Fire Blossom by Raikaku Rei The Third King, Suoh Mikoto, was dead. Naturally, Fushimi had never been present at a King’s death before, nor did he know what happened to clansmen at their King’s death. For that reason, he could not tell if what he was witnessing was normal under the circumstances or not. The embers of red light seeped out of the Red clansmen’s marks, and Fushimi absentmindedly watched them ascend into the sky. There, the lights amassed together, glowing softly. Somewhere amidst them, there was one from Fushimi’s own body as well – it slipped out from under the old burn scar etched just beneath his collarbone, and floated up into the sky to mix with the others like it. It was an odd feeling. The members of Scepter 4 scurried back and forth busily. There was a literal mountain of things waiting to be done in the wake of this incident, and he felt a massive headache creep up on him at the mere thought of it. And yet, despite his full awareness, he couldn’t bring himself to move, just standing there strangely dazed… “It resembles red flowers, don’t you think?” came a quiet voice from behind him. Turning around, he saw Munakata standing there. There was a crack in the lense of his glasses, and his uniform was somewhat dirty. Fushimi knew Munakata was stabbed to the abdomen in the scuffle, and, until just a few moments ago, was receiving first aid in the vehicle, but no one would have guessed it from his looks, his posture still straight as a ramrod, like usual. The blood of Suoh Mikoto his hand had been stained with had already been washed off. With that same hand Munakata pushed up his glasses. “The Third King was the symbol of violence, and yet his red is fading out like a delicate flower. You have got to appreciate the irony.” The red lights above them brought to mind funeral paper lanterns, offered to Suoh Mikoto and floating downstream; they also resembled a fading Homura mark, hazily painted on the backdrop of the sky; or, he had to admit, a bunch of red flowers blossoming on a tree. Or maybe… “His parting gift to those he abandoned…” He remembered the girl with crimson eyes that could only see red, who was always by Suoh Mikoto’s side. “Hoo, that was surprisingly romantic of you,” Munakata commented. His tone wasn’t teasing – on the contrary, the unusual seriousness of it only made it all the more irritating, and Fushimi clicked his tongue. “…Once we’re back to HQ, I’ll get to drawing up all the necessary paperwork regarding the death of Suoh Mikoto. And of Totsuka Tatara as well, since it was put on the backburner till now thanks to all what was going on at the time.” Scepter 4 – that is, Annex 4 of Census Division of Tokyo Regional Legal Affairs Bureau – was in charge of managing family register of all the registered kings, as well as their clansmen and strains. A king’s death was also handled in the offices of Scepter 4 as just another bureaucratic procedure. Generally, the real cause of death was classified, and the truth was only concisely recorded in Scepter 4’s internal documents, to be quietly stored away in obscurity. A thug died a dog’s death. For the outside world, this would be the only truth. “King or no king, in the end, you’re still dismissed as a single scrap of paper, eh.” “It is the same for everyone. Things you have accomplished in your lifetime, influence you had on other people, your personality, your way of life… none of it matters, once you die, your existence becomes but a record. The only difference between those with supernatural powers, like us, and ordinary people is whether that record is kept at a place open to the public or hidden away in a clandestine archive.” The wind blew. It was a chilly and damp breeze carrying with it the last of the snow that was falling until just a short while ago. Munakata looked up at the sky, his long bangs swaying in the wind. Without meaning to, Fushimi kept staring at his profile although it showed no signs whatsoever of what was going through the King’s mind, until the man’s eyes shifted abruptly to him. “I expect we will be very busy for a while, but when spring comes, let us make some time and go flower viewing all together.” If the red lights floating in the sky were what gave him the idea, then this proposal could certainly be viewed as being in an awfully morbid taste, but Fushimi only clicked his tongue once like usual and headed to the command vehicle. “Fine by me, if we’ll have time at all, that is.” The color of Suoh Mikoto’s light which had taken a visible shape and made him realize that it still lingered within him, as well as Yata’s form as the redhead wailed under the bridge mourning Suoh Mikoto both forced into a corner of his mind, Fushimi went back to Scepter 4’s tedious work.