Wings of True Love
"Eh? !" Yasmine exclaimed, staring up at the rainy sky in amazement.
On either side of her, the sky was bending down to touch the earth in a pair of drops. The two drops dipped within a few feet of the grass, then burst, depositing a pair of women unceremoniously onto Yuko's lawn.
"GAAAAAAAAH-!" the figure falling on Yasmine's left yelled as she dropped to the ground, landing on her stomach with a hard thud.
"Oww…" the girl groaned into the grass, making no clear effort to get up. Yasmine noticed immediately that she was gasping for breath, panting even harder than Yasmine had been when she had arrived. This, combined with the fact that she was thoroughly soaked, caused Yasmine to deduce that she must have been submerged in water quite recently. Why? … Yasmine couldn't as easily deduce that.
Yasmine took a closer look at the girl, studying her curiously.
She was a girl of about seventeen, lithe in build and taller by far than the (*ahem*) 'vertically challenged' Yasmine, with shoulder length jet black hair in a pageboy cut and chocolate brown eyes. Her clothing was simple and built for movement; she wore a sleeveless orange Mandarin- style shirt with gold embroidery and the transparent image of a wolf across the abdomen, plain black shorts, black wristbands with a golden wolf image adorning each one, and flat black shoes that were easy for running. The only points of consequence about the girl were the twin wolfs head daggers strapped to her waist (as well as the small leather pouch below them that no doubt held more weapons) and her tiara, a thick gold band around her forehead with a circular orange gem in the center.
There was the thump of person landing on grass, and Yasmine turned in time to see the figure that had fallen on her right landing, on her feet no less. Apparently she was a lot more used to this sort of thing than Yasmine or the dark haired girl.
Though she looked to be only a year younger than the girl with dark hair, the newest arrival couldn't look more different. Her build was petite but sturdy, and she was only a head taller than Yasmine. Quite opposed to the other girl's short, black hair, this girl's locks were quite long and a vivid shade of blood red, pushed back by a dark green headband. Similarly, while the other girl had clothing that was mostly plain- boyish, even- this second girl's clothes were, in contrast: elegant, feminine, and intricately detailed. She wore a long sleeved, off-the-shoulder dark green dress with a thick red sash around her waist that ended in a black and white butterfly decoration. Translucent butterflies shimmered on her dress, fluttering and shifting across the dress as she moved, and attached to her back was a large pair of decorative black and white butterfly wings. There was a long red cloak draped around her shoulders, with an overlarge hood that almost obscured her face, and on her feet were delicate, dark green high heeled shoes.
A long pause had stretched within the yard as Yuko allowed the two new arrivals time to acclimate themselves. Th redhead lowered her cloak's hood, obviously not caring about the rain as she surveyed the yard, her sharp beryl green eyes darting about. Meanwhile, the dark haired girl rose up to her knees and sat back as she looked around, having realized for the first time that she was in unfamiliar surroundings. Slowly, both wandering pairs of eyes landed on Yuko, and the silence was broken as the two girls spoke in unison.
"Eh? Where am I, and who are you? !" the dark haired girl asked.
"You are the Dimensional Witch, are you not?" asked the redhead.
The two girls blinked in surprise and turned to stare at one another. Green met brown as the two became aware of each other for the first time. (3)
"Who are you?" they asked each other at the same time.
"Welcome," Yuko started in, deciding that this was a fine time for introductions, "to my shop. State your names and/or titles, please."
The dark haired girl glance from Yuko to the redhead and back again, then, deeming the situation safe, stood up and rose to her full height. Just as Yasmine had predicted, she towered over the others.
"The name's Tikara Tikono, seventh generation assassin for the royal court of Kodansha," she rattled off- this seemed to be the way she always introduced herself.
Yuko nodded at the information and turned to the redhead, "And you?"
"One of the last Butterfly Witches in the Miko Dimension, I'm afraid. I am called Aika," the red haired girl stated calmly. Again Yuko nodded.
"You three," she began, studying the young women before her, "have all come here to Japan under different circumstances, with varying degrees of willingness and various different reasons. However, one thing remains the same; each of you has a wish."
"Japan? !" Tikara exclaimed, shock and confusion on her face, "You mean I'm not even in Kodansha anymore? !"
"My home world…" Tikara and Aika began, again in unison
"… is where I've gotta be!" Tikara finished determinedly.
"… is the one place I cannot be." Aika finished expressionlessly, at the same time as Tikara.
Then, once again, Aika and Tikara turned to stare blankly at each other.
"That is a lot to ask… for either of you," Yuko said plaintively, "or maybe I should say… for all three of you."
Aika and Tikara stopped staring at each other as for the first time they became aware of Yasmine as she sat there on the wet grass in her pajamas. Yasmine blushed with self-consciousness as the two stared now at her instead.
"It seems that alone, none of you have anything valuable enough to properly grant your wish," Yuko said, "As I told Yasmine, not even your most precious possessions would be enough to pay for such a grand wish."
"What… are you saying?" Aika asked, frowning deeply in the first, even slight, display of emotion Yasmine had seen from her.
"Humph, maybe we should let her explain, Ms. No Expressions. She does seem to be the expert, after all," Tikara huffed, crossing her arms.
"I AM NOT 'MS. NO EXPRESSIONS'!" Aika yelled at Tikara, her first true expression yet looking like 'anger', "YOU HEARD ME WHEN I SAID IT, MY NAME IS AIKA!"
"B-but! Uhm," Yasmine spoke up uncertainly, not wanting to anger the redhead further but needing an explanation, "Wh-what does the Witch- san mean when she talks about prices?"
Aika turned to Yasmine to explain, though she still looked irritated, "Traveling across worlds is a disruptive process. We have to give up something as a price in order to keep the balance of the universe maintained. But…" Aika's agitated face flickered with uncertainty, "it seems that none of us have enough with which to pay…"
"Not quite," Yuko broke in. She seemed to be very deep in thought as she spoke, "Perhaps… if the three of you combined your payments for one wish, then that just might be enough to grant your requests."
She was about to speak again when the thud of approaching footsteps sounded behind them.
"Eh?" said a voice from the entrance of the yard, "More people falling from the sky, Yuko-san?"
The women all turned around to see a bespectacled young man standing at the gate, an umbrella in one hand and a school bag in the other.
"Indeed, Watanuki," Yuko replied to the boy, "and you're just in time. Go to the very back of the treasure room with Maru and Moro; there's something very important there that we'll need."
Watanuki obeyed and ran into the shop, where a girl with pink hair and another with blue hair were ready and waiting for him at the door.
As the three disappeared into the shop, Yuko turned back to the confused stares of Tikara, Yasmine, and Aika.
"Yes," she said with certainty, "if the three of you pay together, then you should be able to afford the wish. After all… your wishes are one and the same…"
Yuko nodded, turning to each girl in turn.
"You, Tikara, wish to return to the world from which you came.
"You, Aika, wish to travel to any number of worlds as long as they are not your own.
"And you, Yasmine, wish to travel to one world in particular in order to find a specific person and save your world… Or rather…"
Yuko stopped. "That's not quite correct, is it?"
She slowly walked up to Yasmine, lifting the young girl's chin so that Yasmine's large grey eyes were level with her red.
"You… are incomplete," Yuko said softly.
"I-'incomplete'?" Yasmine whispered.
"Yes," Yuko continued slowly, "It wasn't a recent occurrence, but at some point in time, a great number of your memories were scattered. It's quite surprising that, though you remember so little, you never noticed."
"I-! I remember plenty!" Yasmine exclaimed defiantly, moving from Yuko's grasp and rising to her knees.
Yuko looked down at Yasmine calmly, her expression unreadable.
"Oh?" she asked Yasmine steadily, "Then why don't you answer some questions for me? Have you any childhood friends?"
"Yes," Yasmine started. She remembered that she'd had four close friends growing up… but… Yasmine stopped and frowned. As hard as she tried, she couldn't recall their names or faces.
"Where did you grow up?" Yuko continued.
"I…" Yasmine shook her head. She and her mom had lied in their two-room apartment for many years, it was true- Yasmine was still living there now, even a year after her mom's death- but they hadn't moved there until Yasmine was eight. And where they'd lived before that… she wasn't sure anymore.
"What are your parents' names?" Yuko asked steadily.
Finally, a question Yasmine could answer!
"My mother's name was Tenshi Tokogawa," Yasmine said confidently, "and my father's name-" Yasmine stopped again, as if her mind had hit a brick wall. Her father's name…?
"Yasmine," Yuko said quietly, kneeling in front of her and looking her in the eyes gravely, "What is your middle name?"
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Yasmine heard the crystal clear sound of a mirror shattering. Stunned, she fell back from her kneeling position and sat down hard.
Yasmine couldn't remember. She honestly couldn't remember, and now a giant void where those memories should have been stretched before her, when she hadn't even known it was there.
"Hey!" a voice said sharply. A warm hand grasped Yasmine's shoulder, and she looked up slowly to see Tikara glaring daggers at Yuko. "Leave her alone, she's just a kid!"
Yuko stood up calmly, as if Tikara hadn't said anything.
"Why- why…?" Yasmine whispered dully, her light brown bangs falling into her eyes. With great effort, she pulled herself together and brushed her bangs away.
"What…" Yasmine started, trying to regain composure, "What does this change?"
Yuko looked as if she were on the verge of a smile as she answered, "It changes only your goal. You will still need to retrieve he whom you are searching for, but know this; he alone cannot save your world. No, Sapphire can only be saved by his power and yours combined."
"What? !" Yasmine exclaimed, leaping to her feet. Yuko held up a hand to calm her down.
"Yes, Yasmine. Believe it or not, you have great magical power within you that's just waiting to be unlocked. And for this to happen, you will need-" Yuko reached into her dress sleeve and pulled something out "-these."
Yasmine gasped as she felt a jolt of electricity shoot down her spine.
In Yuko's hand was a glass shard, like that from a mirror, except it didn't reflect anything around it; instead, it showed the golden image of an angel's wing.
"This, Yasmine, belongs to you," Yuko stated.
"Wh- what is it?" Yasmine murmured, eyes locked on the shard.
"It is a fragment of your missing memories- one of many. Each of these fragments contains a portion of your power, and, if you are to succeed in your gambit, you will need to piece together all of those mirror shards of yours that were scattered across dimensions. Do you understand?"
Yasmine took a deep breath, feeling her determination returning, and nodded. "Yes."
"Good," Yuko said, "Your three wishes may be different, but the method is the same; you all wish to travel, to one or many dimensions. Individually, none of you can make this happen; however, if the three of you were to combine payment for a single wish, you could afford it."
"Supposing this was true," Tikara stepped forward, studying the witch inquisitively, "What would serve as payment? Let's say, as an example, for me. What could I pay you with?"
"Whatever is most precious to you. For you, it's those weapons you carry: those twin daggers and pouch of shurikens," the witch responded calmly.
Tikara however, did not react as calmly. She jumped back, eyes wide as if she'd been slapped, and her hands curled around her daggers protectively.
"Wha-? !" she exclaimed, "Ko and Mera? ! And my shurikens, too? How- how dare you! Never!"
Yuko chuckled as she replied, "Fine, then you can wander aimlessly around this world for as long as you like. But I hope you realize that you're trapped here, and I'm the only one in this world with enough power to get you home."
"NO WAY!" Tikara yelled incredulously, "Now THAT'S a lie!"
"Actually," Aika said with a slow smirk, "she's telling the truth."
"AH? !" Tikara shouted. Aika's smirk widened.
"So," Yuko said with a smirk identical to Aika's, "What will you do about it?"
For several seconds Tikara stood motionless hands curled around the twin daggers and her dark hair screening her eyes from view.
After a long pause, she looked up, brown eyes red-rimmed and murderous.
"Fine." She growled, her voice low.
Clearly moving as quickly as she could in order to be done with it, she yanked the daggers from her waist with one hand and the leather pouch of shurikens with the other and held them out to the witch.
"Just-!" Tikara said through gritted teeth, "take good care of them. They're my most precious possessions for a reason, okay?"
To say the least, neither Yuko nor Aika smirked anymore as dark red swirls of the witch's magic gently took Tikara's weapons from her.
Tikara's price paid, Yuko turned to Aika.
"Your price… is that ring around your finger," she said.
Ever Tikara's opposite, Aika stayed very still, as if she were concentrating her hardest on not reacting at all.
Silently, Aika lifted her left hand, no doubt to get a last look at her ring. It was beautiful; gold, with magical markings engraved on it in inlaid silver, and a glittering ruby stone set in the center.
Aika sighed heavily.
"It has to be this?" she asked dully, "Nothing else will do?"
"Sadly, no," Yuko responded, "I told you, the price must be he thing you value most."
"Very well then," Aika said, slowly twisting the ring off her finger. She held out the ring in the palm of her hand, and Yuko's magic claimed it as well.
"And now you, Yasmine," Yuko said at last, "Give to me that which is most precious to you and you will gain that which your princess asked you to procure: the power to cross dimensions."
Yasmine looked at Yuko confidently. "Yes."
"Know that I can only let you move from world to world," Yuko said sternly, "You will need to find your memories and he whom you search for on your own."
"I know." Yasmine replied.
"You are strong for your age. I like that," Yuko said, smiling.
There was the sound of running footsteps as Watanuki finally returned, the girl with pink hair and the girl with blue hair both behind him.
"You brought it?" Yuko turned and asked him.
"Yes," he replied.
It was then that Yasmine realized that there was a black… something riding on Watanuki's shoulder, and there was a silvery grey something he was carrying in his arms, which he handed off to Yuko.
Upon closer inspection, the silvery grey something was actually a living blob with silver grey fur, long rabbit-like ears, small arms, big feet, and a large purple gem on it forehead.
"This is Mokona Modoki," said Yuko, introducing the silvery grey something to the group, "Mokona will lead you from world to world on your journey."
"Hey, wait," Tikara said suspiciously, pointing to the black Mokona on Watanuki's shoulder, "You've got more than one. If I just take the black one, I can get home!"
"No. You see, this Mokona is one of a set of three, born and raised for this very occasion- this very point in time. There's a white Mokona with a red gem, that black Mokona with the blue gem, and this grey Mokona here with the purple gem. The white Mokona is already in the possession of a different group of dimension travelers, and only the white and grey Mokonas have the ability to traverse dimensions. The black Mokona cannot travel, but it can keep communication with the two other Mokonas. That will be how you contact me once you're in other worlds," Yuko explained.
"Although the grey Mokona can take you to different worlds, there is no way for it to control which world you go to. Thus, only fate can determine when each of your individual wishes will be granted," she carried on, "know this, young travelers; there is no such thing as coincidence in this life. All there is is hitsuzen. And what brought the three of you together, to this place, was also hitsuzen."
The witch then turned to Yasmine to collect the final price.
"Yasmine. Your price… is the relationships that you have."
"I- I don't understand," Yasmine responded, a confused frown on her face.
"The thing you value most is not something tangible; it is the people who have been around you and the relationships you've shared with them. Near and far. Living and dead. Remembered… and forgotten. None of these relationships can ever be the same again," Yuko stated.
Yasmine stood there for a moment, letting this all sink in as the witch continued.
"None of the relationships you have now can ever remain as they were. In one way or another, they will change, for better or for worse, and those changes will affect you greatly. And thus, those adverse changes in the relationships you've had… that will be your price," Yuko finished calmly, "That being said… what will you do?"
Yasmine stayed very still, thinking of what this would all mean. There would be difficult changes ahead of her that would affect not just Yasmine- but the people she loved as well. That was what the witch was saying.
Like images on a holoscreen, pictures of Yasmine's loved ones appeared in her mind's eye. She saw her mother and father; her best friend at high school, Haruhi; Takeshi and Shotaro, her co-workers at the repair shop where she worked. She saw Princess Cara Citrene and Krystal, who had placed all of their hopes for Sapphire's future on her shoulders- she saw the four dear friends she'd had growing up, whom she couldn't even remember now. If she paid this price, then she wouldn't have those bonds to rely on anymore. To be honest- Yasmine couldn't think of anything scarier. And yet…
"Even… if I don't pay that price…" Yasmine said slowly, her bangs hiding her eyes again, "those relationships will change, regardless. Sapphire will fall, and this will all be for nothing. I refuse to let that happen!"
Yasmine looked up with determination as Yuko asked, "Do you accept, then?"
"Witch-san," Yasmine replied strongly, "consider your price paid!"
"Very well," Yuko responded with a nod, "Be warned, young travelers; travel between dimensions is more dangerous than you could ever imagine. Each dimension has its own set of rules that will change from world to world. People you know, people whom you've met on your world, have developed under completely different conditions in other worlds. In other worlds, they will not know you. You may meet the same person time and time again in different worlds, but just because that person was your friend in one world does not guarantee that they will treat you in kind on the next. Scientific developments, laws, standard of living… they all change with the world. You will find worlds full of criminals, worlds built on lies, worlds locked in constant wars. Through all of this, you must survive, constantly searching for your Chosen One and those fractured shards of memory… and you would still see your journey through?" she turned to Yasmine questioningly.
"I will," Yasmine said confidently.
"I see…," she said calmly, "I said this once to the previous group of dimension travelers, and I will say it to you as well; sincerity and determination. No matter what a person wants to attempt, those are what is needed. And with that being said…"
Yuko held out Mokona, who sprouted a pair of silvery angel's wings as a magic circle appeared below it.
"You may go!" said the Time- Space Witch.
Mokona opened its mouth wide, and with the force of several vacuums, it started sucking the three girls in.
"Yasmine," Yuko called.
"Ah! Yes?" Yasmine called back. Squinting through the bright silvery glow of Mokona's wings, she saw the witch holding out the glass mirror shard.
"This is for you," Yuko said quietly.
As soon as Yuko released it, the glass shard sped forward to Yasmine. She gasped in surprise as, as if summoned by the shard's power, a circular mirror appeared from her chest. It was small yet beautiful, with gold circling the rim and the pattern of white wings surrounding the edge, but it was broken, with only a few jagged pieces of glass remaining inside. Yasmine blinked in awe as the mirror shard glowed with golden light, approached the mirror and integrated itself into it flawlessly, as if it had never left. Finally, the small mirror sank back into Yasmine's chest, and as it returned she felt a powerful wave of sleepiness consume her.
"Ah! Hey!" Tikara shouted, catching Yasmine as her knees buckled, "What the hell is going on? !"
But her question was never answered, because at that moment Mokona sucked the three girls into its mouth and disappeared. Just as darkness consumed Yasmine, her journey with Tikara and Aika began.
However, had she been awake- or still in that world, for that matter- Yasmine would have seen Yuko smile at them as the rain finally stopped, and heard her speak upwards to the sky.
"I wish… you three the best of fortune on your journey!"