burned. Lighting it on fire would only be the mutilation of the corpse. Until we know the cause for death, we cannot determine that it was a murder.’

Ah, that was right.

There was nothing wrong with what Yakumo was saying, but that sort of irritated Gotou.

Gotou couldn’t think of anything to reply so he just clicked his tongue.

’By the way, Hata-san. I actually have something I would like to request of you.’

Yakumo changed the topic, ignoring Gotou, who was sulking.

’If it’s a request from you, Yakumo-kun, there’s no way I could refuse.’

Hata let out a demonic laugh.

Yakumo took a white capsule from his pocket and handed it to Hata.

Hata looked at it under a fluorescent lamp.

’This is?’

’This is something that was pilfered from a certain person. I want to ask you to analyse its composition, but...’

Pilfered? Wasn’t that a crime?

How did he have the nerve to be so shameless in front of the police?

’Normally, that would be out of my expertise, but I’ll ask an acquaintance.’

Hata put the capsule in an envelope on the desk.

’So what are we going to do now?’

Yakumo and Hata both looked scornfully at Gotou, who was crossing his arms.

’What? Did I say something strange?’

’Yes, you did. Isn’t it the detective’s job to decide what to do next?’

Yakumo pointed at Gotou’s nose.

This guy. Making fun of him. Even though he’d instructed him to do this and that so many times before. He just ran away when the situation was bad.

’Er... Detective Gotou. Could I suggest asking for Sasaki-sensei’s opinion?’

Ishii interrupted while raising his hand like an elementary school student.

It appeared Ishii was enthusiastic about profiling, but Gotou was different. He just couldn’t bring himself to like that woman.

’Well, it doesn’t matter to me what method of investigation you choose, but please make sure to properly investigate what I asked of you,’ said Yakumo, like it was none of his business. He rubbed at his eyes while he yawned.

’Then you help with the investigation too!’

’I would rather not.’

An immediate answer.

It felt like he was lost at sea. However, this always happened.

’Why not? It’s not like you have anything to do,’ said Gotou, still holding on.

’I am visiting a grave today.’

After declaring that, Yakumo left the room.

Honestly. What a transparent lie.

A man who can see ghosts visiting a grave? That’s hysterical –




Komai’s vigil was held at a funeral hall near the elementary school.

A number of teachers from the school attended, starting with Haruka. None of the children came. That was the decision of the Board of Education.

It appeared the suspicion that it was a suicide had had a great influence.

After passing the reception, Haruka sat on a chair in the lobby and thought about what had happened.

’Oh, I was wondering who it was – is that you, Haruka-chan?’

An enrobed monk waved as he approached.

Why would a monk know my name –

She thought it dubious, but that was only for a moment. When she saw the monk’s face, she immediately understood.

A calm face that made one think of the Maitreya. On top of that, the red contact lens in his left eye.

It was Saitou Isshin, the chief priest at a Buddhist temple and Yakumo’s uncle and honorary parent.

’It’s been a while.’

Haruka took a formal bow.

’Was the person who passed away somebody you knew?’

Isshin had probably noticed from Haruka’s expression, because he asked that with a stiff expression.

’Yes. I’m training at an elementary school, and she took care of me.’

’I see. I’m sorry for your loss...’

Isshin put his hands together and bowed his head.

’But seeing you made me feel a bit better, Isshin-san.’

’It flatters me to hear you say that.’

Isshin’s narrow eyes became even narrower when he smiled.

It wasn’t flattery – it was how she truly felt. Seeing Isshin’s gentle face made her feel just a bit more at ease.

She hurriedly held back the tears that had welled up the moment she relaxed.

In order to change her mood, she purposefully let out a sigh, when she noticed somebody looking at her and raised her head.

Over by the crowd of people at the reception, there was a boy staring their way.

That’s –


Haruka started walking towards Masato.

Why was Masato here –

It might have just been a wrong impression, but Haruka felt like he was trying to express something.

Just as they were almost close enough to touch, Masato noticed Haruka, took in a breath and backed up.

’Wait, Masato-kun.’

Masato turned around and ran off.

Should I chase him –

Isshin stood next to Haruka as she was lost for a decision.

’Is that child someone you know?’

’Yes. He’s one of the children from my class...’

’That child...’

Isshin smiled awkwardly after he started speaking.

’What is it?’

’I thought that he looked similar.’

’Looked similar?’

’Yes. He looks similar to Yakumo when he was young.’

Isshin’s gaze was far away. He was probably thinking about the past.

He was Yakumo’s uncle and also the person who’d raised him, so Haruka felt like her thoughts weren’t altogether wrong.

That child was shouldering something heavy, just as Yakumo was.




At Ishii’s suggestion, Gotou visited Sasaki Mental Health again.

He sat on the same sofa as last time and looked at Anna.

The truth was he didn’t really want to, but if Yakumo wouldn’t do anything, it was true that Gotou had nobody else to rely on since thinking was his weak point.

’I want to hear what you think today.’

He’d come here already, so he’d get nowhere by griping. Gotou brought up the topic at hand.

’If I can be of any help.’

Anna smiled amiably.

Ishii had met up with Anna once without Gotou, but he couldn’t tell how much information she knew.

It would be a pain to check, so Gotou decided to explain from the beginning.

At the elementary school that had a fire twenty-eight years ago, Tobe Kengo had been found as a burnt corpse and the cause of death was unknown.

However, they thought that somebody had started the fire after he died –

Also, Ushijima’s mother seemed to think that her son was killed by Tobe, but she’d said that it was a good thing he died.

Anna listened silently, but when he said that the burnt corpse was Tobe, tears welled up in her eyes.

It had been in the news too, so it probably wasn’t the first time she’d heard it.

It appeared that she felt guilty that he died since she had been the one to let him escape.

’In short, what I want to ask if who set Tobe’s corpse on fire, in this situation.’

Gotou ended his explanation with a question.

’Would you mind if I smoke?’

After Anna excused herself, she snapped a cigarette filter with her fingernails and lit it.

She was probably trying to calm down. Her fingers were shaking slightly.

Gotou took his cigarette case out of his pocket so he could smoke too, but it was empty.

Damn. After Gotou crushed his cigarette case, Anna offered her own cigarettes.

’Sorry about this.’

Gotou took a cigarette from her case. Just as he put it in his mouth, she flicked open a lighter in front of his eyes.

A thin silver Zippo lighter.

Gotou stuck his face out so that his cigarette could be light. He felt sort of like he was in a cabaret club.

’I can’t say anything at this stage. However, I believe that the person who lit the fire had a violent hatred towards Tobe-san and has some sort of attachment to fire,’ said Anna, slowly blowing out smoke.

That made sense. Putting together what Yakumo and Hata said, the person had lit somebody who was already dead on fire.

Plus, they’d waited for adipocere to form. It wasn’t normal –

’I have a guess as to who the culprit could be...’ said Anna with upturned eyes after putting out her cigarette in the ashtray.

’W-what? Really?’

Gotou tried to keep his calm, but he raised his voice despite that.

’Yes. Though this is only a theory...’

’I don’t care – just tell me.’

’It isn’t a very difficult rationalisation. You should come to the same conclusion if you analyse the situation, Detective.’

Anna smiled mischievously.

She really looked a lot younger than she was. Gotou felt that all over again.

’Of course! That’s how it is!’

Ishii hadn’t said anything up until now, but he let out a shout and stood up.

’Sit down, fool.’

Gotou pulled Ishii’s arm and forced him down. Ishii looked so displeased it was almost impertinent.


Menthol cigarettes were really awful.

Gotou crushed the cigarette which still had more than half left in the ashtray and urged Anna to continue.

’Isn’t there only one person? Somebody who holds a hatred for Tobe-san and has an attachment to fire...’

Anna avoided saying the name directly and gave another hint.

That hint was more than enough –

In Gotou’s mind, there was the face of one woman.

A woman with flashy clothes and flashy makeup. She believed that her son was killed in the fire twenty-eight years ago.

So she got revenge by burning Tobe then –

’Ushijima Harue...’

When Anna heard the name Gotou said, her face stiffened and she drew in her chin. Though she didn’t say it clearly, that response was sufficient.

Ushijima Harue –

Seemed they’d need to meet up again.




’Yakumo is coming home today too, so you should come by since you haven’t in a while. Nao will be happy too.’

Invited by Isshin, Haruka walked to the temple at the top of the slope.

Maybe Yakumo would be angry that she had come of her own accord again, but so many things had happened and she didn’t want to be in her room alone. She also wanted to consult Yakumo about something.

After going to the living room in the priests’ quarters, Haruka kneeled on the cushion and thought over what had happened.

When Isshin came back with tea and sat down opposite Haruka.

He wasn’t wearing his robes anymore – he’d changed into his working clothes. The impression Haruka got from him changed a lot depending on what he wore.

’I should have bought some sweets.’

After Isshin sipped his tea, he scratched his ear, seeming a bit embarrassed.

’No, I’m the one who’s come at such a late hour...’

’Don’t worry about it. I’m the one who invited you. Yakumo should be back soon, so don’t be so stiff and relax.’

Isshin smiled. This person’s smile had the mysterious power to easily calm someone’s nerves.

He was completely different from Yakumo, who was cynical towards everyone.

Haruka relaxed and breathed out. Her stiff shoulders relaxed as well.

’It’s unusual for Yakumo-kun to return.’ 𝐢n𝒏𝘳𝙚𝒶𝘥.&nbsp;𝗰𝚘𝓂

Yakumo almost never returned home, since he lived in the little prefabricated room at the university.

For Yakumo, who could see the spirits of the dead, this place with its graves was too noisy for him.

Yakumo had said this himself before.

’I’m only saying this because it’s you, Haruka-chan, but today’s is actually the anniversary of somebody’s death.’

Haruka couldn’t believe what Isshin had said.

She couldn’t imagine Yakumo going to visit somebody’s grave, when she compared it to how his usual speech and conduct.

Who on earth did Yakumo think so much of?

’Um, whose death anniversary is it?’

She couldn’t stop her impulse of wanting to know, so she ended up saying that aloud.

’That’s right. It’d be better to talk to you about it. That Yakumo will never talk about it himself anyway.’

Isshin’s eyes narrowed as he thought about something.

Haruka felt like it was a warm and gentle memory.

’This was back when Yakumo was still a middle school student...’

Just as Isshin said that, the sliding door to the living room opened.

’Uncle, don’t talk about unnecessary things without permission.’

Yakumo stood there with a displeased expression on his face.

’A little bit’s fine, right?’


Yakumo crossed his arms and shook his head at Isshin’s needling.

It appeared that he didn’t want her to know no matter what, but it was human nature to become more curious when things were hidden.

’You’re so petty-minded.’

’That isn’t the problem.’

Yakumo was being unusually stubborn.

’I’ll let you know in secret from Yakumo next time,’ whispered Isshin, so that Yakumo wouldn’t hear.

’Why are you here anyway? I don’t remember inviting you.’

Ah, an expected development –

In the past, she would have been seriously depressed, but she wasn’t even surprised by it now.

’I invited her.’

’Why do you always do things like this without asking?’

Unlike Isshin, who had spoken nonchalantly, Yakumo was irritated as he objected while raking his fingers through his hair.

’This is my house. I can invite somebody if I want, right?’

You could tell Isshin had raised Yakumo. He wouldn’t lose to Yakumo in an argument.

Haruka laughed without thinking at the amusing scene. Yakumo glared at her without a moment’s delay.

Ooh, scary –


Now that he had been talked down, Yakumo bit his lower lip.

While they had been talking, somebody’s face peered out from behind Yakumo’s back.


It was Nao, Yakumo’s niece.

Nao appeared to have noticed Haruka too, because a bright smile appeared on her face as she leapt towards her.

Rushed at by a seven-year-old girl, Haruka lost her balance and fell backwards.

Nao didn’t seem to care as she moved her hands and feet about on top of Haruka’s body. When Haruka saw that adorable smile, she felt happier too.

This child, who seemed so innocent at first glance, was burdened with heavy shackles.

Nao was deaf.

Yakumo said this before. People compensate for the abilities they’re lacking with other abilities –

While patting Nao’s head, Haruka said Good evening in her head.

– Good evening.

Nao’s voice reached Haruka’s mind.

Even if she couldn’t hear with her ears, Nao could exchange words through her mind.




Tired from playing, Nao was asleep, using Haruka’s lap as a pillow.

Nao had a smile on her face even while she slept.

’Oh, Nao’s gone and fallen asleep.’

Isshin stood up to shake Nao awake.

’It’s fine. Please let her sleep here,’ replied Haruka, brushing Nao’s glossy hair. Nao turned her head as if it tickled.

’Haruka-chan, sorry about this.’

’Please don’t worry about it.’

’She’s such a troublesome child. She’s so pampered...’

It looked like there were tears in Isshin’s eyes.

I wonder where her mother is –

That doubt suddenly came to Haruka. Now that she thought about it, she’d never seen Nao’s mother.

Perhaps this child’s mother is already –

’So what happened this time?’ said Yakumo, interrupting Haruka’s thoughts.

He’d seen right through her then. It appeared that she couldn’t hide the emotions on her face.

’Komai-sensei passed away.’

She spoke in a quiet voice that was difficult even for her to hear.

She felt as if each time she said it, that truth became heavier.

’Would that teacher be the person we met on the roof before?’

When Haruka nodded, Yakumo’s eyes narrowed as if he were staring at something bright.

It appeared that Yakumo was thinking about what Masato said too, even without her mentioning it.

– You’ll die next.

’I don’t know what I should do...’

Haruka knew herself that her voice was shaking.

She had planned on being psychologically stronger. Komai’s death had been a shock, and she was very sad. But she’d thought that she would be able to withstand it.

But now that I’m in front of Yakumo, why –

Tears welled up in her eyes and fell onto Nao’s cheek.

Haruka hurried wiped the tears away with both hands. Were they tears of sadness? Fear? Anxiety? Her shoulders shook with emotions she couldn’t define herself.

’I’ll let Nao sleep on the futon.’

Isshin picked Nao up from Haruka’s lap.


’Don’t worry about it.’

Isshin replied with a smile and took Nao, still asleep, out of the room.

Haruka frantically wiped away the tears that were welling up against her will and looked at Yakumo with her cloudy vision.

’I understand that you want to cry, but there’s no time for that,’ said Yakumo expressionlessly.

There was no sympathy at all for Haruka’s feelings there. His tone was blunt.


Haruka snivelled.

’It’s certain that that boy had some role in this chain of events. Our goal is to lift the curse on him. In that meaning, we don’t understand anything yet.’

Yakumo scratched the tip of his nose awkwardly.

She knew what he wanted to say next even without him saying it. Before they lifted the curse on Masato, it wasn’t the time or place to cry.

Strict but kind words –

In her heart, Haruka said, ’Thank you.’ If she said it aloud, she felt like she would start crying again.

’Now, let’s continue.’

Yakumo raked his fingers through his hair.

’All right.’

’First – why did that teacher die?’

’A suicide, apparently... it seems she jumped from her flat’s veranda.’

She hadn’t seen it herself, but in her head, she could see Komai, collapsed on the ground with blood flowing from her head.

’There must have been a reason to determine it was a suicide at this stage.’

That was Yakumo for you – he was accustomed to cases.

’There was a note in the room that read “I’m tired”. Also, this is just a rumour, but I’ve heard that she was having an affair... but to me, Komai-sensei didn’t seem like she was so troubled she would try to kill herself.’

’Nobody can know for certain the reason somebody commits suicide except for that person. At this stage, it could be completely unrelated, for all that we know.’

Yakumo might have been right.

Everyone had different perspectives. Even if some people might find something laughable, for the person, it could have been troubling enough to commit suicide.

’Yakumo-kun, what do you think?’

’I understand a number of the tricks, but I haven’t grasped the flow of everything...’ muttered Yakumo, and he ran both hands through his hair.

’I see...’

’Twenty-eight years ago, there was a fire at the elementary school. I feel like that’s the key, but...’

Yakumo looked bitter as he pinched his brow with his fingers.

’If it’s about the fire twenty-eight years ago, I know a lot about it.’

The person who interrupted was Isshin.

It seemed that he’d put Nao to sleep and had returned at some time to the living room entrance.

Yakumo opened his almond eyes and looked up at Isshin.

Isshin didn’t continue, instead sitting cross-legged with a nonchalant expression.

’Uncle!’ said Yakumo in his irritation.

’You shouldn’t be so hasty.’

’I’ll listen to your scolding later.’

’You’d understand if you thought about it normally though. I graduated from that elementary school where the fire occurred. I was also in the same grade as Ushijima Atsushi-kun, the boy who died then.’

’Eh, is that so?’

Haruka’s eyes were wide in surprise.

Isn’t he the wrong age – is what Haruka thought, but now that she thought about it, she had never asked for Isshin’s age.

She had just thought that he was much older because of his calm demeanour.

Which means Isshin is in his late thirties –

Haruka was stuck on that odd point.

’Why didn’t you say that earlier?’

’You never asked me about it.’

Unlike Yakumo, who made a strong objection, Isshin wasn’t concerned at all.

’Then did you know Tobe Kengo too?’

Yakumo threw that question out after swearing.

The murderer who killed his own father, Tobe Kengo –

When Isshin heard that name, his face become just a bit stiff as he nodded.

’Kengo-kun was a really good friend. I can’t believe he’d turn out like that... Before that fire, he’d been such a gentle boy...’

As he reminisced, Isshin suddenly clapped his hands together like he’d remembered something, stood up and left the room.

’Honestly. Can’t see the forest for the trees,’ murmured Yakumo bitterly as he watched Isshin leave.

’Ah, sorry for the wait.’

Isshin brought an old album back with him, placed it on the table and flipped through the pages.

Haruka and Yakumo leant forward to peer at that album.

’Ah, about here.’

Isshin stopped flipping the pages.

It appeared to be a picture of a field trip. In the photo, there were children in gym uniforms wearing rucksacks.

’This is Kengo-kun.’

Isshin pointed at a photo.

There were two boys standing shoulder to shoulder. One was probably Isshin. His gentle expression hadn’t changed even after twenty-eight years.

Tobe Kengo beside him had a gentle expression that wouldn’t lose to Isshin’s.

For this child to kill his own father –

Time really was a terrifying thing.

The faces of the children in her own class came up in Haruka’s mind.

She didn’t want them to turn out like that. Tobe Kengo’s homeroom teacher must have felt the same way.

’Who’s this?’

Yakumo pointed at another photo.

There were two other boys in that photo.

’This is Ushijima Atsushi-kun,’ said Isshin as he pointed at the photo.

Ushijima Atsushi’s face looked very similar to Tobe Kengo’s, but his mood was the complete opposite. The shadow and light of the same thing. That was how it felt.

’His mother treated him awfully,’ said Yakumo, his hands in tight fists.

’How can you tell?’

’Look at his arms and legs. Those are awful bruises.’

Just as Yakumo said, there were dark bruises on his arms and thighs. There was also a round burn on the back of his hand. That had probably been from a cigarette.

That’s awful –

’But how do you know it was his mother?’

Haruka asked another question.

They could confirm that there were bruises, but it was difficult to say it was the work of the mother just from a photograph.

It could’ve been the father, and it could also have been bullying from the other kids.

’He doesn’t have a father. Also, when Gotou-san met with his mother, it seemed she was incredibly prejudiced against her son. Though I hadn’t thought she would go so far...’

Yakumo’s expression was twisted to the point Haruka thought he might have felt unwell.

’I don’t know the details either, but it’s as Yakumo says.’

Isshin was the one who spoke.

’These injuries are already not that bad. When he took off his shirt to change into his gym uniform, sometimes his whole body would be covered in welts.’


Haruka’s chest felt tight.

’Even if we asked why, he wouldn’t say anything. He probably just took it silently. A kid that age would have nowhere to go but home...’

Isshin looked pained.

’Who’s next to Ushijima-kun?’

Yakumo pointed at the other boy to clear the suffocating atmosphere.

’He’s Oomori Hironori.’

Isshin answered after checking the photo. The boy looked a bit like Masato –

’So that kid’s dad was also in the same grade... Seems possible.’

Yakumo had a sharp look in his eyes.

What Yakumo said just now – so he really was Masato’s father? The moment she looked at the album again to check the photo, Haruka saw someone else whose face was similar.

’The person in this photo...’

Haruka pointed at the teacher standing in the middle of the group photo.

’That’s the homeroom teacher Konno-sensei.’

Haruka swallowed her breath when she heard Isshin’s answer. Was this just a coincidence –

’What is it?’

When Yakumo looked at the album, he immediately noticed Konno and furrowed his brows.

’This guy is the vice principal...’

Haruka nodded.

’Konno-sensei became the vice principal?’

’He’s a pretty arrogant guy. How was he when he was your homeroom teacher?’

’Konno-sensei was always like that. He scolded me a number of times too. Plus, there were some girls who said Konno-sensei molested them...’ said Isshin to nobody in particular as he scratched his chin.

’Tobe Kengo, Ushijima Atsushi, Oomori Hironori and the vice principal. For the people related to the case to all be present...’

Yakumo put his index finger to his brow.




Ishii was running –

He was frantically running after Gotou, but he couldn’t catch up no matter how much he ran.

His back was drenched in sweat. It hurt to breathe. His legs were trembling.

’Ishii-san, you are you.’

He heard Anna’s voice in his ears.

A doubt had sprouted within Ishii because of those words.

Why was he chasing after Gotou?

No matter how much he ran, he couldn’t catch him. The reason for that was simple – he wasn’t Gotou.

The person called Ishii Yuutarou could never become Gotou Kazutoshi.

The moment he had that doubt, he lost his footing and fell forwards.

Gotou’s back was getting farther and farther away –

But Ishii didn’t have the willpower to stand up and chase Gotou.

– I am Ishii Yuutarou.

He slowly stood up, turned around and started walking down the road he had taken.

His gait was light.

Suddenly, a dark shadow appeared in Ishii’s path, blocking his way.

Gotou stood imposingly, occupying Ishii’s route.

’D-Detective Gotou...’

Ishii stepped back.

’Why didn’t you follow me...’

Gotou’s voice shook the air and reverberated to the bottom of Ishii’s stomach.

’No, I, er...’

He couldn’t think of an excuse – he was just confused.

’Because of you...’

When he said that, the stomach area of Gotou’s white shirt was dyed red before his eyes.

That’s blood –

’D-Detective Gotou.’

’Because of you, I...’

Before he finished his words, Gotou collapsed, face-up.


’D-Detective Gotouuu!’ shouted Ishii as he jumped up.

’You’re so noisy in the morning!’

Gotou’s fist fell upon Ishii’s head.

Ishii’s wavering consciousness was brought back to reality. When he looked around, he saw that he was in the usual Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room.

A dream –

It appeared that he’d worked until morning and fallen asleep at his desk. This was the second time he’d seen this dream. He had a bad feeling about it.

’I’m heading out.’

Gotou grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.

’W-where to?’


’Ah, but the questioning...’

’Do it yourself,’ said Gotou one-sidedly, and then he briskly left the room.

Ishii just watched his back leave silently –




In the morning, classes were to be held as normal.

Though Komai’s funeral service was in the afternoon, only Haruka and the year-head teacher were to attend.

The guardians were notified through letters that another teacher would come next week.

Until then, other teachers would take Class 5-4 in turns, and Haruka’s training would continue as well.

Haruka felt uncomfortable with how people were acting as if nothing had happened when she attended the morning meeting.

’Is this really OK?’

Haruka asked that question to Yokouchi, who stood beside her.

’Unfortunately, this is the normal response,’ replied Yokouchi with a shrug.

At the board meeting, it appeared that the question was not the teacher’s motivations or sadness but whether there was any danger to the children.

Haruka felt that was the right way of looking at it.

However, she just couldn’t accept how the homeroom teacher’s death had just been vaguely cleared away.

’Please engage in class without relaxing your attention.’

With that remark from Konno, the morning meeting came to an end.

What an odd expression. Would anybody relax their attention after somebody they knew died –

As if he had heard what Haruka was saying in her heart, Konno turned his gaze towards her.

It wasn’t like she had anything to be guilty of, but she felt a chill down her spine.

’Trainee teacher.’


Haruka stood up straight and accepted Konno’s cold gaze.

’This is an important time. Don’t cause any more problems.’

It felt like he was saying everything was her fault.

She wanted to object, but this person wasn’t the type to listen to other people. If she gave her opinion, she would just get into a fight.

’Yes sir.’

She gave Konno a fierce look, the most defiance she could muster.

Konno made a loud click with his tongue and walked past Haruka.

’Ozawa-san, let’s go.’

Yokouchi spoke up to her.


’Honestly, please get it together. I’m in charge of class for first period.’

’Ah, sorry.’

Haruka hurriedly left the staff room with Yokouchi.

While walking down the corridor, she recalled the conversation she had had with Yakumo last night.

They had found out many new facts, but that didn’t mean they could see the truth.

It felt like they were walking in circles in a forest blanketed with fog.

A vague anxiety spread through her heart like ripples –

After entering the classroom, Haruka stood at the teacher’s desk and took in a deep breath.

’Good morning.’

She consciously acted cheerfully. However, the children didn’t have much of a reaction. Just a few of them responded in quiet voices.

She looked at the third seat from the back by the window.

Masato had his head on the desk. His shoulders were shaking, as if he were cold.




’Sorry to bother!’

Gotou opened the door to Yakumo’s secret hiding place.

’How many times do I...’

’Shut up. I’m tired of hearing it.’

Gotou interrupted Yakumo’s words.

Damn, he knows already, but he keeps on saying the same thing –

’So what did you come here for?’ said Yakumo with a yawn.

This brat –

’You’re the one who called me here!’

Yakumo put his fingers in his ears pointedly as he looked at Gotou, who was yelling to the point veins were popping out.

For somebody who’d asked Gotou to come because it was an emergency, Yakumo was incredibly calm.

’What a poor mind you must have if you can’t understand jokes. I pity you.’

Ah, he just said whatever the hell he wanted to. It had been a joke? It was just harassment.

Gotou sat on the chair and crossed his legs.

’Just say what you want.’

’By the way, is Ishii-san not with you?’

Yakumo combed his fringe.

’Hey. I headed off by myself because you called me out so suddenly. We’ve got a lot of things to do too.’

Yakumo replied to Gotou’s grumbling with a yawn.

Honestly. Gotou wished Yakumo would take things a bit more seriously.

’Other investigation? What are you doing?’ asked Yakumo, sounding incredibly disinterested.

Gotou wanted to tell him not to ask if he didn’t care, but he restrained himself.

’Ushijima Harue.’

’What do you plan to ask her?’

The corners of Yakumo’s lips twisted, like he had eaten something unpleasant.

’Harue thinks her son was killed by Tobe in the fire twenty-eight years ago.’

’Do you suspect her?’

’Yeah. No physical evidence for it. Anyway, I plan on talking to the workers at the care home she’s at.’

Yakumo raised an eyebrow while listening to Gotou’s explanation.

’Is that your opinion or that of the rumoured psychiatrist?’

He really was sharp.

’The opinion of the psychiatrist lady.’

’I see... More importantly, how is the matter I asked you to do?’

Yakumo continued talking, though he looked discontent.

This morning, Yakumo requested that he look into people related to the Tobe family and call for them.

’I got some info so I went all the way there to look into it.’

’Thank you for your hard work.’

Everything this guy said was irritating.

’I contacted the woman who used to be the Tobe family housekeeper.’

Since somebody in the investigation department had gone to talk to her before for the chain of incidents, Gotou was able to confirm the address right away.

’Well done.’

’An investigation team member already talked to her though.’

’That’s fine. I’m the one who wants to talk to her.’

’You plan on meeting her?’

’That is the plan.’

Yakumo stood up with a yawn.

Since Gotou had figured out that was what Yakumo meant when he said to call for them, he wasn’t surprised.

But I don’t understand –

’Is that housekeeper related to the case som

This chapter upload first at

Tip: You can use left, right keyboard keys to browse between chapters. Tap the middle of the screen to reveal Reading Options.

Please report the problems you have identified regarding the novel and its chapters.

Follow this page Novel Fire on Facebook to discuss and get the latest notifications about new novels
Shinrei Tantei Yakumo Volume 4 Chapter 3