“Why is a wolf like him of all things, floating in the air?”
I kept coughing constantly to spit out the blood mixing with my saliva so even when I spoke, I could smell the scent of blood.
“I don’t know, but well, that’s just one more thing my father is capable of doing,” Shiro casually answered, a couple of steps in front of me.
“Do you understand the situation now?”
“All I can say is that we are very close to what some would call checkmate.”
I clicked my tongue as I stood up, dusted the dirt off my skirt and fixed my disheveled hair. Then once again, I took Crescent Moon’s Shadow in my hand and ran.
I glared at Forest King, who was calmly looking down at us, and sent an attack straight at him.
He merely moved to a slightly higher position and my whip only managed to cut through air with a sharp noise.
“Your attacks are too straightforward. No matter how many times you try, they’ll never reach me.”
As he spoke, his eyebrows knit together and his face increasingly grew sharper like a knife.
I felt a cold chill run up my spine and I swiftly turned my body away.
Immediately after, a shrill noise screeched past where my head had been a second earlier and a gust of wind so loud it made my ears hurt, passed right by me and struck the tree I had hit earlier, slicing right through its trunk.
With a squeaking noise, the top half of the tree tumbled down to the ground, raising a cloud of dust and leaves.
He then prepared several blades of wind in mid air, unleashing them at me, one after another.
Relying on my instincts and focusing my attention, I brought them down with my whip as they came.
One by one, they rained down upon me, numbering five, eight, up till ten.
The more that came, the harder it was for me to hit them.
As the onslaught continued, some slipped by and met my skin, slicing my flesh effortlessly.
But that didn’t stop me. As if performing some sort of dance or routine, I kept moving my body around and swinging my whip.
“You can only hold back this much, Forests King, is this really all you’ve got?!”
Hearing my shout, he opened his eyes wide and howled loudly.
At the same time, one end of my scarf was torn away by the wind as countless more blades formed and rushed towards me. But I simply smiled.
“I hope you didn’t forget that I’m not your only enemy,” I muttered.
Behind him, a silver speck was traversing through the air, leaping from tree to tree in an attempt to launch surprise attack.
Yet he only smiled, being attacked from behind.
He carelessly turned his back to me and faced Shiro.
Shiro collided with a shield of wind, the tremors in the air producing loud noises as a strong wind blew down, making the grass—and me—sway.
I used one hand to shield my eyes from the grit whirling up, while the other held my hair back against my neck.
Clicking my tongue, I stood up again and, trying to forget about the failed surprise attack, I attempted to destroy the distortion in the air with my whip once again–––
–––But suddenly all the sounds around me vanished.
My view blacked out and any feeling from my body disappeared. The next thing I realized was that I was lying on the ground.
My body wouldn’t budge, breathing was hard, and my lungs hurt. But I could breathe at least.
Just what had happened…
“How do you like it? A taste of a perfect vacuum,” Forest King said, looking at me after flicking Shiro away.
I felt blood rush to my head only for it to turn cold again.
“You’ve really…done it this time…”
My weak, broken voice probably wasn’t audible to him.
The fight had already become his plaything at this point.
It was obvious what the outcome would be. All Shiro could do was constantly hurl himself at Forest King, but the disadvantage was overwhelming.
His leaps from the trees were being intercepted by the wind shield, and his shadow spears were being dodged.
Protected by this impenetrable shield, Forest King continued attacking with his small blades of wind.
Shiro would use his legs to stop any stray blades that flew in my direction, before continuing his attacks.
ba-dump, ba-dump. I could hear a heartbeat, and the depths of my chest seemed to burn.
A self mocking laugh leaked from my mouth.
“Did I literally just become a hindrance?”
I didn’t have enough power. I wasn’t strong enough, not violent enough.
It wasn’t enough, not nearly enough.
“–––Fight.” I stood up.
My palm that Budworm had stabbed felt itchy and hot, but my heart felt even hotter. I couldn’t suppress my laughter anymore.
Loud laughter erupted through the dark sky.
Two pairs of eyes turned to focus on me, the ashen wolf looking surprised while the silver one simply smiled wryly.
“She looks just like one of the legendary valkyries.”
I replied to Shiro’s flattery:
“I’d rather not be put in the same category as those.”
As if agreeing with me, Crescent Moon’s Shadow pulsated.
I kicked the ground and dashed at a tree, running up without losing momentum to leap from its top.
I jumped up high, shooting above Forest King, and as I bathed under the shine of the moon, I swung my whip down.
“What a brazen little lady.”
I snorted in response to his amused comment.
My whip collided with his shield.
The air reverberated with a grating noise from being compressed by my whip.
“Fall, Forest’s King!”
BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP BA-DUMP.
Empowered by my feeling of defeat, hostility and anger, Crescent Moon’s Shadow slowly chipped away at his shield.
Distress spread across Forest King’s face.
Penetrating the shield of wind, the whip hit him, causing his entire body to quake as ashen hairs broke off and mix together with bits of flesh and blood.
He let out an impossible scream that was a mix of both a shrill and a deep pitch.
An instant later, a sudden gust of wind came from above, sending me free fall towards the ground.
I crashed onto soft mud and instinctively I covered my face and chest. A sharp pain assailed my entire body while the taste of blood filled my mouth and every breath caused my sides to hurt.
Through my distorted view, I caught a glimpse of Forest King still ruling over the sky as he released another wave of blades.
I couldn’t move an inch, so to protect me, Shiro created a wall of shadow spears in front of me.
I feebly tried to stand up as I muttered, but he stepped in.
“…Who’s…?” I blurted out. It was Shiro, he was just in front of my eyes, but something was different about him.
His eyes—they looked dark, even darker than before, and…deeper.
A deep darkness that concealed all that lay behind it.
“Thank you, this only happened because of you.”
I couldn’t understand what he meant.
“I remembered something, though only just a bit.”
Ba-dump ba-dump. My heart suddenly started to hurt, as if it was being constricted by something, and my breath became ragged.
Shiro was looking at me, his brows knitted together. Inside his sharp gaze, I noticed something unusual.
Deep inside his eyes, something was squirming there, as if matching the throbbing I felt.
He turned around, facing Forest King.
We were still in the middle of a fight, but it felt extremely silent.
As if all sound had vanished.
“In the end… Just who am I?” he muttered to himself as his shadow acted like it had a life of it’s own, spreading out across the entire place and forming a large circle.
Then from the flat ground, it rose upwards and constructed a dome, taking control of all that lay inside it.
Forest King watched all this in terror, trembling beneath the reign of these shadows that not even the moon could penetrate.
“Is this…is this your true power, Moon Eater?”
“Probably, I guess.”
At the same time as he replied, multiple spears closed in on Forest King from all directions.
But he knocked them down with his shield and blades.
“Forest King, you have this bad habit,” Shiro started in a mocking voice. “You focus too much on what is in front of your eyes.”
From his blindspot, Crescent Moon’s Shadow creeped up, twisting like a snake, and caught his leg, pulling him down to the ground.
Without missing a beat, the spears pierced through his defenseless body.
Shiro released the shadow dome then, and walked over to his dying father.
He was barely breathing, his voice about to disappear as he turned to look at Shiro with glassy eyes.
“Just…who are you…? I still remember that night of the lunar eclipseThe word for lunar eclipse in Japanese literally means “eaten moon”… You were born after eating your way through your mother’s womb…not being anyone’s offspring…you were born…”
His breaths gave way to winces, the warm and humid breath of death.
“A-Ahh…show me…show me your face one last time…my…son.”
Moon Eater slowly lowered his head. He didn’t reply to anything, didn’t show any reaction, he just looked down. Eventually, Forest King closed his eyes.
The silver wolf stood completely still, as if he had been turned into a statue.
“Shiro,” I called him, with the name I had given him, the name only I could use—the name I had given my wolf.
“Don’t you think this is just comical?”
I was about to shake my head, but I decided against it.
Hollowly, he laughed.
“I’m just a laughingstock, a farce. I wasn’t even an outcast, since I was an outsider from the very beginning. Why did I even go to kill them all?”
The truth was overwhelming him.
He was so pitiful—not even his hate had been founded on a concrete reason.
I kneeled down and hugged him. And as if trying to let him feel my heart beats, I pressed his head against my chest.
|↑1||The word for lunar eclipse in Japanese literally means “eaten moon”|