[ Contents | VII. Secrets | VIII. At the Spring | IX. Overconfidence? ]



By Dragoness Eclectic



"Come on, sleepy-head! Get up!" Trunks shook Goten, who yawned and turned over.

"You'll miss lunch..." the purple-haired boy said enticingly.

"Mmph?" Goten opened both eyes and looked around. Trunks waved a baked meat pie just out of reach. "Gimme!" Goten jumped and tried to grab it.

Trunks snatched it back. "That was rude. No lunch until you're up, and you ask nicely."

Goten stood up on the bunk. "Gimme, please!"

Trunks sighed and handed him the meat pie. "I guess that'll do. Listen, Mom and Gohan have gone off to the spring on the other side of the village while we were asleep. I think we should go with them; Gohan was hurt bad last night, and I can protect Mom if those monsters attack again."

Goten frowned and looked worried. "Bad things get Nan Bulma?" He stopped eating the baked wrap.

"No, no. I'm just worried that they MIGHT, if I'm not there." He was stuffing some more meat pies in his pack. "Besides, your friend said we should be with them, because he can't protect people in two different places at once. He was right, and that works for Gohan, too. He can't protect us and Mom if we're in different places." Trunks tossed a first aid kit in on top, and closed the pack. "Pull your clothes on and let's go!"

A few minutes later they stood at the edge of the village. Trunks turned to encourage Goten, and was startled to see him charging through the village already. He scampered to catch up with him.

"Hey! I thought you were too scared of the ghosts to just run through here like this!"

"Nunk Rats scared ghosts," Goten answered confidently.

"Uh, yeah. I guess he would." Trunks thought briefly of the fierce Saiyan warrior who had appeared and destroyed the green demon-samurai. I'll have to ask Father about him when he gets back.

* * *

Well, at least that wasn't a complete fiasco. Now where have Gohan and Bulma gotten to? I see; the spring. And the kids.. aren't with them. Great. I really needed this. Didn't you people learn anything from last night?

The kids are back at camp--no, they're not. There they are, in the middle of the village, heading west. Why?

Raditz watched as Trunks paused at the western edge of the village to read a map. Along with the map, Trunks carried a note. Raditz looked at them both.

He's going to the spring. Good, everybody will be in one place, but why--oh, crud. Of course, the note his mother left for him. Is that crazy woman really going up to the ruined monastery? This is bad. Very, very bad. How the hell do I stop her? Vegeta, my prince, what the hell did you talk me into?

* * *

"This has been so cool; we can actually hold a conversation now! Gohan, read back what we've found out." Bulma was jubilant.

Gohan adjusted the pocket comp. "Well, the kami in the pool is the Black Earth River Daughter; she's the daughter of the mountain kami Black Earth Mountain Sister. The evil sorceror is called the Opawang, and he holds Black Earth River Daughter hostage--he's captured part of her soul, so she has to obey him and grant him wishes. Because he holds Mountain Sister's daughter hostage, the Mountain Sister obeys the Opawang, too--that's why we couldn't leave, and that's why no one can get in; the mountain kami is using her power to confuse and hide travelers to trap us. River Daughter can only grant one wish per century, and her wishes only affect things and people within this valley--where she has power--that's why she can't bring Vegeta back, he's not in the valley. The Opawang is imprisoned somehow in the monastery, and the colored demon-warriors are the Ochimo, Spirit Warriors of the elements in his service. They're all dead, like the villagers, but their master has given them the power to drain ki and feed it to him, increasing his power. Now that the monastery is deserted and all the holy monks gone, the evil spirits are free to do their master's bidding." Gohan stopped for breath. "Oh, yes, and she can't talk to people because the Opawang took away her voice."

"So all we have to do to get out of here is free the River Daughter from the Opawang's power, and then the Mountain Sister would probably stop following his orders. Is that true?" Bulma asked the River Daughter.

The reflection in the pool signed back, <That is true. We hate evil and would rebel against the Opawang the instant we were free.>

"But how do we free you? I still can't figure that out--do you have any ideas? I know you're very smart, to learn signing that fast."

The kami frowned and shrugged. <I don't know how you can; he holds part of my essence in a cage in his fortress, in the spirit world. You would have to be a spirit to go there, but his power is absolute over spirits--he is the Opawang, the Dead Spirit King. Spirits cannot fight him; they would be devoured or imprisoned.>

"I thought you said he was imprisoned! And there are ghosts all over the place here, they haven't been eaten or captured by this Opawang!"

<Not so. The Opawang's body is imprisoned in stone in this world, and his spirit is chained to his body, so that it cannot stray from his throne in the otherworld--but my stolen half-soul is kept near his throne, and within his power. Outside his fortress, he has to use his servants, the Ochimo. They can drain the ghosts of the village, but they are forbidden to enter village dwellings, so the villagers hide indoors whenever the Ochimo are about.>

"Hmmm.. That might be why the Blue Ochimo acted so confused when it chased me into the camp house. It was a dwelling, I suppose, but not a village dwelling. I bet it didn't know whether or not it was supposed to be there! Lucky for me, I guess.."

She paced, deep in thought. "If only there were a way to bring the Opawang's fortress into this world! Then maybe we could figure out a way to defeat him and free the River Daughter."

Gohan looked unhappy. "I suppose we could wish it here... but that might make things worse."

"We're trapped in this valley and at night we'll be hunted by soul-stealing demon-warriors or eaten by those ghoul-things that attacked Trunks. How could we make things worse?" Bulma asked.

"I'm not sure, but I have a bad feeling about it." So, apparently, did the kami; she looked very disturbed.

"All we have to do is figure out how to phrase the wish. The fortress is some kind of construct in the spirit world, but we have to make sure we get the stolen half-soul as well as the fortress--so we have to wish ALL spirit and spirit things in the kami's power back to this world." Bulma smiled, her eyes shining with excitement. "That would get not only the fortress, and the kami's stolen half-soul, it would bring all the poor villagers back to life! It's perfect! Let's do it!"

Gohan nodded, caught up in Bulma's enthusiasm. "Let's do it!"

Bulma turned to the kami in the pool. "Black Earth River Daughter, I wish that ALL spirits and spirit things in your reach be restored to life or transferred to the physical world!"

<Thy wish is granted!> The pool swirled, and turned inky black; the spring in the grotto thundered; water poured from the grotto and overflowed the pool, rising in a swirling cyclone; the sky turned dark and the earth trembled; a waterspout formed, rose high into the air, and exploded; sheets of spray crashed down all around. Bulma hugged Gohan and held him tight through the chaos surrounding them.

A little ways downhill, Trunks grabbed a bent old treetrunk, and grabbed Goten's arm as the earth shook and tried to throw them back down the hill; Goten had already seized Trunk's nearest leg and gripped it as tightly as he could. A spray of water, like some torrential hurricane downpour, fell out of the sky and soaked them.

* * *


Heart.. beating?

What the--? I'M ALIVE!

* * *

The sky cleared, the earth quieted, and the pool returned to being just a pool--except for the farm girl sitting in the middle of it sputtering and wiping wet hair out of her face. It was the girl of the second reflection, the pleading ghost, looking very much alive and well. Bulma looked at her, and reached out a hand to help her up.

"Hi! I'm Bulma, welcome back to the living!" The girl smiled, and grabbed Bulma's hand and pulled herself to her feet. Bulma glared at Gohan, who seemed to have forgotten his manners, and was standing motionless, staring wide-eyed and horrified at her. No, staring at something behind her. She started to turn around--

"That was a remarkably careless wish." A soft, fierce voice, somehow familiar. Bulma spun around.

Raditz sat on the stone wall about ten feet away, very much alive. He looked as she remembered him from that dreadful day when Goku first died--a big, powerful Saiyan with incredibly long, full hair, wearing Saiyan armor with the extended shoulder pieces. His armor appeared a bit worse for the wear: a large fist-size hole burned through the middle of the chest (and back, Bulma knew), but the body underneath the armor seemed intact, if a bit wet. He smirked.

"EEEEEEEE! You're Goku's evil brother Raditz! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" Bulma could not keep the fear out of her voice.

"It's so nice to be remembered. You just wished me back, you know. I do thank you for that." He looked amused.

"Raditz!" Gohan growled, crouched in fighting stance. He began to power up. "I'm a lot stronger now, and I remember what you did to my dad!"

Raditz looked at him oddly. "Kid, that's very old history. Don't be an idiot; I'm not the enemy here." He started to get to his feet--

--at that moment, Goten charged up the trail into the shrine, Trunks chasing after him. "Nunk Rats! NUNK RATS!" He bolted past Gohan and jumped on Raditz, hitting him full in the chest. Off balance, Raditz staggered and went down, Goten on top of him.

Goten stood on his chest, yelling with delight. "NUNK RATS FUN! NUNK RATS FUN!" He grabbed a handful of the Saiyan's hair. "Got hair now!" Goten laughed happily.

Gohan's jaw dropped; Bulma stood there gaping like a fish. They looked at each other, stunned.

"'Nunk Rats' is RADITZ???" Bulma's eyes bulged with incredulity.

Gohan blinked. "'Nunk Rats'.. Uncle Raditz. Of course." He looked appalled. "How?"

Trunks staggered in, chest heaving from exertion. He was too winded to speak.

Goten stopped laughing for a second, and looked slyly at Raditz. "Nunk Rats fair? Goten no fair?"

Raditz, still flat on his back, grinned, and reached a hand up and gently tweaked Goten's nose. "Fair, kid. You can touch me, I can touch you. Heh."

"Oops." Goten rubbed his nose and laughed. "Nunk Rats fair an' fun!"

"I gotta agree with you on that, kid. It's definitely more fun this way." He ruffled Goten's hair fondly.

Bulma raised an eyebrow. "Gohan, I find it hard to be terrified of someone who is flat on his back having a conversation with a two-year-old. I think you can stand down, kiddo."

"He.. knows him. Goten really can see ghosts!" Gohan sounded as shocked as he looked.

Trunks finally got his breath back. "Hey, Mom, that's the guy I told you about, the one that fought the demon-warriors!"

Raditz finally sat up, gently depositing Goten on the ground. "You did a good job cleaning up those gaki yourself, young prince." He flashed Trunks a thumbs-up. "Did Vegeta teach you that area blast, or--"

Trunks shook his head. "Father mentioned it a few times, but hadn't taught it to me yet. I figured out how it had to work, and tried it. It worked." He smiled proudly.

Bulma threw up her hands. "Well, it's nice to know you're all cozy with each other! Why am I the last person to know about this??"

Gohan muttered, "I didn't know about it." He looked at his little brother Goten, who was happily climbing Raditz's hair to sit on his shoulder. He felt betrayed. How could his little brother like this.. person who had hurt Dad and caused his death?

"--And will someone explain to me why Raditz's ghost was here to be wished back in the first place??" She put her hands on her hips and glared at Raditz. "Let's start with the former ghost; maybe you have some answers!"

Raditz smiled slyly, his eyes half-closed. "Vegeta asked me to watch over you and Trunks, and protect you as best I could, so I did." He got to his feet, setting Goten down again.

"Y-Y-You've been following me around as a ghost? I DON'T BELIEVE THIS!" Bulma sputtered. "Can't a girl have any privacy?" In spite of his feelings about Raditz, Gohan couldn't help snickering.

Raditz blushed. "I haven't been following you THAT closely," he muttered. Gohan had to sit down, he was laughing so hard. Bulma glared at him. Trunks blushed but chose wisely to keep quiet.

"Of all the people Vegeta could have picked--why did he pick--Oh! I guess he didn't have a lot of choices, did he?" Raditz nodded briefly. "Why wasn't Vegeta here himself?" Bulma asked wistfully, tears starting to fill her eyes.

Raditz looked at the distant mountains, avoiding Bulma's eyes. "You know he can't be wished back with the dragonballs a second time. He couldn't.. he couldn't take knowing you were alone and unprotected--" (and that you were crying yourself to sleep every night for grief of him--but Raditz couldn't bring himself to say something so.. unsaiyan), "--so he went on a quest to find his way back."

"Back?" Bulma looked both worried and skeptical.

"To life."

A single tear ran down her face as she smiled. "Of course! He never took 'impossible' as an answer--he'd always plot a way around whatever was stopping him." Her mood shifted, "But if he'd been following me around, instead of you, he would have been wished back right now! The idiot! Ooooohh! When I see him again..."

"Bulma. I think you should see this." Gohan looked uphill, his voice oddly strained. She turned to look.

"Oh.. my." The Opawang's fortress loomed above the mountainside where the ruined monastery once stood. Three encircling, tiered walls and a high central keep; keen-eyed Raditz grinned as he noted the great hole blasted through the outer gate. "I guess the wish really worked."

Raditz scowled. "Possibly too well--there were some.. nasty things wandering about the spirit realm--and you just brought them to life."

"Why? Is it something you can't handle?" Bulma's hands were on her hips, her words a challenge.

"I didn't say that!" Raditz glared at her.

"Do you mean the demon-warriors?" Trunks ventured.

"No. I can handle them. It's their master, the--"

"--the Opawang," Bulma interrupted.

Raditz looked surprised. "How--"

Bulma pointed to the pool. "We've been having quite a conversation with the Black Earth River Daughter. She's very talkative once you figure out how."

The young farmer girl, who had been sitting quietly listening to everything in obvious bewilderment, jumped up at the mention of the Opawang. Fear filled her eyes. "No! You must not! Oh please, tell me you have not freed him!"

Bulma patted her and spoke soothingly. "Of course not, we would never turn such a monster loose." She glared sidelong at Raditz.

Raditz looked at Bulma almost pityingly. "Don't be a fool, woman! The Ochimo serve him, and your wish would have restored them as well. As living beings, they can almost certainly free their master."

"How do you know that?" Bulma's voice was tight with fear.

Raditz smirked. "The Opawang told me how to free him, when I paid him a visit in the spirit realm. It wouldn't be hard." His tail unfurled and switched from side to side.

"You.. talked to him?" Gohan growled dangerously.

"Heh. Yeah. He was impressed with how I easily I defeated his Ochimo. He wanted me to serve him in their place. His offer was.. very attractive." Raditz's half-smile seemed very evil.

Gohan's voice was flat with anger. "Attractive enough?"

Raditz smirked, glancing sidelong at Trunks and Bulma. "I told him to go to Hell." His tail twitched. "I don't expect you to understand, kid, I don't expect that anyone who hasn't been there could understand--but I'm tired of being some bastard's expendable flunky. Opawang's just another Frieza as far as I'm concerned.

"He doesn't take rejection very well. I found out how dangerous he is; I couldn't fight him. Not as a ghost. I barely got away from him." Raditz's voice was impassive, but his tail twitched; running from the Opawang grated on him. "Did some damage on the way out; the Fire Ochimo won't be quite the same for a long time." Raditz smirked again.

"By the way, kid, I have something that belongs to you." He moved suddenly, closing with Gohan. Gohan flung his arm out to block the blow, but Raditz's touch was light as a feather. Golden light flared, and Gohan felt warmth filling him and his strength returning.

"What--" he gasped, swaying with the shock of it.

Bulma shrieked. "You bastard! What did you do to him?"

"No, it's okay, Bulma." Gohan got his voice back. "I was just startled. He gave me my energy back, I think." Gohan looked puzzled. "How did you--"

Raditz shrugged. "You were in no shape to fight; I need you able to fight. The Earth Ochimo and the Fire Ochimo provided the energy, though not.." Raditz smirked once again, "voluntarily."

Bulma looked sheepish. "Oh. Sorry I screamed at you. You're not someone I expect the best of, you know."

"I know." He was abrupt. "Get over it! You are my prince's consort, Trunks is the young prince, Gohan and Goten are my nephews and Kakarott's sons. I'm not Frieza's flunky anymore, Vegeta isn't in the planetary extermination business anymore, and I like to think I've gotten over being a total ass." His tail furled about his waist again.

He looked down at Bulma, arms crossed, speaking in that soft, fierce voice. "Understand this, woman--you, your son, and Kakarott's sons are under MY protection! I would not harm any of you, and I would die again before I let anyone else hurt you! Do you understand me?"

Bulma gulped and stepped back. "I think.. I understand."

Gohan stepped forward. "I'm protecting Bulma," he said flatly. The challenge was in his eyes as he glared at Raditz.

Raditz simply looked exasperated. "Gohan," his tail uncurled and was lashing back and forth again, "you are more powerful than I," Raditz seemed pained at the admission, "but, one, I'm responsible to Prince Vegeta for Bulma and Trunks' safety; two, I intend to give a good answer to Kakarott about YOUR safety when this is all over; and three, Bulma and I are the only adults here--and Bulma doesn't fight. I think that leaves me in charge, kid. Not that I'd stop you or Trunks from protecting Bulma--but I'm protecting both of YOU.." he paused to let it sink in, "so when I say 'duck' or 'get the hell off the battlefield', you do it! Do you understand?"

Gohan glared at him, still angry. "Bulma?"

"I hate to admit it, kiddo, but what Raditz said makes a certain amount of sense. However.." she looked at Raditz, "I'm responsible to Goku and Chi-chi for Gohan's safety and this group in general. I'm in charge until the fighting starts, and the minute it stops. Got that?"

Raditz's tail lashed back and forth. "I don't like it--but I'll live with it." His eyes narrowed as he looked at Gohan. "What about you, kid? If I can't depend on you in the middle of a fight..."

Gohan nodded, looking unhappy. "Just.. I won't do anything Dad wouldn't do. Remember that!"

Raditz looked even more annoyed; the vein on his forehead stood out. "Don't be a fool! I am NOT going to tell you to commit mass murder or anything like that!"

"You did tell dad--" Gohan muttered.

"*Ahem*" Bulma tapped her foot impatiently. "Good, now that that's SETTLED.." She glared at both of them; Raditz calmed down somewhat.

She shook her head. "I'm going to have fun explaining this to Goku and Chi-chi when we get back. 'Goku, your baby and Trunks sneaked off to join us, it turns out all the folklore about an evil sorceror and soul-eating ghosts is true, and oh by the way we wished back your dead brother Raditz and he's in charge'." She rolled her eyes. "Now I know how Kulilin felt when he was sent to tell Chi-chi that Goku was dead and Gohan was kidnapped by Piccolo. Well, at least I wouldn't eat dinner, spend the night, and run away without even breaking the news!"

Raditz looked a bit puzzled, and shrugged. Not his problem. Goten, who had climbed back up his hair to his shoulder again, laughed and gripped his uncle's hair tightly. Raditz glanced around. "Now that we're done with that, is there anything to eat around here? I'm hungry!"


* * *


[ Contents | VII. Secrets | VIII. At the Spring | IX. Overconfidence? ]

Disclaimer: See Credits.

Copyright 2000 by Dragoness Eclectic