She Who Walks With Spirits (Tinder and Elflady)

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  1. Chatter broken by radio static filled the small kitchen as the late morning sun streamed in through the windows. Hanako stood at the sink washing the last of the breakfast dishes. It looked as though it would be another sweltering day; even now the humidity was enough to make things uncomfortable. It was on a day like this that they had first come to this small town. A soft sigh escaped her as she gazed out the window. To think a year had passed by already; it was almost unimaginable. She couldn’t remember the last time they’d remained in one place for so long.

    “Hanako, could you bring me some more coffee?”

    She picked up the coffee pot and turned to her father who sat at the table reading the newpaper, “Right away.” She walked over and refilled his cup, trying to gauge his mood as she did. He was beginning to get that restless look in his eyes again. It was subtle, but Hanako had learned long ago how to read Ryou.

    He thanked her as she turned away to put the coffee pot back on the counter.

    “By the way, sweetheart,” her father continued, his voice betraying his discomfort, “There’s something I have to tell you.”

    Right on schedule, she mused to herself. She turned back to him, “We have to move again, don’t we?”

    Ryou smiled sadly, his eyes pleading with her to understand, “I’m sorry. I know this place has started to feel like home, but I got a call for work in Tokyo. It’s a wonderful opportunity. I know it will make our lives better.”

    She knew he was lying. Her father worked as a private tutor for a living. Moving very rarely helped him. That was how it had always been. She would accept his words and they would move. Lately though, she’d found it difficult to willing be blind. Maybe now it was time to confront him. She was going to be eighteen in just a few days and much closer to starting a life of her own.

    She took a breath and tried to find some courage, “Dad, I…I’m going to the market. We’re out of bread.”

    “Oh, fine. Don’t stay out too long,” he replied, surprised by her sudden change of topics.

    She nodded and headed for the door, silently cursing herself as she slipped her shoes on. So much for confronting him. She walked out into the hallway of their apartment building, pulling the door closed behind her. They lived on the third floor in a three room apartment. It was a little cramped, but cozy enough. She ran down the stairs, making sure she didn’t make too much noise. The walls were not very thick, which meant anyone with a room near the stairs could hear most anything that went on in the stairway. She'd learned that lesson the hard way her first month here when old man Noro caught her on her way up to the apartment and gave her a good chewing out for interrupting his favorite TV program.

    After reaching the ground floor, she entered the lobby of the building and headed for the door to the street. The building was situated in the downtown area of the small town. The streets were narrow and almost always busy. It was a crazy mess and Hanako loved every minute of it. Compared to the quiet routine of her life, the city always felt so alive. It was a welcome distraction, but not all of it.

    As soon as she stepped out of the confines of the building, it began again; the whispering. It was not like the dull roar of traffic and people. The voices were muffled and eerie, like something of another world. She was fairly certain that was because it was of another world.

    She pulled a music player from her pocket and slipped the ear buds in. The whispering could be drowned out with music to a point at least. She turned up the volume and started off, doing her best to ignore the uneasy feeling in her stomach. The market was not far from the apartment and it would only take her a few minutes to find fresh bread. This would not be a long trip.

    She went straight to the bakery. It was probably the best place in the market, at least in her opinion. It always smelled like fresh baked bread and sweets. As she entered, the woman at the counter looked up and smiled, “Good morning, Hanako. What’ll it be today?”

    “Just the usual, Hoshi,” Hanako replied, slipping the headphones out of her ears.


    Two figures watched her enter the store from atop a nearby building.

    “That’s the target,” one asked, looking through a set of binoculars.

    The other nodded, “We’ve got a team heading to the building to pick up the man. One of Tomo’s creatures is on the girl. If everything goes according to plan, we can close this operation tonight.”

    The first sighed, “Eighteen years…yes, I think I’m ready for this to be done.”


    “Be sure to tell your father I said hello.”

    “I will. Bye,” Hanako called as she left the store. She began to walk back towards the apartment building, pulling her music out again. Even though it was a short trip, it was always nice to get out of the apartment and talk to someone other than her father. Even if that person was a good deal older than her. She began to slip her ear buds back in when another voice called to her.

    “Excuse me, miss, could I interest you in some lovely fresh flowers today?”

    A man stood at a stand not far from her, holding a daisy in his hand which he held out to her. Though she knew it was a delay her father would not appreciate, she didn’t see the harm in stopping for just a moment.
  2. The narrow, winding streets bustling with people were starting to gnaw on Shin's patience, he had been in this particular town for just over a week now, although it felt like much longer. Even if he had started to get used to all the people crowding every street he had never gotten used to the cramped feeling of the city. Used to his own vast homeland where nature still ruled, this city, or any city really, made him feel trapped. He missed to be able to walk out the door and not see another house uncomfortably close, for less stone and concrete and more wood.

    Of course he had been to worse places, that he had to admit, this small town was charming in a way and people were quite friendly even to a stranger like him. But all the people also made his search harder, it was difficult enough to find someone without knowing anything about them but among the crowds it was even harder.

    Many times he had been following a lead that had proved to be nothing at all, many people in the world had small amounts of power in them, people that went on and became fortune tellers and such. But he had not found a single one with enough power to be a spirit-bridge.

    Sometimes he feared that he was always a step behind the clans, always too late to make a difference and that he could search forever without succeeding, such thoughts weren’t long lived in his positive mind however.

    Besides even if he gave up and returned home he was quite certain there would be some heated arguments waiting him, at best. The clan leader didn’t easily overlook insubordination and could very well decide to punish him severely, whether he was a relative or not.

    No, for now it was best to just continue on, surely he would somehow find out if the clan’s were succeeding, the result would not pass by silently.

    Closing in on a market Shin snapped out of his thoughts and concentrated again, he felt a spirit presence, vague but it was there. Paying no heed to the people as he walked through the crowd, earning some angry looks and muttered apologies. Rounding a corner he was certain of it, he’d finally reached the end of his search.

    He scanned the crowd and saw a girl nearby slipping into a bakery, his instincts told him she was the one, she had to be. Unfortunately he was not the only one who had found her it seemed, he just hoped that those who were nearby didn’t recognize him.

    Staying outside the bakery Shin listened to what was said inside, filtering out all the annoying background noise. He could hear them exchange some small talk and it didn’t take long until the girl came out again heading away from the market. At first Shin planned to follow her until their surroundings calmed down and then approached her, but seeing one of the low levelled clan goons make a move Shin acted without thinking.

    “Excuse me,” he called out as he quickly caught up with her, glad that he had heard the conversation inside the bakery. “Are you Hanako?” He paused to let her answer and tried his best to appear serious and sympathetic, hoping worrying news could cover up his less than perfect try at lying.

    “I’m sorry but your father is being rushed to the hospital at the moment, apparently it was an accident.” He wasn’t even sure about her living situation, maybe he just made a huge mistake by mentioning her dad, what if she didn’t live with her parents, or even had parents. Some of the worry on his face was actually real once his brain caught up with his actions.

    This was one of the times he actually wished he wore more formal clothes, he didn’t know why but humans always seemed to trust a pair of clothing a lot, but he just hoped she would be more worried about the news right now. “If you please come with me I’ll take you to him and explain what happened.” As long as his words got her away from the danger then he could explain things better.
  3. Hanako glanced away from the shopkeeper when she heard her name. A man she didn’t recognize ran up to her. He seemed odd. She couldn’t put her finger on just what it was, but something was off about him. He looked ordinary enough, even handsome if she was being honest. Perhaps he was from the apartment building. She was familiar with most of the residents, but there were a few she’d never seen. It would explain how he knew her name. She answered him, giving him a curious stare, “I’m Hanako. Is there something you need?”

    When he continued with his message, she gasped. All thoughts of who he was and why he was there vanished. Ryou was hurt. But how; she’d left him less than half an hour ago. What could have happen in such a short time? “Dad’s hurt?” she asked, shock clear in her voice, “What happened? Was it serious?”

    Her mind immediately jumped to the worst case scenario, thinking of a number of grizzly events that could have taken place. Maybe he’d fallen and hit his head on the counter. The stove could have exploded; it was an old gas model. He could have choked on something after she’d left and passed out.

    Panic erased all her previous thoughts from her mind. She turned to the flower stall owner, bowing slightly, “I’m sorry, but I need to go.” As she turned, she swore she saw something flash in the man’s eyes. Or rather saw his eyes flash. For just a moment, they had appeared inhuman. The thought disturbed her, but she pushed it out of her mind and turned to the stranger, “Please take me to my father. I need to be sure he’s alright.”

    She wanted to run back to the apartment to check the man’s story, but that might waste valuable time. Instead she chose to follow this man who seemed to know what was going on. Then another thought crossed her mind. What if something had caught up with them? Just this morning her father had mentioned moving. It was no secret that this was the longest they’d ever been in one place. What if whatever reason he had for moving them around so much had caught up with him and put him in the hospital?

    This was all happening too fast. Her emotions clouded her judgment as fear turned to sorrow, though she didn’t allow it show on her face. If something serious had happened, she didn’t even want to think about losing her father. He was the only family she had. No, it couldn’t be that bad. She forced herself to calm down enough to listen to the stranger, hoping he would have answers for her.
  4. When the human, Hanako, reacted with genuine worry Shin had to take an inward breath of relief that his ruse had worked. So far at least. He could feel the anger coming at him from the creature by the flowers, it practically crashed over him in waves, Shin just hoped that he had been instructed to not draw undue attention towards himself. After all it would take quite some time to get humans used to the spirit world again since they sadly had lost all their ability to believe in what could not be seen or explained.

    Ignoring the creature as best as he could Shin kept his eyes on Hanako instead quickly trying to decide on how to proceed now, cracking his knuckles as he did so. His words had come out without any forethought and now he was left without a plan. It was something he often did when under pressure, acting without thinking, and it didn’t always end up well.

    “I do not have the full details of what happened,” he said, mind racing for the next line. “But I do know that it was not life threatening although he has been taken to the hospital.” It was better if he didn’t try to invent any elaborate story but he still wanted to at least give the human some peace of mind so she didn’t need to worry too much, she would probably be furious enough when she learned he had lied to her. Although he hoped she would listen to reason when learning her own life was in danger.

    Shin had to admit though, that the girl held herself very well considering the news, he could feel her worry and sadness and hear it in her voice, yet he saw nothing of it in her face. “I can drive you to the hospital so that you can see him.” He motioned for Hanako to follow but didn’t walk ahead of her instead he waited so he could walk beside her, afraid that if he turned his back the furious fool sent for the girl would try something stupid. Not that Shin doubted he could win in a fight, after all this goon was clearly not their best man but it would just complicate things unnecessarily.

    He hoped to gain some valuable time running on foot when at least for some time the clans would be searching for the girl in some car, although he hoped it wouldn't come to that since he had never tried to drive a car in his life. In the spirit world such vehicles didn't exist and he had not been in the human world long enough to deem it necessary to learn, having had travelled on foot or by bus or train so far. “My name is Shin by the way,” he offered, hoping to appear less of a stranger than he actually was.

    Leading her down a street he searched for the perfect moment, he wanted to get away from the market but he couldn’t go too far before she would start to get suspicious. Seeing his chance when they’d walked a bit and the crowd on the street had thinned, without a moment's notice he grabbed her arm, pulling her with him into a narrow alley.

    “Please don’t scream, I’m not going to hurt you.” Although appearing calm and keeping his voice low and gentle Shin was prepared to act quickly to grab her or silence a scream. But he wanted to avoid using physical force if not necessary as it would be much harder to gain her trust that way. “I would have prefered not to lie to you but I had no other choice.”
    #4 Elflady, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  5. Hanako let out a sigh of relief when she heard it wasn’t as serious as what her mind had conjured up. Her racing heartbeat began to slow as she followed Shin down the street. It was okay. He could have just fallen down the stairs and broken something. Whatever happened was probably some foolish accident that they would laugh about later. She would scold him like she always did when he made her worry, and he would laugh and accuses her of trying to mother him.

    But with the relief, clarity began to come to her. The man introduced himself as Shin. Her father had never mentioned anyone with that name and she had never seen a name plate in the building for it. Nor had she heard any gossip about. Surely someone in the building would have mentioned a man such as him. It was clear to anyone who looked his way that the young man was attractive, and if there was anything the women in her apartment building enjoyed doing it was gossiping about attractive men.

    More warning bells began to go off as she realized the street they were on was far less crowded than the main street where she had been minutes earlier. Not to mention he’d said he was taking her to his car, yet they were not heading back to the building. Suddenly she wasn’t so sure she should be following him.

    Then he pulled her away from the street into an alleyway and she felt fear grip her. She cursed herself when she realized the situation she’d put herself into. How could she have been such a fool? It appeared her common sense had abandoned her, only to come back to scold her now. She looked around for an escape route. There had to be a way. Then she remembered a very specific lesson her father had taught her long ago. One of the first lessons of self-defense; when someone is holding you, go toward them and then away. They expect you to pull away, so use that against them.

    She gave him a hard stare, “Of course. I understand completely.” Before he could continue, she rammed her fist and body into him and tried to escape his grasp before he could orient himself again. She aimed for the road, hoping her trick had given her enough time to escape.

    Whatever he wanted, she doubted it would be for her benefit. She was not about to let whoever this was take her without a fight.
  6. Shin had expected the girl to react in some way, mostly in fear or anger, but as she stood still and did no attempts to break free or scream he relaxed, a mistake on his part, and his first optimistic hope that she would actually do as he asked and listen to him was quickly shattered. Taken by surprise Shin took a step back as she pushed him, rubbing his chest where her fist had connected, she was stronger than he had expected or maybe the situation gave her strength but compared to the people he had been training with all his life she was a light weight.

    Before the girl could make it out into the street Shin ran after her and caught her arm, pulling her backwards and in the same motion put himself in between her and the way out of the alley. "Please don't try to run again." He spoke quickly, hoping that she would hesitate if she learned more. "Look, I'm doing this to help you." Cursing at himself inwardly Shin sighed, that didn't sound as good when he said it out loud as it had in his head, then again no one had ever accused him of being good with his words under pressure.

    “Listen,” he took a breath as he cracked his knuckles. “Your life is in danger and I realize this must seem crazy coming from a stranger but I can help you.” At least he hoped so, he was only one person against who knew how many but with him she would have a chance to survive, however small. "That man by the flower stand was sent to capture you and if you run away now he will find you easily and trust me, you do not want that."

    He knew exactly what he could do to try and catch her attention and hopefully make her start believing at least some of the things he said but at the same time he was uncertain if it would be such a good idea after all, humans had no experience with anything not fitting into their view of the world anymore. But since she had been found there was not enough time to sugarcoat anything for her, if he had found her first this would have been so much easier and he could have explained everything slowly, now he worried not only to be found again but also to be recognised. Shin knew that he couldn't keep his involvement in this from his clan forever but he prefered to have that confrontation way into the future if at all possible.

    "I know this is hard to believe but I'm speaking the truth." He contemplated telling her he never lied, or almost never at least, but judged that she probably wouldn't believe him anyway. It was true though, he was always honest since almost everyone could see through his lies easily, like he was an open book. As a child his mother used to say it was because his face was so open and innocent and that look had never left him.
  7. Hanako stumbled as Shin pulled her back into the alley. She took a breath to try to cry for help, but stopped herself as he continued to talk. Despite the situation and everything that was happening, there was an earnestness in his voice that made her falter for a moment. Even so, he was talking nonsense. There was no reason someone would want to kill her. Even if this man had good intentions, there was a good chance he was no well. No necessarily dangerous, just confused.

    She pulled her arm from his grasp, but did not run. It was likely that she would need to reason with the man if she wanted to go back home. She gave him an unconvinced frown, “Sir, I think you’ve got me confused with someone else. There is no reason for anyone to want to kill me.”

    Though she did not intend to run, her stance remained tense. She didn’t trust this man. Even if his intentions appeared pure, she was still trapped in a dark alley with a stranger. The situation was less than ideal and she was not about to become a part of tomorrow’s headlines because she let her guard down.

    She continued to glare his way, “Who are you, anyway? How do you know who I am?” There was something off about this man. She couldn’t quite put her finger on just what it was and that only made her more wary. She wanted to run and get away from the strange person, but she knew she would not be able to outrun him.

    Then as she stood waiting for his response, she realized something. The whispering was gone. Everything was quiet, like the world was holding its breath. Something was going to happen, though she could not tell if it was danger that quieted the voices or anticipation.
  8. Shin sighed as she spoke, although it was no surprise that she didn’t believe him, if some stranger walked up to him and tried to tell him some insane sounding story he would likely not trust them either. But it was still frustrating that she didn’t believe him, back home he had no problem making people trust his words. “I don’t think you’ll believe me if I tell you that,” he said, a faint smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. He felt fairly certain that the truth about who he was would not really be well received and he didn't feel like proving that in the middle of a city.

    “I do not have the wrong person however. Truthfully though, I do not know anything about you, it was just a coincidence that I found you today.” Now he just talked in circles again, Shin pushed back his brown bangs with a hint of annoyance. “Look, I was searching for you, or well not you specifically but someone like you, someone with certain powers, but as it turns out I was not the first one to find you.”

    Shin pondered on the next problem he only just now realised, even if she started to believe him somehow, it would still take a lot to convince her she was special if she did not know of her powers. “Have you never experienced anything odd, something you can not really explain with human standards?” He hoped she had, although he couldn't even be certain she knew the truth herself let alone noticed anything. He had not that much knowledge about the spirit-bridges either, only that their connection to the spirit world was particularly strong. How that bond presented itself to the individuals however he had no clue.

    He just wished he had some physical evidence to support his words so the whole thing would go smoother but he had nothing but words to convince her with, or well, perhaps not only. “Would you at least believe I am not just delusional if I can show you something you humans believe impossible?" He asked her, but without waiting for a reply he took a quick look around and spotted some small water puddles in the alley from last night where the heat from the sun hadn't yet dried them up. He could have just conjured up water but he didn't want to showcase where he was to every creature nearby. It took a lot less energy to handle existing water and so it would be harder for others to detect his use of magic. "Please don't freak out, I promise I won't hurt you." His voice more serious than before, really meaning his words, not only was she an innocent girl but also the person he had set out to protec, or one of them at least.

    With a motion of his arm a small part of the water rose up from the ground and came to hover as a sphere above his hand. With a smooth wave with his hand the water flew into the air only to came down as snow, falling silently around them in a season they shouldn’t be in. "Can a delusional human do that?” He asked her as the final snowflakes melted away, stroking a few cold droplets from his arm where some snow had landed. "I know it won't prove to you that I speak the truth but you can't brush this off anymore as just a crazy guy bothering you."
  9. Hanako remained wary, keeping distance between them. She didn’t like the way he kept saying “human” like it was a foreign term to him. Something was very wrong with this Shin. He’d come out of nowhere and now he was telling her that someone wanted to kill her. She couldn’t tell if this whole thing was just a cruel joke or something far worse. All she knew was that she wanted to go back to her father. She’d already been out too long as it was and now the food she’d bought was spoiled as she’d dropped it while trying to escape this man.

    Her attention snapped back to him as he asked her about noticing strange things. Her mind went back to the voices which had been mysteriously silenced. How could he know about those? Her caution began to slip away as her confusion intensified.

    Then she saw him raise the water from the ground. All logical thoughts she’d been trying to keep in her mind disappeared as she found herself caught between wonder and terror. This wasn’t possible, but here it was in front of her. As the snow fell on her skin, she stared at the drops of water it left behind. Blinking to be sure she was seeing what was before her, she looked up at Shin. Her face was set, but her eyes betrayed her confusion and defeat. “Listen,” she fought to keep her voice steady, “I don’t know how you did that just now or why it has anything to do with. But I need to get back to my father now. He’s expecting me back and I can’t keep him waiting.” She sounded foolish, almost like a child whining for her parents on her first day of school, but she couldn’t think of anything else. Her heart was pounding too hard to let her think this through.
  10. Shin battled a strong urge to shake some sense into the girl, if not for the fact that it for one wouldn't help and it certainly wouldn't help her to trust him more. At least she was weakening in her resolve to dismiss all that he told her, he could see it in her eyes, but he could also feel that mix of feelings in reaction to his use of water that she hid beneath her mask: No one could blame her for that though seeing as even the most normal and common thing was explained by humans as a coincidence or play of the lights, it had been like that on Earth for hundreds of years by now.

    Settling for an annoyed sigh instead of scaring her Shin threw his hands up in defeat. "Fine." He sorely wished he had his brother's people skills right now, Katsurou could probably convince a chicken it could fly if given enough time but Shin had recieved very little of that skill, he hadn't missed it umuch ntil now. "Will you listen to reason if you can go back home?" He asked, well aware it was a stupid idea since those after Hanako would most likely know where she lived but also realizing that the stubborn girl would probably feel calmer if she got to do as she wished. He could also see her point, everythng she had been told so far, including going through the fear that her father was injured, would make anyone rattled enough to seek out a comfortable zone, but the small problem for Hanako was that her safe place might not be so safe anymore.

    "But I'm going with you," he continued. "If what I have told you is the truth then you will be safer that way, but if it's proven that I am apparently a crazy person I will leave you alone after we have seen your father and home is safe." She didn't need to know that he would not leave either way, if nothing out of the ordinary had happened so far he would just keep staying close and be ready to help when needed. But the clans had already made their move on Hanako so Shin doubted that would be an option, to his knowledge the clans had no quarrel with the girl's father so he was fairly certain that she would be the only target. "What about it? I'll be out of your life in no time if I'm wrong."
  11. Hanako watched him, distrust creeping back into her eyes. Her mind fought to explain Shin’s little trick, but the best she could come up with was he’d drugged her somehow or this was a very elaborate hoax. Neither was very logical, but at least it was possible. Her eyes flickered between Shin and the puddle, almost expecting it to happen a second time. Her good sense told her to do what she should have done in the first place and call out for help, but now she didn’t even know how she would explain the situation. ‘Help! He’s going to splash me?’ She’d be put in a hospital in minutes.

    Finally she nodded, forcing her heartbeat to slow, “Fine, follow me. Either way you’ll be out of my hair soon enough.” She started off back the way they came, not stopping to see if he’d followed. If this was really important to him, he’d find a way to keep up. She walked quickly, eager to be rid of this man. Her father would know how to make sense of all this. He’d always been good at helping her understanding the strange things that happened to her. There had been so many unexplainable occurrences over the years. First it had been the whispers, but she’d glimpsed things as well. They had been walking among people, yet no one turned to see them standing there. Then she would blink and they would be gone. The first time she’d experienced this, it had been one of her first time running errands without her father. She had run back to their shabby apartment and told her father everything, and he had told her that it was just her mind playing tricks on her. So she’d told herself the same thing every time she noticed things that were out of place. Now it seemed one of those tricks was following her home.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by the blaring of a siren. She looked up and noticed smoking rising up in the air above the buildings. Right in the direction of her apartment. Her eyes widened as Shin’s warning echoed through her mind. She started to run, heading through the streets as fast as her legs could carry her.

    The flames came into view when she made it to the street. She gasped and came to a halt, breathing hard as she took everything. The other residents were gathered where she now stood, whispering and mourning the loss of their homes. Emergency vehicles lines the other side of the road, fighting to get the fire under control. She looked around, praying her father was among the crowd.

    One of the woman she recognized from the apartment across from them glanced her way, “Hanako!” She came over to her, “It’s a relief to see you. I was worried that you were still inside.”

    “Have you seen my father?” Hanako tried to keep her voice from sounding desperate.

    A look of pity came on the woman’s face, “I’m sorry but he hasn’t come out yet.”

    Hanako felt her heart sink as she looked back at the burning building. He couldn’t still be in there. Her neighbor went on, attempting to comfort her, but she heard nothing. She wanted to run and find him herself, but she was rooted to the ground.
  12. [BCOLOR=transparent]Shin, a bit surprised at her agreement, started after her, having little trouble following her quick pace as she led the way back to her home. He had almost expected her to refuse forcing him to follow her in secret, hiding and generally feeling like a stalker, it would have been such a hassle but none the less something he would have done. He wasn't about to waste away his opportunity now that he had finally found what he had set out to look for. Even if the real ordeal seemed to be to convince the girl she was important and in danger, she was stubborn and just like your average human dead set on ignoring the obvious just because it didn't fit into her logical world.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Spending more attention on the surroundings where possible attackers could hide and being on high alert for any usage of spirit energy nearby that could give away an attackers position Shin had paid little mind to where they were going, he had simply followed Hanako. Now though she broke off into a run, a surprised Shin looked up and also noticed the thick, dark smoke billowing up behind the houses ahead, a sense of dread settled in his stomach as he hurried to catch up to Hanako. He had no problem keeping up the pace but he didn't know his way around this city like the girl did and had to focus on which turns she took and to not lose sight of her.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Rounding a last corner they stopped in front of an apartment complex, the smoke hung heavy in the air and the heat of the flames could be felt even from this distance. A crowd of humans stood gathered, watching their home and belongings burn up, feelings of disbelief, desperation and devastation was as thick as the smoke, Shin didn't need his sharp senses to feel it. He looked down on Hanako beside him, she had completely frozen solid after the woman revealed that her father was not among them outside. A look of pity flashed across his face and he contemplated using his water to try and douse the fire but it was too late to save the building, the damage on the structure itself would make it risky to enter even when the fire was put out. The fire itself for that matter was intense and seemed too strong to actually be caused by an accident for that matter, at least in such a short time, and that also made it unlikely that anyone still in the house would have survived.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Dark eyes narrowing as he swept his gaze across the house, it wouldn't be such a stretch that those searching for Hanako had done this, just as he could manipulate water and ice, there were many who could control fire as easy as breathing. What he couldn't figure out was why the other clans would go after Hanako's father, was there something else going on that he wasn't aware off? Was her father also important in all this? In that case was their goal to kill Hanako's father or to take him alive, it was a good question but also something it would be hard to find an answer to without asking those responsible.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Shin instinctively wanted to leave, he disliked fire very much, not only because it was the opposite of his own element, and it was not safe here, even if they had gotten to her dad and were not sure where Hanako herself was it was not smart to stay out here in the open like this. Somehow though he got the feeling he couldn't just convince her to come with him now, she would most likely refuse until she knew if her father was dead or alive, but he still had to try. "Hey," his voice was low and soft as he put a hand on her shoulder, both to comfort her and to make sure she didn’t do anything stupid like trying to enter the burning building. “I know you don’t want to leave but it's not safe here, the people who... did this is after you as well and you can't see your father again if you are dead.” He was about to say who killed her father but that would for one be highly insensitive and secondly it wasn’t certain her father had been killed, although it was very likely from his point of view.[/BCOLOR]
  13. Hanako shrugged his hand off her shoulder and gave him a fierce glare, “I’m not going anywhere until I know where my father is.” Even if there was a shred of truth to what this man said, there was no way she would run to save herself if it meant leaving her father behind. He was the only person she had in this world. She continued to search the smoke, praying that he would appear. He had to be safe. He’d never leave her alone.

    Then from amidst the chaos of the crowd, two officers appeared. They looked around for a moment before noticing Hanako and going over to where she stood. As they walked up, one greeted her, “Hello, Miss. Are you Hanako Kasai?”

    “Yes,” she answered.

    “We found your father, Ryou Kasai,” he said, “He’s alive, but badly injured. It seems he tried to climb out to the fire escape, but slipped and fell down a story. He’s on his way to the hospital now, but he insisted we keep an eye out for you and bring you to him as soon as we could.”

    Hanako didn’t know whether to smile or cry. At least her father was alive and safe. “Can you take me to him?”

    He nodded and gestured for her to follow him, “Just come this way and I’ll take you in the squad car.” He started forward, keeping pace with her as they squeezed through the crowd. The second man stayed behind them and blocked Shin from following them, though Hanako barely noticed. All she cared about was finding out what happened to her father.

    They rounded the corner and started walking toward one of the cars parked not far off. Hanako fought to sort through her emotions as she forced herself to remain composed. Everything would be fine now. Not only was her father safe, but she was finally away from the insane man. It was going to be okay.

    Then just as they approached the car, the officer turned pushed her into the open door of a nearby building. Caught off guard, Hanako crashed into the wall and fell to the ground. She pushed herself back up and blinked, trying to sort out just what had happened. Before she could, the man heave her up once more and pulled her deeper into the building. “Target acquired,” she heard him say into his ear piece, “Executing orders now.”

    That was enough to snap her out of her stupor and force her into action. She tried a punch, hoping to take him by surprise as she had with Shin, but the man was prepared. He blocked her punch and gave her a backhanded slap, sending her to the ground. She yelped and brought her hand to her stinging cheek.

    He looked down at her, his face emotionless as he drew a blade from underneath his coat. “This is the end, little spirit-bridge.”

    Her eyes widened as he drew back his blade and began to bring it down at full force. She screamed and closed her eyes, throwing her arms over her head as a makeshift shield. Fear sent adrenaline rushing through her, igniting something deep within her. Before she could understand what was happening, an explosion of heat burst from within her and as fire engulfed the assassin. He screamed as it burned him until it consumed him completely, leaving only his sword which fell to the ground with a loud clang. Hanako breathed hard, staring at the now empty space before her. Had that really been her? She lifted her hands and stared at them. Had she just killed a man? She began to shake as her mind fought to take in what had she had just done.
  14. [BCOLOR=transparent]Shin was just about to continue trying to convince her when two men in police uniform made their way over and he snapped his mouth shut as they stepped up to Hanako. Something was wrong but he couldn't put his finger on why, had more spirits arrived? He couldn't quite tell, if they had indeed arrived then they were masking their energy just like he had taken a habit of doing lately. Casting a look around he could see nothing that instantly stood out as suspicious, the people from the apartment building was still around of course, police and firemen as well and the usual crowd that gathered near an accident filled the entire area near the house but none looked like they might be a danger.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Zoning back in on the conversation just in time to hear that the police claimed Hanako's father was in the hospital, still trying to sort out what made him so uneasy he found no words to stop her. The girl followed one of the men to get a ride to her father but Shin was given no chance to come as the so far silent police blocked his way. This caused him to finally connect his suspicions with the two men, they would not now Hanako if they were normal policemen and since he had stood just by her side it would have been logical for them to assume he was with her. These two already seemed to know he was not connected to the human at all and therefore kept him here where he could not intervene.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Now suddenly when he didn't focus so much on the whole area he could feel who these two really were, he should have guessed it sooner, but they were a lot more skilled at hiding than the fool by the market. "Get out of my way," he kept his voice down but there was no mistaking the anger that was starting to rise. "Don't you realize what will happen if all spirit bridges are killed?"[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]"I think you should worry a bit more about yourself little fox," the man said smugly. "I know some people who are not happy with you right now." Shin clenched his jaw in frustration, this was what he had hoped to avoid, if only he human had listened to him. He knew he couldn’t blame her for it but it was an easy option at the moment. He had just found the first spirit-bridge and now he was about to lose her, who knew how long it would take him to find another, if he ever would. No, he needed to incapacitate this man, preferably without causing a scene, and then find the other spirit before he killed Hanako, but how? "Now why don't you just step back and give the spirit bridge up, we have orders to not kill you if it can be avoided so we can keep this clean right?" The man continued, something in his hazel eyes hinted that he wouldn't mind if he met resistance and had to resort to violence.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]"You'd just let me walk away?" Shin asked, any eyebrow arched in question. "I didn't know you guys were so trusting."[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]The man waved a hand dismissively, strands of light brown hair falling across his forehead, a not so friendly smile tugging at his lips. "I don't care if you run back home or not, as long as you don't interfere in our dealing with the spirit bridge then you can do what you want." Shin didn't doubt his words, the spirit was not from Shin's own clan and therefore had no reason to do anything beyond the orders relating to their plan of uniting the worlds.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]A surge of power erupted from nearby, crashing like a wave across the area even if only Shin and the brown haired spirit noticed, both looked up in the direction it came from. Shin reacted first and ran towards the energy source, the strength had faded until it was just noticable but it was wasy enough to follow, but not so easy to figure out what the hell it was. He heard the other spirit behind him even if he coudn't quite catch up, ignoring the crowd as he ran Shin rounded a corner only to stop dead in his tracks, flattening himself to the wall. As his pursuer turned the corner ice shot up from the ground but the spirit was more agile than Shin had anticipated, dodging out of the way the spirit skidded to a halt, a thin line down his arm where blood trickled forth. [/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]The spirit pulled out a hidden blade, not long enough to be a sword but still bigger than a knife, and wielded it with ease. "If that's the way you want it..." He said with a shrug, not looking the least bit disppointed. Shin didn't bother replying, he had no weapon of his own so he preferred to keep his attention on the man's blade. With a sharp motion of his arm he summoned spikes of ice and threw them at his opponent. As expected he dodged and launched at Shin, swiping his blade right at him and when Shin dove to the right the spirit followed up with a thrust sending Shin to the ground, a puncture wound on his shoulder. The other spirit saw his chance and lunged at the defenseless Shin, only to find a wall of ice stopping his short sword just short of the target, his hazel eyes widened in surprise as he slumped down on top of Shin, a blade of ice piercing his chest.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Pushing the dead spirit off of him Shin stood up, making sure the area was still empty, which it was, the fight had been silent and every human nearby was probably still more interested in the fire. Without wasting anymore time Shin hurried towards a bilding where he still could feel that energy, it was like a a fainter version of spirit energy that had not been masked and he couldn't understand what it was since it had not been apparent earlier. "Hanako!" He called once he stepped inside, hoping she was still alive and that he had not wasted too much time. He stopped when he saw the burn mark, a scorched sword lying on the ground, the stench of burnt meat hung in the air and he snorted in disgust. Then his dark eyes fell on the girl, still alive although she looked scared and confused. "What happened? Are you hurt? Where's the other man?" Kneeling down as he questioned her Shin became certain she was the source of this new energy he had felt earlier but why did she, a human, have such power? Was it because she was a spirit-bridge? He had no idea and she probably didn't either but if this was the power she held then it was no wonder she was being hunted down just like the other spirit-bridges.[/BCOLOR]
  15. Hanako tried to keep her breath even as she continued to stare at the scorch mark that had been her attacker. How had it happened? One moment he’d been ready to kill her, the next he was engulfed in flame that had materialized from thin air. Yet somehow she knew that fire had come from her. She couldn’t remember how she’d done it, but somehow fire had come out of her some kind of protective barrier. As soon as it touched the man, it had clung to him and spread like he was coated in gasoline. Everything had been over in seconds. Now all that was left was his sword which still glowed from the flame.

    She wasn’t aware of Shin entering the building until he knelt down beside her. She glanced his way, slow to realize who it was. For a split second, she was relieved to see the familiar face. But that comfort was quickly squashed. She jumped away from him and put up her hands to stop him from approached. “Stay away from me,” she said, her stance tense as she pressed her back to the nearby wall. She tried to keep her hands from shaking as she continued, “P-please, I don’t want to hurt you.”

    She didn’t mean it as a threat, but she knew it came out as one. Whatever she’d just done was not something she knew how to control. For all she knew, it could happen again. Though she didn’t trust the man in front of her, she didn’t want to kill him. It was all too confusing. She needed to understand what was happening; why it felt like someone lite a bonfire inside her. Her cheeks began to grow red and sweat was forming on her forehead. Now that she was standing, she realized just how tired she felt. She needed to focus, but it felt like her body was shutting down. It seemed her little stunt had spent most of her energy. She leaned against the wall for a bit of support, hoping she could at least keep herself on her feet in case he tried to come closer. She couldn’t risk hurting anyone else, especially not someone who seemed to be trying to help her.
  16. Needless to say Shin was confused, the outburst of power from a human who didn't seem to have any at first sight and then the burn mark and faintly glowing blade on the ground and no sign of the other spirit. Could the burn be what was left of the other spirit? Could she really have caused a fire so strong? It was hard to imagine a human with such strong powers even if she was a spirit-bridge, not that he had that much knowledge about them but it was hard to believe she was a normal spirit-bridge. Surely he somehow would have heard about it earlier if every one of them ran around with this much power hidden away and it would be harder for the spirits to kill them as well.

    As Hanako flew to her feet and backed away, apparently convinced she could harm him if he got close Shin rose up as well but he stayed put where he was, no need to scare her even more. "That fire, was that you?" He asked, it was probably not a subject that would calm her but he needed to confirm what he was already quite certain of. If he was right then it appeared that she hadn't known of her powers and if she didn't know about them chances are she couldn't control them. Powers working on instinct was not the best thing but they usually didn't activate randomly, most commonly it was to respond to danger, of course there were those cases where a spirit's power were out of control but it was rare.

    "Hanako listen, you're not going to hurt me, ok. Didn't you see me control water earlier? I can stop the fire if it becomes neccessary." He said, trying to calm her. If she was responsible for the fire then he could put it out with water before it burned him to a crisp. Probably. He couldn't be a hundred percent certain of he would make it in time but there was no need to point that out to her.

    Shin pulled a hand through his hair, pondering on what to do. He needed to get her away from here, they were safe for now but eventually the dead assassin's would be missed and Shin wanted to be far away by then. The girl had to calm down and listen to him, not that it had gone splendidly so far. "Hanako listen to me, this will not end here, more men will come for you so you need to decide what's worse, dealing with that alone or trusting me." Obviously he was not the best at showing gentle support in a crisis but in his slight defence they had little time for sugarcoating. "I can help you with that and how to deal with your powers."
  17. Logic told Hanako that Shin was right, but uncertain kept her silent. Water put out fire, so there was nothing to worry about. But she had burned her attacker into a pile of ashes. Could any amount of water put out fire that hot? Not that it mattered. The way she felt now, she doubted she could summon the strength to walk let alone summon fire like that again. Had she really always been able to do that? If it was true, then her father must have known about these abilities. Why had he never told her? He could have prepared her for all of this. If she’d known about this danger, she never would have left the apartment that morning. She would have kept him safe. A lump began to rise in her throat, but she forced it back. She didn’t know he was dead.

    She needed to focus on the here and now. Though she didn’t want to admit it, Shin was the only one around who seemed to understand what was happening. While she didn’t know what his intentions really were, he didn’t seem to want her dead. If he had, he never would have followed her after the other men took her. For the time being, he seemed to have her best interests in mind. It wasn’t like she had many other options.

    She sighed and said, “Fine. I’ll go with you.” At least she would have someone on her side, even if she was unsure of him. She sank down to the floor, too tired to keep trying to stand. What she really needed was a nap, but she knew they needed to keep moving. She just wanted a few moments to catch her breath and bring some life back into her legs. Then a thought came to her. She looked up at Shin, arching an eyebrow, “How did you find me in here?” He hadn’t seen where the fake officer had taken her. It had to have been more than mere luck that brought him to her.
  18. Shin let out a small sigh of relief, finally she had decided to listen to him, of course after what she had been through it wasn't so surprising perhap. He doubted she trusted him though, but at least she had agreed to come with him which was a good start, one they'd need if they were to keep her alive. Hanako looked far from ready to leave though, judging by how she looked Shin guessed she'd need some rest. If she was not used to controlling spirit energy and then let out such a burst all at once it was no wonder she was tired.

    "Ehm, I felt where you was I guess you could say." He said after a short pause, pondering on how best explain it to her, maybe it would be a bit much to take in all in one day but there was really no perfect point to start explaining it either. "It would have been more difficult to find you if you hadn't released all that energy, I had no idea you had such power inside you but let me just say it made it easy to find you. Of course you need to learn how to keep that hidden as well." Her new powers would do her no good unless she could hide them, otherwise their tries to stay undetected and safe would be pretty useless. But it was a later issue.

    "We'll leave as soon as you can, I know you want to rest but we need to get away from here first." Eventually they would need a plan and a good one at that, but for now keeping Hanako alive was the most important objective. "Don't push yourself too far though, it won't do much good if you collapse before we reach a safe place." He said in a softer voice as he leaned back against a wall, hands in his pockets, not wanting to lower his guard entirely by sitting down. It wasn't too likely more spirits would come immedeately but it never hurt to be cautious with so many against you. "I know this must be a lot to take in and this is far from the end of it but just remember to trust no one you meet, a lot of people are after you and it will not easy to spot them." People might not be the most accurate word for the majority of them but that was yet another part he had to tell her sooner or later.
  19. Hanako glanced from Shin to the burn mark on the ground where her attacker had been. There were still many questions running through her head, but there was no way they had enough time here to go over everything. She hated being in the dark though, and there had never been a time in her life when she’d felt more in the dark than now. She still didn’t understand who Shin was or what exactly was going on. All she knew was that there were apparently people out there who thought she deserved to die. People she’d never seen in her life. People who may have killed her father.

    “What are you people?” Her voice shook now that she finally voiced her fears. She looked up and to back to Shin, her eyes hard as she fought to keep the fear that gripped her heart hidden, “And why does someone want me dead?” She needed some kind of an answer to the impossible things she’d seen; some kind of logic, even if it wasn’t the most sound. The world felt like it was spiraling out of control at the moment and she feared it would only get worse if she continued to follow Shin without any reason other than her desperation. She needed to give a name to the danger chasing her.

    Her strength began to return to her, though that was hardly a comfort. Knowing what she could do made her wonder if her energy coming back so quickly was really a good thing. It meant she could unleash that fire again and next time it could be in a more populated area. If all it took was her feeling threatened than there was little keeping her from attacking an innocent person. Shin had said he could protect himself, but what about other people? Everything was happening too fast and the longer she had to think about it, the more she began to fear what would come of all of it.
  20. [BCOLOR=transparent]At her words Shin sighed and pulled a hand through his hair, although there was no annoyance in his expression. Her question was not an easy one to answer and would take more time to explain than they could afford right now. He was also not sure of how much the human could take in one go, she clearly appeared to be a typical modern human with little to no eye for the truth, and he had as little view into her mental stability as she had for his world. How much could he tell her at once.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]"To explain that we need a lot more time than we have now," he said after a few beats of silence, turning his dark eyes to the girl slumped on the floor. “But maybe you have noticed things are not so simple as you humans have imagined for a couple of hundreds of years now. This world is not just made up of Earth as you know it, the powers I showed you, and especially your own control over fire must prove that it is at least a possibility that what I say is true. Have you ever wondered where all the old legends and fairytales come from?” Shin finished with a question, humans might have stopped believing on the magical side of the world but the history remained in their culture, even if it was now regarded as children's stories and supersticion.[/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]Shin still had a hard time grasping how the death of a human, no matter her powers, could be enough to threaten the balance of the worlds. To him humans were not deserving the treatment a lot of the clans would give them if the worlds collided and neither were they food in his eyes but they were still inferior to even the weaker spirits, even though Hanako had showed a surprisingly strong power, stronger than many spirits honestly. Still, could she really matter that much? But if the clans were after her so intensely it had to be true, especially since it seemed they had already taken this plan seriously enough to murder other innocent humans before Hanako. Maybe it would have been a smarter of him to actually seemed to have listened whenever his own clan were discussing the plan or meeting with the others involved, instead of him arguing and showing his disapproval. At least the other way he may have known a bit more about what was going on. [/BCOLOR]

    [BCOLOR=transparent]"I do not know the details fully myself over why they want you dead so much," he continued. "But you, or your power maybe, is important, not only because it is very rare for a human to have such powers. However I do know that they will stop at nothing to reach their goal, and that requires your death. Are you feeling any better?" He asked, not noticing the sharp contrast his question had to the dark statement that came before it. He had no watch and there was no sun to observe inside the building but his own sense of time was enough for him to feel uneasy, or maybe that was just his mind playing tricks on him in the uncomfortably cramped city with so many buildings and people.[/BCOLOR]
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