Chapter 10 - Illusions to My Left

Sydney slowly took a few steps back, his eyes still wide as saucers. No…it can't be him…it's just the forest playing a trick on me! It's just an illusion, nothing more! He shook his head again and regained his composure. He watched with a determined look as Robert took another couple steps forward. As Robert neared the path he disappeared. Subconsciously however, Sydney had mirrored his motion, and took a couple more steps backward.

"Syd? SYD!" Patrick yelled.


"Be careful," Patrick responded. He pointed down at Sydney's feet. "You almost went off the path."

"Yea, do you know Rikku and Rumiku would do to us if we lost you in here?" Noah added. He shook his head. "I don't even want to think about it!" Patrick nodded his head in agreement as a shiver ran down his body, causing Zack and Cody to chuckle.

"Before or after Julius got through with us?" Patrick added, making a face.

"You ok there Sydney?" Cody asked.

"Yea, I'm fine," Sydney said shaking his head. "I knew we'd get some weird illusions, but I wasn't expecting something like that!"

"Yea," Cody agreed. "He's been gone for a long time now, how could this forest possibly create an illusion like that?"

Sydney looked thoughtful for a second. "There must be something more about this place…it must be able to see into our minds or something."

"See into our minds?" Zack asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yep," Sydney replied with a sigh.

"Sounds about that way," Noah said. He and Patrick looked at Zack again. "So do you want to listen to us from here on in or do we or this forest have to prove to you again why you should?"

Zack grumbled a response.

"Don't worry guys," Cody said, trying to brighten the atmosphere a little. "You're doing a great job taking the lead."

"Yea, speaking of," Zack said, twisting his eyes. "How are you two so sure of everything in here? How do you know so much about this place?"

Noah rolled his eyes. "Because unlike you, we listened to Raf-san and Julius," Noah replied as a smirk crossed his face.

"Yep," Patrick added. "And clearly you didn't since you would've gone off the path if we didn't tell you not to."

"Man, you two gonna let that go?" Zack groaned.

"Nope," Patrick replied, he couldn't help but grin and chuckle at Zack's embarrassed face. "Anyway, let's keep going. Hopefully we'll get to the fountain before nightfall."

Sydney and Cody nodded their agreement. "Yea these illusions are bad enough during the day," Cody said. "I don't want to see what they'll be like at night! How deep in the forest is the fountain anyway?" He asked.

Noah looked thoughtful for a minute. "It should only take a few hours to get there," Noah answered, stepping next to his twin. Cody nodded his understanding. "At least that's what it sounded like from what Raf-san said." He added quickly after his twin shot him a look.

"And don't let the illusions get to you," Patrick finished. With that, the group was off again.

"Wonder how Wingz Corp is gonna handle this place?" Cody whispered to Zack a short while later.

"Who cares?" Zack replied.

Cody watched Zack as they followed the Hiroshimas through the forest. Something still seemed off as Zack was unusually quiet. Cody tried to read his look, watching as Zack seemed to just stare off in the distance as they walked, like he was lost in his own world. "Zack you're not still upset over that are you?" Cody asked.

"No," Zack replied, twisting his eyebrows. "Why?"

"No reason," Cody replied with a sigh. Suddenly a different thought crossed Cody's mind. He stepped in front of his twin to block his way. A serious, yet worried look the fell over Cody's face as he stared into his twin's eyes. "So Zack are you going to promise me?"

"What?" Zack asked, surprised. "What are you talking about Cody?"

Cody narrowed his eyes slightly. "Zack, I want you to promise me you're not going to try to get rid of your element by using the fountain," Cody said in an affirmative tone, repeating himself from before they had entered the forest.

Zack just looked at him.

"Zack, promise me!" Cody replied with pleading eyes. "It's way too dangerous! Also don't forget, if we didn't have our elements, you wouldn't be with Rikku and I wouldn't be with Crystal."

Zack looked at him. He remained silent.

"Hey guys!" Sydney yelled back suddenly. Cody and Zack looked over and saw they had fallen way behind him, Patrick, and Noah. "Guys come on!"

"Sorry Syd," Cody said. He shot Zack a look that said the conversation wasn't over.

Sydney shook his head as a smile crossed his face. "Wow, you really do want to get lost in here, don't ya Zack?"

Tapeworm continued to direct Maddie through the back roads around Boston.

"I think you can relax now Maddie," Crystal said, looking through the windows again. "I haven't seen them for awhile."

Maddie nodded. "Except I have no idea where we are," she said with a sigh.

"Don't worry, I do," Tapeworm repeated reassuringly. "One more turn up at the next light, and do you know where you are now Maddie?"

Maddie looked around. After a few seconds she found some familiar landmarks. "Yes, thanks Tape," Maddie answered.

After a short while they arrived at Christian's house. Maddie shut the car off and the kids all jumped out. She looked at the dents in the side and rear of the car and shook her head. "Ugh, I just know I'm going to get charged for those!"

"Well that's what insurance is for," Crystal said. "Nice job getting us here safe." She, Maddie, and Tapeworm headed inside.

Rikku, however, held back for a second. "Hey Julius," Rikku said into her watch. "We made it. How's everyone in Japan?"

"We're fine," Julius answered.

"Anything from Patrick, Noah or Sydney?" Rikku asked.

"Nothing yet."

Rikku took a breath. "Thanks, keep us updated," she said. She then joined the others inside. "So Christian, Crystal fill you in?" She asked as she closed the door behind her.

Christian nodded before looking between her and the others. "So none of you have your elements anymore?"

"No, they stopped working last night," Crystal said.

"Because of the alignment, right?" Christian asked, scratching his chin, thoughtfully. "And Zack, Cody, Noah, Pat, and Sydney are going after the fountain, right?"

"Yes," Tapeworm said. "Hopefully they get to it before Wingz Corp." Tapeworm took a breath before continuing. "Christian, do you know how long this alignment is supposed to last, and how much longer until we have our powers back?"

Christian shook his head. "Unfortunately I don't," he said. "The last time this happened was a long time ago. I do know the Forest of Illusions is filled with more than just illusions…" his voice trailed off.

Maddie's eyes grew wide as she thought about her friends. "So you've heard of the forest and the fountain?"

Christian nodded. He got up and walked over to his bookcase. "I've found some stuff on it during my travels. Very little though."

Rikku jumped up. "Wait, what do you mean it's filled with more than just illusions?" She asked breathlessly, thoughts of her brothers swirling though her mind.

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