Here’s the prologue to this story that I’ve had in my head for a long, long, long time. It was one of the first stories I ever thought of back in secondary school, and the first and only to have a proper setting in Japan. Though the original idea held a lot of crappy plotholes and over-complicated details, this introduction was written last year from a brand new idea I had come up with, where the main characters were, besides being normal high schoolers, also vigilantes that combat corruption. Thanks to that idea, the original plot was completely scrapped, though much of the setting and character background remained as it was.
But don’t get the wrong idea here. This story is not about politics, but about the two high schoolers trying to solve a series of mysterious disappearance in their town, while trying to clear the names of their respective families who died tragic deaths. The two are best friends with each other in school, and even begin to fall in love, but neither are aware that each other are their masked partners. It’s a pretty dark story with some light comedy, and a concept that I really enjoy. The Japanese setting also allows me to draw on my interest of their culture and language, especially with their strict ideals and concepts of family honour.
As of now, this story is being adapted into an RPG Maker game. I realised that, due to the nature of the mysteries, allowing the audience to actually take part in the investigation would be more entertaining than reading about it.
Readability — 7th Grade
Est. Reading Time — 00:03:33
A gunshot echoed in the darkness. In the dim light of the moon, two figures darted from the awoken building into the cover of night.
For some minutes, only silence stood. The participants, rudely awoken, remained bewildered at the sight of their intruders’ departure. Perhaps they were trying to justify that what they saw was merely an illusion, that the firing of the gun that they heard hadn’t came from… who they thought it was. But a fury of hurried steps down the stairs towards the basement convinced them that the truth was as they had seen. And, as though to further cement the truth, a single red camellia — stemless — laid in the now-empty vault of the underground passage.
“They have come,” they whispered. “The Shinigamis have come to us.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” their master cried, his face a bright red. He turned to all of them, the barrel of his gun still smoking, and raised his free hand as though to slice the air. “They are just two thieves with masks!”
He knew, better than the rest of them, what the red flower meant… Even without the sight of his empty vault, he knew his end was to come. The thieves knew no mercy, and their tactics were vicious and accurate. His vault had contained all the taxes he had pocketed from people, as well as the records of his supporters who would benefit from the money.
He had known they were coming: their warning was always a white chrysanthemum with a red ribbon tied on its stem, placed on the door of their target. That warning was their only form of mercy, for the receiver to have the chance to turn themselves in. And he had chosen to challenge them, placing a gun by his side and setting traps around his house.
But the thieves had their reputation for a reason. He should have known better than to compete against them.
As the heat in his head faded away into regret, he turned to look at his empty vault. His servants have all hurried away at his last shout, and god knows how long he has stood there all alone.
His wife and son were away on vacation. They would only be back tomorrow night. But that would be too late: the thieves would have long publicised his crimes and presented white chrysanthemums on the doors of all his supporters. He could run before the authorities got him, but what was the use? His enemies could easily capture him now that he has lost protection. Where could he go? He stood staring at the gun in his hand.
Another gunshot rang throughout the mansion, and instantly everyone knew. That always happened whenever the two Shinigamis arrived at a house. That always happened if a white chrysanthemum and a red camellia were left behind as their symbols.
A Shiragiku and a Benitsubaki. The white flower asks for truth. The red flower tells of transience. Both are symbols of passing, of death.
The servants contemplated if they should grief. They discussed, with as little words as they could, who should go to retrieve his body, who should make a call to his wife, who should make a call to the authorities, and who should begin packing and making their getaway. Some suggest if they should even call anyone at all, that perhaps they ought to burn all records of any employee in the house and abandon the place.
A few of them did so. A few, more righteous and dignified, stayed to make the calls. Two men went to retrieve the body. It laid right in front of the vault, gun in hand, blood from its forehead. They wrapped the body in cloth and placed it in a dark room, awaiting their next instructions. Some prayed to their gods while others stared into space.
Those that fled took all they could and left. Most already had their bags packed from when they first saw the white flower at the door of the mansion. They all knew it was coming, and those that rejoiced the eventual end of their employer quickly ran out of the building without hesitation.
Dawn had only just began to break, but darkness still clung to the streets. The thick layer of snow that covered the streets masked the sound of their steps, the sunlight glistening in the snow caught between tree branches. No doubt their mass exodus had caught some attention, as lights began flickering on in nearby houses, one after another. But on the servants ran, aiming for the train station a distance away.
One of them looked up and gave an audible gasp. Others followed, landing their gazes on a roof of a nearby house. Two figures, one draped in a white kimono with a yellow bike helmet, and another dressed in a black leather jacket with a kitsune mask, watched their procession from above. Their expressions were hidden by their headwear, and after a minute they both leapt off the edge, vanishing just as the sun rose up.
‘Tsuki’ and ‘Yoru’, Moon and Night: the masked vigilantes of ‘Usetsu-shi’, Snow Rain City. One works to defend the innocents, while the other works to prosecute the guilty. And just like their names, neither would appear until the sun sets on the city.