She was greeted by the now-familiar sight of the boiler room, alive with the enchanted lumps of coal, and of course, Kamaji the boiler man.
'Kamaji!' she said, running to him and hugging one of his long spindly arms.
'Chihiro? I never thought I'd see you here again!' he said, smiling at her.
Amaya was dumbfounded. Had Chihiro been here before? She seemed to know everybody! And she was so familiar with everything - everything that was out of the ordinary here she seemed to regard as ordinary. There was a man with six arms! And pieces of soot carrying coal! She just disregarded everything.
'And who's this?' asked Kamaji, casting an eye to Amaya.
'She's my friend,' said Chihiro. 'We need work.'
'That again,' said Kamaji, chuckling.
'Please?' asked Chihiro.
'Well, I'm sure I can get a job for you. You've worked here before. Her, I'm not so sure,' said Kamaji. A hatch opened from the wall and Lin came through, her jaw dropping when she saw Chihiro.
'Sen?' she asked.
'Yes. Actually, my name's Chihiro,' she said, running to Lin and hugging her, making her drop the little stars in the basket that she was meant to feed the soot with.
'I didn't think you'd come back!' said Lin. 'And look how you've grown. You're mighty pretty now, and I bet Haku's noticed,' said Lin, winking. 'You gonna start working again?' she asked.
'I guess I'll have to,' said Chihiro, turning back to Kamaji.
'So can you get Amaya a job?' she asked.
'She can go up to Izo and ask for a job. I'll take care of your job,' said Kamaji.
'Ok. Thanks Kamaji!' said Chihiro happily.
'I'll take her up,' offered Lin. 'And you - get to work,' she said jokingly to Chihiro.
'Wait…' said Chihiro, her happy mood wearing off. 'How are we going to get back out again in the morning?' she asked.
'You'll have to figure that one out yourself,' said Lin. 'For now, you'll have to work or Izo will get you.' Lin shuddered at the name.
'Ok,' said Chihiro. 'Yubaba's weakness was Boh… but Kohaku said Izo hasn't got a weakness.'
'Kohaku?' asked Lin.
'It's Haku's real name,' said Chihiro.
'Sure,' said Lin. 'I'll see you soon, Sen- I mean, Chihiro. I'd better take Amaya up before Izo gets her,' said Lin.
'Wait!' said Chihiro, pulling a piece of paper and a pen out of her pocket. She wrote her name and Amaya's name on it, ripped it in half and gave the piece with Amaya's name on it to Amaya.
'What's this for?' asked Amaya. 'I know my own name, stupid,' she said.
'Yu- I mean Izo will take your name when you get a job. You'll need your own name to get back out,' said Chihiro.
'Whatever you say,' said Amaya sarcastically, putting the piece of paper in her pocket.
'Good luck,' said Chihiro.
'Luck exists in this whacked out world?' asked Amaya, disappearing through the hatch. She followed Lin through and they took a series of elevators up to the top of the building.
'Just turn right and that'll be her office,' said Lin. 'Bye.'
'Bye,' said Amaya, turning around. She turned right and reached a door. She pulled the handle and opened it, before she heard a voice pipe up,
'Aren't you even going to knock?'
Amaya looked around to see who had said that, and found the door-knocker was speaking.
'Weird dream I'm having,' said Amaya, ignoring the knocker.
'Come in,' said a booming voice.
Amaya looked warily at the carpet in front of her to check that it wasn't booby-trapped.
'I said, come in!' said the voice again, and Amaya felt herself being pushed forward by an invisible force, as all the doors opened in front of her, right before she was about to crash into them.
Everything was moving too fast for her to see anything, and in a whir of motion, Amaya found herself face down on the floor. She stood up and dusted herself off, turning around. She saw a glimpse of a boy (or a man) at the desk before feeling the invisible force push her to the floor again. Her next attempt to get up failed.
'Stay there,' said the voice, this time not as booming and more human, but still commanding power.
'I need a job,' said Amaya, but her mouth was pressed against the floor and all that came out was 'Mm mm m mmm.'
'Shut up,' said the voice.
Amaya waited a few minutes on the floor in silence, before the force disappeared and she stood up again.
'What do you want?' asked the boy at the desk. He had hard, grey eyes and jet black hair.
'I want a job,' said Amaya daringly. She felt the force push her again, and she was forced into a chair. The boy stood up, and started walking towards her.
'You stupid, stupid humans,' he said, as he walked. 'All of you come in, wanting jobs, but you give me no reason to accept you.'
Amaya tried to open her mouth to talk, but it was glued shut. She realised she couldn't stand up either.
'You're lazy, you're stupid, and you smell,' he said viciously. 'Now give me a reason to accept you, or I'll tear you to pieces,' he said, an evil glint in his eyes.
'I really really need a job,' said Amaya. She wanted to continue, but her mouth was magically shut again.
'Of course you really really need a job,' said Izo, imitating her. 'Because I'll kill you if you don't right? You don't want to work, you just don't want to die,' he said.
'I've heard you have no weakness,' said Amaya, trying to distract him.
'From who?' he asked, interested.
'Someone,' said Amaya evasively.
'That's true,' he said.
'Don't you love something?' she asked.
'No,' he said coldly. 'You're just trying to postpone your demise,' he said. 'It's not going to work.'
Amaya swore silently.
'Fortunately for you,' he said. 'My predecessor made a promise. I hate promises,' he said, with pure malice in his voice. 'She promised to give a job to anyone who asked. So you've got a job,' he said angrily. Amaya was silent.
'Now sign the contract,' he said, whipping it out of nowhere. He handed it to her, and as her hand briefly touched his, she felt no warmth at all. She shuddered.
She read the contract, the pen poised in her hand to write.
'Hurry up. Sign it,' he said viciously.
Hurriedly Amaya signed it without reading it properly. As soon as she'd finished, the paper and pen flew out of her hands and landed in his own.
Something about Izo's cold demeanour intrigued Amaya. Any other person would have been scared out of their wits, but not Amaya. She was simply curious. People weren't naturally so cold – something must have happened to him to make him this way. Amaya was determined to find out what it was.
'Amaya,' he said, reading her signature. 'Not your name any more. You're Ami now.'
He drew back his hands and stood up straight.
'So, do you have a weakness?' asked Amaya, finding that she was still unable to stand up.
'No,' he said coldly, and with a flick of his hand Amaya was flung out of the room and through the corridor to the lift, and she landed face first onto the floor of the lift as the doors closed.