They were all sitting on the riverbank. It had been 3 weeks since the Shaman Fight was cancelled, and with no sign that it was starting again anytime soon, everyone was using their time for rest, relaxation, and training. But today, they were all gathered in Funbari Hill.
Almost everyone was there: Yoh, Manta, Ryu, Faust, Ren and Horo Horo (who were both currently arguing with each other), and Lyserg. Chocolove was late.
As everyone was relaxing, they suddenly heard a strange noise. Yoh (who had been half-napping), sat up, and looked to where it was coming from.
What had been nothing but thin air suddenly rippled, twisted, and became some sort of transparent mass, with an occasional sliver of shimmering color. It was about six feet high, and extended all the way to the ground.
Everyone silently watched as the thing formed. Yoh stood up, and began walking over to this strange phenomenon, but Horo Horo grabbed him.
“Are you insane?!” He said. “We don’t know what that is! And you’re just gonna walk right up to it?!”
“Well…yeah, actually.” Yoh said. Horo Horo slapped his forehead. “Ugh, I give up!”
“So what do you suppose we do?” Lyserg asked. “Should we just leave it alone?”
“Hmph. It doesn’t seem to be dangerous, but we should still be cautious -” Ren looked over to see that Yoh was standing less that a yard from the thing - “and you walk right up to it anyway!”
Yoh turned to him. “Heheheh. It’s alright. It doesn’t look dangerous, so - “ Strange tentacle-like things came out of the strange thing and wrapped themselves around Yoh. Before anyone could react, he was pulled in.
“YOH!” Everyone - including Manta - immediately leaped into the thing after him, but before Ryu and Faust could make it through, it abruptly vanished, with no trace of it or their friends.
“What? What’d I miss?” Chocolove asked, running up to them.
Ryu turned to face him. “Well….”
Manta was experiencing the disorienting feeling of falling, yet standing, at the same time. He didn’t know where the others were; it was dark, and yet so full of light and color at the same time, and he just couldn’t concentrate on anything.
A few times he thought he saw something, only to lose sight of it within seconds. He had no idea how long he’d been in this strange place, but he did know one thing: He was moving forward.
If he’d had the time to concentrate, he would have realized that, though he was moving, he hadn’t taken a single step since entering what he now realized to be a portal of some kind.
Then, all of a sudden, he was out. But not just out; he was standing on the ground. Or, more specifically, in someone’s backyard. Manta blinked, and looked around. He saw, to his right, someone familiar.
“Yoh!” Manta shouted, relieved. Yoh turned, and waved. Soon, the others were there as well. Manta noticed, rather disturbed, that he never saw any of them show up; they were just suddenly there.
“I see you all made it in one piece,” a voice said.
Everyone turned to see a woman standing directly in front of them. She wore a long black dress, with long sleeves and a black headdress with white strips of cloth dangling on each side, with half-moons adorning the ends. Her hair was long and black, and, Manta noticed, reached all the way to her knees. Standing on the porch of the house behind her was a boy, wearing an apron and a bandana over black hair and what looked like a school uniform, glasses, and different colored eyes: one purplish and one gold.
“So you brought us here, then?” Manta turned to see Ren glaring at the strange woman.
“I only sent the portal. You all chose to enter.” The woman’s face was serious, but Manta could see amusement in her eyes.
“What do you mean ‘chose’?” Horo Horo asked, crossing his arms.
“I mean, you all entered of your own volition.” The woman answered, now smiling slightly, like she was explaining something to a small child.
“Technically,” Manta said, “Yoh-kun didn’t. The portal pulled him in.”
“Asakura Yoh unintentionally touched the portal, and so it pulled him into it.” Now the woman was crossing her own arms, clearly waiting for someone to question this; she didn’t have to wait long.
“So then he didn‘t choose to come.” Lyserg said.
“If you look at it that way, then yes.” The woman said mysteriously.
“What kind of an answer is that?!” An irritated Horo Horo demanded. “And anyway, who are you?”
“And how do you know my name?” Yoh asked, surprisingly calm compared to the tension around him.
“In order: My name is Yuko Ichihara, and I am the Dimension Witch.” Yuko said, then turned to Yoh. “I know all of your names, Yoh-kun, because I have watched all of you for a long time, and I think you are all up to the task I have for you.”
“What do you mean?” Ren said, his tone betraying his annoyance. “’Watching us’? How?”
“I have my ways.” Yuko said, her eyes glittering in what Manta concluded could only be mischief.
“What do you want us to do?” Yoh asked, obviously hoping to change the subject.
Yuko turned to him, and she became serious again. “I will tell you, but first, you should relax. Watanuki,” She turned to the boy on the porch behind her, “please prepare dinner for our honored guests.”
“But Yuko-san! I only bought enough ingredients for the five of us!” The boy, Watanuki, said, looking frazzled. On either side of him were two twin girls, one with pink hair and one with blue. And then, on Watanuki’s shoulder, there was…
“Mokona will go shopping with Watanuki!” The black ball thing on Watanuki’s shoulder shouted. It began jumping up and down, singing “Shopping! Shopping! Shopping in the spring time~!”
“It’s summer, Mokona.” An annoyed Watanuki said, raising an eyebrow at Mokona. He turned back to Yuko, and saw that their “honored guests” were staring at him with their eyes wide and their mouths open. Even the boy with the pointy hair looked surprised.
“Allow me to introduce my servant, Watanuki; my assistants, Maru and Moro; and my inter-dimensional liaison, Mokona Modoki.” Yuko said, gesturing to each as she introduced them.
“What do you mean servant?! More like forced labor!” Watanuki shouted, fuming.
“As you can see,” Yuko went on, ignoring him, “Watanuki also provides ‘round the clock entertainment.”
“WHAT!!?!” Watanuki shrieked, practically falling over. Immediately the girls, Maru and Moro, began dancing around Watanuki with Mokona, singing “Enter~tainment~!”
Meanwhile, Yoh, Manta and everyone else were still standing there, staring at this strange spectacle. None of them moved, and since they weren’t sure what to say, no one spoke.
Yuko smirked at their expressions, then turned to the girls. “Maru! Moro!“
“Yes, mistress?” They answered simultaneously.
“Prepare a place for our guests to sit and rest while Watanuki shops. And make some tea, please.”
“Yes, mistress!” The girls immediately went into the house to obey. Yuko turned back to the boys. “If you will follow me, I will take you inside. The girls should be done with the room by the time we get there.”
“Wait a second! You haven’t answered our questions yet!” Horo Horo snapped. Sounds of agreement echoed around him.
“I will answer them in time. Come, you will be less irritable when you have rest and nourishment.” And with that, Yuko began guiding them inside.