Each card has its own story.

Some stories are funny. Some stories are heartbreaking. Others are based off of French role models eating pastries in the summer sun (in other words, totally random).

For hundreds of hunters, these stories meant nothing. They were just barriers to their goal. Obstacles. Evil little mushie alien creations of Sparta reincarnated (in other words, totally unworthy of attention: TOGASHIIIII).

But to a certain non-hunter - An average person. A newspaper-reader, a coffee-drinker, student, otaku, sister of a scissor-fixated sociopath (Colorless Butterfly, if you haven't met her yet) - these stories mean something quite more than that. They meant sugar in coffee. A new manga. A shield against possibly deadly sharp weapons. (Or in short, unexplored possibilities.)

And so the cards tell their own stories.

Disclaimer: I don't own Hunter X Hunter!


The old man who gave them the information was called Hida.

As a hermit that lived in the forests near Rubicuta, he said he had been born here and intended to die here, protecting his homeland.

"What homeland?" Gon had asked, curious.

And with a toothy grin, Hida had answered, "One Yard of Secret Woods"

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The moonlight was mist, rising from the darkness of the forest floor. Their movements cut swaths of open space in the thick air. As soon as Biscuit, Gon, and Killua had entered the forest, the atmosphere had suddenly changed. It was oppressive, mysterious.

"Keep your concentration," Biscuit walked backwards, keeping an eye on the two young boys in front of her. "We're not here for the card. We're just using this as a shortcut to Masadora. Understand?"

They both grinned at her uncomprehendingly. They're not listening to me! Biscuit thought, irritated.

"Don't get lost in the forest." Biscuit warned them sternly, even though they continued to saunter forward with their childish arrogance. Her expression was unusually grim. She felt uneasy here, and it wasn't just her intuition. The One Yard of Secret Forest was a SS ranked card for a reason, and was probably near impossible to attain. As long as they could pass through here safely, she had no complaint. But would it be as simple as that? Had they already fallen into a trap?

Lost in her thoughts, she let herself lag behind the two children, and so was unprepared for their sudden rebellion.

"It'll be okay," Killua responded with a grin and a wave.

Both of them rushed on ahead.

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They got separated within moments. Gon paused to inspect an interesting shining plant. Killua peered around a huge tree trunk to scout ahead. When he looked back, Gon had apparently found something more interesting. Retracing his steps, Killua found himself in a completely different setting. The air was almost purple with moonlight, and the trees had suddenly thickened.

"Gon?" He called.

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"Killua?" Gon hung from the tree branch and scanned the forest floor with growing worry. His silver haired friend had gotten lost somehow, and something about the forest was irking him. They had been in the forest for an hour, but they hadn't met a single animal.

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Killua sat down, feeling tired and disoriented and ill-tempered. Why did that stupid idiot have to run off by himself?

A puff of yellow seeds blew past his face, and he turned to look only because yellow was such a vivid color in this darkness. They were shaped as little sunflower seeds, and as he smelled them he started to feel a little sleepy.

No, he shook himself and climbed to his feet. This place is dangerous.

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Gon settled himself in a tall tree, swinging his legs freely. The forest was eerily silent, and he couldn't see the edge. The entire forest was covered in the darkness as if clouds hovered eternally over it.

"Somebody?" He called out, feeling lonely. "Hello?"

No one answered.

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Killua began to see flashes of movement from the corners of his eyes. A wraith, flitting in and out of a tree. A black dog prowling through the underbrush. And one time, he even thought that he saw someone he thought he recognized run past and disappear into the darkness.

He didn't give chase. Instead, he pressed onward, determined to leave this place. That was the only thing he could remember.

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The first sound in the eternal stillness was the clank of armor.

Gon froze, turning to find the source of the sound, but a sudden wave of dizziness made it difficult for Gon to concentrate. The sound echoed off of trees, and the humid air did not help. The rusty screech of metal joints resounded from everywhere.

Into the clearing rode - of all things - a knight in rusted armor.

His horse was clearly spent, gaunt and thin to the bones. Gon felt a sharp jab of pity for the poor thing, and then realized that it was actually dead. The knight had two of his feet on the ground and actually dragged the horse forward as he moved.

"Who are you?" Gon asked, caught between relief and horror.

"Me?" The knight tipped his helmet in an old fashioned manner. "I don't remember. I wouldn't. Unless I get out of this cursed place, it's impossible. Oh, curse my rotten luck! And...who're you?"

"Me?" Gon paused to consider this, and then realized why he had felt so disturbed earlier. "I don't think I remember either."

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Killua thought at first that it must be some trick, but the thought slipped away before he could properly consider it. He could feel the muted air pressing down on him, making his thoughts heavy. All he could do was stare, stupidly and sluggishly, at the apparition before him.

"Dad?" He tried to swallow, and found that he couldn't. His senses were warped in this place, almost as if he couldn't properly control his body. "What are you doing here?"

Silvia Zoldyeck raised his large hand, "Didn't I already tell you? I came here to bring you back."

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"So what are you here for?" The knight rode - or walked - alongside Gon, as they wandered on aimlessly. Gon had the feeling that he was getting more lost instead of found, and that bothered him.

"Me?" Gon looked up at the knight, wondering what was behind that helmeted face. "I came here with a friend. We're looking for a shortcut to Masadora. Do you know the way there?"

The knight went on in silence for what seemed like a minute, then responded. "Child, I've been wandering this forest ever since I came in. As far as I can, tell there is no way out. But then again, time moves strangely in this place. Why, one time I came across a sprite young fellow, and not five minutes later, he had turned into a wizened old man! Hida, I think his name was called. Or Hiso? I forget. I do hope he found his way out, though. Before he died, I mean. If you die here you're stuck forever. Same goes for me. Unless I get out of this cursed place, it's impossible. Oh, curse my rotten luck! "

He rambled on and on, and Gon followed, a little dazed by all this talk. Gon felt a little tired, and it was just so easy to follow this energetic knight. He did not notice the vines of nen that crept around him and began to suck his remaining life away.

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"Back?" Killua could only step away hesitantly. A feeling of dread settled in his stomach, adding to the churning fear in there already. "But you said-"

"I changed my mind." Silvia Zoldyeck stepped forward, suddenly dangerous. "A father can do that, can't he?"

Killua narrowed his eyes, a thought lifting the fog that had surrounded his brain. "Let me go and find Gon first, and then I'll talk with you. Right now we're in the middle of an important quest."

"Is that so?" Silvia grinned, and Killua finally shook himself free from his illusion. Silvia Zoldyeck never grinned like that, all Cheshire teeth and no restraint. Killua moved in an instant, but an instant too late. A thorny brown tongue whipped out of the creature's mouth and snagged Killua's leg. Killua was jerked off of his feet and lifted into the air, yelling. Even now, the air made it hard for him to concentrate. Even now, all he wanted to do was lay down and sleep, even as he stared down into an open maw filled with junk from past meals: a sneaker, various swords and other weapons, a fishing rod, and slime.

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Gon glanced aside at the dead horse and did a double take. It wasn't dead after all, just barely alive. Its flanks moved with regularity now, and its eyes twitched under its eyelids. At the same time, Gon felt indescribably tired.

"Your horse…" he began.

But then he heard it - a loud, sky-shattering yell that drummed through his ears and cleared his mind. "GOOOOONNN!"

"Killua," he breathed, suddenly remembering everything. Looking to the knight on his horse, he hastily explained: "I have to go."

The knight stiffened, "You may not!"

"Thank you for your time," Gon ran forward, searching for the sound of the voice. "It was a -"

"No! You can't! You have to stay here, with me! I -" Frantically, the knight reached forward to grasp him, as if to keep him there. Gon swatted his hand away, and the knight fell.

On the ground, his helmet split open, revealing a rotted corpse.

Gon sucked in a deep breath, and then finally saw that the nen from the horse was what had sucked the knight dry. Its own rider had fallen into the trap.

Turning, Gon fled, knowing that he had just made a narrow escape from death. "Wait for me, Killua." He paused to steady himself, and then put the poor knight's fate behind him. "I'm coming!"

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Wait, a fishing rod?

A flash of horror warred with outrage. Killua's eyes widened with both emotions, and electricity exploded from his body uncontrollably.

"GOOOOONNN!"

The brown tentacle that held him crumbled to bits of black char, and the creature withdrew his tongue hastily. Killua fell to the ground in a dizzy heap, and somehow managed to pick himself up. He found himself facing an oni monster. It had a thick head with two large horns, matted fur, and a swishing tail.

Killua braced himself against a tree, trying to think clearly. Gon hadn't brought his fishing rod to Greed Island. Or had he? Even so, the presence of a fishing rod in the oni's mouth didn't mean that it had eaten Gon.

"Is that the name of your friend?" The brief illusion of Silva Zoldyeck made Killua's eyes hurt, so he shook his head fiercely to clear it. "I'm sorry. I ate him a while back."

"Liar!" Killua leapt up to avoid a blow, letting his fingernails grow out with undeniable bloodlust. In the shadow of the trees, he waited for a split second opening. He would have torn out that creature's heart in the next instant had he not felt a light touch on his arm.

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Thankfully, Killua realized it was him at once, and let his fingernails return to normal. Gon tucked himself neatly into the shadow of a nearby tree, his eyes fixed on his target. He was still thinking about the knight, but at least he wasn't shivering anymore. How could he have gotten so close to death without realizing it? It was this forest. It was dulling his survival instincts. But now that Killua was here, constantly reminding him, Gon felt his old self come back.

Killua erased his presence as well, feeling his blood thrum with the eagerness to kill. He felt much more in control now, knowing that he had finally found Gon. The shock of battle had also cleared his mind, so that he knew that he would no longer fall prey to the forest's illusions.

They glanced at each other once, coordinating themselves, and then sprang into action.

The Oni sensed Killua coming a split second before he appeared, and swung around fiercely to meet them. It must have weighed nearly fifty tons, all muscle and sinew. Short, deadly claws sprung out and it let out a roar that shook the trees and made the leaves tremble…

It was fast, nearly too fast for Killua. He jumped aside, found a blind spot, and took it.

Killua leapt, springing onto the Oni's back and distracting it with a well-aimed blow to the area between its spine and head. The Oni howled, twisting around to catch Killua. As Killua nimbly avoided a deadly swipe, Gon rushed in with a fist loaded with nen. "First is Rock!"

The oni did not expect another nen user to appear. The blow crushed its chest, blasting it across the clearing and into the trees. With a groan, the trees toppled one by one.

Killua knew it was overkill, but he wanted to make sure. With the precise movements that could only come from practice, he bounded over and ripped its heart out.

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The change was noticeable, almost artistic. It was as if the sun had woken up and realized that it had been late – by perhaps a decade. Gradually, the mist receded under the sunlight that broke overhead. At first light, the forest transformed. The trees grew visibly shorter, the bushes receded into nonthreatening clumps of green, and the sunlight finally reached the mossy forest floor. These changes happened slowly but noticeably. It took a few more minutes before the animals came out of hiding, filling the forest with their chattering and chirping.

Gon and Killua stood side by side, astonished by the change.

With a slight popping sound, the image before them transformed into a card. Gon reached out and plucked it from the air warily, wondering what it could be. As he read the name, a delighted grin spread across his face! "We got it, Killua! Look at this!"

Killua leaned over to look. "One Yard of Secret Woods…..woah! That's a SS ranked card!" Delighted, they beamed at each other. "We did it! We did it!"

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The first thing Biscuit greeted them with was a backhanded slap. "What did I tell you about rushing off by yourselves?" Her voice was cold, almost brittle. With a start, Killua realized that she had been worried. Her fists were planted firmly on her hips, and her scowl deepened as their grins refused to disappear. "You could have died. Neither of you were even remotely prepared. Imagine what would have happened if you had not found each other in that horrid place?"

Gon and Killua looked at each other. Gon smiled at Biscuit, completely free of worries. "We'll always find each other."

"No matter what." Killua added.

"Because we're friends."


AND WE'RE OFF TO THE RACES!

That was too long. I swear to you that I will never make a drabble longer than this. I swear. For my sake.

1/11/12 Note: I don't know if any of you miss the old story, but if you do, I can still put it up in a seperate place. Massive edit went underway ^^

P.S. Did anyone find the shout out to The Edge Chronicles? If you know the name of the forest, kudos to you!