And I am done. Nothing else to say but enjoy, and hope it lived up to the expectation of the readers.
Chapter 13: SpiritED Home
The train slowly skidded to a stop. One by one, Chihiro, Edd and No-Face made their way off the train.
"So where now?" Edd asked.
Chihiro looked around; there was only one dirt road in the swamp. "That way I hope."
And they got off the train stop, and trotted off. The swamp was in complete contrast to the bathhouse they had spent so much time in. There were no buildings, nothing to show that anyone lived here save the dirt road that seemed to stretch for an eternity. About an hour down, there was a small light bobbing up and down, a small squeaking noise following its bobbing rhythm. Edd tensed preparing himself to see something grotesque. As it came closer it looked like a lamppost hopping on one foot. Edd recoiled slightly but Chihiro and No-Face gave it a slight bow. Edd opted to follow them and copied them. The lamppost bowed as well, turned and went back up the path. "I'm guessing we follow that?" Edd asked/
"It figures I guess." Edd sighed.
The lamppost would hop ahead of them, and then would stop for a moment or them to catch up, only to continue on once they got close enough. Slowly it led them to a cleared out patch of land, where there was a modest looking house surrounded by a fence. The lamppost hopped all the way to the fence's arch way before jumping up and tying itself to the buttress. "Zeniba's abode I presume." Edd said aloud, expecting Zeniba's voice to ring out and drag them in. But nothing happened. So they slowly walked towards the front door, which opened just as Chihiro was about to knock. "Come in." said a soft voice. Edd took a deep breath and walked in. Looking around he motioned to Chihiro who followed him in, and then No-Face. The door closed, with Zeniba facing them from behind the door. "So you made it. Sit down now, I'll make some tea."
Chihiro walked up to Zeniba who was tending to a stove. "Excuse me ma'am but Haku stole this from you, and I came to give it back." Chihiro told her, holding up the seal.
Zeniba took it in one hand, and eyed it. "I see. You know what this is?"
"Your golden seal, which Haku stole. I came to apologize for him." And she bowed. "Sorry." Edd and No-Face followed her example. "Yes we apologize in his stead as he is still recovering."
Zeniba didn't take her eyes off them. "He sliced me in two you know. And I still haven't gotten over that. It really hurt." She then looked at the seal. "Strange the protective spell I put on it is gone."
"You mean the black slug that was on your seal?" Chihiro asked and Zeniba looked up at her.
"I uhm…a-accidentally rolled over it a-a-and…er…squished it." Edd stammered.
Zeniba's eyes widened. "Squished?!" and she broke out into laughter. "That wasn't my slug! That was my sister's slug that she used to control Haku with." She turned to Edd, tears welling in her eyes. "And you squished it." and she was unable to contain her laughter anymore, and let it out. Edd looked confused.
"So it wasn't yours?"
"No." she smiled warmly. "But still what happened to my spell? Only love could break it. Come." She motioned them al to sit at a table.
"I can see where this is going." Edd said to himself.
Chihiro turned midway to the table and pointed to the mouse and sparrow on her shoulder. "Can you turn these two back?"
Zeniba looked at them and said. "That spell wore off ages ago. They are free to turn back at any time they want. Don't you want to?"
The two little animals shook their heads.
"I don't believe it, what would possess Haku to do something like that?" Eddy asked to himself as the bathhouse filled itself with its usual customers. "Agree to a deal for Sen's contract?"
"No idea buckaroo." Ed said, having no idea what they were talking about.
"I mean, she risks her neck to save Haku, lures No-Face out of the bathhouse, and risks her life getting it as far away from here as possible, and Yubaba still wants to punish her for it." some of the employees were overhearing the conversation, though they pretended not to. Even a lot of the customers stopped their usual chatter, and were listening in.
"I mean Haku had the perfect Ace. Bring back Yubaba's kid and then Chihiro and we could go free. So why'd he agree to the test? I mean, you heard what happens if she messes up. We get stuck here for good. Then we'll never get home." Eddy rested his head on his mop. "I mean, what's the point in having gold if you can't go anywhere to spend it?" the bathhouse was starting to grow so silent that many spirits on the second floor could hear Eddy.
"I really dunno Eddy. Maybe it's to…uh…I forgot what I was saying, what were we talking about?" a wave of groans from the peanut gallery.
"Sen you twit! Edd's cousin? The one that saved that River God? The one whose parents are now pigs, and the only reason they aren't being eaten is because she's working here? The one that went off to find a cure for Haku? That one?"
"You mean the human girl?" asked one of the attendants from the next tub over.
"Yeah, of course I am." Eddy replied impatiently. He didn't care who was listening, he was angry and he was going to make damn sure everyone around him knew why.
Tea was set out along with cake, cookies, and a few other sweets. No-Face was helping himself to some of the cake, while the mouse Baby, nibbled away at a cookie. Edd was calmly drinking his tea while Chihiro and Zeniba talked.
"I don't usually get along with my sister. She's so obnoxious, as I'm sure you know. She's so tacky. I'm sure you know, working there for so long. It's ironic that though were identical in every physical way, but are personalities are so different." She sipped her tea. "I'm sorry that she turned your parents into pigs, but there is nothing I can do. I have nothing that could help them. I'm afraid you'll have to find your own way. Try using what you remember about them."
"Can't you help me even a little more than that? I feel like I met Haku before, but I can't remember when."
Zeniba leaned in. "That's a good start. Once you meet someone you never really forget them. Just think about it and give your memories some time to catch up. I'll be working with the boys to make you something." She got up and walked to her sewing kit. "Oh and I'd like you to start calling me granny from now on."
Edd chocked on his tea. "That's a strange offer coming from a woman that turned a giant baby into a little mouse."
"Isn't it?" Zeniba smiled.
"No-Face where did you learn to spin thread? You're really good at this." Zeniba said, sewing something small together. Chihiro was curled on a chair by the door, and Edd was close by drinking even more tea. "Anything come yet?" Edd asked, patting Chihiro on the back. She shook her head, and got up, "I can't remember a thing."
She walked over to Zeniba. "Please, I need more help. Haku could already be dead, ad my parents eaten." She sniffed, tears welling in her eyes.
Zeniba looked up momentarily then returned to her sewing. "Wait just a little longer." She made a hair band and handed it to Chihiro. There we go, put it on."
Chihiro looked at it, dazzled. "It's beautiful…"
Zeniba's eyes twinkled. "It'll protect you. It is made from the threads your friends wove together."
"Thank you." And she started to tie her hair together.
Edd shook his head incredulously. "Well now I'm confused how will that help?"
Zeniba looked to him and smiled. If she was going to say anything, she was interrupted by a loud tapping n her windows.
"What good timing, we have another guest will you let him in?" she asked Chihiro.
Chihiro nodded and ran to the door. Edd, being closer, opened the door for her. "I got it." he said and looked out, and a look of surprise spread across his face. "Chihiro?"
"What was that thing you gave Haku?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Cause unless that is his ghost, he's made a complete recovery."
Chihiro's eyes widened and she ran to the door. There was Haku in his dragon form, with out a scratch on him. Chihiro ran out, and hugged him. "Haku…you're alive. Look granny, Haku's alive!"
The door widened open as Zeniba came to look. 'Aww cute.' She mouthed to Edd.
"That's love for you."
She walked out and faced Haku, who kneeled his head down. "Haku." She said. "I will forgive you for stealing my seal…but in return you must take care of this girl." She looked to Baby, who was still a mouse, being held aloft by the flapping sparrow. "Okay it's time for you to go home but come back to visit sometimes." And the mouse lightly kissed her on the nose. She turned to No-Face. "You know No-Face; I could use another hand here, would you like to stay here?" No-Face nodded.
"I guess this is where we part ways then." Edd said, and Zeniba turned to him.
"Yes it is. Be sure to think about me." She hugged Edd, who returned it slowly. "I will…thanks for helping my cousin, Granny."
Chihiro ran over to Zeniba. "Granny!" she called as she raced into her embrace. "Thank you so much. I'll miss you."
"Don't worry, you'll be fine Sen." She replied.
"Her real name is Chihiro just so you know." Edd said.
"Chihiro." Zeniba said to herself, then turning to Chihiro. "What a pretty name. You take good care of it. Off you go now."
Chihiro and Edd mounted Haku, and Chihiro called over "Granny take care!" while Edd simply waved, which was a lot for him, as it was all he could do not to cling to Haku in fear of the oncoming flight. Haku glided lightly at first, but slowly picked up speed, and ascended into the sky. To better keep herself on his back, Chihiro grabbed his horns and bent her body down, Edd tried with mixed success as he held to Haku's constantly shifting midsection. "Chihiro! Could you move up a bit?"
Chihiro wasn't responding. She seemed to be in trance.
"I remember now!" She suddenly said, almost making Edd lose his grip, causing him to slide around to Haku's underside, leaving Edd gripping onto Haku's forelimbs. "Remember what?!"
"She leaned over. "Haku…I just remembered something from long time ago.
I think it may help you. Once, when I was little I dropped my shoe into the river."
"Don't tell me you tried to grab it." Edd called from Haku's arms.
"I did." Edd groaned. "And when I tried to I fell in. I thought I was going o drown, but the water carried to shore. It finally came back to me. The River's name was the Kohaku River." She looked at Haku. "I remember, that was you; and your real name is Kohaku River!" Haku's eyes widened. And his scales all came flying off. The all blew away like leaves, leaving only Haku gripping Chihiro, and Edd and they all fell earthward. Edd had only time for one thought before terror gripped him. 'Not this again.'
"You did it Chihiro!" Haku declared happily. "I remember now. I am the Kohaku River!"
"You're a River Spirit?" Chihiro chimed.
"Some help please?!" Edd wailed as he comically began to flap his arms like a bird.
"But I thought that river was filled for apartments now." Chihiro said.
"That must be why I can't fin my way home. I remember your shoe, I remember carrying you."
"So that was you that saved me." She cried happily and they embrace each other.
"Yes this is all real romantic, but the falling?! Can we deal with that first?!"
Just before they hit the surface, they stopped and shot back into the sky. Edd opened took his hands off his eyes and noticed he was flying along with Chihiro and Kohaku, following them. Edd scratched his head. He could see Chihiro holding hands with Haku, that's how she was flying, but how was he? He saw just the briefest glitter of something going down to his pocket. He reached in and found a small wooden charm. Zeniba must have put it in his pocket while they were hugging. Whatever the case, some near invisible line was keeping him tied to Kohaku, but he was bobbing up and down like a bell buoy. He clamped one hand over his mouth, while the other clung tightly to the little wooden charm. The three few off into the rising sun and if this would have been a good place to end the story. But there were still a few loose ends to tie up first…
"So friggin tense…" was all Eddy could say. Yubaba had ordered him and Ed to stay around her to ensure that they couldn't get into anymore trouble, after the rousing protests last night, she wanted to make sure Eddy wasn't around to rile up the staff again.
Yubaba continued to pace around the bridge to the bathhouse, waiting for Haku's return. Lin peered up from the wall. And pointed to the sky. "Hey there they are!" she said, and all around her the bathhouse faculty climbed onto the walls for a better look, and the customers came over watching from the balconies. Yubaba looked up to see Chihiro and Haku land gracefully on the ground. Edd however, unceremoniously landed on his butt, his face slightly pale. "I'm going to be sick." He muttered but managed to force everything from coming up.
"Whoa, Double D looks real sick now." Ed stated as he peered over the other side of the bridge, a hand over his eyes to block the sun. Eddy nodded.
"Must have been on heck of a ride."
Yubaba curled her lip in a scowl. "I see you still haven't returned my Baby." Yubaba grunted as Haku and Chihiro landed. She wasn't even aware of the mouse that was slowly changing back into the massive Baby just above her. He landed with a ground shaking thud directly in front of her, shocking Yubaba, the tenants, and the employees alike.
"Mama!" he exclaimed happily.
"My Baby!" Yubaba cried, embracing her giant child. "Did they hurt you? And you're standing by yourself, when did that happen?" Yubaba was on the verge of crying.
Haku took a step. "Don't forget your end of the bargain Yubaba!"
She gave Haku a hard look. "Not so fast, there's still the test." A chorus of boos erupted from behind her. "Oh shut up!" and almost instantly they did.
"That's enough mama." Baby said. "Lever her alone." Yubaba turned back.
"Sen and I had a really good time. Don't be like that."
"But a deal is a deal sweetie; part of the bargain was that I give her a final test." Yubaba cooed.
"If you make Sen cry I won't ever forgive you/" he said with finality. Yubaba chocked.
"But, baby I-"
"He granny!" Chihiro called.
"Granny?!" Yubaba exclaimed.
"Granny?" Eddy asked, looking over to Ed, who had disappeared. "Ed?"
"A deal's a deal." Chihiro continued as she walked across the bridge. She turned to Baby. "Don't worry. It'll be alright."
Yubaba coughed. "Humph, you really got guts I'll give you that. Come with me." She turned to Baby. "One minute please."
She walked to the entrance where there were two rows of pigs. "See if you can tell which of these pigs is your parents and I'll rip up your contract. You get one try." She said, holding Chihiro's contract.
"What?! That's impossible! They all look alike! If only Ed was here." Eddy muttered.
"If only Ed were here." Edd said to himself.
"Ed won't be needed." Haku said calmly.
There was a loud cracking noise but it went unnoticed.
Chihiro scanned the pigs for a minute. Then two. She had a puzzled look on her face. "We're gonna be stuck here forever." Eddy moaned sadly.
Chihiro turned to Yubaba. "There must be some mistake none of these pigs are my parents." Yubaba eyed her.
"Are you sure? None of them is that really you're answer?" she asked in an incredulous tone.
Chihiro nodded. And just like that her contract exploded in Yubaba's hand. The spell was broken and all the pigs were reverted to their normal selves, which were all employees to the bathhouse. "You got it!" they all cheered at once. The bathhouse was electrified with cheers and laughter, congratulating Chihiro. Edd, unable to contain himself jumped in the air, cheering happily. Eddy got to the ground and starting thanking Jesus, Allah, Buddha, and the Tooth Fairy (don't asked why he prayed to her).
"Thank you everyone." Chihiro smiled.
"Alright, you win; now get out of my sight!" Yubaba huffed. She pointed to Eddy who was next to her. "That includes you and that dumb-hey where is he?"
"Over here Granny Yuba!" Ed called from across the bridge, appearing as if from nowhere right next to Edd, who jumped with a start.
"Thank you Granny." Chihiro said and Yubaba snorted. Chihiro bowed one last time and ran off waving good bye to everyone, who all called back, wishing her well.
"Ed? Why are you holding onto that?" Edd asked, as he saw Ed trundle up next to him carrying a long piece of engraved wood, longer than him.
"Souvenir." He said smiling.
"And where exactly did you get that?" Haku asked him. He got his answer soon enough. The cracking grew louder. The cheers slowly died. As one they all turned and saw that the top floor of the bathhouse was cracking in various places. The largest split down the middle, slowly reaching the top. When it did, the entire top floor began to slide. Slowly at first, but it built speed as it sloped, crumbled, and rolled off the bathhouse, carrying almost all of Yubaba's wealth with it. The ruin crashed into the water, directly on top of the train tracks. Unfortunately a train was coming by, and it barreled right through, sending chunks of rock, and riches flying high into the air. Yubaba screamed as the employees scrambled over each other in attempt to catch the falling jewels, gold, and so on. Chihiro turned to Ed. As well as Eddy, Edd, and Haku. Ed looked back at them. "Uh you think this was important?" Ed said, pointing to his pole of engraved wood.
"Now would be a good time to go." Eddy said, and grabbing Chihiro by the hand, ran off, followed closely by the Eds.
"Where are my parents?" Chihiro asked.
"When the contract broke, they woke up on the human side of the river. They're there now, and looking for you.
They reached what they all remembered to be filled with water. But now, there was none. "I can't go any further than here." Haku said. "Just go back the way you came, you should be fine. Just go and don't look back."
"You don't need to tell me twice." Eddy said and he ran across the plain.
"And on that farm he had some grass. Ee Ay Ee Ay Oh!" Ed chimed and followed Eddy, still holding his giant piece of wood.
"But what about you Kohaku?" Chihiro asked.
"Don't worry; I'm going to go have a little 'talk' with Yubaba about my contract. I'm going to quit being her apprentice." He turned to face Chihiro. "I'll be fine now that I have my name back."
"We'll we see each other again?"
"Yes of course we will."
"I promise. Now go." Kohaku let go of her hand and began to head back to the bathhouse.
"Come one Chihiro." Edd said holding out his hand. Chihiro looked at Edd. "We got a ways to go to catch up with those two."
Chihiro nodded and grasped his hand firmly. As promised, neither looked beck the entire time.
"Chihiro!" Mr. Ogino called. "Where are you?"
Chihiro looked over the next hill and saw her parents there. Along with Eddy and Ed, looking dazed and confused.
"You shouldn't run off like that. You could get into a lot of trouble." Chihiro's mother said as they got close enough.
"Right. Where'd we wander off to?" Eddy asked rubbing his head as they all walked back through the tunnel. He looked at Ed. "Where'd you get that stick?"
Ed looked it up and down. "I can't remember Eddy, and I would normally remember where I get something this big."
Edd looked at Ed and Eddy. "You…don't remember anything? Nothing at all?"
"Remember what?" eddy asked as they reached the end of the tunnel.
"What happened to the car?!" Mr. Ogino exclaimed, looking at the car that was covered in leaves and fallen stalks. "We were only gone for a few minutes. Uh Ed, leave that here, there's not enough room to take that."
Ed looked at the stick. "When did that get there?" he asked and placed the stick nest to a stone statue of a figure with its mouth open in something like shock or annoyance. Chihiro took one look back, before getting into the car. Mr. Ogino, started it up and called out. "Come on Chihiro, let's get going to our new home. You're not scared are you?"
"Don't worry honey. Everything will be alright." Mrs. Ogino called.
"Come on." Edd said. Chihiro looked back for one more second before rushing back to the car. As Mr. Ogino drove away, the kids all looked back from the back seat.
Eddy said. "Why do I get the feeling I just left a fortune behind there?"
Ed simply waved and said "Bye bye granny Yubaba!"
"What's a Yubaba?"
"What's a who now?"
Mr. Ogino chuckled to himself. "A new school and home, I bet it must be scary huh?"
Chihiro turned back and replied. "I think I can handle it."
The statue still stood there, watching them leave. But it was different, Edd noticed. It looked like it was smiling now.