Chapter 9 - Voices
Rai walked through the forest. Put as much distance between him and the temple as he could.
"You know if you wind sprinted, you'd be long gone by now," A voice called, "but then again, you don't want that, do you?"
Rai looked and saw a copy of himself, leaning against a tree. He wasn't looking directly at Rai so only part of his face was seen.
"What's the matter," The copy asked, "running and hiding not good enough for you any more?"
"Shut it," Rai said.
"Then again, it stopped being good enough along time ago," The copy mused, "that's what got us into the whole mess with Wuya, isn't it?"
"Keep talking and you'll really see what a mess is," Rai warned.
"Now that's what I like to see, The badass demon is back in town," The copy answered, "I was starting worry to that you were getting soft after telling pretty eye's your sob story."
"Look you're asking for it," Rai replied, "give me one reason why I shouldn't pop you in the nose."
"I am a figment of your imagination," The copy replied knowingly, "a hallucination used to personify your internal dialogue. This could be created by your subconscious as a coping strategy to deal with your loneliness and strife or be signs of either natural or trauma induced Schizophrenia."
Rai gaped at the copy.
"Hey we both knew that reading that psychology book would come back to bite you," The copy answered.
"What really bites is having a hallucination trying to impress his creator with fancy words.
Rai walked past his copy and as he did so, almost walked into a small boy.
"Oh great," Rai said, clearly irked, "you too?"
"Why did we have to leave?" The boy asked, "Kimiko was nice."
Rai rolled his eyes at the boy.
"Well we both know that nice doesn't last. She had been nice as well and look where that got us."
The copy let out a laugh.
"So that's what this is about? You still haven't gotten over what she did you."
Rai glared at his copy.
"Don't you dare think that you know what this is about."
"How would I know?" the copy replied, "I'm created by your mind so the chances of me knowing are pretty slim especially since you don't seem to have an answer."
"You want an answer?" Rai replied, "What part of 'This is how it's meant to be' don't you get?"
"'How it's meant to be' stinks," the boy replied.
"I'm with short stuff," the copy replied, "and you know the situation can't be good if I start agreeing with him."
"Would you two stop whining," Rai told them, "in case you haven't noticed my entire existence hasn't been fun and you don't see me complaining."
"No," the copy agreed, "that's what you have us here for."
"Things have changed," The boy said, "This time is different, the people are different."
"Nothing's changed," Rai informed the boy, "the people haven't changed, we've just found one, maybe two, exceptions to an iron clad rule."
"But isn't that enough?" the boy asked.
"No it isn't," Rai answered.
All the images vanished when Rai heard some inhuman screeching. Disobeying his first instinct, he followed the noise. He was amazed when he found the noise; the origin was an old woman, screeching at a tree. Rai quickly put on a pair of sun glasses and walked out to investigate.
"I'm not sure what's happening to the poor cat, but maybe it would be best to let it die," Rai told her.
"Oh no, my cat isn't dying, he just took a fright that's all," The old lady replied calmly, "I've been trying to get him back down by singing a calming song."
Instead of making a comment about the said singing, Rai looked up the tree and noticed a small kitten at the top.
"He's new, you see," the lady explained, "I was walking with it in the woods when he suddenly took a fright and ran up this tree."
"You hadn't by any chance been singing when he 'took a fright', had you?"
"Why yes I had, how did you know?"
"Just a guess," Rai replied, trying not to smirk.
The old woman looked up at her kitty, clearly in a state of worry. Rai took one look her sad face before coming to a decision.
"Tell you what," Rai said, "how about I climb up there and get him down for you."
"Oh would you? I would be so grateful."
Rai shrugged. He then crouched down and leapt up into the tree. He nimbly climbed up until he stood on the branch below the one kitten was on. He stretched on until his head at the same level as the kitten. Up close, Rai had a chance to admire it's tiger like stripes. That was until the branch he was standing on gave way. This ultimately and painfully led to Rai dangling from the kitten's branch by his jaw. The kitten look at Rai intently before it started rubbing against Rai's head, purring quite noisily.
"This your way of laughing your head off at me isn't it?" Rai asked when he was able to use his arms to take pressure off of his jaw.
The kitten didn't answer but kept right on purring, it then climbed from the branch, onto Rai's shoulder. Taking the hint, Rai lowered him self down to stand on another branch. Rai slowly and gently desended down the tree, making sure not to startle the kitten. When Rai reached the ground, the kitten gave Rai another affectionate rub before jumping into it's owner's arms.
"Oh Hu, you naughty boy," the old woman gently scolded, "Running away from mommy like that, if it wasn't for this kind young man, I might never have gotten you down."
The old woman looked Rai in the eye.
"Thank you for your kindness," the old woman said, "young Hu here is like family to me, I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come by.
"Don't mention it," Rai answered, "in fact, if some people come by who are looking for me, really, don't mention it."
The old woman then pulled out a pair of familiar looking sunglasses.
"You dropped these while you were climbing the tree."
Rai instinctively touched beside his eyes and found that his glasses weren't there. The first thing that went through his mind was panic until he realised that she had already seen his eyes and hadn't reacted at all.
"I am merely showing a fraction of the kindness you showed me," she replied.
"Well goodbye then," Rai answered.
"Where are you going?" She asked.
"No idea," Rai replied truthfully, "but if I don't leave now I may make it before nightfall."
Rai then turned to leave.
"Just because running and hiding has been all you've ever known, that doesn't mean that's how it always has to be."
Rai whipped round and found that the woman and the kitten had vanished.
Where did she go?
He stared at the spot where the she had been. Had he imagined the whole thing?
Oh just great, if it wasn't bad enough before now I'm imagining old women that make me climb trees. Would it kill me to have few pleasant hallucinations?
Rather than wait for an answer, Rai left, never noticing the tiger prints in the dirt.
"We have checked everywhere," a monk informed Master Fung, "there is no sight of Kimko or the demon."
Master Fung nodded. He saw Dojo land nearby.
"Negative on Spicer," Dojo called, "he was still sleeping and mumbling something about pudding cups."
"I SEE HER!" Omi shouted.
Master Fung and Clay ran to Omi. They looked in the direction that he was pointing and saw Kimiko emerge from the woods. They went to greet her.
"Ya gave us one heck of a fright," Clay scolded, "What did we tell you about running off in the middle of the night."
"Uh Clay," Omi said tentatively, "I do not think we've ever told her anything about running off in the middle of the night."
Clay sent Omi a glare which seemed to say 'that's beside the point'.
"Where were you?" Master Fung asked.
Instead of answering Kimiko held up the Spear of Dashi. There was a mutual awe. Master Fung was the first to speak.
"And what of Rai?"
Kimiko simply answered, "he's gone."
With out saying anything else, Kimiko handed the Spear to Master Fung and walked off. The three men looked at the spear and then at Kimiko, all wondering what she had done to get a hold of it.
Rai walked through the forest, his steps never making a sound. Always having to fear being caught had taught him how to stride silently. It was second nature to him and also made his surroundings that bit louder. Loud enough to know that he wasn't alone in this forest. If those hallucinations hadn't been plaguing him, he might have noticed it sooner. He was being followed; he didn't know who and he didn't care. Hunters were all the same, all that changed was why they were hunting you.
Who ever these ones were, what ever they wanted, they obviously were waiting for something cue to strike. So all Rai had to do was wait for that so that they came out of hiding.
Rai smirked, sure he should be scared but the fact was that right now he welcomed the rush. Anything to get his mind off of the temple.
Kimiko splashed water into her face, almost hopping that the water would wake her up from this dream. She knew this wasn't the case. It happened, Rai was gone and now the temple had the Spear back. Now the best outcome would be that she never see him again.
She looked at her self in the mirror.
Alright, Kimiko, same old routine. Rai's made it clear that the truce is over so now you'll have to do what needs to be done.
It would be so much easier to believe those words if it didn't feel as if there was a lump of ice in her chest.
She looked away from the mirror when she saw Clay and Omi walking in.
"We didn't have a chance to congratulate you on retrieving the spear," Omi said.
Kimiko stared back at the mirror, feeling that the last thing she deserved was to be congratulated.
"So how did you get the Spear from Rai?" Omi asked.
"He gave it to me," Kimiko answered.
"Oh I see, you used deception to trick Rai…"
Kimiko whipped round.
"No I didn't trick him," she replied, "he gave it to me without me asking and told me to use it on him the next time we meet."
Clay and Omi's eyes widened.
"Why would he do that?" Clay asked.
"Because he found out that Master Fung would lose his place as chief monk if he wasn't out of the temple by tonight."
"What?" Omi asked, "That's not true. The temple would never…"
"I'm afraid it is true."
The Wudai warriors looked and saw Master Fung standing there.
"I had been given until tonight to remove Rai from the temple," Master Fung explained.
"And would I have been removed as Dragon of Fire?" Kimiko asked.
Master Fung tensed at that.
"Of course not, you have earned that title and I will not let anyone take away from you."
"Were there ones that wanted to?" Kimiko asked.
Master Fung reluctantly nodded. At that something seemed to snap in Kimiko's mind.
Rai had been telling the truth.
"I tell you three this because, as Wudai Warriors, you have a right to know the truth," Master Fung explained, "use this knowledge as you see fit."
Master Fung lean the Spear of Dashi against the door way and left.
Kimiko looked at the doorway for a moment before she came to a decision. She raced out the door. Clay the meanwhile found himself rubbing the back of his head.
"Well I'll be…" he muttered.
Rai came to a river. He crouched down and cupped some water in his hands. He brought it up to his mouth and drank. As he drank his gaze fell upon a raven. It was perching on a branch on the other side of the river. It seemed to stare intently at Rai. Rai couldn't help but feel uneasy; he never believed that ravens were omens of doom but life had taught that anything that stared at you for too long only meant trouble.
Rai heard the twang of a bow and jumped out of the way out of instinct. His eyes caught a blur that he knew to be an arrow fly past and in to river. He looked in the direction the arrow had come from and saw a short, bald archer. Before Rai had chance to retaliate, he flipped into the dodge the strike of an armoured warrior holding a mace. Rai landed on his back and used as a shield from more arrows. Rai then jumped back a bit and did a mid-air round house kick into the small of the warriors back, sending him flying in to the archer.
The Raven then flew in and changed into human form mid-flight, hoping to tackle Rai while his back was turned. Rai side step and watched the raven/man crash into his comrades.
"You know, as amusing as this is," Rai taunted, "The 21st century is really starting to disappoint me."
At that, more 'hunters' came out from hiding; a lot more. Rai considered his options; the honourable thing would be to charge in head on.
Which is why I'm so glad demons don't have honour.
At that Rai turned tail and wind sprinted out of there.
Omi practised swinging the Spear of Dashi round as if it was a staff. His mind was in a state of confusion. Why would Rai risk be trapped again to protect Master Fung? Rai is a demon, demons do not care about anyone or anything. They are all evil and have no place in this.
If a demon even wanted to walk a different path how on earth do you think he could do it with such a reputation?
Omi shook head, it didn't matter, Rai was a demon and threat, he had to be stopped.
You wouldn't care about demons, for you, just like Chase Young, they are just things to be defeated.
Omi stopped as a chilling revelation came over him.
What if Rai was right?
Kimiko pack some Shen Gong Wu into a bag. She was going to find Rai, and if need be, take him away from China to somewhere he could live in peace with out trouble from either the Xiaolin or Heylin side. Maybe Japan; Papa would be able to make sure that he was provided for and he wouldn't as easy for Wuya to find. She hurried out of the vault and right into Clay.
"Ya didn't think I would let ya run off like that, did ya?" Clay answered, "I know yer trying to do the right thing but right now that involves turning Rai back to stone."
Kimiko opened her mouth to argue but said nothing when Clay raised his hand, indicating that he wasn't finished.
"And after that," He continued, "We'll hit the library and find a way to remove that magic do-dad from his neck."
"Huh?" Kimiko asked.
"While Rai has that do-dad round his neck he's too much of a risk to have around in case Wuya finds him," Clay explained, "Turning him back into a statue is the safest thing we can do for him and us. If we find something that'll break the do-dad…well you get the drift."
Clay was taken aback when Kimiko ran in and gave him a hug.
"Thank you," Kimiko said, "I knew I could count on you."
Clay tried to hide his blush.
"Well don't thank me yet, we've still got to find 'im before Wuya does."
Kimiko suddenly pulled back when that realisation hit her.
"How are we supposed to find him? We've have no idea where'd he'd head."
A sly grin appeared on Clay's face.
"You got your PDA?" he asked.
"Always but how will that help us?"
"Well since I planted one of your trackers on Rai when we had our little chat in the kitchen, I figure you might be able to find him."
Kimiko was both shocked and impressed at hearing this. She quickly powered up her PDA and opened the GPS tracking program. She instant noticed one tracker was going very fast.
"Got him," Kimiko said confidently, hope burning brightly within her.
"Well then," Clay said, glad to finally have his fire-girl back, "let's go get Omi and nab us a demon."