Family

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"... I see," Hope said thoughtfully once they had finished exchanging stories in private, considering everything she had just heard. "So that's what happened..." She was a little surprised by how cool Aladdin seemed to be with the fact that they were from another world (Faith had already let him in on that when he saw her trying to use her phone while they were lost in the desert, and had to explain what it was). But it seemed he wasn't exactly normal himself.

"Man, I can't believe you just accidentally strolled into a dungeon like it was nothing... You even got yourself a Djinn!! I'm so proud!" Faith said, pretending to tear up.

"You've been through a lot, huh?" Aladdin asked Hope with a smile. "That Oji-san sounds scary..."

'Oji-san...?' Hope thought, sweat-dropping. He was only in his late twenties... "Y-Yeah, but... um, Aladdin-kun, you said you're looking for Djinn Vessels, right? How much do you know about them?"

"Hmm, not much," Aladdin replied honestly. "I'm mostly looking for them as a favor to Ugo-kun... But it seems like they can be found in dungeons. Ah, speaking of which, can you call your Djinn out so Ugo-kun can talk to him?"

"Huh?" Hope said, slightly taken aback. "Uh... Sorry, but I don't think I know how to do that... My Djinn doesn't really seem to do much. I haven't heard a peep from him since he went into my ring."

"Oh... That's too bad," Aladdin said, disappointed. Oh well, Ugo-kun seemed to be feeling a bit shy today anyway.

"Hey, is it really okay for us to keep traveling...? Don't we have to get you home?" Faith asked seriously as she eyed their zippered tote bag, suddenly remembering her sister only had a limited amount of meds in it.

"Yeah, but... It's not like we know how, right?" Hope said with a small frown. "Actually, I think keeping your promise to travel with Aladdin and your other friend to clear more dungeons is a really good idea. I don't know if it was the same for you, but when I went through the portal at the entrance to the dungeon, I was pulled into some kind of wormhole, a vortex of swirling light, that was just like the one that brought us here."

"Now that you mention it..." said Faith, thinking back. "I'm pretty sure that portal brought us to a different planet..."

"Right?" said Hope, lighting up with excitement. "That's why I think figuring out how that worked, and learning as much as we can about the Djinns and the dungeons, could be our key to getting home!"

"Ohh! See, Aladdin, I told you my sister was a genius!!" Faith said excitedly, beaming with pride.

"Mmn!" Aladdin agreed with a smile. "I don't really get it, but that sounds impressive, Hope onee-san!" He was a little sad to think they might end up leaving, though...


Later that evening, the whole village gathered around a large bonfire for a very lively supper. Judging by the fermented horse milk and a variety of other dishes being served, the Kouga Clan's culture appeared to have a lot in common with the Mongolian Nomads. The fermented horse milk had a slight sour taste, but once you got used to it, it was pretty refreshing and it sparkled softly on the tongue.

"This is fun. It's like one big happy family," Hope said with a smile as she sipped her horse milk.

"Yeah, reminds me of our Louisiana side of the family," Faith agreed, stuffing her face with fried dumplings.

"They're all relatives...?" Aladdin asked.

"Yes, they are all from the Kouga Clan," Baba answered with a smile. "For more than a hundred years, we've been living and dying together, being born and falling in love... The same blood flows inside us."

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