"It is far worse than I feared," Sensei Arashi mused with dread.
He and Gale were sitting in the small grove behind the schoolhouse, next to the miniature circular pond with the water that had a rosy aftertaste. Gale had noticed, that, for the first time, Arashi was actually drinking directly from the pool rather than using the water for tea.
"It seems this beast, this White Star... is no mere Elder Dragon," he continued, sipping from his cup. "It can take possession of an individual at any given time. It is... unlike anything the known world has ever seen. If it is not destroyed... it could destroy us."
"So we're going off to look for it now?" Gale asked. "What about Mizu, and Sensei Ryu?"
"Sensei Ryu was driven insane from the possession," Arashi said bluntly (he had never liked Ryu), "And Mizu... well... we will wait for him to recover, but you must let him rest. No visiting. Let the nurses do their duty. He will be fine. If you wish to know more about what he had heard, about him being my son...."
"Well, I don't mean to be rude, but aren't you a little too old to be a father?" Gale asked, giggling.
"Hm... yes... well i suppose I shall tell you about that," Arashi muttered. A long silence followed.
"I... was cursed, once upon a time. I'm really about fifty years old, but this curse made my body age at twice the normal rate. I got it when my wife was pregnant with Mizu. She died in childbirth, and under circumstances unbeknownst to me, I recieved this curse. Mizu didn't know about any of this, even me being his father, until this incident, and he will likely have forgotten most of what happened. Can I trust you that it will stay that way?" Arashi elaborated with shame.
"Of course, Sensei. Your secret is safe with me." Gale said confidently.
She couldn't visit Mizu, and she worried for him. However... someone she really wanted to visit... was Sensei Ryu. She thought that, since he was possessed by the White Star, it might have left some information behind. She got up and left the grove, then the schoolhouse, and headed toward the hospital.
When she reached the front door, she quietly entered, making sure not to disturb the nurses. She walked straight ahead, toward Sensei Ryu, who lay awake staring wildly at the ceiling.
"Sensei Ryu... Sensei? It's me, Gale. If you're there, I was wondering... if the White Star had "told" you anything, while it was controlling you." Gale asked when she reached his bedside. A pause followed. No answer.
Suddenly,Ryu sprang to life, moving as if he had missed three days of work.
"You! You saw it! The White Star! The White Star! You saw it! It saw me... It went inside my head, made me crazy... but I know it's secret! I know where the beast hides! I will tell you, if you promise to kill it for me, and bring me back that big red... the big red thing on its chest!" Ryu spat frantically, as if he was about to disappear. He appeared not to know where he was or who he was speaking to and why, but he had some information in his mind, as Gale had suspected.
"I promise, Sensei. Now tell me, where does it live?" Gale asked slowly.
"The White Star lives in the great Frozen Tower outside Hikari, the City of Light. It fights an eternal fight with the great Wyrm, Gurētosutōmu. They have been locked in conflict for aeons, but now the battle is turning in the favour of Yaketsukuyōna! It gathers memories of souls like mine inside that crystal upon it's breast, and the memories in turn make it stronger! You must find it and destroy that crystal, so that Gurētosutōmu may fell the beast! I am trusting you... find it. For my memories, and for all the other people whom no one believes." Ryu blurted out. And with that, he slumped back into a deep sleep.
* * *
2 Weeks Later
Gale, Mizu and about twenty other hunters (including the sour-faced Rakurai) stood in two vertical lines of eleven, facing toward the entrance of the village. Worried villagers, Senseis and family members stood in a huge flock, silently gazing as Sensei Arashi and a couple of Travel Guides hired directly from Hikari, the City of Light (and their destination, where Yaketsukuyōna and, supposedly Gurētosutōmu awaited) stood before the search party, explaining the perils that awaited and the caution that must be exercised while on the journey. Gale and Mizu turned halfway to meet each other, and their hands locked.
"Be careful, Gale." Mizu warned softly.
"You too." Gale replied.They hugged each other tightly, not wanting to let go.Then as Arashi beckoned the party of hunters, they marched off, weapons in hand away from Hyoku, the warm and peaceful haven that had been their home for sixteen years.
But the journey of Gale Kaze and Mizu Nagare had only just begun.
To Be Continued in: The White Star Chronicles VI: Whisper of the Wyrm