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The gigantic fox hunched up and pounced towards me as if the rules of physics did not apply to it. Instead of jumping backwards, I dived in front of it and rolled forward to get behind it and hopefully avoid its fangs. The double tail hit my ribs hard. Momentarily, my breath left me and my vision blurred.
I fell on the floor, somehow reducing the impact with the aikido techniques that has been drilled into me. I picked myself up and began to run.
“Hahahaha!! That’s right! Run away! Run!”
Before Haruaki’s loud laughter faded away, I bumped into a strange transparent wall, clearer than glass. It must have been the boundary Haruaki that had created. I looked back to see the evil beast slowly approaching. “What can I do now?, I asked myself and slid my hand into my yukata subconsciously. I felt something there. It was the origami shuriken that Kuzuha had given me.
“Well, well. Are you going to fight against me with that thing?” Haruaki mocked me as I picked up the origami shuriken. In desperation, I threw it towards the evil fox. The piece of paper transformed into a small falcon and attacked the gigantic fox. The falcon used its sharp talons and beak to combat the monstrous beast. Without warning, the falcon suddenly turned around in mid-air and flew over towards Haruaki. It narrowly missed him, ripping his yukata at the shoulder.
“So, you have a Tsukumo Shuriken. What cheek!”
Haruaki began interlocking his fingers and cast a spell.
“Shingon Tachikawa-Ryu! Skeletal Serpent Flames!”
A flame flared up in front of him. It was rising while coiling up into a snake.
Upon his order, the burning snake bit into my falcon. Both of them disappeared in an instant, leaving just tiny ashes behind. The gigantic fox pushed me down on to the floor, its front legs baring down on my chest. I struggled to breathe. My lungs were being crushed. Unable to fight back, I was barely conscious from the intense pain.. I could only watch my body gradually become transparent. It was stealing my existence itself…
I guess this is the end for me.
I felt deep regret that I couldn’t remember my actual name, let alone my home country or my family who were living there. Nothing could be done now. I just hoped that Kuzuha could find my family and tell them that I bravely stood up against evil, that I didn’t give up until the very last moment and left this world with pride.
I could see that the chained medallion on my chest was glowing. That alone had not turned transparent. People say that items conceal the memories of the people who have touched them. Perhaps it is true. The clear vision of the memory concealed within the mysterious medallion began to pour into my mind.—
The heavy rain did not seem to stop falling deep in the jungle. It was the front line during the second world war. A young Allied soldier, drenched by the rain, was wandering through the jungle in search of the rest of his unit. His hunger and exhaustion were past his limits, but he had to continue to walk in order to survive. Eventually he found himself in a small clearing. It was like a secret room in the dense forest. His eyes fixed on a soldier sat there leaning against a tree. It was a Japanese soldier.
The two soldiers simultaneously pointed their guns at each other. They glared at their enemy’s eyes without moving a muscle.
Time stopped. The only sound in the world was the sound of the torrential rain. The familiar sound of explosions and light machine guns could not be heard.
The Japanese soldier had lost his leg below his knee, probably due to a grenade explosion. The Allied soldier dropped his gun and approached the enemy. He pushed aside the barrel of the gun the Japanese soldier was holding and began to administer first aid.
“Why are you doing this to me?” the Japanese soldier asked in English.
“You… speak English?”
“So, you must understand this- don’t speak.”
The Japanese soldier kept his mouth shut until the Allied soldier finished the first aid. Despite his extreme blood loss and his exhaustion, he showed not even a trace of agony on his face.
Out of blue, the Japanese soldier pointed his gun at the Allied soldier. He was was about to shout a slur at the Japanese man, but stopped. The Japanese soldier’s gun was firmly aimed at him and moving just an inch may cause him to fire. The Japanese soldier’s finger moved, and a single, dry gunshot echoed.
The Allied soldier opened his eyes and turned around to see a dead snake sprawled on the ground behind him. The snake was deadly, and could have easily killed him with just one bite.
“It was my last bullet. I kept it to kill myself…” The Japanese man croaked out his words.
“It’s these times that are crazy,” the Japanese soldier said and faintly smiled.
The Allied soldier carried the dying Japanese on his back and walked through the jungle. He didn’t know why he did it, but felt it was his duty for him to do so. He walked across the muddy river where ferocious crocodiles lived, carrying the man on his back. When he reached the other side, the man asked “Put me down here.” He laid him down on the riverbank.
“I think my time has come to an end…”
“Come on. You’re a samurai, aren’t you?”
The Japanese soldier smiled and told the Allied soldier to take a chained object from his neck. It wasn’t his soldier identification tag, but a small medallion with an elaborate relief. When he received the medallion, the Japanese soldier told him, “It’s called the Hokuto Wheel. It’s a guard for the Ryusei Sword…”
The dying soldier explained that his family had passed down two holy relics for generations: they were the Hokuto Wheel and the Ryusei Sword. It is said that if the two holy relics become one, a tremendous power would be released. There were plans to use this power for the war. In order to block this attempt, he took one of them with him far from Japan to the battleground. He smuggled out the Hokuto Wheel, as it was small enough to stitch into the back of his uniform.
“Please take it. Take it back to your country and pass it on to your descendants. Keep it within your family forever. I have trust in you as you walked through hell carrying your enemy on your back…”
When the Japanese soldier heard the answer, the light from his eyes dimmed. He was leaving this world. His lips slightly moved.
He thanked the Allied soldier with his last breath in the language of his country.
This gold medallion that had been passed down in my family was the very Hokuto Wheel itself. My interest in Japan was sparked by things such as anime and manga, However, this Hokuto Wheel may have had some influence. It may have brought me to Japan, encouraged me to study here and… brought me together with Kuzuha.
Kuzuha’s image appeared in my mind.
At that moment, I heard someone shouting my name.
It was Kuzuha’s voice.
Go to Shikigami Girl Chapter 9: Flames of Evil →
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