Disclaimer: FoR's not mine.
I am now sitting in my living room with Recca, Yanagi, Domon, and Koganei crowded around me. How we even ended up here, I don't want to recall anymore, because I suppose I should be the one to blame.
Just an hour ago we were eating dinner at the Hanabishi residence, and I only went there because Recca said he had something very important to show us, which turned out to be Koganei. I would have been as shocked as Yanagi and Domon had I not encountered Hinori a few days earlier, which is probably why I had already been expecting something like that.
I also thought then that I should already inform them about Hinori, since there might be some connection between their sudden appearances.
And the next thing I know, we're already here in my apartment, waiting for Hinori, who just comes in from the kitchen.
Just as I expected, they give out a collective gasp at the sight of her.
"She—she looks exactly like Yanagi!" Recca splutters, wide-eyed.
At this, Hinori looks at Yanagi, and she too gives out an equally surprised reaction, but doesn't say anything.
"Hinori-san," I say. "Please have a seat. These people are aware of your situation, and we think your appearance here is related to Koganei here, who also arrived roughly the same time that you did."
She joins us, somewhat reluctantly, and looking very out of place in her ninja outfit, but still doesn't say anything. I see her hands clasped tightly on her lap.
"Ne, Mikagami," Koganei turns to me. "How come she looks like Yanagi-neechan?"
"Even I wouldn't know that," I point out. "It could just be a coincidence. Besides, this isn't the first time—"
I cut myself off before mentioning my sister, which is not really—
"She must also resemble your sister a lot, Tokiya-san," Yanagi's soft voice breaks into my thoughts. She really is… very sensitive about people's thoughts, which is something I like about her, but…
"I… It's not important, Yanagi-san," I say, and she doesn't say anything more and instead gives me a small smile.
Just then Hinori speaks up, asking, "Is it true that he"—she motions to Koganei—"was also transported to this time and place?"
She's looking directly at me, but before I can answer, Koganei pipes up, "Yeah, but I was really from here, anyway, so it's just like I returned."
The others nod at this, then Recca says, "Your name's Hinori, right? And you're also from the Hokage? When you were still there, was the Hokage village still… doing fine?"
Perhaps he wants to know if Oda Nobunaga's troops had already attacked the Hokage, though I don't think it really matters to know that, anyway.
I look at Hinori, and she's looking at her hands with a mixture of anger and sadness on her face. "No," she mutters. "Quite some time has already passed since intruders destroyed our village, but not everyone perished, although very few of us were fortunate enough to escape."
"I see," Recca says. "Was someone—"
"Hinori-san," I cut in. If Recca keeps this up, we'd only spend the whole night talking about Hinori and her Hokage friends. "You told me before that you arrived here because you were pursuing your father. Would you care to… elaborate now?"
She looks at me again, then at the other faces in this room: at Recca looking slightly disappointed, Yanagi looking anxious, Koganei looking curious, and Domon looking simply flabbergasted. Then she looks down at her hands again, her eyebrows knitted tightly.
She seems to be thinking hard for a while, then finally says, "I will… at least narrate what happened before I found myself here."
I think she's still hesitating a lot, though this could be a good start.
"I believe he had taken over the body of a young man," she continues. "Although I am not certain why. But that day when I was finally within a short distance from him in the forest, there was a sudden flash of light, and then I found myself in this strange world." She looks at me again, and adds, "And I would like to express my gratitude to Tokiya-san once again for being of great help to me."
"Don't mention it, Hinori-san," I tell her before Recca and Domon could even make snide comments. At the corner of my eye, I saw both of them exchanging meaningful glances.
Besides, the main reason I helped Hinori was because of her ninja outfit…
"Wait a sec," Recca suddenly says and turns to Koganei. "Koganei, weren't you also in a forest when you suddenly woke up here?"
Hm, that could be significant. But something that Hinori said is bothering me a little. "Could you describe the young man that you were following?"
"He was wearing a cloak," she answers. "And he had black hair, and a scar that covered his left eye. I would recognize him if I saw him now."
At her words, the room becomes silent, as if everyone's still processing what she just said. Then everyone, including myself, blurts out, "Kurei!"
This is… very unexpected! The relevance is too much to be just a coincidence!
Hinori's face tenses up, and she says, "What did you say? Do you know the person I described? But that's not possible!"
"It is, although the chances are very slim," I say. But before I can explain further, she counters, "But how would you know someone from my time?"
Well, Kurei is from the past, like Recca, but there's no need to complicate matters by saying that. "You see, Koganei was with this Kurei when they returned to the past, so they're actually both from here, but Koganei said he was by himself when he found himself here." And to speed things up, I give her a brief summary of what Koganei told us before.
After my explanation, Hinori appears to be thinking hard, then she seems to arrive at a definite conclusion. "Then there's no doubt that he's here, although I'm not certain as to how he was able to transport all three of us here."
Recca opens his mouth, then quickly closes it, as if hoping nobody saw him. Then he seems to change his mind and says, "Hey guys… Just this afternoon one of Kurei's men came up to me and said that Kurei had Fuuko, er, kidnapped, but—"
"Wait a second here, Hanabishi," Domon interrupts and menacingly moves toward him. "How come you only mentioned this now, huh?"
"But he said Fuuko's fine!" Recca holds up his hands in front of him. "And he also said she might be back soon, so I thought it wasn't necessary to tell you. But like I said, Kurei was the one behind this!" He looks at us as if hinting at something he wants to say.
Hm, it might've looked that it was Kurei, but Hinori said…
"Hinori-neechan," Koganei suddenly speaks up. "Why were you following Kurei?"
"Well, I… I wanted to put a stop to his evil acts, and… I wanted to avenge my mother. I wanted to kill if possible my spiteful father." She spits out the last word, and her jaw tightens.
"Who is your father?" I finally ask. I think this is the most important thing to know right now, and I know I should have asked sooner.
"He's a madougu-maker, and they called him Kaima."
At her words, everybody seems to have stopped breathing. Then…
"Isn't Fuuko-chan," Yanagi's voice seems so small and scared, "in danger then?" and the room becomes even more silent, if that were possible.
What is going on?