[Write about putting together the pieces of puzzles.]
Luminee’s head was tilted back as she stared at the sky through the tree canopies, unmoving. To one side, her assistant stood with fidgety hands and shaky legs, constantly shifting, afraid.
“L-Luminee, are we done here yet?”
His eyes darted from one direction to the next, ever-vigilant for anything that could jump out of the bushes to surprise them.
“Yes, Rodener. We are done here. Let’s move…” Luminee finished watching the sky and looked down at the short man beside her. “…to another spot in the forest. I need more data.” She smirked.
Rodener’s eyes went from sparkling bright with cheer to downcast again, his body involuntarily shaking in fear. “Y-yes, ma’am…” He sulked.
Luminee chuckled, fully savoring what she thought was Rodener’s cute side, before adjusting the backpack on her shoulders to be more comfortable. “Let’s go.”
The two walked for some time in eerie silence, the only sounds for them to hear coming from the cracks of dead leaves and twigs below them. Nothing seemed too unusual during their hike in the forest, but that didn’t stop Rodener’s teeth from chattering. He was never good with horror stories, so what else could he do but cower when Luminee told him that fifteen murders took place in their general area?
“Stop.” Luminee commanded, the authority in her voice instantly bringing Rodener to a halt.
“Please don’t tell me you found something…”
“I found something. Stay still.”
Rodener softly whimpered as Luminee slung her pack off her shoulders and unzipped it. From within, she pulled out a plastic baggy with which she turned inside out, put over her hand like a glove, and used to scoop something up.
“Wait, did you just…”
Rodener watched in disgust as Luminee zipped up the brown object and placed it in her cargo pants pocket.
“Feces sample.” Luminee answered.
“But why?! Aren’t we here to solve murders?!”
Luminee smiled at her emotionally taxed assistant. “Because they weren’t murders at all.”
Rodener froze in place, slowly turning to look at Luminee’s smile. “What? How?”
Chuckling at the simple reaction, Luminee began explaining. “They were the work of youkai, as far as I can tell. Their bodies being shredded so efficiently—youkai. The uniform cut marks—youkai. The locations of the killings—youkai. The lack of animals around where the bodies were discovered—youkai.”
Rodener opened his mouth ready to interject, but Luminee continued. “I know what you’re going to say: If the killings were by youkai, then why wasn’t there any spiritual distortion of the corpses?”
Rodener closed his jaw and nodded.
“I know the answer to that, too, Rodener. However, I can’t yet tell you.” Luminee smiled at Rodener again, but much more sweetly than the other times that day when she teased him. “If all goes according to my plan, then… SHIT!”
Suddenly, Luminee moved with such speed that Rodener felt waves of air rush around her as she took a pair of long daggers Rodener had never seen before out of her backpack. The action left him wide-eyed and confused, but before he could say anything, Luminee used strength Rodener didn’t know she had to push him to the ground. When he tried to get up, Luminee hissed, “Stay down! It’ll be easiest to protect you if you stay still!”
“Wait, what’s goi-“
Before Rodener finished his sentence, his mind froze with fear at the sight of dozens of short, scrawny figures appearing out from behind trees around them. The creatures were less than three feet tall and had what looked like blades on each of their limbs. Flabbergasted, all Rodener could muster was, “Y-youkai…”
“Back off if you want to live!” Luminee yelled at the dozens of creatures encircling her and Rodener.
In response, a particularly strange youkai from the crowd stepped forward. It had the same gray skin color, but was shorter with a few horns growing from its head. “You trespassed into our territory. Surrender and be enslaved or perish!” It cried.
Rodener couldn’t believe his eyes as he looked back and forth from Luminee and the goblin youkai threatening her, not knowing what to think. On one hand, Luminee wasn’t a shaman, so why did the youkai bother acknowledging her existence rather than simply attack? On the other, Luminee looked like she had control over the situation, but without firearms or a shaman, fighting youkai would be impossible!
“Rodener.” He looked up to see Luminee gazing at him, the emotion in her expression something new to him. “You weren’t supposed to know about this for a while longer, but because I trust you, I won’t knock you out. Just stay calm and stay still.”
“Luminee, are you a shaman? Otherwise, what are you talk-“
Rodener’s mouth hung open in shock as Luminee began…transforming. The first part of her to change was her skin, which began reddening until it was the color of blood, but with mystical tattoo-like markings drawn on her. Then, the hair on her body shined with fiery light, her head and forearms blazing. Luminee also grew slightly taller, from an even six feet to six and a half. Lastly, her ears lengthened and sharp horns pointing to the sky grew from her skull.
Luminee ignored Rodener from then, yelling at the youkai. “I am of the Lysandrogonite Clan! Not only are you too puny to face me, but any injustice against one of ours is a challenge to us all! Surrender or die!” her last sentence released a shockwave of power that avoided Rodener but slammed into all the goblins, temporarily stunning them all except the leader.
Yet, Luminee’s display of power had the opposite reaction she had hoped for.
“She’s a Lysandrogonite! Kill her for the bounty!” The goblin youkai leader shrieked.
“Aw, fuck.” Luminee cursed, taking a battle stance.