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52 Desperate Measures

 Maka at this moment spoke again, "Actually what I am looking for is not at all that hard to find but I have to reach a certain power level for me to get all the answers that I want because at my current level there are only a few things that I can find out."

Taku was again lost for words; he so badly wanted to ask her what exactly she was looking for. He wanted to know what was so important, to make her work so hard. He could tell that she was lonely and she was slightly depressed but as someone with quite a low EQ he had no idea what to say or what to do in this situation.

All he could do was sigh and then Maka continued, "I'm actually an orphan, I was found by Saru when I was five years old. To be honest with you it's pretty weird, because even though I'm from the Gutu Empire according to Saru I'm only half Gutu, I don't know my mother nor do I know my father nor do I have any kin of any sort. So I need these answers, as much as I take the Gutu as home and as much as Saru is like a father to me, I still need to find who I am you know? So until that day I will continue to be lost."

After Maka finished what he had to say, Taku couldn't help but think, 'Saru really loves picking up orphans doesn't he?'

Taku smiled and looked at Maka and replied, "I'm in the same boat as you actually, I am also looking for the same type of answers, maybe mine are closer to home than yours, but we are in the same boat. All I remember is waking up in the Gumbo village one day and just being me, you know, I didn't even know I was talented in cultivating, I just thought I was just another person."

Maka nodded, "Seems like it, but I'm sure one day you will find the answers you want, I am trying my best as well but the older I get the more I feel as if it is all useless. I already take the Gutu Empire as home but I always have that nagging feeling that always wants to find out the truth. I feel as if this curiosity will be the death of me one day but I just have to find ouThe

Taku just nodded, he didn't know what to say again, so they just walked in silence. They walked for about half a day and it felt as if the river was never ending and it just kept on going. Taku was growing slightly annoyed and the usual calm Maka was annoyed as well. They wanted nothing more at the moment than to leave this place. They wanted nothing more than to go outside and taste a different type of food besides bamboo porridge.

After walking for another half day, night fell upon them and they decided to rest. What made Taku depressed was that even though they were currently at a river, there were no fish or any living creature in the river or anywhere near them. Taku was increasingly annoyed by this and so was Maka. Another night and they had to settle for bamboo porridge again. The two of them were now immune to the taste and it didn't quite bother them anymore. They just ate it as one would eat that vegetable you don't like but know is good for you.

That night they slept soundlessly and then the next morning they proceeded with their journey, a day turned into three days and that into a week, a week turned into a month and still they kept on walking along the same river, going upstream. Nothing eventful happened throughout the month and there was nothing that they could do. They walked everyday through the month without rest and only rested at night but still to this day they had not been able to find an exit to this bamboo forest yet.

Taku's injuries had slightly healed, at this point only his upper body was still riddled with wounds. His lower body still had scars but he was all but healed. During the last month they had indulged in idle chatter and they gotten slightly closer, Taku was over joyed by this because he knew that meant he had a chance even though he had close to no experience with dealing with these type of matters, and with girls in general, he knew that he was at least progressing. He would even catch her stealing glances from time to time.

They continued on for another week and this time, they truly felt helpless because the river felt endless. What irritated them the most was that this place had a day and a night so it showed that they weren't trapped in any illusion or anything of the sort, they were still somewhere in the Gutu Empire but they had never heard of this bamboo forest which was also so large and so vast that it couldn't be as big a secret as it seemed to be.

Taku frustrated beyond measure at this point began to aimlessly throw pebbles towards the river watching as each time it hit the water and cascaded down the endless thing. Maka after a while picked up some pebbles and began to throw them as well making sure to try and throw them further away than Taku's own could reach. Before long it had turned into a game of sorts and both of them were laughing each time one tried to outdo the other.

"You know, I always dreamed about being able to beat you at something," Taku blurted out before he even knew what he was saying.

Maka looked at him weirdly, stopping her hands mid motion even though it had been her turn to throw, "So you dream about me huh?"

Taku coughed at her answer, now smiling awkwardly, "It's fast approaching sunset, maybe we should settle down for the night."

Maka smiled at him knowingly but started looking around for the perfect place for them to lay down their heads and rest.

She turned to him and smiled, "You know me and you are kindred spirits after all."

Taku simply smiled back at her not quite sure how to respond and afraid that if he did respond he was bound to say the stupidest of things like he was prone to. They worked together like a well-trained team, having grown used to their nightly ritual. Maka was collecting bamboo for their porridge whilst Taku was collecting wood for fire and water from the river.

Every so often Taku would stop and watch as she worked, letting thoughts that he seldom allowed to linger to capture his attention. What if they were indeed lost forever, would the world be so bad? With no wars to fight and battles to continuously train for maybe this was blessing in disguise, a chance for them to be awarded with peace he was sure neither of them had known since childhood.

She looked beautiful, under the moonlight but who was he kidding, her chocolate skin was hand crafted by the gods and she was an irresistible beauty to behold regardless of the time and regardless of the light illuminating her. It was no wonder she had never lost a fight, he himself would have been too distracted to raise a hand against her.

She was also lost in thoughts of a different kind, she had never opened up to anyone before and the more they were stuck in this maze of a forest, the more she felt lost in the trust and bond she was creating with Taku and she knew more than anything, trust was a dangerous thing. The only way she had been able to survive thus far was by relying on her own strength and power to survive, relying on another only meant weakness and if she was ever to reach her goals, she had to keep Taku from tearing at her defences the way he was.

....

Back in the city; Ranga. Tadi, Tino and Nyasha were still staying at the inn that Chiwenga had bought. They were just sitting there, just waiting. They had tried searching and they searched for at least three thousands kilometres going all around them but they couldn't find not on trace of a clue or an idea of where Taku and Maka could be.

They were told to come back by Chiwenga as the places they were now going to had become dangerous. Maka's team had opted to go back to the capital in order to finish off their own business. At this time the atmosphere was very tense, neither of them knowing what to say. Taku was not dead, they knew that much, or at least he wasn't dead yet. Shumba was still there but after searching forthree thousand kilometers even he was unable to find Taku's location but that vague connection between Shumba and Taku was still present. The area that they had to search became larger and larger.

They were slightly dispirited but Shumba seemed not to worry much although the feeling was still vague, the connection was becoming a lot more distinct. He could tell that Taku was moving and moving towards them so he didn't really worry much. The four humans on the other hand could not even sleep.

Chiwenga had gone out on multiple occasions in an attempt to search for that vague connection but even he ultimately had to give up in the end. These days he looked as if he was in conflict with himself. Ranga and the rest did not know why but even though he was worried he looked as if he was holding something back.

In the room upstairs Chiwenga was in a discussion with the black shadow that always seemed to be following him around, "Do you think I should go and ask those guys for help?" Chiwenga asked.

The black figure chuckled and then said, "Its amazing how when you are worried about someone you can throw away your pride, have you forgotten what those people did to you?"

Chiwenga shook his head and said, "I haven't forgotten but this is my disciple and those people are good at tracking, good at finding people, good at finding things. Do I truly have a choice?"

The black figure was lost for words, he slowly calmed himself down and said, "I think its best you find that person who helped you with your soul all those years ago, it might be hard to track him down but then like you, yourself has said, you have to."

Chiwenga was silent for a long time, he knew that the possibility of finding that person was as hard as finding a needle in a hay stack or trying to find a specific drop of water in an ocean, but he knew that finding him had way less adverse consequences than finding the people he was opting to find in the first place.

Chiwengwa was stuck between a rock and a hard place, he really had to find his disciple, because on he was unwilling to let such talent go to waste, and he was quite curious to find out just how far Taku could go. Lastly he had his own selfish desires, needs and battles that he needed to Taku to fight alongside him.

Chiwenga sighed and said, "I need an art that can help me change my appearance and once I master it then we can go to the capital and we can go and find that man."

The figure nodded and then said," I know one such skill, that even people who are at the peak of this worlds power might not even be able to recognise you once you use this skill."

Chiwenga nodded.