Chapter One: Back to Life:
May 7th, 2009.
The Shinigami met for what seemed to be a normal case in Ju-Oh-Cho that morning. Konoe-san pulled up the case report on the laptop screen for the projector. An image of a woman appeared with her profile.
"Kimoto Anna," the Chief spoke up. "Age twenty-six and interpreter from San Diego, California. She was found murdered outside of a hotel in Tokyo. Cause of death was strangulation. It's most likely that the killer threw her out the window post-mortem. The police found the marks of the Eda-Kimoto clan burned into her wrists. The people above suspect that she's another victim of the clan's blood sacrifices." Tsuzuki took another bite of his cake as he glanced at the picture. Something about Anna caught his attention.
"She looks so familiar…" he thought as he looked on at the picture.
"Tsuzuki," the Chief went on. "You and Hisoka may have met Kimoto-san ten years ago during the first Eda-Kimoto case." Both boys' eyes grew big in shock. Tsuzuki put all of the pieces together in his mind. This woman was the girl he stayed with that same Halloween night. The Shinigami remembered the kiss that he gave her. He couldn't believe Anna had been killed. Tsuzuki's mood shifted to a serious one.
"And… what would you like us to investigate?" he asked.
"Stop the Eda-Kimoto clan from killing!" the Chief ordered. "I am told from above that we can't have any more victims!"
"Yes sir!" Tsuzuki and Hisoka said together before bowing.
Anna's body had been taken to a funeral home for crematory preparations. Tsuzuki went alone to pay his last respects. The man needed to convince his partner that he needed to do this first.
"I feel that I have to do this," he told Hisoka. His partner narrowed his eyes at him.
"I don't really think that's a good idea," Hisoka warned him as they headed out to the city. Tsuzuki gave him a puzzled look.
"Why is that?" the man asked. Hisoka shook his head.
"I can't quite explain it," the boy began, "I just don't think it's a good idea at this time."
"I promise I'll be careful," Tsuzuki insisted, "It won't even take too long. Please?" The older Shinigami gave him a sweet little look. Hisoka sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Fine, but you have to make it back to Ju-Oh-Cho before sundown," he said. Tsuzuki gave him a quick bow.
"Thank you, Hisoka!" he said. His partner frowned and groaned to himself.
"Whatever," he mumbled.
Tsuzuki tracked down the funeral house through the paper. It only took him a minute to get there. The Shinigami made it inside without being noticed. He made it to the casket and found a man stood over Anna's dead body. Curious, the Shinigami walked over to him and the casket. The man looked up and saw him when he heard footsteps enter the room. He looked to be in his mid-seventies dressed in all black. His reddish black hair had just been neatly cut. Tsuzuki froze up for a moment. The man smiled at him kindly.
"Ah," he said aloud. "Come here to pay your respects?" Tsuzuki nodded at him.
"Yeah," he replied. The man stepped aside some. Tsuzuki walked over to the open casket and looked in. Except for the red ligature mark around her neck and paleness to her skin, Anna looked more asleep than dead, peacefully dreaming in fact. A young beautiful woman dead at twenty-six; such a shame. Tsuzuki's heart ached in pity for her.
"Twenty-six years old," the other man spoke up. "It's so horrible." The Shinigami looked up at him. The other man focused his attention on Tsuzuki.
"Oh sorry! Just talking to myself out loud," he replied quickly as he waved his hands. "I'm Iwao Kato, by the way. I knew Anna and her father personally."
"Tsuzuki Asato," the Shinigami said back, "I'm a friend of the deceased too." Both men shook hands. Tsuzuki had a strange feeling about that guy from the touch, but he kept it to himself. They let go and turned back to the body. The old man smirked to himself as he had already found the second element to put his plan into motion.
"Wonder what happened to her?" Kato asked Tsuzuki. The Shinigami looked up at him again.
"Wasn't she murdered by her family?" he asked.
"So you're familiar with the Eda-Kimoto stories?" the other man asked him. "You heard about the mark burned onto her wrists?"
"Yeah!" Tsuzuki replied, "I don't understand."
"Understand what?" Kato asked. Tsuzuki shook his head.
"Why would her own family kill her after all these years?" Tsuzuki asked. "I mean, they had the chance that night. Why would she even come back to Japan with the chance of them coming back to kill?" Kato gave him a little smile as he began to act on his plot.
"Why don't you ask her yourself?" he suggested. Tsuzuki looked at him confused.
"How?" he asked. Kato grinned like the devil himself. The man reached into his heavy black coat and drew out a black jewel-like stone. Tsuzuki's eyes grew big in shock.
"A Hell Stone?" he asked almost aloud.
"Shhh!" Kato whispered to him, "Not so loud." Red flags went off in Tsuzuki's mind. The Hell Stone wasn't stable at all. This gem went into the mouth of the corpse and anchored the soul back to the body. However, it could only stay in a body for one minute or else someone else had to die in their place. Plus, if the Hell Stone dissolved, the body would become white ash—soul and all. Tsuzuki looked on uncertain.
"But that only lasts for a minute without killing anybody!" he whispered back.
"So?" Kato suggested. "That's all you would need. You can't let this key information slip away." Tsuzuki thought about that for a moment. The Hell Stone carried many risks, but he needed anything to stop the Eda-Kimoto clan from killing any more victims. If he had only one minute to talk to the victim, then so be it.
"Okay," Tsuzuki said at last. "I'll bring her back." Kato nodded at him gracefully. And now the plan really begins.
"Wise decision," he replied. The man handed him the stone. Tsuzuki took it and turned back to Anna's dead body.
I'm so sorry about this, Kimoto-san!, he thought. The Shinigami slipped the Hell Stone into the dead woman's mouth. The powerful gem connected inside of her heart with such a shock, it nearly shut casket lid. Tsuzuki opened it back up to see her eyes wide open and staring at him. Anna sat up and looked around.
"Where am I?" she asked. "What happened to me?" Tsuzuki stepped forward.
"You've been murdered," he explained to her. "Strangled and dumped out a window to be exact." Anna took it all in piece by piece.
"By who?" she asked. "Why would they do such a thing?"
"That's what I'm trying to figure out…" Tsuzuki replied. Anna slowly climbed out of the casket. The Shinigami became rather distracted. Ten years had been a long time and Anna had grown into quite an attractive young woman. Such a waste for her to die so soon…
"What if… you didn't have to be dead?" he asked her. Anna looked at him slightly puzzled.
"What do you mean?" she asked. Tsuzuki got lost in her green-tinted brown eyes. Right then, time ran out. In place of Anna being alive, the greedy old funeral director croaked in his office of cardiac arrest while counting all of the money and other riches that he had stolen off the deceased that passed through the funeral home over the years. However, Tsuzuki and Anna didn't think about that at all. They had other things to worry about at the moment. The pair heard footsteps coming their way. They looked up right away.
"The undertaker!" Anna whispered in surprise. "What do we do?" Tsuzuki quickly covered her mouth.
"Shhh! Listen closely to me," he whispered to her. "Hide in the casket for now. I know the mortician there. I'll get him blind drunk. Once he's passed out, I'll get you out right away, understand?" Anna nodded at him quickly.
"Okay, quick! Get in!" Tsuzuki instructed her. The woman climbed back into the casket. The Shinigami closed the lid and vanished. The undertaker's assistant came and took the coffin away. Tsuzuki watched them from the back corner invisibly. Suddenly, he felt that this plan wasn't a good idea anymore. Too late to worry about that now; he could only go with the current plan and hope for the best.