CH02 : Toshiro

The count has reached 39. The forest officers are afraid to go beyond what they have marked as ‘The safe zone’. No traces of the missing .
Until today. A dead body was found.
Well, can’t even say if it was complete body. More like an unsolved jigsaw puzzle missing few pieces.
Not a single journalist is willing to put their life on line to cover this. The demand is high and the money is pretty good.
I am going in. Not for the money. I am in for the thrill. The dark secrets of the forests. I have to know. Everything. Meisa thinks I am mad. She is right.
I went beyond the safe zone. It was getting darker with every step. As beautiful as the Okibaras look, they get creepier as you move deep inside the forest. I stepped on a hat. I looked around, there was a trail of blood. I started recording as I followed which led me to the corpse.
Saying that I was scared would be an understatement. There was a giant wolf staring at me. I froze. I just couldn’t move. Blood drops were dripping down his mouth.
Of course, the wolf charged towards me. I took few steps back. Death could have pounced upon me anytime soon but out of nowhere, a white tiger jumped in and stood between me and the wolf.
The wolf lashed at me. The tiger took the blow. It was the first one of the many he took. Neither did he retaliate nor did he let the wolf hurt me.
This went on till the tiger collapsed. The wolf left us. As if all of this was not strange enough, the stripes on the tiger’s body started disappearing and it started taking a more humanoid form.
I gathered courage and went near him. It was Toshiro. I could recognize him from the university. He is a personal assistant to Prof Arakawa. I had spent a lot of time with professor at the university trying to gather as much intel as I could on Kaijura before venturing into it’s deep territories. Toshiro is a student there and has been assisting professor in his work.
I owe him my life. I couldn’t leave him like that. I have brought him home. He has been unconscious for two days now. Meisa has been taking good care of him. She has a lot of questions for me though. There are lot of questions that I need answers to as well.
Waiting for Toshiro to get back to his senses.
He left. He was not in his room and the backyard window was open.
Don’t know when did this happen. but he just disappeared. A lot of questions remain unanswered.
I went to the university to meet Prof Arakawa and get some insights on what I experienced.
Turns out, he is dead. Passed away last night. Cardiac Arrest. This was unfortunate and unexpected.
There were no signs of Toshiro. On enquiring I found out that he had not attended lectures since for last few days.
I went to the university library today. Enquired about what all books Professor had borrowed over last year or so for his research.
The librarian was kind enough to take his time and prepare a list for me. The list has more than hundred book titles. I will see if there is something in it that will give me a direction to pursue.
The entire list was full of research papers but there was strange inclusion in there that was not just once but renewed thrice -
Juraki — The lost shape-shifting clan by Dr. Yukihiro Mashima
Really? Does this explain, what I saw the other day? For now that book is the key. I have to get this one from the library tomorrow.
I went to the library. There is just one copy and that has been issued a day ago, to a student named — Toshiro Araki.
There you go!
Every lead that I have links to that one boy.
Where are you Toshiro? 
What are you ? 
What are you up-to? 
Damn it!
Now what?
Should I let go of increasing obsession with this story and look for something else now?
Perhaps the coverage of Christmas Celebrations at the city town-hall would be a better idea.
I was at the town-hall for the Christmas celebrations today. Mayor was giving his speech. The place was crowded as hell. In the crowd there was this kid who reached out to me and gave me an envelope.
I asked him what it was? and he pointed towards the entrance. There he was — Toshiro. In between the time I glanced at the envelope at and looked back, he was gone.
I opened it. There was a small piece of paper in it with a message.
I know you have a lot of questions. You will get your answers. If you trust me, meet me at Kaijura. Tomorrow. 7PM. The same place.

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