Yukina and Botan were so happy to see Kurama they started laughing and crying together, holding each other and holding him, both trying to explain everything at once, neither caring that they were making no sense in their haste and in their trying to talk over the other.
"Wait, wait," Kurama said, laughing at finding the girls unharmed. "What happened? Yukina first."
Yukina sighed and disentangled herself from Botan, though she didn't let go. "I'm not really sure," she admitted, "I was outside in the garden, then Genkai called me in for something, I don't remember, and as soon as I stepped through the doorway, I was here. You were here too, Kurama, and you told me that something bad had happened and I should stay here. You told me Botan was coming too."
Kurama was shocked, and it must have shown on his face because Yukina looked confused. "Wasn't it you?" she asked.
"It must have been that sorcerer, the shape shifter," Botan said, horrified at her growing realization. She turned to Kurama. "Were you here?" she asked.
Kurama shook his head. "I got a call from Yusuke that Yukina was missing, then when I left the house I was transported here," he replied.
"It wasn't you who was healing Genkai?" Botan asked, taken aback by the magnitude of the sorcerer's treachery. "But you- or he- is going with Yusuke and the others to find Yukina!"
"What is he after, do you think?" Yukina wondered out loud. "We have to get out of here, soon."
"But where do we go first? To find the sorcerer or to help Genkai and Hiei?" Kurama asked, already forming plans.
"If Genkai or Hiei were attacked by him, and he was in your shape, they might not be too happy with you," Yukina suggested.
"But if he was giving them both poison when he said he was healing them, they might be in more pressing danger than Yusuke. He can hold his own, and he's not alone," Botan countered.
"We need to get out of here first," Kurama reminded them. "But if he did something to Genkai or Hiei… We should go there before we find Yusuke. We don't even know where Yusuke is," he said, conscious of the magnitude of the problems before them.
"I can call Koenma and let him know our situation once we're out of here. You two can see if Genkai and Hiei are in any danger, then we'll meet up in the spirit world and go straight to Yusuke," Botan suggested.
Kurama nodded. He was overwhelmed by how fast things were happening, but trying to channel his adrenalin to getting free. "Did you get to the top of this thing?" he asked. "I was in another place like this, but I could see the sky clearly above me."
"Let's try," Botan said firmly.
Yukina ran ahead, forming icy steps up to the surface. Botan and Kurama followed behind, less surefooted on the slippery stairs but just as determined to save their friends.
What little light there had been below was fading now as they ran upwards into cool blackness. Kurama could only guess that it was night here, and he estimated it had been at least two days since he had arrived, at most a week. The uncertainty gnawed at his insides. There was no way of knowing what further damage the imposter could have caused. He ran on, up, into the yawning darkness, hoping to see something familiar out there.
As they came up out of the cavernous pit, Kurama felt the pull of a portal. The trio fell through it into a long hallway. The dark, stained brick was marked every few meters by another portal, though the end closest to Kurama had a light wood door instead of a portal.
"I would assume these portals lead to other places like the one we were trapped in," Yukina said, her words echoing off the walls.
"I agree," Botan replied. "Let's try the door. That looks normal, at least."
"Maybe the sorcerer uses it to check on his prisoners," Kurama suggested.
"Do you think we were meant to be imprisoned though?" Yukina asked. "It wasn't difficult to get out; maybe we're supposed to try to escape."
Botan gave a mirthless laugh. "Or maybe we're still trapped and this is all an illusion."
"I checked, and I'm pretty sure it isn't an illusion," Kurama noted. "Let's try the door. What's the worst that could happen?"
"Yeah," Botan agreed. "I'm not sure we were meant to get out. I couldn't use my oar, and I'm guessing, Kurama didn't have any success either. This might just be safe."
"Agree then?" Kurama asked, stepping toward the door and testing the latch. "It's locked. Give me a minute." He fumbled around for a moment, then the door was suddenly open. Kurama glanced quickly around to make sure there was nothing about to attack him before stepping quickly into the room to do a more thorough check. Botan followed behind warily; she seemed to be convinced it was all a trap. Yukina had her arms up, ready to defend herself, and the air around her was already crystallizing and falling to the ground as hail. Kurama wordlessly nodded at the next door, and Botan pulled it open slightly, then jumped back, nearly hitting a statue of a fruitbat. Kurama approached and looked through. There was a long desk in the center of the room and a bookcase to the left, both made of pale wood. To the right of the desk was the statue of a woman wearing a flowing white dress and a black lace hat.
"It's a statue," Kurama whispered to Botan, who was standing very close to him looking anxious. She visibly relaxed. Kurama moved into the room carefully, watching the statue and the doorway. The statue was holding white silk gloves decorate with black lace, and she had a necklace of fine black pearls. Yukina drew in a breath.
"That's my mother," she gasped. Botan and Kurama turned to look at her.
"She left the island after her mother died, did you know? She explored the world and fell in love. Then she went back when she got pregnant. I wonder why the sorcerer has this. Maybe he was the one my mother fell in love with," Yukina said, awestruck.
The pieces were coming together in Kurama's head. "Yukina, you need to leave. Botan, can you take her? Yukina, listen, you're not safe here. You two can go back; can you go back from here, Botan? Heal Hiei and Genkai; I'll find the sorcerer," he said calmly, but there was a hardness to his voice that hadn't been there before. Yukina was worried about Hiei, so she agreed almost immediately. Botan recognized the danger Yukina was in, especially if this sorcerer was her father, so she too nodded her assent to the plan.
Kurama went on into the next room, acting more carelessly now that he didn't have anyone else to worry about. The room was covered wall to wall in mirrors except for another door straight across. Kurama had never liked mirrors because he didn't like to look at himself. It felt like the mirror took part of his soul; he knew it was stupid, but he had been raised to believe that mirrors facing each other were bad luck. He hurried through the room, not looking around.
The final room was a corner, and Kurama could see the hills surrounding the building and a high wall to repel attack. Just beyond the wall, he thought he saw a flash of something bright, but since the sun was gone, Kurama couldn't see as clearly. Nevetheless, he had made some important discoveries. First, he was on the first floor of the building, meaning he would have to go down to get out to the wall. Second, there was someone or something on the other side of the wall, and it wouldn't hurt to check.
Kurama set off at a jog across the wing of the building that paralleled the wall, looking for a way down. Finally, six rooms later, he found a flight of stairs at the back of the building, near a large dining hall. He raced down, hoping he wasn't too late, and found himself in a kitchen, empty like the rest of the house. He picked up a large fish knife, but the weight was unbalanced, so he pulled out his rose whip instead.
Kurama slipped outside and closed the kitchen door softly, leaving it slightly ajar in case it was locked. He could hear movement on the other side of the wall, and he jumped up gracefully. He saw Yusuke and Kuwabara, Jin and Rinku, Toya and what looked like his own doppelganger. The sorcerer really had taken his shape. He had taken Kurama's form, talked with Kurama's voice, and managed to fool even Kuwabara. Kurama felt dirty, and with cat-like grace and the certainty of years of training, he jumped down and attacked the fake.