I stood there for a few moments in silence. I just couldn't believe it. My eyes must be playing tricks on me....they have to be playing tricks on me...
It couldn't possibly be...him...
However, after a few more minutes I just couldn't hold back anymore. A wide smile broke out onto my face as I rushed to the figure with arms outstretched in front of me.
"Haku! It really is you! I can't believe it, I thought I'd never see you again!" I hug him tightly as tears start to form in my eyes.
"It's okay Chihiro, you're here now there's no need to cry." He smiled softly as he wiped the tears away.
It's strange, even though I've changed quite a bit since my last visit, Haku seems to have almost stayed the same with some very minor changes. For one, he's much taller than he was nine years ago and his hair is slightly longer than before, almost at shoulder length but not quite.
I look away quickly realising that I was probably staring at him for a longer time than I should have, and he just laughed kindly. I'm glad he hasn't changed much.
I continue to hug him for a bit longer not wanting to let go before a thought crossed my mind.
"What happened to the rest of the Spirit World? Where's the river? The ferries? Why are all the lights off? Why isn't there any-"
He laughs again before it quickly fades. "You have a lot of questions."
"Well I have been gone for nine years."
I looked around the surroundings for a little while longer and ask again. "So what happened?"
His smile vanished. "I can't tell you that right now Chihiro; but come, we should go to the bath house. The others are there waiting for you. We've all been waiting for you to return since you left."
My smile only brightened at the thought of seeing the others again just as I had seen in my dreams countless of times. And yet...there was this small part of my mind nagging at me, trying to warn me that something just doesn't seem right. However, I shrug it off quickly as my excitement at seeing the others overcame all other thoughts for the time being.
It's odd...I decide to not tell Haku as it seems he already has a lot on his mind, but I couldn't help feeling that I'm being watched.
"So the girl has returned, has she?" A voice said scornfully as a pair of hazel eyes carefully watches the passing scene reflected across the spherical crystal surface.
"Yes. The others have prepared a festival in honour of her return." Another slightly less harsher voice replied.
The former snorts in response. "Those fools have no idea what's in store. There should be no celebration held for a little brat like Sen." The eyes glower at the mention of the name, as if it's very being was a curse.
"Shall we arrange to rid her from Our world?" The second voice questions with almost a hint of excitement.
The former's eyes darts to the apprentice, immediately wiping the grin off the latter's face and paralysing them. "No. You know how valuable she is. Her potential is greater than that of even the most powerful spirits in this world. She would make for the perfect sacrifice. But she cannot be one just yet, she must be readied first."
"O-of course. H-how could I have forgo-forgotten..." The apprentice stammers now fearing their master. "W-what do you sugges-suggest?"
A smile crosses the former's face. "Of course it won't be easy....the girl is smart so she won't be trapped so easily. And yet...I know the perfect plan in order to capture her."
"Ah, you truly are wise." The apprentice comments in hopes of avoiding another glare and possibly being punished. "May I ask what this ingenious plan consists of?"
"No. You may not know the details just yet, in time you will learn. However..." The former smiles again this time a little more sinisterly, "Haku, will be the bait."