Magical Ghost Go Princess Akari


Version 1.1


Edits: A few typos fixed. Some wording changed to be more consistant with later volumes (namely, that Akari was going to start a go club at her high school.) Akari's injury was changed to a broken ankle, based on suggestions from guys in the Anime and Manga Fanfics Forum. Formatting changed to fit FF's strange new style.




Hikaru no Go belongs to Hotta Yumi and Obata Takeshi. Not me. Thank you, Viz, for releasing it in English! (pats her copy of Volume 1 in English, which is sitting next to volumes 17-23 in Japanese.)


Prologue: Disaster Strikes


On a blackened page, like the inky spill of water on a moonless night, the darkness ripples as a voice speaks softly, sound in a paper world.

"Can you see me? Can you hear my voice?"


"Ahhh, what a lovely day this turned out to be!" Fujisaki Akari said with a wide grin and stretch as she walked down the sidewalk, wearing her brand-new high school uniform for the first time. Beside her, a few of the other girls in her neighborhood who were also going to the high school had already started exchanging names and class assignments. Her hair was up in its usual jaunty high pigtails, and she liked the fact that her dark green uniform contrasted with it much better better than the old mud brown junior high one had. Her eyes were clear, her face fresh. She'd always loved the first day of school.

"Ne, Akari, what does it feel like to you to be in tenth grade?" one of her friends from junior high asked.

"It feels . . . free," she replied, and smiled. The warm sunshine of the spring day beamed down on them. A few late cherry blossoms drifted on the wind down the residential district road. "I can feel a whole forest of paths opening up before me, and I can follow whichever path I choose."

The other girls giggled. "I want to follow the path of a housewife," one said. "No work, and a gorgeous husband!"

"You should have more ambition," another said with a snort. "I'M going to be a lawyer when I grow up. I'm joining the debate club."

"Ewwww, you'll have no social life! You'll have to study your brains out!"

"I think I want to join the drama club," Akari said, surprising herself. "Our high school doesn't have a go club, and I want to start one, but I also think I need a new activity." Her soft penny loafers scraped against the sidewalk as she daydreamed. It would be a start. She couldn't name precisely what she wanted to do with her life . . . but joining something other than a go club was definitely a good start.

"Oh, Akari, you'd be so good at drama! You're always so . . . dramatic!"

More giggling. Akari joined in, letting the warm sun wash away all her small, natural apprehensions about the first day away into the gutters, where they belonged. Junior high, for all the fun it was, had ended, and she'd walk in the sunshine of a fresh start instead of in the shadows of the go club . . . and her overachiever sister.

I'm free, she repeated to herself. We all are. The paths are opening up before us. Hikaru has already started down his own path, but the path that I will walk is different. My own path. Perhaps it will intersect his again . . . perhaps not. Then again, I really hope it does.

Akari sighed a dreamy little sigh. Only those at the go parlor had ever guessed about her crush on Hikaru, and even then she'd begged them to never tell him. Her love was a secret she cherished. No one else needed to ever know, least of all Hikaru. She could continue to support him from her own path, walking beside him instead of behind him and the others. The way before her was clear.

"Akari, watch out!"

The warning came too late as Akari, lost in her little fantasy dreamland of paths and Hikaru happily-ever-afters, stepped off the curb and felt no solid ground underneath her feet. She wobbled for a few moments, actually pin-wheeling her arms for balance, before gravity won the battle and she found herself rushing to the pavement face first. She felt her ankle snap from the pressure of a sixteen year old body being thrown in ways that no body was built to withstand.


"Oh no, Akari! And on the first day of school, too!"

"Someone call an ambulance -- I think she broke her leg."

The pain was overwhelming, but not nearly as much as the mortification. Spraining her ankle on the first day of high school! She'd miss the welcome speech, she wouldn't know who was her class representative . . . and she'd be forever branded, as "you know, the broken foot girl."

"What'll Hikaru say?" she mumbled before she let the pain drop her into the blessed realm of unconsciousness.


Many hours later, Akari actually made it to school, one foot bound in a cast and both arms resting on crutches. She was quite high on painkillers, too, and floated through the two classes she actually attended as a result.

When the final bell rang, she slipped gratefully out of the classroom and hobbled towards home, glad she didn't have her books just yet. The doctor had suggested that she go straight home and get some rest, but she had wanted to at least make an appearance on the first day.

Now she was beginning to regret it. Her injured foot throbbed, the new shoe on her uninjured foot was biting into her toes, and the padded arms of the crutches were chafing the brand new underarms of her uniform.

She felt extremely sorry for herself.

"Honestly, Akari, I didn't realize you were such a klutz," a familiar tenor said from behind her, startling her and nearly causing her to trip again. Strong arms caught her before she fell, however, and she regained her precarious balance on one foot and two sticks.


Ah, there he was! Her best friend since childhood. Their mothers had been friends, and so they had played together a lot when they were little. Then, when they'd been old enough to ride bikes, it was just a matter of several city blocks distance to cross to see each other. They'd gone through all of elementary school together, and looked forward to middle school . . . and then, in sixth grade, Hikaru had changed.

She'd started to lose him, if she'd ever even really had him.

Losing him was all right, since it was to a game and not another girl. But Akari was a determined person, and she'd relentlessly taken up go herself in order to keep some connection with him. And then he'd turned out to be some sort of go prodigy, and surpassed her in every way, until he'd walked the path of the pros, leaving her behind in his dust.

Now he was out of school for good. Not that he needed it . . . his career was set for life.

Hikaru stuck his tongue out at her. "Your mom called my mom and said you'd broken your leg, and that you were so stubborn that you actually went to school once the hospital let you go. Dummy."

Akari shook her head. "If you were in the final rounds of a title match, and you broke your ankle, you'd still attend it, right?"

"Of course! But that's different. I'd have a title at stake, not just my pride. Here, let me at least take your book bag."

She studied him as they walked along. He hadn't stopped bleaching his bangs, which was a strange fashion taste he'd acquired when they were only ten, and he looked so lanky and tall now. His clothes were casual, light for the warm spring air, and there was an independent air to him that had not been there before he became a pro.

"Ne, Hikaru," Akari started, to fill the awkward silence that had suddenly come up, "What do you do on days that you're not playing at the institute?"

"Oh, I practice at home, or play games at one of the go salons . . . I've started tutoring children as well." He smiled to himself. "The cycle has to continue, you know. Some of the kids have so much potential . . ."

"Unlike me," Akari said with a wry laugh. "I just couldn't keep up with you."

He gave her a mock glare. "It's because you didn't try hard enough. If you played in all your free time like I did and studied like crazy, you might have discovered a talent that I couldn't see."

She wrinkled her nose, the wind drifting her bangs into her face. She remembered looking up at his window last winter, as he stayed up late recreating old go games. He'd inspired her then to work toward her high school goal. "You always said I had no talent."

"I was a dumb kid! How the heck could I test something like that back then?"

"Well, now you're not a kid. Test me now. Let me know if I have ANY hope."

Hikaru looked thoughtful. "Come to think of it . . . we haven't played a game in a long time. Let's swing by my house on the way home. We can play a quick game there. Your mom is probably still on the phone with mine about your leg, so she can tell her about it."

"Hikaru . . . I don't think I can climb the stairs to your room right now."

"Akari, I don't think it's appropriate for you to come up to my room anymore, actually." He cleared his throat. Akari felt her face growing warm. They weren't little kids anymore, that much was sure. "I'll bring the board downstairs; we can play in the living room. I'll let you know if you're hopeless then, okay?"

"Okay!" She smiled. In his own way, Hikaru was trying to make her feel better. He had no idea how well it was working.


"I'm home!" Hikaru called to his mother in greeting. "And Akari's here."

Hikaru's mother immediately appeared from the kitchen, cordless phone firmly on her shoulder. "Oh, Akari-chan! Are you all right! Your mother was about to send your sister to pick you up."

"I'm fine, really," Akari said, waving off her broken leg as if it were only a scratch. "Natsumi doesn't have to go through any trouble on my account."

"Well, I'm glad to hear it. I'll bring you some tea, okay?"

"Thanks, Mrs. Shindou!"

Akari settled herself comfortably on the living room floor, arranging her skirt as modestly as she could with a bad leg stretched out before her. Hikaru ran upstairs for his go board, the nice one that his grandfather had given him a few years back. Hikaru's family living room was familiar, and she grinned at the wall that was now devoted solely to Hikaru's achievements in the go world. His mother still believed he should have gone to high school and gotten a "real" job, but the fact that Hikaru was now bringing his own genuine income was enough to quiet her protests.

Hikaru carefully came down the stairs, balancing the kaya wood go stone containers on top of the heavy, square board. "Gee, these things aren't made for easy transport," he grumbled, as he felt around for the next step with his foot. Akari grinned to herself.

"They're supposed to stay in one room all the time, aren't they?" she asked, and he nodded in affirmation.

"It dates back to the Heian. One room in every mansion in Kyoto was the go room; there were other go boards scattered throughout each mansion, as well, but there was always one room formally dedicated to the game."

"Kind of like the Room of Profound Darkness in the Go Institute?"

"Yeah. Kind of like that." He set the heavy go board down in front of her with a grunt, and handed her a bowl of stones. "It should be black," he said by way of explanation. She pulled off the lid revealing soft, black shale stones. She picked one up, loving the familiar weight in her hand. Go was in her blood; perhaps not to the extent that it was in Hikaru's blood, but it was there nonetheless. It wasn't her destined path, but it was part of the whole that made up herself.

She waited until he'd settled down across from her before she placed her first stone, on the upper right star.

Hikaru silently placed his own stone, and the game began.

She was no match for him; the boy who'd lost to the Korean Ko Yongha by only half a moku had already risen to two-dan in the weeks since.

"You've gotten better," Hikaru said after she conceded defeat about mid-game. "Much, much better than I remember. Have you secretly been practicing or something?" He looked at her suspiciously out of one eye, but he was grinning.

"Not really," she admitted. "But I have started reading Go World Weekly. This move here," she said, and pointed to a rather good move in one corner, "I saw in on of Ogata-10-dan's games a while back."

"Ah! I thought I recognized the pattern. Good job," he said, now smiling openly. "We might just make an insei out of you yet."

"Actually, Hikaru, I don't want to be an insei," she told him honestly. "I don't want to be a pro. Insei slots should be reserved for those who actually want to pursue a career in go . . ."

"So what DO you want to do?"

That same question. The question from this morning; the one she couldn't answer. She felt ill defined not knowing what the future held in front of her all of a sudden. Some vital part of her was missing because she did not have a goal. Starting the go club at her new school was something she wanted to do because it had to be done, and because it was cheaper than going to a salon every day. Drama club was just an idea, something to do if her go club failed. Neither of them were a means to an end.

"I . . . don't know," she said softly, ashamed. "But I just don't think the path of go is the right one for me."

She softly touched the kaya wood board, lovingly, mesmerized by the temptation of the game. A jolt of electricity raced up her arm, startling her, burning her. She cried in alarm.

"Akari? Akari, what's wrong?" Hikaru said, dropping his smile in favor of an expression of alert panic.

"The board . . . my . . . my arm . . .," she tried to explain, but the world was rapidly dimming before her. She thought she saw a flash of white cloth surrounded by sparkling motes of light for a moment, and she heard Hikaru frantically calling her name, but then the world went black, and she neither saw nor heard anything.


She was warm and safe. That was all that mattered. Hikaru's face swam hazily in her memory, laughing and smiling. For the first time she saw something else in his eyes, the reflection of sadness and maturity, something that did not belong in brash young Hikaru's face. It was there only for a moment, but then it was gone, replaced once again by youthful, flashing eyes and his usual smirk.

"Honestly, Akari!" Her sister Natsumi's sharp voice cut into the pleasant semi-dream she'd be having. "First you break your ankle, then you pass out, all on the first day of high school. What the hell do you think you were doing? You should have come straight home!"

Akari had a feeling she was receiving a lecture second-hand from her mother, who was much closer to Natsumi than she was to Akari. Natsumi the perfect overachiever. Her rich, melodic voice, even in the stern tones of a good scold, echoed beautifully throughout the room. She wanted to be an idol; no, she WOULD be an idol, just as soon as she was discovered.

Brimming with talent, Natsumi outshone Akari in all ways except two. Akari was better at go, and, as Hikaru had put it once, she actually knew how to be nice on both the inside and outside.

Natsumi was nice on the outside, but Akari knew that the polished exterior hid a conniving, scheming money-grubber. To Akari, her terrifying, two-faced sister representated the bad example she'd never follow. Akari meant to outshine her sister someday, and she'd do it with honesty and honor.

Her sister's nice mask was dropped at the moment. The real Natsumi was scolding Akari.

" . . . nearly gave Dad a HEART ATTACK, what with you being at Hikaru's house and all. I had to assure him that I found you in their living room, and not upstairs ravaged on Hikaru's bed!"

"His mom was there," Akari argued half-heartedly. "And Hikaru would never do something like that."

"Uh huh," Natsumi sniffed. "All men are alike. They see a short skirt and loose socks -- UNCONSCIOUS -- and next thing you know you're ruined." She pretended to swoon and gracefully collapsed on Akari's bed. "My career would have been over before it began!"

About the only trait Akari and Natsumi shared as a flair for the dramatic. Natsumi had passed up drama club to focus on her career as a singer, but she would have done quite well as an actress. You'd almost think she was the one that had had her leg broken today, the way she was acting, Akari thought unkindly, then squelched the mean thought.

She poked her sister with her good foot. "So you came and rescued me? Thank you."

Natsumi gave her a calculating look. "I only did it because Dad let me drive the convertible." She winked suddenly, then smiled, her face breaking into the same brilliant expression that Akari usually wore. She really was a good actress. "I got more whistles and catcalls today than I have in weeks! The lighting must have been good."

"Aren't you worried about the evil men looking at your short skirt and loose socks and 'ruining' you?" Akari said dryly.

"But this is for my career! It's different!"

"Sure. Keep telling yourself that." Akari shoved her away with her foot this time, and collapsed back on her bed, wanting to go back to the dream about Hikaru's face. "Go away. I want to sleep."

"Fine. Be that way and spurn your adoring older sister's love. By the way, Mitani called to check on you. He panicked more than dad when he found out you were passed out at Hikaru's house." Natsumi collected herself and stood up, straightening her skirt, her expression angelic. "Unlike Dad, I didn't tell him you were only in the living room."

"That was cruel! Let me sleep!" Akari threw a pillow at her sister to emphasize the point. Natsumi left, her melodic voice positively cackling with insane glee.

"Why is my family so crazy?" Akari muttered to herself, crawling under the blankets and trying to catch the wispy remnants of the happy Hikaru dream. "Why, why, why?"

"Why, indeed," an unfamiliar male voice said in her head.

Akari sat right back up and looked around her room desperately. No one was there. The room she shared with her sister was empty, the last light from the day filtering through the shaded window, casting a warm buttery glow over the distinct lack of people. Her sister's bed was neatly made. Their matching desks were covered in clutter, but no one sat in the chairs. Even the closet spilled open, revealing a thick tangle of garments that no human could have squeezed into.

"I really have been overdoing it," Akari muttered to herself, snuggling under her covers.

"Yes, you have," the voice said gently.

Go away! Akari thought, as if she could make herself be quiet.

"Look up," the voice said. "Beside you. Can you see me?"

This time when she peered out from under the covers, there was someone there.

He was tall, a fact emphasized by the old-fashioned tate-eboshi hat he wore. His clothes were heavy brocade, sewn in the style of the late Heian court. His skin was pale, his hair was long, glossy, and dark, and his hands graceful and lean.

"Who are you?" Akari asked, a surprisingly coherent and appropriate question, considering the situation.

The man smiled sadly. "My name is Fujiwara no Sai. And you are Fujisaka Akari. You may have trouble believing this, but I already know a lot about you."

S-stalker! Akari's mind stuttered. Her eyes widened. She let out a scream so loud that all the dogs in the neighborhood started barking.

"Get away get away get away," Akari said, flailing at the main with one of her crutches. He shielded himself with his arms, but even still it took Akari several moments before she realized the crutch was going through the man, and not actually hitting him.

"Akari, what happened?" Natsumi burst back through the door, their mother and father closely on her heels.

She knew she looked silly; one crutch poised in midair inside a man . . . a ghost . . . a . . . what?

"I," she began, and blinked a few times before the man said, "You moved your leg and it hurt."

Obediently, she repeated, "I moved my leg wrong. It hurt like hell." Her moment opened a closed a few times, unable to believe that she'd just followed the orders of an apparition.

The three family members collapsed against the doorway. "Is that all?" her mother said with a sigh. "Akari-chan, you should be more considerate when you screech like that."

"I thought Hikaru had come back to rape you after all!" Natsumi said with a wicked grin, causing their father's glasses to momentarily shine over and his fists to curl.

"No . . . I'm alright. Really. I think." She tried her best to avoid looking at the ghostly being as she dropped the crutch. Apparently they couldn't see him or hear him. Just as well. Having a strange man in her room would really put a crimp in Natsumi's career, she thought idly.

They left her alone and shut the door.

"Are you . . . a ghost?" Akari said with a shudder. She'd always hated the idea of ghosts. The dead should stay dead.


"Why are you here?"

Sai sighed, putting his hand to his forehead, and dropped down artlessly to the floor. "That's a question I've been asking myself for the last few hours. Why, indeed?"


End Prologue