Chapter Five - The Wind Sings of a Journey
On the way back to Gato, they had stayed the night in Polpota again because the sun had set by then. The rumors of the ghost had stopped because the ghost had stopped appearing, and the hotel and beach were packed with tourists again. Shinichi was relieved to see that, but he was slightly disappointed as well because the seaside restaurant was too crowded for them to dine in at, and so they had settled for room service.
Halfway from Polpota to Gato, Heiji had excused himself, saying he needed to get their dirty clothes washed and get a fresh change of clothes. He also told Shinichi that he would check up on Shinku and ask if the mystery visitor had came by again, and that he should just go on to Gato with Kaito since he would catch up soon.
“Are you sure?” Kaito asked. “I thought you’re one of those overprotective type of guys who won’t let their charge out of sight for even an hour.”
“Yes, well, that’s not wrong either, but I trust him to be able to look after himself for a couple of hours until I catch up,” Heiji said with a shrug, then turned to look at Shinichi. “I can trust you with that much, right?”
“If you’re trying to be a jerk, congratulations, you’ve succeeded,” Shinichi said mockingly as he chuckled. “I’ll be okay. I’ll see you in a couple of hours then.”
Heiji waved at them goodbye and walked off towards a thick forest while Kaito and Shinichi continued on to Gato. When they arrived there, Kaito brought Shinichi along into the dungeon, saying he didn’t want to be accused of being an irresponsible person for leaving a kid alone.
“I’m not a kid,” Shinichi protested and wondered why Heiji and Kaito both liked to grate on his nerves sometimes. “You’re probably younger than me anyway.”
“Really now,” Kaito said disbelievingly as he walked in front, navigating their way through the dungeon, and Shinichi knew that he had done that so many times. It wasn’t a surprise, though, because he noticed that Kaito had a lot of jewelries with the Cancun bird’s tail feathers on it on display in his store.
“Good if I look young,” Shinichi said as he huffed, following Kaito through the seemingly endless maze of stone walls. There had been a couple of monsters here and there, but Kaito made quick work of it. He had a long sword that he carried with him whenever he was out to a dungeon. He didn’t bring it with him to Gato or Polpota back then because he was only staying in a town center area, and thus had no need for it.
“Of course,” Kaito said. “Oh look, there’s the exit,” he added quickly before Shinichi could say anything, and when they were out, it was right at the base of the waterfall. The sound of rushing water was almost deafening, but the view made up for that. The area was filled with lush greenery because they were so close to a water source.
“The nest is right up that side,” Kaito said. He walked over to the log bridge and quickly crossed it. “Can you walk across this?”
“Of course,” Shinichi said as he walked over and stepped onto the log, but it turned slightly. “Uh, if the bridge doesn’t move around so much.”
Kaito chuckled and extended his hand for Shinichi to take. “Come on, I won’t let you fall,” he said, and Shinichi shot him a skeptical look. “Or at least if you do fall, you won’t fall alone. How’s that?”
“Not any better,” Shinichi said, but he was smiling. He grasped Kaito’s hand tightly and crossed the bridge quickly, nearly throwing himself onto Kaito as he jumped off the log bridge. “Whew. I hope I don’t have to do that anymore.”
“Sure,” Kaito said. “We won’t then.”
“Then how are we going back?” Shinichi asked. “I was just saying. You don’t suggest we walk across in the river, right? The current seems a bit dangerous to me.”
“Oh, I have my own way, don’t worry,” Kaito said as he grinned at the other man, and pointedly ignored Shinichi’s comment of ‘Now that got me worried’. “Come on, the bird’s already up there nesting.”
The path up to the bird’s nest was a sloping cave up, although it spiraled quite a bit so the slope wasn’t that steep. The exit of the cave was directly below the Cancun bird’s nest, and if Kaito wasn’t in front of him, Shinichi was sure he would’ve run into the bird’s tail. It was long and big, but the feathers were surprisingly small. It was as if it had a long tail bone, and the feathers grew from the bone outwards in a mix of colors.
“Hello there, Cancun bird,” Kaito said as he walked up to the bird’s tail, inspecting it. The bird cracked an eye open to see who it was, and shut it back down when it saw Kaito. “I’ll just take a couple of your feathers... come here, Kudou-chan.”
Shinichi hesitantly took a step forward and Kaito lifted the feathers so it was eye level with Shinichi, then started humming as he browsed through the choices of color. In the end he picked out a sky blue-colored feather and a cornflower blue-colored feather. He put it in a small pouch and put it back in his cloak.
“I’ll give it to you next time I see you,” Kaito said as he patted the bird’s tail. “Hey Can, mind doing me a favor?” he asked as he looked up at the bird who cracked an eye open to look at him again, then cawed.
“What do you want him to do?” Shinichi asked warily. “Don’t do anything drastic, okay? I’m not a huge fan of heights.”
“Oh, really?” Kaito asked, grinning at him. “Then you must trust me a lot to come up to such place with me,” he added, and it was then that Shinichi actually peeked at what was beyond the ledge. He backed away quickly so that his back was against the walls when he noticed just how high up they were. The gentle slope of the upwards cave had made him think it wasn’t that high.
“We’re going back down, aren’t we?” Shinichi asked hesitantly, inching away from Kaito.
“Of course. Just not the conventional way,” Kaito confirmed.
“Wait, what—you jerk! I thought you said you won’t let me fall!” Shinichi shouted when he was pushed off the ledge. He glared at Kaito who was laughing before he jumped as well, and used his fingers to whistle loudly. The Cancun bird’s eyes snapped open and he flew down, catching the two on its back before flying slowly and gently over to the entrance of Gato.
“I didn’t let you fall, did I?” Kaito asked, still smiling and Shinichi felt the strong urge to push him off the bird. “So how’s your luck with Crimson? Any clue yet?”
“No, unfortunately,” Shinichi said as he shook his head. “How about yourself?”
“No luck yet,” Kaito said with a sigh. “I’m actually a bit stuck. I don’t know where to look next.”
“Do you want to see the Wisdoms?” Shinichi asked. “Perhaps they can help you with your problem as well. I can take you to see Tote, Rosiotti, or Gaeus. Olbohn doesn’t like it when I take living people down there unless they’re with me, and I can’t find Selva or Pokiehl in a fixed place.”
“The Wisdoms, huh?” Kaito mumbled.
Tote the Tortoise looked after Lake Kilma, somewhere near Lumina. Rosiotti the Beast looked after the Jungle, which was near Geo. Gaeus the Earth was in Luon Highway, a place very close to Domina. Selva of the Four Winds was said to frequent Gato, although it was unknown when he would actually be there. Olbohn the Warrior looked after the Underworld, which was located near Polpota, and Pokiehl the Bird was a nomadic Wisdom. He was the one who usually find people, not the other way around.
“Well, I suppose there’s no harm done in seeing them. I’ll go with you to see Rosiotti since he is near Geo,” Kaito said. “But is it really alright?”
“Of course,” Shinichi said. “I will make sure that he will answer your questions. Don’t worry.”
“You know, Kudou-chan,” Kaito started as he stared off at the scenery, “what is it about you that makes people want to protect you? You’re not helpless, you’re not in distress and most definitely not a damsel. Yet even a damsel finds it in herself to protect you. Why is that?”
“I don’t know,” Shinichi mumbled as he looked down at his hands which were gripping onto the bird’s feathers. “I want to know myself. It’s frustrating sometimes.”
“All my life, I’ve dedicated myself to this one girl,” Kaito spoke up again. “I thought of becoming stronger to protect her. I spent countless hours practicing just so I could. But when I saw you falling that time, I felt a stronger surge of protectiveness than what I felt towards her.”
“Falling... you were the one who told the Cancun bird to save me that time?” Shinichi asked in surprise. “Um... thank you, I suppose. For saving me.”
“Five years of watching her made me want to protect her,” Kaito said seriously, staring straight into Shinichi’s eyes. “But only a few days with you made me want to protect you.”
“Have I been practicing in vain, Kudou-chan?” Kaito asked, leaning closer slightly. “Why exactly am I fighting? Why was I practicing? Why is my resolve shaken this easily?”
“Do you remember what I said about reasons to fight?” Kaito asked again and Shinichi nodded slowly. “Will you let me, then? If you have let them protect you, will you let me as well? Will you let all these years I’ve spent not go to waste?”
“If that makes you satisfied, then I will,” Shinichi said softly, grasping Kaito’s hand tightly. “So please don’t judge yourself anymore.”
“Shinichi...” Kaito murmured softly. “Can I call you that?”
“Then will you call me by my first name too?”
“I... don’t do that,” Shinichi said uncertainly. “I don’t call anyone by their first name unless they’re family or it’s a very serious situation.”
Kaito chuckled, leaning forward again so he was pressing his forehead against Shinichi’s. “Then I’ll wait for the time to come,” he said. “Hey.”
“Can I kiss you?” Kaito asked with a straight face, and before Shinichi could even react, he had closed the remaining gap between them and pressed his lips onto Shinichi’s. The kiss was soft and gentle—unhurried and was characteristics of an experimental first kiss, which was a surprise to both of them.
“Hn. At least you seem to be enjoying yourself.”
Shinichi yelped as he pulled back quickly and nearly fell off the Cancun bird if not for Kaito who quickly caught his hand and steadied him. He then turned and glared at Heiji who was standing on a ledge near the entrance of Gato, crossing his arms in front of his chest and lifting a questioning eyebrow.
“I could leave and come back in a couple of minutes to let you continue, you know,” Heiji added with a teasing grin. “Won’t want myself to get kicked by a horse, hm?”
Shinichi shot Heiji a dirty look and quickly got down from the Cancun bird. Kaito followed suit and the bird flew back up to his nest, where it would rest again. “So how is she?” Shinichi asked, trying not to sound too desperate for a change of topic.
“She’s doing well,” Heiji said as he smiled. “A bit miffed at the fact that you didn’t come, but otherwise fine. Said that you have to return there before next week.”
“Of course,” Shinichi agreed. “Well then, Kuroba-san, we’ll continue up to the terrace area now. Are you going back to Geo?” he asked as he turned to Kaito who was watching them intently.
“Yes, I suppose I’ll do that,” Kaito said. “When you’re going to visit Rosiotti, come by to my jewel store, yes? I’ll see you then. Good luck in your search, Shin-chan.”
“I didn’t give you permission to call me that,” Shinichi protested but was ignored by Kaito who simply waved at them and walked out of Gato.
Once he was out of sight, Heiji turned to look at Shinichi again and grinned widely. “So, what happened while you were on that bird?”
Shinichi shot him another glare. “If you don’t want to be pushed off the ledge, you will drop that subject,” he said huffily as he walked up the path to the town center. “Come on.”
“Alright, alright, sheesh,” Heiji said as he sighed. “Can’t take a joke.”
They were walking up towards the temple, but stopped at the fork when they saw a young woman with shoulder-length strawberry blond hair standing in front of the pathway leading up to the temple, blocking the way. She was wearing a thick, leather vest, knee-length shorts, combat boots, thick, fingerless gloves, and a sword was slipped on her belt.
She uncrossed her arms when she saw them and then walked over. “Kudou and Hattori?” she asked, and continued when the two looked at her in surprise. “Selva of the Four Winds came by yesterday and told me to look for you two. He said he’ll be coming again in a week or so, and that you two should look for the other Wisdoms before then.”
“Who are you?” Shinichi asked curiously.
“I was a warrior monk serving the priestess of the temple,” the woman said simply. “The priestess had just passed away in peace so I am released of my duty. Selva asked me to come along with you and help,” she explained. “My name is Miyano Shiho, by the way. Good to meet you.”
“Pleased to meet you, Miyano-san,” Shinichi greeted as he bowed at her. “Well, if that is what Selva wants us to do, then I suppose there’s no harm done in doing so. Why don’t we go see Olbohn first? I’ve always wanted to see Hakuba-san or Suzuki-san.”
“Sure,” Heiji agreed. “Let’s go to the Underworld then.”
The Underworld had been a mystery to most residents of Fa’Diel. No one, aside those who had died, the dragoons of the four dragons inhabiting Fa’Diel, and the Wisdoms, knew exactly where it was. When the two first came to the Underworld, they were surprised, and they were only there because Selva had showed them the way.
Shiho looked around as they walked into a cemetery, and thought that it was fitting. They stopped in front of a huge tombstone with a statue of an eagle-like creature perched on top of it, its wings spread as if ready to take flight. There was a plaque with inscriptions in front, but it was written in ancient letterings.
“This is the entrance?” Shiho asked as she studied the writings. “I see. It’s somehow not a surprise when you see it. This plaque says that the place closest to the first level of the Underworld is none other than a graveyard.”
“Alright, let’s go see Olbohn now,” Shinichi said as he walked over to the tombstone and pressed his right hand onto it. “Shadoles, keeper of the Gate, please tell Olbohn of our arrival and let us through.”
A blast of fiery light came out of the tombstone, and the next second the three found themselves on the uppermost level of the Underworld, with a blue-striped Shadole floating in front of them. Shadoles are djinn-like creature with colored horizontal stripes on their bodies, and they float and teleport around. They were the ones responsible for looking after the spirits in the Underworld and granting passages to those who died.
“Olbohn wishes to speak to you, Chosen One,” the Shadole said. “He’s in his office.”
Shiho watched as the Shadole disappeared and then turned to look at Heiji. “What does he mean by Chosen One?” she asked. “He’s not talking about the one chosen by the Mana Goddess to revive the Mana Tree, is he? Because that sounds like there’s a very long journey ahead.”
“What are you going to do if you don’t come with us?” Heiji asked back. “You’ve just been released from duty, right? What are you going to do in Gato, anyway? Sort through the books in the library?”
“I’m a warrior, not a librarian,” Shiho said as she scoffed. “Fine, so answer my first question. What does he mean by Chosen One?”
“We don’t know ourselves,” Shinichi said with a shrug. “Selva of the Four Winds came to us one day while we were traveling and referred us to the other five Wisdoms. He said that all six of them have chosen me, but for what, they never said anything. I accepted the position gratefully and didn’t ask anything, because I figured they would explain when they want to explain.”
“Of course, that’s how all Wisdoms work, no?” Shiho asked as she rolled her eyes. “Alright then, the one chosen by the Wisdoms, please kindly show the way to Olbohn’s office.”
“Are you always this sarcastic?” Shinichi asked as he lifted an eyebrow.
“No, not really,” Shiho said with a shrug.
The two dropped the topic and walked in front, towards Olbohn’s office which was located on the second floor. The rooms for spirits started in the second floor down to the lowest, and Olbohn’s office was between the first floor and the rooms for the spirits. In between the third floor and the fourth, was a chamber kept by a Shadole in which the Baptism of Fire was done. It would allow them to travel to the lower floors of the Underworld, but they were bound by a contract to serve the Underworld, so Olbohn never let them do the baptism.
“Olbohn,” Shinichi called as he walked into Olbohn’s office, and the onion-headed, three-eyed warrior looked up from his desk. “I’ve come to visit. How have you been lately?”
“Hello Kudou, Hattori,” Olbohn greeted as he smiled slightly. “Who is this woman?”
“She’s a warrior monk serving the Temple of Healing in Gato, but has just been released of her duty,” Shinichi explained. “Selva apparently came to her and asked her to aid us in our travel. We’ve decided to enlist the help of the Wisdoms, and our first stop is here.”
“Is it about the two Jumis that recently died?” Olbohn asked with a knowing smile. “Up to now, the number of dead Jumis that are registered with us have reached nine hundred ninety eight. Two more and you get a thousand,” he said with a sigh. “Whoever this Kid is, he’s gone a long way, hasn’t he?”
“Really,” Shinichi said. “But he announced that that was his last theft, so I don’t know if he had been planning to get a thousand cores from the start. Why stop now when you only need two more?”
“There aren’t a lot of Jumis left, you see,” Olbohn said as he looked through his files. “He possibly starts hesitating because of some things. Who knows?”
“Can we go see the two Jumis?” Shinichi asked.
“Sure,” Olbohn said. “The Bloodstone Knight is in the room next to my office and the Emerald Guardian is in the room at the end of the second floor. You know you aren’t allowed to go beyond third floor, and there’s no one that you might want to see anyway.”
“What about Chris? The Diamond Knight?” Shinichi asked cautiously as he frowned. “Is she here?”
“She caused quite a ruckus when she first came here, so I had the Shadoles lock her away in a special room at the lowest floor,” Olbohn said. “She has been baptized twice. Even if you shed a tear for her core, I don’t think she can come back to life. It’s too risky, anyway, because we don’t want a repeat of this incident, do we?”
“No, of course not,” Shinichi said quickly. “Well, we’re going then. We’ll drop by here again when we’re about to leave.”
The inside of the Underworld was, surprisingly, much like the inside of Gato’s dungeon, Shiho noted. Shadoles sometimes appeared out of nowhere to try and scare them, but the two were already used to it and Shiho never gave a care so they disappeared again dejectedly. They had been given a written order that they were not to touch the Chosen One and his companions, so they couldn’t resort to more practical jokes.
Everyone knew the Shadoles were pranksters, even those who have never thought about the Underworld. They sometimes come to the world of the living to play practical jokes on people, especially those who had thought of dying.
Shinichi knocked on the door of the room next to Olbohn’s office, and Hakuba opened the door. He looked surprised to see them there, but quickly let them inside.
“Hello, Kudou-san, Hattori, and Miyano,” Hakuba greeted as he smiled at them and let them sit around the only table in the room. He looked happy and relieved to see them, and his smile lingered on Shiho the longest. “How nice of you to come visit me here. Did you come to see Olbohn too?”
“Yes, we did,” Shinichi answered. “We actually are going to see all six Wisdoms if we can. Olbohn is the first choice because we want to check on you and Suzuki-san too.”
“Oh, Suzuki,” Hakuba said as he nodded. “She seems to be happy here, because she got to be with her friends again. I’m enjoying my time here as well. It’s peaceful.”
“That’s good then,” Shinichi said. “We’re still after the Phantom Thief Kid, but he has announced his retirement, although we don’t know yet why. We’ll see if we can come back here again sometimes to pay you a visit.”
“That’s alright,” Hakuba said as he waved his hand dismissively. “Just do what you have to do, Kudou-san. This is something that has been foretold from the moment the first generation of Jumis existed. I believe Selva has the scrolls of prophecy, and you should ask him for more details.”
“I will,” Shinichi agreed. “It’s good to see that you are doing well here, at least. We will take our leave now then.”
“Aren’t we going to visit Suzuki?” Heiji asked curiously.
“She might be in the other three’s room,” Shinichi said with a shrug. “I don’t want to disturb their quality time. Plus, since the three have died for longer, then they would no doubt be placed in rooms in the lower level. We can’t get there anyway.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Heiji said. “So who are we going to visit first?”
Hakuba stood up and walked towards a bookshelf that was located at the foot of his single bed. He took a scroll that was placed on top of the books neatly lined up there and brought it back to the table and unrolled it in front of them. It was a colored map of Fa’Diel, complete with the names of each location and region.
“We are here, right beside Polpota,” Hakuba said as he pointed at the graveyard on the map. “Do you have any preference as to how you’re going to do this? Like, who to see last, or if you’re going in a circular way or something?”
“We’re coming back to Gato to see Selva next week,” Shinichi answered. “So I suppose it’s going to be a circular path?”
“Very much so,” Hakuba agreed. “Alright, so it’s best to go to Domina first, visit Gaeus nearby, then continue onto Geo. See Rosiotti there, and afterwards turn back to Lumina and see Tote nearby. Then you can come back to Gato and see Selva,” Hakuba explained as he moved his finger to point out the path the three should take.
“That’s only four of them,” Shiho said as she frowned. “Shouldn’t there be another one?”
“Pokiehl the Bird can’t be found in one specific place,” Shinichi said with a sigh. “If you’re lucky, you can come across him. But more often than not, he’s the one to find you, not the other way around. We can just hope he’ll come find us somewhere along our travel to see the other four.”
“I see,” Shiho commented. “Well then, I’m ready when you are.”
“Alright, we’re heading to Domina then,” Heiji said. “You want to drop by to our place first before we go?”
“Yeah, let’s go see Shinku,” Shinichi agreed, and they headed towards the secluded small house given to them from Gaeus. Shiho looked around and looked confused when she noticed that there was no one in the house. When they reached the attic, then opened the locked box and got transported into another room, Shiho lifted an eyebrow and simply concluded that maybe all Jumis are just that eccentric.
“Shin-nii? Are you there?” Shinku asked as she frowned and pouted, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Oh, I see you’ve got a guest. Who is that?”
“This is Miyano Shiho. She used to be a warrior monk at the Temple of Healing,” Shinichi said as he helped Shinku stand up and walk towards Shiho.
“Oh, hello there Miyano-san,” Shinku said cheerily as she extended her hand for a shake. “Hm, am I facing the right direction?”
“Yes you are,” Shiho said as she shook her hand. “I believe you are Kudou Shinku-san?”
“Yes, yes, that’s my name,” Shinku said as she nodded. “I’m Shin-nii’s twin little sister. Are you three going to travel together now? They don’t usually bring guests here.”
“Selva asked me to,” Shiho answered as she nodded. “He came to Gato yesterday. I don’t know why, but he spoke as if they wouldn’t survive if I don’t come along.”
“That’s not exaggerating, is it?” Heiji asked as he lifted an eyebrow at Shiho who ignored him. “Fine, be that way. Everyone’s ignoring me.”
“Don’t sulk, Heiji. I’ll listen to you,” Shinku said as she grinned. “So, what are you going to do now? You’re really going to go around and see all the Wisdoms?”
“Yes,” Shinichi confirmed. “We’re in a dead end, currently. No one seems to know anything else about Crimson, sans Hakuba-san who said he read about it once, and said that one has to go through the worst before Crimson can be found.”
“Could it be referring to death?” Shinku asked as she frowned. “But if that is so, I don’t want you to find it. What good will it be for me if I live and yet you die?”
“Not every worst involves own death, Shinku-san,” Shiho said. “This definition of worst... what is Crimson exactly?”
“It’s a mystical red gem that is said to be able to heal all illness,” Shinichi answered. “Have you heard of it?” he asked, then sighed in defeat when Shiho shook her head. “Well, I’m not surprised. It’s as if the gem doesn’t exist.”
“Maybe it’s a Jumi thing?” Shiho suggested. “Isn’t Hakuba the Jumi we just met? Then it’s possible that it is a Jumi thing, and so only Jumis have heard of it, right?”
“You’re right,” Shinichi agreed. “Still, we’ll ask the Wisdoms first. Depending on their responses, we’ll decide what to do next. We’re still waiting for information from Nakamori-san as well.”
“The inspector?” Shinku asked. “What information? Is the theft still happening?”
Shinichi and Heiji looked at each other, and to give Shiho some back story as well, they retold the stories of their travel from the first time they got to Gato, then to Polpota, to Geo, and back here.
“I see. So he announced his early retirement, huh?” Shinku asked as she tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Alright, good luck in your travel to see the Wisdoms then. I’ll be here waiting, so don’t take too long.”
“We try,” Heiji said as he patted Shinku’s head. “Be a good girl and stay here.”
“Where else can I go?” Shinku asked as she chuckled. “See you then.”