Chapter 1:

Marissa flopped down on her bed and lay on her back, placing her arm over her eyes to shield out the bright afternoon sun that filtered through her window. School is finally over. She uncovered her eyes and looked at the clock that sat on her nightstand. 3:47. She draped her arm over her face again and let out a loud sigh. I don't want to think about it. School is over, it's summer... nothing more to worry about.

She peeked out from under her arm and gazed at a picture that sat on her wall. It was a head shot of her favorite anime character: Chichiri. It brought her comfort and made her smile every time she looked at it. The craziest thing was that she swore the expression on his face changed from day to day. Today he was smiling and gave Marissa her first bit of light in an otherwise depressing day. She pulled herself up and sat on the edge of the bed, then snuck one more look at the picture. Still smiling. Marissa couldn't help but smile back at his solemn expression and leaned her head back to look out the window. Sometimes she could swear that she was in love with him, but she knew that it was totally illogical to fall in love with an anime character. So she settled on just really liking him, and perhaps loving him if he was real.

It was still a sunny afternoon outside and now that summer had begun a couple days ago it had been getting warmer and warmer. Marissa made a face at the afternoon sun, trying her best to look upset. I hate hot weather. Why can't it rain? She fell backwards on her bed and lay staring at her ceiling.

What to do? Funny, now that school is out I have no clue what to do.

Marissa sat up once more and walked to her bookshelf that stood above her desk. She grabbed the first thing her fingers touched, and looked down to see what she had pulled out. Fushigi Yuugi. Oh, haven't looked at this in a awhile. It was the first manga and with a smile she turned the small book over and opened it from the back. Flipping through the first couple of pages she amused herself with pictures she hadn't seen in awhile.

Man, I really need to learn Japanese. Looking at the pictures is nice, but I want to learn how to READ it.

She looked over to her messy desk, then began clearing away the papers that lay strewn everywhere. Finally she found what she was looking for, her How to Learn Japanese book that she had purchased about a month ago. She flipped open to the back and found the charts of hiragana and katakana she was looking for. Well, I wanted something to do.

Opening the manga she began flipping through the pages, looking for something worth spending the time to translate. She settled on the opening text, the part that talked about, "This is the book of the story of Suzaku no Miko, and for whoever reads this book it will become reality..." Blah blah blah... she murmured to herself. I already know what it says but I need something to do!

Five hours later and completely exhausted, Marissa had finished translating the entire passage in the manga. Laying back in a heap on her pillows she rubbed her eyes wearily. I don't know what prompted me to do this, but I swear I'll never do it again.

She looked down at what her efforts had reaped, a paper full of English characters but still in Japanese, and maybe five words out of the whole made any sense to her. She picked up the paper and stared at the strange words in front of her. As she read and attempted to make sense of what she had written her mouth moved with her thoughts and soon she was saying the words out loud. She finished the entire passage, then set the paper down, looking closer at the words.

That couldn't have been right, some of them sounded wrong.

She reached for the pen she had been using and made a few changes to several words, rewriting them phonetically instead of their correct Japanese spellings. She picked up the paper when she was finished and began reciting the words once more.

Marissa read the entire passage perfectly this time and when she finished sat back with a smile on her face. That wasn't too bad!

She set the paper down on her bed and stood up to look out the window, stretching her arms over her head. Ahh, she sighed inwardly, night is the best time of the day.

Marissa walked to her closet and pulled out a pair of jeans and her favorite fleece jacket. Its so clear outside, perfect for stargazing.

She quickly pulled on the articles of clothing then reached for the light switch as she was leaving her room. When the light was turned off however a strange red glow remained behind in the room. Marissa turned around in the doorway and stared open mouthed at the paper on her bed, which was glowing with a strange red light, and getting brighter.

"What the hell..." was all she could get out before the light suddenly leapt from the bed and engulfed her.

* * * * * * *

Everything was red around her. She felt herself floating through the red, neither aware of time nor space. There was nothing, just her thoughts and the light that enveloped her. It's hot...

Suddenly everything went black and a small pin point of white light emerged in front of her. It slowly grew bigger, then surrounded her and she felt the sensation of falling, faster and faster. In one heartstopping moment she became aware of the rest of her body. Her stomach tied in knots, the sound of her heart thudding wildly, and the stinging feeling of her hair whipping past her face. The sound of someone screaming began echoing all around her and Marissa realized it was her own voice. She flailed around, trying to see anything in the blinding white light.


Marissa opened her eyes and saw blue all around her. Instinct told her not to take in a breath and she quickly realized where she was. I'm underwater!

She began kicking desperately and soon felt herself moving upward. She breached the surface and sucked in a deep breath, rubbing the water from her eyes and blinking as they adjusted to the brightness. Her surrounding slowly became clearer and she saw that she was floating in the middle of a large pond surrounded on all sides by tall trees. A bank of the pond was only a couple of yards away and beyond that was a small grassy area and trees that offered shade from the harsh sunlight.

Marissa swam to the edge of the pond and pulled herself onto the grass. Sitting down tiredly she looked out over the pond, trying to become more familiar with her surroundings. Where am I?

Everything had a strange appearance to it, she realized with a shudder. The grass, trees and water all looked real, but there was still something strange about it. They looked too flawless and uniform to be anything natural, scenery for a play or a movie. Marissa looked down at the grass and drew in a sharp breath when she saw the hand that was resting beside her leg.

What...what's going on??

She lifted her hand in front of her face and turned it over, then held up her other hand beside it. I'm...I'm drawn!

Her skin had a milky appearance to it, smooth and flawless, yet there were defined lines where her hand ended and the scenery began. She slowly touched each hand with the other. It feels real... but it's like... like I'm in an anime. The insight of this hit her hard and her right hand clamped over her mouth at the shock of the thought.

She scrambled over to the edge of the pond and looked into the clear water. She looked almost exactly the same, except subtle things had changed about her appearance. Her eyes were slightly larger and rounder, with dark brown, arching eyebrows resting above them. Her skin now had a flawless complexion, no blemishes or discolorations anywhere. Everything was uniform and scary enough, perfect. Her hair was somewhat fuller and thicker, and the purple-red it was before now had a brighter and glossier sheen to it in the yellow sunlight. Her bangs seemed to have a life of their own, coming off of her forehead and resting somewhat annoyingly over her eyes. She tugged at her hair and quietly sighed when she found it was real, then fluffed up her bangs only to find that they came back to rest in their original place.

Perfect, was all she could think. She was still wet, and the tips of her hair came together in small points that dripped water, with other bits resting against the sides of her face. She touched a couple strands tentatively to find that they indeed felt wet.

Marissa stood up quickly and walked away from the edge of the pond, leaving behind the unfamiliar face and heading towards a tall tree that offered a large area of shade. She removed her jacket and sat down with her back against the tree. Her clothes were still wet, but remarkably were drying quickly in the afternoon warmth. She removed her shoes and socks as well, then spread everything out on the grass in the sun to dry.

Leaning back against the tree she looked up at the sky through the roof of leaves. Her eyes saw a pristine blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds. A few birds flew through her line of sight, so high in the sky that they appeared only as black Vs against the blue backdrop.

Marissa shut her eyes and let her situation slowly trickle its way into her mind. I'm here, but I have no clue where "here" is. I'm definitely in an anime, or some other world where everything looks like its been drawn. Who knew that you really could get pulled into a book?

Marissa's eyes flew open. Wait! Pulled into a book? No way! I'm in Fushigi Yuugi!?

"No way," she said outloud, her voice an eerie sound in the peaceful silence around the pond.

She quickly gathered up her damp clothes and put her shoes and socks back on. With her jacket gripped tightly in her hand Marissa got to her feet and began walking. She had no clue where to go, she just needed to somehow prove or disprove what seemed to be the closest thing to the truth right now.

I have to find people, or a building, or something alive out here! She thought desperately, feeling herself start to panic.

She made a circuit around the entire pond, passing by a rocky outcropping at one end of the short side of the somewhat rectangular looking body of water. After walking the whole way around and finding no apparent path or road or any sign of civilization, Marissa turned around and walked back towards the rock. She passed by it and entered the forest of trees that began at the edge of the grass which ended a few yards behind the boulder. She picked her way past bushes and tree trunks and worked her way deeper and farther into the grove of trees. The light began to grow dimmer as she walked farther in and soon the treetops blocked out the sun's light entirely, making day turn to night. The sound of wings flapping or the heavy rustle of leaves was all that Marissa could hear as she walked through the maze of trees. She had no clue if she was even going in a straight line, she just wanted to get somewhere.

Suddenly in the middle of the forest she emerged into a small grassy clearing where the sun filtered in as small rays of light that touched the forest floor. Marissa stopped for a moment to decide which way to go and was about to continue walking when a noise behind her in the brush caused her to stop and turned around.

"Who's there?" she asked, her voice quivering and sounding very small. Don't be scared. It's just some animal...

* * * * * * *

Chichiri pulled the door closed behind him and stepped away from the small house he had just come out of. He took in a deep breath of the afternoon air, the smile already on his face growing larger with satisfaction. He gripped the fishing pole he was carrying tighter and set out for the woods that stood alongside the road that ran in front of the house.

Though his face was masked by only happiness and joy, Chichiri carried with him important experience, knowledge, and pain that he had gained in his 25 years of living. Being a Suzaku seishi had taught him many things and he was grateful for the three years he had spent training under Taiitsukun. They had prepared him for the challenges that he had faced while fighting to protect his Miko and his country.

Even though the fighting had ended a year ago he was still a hero among his countrymen, and so had inevitably chosen to retain his life of a monk and wanderer, never tied down or held back by anything. He could go where he pleased and do whatever his heart desired. For now he planned to make this abandoned house his home for a few days. It was close to a large village located down the road, but far enough out of the way so that he could have the peace and quiet he wanted.

Chichiri stepped into the woods and made his way down a path that he had traveled several times before during the last couple of days. It was heavily overgrown, and infrequent use had caused the "path" to merely be a route that Chichiri had memorized in his head. He maneuvered his way past familiar trees and bushes and was halfway through with his walk when he heard a terrified scream come from somewhere in the woods.

Chichiri looked around and tried to pinpoint where the scream had come from. He began to wonder if his mind had only imagined the sound, when it emanated from the woods once more, this time longer and expressing more pain. Chichiri began running in the direction the scream had come from. Silence now meet his ears, and his mind raced with thoughts of what might have happened. The silence soon became even more dreadful then the screaming.

Suddenly he emerged breathless upon a clearing in the woods and his eye brows arched higher with horror at the scene in front of him. A giant, slimy, purple scaled monster stood in the clearing. Its spiked tail swished around like a cat's and gave it the balance it needed as it stood up on its hind legs. Each large forearm ended in two massive claws, and he noticed with dismay that one was covered with blood and bits of fabric. Its head was enormous and extremely ugly, hanging low to the ground, the mere size of it being too heavy for the rest of the body. Small black beady eyes blinked with eyelids that came from left to right and its mouth was stuck in a permanent snarl, revealing rows upon rows of dreadfully sharp teeth. Chichiri forced his eyes to pull away from the monster and focused on what lay unmoving on the ground in front of it. A mass of hair, fabric, and blood was all that met his eyes.

Now he knew what had cried out so painfully, and whoever it was, was now injured and in need of help. The monster bent lower toward its victim and scooped it up in one of it's massive claws, raising it toward its mouth. Chichiri thrust his fishing pole forward, then picked up his necklace with his thumb and placed his index and middle fingers together in front of his mouth. His fishing pole wasn't his staff, but its channeling purpose would be the same. He whispered a few words as the monster prepared to drop the body into its open mouth. Then, the spell complete, Chichiri released a wave of energy bolts toward the monster.

The weapons hit their mark and the monster was enveloped in yellow filaments of electricity. It stood paralyzed for a second, then crumpled and fell to the ground, its victim still held within its claw. The monster's body began to smoke, then suddenly evaporated into a million bits of ash, the body falling the rest of the way to the ground in a puff of smoke.

Chichiri ran over to the motionless body and hunched down next to it. He put his fishing pole down beside him and reached out carefully with both hands towards the unmoving body. Brushing away dark red hair he was surprised to see the face of a young girl. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing with difficulty, her breath coming out short and raspy.

Thank Suzaku she's alive, Chichiri thought with a sigh of relief. He slowly and gingerly turned the girl over so that she lay on her back. Now he could see the real damage that had been done.

Her clothes had been horribly ripped and hung off her body in bits and pieces. Her face and arms were covered with scrapes and bruises, but the worse wound was on her right leg. A long, deep gash in her right thigh was the source of most of the blood and was still bleeding uncontrollably.

Chichiri took his kasa off of his back and placed it upside down on the grass. He quickly gathered the girl in his arms, hoping that there were no broken bones. The girl's head fell against his chest and she emitted a low moan of pain at being moved. Chichiri looked down at her scratched face, but her eyes remained closed and only shut themselves tighter with the pain of her injury. He bent down and picked up his fishing pole, along with a dark blue article of clothing he assumed belonged to her, and jumped inside the kasa.


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Chapter 2