Satsukawa: "Well in that case let's get to work! There's much to discuss and the sooner we start, the sooner we can go to the crime site for an inspection. I assume you'd want to check it personally."
Erika: "You assume correctly."
Satsukawa: "Please, have a seat. This will take some time and I have a few documents that I need to show you."
We all sit around the table. Strangely I don't feel any excitement at all, even if I have been waiting for a chance to make use of my many little grey cells for a while now. I seriously hope that this whole affair will turn out to be more complex than how it appears.
Satsukawa: "Let's begin with the basic facts. Hitomi Gotsuji, 17 years old, was found dead on the eleventh day of this month, four days ago. The coroner confirmed that she died between 5:30 and 6:30 pm. However several witnesses claim she was still alive at around 6:00 o' clock. That's the last time she was seen."
Erika: "And I suppose these several witnesses are Gotsuji's club members."
Satsukawa: "That's correct. The victim had been training in the school gym until 5:45. At that time most club members, including the victim, moved to the changing room. After taking a shower and changing in her school uniform, the victim left the room. From there nobody knows where she headed to. Naturally we presume she went to the old P.E. shed where her body was found."
Erika: "I suppose she wasn't the only one who was done in the changing room by that time. Isn't it strange that nobody wondered why she didn't head for the exit like everyone else?"
Satsukawa: "We didn't ask... but we know that all the club members that were with the victim at that time headed straight out of the school in a time span of about ten minutes from 5:55 to 6:05."
Erika: "If I understand correctly, you're implying that not all the club members ended their practice at 5:45."
Satsukawa: "That's correct. It appears that the club president wanted to train until 6:00, but because Gotsuji asked and was granted to leave earlier, most members decided that they had the same right and followed her."
Erika: "It was the victim's precise request?"
Satsukawa: "Yes, and in the team we're all convinced that this is an important element to solve this case."
Erika: "In other words the victim had an appointment with the culprit and she didn't want to be late."
Satsukawa: "That's what we think."
Erika: "This looks way too easy. Are you really sure this case requires my talents?"
Satsukawa: "There are complex matters that we can't fully comprehend yet. We'll get to those later. As for the members that remained in the gym, those are the president herself and a second year student. Their names are Kagami Hibari and Yuu Azuma respectively."
Erika: "And how much longer they've been training?"
Satsukawa: "We couldn't get precise times, but they said they also had to collect the basket balls and perform other clean up operations. In the end Hibari left school at 6:34 and Azuma at 6:39."
Erika: "That's after the body was discovered!"
Satsukawa: "Yes. However both claim they didn't notice the commotion and they went home without realizing their friend had been murdered."
Dlanor: "Mister Satsukawa, I presume there is a reason you can state the time they left with such precision."
Satsukawa: "As a matter of facts, yes. There's a surveillance camera just outside the school's entrance. We've been using its records to validate the girls' claims, and they all match when you consider an acceptable margin of error."
Erika: "And I suppose Hibari and Azuma provided an alibi to each other."
Satsukawa: "That's correct, but that doesn't amount to much if they're both involved in the crime. To be fair, our main problem is that we have way too many possible culprits, but none that we can consider more suspicious than the rest."
Dlanor: "Excluding the club members, who was the last person that saw the victim alive?"
Satsukawa: "The culprit!"
Erika: "Very funny."
Rokudou: "An old classic, hu hu hu."
Satsukawa: "Ha ha ha! Sorry, I always wanted to say that! I was just trying to break the tension."
Erika: "Your sense of humor is terrific."
Satsukawa: "Thanks! ... I guess..."
Erika: "However your answer assumed that the culprit isn't a club member."
Satsukawa: "That was just a joke... a-hem... Anyway to answer Dlanor's question, excluding the club members nobody saw the victim after the last period ended. In other words after around 3:30 pm."
Erika: "Let's talk about the cause of the death."
Satsukawa: "Well, there's not much to doubt about that. The victim's heart was pierced by a wakizashi, a traditional Japanese sword. She died almost instantly."
Erika: "A wakizashi you said? That's quite unusual..."
Satsukawa: "And that's not all. We made it check by an expert and he claims it's an authentic shinshinto sword, it'd probably sell for a lot of money if properly restored."
Dlanor: "Shinshinto, that means it is more than one century old, if not two centuries."
Erika: "You said: if properly restored?"
Satsukawa: "It isn't in perfect conditions, it wasn't properly tended, but the blade is still deadly. We believe it's probably a forgotten family heirloom. We still don't know who's the owner, and it's practically impossible to retrace it, since apparently the sword wasn't sold recently."
Erika: "I see, a proper shop would've properly polished it before selling it. But what about fingerprints?"
Satsukawa: "There are none to be found on the murder weapon, and the same goes for the hammer."
Satsukawa: "Ah, right! I didn't mention it yet. The victim was struck with a hammer between the parietal and occipital areas of the skull. We believe the culprit hit her from behind rendering her unconscious. The body was then stabbed using the wakizashi. Both weapons were found at the crime scene. By the way, I have the pictures that were taken when the investigation team arrived."
I take the photos and I study them carefully. The wakizashi is still piercing the girl's body and stands perpendicularly above her. The blood I see must have gushed out from the wound when the culprit struck. Judging from the state of her uniform, it seems that the culprit tried to undress her, but somehow stopped midway, or maybe he just wanted to make a mess, it's hard to tell. There are many objects that were marked and numbered, most of them seem to be third-rate occult garbage and dusty P.E. equipment. Some of them are scattered on the floor, and it seems they fell from a nearby shelf. The victim or the culprit must have accidentally bumped on it. There's also a cell phone on the floor, which I presume fell from the victim's body.
The schoolbag lying in a corner must also be hers. The hammer is broad and it's easy to imagine how it was used. There are several straw voodoo dolls inside a box and big iron nails. The body is right inside a magic circle that I easily recognize. It's the 'Circle of the Art' from the grimoire of Solomon. If memory serves well, it is used to summon demons.
There are several candles scattered through the perimeter. Judging by their state and the many blotches of melted wax, they must have been used for a long time. The last object that catches my attention is a statue, a reproduction of the Assyrian Pazuzu. It sits right in the middle of the triangle where conjured demons are supposed to appear, so right in front of the victim. It's quite big, at least one meter tall, maybe more. I'm not sure what material it is made of, probably some kind of clay.
Erika: "Is this the victim's phone?"
Satsukawa: "Yes, we confirmed it is, however we didn't find anything relevant on it. No strange calls, no strange messages, and she didn't use it at all on the day of the crime."
Erika: "Do you think she was sexually assaulted?"
Satsukawa: "I doubt, but we can't exclude that either. She wasn't sexually abused, that's for sure, but we don't know if the culprit tried to. The state of her clothes would suggest that, but it could be a red herring."
Erika: "And with all this stuff scattered around you didn't find any fingerprints?"
Satsukawa: "Oh no, actually... we've found a lot and not just that. We've found hairs and we recovered many other DNA samples. Naturally we've excluded those that might come from the time the shed was still used as a P.E. storage."
Erika: "Interesting... and you haven't found whom they belong to?"
Satsukawa gives me a strange smile.
Satsukawa: "Right now all that I can say is that they belong to at least sixteen different persons, all female."
Now, this is starting to get actually interesting. Maybe there's more than what meets the eyes in this whole affair.
Satsukawa: "Analysis are on their way, but it'll take time before we can have a complete answer. We collected fingerprints and DNA samples of more than six hundreds students, plus the teachers and everyone else that works in the school. And we're lucky that the Mitsugi institute isn't that big."
Erika: "I don't quite understand. With that many persons involved I can hardly believe that no one knew what was going on inside that shed. They must know who transformed it in that sort of magic den."
Satsukawa: "Well... that's the issue... We're pretty sure that many students know who's to blame for that, but nobody wants to talk. We do have a most probable suspect though."
Erika: "And who this mysterious person might be?"
Satsukawa: "Maaya Teramoto, which just happens to be the president of the occultism club."
Erika: "There's a club like that in that school?"
Satsukawa: "Funny, isn't it? But it looks like the principal decided to disband it, for obvious reasons."
Erika: "Did you interrogate her?"
Satsukawa: "Yes... that's a scary girl. We didn't get anything from her, she denied any involvement with that shed and with the crime. She said a strange thing though."
Erika: "Please do tell, I love strange things."
Satsukawa: "She said that Hitomi Gotsuji fell upon the wrath of Pazuzu."
Dlanor: "Pazuzu, he is the king of the demons of the wind in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology."
Erika: "Did that Teramoto girl explain what did she mean by that?"
Satsukawa: "We asked, but we didn't get any substantial information. She just kept talking about how demons are real and other occult nonsense. By the way it's not just her, many students seem to believe that that shed is cursed. Even when they don't openly say so, you can still tell that they're afraid."
Dlanor: "Mister Satsukawa, can you explain why the shed is no longer used as a P.E. storage?"
Satsukawa: "It's been that way from when they rebuilt the gym about four years ago. The new building included storage rooms for P.E. equipment, and they've been using those ever since."
Erika: "How come the old storage was never converted into something else? I mean... officially. It seems a waste to me."
Satsukawa: "Well, here's another funny fact... We've learned that there's been requests from a few clubs that wanted to use the shed for their activities, but the student council always refused."
Erika: "Bizarre... and the reason was?"
Satsukawa: "The president of the student council shamelessly admitted that it would've been a bother to fill all the required modules."
Erika: "And you believed him?"
Satsukawa: "Actually... yes. You need to meet the guy to understand."