So it's another long chapter guys! 9 pages and 4,412 words! XD I really hope you guys like this chapter, I know the wording gets a little repetititve~ Enjoy~
Through the dead silence of early morning, four sets of footsteps echoed loudly. Suddenly one set of footfalls stopped. "Again Men?" Hana asked, sighing and running his hands through his hair in annoyance. The girls looked behind to find the silver-haired shaman sitting in the middle of the path, his arms and legs both folded.
"Well I'm tired!" Men replied sulkily.
His blonde friend turned on heel. "This is the fifth time in two hours!"
"What's your point?"
"My point is you're actually like a spoilt child! We have a mission to do and you're holding us back!"
Men turned his head and scoffed. Hana clenched his fist before yelling, "Do you have a problem or something?!"
"Of course I do." He answered coldly, standing up and brushing himself down, "This whole thing is stupid. We're not on a mission, we're just wondering around aimlessly. We're not even out of Tokyo yet and it's been four days. Do you even know where to start looking Asakura? I bet you don't. You think I'm a child, but you're the one who left home on a whim, and before you say anything, I'm aware I did too but I'm not the one in charge here, you are and you're doing an appalling job of it."
"Just shut up!" Hana screamed. He strode over to Men, grabbing him by his shirt. "You have no idea what you're talking about!" He pushed the pre-teen to the floor before storming off. The silver haired shaman got on his feet and walked in the opposite direction. The girls looked at each other and sighed.
"We should go after them," Opacho suggested, "It's not good if they argue... Especially now."
"I know... I know..." Junior sighed, fed up with her male companions' dispute, "I'll go after Hana and try to calm him down. You do the same with Men. Let's try to get this sorted. I'll be damned if I have to put up with this crap for any longer."
Her curly haired friend nodded, "I'll see you soon then." The girls briefly exchanged subtle smiles before heading in their retrospective directions.
"Hana!" Junior huffed as she tried to catch up with him, "Hana would you wait please?" She had found the blonde haired teenager minutes after she had departed from Opacho but he had decided to ignore her and continue walking faster. She proceeded to call his name several more times. With each cry, her friend's steps quickened, building an increasing frustration within the dark blonde shaman, which she could no longer contain. "Why are you so mad?!" She yelled before stopping. "You know what, maybe Men's right. You're just a child!"
Hana stopped dead in his tracks. Junior quickly paced to stand next to him. She put a hand on his shoulder and softly said, "Hey... I didn't mean it like that... You're not like that..."
"I am..." Hana whispered. He raised his head to reveal his dark eyes filled with tears. "I am as immature as he said. I left home because I wanted adventure, I wanted freedom, I wanted to be a great shaman like Dad is. My plan was to find Uncle Hao and hope he'd give me advice or a clue to what's going on. He hasn't appeared yet. I even started calling for him when all of you were asleep, but nothing. I don't have a clue what the hell I'm doing and I'm dragging all of you with me. This is why I fully intended on doing this alone." He exhaled deeply. "Maybe you guys should go back and let me do this by myself."
"No!" Junior protested, "You can't do this by yourself you idiot!" Tears of anger flooded down her face, "You just can't!" Guilt washed over Hana seeing his friend in the state that she was in. He wrapped his arms around her. Junior objected to being comforted and proceeded to pound his chest repeatedly, her tears doubling up. Despite the pain, Hana refused to let go. Junior's attacks soon grew weary contrasting her ever growing sobs. "You can't..." She whispered, finally giving up all together on attacking her friend. Hana tightened his embrace allowing the dark blonde shaman to continue weeping. Every once in a while Junior would mumble 'idiot' into his chest but Hana chose not to retaliate. He kept his cool and just let her vent. After more moments of him cradling her, Hana noticed that Junior's tears were subsiding. In a brave move he tilted her face by her chin so they were looking into each other's eyes. "Now tell me..." Hana said softly, "Why you started crying like that? I know that's not normal for you... And those tears... They sounded heartbroken..."
Junior pushed Hana away, breaking free from his clasp with more aggression then he was expecting. "I can't... It's too painful..." She whispered, clutching her sides as if she was trying to keep herself together. Her friend chose to say nothing again. Junior looked at him and noted hurt in his eyes. She wasn't sure if she had caused the hurt or if he was worried about her. "Hana... it's just-"
"No." He interrupted sullenly, "I understand. Some things you don't wanna share. I get it. Let's go find Men and Opacho now." He turned to leave but Junior lunged for him, wrapping her thin arms around his torso.
"It all started a year ago..." She mumbled, not looking at him as she spoke, "I had originally set out on my journey to find you. But I wasn't alone..." Junior could feel Hana's expression change into a quizzical one. "I had a dream about Lord Hao. He had told me to find you and fight you for some kind of test. I'm guessing it was linked into the events that have been happening lately. My brother had a similar dream... We had a long discussion of what to do. He had decided he would come here to challenge you. I was against it. I was selfish. I wanted to go too; after all I had the same dream. My brother caved in and let me go with him despite having no spirit to call my own."
"But didn't you-"
"Please Hana..." She cut in, gazing sadly at him, "Let me finish..." Her friend nodded while she continued, "This was a frequent concern of his as we set off. One day he bought it up and I just snapped. Shouted at him and went home. I thought he'd come after me... A few hours passed and I thought he was blowing steam. When it got to a whole day, I started to get mad at him... I started wondering if he'd left me to go by himself. By day five I had given up all the faith I had in him and denounced him as my family." At the point, she could feel Hana slightly pull himself away from her. "I know... It was a horrible, disgusting thing I did. I was more concerned with the fact that he hadn't come back for me and not at all worried about how he was doing. Another week passed. I was minding my own business when his spirit appeared... and that's when I knew he had..." Junior's voice trailed away as she shook her head. "I don't understand how he ever forgave me..."
"Because you're my little sister." Replied a male voice. Hana jumped and looked around to find the source of the voice. Appearing in the thin air before him appeared a man in his late teens/early twenties. He had the same coffee coloured skin tone as Junior. The young teenager noticed they had nearly all the same facial features but only his were more masculine and his chin slightly more pointed. He knew at that moment that he was Junior's brother. Unlike his sister, he had thick, black hair pulled back into short ponytail. In the hair tie, there were three feathers attached. Hana took in that he also wore feathers on his open turquoise jacket. The lack of sleeves revealed he had quite toned arms. He smiled briefly before continuing, "What sort of person would I be if I didn't forgive you?"
"I suppose you're right..." Junior answered. She turned to Hana, signalling her hand towards her sibling. "This is my brother Mercury."
"Pleased to meet you," Hana replied politely, shaking the spirit's hand, "But do you mind if I ask something?"
Mercury gained a puzzled expression as he responded, "Sure."
"Why did you never appear to us before? You didn't even appear during our fight."
"Oh! That's because Anna asked me not to. She didn't want people knowing about the past despite me forgiving her."
Junior cut in, "I just still feel really guilty about it..."She paused, "And I didn't really know when... Things got a bit... hectic and I didn't find it appropriate talking about it. Besides... It's something I don't like talking about..." Then almost as if to back up her point, tears ran Junior's face.
Her brother put his arm around her shoulder, "Come on now Anna..." He said softly, "I'm over it..."
Suddenly Hana started laughing hysterically. He noticed his friends looking oddly at him. "Sorry," he apologised, "I'm not laughing at the situation, because to be honest, I've done my fair share of crying today, I was just laughing because I forgot Junior's name is Anna."
His friend shrugged, tears subsiding, "I've grown used to it now anyway."
"Well we're no longer in the house; do you want to be known as Anna from now on?"
The dark blonde haired shaman pondered for a few moments. "No..." she said slowly as if she was still thinking, "I don't mind being called Junior."
Her friend beamed at her. "Well since that's settled. You shall remain Junior! We should try to find the other two now." Hana gazed over his shoulder, "Amidamaru?"
The samurai spirit materialised where his shaman looked. "Yes Master Hana?"
"Go ahead and find Opacho and Men, tell them me and Junior are coming."
Amidamaru nodded briefly before floating away. As he did, Junior faced her brother, "Hey Mercury," she started quietly, "Do you mind not appearing again until I tell the others about you? I think it's about time I moved on from the past."
"Of course." He replied before taking on his younger sister's request and fazing into thin air. Hana unexpectedly took Junior's hand causing her to jump a little. "Should we go?" He asked, a hint of blush on his cheeks and uneasiness in his eyes and tone.
"Okay!" She beamed, feeling a lot more at ease. The young itako relaxed her hand into his and started walking forward with Hana at her side.
Opacho walked along a forest path. She had no luck in finding Men. The curly haired shaman started to feel pessimistic deciding that if she couldn't find him; she would give up and locate Hana and Junior instead. 'After all', she concluded in her mind, 'I hardly know him...' She stopped walking before shouting into the distance, "Men!"
"Yes?" A sarcastic voice replied nonchalantly. Opacho looked around her, unaware where the source of the voice was coming. "Up here." She looked above her to find the silver haired preteen sitting sulkily on a branch.
"How'd you get up there?" Opacho asked, amazed at how high he was.
Men rolled his eyes. "I climbed up here you idiot."
His friend chose to ignore his comment. "Just get down please." Men looked down at her. The pleading soft look in her eyes made his heart tug. Without thinking he spat at her at great speed. The pile of saliva landed just in front of her feet. Opacho exhaled, keeping her temper in check. She didn't want to get angry at him despite his attitude towards her being highly unexpected. "I thought spitting would be beneath someone like you."
"Just be quiet you fool!" He spat at her again, this time the ball of slobber landing further away.
"Well if you're going to be like that, you can stay there." The curly haired shaman said blankly. She started to walk down the path, knowing full well that Men would eventually follow. She heard a thud behind her proceeded by slow footsteps. Opacho smiled, knowing she had a way to react when Men started being hostile towards her. The young adult then begun wondering why he had very suddenly created the resentment in the first place. She realised that it came about out of the blue and she wanted to know why but as she stopped to talk to him, Amidamaru gracefully glided from the air. Knowing Opacho couldn't see him, the samurai spirit addressed Men. "Master Men," he said in his usual calm demeanour, "I have been requested by Master Hana that you and Lady Opacho return to him and Lady Junior."
"Yeah, yeah... I'm coming, I'm coming..." Men simply replied. His curly haired friend saw him talking to himself and realised that he must have been talking to a spirit. The preteen walked towards Opacho, "Amidamaru said Hana and Junior asked us to join them again." He told her flatly.
"Have you decided to make up with Hana now?" Opacho asked. Her question was responded with Men walking past her, not answering. Instead of confronting him about it, she shrugged it off and followed him down the path in silence.
Hana and Junior had, in the meantime, found a spot by a tree in which in they decided to wait for their friends. All the crying had worn Junior out that lead to her slowly drifting off on Hana's shoulder. The blonde teenager didn't mind. A part of him was starting to grow really fond of her. He smiled warmly before leaning his head back onto the tree and closing his eyes. Hana felt contented, he was oddly at peace listening to the gentle breathing of Junior. He heard the sound of footsteps getting closer and closer causing him to open one eye. Before him were Opacho and Men, giving him brazen smirks. Hana stared at them for a few short moments before realising they were grinning at Junior sleeping on him. Blushing deeply, he stood up quickly making the dark blonde hair teenager slip and bang her head on the floor.
"Hana!" She screamed sitting back up and rubbing the sore spot, "Why the hell did you do that?!"
"Do what? All I did was move..." He replied, still feeling embarrassed with his two other friends boring their eyes into the couple, making judgments on what they had just seen.
"You did it on purpose didn't you?!" She continued to shout, her face getting redder and redder.
"Why would I do such a thing like that, Junior?"
Junior opened her mouth to reply but as she did, she realised she didn't have a comeback. "Just... shut up..." She huffed as she folded her arms in a sulky manner.
"This is just too cute." Men commented in a mocking tone and a smile to match.
Hana glared at his friend. "What is?"
"The fact that we came here and you were cuddled up with Junior and then you're arguing and blushing. One might say that this is love."
"You know what Men?" Hana retorted, trying his hardest to stop his cheeks flushing even more at the word 'love', "You need to be quiet before I seriously hurt you."
"Is that a challenge Asakura?"
"You're damn right it is!" Hana replied, unsheathing his antiquity, "We should make this a little more interesting."
"How so?" Men asked, pointing his father's kwan dao towards his friend.
The blonde haired teenager walked towards the silver haired shaman. "Winner of this fight decides on what plan of action we should take next."
"Deal!" Men held out his hand which Hana gripped and shook. Amidamaru and Bason materialised to do the same thing.
"Sorry we have to fight again Bason. It seems like this is becoming a regular occurrence." The spirit chuckled as he finished shaking his opponent's hand.
"We have only our masters to blame!" Bason laughed back.
Junior sighed. She knew that letting the boys fight would be the only way to continue their journey and resolve their differences. "Come on Opacho," she said, taking her friend's wrist, "Let's leave them to it. I want to talk to you about my brother anyway."
The boys watched as the girls walked off together down the path until they were a safe distance away to sit by a tree and started talking. "Bason!" Men yelled, bringing Hana's attention back towards him, "Into the kwan dao!" Before Hana could react, the silver haired shaman pushed his spirit into his weapon and lunged forward. Skilfully Hana managed to back flip out of the way resulting in only a scratch on his cheek. Not bothered by the blood running down his face, the blonde teenager summoned Amidamaru into his antiquity forming a long sword-like oversoul and went on the offensive attack. Men ducked the assault, stabbing his weapon in his rival's direction repeatedly. The blonde shaman found it difficult dodging the attacks. 'Damn...' Hana thought, 'Who knew that he was so quick?' He shrunk the size of his oversoul to make it easier to block the incoming jabs before pushing his friend to get some distance between the two.
"Surprised aren't you Asakura?" Men asked, panting a little.
Hana smirked, "I admit, I wasn't expecting that from you. But don't think you've won just yet!" A second sword-like shape formed on his other hand.
Shock entered Men's face, "How in the hell did you do that with just one weapon?"
"I don't actually know..." His friend replied, rubbing the back of his head and grinning.
The silver haired preteen closed his eyes and screwed his face in disbelief. "Are you freakin' serious?"
"I am. I was just training one day and then I discovered I could shape my furyoku whilst still having Amidamaru in an oversoul."
Men scoffed. "I bet it's nothing but a fancy move! I'll show you true Shaman ability Tao style!" He dashed for Hana again but the adolescent also made a move at the same time. He felt he had more of a chance against Men's speed with both weapons. Despite the rapidness of the assaults, the blonde teenager was able to fight them off and begin attacking the preteen, having the upper hand as he did. Hana's onslaughts of strikes were on target, damaging Men while he tried to block. 'Shit...' The silver haired shaman thought, 'Clearly he is very powerful... I guess I have to end this quickly before I get seriously hurt.' Men made a quick manoeuvre that positioned himself behind Hana before he could even blink. The two girls noted the swift movement which sparked alarm in Junior. Panic took over her face as she watched Men take a fighting stance. "No Men!" She called, standing up, "Don't hurt him!"
Hana turned his head but as he did, Men lifted his foot and aimed for the gap between rival's legs. There was a moment of silence before the adolescent shaman fell to the floor and grabbed the affected area. "What the hell?!" He called, rolling around on the ground, tears in his eyes, "That was completely uncalled for!"
"Not really. I won the fight after all. You broke your oversoul."
"Only because you kicked me in the nuts and that broke my concentration!"
"And what's your point Asakura?"
"You didn't fight fair! Where's the so called Tao honour in that?"
Men simply shrugged. "Honour means nothing if you're fighting for your life. Sometimes you have to fight dirty in order to win."
"What part of this was a fight to the death? As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that's died here is my chance of ever having children!" Hana replied, still wincing at the pain in his gentleman area.
A feeling of exasperation washed over Men as he sighed, "Grow up and accept that you lost already." He offered a hand to help Hana up, which was happily received.
The blonde adolescent dusted himself off. "Okay... Okay... You win. This time... But next time I'll win."
"There won't be a next time!" Junior interjected. She and Opacho had moved from their spot to join the boys. "You two are going to get along for the rest of this journey!"
"The hell I am!" Hana spat while at the same time Men replied, "That's impossible!"
"YOU WILL GET ALONG!" Their female friend roared, cracking her knuckles, "NOW HUG LIKE THE BEST FRIENDS YOU ARE!"
"Yes Ma'am!" The boys said unison before giving each other a tight hug.
She continued, "Now with that over and done with, what's our next plan of action?" She intentionally looked towards Men as did everyone else.
"I've had this idea for a while," Men answered contemplatively, slowly stroking his chin and folding his arm, "Why don't we go to my father's family home in China? It has plenty of books on various events that have happened in Shaman history. Perhaps there is something there that might help with this current situation."
Opacho, Hana and Junior all widened their eyes. Men's idea seemed completely logical. "Why did you not say this idea sooner then?" The curly haired shaman asked him. Her question was responded with a sinister glower from the boy who had a sudden dislike for her.
"Whoa..." Hana said, noting the daggers his friend was giving, "Chill out Men. She did make a valid point. If you were thinking that all along, why didn't tell us?"
"Because you were in charge and it didn't look like you were up for taking suggestions."
"I was fully open to opinions you little runt!"
"Which is why you stormed off when I criticised your leadership skills right?" Men answered, giving a smug smile, knowing full well Hana didn't have a response. The blonde teenager raised his fist, aiming his arm towards his friend but before he could make contact, Junior cleared her throat, giving him a 'death stare'. He then relaxed his fist into a flat palm and patted Men on his shoulder, grinning nervously at Junior to see if she approved. She nodded at him before addressing her silver haired friend, "Anyway... Putting Hana's inability to lead aside, that's a pretty good idea and I say we go ahead with it. The more research we get, the closer we'll be to understanding what's going on in the Shaman world."
"One problem," Opacho interjected, "How are going to get to China? I'm sure none of us have enough money or thought to bring our passports."
Men briefly gazed at her. The concern in her voice and soft expression caused a colossal tugging sensation in his heart. "Foolish woman," he replied, masking his weird feeling from everyone else, "I thought about this. The Tao family is wealthy. We have plenty of money and 33 private planes. One of which is in Tokyo."
Hana walked closer to Men, "That's all well and good but we don't have our passports on us and if we go back home, I highly doubt our parents will let us leave again."
From his jacket pocket, Men produced 3 passports. "You little..." His blonde rival said almost immediately, "When in the hell did you get those?"
"I had heard you talking to Amidamaru the night we left and so before I came to you guys, I stole all of your passports knowing you'd forget them."
Upon hearing his name being called, the samurai spirit appeared, instantly whispering in his master's ear, "He has a point Master Hana."
"Fine!" Hana called out, puffing his cheeks in a rather childish manner, annoyed that even he thought Men's idea was a great one, "Let's go to China!"
The four youngsters soon found the hanger in which Men's plane was located and each enjoyed the sense of adventure they were experiencing. Excitement built in Hana's body. It was the first time he had left Japan and it was to see a place he had heard Yoh talk about a few times. When they had got to China, they took a private train to the Tao household. The journey had taken them around four hours so by the time they had reached their destination, the sun was setting, making the sky a very warm orange. "Here we are!" Men announced standing on the bridge that lead them to the house.
"When you said house, I wasn't quite expecting this..." Junior noted in awe. She, Hana and Opacho tilted their necks to get a better look at the grand ancient Chinese mansion before them, "Are you sure it's okay to go in?"
"Of course I am. No one lives here anymore anyway. My father told me that after the Shaman Fight, my relatives decided to live in a more humble home."
"Then who the hell is that?" Hana asked pointing behind to a figure standing on the other side of the bridge. As the silhouette walked closer, the four adolescents sensed a powerful evil radiating from the being. "Guys," Hana whispered quietly, "This could get dangerous. Be on your guard. If things get heated, I want you to run Opacho. Having no ability means you could get hurt." Everyone nodded in agreement, getting into a defensive pose. The figure finally came out of the shadows. Men took a step back, gasping.
"Auntie Jun?!" He called in sheer shock. The woman before them was in her mid thirties with long green hair stopping at her curvaceous hips. The dark aura the teenagers felt intensified. Her eyes flashed red.
"Charming family reunion this is..." Hana said jokingly despite knowing the severity of the situation.
Choosing to ignore the comment, "Asakura, this is similar to the time you and Junior fought wasn't it?"
"It is... It means she'll be more powerful than usual and have no idea what she's doing."
Men opened his mouth to talk but was interrupted by his Aunt roaring, "You will not know anymore than you already know!" The centre of the bridge was smashed open from a force coming through. Landing by Jun was a grey complexioned man in martial art attire. "Pailong! Destroy them!" At great speed the man charged for the group of teenagers, throwing rapid punches, with one intent, to kill.