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+On The Other Side+
+Chapter Two: To The Shadow Gate And From Kurama+
Kurama smiled as Yusuke tried desperately to get his raven locks out of his eyes using the water from the river. Of course, it wasn't working, and Yusuke looked a little pissed off. Three days had passed since they had left Koenma's office for this mission. The paralyzing poison had finally worn off of Hiei and they had moved on toward the Shadow Gate again. However, it seemed that Yusuke's hair-gel had finally run out. Now he was trying to get his hair to stay out of his eyes.
"Give it up, it's not working." Kuwabara finally told him. Yusuke growled in frustration.
"Damn it! Where's some hair-gel when you need it!" Kuwabara laughed at him. Kurama looked up into the tree he was leaning and spotted Hiei. He was looking down at Yusuke intently, unmoving.
-A penny for your thoughts?- he asked in the telepathic message he sent Hiei. The short man in the tree made no sign that he had received it, but replied promptly.
+Does the detective seem… different to you+ Kurama was momentarily startled, and looked from Hiei -who was still staring at Yusuke- to said detective.
-No. Why?- Kurama stared back up at Hiei, who had finally looked down into his eyes.
+He's been acting… very strangely. It doesn't matter. He just seemed a bit distracted. Just keep an eye on him.+
Kurama nodded, looking back to Yusuke -he had finally given up on his hair and he and Kuwabara were fighting. -Right.- When he looked back up, Hiei was gone from the tree. Finally, he walked to Yusuke and Kuwabara and pulled them away from each other, smiling at their antics. They had gone to making faces at each other. "Time to go, now."
Yusuke nodded and saluted. "Lead the way, Oh Great Holder Of The Sacred Map!" Kuwabara slapped him on the back of the head, and Yusuke retaliated by bopping him on the head.
"Alright, come on you two. This is no time to be joking around. We're almost to the Shadow Gate. No more fighting!" When they had stopped Kurama motioned for them to follow. Then, as they left the clearing, Hiei jumped down from a tree and joined them. And so, they tramped through the deep forests of the Makai, searching for the elusive Shadow Gate. The map seemed to become increasingly hard to follow, though. Yesterday it had led them through a swamp, where Hiei got caught in some quicksand, of all things.
Now, though, it seemed that the map was about to lead them into a cave. Nevertheless, as they approached it, Kurama didn't hesitate in entering it. After all, if they were to find the Shadow Gate, they were going to have to trust the map. But, Kurama was sometimes suspicious of it. What if this leads us into something we can't handle? He had thought once. Then, What if this doesn't even lead to the Shadow Gate? Nevertheless, they continued on anyways.
The cave they had entered had a low ceiling, and Kuwabara had to duck slightly to keep from bumping his head. The walls of the cave were dry, free of any moisture, and on the ground were thousands of bones. They crunched underfoot as they walked, and Kurama's curiosity grew. Somewhere in the back of his head, Youko stirred in his sleep, but didn't quite wake.
As they walked, the tunnel they were in shifted, going down, deeper into the ground. They traveled on, and, in the dim light of some unknown item, he could see Yusuke shiver from the corner of his eye. Then he felt Hiei's stare on his back. +You see+
Kurama sighed. -He only shivered because it's cold.-
+He shivered before it became cold.+ Then, like that, their conversation -if you could even call it that- was over and Hiei had severed the mind link. Kurama sighed again, but agreed with him. Only after Yusuke shivered did it become cold. Maybe he's … scared? No. Yusuke's strong. A little cave wouldn't scare him. But, then what would cause him to shiver like that?
But, his musings were cut short as he saw a light ahead of them. They continued on, faster, until they reached it. When they could finally see in the suddenly bright light he knew were it was coming from. There, in the middle of a large cavern, was a circle on the floor. From it, a brilliant yellow glow came forth. "That's the Shadow Gate." Yusuke said next to him. And something about Yusuke's words struck him as odd. As if he knew, without a doubt, that this was it. But, as he looked at the map that was entrusted to him, he knew it, too. The directions stopped here.
Along the walls of the cavern were drawings and carvings of youkai. Each one was intricately carved, almost life-like, and they seemed to move together in one writhing mass. They walked forward, from the safety of the tunnel into the cavern, and approached the Shadow Gate. When they were close enough they could see it was like a giant bowl in the ground. In it was a purple-black liquid, the colors seemed to fight for dominance, and the yellow glow continually poured forth.
"So, now what?" Kuwabara was the first one to speak, shattering the silence.
"I think we're supposed to jump in it." Yusuke said, looking at the walls rather than the portal.
"Then let's get this over with." Hiei stepped forward, to the edge of the Gate, and prepared to leap in. Then the ground began the shake. It was so sudden, Hiei lost his footing, but Yusuke grabbed his arm and pulled him away from it. The ground continued shaking, and the walls suddenly were writhing, coming alive with the youkai carvings. The youkai stepped from the walls of the cavern and, one-by-one, attacked them, apparently intent on keeping them from entering the Gate.
Kurama pulled from his hair a rose and, with a little spirit energy, it grew into his Rose Whip. He jumped at a youkai that was coming at Kuwabara from behind and sliced it apart. Then he turned and lashed out at an ugly bird youkai that was circling his head. It's wing was hit and it went spiraling, it's beak impaling another, larger youkai's, eye. The youkai, which only had one eye, roared and lashed out at anything near it, crushing several of the others youkai it was fighting with.
Kurama smirked as at least half of the youkai were wiped out from the one rampaging Cyclops. Then he heard a scream. Turning, he saw that Yusuke was caught in a net and being dragged away by a big, purple-skinned fish youkai in flowing blue robes. Yusuke struggled and shouted out several curses.
"Yusuke!" Kurama called, rushing to his aid. The young, raven-haired man didn't appear to hear him, as he was too busy yelling at the youkai dragging him. On the other side of the room, opposite of the place where they had entered, was another tunnel that he had neglected to notice. The fish was dragging Yusuke toward it, where a shadowy figure awaited it and Yusuke.
As he got closer, he saw Yusuke point his finger at the fish's head. The tip of it glowed a light blue, and he shot at his captor. It blew the youkai's head off and the net fell from it's limp hand. Yusuke struggled to get out, but the net appeared to be completely sealed up. Kurama reached his side and, giving no warning at all, sliced at the net with his Rose Whip. It ripped easily under the whip's thorns, and fell to pieces around Yusuke.
Said detective grinned, obviously happy to be free from the small net. "Thanks a lot, but, next time, think you could give me a warning before slicing away like that?" Kurama smiled back at him briefly before remembering the shadowy figure in the tunnel entrance. He looked toward it and he could see Yusuke follow his gaze. The figure was still there, but it backed away slightly, becoming a barely defined blob in the dark tunnel.
They rushed toward the tunnel and the person -maybe a youkai- glowed slightly. Then, without warning, it lunged out of the safety of the tunnel and ran past them. They turned, just in time to see it jump into the watery depths of the Shadow Gate. They began to run back to the Shadow Gate, through the crowd of youkai that were determined to kill them. They reached the edge of it and looked around. Kuwabara was doing fine, holding off the youkai with his spirit sword, and Hiei, was slicing through them left and right with his katana.
Hiei jumped away from the fighting discreetly -the youkai were left wondering were their victim had gone- and joined Kurama and Yusuke. "There's too many, we have to go through the gate!" Kurama yelled over the noise of the youkai.
"Kuwabara! Come on!" Yusuke called to his friend. Kuwabara nodded and ran from the youkai, who followed him at a much slower pace. When he reached them Yusuke said: "On three! Ready?" Nods. "THREE!"
They jumped out over the gate and fell into it. Kurama heard no splash as they hit the surface of the liquid; they just slipped in smoothly and quietly. All he could see was darkness. Then, with a jolt, it felt as if all the air in his lungs was being squeezed out painfully. His whole body seemed to scream in pain, as if the water were filling him then acting as a poison that only caused pain. From somewhere he heard a scream, only to realize it was his own. Then he heard another, and another. He recognized those as the voices of Hiei and Kuwabara.
And, finally, as the pain grew unbearable, darkness consumed him, and he knew no more…
A/N: There it finally is! Is it good? I enjoyed typing it! I've been so busy lately, so I hope it's worthy. Please leave me a review! I accept flames; I love to bitch at the flamers! XD Well, bye!