Chapter | 24
Nothing had changed. The room looked exactly the way it had the last time. Little to none decorations, only the chair at the back of the room and the drapes around it. It almost reminded me of some old mafia movie, not that it was the right time to be remembering something like that.
I tried my best to take in as much of my surroundings as I could, something I hadn’t done during my previous visit.
Strange enough, there was a window, the only one in the entire building I guessed. Even stranger was the fact that I could see the night sky through it, or what I hoped was the night sky.
“I see you finally noticed it,” a voice said, pulling my thought away from the window.
I turned my head towards the voice, hate filling my veins. I looked at the woman who was responsible for Haku’s death, trying my best not to rip from Yoru’s strong grip and attack her. It probably wouldn’t accomplish anything, other than killing me and ending the plan, but it would have made me feel a lot better.
Yoru must have felt my body tense and started to rub my hands with his thumb.
“I have come to ask for forgiveness,” Yoru said when the woman didn’t say anything more. She seemed to regard us, but because of her hood I couldn’t tell.
“I brought Chihiro to prove my loyalty,” he continued, but still the woman said nothing. Behind me Yoru shifted his weight, a sure sign that he was also starting to get nervous.
“You make me proud Yoru, I knew you would right your wrong,” the woman finally said. Gracefully she slid down from the couch until she was standing in front of us.
“I am glad to have you back, but first you’ll have to complete one more task to prove your loyalty,” the woman said.
Without hesitation, Yoru nodded.
Slowly the woman lifted one of her arms and with the other she removed a knife that was strapped against her side. “Now, kill her,” she ordered, holding the knife out to Yoru.
During the preparation for the plan we had worked through a lot of scenarios, but none of them included the woman wanting me dead only minutes into the plan. I had to do something, and fast, or else our plan would fail and Yoru would be caught out.
With one finger I nudged Yoru, hoping he would understand what I was trying to do. To my relief he shifted both my hands to his one and took the knife.
“How would you like it done?” Yoru asked, his voice hitching a little.
The woman threw her one hand in the air, “Does not matter to me.”
Yoru lifted the knife to my throat and pressed its sharp edge against my skin.
“Wait!” I yelled after a few, what I hoped was dramatic, seconds.
“Can I at least ask you something before I die?” I asked, hoping she would agree. There was a lot of hoping going around in my improvised plan.
She seemed to think about it before nodding. Yoru took the knife away and stepped back.“First of all, would you please tell me your name?” I asked, rubbing the spot where the knife had been. “You may call me Shadōri,” the woman said. For a moment I had thought that it would have smarter to leave the question for, you know, when Shadōri and I were better acquainted.“Okay, now, why do you hate me so much?” I asked. I didn’t really know where I was going with my questions, but I knew it was detrimental that I got her worked up. The plan depended on her getting furious, murderous even. But she didn’t strike me as the kind that got angry easily.“I do not hate you. I simply believe you do not belong here,” she said, making it sound like common knowledge.“But why?” I pushed. “And don’t give me the cliché reasons like we make a mess of things and we have no respect. You have got to have a better reason if you’re willing to kill one of your own simply to get rid of me.”“Obviously my reason wasn’t good enough, because here you are again,” Shadōri said, crossing her arms. “Yes, it is true that humans are vile and messy, but that is not the reason I hate your kind. My reason is much more… personal than that. But, I see no gain in telling you.”“Tell me anyway,” I persisted, “It’s not like I’m going to live to tell anyone. At least tell me why I’m dying.”She didn’t say anything straight away after that, but a few beads of nervous sweat made their way down my neck, Shadōri let out a sigh.“You see, I haven’t been in charge for long. Only recently have my leadership qualities been noticed, earning me a spot at the very top. “Even when I wasn’t part of the Shadow Walkers, I strongly believed that humans don’t belong in this world, but I couldn’t do anything about it,” she said. I watched her closely as she spoke, not missing one movement she made.“I finally decided to join the Shadow Walkers, there I met a man with whom I saw eye to eye. We grew closer as we shared out ideals. Later we fell in love, madly and deeply in love. Then he was killed,” she said, the last words coming out softer than the rest. I sure hoped there was more to the relationship than how plain she made it sound. “A human prisoner had gotten his hands on a weapon and killed the guards, one of which was my lover. It was that day that I decided I would do anything to free the Spirit World of humans, and believe me, there are more of you here than you could ever dream.” “Why don’t you try and guess why I hate humans,” she finally said.“So, you’re scared of us?” I asked, intentionally provoking her. She tightened her hand, something she probably thought I hadn’t seen. “I am not scared of humans, they are lowly creatures and shouldn’t be treated any better than that,” Shadōri said.Almost, I just had to push harder. I had to find her weak spot. “It doesn’t sound that way to me,” I said. “It sounds like you’re terrified of what could happen if one of us stayed here too long,” I said, trying different striking points. Shadōri only laughed, “What could I possibly have to be scared of? A little girl with a big mouth?”Okay, so that idea wasn’t getting me anywhere. I tried again.“Fine, then you feel threatened” I tried again. “You think we’re a parasite trying to feed off your way of living.” Shadōri shook her head, “Try again, little Chihiro.”I was getting frustrated, nothing seemed to get to her. Instead of saying the first thing that popped into my head I tried to think a little deeper. Why would she start to tell me the reason, but stop half way through? I was obvious enough she was playing with me, but that couldn’t be all there was to it.I guess it would make sense that you’d hate someone if they killed the person you loved, I mean hell, I hate the woman with every fiber of my body, but that didn’t mean I hated all of the Shadow Walkers. No, there was something more to it, something she wasn’t letting on.Then it hit me, almost as hard as a bowling ball, but not quite. It wasn’t fear or anything like that, it was… “Guilt” I whispered. When her jaw tightened I knew I was right. “You feel guilty for not being able to rescue your lover from a human,” I said, straightening my back a little. “Nonsense-” Shadōri started to say, but I cut her off. “Don’t. I know the feeling. You think that ridding the Spirit World of humans will make up for the fact that you weren’t there when someone needed you most,” I continued, driving at her weakness. I could see she was raging mad, but I needed her murderous, I needed her to try and kill me. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, venom dripping from her words. “Yes. I do,” I said, raising my head, hoping that my deviance would be fuel to the fire. “I know how it feels to see your lover die right in front of you, to see the life bleed out of him one drop at a time,” I said, trying my best not to let my emotions get the better of me.“Shut up!” Shadōri yelled, jumping from her couch and wrapping one hand around my throat. At first I thought it was a victory, that any second she would started choking, but when it became clear that my wind pipe was the only one that was about to be crushed, I started to panic.I probably would have died if Yoru hadn’t broken his cover and knocked Shadōri out of the way. She fell to the ground, her head hitting the tiles pretty damn hard. Yoru held me until I got my breath back. “What happened?” I choked out “Why didn’t it back-fire?”Yoru seemed about as lost as I was. “It must not work if you deliberately put yourself in danger,” he said and somehow it made sense. Well, that sort of destroyed the entire plan.Yoru was about to say something when he was flung into the wall behind us. He dropped to the ground way too hard for any conscious person. I looked around for anything that could substitute for a weapon, but seeing as the room was practically empty, there was nothing.Shadōri stood up, pulling her hood down as she did. I wasn’t exactly sure what I had thought would be under the hood, but I was still surprised by what I saw. It was obvious that she had once been beautiful, but the scar running from her hair line to just below her eye had taken away a lot of her beauty. “No more wasting time on the likes of you,” Shadōri said, pushing a strand of long black hair behind her ear before stretching out one hand at her side. A small globe of light started to form as she started chanting, growing bigger and bigger. There was nowhere for me to hide and I definitely wouldn’t make it to the door before she attacked. Finally she yelled out what I assumed was the last words and raised her arm until her hand was pointed at me.A million things flashed through my mind as I realized I couldn’t escape, that it was probably the end of the line. Instead of cowering, I decided to go down with my head held high, and it’s a good thing too. If I hadn’t lifted my head I probably wouldn’t have seen the dark figure step up next to me.Without a word he wrapped one arm around my shoulders and pulled me into his chest. At first I thought Yoru had woken up, but the cold wind that suddenly blew through the room told me someone else had come in through the window.He lifted his hand and muttered a few words just as the globe of light erupted from Shadōri’s hand. It came straight for us, but instead of incinerating us, it seemed to flow into the man, almost as if he were absorbing it. There was a moment a blinding light before everything became clear again.I blinked, checking that I was indeed looking at reality. Shadōri was still standing with her hand raised, but her expression made it clear that she was just as confused as I was. The arm in front of me shifted to the side and along with it went Shadōri. She flew into her couch and sent the whole thing tumbling backwards.The new member of the room let go of my shoulder and pulled back his own hood, revealing an even more shocking face.I couldn’t help it, I let out a huff of air, my entire body telling me not to believe what I was saying. Come on, after everything I went through, it wasn’t that hard to conjure up things that couldn’t possibly be there. People who couldn’t possibly be there. Slowly I reached up and touched his face with my hand, feeling the heat of his skin on my palm. Tears formed and I let them flow freely down my cheeks. I wasn’t sure if I was sad or if I was crying tears of pure joy. I decided it was probably both, and a near death experience contributed a little.Faster that I had ever moved, I threw my arms around his neck, burrowing my head into the spot where his chin met his neck.“I’ve missed you” Haku whispered.