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Authors: Simon Higgins

The Wrath of Silver Wolf

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MOONSHADOW
The Wrath of Silver Wolf

SIMON HIGGISN

RANDOM HOUSE AUSTRALIA

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the
Australian Copyright Act 1968
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Moonshadow 2: The Wrath of Silver Wolf
ePub ISBN 9781864714890
Kindle ISBN 9781864717495

A Random House book
Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060
www.randomhouse.com.au

First published by Random House Australia in 2009

Copyright © Simon Higgins 2009

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by
any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except
under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian
Copyright Act 1968
),
recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without
the prior written permission of Random House Australia.

Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at
www.randomhouse.com.au/offices.

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry

Author: Higgins, Simon, 1958–.
Title: The wrath of Silver Wolf / Simon Higgins.
ISBN: 978 1 74166 405 8 (pbk.)
Series: Higgins, Simon, 1958– Moonshadow; 2.
Target Audience: For primary school age.
Subjects: Secret societies – Juvenile fiction.

Bounty hunters – Juvenile fiction.
Spies – Juvenile fiction.

Dewey Number: A823.4

Cover and internal illustrations by Ari Gibson, except stamp logo by
Design Cherry
Cover design by Design Cherry
Internal design by Midland Typesetters, Australia
Typeset in Goudy by Midland Typesetters, Australia
Printed and bound by Griffin Press, South Australia

To the memory of my father,
Major Aubrey Higgins,
Royal Engineers, 1914–2007,
the gentle samurai who raised me.

THE FURUBE SUTRA
(the 'Shrugging Off')

Preparation Verse

Gather, tidy and align your doings and
their karma

Facing Self Verse

Cleanse any lies made this day, scatter not one
grain of life

Verse of One Resolved

To end this path in happiness, make still
your mind

THREE LEVELS of THE
EYE OF THE BEAST

1. Beast Sight

To link your mind to a creature and use its senses

2. Dual Sight

To see with your own eyes
and
those of a
linked animal

3. Sight-Control

To both see through and command a beast,
making it your spy or weapon

ONE
The brave
new Edo

The midnight temple bell gave a final hum,
masking the sound of Moonshadow's landing.
Its voice declared the halfway mark of the Hour of
the Rat.

He crouched low on the roof, scanned the
moonlit horizon ahead and listened. Before the
echo of the bell died away, the tiles behind him
creaked.

Moonshadow turned without a sound. His
tightly bound night cowl showed only his eyes but
he offered Snowhawk a smile anyway. Just a dark
willowy silhouette, she returned a nod, adjusted
the sword on her back, then stretched out to press
an ear to the cold, curved tiles.

Snowhawk bobbed up, drawing an iron right-angle
and a small crowbar from her backpack.
While she silently worked the first large tile loose,
Moonshadow rotated slowly on the spot, checking
their surroundings for any hint of movement.

His sharp eyes probed the darkness, ears
strained to pick up any hint of trouble. Moon felt
his mouth turn dry. It wasn't due to anything he
saw or heard. He always grew tense just around
this point in a mission. The cloth covering his
nose and mouth trapped a taut sigh. Tension
and fear, though never pleasant, were actually
friends. They kept a spy sharp, cautious, attentive
to detail, improving the chances of surviving a
mission.

Slowly Moonshadow began a second circle. He
and Snowhawk might not be that far from home,
but ambush and death could swoop as quickly
here as in any far-off valley or castle. There was
only one place in all the world he could relax: the
walled monastery of the Grey Light Order.

But that lay on the opposite side of this massive,
fast-growing city.

He studied the jagged Edo skyline as he turned.
So many new, unfamiliar buildings. Thanks to
the rising foreign influence, a few even had flat
roofs, the way men made houses at the far end
of the world. Everywhere were the beams and
poles of new construction. No wonder Brother
Badger's charts of the city were never quite
up-to-date.

A minor lord, Akechi, owned the mansion
they were breaking into tonight. It stood in the
centre of the aristocratic quarter of Tsukiji. It
was a whole new district, perched on reclaimed
land that had once been the lowland marshes of
the Sumida River delta. Moon shook his head at
the breadth of the Shogun's capital. Under this
crescent moon, the great whale that was Edo
sprawled in every direction, striped with grey and
silver shadows.

To the north-west, past the palaces and man–
sions of the high-born, lay mighty Edo Castle,
home and eastern garrison of the Shogun, the man
who had finally brought peace to Japan. It rose,
stark in the moonlight, the keep's whitewashed
walls shining. Moonshadow knew that it was earth
taken from the Shogun's extensive canal and moat
excavations that had filled in the marshes along
the river, forming new land for the city to sprawl
across.

What a twist! The Shogun himself had created
Tsukiji and now here, beneath Moon's very feet –
if their intelligence was right – a nobleman plotted
treason against their ruler.

Moonshadow braced himself. They would
stop him.

Around Edo Castle – beyond its huge grounds,
high stone walls and complex system of moats –
the densely packed homes of commoners stretched
to the horizon. There, black mountains carved
the wide sky and beyond them, the distant snowy
cap of Mount Fuji glowed like an upturned white
bowl, small and faint in the moonlight.

He stared south-east to the wide, dark sweep
of Edo Bay. Tiny soft lights bobbed in the harbour
where fishermen cast night nets or samurai guarded
their lords' coastal ships.

Moonshadow heard no sounds but the usual:
cats fighting here and there; far off, the short-lived
barking of a startled dog, quickly followed by its
owner's rebuke; a shrill seabird, calling its mate to
the northern fork of the bay.

A gentle breeze swept the roof. Moon pulled
down the edge of his cowl's face-bindings, cooling
the sweat on his upper lip as he drew in the zephyr's
salty tang.

A tap on his shoulder made him turn. Snowhawk
had finished lifting tiles and it was time to
descend. They had recited the furube sutra together
just before this mission, but its mind-clearing
effect, at least for Moonshadow, was proving shortlived.
That tension was rising, gradually knotting
his stomach. His thoughts were speeding up too.

Once inside the attic, they would be especially
vulnerable to ambush. A spy's worst nightmare
was being cornered in a small space. There,
swords were nearly useless and most tricks and
illusions wouldn't work. Shuriken throws could be
hampered by roofing beams. Any light at all, and
eye-tricking night suits lost their power.

Growing up, Moon had heard many awful
stories from his trainers about agents who were
detected and then trapped in cellars, drains or
attics. Attics just like this one.

The nastiest tales all involved an enemy
retaliating with fire.

Moonshadow glanced down at their square
black entry point and tried not to picture flames
roaring below. He had just fought off the image
when a muffled sound made him shudder. His eyes
darted to the left.

What was that? Movement across tiles. Very
faint, but close. Up on the next roof? Whoever
it was had an incredibly light step. That meant a
high level of stealth training.

His hand glided to the grip of his back-mounted
sword.

Snowhawk saw the motion and instantly slid
backwards into a band of shadow, her long fingers
creeping between the lapels of her jacket.

Moon pointed up at the next roof's visible
face, its gentle slope looming over them. The roof
capped a mansion one storey higher than the one
they were entering. The pale wall under its dark
tiles was bland and, luckily, windowless.

He listened intently. More sounds. Someone
was definitely moving up the roof's opposite slope,
heading for that nobbled ridge-cap at the apex.
Their erratic footfall grew a little louder. Snowhawk
drew a shuriken from a concealed pouch in
her jacket. Moon knew that like him and unlike
normal folk, she too could hear the sounds – but
only now that they'd intensified. There was often
a vast difference between their audio abilities.

Her hearing was sharp from a lifelong special
shinobi diet, sensory focus training and years of
listening for the accelerating mutter of a weapon
that might slay her.

She and Moonshadow, as orphans raised
by separate spy houses, shared that training
back ground. But at times, his hearing was also
un naturally enhanced. It came and went, a
heightening that his brother agent Groundspider
called 'residue'. Which it was.

One of Moonshadow's more unique abilities
was the Old Country science called the Eye of
the Beast. It enabled him to mentally join with
a nearby animal, seeing through its eyes or even
taking control of it. An animal-quality sense
such as hearing or smell would often linger
in Moonshadow after he had joined his mind
with that of a bird or beast. It could fade, then
return unpredictably. Sometimes these random
heightenings were so intense they became overwhelming,
even making him feel sick. But not
tonight. For now, a manageable
audio
residue,
sharp but not too strong, was serving him well.

Moon inclined his head, opening his mouth to
help stretch that enhanced hearing even further.
They needed more information, and fast. Whoever
approached was high on the roof's hidden face
now, about to peep – or plunge – over that bumpy
apex.

Once that unknown individual let themselves
be seen, they would attack fast.

'Get ready to throw,' he whispered to
Snowhawk.

With a short, crisp nod, she brought her right
hand up, in line with one high cheekbone. The
curved blades of a Clan Fuma shuriken peeped
between her fingers. Moonshadow frowned at it
then looked back up to the next roof's apex.

How strange. Despite being given a pouch of
Grey Light Order throwing stars with the classic
straight-bladed Iga-Koga design, she was still using
her
old
supply.

Why use a style favoured by the very clan she
had fled? Was it just familiarity?

They both recoiled as movement broke the
next roof's skyline. A head appeared.

Snowhawk's hand dropped. She and
Moonshadow sighed heavily, their shoulders
relaxing. Above them bobbed a tiny head with
pointy ears.

A
cat
. Though not just any passing cat. The
temple cat that lived with them.

'What are
you
doing here?' Moon whispered to
it. 'Have you tailed us all night?'

The temple cat strolled up and down the high
roof line, flicking its tail but not making a sound.
Moonshadow never ceased to marvel at the
animal's oddity. Like any other temple or 'kimono'
cat, it had been born with rare markings that
were considered sacred. They resembled an image
of a woman in a kimono, and by tradition, such
cats lived in the grounds of temples or shrines. But
regular temple cats had stumpy, triangular tails.
This one's tail was long, thick and expressive.

Smiling with relief, Moon looked up at the
eccentric creature that had adopted him two
months ago. It had been during the first real mission
of his life, where he had also met Snowhawk. The
beautiful, skilful Snowhawk.

Moon glanced at her with furtive admiration.
He still wasn't sure if he'd rescued her, she him, or
they each other. Whatever the case, it had been
one crazy, dangerous mission. He'd been wounded
and made himself a powerful enemy, but it had all
ended in success.

Above, the cat turned suddenly on the apex,
drawing his eye.

Snowhawk moved noiselessly to his side. 'This
is getting ridiculous,' she whispered. 'It's sweet the
way she's so crazy about you, but she's going to get
us detected.'

He nodded, squinting up at the animal. What
was the cat's game? Now she was leaning sharply
towards Edo Castle, tail swishing around fast. She
turned and glared down at Moonshadow then
resumed the same antics. Thankfully, without a
single
meow
.

'Wait,' he muttered. 'She's signalling something.'
But what? A warning?

Great timing! Both he and Snowhawk needed
to enter this attic, and
now
. But perhaps there
was good cause to have somebody keep watch.
Moon shadow scratched his cheek, reasoning it
through. He
could
do both at once, but it would
cost him precious life force, ki energy, temporarily
draining his strength. That always increased
the risk factor during a mission. If he failed to
rest properly afterwards, or sight-joined again too
quickly, total exhaustion – and disaster – would
follow.

Yet what choice did he have? If this
was
a
warning and he simply ignored it . . .

He glanced to one side. Snowhawk was staring
at him. She leaned in close.

'You're planning to link with it, aren't you?'
she whispered quickly. He nodded. 'We've
covered a lot of ground tonight, and there's more
to come when we move on to that fishing village,
Yokohama, before sunrise.' She gripped his arm.
'Have you enough energy for all this? Controlling
a sentry cat
and
helping me memorise whatever
we hear?'

'I think so. Anyway –' Moonshadow gestured
down at the square opening she had created in
the tiles – 'we can't waste time weighing it up. The
conspirators arranged to gather once the midnight
bell had sounded. So we need to get into place. If
our information's right, their meeting will start at
any moment, if it hasn't already.'

'You're right.' She gave a relenting sigh. 'I'll go
in first, check for chime traps and find us a good
spot, right above them.'

'Be careful,' Moon said, letting his hand
brush her arm. An unexpected wave of anxious,
protective feelings rolled over him. He summoned
up his will to push them off. This was no time to
turn all slushy
, as Groundspider called it. It'd get
them
both
killed.

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