>[x] That Kitsune’s Pot thing sounds delicious. (2 Votes)
Slow run it seems, but it doesn’t matter. Have a somewhat-related picture to go with it.
Onto the next chapter we go, happy readin', folks.
Seo placed the medium-sized packet on the counter. “Here are some cookies from Satori, and these..." he said, holding up two pairs of tickets, "... are the tickets to an open-air movie and vouchers for a guest cook from the surface."
You stopped a moment to think. Guest cook? Open-air movie? “Both of them taking place tonight?”
“Yep.” He answered your question shortly.
“Hmmm… if you were me, what will you choose?”
“Between the Pot and the movie, I’d choose the Pot. It’s been a while since I ate some surface udon. You should try it too.” He suggested.
“…Are you trying to make me fat or something?” you asked, clearly irritated.
“No, of course not.” Seo glanced away. “You don’t look attractive when you’re fat anyway.”
While he was only trying to lighten up the mood, you definitely were not amused with that joke. So for that remark, you ‘awarded’ Seo a punch to his arm.
"Not funny," you snapped sharply at him.
“But then again, a kitsune making noodles sounds much more interesting… I’ll take that offer. The movie might be boring anyway.”
Seo blinked at your answer. Seemed he'd thought that you wouldn't like the idea, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. “Well, if that’s what you’re going for, it’s all fine with me.” He then glanced at the other pair of tickets on the counter. “So what are we going to do about the other set?”
You shrug your shoulders. “Beats me.”
“Well, you can leave them to me.” Yamame said as she put her hand down on the movie tickets, winking at the two of you. “I’ll take those and watch movies with Kisume. You two can go ahead and visit the kitsune.”
“Great idea, at least the tickets won’t go to waste.”
Yamame then raised her arms into the air and clapped her hands together to get her patron’s attention.
“Attention, folks! I won’t be available for night business tonight due to movie night, so evacuate the premises at eight in the evenin’, got it?”
And right after Yamame said that, a couple of visitors stood up from their seat.
“Not now, you two. I said tonight, to-night, not right now.” The tsuchigumo stressed the words out for the two.
“... Oh," one of them said, before sheepishly returning to his stool.
The rest at the Poison House laughed merrily.
--- [Seo] ---
It does suffice to say that nothing interesting happened between your visit to Yamame's shop and the night's arrival. Parsee and you walked around the shop, but nothing attracted your attention much. In the end, you just stayed upstairs at Yamame's house, playing some board games with Kisume.
When night arrived, you and Parsee walked from Yamame's place to the food court, which was getting livelier by the minute.
The two of you approached a food cart, with the inviting “Kitsune’s Pot” in kanji written on the low curtain.
“Welcome to the Mini-Pot.” The kitsune greeted you and Parsee with a smile. "Ah, a human in the Ancient City? Fancy seeing one here of all places," he said.
“Yes I am.”
“Please have a seat. My name’s Nanabi Tsukishiro, pleased to meet you.” The fox introduced himself, extending a hand for you to shake.
“Seo Fujisaki.” You got up from the stool and returned the handshake. True to the kitsune’s name, he had exactly seven fluffy tails bunched up behind him.
“Parsee Mizuhashi. Bridge princess.” The bridge princess then stared at Nanabi’s bunch of fluffy tails. “I’m envious of your tails.”
The seven-tailed kitsune chuckled. “I get that all the time. So, what do you fancy? We got the usual kitsune udon and soba imported from the surface. There’s inarizushi and others for you to choose from for snacks.”
You looked up at the menu plaques on the cart’s walls. Since Parsee wasn’t going to order anything by herself, you decided to order a food set for two.
“We’d like a food set for two, please.”
“I’m on it.”
You hummed a little tune while waiting for Nanabi to finish your order. As you did so, you noticed that he was handing the filled bowls and cups over to small floating dolls that bore a striking resemblance to the kitsune, though they only had one tail each.
“Nanabi, what are those things flying around with your bowls and cups?”
Nanabi just smiled, not even looking up from his bowl-preparing ritual. “That’s my shikigami, Ichibi. It’s a puppet, and I split him up so that I can get orders delivered without leaving the stall, as you can see.” He explained. “Are you still new here, Seo?”
“For almost a week, yes," you said. “Having some time off from the guarding job.”
Nanabi nodded at your statement and returned to his work. Looking around, you saw that most of the underground folks in the court were clearly enjoying the meals delivered to them by Ichibi.
You kept your observation around the area until your food was finally ready.
“Order up. Enjoy your meal, both of you.” Nanabi smiled again, placing the bowls of kitsune udon right in front of you at the food cart.
“Thanks.” Parsee said.
You and Parsee then picked up a pair of bamboo chopsticks each from the holder, before pulling them apart. You made a short wish before you started digging into the noodles, blowing the hot udon before you took them into your mouth.
A pleasant feeling spread through your mouth as soon as you tasted it. You had to admit, Nanabi was quite an excellent cook. His kitsune udon was quite savory, and the fried tofu was tasty as well. Parsee was hungrily eating her share; she'd definitely taken a liking to the noodles.
“It’s tasty," you commented.
“Mmmhm.” You hummed as you slurped up more of the noodles from your bowl. Parsee had already finished hers, and had moved on to the soup. It really tastes good, and people like it too. No wonder you got invited to cook here.”
“It comes from hundreds of years of learning," he replied. “Takes years just to make the dishes I cook taste more… kitsune-y… for lack of a better description.”
“I feel jealous… your cooking is tastier than what we would usually have here…”
The seven-tailed fox nodded before setting out some teacups for you and Parsee right in front of your bowls.
"Here. Green tea for you two, as ordered.”
The bridge princess didn’t say much, but she took the tea to drink it.
“So, do you change your name whenever you gain a new tail?” Parsee asked.
“Not quite, I’d say.”
“It’d be weird when you have more tails than your name does.”
"Indeed. I was called seven-tails even before I had seven tails. Do you two fancy some sake?” Nanabi asked.
“I’m fine with it. How about you, Parsee?”
“Count me in.”
“Here you go then, a bottle for each of you.” The fox placed two bottles of sake and two small sake cups on the counter. Parsee quickly grabbed her bottle and poured some into her cup, before taking a good swig.
“Ahh… that’s the good stuff.”
Nanabi nodded and smiled at the bridge princess, then replaced the empty bowls with two plates of inarizushi, five on each.
"Lovely," you said as you put your cup down. The sake was much milder than what Yuugi served yesterday, but even though it was tasty and went well with the snack the seven-tailed just served, you didn't want to drink too much.
There’s no use on stopping Parsee though. She went on and on with the drinking, drowning her jealousy and perhaps her sorrows.
Few hours had passed since you arrived at the pot. You had your seconds with the kitsune’s cooking, at his insistence, before moving onto snacks and desserts. Parsee, on the other hand, had slumped onto the cart's countertop face-first. As time passed by, you struck up a conversation with the seven-tailed fox."
“Your weapon shoots danmaku, yes?”
You glanced at your SCAR-H. “Yes. It’s imported from the Outside World with ‘someone’s’ help," you replied, making a parenthesis sign with your fingers.
“I see. So how many rounds can it shoot before it runs dry?”
“Twenty in a single magazine. Well, it’s my standard-issue rifle for now. I might get better ones in the future.”
“Well, it depends. You might opt for a change of armaments, or you could become better in danmaku without even using the outside world guns.”
“Your pendant has quite a power hidden inside it.”
Nanabi chuckled. “Being a danmaku fighter myself, I could sense the power coming from that pendant. It’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it, though," Nanabi said, obviously referring to the pendant peeking slightly out of the scarf around your neck.
“Nah, its fine, Nanabi. It’s not like I know much about this pendant or the power that’s hidden inside it. A girl I know just gave it to me a few days ago.”
Nanabi nods silently as he continues to prepare more orders, before sending Ichibi away to deliver them to his customer’s tables around the food cart. “I see.”
“I don’t think I am well versed in danmaku. I only participated in exactly one play-fight, and I avoided one so far with a sprinting competition.”
“You lost, I believe?”
Nanabi chuckled. “Better luck next time, Seo.”
You turned around to the source of the voice that was calling you, and found it to be none other than the one-horned oni Yuugi.
“You and Parsee weren’t around at the house, so I asked Yamame where you went to. She said she's closing her shop for a movie. I'm just glad I could catch her before she went away.”
You nodded to Yuugi. Parsee on the other hand, continued to mumble and complain about various things in her drunken sleep.
“Right, back on topic. You’re going home today?”
“Yep. It’s getting late though, so I’ll be heading straight to the Palace instead of spending a night at your place, Yuugi.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry. Though, if you want to head straight home, you shouldn't forget your bag, Seo. Got it right here.” Yuugi then handed over your backpack. “Don’t leave home without it.”
You only let out a chuckle as a reply, accepting your backpack and putting it down next to your stool.
“It's nice being with you for company, though fun times gotta end one way or another,” Yuugi said. "Maybe you should lose more next time, maybe to me!” She laughed.
“I’d be done for if I were to lose to you…”
The one-horned oni laughed and petted your head a couple of times. “Well then, time to bail her out. Heave ho!” Yuugi muttered as she threw the bridge princess over her shoulder. She then took the sake bottles by their necks between her fingers. “See you later, foxy brown, and you too, Seo.”
And as the two disappeared from your sight, you turned your attention back towards the foxy chef.
“It seems like you made quite good friends with one of the Four Devas of the Mountain. Even I am afraid of her sometimes.”
You shook your head and sighed. “It’s a fast friendship with a slap on the back. She mistook me for someone else, and everything went well from there onwards," you said before looking down at the remaining empty dishes and cups. “So… how much should I pay for all this?" you asked, drawing a circle around the items on the countertop with your index fingers.
The fox gave you a rather foxish smile. “No need to, my treat.”
You paused a bit, trying to register what the kitsune just said, then sat yourself back down on the stool. “Well… if you say so.”
“If time allows it, maybe we can have a danmaku duel in the future.”
“That sounds too sudden.”
“It’s just a suggestion. If you want to train your danmaku skills, perhaps we can try to meet.”
“Roger.” That suggestion didn’t sound too bad, being a good practice and all. “Another time, then.” You then slung your backpack over your back.
“Ah, and before you leave, have some take away.” The fox handed over a package he'd just wrapped up. “And make sure they don’t spill, too.”
“Should I return the bowls next time?” You asked.
“Keep them as a souvenir, Seo.”
“Thanks. Good evening, Nanabi.”
“Good evenin’ to you too.”
And with that, you hauled your backpack over your back and walked away from the Mini-Pot. Your current destination was now a beeline towards the Palace of the Earth Spirits though the still-lively streets of the Ancient City.
---((Palace of the Earth Spirits, Atrium))---
Everyone else was asleep at this hour, and the silence and darkenss of the Palace of the Earth Spirits was kind of eerie. But before going to your quarters, you walked your way towards the kitchen. Not bothering to find the switch, you just mounted the flashlight onto your vest’s chest strap and let it light the way, while you held your rifle in one hand and the packed udon in the other.
And finally reaching the kitchen, you turned on the lights, letting your eyes adjust to the light before you put the package on the counter to examine it. The udon, tofu and the soup were all separate, and there were even some instructions on how to reheat them. Seemed the fox was testing some prototype instant noodles.
You stashed the udon, the soup bowls and the tofu into the fridge, putting up the instructions on the fridge door with a fridge magnet. When that was done, you headed back to your bedroom.
Once you were there, you set aside your bag, your vest and your long-sleeved shirt, leaving you with just your trousers. Now topless, you just flopped onto your bed in exhaustion, not even bothering to lock the door like you usually would.
With this soft bed, it’s good to be home.
You were woken up by the sounds of footsteps in the corridor. Mentally cursing yourself for not locking the door, you just lied down and hoped it would be gone soon.
The footsteps continued to echo, getting closer into your room, and then stopped as it reached your bed.
That person then jumped into your bed and landed right beside you, and you didn't bother checking who it is. You just hugged it, mistaking it for a pillow thanks to your unclear mind.
There was something attached to the pillow, though...
 ...your pillow had something coiling around it.
 ...your pillow somehow had wings on it.
 ...your pillow somehow had cords at the bottom of it.