Chapter Four
Running into Nothing

A piercing screech stung her eardrums as she became used to the brand new feelings. A gust soared through her hair, and she quivered in remembrance of the evil wind spirit. Her feet, somehow bare, scraped at the grass beneath her. Then, she opened her eyes.

She breathed in the bright green fields that felt so nostalgic. Boulders dotted the emerald hills, the blades of grass feeling shorter than she could remember. The air was fresh and sweet with memories. She turned quickly to peer at the river that she crossed once before to get into this world as a human. The place she left reeked of a lost love.

She looked around some more, only to find the ancient witch had left her side. She examined herself, taking note of her thin and plain white sundress. She grasped her chestnut hair, discovering it had been cut shortly above her shoulders. With a sigh, she began to trek up the hill.

Somehow, she wasn't expecting exactly what she saw. Part of her wished to see the same place she met ten years ago, and another part manipulated that world with the idea of a destroyed place created by the evil wind spirit. She saw neither. Instead, she only witnessed more rolling fields of green. As she stopped walking, the wind became stronger as if it were beckoning her forward. She squinted her eyes to try to see where she was being led, but all she noticed was an overly large slab of stone.

Time passed quickly as she stepped upon the soft grass, making her way to the mysterious rock. Somehow she knew it, yet she couldn't register exactly from where. Her bangs played playfully in the swoon of wind, her dress following along. She didn't think about anything else other than the boulder before her, quietly wondering where it was from and why she recognized it.

When she reached it, she circled it in search of something unusual. It seemed to pierce the sky, beaming into the sun, and she decided to climb it. Afraid of falling, she crawled the entire way, only losing her grip once. When she made it to the cliff-like top, she stood upon her bare feet and took a deep breath. She shielded her eyes and peered out into the distance, finding that her new height didn't give her any advantages. She spun around to descend the rock, yet too quickly, and her feet slipped out from underneath her. She landed on the stone and began sliding down in an unorganized fashion; she rolled onto her stomach and reached out towards the top of the stone, trying to grasp the rough terrain so to stop herself and not be hurt further.

Her fingers met the clinging of another's palm. She was immediately pulled onto her feet, and still being unstable, she fell into the chest of whoever her savior was. It was a warmth she had somehow felt before. She looked up, expecting to find her fiancée, but it was someone else entirely. His sea-green eyes were sharp as they locked onto her dark pair. Somehow, a soft feeling emanated from the look he gave her. She immediately shoved her face back into his chest.

What she felt was not happiness, but surprise. She realized this world far too much like the dream she had earlier. She was afraid, if she looked again, it would not be the same person; at the same time, she worried that it really was him. She wasn't prepared to face the one she hadn't seen for ten years.

"You haven't changed," a gently deep voice caressed her ears. Though the pitch had changed over those years, she immediately recognized it. A shiver struck her body, and she trembled lightly as he put his arms around her. She could feel his face move forward as his chin sat upon her shoulder. When his grasp of her tightened slightly, she relaxed her body and exhaled into his chest. He'd definitely gotten taller.

The air brushed against their embrace, becoming harsher with every passing moment. With a squeeze, he released her and glared off into the distance behind her, his fingers still clutching her arms. She glanced up at him, before turning and eliminating his hold on her. Her back facing him, she noticed what he was focusing on.

In an instant, he grabbed her wrist and leapt off the cliff of the rock, landing on his feet and catching her in his arms. He held her promptly, once again clutching her wrist and pulling him behind him as he ran. Neither of them said anything as his swiftness escalated. She noticed silvery scales appear on his face, quickly changing him into the water spirit she grew fond of. She threw herself upon him, and he pulled himself up and into the sky.

When she turned to inspect the thing chasing them, she saw him. The evil wind spirit conducted the black smoke surrounding him, his speed increasing dramatically. A thunderous noise bellowed from within the smoke, striking the ears of the woman and her water spirit. Her heart skipped in her chest as his fiery eyes met her fear-filled pair. A smile swept upon his lips and the smoke picked up speed. She turned from him and grasped the dragon harder.

"They're catching up," she whispered quietly. His ears flattened and their pace quickened. She looked back once more, only to find that the wind spirit and his black armada had disappeared.

The spirit slowed until he turned back into his humanistic form, wrapping his arms again around her as they quietly descended to the ground. They landed gently, and he looked back the way they came. There was no sign of the wind spirit, so he grabbed her hand and began leading her a completely new direction in the endless streams of grass. She took the calm time to notice the boy who'd grown into a man.

He'd definitely gotten taller than her, and she'd never be able to easily look into his eyes straight-on. His hair was no longer sharply cut, but grown ever so slightly into sloppy wisps. It held the same river-like color as it shifted precariously in the wind. His shoulders were wider and his hands were larger. His clothes hadn't changed at all, only growing in sizes to suit his body. She squeezed his hand slightly and swallowed hard.

"Weren't you destroyed?" She asked suddenly. He didn't react in any way and kept moving.

"They couldn't keep me from seeing you again," he finally answered. "The Earth formed a new river for me. The river you nearly drowned in…" his pace slowed until she was standing beside him. His face was contorted in some sort of sadness.

"You saved me, then," she grinned, "when I dropped the ring."

He looked over at her. She was glowing with a kind of happiness he wasn't expecting. His mouth gaped momentarily, before he swallowed and looked away. He tightened his fingers around her hand. "Yeah, but I couldn't save you when Kaisho pushed you in," he sighed deeply and closed his eyes. "I was tending to Fuuka, who'd gotten in trouble with a few of Kaisho's soldiers, and…" his voice trembled slightly, so it trailed off.

She held his hands with both of hers, glaring up at him intensely. "You've saved me so many times, I forgive you, Kohaku."

His body jerked at the mention of his name, quickly opening his sea green eyes to look into her honest pair. "You've grown, but you haven't changed," he repeated from much earlier. Her expression softened, and he resumed walking along.

She obediently followed him, feeling a sense of calm and recognition in this strange world.

"I missed you."