Disclaimer: I do not own spirited away.

Author's note: I'm so sorry to all you loyal readers of this story :( but as of well a few months ago, I had stopped work on this story for good. I feel really bad though so I'm posting this final chapter. It's not really an end. I don't think I'll ever finish this story though. I'm sorry. I know it's terribly irresponsible of me to just abandon a story and in all honesty, I do try very hard to finish what I start—but that's just something I can't do for this story. Anyway, I hope you'll like this chapter.



Links: Chapter 9

Haku told his wildly beating heart to calm down as he found himself face to face with the five Great Spirits of the spirit world. The lava spirit Huo, the wind spirit Feng, the earth spirit Tu, the ocean spirit Hai, and the sun spirit Guang. They towered above him as they examined him, eyes registering his every aspect. Guang turned away eventually and beckoned the other spirits to an adjacent room. Huo looked at Haku and smiled encouragingly before entering the room and closing the door.

Haku looked after them, nervous and anxious. If this goes well, he should have a much faster way to the human world.

Guang frowned, his wrinkled face reflecting the wisdom and caution that came from his years. "Are you sure about this Huo? If we were to allow him to channel all our magic, he would become the strongest spirit alive."

Feng slammed his fist on the table. "Guang's right. We can't let this kid become too powerful. I bet he's just like Beiju, that little trickster..." He spat spitefully onto the ground. "We should just kill him now. From what you said Huo, this kid probably uses dark magic. How else could he have beaten you? He's still a kid."

Tu chuckled, amused by the memory of Beiju. "Calm down Feng. Beiju was a trickster alright, but his soul was kind. In fact, if I remembered right, Beiju only channeled our magic to go after some girl in the human world." She turned to Huo. "Is that what Kohaku is trying to do?"

Huo nodded. "Yes, the girl's name is Chihiro. According to Kohaku, he met her when her parents and her accidentally stumbled into the Spirit World three years ago."

"IMPOSSIBLE!" Feng boomed, jumping out of his chair in anger. "After Beiju left the Spirit World, we sealed off every single gap between the two worlds! This is all too convenient! THREE humans stumbling into our world? Impossible! The kid is lying!"

Hai's soft voice drifted over from her corner of the room. "It is true that we have sealed all the gaps. However, there are still areas in the boundary where the wall is weak. It would not be impossible for a human to cross the barrier...as long as she had a link..." The ocean spirit trailed off, her expression contemplative.

Feng snorted. "There you go! The kid is lying. How could a human visiting our world for the first time have a link to us? She'd have to have been here already and taken something from this world for that to work." He looked around the room triumphantly.

Hai sighed. "Links do not necessarily need to be physical. There can be spiritual links also. Sometimes, the spiritual ones are stronger—a physical link is destroyed along with the object but a spiritual link can never be truly destroyed."

Feng seemed incredulous. "Humans form spiritual links? Pah! Not possible."

"It is completely possible." Tu interjected. "In fact, when utilized in the right way, spiritual bonds can be infinitely stronger than physical bonds."

Hai nodded, smiling at the earth spirit. "That is correct. Although they are the stronger of the two, spiritual bonds are actually incredibly easy to form. In fact, any interaction between two beings possessing souls creates a link. The strength of the link varies depending on the duration and/or intensity of the interaction although..."

"Alright alright!" Feng interrupted. "I hate it when you two decide to start lecturing me."

Tu and Hai smiled apologetically.

Guang cleared his throat and the other four spirits turned their attentions to him. "While it is important to find out how humans may have entered our world, that would only be worth investigating should Kohaku's story be true. What remains to be determined is if we can trust him."

"Kohaku seems to be an respectful and honorable young man." Huo quickly defended his friend. "After he channeled my magic, he could easily have killed me. Instead, he stayed with me to make sure I was all right until my magic replenished itself. I don't think he intends any evil."

Guang looked at Huo, his mind obviously in thoughtful contemplation. Ignoring Feng's look of outright disbelief, Guang nodded to the lava spirit. "Alright Huo. We'll trust your judgment. However, I want to question Kohaku myself and have him prove his worth of our combined magic before I allow any channeling."

Haku paced back and forth in the sparsely decorated room. The Great Spirits have been gone for a long time and seemed to be arguing. It probably isn't going well at all. Haku wondered just how much influence Huo had over the other Great Spirits. He tried to remember what he had learned about the great spirits. The Great Spirits are among the most powerful spirits in the Spirit World. Guang is the oldest spirit existing in the Spirit world and is the wisest of the five. Tu and Hai are sisters. Both have great knowledge of old magic and its principles. Feng is the most warlike of the five and the strongest by strength alone. Huo, being the youngest and therefore the least experienced, is weakest and most impulsive of the Great Spirits. Together, the Great Spirits are stronger than any is individually.

The door to the meeting room creaked open and a grim-looking Guang walked out, followed by the other four. Haku hurriedly bowed, preparing himself for the worst.

"Kohaku." Guang sat down on a chair opposite Haku. "As you know, any spirit who channels our magic would immediately become at least ten times stronger than he was before. Therefore, our first concern is what you plan to do with this magic."

Haku straightened himself and looked at the five spirits sitting opposite him. Turning his gaze to Guang, he replied in a clear voice. "I wish to cross the barrier to the human world."

Guang nodded. "Yes, Huo has told us that. We would, however, like to know the exact reasons you have for doing so."

Haku felt his face grow a bit warm as he thought of Chihiro. He hoped that the Spirits didn't notice. "I wish to find an old friend of mine. Her name is Chihiro." Out of the corner of his eye, Haku saw the corner of Huo's mouth twitch and regretted having told the lava spirit about the feelings he had developed for Chihiro over the years. "She once saved my life and I had promised her that we would meet again when she left the Spirit World over three years ago." Haku paused and then added in a determined voice. "And I keep my promises."

Guang nodded again, somewhat approvingly. "Our next question, then, is what kind of old magic you used to beat Huo in your battle."

Confusion filled Haku's mind as he tried to understand the question. "Old magic?" He faltered. "Sir, I don't know any old magic..." Haku trailed off, uncertain.

"I told you he's a little liar!" Feng snarled at Guang and pointed accusingly at Haku. "First, he feeds us some cock-and-bull story about a girl. Then, he tries to worm his way out of answering our question!"

Haku glared at Feng and answered with cold civility. "With all due respect sir, I ask you not to accuse me of anything unless you had solid proof."

Hai put a hand on Feng's arm to stop him from leaping out of his chair. She looked at Guang. "It is very possible that Kohaku may possess abilities of which he himself is not aware. Old magic often works that way."

"Very well then." Guang stood up and walked over to Haku and handed him a sheet of paper. "Before we allow the channeling of our magic, you have to sign this contract stating that you will not use the magic we give you for any other purpose than that of crossing the barrier." Feng opened his mouth to argue. Ignoring him, Guang continued, "We will then discuss allowing you to channel from us."

A bit taken aback, Haku took the contract hesitantly. Realizing that he had no pen, he looked up at Guang to ask for one. Guang seemed to have known what he was thinking. "This contract will be magically binding. You will have to sign it in blood." Guang looked hard at Haku. "Do you realize the seriousness and severity of this, Kohaku?"

Haku nodded. "I do sir." Putting the contract on the table beside him, Haku bit through the skin on his index finger. Tiny droplets of blood began to ooze out from the wound. Without a second thought, Haku pressed his finger firmly against the paper, leaving behind a dark red fingerprint.

"You may leave. We will contact you in a few days." Guang took the piece of paper and rolled it up.

Huo hopped out of his chair and patted Haku on the back. "You did well kid. Come on, let's go."

Haku mustered a smile at his friend. He bowed goodbye at the rest of the Great Spirits and walked after Huo, unable to ignore a lingering warning about the severity of the contract he just signed.

Hai waited until she heard the front door shut before turning to Guang. "Well?" She asked.

Guang unrolled the contract that Haku had signed. Hai nodded at Tu and Tu turned off the lights. In the darkness that pervaded the room, they were able to see the faint blue light coming from Haku's fingerprint on the paper.

"Now what is THAT supposed to mean?" Feng blurted out after a while.

"It means," said Hai quietly, "That Kohaku doesn't really need to channel our magic to cross the barrier. He is strong enough on his own."