He awoke to the night sky glowing brightly, galaxies and stars feeling so close you could touch them if you reached far enough. Shiro had never seen the stars so vibrant, with Tokyo’s light pollution masking much of the beauty. He lay sprawled on his back in the grassy field, arms outstretched, almost in a snow angel pose. He remembered how he and his father used to lay like this on the riverside, looking at the stars. For the first time tonight, he felt somewhat peaceful.
“Get up.” commanded a voice, unfamiliar to him.
“Who said that!?” Shiro almost screamed as he sat up quickly and looked around him. Only dark woods surrounded him. He could see no one nearby.
“I didn’t save you for you to be completely useless. You’ve been asleep for eight hours,” the voice said, in a condescending tone. His gem pulsed quickly with each word. Shiro jumped up, putting his face close to it, as if peering inside.
“Is there someone in here?!” he said loudly.
“I didn’t know you were this ugly up-close. Do you have to be so loud?” The voice mimicked a yawning noise, as a cherry on top. “I just woke up.”
“Why, you little-” Shiro began scratching at the gem on his hand. “I’ll get you off! Saved me, or not! Why are you in my hand!? Why did that weird man force this thing onto me?”
“I’ll have you know, I’ve been alive for thousands of years. You’ll need to lower your tone when you speak to an elder,” the voice scoffed.
“I don’t care who you think you are, but get out of my hand!” Shiro scratched even faster.
“Don’t even try. You couldn’t get rid of me even if I wanted to leave. There’s great sealing magic tying me to you. Get used to being stuck with me, at least for now” The voice sounded slightly agitated at the thought of being tied to Shiro. A small gust of wind blasted Shiro’s face in protest, making him fall backwards.
“Ok fine, so we’re stuck together,” Shiro frowned, fixing his black hair back with his fingers to how it usually parts. “Where are we- outside of Tokyo?”
“If I had eyes, I would have rolled them by now. You do realize you’re not in your old world, correct? Take a look around you. You’re talking to a magical stone in your hand.” Zephyr commented.
“Wait, so falling from the sky… really wasn’t a dream…?” Shiro asked, warily.
“No, it was not.”
Shiro swallowed hard.
“Do you remember the house you were above as you were falling like a useless lead brick? I believe it is in our best interest to head there. We will likely need their assistance if they are not hostile.” The voice said.
Shiro stood up, brushing off dirt from his legs. I guess I’ll have to listen to this guy’s reasoning. I have nowhere else to go. He sighed and spotted a trail leading into the woods back towards the house. He began to jog towards it and follow it further.
“So, since I can’t get you off of my hand, what should I call you?” Shiro asked, bringing his pace to a brisk walk. He glanced down at the gem in his palm, awaiting an answer.
“You can call me Zephyr. I am known as the Guardian Wind Spirit here in this world.”
“You’re a real spirit? I thought those only existed in fantasy novels,” He sounded excited. “If you’re such a big deal in this world, why are you trapped in my hand?”
“Humans long ago were threatened by our existence as guardian spirits… They deemed us too dangerous to exist solely on our own- ignoring the fact that we have kept the world in balance far before human civilization. We were sealed against our will into these… crystal gems you see before you. There are four others like me, each just as strong. Currently, though, I do not sense the others active like I am…” Zephyr sounded slightly worried.
“You don’t seem that dangerous to me,” mocked Shiro playfully.
“We have unparalleled power, us spirits. If harnessed by an evil individual, we could do irreparable damage to the world. The mages saw to it that this would never happen, and we were sealed within the five most powerful mages of the Mages Guild.” Zephyr continued. “Since that day, we have been apart.”
“Wait- if you were in one of the most powerful mages in this world, we’re in- why are you in my hand now?"
“I was hunted viciously. I have no idea of the whereabouts of the other spirits or mages. I only know what happened to Talis, the mage you met in your own world. We were down hunted by Zeidan’s forces, singled out and… You know the rest.” Zephyr paused briefly. “Even I do not know the events of what has happened since we have been gone.”
“I see…,” Shiro said. “If that’s the case- because of what Talis did to me, am I technically being hunted for you being bound to me now?”
“Regretfully so... Whatever Talis saw in you made him immediately seal me with you in his final moments. Though I cannot see as deep into you as he did, I do trust him. I resent the mages from centuries past who originally sealed me, but Talis was a fine human being. He only inherited his mantle of Spirit Keeper, he did not create it- therefore I hold no ill will on his behalf. It is best to believe Zeidan will get wind of our arrival with the entrance we made earlier and pursue us further.”
Shiro nodded silently.
“I am sorry you are part of this, as you are not of this world. Talis had not planned on taking such drastic measures.”
“Say, Zephyr, why did Talis disappear after giving you to me?”
“He passed instantly. For a spirit keeper to transfer their guardian spirit, it means instant death. To transfer a spirit from one individual to another, it takes their soul as a contract. He knew this, knowing even if he hadn’t he likely would not have survived, and trusted you with me.”
“What did he see in me? I’m just a normal high school student from Tokyo; I don’t have magic like he did. What could I possibly do to help?”
“Though I am not one hundred percent certain of your capabilities in combat, your mana pool is massive, more than the average human- no, more than the average mage. I am not sure how someone from your world obtained such natural mana regeneration. You may not have raw magical strength, but you have the mana to gain that strength.”
“I have that much mana? It sure doesn’t feel like it…” Shiro said, squeezing his hand into a fist.
“I will ask you, but this once- will you help me warn the other spirits of what is happening? If Zeidan plans to go after all the other mages and succeeds in taking their stones, the fate of this world is filled with darkness…”
The weight of this request was not lost on him, and for the first time in his life, Shiro felt a sense of strong purpose. Shiro agreed. They walked in silence for a short while until they caught sight of the house.
The home was a farm-styled building with a wooden shingled roof. Beams protruded the sides of the home and created an ornate frame to house the stone walls. Above the front door was a balcony, covered in planter boxes filled to the brim with ornate flowers. Underneath the balcony as a stone slabbed porch, with a tiered five-step staircase leading up from the ground. Beside the house was a wooden stable for what seemed like horses, completed with a thatched roof- though no horses remained. Shiro approached the front door, and knocked with his fist.