Chapter 14: The Storm Spirit’s Storm

Disclaimer: I don’t own Spirited Away. Just re-posting the story by moviefan-92

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“Ah! Ah! Ah!” No-Face proceeded to probe Chihiro, trying to wake her up from her slumber.

“Stop… too early…” Chihiro moaned sleepily.

“Ah! Ah!”

“No-Face, stop it. What?”

The paper ‘bird’ enchanted by Zeniba sprang to life. “Chihiro, get up! Look at the golden seal!”

Groaning, Chihiro rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked at the golden seal. It was still floating in the air, but now it was facing the doors of the train, rocking back and forth.

“We need to get off here.” said Zeniba.

Chihiro went over to the window and took a look around. “But there’s no train station.” She observed. Zeniba let the silence do the talking. Chihiro sighed and hung her head. “We’re going to have to jump, aren’t we?” Zeniba continued to let the silence answer for her. “Great.”

“No-Face, you take Chihiro.” Zeniba ordered. “I don’t want her jumping on her own.”

“Ah.” No-Face nodded and opened the door, much to the anger of one of the train’s workers.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the spirit cried.

“This is our stop.” Zeniba replied, flying out the open door.

Chihiro walked over and looked down at the ground speeding by. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me!”

The paper ‘bird’ hovered over to her. “It’s not so bad.”

Chihiro glared at her. “You can fly! Of course it’s not so bad for you!”

“Ah.” No-Face wrapped his arms around her and picked her up. “Ah, ah.”

Chihiro sighed. “If you’re asking if I’m ready, then no, I’m not. But let’s go anyway.”

Chihiro cried out as No-Face jumped. But she needn’t worry as No-Face landed perfectly on his feet. The look on Chihiro’s face was priceless. Zeniba chuckled at the human’s reaction.

“See, not so bad.” She said.

Chihiro slowly turned to her. “That was scary.”

Zeniba made a sarcastic snorting noise. “Oh please, how many times have you ridden on Haku?”

Chihiro stubbornly turned away. “That’s different. I trust Haku.”

“Ah, ah?” No-Face muttered, sounding a little upset.

“Huh? Oh no, No-Face. I trust you too. It’s just that…” Chihiro began looking around. “Hey, wait, where’s Yu-bird?”

Zeniba looked back at the retreating train. “Oops. Be right back.” She said, before flying after the train.

Chihiro and No-Face waited for the old witch to return. She came back a few minutes later with a very angry looking Yu-bird, who apparently wasn’t happy about them leaving her sleeping on the train. She landed on Chihiro’s shoulder and turned away.

Chihiro gave her friend a nervous smile. “Uh, sorry, Yu-bird. We didn’t mean to leave you.”

Yu-bird made a stubborn snorting noise and turned around, giving the others her backside. No-Face lightly patted Yu-bird on the head apologetically. Yu-bird screeched angrily in response.

“Ok, that’s enough.” Snapped Zeniba impatiently. “The seal is telling us to go this way. Hmm, looks like we’re going to have to go through that forest.”

Chihiro looked out into the horizon. Several miles away was a forest that stretched for many miles in every direction. Great, who knew what kinds of strange wild animals were in there.

“Looks like it’s too big to go around.” She muttered, before sighing heavily. “How do I get myself into these situations?”

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“I hope they’re alright.” Said Lin. “They should have been back by now.”

Kamajii continued working. He didn’t seem to be listening to the spirit woman’s worries, but he answered her, indicting he was. “Don’t worry, Lin. Haku would die before letting anything happen to his beloved Chihiro. The two of them are probably patching things up, and/or, making out. They’re fine… I hope.”

“I heard that!” Lin cried. “So you’re worried about them too.”

“I’m trying not to be!” Kamajii snapped back. “But you keep going on about how worried you are and you’re freaking me out.”

Lin angrily stamped her foot. “I’m coming to you to ease my worries, but you’re not helping!”

Kamajii looked at the spot Lin stamped her foot. “You just stepped on one of my soot balls.”

The little black ball of soot popped up from underground and began squeaking angrily at Lin.

“Sorry, geez, it was an accident.” Lin said. The soot ball shook one of his thin little arms. “Oh, get back to work!”

“Hey, don’t yell at my soot balls!” Kamajii yelled.

“Well then make sure they do their job and stay out of my way!” Lin shouted back.

“What’s wrong with you? You’ve been a big grouch since Chihiro left.”

“I have not!” The soot balls began squeaking madly, agreeing with their master. Lin glared at them. “Get away from me or I’ll pour a bucket of water on you.”

“Then you’ll be the one transporting the coal.” Kamajii yelled. “Now get out of my boiler room!”

“Fine, you can come get your own food from now on!”

Lin marched out the door and slammed it hard behind her. Kamajii glared at the door for a moment before getting back to work.

“Finally.” He muttered. “Some peace and quiet.”

Lin stormed through the bathhouse, very much the same way Chihiro did a few days ago. What Kamajii said was true, she had been a grouch ever since Chihiro left, not that she would ever admit it. She was worried about her friend. True, Chihiro had gone to Zeniba’s before when she was 10, but she had No-Face, Bôh, and Yu-bird with her. This time she just left on her own without telling anyone, not to mention she hadn’t been in the best of moods.

Lin made her way to Yubaba’s office. This would be her third trip there today, but she couldn’t help it. If anyone knew if Haku had found Chihiro yet, it would be the old hag.

“Yubaba!” she cried, entering the room without invitation.

“No, they’re not back yet.” Yubaba replied, not even looking up from her work.

Lin cried out in frustration. “Ah, what’s taking them so long?”

“My sister lives far away.” Said Yubaba in a bored voice. “Why don’t you do your job, it will help get your mind off things.”

“I can’t work knowing that Chihiro could be in trouble! Besides, I don’t have my work partner anymore.”

Yubaba snorted at the lame excuse. “So go pair up with someone else until she gets back.”

“But, but, but-”

Yubaba was getting fed up. She snapped her fingers and Lin literally flew out of the room, down the stairs, through the hall, and dropped into the largest bath in the bathhouse. Lin sat up and her mouth dropped open as she realized she was in the big bath.

“Now I have to clean the big bath too? By myself?” She pulled at her hair in frustration. “Chihiro, if you don’t get back here soon, I’m going to kill you!”

Meanwhile, back in Yubaba’s office, Bôh waddled out of his room to see what all the commotion was.

“Mama, what happened?” the large baby asked.

“Nothing, sweetie.” Said Yubaba. “Lin was just asking mommy when Chihiro and Haku were coming back.”

“Oh.”

Bôh retreated back into his room with a big grin on his face. He hadn’t told anyone that he had helped Chihiro sneak away or why she left in the first place. He wanted it to be a surprise.

‘Everyone is going to be so glad when they find out that Chihiro is going to stay with us forever and ever. Ya!’

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“You know,” Chihiro complained, “this forest looked a lot closer than it really was.”

After several hours of walking, they finally reached the entrance of the forest. The golden seal continued to stay in the same direction, indicating that their path was either in or beyond the sea of trees.

No-Face and Yu-bird had been restless. The closer the group got to the forest, the more restless they became, almost as if they could tell that something was wrong.

“Come on.” Chihiro encouraged the others. “It looks like we’re going in.”

Instead of continuing, No-Face stopped. He cocked his head to the side as he stared out ahead. He seemed to be considering something.

“Ah, ah, ah!” The faceless spirit cried, getting Zeniba’s attention.

The paper ‘bird’ stopped and turned to No-Face. “What is it? Is something wrong?”

Ah, ah!” said No-Face, pointing ahead.

Zeniba turned to the forest, Chihiro was close to the entrance. “CHIHIRO, NO!”

The old witch suddenly popped into existence, coming out of the paper ‘bird’; she was not transparent since the ‘bird’ was undamaged. She literally tackled the startled human, holding her down and covering her mouth.

“Gran-ny!” Chihiro cried, trying to talk through Zeniba’s hand. “Wha’ are yo’ ‘oing?”

“Chihiro, cover you mouth.”

“Wha’s wron’?”

“I was a fool.” The old witch said. “This is a toxic forest. The spores are like poison to you humans. Not to mention it’s filled with Ohmus and other giant insects. You can’t go in there.”

Chihiro wiggled out from under Zeniba and used her shirt to cover her mouth. “So what do we do then?” she asked, irritated by yet another obstacle in her way. “Go around it? That will take forever. I don’t think we have enough food for that, and I do not want to disappear.”

Zeniba scratched her head. “Hmm, let’s think about this a moment.”

“Ah, ah!” No-Face cried.

“What is it, No-Face?”

No-Face waved his arms as if he were trying to fly, then made a moving over top of something motion. “Ah, ah.”

“Fly?” said Zeniba. “That is a possibility. But how?”

No-Face turned to Yu-bird who was sitting on Chihiro’s shoulder, cleaning her feathers. After a few seconds, she had the feeling that she was being watched and slowly turned to find No-Face staring at her. Feeling very uncomfortable, she took flight, only to have No-Face reach out and grab her. She screeched loudly as No-Face’s mouth appeared and swallowed her in one gulp.

“Oh my!” gasped Zeniba.

“No-Face!” Chihiro cried. “What are you doing?”

Instead of his usual grunt, No-Face let out a screech very similar to Yu-bird’s. His arms started extending as feathers grew on them to become wings. His body became more solid as his legs became those of a bird.

“Oh, I get it.” Said Chihiro. “Although, I don’t think Yu-bird will be very happy with you after this.”

No-Face screeched gain and took flight. He grabbed Chihiro with his talons, being very careful not to hurt her, and flew up high with Zeniba close behind.

“Be sure to stay high enough so that she won’t breath the toxic spores!” she called.

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Another train. She wasn’t on this one either, and even if she had been, Haku would have picked up her scent. Turning back into his dragon form, he sped by the train to reach the next one. How many trains had he searched now, he wasn’t sure. Actually, he wasn’t even keeping track. He’d search every train ever made if Chihiro was on one of them.

Still, he wondered how many more trains he would have to search before he found her; that is, if she still was on a train. If he passed her stop, he would have to backtrack and try and locate her scent. She was already hours ahead of him, and all these delays were wasting time.

But he would keep searching. He didn’t care what Lord Okaia or anyone else said. He was not going to let Chihiro do this on her own. They would get through it together. He would confess his love for her, just as she did for him, and they would live together happily for all eternity.

That was considering that he reached her before anything bad happened to her.

‘No, Haku! Don’t think like that!’ the dragon scolded himself. ‘She will be fine. She has to be. If anyone tries to hurt her, I’ll rip them apart.’

His heart skipped a beat as he spotted another train in the distance. He quickly caught up to it, hoping to find his beloved, only to be disappointed again.

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The wind whipped violently as the sky roared with thunder. The storm had come out of nowhere and it was getting worse by the minute.

“I didn’t count on a storm like this!” Zeniba cried, trying to be heard over the howling wind. “Chihiro, this is really dangerous! We could get hit by lightning! Not that that’s a problem for us, but for you it’s serious!”

“I know, Granny!” Chihiro called back. “But what can we do? Land in the toxic forest?”

Zeniba shook her head; she had to physically appear again to prevent the paper ‘bird’ from being blown away. “No, but we have to do something! I can’t even see the other side of the forest yet!”

“I’m open to suggestions!”

It was No-Face that answered. He screeched loudly, nodding towards the dark sky, being unable to use his hands.

“What’s that?” asked Zeniba. “The storm is what?”

No-Face screeched again. Chihiro was unable to understand what the flying faceless monster was saying and turned to Zeniba for answers.

“What’s he saying?” she asked.

“Hold on!” Zeniba cried, staring at the clouds. “He’s right, this isn’t a normal storm!”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that this storm isn’t natural! A storm spirit is causing it!”

A storm spirit? Chihiro looked up into the sky. She couldn’t tell the difference from this storm to a regular storm.

“Why’s the spirit causing such a storm?”

“Who knows!” Zeniba cried. “But we need to stop this before you get hurt!”

Chihiro growled with irritation. Zeniba didn’t mean it, but she was making it sound like Chihiro was very weak. “How do we do that?”

Zeniba strained her eyes to see through the pouring rain. “We need to speak to the spirit! Whoever they are, they’ll be in the eye of the storm!”

‘Of course they would.’ Thought Chihiro. ‘Something else to make my life more difficult.’

With Zeniba leading the way, the group was brought to the center of the storm. Chihiro saw that a spirit was indeed causing the mighty storm. It hovered in middle of the eye of the storm, doing some sort of strange rain dance.

The spirit looked very powerful and very intimidating. His muscular body seemed to be made of ice, or a bunch of hail and snow stuck together, to be more precise, and it had a beard and hair made of cloud. A golden crown with spikes in the shape of lightning bolts rested on its head. Its eyes glowed with electricity as lightning pulsed through its body, going into the storm clouds and striking several miles away.

“How do we stop something like that?” Chihiro asked, amazed by the storm spirit’s power.

“Her, hold this!” said Zeniba, handing her the paper ‘bird’. “I’ll try and see what the problem is!”

“Be careful!”

Zeniba laughed. “Don’t worry, I’m not really here!”

The old witch flew over to the storm spirit, who was twice her size. He didn’t seem that happy about being interrupted from his storm. Lightning began striking down from all different directions, coming too close for comfort for Chihiro. Zeniba began arguing with the spirit, something that Chihiro didn’t think would help them that much.

The sky turned red and the wind became more intense. Hail rained down so hard that it hurt. Whatever Zeniba had said, Chihiro wished she hadn’t. Then the witch began pointing towards Chihiro, which was something else Chihiro didn’t feel too comfortable about. The angry storm spirit looked at the human and faceless monster with what looked like anger. Chihiro suddenly felt like she would be safer in the toxic forest with the giant insects than up here in the presence of an angry storm spirit.

Zeniba only seemed to be making the storm spirit angrier, and eventually, he pushed the old witch aside and pointed a finger at Chihiro. Lightning struck, headed straight for the startled human and faceless monster.

It happened so fast. There was a flash of lightning and everything got very bright. Then suddenly, someone was in front of Chihiro and No-Face. Whoever they were, they deflected the lightning bolt.

Almost instantly, the storm began to calm. As quickly as it started up, it was over, leaving a clear blue sky. Chihiro slowly opened her eyes and took a good look at the figure in front of her. It was a woman, a very beautiful woman too. She had tree bark brown skin and long green hair that had different color flowers all over it. Her dress was made of leaves and flower petals. The woman turned to Chihiro and smiled. Pink eyes, underneath leaf eyebrows, looked the human up and down. She leaned down and whispered in Chihiro’s ear.

“Please forgive him. He was doing this for me. The other end of the forest isn’t much farther.”

With that, she flew over to Zeniba and the storm spirit. Chihiro didn’t have a clue as to what was going on, but the storm spirit suddenly looked very happy as the woman embraced him. Zeniba seemed to be happier too. She said something to the storm spirit who nodded in response. Then he picked up the woman and floated away into the clouds, leaving a rainbow behind.

Zeniba flew back over to Chihiro and the others, beaming. Chihiro gave the witch a confused look. “Uh, Granny, um, what the heck just happened?”

Zeniba chuckled. “It’s a bit embarrassing really. You see, that woman was the spirit of this forest. That storm spirit was in love with her and he was showing off his strength, kind of like a mating ritual dance. He got a little mad when we interrupted him, but the forest spirit really liked it.”

No-Face screeched happily.

“Wow, that’s really sweet.” Said Chihiro. “He made that whole storm to declare his love for her?”

Zeniba chuckled. “He sure did. And both he and the forest spirit granted us passage.”

Chihiro suddenly remembered what the forest spirit said. “That’s right. She told me the end of her forest isn’t much further.”

Zeniba smiled. “Well then, let’s get a move on. The faster we do this, the faster you can get back to your true love.”

Chihiro blushed. “I wish Haku could do some sort of ritual to let me know if he loves me or not. I still don’t know how he feels.”

Zeniba patted Chihiro on the back. “Then maybe, you need to pay closer attention and you’ll notice he’s trying to hide his feelings from you.”

Chihiro spend the rest of the flight pondering over this.

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