|Volume 7: Stone Wolf|
|Preceded by||Volume 6: Prophecy Fulfilled|
|Followed by||Volume 8: After Death|
Stone Wolf is the seventh volume of the Silver Diamond series.
Stone Wolf: a new assassin appears, targeting Rakan and company, and using creepy stone dogs as weapons, no less! Can Chigusa and Narushige fend off his attack? And just what is the giant creature who appears to be stalking the party? Is it a new friend, or yet another enemy?
Chapter 19: Stone WolfEdit
The chapter opens with a large black creature eating flowers. It looks up and sees a path of flowers leading away from it, then lifts up a leg and begins to run.
Somewhere else, Rakan wakes up. Narushige is there to greet him, and holds out his hand, telling Rakan to get up quickly. Rakan realizes that he’s being held by Chigusa, who has a happy grin on his face; the latter asks Narushige if there’s an enemy, and Narushige says, “No, just you.” Rakan wonders if he fell asleep the night before like that, but Chigusa says no; he wanted to be Rakan’s pillow. Rakan’s not concerned, and dismisses the matter, much to Narushige’s dismay. Chigusa asks Narushige why he’s treating him like some sort of deviant, and Narushige counters, asking Chigusa why he was sleeping so close to Rakan. Senroh thinks for a minute, and then replies that he did so because Rakan didn’t have a blanket. Narushige doesn’t believe him.
The night before, the group had reached the Sasaoka storehouse, which Narushige said had been abandoned when the land began desertification, and the people who lived there fled to the Capital. Rakan is ushered over to a chest by Narushige; the chest contains tiny drawers, which are labeled with the names of the seeds they contain.
The scene pulls back to reveal that the storehouse that contains the seeds is nothing more than a skeleton, timbers the only thing holding it up. The group wonders what could have caused such a thing, quickly dismissing the earthquake from earlier- there’s no rubble around the storehouse, nothing inside has been weathered, and none of the furniture was knocked over. There are, however, massive scratches down one of the supports, which Rakan points out.
The scene switches back briefly to the giant black creature, which is still on the move.
Chigusa suddenly senses something and shoots ahead of him on the ground- small stone creatures have suddenly appeared. He hits all of them in the forehead, and they crumble back into rock. No one can identify them, and before anything more can be done, the creatures reassemble.
Tohji and Rakan retreat back into the storehouse, Chigusa having tossed a seed to Tohji, while he and Narushige stay outside to fight the creatures. Inside the storehouse, Rakan tries to figure out what he can do to help when his eyes see the seed chest; specifically, a drawer labeled “Fence”.
Back outside, Chigusa and Narushige are attacking the stone creatures, but they can’t kill them- the creatures aren’t really alive. Chigusa uses his eyes to investigate further- he sees invisible threads, like puppet strings, extending back from the creatures into the distance. He has Narushige cut these strings with Koh after reducing the creatures to rubble once more, and then takes aim at the person controlling the stone creatures.
The culprit, a young man wearing a monocle, is shot several times and bound to the cliff he was up against by plant vines. He tries to recall his creatures, saying “Return, Zakuro!”, but Narushige cuts the puppet strings before the man has a chance to fully recall them.
Now that the creatures have been destroyed, Chigusa examines the rocks left behind and finds their “power source”, or “seed”- garnets. He tells Narushige that their enemy, though subdued for the time being, would be back. He and Narushige decide to prepare for an ambush; their first priority is to move Rakan to a less open location. But when they turn, the see that the storehouse has been covered in plants, so much so that it’s impossible to see inside.
Rakan apologizes when they make it in, saying he wanted to grow some sort of barrier, but that it ended up being making the building cute instead.
In the distance, the assassin is struggling, trying to free himself from the gun plant vines. He has a large garnet in his hand, which he drops to the ground and trickles blood onto from a vial around his neck. He dubs the new, larger stone creature “Zakuro”, and asks it to free him. Once clear of the vines, he takes off the telescope from his eye (the “monocle” from earlier), which had been shattered during the attack from Chigusa, and drops it to the ground. Contemplating what to do against opponents who could cut through a string with no physical form, he decides to go ahead with his mission.
Kinrei had given him a cloak made out of blood, which would take the assassin anywhere he wished, so long as Kinrei had knowledge of the area. Once he was done with his mission, the assassin was to return to the Imperial Capital.
Stepping away from the cliff he just escaped from, the assassin surveys the plants Rakan has grown. Rakan is a problem for him, and for those who wish for a new world, free of humans. He bends down and orders Zakuro to attack Rakan exclusively; pulling the blood cloak around him, the two prepare to jump to Rakan’s location.
Somewhere, the black beast is still following the flowers.
Chapter 20: FriendsEdit
The four men sit inside their “fairy tale” cottage, waiting for the assassin to strike. While waiting, they talk about the stone creatures that attacked them: how there was a garnet in each creature, and how invisible strings connected them to their master. Suddenly, Chigusa, who has been keeping an eye on the assassin, notices movement. The assassin appears in their midst, Zakuro in hand; Chigusa destroys the stone “dog” with a well-aimed bullet while Tohji fires a net gun bullet that creates a net around the assassin. He is surrounded by both of the men and Narushige, each holding a weapon to his throat.
Chigusa mentions that he’d been ambushed by Kinrei’s men in a similar fashion, allowing him to guess his enemy’s moves. While he’s distracted, Rakan grows a plant around the assassin’s sword, and it is knocked away. Rakan attempts to calm everyone down and talk things out with the assassin, who isn’t paying attention, instead sizing up his situation. He notices someone’s clock seed and sees that it’s becoming darker, recalling Kinrei’s words: if he didn’t return to the Capital by high noon that day, the blood cloak would lose its power and disappear.
Rakan is still attempting to talk to the assassin; he asks his name, but the man isn’t given a chance to respond: Tohji identifies him as Shirakawa Hakubi, and confirms that he’s probably working for the Prince.
Hakubi begins congratulating Tohji on his clever ruse, infiltrating Rakan’s group as a spy. Tohji denies being a spy, and Hakubi calls him a traitor, saying that someone who has betrayed their master once would do it again, and that no one would ever trust him again. In attempting to turn Narushige and Chigusa against Tohji, Hakubi leaves himself open: Narushige accuses him of mixing his story up, calling Tohji a spy one minute and a traitor the next. Chigusa tells Tohji not to listen to Hakubi, and Rakan tells the assassin to stop teasing Tohji.
Hakubi wonders why such people would protect a Numbered Child and asks the group why they’re traveling together. They were only getting in the Prince’s way, and there was no chance that Rakan would be able to accomplish his goal of reviving the world alone. Before Rakan can answer, Chigusa suddenly chimes in, saying that Rakan’s not alone: he’s traveling with him. Narushige and Tohji add their voices to the mix, leaving Hakubi even more confused than before.
Trying to move the conversation along, Rakan informs Hakubi that the Prince is an Ayame. He already knows, this, however, saying that that was what made the Prince so great. The Prince’s followers would get a bit of Kinrei’s and the Prince’s powers, letting them become something greater. In this dying world, says Hakubi, normal humans would soon die off. Only those with power would be able to survive, and Hakubi didn’t intend on dying. Rakan counters that he wanted to fill the world with green: shouldn’t that be enough? But Hakubi stands firm: he’s never seen a world of green. And since he’s never seen it, he can’t believe in it.
Rakan realizes the kind of person he’s dealing with: someone born with no hope. Hakubi continues, mentioning that plants wilt; a life that could die wasn’t one worth living. Normal people were useless, he continues, to Rakan’s shock, although the people of the Capital did serve one purpose: to be the Prince’s food source.
This piece of news is rather shocking to Rakan and co. Rakan rebukes Hakubi for speaking so lightly of such a gruesome thing, but Hakubi fires back that it’s natural selection. Rakan counters that since it’s the Prince choosing, the entire affair isn’t natural selection at all, giving the example of Kazuhi’s group: Numbered Children who were just thrown away; Hakubi isn’t bothered, as he seems to think that throwing away Numbered Children is normal. Rakan asks him about the earthquake and all of the people who could have been hurt by it. This doesn’t faze Hakubi either; in his opinion, if those people didn’t kneel to the Prince, it was their own fault for getting hurt.
Rakan snaps at this point, calling Hakubi a big jerk, guessing that he’s the spoiled only child of a rich family who has no friends. Hakubi doesn’t deny the first part, but does assert that he has a friend: specifically the stone creature Zakuro, to which Rakan and Tohji look at him in pity. The argument escalates as Hakubi tells Rakan that his friends are nothing to brag about, while Narushige tries to calm Rakan down with no luck.
Suddenly, Zakuro starts to reform on the floor, bigger than before, and Hakubi orders it to attack Rakan. Chigusa gets in front of Rakan and prepares to shoot the creature, but before he can, the giant black wolf from earlier bursts in and chomps on Zakuro, eating it completely. As it backs out, the storehouse roof begins to collapse. Hakubi shoves Rakan away from the group, intending to have him crushed beneath the roof, then teleports away with the blood cloak.
The scene switches to Akiichi and Kazuhi, who are walking up one of the great stone staircases. They’re discussing how Rakan may be faring; Kazuhi isn’t worried, as he has Senroh there. Chigusa had told him once that as long as he had a Sanome with him, his body could regenerate endlessly.
Back at Rakan’s group, Narushige and Tohji are digging Rakan and Chigusa out of the rubble of the roof. Rakan is fine, having been shielded by Chigusa, who took the brunt of the damage and has several wooden spikes running through his body. Rakan is immediately worried and asks Chigusa if he’s all right, but Chigusa replies as he sits down that he’s fine, and that he can’t even really feel the pain.
Tears begin to well up in Rakan’s eyes and he bends down to hug Chigusa. The moment is ruined, however, by the presence of the black wolf, which is standing behind them and panting. Chigusa recalls that it’s called a Stone Wolf, a type of animal that used to exist a long time ago, and mentions that it’s friendly. They ate rocks, and the group wonders if the wolf was the one who ate the walls of the storehouse. The wolf confirms it via Koh, who can understand it.
Chapter 21: ReflectionEdit
The chapter starts with Koh translating for the Stone Wolf. She’s a girl, and she came to see Rakan. She was sleeping when the earthquake woke her up, and when she emerged from the hollow of rocks she’d been in, she saw the Sasaoka storehouse, which she then proceeded to eat. After that she began to “stroll” through the area, where she found some light flowers and ate them. They were delicious, and the wolf recalled that there were people in the world called “Sanome” who could grow plants at will, so she decided to try to find the one who had been growing the flowers. When she caught up to Rakan’s group, she saw Zakuro about to attack them and ate it as a precautionary measure.
Rakan thanks her for her help and asks for her name. The wolf is quite impressed with Rakan’s looks, and replies that her name is Kuro. While Rakan muses about her “common pet name”, Kuro is introduced to Chigusa (who she also becomes smitten with), Tohji (whose ponytail she thinks is a cute tail), and Narushige (who she mistakes for a woman). Narushige asks Koh if she’ll join and aid their group, and she agrees.
Before the group leaves, they take the rest of the seeds from the seed chest and give a new shirt to Chigusa, as the old one was torn up when the roof fell on him. They discuss how Hakubi had probably fled back to the Capital and hope that he thinks that Rakan is dead, allowing them some freedom of movement if the Prince and Kinrei think that Rakan has been eliminated.
In the Capital, a man named Kagan Ritsuka is sitting and talking to a young man named Yorubashi Yoruaki who is the spitting image of Miya. He comments on how since it was noon and he hadn’t yet returned, Hakubi must have failed his missing to assassinate Rakan. Yoruaki comments on how Hakubi was just Zakuro’s legs anyway; Ritsuka mentions how scary Kinrei and his creations can be, but Yoruaki just smiles, saying that he enjoys the thrill of not knowing when he would die. The topic switches to the Sanome fruit, and how the two hope that the Sanome inside will be able to sustain the Prince. The scene ends with Ritsuka wondering if Rakan was going to be a problem in their plans.
Back with Rakan’s group, Rakan and Tohji are rescuing the remaining seeds from the storehouse box. The former stops Narushige, asking if there’s a sword in the storehouse that he can have, so he can learn how to defend himself and his friends. Narushige says that he thinks he saw one, and leaves to go find it. Tohji and Chigusa sit quietly, ruminating over the fact that neither has ever heard that someone else wanted to protect them.
While figuring out how to label the seeds they’ve taken, Rakan grabs one without thinking to write on it. The seed begins to grow, and eventually forms a “ladder”. He and Chigusa take this chance, riding the plant up so they can view the land from above. While they’re up there, Rakan asks Chigusa if he thinks that he’s doing the impossible in promising to return the world to its formerly green state. In response, Chigusa points to the areas where they have already passed; plants and flowers have sprung up in Rakan’s wake. He notes that not only has Rakan done that much already, but he’s got a monster along to help him.
Narushige calls the two down, getting nervous from Chigusa’s proximity to Rakan. Kuro wonders if she’s allowed to eat the ladder, and Tohji insists on climbing it before they leave. Up above, Rakan grabs hold of Chigusa so as not to touch the plant, and Chigusa carries them both down. On their way, Rakan points out a pool of water in the distance for them to visit before resuming their trek to the capital.
The scene shifts to Hakubi, who finds himself in a dark place. Unable to see where he is, Hakubi is rescued by a light. The light is coming from a light flower held by Miya, who Hakubi mistakes for Yoruaki. Miya recognizes the name, but not the man, and demands to know who Hakubi is. The rest of the Guard gathers around the two, some asking Hakubi if he were another Numbered Child abandoned by Kinrei. While Hakubi vehemently denies it, Kazuhi appears, tying his bandana around his forehead. Hakubi, still confused as to where he’s at and why he’s surrounded by Numbered Children, becomes increasingly panicked. Kazuhi grabs him and presses his forehead against Hakubi’s, showing the young aristocrat the area through his third eye.
Kazuhi lets go of the young man, welcoming him to their group as another person thrown away by Kinrei. Hakubi, meanwhile, is remembering Kinrei’s description of the world below ground, Kinrei’s promised land. But all Hakubi can think is that it looks like the land of the dead.
Rakan’s group has arrived at the pool of water Rakan noticed earlier; Narushige flips through their map to find the name of the pond: Aobi Pond. The bottom glows a whitish-blue, and mentally notes that will-o’-the-wisps were more horror than fantasy with an apprehensive look on his face.
Sanome Guard Gallery PageEdit
20 of the Guard are pictured with their names, what informal group of friends they tend to hang with within the Guard, and translations of their names.
Rakan and Tohji are petting Kuro’s fluffy fur, telling her how soft she is. Narushige takes this opportunity to ask Kuro if they can sleep close to her at night to borrow her fur, intent on taking away Chigusa’s excuses for sleeping close to Rakan. Chigusa, however, isn’t perturbed, instead reminding Narushige that Rakan still needs a mattress to sleep on.
|Tempting Persephone||N/A||Review is for the first seven volumes|