The World of the Dead
"Okay..." Chihiro mumbled as Haku disappeared in a flash of green light, "All I have to do is break a mystical mental barrier and I'm on my way!"
It was hard to be optimistic in that situation, but Chihiro still tried to keep enthusiastic. Then, she closed her eyes, and was shocked at what she found. Not the darkness Haku had told her about, but a whole land that radiated peace and warmth. Flowers glistened with morning dew, birds chirped happily in the air and in the trees that swayed slightly with the wind. In front of Chihiro, there was a bleached white pavilion with a small table set with tea for two (japanese style). On one side of the table, a beautiful woman in a long, shiny, light purple yukata stood, and gestured for her to come. She looked regal and calm with a princess-like demeanor. The woman was probably around Chihiro's age, maybe 20. She had her long black hair in a beaded purple headdress, and her face looked kind and understanding. Chihiro found herself trusting the woman, and started to walk to the pavilion.
The woman chuckled a little, and her calm demeanor lifted. "Chii-chan, you don't need to look so scared! Come on! I've got lots of cakes and sweet stuff here!" Chihiro was wholly taken aback, and her uneasiness disappeared to be replaced by slight irritation.
"Who are you calling Chii-chan?!"
"You, of course! We're around the same age, aren't we? Let's be friends!" Despite her age, this young lady was quite open and immature in some aspects, and extremely friendly. "Hurry up or the tea will get cold! We also have a time limit."
Chihiro wondered what the woman meant by 'time limit', but she sat down and helped herself to a cake. It tasted other-worldly (which was not strange since she was in fact in another world).
"I'm sorry to keep you from your friends, but I really wanted to meet you," the woman said. "Oh, right! I haven't introduced myself yet! I'm Sakura-hime of Yume Castle. Just call me Sakura."
"Um... Sakura-hime... am I... are we dead?"
"Don't call me 'hime'," Sakura said a bit whinily. "I thought you would call me Sakura-chan, Chii-chan. And no. 'We' aren't dead. 'I' am dead, and you are ALMOST dead." The cheerful princess became suddenly serious. "Our time is short. My sisters have sealed most of your memories and I have broken that spell. Your memories will start returning gradually once you return to the world of the living. You have also broken the personal mental barrier. Since it was your own, it broke effortessly and you didn't need to use the method the boy had given you. That method's only for ameteurs. The memories you have blocked on your own will come back whether you want them to or not. For, now you are in worlds entwined with magic and can't deny it any longer. Do you know the saying: 'No pain no gain'?"
"The pain your memories will bring as well as the things you will encounter on your journey will indeed make you stronger. I will send you to your friends now, and I hope that when we meet again, you will forgive me for my selfishness."
"What?" Chihiro screamed as darkness enveloped her. She hadn't followed much of the conversation; Sakura-chan spoke too fast and she didn't have much time to process her words. "What do you mean by painful memories? Forgive what? And-" Chihiro was cut off, and was put in a deep sleep, flitting in and out of dreams and nightmares: A dream of a bathhouse, and a nightmare of a car crash.
It was nearly midnight. Haku, Rin, and Komaji were still sitting around Chihiro. She hadn't changed, except for the fact that she was steadily growing colder and paler every second. The worst part was, there was nothing they could do.
"Sitting here won't help Chihiro," Rin mumbled, breaking the silence. "We have to tell Yubaba about Chihiro's arrival. Come on, Haku."
"I'm not giving up on her, even if you are, Rin," Haku snapped coldly.
Rin looked hurt and on the verge of tears. She got up, and walked to the door, slamming it shut.
Haku stood up with a guilty expression on his face. Komajii grunted and mumbled, "Follow her, Haku. She's as stressed as you are. The last time Chihiro-sama was here, they became as close as sisters. What you just said hurt her more than you think."
"I know... it's just- you're right. I'll follow her," replied Haku, striding towards the door.
End Chapter Four