Chapter 16: Lord Okaia

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

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“We’re here?” Chihiro asked. This was clearly a surprise. “Are you sure?”

Zeniba nodded. “Yes, the seal indicates that this is where Lord Okaia resides.”

Chihiro looked around. Not only was this the last place she had expected to find the most powerful sorcerer in the entire spirit world, but according to what she was told in her reading, there were still things she had to do.

“But, I don’t get it.” She muttered, more to herself than anyone else. “According to my reading, it shouldn’t have been this easy.”

Zeniba raised an eyebrow. “Would you like things to be more difficult?”

“No!” Chihiro cried loudly. “I’m just surprised. Maybe my reading was wrong.”

Zeniba rubbed her chin. “Or maybe, there is still more to come.”

Chihiro groaned. She hadn’t thought of that. She had figured that once she reached Lord Okaia that her ‘journey’ would be over. Speaking of which, where was that sorcerer anyway?

“Um, Granny, if this is where we’re supposed to be, where is everyone?”

“Uh…” Zeniba looked around, realizing Chihiro had a point. “The entrance to Lord Okaia’s home is probably hidden. Give me a moment.” She closed her eyes and concentrated. It took a little while, but she did detect a magical barrier. “There!” She pointed to a large rock wall. “It’s concealed. Reveal your secret path!”

Zeniba’s eyes flashed with light and suddenly the rock wall became transparent, revealing a hidden cave. Chihiro stared at the hidden entrance. No wonder no one knew where Lord Okaia lived.

“He’s in there?”

Zeniba nodded. “Apparently.”

“Great.”

Chihiro was beginning to feel very anxious about this meeting. Sure she had met him before, sort of, but that was just in a dream. Now she was going to actually come face to face with him and beg to become a spirit for a love that she wasn’t even sure was returned.

“Granny, I’m nervous.”

No-Face rested a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “Ah, ah, ah.”

“No-Face is right.” Zeniba agreed. “You’ll do fine. Just trust yourself. And don’t be afraid of him. From what I’ve heard, he can be a bit harsh, but he has a good heart.”

Chihiro swallowed. “If you say so.”

No-Face gave her a slight shove forward. Chihiro looked at the entrance. It was rather big. She hoped that Lord Okaia wasn’t some kind of scary monster or something. Taking a deep breath, she stepped through the barrier.

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Haku had finally picked up her scent. At first he was overjoyed, but then his joy turned to horror as he realized that it headed for the toxic forest. Those poisonous spores would kill a human in minutes.

His fear faded a little when her scent stopped a short distance away from what would have been considered a safe distance from the spores. But another fear overcame him again that he realized that he now no longer had a trail to follow. But where could she have gone? He had an idea of who might know. If there was anyone who would know, it would be them.

“Spirit of the forest, I, Nigihayami Kohaku Nushi, spirit of the Kohaku River, am in need of your assistance!” he cried out.

A few seconds passed before the spirit walked gracefully out of the forest. Haku bowed to her and she bowed back in response.

“How may I be of assistance?” she asked.

“Oh great spirit, I am in search of a human girl by the name of Chihiro.” Haku replied. “I have followed her scent to the entrance of your forest. I ask if you know what happened to the girl.”

The spirit smiled. “Ah yes, the human girl. She did indeed pass through my forest.”

Haku’s eyes widened with fear. “What?”

The spirit chuckled. “Oh dear, perhaps I should make myself clearer. She did not go through my forest, she flew over it.” At Haku’s confused look she added, “A faceless monster and a witch flew her over my forest. I would not allow a human to enter my forest. I know very well that the spores of the plants are toxic to creatures not of this world. Do not fear for her, she is safe. They made it out of my forest some time ago.”

Haku sighed in relief. That was good. Chihiro was safe, away from the toxic forest. Now he just needed to find her trail again.

“May I ask another favor?”

The forest spirit nodded. “Of course.”

“Could you-”

Before Haku could finish, a bolt of lightning struck in between him and the forest spirit and a very angry looking storm spirit was standing before him.

“Who are you?” the storm spirit demanded, his voice booming like thunder. “Why have you approached the spirit of this forest?”

Haku didn’t back down, for two reasons, one he could tell by the look in the storm spirit’s eyes that he was obviously involved with this forest spirit and was jumping to the wrong conclusions, and two, he was more powerful. But still he didn’t want to start any trouble.

“I am merely asking for help.” He said.

The storm spirit growled. Haku knew that storm spirits had short tempers so he was trying to be as polite as possible, but the storm spirit relaxed when the forest spirit rested a hand on his muscular shoulder.

“Relax, love.” She purred. “He speaks the truth. And you have no reason to be jealous. My love is for you alone.” The storm spirit relaxed further and stepped back, but still glared at Haku. “Now then, what was it you wished to ask?”

Haku tried again. “Could you show me the spot she left your forest, please?”

The forest spirit chuckled. “Is that all? Of course.” She waved her hand and the trees and bushes moved aside, giving Haku a clear path all the way through her forest. “Follow the path I have laid out for you. You will find her scent again on the other side.”

Haku bowed to her. “Thank you. I am very grateful for your assistance.”

Without looking at the storm spirit, he walked by the two of them. The trees and bushes moved back in place as he moved further and further into the toxic forest. The forest spirit watched him disappear into her forest. She had a very large grin on her face. The storm spirit noticed the look she was wearing.

“What is it, my dear?” he asked.

The forest spirit chuckled. “Isn’t it obvious?” she said. “The boy’s in love.”

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Chihiro and the others continued deeper into the cave. When the light from the outside stopped providing enough light, torches on the walls became the new light source. This only creeped her out more. She felt like someone in a horror movie descending deeper into the monster’s lair.

The tunnel eventually led the group to a pair of large metal doors. Chihiro gulped as she realized that this was it… she hoped. The suspense was killing her. She would rather just get this over with.

“Well, here we go.” She said.

She stepped forward to knock, but the door began to open, scaring her to death. She didn’t need anything else to scare her, she was already terrified.

The ‘doorman’ stepped outside and Chihiro was greeted by a pair of familiar yellow eyes. This was the same spirit that had come to the bathhouse to tell her of her future.

“So you have arrived.” The spirit said.

Chihiro pointed at him. “Hey, you’re Lord Okaia’s messenger.”

The spirit bowed. “Indeed. My master has been expecting you. Please, come in.”

The spirit led the group inside. They were surprised, to say the least, by Lord Okaia’s living arrangements. For someone who lived in a cave, they sure had great taste. The inside looked like a palace. Several servants, mostly shadow spirits, could be seen working.

Their guide led them to another room that had the door opened just a crack. “My master has been waiting. Please, go inside.”

Chihiro bowed to him. “Thank you, sir.” She said, and with a trembling hand, opened the door. The room was just like the rest of the house, about three times too big. It was also very dark, lit only by the light of a fire. And sitting by the fire, in a large red chair, calmly reading a book, was none other than the great Lord Okaia himself. He looked up from his book as his guest walked in.

“Ah, so you have arrived at last.” He said, power and wisdom radiated from his voice. “I am glad you made it here safely.”

He stood up and stepped into the light, and Chihiro got a good look at the mighty being. He looked like a man, a very big man that was at least 15 feet tall. He was dressed in robes worthy of a king, perhaps some spirits even considered him to be one. His pale skin was as white as paper and long black hair, as dark as the night, fell down to his heels. But what intrigued Chihiro the most were his eyes. His eye color was gold, and they held great knowledge and compassion in them. Looking into his eyes, Chihiro suddenly didn’t feel that afraid anymore. That is, until he smiled at them revealing very sharp pointy teeth that looked like they belonged to a carnivorous animal.

Zeniba brought Chihiro out of her thoughts as she bowed to Lord Okaia. “Great and mighty Lord Okaia, it is truly an honor to meet you.”

Lord Okaia bowed back at her. “It is an honor to meet you as well. Forgive me for not coming to meet you myself, but sometimes when I get involved in something I lose track of time.” He stuck a marker in his book and set it down. He noticed Chihiro trying to get a look at the title and he smiled at her. “It’s ‘Whisper of the Heart’, by Shizuku Amasawa. A very good read. She’s a famous writer in your world. In fact, this was the first book she ever wrote. Her husband, the famous violin maker, Seiji Amasawa, was the one who inspired her to write this.” He closed his eyes and appeared to be deep in thought. “Some humans have such creative abilities. Sadly though, many spirits don’t see that; they only see the humans’ destructive side.” He suddenly chuckled at himself. “Forgive me, I am rambling. You have come a long way. Please, have a seat.”

As it turned out, the entire group was able to fit on one chair. Lord Okaia went back to the one he was originally sitting at by the fire. He looked them over curiously. His gold eyes lingered on Yu-bird the longest. He observed her with a raised eyebrow.

Chihiro looked back and forth between Lord Okaia and Yu-bird. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

Lord Okaia turned back to her. “Not at all. I am merely surprised to see Yu-bird here. I predicted that none of the ones that lied to you about staying in the spirit world would accompany you. But the future is not set in stone. However, I am happy to see you all the same. You too Chihiro, Zeniba, and Kaonashi.”

Chihiro blinked in confusion and looked at No-Face. “Kaonashi?” she said.

No-Face nodded. “Ah, ah.”

Lord Okaia chuckled. “I seem to be causing some confusion. I apologize. We have rather important things to discuss. Would any of you care for some tea while we talk?”

Zeniba nodded. “That would be lovely.”

Lord Okaia snapped his fingers and two of his servants came in with tea and pastries.

Lord Okaia motioned at the tray. “Please, help yourself. That tea is a special blend that Baron Humbert von Jikkingen taught my servants to make. He always said that it’s a little bit different each time so the taste can’t be guarantied.”

Zeniba took a sip. “It’s very good.”

Lord Okaia smiled. “Then I’ll have my servants give you the recipe.” He said. His golden eyes moved to Chihiro. She gulped nervously. Lord Okaia chuckled. “You have nothing to fear from me. I do not wish to harm you.” His eyes moved to her hand that had once bared his fire spell. “I trust you found my spell useful.”

Chihiro blinked in confusion then looked at her hand. “Oh, yeah. Thanks. That hill spirit wanted to play, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Lord Okaia laughed loudly. “Yes, Ju-Ju is a little bundle of joy. But he is very spoiled. If you had played with him, he probably would have kept you there for days. That little guy has so much energy.”

“I think I made him mad though.” Chihiro muttered guiltily. “There’s already enough spirits that don’t like humans; I hope I didn’t make things worse.”

Lord Okaia waved it off. “Nonsense. He was just upset because you used fire against him. He’s afraid of fire, which is why I provided you with that spell. He’s already over it. Besides, you did just as I predicted. You brought anger to joy.”

That suddenly reminded Chihiro of her so-called reading. “That’s right. You sent your messenger to tell me of my future. He told me what was going to happen, but he didn’t explain it to me.”

Lord Okaia nodded. “Yes, he told you only what I told him to tell you. You were not ready to know more. But now you are here and I can explain things to you more fully.”

Truth be told, Chihiro didn’t care too much about what Lord Okaia had predicted. Her goal was to come here and ask to become a spirit. “Actually, sir, I haven’t come here to find out what my reading means. I came to-”

Lord Okaia held up a hand to stop her. “I know why you are here. And it is tied to your reading. The journey that I had spoken of, you are on now. You wish to become a spirit so that you may be with Kohaku. So you have come to beg me to help you.”

Chihiro got down on her knees and bowed to the mighty sorcerer. “Oh great Lord Okaia, will you please help me so that I may be with the one I love?”

Lord Okaia smiled warmly her. “Rise young one. I have already agreed to help you. You are led by love of the greatest kind. You are following your heart, wishing to be with someone whom you are not even sure loves you in return.” His smile faded. “However, I regret to tell you that I cannot help you. Not even with the power of Zeniba’s golden seal.”

There was stunned silence, broken only by the crackling of the fire. Chihiro’s mind was trying to accept the words Lord Okaia had spoken. She had put all her hope in him, and he couldn’t help her. If the most powerful sorcerer in the entire spirit world couldn’t help her, who could?

“But, you’re supposed to be able to help me.” She said, talking more to herself than anyone. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes. “Are you sure you can’t help me?”

Lord Okaia closed his eyes and sighed sadly. “Chihiro, I may be powerful, but what you are asking is unnatural, even for spirits. I don’t have the power to make you a spirit.”

Chihiro collapsed to the ground in her sorry. It was over. Her only chance to be with Haku was gone. “No… it can’t be…” she muttered. “Please…”

Lord Okaia slowly opened his eyes. “However, there is one being that can.”

Chihiro sat up so fast she thought she might have pulled something. “What?”

Zeniba even looked confused. “I do not understand. What can someone else do that you can not?”

Lord Okaia’s face was emotionless, he seemed to be trying hard to keep his mind off something painful. “You have been going about this the wrong way. You have been searching for someone powerful, and when they could not help you, you have searched for someone even more powerful. But this is a certain type of magic that does not come with power.”

“I don’t understand.” Chihiro said.

Lord Okaia appeared to be thinking. “Let me put it for you this way. There are certain spirits that are born from the earth known as bonded spirits. Kohaku is one of them. He was born from his river. Your friends there,” he motioned to Zeniba, No-Face, and Yu-bird, “are born of other spirits. But what makes bonded spirits more powerful than un-bonded ones is the powers they have from birth. Let’s use the storm spirit you encountered. He has power over the weather. He was born of a storm and therefore inherited its traits. Do you understand?”

Chihiro thought she did. “Yes, I think so.”

Lord Okaia nodded. “Good, then listen to me closely. The spirit you are searching for is one of a kind. I cannot tell you their name because they do not have one. They are the spirit of life. They have been here since the beginning of all life. To have what you are asking for, your very existence will need to be changed. Only the spirit of life has the power to change you.”

Chihiro nodded. She was overjoyed that there was still a chance for her to become a spirit, but she was also getting rather annoyed. Haku couldn’t help her, so she went to Zeniba, who also couldn’t help her. She then came all the way here to Lord Okaia only to find out that she had to go find someone else.

Sighing, she turned to Zeniba. “Granny, why didn’t you tell me about the spirit of life?”

Zeniba grinned apologetically. “I’m sorry, dear. Truth be told, that spirit is only believed to be a myth.”

“No.” said Lord Okaia, shaking his head. “I have seen them. They are amazing. A being born from life itself. Only they can help you, this I know. But what I don’t know is if they will.”

“What do you mean?” Chihiro asked.

“You will need to convince them to help you. They will not do it without a good reason. But if you follow your heart, all will work out.” A knock at the door interrupted their conversation. Lord Okaia looked to the door and waved his hand, opening it. “Enter.”

A shadow spirit slowly crept into the room. He bowed to Lord Okaia who nodded in response. “My lord, a witch named Kiki has your delivery.”

Lord Okaia smiled and stood up. “Ah, perfect timing.” He turned to his guests. “Please excuse me for a moment. I shall return shortly.”

He quietly excited the room, closing the door behind him. Chihiro was actually glad for the interruption. She needed a moment to collect her thoughts.

Zeniba noticed Chihiro staring off into space and she gently laid her hand on the human’s shoulder, startling her. “Are you ok, dear?”

Chihiro nodded. “I guess I’m just a little overwhelmed by all this. Things just seem to be getting more and more complicated. I just don’t know if I can handle this journey Lord Okaia spoke of. I mean, look how many close calls I’ve had just coming here. Jumping off the train, the toxic forest, the storm spirit, the hill spirit. I don’t know if I can get through this.”

“Love conquers all.” The witch said. No-Face grunted in agreement. “Just do as Lord Okaia says. Follow your heart and all will be well.”

The door opened again and Lord Okaia walked back in. He had something wrapped in a cloth in his hand.

“I ordered this when I knew you would be coming.” He said, holding the wrapped item out to Chihiro. She took it and removed the cloth to find a strange dagger with a silvery transparent blade and golden handle. She looked up at Lord Okaia questioningly. “This dagger was made by a witch who specializes in healing. You will need it on your journey. There is a spell on the dagger that will kill an infection or disease. Use this against sorrow.”

“Sorrow?” Chihiro looked at the dagger carefully. “What do you mean by sorrow? And what about anger? I don’t understand the reading your messenger gave me.”

Lord Okaia sighed. “Then it’s time that I answered your questions.” He motioned to a table and it scooted over in between him and the others. A deck of cards rested on top of it. Chihiro recognized them as the same cards that Lord Okaia’s messenger had been going through. Lord Okaia looked curiously at her. “Chihiro, do you know why fortune cards are the best way for looking into the future?”

Chihiro looked at the cards. “No.”

“And I don’t have the gift of Sight.” Zeniba said.

Lord Okaia nodded. “There are very few do. And I will tell you why cards are best.” He sat back in his seat and began explaining. “Destiny is like a card game. When one looks into the future, what they are really seeing are events that are most likely to take place based on what is currently happening and what has already happened. Now then, the cards you hold in your hand are events that are to occur in your future. Your destiny represents your game strategy. Now, picture the deck as your future and the cards in it are events that have not yet come to pass. One can look into the future, which would be like peeking at the next card in the deck. In doing so, by seeing what is to come, you may change your whole game strategy, thus changing your destiny. You have already done this.”

“I did? How?” Chihiro asked.

Lord Okaia pointed to Yu-bird. “Yu-bird was not originally meant to come with you. You found this out, but you decided to bring her, so in a way you changed your strategy, or your future. But there are also other ways that your destiny may change, and that is if someone else peeks at your next card, or looks into your future. Understand?”

Chihiro nodded. “I think so.”

Lord Okaia chuckled. “No you don’t, but you will in time. Chihiro, the future that I have predicted for you is not 100 percent positive. No one can truly know the future, because everyone has the free will to change it. If you wish, you can turn your back on this right now. In a way you would be discarding the cards you hold, shuffling your deck, and drawing a new hand, thus changing you destiny.” He smiled in amusement at Chihiro’s reaction. “But I can tell that you have no desire to turn your back on this.” Chihiro nodded. “I knew you wouldn’t. But there is more to destiny than what I have already told you. All of what I have said has been one sided. But there other players in this card game. Everyone has their own destiny, and they can affect others if they peek at the other players’ cards. I have done this. A human in the spirit world got me very curious. It very rarely occurs. So I looked at your fate. Had I not interfered, I am sorry to say that things would not have gone well. The dangers that your friends at the bathhouse warned you about would have come to pass.”

This greatly surprised Chihiro. “So, you saved my life.”

Lord Okaia nodded. “In a way. But I will not get into that. For if I tell you what could have been, or what might still happen, it may change what I have foreseen, thus shuffling the deck.”

“Is that why your messenger only told me so little?”

Lord Okaia nodded again. “It is. By telling you only what you needed to know, you made the decision to come here. Would you have come had I told you everything that has occurred? Would you have gone to see Zeniba had you known she couldn’t help you, and thus not having you friends guide you over the toxic forest?”

Chihiro tried to think about all this, but it made her head hurt. She decided that after this she would choose her own destiny without having anyone interfere.

Lord Okaia seemed to notice her confusion. “I see that I am confusing you. This is a lot of information to take in. Let’s get to your reading, shall we?” He picked up the deck of cards and closed his eyes. “By the power of the wind and the water, the earth and the fire, I command thee to reveal to me what I wish to see. Forces of nature, show me all.” Keeping his eyes closed, he carefully shuffled and cut the deck. When he was finished, he set it down in front of him and opened his eyes. “Are you ready to see the path before you?”

Technically, Chihiro already knew the path; she just didn’t understand it. She nodded in response and Lord Okaia took the top card. Unlike his messenger, he did not hide the cards from her. The first card was a picture of 6 stars. Two were red, two were blue, and the last two were yellow. There was a line that connected the stars to each other. An orange line connected the first yellow star to the second red one, a green one connected the first blue star to the second yellow star. And a purple line connected the first red star to the second blue one.

“The crossover of the three emotions.” Lord Okaia explained. “Joy, sorrow, and anger. You have already face the one filled with joy and you brought anger to him. Next you will face a being filled with sorrow, to whom you must bring joy. Afterwards you will face a being filled with anger, to whom you must bring sadness.”

Chihiro leaned forward to look at the card. “Who are they?” she asked.

Lord Okaia shook his head. “I cannot tell you that. For if I do, your game strategy may change, thus changing your destiny.” He picked up the next card. It was a picture of two men cowering away from a crowd of people. One man was shouting in anger and the other was weeping in sorrow. “Both beings you will face have been wronged by humans. Be careful when you are in their presence; especially anger.”

Chihiro gulped nervously. “Is there some way I can change my fate from having to face them? You said one can change their destiny.”

Lord Okaia nodded. “Indeed, you can change it. But sometimes with the path you choose to take, things are unavoidable. If you wish to find the spirit of life, you will have to face these beings. They are a test that the spirit of life is setting up for you. Believe me when I say that if the spirit of life does not want to be found, it won’t be. It will only appear to you once you face its tests.”

Chihiro sighed. “Ok, what’s next?”

Lord Okaia took the next card. He glanced at it for a moment before setting it aside. This card was very important. It had a picture of a heart bleeding from a knife sticking out of it. Chihiro did not need to know about this card because nothing she did could change this, but if a stubborn dragon will listen to him, all will turn out well.

The next card was a picture of a bride. One her right was a groom and on her left was what appeared to be her family. “Once, and if, you get to the spirit of life, you will have to make a choice between two loves. This will be very hard for you. No matter what you decide, someone you love will be hurt.”

Chihiro remembered his messenger saying that. “I remember that! What does that mean? I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

Lord Okaia sighed sadly. “I know you don’t, but you will have to. And I am sorry, but I cannot explain that to you further.”

He picked up the next card. His eyes widened when he saw it. Without showing it to anyone, he set it aside and took another card. Once again his eyes widened and he did not show it to his guests.

“I’m afraid that this is as far as I am able to see for now. When I looked into your future, I could only see up to your meeting with the spirit of life, that is, if you do make it to them.”

Chihiro frowned. So she had some of her questions answered, but she still had plenty more than she wanted answers to. Still, she bowed to the powerful sorcerer. “Thank you, sir. I am grateful for all that you have done for me.”

Lord Okaia smiled, but there was sadness in his eyes. “Do not thank me. I am glad that I have the chance to give someone else the happiness that was taken from me.”

Chihiro cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?”

Sighing, Lord Okaia leaned back and crossed his fingers as if he were praying. “You are not the first human that I have met. Over 500 years ago, another human stumbled into this world. A young woman. She immediately began to fade away and she cried out for help. I appeared before her and help her. Never having actually met a human before, I invited her to stay with me. I was curious, you see; I had never met a human before. But soon curiosity became friendship, and friendship became love.”

Chihiro’s eyes widened. “You fell in love with her?”

Lord Okaia smiled, recalling a happy memory. “We fell in love with each other.” He corredted. “We wished never to be parted. After some time, I asked her if she would become spiritually linked with me.”

Zeniba made an ‘aww’ sound, but Chihiro didn’t have a clue as to what that was. “What’s that mean, spiritually linked?” she asked.

Lord Okaia chuckled. “She said the same thing. Becoming spiritually linked with someone is a spirit’s version of getting married, only at a much deeper and permanent level. She said she would love to, but that she could not, for she was a mortal, and I, having eternal life, would outlive her. She said she couldn’t possibly put me through the pain of losing a wife for as long as my eternal life lasted.”

‘Just like me and Haku.’ Chihiro thought sadly. She, just like the woman Lord Okaia had fallen in love with, couldn’t put the one she loved through such pain and heartbreak.

“It was then that I began to search for the spirit of life.” Lord Okaia continued. “I wanted to make her a spirit so she could have eternal life. It was the only way we could truly be together. So I began my search. And I found them. I begged the spirit of life to make my love a spirit. The spirit of life was moved by my love for a mortal and agreed to help. I was so overjoyed that I raced back home immediately to bring my love to the spirit of life so she could become a spirit.”

All sign of happiness vanished from the sorcerer’s face to be replaced by great sadness. “Sadly, I was so caught up in romance that I had been blinded. You see, one of my servants was the type of spirit that hated humans with the deepest loathing. They did not harm her while they were my guest, but when they found out that she was to become my wife…” Tears appeared in his golden eyes. “While I was out searching for the spirit of life, they took her away. They refused to feed her and she… she disappeared…”

Chihiro gasped. Zeniba, Yu-bird, and No-Face seemed equally as shocked. Lord Okaia wiped the tears from his eyes, only to have more appear.

“When I found out what they had done, I was furious. I was angrier than I had ever been in my entire life. I came very close to killing them, very close. But I spared them. I was better than that. But I did punish them. I stripped them of their powers and banished them from my land.”

“You can do that?” Chihiro wondered out loud.

“Only the most powerful of spirits can.” Zeniba whispered. She turned back to Lord Okaia. “I am so sorry that happened. If you ask me, they deserved death.”

Lord Okaia shook his head. “No, everyone deserves life, even if they take it. Besides, it would not bring my love back. She is dead, and I am here still living; living forever.” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, calming himself. “I miss her, everyday. I long to see her again. This is why humans and spirits shouldn’t be together. But we were so close to actually finding a way that we could; only to have the opportunity taken away.” He looked up at the ceiling as if he were looking into Heaven itself. “I could end it. I could take my own life and be reunited with my love in the afterlife. Odds are I will never die, even if I was the weakest spirit ever to exist. But I go on. I continue to live.” He looked at Chihiro very seriously. “Life is very precious, Chihiro. You only get one. Never forget that. Some spirits, in their eternal lives, tend to forget that. They begin to take life for granted, which is why they don’t value the lives of others that much; especially humans. They see them as lesser beings, just like a human would see an insect. Yubaba used to be like that, but she’s changed, for the better. She has realized, after nearly losing her son, the value of life. Everyone deserves it, even a creature as simple as an insect.” He wiped the remaining tears from his eyes. “I want you to live, and be happy with your life. This is why I am helping you. I want you to have what I could have had, but never will.”

No one had any idea of what to say. To see the great Lord Okaia openly cry was surprising enough, but this background story was beyond shocking.

Lord Okaia quickly pulled himself together and stood up. “Forgive me, but we are a little short on time. I must ask you to leave.”

“Wha’?” Chihiro’s mouth literally dropped open. Here they were, having a very serious conversation, and then Lord Okaia suddenly dismisses them. Did they do something wrong?

“Someone is coming for you.” Lord Okaia explained. “Someone who I cannot allow you to see yet.”

“Who?”

Lord Okaia did not answer. He turned and made eye contact with Zeniba. The witch nodded in understanding. She knew exactly who was coming for Chihiro. He certainly caught up fast; never underestimate a dragon in love. She wondered why Lord Okaia didn’t want Chihiro and Haku reunited yet, but who was she to question such a wise being?

“Come, Chihiro. Let’s go.” She said.

“Huh?” Chihiro looked back and forth from the sorcerer to the witch. “But-”

“No buts, dear.” Lord Okaia is a very busy man. We have taken up enough of his time.” She turned back to the sorcerer. “Thank you for all that you have done.”

Chihiro wanted to stay longer, but she decided to leave without a fight. She bowed to the mighty sorcerer. “Yes, thank you. I am very grateful.”

Lord Okaia bowed his head to her. “You are very welcome. I look forward to our next meeting.”

He snapped his fingers and one of his servants entered the room. “My lord?”

Lord Okaia motioned to the others. “See them out please, but first provide them with enough food and other things they might need.” He turned to Zeniba. “One last thing, may I see your golden seal?”

“Certainly.”

Zeniba held out the golden seal to him. Lord Okaia rested his hand over hers and the golden seal. A silver light surrounded the seal then faded away. “The seal will now guide you to the spirit of life. I will not lie to you when I say you have a difficult journey ahead of you, but if you follow your heart, all will be well.”

The group bowed to him one last time and then were led out. Once the door closed behind them, Lord Okaia’s warm smile became a concerned frown. He looked at the last two cards he had drawn from the deck. The first one was a heart, half black, half red, with a golden arrow entering the red side and exciting the black side.

“Love and hate.” Lord Okaia whispered.

He looked at the second card. It was a tombstone on a hill during sunrise with a rainbow rising out of it.

“Life and death.” He closed his eyes. “I will not allow the same pain I have felt fall upon someone else. But first…” His eyes opened and he looked at the wall, seeming to see straight through it. “I have a stubborn dragon to attend to.”

There was a flash of silver light and Lord Okaia vanished.

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