"Hey sis," Akira asked, mixing the batter. The two siblings were alone in the house, their aunt busy with work. Chihiro thought of making chocolate chip cookies, hoping to surprise Aunt Yuzuki. "When do you think mom and dad will come back?" Chihiro stopped cutting the chocolate. Setting the knife down, she walked towards the sink, washing her hands. After a moment of thought, she tried not to make him disappointed. "I don't know," she finally admitted. Trying to keep his hopes up, she quickly assured, "Don't worry, they'll come soon. I'm sure of it." Akira smiled, nodding. "I bet Aunt Yuzuki will like these cookies," he boasted. His sister nodded in agreement. The phone suddenly rang during their baking. Picking the phone up, Chihiro asked, "Hello?"
Akira put the bowl down, wondering who she was talking to. All he could hear from the counter was gibberish from the speaker, and Chihiro repeatedly saying yes. Her expression suddenly changed into disappointment after the last few words. "Ok. No no, we're fine. We'll just make something. Alright. See you tomorrow. Bye." She quietly hung up the phone. "So," Akira was nervous to ask. "Who was it?" Chihiro sighed, returning to cutting the chocolate. "It was Aunt Yuzuki," she replied. "She has an extra shift, so she's staying overnight in the office." His face reacted just like hers, his excitement in enlightening their aunt disappearing. "That's… a shame…" he faltered. Noticing his sadness, she tried to smile for him. "Well, don't give up already! While she's gone, we can still work on that cake!"
He shrugged. "I guess," he said, mixing the batter. As Chihiro picked the bowl of cut chocolate and dumped it into the bowl, she suggested, "Do you want to know something?" Akira sniffed. "You talk in your sleep?" Chihiro blushed, immediately shaking her head. "N-No," she looked away from his sly eyes, hiding her embarrassment. "Not that… I meant something about my friend." Curious, he questioned, "That Haku guy?" Chihiro nodded. "It's been so many years ever since I left that place. Even if more years pass, I still won't forget about his promise to me." Akira listened, continuing to mix the chocolate into the sticky dough. "Like Aunt Yuzuki, he won't break our promise," she went on, gazing out at the sky. "He's a very trustworthy person." Her little brother nodded. Will I ever find someone like that? he wondered. Well, I already have sis… Clapping her hands together, Chihiro announced in a cheerful tone, "Well then, shall we move to shaping the cookies?" Akira smiled, declaring, "I call the dinosaur shape!"
Chihiro's eyes snapped open, lifting her head up. The scent of salt and flowers woke her, causing her to realize where she was. "Just a dream…" she muttered to herself. "Akira…" She imagined her brother, alone with the Dark Fear. Its sharp dark eyes glare at the frightened boy, who prayed for his sister to save him. Shaking the thought away, she became determined to find him in time.
Examining her wound, her sweater was starting to grow dark. Hoping it would not get any worse, she stumbled to stand up, leaning against the tree she was sleeping by. How long was I out? she pondered. How far did I even get? Looking around, she could only find trees and bushes. Above her, there were slight openings revealing the cloudy sky. Continuing her journey, she walked forward. Where's that lamp dude? she wondered, hoping she could catch the sight of Zeniba's light. Bored of walking in silence, she began to think of the past events. She and Lin arrived in the festival, attempting to avoid the inspector. When Chihiro caught sight of the inspector, she freaked out, running back into the crowd. When she fell, someone mysteriously saved her from being run over by the spirits. It was strange to her. The person whom she talked to seemed familiar. Who could it have been? His dragon mask suddenly reminded her of Haku. She suddenly remembered what she had said to Akira during their baking. Even if more years pass, I still won't forget about his promise to me. Her head lowered in wonder. Does he still remember that promise? Will I ever meet him, after all of this? Everything seemed to become comfortable to her until she heard rustles from the nearby bushes. Reaching to her back, she gripped her katana, cautiously looking around. "Who's there?" she dared to ask. Nothing replied, except for chirping birds and hooting owls. She decided to lower her guard, continuing her journey.
Once she heard a growl, she swiftly turned around, raising her unsheathed sword. To block the attacker, she raised it sideways to her face, feeling the weight of it hit against it. Pushing back, the spirit was hurled back. Hearing a croak, she immediately dodged a dart that barely scratched her check. A frog? she guessed, running away. "I command you to stop! In the name of Madam Yubaba!" it croaked. Yubaba? She shouted back, "Why would Yubaba send someone who would attack me?" Instead of stopping, she continued to run from the approaching spirit.
Taking a quick glance, it was a large frog, triple the size of Aogaeru. "Who are you?" she demanded. "What do you want?" The frog kept on chasing her, shooting darts to slow her down. "You have no right to be in this territory, spirit!" it snapped. I don't have time for this! Stopping, she turned to face the alarmed spirit. Raising her katana, she tried to focus her firepower into the blade. Feeling warmth creep up on her weapon, she swiftly cut down on the air. Flames burst from the attack, firing towards the surprised frog. It attempted to run away, its cloth slightly burned. With an unusual yelp, it hopped off. "Don't think I'll turn my back on you!" The frog's voice trailed away, along with its escape.
Panting, Chihiro became relieved of the spirit's disappearance. Checking her arm, she pulled her sleeve up. The two marks permanently grew dark, adding to the rest of the curse. Without wasting time, she ran off, hoping to find Zeniba's small cottage.
Meanwhile, Haku lay sleeping in his river, also reminiscing of the young spirit he had saved during the festival. Although her face was masked, he could still see her chocolate colored eyes. Floating in the water, he thought, Who was she? She seems so familiar, yet… He heard something splash into his river. Approaching the unknown object, he continued to wonder, Why was she hurt? A frog swam towards him, its eyes wide with fear. "Oh, it's just you," Haku sighed, easily floating back to where he was. Following him, the frog pleaded, "Please listen to me, Master Haku! I was patrolling the sea, just like you said! Last night, I found someone walking out of the territory, without permission!" Frowning, the dragon spirit pointed out, "And? My problem with him?" The frog stopped chattering. "Uh, it's a her." Noticing his glare, he bowed in apology. "Anyways, when she fought me, I recognized a curse on her arm. "What curse?" Haku asked with a careless tone.
The frog gulped. He squeaked, "The curse of the Dark Fear." Turning to him immediately, Haku demanded, "Where? Where was she going?" The frog blinked in surprise, answering, "Into the forest. Where Zeniba lives."