High above the Earth, in a place that touched the clouds, the wind whistled eerily as it blew across empty space, only quieting as it ruffled the clothes of the silent fighters standing so strangely still as they watched Dende continue his work on Teagan.
Ten minutes, ten hours, Goku didn't know how long it had been since Dende had begun. Frankly, he didn't care. Teagan was still hurt and unconscious, and her spirit…well…
I can't even feel her. Did Nightshade…no. I can't think like that. Teagan will come back to us…she has to. She just…has to. Goku thought, twitching in slight surprise as he felt Goten burrow a little more tightly into his chest when he sensed his father's uneasiness. He looked down at the boy, tears gathering in the bottom of his eyes as he hugged Goten just a little tighter to him before looking back at Teagan's still bloody form.
More for Goten's sake than my own…Teagan must come back.
Since their journey had begun, Teagan and her guide had made their way through endless miles of forest. At first, the path had been well beaten and clear of most flora and fauna, and Teagan had enjoyed following the black wolf through a beautiful, well-lit forest. Her eyes had watched as many little woodland creatures had bounded through the trees, watching them with bright eyes before going about their business.
Then the path had become less defined, harder to see. The forest grew thicker and darker and gloomier, and Teagan was forced to focus on where she stepped. Various serpents and small, snarling beasts frequently crossed her path, and the Saiyan had to be alert to avoid them. At one point, Teagan had lost sight of the black wolf, and had found herself in a bog. She was shocked to discover that she could not fly or fire ki blasts, so she was forced to use brute strength to drag herself clear.
Back on safe ground, she found that the wolf had returned, the beast's wise green eyes lighting the area within about five feet of his face.
Careful, young one. Stay with me. Now the real test has begun. The wolf lightly nudged Teagan's cheek with his nose before looking into her eyes. At Teagan's nod, he turned and continued on, pausing to make sure she was on her feet and following before moving ahead with grace and power evident in every step.
Teagan was surprised to find that she was tired, every step seeming to cost her more energy than it should as she wearily plodded after the black wolf. Sensing her distress, he paused and turned again, his green eyes piercing straight to her soul as they stared at one another.
Shall we pause, Lady Teagan? His voice was deep and soothing, and Teagan closed her eyes, wanting nothing more than to just sit down and sleep for awhile. In her mind, the Oozaru watched her with an uneasy gaze, and she could sense what the beast was thinking.
"If I stop…I won't ever make it back. I must…keep going." She said, panting slightly before taking a deep breath and holding it in for a moment. As she let it out, she opened her eyes, a new determination filling her gaze.
"We continue. There is no other way. Please, carry on." Teagan said, looking straight at the wolf. The look in her eyes brooked no argument.
Very well, Lady Teagan. Stay close, for the path will get harder and harder to find. The beast turned, unerringly putting his paws back on a path that Teagan could barely feel beneath her feet, much less see in the blackness that had descended upon them.
Stepping out just a little bit, Teagan came abreast of the wolf, reaching out and placing a hand on his shoulder, just to reassure herself that he was still there.
Please…let me find my way home.
Goten had been staring at Dende and Teagan for hours. He wanted to close his eyes and sleep, for he was very tired after the long, brutal fight with Nightshade, but he was too afraid to.
I can't look away…if I do, she'll be gone… He thought, hugging one of Goku's arms just a little tighter as he focused his tired eyes on his sensei's still form.
She'll wake up…Dende will heal her and she'll wake up and everything will be just like the way it was before… Slowly his dark eyes closed, his head falling back against his father's chest as his body began to shut down.
She'll wake up…she'll wake…up…
The boy fell into a slumber, Goku looking at him for a moment before standing up and carefully lofting himself into the air to take his son home.
The last thing Goku wanted to do was leave Teagan's side, but he needed to take Goten home. The young demi-Saiyan was exhausted, having passed out in his father's arms while they were waiting for Dende to finish healing Teagan.
Poor Goten…he fought so hard today. Of course, Chi-Chi's going to lose it when she finds out that he actually took on Nightshade by himself. What a little battler. He thought proudly as he flew swiftly, something deep in his soul calling to him, telling him that he needed to get back to Teagan, telling him that she needed him.
But Goten needs me more… He thought, determinedly making his way home while still feeling for Teagan's ki, hoping against hope that she would be okay.
Despite how dark the forest had become, Teagan's internal clock was very good, so she knew that the morning and most of the afternoon were gone already, and that they were heading into the evening. She had spent most of the time with her hand on the wolf's back, the rare exception being when she was breaking tree branches that inevitably hit her in the face. So when the wolf stopped short suddenly, Teagan didn't know it, and she stumbled straight into him.
Coming to a swift halt with a quietly muttered curse on her breath, Teagan turned to reprimand him…and lost all the air in her chest.
They were standing at the edge of the forest, and in front of them was a broad beach leading down to the edge of what Teagan assumed to be an ocean. The moon had risen, bathing the two of them in pure white light that made the wolf's green eyes glow so brightly that it was almost blinding.
Teagan looked at the wolf questioningly, and he stared back at her calmly.
Now it is time for you to carve your own path, Lady Teagan. Your senses will guide you the rest of the way home. He said quietly before he turned to look back at the sea.
"But…I thought you said that I couldn't find the way on my own." Teagan couldn't help but argue, remembering the wolf's warning before they had begun.
She was surprised to hear him chuckle as he sat, his eyes still on the sea as he spoke again.
I have led you through the most dangerous part of your journey. Now is the time for you to find your own way. Reach for the one you told me about earlier, the one to whom you feel you must return. He is there, waiting for you. Reach for him, feel for his strength…your bond with him is all you need. Trust yourself, Lady Teagan. It is time for you to carve your path. You will find your way…
Teagan felt herself jolt with shock when the black wolf faded before her eyes, his voice still ringing on the quiet air until there was nothing left of him that she could see. But his voice remained.
You will find your way…
A/N: Looks like the weekend was good for me, and for my plot bunnies. Two chapters in as many days. I am quite pleased.
As always, love if you will, hate if you must. I will take anything you care to dispense.
Until we meet again...