And then, the silver wolf disappeared.
It happened during sunset. We arrived at a city we didn’t even know the name of.
I was standing on a street paved with stones and looked around. I brushed my long hair, which reached to my hips, back with my fingers. A strong wind started blowing so I held down the cuffs of my black sailor uniform and squinted my eyes to guard them against the wind.
The city looked old.
The wind blowing felt a bit too gentle considering we were nearing December already.
Together with it, an old scent was mixed, coming from all over the city.
Building that impression up even more, the streets were paved with stones and the buildings made of bricks and stone blocks.
There was also a river that went from one side of the city to the other. Along the river there were several streets, and along those streets the city spread outwards.
Right now, me and Shiro---the silver wolf---were entering the city from the south.
And just like that, as if he had never been there in the first place, he disappeared.
There was no response.
I pushed my hair back again and looked at the surroundings.
There was only the stone paved street and and the houses built with bricks of multiple colors, nothing else.
I placed the bag I had been carrying on the ground. It was a bag I had picked up somewhere on our way here and contained a simple change of clothes.
Crossing my arms, I waited for Shiro.
I thought for a moment that he could easily pop out from one of the shadows around me.
But in the end, he didn’t return.
Instead, a girl appeared.
She was walking extremely silent on the stone pavement, illuminated by the setting sun, with what seemed like robotic movements.
It was the silence that stood out the most, though.
I could hear the sounds of people talking with each other in the distance, what some would describe as the breath of the city, carried here by the wind.
But this was the only place that didn’t seem to have any human presence in it.
It was almost as if this place had been cleanly cut off from the rest. Even the girl standing around ten meters ahead of me didn’t give off a human presence.
She called my name in a monotonous voice.
It reminded me a bit of the tone of a well trained maid. It also made me think of a living doll.
I was almost doubting she was even alive by how silent everything else was.
Her violet eyes had no emotion and looked like a statue’s, her hair was purple similar to a hydrangea and was more or less the same length as mine, and a part of her hair was tied together with a red ribbon.
She had a slender body, covered by a well made oak brown blazer, a long skirt that went all the way to her ankles, and an ultramarine necktie.
If I had to guess, she was probably sixteen, maybe seventeen, perhaps the same age as me, or a bit older. Her expressionless face made her look more mature.
“Yes, that’s me.” I said in reply, then asked in return, “Who are you?”
She placed her hands over her stomach and bowed politely.
“Yuunagi’s name is Yuunagi. Feel free to use that name.”
“Now then,” Her voice was still completely monotone as she kept her head lowered and reached to the end of her skirt.
Then she proceeded to slightly lift her skirt, introduce her other hand inside and take something out, a gun.
It was the assault rifle most used worldwide.
An AK47, also known as the Kalashnikov rifle.
It’s plastic furniture reflected the setting sun as she lifted it to eye level with both hands, then closed her eyes for a moment as if muttering a prayer.
“Is this some sort of test?”
“In ten seconds Yuunagi will start firing.”
Ignoring my question, she started arbitrarily counting down from ten.
“What a mess.”
I grumbled, and in response to her countdown, or maybe rejoicing sensing an incoming fight, the black mark that spread through my skin like a ribbon wriggled.
“Come forth, Crescent Moon’s Shadow!”
As soon as I called the name of the mark, it returned to its original form of a whip, and sprung out from my wrist as I grabbed it’s handle in a single motion.
At the same time, inside of me the hearts of a god and of a wolf started beating, violently pumping more strength into my veins.
In contrast to that hot stream, my own heart was as still as a frozen lake.
Together, they amassed in my weapon and…
“Ten seconds have passed.”
As soon as she said that, she pulled the trigger.
The fully automatic rifle shot countless rounds as gunshots resounded one after another and the smell of black powder smoke spread, conflicting with the image of a calm city that surrounded us.
The bullets traveled the ten meters that separated us in an instant.
But in that instant I had kicked away the bag lying at my feet.
The bag flew through the air past the path of the bullets.
I could actually see the bullets traveling towards me.
And while completely calm, I started moving.
There was nothing for me to fear here.
Compared to a vortex of wind, or to squirming shadows, or to flaming knives…this was almost adorable.
“I think you aren’t aware that you don’t even qualify to play with me.”
I swung the whip effortlessly.
Moving as though it were alive, it struck like a snake, striking all of the bullets and deflecting them to the ground, but Yuunagi didn’t stop firing.
A minute passed, or two, or perhaps it had only been a couple of seconds, but during that entire time Crescent Moon’s Shadow completely overpowered the barrage of bullets coming my way, until it finally reached to her and knocked the Kalashnikov out of her hands.
She leaned down to pick it up, but she stopped when my bag landed on the gun pushing it away.
The gun tumbled on the stone paving as it slid away while reflecting the sun.
Hearing me, she lifted her body and nodded with a perfect 45 degree angle as if she was a machine.
“Yuunagi wants to apologize to Tsukagi Saki. That was rude, please forgive Yuunagi.”
My reply was short and cold.
Without waiting for Yuunagi’s reaction I swung the whip again, aiming it at her neck and tearing right through it.
But I only felt as if I had struck something brittle like ceramic.
Her body collapsed forward with her face looking down, and then stopped moving once she hit the stone ground.
Not a single drop of blood came out of her body. It was only as if she was a marionette that got its strings cut.
I took a closer look at her body and…
…it started turning into what looked like porcelain doll, or rather, it was a doll.
Either it was some sort of body switching trick, or she had been controlled remotely.
Whichever it was, this was done by someone who wasn’t close by.
“Well then, did I pass?”
I asked towards my back as I returned Crescent Moon’s Shadow to my wrist and picked up my bag.
A monotone voice that reminisced of a doll replied to me.
“Yes, Yuunagi can say it was more than enough.”
I turned my head to look behind me.
Yuunagi was standing there.
Her hydrangea purple-like hair, amethyst eyes, well made oak brown blazer and her well defined jaw, everything was exactly the same as the body lying on the ground---exactly the same as the figure I had just destroyed.
“Yuunagi wants to propose a deal with Tsukagi Saki. A deal that will benefit both Yuunagi and Tsukagi Saki, with terms defined beforehand.”
“What kind of benefits?”
“As in, what happened to the silver wolf that came as Tsukagi Saki’s companion.”
In the end, she did have some sort of connection with the disappearance of Shiro.
I pulled my hair back and turned my body to face her.
“Let’s hear what you have to say.”
“Yuunagi would like to request the assassination of Yuunagi’s master.”
“Can you be more precise? I’ll decide after that.”
“Yuunagi was sure Tsukagi Saki would reply that way.”
I couldn’t tell if she was telling the truth or not.
But if she did, that would mean she knew me rather well.
In the other case, then it was just a bluff, and that was completely fine.
She was one weird girl. I was almost convinced that below her skin there were screws and springs instead of blood.
“Yuunagi thinks it’s preferable to start by meeting Yuunagi’s master.”
“That master doesn’t happen to have the same face as you though, right?”
“No.” She shook her head. “Yuunagi’s master is far more sweet compared to Yuunagi.”
I couldn’t tell at all if that was a compliment, or if it was sarcasm.
But then again, compared to her, pretty much any girl would qualify as sweet. It was the same reason why graceful can sometimes be used to describe a marble statue, but sweet just doesn’t work.
“Now then, it’s this way.”
Guiding me, she turned around and walked into the city.
Soon I followed after her, watching how not even the red ribbon tied to a part of her moved as she walked.
Now I had to search for the silver wolf I had grown so accustomed to. Always walking by my side, but I didn’t know where he went.
He had simply disappeared.
I opened my mouth to talk, but stopped right after.
I couldn’t think of what to say, not even to ask anything.