TN: Happy hallowe’en all. Hm, somehow it seems like that’s the only thing I ever celebrate here. Well, never mind that, have a teaser! 🙂
A stocky man was walking through a dark alleyway.
There were no signs of any other people along the brick-paved alley.
An air that caused an instinctual fear of the night drifted, causing the man to unconsciously walk faster.
“It’s gotten really late, huh …”
The man muttered. He was a merchant.
He mainly deals in gemstones and precious metals, making a profit off of them.
Today, he had completed another great business deal.
He was back from completing a deal worth several tens of gold, enough for a family of five to live in leisure for several years.
“Still, for the carriage to break down …”
The man wouldn’t normally commute on his own two legs, but instead use his personally owned carriage.
But just for today, the carriage’s axle broke, and thus he ended up having to walk the road back home.
That said, it wasn’t so far that he needed to take a carrage to in the first place.
And so, while spewing grumbles along the way, he walked.
Then suddenly, the man’s feet stopped.
He thought he heard the howling of a beast from somewhere.
“A dog? Even though the moon’s not out …?”
There should not have been any howling.
But the man felt fear grip his chest, and started walking again.
Just a little bit faster than he did just before.
Once he felt fear for one thing, others would start coming one after another.
The warm touch of the air on his skin, the shadows appearing at his feet from the dim starlight, the sound of boots hitting the brick pavement.
Feeling an indescribable tension like a wedge in his heart, the man hastened his pace little by little.
— There were some rumor or another about the capital at night.
Completely unlike the bustle of the day, the nights were silent as death.
Thievery, kidnapping, arson.
And what’s becoming the talk of the town as of late, the group of assassins.
The dastardly gang that were said to aim for nobles and the rich had just killed his business partner the day before.
Once that thought came to him, the man felt chills despite the summer air and finally broke into a run.
His body that lacked exercise swayed, wanting to at least find somewhere with people around.
Within moments he was out of breath, his heart painfully throbbed.
He ran and ran through the street in the moonless dark night.
It was just when he was just about to reach the main street when he bumped into a person coming out of a side alley.
The man, having been running in a daze, shrieked from the pain of the collision and the anxiety that he had been holding in.
The man fell, and the person he collided with stepped up to him.
“— I’m very sorry. Are you alright?”
It was a young man’s voice.
A sound that gave him relief.
And also, a voice that the man knew well.
Amid the darkness, the faint light of the stars revealed to the fallen man the figure of the person he collided with.
Having immaculate black hair that melted into the dark night, and wearing a set of likewise black suit.
And under his right eye, a distinguishing series of three moles.
“A, aah … D, doctor Shizuru …?”
The young town physician that had set up practice in the city’s eastern ward.
He was skilled despite his youth, and was well-mannered to boot, gaining the admiration of many.
The man had several times been in his care, and for that even in his half dead state called him Doctor out of respect.
For unexpectedly meeting a familiar face, the man breathed a sigh of relief.
“… oh? If it isn’t mister Eamond. This is rare seeing you so late at night in a place like this”
Shizuru also recognized the man — Eamond, and gave him a gentle smile.
The smile he was shown when he was struck with fear from the dark night gave him relief.
Then Eamond came back to himself.
To be afraid of the dark at his advanced age, it was so wretched.
He laughed to cover it up.
“H, hahaha … no, well, my carriage broke down, you see …”
“That’s just bad luck then … you look like you’re in a hurry, did something happen?”
“Eh!? No, nothing … ah, right! The last time I went for a checkup you told me didn’t you, doctor? I needed more exercise. So I thought, I’m already walking so I might as well go for a jog …”
When he said that he realized what he said was completely strange.
However, Shizuru didn’t seem to harbor any doubt, saying, “I see.”
“Ah, what about you doctor?”
“I’m here for an emergency visit. A child coming down with fever. The family lives near here”
Shizuru showed the bag he was carrying and shrugged.
“Though luckily it wasn’t something dangerous”
Such a diligent young man, to work this late at night, thought Eamond in admiration.
As a skilled physician, he should have been able to find employment in the army or most mercenary groups.
Yet despite that, for some reason he became a town physician.
Many had similar thoughts, but strangely nobody knew the real reason.
“Still, the night is dark today and the moon isn’t out, so it can’t be helped that it’s hard to walk. I’m very sorry we ended up crashing”
“A, ah, no, no! It’s my fault for running, so don’t be!”
Eamond, who wouldn’t normally be an upstanding man, was flustered by the man who had taken care of him bowing his head.
He stepped forward to draw near, and just when he was within arm’s reach,
— a line of heat ran horizontally along his throat.
A numbing heat.
He touched his windpipe with his hand, and felt something warm.
His voice won’t come out.
He looked down and saw his palm stained red.
A great amount of blood that would have been frightening to merely see was coming out of his neck.
He tried to utter two, three words, something, but instead of a sound, blood gushed out from his throat.
The next thing Eamond saw was a cold silver scalpel reflecting the starlight.
A small but sharp looking knife had appeared in Shizuru’s hand unnoticed by him.
The blade was stained in the same color as Eamond’s blood.
But that vision and his own state, and also the strength draining from his body, did not feel related at all.
Until the end, he never reached the truth that the man in front of him was the one who slit his throat.
The wicked merchant Eamond was dead.
— Shizuru POV —
A pool of blood was spreading with the collapsed Eamond’s neck at the center.
Looking down on it, Shizuru wiped the blood off his knife.
He let out a quiet sigh.
He skillfully spun the knife in his hand and held it like a pen, and stowed it away in a pocket at the side of his bag.
The handle and scabbard had the same color as the bag. The shape vanished over the bag so that if one doesn’t observe closely one wouldn’t have noticed it was there.
Shizuru then blew into a small whistle hanging from his neck.
It made no sound. It was a dog whistle.
When there was finally no sound, a large shape came down.
It made a faint landing sound, appearing before Shizuru. A dark shape that blended into the darkness.
Completely pure, black fur, like the night had been wrung out and dyed onto it.
The only thing that stood out was the pair bewitchingly bright golden pupils.
A hue almost as if the moon that didn’t appear that night had become two and came down.
She was a beautiful black wolf, having a body so big that its eyeline was as high as Shizuru’s was.
“— have you finished him, my dear”
It suddenly was heard, a voice like the sound of a glass bell ringing.
Unless one knew about it beforehand, one wouldn’t have immediately realized this voice came from the wolf.
“This is the man who makes money selling fake gemstones? Yes, he does look like he had been padding his own pockets”
In front of the corpse, the wolf let out a snort and muttered disinterestedly.
She approached the wryly smiling Shizuru and gave his cheek a single lick.
“Can I count on you today, Lady” 1
“Very well, my beloved”
The sound resounded in the air, the air shook.
Not only the air, but the shadow of the wolf called Lady also shook.
In fact, it was better said that the shadow’s shaking carried over into the air.
Finally, the shadow, that was almost indistinguishable from the darkness, peeled away from the ground.
Before long, the shadow stood on its own. It trembled and began moving just like the original.
“Come, eat, my likeness, Doppelgänger”
On the original’s order, the shadow began to devour Eamond’s corpse.
It indiscriminately ate everything, his blood, his flesh, his bones, his boots, and everything he had with him.
After a minute had passed, the scene had been perfectly cleaned up.
Without leaving a single drop of blood, the shadow devoured everything and returned to Lady’s feet.
— It was a strange power, no matter how many times you see it.
With those thoughts in mind, Shizuru petted Lady.
She gave him a satisfied groan in return.
“Now, let’s head to the meeting place, Lady”
“Yes. I’ll carry you there, get on”
Lady lowered her body. Shizuru hopped on her back.
Immediately, she soundlessly jumped into the air, landing on a nearby building’s roof, and began running like the wind.
“Say, my beloved. May we, take a little detour? I would like to stay with you, even just a second more”
To her request, Shizuru took a watch from his pocket and gave it a glance.
“Alright Lady. We still have time, don’t stand out”
“Of course, I understand”
The destination she changed to was the town’s landmark clock tower.
Landing on top of it, Shizuru and Lady looked down on the city’s townscape.
“… it’s beautiful”
About the sight beneath his eyes, the townscape of the other world.
The black wolf Lady snuggled up to him.
And thus the person and the beast stayed there until it was time to meet.
- TN: Sansa Stark’s direwolf reincarnated into isekai??? ↩