Chapter 20: A Big Mistake

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

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“Master Haku, I’m getting a little worried about you.” said Clam. “You haven’t gone to sleep since you’ve gotten back. Why not let one of us take over being lookout for awhile and you get some rest.”

Haku gave his friend a smile but politely declined the offer. “No thank you, Clam. It’s not that I don’t trust you or the others, I just want to be the one to keep watch. This way I know for a fact that I can’t miss her. Besides, I’m too worried to get to sleep.”

“Kamajii may have something to help.” Said Clam. He turned to the 2 soot balls in the room. “Does he?”

The soot balls squeaked and nodded. Haku, once again, declined the offer. “Thank you, but I’ll be fine. You and the others just keep searching for the killer.”

Clam sighed, but nodded. “As you wish.” He turned to leave, but Haku stopped him.

“Do any of you have any leads?”

Clam’s shoulders sank. “No, nothing. Do you suppose Lord Okaia just said such a thing to send you back?”

Haku’s eyes widened. He had never considered that as a possibility. He thought about it for a minute. “No, he wouldn’t lie like that. There must be something we’re not seeing.”

Clam nodded. “Then we’ll keep up the search and report back to you anything we find.”

With that he left the room. Just outside was Lin and Rita. They both looked worried.

“How is he?” Rita asked.

Clam sighed. “Very depressed. He’s really worried. And not getting any sleep isn’t helping him.”

Lin nodded. “Yeah, that’s not exactly healthy, even for a spirit.”

“He’s just worried.” Said Rita. “He doesn’t want to take the chance of falling asleep and missing Chihiro returning.”

“But he’s going to need his strength to face whoever it is we’re looking for.” Clam said suddenly. “He can’t exactly beat them all tired and drained of energy.” Lin smacked him over the head. “Ow! Why is everyone always hitting me? What was that for?”

“For being an idiot.” Lin muttered. “Haku is the strongest one here. Even extremely weakened he could take down anyone that challenged him.”

Clam glared at her. “Once again, you don’t let me finish. Yes, he is very powerful, but what if it’s not one of the bathhouse employees? There are some spirits that come here that are stronger than him. Ow! Stop hitting me!”

“Idiot.” Snapped Lin impatiently. “According to Lord Okaia, whoever is after Chihiro has been here for a long time.”

“LET ME FINISH!” Clam shouted, rubbing his head. “Just think about what that means for a moment. Lord Okaia never said that it was an employee; just that it’s someone who has been here for a long time. Some customers do come here a lot. It could be a very frequent customer.”

Lin and Rita were silent for a moment as they considered this possibility. Then they cried out in unison and ran to the railing, knocking poor Clam over in the process.

“How could we have been so stupid?” Lin cried, looking down at the many customers.

“As if this wasn’t hard enough!” Rita shouted. She lightly banged her head against the railing in frustration.

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Zeniba noticed that something was bothering Chihiro. She had been acting funny ever since they had met that lake spirit. She wondered if she was worried about running into this angry spirit, Yuteela.

“Chihiro, is there something on your mind?” she asked in concern.

Chihiro just sighed. “I fine. I guess I’m just worried about Haku.”

Zeniba would have raised an eyebrow questioningly had she not been inside the ‘bird’. “What are you worried about?”

Chihiro sighed again. “Well, ever since we spoke to that lake spirit and he started talking about ‘bonded’ spirits, I’ve been worried about Haku and his connection to his river.”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow you.”

Chihiro thought about it, trying to decide how to put what she wanted to say into words. “Spirits like you, No-Face, Kamajii, Lin, and Lord Okaia, you’re not bonded to any landmass like Haku is. That connection worries me.”

Zeniba nodded in understanding. She now had some idea of what Chihiro was getting at, but she was still confused. “I still don’t see what the problem is.”

Chihiro frowned. “I think I understand why so many spirits dislike humans a little better. Most of them are probably bonded spirits, and they hate humans for their destructive ways. This Yuteela that we might run into, she’s a good example. She lost her entire forest to humans. I don’t blame her for holding a grudge in the least.”

“I see.” Zeniba muttered. “But why are you worried about Haku?”

Chihiro stopped walking. “I’m afraid of what my kind might do to his river. I mean, look at that lake spirit. Look how much pain he was in because his lake was polluted. If it hadn’t been for me, he would have had to have endured that pain for months while he slowly recovered. Then there’s that river spirit I helped the first time I came here. I have no idea what happened to him, but I’m sure it was human related. Whatever it was, it caused him to revert to a creature similar to a stink spirit. I’m afraid that something like that might happen to Haku.”

Now Zeniba understood why Chihiro was upset. She was still so unfamiliar with the way things worked in this world and she was jumping to conclusions. Popping out of the paper ‘bird’, she rested a wrinkly hand on the human’s shoulder.

“Chihiro, you don’t need to worry about that.” She assured her. “You need to understand how bonded spirits are connected to their land. All bonded spirits have the power to unite themselves with the landmass they were born from, since it is part of them. When united, what affects the landmass affects the spirit. Most bonded spirits spend all their time united with their landmass. The lake spirit you helped was more than likely united with his lake for many years before the amount of pollution in his lake forced him to leave so he may recover. Yes, it would have taken months, but he would have eventually been able to return to his lake as good as new. The river spirit you spoke of was the same case; and I’ll tell you right now what had happened to him. His river had been filled with litter, perhaps from a storm, causing it to be blocked up, thus affecting him since he was united with it at the time. It was just a simple matter of removing all that junk.”

“But what if something like that happens to Haku?” Chihiro cried.

“You don’t need to worry about that. Haku may be a bonded spirit, but he isn’t constantly united with his river. Some bonded spirits don’t always stay united with their landmass 24/7. Haku is one of them. So what happens to his river won’t affect him all that much, unless he’s united with it while it happens.”

“What if he is?”

“Then he can find help, just like the others. But you don’t need to worry about much happening to him.”

“Why?”

Zeniba chuckled. “Don’t you remember?” Chihiro shook her head. “His river was covered up. It flows underground now, out of harms way from the humans. It may have caused him to be unable to find his river for a few years, but it was a blessing in disguise.”

Chihiro relaxed a little at this news. At least Haku’s river would be safe from anything any of her kind would do. But there was still something else that worried her. “Well that’s a relief, but there’s still something that’s bothering me. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that Haku’s river is completely destroyed like Yuteela’s forest. What would happen to him?”

“Ah.” Zeniba muttered, scratching her chin. “Well chances of a river being completely destroyed are slim to none, but if it was then yes, it would have some affect one Haku. You see, a bonded spirit’s land is part of them, just separate from their body. To lose their land would be like a human losing a limb. They don’t need it to go on, but they would miss it. How would you feel if you lost an arm or a leg?”

Chihiro gulped. She didn’t want to think about that. And to lose a part of you was bad enough, but to have it taken was even worse. No wonder this Yuteela was so mad. Humans had taken away a part of her. If Chihiro had been in her shoes, she would be mad too. Actually, ‘mad’ would probably be an understatement.

For the first time, Chihiro actually felt slightly disgusted with being a human. Her kind had, and still was, carelessly destroying the environment, not knowing what they were truly doing. And the spirits were suffering for it. It wasn’t fair.

“I feel sorry for her.” She muttered.

Zeniba gave Chihiro a curious look. “Who?”

“Yuteela. She had a terrible wrong done to her, and it resulted in her holding a terrible grudge against humans. I don’t blame her though. She has every right to be mad. How can I face someone like her when my kind has committed such a terrible crime and she was the one who had to suffer for it?”

“You don’t have to.” Zeniba reminded her. “You can always turn back. Is your love strong enough that you’ll face her?”

Without hesitation, Chihiro nodded. “Yes, I will do anything to be with Haku.” She hung her head. “I just wish there was another way.”

Zeniba just sighed and nodded. “So do I, dear. So do I.”

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Lord Okaia shuffled the deck, getting ready to see into Chihiro’s future again. She had already completed much of the path he had foreseen. Now the dangerous part was coming up. She would have to be strong.

Lord Okaia had faith in her, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t worried. Until she was officially a spirit, Chihiro was still in danger. This was why he was looking into her future again. He needed to take another look at the danger that was at hand. The closer she got to it, the more clearly he could see the path for her.

Letting his powers guide him, he shuffled the deck. The angry spirit was rapidly approaching, this he knew. What he was looking now for was the spirit filled with hate. The cards were shuffled and Lord Okaia cut the deck, letting his powers guide his hand to reveal what he was searching for.

Taking the top card from the deck, Lord Okaia sighed in disappointment. It was the picture of a skull. There would be a death in the future regarding this path. He had really hoped there wouldn’t be, but hoping wasn’t always enough.

“Who’s death will it be?” he wondered out loud, although he had a pretty good idea. Closing his eyes, he let fate guide his hand again as he shuffled the deck. “Show me the possible outcome. Who will die and who will live? And who shall be the one to take the life of the other?”

He took the top card but his magic was telling him to take another, so he did. The first card was a red heart surrounded by a pink background while the second card was an upside-down heart black heart surrounded by a blood red background.

“Of course, love or hate.” He muttered sadly. “Either the one filled with love will die, or the one filled with hate will.”

But there was more. He was being told to take yet a third card, and he did so. His eyes narrowed as he looked at it. “So, either one will die, or they both will.” He sighed. “One death alone is too much. It is sad that it must come to this. But what are the outcomes? Who will be the one to take the life?”

Following his intuition, he drew three more cards. He was surprised that there were three. These three cards each represented a person. One of them would take a life. He turned over the first.

“The one filled with hate. Obviously they are one of the possible canidates who will take a life. If it is them, then the one who will lose their life will be Chihiro. I hope this is not the future that occurs.” He turned over the second card. “This was predictable as well. Haku, yes he would be willing to kill the one filled with hate to save Chihiro. If he discovers who they are before they take the human’s life, that is. I wish there was a path in which no one must die and no one must take a life, but alas, fate can be cruel at times.”

He looked at the last card. Now came the interesting part. He had thought that there would only be two possible outcomes; either Haku taking the life of the one filled with hate, or the one filled with hate taking the life of Chihiro. Who would be the third one to commit murder, and who’s life would they take; Chihiro’s or the one filled with hate?

He turned the card over and his eyes widened. This was certainly unexpected. He had never considered this possibility. How unexpected; or was it?

His golden eyes scanned over the cards, first on the card representing Haku, then the one representing the one filled with hate, and finally the third card. He closed his eyes. A hard decision would need to be made. If the first possibility came to pass, Chihiro would lose her life. He couldn’t bare the thought of an innocent dieing, especially when they had their whole lives ahead of them just when they were about to be with the one they loved forever. He would not let this happen. He knew the pain of this path and he did not wish it on anyone.

If the second possibility came to pass, then Haku would be the one to take a life. True, it was for the greater good and Haku would not be thought badly of by anyone, not even the gods, but Lord Okaia did not want Haku to have to take a life, not even the life of an evil being such as the one filled with hate.

That left the third possibility. He did not like this one any better than the last. It was just as bad. But which of the two was better?

Knowing the truth to this question, Lord Okaia made his decision, and a single tear fell down his pale cheek.

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Haku felt himself nodding off to sleep. He shook his head, trying to stay awake. He needed to stay focused; he needed to stay awake for when Chihiro came back, she needed him.

He suddenly sensed another presence. A powerful one too. He watched as the shadows seemed to come to life and take form. Haku braced himself for whatever he was about to face.

The shadows came together and formed the shape of Lord Okaia’s head. Haku relaxed as he recognized the mighty sorcerer.

“Greetings, Kohaku.” The shadow head spoke.

“Lord Okaia.” Said Haku, bowing. “What can I do for you? I’ve done what you said. I returned to the bathhouse.”

Lord Okaia’s head chuckled. “Yes, I realize this since I am speaking to you here.”

“How is Chihiro?” Haku asked. “Is she-”

“She is perfectly alright.” The sorcerer replied. He thought it would be best not to mention that she would shortly run into the spirit that would have killed her if Haku had joined her on her journey. “In fact, she is the reason I am speaking to you. But first tell me, how goes the search for the one filled with hate?”

Haku assumed he was referring to whoever it was that wanted Chihiro dead. “Shouldn’t you know? You have the gift of Sight.”

Lord Okaia sighed. “Haku, being able to see events to come does not mean that I know everything.”

Haku immediately felt bad for being rude; Lord Okaia was only trying to help. “Forgive me, I have not slept a wink since I have returned. But to answer your question, the killer is still undiscovered.”

“Not a wink?” Lord Okaia repeated. “Kohaku, when I told you to be ready for when Chihiro returns, I did not mean to give yourself sleep deprivation.”

“I know.” Haku muttered, stifling a yawn. “I just don’t want to take any chances. It would be a lot easier if you tell me whoever wants Chihiro dead.”

Lord Okaia shook his head. “I cannot, for it may alter the future that I have foreseen, and things may end badly. But I will tell you this, Chihiro will soon meet the angry spirit. If she can get past her, she will meet the spirit of life.”

Haku jumped to his feet. “Are you serious?”

“I am. If all goes well, she will return tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow…” Haku whispered. “Thank heavens.”

“She will need you when she arrives, Kohaku. Be ready to meet her.”

Haku nodded. “I will be waiting.”

“Then I bid you farewell.”

With that, the shadows dispersed and Lord Okaia was gone.

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“I’m not sure this is a good idea.” Rita whispered, looking nervous.

“Hey, we don’t like it any more than you do.” Lin snapped. “But Haku needs to get some sleep or else he’ll be too exhausted to save Chihiro from anyone.”

Clam walked in between them, carrying a bowl of soup. “There is enough sleeping herbs in here to kill an elephant. Haku should sleep for several hours, and when he wakes up, he’ll be as good as new.”

“He’ll be good and mad, is what he’ll be.” Rita exclaimed.

Lin and Clam shushed her and knocked on Haku’s door. It opened on its own and the three of them entered.

“Master Haku, I have some soup for you.” said Clam, handing him the bowl.

“Thank you.” Haku muttered sleepily, accepting the bowl.

“Man, you look awful.” Lin muttered.

“I’m fine.” The river spirit muttered, eating his soup. “Do you guys have any leads?”

“Nothing.” Clam muttered. “No one seems suspicious to me.”

“Nor me.” Said Lin.

Rita just shook her head.

They sat in silence, watching Haku eat. Had he been more awake, he would have noticed how nervous they were. What he did notice was that he was beginning to feel even more tired and his vision was getting blurring. Something was wrong, and he knew it. He looked at the guilty faces on his friends’ faces before his gaze dropped to the nearly empty soup bowl. He suddenly sensed it.

“Sleeping herbs!” he cried, dropping the bowl. “Why did you put that in there?”

The three gulped. “Now Master Haku, let me explain.” Clam muttered.

“Make it fast!” Haku demanded. He was already beginning to drop off.

“We’re just trying to help.” Lin explained. “You haven’t slept in days. How can you expect to stop anyone from harming Chihiro in this condition?”

“So we decided to give you a few hours of sleep and one of us will keep watch for awhile.” Rita said quickly. She really didn’t like the look Haku was giving them, and she panicked. “It was their idea!”

Haku dropped to his knees, holding himself up with one hand. He was furious. Yes, he had been careless by not sleeping, but they had no right to drug him, no matter how much they were trying to help.

“I didn’t want to sleep!” he shouted. “Not until Chihiro came back!”

“Who knows when that will be?” Lin said. “I’m worried about her too, but I’m not staying awake for days on end. She may not be back for weeks.”

“SHE’LL BE BACK TOMORROW!” Haku shouted. The others’ mouths dropped open. “Lord Okaia just told me… She’ll be back… to-morr-ow…” He collapsed on the floor, barely awake. “You better… make sure that… that n-nothing… happens… to… to… her…”

With that he completely dropped off and was sound asleep. A few seconds passed as the three other spirits stood there stunned. The silence was broken by Clam screaming in a high-pitched voice.

“Oh no! What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” he cried, running around in circles. “Chihiro’s coming back tomorrow, we haven’t found the killer, and we just drugged the only one who can stop them! Oh, we are in so much trouble!”

“I told you this was a bad idea!” Rita cried.

“Everybody shut up!” Lin shouted. “Ok, we just made a very big mistake. We have to find this killer and fast. One of us will keep watch while the rest of us search.”

“I’ll keep watch.” Clam said quickly. “All the female spirits keep attacking me.”

“That’s because you’re a peeping tom!” Rita shouted.

“No, I just think it’s a jealous woman!”

“Sexist pig!”

“SHUT UP!” Lin hollered. “This is no time for fighting. We have a job to do.” She paused for a moment. “But first let’s get Haku into his bed.”

The three spirits lifted the river spirit up and laid him on his bed. “Should one of us stay with him?” Clam asked.

“No, he’ll be fine.” Said Rita. “The killer wants Chihiro dead, not Haku.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“Ok, enough waiting around.” Said Lin. “We have to find the killer. We’re running out of time!”

(A/N: Uh oh, talk about making a mistake. Will Haku recover from his friends’ ‘help’ in time for when Chihiro comes back, or will she be on her own? And how will Chihiro do against Yuteela? Remember this spirit would have been the one that would have killed Chihiro if Haku had gone with her; meaning she holds a grudge against humans strong enough to kill; but the again, can you blame her, they did destroy her forest; I would certainly be pissed off if I were a spirit and I had my land destroyed. I tried to tell how I believe bonded spirits held a connection to their landmass and what it would be like to lose it. Anyway, according to Lord Okaia, Chihiro should be returning to the bathhouse soon, which means that, yes, her journey is almost over, although I still have a few chapters left to write. And what was the third card that he saw? All these questions will be answered soon enough; as long as my computer continues to function properly.)

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