Tokyo Ghosts Book 1: Chapter 2, Part 1
A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf and .mobi) is available in Sparkler Monthly Issue #072 (free).
Hikaru Yoshimoto was amazed and a little disturbed by Grandfather’s filing room. Deep in the largest house in the compound in Kamakura, the office was packed floor to ceiling with bookshelves, filing cabinets, archival boxes, and locked cases. The lone desk in the room had more storage tucked neatly below its wooden surface; the tea tray was carefully balanced on two of the low storage cabinets that formed rings of more shelving around the room. One of the bookshelves was fitted with tight square holding containers, and the edges of countless scrolls poked out–their wooden edges chipped and scuffed, their paper yellowed with age.
These were the records of members of the Yoshimoto family. Births, deaths, recorded children, known property holdings. Based on the scrolls, some possibly dated back hundreds of years. At some point, one of Hikaru’s scholar cousins had spent countless months cooped up in this room, poring through these records to write an anonymized paper on the most important–and guarded–aspect of their family’s genealogy.
Psychic abilities, and how they’d mutated over generations.
Hikaru pursed his lips, reminding himself of the gravity of this room. That brilliant research paper and its invaluable addition to the study of supernatural genetics, even with all of its subjects’ identifiers stripped out, had gotten the cousin who wrote it disowned.
“Records from the last twenty years are there.”
Grandfather’s voice tugged Hikaru back to the present. The man still stood in the doorway, back hunched over the weight he leaned on his cane. One crooked finger pointed to the corner bookshelf closest to the desk.
“Ah, all right.” Hikaru walked over to the bookshelf, twisting his body to squeeze between the storage furniture, his sock-clad feet padding on the tatami mats. He scanned the colored filing tabs until he found what he was looking for: medical records. His fingers rifled through folders either seized or illegally copied from medical institutions.
Grandfather slowly clopped into the room behind him, and Hikaru heard the sound of him heavily lowering his body into the lone desk chair. “I’m not sure how updated her medical records are,” the man grunted. “But whatever we have, we’ll give it to one of the physicians in the family. It was a mistake to let her visit a doctor we didn’t know.”
“You said she went to a psychiatrist?” Hikaru asked.
“Yes. We didn’t know that, otherwise we would have forbidden it.” The old man scoffed. “How reckless. Spilling the secrets of a Yoshimoto mind to a stranger.”
Hikaru waited a long moment, but Grandfather didn’t continue. Hikaru decided to try something.
“Perhaps I could help her instead?”
“Of course not,” Grandfather answered sharply. “You’re still a student. I just thought you might understand her medical records enough to help me scan for red flags. We need to trace how much information leaked before we decide her next course of treatment.”
Hikaru decided not to reply to that one. He finally found the file in question and pulled the cream-colored folder from the shelf, shifting a number of other folders as he did so. He flipped it open to scan the charts inside.
It seemed to be mostly focused on somatic medicine–a cholesterol prescription, a gallbladder removal. Hikaru didn’t understand many of the notes, and certainly not the details like numbers on a blood test.
“I don’t see any medications related to mental health,” he reported before handing the folder over. “Nothing like an antipsychotic or antidepressant. And there’s no record of therapy… I don’t even see a referral for psychiatric care. I’m afraid I don’t understand much of the rest, though.”
Grandfather sighed and opened the folder on his desk, one hand pulling the reading glasses tucked inside his robe. “We need more doctors in the family,” he muttered as he slid the glasses onto his face. “Then we wouldn’t have to rely on clawing what information we can from outside medical attention. What a waste that you didn’t choose medical school.”
Hikaru was used to the disparaging remarks about his clinical psychology career plan. It didn’t matter that he would be a doctor at the end of it, licensed to see patients and provide therapy–he wouldn’t be a medical doctor, and that was what his family cared about. He couldn’t recklessly prescribe medications on his Grandfather’s orders to drug family members who suffered from mental health issues and “keep them quiet,” while emotional wellbeing remained barely a footnote in the control of this family’s health.
Which was exactly why Hikaru had chosen this path in the first place.
Another folder on the shelf caught Hikaru’s eye. It was surprisingly thick, considering the birthdate printed neatly on the folder’s tab. He decided not to ask permission for this one, and as his grandfather pored over one set of private medical records, Hikaru quietly retrieved another set for himself.
Kadoyuki Yoshimoto, residing in Tokyo.
Hikaru remembered that boy from a family gathering years earlier–the haunted only child of the black sheep of the family. According to his medical records, Kadoyuki had been hospitalized multiple times for stomach disorders, had been flagged for possible anorexia, and even received some in-school therapy and counseling, although the records were spotty before the treatment stopped. One big red flag was a broken leg in 2002–he had appeared with a cast one day and no record of which doctor had applied it or what had caused the fracture, with a note that more investigation was warranted.
And then the notes abruptly stopped, leaving a big time gap. Hikaru was surprised, since that sort of sloppiness was rare for the Yoshimoto family. It was almost as if…someone had forgotten to follow up.
Hikaru flipped to the section outlining Kadoyuki’s psychic ability. He could hear thoughts, like his mother. Another rarity–most psychics inherited a different power from their parents, so this was a sign of mutation. Although there was a note about that, whoever was documenting the information had missed the most obvious answer.
Without extensive testing, they would have no idea what Kadoyuki’s power actually was.
Grandfather muttered something; Hikaru looked up from Kadoyuki’s file and found himself meeting the old man’s eyes. Grandfather’s finger rapped against the desk in an agitated rhythm.
“What are you doing?” he accused. “You just told me you couldn’t understand half of these charts.” He snorted. “Since that expensive school program of yours is so focused on being ‘friends’ with mentally sick people instead of being a real doctor.”
Hikaru smiled evenly, closing the file in his hands.
“Then I suppose you could say I’m looking for new friends,” he replied.
Jo dragged himself to class on Monday, if only because that meant he wouldn’t get a thousand concerned texts from people who noticed he’d skipped. It was his least favorite class with his least favorite professor and there would be a quiz he hadn’t studied for, but he still went.
He dutifully filled out the quiz form, handed in his wildly guessed answers, and dropped his head to his desk to catch a little more sleep during the lecture.
The shuffling sound of people leaving their chairs in the auditorium hall roused him a while later. A student who often sat next to him–Jo didn’t know his name–whistled as he gathered up his things.
“Tough quiz at the start of class,” the guy murmured as Jo blinked heavy eyelids. “How’d you do?”
“Badly,” Jo grunted in reply, not raising his head from his desk.
“I studied,” the classmate continued, “but I suck at the history parts. I can’t keep track of when Freud and Jung did stuff, y’know? I didn’t think this class would be about that.”
Jo rolled his head back into his arms, shrugging his shoulders in response. He really didn’t feel like talking to anyone. The classmate dropped his voice as he squeezed past Jo in the tight row of auditorium chairs.
“Professor’s staring at you,” the classmate whispered. “Maybe pretend you weren’t asleep.”
Jo groaned, but didn’t move. The professor could kiss his ass.
As the sounds of leaving classmates shifted into silence, he heard the slow pat pat pat of shoes on the carpeted stairs. A lone pair of feet climbing to the top of the auditorium rows, nearing Jo and his seat waaaaay in the back.
There was no escape now. Jo angrily sat up, sliding his legs down so he could slump backward in the uncomfortable chair and its attached lap desk.
“I showed up,” Jo argued rudely. “So spare me the extra lecture.”
Hikaru Yoshimoto tucked a pen into his dress shirt’s pocket, shifting the folders and handed-in quizzes he clutched over his chest. He smiled politely, the emotion behind it unreadable.
“I hope you had a nice weekend, Oda-kun.”
“Don’t even start with me, Hikaru.”
Hikaru paused, his smile unchanging. “You know that I prefer you calling me ‘professor’ when you’re in my class.”
“Class is over,” Jo said, shoving the few things on his desk into his bag. “And I’m going home.” He was bothered by the fact that Hikaru was still a graduate student, yet he was allowed to teach Psychology 101, and Jo had coincidentally been assigned this particular class as a requirement to graduate. If Jo had to guess, it was probably all some concocted power play Hikaru had arranged so Jo would have to listen to the man. The guy was Kado’s cousin, and Jo had heard enough stories about how fucked up the Yoshimoto family was.
It wasn’t paranoid to assume Hikaru could be as manipulative as Kado. It was…informed.
As Jo folded down his lap desk and lurched to his feet, Hikaru cleared his throat. The trim man–Jo had forgotten his age, but Hikaru was around thirty–calmly brushed a few strands of his short, brown-dyed hair behind his left ear, revealing his ever-present earring. It was a little circlet of silver with a flower carved in it, which had always struck Jo as unexpectedly feminine.
“If you don’t mind, Oda-kun…I would like to talk for a minute.”
Jo squeezed out of the row of chairs. “No,” he snapped. “I’m not going to therapy.”
“That stupid vow renewal ceremony on Friday was a mistake. All I want is a little privacy to deal with my marriage, and I can’t do that in a house full of people and a party full of in-laws and a school where you’re riding my ass about joining whatever weird counseling sessions you’re doing with my friends that’s keeping them from licensed mental health professionals.” Jo jerked his bag’s strap over his shoulder. “I don’t need therapy, especially not from you. Now get out of my way–the only authority you have over me is confined to the 3 hours a week I’m stuck in your shitty class.”
For a moment, Hikaru just stared at him. The man dropped his eyes to the pile of papers in his own arms, one slim finger poking the grading notebook that peeked out from the pile.
“Oda-kun, I wanted to ask why you haven’t handed in a single homework assignment in four weeks. You’re at risk of failing my ‘shitty’ class.”
Jo stiffened. “This class has…homework?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yes. I assign it at the end of every lecture. Have you been paying attention?”
“I don’t put it on the syllabus because that discourages attendance. If students need to attend to hear the homework assignments, they’re more likely to come to the lectures.” Hikaru tilted his head slightly. “What’s interesting about your case is I know you come to class. I see you here in the back and your attendance grade is excellent. Do you come here just to ignore me in person?”
Jo opened his mouth to retort, then stopped himself. He wasn’t actually sure how to answer that.
A small thread of panic coiled in his stomach. “I-I need to pass this class,” he said at last, new frustration welling up behind the anxiety. “I really have to do back homework assignments to pass?”
Jo ground his teeth together. “Will you pass me if I go to therapy?” he asked darkly.
Hikaru raised an eyebrow.
“I was being sarcastic, Hikaru!”
Hikaru’s smile pulled at his lips. “Were you…?”
Fuck this. Jo stormed past the man, in too foul a mood to deal with him. “I’ll call a classmate about the assignments!” he lied, since he didn’t know the name or mobile number of anyone in this course. “So if you fail me just to teach me some kind of lesson, I’ll get the ethics board in here and you’ll never graduate!”
Hikaru didn’t reply as Jo stormed down the steps. When he reached the door to the auditorium, he threw his head back once…to see Hikaru waving goodbye.
Jo flashed him the finger and shoved out of the double doors.
There was a smoking area outside, not far from his exit, which had become Jo’s second home in this school. He lit up a cigarette just as his phone buzzed in his pocket; irritated, he fished it out and flipped it open as he took a very long drag.
To his surprise, it was from Shouri. You free on Friday? it asked.
Jo’s breath hitched, keeping the smoke in his lungs a second too long. He coughed it out, wiping his mouth with the back of a hand, and felt the thump of his heart pick up speed.
He hadn’t heard from Shouri in weeks. She was supposedly out of town–her excuse for not attending the vow renewal ceremony–and whenever he got a random text like this from her, it had the potential to be…important. His stomach tightening, he typed out a reply.
Maybe. Everything okay?
Everything’s fine. I’m gonna check out a live rock show and thought you might wanna come.
The tension released Jo, slumping his shoulders. He sighed and took another drag.
That’s it? he asked. I’m kinda busy with stuff.
Adam said your vow renewal was rough. Sorry to hear that–thought you could use a night out.
And there it was: the inevitable, unsolicited commentary from everyone in the world regarding his private life. Jo was tired of being frustrated. Now he just felt…depressed.
Maybe next time, he replied before snapping the phone shut. He closed his eyes and gripped the bridge of his nose, willing away the tension headache as his cigarette dangled from his fingers.
Mitsuko’s class ended in ten minutes. On a normal Monday, they’d meet up, maybe go out for lunch, and then head home. This was the only block during the week where they both had empty schedules and the rest of their roommates were out until later, so they usually took the opportunity to have sex.
It was their “date night,” in a way. But they’d skipped it the last two weeks, since Mitsuko had been busy finishing plans for the vow ceremony. And now… Well, Jo had no idea what to do now.
Should I go to her class and try to pick her up? he wondered. Did she even come to class today? He’d already spoken with her over the phone–to apologize, which she’d thinly accepted–but they hadn’t made firm plans of what to do next. Showing up at her class to walk her home felt like toeing the line between a romantic gesture and rubbing salt in her wound. Maybe just going straight home and meeting her there would be less…presumptuous.
He hated that he didn’t know how to make Mitsuko feel better when she was upset. She was such an independent force in his life, drawing her happiness when and where she felt like it. He knew the little stuff she liked and hated, sure, but her broader moods didn’t seem to have much to do with him. More than anything, he knew she just wanted Jo…there. By her side. Now that he’d yanked that away from her in a very public way…
Jo groaned around the stick in his mouth. Dammit.
Maybe a public gesture was the right step, to fix the public humiliation. Show up, hat in hand, to walk her back from class. He didn’t have time to get flowers…
His phone buzzed in his pocket again, breaking his train of thought. Wondering if he should text her first, he absently flipped open the phone.
The text was from Adam. The string of Hiragana and a few basic kanji was vaguely coherent, and to the point.
Accident at construction place. Kiyoshi hurt. Maybe come.
The cigarette fell from Jo’s lips.
For a moment, he just stood there, his brain whiting out as he stared at the tiny screen. It was only when a fellow smoker told him not to litter that Jo snapped back to reality.
Jo slammed the heel of his sneaker against his half-finished cigarette while he typed Adam a one-word reply. Then he opened a new message to Mitsuko, his thumbs shaking as he tapped at the keys.
Emergency. Sorry, I’ll be home later. Love you.
He was already running when he pressed send.
The campus library was full on weekday afternoons, which meant Ayase could never find a cubicle free. She sat on one end of a long communal table, her homework and several reference textbooks sprawled out in front of her as she gently jabbed the tip of her pencil into her thumb to keep herself awake.
You can sleep later, she told herself firmly, jabbing her thumb a little harder. Finish the homework, pick up groceries, and then you can crash at home. Her shift at the bakery had started at dawn, which was murder on a day when she had three classes and a test. The graph paper in front of her started to swim, the little boxes growing fuzzy as the white of the paper swallowed the thin lines.
She finally gave up. Burying her head in her arms on the table, she silently swore she’d only close her eyes for fifteen minutes.
The quiet murmur of other students and the soft rumble of wheeled carts drifted into her ears. The sounds slowly faded away as sleep drew a dark veil over her mind.
A slight click near her face pierced through the blackness. Delirious, she couldn’t tell if she’d dreamed it.
Until she felt the sensation of a huge hand clap on her body.
A very old survival instinct exploded through her nerve endings, jerking her in her chair like a corpse spasming to life. She jumped to her feet, whipping around, grabbing the intrusive wrist as her palm burst out several insects to buzz wildly around her.
Hazel eyes widened down at her.
For a few seconds, Ayase forgot where she was, who she was. Was she dreaming? As she stared blankly up at the huge foreigner, her warning bugs flapped around in confusion, their compound eyes absorbing the view of a nearby librarian and several patrons staring at her.
Nick Marshall tugged down his baseball cap, a forced smile pulling at his bearded jaw. “Missed you, too,” he said through his teeth as he tugged his wrist in her death grip.
She released him in shock. Did I…turn into bugs?! she thought, horrified, before Nick swept an arm widely through the air, scooping the few bugs that hovered around her to crush into her back. He pulled her in for a bear hug, exaggerated for their audience, which gave her several precious seconds to crawl the bugs up to her collar and under fabric to melt into flesh.
“Didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, loud enough for nearby people to hear them. “It’s just me, sweetie.”
Ayase swallowed hard. She nodded against his chest, rigidly, as heat flooded to her face.
The patrons went back to what they were doing, although the librarian scowled at them. When Nick finally released her, she pulled back too fast, swaying on unsteady feet.
“What are you doing here?” she whispered harshly.
He rolled his eyes, gesturing to her homework on the table. She looked down to see what had clicked so near her face–a small can of coffee, rested in an offering beside her books.
“Sachi said you come here this time of day. I remember college–take the caffeine.”
Ayase blinked her bleary eyes and closed her hand around the chilled can. Desperate to calm down, she rested it against her forehead and let the cold seep into her skin.
She hadn’t seen Nick in months. English tutoring with him had gotten awkward after their unintentional Christmas…date thing, so she’d retreated a bit and mostly just talked to him via text. His blond beard was full but trimmed, like he’d finished growing it out; the curling blond hair sticking out under his new cap looked recently cut, too. Dark blue jeans and an actual sweater hugged his huge frame, which made him look significantly less sketchy than usual.
“Are you…going to the opera or something?” she asked without thinking. “You’re not dressed like a fugitive.”
His brow furrowed. “The friggin’ mouth on you. I came from a work conference.”
Ayase blinked. She couldn’t even imagine Nick at a work conference, unless that counted him sitting around a table in wartime with generals. And yelling at them.
“You know I help Hatsumi’s lab out when they’re short-staffed,” he explained sourly. “We had to present data today and I don’t own a suit, since stores in Japan don’t carry the size Giant White Guy.”
“You could get a suit made.”
“I’m not gonna piss away cash on something like that. I kept the wheelchair from when I got shot just in case I get shot again.” He tilted his head toward the library’s exit. “Got a few minutes? Wanted to ask you something.”
“I…guess. Let me pack up my stuff.” Exhaustion still pulled on Ayase’s brain, so getting her homework done now was probably a lost cause. As she tucked her notebooks into her bag and piled up her reference books, she noticed Nick peering at a few covers. He grunted some sort of approval.
“What are you studying again?” he asked.
“Mostly math. A little science.”
“Got a career in mind?”
“A career?” Ayase repeated, making a face as she carried the stack of books to a nearby cart. “I’m barely into my second year. I can’t think past my next midterm.”
Nick smirked a little at that, grabbing her bag for her. She opened her mouth to ask for it, but he was already heading for the exit, forcing her to run up behind him.
He led her to a stone bench tucked away in a corner of the library’s courtyard, shaded under some trees and blissfully empty. The October sky that afternoon was already thick and overcast, so the dappled shade Ayase sat in was more of a muddied dimness.
Nick leaned back on the bench, sprawling his arms over the backrest and crossing his long legs. She shifted forward enough to make sure his arm didn’t accidentally brush her shoulder.
“You work at that bakery near your house,” he began. “Right?”
“Is that your only job? I know Zayd offered you a bigger stipend, but you refused.”
Ayase let out a breath. She cracked the tab on the can of coffee.
“I already don’t like taking his money for school,” she murmured before taking a sip. “The bakery doesn’t pay much, but it’s enough to cover the extra stuff.”
“Must be hard doing that when you’re a full-time student. Sachi said he’s not sure how much you’re sleeping.”
Ayase took a bigger swig of the coffee. “What did you need to ask me?” she asked, growing impatient. “I still have stuff to do today.”
Nick didn’t reply for a moment, his eyes trailing up to the sky. He sucked his teeth.
“I’ve been talking to Daniel over the phone–the Church has been bouncing him around Europe as they try to deal with some stuff. I think he’s in Germany right now.” Nick swung his head to meet Ayase’s eyes. “Looks like the Vatican’s getting a little desperate and is in recruitment mode for their interfaith outreach branch.”
Ayase’s fingers tightened on her coffee can. “So?”
“Daniel’s been mulling over you a lot. He thinks you’d be a perfect team member to help with a little ‘project’ of theirs.” Nick raised an eyebrow. “Ever consider working for the Vatican, Ayase?”
Ayase squinted at him, confused. “A project,” she repeated. “For the Catholic Church.”
“Nah, something in Tokyo. I told him there was no way in hell you’d leave all your friends here.”
A ripple of relief radiated through her chest, although it was immediately washed away by a wave of anxiety.
“This would be, like…a job?” she asked. “What is this project, exactly?”
“No clue. Daniel just wanted me to find out if this even vaguely interested you.”
Ayase swallowed. “That’s not a lot of information to…” She trailed off, buried fears rising up like ghosts. Other than keeping in touch with Daniel, she hadn’t even thought about the Catholic Church in years. War made strange bedfellows, but that didn’t mean she wanted to hop back into bed with them.
“It…it took a long time for us to put the fight with Core behind us,” she said thinly. “I know the Church helped us out then, but I really don’t want to walk into another nightmare like that.”
“Believe me, I know. The minute I was sure Core was crushed, I left the Vatican’s payroll and I don’t regret it for a second.” He shrugged. “Adam and Shouri are still in the reserves, though. If the Church needs them, they have to pack up and leave.”
Really? Ayase thought, her heart sinking. Maybe in the back of her mind, she’d known that Adam and Shouri–both foreigners who had lived across the world–might move away again someday. But with the way they’d settled into Tokyo and taken full-time jobs, she’d never expected them to still be technically working for the Church.
The thought was…depressing. Adam had lived in her house for over a year–once Kadoyuki moved in, Adam gave up his room to him, and now shared a bedroom with Sachi where he slept on the top bunk of their bunkbed, for crying out loud. The Church could make him leave…?
“You don’t have to be in the reserves like them,” Nick added, as if reading her mind. “Those guys are lifers because they wanna be. If this is just one project, you could take off once it’s finished, like I did with Core.” Nick paused. “The Vatican’s rich, Ayase–I bet they’d pay you ten times whatever your part-time job does. Maybe get you started on real adult independence, through work you did with your own hands.”
Ayase rubbed her eyes. “This sounds like…a bad idea.”
When he didn’t elaborate, Ayase stared at him. He uncrossed his legs and lowered his elbows to his knees.
“Look,” he murmured. “I came from a church family, but I ran the hell away from that and never looked back. I never thought in a million years I’d work for the Catholic Church, but they’re connected, Ayase. And powerful. I was a day or two away from being murdered by Core in a gutter when I ran into Daniel. They protected me in Tokyo when I didn’t think anyone on Earth could keep me alive with that kinda bounty Core put on my head, and Japan is, like, one percent Christian.
“To tell you the truth…we’ve had a few peaceful years here, but I still sleep with one eye open. We made a lot of enemies in that fight with Core. Even if the organization’s gone, all it takes is one nutjob with a grudge to find out where we work and follow us home. Hell, or for the yakuza we got mixed up in to decide we’re worth whacking.” Nick flipped a hand in the air. “Not to scare you, but you know what I mean. I think I’m gonna feel like that for the rest of my life in this city. And joining the Church, even if it’s temporary… That kinda thing can protect you and the people you love in ways nothing else will.”
Ayase closed her mouth, her eyes dropping down to the coffee can cradled in her lap. Dread built up in her stomach like an old, familiar friend.
“You think…I should do it,” she translated, the words spiny in her mouth. “To keep my friends safe in the future.”
“No.” He shifted on the bench next to her, the air moving as he did so. “I’m just saying you should consider it.”
She finally looked up. He was turned to face her on the bench now, something unreadable in his hazel eyes. Slowly, he reached out and gripped both her shoulders.
“No one’s gonna make this decision but you, Ayase.” He grunted. “If you say no, they’ll back off. Don’t let them, or me, or anyone push you around about this.”
Ayase furrowed her brow. “Kinda defeats the purpose when you order me to not take orders from you.”
Nick flinched slightly, his broad palms releasing her. “Fair.”
Ayase slumped back into the bench. She felt Nick stir next to her–felt his hand hover by her shoulder in an awkward attempt at comfort–and was just despondent enough to not push him away.
For a long moment, she didn’t know what to say. She squirmed in her seat, wishing this conversation had happened on a day when her brain and body weren’t exhausted from keeping up with work and school.
Her…mundane schedule. Her peaceful schedule. The schedule of a regular girl in her university days.
Almost like she wasn’t a monster who burst into insects when a friend surprised her in a library.
Ayase gritted her teeth.
“I need…more information,” she murmured at last. “This whole thing is way too vague.”
“If you’re willing to hear them out, they wanna fly you out to Italy to interview with a bishop or something–he’ll give you the rundown.” Nick let out a breath. “I told Daniel you shouldn’t go alone, and he said you could bring someone with you. He suggested Sachi, which might be a good idea. He can use his powers to get the vibe of the bishop.”
A sudden realization struck Ayase. “Does the Vatican…know what we can do?” she asked. “Like, our powers and stuff?”
“I don’t know the extent of what Daniel told the Church, other than how pivotal you were in the fight against Core. But knowing his big fucking mouth, they might know everything about you, down to the brand of your underwear.” Nick sighed. “But the Church literally wrote the book on supernatural powers. They’ve been secretly cataloguing that shit with monks in dusty archives since before the Dark Ages. They might know more about why you turn into bugs than you do.”
Surprised, Ayase stiffened in her seat. She had no idea how to take that.
Why she turned into insects was a question she’d long assumed had no answer.
Proceed to Chapter 2, Part 1, page 2–>