Chapter 2: The Cat
"Momiji?" Kaoru called, voice getting higher and higher with a combination of fear and worry. "Momiji where are you?"
"She's gone." Hikaru said, voice low. "She's not anywhere nearby."
Kaoru whirled about, tears in her eyes. "But where did she go?"
"I don't know. I'm going to phone the hag. She might know what to do." He replied before walking over to his bag and pulling out his cell phone.
The tears that had filled Kaoru's eyes began to fall silently down her face to drip into her lap where she sat, legs splayed out underneath her. She couldn't help but feel as if she was never going to see her friend again. As she sat she heard a faint chiming noise as if from a great distance. It sounded as if it came from a bell. Again she heard it, this time much closer. As she strained her ears to see if she would hear it a third time, she instead heard a peculiar voice say, "Crying's not going to help you."
Looking down, Kaoru saw an orange cat sitting in front of her. Around the cat's neck was a small gold bell on a red ribbon. Shaking her head, for a moment there Kaoru had thought it was the cat talking, she instead got up and walked over to the stand where Momiji's book lay.
"That's a much better idea then crying. The book'll probably have some kind of information about what to do. As wise as I am, I still don't know everything." The strange female voice said again.
Kaoru whirled about and once again only saw the cat and Hikaru having an intense conversation with someone on his cell. As if he felt her gaze, the boy wrapped up his conversation and walked over to her, face pale.
"Well Grandmother told me off for messing about with stuff I don't know about. She says she felt our meddling all the way over at my house."
Hikaru shook his head. "She says I must have hit my head or something. I don't have a friend named Momiji. Not one she's met at least."
"But she was over just last week!"
"I know. Something really odd's going on."
"No one will remember her. It was part of the spell. Obviously you have no idea what you've done."
This time Hikaru's head snapped up as well as Kaoru's. His eyes however never left the cat's. "What are you?" He asked.
"A guide." The cat replied. "One you two obviously need."
"You really can talk." Kaoru whispered in wonder.
The cat snorted. "Obviously. Your friend, Momiji was it?, was the one who cast the spell, ne?" At their nods, the cat continued. "She became the gate and you two the gatekeepers."
"What do you mean, she became the gate?" Hikaru asked, voice acquiring a hard edge.
"That spell was used to open the gate between your world and the magic world. Momiji's soul has become the main structure of the gate and as long as she is the gate, no one here except you two will remember her."
"Wait. The magic world?" Kaoru asked in confusion.
Sighing, the cat shook herself. "Yes. The magic world is where all the things you humans believe to be purest fantasy live. Sometimes, with some of you, when you dream a part of you crosses over."
"How do we get Momiji back?" Hikaru demanded.
"By rounding up all the creatures who shouldn't be here and sending them back through. You two are the gatekeepers after all."
"But if the gate's open aren't they just going to keep coming through."
"That's why you need to open that book in your hands and see if you can't find the sealing spell."
Kaoru flushed and quickly began leafing through the book. It took her a few minutes to find what she was looking for. "It's just three words each."
"Well then read them. The longer you delay the more things will be able to cross."
"Terv Rewplin Vesd." Kaoru said.
"Weyb Asmix Uil." Hikaru chanted after.
A very small flash of light accompanied their words. "Well now that that's done, we can get down to the serious business." The cat said.
"Do you have a name, cat?" Hiakru asked.
"Of course. I'm Lereesh."
"I'm Kaoru Mamodo."
The cat nodded. "Alright. We'd best get out of here before we're located."
Kaoru grabbed her and Hikaru's bags and brought them over.
"Located?" Hikaru asked with a raised eyebrow.
Kaoru shrugged into her bag before leaning over and swooping the cat up into her arms. "Well if both of you die then there are no more gatekeepers and then the gate will be open permanently. That's what they want." Lereesh replied.
"So a bunch of magical creatures are going to be running around trying to kill us. Wonderful." Hikaru said dryly.
"Not all of them will try to kill you. Just most of them."
"You're such a reassuring guide." Hikaru replied, sarcastically.
"I'm not here to reassure, just help you."
"Hikaru can we leave now?" Kaoru asked, voice high with strain. "I have a feeling we're not going to be alone for long."
The boy nodded once, causing his roguish brown hair to flop forward into his eyes. Cursing, he tied it back again and followed Kaoru up the stairs. "Your dairokkan acting up again?"
As Kaoru nodded, Lereesh's head snapped up. "You have dairokkan? The sixth sense? That's excellent. You should be able to find some of the creatures with it. At least the ones who can't hide their presence."
"We're going to my house. The hag's orders."
"Does she know what's going on?"
"Not fully yet. We'll explain it to her when we get there. She might be able to help."
"Who's this hag?" Lereesh wanted to know.
"My grandmother. She's a withered, dried up old hag who's puffed up with her own importance." Hikaru replied.
"Hikaru doesn't like her because she can actually disciplines him." Kaoru put in.
"No. I don't like her because she's a bitch."
"You'd better not let her catch you saying that."
"Like I care."
Further conversation was halted as they had finally reached Hikaru's house. He opened the door and waited for Kaoru to go in before following. "We're here."
"Then come into the training room." An elderly voice, that held none of weakness often associated with great age, called.
Hikaru muttered some insult or another before leading the way through the plain hallways into the equally sparsely furnished training room.
"So I want the full story of what exactly you two were mucking about with." Hikaru's short fiery grandmother demanded from where she sat, black kimono pooled about her.
"It was us three, at least until the spell was completed." Hikaru shot back.
"Obviously you need more training. I told you before, you don't have a friend named Momiji."
"Actually they do." Lereesh said as she jumped from Kaoru's arms and padded her way carefully over to Kunikida-san's side.
"What are you?" The old woman demanded.
"I am their guide. I was summoned when the spell was read and their friend turned into the gate. I will explain all that has happened and what must be done."
Hikaru's grandmother listened with interest as the cat explained how the spell had worked and what Kaoru and Hikaru were required to do now.
"Hmph. So you were telling the truth boy."
"Told you." Hikaru snapped.
"Well it looks like you two are going to have an interesting time of it. Yuiko will help you if you require additional aid. I'm too old to go about chasing strange creatures."
"No. You're just too lazy." Hikaru replied with a snort.
"Watch your tongue boy or you won't get dinner either."
Hikaru opened his mouth to give another retort but Kaoru kicked him. When he turned to glare at her, she shook her head. Rolling his eyes, the boy said nothing.
"Is Yuiko-san home then?" Kaoru went to say when the door slid open and Yuiko strode in.
"Ah! There's my idiot son. What in the name of our ancestors were you messing about with? Even I felt it."
"Ask the cat." Hikaru replied, turning away, not wanting to admit he'd screwed up to her.
"The cat? You summoned a spirit?"
"More then just me. I was called as their guide. They created a gate into the spirit world. A bunch of creatures passed through before they managed to close it, so now they have to go catch them and send them back through." Lereesh explained again.
"And you're going to help them." Kunikida added.
"Awww, mother! I have work." Yuiko whined
"You're going to help them if they need it. Your son might be an idiot but at least he's a strong one."
"At least I'm not an old hag like you."
Hiakru's grandmother turned around very slowly to give him an icy stare. "Do you wish to test me, boy?"
"Any time." Hikaru replied, eyes steady.
"Hmph. Normally I'd at least try to beat some sense into you but since you have work to do, I'll settle for just denying you dinner. Keep the mouth running and it'll be breakfast as well. As it is I'll intensify your training. You'll need to be stronger if you're going to be fighting."
Once again Kaoru kicked Hikaru before he could say anything to get himself into more trouble.
"If that's settled, we'll begin hunting the creatures in the morning." Lereesh announced padding back over to Kaoru.
"Do you want to come home with me?" Kaoru asked in surprise.
"It will no doubt be quieter then here." The cat replied before settling down to wash.
Grinning, Kaoru bowed to Hikaru's grandmother and mother before scooping up a very surprised Lereesh and running next door to her house.
"Mom! Dad! I got a cat!" She cried excitedly. "Her name's Lereesh." In a lower voice she added to the feline still in her arms. "Please act like a normal cat, my parents aren't used to weird things."
Lereesh gave a very un-cat-like snort but didn't reply as Kaoru's mother came into the room to inspect her daughter's new pet.