The shuriken winks under the light of the moon, slipping from Saito’s fingers into his adversary’s back.
The enemy collapses inches from the riverbed; his blood spews into the water.
When his movement stills, Saito approaches, his katana drawn, footsteps cautious.
Saito rolls the body over to grasp the identity of his enemy and recognizes the face as his own.
In silence, he smears the clone’s face with thick mud and sets the body back in a downward position.
Suddenly, the sound of crackling leaves cuts through the silence and surrounds Saito.
He prepares to retreat when seven men step into view, the moonlight bathes them in a soft glow and paints them his allies.
Oda, his closest comrade, greets him mirthfully and the men regroup around a campfire.
The circle passes around tea, stories of war, and the great Legend of Starcopies, a chilling myth of celestial yokai stealing the form of men and haunting them to take their place.
Meanwhile, Oda sips the matcha in silence, his keen eyes glued to the scar on Saito’s right hand that used to be on his left.