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Meika looked dubiously over the side of Jeep. The road had been completely normal just a few moments ago. Now, the road was practically gone. It had been replaced with a jagged winding slope going down the hill. "Are you sure this is the way we should be going, Hakkai?"
Hakkai kept his ever constant smile in place. "It does certainly seem more like a cliff now, doesn't it. The villagers said this was the way to go, though."
Goku held Meika close to them as they went over yet another sharp bump. He glared over at Gojyo and pointed an accusing finger at him. "This is all your fault! We could've taken the original path that the villagers told us about, but you were too lazy to walk!"
Meika looked pleadingly at the back of Hakkai's head as Gojyo and Goku began yelling at each other. "Hakkai, can't you stop? Maybe there's an easier way to get through here."
"I wish I could, Meika," Hakkai said. His eyes never left the road as they jumped and swerved. "At this point, we're going so fast that it would be more dangerous to try and stop than to just keep going."
Meika held tightly onto the side of Jeep. She did her best to ignore Goku and Gojyo's continual bickering. "Do you really think Sanzo is on this mountain?"
"I don't know," Hakkai answered. "There have only been rumors of sightings."
"I hope we find him soon," Meika whispered. She hadn't even noticed that Gojyo and Goku had stopped fighting. The two were quietly looking at the little girl as they continued speeding down the road.
Gojyo suddenly reached out and pulled Meika over to his side. He hugged her tightly and kissed the top of her head. "It's gonna be okay, Baby Girl."
Meika managed to give Gojyo a small smile. She looked back out at the rapidly passing scenery. Something didn't feel right. Her stomach felt all twisted up and tight. She just hoped that they found Sanzo soon.
They had been driving for what felt like forever when the sky suddenly darkened. "That can't be good," Gojyo mumbled.
Meika looked towards where the darkness was coming from. The feeling in her stomach intensified. "Hakkai, I think Sanzo might be over there."
"Why do you think that?" Gojyo asked curiously.
Meika shrugged. "Just a feeling."
Goku nodded. "Sanzo is definitely over there," he said. "Hakkai, let's go!"
Hakkai didn't say anything as he slammed on the gas. The closer they got to the darkness, the heavier the air around them felt and the worse the feeling in Meika's stomach got. She knew Sanzo was there, and she knew he was in terrible danger. "Hakkai, hurry."
"I'm going as fast as I can, Meika," Hakkai assured. He didn't have to drive much further before they reached the place where the darkness was coming from.
Meika wasn't sure that her mind was truly processing what she was seeing. There was a large sphere of pure darkness and Sanzo was being sucked into it. Without thinking, Meika leapt out of Jeep and rushed towards the darkness. "Sanzo!"
"Meika, don't!" Gojyo managed to grab Meika before she could get too far. As she struggled against his grip, Gojyo held on to her even tighter.
"Goku, get Sanzo!" Hakkai shouted.
Goku leapt out of Jeep and ran towards Sanzo. He grabbed tightly onto Sanzo's hand and pulled with all his strength. Little by little, he managed to pull Sanzo out of the darkness. When he had managed to pull Sanzo out most of the way, he threw the priest with all his strength.
Meika finally managed to get out of Gojyo's grasp as Gojyo began yelling at Goku. She rushed over to where Sanzo had fallen. She gently placed her hands on his shoulder. "Sanzo, are you okay?" she asked. "You're not dead, right?" She looked up as Hakkai came over and began healing Sanzo's wounds. "He's going to be okay, right?"
Hakkai chuckled and nodded. "Yes," he answered. "I'm sure he'll be just fine."
"Good," Meika said. She let out a whoosh of air she didn't know she'd been holding. She scooted down until she was sitting beside Sanzo's hand. Gently, she picked up his hand and buried her face in the palm of his hand. She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. "I'm so glad that you're okay, Sanzo," she sniffled.
Hakkai chuckled. He looked down at Sanzo and cracked a small smile as Gojyo and Goku continued arguing. "Do you hear how they're treating you like an object?"
Meika blinked as she felt Sanzo's hand twitch. She lifted her head up and tilted her head to the side. "Sanzo?"
"Shut the hell up you morons!" Sanzo yelled. A shockwave of pain rushed through his body. He grit his teeth as he tried to relax. His attempts were thwarted by Meika threw herself onto him and hugged him. "Damnit!"
"Meika, be gentle with him," Hakkai gently chided. The smile never left his face, though. "I only healed his neck bone."
"I'm sorry!" Meika immediately scrambled off of Sanzo. Tears were pouring down her cheeks as she looked at Sanzo's open eyes and scowling face. "I'm just so glad you're okay," she blubbered out.
Gojyo smirked down at Sanzo's prone form. "Looks like you're stuck like that for a while, Sanzo-sama," he sneered.
Hakkai straightened up as a man with dark hair and glasses approached them. He stood up and moved protectively in front of Sanzo. "Meika, stay with Sanzo."
Meika tensed when she finally looked over at the man. There was something dark and unsettling about the man. She stayed behind Hakkai and the others, but kept herself in front of Sanzo's body. "Hakkai, is he…?"
Hakkai nodded. "Priest Ukoku Sanzo," Hakkai answered. "We've been hearing rumors about you for quite some time."
Ukoku chuckled. His robes were pure black, in direct opposition to Sanzo's white ones. He shook his head, a wide smile on his face. "My, this is unfortunate for you, Genjo. You didn't want anyone to see you in such a pitiful state."
Meika glowered at the man. "So what if we see him like this?"
Goku nodded his head in agreement. "Of course we'd see him like this. We've all seen each other in our worst states. We're traveling together after all."
"That's right!" Meika chimed in. She pushed her way to stand beside Goku. "We won't forgive you if you try and hurt Sanzo anymore!" She did her best to keep her glare in place as the man smirked at them.