"The Spider Moves"
By Nes Mikel
I herby acknowledge that the work of fiction presented here is for my own personal amusement and entertainment purposes alone. Most of the story, characters, place names and other etc stuff in this fiction are copyright Hunter x Hunter, Yoshihiro Togashi, Weekly Shounen Jump, Shueisha, Nippon Animation, and any others I might have forgot.
Chapter One – 'Repairing Three Lost Limbs'
"What, did I do something wrong?" - Hisoka
"To the east…?" he mumbled to himself.
The blimp was out of view now; it had camouflaged itself into one of the many stars in the night sky. He didn't even have to pause to imagine what was unfolding inside - Pakunoda, looking outside the window with sad eyes, and Hisoka, shuffling his playing cards with a disappointed smirk on his face. Kuroro Lucifer closed his eyes and shook his head a little to nudge the scene outside of his thoughts. He finally took a step forward, towards the edge of the cliff.
I have work to do now.
Kuroro had always considered himself to be the philosophical type. He had thought that everything - even the most insignificant of details - possessed a deeper meaning, a definite purpose. And consequently, he thought that events were meant to happen for a reason. He was a believer in souls, and after spending hours drowning himself in the endless knowledge books provided, it had eventually lead Kuroro to believe in the existence of fate.
So why had it come to this? It was to be a standard operation - quick, easy, over and done with. Instead, it turned into something much worse. Their fate had then spiraled downward quickly and unexpectedly. As to why, it was a mystery.
Fate was the invisible entity that was often not desired. No one wanted someone or something controlling his or her respective destinies. Deep within their subconscious mind, humans wanted to believe that they were the masters of their own fate, and were thus led astray to trust in the delusional idea that they controlled their own lives. It was a pity, really. If one were to become a believer in fate that meant that they were not responsible for their own actions. If one were to set their minds into the belief of fate, wouldn't their lives be spared from the pressure they face in their everyday lives?
He had arrived at the edge. Ignoring hesitation, he jumped and landed on a ledge that jutted out from the cliff - a natural balcony. When his shoes hit the stone, much to his annoyance his leg muscles gave protest in the form of pain. That was to be expected, however. Without his use of nen, even a simple task like leaping off tall cliffs like this took a toll on him. Before, he could concentrate nen in his legs to completely nullify the impact. Now, he could only rely on his raw physical power. Kuroro tried to pay no heed to the warnings. He looked down, noticing that he still had a fair distance to travel down. He didn't hesitate the first time, so why should the second be any different? He jumped again, grimacing as another jolt of pain shot through his legs. At least he was back on the ground again.
He eventually found himself sitting at the base of the cliff, taking the moment to rub off the sour spots on his legs. He took a quick look around. It was a rather bleak landscape - from the summit of the cliff the view was spectacular, but when one was at the bottom, he realized that it was just a bunch of tall rocks nestled with each other in close proximity. Certain forms of art were only appreciated when one changed their perception. This was just another example.
Taking out a handkerchief from one of the numerous pockets sewed into his long coat, Kuroro gently pressed the cloth onto one of his bruises. When he slowly removed the handkerchief he noticed that only the faintest of red had attached onto it. He felt comfort in the fact that his damages to the face weren't as severe as he initially thought. After turning the handkerchief from white into a deep shade of red, Kuroro at last looked presentable to the rest of society.
So his punch wasn't that hard… was he holding back? For the sake of his friends?
As he tucked the handkerchief back into his pocket, Kuroro paused a moment to let his mind recall what he was thinking before he had jumped off the cliff. Where was he going in those thoughts? Oh yes, it was about fate… and how mortals could've appreciated it if they were to accept it. But what would have happened if everyone in this world believed in fate?
The answer was simple: Anarchy.
It wasn't hard to understand why - as complex human thoughts could be, in certain cases they were surprisingly easy to decipher. If everyone knew about fate, then why would anyone bother to try harder in life? They would accept everything as it came to them, and society will succumb to a chaotic laziness where one would never try to accomplish anything. Perhaps fate had fated the average person to be unaware of itself, and thus preserving the balance of sanity and insanity. Kuroro only had to accept everything fate had to throw at him. Thus he accepted Ubogin's death, Pakunoda's actions, and Hisoka's betrayal. They were fated.
Just like Kuroro was fated to meet the man that was approaching him.
Kuroro's head was down, and would've missed the man entirely if he had passed by him. Instead, the man stopped when Kuroro was within a hand's reach, and bent down. And of all the things Kuroro expected him to do, the man did the unthinkable - he slapped him lightly in the cheek.
"Hey, hey, ya alive?" the man asked, tilting his head slightly to the side. "If not, do ya mind if ah take that coat with meh? Ah could always use another…"
"…I would mind."
The man yelped in surprise and took a step back. Kuroro brought his head back up. The man had thought him as a corpse and tried to rob him of his possessions. The surprise was only natural - who wouldn't be when something that looked dead came back to life? It wasn't as if Kuroro didn't mind death - he will die, one way or another.
Just not yet.
"Meh apologizes, mate." Kuroro heard the man say. His hands were above his head in an apologetic matter. "Thought ya were dead. A lotta people get lost around here, ya know? Starvation gets 'em in the end, and… well, am sure ya can guess the rest."
Kuroro nodded weakly. "I see…" Kuroro narrowed his eyes to take a good look at the stranger in front of him. The man was old; long white hair, long white beard, and the tattoos of age wrinkled his tanned skin. He was dressed in ragged khaki shirts and pants, and he hoisted a large backpack stuffed with so much material it looked like it were ready to burst open anytime.
"Whacha doin' here then?" the bearded man asked him in his odd accent. "Are ya lost?"
A brief pause.
"You could say that, yes." he replied.
The stranger took a quick glance around, as if paranoid of his surroundings. "Well, well, that's good, that's good!" the stranger sat down in front of him and released his backpack. It fell to the barren floor in a loud thud. The man made himself busy as he struggled to open the complex knots that held the backpack from bursting open. "A customer! Haven't had one 'n ages!"
This man had gotten the better of Kuroro's curiosity. "A… customer?"
"Ya see, ah'm a map vendor!" the stranger replied to his question. "Hey, ya got a knife or any blade handy? This knot's a real bitch…"
Much to his surprise, Kuroro found himself helping the old man untie the backpack. With the contribution of his Benz knife the last strings that held the backpack together soon came loose. The top of the large sack bursted open and the confined contents spilled out onto to the desert floor.
The vendor thanked him as he started to rummage though his possessions. It didn't take long till he spoke again. "Now lesee here… ah, here it is!" the old man tossed him a tattered piece of scroll, which Kuroro caught easily with his left hand. Untying the piece of string that held the brown scroll shut, Kuroro opened it to see its contents.
Kuroro blinked and refocused his eyes. He must've lost himself in thoughts again and briefly phased out - the map vendor in front of him was waving his arms up and down to get his attention. He rubbed his eyes to make sure they weren't deceiving him. It was a map all right, but it was the contents of the map that caused his brief lapse. What he held in his hands was a map - a map that displayed the eastern geography of York Shin.
Part of the precious paper will be lost.
The remaining moons will deplore this loss.
The orchestra in his bereavement outfit will play his melody.
When November will be taken away in peace to the heights.
The Chrysanthemum will lose leaf and flowers.
Which will whither falling on the earth of the red eyes tainted with blood.
But your position will not be questioned.
Even if you lose half of your feet and hands.
The intermission of the drama will be amusing.
You will be capable of searching for new companions.
If you go to their meeting, choose east.
You will certainly find someone waiting for you.
He blinked one more time for good measure. All the images on the map didn't change at all. So he wasn't hallucinating.
"It is very… interesting." he concluded.
"Ain't it the beaut?" the map vendor crouched his back and sat down with his legs crossed. He reached over and took a smoking pipe and a lighter from the backpack that was lying besides him. The old man gave his shoulders a rest as he leaned back on the backpack and lit his pipe. After a few puffs, he spoke again. "Took meh ages to finish… walking around the Yoribian Continent ain't a cakewalk. Especially the snowfields… they were a real bitch. Am pretty sure ah got everythin', but don't expect anything to be accurate 'round there."
Kuroro took another look at the map, but eventually nodded in appreciation. "No… I think this will be sufficient."
The map vendor dragged himself over to Kuroro, sitting right next to him. Taking his pipe from the mouth, the vendor pointed to a certain location with the long end of the devise. "Hey, ya ever been there?" the old vendor asked.
"No." Kuroro replied straightforwardly. He felt he really had nothing to hide from this old man - he was totally harmless, just trying to make a living in this world. If this vendor had gotten too curious for his own good, Kuroro would've slit his throat and left him to die in forsaken place long ago.
The map vendor, unaware of Kuroro's thoughts, shrugged back. "Aye, that's a pity. Beautiful place. Small town, friendly folk, mighty faith."
Kuroro opened his mouth to say something, but he paused to reconsider his words. He had to remind himself that this vendor was not part of the Spider - Kuroro was getting too relaxed for his own good. After a while, he spoke again. "…I must go there."
The vendor puffed out a column of smoke. "What, ya got a friend that moved there or somethin'?" he asked, the tone of his voice uncaring.
Kuroro smiled for the first time since he got off the cliff. It was amusing how a total stranger could read your thoughts like clockwork. "I suppose you can say that, yes." he said.
Turning his attention back to the map, Kuroro studied over it carefully. He nodded to himself. This was all he needed. This map contained the locations for the three 'companions' he had thought to seek one way or another, and…
It was then he noticed for the first time that all three lived in the eastern direction.
Are you all… waiting for me?
Kuroro took a small cell-phone from another pocket and flipped it open. Ignoring the questioning gaze of the vendor for the moment he stared at the LCD display screen for a while before deciding to turn it on.
Deciding replacements for other members who had left the Spider was a task Kuroro didn't enjoy doing. All members of the Spider were required to give recommendations for people to would replace themselves in the event of their untimely dismissal. It was true that whomever had beaten a member of the Spider were privileged to enter the Spider - like Hisoka, for instance - that wasn't always the case. In the end, Kuroro had the final say. After all, the two small kids whom Nobunaga insisted to let them in the Spider didn't beat any of them. Those two kids will just have to wait.
First, he had to seek those three.
Pressing several beeping buttons on the cell, Kuroro accessed a list of replacements that each member of the Spider had recommended. He scrolled down the list for a while until he came across Hisoka's recommendation for his replacement.
He always knew the magician was strange, but Kuroro never knew until the end that Hisoka only joined the Spider simply for the desire to fight him. It was comical how the whole thing ended, and Kuroro let loose a small smirk.
Kuroro had to admit that Hisoka was far more dangerous than he looked, but his initial offer to join the Spider was too good to pass up. He was a valuable ally to have, if you could have him as your ally for long, that is. That fact eventually led to the realization that if that Hisoka, of all people, actually recommended a replacement, Kuroro knew that replacement would be… well, more unpredictable, yes, but definitely capable. And with Hisoka's support withdrawn, another position was available within the Ryodan.
It was a gamble that he was willing to take. Kuroro pressed another button to access the information.
Hisoka struggled to conceal the excitement tingling beneath his skin, just by thinking about the possibilities this encounter might yield. He entered the room with a hand over his face, his head full of malicious thoughts. But when his one of his eyes caught the sight of a standing Pakunoda and a sleeping Ubogin besides the leader of the Genei Ryodan, he let go of his hand and let it drop to the side. His cocky smile dissolved quickly, and Hisoka quickly replaced it with a look of disappointment. Kuroro wasn't alone after all. He sighed inwardly. When was he ever alone? When could he ever fight him?
"What is it, Dancho? What did you have to see me for?" Hisoka asked with a hint of annoyance in his voice.
Kuroro closed the book he held in his right hand and shifted his attention to Hisoka from where he was sitting. "How long have you been with us, Hisoka?"
That was one question Hisoka was definitely not expecting.
"What, did I do something wrong?"
"Just answer the question."
Pushing confusion aside, Hisoka rubbed his hand on the chin to think. "Almost a year." he replied after a while.
"A year exactly, actually."
Hisoka raised an eyebrow. "That long already?"
Kuroro nodded. "Yes. And now you must come to a decision. I've been putting this off long enough as it is anyway."
"What are you going to do? Fight me?" It was a rather wishful thinking question on Hisoka's part, but he could always hope.
He was again disappointed with the answer Kuroro gave. "No."
"Then what is it?"
"We need you to name a replacement for you."
Hisoka looked mildly surprised. "What, you're kicking me out?"
"No. Think of this as insurance."
"I don't plan to die anytime soon."
"I know. But accidents are known to happen. So I want you to name a person who you wish to have as your replacement in case something unfortunate befalls you."
Hisoka crossed his arms over his chest and tapped his shoes whilst in deep thought. Then his serious mood quickly disappeared as it had appeared and was replaced by his baneful smile. "Arlet. Arlet Cross. He will do."
"Do you wish to explain why?"
He shrugged. "I don't see why not. Besides," Hisoka stole a quick glance at Pakunoda who remained immobile during the entire conversation. "I have a feeling that you would've made me tell anyway."
Kuroro gave him a slight nod. "Continue."
"Arlet and I were once comrades when we worked for the Ker Hidu government."
"As government assassins. Very nice job." Hisoka licked his lips.
"…I see." Kuroro paused. "Then I presume you were the one known as 'The Magician', then?"
Hisoka nodded. "I see you know your history."
Kuroro leaned forward. "So if you're "The Magician", and if this Arlet was your partner… then he is 'The Father'?"
"He really is a Father now."
"He's a priest?" This caught Kuroro rather off guard. Hisoka shrugged marginally in response.
"That's what he wanted to do, apparently."
"Then what makes you think that he'll join the Spider?"
"Convincing him should be easy."
"This is serious, Hisoka."
"I was being serious. He's unpredictable as I am. If he decides that he likes you guys, he will join you. Where he goes from there is beyond me."
"…He sounds untrustworthy."
Kuroro made a vain attempt at a smile. "Good point. Fine, I will question you further no more about his intentions. How about his skills?"
Kuroro waited, expecting Hisoka to say something more in return, but the mad magician had muttered those two words and didn't seem enthusiastic in disclosing any further information. "That wasn't really that specific, Hisoka." Kuroro shot back.
"It's pretty specific if you ask me. He's strong. That sums it all up. If you want a comparison… I'll say he's strong as I am. We fought once. The winner of the match was never decided. Although I did hold back." Hisoka quickly added the last part.
This caught Kuroro's attention. "What is he?"
"He's a jyonenshi - an Eraser."
The two were sitting around a campfire now. Wood was scarce in the surrounding terrain, but the two men who had met under the strangest of circumstances managed to find just enough to give birth to a fire. Although the night sky was bright, clouds were starting to form high above, obstructing the light that had provided them with whatever illumination they had.
"Why did ya say that ya had ta go to Castle Rock?" the vendor asked, gently stroking his beard.
Castle Rock - that small town with friendly folk you were just talking about - that's where Arlet is.
It wasn't as if talking about it was going to make a difference, but rather than speaking his mind Kuroro decided to shut up about it. Something about this man interested Kuroro. It might have been a coincidence, but it was as if this man had the cunning ability to foresee Kuroro's intentions. Kuroro did not want to kill such a man just by making small talk. That would be just wasteful.
"…You ask a lot of questions." Kuroro said instead.
The senior man stopped stoking his beard and stared back at Kuroro. He looked hurt. "What, am ah annoyin' ya? Look," he raised both of his arms, hands of his palms wide open. "If ah am, jus say so."
"It's quite alright…"
The vendor's face turned red, half because of the fire's heat, and half out of embarrassment. "Naw, ah am annoyin' ya, ain't ah? Sorry mate… it's just that ah haven't talked to anyone for a long time…"
So Kuroro's initial assumption was right. "Really?"
"Business is hard goin'… this place once used to be bustlin' with people. Rare species discovered or somethin', dunno. But whateva' the reason, mah maps sold like mah pants on fire. But with them species shipped to zoos, people just don't wanna show up any more. Now ah only sell maps to lost souls like yerself."
It was Kuroro's turn to ask the questions. "Why don't you go to York Shin?"
The vendor threw another log in the fire. "Ah never liked cities. Dangerous places. Heard a bunch of terrorists attacked them too. And them peoples in cities act… dunno, soulless in a way."
Knowledge. No matter how much you sought, it was never enough. Even to someone like the map vendor who had acquired wisdom through the ages, many things remained uncertain. Kuroro was no exception.
According to Hisoka, Arlet was an Eraser - a nen specialist that possessed the specialization ability to manipulate or erase nen from others. In a certain way, Kuroro was a sort of an Eraser too, erasing nen from others when he steals nen from them. Putting that fact aside, Kuroro still wasn't sure if Arlet will remove the Judgment Chains from him in the first place, but it was his only shot. However, even if he couldn't do it, then there was an simple alternative - find a Hunter, steal their hunter license, access the Hunter Website then simply gather information on more famous Erasers. But Kuroro knew that this Arlet was going to do the trick - he didn't know why, he just knew. If he carried on as the predictions foretold him to, he was confident that everything would turn out for the best.
Shifting his position slightly so he would be more comfortable, Kuroro pressed a few more buttons as he backed away from the screen where Arlet's information was displayed. He was back in the replacement list screen now. He pressed the 'down' button his cell-phone as he came across Pakunoda's replacement name.
Kuroro was sure she was dead now.
He could picture the entire scene unfolding in his mind. Pakunoda returning to the base, facing the barrage of questions she would no doubt receive from the likes of either Phinks or Nobunaga, then calmly materialize her gun to shoot the nen bullets at the remaining members to tell them of his fate. But by doing so she had killed herself. When she had agreed to the chain guy's demands, Kuroro instantly knew what her intentions were. He wasn't surprised - in his head he had run through different scenarios that could've transpired that night, and Pakunoda had taken the path he had determined most likely.
"Starin' at the phone again, mate?"
Kuroro closed his eyes to allow himself a sigh. "It's hard for me not to…"
"Oh… ah see." the vendor's eyes draped down, regretting what he said. "Ah was bein' insensitive, weren't ah? Was that why yer here? To put yer mind at ease?"
"Fine… ah will ask no more. Jus… if ya don't mind meh askin', who didja lose?"
Kuroro looked above to see the dense clouds hanging over them. He breathed out the tiniest of sighs, forming a small fog that condensed in the cool night air. "It was just a friend of mine."
"Ah." was all he heard in turn.
Refocusing his mind back to the phone, Kuroro forced himself to look at Pakunoda's replacement's name. Pakunoda had probably done it for her. Pakunoda knew that if she died, her replacement would take over her place. For the one true friend Pakunoda ever had.
Perhaps… perhaps this was for the best. Pakunoda got what she wanted in the end. Everything she had done, everything she had contributed, the time they had spent together - it was all over. Kuroro wished Pakunoda peace in the afterlife. The loss of Pakunoda was a major blow, but the Spider still moved.
Kuroro pressed a button on the cell. Firmly.
Kuroro stared at Hisoka as he turned to leave. Kuroro had always felt uneasy around that magician. He was crazy, Kuroro was sure of that, but his level of craziness seemed to exceed the normal amounts of craziness. He smiled at that thought. What had caused him to think of something that didn't even make the remotest sense? But regardless of the reason, Kuroro always made sure that he had two people accompanying him whenever he traveled. It was reassuring to have old friends besides you, everyone protecting each other. This was how the Spider was intended to be. Kuroro sighed resentfully.
Kuroro looked up see Pakunoda staring at his face. She was bending down in front of him, her trademark black suit gleaming silently in the dark of the room. "Are you alright?" she asked.
Kuroro smiled again. "I suppose."
Pakunoda stood up and brushed herself off for invisible dust particles that might have been attached to her suit. "I thought you knew better to tell lies to me by now."
"Some things never change, Paku."
She shrugged. "I suppose."
They both exchanged glances. They laughed. Ubogin besides them suddenly started to snore loudly. They ceased their laugher, and immediately his loud snore was quiet again. Kuroro, finding this whole situation humorous, barely managed to suppress another laugh as he turned a serious face towards his female companion.
"But why does it concern you?" he asked.
Pakunoda turned her face away from the leader of the Genei Ryodan to stare at the passageway Hisoka took to leave. "It's about him, isn't it?" she answered his question with hers.
Kuroro followed Pakunoda's gaze. "Yes."
"I warned you about him."
"I have taken your warning into consideration. I will not go back on my decision."
Kuroro stared at Pakunoda. He stood up silently, and reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Paku, I owe you an you."
She looked confused. "What for?"
Pakunoda's expression suddenly went rigid.
"I hit it right on the head, didn't I?" Kuroro asked her as he took his hand off Pakunoda's shoulder.
She turned her head away from Kuroro again. "No." she replied through her teeth.
Kuroro couldn't help but say it. "Liar."
Almost immediately, the frown on Pakunoda's face disappeared. She looked down at the ground as if she were ashamed of what she had said. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I was the one who apologized."
"Paku, I know how you feel, but you do remember the promise we had all made, right? The time is almost up."
"But that's not necessarily true. There might not be an empty spot within the Spider for her when we greet her again!"
The shadows encased in the room succeeded in concealing Kuroro's frown. Such an outburst from a seasoned member in the Spider was unexpected. "Paku, don't be so irrational. Erin is your replacement. We can't just let her join. Besides," Kuroro shifted his eyesight towards the doorway. "You know that Hisoka had met all of our qualifications to join the Spider. We have discussed this a year ago." he turned his attention back to Pakunoda. "Don't let me repeat it again."
Pakunoda nodded. "I understand, Dancho." If she was disappointed, she didn't show it.
Kuroro smiled. "Look, Erin will be alright." he tried to reassure her. " She is of the Snow, after all. She will survive, and as long as she does, she will someday be together with you. Isn't that sufficient?"
Pakunoda conjured up a slight nod. A small imprint of a smile registered on her face before she decided to leave the room. Just before the door, she stopped.
"Dancho?" she said suddenly, her back still turned away.
Kuroro bit his lip lightly. He savored the taste of the red liquid seeping though the wound as he calmly assessed his predicament. So he couldn't keep the oath after all… With Pakunoda gone, Erin would never be alongside her friend ever again. He closed his eyes. If this was fate, so be it. What was done was done. He now knew what he must do. When he reopened them, he decided to consult the map once more, but the vendor interrupted him by starting a conversation.
"Ya know, young fella?" he started "When ah was makin' this map, I told ya the great eastern snowfields were a bitch to chart, right?"
Putting the map aside for now, Kuroro decided to accept the vendor's invitation to converse. It wasn't as if he was in a hurry. "Yes."
"Well, ah jus' remembered somethin'… there was one highlight ah had vistin' that place." the map vendor paused to stare at the young man sitting across the fire. Kuroro nodded to the map vendor, signaling him to continue. "Wanted to ask… you travel some?"
"Then have ya ever been to the so called 'grand city' of Lativa?"
Again, the man has done it again. How does he know what's in my mind? Is this really coincidence? Or…
"Actually, I have."
The vendor looked surprised. "Really?" he scratched his messy hair. "The Snow Clan folks livin there ain't the warmest people… that is, of course, if ya ever gone there before they…" the vendor stopped speaking, the words stuck in his mouth "Weren't livin' anymore" he finished.
Kuroro was willing to bet that the map vendor didn't know that the man responsible for the deaths of the Snow was sharing a fire with him. Yes, it was he - to him, the event seemed so distant as if it had happened years ago…
The Kurata and the Snow. They were two unique clans, once proud and strong, but now they only lived in the memories of a select few.
In other words, they were dead.
It was another one of those stories, so tragic yet so tragically common - the story of a once existing race, only to cease their existence because of 'unfortunate' circumstances. And from those two clans, only two survivors remained. One of them swore an oath of vengeance and revenge. He manipulated his iron willed chains of revenge to put an end to the Spider's existence. And the other - she sought to join them, to see though the Spider's existence. They were two people with similar backgrounds, yet they proved to be total opposites.
That chain guy - Kurapika was the name, was most likely the sole survivor of the Kurata. It was rather surprising for Kuroro to know that there was a survivor left after what they had done to that clan, but it was a fact that hardly mattered now. Erin, much like her opposite, was the only survivor of the Snow - this he knew for certain, as it was Erin herself that contributed to the destruction of her native people. She was the only one they had allowed them to live. No, Kuroro shook his head. That was rather an inaccurate way of describing things.
We had to let Erin live.
He briefly turned his attention back at the cell phone he held his in hand, but then decided against it. A large crack sounded from the fire when a flaming kindling flew into the air. It was soon snuffed out from the lack of fuel. Just like they had once snuffed out those people's lives. "It is a pity." he said finally.
The elderly vendor reached to take out another pipe to replace his spent one. He huffed and puffed at the new smoke entering his lungs, then breathed out a large column of smoke. "Aye, it is. But that's life for ya."
With the cloud cover perplexing the moon and stars, Kuroro could only see himself and the vendor in front of him now. The surrounding darkness enveloped them inside, as if it were trapping them. Only the fire that burned in between them had kept the black light from encasing them completely.
Replacing his phone with the map he set aside, Kuroro opened the tattered scroll to confirm something. He traced his fingers over the map until he came across what he was looking for. The Great Eastern Snowfields, the widest tundra landscape humanity has ever known, the lands where it once housed the clans of Snow were. And on the verge of those snowfields there existed a small town that went by the name of Castle Rock.
The radiating faint green glow of the cell-phone sitting timidly besides him suddenly caught Kuroro's eye. He had noticed that the screen had highlighted itself on a particular name - the man who was to be Ubogin's replacement. Ah yes, Kuroro thought as he picked up the cell-phone off the ground. He could not forget about Ubo. It was such a pity that he had to leave so soon. But from the conversation he had with the Chain Guy during the car ride, Kuroro knew that Ubogin had faced a death he would not regret - by combat. Combat was Ubogin's passion, and his way of life. Who better to replace him than the man who shared the same passion, his combat partner?
He reached for his phone to consult it for more information - and hopefully for the last time.
Kuroro continued to stare at the doorway. He felt awkward. He knew Pakunoda was right - it was true that they might not have a position available within the Spider so Erin could conveniently join them when the time comes. But Hisoka had never broken the rules, and above all else, he proved to be capable. To be completely honest, Kuroro was actually torn between the decision to either let Erin or Hisoka in the Spider when Hisoka had killed the previous Fourth Member. In the end, the coin toss had saved the day.
Regardless, Kuroro felt satisfied with the conversation he had with Pakunoda just earlier. He really needed to get that conversation out of the way. He was in a good mood for once, and opportunities like these never came up often. Not often enough anyway. Pondering what to do, Kuroro decided to take a walk around the room to better position himself to watch the shining stars that could be seen through the rather large holes on broken ceiling of this old building. Kuroro enjoyed these moments of solitude. Even if it were only temporarily, he was away from the chaos of this world, away the chaos of the Spider itself.
"Dancho?" The moment of peace was suddenly broken from the voice that came from the opposite corner of the room. It was Ubogin. Kuroro had forgotten all about him.
"Sorry, did I wake you?" Kuroro apologized. Ubogin shook his head sluggishly as he sat up from the floor.
"No, not at…" Ubogin paused to yawn. "…all."
Kuroro fought the urge to snicker. It didn't go unnoticed. Ubogin was staring at Kuroro.
"Did I look that funny?" Ubo asked.
"Do you want the truth?"
Ubogin shrugged. "I guess that means I did. Don't worry about it Dancho, I'm fine with it. Ah, I also wanted to talk to you about…"
Kuroro held up his hand to stop Ubogin from speaking any further. "You can go. There will be no jobs that requires your immediate presence for the next couple of months."
Ubogin scratched behind his head, looking rather embarrassed. "Thanks."
"Are you sure you are okay by yourself?"
Ubogin stared at his leader as if he were insane. He found himself laughing a second later. "Of course! I won't let him beat me anytime soon!"
Kuroro shrugged. "Better safe than sorry."
Ubogin copied Kuroro's response. "Maybe. No, I will be fine."
Kuroro crossed his arms in front of him and closed his eyes. "I sometimes don't understand why you and Favel continue to fight as if you were children…"
"Children? Dancho, this is a battle between men!" Ubogin said it with a smile. "It is a test between the two of us to prove who is stronger! I win every time, of course."
"I heard he was improving."
Ubogin flashed one of his playful smiles. He scratched his head once more. "Yeah. The last one was close. His nen is definitely improving. That guy is beginning to apply his style of nen into the battlefield more and more efficiently. I probably won because we were fighting in the outskirts last time. Cities give him more power."
Kuroro nodded. "Indeed."
"Hey, hey, don't worry about it, Dancho! I'm not gonna let Favel replace me anytime soon! I trained over these months, and I almost perfected my new technique! I call it the Big Bang Impact! Wanna see a demonstration?" Ubogin eagerly readied his fist, but Kuroro shook his head.
"Perhaps another time, Ubo." He turned to leave. "Enjoy your vacation. And don't kill Favel… trust me, you won't have another opportunity to train your own replacement like this ever again."
Kuroro didn't even have to look back to see if Ubogin was giving him a thumbs up or not.
Kuroro opened his eyes, but closed them a second later. Blinking a couple of times, he let his eyes adjust to the new light of dawn. Shaking his head to rid of the cobwebs that sprung up in his head during the night, he rose from the uncomfortable sitting position and stood up. He must've dozed off…
"Ah, finally, yer awake."
Kuroro looked the map vendor behind him. He stood in front of the fire, or what was left of it. It had died out during the night, and only the ashes remained. The elderly man was already all prepared, carrying the heavy backpack back on his back.
"Looks like this is it, lad. Ah hafta go now… got some other lost souls ah need to relive."
Despite his sluggishness, Kuroro responded firmly. "I understand."
The map vendor offered him a hand. "It was nice meetin' you." Kuroro took and shook the hand. He was surprised to feel the vendor's rough hand and his strong handshake. He was capable of much more despite his frail appearance.
"Oh yeah! An' before ah forget…" the vendor shoved his hand onto one of the many compartments of the backpack, and took out a scroll and a book. "Here." he tossed the two items to Kuroro, who caught them easily. "Take 'em."
The scroll was the map.
"Are you sure about this?" Kuroro asked him. "I was more than willing to pay."
The map vendor waved a single hand in dismissal. "Maps are the guideposts for lost souls, mate. Ah won't be much of a guidepost if ah keep askin' for money. It's what ah am, what ah do."
"Don't mention it. Good luck findin' your friends. And about that book…" he pointed at the brown book Kuroro held. "Think of it as my gift to ya. 'Tis a guidebook that goes with the map. Use it well."
"I will." and Kuroro meant it.
With those final words, the map vendor turned his back towards him and walked away. Kuroro stared at the man's backpack until it turned a corner. With it, the last glimpse of the map vendor disappeared.
Equipped with new knowledge, Kuroro flipped through the pages of the new book. He now had a new destination, a new goal. Without wasting another moment, he took his first step forward. After all, he had a long walk ahead of him.
Unknown to everyone else save its participants, a conversation of certain importance was taking place in an isolated location.
"So," a voice bitterly admitted. "He has survived."
"Are you surprised?" a second voice questioned.
"You already know that answer."
"Then why are you?"
"Besides from the fact that you allowed them - especially him - to live?"
"Afraid, are we?"
"I have been for a long time, my friend."
"This is good news for me, then."
"Probably not. It is far from over."
"Then… you're going to do it?"
"Yes. It is my job, after all."
"That's too bad."
"You know the reasons as well as I do."
"Isn't it useless? How long has it taken you and your so called 'faction' so far?"
"It has achieved you nothing by interfering."
"Although you have yet to achieve your goal too, I might add."
"It wasn't because of you."
"And I will."
"You do realize the consequences, right?"
"Pfft, sometimes I wonder why I even bother trying."
The Aftermath of that Fateful September…
Hisoka, the Fourth
Pakunoda, the Eighth
Ubogin, the Eleventh
The three have left the Spider, taking their reasons with them.
Now, the Spider seeks more limbs…
Author's Notes:It is likely that some of you may or may not have seen this story posted on fanfiction.net beforehand, but for those who have read it before you can see that it has been completely revamped. The previous "The Spider Moves" was not written to my satisfaction, and after a long hiatus I have decided to redo and edit the entire fiction to meet my own standards.
Any comments, advices, and reviews will be most welcome.
Just to clarify, this fic takes place right after Pakunoda's death in Hunter x Hunter. All events from now on will be AU.
- Nes Mikel