Author's note: Please forgive me sob. I am unworthy! But I do have a good excuse. Christmas holidays, work, and sister coming down have been taking up all my time. And I have only just realized how to keep those lovely italics and bold words. YAY! So I have been forced to re-upload all my previous chapters. Especially chapter 3, that has the most italics in it. Now you can differentiate between speaking (normal words) and thinking/dragonspeak (italics).

Once again, all characters that you recognize belong to Hayao Miyazaki. All who you don't recognize belong to me...yadda yadda.

This is the first part of this chapter. I am going strong on the second part, but I just had to post this, so you all don't think I've forgotten.

Don't worry, it gets better.

Chapter 7 - Nightmares part 1

As Rini and Kohaku stood before King Lleodon, Rini couldn't help but notice the garden, just off the Great Hall.

"Ah, Master Haku, and the Lady Selenity. I have long awaited your visit. What is it that you wish to give to me?"

Kohaku stepped forward, "We bear a missive from Lady Yubaba, of the Yubabathouse."

"Ah, the Yubabathouse. I remember going there, long ago. What does she send me?"

Kohaku nudged Rini, "Go on, give it to him!" he whispered. She glared at him, then gave the sealed message to the King. He opened it, read it, then glanced up at them, a queer expression on his face.

"Yes...I see it...ah, I know why...yes...very good, a good match..." Rini and Kohaku glanced at each other, and she shrugged her shoulders, as the King motioned for a scribe.

"I shall need some time to write a reply, please, my attendants shall show you around the Palace. Check out the gardens, they are especially fine this year."

The King went off into his study, and a young Air Spirit came over to them. "Please, this way, m'lord, m'lady," she said, bowing in the fashion of the Air Spirits,* "I am Lona, attendant to the King."

(*A/N: All Spirits have their own way of bowing, think of it like the different ways we humans have of saying hello, each kind to it's own.)

Rini and Kohaku followed her, as she glid (A/N: Is that a word?) over the floor. She noticed their looks and said, "We are Air Spirits, flight, and levitation comes naturally to us. It's easier for us to fly, then to walk."

She led them out to the Gardens, and they marvelled at the plant and animal life. Rini was especially impressed, being only used to human gardens. There was a wild, chaotic order to the garden, flowers of white and lilac predominant.

"Oh, what a beautiful flower!" Rini cried, as she spied a lovely flower near her.

"It's a Purple Crocus," Lona said, "It grows only in this garden. There is an especially fine flower, in the centre of the garden."

"Oooh, could we see it?"

Lona looked at Kohaku, he shrugged and said, "Yeah, go ahead. I'll stay here, and...look at the...rose thing here."

"Men," Rini scoffed, as she and Lona moved off, "Wouldn't know a flower from a rock!"

Lona giggled, "Yeah, even the Crown Prince, he doesn't know anything of flowers, and his mother has been dragging him down here all his life."

Kohaku watched them, watching Rini as she moved through the flowerbeds, her hips swaying... *AARGH! I'm doing it again! Ok, settle down now, think of something else...*

"A penny for your thoughts?" a quiet voice asked.

Kohaku jumped, and started as he looked at a young Air Spirit floating very close to him. He could tell that the Spirit was very important, due to his fine clothes. The Spirit would be about his age, with light lilac hair, and brilliant azure eyes.

"I am Prince Amun-Te, Crown Prince of the Upper Air Kingdom," the Spirit said, "What's your name?"

"Kohaku, of the Kohaku River, Master of the Yubabathouse." Kohaku answered.

"Ah, yes. I know of the Yubabathouse. My father often talked of it. It was where he met my mother. What brings you here to this place?"

"I'm with the Lady Selenity, we were bearing a message for your father."

"Mmmmhumm...nice view, isn't it?" the Prince asked, looking thoughtfully forward. Kohaku looked in the direction the Price was looking and saw the two girls among the flowers. Rini was standing behind some pretty white flowers, with some lavender-like flowers behind her.

"Yeah..." he said, automatically, "Nice view."

The Prince looked at him and smiled. His father had shown him the message, and while he had at first had his misgivings, he now knew why Yubaba had wrote those things in the missive.

Meanwhile, the two young female Spirits were still walking through the garden, making their way over to the centre, which had the flower Lona wanted to show Rini.

"Master Kohaku is a very fine man, is he not?" asked Lona.

"Humph. He's rude and annoying," Rini scoffed, then she blushed, "But he sure knows how to kiss..."

"Ah ha..." Lona grinned, "Ah, here we are, this is the flower I'd like to show you."

Before them stood an exceptionally fine flower. Rini had never seen anything like it before. It stood about 5 feet high, on a single stem, with a few banana-like leaves coming off the stem. The flower itself was shaped like a tulip, closed, and was about 20 cm long. The flower had a lovely scent, one Rini was certain she had smelled before.

"Are there more than one flowers like this?" she asked Lona.

"No, not that I know of. But, I believe that this flower grew from a seed, which was given to us, about 16 years ago. It was an unusual seed, it seemed to sparkle, and a very important Spirit gave it to us. He was a High Lord, or something. I don't know much more than that," Lona answered.

Rini looked at it, and felt a small 'pull' towards the flower. "Come on, we'd best be heading back now."

Lona started to move towards the entrance of the garden, when she stopped and said, "Oh, no, he's there..."

"Who?" asked Rini, intrigued.

"Prince Amun-Te, the crown Prince. I...I can't go near him. I always do something clumsy, like tread on his toes or spill drink on his robes. It's only because I do not do that with the King that I am able to remain as the King's Assistant."

"Sounds like you like him..." Rini grinned evilly at her new friend.

Lona blushed, "Yes, I do. But how will the Crown Prince ever be intrested in me? A lower-class assistant...He is betrothed to a princess from another Kingdom. I have no chance."

"Never say 'never'" Rini cried, lifting one finger straight in the air, she then grinned, "Especially to me!"

Lona chuckled, "It shall be interesting to see what you do."

The two girls laughed as they made their way back over to the boys. Kohaku glared at Rini.

"We have to go now, it's getting late as it is already."

"Go?" Prince Amun-Te asked, worried, "You can't go, at least not now."

Lona nodded, "Yes, it's too dangerous. The Druij come out at night in these parts."

Kohaku paled, "Druij?" he asked weakly.

Rini wrinkled up her nose, and asked, confused, "Druij? Who or what are the Druij?"

The Prince and Lona looked at each other, "The Druij are evil spirits, they like nothing more than capturing other Spirits and sacrificing them to their 'god', a horrible snake-like creature. It is said however, the only thing the Druij are afraid of is the pure light of the mythical Star Spirits."

"Mythical?" Rini asked, surprised.

"Yes. They are hailed as myths, for none have been seen for many aeons. My father the King, remembered his grandfather speaking of how he saw a Star Spirits, and my father says they haven't been seen since."

Rini thought, *If I am a Star Spirit, it means that the Druij will be afraid of me, and I can protect Kohaku and I as we travel back, but Zaneba told me that I cannot reveal my secret.*

Kohaku said, "Then what are we meant to do then?"

"We have many rooms, I am sure we can find some for you. Then in the morning you can return to Yubaba with the reply from my father."

Rini and Kohaku nodded, "We agree," they both said. They were shown to two very fine rooms, adjoining each other.

"Well, goodnight, sleep well," said the Prince.

Rini grinned, "I shall, O Prince," as she reahed up and began to undo her plaits, "Goodnight Kohaku."

Kohaku mumbled a goodnight to Rini as he walked into his room, trying to remove a vision of her lying in bed, with her hair undone.

Rini sighed, lying down on her bed. But as soon as her head hit the pillow, she began to dream... And as she dreamed...

Aren't I evil? Yes, I know what she is dreaming, but I think I'll leave this part of the chapter here like this. It'll keep you all interested.