120. In a detective novel, someone may suddenly called out at you
“―――Welcome. Are you, Kirishima-sama and Yamagami-sama? I’m the owner of this ‘Mizumi Inn’, my name is Shimizu. Your room has already been prepared. Please follow me.”
Atsushi and Kirishima were guided inside the ryokan “Mizumi Inn” in the mountains.
After they were guided to the room at the farthest back, Shimizu said, “Take your time” and left the place.
Finished looking around the room, Atsushi finally opened his mouth.
“Hmm… it’s more normal than I thought, or rather, it’s a good place.”
“How can you say such a carefree thing in this situation?”
“You, are you even in a position to tell me that?”
Seeing Kirishima who was lying down, Atsushi unintentionally made such a comment.
“I can’t help it. After a long trip by train and then bus, I’m tired.”
“Well, you’re not wrong, but… hmm? What is this?”
Atsushi noticed that there was a piece of paper on the desk, so he picked it up.
「It’s free time for a while」
That was all that was written.
“…This, is probably that. Another instruction by the guy who called us here? Really, I don’t understand… Oi, what are you doing?”
“Isn’t it written that we should take our time?
“Wait a minute, Oi. Who was the one who said to not be carefree earlier?”
“I mean, it can’t be helped even if we stay here like this. Rather, why don’t we go around the inn while gathering information?”
“I see. But, you sure are in the mood for relaxing huh?”
Even in such a situation, the conversation was so free as if there was no tension.
However, just as Kirishima said, there was no point in staying quiet here. So, gathering information should be the best move.
“…Huffff. Then, I’ll take a bath too.”
“Hey you. Even by mistake, don’t try to look into the women’s bath.”
Atsushi immediately made a comment on Kirishima’s words.
On their way to the bathroom, Atsushi and Kirishima were suddenly called out to by a woman.
She looked to be in her late twenties. She had the same black hair as Kirishima, but her hair was in a ponytail, and the color was somewhat a little bit more indigo than Kirishima’s.
“How rare. To think that there are people staying at this place at this time of year.”
“Right, let me introduce myself. I’m Kaneda Ichi. Nothing but a humble novelist.”
“Kaneda, Ichi……? ”
“Ah, did you think it was a strange name?”
“N-no, that’s not true…”
“Fufufu. Just kidding. Well, it’s a pen name. It’s easier for people to remember, as it’s a little unusual.”
Certainly, Atsushi had heard that some novelists and manga artists purposedly used unusual names in order to be remembered by their readers.
“This is the place I often use when I’m thinking of new ideas for my novels, but there shouldn’t be many people coming in this season.”
“Huh? Why so? I mean, it’s the summer right now…”
“Don’t you know? This village’s lore.”
Kirishima said while tilting her head. The same with Atsushi.
To such two people, Ichi began to explain.
“This place is called Hakamura Mutsu, right? The name comes from a girl named Mutsu who once lived in this village during the Warring States period. You see, Mutsu was a chivalrous thief. She picked things from a battlefield, and sometimes stole money from the wicked lord’s residence, and gave it to the poor. So, this village became a base for Mutsu’s activities.”
“But, one day, when the villagers learned of Mutsu’s true identity, they thought that Mutsu was carrying a large amount of treasure, so they deceived her, and then killed her by tearing her to pieces. After that, they went to search for the treasure but, they couldn’t find any. They found this out later, but apparently, Mutsu gave out everything to everyone, except the bare minimum of money for her to stay alive. That said, of course, she had no treasure.”
A chivalrous thief… A thief who stole money and treasures, to then give them out to poor people. Therefore, it could be guessed that such a person had nothing much to store. One should be able to understand it right away, but the villagers at that time must have been in such a desperate situation that they couldn’t even think of that.
“Now, this is the main problem…”
“Let me guess, after that, a natural disaster occurred in the village, and the villagers who thought it was Mutsu’s curse, built a grave for her, and so, this place named Mutsu Hakamura? And she was killed at this time of year, so there aren’t many tourists right now, is it?”
“Ara? Good guess.”
“No no… well, it’s just my rough guess…”
Well, Ichi talked quite a lot, so it wasn’t strange that Kirishima had a rough idea of the end.
“Well, that’s not the only reason why there aren’t many customers… Ah, I’m sorry. I kept people waiting for a while. Then, please excuse me.”
Saying so, Ichi left the place.
Looking at her back, Kirishima muttered.
“I wonder what it is… The story just now is different in some places, but I feel like it’s somehow reminiscent of the village of eight….” [TN: The Village of Eight Graves, from Kindaichi Mysteries]
Atsushi strongly disapproved of Kirishima’s opinion that gave out nothing but a bad omen.
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